'Heresy' is defined in the Oxford dictionary as...
'Opinion contrary to doctrine of Christian Church, or to accepted doctrine on any subject'.
A 'Heretic' is defined in the Oxford dictionary as...
'A holder of a heresy'.
'Heresy' is probably better checked within what the Bible says if we are to look at heresies in the church today. I first looked in H H Halley's Bible Handbook which I obtained along with a Cruden's Concordance when I first became a Christian in 1987. I drew a blank, the word is not indexed there. Surprisingly, it is not mentioned in Merrill Unger's 'Hodder Bible Handbook', either.
So I turned to another, this time from Word Books. This was 'The Word Illustrated Bible Handbook', where there are five references, to Colossians, to James, to 1st John, to 2nd Thessalonians, and to the pastoral epistles. There is also a cross-reference to Gnosticism.
The Colossian church was mostly, if not completely, Gentile. That is similar to the Christian Church exisiting in the world today. The heresy, taught by unknowns, involved other celestial spirits in addition to Christ. Their worshippers observed feast days, special seasons, and certain practices to honour and perhaps appease them. The heresy appears to have been an amalgamation of elements from Judaism, from the Essenes, from Gnosticism, from Hellenistic astrology and from pagan mystery cults.
The heresy in James seems to be one the author saw as exalting faith and ignoring works. He appears to be attacking not the teachings of Paul, but the way in which they were being followed. Both Paul and James recognised the importance of the works being needed to complement the Faith.
In 1st John, the author points out that the heretics fleshly indulgence is contrary to the gospel behavioral demands as preached from the beginning.
In Thesalonika, it was rather different. Some had erroneously taught (after Paul left) that Christ had returned already and therefore there was little need to work. There was also a considerable amount of meddling in each others' affairs. Paul had addressed the matter of lazy 'spongers' but the locals ignored his encouragement to change their ways.
Finally, I looked in Strong's Concordance to see what he had to say, and found references to 1st Corinthians, Galatians, and 2nd Peter. This is what I found in Galatians...
- Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. Gal 5:19-21
- But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. 2Pe 2:1
So, there we have the situation at the close of the first century AD.
What about now, you may ask, 2000 years later... what about Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses, and other such groups? Sure, they do preach a considerable amount of heretical stuff. However, they are well known for their heresies, as are other such groups, of which there are many.
- No, this study is about heresies which are rampant in what people would regard as 'Mainstream Christianity'. This is despite many many folk who have tried and failed at calling the perpetrators to repentance. It just gets bigger and bigger and bigger. You know, that is actually prophesied as what will happen in the end-times, when Christ's return is imminent.
If for no other reason, just take a confirming look at the way in which the world upon which we live is literally coming to the end of its ecological and environmental tether with far too little in preventive maintenance being done by the governments that have the ability to fix it.
Then, add to that the prophetic messages from scripture, and it makes tremendous sense to understand what the end-times are about.
Here is the first of several intended notes about modern heresies which I believe are rampant throughout the church. Others may follow. Some will be in my own words, some (like the one below) will be a sort of "Readers' Digest" selected excerpts version of the original published article.
Quite recently I found in a magazine the first part of a two-part series entitled 'Fraud and Deceit in the presentation of the Gospel', written by a qualified lawyer who had turned pastor. I would like to quote a few paragraphs from the start of this man's very well written series, but before I do, here is a brief synopsis of his life...
Bernie Koerselman was born in Iowa USA in 1935 (that makes him the same age as me). Raised in a Christian home, he left the faith at 20, going later in life to law school and graduating at the age of 40. He then practiced law for seven years, retiring to serve the Lord at 48.
At age 44 Bernie came to know Jesus. He now lives in Christchurch, New Zealand. He writes, teaches, and speaks on a range of Christianity-orientated topics, and has a website.
Here are his opening paragraphs from the article, with slight editing by me, purely to fit this page... firstly the background to his hard-hitting article...
- There is no fraud or deceit in the true biblical gospel. But sadly, there is wide-spread fraud and deceit in the presentation of the gospel in many churches.
As an attorney I am by training aware of the definition of fraud. Fraud is an intentional misrepresentation (or one made with reckless disregard for the truth) intended to cause a person to act to his injury in reliance upon the misrepresentation.
In a court of law, fraud is actionable. Contracts can be voided when fraud is used to induce a person to enter into the contract. In our churches we make representations to induce people to make decisions which will immeasurably alter their lives forever. These decisions have far-reaching ramifications. Those who believe and accept our representations will change their lives and their life-styles.
If we induce them to make that decision based on fraud - by presenting false information, we can do immeasurable harm. Not only may such persons not have a saving faith - and therefore not have salvation - but also they may become disillusioned and never thereafter be willing to make a saving commitment to Jesus.
Years ago I began to suspect that one of the evidences of fraud in the presentation of the gospel is the high percentage of people who quickly desert the church after having made a commitment.
Ray Comfort... quotes statistics of... an incredible 294,784 decisions in 1990. Yet in 1991 (the denomination) could only find 14,337 in a Christian fellowship. There were 280,447 decisions that couldn't be accounted for. The leadership had no clue as to why this happened, but could only conclude 'Something is wrong'.
...another denomination revealed that during 1995 it secured 384,057 decisions, but retained only 22,983 in fellowship. It couldn't account for 361,074 supposed conversions.
Ray told of another crusade where 600 decisions were obtained, but 90 days later follow-up workers could not find even one person.
... Ray Comfort's emphasis is that we do not tell the truth - again fraud and deceit - when bringing people to Christ. As a result, the seed is scattered on stony ground, and though received with rejoicing, the person falls away quickly in times of difficulty and/or persecution. I agree with Ray that there must be a 100% honest presentation of the gospel.
