Saturday, September 29, 2012
Revelation 3:20 is used by those who teach that we are to “ask Jesus into your heart.” But is this a proper use of this passage?
Firstly, the idea of “asking Jesus into your heart” is unbiblical. WHAT!?!?! Yes, that is correct. Show me once in Scripture where this idea is found; you can’t. It most likely started with the idea of “coming forward” for an “altar call,” itself an unbiblical idea.
What does the Bible say? The most succinct passage describing how one achieves salvation is Romans 10:9: “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
Is there anywhere in this passage which says you need to “invite/ask Jesus into your heart”? And is an altar call needed? The answer to both these questions is, “no.” To be saved, we repent and believe that Jesus is the Son of God who paid for our sins on the cross and was raised from the dead proving the atonement was accepted by God.
So what is Revelation 3:20 about? To understand we must read it in context. It is part of Jesus’ letter to the Church in Laodicea, as transcribed by John. Jesus was addressing that particular church and chastising them for their lukewarm faith and their building up of wealth. He was challenging them to acquire spiritual wealth: “buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.” The idea was that rather than relying on the world for their wealth, they were to come for him for “real” wealth which saves.
Jesus continued: “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” Jesus is saying he wants to rebuke and discipline the lukewarm believers, and he invites them to open their door to fellowship with him so he can accomplish this counsel.
The Expositor’s Bible Commentary says this: “To those who hear the words of rebuke, Christ extends an invitation to dine with him. This figure represents Christ standing at the door to the hearts of the members of the congregation at Laodicea. Christ will come and have fellowship with all those who hear his voice of rebuke and thus prove themselves as Christ’s friends by zeal and repentance.”
Some commentators claim that this passage is addressing only unbelievers in that particular assembly, but that is reading into the passage.
I think Henry M. Morris says it pretty good in his The Revelation Record: “Here the Lord uses a different figure, but to the same purpose. His rebuke and chastening are like a knock at one’s door. If that person hears His knock and also hears His voice - both through his experience of chastisement and through Christ’s written Word - then he ought to respond, though Christ does not compel him to do so. He does not force the door. The occupant must open the door. That is, he must repent of his pride and his self-sufficiency, his human wisdom, and his cowardly neutrality. Then - but not until then - will he know the real joy of true fellowship wit his Lord. Clearly, this exhortation is directed to compromising worldly believers in the church at Laodicea, and in all other such churches, of which there are multitudes today. It is not a gospel verse addressed to the unsaved, though it is so used widely today. ... It was addressed only to compromising, lukewarm Christians in compromising, lukewarm churches, and it is they whom Christ is seeking to draw back to himself.”
Proper exegesis demonstrates that Revelation 3:20 is not about anyone “asking Jesus into their heart" for salvation. It is about lukewarm Christians harkening to Jesus' rebuke and chastisement for their compromising and worldly faith.
It is time for Christians to quit using this passage out of context.
Thursday, September 27, 2012
Cults are famous for taking Scripture out of context to “prove” their claims, and Christians rightly challenge them on it. But Christians have also been known to take Scripture out of context to “prove” their claims. At times, cult members may know this is the case (as with Christians’ use of Rev. 22:18-19 against them) and cry “foul.”
Usually Christians abuse Scripture more for “feel good” reasons, but some also abuse it for legalistic reasons. Either way, they are wrong. If we expect the cults to be held accountable for misuse of Scripture, then we should make sure our own houses are clean - so to speak.
Aside from the article I wrote about Revelation 22:18-19 (linked above), I have also written about the abuse of the following passages:
And the BIG one for our current political times, 2 Chronicles 7:14.
I can’t think of any more at this time (other than Psalm 46:10), but I’m sure there are plenty. If you know of one, I’d appreciate it if you’d send it my way so I can write about it!
Some of the problems come from the false doctrine known as “replacement theology” - the claim that the Church has replaced Israel and so all the promises, blessings and curses for Israel are now the Church’s. This is, quite frankly, total nonsense. One has to spiritualize a great part of the Old Testament to come to such conclusions. This teaching pretty much had its origin in Augustine, who is responsible for much false teaching which helped to lead the Roman Catholic Church into its apostate condition.
