How Exclusive is Too Exclusive

Todd said:

“I think what guards against dangerous theology is a wide community challenging your own theology and being open that you maybe be wrong or looking at it at an unhealthy view.”

To some extent I agree but often your main connections are people who share similar doctrinal beliefs.

At the end of the day only the primary text can verify any particular teaching.

The problem with a number of large churches is a lack of systematic or Biblical theology. Much of the teaching is topical and thematic rather than exegetical. Consequently, the congregation don’t have any proper method of approaching the scriptures themselves.

– Raving Evangelical

The pattern of us gathering mainly with people who share similar doctrinal beliefs can be very formative for our faith. Does it help us or harm us or is there a bit of both?

Some church leaders become very worried when members of their flock get together with members of other churches for Bible studies etc. Some get worried when their members make the occasional visit to other churches, saying that there is no need to go elsewhere for food when what they are providing is good and plenty.

When the church’s teaching is good, its hard to see any harm in it being the main circle of relationships; when it is bad, it can be terrible, and very grieving if in leaving a church, we also leave all our friends.

Many of us have found it too difficult to remain in churches when we stop thinking in whatever way is mainstream there. Is it necessary for community to happen, for us all to believe the same major doctrines, or can our faith transcend this?

Is it necessary to be in a community of likeminded people, or is it helpful to mix regularly with those of other quite distinct faiths? Should pastors disparage other faiths from the pulpit, as I’ve heard happen, or should they be encouraging us all to mingle?

When a church refers to itself as the best or greatest in the city, country or world, elevating its way of doing things and its beliefs above all others, should we feel comfortable with the pat on the back, or worried about the way they view others?

Is an answer to teach people how to read scripture well for themselves, so that they become confident understanding scripture without the same influence of a likeminded crowd, or is this too hard for most people to master? I’ve been told that my understanding does not have the value of one who has done a theology degree for instance, and many times this is probably right, but there are other times when I’ve seen highly educated people subscribe to very dodgy doctrine.

Is there nothing to be done in this area? Do we just need to trust God to lead us into truth, in and out of congregations, in His timing, knowing that ultimately he will complete the work begun in us?


70 thoughts on “How Exclusive is Too Exclusive

  1. I think it is our western thinking which is influenced by greek and scientic thinking is the problem. In Greek thinking our ideas/views define us as people and so when others challenge or confront our ideas it becames a personal attack on (which it may not be).

    Also, our scientic thinking leads us to think that if A is true then B is worse and struggles with paradoxs.

    These barriers do hinder community and discussion. While Dodgy theology or doctrines. its how we actually process the information and express it is the problem.

  2. Todd said,

    “I think it is our western thinking which is influenced by greek and scientic thinking is the problem.”

    Certainly the thinking of the Near East differs but the cause of most errors are probably even simpler than that.

    Few of us have had much of a formal exposure to literary and historical analysis let alone a theological one.

    Most new Christians are usually given a doctrinal introduction of the faith to ‘get them up to speed’ so to speak. This often entails a rapid survey of a number of a passages in the Bible and it is taken for granted that the context is already understood.

    Unfortunately this habit continues after the initial discipleship. What is needed is some kind of structural overview of how the Bible ‘hangs’ together. However this requires a bit more systematic study which is missing in most preaching programs or Bible studies.

    The most helpful short commentary I have seen is “Gospel and Kingdom” by Graeme Goldsworthy. I found Geoffrey Bingham’s doctrinal overview “The things we firmly believe’ also useful.

  3. Yes, I think you are both right.

    It does seem to be human nature to take others challenging us or our ideas as a personal attack. We all want to be ‘right’. We do all kinds of things in order to maintain our belief that we are right about all kinds of things. Even subconsciously. Changing a belief is no easy task, partly for that reason. Even when we mentally assent to a belief, if part of us doesn’t really want to, we’ll do things to sabotage the outworking of it. Make all sorts of excuses. So when a confrontation re a belief is very direct, from another person, the response is often likely to be much stronger.

    “Few of us have had much of a formal exposure to literary and historical analysis let alone a theological one.”

