Tag Archives: False Doctrine

A Self Defeating Doctrine

The other day, I was having a discussion with another Christian on how we are saved. He being Southern Baptist and I Lutheran, we had a bit of disagreement. Nothing heated, but he did bring out a list of things he believes, one of such being we are not born into salvation. Now, I wasn’t quite sure where that one came from as I am not sure of any denomination that believes we are born saved, but it did get my gears turning and brought me to realization about another doctrine Southern Baptists and other denominations hold. Age of Accountability.

The Age of Accountability is a self defeating doctrine because it’s very nature denies other doctrines. Let’s just ignore the fact that there is nothing Biblical about it whatsoever and examine the whopping contradiction that it is.

The Age of Accountability right off the bat automatically claims you are born into salvation for if you cannot go to Hell until age fourteen (or whatever age your denomination holds to), then you are by default saved. If children get a pass, they are literally born into salvation. In a strange and funny way, this turns Jesus into the parent who kicks their child out of the house when they become an adult. What’s the difference between , “Alright son, you’re an adult now. It’s time you got a job and found your own place to live” and “Alright my child, you’re old enough now to decide for yourself. If you want my continued protection, you’ve got to make a choice.” This, in turn, leads to the next two contradictions.

For one thing, it directly denies (for at least a few years, anyhow) the decision theology these denominations so cling to. You have to choose to follow Jesus? Not if you’re eight. Jesus has brought you into salvation by nothing that you do. In a strange and twisted way, this is actually closer to the Gospel than what they believe the adults have to go through because at least with the child, there is nothing that they can do to be saved. It rests entirely on Jesus. Until you’re old enough that is, then you need to pull yourself up by your bootstraps. But at least for a brief time, it’s not about you; it’s about Jesus for you.

And finally, it denies their false doctrine of once saved always saved, because if children get a pass until they’re old enough to make a decision, than that means not only can they lose their salvation, but there’s a clear cut off date that it’s getting taken away unless they do something before it’s too late. If they miss the deadline, well, sucks to be them. They’re going to have to try harder to get back into God’s good graces. Thankfully, once they pass the arbitrary I Chose Jesus test, they’re set for life. I think they should really start calling it Once Saved Again, Always Saved. It’s much more honest that way. I don’t think they realize it, but the whole once saved (again) always saved doctrine is like a free pass to go all heretical. Age of Accountability technically gives children a free pass to be as heretical as they like for a limited time only.

In reality, there is no Gospel in the Age of Accountability. For the children, it gives them a false sense of security. As they get older, towards that age in which they shall be held accountable, it can potentially give them an unwarranted sense of anxiety. And then, beyond that, once they’re saved again, either a sense of self-righteousness or constant worry of if they’re good enough. The fact of the matter is, Jesus died for you sins on the cross and you are called to believe his promise that he will rescue you from sin, death, and the devil. How are you called to believe? Through faith and faith comes through hearing and hearing through the Word of God. You don’t make a decision. You don’t invite Jesus into your heart. You don’t do anything except for hear the Word and believe.

If you can think of any other ways the Age of Accountability is self-defeating, I’d love to hear it in the comments below. There may be more, but these were the three examples that I could immediately think of.

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Putting It All Together

My original title for this was going to be something along the lines of, “Why not Peter with Jesus.” The basic premise was this. Peter cuts off the ear of Malchus. Jesus heals Malchus. Soldiers do not arrest Peter and execute him with Jesus. I started thinking about this incident yesterday and how to me Peter not being arrested made no sense and if you only read John, it doesn’t make any sense at all.

3 So Judas, having procured a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, went there with lanterns and torches and weapons. 4 Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” 5 They answered him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am he.”[a] Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. 6 When Jesus[b] said to them, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground. 7 So he asked them again, “Whom do you seek?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” 8 Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. So, if you seek me, let these men go.” 9 This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken: “Of those whom you gave me I have lost not one.” 10 Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant[c] and cut off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) 11 So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?”

12 So the band of soldiers and their captain and the officers of the Jews[d] arrested Jesus and bound him. 13 First they led him to Annas, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year. 14 It was Caiaphas who had advised the Jews that it would be expedient that one man should die for the people.

15 Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he entered with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, 16 but Peter stood outside at the door.

John 18:3 – 16

Can you imagine that conversation?

Malchus: “Holy crap! That crazy Jew just cut off my ear!”

Soldier: “Stop being such a baby Malchus. It’s just a flesh wound. You’ll be fine.”

Malchus: “Are….are you sure?”

Soldier: “Yes, Malchus.”

Malchus: “Oh, okay. If, if you say so.”

Doesn’t seem terribly plausible does it. But without any other information, what are we to assume? The Romans wouldn’t put up with this. Peter would be right there with Jesus on Cross. There wouldn’t be any ifs, ands, or buts about it. Thankfully, Luke gives us a few more details on the matter.