One thing we can do with some of the passages which are abused, is to put them with other passages about the same or similar subject so as to show a principle (as I discuss in my article about Rev.22:18-19). Of course that would mean you couldn’t just make one-verse a banner!
Now, there are some out there who will attack me as being “legalistic,” “overly literal,” etc, but we need to properly interpret Scripture for what it says, rather than promoting a particular belief. If we expect the cults to properly use Scripture, then we’d better get the log out of our own eye!
Tuesday, September 25, 2012
A non-Calvinist reader of my blog questioned my favorable citation of John MacArthur and other “Reformed” teachers in various articles, especially since MacArthur has had some problematic teachings in the past.
Some points I want to start with:
1. The Reformation was started by men before Calvin showed up, so I find the fact that Calvinists call their specific doctrine “Reformed” to be arrogant. Calvin was a “johnny-come-lately” in the Reformation. So Calvinists, quit ascribing that title to your TULIPS.
2. I personally feel that Calvinism (more appropriately termed “Augustinism”), as summed up by the acronym “TULIP,” is one of the worst things that ever happened to the Church. BUT, it is not an issue I care to discuss on this blog because it can run a million rabbit trails and take too much time - time which can be better used elsewhere.
3. Some of my favorite teachers are Calvinists. When Calvinism doesn’t come up as the subject matter, these people can have some really, really good teachings.
4. I am a non-Calvinist. This does not make me an Arminian, nor does it make me a semi-Pelagian, and it certainly doesn’t make me deny the complete sovereignty of God. So any Calvinists who read this can keep those accusations to yourselves. Nor do I believe Calvinism to be heretical - as Calvinists have called me for being a non-Calvinist. (I believe Calvinism to be misguided and aberrational.)
5. There are mature Christians, both non-Calvinists and Calvinists, who read this blog, neither of which I think will be likely to change their foundational belief system because of my blog.
6. There are also recent converts and immature Christians who read this blog and probably have no idea what the Calvinism/non-Calvinism debate is about; and if THOSE readers are interested, they can e-mail me for an explanation as to why I consider Calvinism an erroneous belief system.
Now to specifics:
I will continue to cite Calvinists when I feel there are good teachings expressed, but will never cite them teaching anything Calvinist. Just beware that if the teacher is a Calvinist, and you aren’t, and you want to read other things by that author, you will have to watch for the Calvinist mines. Even with non-Calvinists you also have to use discernment when reading their material; after all, no one will be right all the time!
About John MacArthur. I understand that he had a teaching in the past, which he later recanted, about Jesus not always being the Son of God. I have no problem with a teacher having a previous bad teaching for which he recants; I don’t hold it against him and will not use that as a reason to caution against him as a teacher.
However, MacArthur still teaches what is called “Lordship Salvation.” My understanding when I first heard this term was that he was simply teaching that, if one is truly a Christian they will have works demonstrating that fact; i.e., they will have a change of life. Sort of like what James 2:17-18 is talking about. Of course it won't always be an instantaneous change, because God continues to sanctify us our whole lives. However, I have also read where MacArthur is teaching works-salvation with this subject.
I recently perused a site which had numerous quotes by MacArthur on the subject of “Lordship Salvation,” and, quite frankly, I found them to be a contradictory and confusing mess, and it’s really difficult to know exactly what he IS saying!
Overall, I think John MacArthur has some good teachings when Calvinism isn’t the subject. I think he is especially strong when it comes to teaching about Christian worldview subjects, which were the context of my previous citations.
One last point to make: I will never cite favorably any author who has heretical teachings or whose teachings are more bad than good. I may, however, cite a teacher who has some bad teachings, but which are far outweighed by his good teachings - in my opinion. This can be very subjective, of course. The important thing is that I do not necessarily agree with everything taught by any teacher I cite! And you may not necessarily agree with everything I teach!
We all must be Bereans, and check everything against the Word of God.
Friday, September 21, 2012
Sometimes it really gets depressing reading about all the apostasy which is invading the Church, but it is important that the information get out so as to protect the flock from deception. What is really upsetting is that so much of the invasion is by those who are pretending to be shepherds (as depicted in the above graphic I found on the ‘net a few weeks back). These wolves are multiplying by leaps and bounds, so it is imperative that they are exposed for what they are.
