We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum. A.W. Tozer
Therefore let God-inspired Scripture decide between us; and on whichever side be found doctrines in harmony with the word of God, in favor of that side will be cast the vote of truth. --Basil of Caesarea
Once you learn to discern, there's no going back. You will begin to spot the lie everywhere it appears.

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service. 1 Timothy 1:12

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Error May Be Subtle

Cleaning out my files this week I came across this drawing.
I have no idea when or where it came from.  All I know is that I was somewhere listening to some teacher who had this drawing and I copied it because I thought it was a good visual aid.
The point is that false teachings are often very subtle because they cross back and forth over truth.  All cults and false teachers have some truth in their teachings, which makes discernment of the utmost importance.  Often it is the true parts of their teachings that draws people unwittingly into the false, not being able to discern where the line was crossed.
An example would be Mormonism when they speak of God, Jesus, salvation, atonement, etc.  The words themselves can be true descriptions of Christian theology, but the Mormon definitions are not in accordance with Scripture and are false teachings,  only picking up the truth of the words as they cross the line of truth.
Roman Catholicism has much more truth than the LDS, of course, because Rome is a true Christian faith which has added much aberration and heresy to burden the Catholic faithful.  They actually have a truth line which makes the criss-crossing of it with their false teachings all the more difficult to discern.
It is important for every Christian to be continually in the Word of God so that the line we follow is the true path, and so that we will be able to recognize the false teachings whenever they cross our line.


ali said...

Good illustration.

I do not agree that the RCC is a christian religion. IMHO, the RCC is a cult which worships other gods [Mary, the saints] and teaches many lies to its followers, [the sacrament, pergatory...].

Be they LDS, JW, Islam, RCC, they differ only in their presentation but all and an apostate religion.

Again imho.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...


Don't let prejudice against Romanism let you judge them that way. I've known many Romanists who were solid believers but carrying a load of works on their shoulders. Testimonies from many ex-Romanists will tell you that there is enough of the true faith left in Rome that people become Christians there in spite of the heresies they add.

I consider Romanism a cultic system because of the additions, and the majority of Romanists are Catholics and not Christians. But they cannot be put on the level of full-blown cults where no truth exists, such as LDS and JW.

Elizabeth Prata said...

A wonderful illustration and an excellent post. Thank you once again for good words.

Drew said...

I think it's a bit of a stretch to say that the RCC has way more truth than the LDS Church. It has solid believers who are carrying a "load of works on their shoulders"? What do you even mean by that?

ali said...

None should paint with a broad brush - and that surely was not my intent.

There will always be exceptions - thus your friends in the RCC who are true believers.

However, imho - the RCC does not teach Biblical truth to its congregants and therefore is an apostate religion.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Ali and Drew,

As noted, I consider Romanism a cultic system, certainly rife with apostasy. However, unlike the cults which have no essential Christian doctrine (no Trinity, no biblical Christ, false gods, etc), Rome at least has the essentials. What they do is add burdens to their members - things in which they are enslaved for fear of losing salvation or just being out of God’s grace, such as indulgences, purgatory, the papacy and its magisterium, adoration of relics, the Mass, Lenten restriction of foods, celibate priesthood, etc. Those are all legalistic burdens, much like what the Christ called the yoke of the Pharisees.

However, there are Christian essential doctrines to which they adhere, which we call non-negotiable:
God’s unity
God’s Triunity
Deity of Christ
Humanity of Christ
Depravity of mankind
Virgin birth of Christ
Sinlessness of Christ
Christ’s atoning death
Christ’s bodily resurrection
The need for God’s grace
The need for faith
Christ’s bodily ascension
Priestly intercession by Christ
Christ’s bodily second coming
Inspiration of Scripture
Literal interpretation of Scripture

Granted, they add works and other heretical ideas, which makes them cultic. Those non-negotiable doctrines are the truth line, which Rome has. But at the same time they have false teachings criss-crossing that line.

In my close to 40 years studying apologetics, I find there is much bigotry and animosity against Catholics, when the animosity should be directed at their leadership for their false teachings and deceiving their members. 

If you look at all the articles I have under the Roman Catholicism label, you will see how I expose their heresies and other false teachings. I certainly hold Romanism in low esteem and vilify their teachings, but I also know that because they do hold to the non-negotiables on that truth line, people can find the truth in spite of the lies.

ali said...

“'Come out from among them and be separate,' says the Lord. 'Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.” 2 Corinthians 6:14-18

And when those in the RCC stand before God, they can blame the leadership of their church for the errors and false doctrines they have followed?

Drew said...

I don't know what you mean exactly by essentials, but I would say that your list of essentials is a little questionable, or at least a bit weak. Salvation by faith alone oughta be on any list of important doctrines.

Or on the other hand, you did mention the danger of letting key terms get redefined. I would say that agreeing with the "need for faith," without agreeing that "faith" means confidence in Jesus alone for justification, pretty much warps the definition of "faith." So maybe your list of essentials is indeed alright, but it's just that Catholics actually toss that one item out the window.

