As an Evangelical, I’m not sure about you, but I have a much easier time spotting heresy outside of my world than inside it. I’m quick to denounce the “health and wealth” gospel and those that would argue that all religions basically teach the same thing and that there’s more than one way to God. It’s easy for me to spot these false teachings because I don’t struggle with them. But heresy isn’t just a danger for “them.” It’s also a danger for “us.”
Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:4, “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” Here are five false teachings in the Evangelical world that our itching ears love to hear:
1. The Holy Spirit is optional. We as Evangelicals gravitate towards this teaching because the Holy Spirit makes us a little uncomfortable. We look over at our pentecostal brethren and shake our heads at all that Holy Spirit nonsense. We are a people of order. And most importantly, we have the Bible, so we don’t need the Holy Spirit. He’s optional. And yet this teaching, although making us feel comfortable and scratching those itching ears of ours, completely misses not only what Jesus taught about the Holy Spirit but how the church in the book of Acts operated under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
2. We’re called to follow a Book above all. Put those sharpened knives away for a second, my Evangelical brethren. I’m a card-carrying Bible believer like the rest of you. I’ll throw my “inerrant” and “infallible” on the table right next to yours. But as great as the Bible is, and as much as the Bible tells us about Jesus, the Bible isn’t Jesus. I didn’t ask a Book into my heart. I didn’t ask a Book to forgive me of my sins. At the end of the day, I’m not called to give my life to a Book, but to a person. Many times, we can elevate the Bible so high that it becomes higher than Jesus, and nothing is supposed to be higher than Jesus. At the center of my faith is a person, not a Book.
4. It’s our job to judge the world. Since we’re so accustomed to judging fellow Christians, we like to extend that gift of judgment to the outside world, declaring ourselves the moral conscience of the world. Our specialty is to judge people (non-Christians) for not living up to a standard to which they never agreed. It would be like me walking up to you and judging you for not running a marathon last year, even though you never agreed to run a marathon nor had any desire to run a marathon. If we would read the Bible we hold so dear a little more closely, the Apostle Paul would quickly remind us that it’s not our job to judge the world. That’s the Holy Spirit’s job (1 Corinthians 5:12, John 16:8).
5. Church is for church people. We throw around churchy words like “fellowship” and “discipleship” as code words to keep church for church people. It’s just easier that way. If church can become a holy huddle where everyone looks, acts and talks the same, then there’s none of the hassle of having to get to know new people or (God forbid) changing something. But saying church is for church people completely negates our duty for evangelism. It would be like saying hospitals are only for healthy people. Don’t think this is a problem? Look around at the churches in your town. How many are genuinely reaching people for Jesus and growing on a regular basis?
QUESTION: What other false teachings would you add to this list?