False teacher in the family

Hi, everyone, I haven't been around much since joining the Forum in March -- lots going on. (I'm an old gal who's new at this kind of communication; could someone please tell me how to respond to people's posts? I'm not sure what to click on or whatever. If there is an instruction page, please steer me toward it. Thanks!)

I'm seeking help about the long-term situation I'm having with my brother. For more than 20 years, he's been preaching in several Presbyterian (P C USA) churches several hundred miles from where I live. I'm 69, he's 74.

I've recently been emailing him about his long-held belief that "everybody's saved!" which he has proclaimed from the pulpit and in short, self-published books. He is a disciple of Norman Vincent Peale (whose NYC church he used to attend), Harry Emerson Fosdick, and Karl Barth. When he married, he and his bride (they began their relationship while she was married to someone else) chose to have the ceremony performed by a disciple of John Shelby Spong.

I haven't visited my brother since 1997, and neither has our sister, with whom I live. Neither of us liked his wife, who was often very rude to our late parents; she died suddenly several years ago. My relationship with our brother is uppermost in my mind right now because he wants to come visit us this summer, as he has done several times over the past couple of decades. He has grownup children and a baby grandchild. I have always been uneasy about his visiting us, and have talked with him about his universalism many times.

I believe strongly that he is a false teacher, and Christians are warned not to give hospitality to false teachers. I'm writing this to the Forum family in hopes that y'all can share some wisdom about how to handle this situation. My sister is a devout Christian, but she will not listen to any criticism of him -- I think it hurts her too much to think about what he preaches. (I'm on his email sermons list; I don't think she reads them or his books.) It also hurts me to think ill of him, but I must come to grips with this problem.

Through the years, he has said that the correct response to "Are you saved?" is, "I was saved 2,000 years ago, at the Cross." However, he also has said that during college, he asked Jesus to be his Savior because "it was the right thing" for him to do.

Here are highlights from a recent email conversation I had with him (bold emphasis is mine):

ME: In order for "everybody's saved!" to be true, doesn't one of the following need to be true for all people who are accountable for their sins (e.g. not mentally disabled or too young): Personal faith in the Jesus of the Bible isn't necessary BEFORE death; or, it IS necessary and everyone puts their faith in Him before they die; or, those who don't put their faith in Him before they die will do so AFTER death. Does one of those three explain "everybody's saved!"? If not, what do you think does?

HE: I don't know, and there's plenty of scripture on all sides of the question. I try to see what's needed in a particular message. Karl Barth, who felt roughly the same, once said, 'I don't preach it, and I don't not preach it'."

ME: I'm mystified that this is a difficult subject for you to discuss. You've preached and written that "everybody's saved!" yet when I ask you to "give the reason for the hope that is within you," you can't seem to do it -- or are unwilling to do it. You wouldn't assure everybody of salvation without knowing what you mean by that, would you?

HE: Of course you assume that this life is our only shot at salvation. That may well be true. Not everyone agrees, cf. the Catholic Church's doctrine of Purgatory. "With God all things are possible." Alister McGrath, in his Christian Theology, summarizes Karl Barth's view: "Barth declares that salvation is only possible through Christ. He nevertheless insists on the ultimate eschatological victory of grace over unbelief. Eventually, God's grace will triumph completely, and all will come to faith in Christ. This is the only way to salvation, but it is a way that, through the grace of God, is effective for all. For Barth, the particularity of God's revelation through Christ is not contradicted by the universality of salvation." You don't agree. We'll find out.

ME: You don't believe there's clear evidence for Purgatory in the Bible, do you? What is the clearest evidence for "everybody's saved"? Barth preached universal salvation during our own era. Who were the great proclaimers of "everybody's saved" from the Bible on down through the ages?

HE: I appreciate your passion for this kind of discussion, but I don't share it. We disagree (maybe); Christians do that sometimes. As Paul says, "If on some point you think that differently, God will make that clear to you." Good enough. I don't get into scripture duels either. I do enjoy appreciating people for the work they do in God's salvation, and that certainly includes you. Over and out."

Well, that's where my brother and I are as of today. I would appreciate any words of wisdom about how to deal with him. I don't want to offer him hospitality if (since) he is a false teacher, but this is my sister's home as well as mine. I suppose I could lock myself in my room when he comes to visit... Well, I've already learned a lot about other topics from God's people in this Forum, and I welcome any insights into this kind of unhappy conflict.
 

greg64

Well-Known Member
Hi, everyone, I haven't been around much since joining the Forum in March -- lots going on. (I'm an old gal who's new at this kind of communication; could someone please tell me how to respond to people's posts? I'm not sure what to click on or whatever. If there is an instruction page, please steer me toward it. Thanks!)
Good to see you post! To reply to someone's post and quote it, just hit the reply link at the bottom right hand corner of their post. You can edit down the quoted portion like I did here.