    Yes, have to agree with that. That does make things a challenge. It also makes us very dependent upon our teachers who have had these things. Yet they are still human with their own need to be right; just more equipped to justify their views. I think the need to be right about things has to be dealt with before the education can be well used.

    “it is taken for granted that the context is already understood.”

    Yes, and its embarrassing for people to admit they don’t know the context, so mostly people will keep quiet rather than ask questions. By the time they get home to look things up, they’ve probably forgotten what it was they wanted to check as well. (Unless I’m the only one who has done that at some stage!)

    A structural overview of how the Bible hangs together would be good for every Christian, but not all would be interested at first.

    I agree with Todd that ‘these barriers do hinder community and discussion’.

    Since I am now not attending a church, a friend has just invited me to consider the Catholic church. 🙂 Very kindly meant. Perhaps in the interest of mixing with other points of view, I ought to let them explain it all to me. But I am so happy at the moment not to be attending anywhere and just to be part of the Body of Christ at large.

  4. “it is taken for granted that the context is already understood.”

    The danger with all that what is taken “for granted” is, that the assumption is often simply wrong.
    Many people hear the gospel message not unfiltered, but have an already laid-out worldview about topics like “God”, “truth”, “sin”, “redemption” etc. And they hear a sermon through that filter (some example filters: “truth is what works for me”, “God is always approving and meeting my needs”, “God is (never) going to punish because of sin”, “if you want to please God just be nice/work for the kingdom/give everything away/avoid the cinema”), and so when a certain, tempting situation occurs these people just bail out and everyone wonders how that could happen.

    Have seen this several times and back in those days was wondering myself how it could happen. I was very convinced some of those were 100% or even more than 100% rock-solid.

  5. Another good book often recommended by our ministers (admittedly only snippets I have read):

    How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth by Fee and Stuart.

    Targeting the layperson, it lays the foundation for hermeneutic interpretation.

    For doctrinal basics the Navigators used to put out a series on God, Truth, Sin etc. I have old copies but apparently they are now out of print.

  6. Gandalf said:

    “Many people hear the gospel message not unfiltered, but have an already laid-out worldview about topics like “God”, “truth”, “sin”, “redemption” etc.”

    And it is not often readily apparent that two people can use the same vocabulary and mean completely different things. Ever had a discussion with a JW about Jesus being the Son of God?

    Or the subtle corruption of the gospel can come in a different way…..

    From a commentary in the Briefing:

    Having looked extensively at Hillsong books and publications, listened to a range of audio and televised sermons (especially those that purported to deal with these subjects), and visited Hillsong church on serveral occasions, Nathan Walter arrived at some unsettling conclusions.

    * when sin is spoken about, which is not often, it is usually in terms of immorality in the world or else negative thinking and attitudes that destroy God’s purpose in our lives, and limit our potential; there is no concept that we are under God’s wrath or condemnation because of our personal rebellion against him, or that there is a connection between sin, death and judgement;
    * it is asserted that Jesus is God’s perfect Son and even that he died ‘for us’ or ‘in our place’, but what this means is not explained; not a single example was found expounding Jesus’ death as taking the penalty for sin on our behalf so that we might avoid God’s wrath on judgement day; instead, Jesus’ death and resurrection is usually quoted either as an example (of overcoming difficulty and living with purpose), or explained as the source of healing and empowerment for living an abundant and healthy life;
    * our response to the Christian message focuses heavily on the power of choice God has given us, on the need to change mental attitudes and thought patterns so as to live in the blessing God has for us, and on the biblical ‘law of cause and effect’— that if we obey Bible principles we will succeed and flourish in life, as God intended.

    Nathan Walter summarized his findings like this:

    In their understanding of humanity and sin, Hillsong distorts the diagnosis: it’s not so much that we’re sinful rebels against God our creator, and therefore objects of his righteous anger and judgement, under the sentence of death; it’s more that we have allowed all kinds of bad choices and negative thinking to get in the way of reaching the purpose and potential God has in store for us.

