Confronting challenges of heresy in the church
|Confronting challenges of heresy in the church|
A church cannot be stronger than her doctrines. The early church knew this fact pretty well enough that they left nothing to chance. Their approach was clear: the trumpet must give a clear message, or else. In this study, we will examine the definitions of doctrine, heresy, and church. We will also highlight some of the approaches of the apostles in dealing with heresies in their time. Finally, we will examine the signs we must watch out for in order to identify a heretical teaching or movement.
You cannot claim to be a member of the RCCG without the belief in our fundamental doctrines. It is through teaching not preaching that we transmit doctrines. Hence every Sunday School teacher must be sound in the knowledge of God‟s Word and have good knowledge of teaching methodology.
It is a codification of beliefs or a body of teachings or instructions (Wikipedia). It is a body or system of teachings related to a particular subject. It is a particular principle, position, or policy taught and advocated. It has its origin from (Latin) doctrina, which means teachings or a body of teaching.
It could be translated learning. (www.dictionary.com). The Greek didache, which means teaching or that which is taught; to speak in a way of teaching, in distinction from other modes of public speaking. (www.esword.com).
For the purpose of this study, we will define „doctrine‟ as a body of teachings or beliefs, fundamentally based on the Bible, and accepted as tenets of faith by a body of believers. It is taught and practiced by the generality of the people and deviations are, not just frowned at but disciplined. Membership of such a group is defined by adherence to this set of teachings.
It is an opinion or belief that runs contrary to established teachings, or customs. Its root, Greek „hairesis‟, means act of choosing. The heretic chooses to believe, or follow, a set of teachings different from what the group subscribed to. According to John W. Ritenbaugh, heresy is the translation of the Greek „hairesis‟- meaning literally “choice “ or “selection”- which has an interesting secular as well as biblical history. Until its biblical use, it has no evil connotation. Even in the Bible, it is mostly used to refer to a party or philosophy with which a person has chosen to identify or ally himself. Thus „hairesis‟ is frequently translated “sect”. In Acts, Luke applies it to the Sadducees (Acts 5:17) and the Pharisees (Acts 15:5; 26:5). Outsiders also used “hairesis” in Acts 24:5, 14 and Acts 28:22 to identify the Christian church.
However, when Paul and Peter‟s writing began circulating, „hairesis‟ meant a destructive element within the church that creates division through consciously formed opinions and ideas in disagreement with the orthodox teachings of the apostles. Paul condemns it in Galatians 5:20 as one of “the works of the flesh.” Sometimes it is translated “factions” or “party spirit,” but regardless of its translation, Paul says that people who practise such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God (verse 21)! (Forerunner, February 1995)
Campbell defines the church of the living God as a company of called out ones – called out of the world – those whom God has called unto Himself by the gospel of His grace and who have accepted the gospel and the Saviour it represents. We define the Church as comprising those who have been called out of the world, out of sin and isolation from God, and through the redemptive work of Christ have been gathered as a community. They have a common faith and share the blessings and responsibilities of serving the Lord.
There is no doubt that there are various definitions of the church. But we will stick to the last definition for our purpose since the basic concepts of separation from the world, redemption, faith, and the gospel are clearly represented.
HOW DID THE EARLY CHURCH DEAL WITH HERESIES IN THE BIBLE?
The Church had to contend with heresies from the beginning and the apostles put it on the front burner.
HOW DO WE IDENTIFY A HERESY? (GEN 3:1-9)
The best way to identify the fake is to know the original. The focus of the early church was the Word of God, the doctrines of Christ and not miracles, blessings, comfort but the Word. They studied, taught, fellowshipped, prayed, lived and died to ensure the decimation of the true doctrine of Christ. They risked everything for it. Nothing was compromised for the truth, 1 Tim 6:3-5; Rom 16: 17; Deut 13:1-10, 2John 10-11. Bankers are trained to identify fake currencies by being able to tell the original even in the dark. If you know the truth, not only will it set you free, you will be able to smell heresies afar off and help others to do the same.