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Posts Tagged ‘heresy’

A couple weeks ago I had a great time with a close family member who is still a very loyal member of the Seventh-day Adventist organization.  Some people believe they can pinpoint the errors in beliefs about God that would prevent a person from having what they call “saving faith” in God.  I’ve been one of those people.  When pressed, they (I) would admit we don’t know the person’s heart, but we DO absolutely know they are wrong.  It was evident to me this family member of mine (after many heart to heart talks) has the same heart I do – one that resonates of the same Holy Spirit and the Love He pours out, in spite of some really huge differences of opinion on doctrines.  If we were forced to talk about the fine print, we would still strongly disagree and say the other is wrong.  But how much does that matter to God?  How much does that matter to each other?  Maybe this person still believes I’m wrong enough to go to hell in the end, but she is kind enough to not let on.  I don’t believe that about her (and actually never have.)

God has been widening my horizons at a painfully quick pace the last year or so, and He showed me much during this visit as well.  I realize that if I went back a few years on this blog, there are posts I probably wouldn’t write now.  While I still passionately believe the core issues that delivered us from legalism, that same legalism has taken a long long time to work its way out of my thought processes.  It is so easy to replace one form of legalism with another.

When we leave a system of belief that touts itself as the elite truth above all others, we immediately sense battle lines will be drawn.  We need a way to reassure ourselves that we truly are right.  Often doubt and fear can creep in so we fortify our defenses, and as happens in all wars, the”enemy” becomes much worse in our eyes.  I believe most fractures over religion – in families, churches, etc.,  come not so much from the differences in the beliefs we hold, but the attitudes of the heart that lead us to feel we are superior, and the desire to exert control of our position over others.

I had already begun to write this post when someone on our forum for HRM friends and family asked a question about spiritual fruit.  The individual wanted to know what the connection was between this movement and the fruit of love in its followers.  Are there any loving Torah Observant people?  Are they all cold and judgmental?  (Don’t look at their comments here, but no – they are not).  Does it matter what theology they have if they are kind?  And does their theology interfere with that?

Lots of loaded, complex questions here.  Jesus said to identify false teachers by their fruit (love rather than Pharisaical righteousness or knowledge), so these are really important questions.  And is there a difference between a false teacher and the followers?  Is it more difficult for a teacher to be blindly sincere than the follower?  I just like to ask questions I don’t have answers for.

As my very long story posted on this blog tells, my eyes were initially opened to the error of our law-centric theology by the overall lack of good fruit (as defined by Jesus) in the Hebrew Roots Movement.  Yes, there were exceptions to this generalization, but the overall atmosphere and focus did not naturally generate a loving, compassionate, sacrificial attitude toward anyone who was not aligned with our way of thinking.  And Jesus did say there wasn’t any glory in loving those who love you back, because well… anyone can do that.  When you love the unloveable, then you are on your way to being perfect, “as My Father is perfect”.

So, we moved on to enthusiastically embrace mainstream Christianity, where we knew things would be so much better.  That idealism eventually died as well.  I am starting to see a more level playing field between those who claim truth and those accused of error.

Jesus remains my Truth and the most beautiful love ever demonstrated to humanity.  But  I see that we who call ourselves by His name, in general, don’t know Him, and His verdict on false religion is that HE never knew us.  The heresy hunter’s favorite accusation is that cults invent their own Jesus.  And they often do.  But I’ve seen some strange versions of Him in the evangelical world too.  If it’s true what they say, that a false Jesus can’t save you, then maybe we should start getting to really know Him.  Really.  Know His heart before we seek to know soteriology, ecclesiology, eschatology.  What does He love?  What does He hate?  When you fall in love, you crave to know everything you can about the object of your desire, but you would not cut them open to study their organ tissue.  You would LISTEN to them and enjoy their company.  Scientists study cadavers and cells under microscopes.  They have great knowledge but take no thought of the life it used to be, before it came under their knife.  It is no longer a being but a source of information.  Do we benefit from what they learn?  Yes.  But oh the grief of what we may lose if we insist on living in the knowledge of God without really knowing Him.  We may look at a tissue sample and come to very wrong conclusions, because we see such a small part of the picture.  

So what do we do with this fruit problem?  I rejected a movement on a premise that indicts most of Western Civilization and its institutions, in orthodoxy or heresy either one.  The world is an unloving place but the light and fire of Christ still burns, sometimes in the most unexpected places.  I don’t have an answer for the question about theology and fruit.  Maybe there is a flaw in the knowledge base somewhere, but I have come to believe that the problem is not a lack of knowledge, but a failure to integrate Truth (Jesus) into the fabric of our whole being.  We have selfistic (my word) desires, half-truths from the world systems, a million other “isms” competing to be our paradigm for life.  This isn’t just an American problem, it’s an ancient one.

When Yahweh delivered the Hebrew nation from their slavery, they did not have a knowledge of Him in the way He was planning to reveal Himself.  They could comprehend very little of their Father and Creator, and even with amazing displays of power, didn’t believe He loved them enough to sustain them.  They didn’t resemble a priesthood, or a bride.  Yet these are the symbols He used to refer to them and describe His desires for them.  Even in their state of helplessness and ignorance he demanded Pharaoh, “Let my people go!”  They were HIS people, based on His covenant with their fathers, not on their own merit or worthiness.