    This means that although Hillsong still believes in and proclaims the historical events of Jesus’ death and resurrection, they understand these events differently. They do not proclaim Jesus’ death as a substitutionary atonement, turning aside God’s wrath so that I can receive forgiveness and be saved on the day of judgement—rather, Jesus’ death and resurrection function as an undefined entry point into the life of blessing that God has for us, and serve as an example of what a fully devoted life in tune with God’s purposes looks like (effectively a ‘moral influence’ view of the atonement).

    And because they have twisted both the problem and the solution in Christ out of shape, their account of how we should respond to the gospel is also badly flawed. It’s not about clinging to Christ in faith for forgiveness of sins, and pursuing holiness through the work of the Spirit—it’s about choosing to change how you think, and obeying the Bible’s principles, so that you can move into a period of success and flourishing in every area of life.


  7. very interesting comment and link.
    And is it not almost ironically, that such omissions of doctrine (e.g. “there is no concept that we are under God’s wrath or condemnation because of our personal rebellion against him, or that there is a connection between sin, death and judgement”) in a so “contemporary” and “relevant” church resembles observations that can be made in another so movement like many post-liberal and emergent people are in??
    They too hate speaking about things like the Fall, God’s wrath upon sin and the rebellion, although with different arguments and theology. Maybe they are unconscious twins, that just don’t like each other?

  8. just wanted to add where I see the unconscious twinship:

    Both hail to the postmodern culture in the West more than to those parts of the gospel that are in stark conflict with contemporary culture – and might therefore hinder acceptance and growth.
    Needless to say that in many contemporary so-called evangelical sermons things look increasingly similar, which is also mentioned in the article about the 2006 conference when discussing the appearances of Warren and Hybels.

  9. very good posts. One of my relatives came to my former church a few times (they’re Catholic) and when asked them what they thought they said “Its too big”

    That one would get “lost” in here. When I first went to a pentie church, 80s, the head minister said “Evil begins in the heart of man” We all chewed over that for ages. There was alot of discussion about what does God want from us, searching of scriptures, it was quite organic. And the Bible was quite debatable and open for discusssion, there were many heated discussions (in love). I just think the more you understand of God the more you want to do what your supposed to do. Its a relationship with the Holy Spirit who prompts and guides us. As we are all so different He can lead us in relation to our individuality.

  10. This is off topic but i had issues with child-rearing, why is it so tough? I remember the minister in the small church i was attending (who happened to be a psychologist) Said “Yes, it is, and you don’t see your good work and effort for 8 or 10 years, but its worth it in the long run.” I then met another Christian lady in our church who seemed to have some good tips, she was studying maths at uni part-time and that was her “thing”. She was into fitness too and i joined the local gym (which had free child-minding) how good is that 🙂

  11. Gotta get going, but with regards to the article I think the Toronto Blessing divided the church somewhat in Australia. I can still remember around that time the impact it had on churches around the world and especially here. some churches took up the more “spirit” filled services and some didn’t. Its was distracting away from the Gospel and , well, it was interesting to say the least

  12. Gandalf speculated that: “Maybe they are unconscious twins, that just don’t like each other?”

    Someone I knew who is now undergoing a theology degree remarked that some aspects of Charismatic theology are not that much different from Liberal theology. Although they reach different conclusions, the methods by which they derive them are not dissimilar.

  13. RP asked:

    “Should pastors disparage other faiths from the pulpit, as I’ve heard happen, or should they be encouraging us all to mingle? ”

    It is definitely encouraging to meet someone from a different denominational background that applies sound Biblical principles to what they do. However, I must admit I find it difficult otherwise no matter how sincere and zealous they appear to be.

    I have never heard our pastors disparage another church or leader. However, they have on occasion sought to warn us against certain types of erroneous teachings. This is probably far more effective than trying to develop a ‘blacklist’ of heretical groups.

  14. Raving Evangelical,

    Alot of times is the methods and pardigms that people used are the root of the problem but even deeper than that is a emotional/social need that people fill with dogdy theologies and methods.

    I have a very good friend who is extremely committed christian who loves Jesus. He went from Anti Penty and Anti Catholic to Penty and now is a charismatic catholic and is anti any other church. (wont be surprised if he changes again)

    In each stage he believed that the Holy Spirit lead him in his thinking and rejected other view points. The common factor was that he believes he was right, his view point was biblical and anti some other movement.

