One of the books on my shelves is a very interesting collection of teachings from the early church, A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs, edited by David W. Bercot. I have found it to be a very useful reference on many matters, and I highly recommend it to all believers. Today I was looking for information on something and came across this highlighted quote (I can’t read without a highlighter) from Clement of Alexandria (c.195 AD):
Those who give themselves up to pleasures, twist Scripture in accordance with their lusts. … Such people, in consequence of falling away from the right path, err in most individual points. As you might expect, they do not have the faculty for judging what is true and false…. For if they had, they would have obeyed the Scriptures…. We also give a complete explanation of the Scriptures from the Scriptures themselves. From faith, we are persuaded by demonstration. However, when those who follow heresies venture to avail themselves of the prophetic Scriptures, [they do the following]: In the first place, they do not use all the Scriptures. Secondly, they do not quote them entirely. Finally, they do not quote them as the body and context of prophecy prescribes. Rather, selecting ambiguous expressions, they twist them to suit their own opinions, gathering a few expressions here and there. Instead of looking to the sense, they make use of the mere words.
It just goes to show you that the “cult cocktail” (Scripture with a twist) is something the Church has been dealing with for a very long time. In fact, let’s all remember what Peter said:
[Paul] speaks about these things in all his letters, in which there are some matters that are hard to understand. The untaught and unstable twist them to their own destruction, as they also do with the rest of the Scriptures. (2 Peter 3:16 , HCSB)
The thought that false teachers twist the Scriptures “to their own destruction” should make them reflect on what they are doing.
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