47 While he was still speaking, there came a crowd, and the man called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He drew near to Jesus to kiss him, 48 but Jesus said to him, “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” 49 And when those who were around him saw what would follow, they said, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” 50 And one of them struck the servant[h] of the high priest and cut off his right ear. 51 But Jesus said, “No more of this!” And he touched his ear and healed him. 52 Then Jesus said to the chief priests and officers of the temple and elders, who had come out against him, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs? 53 When I was with you day after day in the temple, you did not lay hands on me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness.”

54 Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house, and Peter was following at a distance.

Luke 22:47 – 54

Okay, Jesus heals the dude. Pretty incredible and it seems plausible that they would be so awestruck by what they witness that they may have forgotten about Peter. Then again, these were Roman soldiers, so it doesn’t seem that plausible.

Soldier One: “That guy cut off Malchus’ ear!”

Soldier Two: “Yeah, but this Jesus guy made it all better.”

Soldier One: “I don’t care! He attacked a Roman soldier and cut off is ear. That’s not gonna fly.”

This conversation seems much more likely, but again, the guards don’t go after Peter. As awestruck as they may have been, there’s still simply no way that they wouldn’t have arrested Peter on the spot. They’d have been all like, “Well, that was cool. Still, we can’t have you running around mucking things up now, can we. You’re clearly a threat to Rome. Off with us you come.” Perhaps one of the other Gospels could shed some more light on the subject matter.

47 While he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. 48 Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; seize him.” 49 And he came up to Jesus at once and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” And he kissed him. 50 Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you came to do.”[f] Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him. 51 And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword and struck the servant[g] of the high priest and cut off his ear. 52 Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. 53 Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?” 55 At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. 56 But all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples left him and fled.

Matthew 26:47 – 56

Oh, thank you, Matthew. Luke and John suddenly make more sense now. The disciples suddenly running away ties everything together quite well. Peter cuts off an ear, Jesus heals it, and in all of it the disciples scatter. The Roman soldiers are all like, “Wut!?” but in the end, they got what they came for. Malchus is fine and Peter is presumably gone. What are they to gain by sending resources after him? How are they to convince Pontius of using their resources to find him?

Soldier: “They cut Malchus’ ear off.”
Pontius eyes Malchus suspiciously.
Malchus: “I got better.”

When you put Luke, John, and Matthew together, Peter not being crucified with Jesus doesn’t seem so far fetched anymore. Like Chris Rosebrough says on Fighting for the Faith, the three rules for good discernment are context, context, context.

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Christian views on hell: moving back to Origen

This was a great post on a blog that I follow. Perhaps I shall do a blog post at a later date with my thoughts on the ability to rightly comprehend Heaven, Hell, death, and the afterlife in general. For the moment though, I believe my comment in the post (which I have also pasted just below) sums up my thoughts nicely.

I think Hell often gets downplayed because it is so difficult to imagine. The mind cannot rightly comprehend an eternity of suffering so it comes up with ideas that are more familiar to it such as a temporal prison sentence or that it simply doesn’t exist art all. In a way, this is how heresy springs up: we cannot fully comprehend so we make it something we can comprehend.

Churchmouse Campanologist

This follows on from Monday’s post about hell. Please note that there is an adult image and disturbing content in this entry.

In the 1970s my secondary school religion teachers taught that Origen was a heretic and that the Church declared him as well as his teachings anathema. In short, they said that Origen started out as a devout Christian then went off-piste.

My mother told me the same thing years before.

Today, Origen seems to be all the rage. The modern Church has rehabilitated his reputation, and clergy are encouraging us to adopt his beliefs.

Two of Origen’s beliefs concern hell and universalism. Origen held that hell was temporary, akin to a very long-term purgatory, and wrote that there will come a point in eternity when God will accept the population of hell — including Satan — to heaven.

Is that what the Bible says?

As far…

View original post 2,554 more words

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A shift in focus

“Corruption entered the Church when Law and Gospel began to be confounded. A perusal of the writings of the Church Fathers soon reveals the cause of the Church’s misery in those early days: people did not know how to distinguish properly between Law and Gospel. Up to the sixth century we still find glorious testimonies exhibiting this distinction, but from that time on we notice that this light is growing dim and that the distinction is gradually forgotten.”

Above is an excerpt from Thesis IV of C.F.W. Walther’s Proper Distinction between Law & Gospel. I found that particular excerpt to be of interesting note as I can see this clearly in many churches today that bring in strange winds of doctrine. It’s like if the focus is allowed to shift, it will continue to shift until it is so far away from the original that it bears little resemblance what the text actually says. Walther shortly after brings up monastic life and the text of the rich young ruler as an example. Law and Gospel were not properly distinguished and as such, the reply to the rich young ruler was seen to be taken as action for salvation. One can’t help but think this confounding of Law and Gospel is also why Rome has rules against priests marrying as well. That shift in focus has taken them away from what the text really says.