Or, if you don't need to reply directly, just read to the bottom of the thread and type up your response and post there.

I wish I had words of wisdom on the situation with your brother, but I don't -- it sounds tough and I think there could be points to be made on both sides. Hopefully God will lead someone to respond wisely on it...
 

mattfivefour

Well-Known Member
Sister, sadly your brother seems to have relied in his Christian life on the words of men, rather than on the Word of God. I certainly appreciate the teachings of the great men of God throughout history, but only in that they help me understand God's Word itself after I have studied that Word and believe the Holy Spirit had opened a Putin of it to me. My doctrines are not formed from theological writings: they are formed from the entirety of God's Word, verse being compared with verse, revelation coming from revelation, no doctrine being complete unless ALL Scripture fits ... with no bits "left on the table" (so to speak.) I obviously look at what other expositors have written, but as a means of checking my own understanding. I want to see how they understand a passage or doctrine and then compare that with God's Word until I can either find agreement with the expositors or settle on a biblical reason why I cannot agree with them on a particular point. But it all stems from an intimate relationship with God's Word.

The problem with your brother's beliefs is that they hang almost entirely on what a theologian has said. And, unfortunately, too often a teaching is based on some important verses while other equality important but seemingly opposite verses are ignored or discounted. The plain fact (at least for me) is that ALL verses directly or indirectly related to a subject must fit together before a doctrine can be developed. To find a powerful passage (or passages) in Scripture and build a doctrine on it without taking into account all of the other parts of God's Word that may beat on the topic results in at best a partial view of what God is revealing to us and, at worst, a false view. Individual truths do not exist in isolation in Scripture and Truth hangs on the totality of every scripture God has given us.

But I think you know this. And that is why you are so disturbed by your brother and his beliefs. Unfortunately, ministers --especially those whose knowledge of God exists primarily in their intellect as a result of their book learning rather than in their heart as a result of bumbling daily experience with God-- can be very hard to reach with God's truth. They may know the words of the Bible and be able to quote scripture at the drop of a hat, but in their understanding they filter every word through the teaching of their preferred theologian. Just as your brother does with Karl Barth. And the pride of wearing the clerical robes combined with the pride of great intellectual study and knowledge makes it very hard for these kinds of ministers to listen to anything from a "lay" person or from someone with ferret degrees or a lower ecclesiastical station in life.

That is background; now to your specific problem. God alone can lead you as to what to do. I can only share some things to consider. When God says in 2 John 1:10-11 not to welcome false teachers into your home because you will be a partaker of their wicked works, he is speaking in the context of both welcoming them into your home to learn from them and also helping them on their way as they progress on their travels to teach their false doctrines. Your brother's impending visit seems to meet neither of those criteria.

Your brother is deeply loved by God, whether he is His yet, or not. And his soul is as precious as any. Since he is your brother in the flesh (and quite possibly in Christ despite his theological error ... for salvation is based exclusively in our faith in Christ's finished work on Calvary) his soul should be of as great value to you as it is to Christ who died for him. I'd not cease to challenge him on the Truth, even though it may be like trying to catch mercury under your finger or pin Jello to a wall. And if he is indeed Christ's, what a tragedy for him to enter eternity saved but we his entire life's work burned up before him and see the countless souls in Hell because of his teaching?

Don't gives up on him sister, but don't debate with him out of sheer disagreement but out of love for God's Word and love for your brother's soul. Don't be frustrated by his rejection or his wishy-want attempts to deflect your point. Just prayerfully continue, asking God to let you see him through His eyes and give you His love for him. Your persistent questions delivered with love and patience from a position of asuredess will at some point, hopefully, prayerfully, make him think.

I hope something I have said will help you with this problem, sister. I shall pray for you.
 

Tall Timbers

Imperfect but forgiven
I'm seeking help about the long-term situation I'm having with my brother. For more than 20 years, he's been preaching in several Presbyterian (P C USA) churches several hundred miles from where I live. I'm 69, he's 74.

There were more than a few young men of your brother's age who went into church ministry to avoid Viet Nam. There's at least the possibility that he's one of those who pretended to be a Christian and went to seminary and then it ended up being the way they made their living over the course of their life.

