I was browsing Sermon Audio recently, listening to certain people when I came across a sermon that I found to be exceptionally good and edifying by Pastor Jordan "J.D." Hall. It is linked below.
have noticed a tendency common among my fellow Reformed and Calvinistic brethren to let down our guard when it comes to those who believe in predestination. We often tend to give them a free pass and withhold discernment if they have a correct understanding of the Doctrines of Grace. Instead of testing all things against Scripture, we let certain essentials of the faith slide because they get certain non-essential doctrines correct. This should not be.
While this tendency is applied, it usually isn’t applied in a self-aware way, nor is it applied consistently. For example, no solid, bible-believing Christian would ever give Westboro Baptist a free pass–and rightly so. They neglect to preach the Gospel and teach a works righteousness (source), and it’s all done in an unchristlike manner.
Another good example of this would be in the case of famous twentieth-century theologian, Karl Barth. While I have seen some people defend Barth, most Christians who know about his theology would agree that Barth was unsound, as he was a proponent of Neo-Orthodoxy. According to Theopedia, Neo-Orthodoxy believes,
"the Bible is said to contain within it an inspired witness, but it is a mistake to directly identify Scripture as the Word of God; Jesus, the person, is the Word of God. The Bible can become the Word of God only when God chooses to use it to reveal himself. Therefore, the actual text and words of Scripture are not identified as the Word of God."
Despite these cases and ones like them, people who believe in predestination still have a tendency to ignore the issues that arise with some in their own soteriological camp. People like Russell Moore, Thabiti Anyabwile, and Tim Keller all seem to get free passes for being “on our side”. This is wrong. We can’t give somebody a free pass for being almost right. As Charles Spurgeon said,
"Discernment is not knowing the difference between right and wrong. It is knowing the difference between right and almost right."
"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." (Jeremiah 29:11, ESV)
This verse is often taken by modern Christians and applied to themselves. However, there are some very serious issues with that. When people pick out a single verse without reading the surrounding passage, they open up to problems that an out of context verse can bring and they miss the entire point.
Hosea 1:2 (ESV) says, "Go, take to yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the Lord." I see nobody taking that verse as a command, and rightly so. If one were to take this sentence alone, they would both be open to the theological error that it is sinful to not marry a loose woman and miss the entire meaning of Hosea taking on an unfaithful wife. We see this again with Joshua 6, where the people are commanded to march around Jericho. From it, one could make the case that each believer is supposed to spend a week marching around Jericho. We could do this with almost any Bible passage.
We can see this with Jeremiah 29:11. Reread the verse. The promise for welfare could make it into a proof text for the Prosperity Gospel. Also, when people apply this verse to themselves, they entirely miss a good example of a promise God kept. God made this promise to a certain group of people, and He fulfilled that promise.
To properly read a passage, we must look at a few factors: Writer, Audience, Purpose, Setting, and Surrounding verses. What is interesting with Jeremiah 29:11 is that when we view just the surrounding verses, specifically verse 1 (ESV), it tells us the rest of them. "These are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders of the exiles, and to the priests, the prophets, and all the people, whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon." When we read this verse, we know the author (Jeremiah, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit), the audience (elders of the exiles), setting (Jerusalem during the Babylonian captivity), and purpose (to relay what God has spoken).
This verse is not written to all Christians, but to those who lived in that time and that situation. What people miss when they misapply this to themselves is much greater than the prosperity Gospel. God kept this promise to those Israelites. God is a God who does not lie, who keeps every promise He makes. What he has promised to the Church isn't financial prosperity, but eternal life through the shed blood of Jesus Christ.
Jen Hatmaker, an evangelical speaker who often hangs around the likes of Beth Moore, put out a post in late April that seemed to take a soft stance on homosexuality, not once calling them to repentance or even making the clarification that homosexuality is a sin.
As you can see, this post initially makes the mistake of assuming that there is actually a such thing as “gay Christians.” 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 would disagree:
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (ESV, Emphasis added).
One could give her the benefit of the doubt and say it is just sloppy wording, which I was inclined to do at first, but then I looked into the comments and saw her affirm a “transgender Christian” without calling him to repentance and without clarifying that transgenderism is wrong. She even called this man pretending to be a woman, “sister”, and said, “welcome to the family.”
