Sometimes I believe things that are not true. Interesting confession, right? It’s a weird thing to admit. But it’s so true. I have not yet “arrived.” I’m not saying that I’m in the emergent or post-modernist camp who wonder if anything we know is true. There are some essentials things that are as real as the air I breathe. We seek to more deeply understand core things that we already know-the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, the sinfulness of man, the inerrancy of Scripture, among numerous others.
However, I am still growing in my walk with Christ and understanding of who God is, who I am, and learning about the world. This thought was sparked by two things. I heard John Piper quote Rick Warren saying:
“I believe the Bible to be inerrant and authoritative. But my interpretations are not necessarily interrant and authoritative.”
A brilliant quote! That’s such an insightful thought that I’ve never thought twice about. This exposes my lack of humility and lack of accurate understanding. It’s so freeing that we are constantly learning and growing and that our Savior is a gracious Savior, who leads us and teaches us as He sees best for us. Abundantly our minds are renewed, our hearts transformed as we submit to what the Almighty God has revealed in His Scriptures and to the Holy Spirit’s guidance and enlightening.
A friend’s dad told her: “This year, you’ll find out something you believe is not true. Next year, you’ll find out something you believe is not true. And the next year, and so on.”
“We as Christians always only have a partial grasp of a fully Christian worldview; and even those parts that we grasp rightly, we practice only partly.” -C. John Collins (Science and Faith, 332)
The second thing that sparked this thought is what I’ve been learning during the last two weeks in my Perspectives on the World Christian Movement class. Among other things, we’ve read articles and heard lectures on various Christians who have impacted the world in a major way, even if their beliefs weren’t “orthodox” (correct thinking). A number of people considered to be heretical have gone and introduced Christ to people who otherwise hadn’t heard of Christ. (examples: Ulfilas to the Goths, Nestorius to the east).
I’m led to ask, what is the line between considering someone a fellow Christian, or breaking fellowship with them because people will be led astray by their false beliefs? Is it based on if they have a correct view of salvation and how someone becomes reconciled to God? Is it based on whether they view Scripture as God’s Word? This is a much larger topic that I’ll leave for another time, but I also definitely could use any insights on.
But just a few brief thoughts on this:
Obviously we as humans can only see the “visible Church” and only God knows the hearts of all, what some call the “invisible Church.”
“I am the good Shepherd. I know my own and my own know me…” John 10:14
(cf. Numbers 16:5; Nahum 1:7; John 10:27; Luke 13:27; 1 Corinthians 8:3)
Clearly, Paul says that we are to “judge” other Christians.
“11But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”
1 Corinthians 5:11-13
We are reminded to keep this in check, as “by the measure you use to judge, you yourself will be judged” (Matthew 7:2).
But even Jesus said that there will be wolves in sheep’s clothing, that there will come people who pretend to be Christians, but lead many astray (Matthew 7:15). This is a very serious thing. Paul says that “evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2 Timothy 3:13) and that “the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths” (2 Timothy 4:3-4) and that there were even people in Galatia and elsewhere who were “turning to a different gospel-not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ” (Galatians 1:6-7).
Based on just a selection of these verses, it seems as though one important thing to be examined, is a person’s motivation. Is the supposed ‘heretic’ intentionally trying to drive others from Christ for their own greed and ambitions, or are they genuinely seeking Christ and how God has revealed Himself in Scripture, and submitting to the teaching and guidance of the Holy Spirit and the counsel of wise, mature Christians?