From years ago I have a memory of sitting around a table with a group of men. There was an old catholic priest to my left. He held the view of universal salvation and had shared to the group in support of that. That's a pretty ridiculous notion for a person who is saved and who studies their Bible. We know better and you don't need to be a Bible scholar to understand that the Bible definitely does not teach universal salvation. I prayed about how to respond to the priest because I didn't want him influencing anyone around that table. I asked him if what he was saying was true, would the same also apply to the fallen angels. He said yes it would. I then told him that based on everything he's said, Lucifer also would be forgiven and would spend eternity with Jesus along with everyone else. I said that as a statement, not a question. He concurred as I believed he would. And I saw by his body language then that he understood that I wasn't just making casual conversation with him or trying to learn from him. That was the end of the conversation. I prayed that the people around the table had enough Bible knowledge to understand the fate of satan... and thus to understand that the pitch the priest had given was completely false.

Given everything you've told us about your brother, if he were my brother I would treat him as an unbeliever and maintain the familial ties. Definitely don't see him as pastor or leader of the church, for he is not, despite his lifetime employment. Definitely don't ever introduce him as a minister, for he is not. He is a pretender who has never had the Spirit of God quicken in him to bring the Word of God alive in his life. Do pray for him and love him. If/when he visits, I wouldn't defer to him to pray before meals or to have any leadership role that would be granted a Believer who was a guest in your home.

p.s. I would treat him as an unbeliever... that doesn't mean he isn't in fact saved while appearing not to be.
 

Work4Peanuts

I like being just a Well-Known Member
Hi, everyone, I haven't been around much since joining the Forum in March -- lots going on. (I'm an old gal who's new at this kind of communication; could someone please tell me how to respond to people's posts? I'm not sure what to click on or whatever. If there is an instruction page, please steer me toward it. Thanks!)

I'm seeking help about the long-term situation I'm having with my brother. For more than 20 years, he's been preaching in several Presbyterian (P C USA) churches several hundred miles from where I live. I'm 69, he's 74.

I've recently been emailing him about his long-held belief that "everybody's saved!" which he has proclaimed from the pulpit and in short, self-published books. He is a disciple of Norman Vincent Peale (whose NYC church he used to attend), Harry Emerson Fosdick, and Karl Barth. When he married, he and his bride (they began their relationship while she was married to someone else) chose to have the ceremony performed by a disciple of John Shelby Spong.

I haven't visited my brother since 1997, and neither has our sister, with whom I live. Neither of us liked his wife, who was often very rude to our late parents; she died suddenly several years ago. My relationship with our brother is uppermost in my mind right now because he wants to come visit us this summer, as he has done several times over the past couple of decades. He has grownup children and a baby grandchild. I have always been uneasy about his visiting us, and have talked with him about his universalism many times.

I believe strongly that he is a false teacher, and Christians are warned not to give hospitality to false teachers. I'm writing this to the Forum family in hopes that y'all can share some wisdom about how to handle this situation. My sister is a devout Christian, but she will not listen to any criticism of him -- I think it hurts her too much to think about what he preaches. (I'm on his email sermons list; I don't think she reads them or his books.) It also hurts me to think ill of him, but I must come to grips with this problem.

Through the years, he has said that the correct response to "Are you saved?" is, "I was saved 2,000 years ago, at the Cross." However, he also has said that during college, he asked Jesus to be his Savior because "it was the right thing" for him to do.

Here are highlights from a recent email conversation I had with him (bold emphasis is mine):

ME: In order for "everybody's saved!" to be true, doesn't one of the following need to be true for all people who are accountable for their sins (e.g. not mentally disabled or too young): Personal faith in the Jesus of the Bible isn't necessary BEFORE death; or, it IS necessary and everyone puts their faith in Him before they die; or, those who don't put their faith in Him before they die will do so AFTER death. Does one of those three explain "everybody's saved!"? If not, what do you think does?

HE: I don't know, and there's plenty of scripture on all sides of the question. I try to see what's needed in a particular message. Karl Barth, who felt roughly the same, once said, 'I don't preach it, and I don't not preach it'."

ME: I'm mystified that this is a difficult subject for you to discuss. You've preached and written that "everybody's saved!" yet when I ask you to "give the reason for the hope that is within you," you can't seem to do it -- or are unwilling to do it. You wouldn't assure everybody of salvation without knowing what you mean by that, would you?

HE: Of course you assume that this life is our only shot at salvation. That may well be true. Not everyone agrees, cf. the Catholic Church's doctrine of Purgatory. "With God all things are possible." Alister McGrath, in his Christian Theology, summarizes Karl Barth's view: "Barth declares that salvation is only possible through Christ. He nevertheless insists on the ultimate eschatological victory of grace over unbelief. Eventually, God's grace will triumph completely, and all will come to faith in Christ. This is the only way to salvation, but it is a way that, through the grace of God, is effective for all. For Barth, the particularity of God's revelation through Christ is not contradicted by the universality of salvation." You don't agree. We'll find out.