  15. Isn’t that funny, Todd. I’d normally think that when people go from one type of church to a different type, a few times, that they might come out realising they all have their pros and cons, rather than being completely anti all except the current one.

    In my own situation, I appreciate the good foundation I received being confirmed in the Anglican church, despite disagreeing with them re baptism (since I think we should be baptised as adults for lots of reasons), plus I appreciate the freedom in worship and openness to hearing the Holy Spirit that I learnt in the Pente church – despite being aware of the pitfalls of leaning only on ‘hearing’ the Holy Spirit and pushing the word to one side where its inconvenient; and a shallow use of the Word. Plus I appreciate the greater diligence in scripture that my last church (also Pente) had particularly prior to its change of pastoral leadership, and in particular the great community of people I met there, whom I’m still in touch with, despite it now heading in a different direction.

    Not to mention all the great Christians I’ve shared with outside ‘church’ over time from a huge variety of churches, including people I’ve studied or worked with.

    All of that helps me appreciate that there are good things in each movement, and appreciate the church at large. I’d hope that this would be one benefit of a broader experience, but it seems in some cases, a broader experience can just help people write eachother off in a more educated fashion.

    Maybe it just depends on the person in the end.

  16. I have benefited with a wide christian experience. I do think that no one single pointview or movement can fully explained the mystery of God and Life.

    I wish people just be open to other views and stop thinking that are totally right. Only one man (Jesus) is totally right about God, maninly because he is God.

  17. Yes, all our journey’s are different but a church or elder that knows the word of God, properly, can make a bigger impact. There is always “someone” that sort of brings you to God but also i know people that have found it themselves too, not many though

  18. For example i think RP would be a good woman of God to get advice, from what ive read of how she thinks and works in God. Sorry, and the others on this site, she just came to mind 🙂

  19. There are a few factors here which come into play here and are of the ol’ sin nature and I don’t think has much to do with Greek thinking and manifest themselves in slightly different ways from culture to culture:

    People want to fit in

    We don’t want to be wrong

    We don’t want to be seen to be wrong

    We want to be God

    We don’t want to submit to anyone but if we do it is on the basis of not having to take responsibility for ourselves – the easy option – and it conveniently gives us someone else to blame (sound familiar?)

    The notion of sin is certainly not popular where we acknowledge it before God, and then hand it over to Him thru Jesus on the basis of our inability to deal with it. Grace is often counter intuitive to the sin nature.

    These things often coalesce into a passive or aggressive resistance to the truth or openness to changing our views, and are carried forward and supported by individual prejudices and hardness of heart.

    What we want to do is tick the box, have control over others or be conveniently controlled (when it suits us), and walk off into the sunset unfettered with having to work at our relationship and knowing who He is.

    This is the case from pleb to pastor to Pope.

    Ultimately we are individually responsible and without excuse to make ourselves open to the Spirit and whatever that entails within the community of His Church.

    Regardless of who we are it is a lifelong journey, and perhaps the best thing that indicates we are trying to undertake this journey is if we are having arguments about it, and the specific notion of those arguments – whether they are closed or a means for seeking to understand.

    You have to be prepared to risk your faith and trust God in that in order to gain greater understanding.

  20. MJ,

    Totally, leaders in churches should know their stuff and should know other peoples teaching as well. I do think that we as church should demand well thought out teaching.

    I do think it the role of the leaders to not only teach their conclusions and what method they used to get those conclusions.

    On the other side of the coin people in church should attempted to feed themselves and not blindly just trust that the Priest/Leader/Elder/Pastor knows best.

  21. MN,

    Ultimately, our understanding is not the end goal but trust in God is. Thank God that Jesus steps in and holds my faith together even with all my sinness and misunderstanding of God.

