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Major Apostasies in the Church with Dennis Pollock (Part 1 of 5)
By Nathan Jones
Gross apostasy is raging in the Church today, and most professing Christians seem to be unaware of how serious it has become. That’s because the average Christian today is biblically ignorant. How did this happen?
To help us answer this question, we’ve invited one of Lamb & Lion Ministries’ dearest friends, Dennis Pollock, to this week’s episode of Christ in Prophecy. Dennis served as Dr. David Reagan’s Assistant Evangelist for almost 12 years, from 1993 to 2005, at which time he formed his own ministry called Spirit of Grace.
Defining Apostasy and Heresy
Tim Moore: Dennis, I’d like to first define our terms. How would you define apostasy? And, how does apostasy differ from heresy as it affects the Church?
Dennis Pollock: I would say that apostasy and heresy are two close friends. Apostasy is more of a drifting away from standard orthodox biblical Christianity towards something that is much less than that, something which often becomes very dangerous. In my mind, heresy relates to a specific doctrine that you just totally misconstrue.
Tim Moore: I agree that apostasy too often is a drifting away. Whether due to an individual or an entire church, what once was biblically grounded and certain begins to drift to reeling on uncertainty. They no longer believe in the tenets of the Christian faith. Whereas heresy, that affects a specific doctrine, which either gets added to or adulterated in terminology. With heresy, people are adding ideas that are not scriptural.
We could call apostasy a movement in terms of the Church’s position on a biblical subject. For example, look at marriage. Too many Christians now are becoming very mushy on the issue of marriage. Many pastors are afraid to talk about sexual sin, whether they involve cohabitation or other sexual sins. There’s a clear drifting away from biblical principles. That’s where we are going today — the Church is drifting away from what God and His Son have revealed.
Nathan Jones: To add to these definitions, it appears that heresy seems to be focused more on a willingness or a desire to break away from Christian orthodoxy. Apostasy appears to be built on ignorance. It can be an accidental happening. You put your desires for what the Bible should say over what the Bible actually teaches. So, with the one you are purposefully trying to change the biblical doctrines of the Church, and with the other you change them through ignorance or your own personal desires. Either way, you are changing the direction of the Church away from its true biblical teaching.
Tim Moore: Too often apostasy arises because churches are ignoring a good portion of the Word of God. They preach on favorite passages or favorite stories, but they don’t preach the whole counsel of God.
Heresy #1: Denying Jesus
Tim Moore: Dennis, you received a letter from a fellow who made this outrageous comment: “The teachings of Jesus have nothing to do with modern Christianity.” He argued that Christians should pay attention only to the grace teachings of Paul. How did you respond?
Dennis Pollock: The first response in my heart was just shock. How could anybody who professed to be a Christian actually believe that Christianity has nothing to do with the teachings of Jesus? And, I’ve heard so many comments made by other people that didn’t go quite so far in their claims, but they were essentially saying the same thing.
Such apostasy has become a huge issue for the Church in our day. We are not talking about a group of 12 people in some little country church that have gotten doctrinally off track. No! We are talking about millions of Christians who have decided that Jesus and Paul preached different Gospels. They claim that Paul was right, but Jesus was only right for His day and age and is no longer right for us today.
Basically what these heretics want you to do is go to the Gospels in the New Testament, go specifically to the cross, and then with everything to the left of the cross — that’d be all of Jesus’ teachings and His life story — just rip the pages out and don’t pay attention to them because they claim Jesus will mess you up. They purport that it’s okay to think about the cross and the resurrection but forget Christ’s teachings. They say we are now New Testament Christians, so we believe only in Paul.
I recorded a YouTube message on my channel titled, “Did Jesus and Paul Preach the Same Gospel?” You wouldn’t believe how many criticisms I received. I was blasted over and over by people telling me I was ignorant, I’m a fool, I’m this, I’m that. This is crazy! Some even made the outrageous claim that everybody knows Paul showed the real gospel and what Jesus said isn’t even relevant.
And so, I responded to these people by making a lot more videos about this issue. When I realized just how many people believe this way, I realized they needed correcting.
Heresy #2: Denying the Inspiration of the Bible
Tim Moore: Some people go to the other extreme. They focus solely on the Gospels, but they misinterpret them. For example, they will claim that Jesus never mentioned homosexuality, whereas Paul condemned it. Therefore, Paul must have been wrong, or he was just fixated on the subject due to his own backward day and age. They pick and choose what elements of Jesus’ teachings that they wish to adopt. They commit apostasy because they do not take the whole counsel of the Word of God.
Nathan Jones: That is indeed the flip side of the coin. I encounter this heretical claim quite a lot when answering the Bible questions that come into the ministry. I get these “Red Letter Christians” who are very proud that they only read the red letters of the Bible. Of course, the ancient manuscripts did not have the sayings of Jesus set apart by red ink, but modern translators have colored the words of Jesus in red for easy reference. They’ll say that only what Jesus said really matters, and the other 40-some authors such as Paul, well they’re heretics who taught a totally different gospel than Jesus did.
Dennis Pollock: That again is a huge moving away from what Christians have always believed, even what Paul believed and what Jesus believed. The entirety of the Scriptures is inspired by God. It’s not like what Jesus said, well that’s inspired, but then when you read what Paul said, that’s uninspired. In fact, Paul himself taught that all Scripture is inspired by God. And, Peter said this about the prophets, that they were holy men of God who spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. So, when I am reading Paul, I’m getting the words straight from the heart of God. When I am reading Jesus, I’m getting teachings straight from the heart of God, same with Isaiah, same with the books of Moses — the whole thing!
Tim Moore: We also hear people say, “I’m a New Testament Christian.” If you bring up anything out of the Old Testament, these “Christians” will counter: “Well, that was the Old Testament. That was a previous covenant which really doesn’t apply to us today.” And so, they discount the entire Old Testament in favor of the New Testament. They don’t know that Jesus came to fulfill all of the Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah and that Peter preached sermon after sermon that pointed to fulfilled prophecy as proof of Jesus being the Messiah.
Nathan Jones: I had to look these figures up because I was curious about them. When Jesus said, “It is written,” He was making one of 26 exact quotations from the Pentateuch, with 24 direct quotations from the remaining Old Testament books, and 78 indirect quotations from the Old Testament. Jesus called the Old Testament the “Scriptures,” “the Word of God,” and “the Wisdom of God.” Of all the books Jesus quoted, Exodus, Deuteronomy, Isaiah, and the Psalms were the most quoted. Jesus clearly cared about the entire Bible, for after all, He is a member of the Trinity, and the Trinity inspired the entire Bible. So, the Old Testament, the New Testament, Paul, Revelation — it’s all the Word of God.
In the second part of this discussion about major apostasies, we’ll look at the claim that the God of the Old Testament was a different being than the God of the New Testament.