ME: You don't believe there's clear evidence for Purgatory in the Bible, do you? What is the clearest evidence for "everybody's saved"? Barth preached universal salvation during our own era. Who were the great proclaimers of "everybody's saved" from the Bible on down through the ages?

HE: I appreciate your passion for this kind of discussion, but I don't share it. We disagree (maybe); Christians do that sometimes. As Paul says, "If on some point you think that differently, God will make that clear to you." Good enough. I don't get into scripture duels either. I do enjoy appreciating people for the work they do in God's salvation, and that certainly includes you. Over and out."

Well, that's where my brother and I are as of today. I would appreciate any words of wisdom about how to deal with him. I don't want to offer him hospitality if (since) he is a false teacher, but this is my sister's home as well as mine. I suppose I could lock myself in my room when he comes to visit... Well, I've already learned a lot about other topics from God's people in this Forum, and I welcome any insights into this kind of unhappy conflict.
Wow. If your conscience is telling you not to invite him into your home, then I wouldn't do it. He has obviously turned away from the truth. Maybe this is the wakeup call he needs.

One thing is certain: you really need to sit down and hash this out with your sister.
 

daygo

Well-Known Member
Sister, sadly your brother seems to have relied in his Christian life on the words of men, rather than on the Word of God. I certainly appreciate the teachings of the great men of God throughout history, but only in that they help me understand God's Word itself after I have studied that Word and believe the Holy Spirit had opened a Putin of it to me. My doctrines are not formed from theological writings: they are formed from the entirety of God's Word, verse being compared with verse, revelation coming from revelation, no doctrine being complete unless ALL Scripture fits ... with no bits "left on the table" (so to speak.) I obviously look at what other expositors have written, but as a means of checking my own understanding. I want to see how they understand a passage or doctrine and then compare that with God's Word until I can either find agreement with the expositors or settle on a biblical reason why I cannot agree with them on a particular point. But it all stems from an intimate relationship with God's Word.

The problem with your brother's beliefs is that they hang almost entirely on what a theologian has said. And, unfortunately, too often a teaching is based on some important verses while other equality important but seemingly opposite verses are ignored or discounted. The plain fact (at least for me) is that ALL verses directly or indirectly related to a subject must fit together before a doctrine can be developed. To find a powerful passage (or passages) in Scripture and build a doctrine on it without taking into account all of the other parts of God's Word that may beat on the topic results in at best a partial view of what God is revealing to us and, at worst, a false view. Individual truths do not exist in isolation in Scripture and Truth hangs on the totality of every scripture God has given us.

But I think you know this. And that is why you are so disturbed by your brother and his beliefs. Unfortunately, ministers --especially those whose knowledge of God exists primarily in their intellect as a result of their book learning rather than in their heart as a result of bumbling daily experience with God-- can be very hard to reach with God's truth. They may know the words of the Bible and be able to quote scripture at the drop of a hat, but in their understanding they filter every word through the teaching of their preferred theologian. Just as your brother does with Karl Barth. And the pride of wearing the clerical robes combined with the pride of great intellectual study and knowledge makes it very hard for these kinds of ministers to listen to anything from a "lay" person or from someone with ferret degrees or a lower ecclesiastical station in life.

That is background; now to your specific problem. God alone can lead you as to what to do. I can only share some things to consider. When God says in 2 John 1:10-11 not to welcome false teachers into your home because you will be a partaker of their wicked works, he is speaking in the context of both welcoming them into your home to learn from them and also helping them on their way as they progress on their travels to teach their false doctrines. Your brother's impending visit seems to meet neither of those criteria.

Your brother is deeply loved by God, whether he is His yet, or not. And his soul is as precious as any. Since he is your brother in the flesh (and quite possibly in Christ despite his theological error ... for salvation is based exclusively in our faith in Christ's finished work on Calvary) his soul should be of as great value to you as it is to Christ who died for him. I'd not cease to challenge him on the Truth, even though it may be like trying to catch mercury under your finger or pin Jello to a wall. And if he is indeed Christ's, what a tragedy for him to enter eternity saved but we his entire life's work burned up before him and see the countless souls in Hell because of his teaching?

Don't gives up on him sister, but don't debate with him out of sheer disagreement but out of love for God's Word and love for your brother's soul. Don't be frustrated by his rejection or his wishy-want attempts to deflect your point. Just prayerfully continue, asking God to let you see him through His eyes and give you His love for him. Your persistent questions delivered with love and patience from a position of asuredess will at some point, hopefully, prayerfully, make him think.

I hope something I have said will help you with this problem, sister. I shall pray for you.
Beautifully put Matt.
 