One of the latest wolves gaining a larger and larger following is Steve Furtick. I’ve previously reported on him and his support and promotion of Word Faith heretics, but he seems to be getting worse. Now he's “excited” to be on TBN, the station of the WF heresy! And Joel Osteen is a real inspiration for him, and considers Osteen a real “man of God.” His lack of understanding of what the Bible actually says, has been well demonstrated this past week by Chrystal Whitt. This guy is bad news to the Christian faith, and yet he has seven campuses with over 10,000 lemmings following him!!!
Speaking of Joel Osteen, he has another new book to make you feel good and to tell you the whole Word Faith heresy is perfect for you. You, too, have creative power just by speaking. I agree with Erin - with this book, we can indeed judge it by its cover!
Apprising Ministries explains why Word Faith teachers such as Osteen are no more than agents of Satan, and why it is reprehensible for popular pastors to share the stage with them and promote them.
In that article, John Hagee gets a mention as a WF adherent, but this article demonstrates more of just how bad Hagee can twist Scripture!
We also have women “stars” becoming quite popular as they also support WF heretics. Christine Caine not only thinks Sheryl Brady is the “best chick preacher,” but she tells us that Joyce Meyer is her “Spiritual Mother”!! Of course Caine also supports the unbiblical idea of women pastors, as I have previously noted. A woman of so little discernment is not worthy of listening to for teaching on God’s Word.
Part of the problem with many of today’s leaders who want to be popular, is that they spend a lot of their time trying to be “cool.” James MacDonald, who was once a trustworthy pastor, has continued his slide into “relevance,” and now has gotten a tattoo. And - he is so buddy-buddy with the very immature, sex-focussed Mark Driscoll! (I suggest perusal of the comments on the linked article.)
Emergent heretic Brian McLaren has now told us why he rejects what the Bible says about homosexuality - it’s all about feelings. After all, don’t feelings trump God’s Word?
McLaren has also joined with another emergent apostate, Tony Jones, in telling us how innocent Muslims are, and that their faith is not as bad as that nasty video about them (you know, the one Muslims claim they are rioting about) claims to be. They are as much false teachers about Islam as they are about Christianity! And, of course, they do a little Scripture-twisting to support their ideology.
Three cheers for the countries who are banning false-teaching wolf Todd Bentley. He is such a heretic that he thinks preaching the gospel is a waste of time!
Tim Challies has a good article refuting the false social gospel teaching that the Bible promotes redistributing the wealth.
Have you heard of the soft porn novel, “Fifty Shades of Grey”? Can you believe a “church” is actually using that theme to promote a sermon series on “Marriage, Romance & Sex”?!? What is it with these churches who have to be fixated on sex!
These “all things sexual” titillation sermons so many churches are advertising reflect exactly what Midwest Christian Outreach calls “Parasitic Evangelism.” It’s all about trying to be like the world and believing that will win people to Christ. Which is nonsense, of course, but it sure seems to sell T-shirts!
When the Christian faith has nothing to offer but to be the same as unbelievers, then there is great difficulty in getting the world to hear the Gospel.
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
I have read some criticism of this “Bible” in the past, and reported on what I read four years ago when the book was new. I finally got around to getting a copy and reading it for myself so as to make a better assessment of it.
Rather than repeat what I said about this book in my previous article, I’ll just refer you to it as a “preview” of this article. In this current article, I’m just going to give more demonstrations as to the problems with this “Bible” version, i.e, problems in addition to those previously noted.
Firstly, let me say that the idea of a story-book version Bible is not new; lots of kids’ versions have been available for decades. So in that regard, this book is not new. What is new is the inaccuracies, irreverent language and character portrayals, as well as the trivialization of many characters and teachings. What follows are some of the more serious problems I found in this book:
Page 6. The story-teller says, “So where were we? Yes, the sixth day... After God made all life and declared it good, he made us humans. Well, he made a man, to be exact.”