However, she did find it in her time to mention the sin of racism. I wholeheartedly agree that racism is a sin, but if she took the time to call out and encourage the repentance of this sin, why would she completely ignore the sinfulness of homosexuals and the transgenders? She said she rebukes racism, which is good, but why doesn’t she rebuke other sins?
Interestingly, this isn’t the first time that Hatmaker has touched on the issue of homosexuality. In an article in 2014 about the World Vision issue, she made the case that the Bible isn’t clear enough on the issue of homosexuality. She said,
This is a fact: Thousands of churches and millions of Christ-followers faithfully read the Scriptures and with thoughtful and academic work come to different conclusions on homosexuality (and countless others). Godly, respectable leaders have exegeted the Bible and there is absolutely not unanimity on its interpretation. There never has been. Historically, Christian theology has always been contextually bound and often inconsistent with itself; an inconvenient truth we prefer to selectively explain.
She even threw Christian essentials like Sola Fide and the nature of God under the bus to emphasize this point, saying,
… [T]here has never been ‘one way’ to interpret scripture. There has never been ‘one way’ to be a biblical church. Even the early church leaders had severe and lasting disagreements about the nature of God, the Holy Spirit, Jesus, Salvation, Faith, Works, etc.
In reviewing this article, Christine Pack of Sola Sisters wrote, “The Christian community, the true, Bible-believing Christian community, HAS reached consensus on gay marriage, and that is that it is an abomination in God’s eyes.” (Source).
Hatmaker’s faltering on this issue is a reason for great concern. I think it is important for us to examine her teachings closely to see if they truly align with Biblical orthodoxy because right now they seem awfully close to the heresy of “Vinism.”
C.S. Lewis is a loved writer by much of modern Christianity. While almost no one will deny he is a brilliant writer, many people have brought up concerns about his theology. Mike Abendroth of No Compromise Radio said, "Let's just avoid C.S. Lewis, and when someone is quoting C.S. Lewis to you all the time, I worry about them." (Source). Similarly, in an article from Christianity Today (Back when it was good in 1963), the late Martyn Lloyd-Jones said, "C. S. Lewis had a defective view of salvation and was an opponent of the substitutionary and penal view of the atonement." Todd Friel from Wretched Radio said about Lewis's beliefs, "I think those are actually some very serious heresies." (Source). I have some similar concerns when it comes to C.S. Lewis.
C.S. Lewis is loved and respected by many evangelicals, however he taught many heresies that should caution us to quoting Lewis and reading his books. There are better teachers to quote and more edifying books to read. It is more beneficial to quote people who believe in inerrancy, penal substitution, and the exclusivity of Jesus.
For a while, thought the Moravians were scripturally solid. However, last year, I heard a radio broadcast from Wretched Radio, and Todd Friel was speaking of said cult's beliefs (Similar, but not exactly, to this clip). I read more into it, and sure enough they believed heresy. They believe the Holy Spirit was a woman, who was born when Jesus was stabbed with a spear in the side. They would idolize the "Little Side Wound" almost as much as their false god, including whole hymns and sermons dedicated to it, and paintings of it with everyday functions such as walking and talking going on inside of it. This is right along with some more perverse paintings I wouldn't feel comfortable describing. Count Nicholas von Zinzendorf, the leader of the Moravians actually said that the Holy Spirit was a mother to all believers. He also said, "His side is the womb in which my spirit was conceived and carried." In fact, they even went as far as to attribute erotic qualities to Jesus. They even question God's gender so they wouldn't have to adhere to homosexuality while being sensual towards the savior. Each of their heresies mostly came as a result of this poor motif of Bridal Mysticism (Having a romantic view of God). (Sources for every previous claim can be found here: Source).