Chris

Administrator
Staff member
Hi, everyone, I haven't been around much since joining the Forum in March -- lots going on. (I'm an old gal who's new at this kind of communication; could someone please tell me how to respond to people's posts? I'm not sure what to click on or whatever. If there is an instruction page, please steer me toward it. Thanks!)

I'm seeking help about the long-term situation I'm having with my brother. For more than 20 years, he's been preaching in several Presbyterian (P C USA) churches several hundred miles from where I live. I'm 69, he's 74.

I've recently been emailing him about his long-held belief that "everybody's saved!" which he has proclaimed from the pulpit and in short, self-published books. He is a disciple of Norman Vincent Peale (whose NYC church he used to attend), Harry Emerson Fosdick, and Karl Barth. When he married, he and his bride (they began their relationship while she was married to someone else) chose to have the ceremony performed by a disciple of John Shelby Spong.

I haven't visited my brother since 1997, and neither has our sister, with whom I live. Neither of us liked his wife, who was often very rude to our late parents; she died suddenly several years ago. My relationship with our brother is uppermost in my mind right now because he wants to come visit us this summer, as he has done several times over the past couple of decades. He has grownup children and a baby grandchild. I have always been uneasy about his visiting us, and have talked with him about his universalism many times.

I believe strongly that he is a false teacher, and Christians are warned not to give hospitality to false teachers. I'm writing this to the Forum family in hopes that y'all can share some wisdom about how to handle this situation. My sister is a devout Christian, but she will not listen to any criticism of him -- I think it hurts her too much to think about what he preaches. (I'm on his email sermons list; I don't think she reads them or his books.) It also hurts me to think ill of him, but I must come to grips with this problem.

Through the years, he has said that the correct response to "Are you saved?" is, "I was saved 2,000 years ago, at the Cross." However, he also has said that during college, he asked Jesus to be his Savior because "it was the right thing" for him to do.

Here are highlights from a recent email conversation I had with him (bold emphasis is mine):

ME: In order for "everybody's saved!" to be true, doesn't one of the following need to be true for all people who are accountable for their sins (e.g. not mentally disabled or too young): Personal faith in the Jesus of the Bible isn't necessary BEFORE death; or, it IS necessary and everyone puts their faith in Him before they die; or, those who don't put their faith in Him before they die will do so AFTER death. Does one of those three explain "everybody's saved!"? If not, what do you think does?

HE: I don't know, and there's plenty of scripture on all sides of the question. I try to see what's needed in a particular message. Karl Barth, who felt roughly the same, once said, 'I don't preach it, and I don't not preach it'."

ME: I'm mystified that this is a difficult subject for you to discuss. You've preached and written that "everybody's saved!" yet when I ask you to "give the reason for the hope that is within you," you can't seem to do it -- or are unwilling to do it. You wouldn't assure everybody of salvation without knowing what you mean by that, would you?

HE: Of course you assume that this life is our only shot at salvation. That may well be true. Not everyone agrees, cf. the Catholic Church's doctrine of Purgatory. "With God all things are possible." Alister McGrath, in his Christian Theology, summarizes Karl Barth's view: "Barth declares that salvation is only possible through Christ. He nevertheless insists on the ultimate eschatological victory of grace over unbelief. Eventually, God's grace will triumph completely, and all will come to faith in Christ. This is the only way to salvation, but it is a way that, through the grace of God, is effective for all. For Barth, the particularity of God's revelation through Christ is not contradicted by the universality of salvation." You don't agree. We'll find out.

ME: You don't believe there's clear evidence for Purgatory in the Bible, do you? What is the clearest evidence for "everybody's saved"? Barth preached universal salvation during our own era. Who were the great proclaimers of "everybody's saved" from the Bible on down through the ages?

HE: I appreciate your passion for this kind of discussion, but I don't share it. We disagree (maybe); Christians do that sometimes. As Paul says, "If on some point you think that differently, God will make that clear to you." Good enough. I don't get into scripture duels either. I do enjoy appreciating people for the work they do in God's salvation, and that certainly includes you. Over and out."

Well, that's where my brother and I are as of today. I would appreciate any words of wisdom about how to deal with him. I don't want to offer him hospitality if (since) he is a false teacher, but this is my sister's home as well as mine. I suppose I could lock myself in my room when he comes to visit... Well, I've already learned a lot about other topics from God's people in this Forum, and I welcome any insights into this kind of unhappy conflict.

It sounds like he is at this point:

PROVERBS 14:12 KJV "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof [are] the ways of death."

I would keep praying for him. For dealing with some people, that is better than the endless debates. It sounds like he has sat himself firmly at the universalism table. :ohno
 
Good to see you post! To reply to someone's post and quote it, just hit the reply link at the bottom right hand corner of their post. You can edit down the quoted portion like I did here.

