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Got Some Apostasy?   Leave a comment

What is apostasy?

That’s a question that has divided many churches over the centuries. Good and respectable Christians have differed over this question with regards to various doctrines. Someone is wrong on almost every issue. But does that disagreement warrant the refusal of fellowship?

  • Will Christians be here for the Tribulation or not?
  • Which English translation of the Bible should one use?
  • Can we eat meat sacrificed to idols?
  • Can Christians drink alcohol?
  • Can Christians dance?
  • Should Christians speak in tongues
  • Is it okay to baptize babies?
  • Is it okay to rebaptize previously baptized adults?
  • Do priests control our communication with God or is it more direct?
  • Can lay people argue with priests over spiritual matters?
  • Is salvation by faith or by following orthodoxy?

All these are questions that have divided churches and created new denominations as those who felt strongly on one side or another formed new congregations in a disfellowshipping.

Yeah, we don’t often look at it that way, but that is what the various church splits and particularly the denominations are all about at heart.

Some of those issues are silly (spiritually speaking) and no reason to break up a church. Some are more serious and may warrant diversification in the denominations while maintaining friendly relations. Others are absolutely critical and warrant disfellowship and use of that dreaded c-word “cult.”

How do you know which is which?

First, you have to take a careful look at the person advocating the false doctrine. New Christians sometimes teach error out of innocent ignorance. Think Apollos, gently instructed by Priscilla and Aquila. A gracious attitude that manifests itself in a willingness to discuss the subject and learn can be treated gently while a hard heart cannot.

If the person is a teacher of considerable experience who ought to know better and he persists in his error even after considerate brethren have tried to show him the Lord’s way more accurately, then that is a different story.

Second, and much more important, are the implications of the teacher’s doctrine.

Some erroneous teachings reflect upon the nature or character of the Godhead.  For example, those who teach the “dispensation” notion that the Jewish rejection of Christ was a surprise to God are reflecting upon the foreknowledge of God. This is a woefully dangerous error that Biblical Christians should not be soft toward.

Some cult alleged that Christ was initially created by God; He, therefore, does not possess a divine nature equal to the Father’s. This is a heretical concept that undermines the Lord’s claims regarding Himself.

Others attack the credibility of the Bible as an infallible revelation from God. There are teachers who allege that the Bible contains contradictions; that there are jars and clashes between the Gospel accounts. Genesis 1 is promoted as mythological; the Bible and the theory of evolution are said to agree on almost all issues. Biblical Christians cannot support or commend doctrines that radically undermine the Bible.

The above are instances of apostasy that I believe seriously undermine salvation. Biblical Christians should find no fellowship with those who teach the above doctrines.

On the other hand, there are those who argue for miraculous gifts and continued revelation for this age, contending for a form of subjective religion that ignores the completed, authoritative New Testament. When this is accepted, virtually anything goes in religion.

Then what do you say about those who deny the Lord’s clear plan of salvation and who obliterate the concept of the distinctiveness of Christ’s church?

Similarly, some teachers have publicly advocated that Christians should extend fellowship to those “baptized” as infants, to those who have been sprinkled instead of immersed, and to those who endorse the idea of salvation by “faith alone.”

Others have announced that the “church of Jesus Christ” is but one of many sectarian groups, hence active association ought to prevail across denominational lines.

While these second set of doctrines are concerning to me and I would seek membership at another church if they were taught at the one I am currently a member of, I have some degree of fellowship with those who hold to them. Why? Because they don’t affect salvation and our interaction gives us an opportunity to learn from one another and hopefully move toward a more Biblical Christianity.

But, absolutely, the churches need to be prepared to stand for God even when other churches do not?


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