THE LANGUAGE OF DECEPTION
By Marsha West
March 14, 2010
“The gospel’s most dangerous earthly adversaries are not raving atheists who stand outside the door shouting threats and insults. They are church leaders who cultivate a gentle, friendly, pious demeanor but hack away at the foundations of faith under the guise of keeping in step with a changing world.” — Phil Johnson
Christendom has its fair share of doublespeak within its ranks. Conservative Christian apologists and those involved in the counter cult and discernment ministries who dare to expose apostates are accused of being divisive. For example, if a conservative attempts to combat the spread of the social justice gospel that emphasizes good deeds without the power of the gospel, their liberal critics cry “Pharisee!” Implying that these critics are Pharisees is another way of saying that they are narrow-minded, mean-spirited and unloving -- and yes, even intolerant and bigoted.
Word Faith (false) teachers use “heresy hunter” to define the opposition. But in reality discernment ministries are “truth-seekers.”
What is heresy and what is a heresy hunter? According to Let Us Reason Ministries:
“Heresy can be defined as any departure from Christian orthodoxy which is a teaching, doctrine or practice that goes beyond the apostles teachings -- the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3). Biblical heresy is often a denial of the core beliefs held in the Church that are founded on the Bible. In this sense it applies to groups which reject basic Christian doctrines and separate themselves from the historic church.”
Most mature Christians recognize heresy when it rears its ugly head. But when they speak out against prominent false teachers who are leading the Body of Christ astray, their bamboozled followers invariably play the Matthew 7:1 card:
“Judge not, lest you be judged.”
This is doublespeak for: Shut the heck up!
First of all, discernment demands that we make judgments. As my pastor, Stan Way, said in a recent sermon, faithful Christians live their lives in a new center of gravity — the biblical worldview. Serious Christians must stand up and speak the truth with conviction and courage. We must be willing to lose our life for Christ and the gospel. In other words, for truth! Further, we must be willing to be treated with contempt by the world. Jesus said, “Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels” (Mark 8:38).
I don’t know about you, but I’m not ashamed and I will not be bullied into shutting up!
Digressing from Doublespeak: Pointing Out the Pitfalls of Postmodern Christianity
Unorthodox ideas have made huge inroads into churches in a whole host of ways. These ideas have predominately been put forth by progressive/liberal theologians, scholars and pastors. As well, unorthodox ideas are taught in some seminaries, Christian colleges/universities and churches. It’s astonishing the amount of outright heresy that is found in today’s contemporary Bibles, Bible resources, study guides and so on. Even more troubling, many bestselling “Christian” books contain rank heresy! Two current examples are William P. Young’s The Shack which has taken the place of the Bible in some church “Bible studies” and Joel Osteen’s latest “it’s all about me” book, It’s Your Time. These men have made millions of dollars off apostate books! Sadly, undiscerning Christians are the ones lining Smilin’ Joel’s pockets. And as long as folks buy his books, he’ll continue churning them out.
For profit (in most cases), so-called Christian publishers and booksellers, both online and in mall stores, promote an array of unbiblical material for public consumption. Even much of contemporary Christian music is completely devoid of Christian truth. (My article on contemporary Christian music is here)
As well “Christian” entertainment is in a sad state of affairs. Not surprisingly, some Christian celebrities’ theology is way out in left field. But despite this, their CDs, DVDs, TV and radio broadcasts are promoted all over the world as if what they spout is the gospel truth.
There’s more. False teaching is widespread at Christian conferences, seminars and retreats. But you don’t have to go off for an entire weekend to be plied with apostasy. Believe it or not, Bible studies, prayer meetings and home fellowship groups often provide a venue where one can be peppered with such things as Eastern Mysticism and New Age Spirituality. To be fair, this exposure often comes from well-intentioned leaders who just don’t know any better. Jesus said, “My people perish for lack of knowledge.”
Millions of so-called followers of Jesus Christ are involved in unbiblical, immoral, unhealthy, ungodly practices. And they don’t even know it — orr perhaps they simply don’t care. You ask, “How can this happen to Spirit-filled believers?” Cover your ears. I’m going to shout the answer:
MANY BELIEVERS DON’T HAVE ONE OUNCE OF DISCERNMENT!!!
“Dear friends, do not believe every spirit,” warns John, “but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world."
Most Christians ignore John’s warning. (Mainly because they have no clue he even gave the warning—because they fail to read the Bible.) Instead they just sort of go with the flow. Those who take the time to “test the spirits” are less likely to be snookered by wily televangelists.
Noted pastor A.W. Tozier believed in testing the spirits:
“Any of it [teaching] that is good is in the Word of God, and any that is not in the Word of God is not good. I am a Bible Christian and if an archangel with a wingspread as broad as a constellation shining like the sun were to come and offer me some new truth, I'd ask him for a reference. If he could not show me where it is found in the Bible, I would bow him out and say, 'I'm awfully sorry, you don't bring any references with you'"
The progressive/liberal view of conservatives is that they’re “unenlightened.” Spiffy word, right? But what does it actually mean? It’s doublespeak for closed minded...oblivious—primitive—backward.
Referring to a brother or sister in Christ as unenlightened is the same as calling him/her an ignoramus—isn’t it?
