Saturday, June 05, 2010

Seven characteristics of false teachers: Thomas Brooks

A couple of years back I spoke on "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Heretics" at the Eccentric Ministers Conference. At the time I wasn't aware that the Puritan Thomas Brooks (1608-80) had beaten me to it.

Brooks is very quotable. Here are his headings and some highlights taken from his pastoral masterpiece Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices published by the Banner of Truth Trust:

"Satan labours might and main, by false teachers, which are his messengers and ambassadors, to deceive, delude, and forever undo the precious souls of men."

He cites Jer. 23:13; Micah 3:5; Matt. 7:15; Philippians 3:2; Prov. 7

"Now the best way to deliver poor souls from being deluded and destroyed by these messengers of Satan is, to discover them in their colours, that so, being known, poor souls may shun them, and fly from them as from hell itself."

1. False teachers are men-pleasers

"They preach more to please the ear than to profit the heart."

"They handle holy things rather with wit and dalliance than with fear and reverence."

"False teachers are soul-undoers."

"False teachers are hell's greatest enrichers."

He cites Isaiah 30:10; Jer. 5:30-31; 23:16-17

2. False teachers are notable in casting dirt, scorn, and reproach upon the persons, names and credits of Christ's most faithful ambassadors

He cites the experience of Moses and Aaron in Num. 16:3; Micaiah's experience in 1 Kings 22:10-26; Paul's experience in 2 Cor. 10:10; and Christ's experience at the hands of of the Scribes and Pharisees Matt. 27:63

3. False teachers are venters of the devices and visions of their own heads and hearts

"These are Satan's greatest benefactors, and such as divine justice will hang up in hell as the greatest malefactors, if the physician of souls do not prevent it."

He cites Jer. 14:14; 23:16

4. False teachers easily pass over the great and weighty things both of law and gospel, and stand most upon those things that are of the least moment and concernment to the souls of men

He cites 1 Tim. 1:5-7; 6:3-5; Matt. 23:2-3; 24:32; Rom. 2:22

5. False teachers cover and colour their dangerous principles and soul impostures with very fair speeches and plausible pretences, and high notions and golden expressions

"Many in these days are bewitched and deceived by the magnificent words, lofty strains, and stately terms of deceivers"

"As strumpets paint their faces, and deck and perfume their beds, the better to allure and deceive simple souls, so false teachers put a great deal of paint and garnish upon their most dangerous principles and blasphemies, that they may the better deceive and delude poor ignorant souls."

"They know that sugared poison goes down sweetly; they wrap up their pernicious, soul-killing pills in gold."

He cites Gal. 4:12; 2 Cor. 11:13-15; Rom. 16:17-18; Matt. 7:15; 16:6, 11, 12

6. False teachers strive more to win over men to their own opinions, than to better them in their conversations

"They busy themselves most about men's heads. Their work is not to better men's hearts, and mend their lives."

He cites Matt. 27:17

7. False teachers make merchandise of their followers

"False teachers are the great worshippers of the golden calf."

He cites 2 Peter 2:1-3; Rev. 18:11-13; Jer. 6:13

"Now, by these characters you may know them, and so shun them, and deliver your souls out of their dangerous snares; which that you may, my prayers shall meet yours at the throne of grace."


David R. Nelson said...

Thank you, again, Martin. Brooks gets it right in so many ways!

Tony said...

Awesome post! I'm interesting in reader further on Mr. Brooks now.

Daniel Lopez said...

I rather enjoyed this little piece and the wolf in sheep's clothing is amusing. I'm currently dealing with this very subject matter in a forum, which I'm a moderator off. Thanks.