When confronted with the truth, heretics and their apologists almost never willingly admit that they do not affirm orthodox Christianity. However, the church prior to the mid-19th Century stood against heretics and their teachings using Church discipline to rid the Body of Christ of them and their heresies. However, things changed about 150 years ago when heretics became more and more successful in remaining in their churches.
I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Acts 20:29-30 (NASB)
Several years ago when I was doing almost daily battle with Rob Bell’s apologists I was asked by one of them what Bell had done that has so upset me that I would post some articles about him on this blog. His stance was that even though he disagreed with much of what Rob Bell taught, he read him and listened to him anyway because he liked to “be stretched.” Should we open up our hearts to hear the teachings of people whose stance on Christian essentials is marked by shades of grey? That begs another question. Is genuine Christianity made up of essential truths that are knowable? The more I study God’s Word the more I am convinced that there are no grey areas. God’s truth is always true and that part of it that we must know in order to know and serve Him is clearly taught in scripture and is knowable through reason.
What is a heretic? Professing Christians who are heretics are those who deny the very beliefs that set Christians apart from all other people. They deny those truths without which the Christians faith is impossible such as the veracity of the Trinity, the virgin birth, the deity of Christ, His eternal existence, His ressurection, His atoning death on the cross, original sin, and Salvation is ONLY by Grace through faith, which is a gift from God. Heretics and their teachings have traditionally been withstood by the Church. That was the purpose of the gathering of most councils and the writing of creeds. These were used by God to define orthodoxy.
When confronted with the truth, heretics and their apologists almost never willingly admit that they do not affirm orthodox Christianity. However, the church prior to the mid-19th Century stood against heretics and their teachings using Church discipline to rid the Body of Christ of them and their heresies. However, things changed about 150 years ago when heretics became more and more successful in remaining in their churches. They were not disciplined as before. Those who became lax in not following through with church discipline sowed a crop that we are reaping today with actual unbelievers filling the positions of leaders in some Protestant denominations. The genuine believers in these churches have fled lest they be devoured by the wolves.
Much of the truth in our faith is knowable through reason up to a point. By reason we see that something is so, but by faith we know it as it is. For instance, it is understood that the Bible teaches that Christians should live moral lives and not sin aggregiously as they did before salvation. That is how many unregenerate people who profess Christ prove their disingenuousness by living unrepentant lifestyles. They view these commands in scripture as man-made restrictions that are based in self-righteousness. If we were commanded to be moral and live upright lives by our own will power and self-discipline then I might tend to agree with these folks, but that is not what the Bible teaches. In fact, Christ does does not desire us, being justified in Him, to live in self-confidence in our own strength at all. Instead He gives us the law of the Spirit of Life to enable us to obey Him.
This Spirit and His power belongs to those who rest on Christ’s death and no one else. The Spirit of Life within believers answers to the law without. Believers still sin, but they must not seek to justify sinning because that is so. No, instead they should be humbled daily under it. They should mourn for sin. They should understand that their sin is the reason their bodies shall die. They should also mourn over their sin because it is an offense to God and is what caused Christ’s death on the cross. Those who grasp these things with eyes of faith will also understand that their sanctification is the evidence of their reconciliation with the Father through their advocate, the Lord Jesus Christ.