What Can We Learn From The Heterodox?
via Confessional's Bytes by Jim Pierce on 3/20/10I have been involved in many "hot" discussions with those who want to adopt the teachings of those promoting heterodoxy despite their knowledge of the Lutheran confession of faith. These people call themselves "Lutheran" while promoting the false teachings and dangerous practices of people such as Leonard Sweet, Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, Beth Moore, and Nicky Gumbel, just to name a few. This is a real problem in my own synod, the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS).
At times, I wonder if those in my synod promoting heterodox teachers (which is a nicer sounding name than "false teacher" or "heretic" but is the same) have read the same scriptures I have read. For instance read what Paul wrote to the Galatians,
"I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed." —Galatians 1:6-8And read Galatians 5:7-9, "You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump." The scriptures are clear that those who distort the Gospel are accursed and that we who know the Gospel of Jesus Christ in its truth and purity should stand firm in the truth and take warning that while we may be running well today that a little leaven in the lump is going to cause us much trouble, putting it mildly. Indeed, Peter uses much stronger language,
"But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep." —2 Peter 2:1-3Peter goes on to write that these false teachers have forsaken the right way and will not be spared harsh judgement (see vs. 4-16). The Church has been given instruction on how to deal with false teachers, "I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive." (Romans 16:17-18)
Those defending using and promoting heterodox teachers in my synod typically state, "We can learn from non-Lutherans". I agree. We can learn from non-Lutherans. In fact, I have. I read books by non-Lutherans and I have a couple links in my blog roll going to the websites of non-Lutherans. Heck, I even eat non-Lutheran prepared foods and drive a non-Lutheran Jeep. The scriptures I quote above don't tell us we can't learn anything from non-Lutherans. They do tell us to mark those who cause division with false teachings and AVOID THEM. That is, we aren't to prop them up amongst us as teachers of the one true faith, because in fact they are not! Instead, we should publicly condemn their false teachings and lovingly share the Gospel with them while praying for them that they will come to know God's truth.
What can we learn from the heterodox? We can learn to remain faithful to purely teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ and faithfully delivering His sacraments. As Lutherans we have a heavenly feast of truth laid out before us. We need not look under the table at scraps for nourishment.