Or, if you don't need to reply directly, just read to the bottom of the thread and type up your response and post there.

I wish I had words of wisdom on the situation with your brother, but I don't -- it sounds tough and I think there could be points to be made on both sides. Hopefully God will lead someone to respond wisely on it...
Thanks so much for your help, greg64.
 
Sister, sadly your brother seems to have relied in his Christian life on the words of men, rather than on the Word of God. I certainly appreciate the teachings of the great men of God throughout history, but only in that they help me understand God's Word itself after I have studied that Word and believe the Holy Spirit had opened a Putin of it to me. My doctrines are not formed from theological writings: they are formed from the entirety of God's Word, verse being compared with verse, revelation coming from revelation, no doctrine being complete unless ALL Scripture fits ... with no bits "left on the table" (so to speak.) I obviously look at what other expositors have written, but as a means of checking my own understanding. I want to see how they understand a passage or doctrine and then compare that with God's Word until I can either find agreement with the expositors or settle on a biblical reason why I cannot agree with them on a particular point. But it all stems from an intimate relationship with God's Word.

The problem with your brother's beliefs is that they hang almost entirely on what a theologian has said. And, unfortunately, too often a teaching is based on some important verses while other equality important but seemingly opposite verses are ignored or discounted. The plain fact (at least for me) is that ALL verses directly or indirectly related to a subject must fit together before a doctrine can be developed. To find a powerful passage (or passages) in Scripture and build a doctrine on it without taking into account all of the other parts of God's Word that may beat on the topic results in at best a partial view of what God is revealing to us and, at worst, a false view. Individual truths do not exist in isolation in Scripture and Truth hangs on the totality of every scripture God has given us.

But I think you know this. And that is why you are so disturbed by your brother and his beliefs. Unfortunately, ministers --especially those whose knowledge of God exists primarily in their intellect as a result of their book learning rather than in their heart as a result of bumbling daily experience with God-- can be very hard to reach with God's truth. They may know the words of the Bible and be able to quote scripture at the drop of a hat, but in their understanding they filter every word through the teaching of their preferred theologian. Just as your brother does with Karl Barth. And the pride of wearing the clerical robes combined with the pride of great intellectual study and knowledge makes it very hard for these kinds of ministers to listen to anything from a "lay" person or from someone with ferret degrees or a lower ecclesiastical station in life.

That is background; now to your specific problem. God alone can lead you as to what to do. I can only share some things to consider. When God says in 2 John 1:10-11 not to welcome false teachers into your home because you will be a partaker of their wicked works, he is speaking in the context of both welcoming them into your home to learn from them and also helping them on their way as they progress on their travels to teach their false doctrines. Your brother's impending visit seems to meet neither of those criteria.

Your brother is deeply loved by God, whether he is His yet, or not. And his soul is as precious as any. Since he is your brother in the flesh (and quite possibly in Christ despite his theological error ... for salvation is based exclusively in our faith in Christ's finished work on Calvary) his soul should be of as great value to you as it is to Christ who died for him. I'd not cease to challenge him on the Truth, even though it may be like trying to catch mercury under your finger or pin Jello to a wall. And if he is indeed Christ's, what a tragedy for him to enter eternity saved but we his entire life's work burned up before him and see the countless souls in Hell because of his teaching?

Don't gives up on him sister, but don't debate with him out of sheer disagreement but out of love for God's Word and love for your brother's soul. Don't be frustrated by his rejection or his wishy-want attempts to deflect your point. Just prayerfully continue, asking God to let you see him through His eyes and give you His love for him. Your persistent questions delivered with love and patience from a position of asuredess will at some point, hopefully, prayerfully, make him think.

I hope something I have said will help you with this problem, sister. I shall pray for you.
Thank you so much, mattfivefour, I will think and pray about your great comments.
 
Good to see you post! To reply to someone's post and quote it, just hit the reply link at the bottom right hand corner of their post. You can edit down the quoted portion like I did here.

Or, if you don't need to reply directly, just read to the bottom of the thread and type up your response and post there.

I wish I had words of wisdom on the situation with your brother, but I don't -- it sounds tough and I think there could be points to be made on both sides. Hopefully God will lead someone to respond wisely on it...
Thanks so much, greg64, I'll do that, and thanks for helping me think through this.
 
There were more than a few young men of your brother's age who went into church ministry to avoid Viet Nam. There's at least the possibility that he's one of those who pretended to be a Christian and went to seminary and then it ended up being the way they made their living over the course of their life.