  22. Yes, thats true Todd, but, if you are in a church that influences you (with “their”) slant on the Bible, and whats the word, makes out they are God’s MOUTHPIECE, then you kind of trust them. If they dont encourage you to seek the scriptures, talk amongst yourselves, go your own way, but say you “need” to come to this or that meeting, then as nieve sheep, you do what the “leader” says….a bit simplified but…

  23. i think im speaking about leaders that are the oracle, the man, the annointed one…lifted up high_est

    Im not talking about your average minister just trying to encourage

  24. MJ,

    I was lucky from an early age I was taught to always test what is taught and see if it is in line for the bible.

    For me, I want to responsible for own actions and not play a victim to out theree teaching.

    I have found in my life that believing a lie was more about my deeper emotional issues eg not having a father when glowing up and a controlling mother and other crap.

    Those teachers who do spread dangerous teaching will ultimately be judge by God.

  25. Todd: “Ultimately, our understanding is not the end goal but trust in God is. Thank God that Jesus steps in and holds my faith together even with all my sinness and misunderstanding of God.”

    Agreed but faith without works is dead, and dare I say this is a small portion of the works we are called to.

    And I would suggest that trust is not the end goal either.

    Finally while I agree that ultimately our hope is in what God has done for us and not the other way round, it is not for nothing that we were advised for each one of us to continue to work out our salvation in fear and trembling.

    The two things – holding on in faith (which God gives us anyway) to what God has done for us, and individual responsibility are always to be held in tension. We each have our God ordained parts to play in this.

  26. well, i get your point Todd but i dont agree about “believing a lie etc”. Teachers are to be beyond reproach, shepherds, they are accountable for what they teach….We can actually judge them now, and discern. We dont have to put up with it. But when you do disagree and they think you are the “enemy” or you are not with the program one could get v discouraged.

    i have had the best upbringing one could wish for, parents that are believers and v kind and we had money but i can still get mislead. But one should never esteem leaders/pastors then. Or trust them that they know God. the thing is they pretend they do, they can be good actors

  27. MN said:

    “And I would suggest that trust is not the end goal either.”

    From the Westminster Shorter Catechism:

    Q. What is the chief end of man?
    A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.

  28. i should say, seek others with a true thirst and discuss and study the Bible…thank God when u eat a lovely meal, your child does a kindness, you get those shoes on sale that you had your eye on for months

  29. “Q. What is the chief end of man?”

    There is one answer I love:
    “the chief purpose of life, for any one of us, is to increase according to our capacity our knowledge of God by all the means we have, and to be moved by it to praise and thanks.” J.R.R. Tolkien

  30. Solomon said the purpose of Man is to love God and obey His commandments.

    Everything else is pointless … this was after Solomon had tried everything else.


  31. “Regardless of who we are it is a lifelong journey, and perhaps the best thing that indicates we are trying to undertake this journey is if we are having arguments about it, and the specific notion of those arguments – whether they are closed or a means for seeking to understand.

    You have to be prepared to risk your faith and trust God in that in order to gain greater understanding.”

    I agree, MN. You really do have to trust in God in the process. I have to say I am continuing to learn a lot from our discussions here. The different perspectives are thought provoking and sometimes take you on a new tangent. I think this can happen in a healthy physical church setting as well, providing that people aren’t under pressure to conform to a party line and providing that questioning is encouraged, with no condemnation or judgement attached.

  32. Bull – I know what you mean, but I do not think that the quote tells a different story.

    My interpretation is, that Tolkien just wanted to point out that we should not be lazy or wavering (increase by all means) with what God has given us in talents or whatever else (there comes the capacity), but also acknowledging and doing in accordance to what we know about God and what he conveys to us. All should end up to move us to praise and thank God (for all is in the end achieved by His grace), in fact to give all glory to Him.

    You may also look at

    My issue with our purpose being described as something we do (we love, we obey) is, that it can easily be misinterpreted in the common sense religious way of thinking that we offer something in order to get something from God.

  33. ‘This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.’

  34. I actually like the variations on a theme about what the point of it all is.

    They are all pointing the same way.

  35. Helen,

    What I am saying that you cant change what a preacher/teacher will teach/preach. The only thing in your control is to examine their teachings and do your study and be aware of other view points.

    As for the point of the christian life, I think that all what has been said is correct and just looking the truth at different angles or different ways of expressing the same thing.

