Monday, September 11, 2006

What Lies Beneath

Life in the church would be so much easier if the distinction between truth and error was always obvious and clear. That state of affairs will never arrive. The church militant, as the hymn puts it, will be "by schisms rent asunder, by heresies distressed". Ever since the Garden of Eden the infiltration of error has gone hand in hand with the art of deception. With a turn of phrase that he will later use of the schemes of the devil, Paul warns of the cunning of false teachers with their craftiness in deceitful schemes (Ephesians 4:14-15). Bad theology is unorthodox in its methods as well as its ideas.

Here's an example of a mind trick. What lies beneath bible words are bible meanings. But for false teachers bible words are used to cover over a different set of meanings. In other words what lies beneath them is a totally different view of God, Christ, sin and salvation. We should never take words at face value and assure ourselves that the same set of words carries the same, orthodox, set of meanings.

The prime NT example of this is in 2 Corinthians 11:4. The super-apostles, themselves masquerading as servants of Christ, preach Jesus, the gospel and the Spirit. Paul says that what lies beneath these bible words in super-apostolic preaching is "another Jesus than the one we proclaimed...a different spirit from the one you received...a different gospel from the one you accepted".

Same words, different meanings; another Jesus, a different gospel. Not the real one but the fake one that cannot save and whose gospel is not good news at all.

What lies beneath? A sign that has been detached from the person and truth signified. What we are left with is an empty shell. What lies beneath? Well lies, deception, fraud, and theological theft on a grand scale.

Heresy cheats you out of salvation.


Stov said...

helpful bro. Thx.

étrangère said...

I hear Machen in that! Reading him on this use of words to mean different things (and particularly using 'Jesus' while hollowing it of any true meaning - Christianity & Liberalism or possibly God Transcendant) has made me more conscious of not assuming content in words, more clearly/frequently stating some of the content of the words I use.

Martin Downes said...

I used to do a talk on our new leaders' training weekend on "If I was the devil what would I say to you?". On of my points was that I would get you to be satisified when people talk about the gospel and evangelism but never get you to think about defining those words, or asking others how they define them.

étrangère said...

What, not being content with that warm fuzzy feeling when people say your favourite buzz words? Shame.

Certainly worth speaking to CU leaders about. Cheers.