On Ash Wednesday I was inspired to write the following on my facebook page,
There are three heresies in Christianity that have caused the most pain and loss of true discipleship, (1) Roman Catholicism, (2) Calvinism, and (3) Cessationism.
However, by far the most deceiving and damning to men’s souls has been Roman Catholicism. I pray for all people to flee this false religion with it’s idol worship, demonic superstition, and man-centered teachings.I believe the following Words of Jesus are directly to the church of Rome, all her priests, and wayward followers;
15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing. But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. 19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent.
May God have mercy on those who believe salvation is found in this unclean defiled church.”
Well, I received a backlash not in regards to Roman Catholicism, but specifically concerning Calvinism. Thus, I wanted to take some time here to work out each of the main points and humbly submit them for the Body of Christ to discern with the Holy Spirit according to God’s Word revealed in the Bible.
DEFINITIONS & CLARIFICATIONS
I am using the word heresy in the most basic sense like how Paul used it in Galatians 5:19-21, “19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery… ; 20… selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21… I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Therefore, heresies are unbiblical beliefs and teachings that divide the Body of Christ.
The Greek word for “factions” is, “αιρεσισ/hairesis,” and according to Holman’s Dictionary means, “In Gal. 5:20 it is one of the works of the flesh and is in a grouping including strife, seditions, and envyings. It apparently has to do with people who choose to place their own desires above the fellowship of the church. Titus 3:10 speaks of a man who is a heretic. Since the context of the verse has to do with quarreling and dissension, the idea in this passage seems to be that of a fractious person.”
Therefore, a heretical or fractious person according to the New Testament, doesn’t mean that they cannot be a Christian or hold to the basic tenants of the Christian faith. As a result, people can be Christians and be Roman Catholics, Calvinists, and Cessationists. However, Roman Catholicism has the most false teaching and thus, if one were to follow all its teachings as the Priests and Popes teach, they couldn’t be saved. On the other hand, since Calvinism and Cessationism’s teachings do not affect the Gospel or the core doctrines of the Christian faith like Roman Catholicism one can have a false view in their particular beliefs and still be saved.At the same time, since Paul said “those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God,” it is important that people who believe in Calvinism or Cessationism (or any non-Biblical teaching) not divide the Body of Christ with their false teachings and thus be in danger of hell itself. For heresies and factions according to Paul in Titus 3:10-11 are the most damning when they break the unity of the Christian Church, which is Christ’s Body.
Some might then ask, “How much heresy or false teachings can a believer have and still be saved?” However, this kind of question would fall under the same category of question as, “How much selfish ambition can a Christian have and still be saved?” In turn, this blog is not meant to address the subject of the falling away of a believer but rather that Christians can and have had false beliefs that hurt the Church. For more Biblical info on losing one’s salvation you can read a prior blog I wrote in which I describe throught the five warnings of Hebrews how one can lose their salvation through unbelief by the process of sin hardening their heart. Click here to read.
I am using this term in its most broadest sense according to the dictionary, thus, I am not considering all people in Christianity to be true disciples. However, I am not making the term so broad as to include Jehovah Witness, Mormons, etc… because I believe they have never had true compatibility with core Bible doctrines and church history. Thus, for my purposes a Christian is someone who subscribes the teachings of Christ and the core doctrines of the Christian Church, i.e., “the Trinity, Jesus’ deity, etc.”
Once again, Roman Catholicism possesses a unique challenged here not only in its placement in Christianity but with its very founding as “church.” Meaning, when one rejects the false claim that Peter was the first Pope from the Biblical evidence and can clearly see the ever evolving false beliefs of Catholicism over the last 1,500 years it is hard to place a historical or doctrinal “marker” on when and where they became apostate.
Some might say Rome apostatized when they introduced praying to the saints, the exaltation of Mary, or even as late as the Council of Trent in 1545 when they condemned the Protestant Reformation. However, I believe Roman Catholicism is a heresy in the Christian Church because they came from true Christianity, still claim to be Christian, and in the present time have much in common with biblical Christianity (belief in the Trinity, Jesus’ deity, etc). Thus, as in the time of the Great Protestant Reformation, people can have genuine salvation and be Roman Catholic, however, it is based upon their rejection of her false teachings and true faith in Christ.
For a timeline of Rome’s false beliefs please click here.
3. True Discipleship
Here is where the “theological rubber meets the road.” By true discipleship I mean what Jesus intended when He gave the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20, specifically verses 19 & 20, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you…” In turn, a “true disciple of Jesus,” is someone who obeys “everything Jesus commanded.”