At the very least, it makes me really want to go back and read some of the writings of the early church fathers. As Christians, myself included, we don’t do that nearly enough as we should. What, I wonder, would more churches be like today if more of us did that with some regularity?

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Acceptance

This is kind of a follow up post to my last one. I’ve started read C.F.W. Walther’s The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel when there came to a part about accepting faith. Upon first glance, it seems to indicate salvation is in fact something that you have to accept, but when you read it carefully, you’ll realize that the type of acceptance he is referring to isn’t transactional but instead simply taking something for what it is.

But does not the Gospel demand faith? Yes; that, however, is just the same kind of command as when you say to a hungry person, “Come, sit down at my table and eat.” The hungry person will not reply: “Bosh! I will not take orders from you.” No, he will understand and accept your words as a kind invitation. That is what the Gospel is—a kind invitation to partake of heavenly blessings.

I like this portion because at first it sounds like it’s something we choose to do, IE accept the gospel. But when you really look at it and think about it, Walther doesn’t appear to be using the word accept as most Christians today would. Instead, he appears using it more in terms of “recognition of a fact” instead of “choosing to do something.” You don’t accept the gospel on your own doing or merits but you just have faith and because it is given to you, you accept that you have it. To better explain it, let’s say that I have a stapler. I accept the fact that it’s a stapler because that’s what it is. Likewise, the faith that the Gospel demands isn’t something I accept in the sense that I choose it, but I accept the fact that I have it through no decisions of my own.

Notice how Walther says that, “he will understand and accept your words as a kind invitation.” He does not say he is accepting a kind invitation. NO! He is saying that he is accepting your words for exactly what they are, a kind invitation. So when you are given faith and the forgiveness of sins, you simply accept that you have it. You do not accept it in the transactional sense that by accepting it, you are doing something to merit this forgiveness.

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Is Killing Children Merciful?

A lot of Christian churches claim children get a free pass. They refer to this as the age of accountability. Even though nowhere in scripture is this taught. I think a lot of this so-called age of accountability is the result of decision theology. If you have to make a decision for Jesus, than Jesus can’t save you without your help first. This creates a problem because babies and small children can’t make a decision for Christ. They’re too young to understand. So, if they can’t properly choose Jesus with understanding, then that dooms them to eternal hell just for being dumb. You can see where this wouldn’t sit well for many people. So somewhere along the line came this idea of an age of accountability where children get a free pass because they can’t choose. And then, once you throw this in there, you’ve created all sorts of other conundrums. What about the mentally retarded? Do they get a free pass? What about those who never heard the Gospel? Do they get a free pass? What about the crazy? Do they get a free pass?

So, this age of accountability creates all sorts of problems, but what I’d like to address is the most glaring one. The one no one seems comfortable with addressing. Should we murder the children?

Appalling is it not? The thing is, if you believe in an age of accountability, then the answer is a resounding YES! You absolutely should be murdering children. If children get a free pass until they reach a certain age, then killing them is the only merciful option. Some might counter and say that it would be sin to murder children. Well, yes, that would be true. It would be a sin, but it would be a much more merciful sin than allowing them to risk eternal damnation by letting them grow up. To not murder children to ensure they get to heaven makes you an absolute monster. By some accounts, Hitler and Stalin were better people than you because they made sure that many children achieved salvation because they had the good decency to execute them before the age of accountability. They made the decision for Jesus for them.

As I’ve said in the past, children don’t get a free pass. Scripture says that faith comes through hearing. It does not say faith comes through understanding. It does not say faith comes through choice. It says faith comes through hearing. So preach the gospel boldly and worry not if they understand because Christ will give them faith if he so wills it.

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Where are the anathemas when you need them?

It came out during the North Dakota District Convention that the case against Rev. Dr. Matthew Becker, an LCMS clergyman who teaches at Valparaiso University has ended with the result that he was exonerated of any charge of false teaching.

When I read this article, I was sorely disappointed. How has it come to this that a “pastor” who blatantly teaches false doctrine in the LCMS is allowed to remain in the pulpit? It’s tragic that Matthew Becker is protected and allowed to continue to deceive God’s people. The LCMS I fear needs to sorely cut the bureaucracy so that it may effectively and efficiently pronounce excommunication and anathema as needed for the good of all congregations.

Conversely, why does Matthew Becker choose to remain in the LCMS since his beliefs of doctrine so radically differ from what the church teaches? Why does he not instead jump ship to the ELCA? I’ve no doubt they’d welcome him with open arms since they actively practice and teach the very same heresies that he is trying to instill in the Missouri Synod.

