October 1, 2007

Heresy by Proxy

If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; he is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself [1 Timothy 6:1-5].

Pastors, teachers and ministry leaders with heretofore unblemished reputations enjoy positions of trust in ministries and churches and may have laid down a track record for the truth of the Lord for many years. They may have never preached or taught anything questionable or even remotely heretical from their venues of ministry yet they have started taking up with known wolves. They may lack any evil intent and could be unaware that they have been deceived and are in fact a detriment to the blood-bought Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. These double-minded individuals have a "form of godliness" but are in fact betraying the Lord they profess to love. They want the grass on both sides of the fence. They preach words of truth on the one hand, but abuse the trust that has been placed in them and mock God by their actions. Their error is obscured behind the skirts of truth and it is next to impossible to find a speck of error in their actual teaching. The old adage "Actions speak louder than words" describes this scenario perfectly. To coin a new phrase, "You are what you promote."

These teachers practice heresy by proxy. A proxy is someone who stands in for another. They consort with heretics and thereby encourage their followers to partake of their apostasy. They mix truth and error, a deadly concoction. They give the impression that the truth they speak is compatible with the falsehood they endorse. This is not ‘guilt by association," this is guilt by endorsement. Flirting with deluding spirits and doctrines of demons is dangerous business and they do so at great peril.

At least emergent leaders, apostolic types and most false teachers are upfront and honest about sharing their views and are in fact proud to proclaim their beliefs. But those who wear their evangelical fundamentalist hats one day and then buddy up to apostates and heretics the next pose a greater danger than the false teachers themselves!

WWPD?
(What Would Paul Do?)

Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come [2 Thessalonians 2:1,2].

Certain people were putting out false teaching under the names of the apostles. In no uncertain terms, Paul made it clear that he and his fellow ministers had nothing to do with it. He knew his credibility was on the line and did not want his followers to be misled.

Another example is found in Acts 16:18-23 that tells of the slave girl who followed the apostles around saying "These men are the servants of the Most High God who proclaim to us the way of salvation." Now that sounds like an endorsement doesn’t it? The girl was viewed as a legitimate source of knowledge by the community and she made a good living for her masters with her psychic abilities. Paul and Silas could have saved themselves a ton of grief if they had just allowed her to follow them around and give them "credibility" with the people. He could have reasoned pragmatically that the means justified the ends, the mentality that is so prevalent in the Church today. No, Paul wanted nothing to do with this false representation of truth. He knew the source was demonic and he rebuked it. As a result the girl’s owners lost their meal ticket and this so enraged them that they brought Paul and Silas before the authorities where they were severely beaten and thrown into prison.

Aiding and Abetting the Enemy

What has happened to the courage to rebuke wickedness disguised as Christianity? The Church has fallen prey to "religious correctness," not wanting to confront and risk being accused of judging. The fear of offending man takes precedence over the fear of offending a holy God. Fraternizing with the enemy is tantamount to committing high treason. Treasonous acts against one’s country are serious offenses but they are nothing compared to giving a pass to the enemies of God!

Sharing a podium with an apostate or heretic is bringing reproach upon the reputation of our Lord. Recently a highly respected, prominent speaker in fundamental circles cozied up to false prophets of the rapidly growing Apostolic Reformation movement. Efforts were made by discerners to reason with him to cancel plans to speak at their event. Since then he has not skipped a beat and continues to enjoy popularity, a welcome guest in conferences and pulpits. One trustworthy ministry was alerted about this brother’s error but still shares the podium with him. The biggest favor that could be done for this straying, errant brother would be for those who value truth to sacrificially turn down opportunities offered to them to appear with him and then gently and respectfully state the reason. He should not be invited to speak until he has acknowledged and repented of his error. Those who are going down the wrong path are on dangerous ground and the last thing they need is for the brethren to go along as if nothing is amiss. When will those wearing the mantle of ministry question and even separate when necessary from those who have drifted from the moorings of doctrinal purity and biblical truth into dangerous waters on their way to being shipwrecked?

Those who present their hands as clean and yet share podiums with false teachers or those who choose to associate with them give the impression of endorsement. Guilt by association is downplayed too much. The Bible has much to say on the subject of the company we keep. For instance "Abstain from all appearance of evil" [1 Thessalonians 5:22]. Their actions also constitute a betrayal of the pastors and leaders who choose to follow the Apostles’ example and remain steadfast, often at great cost.

