Michael J. Kruger: One of the benefits of studying church history is that you realize that Solomon was right: “There is nothing new under the sun” (Eccl 1:9). This proverb has certainly been proven true when it comes to different “versions” of Christianity that have popped up throughout the life of the church. In every generation it seems there’s a new group that comes along insisting that their new and improved Christianity beats all predecessors hands down. But, upon closer examination, it becomes clear that this new version isn’t new at all. It’s simply a microwaved version of some other alternate brand of Christianity that the church has faced (and rejected) before. This is not to suggest, of course, that the modern church has no room for change or growth. Just like individuals need sanctification, so does the institutional church. Christ wants to purify his bride, and so we should expect that, this side of glory, there will always be
The Horror of a Different Jesus
Sam Storms: Our pluralistic, consumer driven society is all about choices, options, and diversity. If you don’t like what you see, be patient; another version, an updated edition, a new and improved alternative will soon appear. This is often the case in certain expressions of contemporary “Christianity” (so-called). Don’t like the Jesus of evangelical, orthodox biblical faith? No problem. There are plenty of other Jesus’s to choose from. There’s the liberal Jesus, the liberation Jesus, the Christ of the cults, and the Christ of Islam. There’s the entirely human but not so divine Jesus or, if you prefer, the entirely divine and hardly human Christ. Or perhaps you relish a more home-grown Jesus, one that is fashioned after the desires of your own heart. Messianic pretender? Philosophical sage? How about the Jesus of Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code? Or the Jesus of The Gospel of Judas? 2020 is a presidential election year, so cast your vote: the Democratic Jesus or
What is false teaching and how do we spot it?
Kevin DeYoung: We’ve been working through 2 Timothy on Sunday evenings. Last week I preached from 2 Timothy 3:6-9. It’s a passage–like many in the pastoral epistles–that deals with false teaching. Paul warns against the folly of false teaching (and against the folly of falling for it). Which leads to the question: what is false teaching and how do we spot it? Obviously, there is no foolproof scheme for identifying false teaching. Biblical discernment takes years of prayer, preaching, and practice. But there are certain questions that may be help us sift the good from the bad. Here are 15 discernment diagnostic questions I suggested to my congregation. 1. Does the teaching sound strange? This is not fool proof, of course—predestination may sound strange at first. But sound teaching should make biblical sense for those who have read through the Bible every year, go to church every Sunday, and have gone to Sunday school for decades. As an initial question,
Can the Prosperity Gospel really be that bad? Yes!
Sam Storms: There is a church in my city that is known for its stance in favor of the so-called Prosperity Gospel (oh, how horribly misnamed it is; for what it proclaims is decidedly not “good news”!). People who have visited there informed me of several of their beliefs. Here are a few: Abraham was a wealthy man, and so too was Jesus. It only follows, so they say, that God wants you to be equally rich. They believe in what they call the “transference” of wealth: God’s design is to take wealth from non-believers and give it to Christians. In this church they explicitly pray each Sunday that this will come to pass. It is not uncommon for there to be two sermons each Sunday: an initial 30-minute message on tithing, followed by a regular sermon. The pastor has publicly declared, in the presence of his congregation: “The Bible says lay up your treasures in heaven; but I won’t
read more Can the Prosperity Gospel really be that bad? Yes!
What the Prosperity Gospel Does to the Gospel
By Brandon Smith: I was reminded recently by a local TV preacher (asking for money in exchange for prayers, of course) how badly the “prosperity gospel” distorts the gospel of Christ. Here are three major things that I think the prosperity gospel does: 1. Cheapens Grace The gospel of Jesus Christ is built upon the fact that God’s wrath needed to be satisfied by the shedding of blood in order for sinners to be taken out from under this wrath. Jesus did not have your material wealth in mind when he died on the cross. No, Jesus had your eternal soul in mind. Your wealth on earth is judged by others, but your soul is judged by God. Grace is poured out because you are born in spiritual poverty with no hope, not because your 401k is lower than you’d like. Paul proclaims that we are more than conquerors in Christ. What more do we really need? 2. Glorifies Materialism One
How the prosperity gospel invaded and infected the African church
In the video below D.A. Carson interviews Conrad Mbewe about the tragic rise of the prosperity gospel in Africa. One of the reasons for the popularity of preachers like Benny Hinn, Keneth Copeland, and other prosperity teachers in Africa is because of the similarity between what they preach and the native pagan spirituality. Take time to read Mbewe’s article Nigerian Religious Junk. (HT: Todd Pruitt)
The Necessity of Harsh Words for False Teaching
From Jarred Wilson: I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves! — Galatians 5:12 How can Paul justify such language? And does this kind of language teach us anything about how to respond to false teaching? Or is it completely an apostolic privilege, off limits to us mere Christians? Let’s step back and see what Paul is doing. Anyone familiar with Paul’s letter to the Galatians knows it is punctuated with this kind of exclamatory language. The shepherd is perplexed and heartbroken over the Galatians’ apparent departure from the gospel once established, and he is livid, indignant toward the Judaizers who are leading them astray. If this were written today, we would be very tempted to chastize Paul for his tone — and indeed, some do reject Paul’s teachings today for this reason, among others (like alleged misogyny, etc.) Galatians 5:12 shows us that Paul is being both rational and angry. It is possible to be both. Paul has not lost his