If I gave you a glass of water that had just a little bit of poison, it would poison your whole body, even though 99.8% of it was good clean water. By allowing Matthew Becker and those like him to remain, the whole body is being poisoned.

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The sin of praying to the Saints

Roman Catholic tradition teaches praying to the Saints.  Many of our protestant brethren would tell us we should not do so because it’s not found in scripture.  Well, that’s a rather sad excuse.  Should I not listen to heavy metal or country simply because it’s not found in scripture?  Hardly.  If that’s your line of reasoning, than we shouldn’t be driving motor cars or using computers.  More astute Christians will tell us that we should not be praying to the Saints because Christ is our only mediator between God.  And that is a very valid argument.

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the Life. No one can come to the Father except through Me.

Not through John.  Not through Mark.  Not through Augustine.  Not through Luther.  Through Jesus.  So why would we pray to any of these Saints?  It is not through them which we shall be saved but through Jesus Christ.

But that’s not what I’m getting at either.  Not, what I’m getting at is that praying to the Saints is a sin on the grounds that contacting the dead is a sin.  First of all, Deuteronomy 18:10-11 explicitly speaks against it.  We can also look at 1 Samuel 28 in which Saul goes to a medium to contact Samuel.  According to verse 15, contact from the world of the living was a major annoyance for Samuel.  Furthermore, we see when Saul asks Samuel for help, Samuel basically answers “Why are you asking me when the Lord has turned from you?” Saul asking Samuel for help isn’t really all that different than praying to the Saints.  Both are dead.  Both are great people of God.  Seems to me that speaking with the dead doesn’t do a whole lot of good.  Since we are not to be contacting the dead, then we should not be praying to the Saints because what is prayer but contact.  It’s difference when we pray to Jesus because he is risen from the dead.  Being no longer dead, he is a living body that may be contacted.  If you are praying to the Saints, then you are attempting to contact the dead which, as the law tells us, is a sin.

Some Roman Catholics will point to Matthew 17:3 as proof that praying to the Saints is okay and that contacting the dead isn’t forbidden.  However, there is one thing they tend to leave out.  Peter didn’t contact the dead here; Jesus, AKA God, did.  I think it stands to reason that God can do whatever he pleases.  God also made a wager with Satan.  That doesn’t mean we should.

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You can’t give your life to Jesus

You’ve probably heard someone say it before.  Perhaps it was at an altar call with, “If you’re ready to give your life to Jesus, then I want you to come up here and pray…”  Maybe it was a tract you found, “If you want to become a Christian, then pray this little prayer, ‘Lord Jesus Christ, forgive me for my sins.  I give my life to you that…'”  It may have even been a well-meaning friend, “If you would just give your life to Jesus…”

It sounds so right, doesn’t it.  I mean, clearly, I’m the only one holding me back from being saved.  But the thing is, that line of thinking has a major problem.  You see, it takes salvation away from Christ and puts it on something that you do.  It takes Christ’s gift and turns a work of your own doing into something that saves.  This line of thinking is in direct contradiction with scripture.  Ephesians 2:8-9 clearly spells this out for us.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 

If we had to give our life to Jesus, then it would be a work that we had to do, a work that we could boast of.  The good news is that you can’t give your life to Jesus and you can’t do it because he gave his life for you.  He did all the work for you, the only work that can save.  The work of living a perfectly sinless life and he still took the punishment you deserve.  Don’t try to find salvation by giving your life to Jesus; it’ll only lead to despair. Just know that Christ gives salvation and there is nothing you have to do.

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Heaven isn’t for everyone

How often is the gospel misused to comfort the grieving? Amazingly, misusing scripture for temporary comfort is often what I believe has caused many of the falsehoods we see in Christianity today. “Don’t worry. He/She is in a better place now. They’re not suffering any longer.” Really? Is that so? Did they have faith in the saving grace of Jesus Christ? “Well, no, but they were a good person.” No they weren’t. Sure, they may have been wonderful by the standards of society, they may have even been exemplary, but without faith in the one Jesus Christ who died for the sins of all, their suffering in life was mild compared to compared to the fires of Hell where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.  We try to comfort those in their time of grieving, but at what cost.  Those family and friends we mourn as we raise our drinks to the sky and say, “We’ll see you in a while, buddy.”  The more we propagate that false comfort, the more I fear we lose the gospel.  Many of our loved ones are burning in Hell right now.  What we need to do is accept that and not fluff our emotions with lies.  Give comfort to those who mourn by reminding them of the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ rather than comfort them with a cheerful message that will potentially send them to Hell too.  Contrary to popular culture today, death is not a time of celebration.  It’s a time of mourning.  Let the people grieve.  Let them hear the true gospel.

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