Um, no. On day six God made both man and woman! The story line implies that Eve came along much later
Page 20. Noah’s flood is depicted as lasting ONLY 40 days before he sent out the dove. While the rain lasted for 40 days and 40 nights, the flood remained much longer. The Bible says that after 150 days the ark rested on the mountains, but the water took even longer to recede.
Page 31, 31. On page 31 one of the characters uses coarse language: “Who the hell does he think he is?” Then on page 35 we have a midwife saying, “I sure ain’t killin’ no baby, hell no!” Are these quotes supposed to be humorous?
Page 61, the story of Job. One of Job’s friends is wearing a suit - jacket & tie! War against Job is depicted by a drawing of the “Fat Man” atomic bomb. This is totally ludicrous.
Page 105 has unnecessary sensual nudity.
Page 137, birth of Jesus has no mention of the virgin birth.
Page 155 tells the story of “The Unforgiving Servant,” with characters from modern Mafia gangster movies!
Page 156 has more crude language as one of the apostles says, “We kicked butt!”
Page 159 uses more crudity as those charging the woman caught in adultery say she was “caught going at it!”
Page 174 tells the story of Jesus meeting the disciples on the shore after resurrection (from John 21). Jesus says, “Greetings! It’s me, your master! You look like you’ve seen a ghost! I can assure you I am real - look at the nail-holes in my hands and feet. By the way, I’m starving. Do you have any food? I could murder some fish and honeycomb.”
Doesn’t this mock Jesus? Doesn’t it trivialize who he is?
Page 197 says John the apostle wrote the Revelation “thousands of years ago.” 2000 years hardly equals “thousands.”
Page 203 discusses how the author developed his “Jesus.” “When I put it together i knew that Christ was going to be the bad guy - you know what I mean, the ‘badass’ that kicks everyone’s butt...” I find this to be rather blasphemous, or at the very least trivializing Christ.
Page 216 makes the typical unbeliever’s charge that God is guilty of having a “genocide policy.”
Well, it’s been almost five years since this book came out, and I really hope it had poor sales. I certainly wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. It is just another cheap idea to make money off of God’s Word.
Friday, September 14, 2012
One of the worst heretics out there is a man named Benny Hinn. The guy cannot be a Christian; the doctrine he preaches is so unbiblical and his behavior is often demonic. His followers may or may not be Christians, but all are deceived. He is one of those people who always says something which leads to the question, “Did he really say that?!?!” Let me give you some of my favorite quotes, which prove he is a false teacher and false prophet (if anyone wants the reference sources, just ask - I don’t want to take the time here to cite them all).
“If we quit giving you new revelations, we’re dead.”
“I’m sick and tired of hearing about streets of gold. I don’t need gold in heaven, I’ve got to have it now!”
“Poverty is a demon. God had to show me a vision of a demon literally to prove this to me.”
“I feel revelation knowledge already coming on me. ... Holy Spirit take over in the name of Jesus. ... You say, ‘I never heard of that.’ Well do you think you’re in this church to hear things you’ve heard for the last fifty years?”
“The Spirit of God tells me an earthquake will hit the east coast of America and destroy much in the nineties.” [never happened]
“Not one place will be safe from earthquakes in the nineties. Those who have not known earthquakes will know it.” [never happened]
“The Spirit tells me Fidel Castro will die in the nineties.” [still alive in 2012]
“And angels to this day can decide to rebel against God.”
“Now the Lord just told me - and I don’t know whether this is true or not...”
“The Lore also tells me to tell you that in the mid-nineties, about ’94 or ’95, no later than that, God will destroy the homosexual community of America.”
“You wonderful people of God quit attacking men of God by name! Somebody’s attacking me because of something I’m teaching! Let me tell you something brother, you watch it! ... Don’t attack this man of God [speaking of heretic Paul Crouch]. There is a group here in California that thinks they are the judgment seat of Christ! They judge everything that you do. Listen here fellah, let me tell you something, you’re not my judge. Jesus is my judge! You walk around with your stiff lip and collar on your neck - dear God in heaven I wish I could just - ooh! They call it a ‘ministry,’ my foot! You know I’ve looked for one verse in the Bible, I just can’t seem to find it, one verse that says ‘If you don’t like ‘em, kill ‘em.’ I really wish I could find it!... Ladies and gentlemen, don’t attack God’s servants! Don’t publicly attack them by name! ... don’t mention people’s names on your radio program or your TV program - thinking you’re doing God’s service - you’re not! You stink - frankly that’s the way I think about it! ...Sometimes I wish God would give me a Holy Ghost Machine Gun - I blow your head off!”