  36. Raving Evangelical,

    My one number tool for reading a text is what is the main point. Yes, there seems to be an over analysing of single verses in isolation.

    Interesting enought, is that the bible doesnt have chapters and verses. It is a man made construct to make easier to quote the bible.

    Becuase of that, I aim to interpret a sentence in context to a paragraph, a paragraph in context to the book, and then the book in terms of context to the rest of the bible.

  37. Well, thats true Todd to a certain extent. But if they’re taking your money, getting money from the govt, living a life of a millionaire (and teaching dodgy doctrine) is that right?

    Fooling people isnt right. Taking money under false pretensions isnt right.

    If a evangalist wants to stand on a street corner and say this and that, ok, he’s not ripping off anyone, he might be annoying to people. I think the pressing issue we have is with tithing (lets not pls go there)

  38. mj has a lot of common sense. Pretending there isn’t moral hazard in a pastoral position is foolish. In theory, elders would help this to be reduced, but in practice, many times they are now replaced by board members or appointed by the pastor, multiplying the moral hazard. Many times its those early friends of the pastor who end up being appointed into positions of responsibility, further shoring up the pastor’s direction, with no input at all from the rest of the congregation, who are expected to sit like ducks waiting to be fed. This works fine when the team is actually good; when they are not good, there is no way for the congregation to really do anything, short of splitting a church if its extreme, which is traumatic for everyone. So people who begin to think the team are succumbing to moral hazard in their doctrinal stance just leave when there is no effective eldership to turn to.

  39. Also, its all very well to be able to think for ourselves, but what do we do when we find we can’t share those thoughts without being thought of as rebellious, dissenters, or heretical?

    For example, when discussing doubts about tithing doctrine – which we’ve all discussed here freely whatever our viewpoint, and still remained Christian – why do people look all around them to check who might overhear them? Why do they speak in whispers, even in a private house? Why do they look shocked when they hear someone say they don’t think its a correct teaching?

    What kind of culture leads to this?

    A culture of isolation from the rest of the Christian world, where a broader range of doctrine is heard, and a culture where interpreting the Bible in the way you are taught by your pastor is regarded as the only valid way – if you find something different in there, there is something wrong with you, not the prevailing thought around you.

  40. FP:

    “Pretending there isn’t moral hazard in a pastoral position is foolish. In theory, elders would help this to be reduced, but in practice, many times they are now replaced by board members or appointed by the pastor, multiplying the moral hazard.”

    It’s good that we have God’s grace 😉

  41. Todd noted that:

    “Interesting enough, is that the bible doesn’t have chapters and verses.”

    Very true. Sometimes an artificial division occurs and reading beyond it reveals the actual context.

  42. MJ warns:

    “But if they’re taking your money, getting money from the govt, living a life of a millionaire (and teaching dodgy doctrine) is that right?

    Fooling people isnt right. Taking money under false pretensions isnt right.”

    No it isn’t right but God has not been sleeping >:-O

    “But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.”


  43. “Also, its all very well to be able to think for ourselves, but what do we do when we find we can’t share those thoughts without being thought of as rebellious, dissenters, or heretical?”

    Raving Pente, that is my struggle at the moment. I moved into a new area and looking for a church, because I think for myself and have different view point to the mainstream, it makes it hard to fit.

    Hopefully, God willing I can find a community that allows discussion without killing each other.

  44. mj,

    There alot of Clowns out there, we do need to confront and expose them but at the end of the day God will sort them out.

    You do hear about of mainly health and wealth pastors who seem to be caught in money fraud.

    Hopefully, you havent been caught up with any of them who ripe people off with dodgy money making schemes and donations not going to spreading the gospel but to fill the pockets of the pastors.

    I hate what they do a much as anyway, but I dont want to focus on God because focus on pastors/leaders who are clowns.

  45. The tendency to circle the wagons exists in most churches I would suggest to different degrees leading to exclusivities of different nature both in terms of doctrine and just plain control over a church organisation.

    Most pastors are trying to do what they think is right, is just that what is right might be something different.

    This is where we need to retain an openness to different things, to at least be prepared to discuss them without putting up the shutters.