Overall, having similar beliefs in the Trinity and the virgin birth just means very little to me. If that's all the Catholics have going for them over the Mormons, it isn't saying much. And it's of course true that some Catholics have good, non-Catholic beliefs. But there may very well be Mormons who are the same way.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...


The point is that those who ARE Christians in spite of the RCC doctrine will stand before God the same way as you and I will.

THere are many Christians in every assembly who are immature in their faith, lacking discernment and following some sort of false teachings. That doesn't make them unsaved, it merely makes them not as far down the road in their walk as those of use who have been there.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...


That list of non-negtiables comes from a list made by solid theologians, Drs Ron Rhodes and Norman Geisler, in their book, "Conviction Without Compromise." You can find similar lists in books such as Dr. Herbert Lockyer's "All the Doctrines of the Bible" as well as systematic theologies.

These men are solid fundamentalists. I think these guys have a good handle on what Scripture says about essential beliefs.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...


I forgot to say that Romanists have all those essential doctrines in their belief system and Mormons have none. That is a huge difference.

Anonymous said...

Glenn, I think that Drew and Ali have good points. Your own post about false teachings closely resembling the truth was great, as was the graphic that you inserted. Now you seem to be arguing against your own post and the truth brought out in the graphic! Just like the graphic, the RCC uses some Christian terminology and concepts, but if you dig a little deeper you will find out that they (just like the cults) are pouring a different meaning into many of the words. Grace, faith, you name it. They add to, they take away, they distort. For instance you point out that they believe in the virgin birth of Christ...guess what they also believe in the "Immaculate conception" of Mary. And on and on it goes. Whether the RCC can be considered a cult....depends on your def of a cult. But if they aren't they are very close to it, if you ask me. There is also American RC and RC around the world and the non-American version is much more cultic - in addition to all the false teachings there are pagan practices brought in alongside and the people are controlled by the pope and the church.

Anonymous said...

Yes we should speak out against the RCC teachers and hierarchy, but regarding individual people in the RCC church - Glenn, there is such a thing as willful ignorance.

I once tried to witness to a woman who was buying scapulars (they wear them around their necks to gain salvation). This woman was a a critical care nurse and was buying them to give to her patients. She snarled at me: "Don't preach to me. I believe this; I want to believe this."

Glenn E. Chatfield said...


I think you are missing the point. I'm saying Rome has BOTH lines. They do indeed have the truth line because they adhere to the non-negotiables. Their definitions of those terms aren't redefined as with Mormonism, rather they just add TO those definitions while keeping the originals intact.

Believing in a sinless Mary does not alter non-negotiables, does not alter the gospel or one's salvation. It just adds a burden of things required to believe to be a part of Romanism.

Which is why they are cultic - they add to the truth, but real Christians are actually in the Romanist communities. I know - I've met them and I have read hundreds of testimonies from others who end up leaving the Romanist church to get rid of the wiggly line.

As for the different versions, that isn't really true. It's different practices of the same version. Some countries, such as in Latin American add more paganism to where even the Romanism is difficult to discern due to the heavy syncretization. My wife and I have a very good friend who is a wonderful Christian woman, whose husband wants "true" Romanism and will drive 40 min to a basilica where they do the services in Latin. He's an American. There are a lot of Americans like him, and there are other Americans who pick and choose how deeply they want to be into Romanism as dictated by the catechism and other dogma.

I actually get to see this often. I play for many weddings and funerals, a large percentage of which are Catholic. Some have been so benign of the Romanist stuff that there isn't much difference from a Lutheran or Presbyterian service, while others are downright spooky they are so deep into the Vatican 1 type.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Anonymous #2,

I've never heard of scapulars being something which provided help or any way towards salvation. My understanding is that they are just something like an amulet for protection of some sort, or just a symbol of association with some order, etc: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13508b.htm

It becomes just another superstitious good luck charm which does not affect salvation nor does it affect belief in any of the non-negotiables. It is indeed a part of the wiggly line.

Anonymous said...

Glenn, do a search on the brown scapular of the Lady of Mt. Carmel. Here's one for example:

On this site, click on the image to enlarge and you will see that it clearly states that: "whoever dies wearing this scapular shall not suffer eternal fire."

Millions of Roman Catholics are going blithely to their deaths believing in this lie and thousands of other lies perpetrated by the false Roman Catholic system. Rome may not agree with everything that people come up with, but once you throw out sola scriptura and turn people from the scriptures, they are sitting ducks for every spiritual deceit under the sun. this is only one example.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...


BUT it isn't part of RCC doctrine. I admit there is bunches and bunches of false teachings with RCC. But my mention of Romanism just says they actually have a truth line which their false teachings criss-cross.

And I demonstrated by non-negotiables that their doctrine does indeed agree with those. Which is also why I say one can find the truth in Romanism because the truth line is there, and they can indeed be saved in spite of the wiggly line.