And my personal favorite:
“God the Father is a person and He is a triune being by Himself separate from the Son and the Holy Ghost. ... God the Father is a person, God the Son is a person, God the Holy Spirit is a person, but each of them is a triune being by Himself. If I can shock you, and maybe I should, there are nine of them. ... God the Father is a person with His own personal spirit, with His own personal soul and His own personal spirit body. ... God the Father is a person separate from the Holy Ghost. Totally separate. ... Do you know the Holy Spirit has a soul and a body separate from that of Jesus and the Father? ... God the Father then is a triune being within Himself. He’s a person, He has His own Spirit, He has a soul. ... God the Father is a separate individual from the Son and the Holy Ghost, who is a triune being who walks in a spirit body and He has hair...has eyes...has a mouth...has hands.”
There are soooooo many things like this from Hinn that it is hard to choose what are the most absurd. I think the man is demonically possessed.
When people avert their ears from the truth, they lay themselves open to every Satanic influence, and are easily turned aside to error. Instead of being in correct adjustment to the truth, namely, that of seeking it for the purpose of appropriating it, these people have put themselves out of adjustment and have been consequently wrenched out of place. They have become dislocated, put out of joint. Like a dislocated arm which has no freedom of action, they have given themselves over to a delusion which incapacitates them for any independent thinking along religious lines which they might do for themselves.
Kenneth S. Wuest, Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, Vol 2, p.158
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
“Evil has no reality. It is neither person, place, nor thing, but is simply a belief, an illusion of material sense.”
Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p.71
There you have it, ladies and gentlemen: evil is only an illusion. There is really no such thing as evil.
This is not science OR Christianity.
Monday, September 10, 2012
Another fad book among non-discerning Christians is “Jesus Calling,” by Sarah Young. This book is about supposed messages directly from Jesus. This is an author who “is making Jesus out in her own image,” according to this review at the Cripplegate. This book is not only a favorite among women, but study groups are using it!
Todd Bentley is one of the charismania heretics who continues in the news because he holds “revivals.” But these performances of Bentley are really bizarre, especially with his abusive methods of fake healing which are quite dangerous. The United Kingdom was to be a location of one of Bentley’s circuses, but they decided that his counterfeit miracles have no place in their country - and they banned him!!! Now if only he was banned in the USA!
Another Word Faith heretic, Rod Parsley, now claims lots of direct revelations from God - numerous little “nuggets” deposited in his heart daily; and non-discerning people just keep sending him millions of dollars.
Surprise, surprise: the heretical and apostate, homosexual-supporting United Church of Christ has condemned the Boy Scouts for their stance in refusing homosexual leaders. Just another example which demonstrates that this “Church” has no real Christians as members.
Multi-site churches are something I find quite disturbing. They are usually quite seeker-sensitive, to start with, but also very impersonal. I came across an article this past week which sums up some of my thoughts; “cult of personality” is what they become.
Perry Noble, one of the modern false teachers who gathers huge non-discerning audiences, is really descending to worldly depths for worship - correction, entertainment. Now his “worship band” copies KISS!
Another modern false teacher, and buddy of Perry Noble, is Steven Furtick. I’ve discussed him before, but he has proven what a false teacher he is with his praises of heretic Joel Osteen, and now he has preached at Osteen’s church! This is just the latest in his total support for false Word Faith teachers. He has promoted Osteen in the past, and also promotes Australian WOF teachers Brian and Bobbie Houston, Joyce Meyer, Brian Carn, Rod Parsley, and T.D. Jakes. And he violates the biblical injunction against women pastors, including having his own wife preach in his church, when he supports Bobbie Houston as a pastrix. Erin even reports about Furtick’s direct revelations from God. Christians should have nothing to do with Furtick.