    Joining a church always leads to compromise at some point because as individuals we all have differing points of view either at the margins or in major stuff.

    So the issues as RP and others are setting them out appears to focussing down on:

    1. How we deal with difference both corporately and individually

    2. How open we are to expanding and deepening our knowledge, including elements of making ourselves vulnerable, submitting to one another in humility, as opposed to deference to an individual

    3. How accountability – which some of you have basically said is a dirty word – works.

    Pr 13:18: He who ignores discipline comes to poverty and shame, but whoever heeds correction is honored.

    Pr 12:1: Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid.

    Liked Todd’s last comment.

    A question: where does the buck stop?

    If it stops with someone else and we don’t like it, what then?

  46. Todd asks:

    “but what do we do when we find we can’t share those thoughts without being thought of as rebellious, dissenters, or heretical?” ”

    It partly depends on where they rest their beliefs on. Any discussion should begin by opening up the primary reference, the Bible. Sincere believers won’t decline the offer. Only God’s word working through his Spirit can change hearts and minds. Our arguments won’t.

    ” For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”

    Hebrews 4:12-13

    ” When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.

    1Cor 2:1-3

  47. Grecian philosophy mixed with today’s postmodern soup leaves many believers divided.

    A person who has studied every single word of the bible in context, who carries Master’s and PHD’s in every scholarly field can be dismissed by Post-Modernists arrogant and ignorant dismissal: “But that’s just your opinion”.

    When Jesus said “I am the ‘Way’, the ‘Truth’ and the ‘Life’, I wonder how many disciples said ‘But that’s just His opinion’?

    Those who know the bible extremely well, are ignored. Those who entertain well are praised.

    We’ve moved from conscience prickling to ear tickling doctrines too fast. Greek Hedonistic views in church mixed with Greek mindset’s of unrealistic ideals.

    I’m often worried what comes into our church, because I have often found doctrines outside dilute the gospel message our pastors preach. I think we’re facing that issue now actually.

  48. “Like what doctrines?”

    I’m talking about the church in general.

    ‘Manifest Sons of God Doctrine’, ‘Latter Rain Theology’, ‘Triumphalist Teachings’, ‘So-and-So’s Army’s/Generations’, Kingdom Now Doctrines, Anointing Doctrines, Touch Not God’s Anointed Doctrine, Tithe Doctrines, Prosperity Doctrines, 3rd Heaven Doctrines, Man Child Doctrines, First Friuts Doctrines, etc.

    There are many others. I encourage you to look into them to see why they are erronous. From what I’ve noted, they either fall perfectly into hedonistic thinking or platonic agendas.

  49. OK, Ive heard most of some doctrines. Man Child and 3rd Heaven doctrines Ive never heard of. Maybe I dont want to.

    First Fruits and Tithe doctrines are not over the top doctrines. I disagree with them but I do consider them “Meat offered Idols” issues.

  50. Article 26 (forgive the archaic language)

    XXVI. Of the unworthiness of the Ministers, which hinders not the effect of the Sacraments.

    ALTHOUGH in the visible Church the evil be ever mingled with the good, and sometime the evil have chief authority in the ministration of the word and sacraments; yet forasmuch as they do not the same in their own name, but in Christ’s, and do minister by His commission and authority, we may use their ministry both in hearing the word of God and in the receiving of the sacraments. Neither is the effect of Christ’s ordinance taken away by their wickedness, nor the grace of God’s gifts diminished from such as by faith and rightly do receive the sacraments ministered unto them, which be effectual because of Christ’s institution and promise, although they be ministered by evil men.
    Nevertheless it appertaineth to the discipline of the Church that inquiry be made of evil ministers, and that they be accused by those that have knowledge of their offences; and finally, being found guilty by just judgement, be deposed.

  51. so the working of the spirit is not hindered by misleading/misguided ministers, for that would assume they may – with their feeble efforts – hinder the sovereign and omnipotent God in blessing and protecting his true believers. Is it that the article would try to point out?

    So let’s have those poor ministers, they can not achieve any real misschief, or is there something missing?
    What if church discipline mentioned in the article is not practised?