Today there are many many children of God held captive by dogmas and falsehoods of countless kinds.  Can any of us say we really have everything right about God?  I don’t find my security in that pursuit.  And I don’t see other people’s spiritual worth from that vantage point either, anymore.     I can see where a certain untruth can hurt them, or others – like the whips of the slave owner.  But maybe someone is saying, “Let my daughter go.  Let my son be free to serve me in joy.”  Maybe they belong to Him right where they are, right now.

“Love the Lord you God with all your heart, mind and soul.  Love one another as I have loved you.”  These simple words will shatter slave-holding dogmas, if taken to heart.

God didn’t call me to be right.  He called me to be love.  It has taken a lot of humbling for me to give up that desire and pursuit.  I love to be right more than just about anyone. (Ask my husband!)  What good will it do to uphold the foundations of doctrinal purity while we let our love and compassion wither on the vine?

I am not negating the whole purpose of this blog.  I believe cults and heresies rob people because they cloud the Son.  But my reason for speaking isn’t to prove someone wrong.  It’s to point to the Son, so we may all be healed.  Because we all need that, no matter how right .. we think we are.

Only a small part of truth can be understood. The rest must be caught as an intense longing for a beautiful, loving, harmonious world. Truth is something much better than a set of ideas.

-Richard Wurmbrand

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Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?

For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels.

Luke 9:23-26

I spend most of my time addressing issues related to the Hebrew Roots Movement and the SDA organization, but this one has been heavy on my mind this week.  The success of the prosperity-thinking/positive-speaking gospel has taken in many more people than the law-based cults could ever dream of, although strangely enough, it has very close ties to Old Covenant thinking.  Doing something (insert any “work” or incantation exercise here)  to be blessed in health and wealth were indeed the promises of the Sinai Covenant, and the only promises I might add.  No provision for eternal life came with it, and you don’t hear much about that within prosperity circles either.

I have heard one distraught evangelist who has recently been to Nigeria.  He reports that we have exported this message via “Christian” television to the point that he couldn’t find any church there which had not been affected by this falsehood.  He said they look at the prosperity of the American preachers on television and can’t see any way that what they are teaching couldn’t be true.  This man said he spent all his time there simply reading what Jesus had to say about seeking money.  The details he related were horrifying and heart-breaking.

When Jesus’ disciples came to ask Him what the signs would be for the end of the age, the first thing Jesus warned them about was spiritual deception.  He said, “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ’, and they will lead many astray.  Matt 24:5.  I used to think this meant there would be multiple cases of antichrists running around claiming to be Jesus.  I now believe it means that many will come claiming that Jesus is the Messiah, yet deceive many.  This is so true in our time.  If you started making a list, you would run out of ink before you ran out of names.

What is the true path?

Jesus invites us to share His cross and walk a narrow road, not just camp out there.  He promised the world would hate us as it hated Him.  The abundance He offers is freedom from condemnation and victory over the chains of sin.  In Him we no longer fear death, because we have already died.  His gives peace, which is not as the world gives, and joy.  He promises to be with us and in us always through every situation.  He promises to discipline those He loves, to prune away things in our lives that derive their strength from ourselves and not Him, both “good” and bad.  He promises all this now, and your best life to come, if you do indeed belong to Him.  Romans 8:9 says, “If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.”

The Glittering Alternate Route

Throughout scripture, we see the adversary often chooses to entice people with their best life now, as defined by that which pleases the senses and satisfies our pride.  If someone is promising you can have your best life now, by earning God’s favor in your own goodness or positive attitude, who are they following?  If someone offers the true blessings of God’s children, to all people, without respect to their relationship with Jesus Christ, who are they following?

I have seen a stadium full of people, nodding in agreement to this “gospel” without the real Jesus being presented, or any part of the Word of God  in the message.  At the very end, everyone was invited to come have Jesus, to add Him to their already great life, because the speaker had assured them they were all very good people already.  If someone had come into that stadium knowing nothing of Jesus Christ, and they had accepted the invitation, they would still at that point have had no idea who He was, what He said, why He came, or what He asks of us.   Jesus was just the icing on the cupcake… and was going to give them everything they wanted.

This makes my heart sick, not only for the people who are not seeing Jesus as THE way THE truth and THE only life, but also for the name of Christ who suffered so much agony for us – so much so that we could never begin to understand the magnitude of the sacrifice He made.  In return we don’t want to sacrifice anything at all, but instead to be blessed in the things of this world.

A pastor in communist Romania took his youth group to the zoo.  He showed them the lions and asked them if they were willing to follow Jesus.  He told them what their own futures could hold, and asked them to count the cost.  We don’t hear sermons too often on Romans 12:1,2 where Paul asks us to give what is reasonable… ourselves, as a living sacrifice.

This brand of deception never appealed to me after I came to Christ.  But as we were priding ourselves in rejecting this one, we were falling for a different one.  The enemy has a flavor designed just for you, don’t worry.   Jesus warned us all in the Matthew passage, “don’t let anyone lead you astray.” My plea is for all who are seeking God to avail themselves of the Word of God and not man.  If you follow a man, you may indeed get what he promises, not just your best life now, but possibly your only life.  Deception is a test to see if we love the truth enough to find it.  (2 Thess. 2) Jesus IS the Truth.  Find Him.

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