Readers of this blog have seen many articles I’ve written about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), demonstrating how they are not Christians but rather a religious cult. The deception by this organization is getting more and more crafty as they do their best to come across as a real Christian church. Janis Hutchinson has an excellent article describing the LDS’ latest strategies.
Emergent Church leader Tony Jones is now saying, “Death to Homeschooling.” Jones is well-known for teaching the social gospel also. So why does he hate home-schooling? According to this report, he doesn’t say.
Sex-minded Ed Young, Jr is back at it again. His newest conference appearance is at “Sextember: Romance Uncensored.” Put on by another false teacher, Shannon O’Dell (“husband to a hottie”), this is nothing but another attempt at titillation by people with nothing but sex on their brains. Aren’t shepherds supposed to be teaching the Word of God? Young has a promotional video about this “conference,” which is about as juvenile as it gets.
Erin over at “Do Not Be Surprised...” posted a video similar to many I’ve previously seen, showing the truly demonic “slain in the spirit” and “holy laughter” manifestations. This is what too often passes for Christianity under the claim of movements of the Holy Spirit. I say it is blasphemy of the Holy Spirit!
Lastly, here is a “poem” video with some very profound teaching about problems in the Church. People should be listening to what this young lady says.
Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Now all men, having the same judgment, some, following the Word speaking, frame for themselves proofs; while others, giving themselves up to pleasures, wrest Scripture, in accordance with their lusts. ... But such people, in consequence of falling away from the right path, err in most individual points; as you might expect from not having the faculty for judging of what is true and false, strictly trained to select what is essential. For if they had, they would have obeyed the Scriptures.
As, then, if a man should, similarly to those drugged by Circe, become a beast; so he, who has spurned the ecclesiastical tradition, and darted off to the opinions of heretical men, has ceased to be a man of God and to remain faithful to the Lord. But he who has returned from this deception, on hearing the Scriptures, and turned his life to the truth, is, as it were, from being a man made a god.
For we have, as the source of teaching, the Lord, both by the prophets, the Gospel, and the blessed apostles, “in divers manners and at sundry times,” leading from the beginning of knowledge to the end. But if one should suppose that another origin was required, then no longer truly could an origin be preserved.
He, then, who of himself believes the Scripture and voice of the Lord, which by the Lord acts to the benefiting of men, is rightly [regarded] faithful. Certainly we use it as a criterion in the discovery of things. ...
And if those also who follow heresies venture to avail themselves of the prophetic Scriptures; in the first place they will not make use of all the Scriptures, and then they will not quote them entire, nor as the body and texture of prophecy prescribe. But, selecting ambiguous expressions, they wrest them to their own opinions, gathering a few expressions here and there; not looking to the sense, but making use of the mere words. For in almost all the quotations they make, you will find that they attend to the names alone, while they alter the meanings; neither knowing, as they affirm, nor using the quotations they adduce, according to their true nature.
But the truth is not found by changing the meanings (for so people subvert all true teaching), but in the consideration of what perfectly belongs to and becomes the Sovereign God, and in establishing each one of the points demonstrated in the Scriptures again from similar Scriptures. Neither, then, do they want to turn to the truth, being ashamed to abandon the claims of self-love; nor are they able to manage their opinions, by doing violence to the Scriptures. But having first promulgated false dogmas to men; plainly fighting against almost the whole Scriptures, and constantly confuted by us who contradict them; for the rest, even now partly they hold out against admitting the prophetic Scriptures, and partly disparage us as of a different nature, and incapable of understanding what is peculiar to them. And sometimes even they deny their own dogmas, when these are confuted, being ashamed openly to own what in private they glory in teaching. For this may be seen in all the heresies, when you examine the iniquities of their dogmas. For when they are overturned by our clearly showing that they are opposed to the Scriptures, one of two things may be seen to have been done by those who defend the dogma. For they either despise the consistency of their own dogmas, or despise the prophecy itself, or rather their own hope. And they invariably prefer what seems to them to be more evident to what has been spoken by the Lord through the prophets and by the Gospel, and, besides, attested and confirmed by the apostles.