Passive Endorsement

Jeffrey Whittaker in his pastoral paper says it well: (Emphasis added)

"There has been an absolute orgy of endorsement and free association within the "Christian" worlds of publishing, speaking, and mass media…..It is my conviction that this "Passive Endorsement" (the giving of credibility through sharing convention platforms, book endorsements, ecumenical "unity coalitions", etc.) is doing much to confuse grass roots Christian believers, as well as creating an atmosphere where many historical heresies are being given a fresh hearing due to the lack of discernment, as well as courage amongst leaders who should be doing something about it."

Pastor Whittaker continues:

"The Gospel of Jesus Christ issues a very specific and absolute call for loyalty and worship to the entire human race, leaving no room for compromise or double-minded passivity. In his powerful letter, Jude exhorted the church to"…contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints (v 3). If current Christian leaders do not have the stomach to take an absolute and public stand for foundational doctrine, and orthodoxy, we will see a continued degradation of truth that will eventually deposit the "post-modern/emergent? Church in the landfill of history or in the trophy case of hell (if you’re still "Old School" enough to believe that there is such a place). "Passive Endorsement" finds its roots in the political fear of men, wrapped in a false doctrine of tolerance that has permeated every area of American culture, as well as many churches and denominations. To take a stand for historic, Scriptural orthodoxy today is tantamount to professional suicide in many circles, labeling the one who dares ask questions as "closed-minded", ‘"contentious", "fault-finding" and so on. As in the favorite children’s fable, the emperor keeps parading himself around naked while the towns people simply smile and go along with the farce. It takes a simple child, one without fear or ambition, to finally blurt out the truth that "the Emperor has no clothes!" May we all be as simple and courageous as that young lad as we speak the truth in love to our "unity at all cost" generation."

Sloppy Agape and Greasy Grace

Any movement, denomination or fellowship that is going to emerge unscathed by Satan’s tactics must have discernment in its arsenal of defense and the courage to address heresy in the ranks. Unfortunately that is not currently happening due to what I call "greasy grace." The apostle Paul preached the doctrine of grace but he balanced it with strong doses of accountability and respect for God’s truth.

Pastor Whittaker echoes my sentiments:

"I am not advocating crusade/inquisition hate speech that alienates true spiritual pilgrims, but what I am calling for is a deeper examination of the true nature of the courage and strength that led the Apostles to call all men to the true Gospel of Christ without obstruction and confusion! If Paul would have "Passively Endorsed" the Philippian oracle through non—confrontation, he would have most certainly left a syncretistic swamp from which the Church may have never escaped."

Be Ever Mindful

There is one thing we must never forget. Those who are selling out the cause of Christ are not the enemy. They are accountable for their actions and we are accountable for exposing them, but ultimately the enemy of our souls is Satan, who seeks to destroy every work of God. Please understand the intent of this writer’s heart. I think I speak for those I call colleagues in the discernment ministries that we find no joy whatsoever in addressing these issues. We are grieved over the state of the Church today and we would rejoice if we never had to speak out again. We often feel we are either preaching to the choir or verbalizing into the wind. But if God uses our voice to touch only one compromising pastor/teacher/leader and rescue them from their error, or save one sheep from harm, it is worth it. We realize that as in any endeavor for the Lord, it is His work, not ours and we leave the results in His hands. We are subject to pitfalls just as much as those whom we address. If we are not careful we can operate with an arm of flesh and become like sounding brass. We must guard against becoming prideful in our God-given ability to discern and never fail to properly mourn when a leader falls into the devil’s snare. As we see the failings of others, we must look to ourselves and examine our own motives.

H.A. Ironside was a hero of the faith who stood for truth. He includes the following in one of his devotionals when he speaks about betraying our Master and issues this solemn warning to all who profess to be Christ’s disciples:

It may not be for silver
It may not be for gold,
But still by tens of thousands
Is this precious Savior sold.

Sold for a godless friendship,
Sold for a selfish aim,
Sold for a fleeting trifle,
Sold for an empty name.

Sold in the mart of Science,
Sold in the seat of Power,
Sold at the shrine of Fortune,
Sold in Pleasure’s bower.

Sold where the awful bargain
None but God’s eye can see!
Ponder, my soul, the question:
Shall He be sold by thee?

Wm. Blane

♥♥♥

 

Sherry Neese:  The only child of an alcoholic father and abusive, mentally-ill mother who disowned her, Sherry received Christ through a radio broadcast as a child. He has been faithful to sustain her through many challenges in her walk of faith. She is a wife, mother and “Mimi” to her grandchildren. She is active in foreign missions and evangelism and has a special heart for those who are emotionally hurting, especially children. The Lord has given her a burden for the Church in these last days, to expose error and speak the truth in love to all with an ear to hear.

Sherry Neese can be reached at Truth_and_grace@yahoo.com

 

 

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