Historical Church Series -The Early Heretics: Introduction

Hello again, my friends, I hope this post finds you all doing well. Today I want to start a new series, which is going to be in tandem with a new series on Tuesdays, Lord willing. What I’d like to do is go thru the basic Biblical doctrines of the faith held by Christians throughout church history. Not secondary issues, where we can disagree and yet still have fellowship with one another, but the primary issues that separate believers from heretics. In the series on Tuesdays I’m going to be setting those doctrines side by side with modern examples of cults or heretics. To match this, on Friday’s I’m going to be listing the historical heretics that were opposed uniformly by the church. I think, by the end of these two series, we’ll all agree that there is nothing new under the sun.

What brought this about is the new city we’ve moved to. It’s the most religiously minded area we’ve ever seen. I’ve rarely met new people here that didn’t recommend their church to us. We see in every town we go to that there are churches on every corner, that’s not new. But what is unique is that, come Sunday, those parking lots are full here. No one is out shopping or garage selling, few cars are seen parked in front of homes or apartments, I’ve never seen anything like it. In the majority of business’ we’ve been to we’ve been greeted by Christian music playing, gospel tracts set up on tables, Scripture or crosses hung on the walls, and even a verse mixed into the conversation by workers. As such, along side many different denominations, prosperity churches, and an impressive community of reformed churches, are the cults.

From where we live we can see the golden figure atop a Mormon temple, daily reminding me of the lost laboring under works righteous systems. It’s brought me to refresh my understanding of each cult, how they differ from Christianity, and how best to share the Gospel with them. In my research I have seen such a stark similarity to the heretics of old that I wonder if founders for these cults were reading heretical writings when creating the new religions. I’ve certainly seen the men we’ll be discussing on Friday often quoted by members of these cults when debating Christians. If we, as believers, are unaware of these men and what they stood for, we won’t know how to answer them.

My purpose for these two concurrent series is to edify and encourage my brothers and sisters in Christ to share the Gospel with the lost. My purpose is not to raise up our beliefs as if we ourselves are so much better than anyone else. We’re not. Most of us came out of these false religions, and we all know that we owe our salvation to God alone. Through Christ we have been saved, by grace not by works, we have nothing in our wretched hearts to boast about. If we boast, it will be in the Lord, His kindness, His grace and mercy poured out on us. That while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us, should be sufficient to remove any pride we might feel. I hope to write humbly, with all humility, about the doctrines which we hold, and the men who have attempted to subvert them.

I pray this topic will be a blessing to you all, dear ones. Please pray for me, as I approach this topic, full of sorrow and broken-heartedness. The lost, the lost, that God would give me a heart which continuously cries out for the lost! How many do we pass, brothers and sisters? How many do we see, marching their way rebelliously to eternity? Let them do so, as Spurgeon said, with us holding on to their knees! Desperately trying to get them to turn around. As always, beloved brethren, be good Berean’s and study to show yourselves approved.

The Unity of Heretics

Unity is the Christianese version of the secular ‘tolerance’. We’re consistently told to maintain unity, the church must unite. I was even told, before becoming a believer, that the reason we weren’t seeing the dead raised, the blind seeing, the mute speaking, and the lame walking was because the church had become disunified. Rather than the obvious answer from 2 Corinthians 12:12, that those are the signs of an Apostle, to give credence to the inspired nature of their writing.

Perhaps we’ve gotten too good, here in America, at twisted things to fit our own agendas. Perhaps too many have become lazy, people pleasing, fools ready to accept every wind of doctrine. Most likely it’s that Biblical knowledge is so lacking, and when there is no sound doctrine Biblical understanding decays. In other words, we’re a herd of starving sheep. 

Let’s go back to the original meaning of heretic, found in our twisted scripture for today, Titus 3:10. Here Paul is exhorting Titus, and us as we read this verse, to reject a divisive man after the first and second warning. Heretic derives it’s meaning from the word in this verse, factious, translated divisive in other texts. A heretic, then, began with the meaning of one who divides.

I find the logic behind twisting unity in the Bible to be very unreasonable. On the one hand we’re told by the ecumenical, universalistic, crowd that this verse means we should reject anyone causing disunity. On the other hand, within the verse there is clear disunity between Paul and the man causing the problems. If we were supposed to be unified with all false versions of Christianity wouldn’t it make since for Paul here to say instead ‘warn your brother, unless it offends him. In which case, say nothing and continue in unity’. 

The body of Christ should be unified, and I would certainly never turn away from a brother or sister over secondary issues. However, and this is the key, when someone comes with a different gospel we must seperate ourselves after rebuking this person. Hopefully this rebuke will win the person back to the true Gospel of grace by faith in Christ alone. If not, we can not have unity with them. For what does light have to do with darkness? 

My heart has been truly grieved to see the lack of concern for the lost within the body of Christ. There seems to be two extremes, the first where the saved relish the lostness of the lost and enjoy wagging fingers in their direction. The second is where the saved ignore the lostness of the lost, preferring to be liked by them than to share the light within them. 

Neither of these is love for others, both is love for self. How is this possible? Perhaps I was just such a wretched sinner when God saved me, all I can see that is good in me is Christ. If not for Him, there would not be a single redeeming quality for me to boast in. I’ve always been good at serving others, but I’ve always been even better at bragging and boasting of my service. The wretchedness of my sin threatening to ruin my marriage, destroy my family, and kill my soul. Self love? No thanks. Christ in me, that is all there is to love. I praise God that He rescued me, wholly apart from anything in me that was deserving. For His glory alone! SDG

Sorry for that little tirade, it’s free of charge. Why is unity dangerous within Christianity today? There are many false doctrines being taught, whether it’s the works faith of Catholicism, Mormonism, and Jahovahs Witnesses, the Universalism taught in the NAR and mainline liberal churches, or the prosperity gospel which has found its way into almost every denomination. All of these teach a gospel that can not save. 

Have we become so cold, so calluse, or so fearful, that our heart doesn’t ache for these lost living in darkness? Do we have no desire for them to hear the true Gospel? If unity comes at the cost of a single soul, then the price is too high. This, beloved, is what happens when we fail to take the full counsel of Gods Word. It’s Reformation month, let us remember that men and women gave their lives to seperate from false doctrine, false teachers, and a false gospel. As always, brethren, be good Berean’s and study to show yourselves approved.