Saturday, September 12, 2015

Cracks in the Windshield

My wife is concerned about a crack in her Jeep's windshield. I am now, too, but that hasn't always been the case in the life of the crack. As usual, her intuition was better than mine!

It started last year as a small line near the inspection sticker. I wasn't even sure it was a crack. It's now past the passenger-side wiper. And while the glass is in no danger of sending shards flying at her while driving (safety glass), there is an inevitability that one day the windshield will no longer be in one, solid piece.

The fissure now catches the glare of the sun in a way that impedes our vision at times and poses a hazard in the Central Texas sun (yes, I really should get this fixed soon!).

That's how it is with false teachers. Their errors start small, arguable, and insignificant, and perhaps easily corrected. But over time the error widens to full-scale theological deviation from the Gospel and risk for anyone getting their vision through that teacher.

As an anecdote in last Sunday's discussion, I noted a situation where a fitness program developed into a denomination that rejected Jesus as God.
It happened seemingly overnight and practically out of nowhere.

(No, seriously. This really did happen.)

Remember the Weigh Down Workshop? It was a workout program that peaked in the '90s, and was popular with Evangelical churches across America (particularly in the South) and in a number of countries. Gwen Shamblin, its spunky and insightful founder, developed a loyal following as both an inspirational teacher, women's conference speaker, and a fitness coach. She taught that because the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, we should keep it healthy and not forsake physical exercise. That was a fresh, new approach at the time.

Suspicions about some unorthodox teachings came to a head when a major publisher refused to print her next book. Christianity Today chronicles Shamblin's demise if you want to know more.

Basically, it went from this ...

To this ... (preview only)
Shamblin wrote after the establishment of her Remnant Fellowship Church: "I believe that Jesus and God are two separate beings." She also said that she does not believe that Jesus and God are equal in power and glory, but that "the head of Christ is God," according to Christianity Today.

In her defense, she said she maintained many of these beliefs while rising to popularity and did not hide them.

Judge for yourself whether she's in line with Scripture:
Note in the "what we believe" section that Jesus is not one with God. Not God's "only begotten Son," but only God's son.

Here's an analysis on the Remnant Fellowship Church that insists it is an unorthodox cult:

It's a sad story involving a movement many well-meaning Christians became excited about and quickly lost. Imagine the shock many affiliates of the program received when they were invited to conference calls almost requiring them to adhere to these "new" teachings! It's also a sad story for an otherwise well-meaning Christian mover and shaker who, rather than accepting the shepherding of the greater Body of Christ, went her own direction. In writing this I do not wish to disparage her: I don't get the impression she is attempting to defraud anyone, but is doctrinally mislead and relying on centralized power to maintain her influence.

This is what we have to be on the lookout for. False teachers need not be angry pulpiteers with an evil glare. Nor will they appear like '70s used car salesmen in leisure suits and slicked back hair. If that were so, hardly anyone would fall prey to cults and competing religious ideas. Often times false teachers come with good intentions. Their errors are as subtle as the phrase "Jesus and God" (see above). This is why it's critical for us to regularly study the Bible and stay in prayer so that we will know truth from error, even when it takes a popular form. Or even when it's just a chip in the windscreen.

"Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God." --I John 4:15.

(Now if you'll excuse me, I have to find my checkbook and call a windshield repairman. Anyone know a guy?)

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