Please Help Us Keep These Thousands of Blog Posts Growing and Free for All
Explore an in-depth examination of three critical false teachings that have infiltrated churches. Arm yourself with Scriptural truths to discern and avoid these misleading doctrines. Your faith deserves nothing less.
(1.) The Prosperity Gospel (The Health and Wealth Gospel)
In the modern landscape of Christian teaching, a proliferation of doctrines exists that veer away from the historic, orthodox understanding of Scripture. While diversity in secondary matters can be enriching, when it comes to essential beliefs, adhering to sound doctrine is non-negotiable. One of the most prevalent but misleading teachings in contemporary Christianity is the Prosperity Gospel, commonly known as the Health and Wealth Gospel.
What Is the Prosperity Gospel?
The Prosperity Gospel teaches that God wills your financial and physical well-being, and that any sign of suffering or poverty is a result of lack of faith or failure to claim what is rightfully yours in Christ. Essentially, it equates material prosperity and physical health with God’s favor. This teaching often encourages believers to “sow seeds” of faith, which usually involves donating large sums of money to ministries, with the expectation of receiving a multiplied return from God.
The Scriptural Basis: Twisted and Out of Context
Often, Prosperity Gospel proponents will use selected Bible verses to support their claims, but they twist these Scriptures out of context. A prime example is the verse from 3 John 1:2, “Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.” It’s a wonderful prayer, but it should not be misconstrued as a formula for guaranteed health and wealth. Similarly, they use Philippians 4:19, “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus,” to promise financial gain. Such interpretations misconstrue the text and deceive people into false hopes.
How It Contradicts Core Christian Teaching
Focuses on Earthly Rather than Heavenly Rewards
The focus on material wealth detracts from the Christian’s heavenly hope. As per the New Testament teaching, Christians have a heavenly or an earthly hope, but the ultimate goal is not the accumulation of earthly wealth. Jesus Himself said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth” (Matthew 6:19).
Ignores the Reality of Suffering
The Prosperity Gospel conveniently ignores the Scriptural perspective that God allows suffering. Often, adversity serves as a crucible for faith, refining us into the likeness of Christ. The apostle Paul, who suffered much for the sake of the gospel, stated, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18).
Misrepresents the Nature of Faith
In Prosperity teaching, faith becomes a force you wield to bring about your desired outcome. This is a fundamental misunderstanding of faith, which is essentially trust in God’s character and His promises, irrespective of circumstances.
The Dangers of Believing in the Prosperity Gospel
Misguides Spiritual Priorities
The Prosperity Gospel sets you up for spiritual disappointment. When the anticipated material blessings don’t materialize, many experience a crisis of faith, questioning God’s goodness and even their own worth.
Preys on the Vulnerable
This doctrine is particularly seductive for people in desperate situations, compelling them to invest money they can’t afford, all in the hope that God will multiply it back to them.
Discredits the True Gospel
When non-believers see Christians chasing after material gain, it brings disrepute to the church and hampers our witness for Christ. It distorts the essence of the Gospel, which is the sacrificial love of God manifest in Jesus Christ for the salvation of souls.
While God indeed blesses people in various ways—including financially and physically—these are not the yardsticks by which His favor should be measured. As believers, our ultimate hope should be rooted in Christ and His promises for eternal life. The Prosperity Gospel not only misleads but also trivializes the grand narrative of Scripture, which revolves around redemption and eternal hope in Christ.
Therefore, the Prosperity Gospel is a false teaching that needs to be urgently addressed and rectified within the Christian community. For a faith deeply rooted in the teachings of the Scripture, it’s imperative to recognize and avoid these fallacious doctrines. The real “prosperity” we seek should be spiritual in nature, aligned with the will of God, and oriented toward the kingdom to come.
(2.) Universal Salvation
In recent times, the doctrine of universal salvation has gained traction in some Christian circles. This teaching posits that, ultimately, all people will be saved, irrespective of their beliefs or behaviors. While the idea might seem attractive and inclusive on the surface, it stands in stark opposition to the clear teachings of Scripture. Here, we’ll examine why universal salvation is a misleading doctrine that should be avoided.
What is Universal Salvation?