Chris Rosebrough gave the following definition of a Christian after reflecting on the sermons he reviewed from progressive churches such as Rick Warren’s Saddleback, Bill Hybels’ Willowcreek, Rob Bell’s Mosaic and several others. A Christian is:
“Someone who has made the decision to be an emotionally well adjusted self-actualized risk taking leader who knows his purpose, lives a 'no regrets' life of significance, has overcome his fears, enjoys a healthy marriage with better than average sex, is an attentive parent, is celebrating recovery from all his hurts, habits and hang ups, practices Biblical stress relief techniques, is financially free from consumer debt, fosters emotionally healthy relationships with his peers, attends a weekly life group, volunteers regularly at church, tithes off the gross and has taken at least one humanitarian aid trip to a third world nation.”
Having attended several seeker-friendly churches I can tell you from personal experience that Chris is right on!
“Based upon this summarized definition, I've come to the conclusion that the world is full of people who can fit this definition but who've never repented of their sins and trusted in Christ alone for the forgiveness of their sins. This definition could easily apply to Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses. In fact, it could apply to Emergent Heretics, Unitarians, Muslims and practicing Jews. The reason why this definition of a Christ Follower could be applied to those outside of Christianity is because this is a definition based upon deeds NOT creeds. (Which is precisely what Rick Warren's so-called "second reformation" is all about.) Even worse, Rick Warren frequently admonishes the pastors that he trains to measure a person's spiritual growth by their obedience. If obedience were the true measure of one's spiritual growth then Jesus would have held the Pharisees up as an example of the most spiritually mature Christ Followers on the planet. Instead, Jesus called down woes on the Pharisees because they were outwardly obedient to the demands of God's law but inwardly their hearts were far from Christ. Plain and simple, the Pharisees despite their obedience didn't have FAITH.”
Listen to what Jesus said the Pharisees:
“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity” (Matt. 23: 25-38).
Jesus also said this:
“Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life” (John 5:39-40).
In other words, Jesus offered the Pharisees the hope of eternal life, only most of them were too “stuck in their ways” to absorb what He was telling them. Even the miraculous signs and wonders Jesus performed didn’t make a dent in their preconceived notions about the coming Messiah. They even accused Him of being demon possessed! These men were a stubborn lot. And arrogant. They were way too proud to bend a knee to a lowly carpenter. They must have thrown a hissy fit when Jesus looked them square in the eyes and said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).
No doublespeak in this statement. However, had Jesus been a moral relativist He might have said something like, “I am a way, truth is relative, therefore it matters not what beliefs ye hold. The Father/Goddess says, ‘Come one come all.’”
In the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries modernists “felt the ‘traditional’ forms of art, architecture, literature, religious faith, social organization and daily life were becoming outdated in the new economic, social and political conditions of an emerging fully industrialized world.” Modernists searched for truth and didn't find it. Many of them concluded that there is no compassionate, all-powerful Creator and that absolute truth doesn't exist. Eventually modernism evolved into progressivism. So we’ve “evolved” into a postmodern (progressive) world where all truth is relative.
Contemporary churches are full of “Progressive Christians.” The progressive’s Jesus is not the same as the New Testament Jesus by a long shot. Their motto is: Out with the old fundamentalist fuddy-duddies, in with their new progressive intellectual superiors!
Postmodern Jesus wouldn’t dream of offending anyone—because He is all about love and compassion and forgiveness. He has a heart the size of Alaska! Postmodern Jesus doesn’t concern Himself with petty stuff like sexual immorality, lying, cheating, stealing, even idolatry. Whatever humans do is A-OK with Him. As long as they take care of the poor and the sick they can pretty much “live and let live.” And Postmodern Jesus doesn’t judge anyone. He is Confucius, Buddha and Mohammad all rolled into one! Here’s the best part. Postmodern Jesus welcomes everyone into Heaven, even those who hated and rejected Him. He just lets their hatred of Him roll off like water off a duck’s back. Postmodern Jesus is tolerant and accepting of everyone!
In a word, Postmodern Jesus is a moral relativist! (That’s two words, but who’s counting?)
What is moral relativism? Michael Novak put it this way:
“Vulgar relativism is an invisible gas, odorless, deadly, that is now polluting every free society on earth. It is a gas that attacks the central nervous system of moral striving. The most perilous threat to the free society today is, therefore, neither political nor economic. It is the poisonous, corrupting culture of relativism.”
Here’s my point. If there’s no absolute truth, as the moral relativist contends, then truth depends on opinion. “You have your truth. I have my truth.” Two opinions, neither is wrong. In other words, with moral relativism there’s no right and wrong. And that’s dangerous.
Again, Jesus made it clear that there’s one, and only one, way to heaven. How do you get there? By believing that He died for your sins. “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Rom 10:9).
No one goes to heaven apart from faith in Christ.
To me it seems perfectly reasonable that a person who rejects Jesus would embrace the idea that there are many paths to God.
That’s fine for a moral relativist. But not for a follower of Jesus Christ. The mark of a true Christian is a commitment to the inspiration and authority of the Bible. The Bible states unequivocally that Jesus is the only way to God. Any professing Christian who believes otherwise is not a true believer. In other words, he/she is unregenerate—has not received thee Spirit of God—hence he/she is eternally condemned. According to John MacArthur, a person can pray the sinner’s prayer, go forward, or be baptized in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, but no one is born of the Spirit of God (regenerate) unless they believe in the message of salvation.
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“A true believer,” says John MacArthur, “believes in the apostles' writings, believes in the New Testament, believes that the message of salvation, the truth of God, is singularly revealed on the pages of the New Testament. And whoever is not from God, doesn't.”