Divergent Doctrines; Part III
By: Pete Garcia
Having looked at some of the major sticking points Christian denominations have had over the years, I wanted to tie this up by looking at how these differences will be used against the church in the days, months, and years ahead.
Another parable He put forth to them, saying:
“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.” Matt. 13:31-32
So here in the Mustard Seed Parable, you have a tree that is much larger than what it should be (Mustard trees don’t get very big), and those evil birds that have taken nest inside the safety of that tree. So how do we know that the birds are meant to represent something bad or evil? In the previous parables, the bad are represented by a variety of images: tares, leaven, and birds of the air, of which either acted in a negative manner toward the seed (the tares and the birds) or were considered as sin…such as leaven.
They (the birds) represented a bad thing, (Matt. 13:4, 19) because they came along and ate the seed that was meant to grow in the soil and produce fruit. So Christ is describing in parable form, that Christianity would spread from its humble beginnings to a global movement, in which would come to house both the bad and the good within the confines of Christendom. So are our differences necessarily a bad thing?
Yes and no.
Yes, in the sense that as the body of believers, we were to be united in Christ and not squabbling over various issues that could easily be resolved by removing biases that have developed over the millennia. But no, in the sense that these differences were expected, and serve a purpose of sorts.
The Bible was constructed in such a manner, as the Holy Spirit moved men to write what they wrote, in such a way that clear doctrines such as: the omniscience of God, salvation by grace through faith, the deity of Christ, inerrancy of Scripture, and other core redemptive doctrines could be clearly understood. In other words, if you deny these clearly taught core doctrines, you ain’t a Christian.
But other doctrines, such as the Rapture, baptism, and the Triune nature of God, are not as clear. Don’t get me wrong, they are clear when you approach the Scriptures without liberal bias or corrupted hermeneutics that pervert your interpretation. But these are not requirements for salvation. As Jack had previously alluded to in the reference to the Tower of Babel, God never intended man to be united, because He knew what kind of devastation man was capable of.
Think about it this way: God COULD have had the Bible written in such a way, that no doctrine it put forth could be disputed. He could have had all the differing doctrines written in such a way, that no reasonable argument could be made to say otherwise. But we don’t, we have the Bible that we have, and it is the way God intended us to have it. Some of it is very clear; some could easily be misconstrued once removed from its proper context.
Just like Jesus speaking in Parables, His disciples asked why He didn’t just come out and say what He meant. He responded…
“Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.” Matt. 13:11-13
I think in a way, God was and is protecting us from ourselves. If every doctrine were absolutely black and white in its interpretation, mankind would have united long ago under a singular, universal type of system.
We see how that was almost the case in the ‘Dark Ages’, when the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) dominated what was then, Christendom. This was a time when it was forbidden to own a bible. All the bibles that the RCC had, were still kept in Latin, which required that a Catholic priest interpret and dictate to the people what it said. And when you consolidate that much power and authority into the hands of such few people, bad things happen…as it did with the selling of indulgences, the Inquisition, Crusades, abuse of power, and papal dogma’s that directly contradicted Scripture. As a result, millions of people died, and many tens of millions, followed a false religious system that sent them into an eternal hell.
Although the plan was to keep man separated to a certain degree, this does not by any means give man leeway to continue on teaching and promoting heretical doctrines. Doctrines which deny the Trinity or the Pre-Tribulation Rapture, or that promotes transubstantiation or baptismal regeneration are still unbiblical, and still lead people away from the truth in Scripture. We all will all answer for our stewardship of God’s Word, and how we managed with the information that God gave us.
Christendom in the 11th century was still battling it out over being able to own their own copies of a Bible. Christendom in the 15th century was battling over trying to reform the corruption in the Roman Catholic Church. Christendom in the 17th century was battling over Infant Baptism. Each generation has had their own struggles, and the fact that we are now arguing over which whether Christianity in and of itself can even be considered theologically acceptable, points to the lateness of the hour in which mankind finds itself in.
Today we know more now about how the end is going to come, than those who came before us. The reason is that we are seeing it unfold before our very eyes. We are the generation alive to see Israel back in her land. We have seen the Jews retake Jerusalem. We have seen the Roman Empire reviving itself. We now have the technology that no other generation before us had, which is driving religion, politics, and the economies of the world to converge into a single, unified system.
As we move closer to the end of this age, we see ‘Christendom’ moving with great speed toward that global, ecumenical reckoning which I believe is the ‘falling away’. We are so far along at this point, that Catholics, Charismatics, Mormon’s, and Protestants are willing to set aside their hugely, fundamental differences, just to try and remain culturally relevant. The push now is to unite, in order to stand against abortion, or Obamacare, or whatever…and play down doctrine in order to build a coalition of moral community.
Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition
This to me, is the fulfillment of 2 Thessalonians 2:3, in which the great falling away isn’t just becoming apostate over one hot-button cultural issue or another, but in a general turning away from what makes Christianity, Christian.
The only way you can sweep Christianity into the bin with all the other world faith systems and lifestyles, is not by denying Christ ever existed, but by denying the standard, which Christ Himself demanded of us…in that we must come through Him to get to the Father. (John 14:6).
It’s not by denying the Lord who bought us, but by having a form of godliness, and denying the power thereof. (2 Tim 3:5; 2 Peter 2:1) We’ve seen this over the last two centuries with the attacks first on the inerrancy of the Scriptures, then it was over translations, then over the validity of the Pauline Epistles, over interpretation of the Prophetic texts, etc. and so on.
There is a transition for individuals and for denominations…like a lifecycle from believer to apostate, which goes something like this:
1. Quit believing the Bible is the Inerrant ‘Word of God’
2. Quit believing in a literal understanding of Biblical events as real events, of which they become symbolic or metaphorical. This of course then is subject merely to one’s own interpretation…and everyone has their own opinions.
3. Inserting doubt over the translations or by elevating corrupted translations that significantly change the Bible.
4. Denying the prophetic nature of God’s word. This is also a direct denial of God’s omniscient nature, knowing the end from the beginning. (Isaiah 46:9-10)
5. Either denying core doctrinal positions, or inserting doubt into them, first causing uncertainty, then distrust, and finally skepticism.
6. Lastly, a complete rejection of God’s Word.
The danger in this is significant, because once you reach that last stage, it is practically impossible, aside from God’s divine action, to bring a person back to that point where they believe. Peter tells us…
For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage. For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: “A dog returns to his own vomit,” and, “a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.” 2 Peter 2:18-22
Since Pope Francis has come to take the reins of the Roman Catholic Church, he has been working overtime in attempting to bring the Protestant breakaways back under the papal umbrella. He has linked arms with Muslims, with Protestants, with Atheists, with anyone who will work with him towards this end. He uses humbleness to win over those who are skeptical, but we should not be misled or fooled by his intentions. His goal is not to unite the world back under the shade of the true Gospel, but under the shade of the Roman Catholic Church.
We have seen the rapid rise of the Emerging Church movement, which is targeting the youth and young adults in the Evangelical churches. Cross denominational organizations such as Promise Keepers, World Council of Churches, Red Letter Christians, Interfaith movements, Chrislam, and ecumenical movements. Popular books that promote “we all worship the same God” along with New Age mysticism that tries to hang Eastern mysticism back onto Christian rituals, or in place of them…is also saddling this message onto the Protestant and Evangelical Churches.
From Satan’s perspective, this is the Hegelian Dialectic all the way. First, you;
1. Thesis: Have a goal with a prescribed solution and end state-a one world religion
2. Antithesis: Create the problem–confuse and corrupt churches and religions so they are bitterly divided
3. Synthesis: People demand change (unity) and (moral cohesiveness)–present ecumenism as the only solution.
Christ promised us that the Gates of Hell will not prevail against the Church He builds (Matt. 16:13-20), but once that true Church is removed at the Rapture, there will be a rapid and colossal return to a singular, utterly blasphemous, Christ hating church who professes anything and everything, except for the Lord who could save them. It shouldn’t be any surprise to any of you watchers out there, that if Satan controls the current world system we inhabit, he also controls all the false belief systems out there. (Luke 4:5-7; Eph 2:2) Once the true church is removed, Satan will be given the power to woo those left behind with signs and wonders (2 Thess. 2:9), and these will be given over to believe the lie, unto their own destruction.
But we are also told in Revelation 7, that there will be those who come to faith after the Rapture. These will be outcasts who are quickly and violently martyred by a religious system who has wholeheartedly rejected Christ and the Bible. Hatred towards those who follow Christ will be at an all-time high. These will feel as justified in their killing of Christians, as the Nazis were in killing Jews during World War II. But this hatred doesn’t happen overnight. It takes conditioning, and it takes the spreading of the ‘spirit of antichrist’, which is currently getting stronger. They will label all those who claim Christ as: ‘haters’, ‘bigots’, ‘ignorant’, ‘racists’, ‘sexists’, ‘homophobes’, and ‘intolerant’ to name just a few.
Any of these starting to sound familiar?