From years ago I have a memory of sitting around a table with a group of men. There was an old catholic priest to my left. He held the view of universal salvation and had shared to the group in support of that. That's a pretty ridiculous notion for a person who is saved and who studies their Bible. We know better and you don't need to be a Bible scholar to understand that the Bible definitely does not teach universal salvation. I prayed about how to respond to the priest because I didn't want him influencing anyone around that table. I asked him if what he was saying was true, would the same also apply to the fallen angels. He said yes it would. I then told him that based on everything he's said, Lucifer also would be forgiven and would spend eternity with Jesus along with everyone else. I said that as a statement, not a question. He concurred as I believed he would. And I saw by his body language then that he understood that I wasn't just making casual conversation with him or trying to learn from him. That was the end of the conversation. I prayed that the people around the table had enough Bible knowledge to understand the fate of satan... and thus to understand that the pitch the priest had given was completely false.

Given everything you've told us about your brother, if he were my brother I would treat him as an unbeliever and maintain the familial ties. Definitely don't see him as pastor or leader of the church, for he is not, despite his lifetime employment. Definitely don't ever introduce him as a minister, for he is not. He is a pretender who has never had the Spirit of God quicken in him to bring the Word of God alive in his life. Do pray for him and love him. If/when he visits, I wouldn't defer to him to pray before meals or to have any leadership role that would be granted a Believer who was a guest in your home.

p.s. I would treat him as an unbeliever... that doesn't mean he isn't in fact saved while appearing not to be.
Thanks so much, Tall Timbers, for your wise reply. During the Vietnam War, my brother chose ROTC in college in order to avoid the draft, and was a lieutenant stationed at a base in South Korea during his few years in the service. He isn't an ordained minister, just a very well-spoken, well-read and attractive man who has many good qualities (kindness, generosity, etc.).

I like your idea of making statements to him, not trying to get him to answer questions. I'll start doing more of that, making it part of my witness to him, whether he responds to it or not.

From the comments I'm reading so far -- thank you all so much! -- it sounds as if I won't be doing wrong to join my sister in be hospitable to him in our home (although I doubt I'll ever go back to his home, because he and his kids would expect me to go hear him preach in his church, and I don't want to give anyone the impression that I'm on the same page as he).

The other tricky part is that when he is here, we visit several other relatives to whom he sends his books, and they always rave about what a great preacher he is. After one visit to an enthusiastic cousin, I followed up with an email explaining that, although I love him, I have problems with some of his key beliefs. She didn't answer.

Thanks again, you've helped me a lot.
 
Wow. If your conscience is telling you not to invite him into your home, then I wouldn't do it. He has obviously turned away from the truth. Maybe this is the wakeup call he needs.

One thing is certain: you really need to sit down and hash this out with your sister.
Thanks so much for your input, Work4Peanuts; I do need to have a talk with her, and I will do it with "gentleness and with respect."
 
It sounds like he is at this point:

PROVERBS 14:12 KJV "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof [are] the ways of death."

I would keep praying for him. For dealing with some people, that is better than the endless debates. It sounds like he has sat himself firmly at the universalism table. :ohno
Thanks so much, Chris. I think you are right, and I do pray for him, although I find him very frustrating! BTW, Tim Challies has, on his website (challies.com), a good summaries of Peale's and Fosdick's beliefs in his "False Teachers" section, if anyone in the Forum wants a quick overview of their beliefs.
 

Matthew6:33

Withstand in the evil day. Eph 6:13
Interesting discussion. What a tough situation.

How does he view the Bible? Is it the inerrant Word of God? Is it breathed by the Holy Spirit? Or is it just a book written by men about religion and history?

If everyone is saved what is the purpose of his message/teaching? If everyone is saved their is no such thing as judgement, there is no accountability for sin. It does not make sense.

[Mat 7:13-14 NKJV] 13 "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide [is] the gate and broad [is] the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 "Because narrow [is] the gate and difficult [is] the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.
 

Accepted

Well-Known Member
Since you are not supporting nor affirming your brother’s teachings by letting him visit, I don’t see a problem with it, just as Adrian (Mattfivefour) said. In fact, this could be an opportunity for the Lord to use you to speak truth to him. But be careful not to fall into the trap of thinking it is your job to save him; only the Lord can do that. Your job is to be walking closely with Jesus, and just to be available to Him. If He nudges you to speak, then be quickly obedient. If not, trust Him.

In general, when engaging with those in error, I think of how Jesus gave us the example of using Scripture when answering the evil one’s lies (when He was tempted in the desert). Never get carried off into discussion of this or that author, as your brother has, and thereby reaching the conclusion that we can’t conclude anything. Oh yes we can, by sticking with the Scriptures!