What is the Primary 'fraud' in the presentation of the gospel?
You may be astonished at how fundemental it is. It has to do with the person of Jesus Christ. The present emphasis in the Christian church seems to be on Jesus Christ as our saviour. The invitations from the pulpit are usually 'Accept Jesus as your Saviour and you will have eternal life!'
Sometimes there is a variation that states, 'If you believe Jesus died on the cross for your sins you will have eternal life'.
Are those statements biblically true?
Nowhere in scripture does it say or suggest that we can be saved by believing in, or accepting or receiving Jesus as Saviour...
Likewise, nowhere does scripture say or suggest that we can have eternal life by believing in something that Jesus did. Virtually all the scriptures that deal with salvation exhort us to believe in him - the person of Jesus.
What did Jesus say? Jesus told His disciples, "You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord', and rightly so, for that is what I am."...
Scripture states we are to believe in, accept, and receive Jesus as our LORD!
Perhaps the most familiar salvation scripture is Romans 10:9, "If you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord', and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved"...
What does it mean for Jesus to be our Lord?
He must be our master, our King, our sovereign, the one who has total authority over our lives.
I explained it to my grandson as "He must be your boss"...
Is the distinction between Saviour and Lord important? Is it important that we believe in Jesus as our Lord? The issue is of eternal consequence, whether or not we have eternal life. The proof is found in an unusual scripture. Again it was Paul teaching: "For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that He might be the Lord of both the dead and the living."...
Which relationship does the New Testament teach? Overwhelmingly we are taught that the believer is a servant, or even a slave, of the Lord Jesus. Scripture teaches: "You are not your own; you were bought at a price" (1 Corinthians 6:19). Isn't that the condition of a slave, not free, but owned by a master?
The NASB correctly defines our relationship to the Lord Jesus as his bond-servant. The bond-servant is a special category of servant. It is described at Exodus 21:5-6: "But if the servant declares 'I love my master and my wife and children and do not want to go free', then his master must take him before the judges. He shall take him to the door or the doorpost and pierce his ear with an awl. Then he will be his servant for life"...
The conditions of a bondservant are
1. it is voluntary
2. confessed publicly
3. out of love for his master
4. slavery - giving up everything, and
5. for life
These are the same requirements for those who would follow Jesus and receive Him as their Lord.
The New Testament writers declared themselves to be bond-servants. ... All true believers are declared to be bond-servants : "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must shortly take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John" (Rev 1:1 NAS)
You may read the article in its entirety in the 'Vanguard' magazine, Issue 7 (February 2000), and we quote these 'teasers' under the fair dealing section of the Australian copyright acts, acknowledging the source and the author. 'Vanguard' is published simultaneously in both Australia and the United Kingdom... website at www.christian-witness.org
Interestingly, when I first came to be a Christian in 1987, there was a worship song composed to the 'You are are not your own' scripture, sung frequently. I haven't heard it for many years, so far have those churches which previously sang it drifted from biblical belief.
In fact, I believe the converse is true, converts to Christianity seem to be encouraged these days to keep their baby faith (not building on it as the apostles taught) and then unbelievably instructed to go and do their own individual thing. This is diametrically opposed to the concept of being not our own, but bought at a price by the Lord Jesus Christ to obey His every requirement.
I have started to write a few notes about some of the problems associated with the 1948 "Latter Rain" Revival in Saskatchewan and associated things like the Toronto/Pensecola experience. Please take this link (http://www.oldsite.eagles-lair.org/new-wave.htm) which will open in a seperate window.
You may look up a series of books (http://www.oldsite.eagles-lair.org/randles.htm) authored by another Christian, raised in a Pentecostal church, and who as a pastor discovered many errors being taught by his denomination. Please go and read about these books written by Bill Randles.
Dr. Walter Martin, who founded Christian Research Institute, and who was a shining light in exposing many cultish teachings promoted by groups claiming to be Christians, went to be with the Lord several years ago. Martin is succeeded by Hank Hanegraaff, an evangelical brother who I understand does not accept the gifts as evidenced on the Day of Pentecost as being valid in these days. Be that as it may, he has written a fascinating book called Christianity in Crisis. link here http://www.oldsite.eagles-lair.org/crisis.htm published here under the fair dealing section of Australian Copyright law. I believe if you doubt the existence of heresy in the teachings of many modern-day "prophets" that this page will convince you otherwise.
Heresies aren't limited to the "cult" churches and those which are often described as "alive" ones. The good old Church Of England/ Anglican/ Episcopalian denomination has two quite well-known clergy amongst their leadership... Bill Randles refers to one, the curate at the London church from where sprang the "Alpha" courses what are promoted by many churches these days as solid bibly study courses leading to a personal commitment to Christ.
It is worth having a look at what has been left out in these courses to judge for yourself whether the challenge to commitment is to the full gospel or just a tiny bit of it.
It is also worth having a look at what this "New wave of the Holy Spirit" is;
You at least owe it to yourself to know whether or not I'm being critical of my brothers for no reason.
This page shows, amongst other things, the background and beliefs of the people who wrote the Alpha course.
Also worth looking at is a pair of newspaper reports written for the Melbourne daily newspaper called The Age several years ago about visiting US Bishop Spong who was here not to preach the gospel but to sell the book he wrote!
You may take a link (http://www.oldsite.eagles-lair.org/spong.html) here to an introductory page which leads to the two extremely well written articles published about Brother Spong.
Thank you for visiting.
Original page Last updated
22nd October 2006
slight alterations here and there today
Missing links will be added
eagles-lair .org was my original website