In other words, if Jesus commanded His disciples to “cast out devils and heal the sick,” to willing doubt and disobey this command would be the same as disobeying the clear command to “forsake all and follow Him.” Therefore, one cannot be a true disciple of Christ without affirming and obeying all He commanded.
Someone might say in response, “If the criteria of being a true disciple is to obey all Jesus commanded, than no one is truly His disciple because everyone sins- even disciples like Peter.” First, this statement would make Jesus Himself a liar, because in the command He was expecting people to “obey all His commands” and thus, if this command couldn’t be fully obeyed then what He said was untrue. And second, a sign of a true disciple, like Peter, is that when they don’t obey all Jesus commanded, they repent and have a change of mind and heart.
Thus, one can fulfill the command of Jesus to “obey all His teachings,” by first knowing and believing them them, second, by being obedient to them, and lastly, repenting when one does not keep them. As a result, no biblically based disciple can continue in disobedience to Christ’s clear commands and still be considered His faithful follower in the truest sense, Matthew 7:24-27, John 8:31-34, & James 1:22-25.
4. Pain and Loss of True Discipleship
What I mean here is that when someone doesn’t follow all the teachings of Christ than they will suffer harm (pain) both spiritually and even sometimes physically. And thus, not following all Jesus commanded is not “true discipleship,” but rather “false luke warm discipleship.” Or at best a sub par kind of discipleship.
From the blessings and curses of Deuteronomy 29, to the death of Achan in the time of Joshua, to the curse of death upon Anaanias and Sapphira in the New Testament, and the beating the Seven Sons Sceva received because they couldn’t cast out the demons from the violent man. It is clear from beginning to end in the Bible that man is most satisfied and blessed when he or she obeys all that God commanded, Psalm 1 & 119.
I will leave this point for now and add more explanation later if it is needed, however, I would assume that all “God-fearers” would support my Biblical claim, “God’s ways are the best ways. And disobedience to Him brings harm.” Plus, according to James for one to know the good they ought to do and not do it, it is sin, James 4:17. Therefore, what I wrote here could be said of any and all teachings of Christ in the believers life that they willing disobey. For example; prayer, support for the poor, evangelizing, etc.
ARGUMENTS AGAINST ALL THREE HERESIES
Note: Please click the subject titles for wikipedia’s general info on each subject if you desire to understand the basic teachings of each heresy. However, this blog is not meant to go in-depth but simply provide the arguments and definitions for the already learned follower of such systems. And if you are a follower of Christ and haven’t heard of or know what these heretical groups teach than consider yourself blessed!
- Roman Catholicism teaches false unbiblical beliefs as the following; prayers to the saints, the transubstantiation of the communion, purgatory, the office of the Pope, the ascension and immaculate conception of Mary, and confession to priests as a means of forgiveness of sin.
- As a result, true discipleship defined by Jesus is not found in Roman Catholicism because they do not obey all that Jesus commanded, John 14:6.
- Therefore, since true discipleship is not found in Roman Catholicism pain and harm is done to the Body of Christ as a whole and to individuals.
Resources for Further Study
- History of the false unbiblical teachings of Roman Catholicism, here.
- Great video exposing the harm of Roman Catholicism’s beliefs, here.
- Calvinism teaches such false unbiblical beliefs as; the determinative will of God upon men’s souls both in salvation and damnation, God is the source of evil, man does not possess a free will, Jesus does not love the whole world, the sacrifice of the cross was only for the elect, and no one can be sure of their salvation unless they perserve to the end (after death).
- As a result, true discipleship defined by Jesus is not found in the belief system of Calvinism because they do not fully obey all that Jesus commanded, John 3:16.
- Therefore, since true discipleship is not found in Calvinism pain and harm is done to the Body of Christ as a whole and to individuals.
Resources for Further Study
- A great video on the history of Calvinism and determinism in the church, here.
- A debate between a Calvinist and a non-Calvinist, here.
- Quotes from the early church fathers on salvation/damnation and good/evil being at the disposal of man’s free will, here.
- Great scholarly article defending free will, here.
- Informative book teaching the opposite of Calvinism, here.
- Cessationism teaches many false unbiblical beliefs such as; the age of miracles has ceased, if people are sick it is God’s desire for them to be sick, all nine spiritual gifts are not for today, and those who claim today in this present age to see miracles or operate in God’s power like the first disciples did are to be considered false prophets and liars.
- As a result, true discipleship defined by Jesus is not found in the belief system of Cessationism because they do not fully obey all that Jesus commanded, John 14:12.
- Therefore, since true discipleship is not found in Cessationism pain and harm is done to the Body of Christ as a whole and to individuals.
Resources for Further Study