One of the simplest passages to understand is John 3:14-18. At first, your brother may think this affirms his view, but as you read the whole passage, it is clear that “whoever does not believe is condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” Through the Bible, it is so clear that we are saved by faith in Christ, and because there are those who reject faith in Him, there are those who are not saved. No man-made philosophy can dilute that fact.

Again, simply prepare by being in the Word, then abide in Jesus and let Him decide if and when He will use you. Praying for you now! ❤️
 

Everlasting Life

Through Faith in Jesus
Thanks so much, Chris. I think you are right, and I do pray for him, although I find him very frustrating! BTW, Tim Challies has, on his website (challies.com), a good summaries of Peale's and Fosdick's beliefs in his "False Teachers" section, if anyone in the Forum wants a quick overview of their beliefs.

Hi there HeCleanedThisMouse, welcome to R.F.! :welcome

I'm praying for your situation and certainly sympathize, I've had to navigate similarly as you. :hug

As you read from various bible teachers, be very careful of the Calvinistic leanings that are quite often floating around. Here's a couple of articles that may help give some navigation:

https://gracethrufaith.com/ask-a-bible-teacher/must-god-choose-us-or-can-we-choose-him/

https://gracethrufaith.com/ask-a-bible-teacher/assurance-of-salvation/

https://gracethrufaith.com/ask-a-bible-teacher/john-17-and-calvinism/

https://gracethrufaith.com/ask-a-bible-teacher/must-god-choose-us-follow-up/

Also, if you do a search (in the search bar, upper right corner with the picture of a magnifying glass, click on that icon) for Calvinism, there's lots of information on this at R.F. :)
 

Lynn

Longing for Home
One of the simplest passages to understand is John 3:14-18. At first, your brother may think this affirms his view, but as you read the whole passage, it is clear that “whoever does not believe is condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” Through the Bible, it is so clear that we are saved by faith in Christ, and because there are those who reject faith in Him, there are those who are not saved. No man-made philosophy can dilute that fact.
Love this! :scoregood
 
Hi there HeCleanedThisMouse, welcome to R.F.! :welcome

I'm praying for your situation and certainly sympathize, I've had to navigate similarly as you. :hug

As you read from various bible teachers, be very careful of the Calvinistic leanings that are quite often floating around. Here's a couple of articles that may help give some navigation:

https://gracethrufaith.com/ask-a-bible-teacher/must-god-choose-us-or-can-we-choose-him/

https://gracethrufaith.com/ask-a-bible-teacher/assurance-of-salvation/

https://gracethrufaith.com/ask-a-bible-teacher/john-17-and-calvinism/

https://gracethrufaith.com/ask-a-bible-teacher/must-god-choose-us-follow-up/

Also, if you do a search (in the search bar, upper right corner with the picture of a magnifying glass, click on that icon) for Calvinism, there's lots of information on this at R.F. :)
Thanks so much for your help, Everlasting Life, and for your warm welcome!
 
There were more than a few young men of your brother's age who went into church ministry to avoid Viet Nam. There's at least the possibility that he's one of those who pretended to be a Christian and went to seminary and then it ended up being the way they made their living over the course of their life.

From years ago I have a memory of sitting around a table with a group of men. There was an old catholic priest to my left. He held the view of universal salvation and had shared to the group in support of that. That's a pretty ridiculous notion for a person who is saved and who studies their Bible. We know better and you don't need to be a Bible scholar to understand that the Bible definitely does not teach universal salvation. I prayed about how to respond to the priest because I didn't want him influencing anyone around that table. I asked him if what he was saying was true, would the same also apply to the fallen angels. He said yes it would. I then told him that based on everything he's said, Lucifer also would be forgiven and would spend eternity with Jesus along with everyone else. I said that as a statement, not a question. He concurred as I believed he would. And I saw by his body language then that he understood that I wasn't just making casual conversation with him or trying to learn from him. That was the end of the conversation. I prayed that the people around the table had enough Bible knowledge to understand the fate of satan... and thus to understand that the pitch the priest had given was completely false.

Given everything you've told us about your brother, if he were my brother I would treat him as an unbeliever and maintain the familial ties. Definitely don't see him as pastor or leader of the church, for he is not, despite his lifetime employment. Definitely don't ever introduce him as a minister, for he is not. He is a pretender who has never had the Spirit of God quicken in him to bring the Word of God alive in his life. Do pray for him and love him. If/when he visits, I wouldn't defer to him to pray before meals or to have any leadership role that would be granted a Believer who was a guest in your home.

p.s. I would treat him as an unbeliever... that doesn't mean he isn't in fact saved while appearing not to be.
Thank you, Tall Timbers, for sharing your wisdom with me. I really appreciate it.
 
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