Not anything to show off, but it’s a lot of books on quite a few shelves and they are mostly all mine.Slowly I have been weeding out the good from the bad though. In the pursuit of knowledge and wisdom, you are no doubt bound to find something really dumb or foolish in the mix.I pulled one book off my shelf and started reading it.It started out fine.
The book read more like a sermon transcribed onto the paper, but that was not a big deal.
But what I found after a few pages in was a very big deal.
This book was filled with heresy, chalked full of false teachings.
There were ideas that I thought had gone the way of the dinosaur, but actually had just taken to the shadows.
One was Modalism, the idea that God is not Three in One, but rather One in Three different forms depending on the point in history.
Modalism believes that God was Father in the Old Testament, Jesus in the New Testament, and Holy Spirit after Jesus ascended to this present day.
There were ideas about not needing to be good or do good, because evil existed and has and forever will taint anything good that you do. So why bother?
One chapter talked about how God just wants to overcome you and eliminate your person-hood. God didn’t create you to be an individual to love, but almost a piece of land to conquer and then consume into Himself.
I realized that this wasn’t a book that I was going to finish reading, and most likely was going to destroy, but I had a question.
How does a Christian properly confront heresy?
Finding it written in a book is one thing. It becomes a matter of just throwing out the book.
But what do you do when it isn’t a book that has shared these false ideas with you, but a person? A fellow brother or sister in Christ is not something you can just throw away and forget about.
How do you deal with heresy and false teaching?
While I was attending Bible school, it was mandatory to take classes on early church history. And rightfully so. It is important to know where we have come from, and let that inform where we are going.
We learned about the disciples, the generation after that, the Creeds that were passed down from the different Council meetings. We were taught about the Reformation, the rise of the Protestant denominations and so much more that has slipped away from my mind.
It was great to learn all of that, and I wish that I had paid attention more. I wish that I could have absorbed more of the facts when it came to the false teachings that the Church weeded through. And there were a lot.
But thinking back, trying to decide what to do if and when I come across a fellow believer that holds onto false teachings or heresies, I realized something.
I was taught about the heresies, what made them incorrect teachings. But I was never taught what to do if I had an encounter with someone that believed them to be true. I was totally unprepared to face a “heretic” and in desperate need of some educating.
After spending time in prayer and seeking council from mature Christian mentors, I came up with three things, three keys that all Christians need to remember when addressing a person that believes in a false teaching or heresy.
1. Be Slow To Speak
Especially in this modern age, we are all quick to speak.
If we have something to say, something that the universe needs to hear about, we tell them.
We have Facebook, Twitter, blogs, vlogs and million different ways to quickly and effectively tell people what we think, or what we are feeling.
But just because we have all these avenues to express ourselves, it doesn’t mean that what we have said was well constructed or thought out to all of its logical conclusions.
Sometimes we have hit “POST” or “PUBLISH” before we have had that complete thought.
We are a generation that needs to learn to speak slowly.
Don’t be in a rush to throw someone’s beliefs under the bus and have them destroyed. That isn’t productive. It’s actually quite dangerous.
Blurting out how we feel or what we think could destroy a person’s faith, the good and the bad parts, the heresies and the parts we agree with.
So rather than just running your mouth off at someone holding onto false teachings, do this.
Set time aside to sit down with them one on one.
Slowly and carefully explain what this heresy is, what the false teaching really implies.
Not to imply their ignorance or stupidity, but as a precaution so that everyone is on the same page. So that everyone has the same understanding as to what is true and what is not.
Perhaps you will find that it is simply a misunderstanding between the two of you.
Or maybe you will be able to slowly reveal a truth to them that they had missed out on.
Whether it is over coffee or dinner, or maybe a very long and wordy email, when it comes to confronting heresy or false teachings, it is best to talk about it very slowly.
2. Be Patient With Them
As much as you be trying to talk slowly and trying to be as clear as you can be, it may not always work.
Some people have been taught or may have learned an incorrect truth and buried it deep into their faith.
You can’t simply grab it like a brick on the top of an unfinished wall and get rid of it.
This false teaching could be their foundation stone.
Pulling or pushing, trying to dislodge that incorrect brick of knowledge by yourself may actually lead to a whole mess of problems for someone.
There are instances where it may be best to teach them what is true, and then leave it alone.
Give it some time.
For some people, they do not learn when someone is preaching at them .
They may learn by experience, having to see where their error is all on their own. That will take time, and you will just have to be patient and wait.
They may be the kind of person that has to think and process what they have just heard. It could be a day, maybe a week. I’ve known people that have been exposed to a truth and it takes years before they actually understood what was told to them.
Don’t do that. Rehashing a talk or trying to drive home a point after the point has been made may cause them to see you as a creep. And the truth that you are telling may be ignored and forgotten entirely.
When confronting someone with a heresy or a false teaching, be patient.
Not all truth is learned in an instant.
3. Be Jesus To Them
In all situations, whether good or bad, the best policy is this: Be like Jesus.
And when there is heresy or false teachings in the air, the policy is even more important.
When Jesus was about his ministry, he did encounter people that didn’t believe the truth that He was preaching and living. Sometimes it was the religious leaders in Israel. Other times it was the laymen, the simple folk that were wrong.
There are recorded instances where Jesus was very straight forward and called the religious leaders on their false teachings, but that was not always the case.
As much as Jesus may have used a harsh word in some cases, there was one thing that remained the same.
Whenever Jesus confronted heresy and false teachings, He still loved the people.
If the religious leaders or country folk didn’t quite understand or if they believed something contrary to Jesus, He didn’t treat them with hatred or contempt.
He loved them.
The idea here is similar to how most of us explain how God loves sinners.
God loves the sinner, the person, the individual man or woman.
But God does not like the things that they do or think or believe that is contrary to the Truth.
His dislike for sin does not diminish His love for people, rather it amplifies how much God wants the best things for all His children.
The same goes for those that hold onto false teachings.
Just as God loves them, so we are to love them.
Just as God sees them as a person of flesh and bone and spirit, we are to see them that way also.
Not as a collection of ideas, right or wrong, but as someone that was handcrafted by a Loving and Merciful God.
While this key of loving others does not directly address the issue of heresy or falsehoods, it does something better.
Rather than us being the truth giver, rather than us being the revealer of mysteries, we let God do what He does best.
We should leave people in the hands of their Maker and let Him show His excellent truth to them. Let God reveal their heresies and falsehoods by His Holy Spirit.
And just love people. Show them the undeniable truth that God loves them, by loving on them.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
What other ways are to confront heresy or false teachings?
Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below.