  52. I think a true believer or discerner can see right through false spirits and doctrines (maybe not “all” the time). It takes maturity, and we are all different. The HS is always with us if we stay true to our walk. If we stumble a little, He is with us. I just get annoyed when the Gospel and Jesus are laughed at (ie: OTT Charismatic services and dodgy doctrine)

  53. Gandalf asked:

    “So let’s have those poor ministers, they can not achieve any real misschief, or is there something missing?
    What if church discipline mentioned in the article is not practised?”

    Your first comment was correct but see Article 23.

    God commands church discipline to be practised but ultimately his sovereignty supervenes all. We cannot frustrate His plans.

  54. I agree with MJ on this. A true believer can often see through many false spirits of men. I think though its often easier to pick up something not quite right about the person than to discern a false doctrine that has been propped up by lots of bible references. Its easier to sense someone’s arrogance, see a pattern of using others for their own interests, or maybe angry or abusive outbursts towards others, than it is to spend the time it takes to thoroughly examine something that is being taught wrongly.

    That quote was very interesting. The problems happen when it is taken that one harmful step further, and people are expected to submit to leadership even when, in themselves, they feel what they are being asked to do is wrong. That is, to submit, they have to go against their conscience.

    There is teaching around today where people are taught that they should submit, despite personal misgivings of conscience, because God will bless them and take care of them regardless since they have been correctly submissive. Obedience, including to the church leaders, is the ‘gateway to heaven’. They are taught that obeying their leaders is key to God blessing them and that God will protect them from harm if they have submitted to a leader who was in the wrong.

  55. In the situation I just mentioned, church discipline may well be enacted in some fashion towards those lower in the hierarchy, but any discipline towards those in authority is left purely in God’s hands. So we have a situation which Jesus did not teach – a kingdom with top down discipline, and no way for those at the bottom of the pyramid to raise any issues they see.

    This of course is supposed to be taken care of by having the senior pastors be overseen by an ‘Apostle’ or a relationship with an umbrella church. But effectively, it takes church discipline of wayward leaders out of the hands of the local congregation. It raises the problem of ‘going over people’s heads’ to deal with issues, too. Fraught with problems.

    I hate the term ‘church discipline’. It sounds cult-like. Still, what we are talking about is how serious ongoing sins are acknowledged and faced and dealt with when they crop up in our gatherings.

  56. Thanks for your insightful comments. I had thought about such topic for some time given the situation that in the “modern” age with it’s competing schools of theological thought, there had been many who formed initiatives to contend for true teachings and made rallies, conferences, etc.
    This was made for the sake of raising concern and (hopefully) diminish influence or even get rid of those who were teaching wrong doctrines.
    However, I now think that much of these efforts were probably futile, but still am somewhat uncertain to which extent responsibility for truth and it’s uncompromized teaching must be executed within the institutional church bodies that are still existing.

  57. well, for one thing, people should be able to speak up. But in the larger churches they are televised and they wouldnt want a “scene”.

    If i was younger and more brave, i would take a few friends, sit crossed legged in front of “said super-pastor” and say thats bull__it But i wont, because i am old and i am well brought up. 🙂

  58. I do think everyone who has a personal relationship with a pastor/teacher should discuss it with them when they think a behaviour or doctrine has gone off the rails in their church – or is heading in that direction. That doesn’t mean creating a scene, or being disrespectful. They might even convince you that things are OK. But ultimately then, if you do leave, they will know why.

    If enough people raise a concern, something might change. Might take a long time though. Often these things come to a head after a series of people leave over incidents that show some kind of pattern.

    Once I worked for a Christian manager (just a normal business though) who was practically a sociopath, despite being an elder in his church and on the board of a major Christian organisation. I left after a few months, as soon as I got another role. Two or three others left after me (my replacements). Others in management realised he was going off the rails, but couldn’t do much about it while I was there – once a few others had left, they were finally able to address the issue.

  59. yeah, RP, what happened to cutting to the chase, we are all so polite these days, im the same, if a boss was an asshole i would just move on…..

    Anywho, i would never confront someone whose principals were the opposite of mine, im too polite and why stress yourself

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