Seeing, therefore, the danger that they are in (not in respect of one dogma, but in reference to the maintenance of the heresies) of not discovering the truth; for while reading the books we have ready at hand, they despise them as useless, but in their eagerness to surpass common faith, they have diverged from the truth. For, in consequence of not learning the mysteries of ecclesiastical knowledge, and not having capacity for the grandeur of the truth, too indolent to descend to the bottom of things, reading superficially, they have dismissed the Scriptures. Elated, then, by vain opinion, they are incessantly wrangling, and plainly care more to seem than to be philosophers. Not laying as foundations the necessary first principles of things; and influenced by human opinions, then making the end to suit them, by compulsion; on account of being confuted, they spar with those who are engaged in the prosecution of the true philosophy, and undergo everything, and, as they say, ply every oar, even going the length of impiety, by disbelieving the Scriptures, rather than be removed from the honours of the heresy and the boasted first seat in their churches; on account of which also they eagerly embrace that convivial couch of honour in the Agape, falsely so called.
The knowledge of the truth among us from what is already believed, produces faith in what is not yet believed; which [faith] is, so to speak, the essence of demonstration. But, as appears, no heresy has at all ears to hear what is useful, but opened only to what leads to pleasure. Since also, if one of them would only obey the truth, he would be healed.
Now the cure of self-conceit (as of every ailment) is threefold: the ascertaining of the cause, and the mode of its removal; and thirdly, the training of the soul, and the accustoming it to assume a right attitude to the judgments come to. For, just like a disordered eye, so also the soul that has been darkened by unnatural dogmas cannot perceive distinctly the light of truth, but even overlooks what is before it.
They say, then, that in muddy water eels are caught by being blinded. And just as knavish boys bar out the teacher, so do these shut out the prophecies from their Church, regarding them with suspicion by reason of rebuke and admonition. In fact, they stitch together a multitude of lies and figments, that they may appear acting in accordance with reason in not admitting the Scriptures. So, then, they are not pious, in as much as they are not pleased with the divine commands, that is, with the Holy Spirit. And as those almonds are called empty in which the contents are worthless, not those in which there is nothing; so also we call those heretics empty, who are destitute of the counsels of God and the traditions of Christ; bitter, in truth, like the wild almond, their dogmas originating with themselves, with the exception of such truths as they could not, by reason of their evidence, discard and conceal.
As, then, in war the soldier must not leave the post which the commander has assigned him, so neither must we desert the post assigned by the Word, whom we have received as the guide of knowledge and of life. But the most have not even inquired, if there is one that we ought to follow, and who this is, and how lie is to be followed. For as is the Word, such also must the believer’s life be, so as to be able to follow God, who brings all things to end from the beginning by the right course. ...
For there are partial corrections, which are called chastisements, which many of us who have been in transgression incur, by falling away from the Lord’s people. But as children are chastised by their teacher, or their father, so are we by Providence. But God does not punish, for punishment is retaliation for evil. He chastises, however, for good to those who are chastised, collectively and individually.
...For there are some who cannot bear at all to listen to those who exhort them to turn to the truth; and they attempt to trifle, pouring out blasphemies against the truth, claiming for themselves the knowledge of the greatest things in the universe, without having learned, or inquired, or laboured, or discovered the consecutive train of ideas,—whom one should pity rather than hate for such perversity.
But if one is curable, able to bear (like fire or steel) the outspokenness of the truth, which cuts away and burns their false opinions. let him lend the ears of the soul. And this will be the case, unless, through the propensity to sloth, they push truth away, or through the desire of fame, endeavour to invent novelties. For those are slothful who, having it in their power to provide themselves with proper proofs for the divine Scriptures from the Scriptures themselves, select only what contributes to their own pleasures. And those have a craving for glory who voluntarily evade, by arguments of a diverse sort, the things delivered by the blessed apostles and teachers, which are wedded to inspired words; opposing the divine tradition by human teachings , in order to establish the heresy. ...
For we must never, as do those who follow the heresies, adulterate the truth, or steal the canon of the Church, by gratifying our own lusts and vanity, by defrauding our neighbours; whom above all it is our duty, in the exercise of love to them, to teach to adhere to the truth. ...
Clement of Alexandria, The Stromata, or Miscellanies, Book VI.
Chapter XVI.—Scripture the Criterion by Which Truth and Heresy are Distinguished.