Trial and Triumph: Stories from Church History by Richard M. Hannula has opened my eyes to many things.
Throughout church history there have been false teachers and false doctrines that have invaded the church and threatened its very existence. Let’s look at two of the earliest:
69-155 AD – He was the bishop of Smyrna. You see the Romans would have been fine with Christianity except for one thing…
Christians said the ONLY way to heaven was through Jesus Christ. If Christians had just said it was fine to worship however you wanted to and that “all religions are worshiping the same God in just different ways” they would have been left alone. But they didn’t.
Source of Persecution: This was an external, politically correct persecution.
Reason: Christians said the only way to get to heaven was through Jesus Christ.
Price: Death, persecution
How it Relates to Today: We are told to just practice our religion and leave others alone. We are told not to evangelize and accused of Westernizing as we evangelize. We are told to leave other religions alone and that “they are all just different ways to get to heaven.”
What the Bible Says:
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
Athanasius was the chief spokesperson for the truth of Christ against people who were in the church led by Arius. Arius and his followers believed “The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are not equal in glory. Jesus Christ is not God as the Father is.” (p 31-32)
The creed of Nicea was created by the church to explain what Christians believed about God including the one in three personhood of God. Arius and his followers would not sign and left the church. But after leaving, they missed the fine clothing and riches of churchood and went to the Emperor Constatine for reinstatement. Constantine reinstated them and when Athanasius, bishop of the church, refused, Constantine banished him and reinstated them anyway. The Arians led many people astray with the doctrine that Jesus Christ was just a great man but not God!
Source of Persecution: Leaders within the church, the emperor
Reason: Those signing the creed of Nicea stated the Jesus was God along with God the Father and the Holy Spirit.
Price: Banishment, loss of favor with the emperor
How it Relates to Today: There are many religions – Mormonism, Jehovah’s witnesses, cults, and even Islam that say Jesus was a great man but not God himself.
What the Bible says:
2 Peter 2:1
[ Destructive Doctrines ] But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.
What can we learn from this?
False doctrine is not a new thing. The way the church has dealt with it is by standing firm against it while holding onto God’s word. There is always trouble and tribulation when we hold fast to God’s word. There always has been and always will be for we are related to Jesus Christ BY BLOOD! We can expect troubles in this world for this world rejected Him.
All of this said, we must watch for false doctrine in all of our churches. It is there and the enemy would love to taint the message! I am rejoicing that the IMB Executive Board is considering reconciliation and private dealings with fellow trustee Wade Burleson.
I pray that they will reconcile and that they will reexamine their policies in light of God’s word. We must never add one jot or tittle to God’s word.
I have stayed away from this topic because I know so very little. I am encouraged by my fellow Georgia Southern Baptists that have written very forthright and brave articles in the Christian Index: Rick Garret from Hazelhurst and Nate Goodwin from Lavonia. They have stated it well.
When I read on SBC Outpost about this potential reconciliation, I literally cried. You see, I’m a nobody as far as the SBC is concerned.
I have been as upset about the IMB Board and Wade Burleson as anything in a long time. I’ve been in agony and praying since it happened! To see that they may be moving and seeking God is a relief. I am a Southern Baptist not because Southern Baptists are perfect but I believe that SBC is as close to the Bible as anything out there. That is what is important to me. If we start deviating in our theology then we’re in trouble.
Are we ever going to be perfect? NO! Will we ever be immune to false doctrine — NEVER! I will continue to pray, will you?
Dear Lord, I lift up the Southern Baptist Convention will all of my heart. Let us be a people with a heart after you. Let prayer and fasting begin at the top. I am thankful for my church and the SBC and what it has meant to me as a vessel of your blessing over the years. I pray that we will reconcile with one another and that the very top of our organization will model what we need to do at the “botttom” church level. Forgive us for where we fail you. Those who are proud, humble beginning with me. Those who are wrong, convict. Those who need encouragement, lift up. Let us pray and encourage one another. In Jesus name. Amen.