After hearing about this, you would hope this Bridal Mysticism and Eros Mysticism Having a sexual view of God) would be limited to 16th century Bohemia. However, this train of thought can be found in 21st Century United States, and one specific example is Jesus Culture. They attribute romantic and amatory qualities to Christ in their songs (Just look at "My Romance"). In their song called "I Am In Love With You" (The title alone should be a huge red flag), they said, "Everyday my heart is in lust for you." In lust with Jesus? I have three thoughts. 1. Yuck. 2. Weird. 3. Blasphemous. However, this Bridal Mysticism has almost become a central interpretive motif, or the one thing in light of which they read the rest of the Bible, to Jesus Culture and Bethel (The cult they serve).
The love we feel for Jesus should not be eros (romantic, sexual), it should be agape (self-sacrificing). We should not be feeling some romantic attraction in a "O Kiss me please" (Written by Moravians) or "A sloppy wet kiss" (Popularized by Jesus Culture) sort of way. We should have a reverent, respectful and yet close love to Him. When Matthew 22:37 tells us to love the Lord our God, it does not use the Greek verb "eros", it uses the Greek verb "Agapēseis", which comes from agape. If we were to think about this logically, if Matthew 22:37 leads to loving God with a romantic love, then we have a problem with verse 39 just after it. That verse says to love (Agapēseis) your neighbor, which would throw monogamy to the wind.
Bridal Mysticism leads to Eros Mysticism, which leads to the same heretical pitfall as the Moravians (I would say that these motifs are heresy). We need to avoid those who use these hermeneutics lest they pull us down in the pitfall with them, and that means putting Moravian books down and taking Bethel Music (Who writes Jesus Culture songs) out of our hymnals.
Almost every time someone points out the evils of partnering with heretics, sharing the stage with false teachers, or in any way violating the “one degree of separation” rule clearly laid out in Scripture, the complaints of labeling them “guilty by association” begin. This never fails. If someone were to mention that John Piper is compromising the Gospel by partnering with false teachers like Rick Warren and Beth Moore, his supporters would come unglued. If a brother critiques Ronnie Floyd for speaking at arch-heretic, Mike Bickle’s, Holy Spirit-blaspheming International House of Prayer (IHOP), he’d more than likely get an earful from those defending him, insisting he’s being accused of “guilt by association.” If a sister critiques Ravi Zacharias for hand-holding with Word of Faith pastrix and “spiritual mama,” Joyce Meyer or Prosperity Gospel tycoon, Christine Caine, she’d be shut down with the same ridiculous argument.
Is this argument biblical?
In United States law, there is a crime called “Accessory”. This term is defined by YourDictionary.com as, “one who knowingly assists a law-breaker in the commission of a crime but does not actually participate in that crime.” In the courtroom, to say that this is “guilt by association” wouldn’t last five minutes. A certain homicide investigator, when asked if this would be a good defense made by said accessory’s lawyer, said it wouldn’t get anyone off. In fact, he’d probably get laughed out of the courtroom.
Thank goodness that modern evangelical discernment does not create United States law, otherwise, it would get people off. You see, to attract a crowd for a heretic by speaking with them or to give them a pulpit from which to speak is assisting a heretic in the spreading of heresy, even if you don’t take part in the heresy yourself. So if heresy were a judicial crime (this is a hypothetical, I am not a theocratist), then these people who do partner with them would be charged with Accessory to Heresy. So saying someone is wrong for partnering with heretics is no more “guilt by association” than driving a getaway car for a murderer is. Guilt by association would better be defined as someone who happens to personally know a heretic and gets branded a heretic for no other reason than that they know that person.
Is this argument supported by Scripture? Well, yes. 2 John 2:10-11 (ESV) is clear in laying this out.
"If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works."
Romans 16:17 (ESV) similarly commands that we avoid false teachers, which would mean not promoting their books and speaking at their conferences.
"I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them."
So it is clear from Scripture that we are not permitted to partner with heretics, or give them any credence as sound teachers, lest we take part in their wicked works. To do so would be to violate the clear command of Scripture, and it is definitely valid to raise concerns about anyone who violates this command.
About the Author
Brandon C. Hines is a young writer from somewhere in northern Alabama who writes about Theology, Polemics, and Apologetics. His beliefs are best summarized by the 1689 London Baptist Confession.
You can search for various topics I have written about by going to Google and typing in a keyword, then typing site:Learningthepath.weebly.com after it.