Editors note: this series of articles also appear in both the Sentinel Echo newspaper, Friday edition, weekly, London, KY and the Saturday edition of the Corbin Times-Tribune. They are a part of the teaching/evangelism efforts of the Mill Street church of Christ, 415 N. Mill St., London, KY.
Is your preacher a false teacher?
“…that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine…which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling; desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm.” - 1 Timothy 1:3, 6-7
[The following article by Thomas Thornhill details why the religious world suffers as it does]
When Man Loses Respect for Bible Authority
Generally, the religious world today is like a ship that has been shipwrecked because it lost its anchor of faith in God and His Son, Jesus Christ. This ship, headed for eternal destruction, is filled with people " having a form of godliness but denying its power " (2 Tim. 3:5). The ship has been steered by " ungodly men, who turn the grace of our Lord into lewdness and deny the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ ." (Jude 4). The anchor that one time held them fast to God has been lost in the sea of confusion and hopelessness, and the ship has been wrecked on the rocks of unbelief, despair, and doubt. It is now slowly sinking into oblivion, and the lives of the people onboard the ship are about to be drowned and lost for eternity. This is the picture the apostle Paul used to describe those who had lost their faith, " which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck. " (1 Tim.1:19).
The people described above have made the mistake of choosing to sail on a ship with a crew who see no need for someone with proper authority to tell them how to sail the ship safely to its destination while avoiding the pitfalls and dangers that lay ahead. The crew shows disdain and a lack of respect for the chart provided by the governing authority to guide them safely to the other shore, and at the same time warns them of the dangers that lay ahead for the ship. By failing to follow the guidebook and charts provided in it, shipwreck will be the inevitable result.
Just talking to and/or reading after people who profess to be Christians today one soon comes to the conclusion that the majority of those claiming to be Christians have little religious conviction. Their faith is shipwrecked. I am convinced that one of the reasons for this is they have lost respect for the authority of God. This lack of respect has come about either because they are ignorant of what the word of God teaches, or don't care about following after divine authority.
In an email dated 7/8/07, Dick Millwee, via Biblelist, firstname.lastname@example.org sent an article entitled " Americans Shallow In Their Faith Scholars Say ." The article illustrates clearly the things I wrote above. Dick was quoting a religious survey of the same title, published that day in the " Bakersfield Californian ." The article appeared under the byline of Helen Gray of " McClatchy Newspapers ." Here are some of the things stated in the article, showing the shallowness of the faith of many “so called” Christians.
People today have little religious conviction according to recent statistics made by the Bama Group (a Christian research company). David Kinnaman, president of the Bama Group reached the conclusion that one reason America's views are so inconsistent is because they hold few convictions about their faith. Here are some things he stated in the article. " Most Americans do not have strong and clear beliefs ," mainly because " they lack a consistent and holistic understanding of their faith. " " Most Americans have one foot in the Biblical camp and one foot outside it ." " They are committed, but to what? They are spiritually active, but to what end? "
TRADITIONAL BELIEFS DECLINE
The survey showed this lack of conviction. 83% claim Christianity but only 49% are committed to it. Kinnaman also observed, " There is increasing pressure on Christians to bend and shape their views into something that's popular, something that fits the pop culture's view of what spirituality ought to be ." So why would 7 out of 10 people surveyed say they have made a personal commitment to Jesus but show so little evidence in their lives? One of the conclusions he reached was that the church had failed to teach the young people to think as Christians, so that many of them put Jesus on the shelf after they reach adulthood.
Another person quoted in the article, D C Hart, a church historian, said " America is awash in faith but people are not clear in what their religion teaches ." He observed that many people are shaky on the teachings of their faith because preachers often don't teach certain doctrines and biblical gospel on certain topics; especially those that preachers suspect might offend people. He then stated another reason for a shaky faith was the weakening of church discipline. Churches are not holding people accountable if they do not follow the tenets of their faith. The disciplinary aspects of the faith have been compromised for the sake of evangelism, in order to draw more people to come to church.
David Roozen, religion and society professor at Hartford Seminary observed in the article that the reason why 83% claim Christianity but only 49% are committed to it, is the "trend toward a religion a la carte, people putting together their own religion." He said this leads to "increasing numbers of people who live their lives without serious attention to religious practice." He quotes a couple of people. One said, "I'm a Christian, but I don't think Christianity is the only path." Another said, "I'm a Christian, but I'm not going to die for it because there may be some truths in other faiths." Hart, quoted earlier, said, "They want to be able to pick and choose beliefs according to their needs and preferences." "That is the nature of having this marketplace of ideas and faiths." "The weakening of biblical and doctrinal knowledge among evangelicals is affecting their religious practices and their morale."
When men lose respect for God's authority as revealed in His word, spiritual death and eternal destruction will be the outcome. When one reads such things as above, one should have no trouble seeing that there is a definite need for following God's authority and not our own.