Let me start by saying that my story is really about a friend.
People start stories/questions all the time with, “Well, I have this friend” when they’re actually talking about themselves. Just want to clear up from the get-go that this really is about a friend, not me. Just in case you all wanted to stage an intervention on me. (Which I really hope you would if you saw this happening to me.)
I have this friend (really!) who is a believer. She comes from a conservative background, is actively involved in church, and truly loves the Lord. God has been moving a lot in her life, giving her a greater heart for the lost, for those around her, and for ministry. She’s been growing so much, and in her search and desire to grow more, she’s been looking beyond all the writers, thinkers, teachers, and pastors that she has studied under up until this point. And while she would say this is making all the difference in her spiritual walk, I would question what some of the teachings she’s being exposed to are doing in her life. Rather than leading her to clear, biblical truth, she’s being led to philosophies and doctrines more centered on feelings, perceptions, and “what seems right.” Some of the theologians she’s studying and amen-ing are self-professed seekers who, while claiming that they know wholeheartedly that the Bible is full of errors say in the same breath that they don’t even know if there really IS a God. They focus in on doctrines taught in Scripture that upset them, being single-minded in their determination to prove how centuries of sound teaching and academic understanding are wrong on these specific teachings, all to the detriment of all other parts of Scripture. While still clinging to who they “feel” Jesus was/is, they deny other whole parts of Scripture, leaving those who follow their teaching with… well, with nothing but an inflated sense of self-enlightenment and a disdain for God’s Word. And in the most ironic twist of all, in their quest to be all about Jesus and His abundant mercy and goodness, they strip Him of all Lordship, making His death on the cross completely unnecessary.
I am just me. I’m not a theologian who has all the answers. I’m not the smartest person out there. I’m not someone who can debate these heresies with any kind of eloquence or skill. I’m not a leader.
I am, however, someone who can recognize danger when she sees it.
I’m all for being stretched in how I think. I believe Christ Himself called the disciples to be stretched beyond what their religious leaders had taught them to think about God. BUT Jesus never taught them to deny Scripture, to doubt God, and to diminish His authority. There are so many teachers out there today, teachers who call themselves true followers of Christ, who do these very things. They claim that the biblical church, that those teaching the Bible, and those who follow them are modern-day Pharisees. And in some ways? They’re spot-on. We can SO be Pharisees! Praise God that His Word convicts us on this and has the power to change us! I think we can be certain that Christ would call our modern churches to be stretched beyond our legalism, but He would never call us away from the truth of Scripture, as many of these modern-day teachers are doing. Just as Christ taught against being a hard-hearted Pharisee, He taught that there were wolves among the sheep. I am a dumb, dumb sheep, y’all, and if there’s a wolf out there that looks like a convincing sheep, I’ll likely be the first one to follow him. That’s why I have to cling to Scripture and to the Great Shepherd, who knows better than I do. Teachers will come with words and explanations and philosophies that sound so smart, so educated, and so right — but they come with the same attitude of the serpent in the garden when he asked Eve, “Did God REALLY say that?” We must trust God’s Word above all else, and be aware of the danger around us. It’s a very small step from having an issue with just one doctrine in Scripture and tossing the whole thing out as trash. And it’s a dangerous trap that I don’t think many of us would even know we were falling into until we were too far gone. (Me included, y’all!)
Before you pick up a book or listen to a sermon or do a Bible study, DO YOUR RESEARCH and find out what exactly the person leading you believes. There are plenty of books being sold in Christian bookstores, plenty of people publishing blogs online, plenty of teachers out there who profess Christ but whose doctrine and theology deny Him completely. And lest you think I argue only against a more liberal theology, there are plenty of more conservative theologies out there that are extra-biblical, adding burdens to believers, restricting believers in ways that Scripture doesn’t. Test their words against Scripture. Test their words against the WHOLE of Scripture. Do NOT take your spiritual health so lightly that you’ll read anything, listen to anything, and believe anything that’s out there. And when you read Scripture and something just doesn’t “feel right” — guess what? You’re fallen, I’m fallen, and God’s truth rubs our fallenness the wrong way. If my own personal sense of rightness was the standard of truth, then I could afford to ignore or take issue with the Bible. But I’m not God. Rather than letting my feelings/my culture/my sense of right and wrong change God’s Word, I think it’s far wiser to let God’s Word change my feelings/my culture/my sense of right and wrong.
All that said, just be careful, friends. There are some very real dangers out there. Stay in God’s Word, trust in His leading, and pray for discernment to know the wolves from the sheep.