Universal salvation, often known as universalism, teaches that all individuals will ultimately be reconciled to God. Proponents argue that a loving God would never allow His creation to suffer eternally and that the redemptive work of Jesus Christ is sufficient to save all mankind, regardless of individual faith or deeds.
The Scriptural Problem: A Selective Reading of Texts
Those who advocate for universal salvation often lean heavily on specific texts that discuss God’s love and mercy, while ignoring or explaining away passages that discuss judgment and eternal separation from God. For example, 1 Timothy 2:4 is commonly cited, which states that God “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” What they neglect is that the verse doesn’t say all will be saved, but that it is God’s desire for all to be saved. There’s a significant difference.
Another verse often cited is Romans 5:18, “Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.” However, when read in context, this “all men” refers to all who are in Christ, not every individual. Context matters in biblical interpretation.
How Universal Salvation Contradicts Core Christian Doctrine
Ignores the Necessity of Faith
Universal salvation undermines the essential Christian belief that faith in Jesus Christ is necessary for salvation. The New Testament is explicit that faith in Christ is requisite for eternal life. “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God” (John 3:18).
Negates the Concept of Divine Judgment
The doctrine effectively annuls the idea of divine justice and judgment. Scripture clearly teaches the concept of eternal destruction. In Matthew 25:46, Christ himself says, “And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” Here, eternal punishment is eternal destruction. The Greek noun (κόλασις kolasis) refers to eternal cutting off, from life. Lit lopping off, pruning.
Makes Evangelism and Missions Redundant
If all are ultimately saved, the urgency for evangelism and missions is negated. This view undermines the Great Commission where Jesus instructs His disciples to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19).
The Grave Implications of Believing in Universal Salvation
Undermines the Seriousness of Sin
This teaching minimizes the grave implications of sin and rebellion against God. If all paths lead to God and everyone is saved in the end, then sin becomes trivial.
Fosters Spiritual Complacency
The doctrine breeds a dangerous complacency. If all are going to be saved regardless of their beliefs or actions, then there is no motivation for spiritual growth or moral living.
Discredits the Authentic Gospel
Universal salvation distorts the genuine Gospel message of redemption through faith in Jesus Christ. It undermines the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus, making it a mere moral example rather than the singular means of reconciliation with God.
The doctrine of universal salvation is not only unscriptural but also spiritually dangerous. It downplays the significance of faith, nullifies the concept of judgment, and trivializes the essence of the Gospel message. It is a grave error to presume upon the grace of God and assume universal redemption.
Therefore, universal salvation is a doctrine that we should reject in order to maintain a biblically grounded faith. As students of the Scripture and followers of Jesus Christ, we must hold fast to the objective truth that salvation is not universal but is conditional upon faith in Jesus Christ. This approach is in line with the objective historical-grammatical method of biblical interpretation, affirming the authority and inerrancy of Scripture, and offering a strong antidote to the misleading teachings proliferating in modern Christianity.
(3.) Denial of Absolute Inerrancy of Scripture
The inerrancy of Scripture has been a cornerstone of Christian belief for centuries. However, in recent times, there has been a growing trend among some scholars and churches to deny or undermine this crucial doctrine. The denial of the absolute inerrancy of Scripture can have far-reaching implications for the Christian faith. Here, we’ll discuss why the teaching that denies Scriptural inerrancy is both misleading and dangerous for believers.
What is Meant by the Inerrancy of Scripture?
The term “inerrancy” refers to the concept that Scripture is free from error in all its teachings, including matters of faith, practice, history, and science. When we say that the Bible is inerrant, we are affirming that it is entirely trustworthy and serves as the final authority in all matters.
Denial Forms: From “Limited Inerrancy” to “Inspired but Fallible”
Various types of denials exist within the spectrum of belief about Scriptural inerrancy. Some advocate for “limited inerrancy,” suggesting that the Bible is only inerrant in matters of faith and morals, not in historical or scientific details. Others go further and assert that the Bible is merely “inspired” but contains errors. Both positions deny the full inerrancy of Scripture and open the door for subjective interpretation.
Why Denial of Inerrancy is a Problem
Undermines the Authority of Scripture
The denial of inerrancy essentially undermines the Bible’s authority. If the Bible contains errors, how can it serve as our final authority in all matters of faith and practice? When we start picking and choosing which parts of the Bible to believe, we put human judgment above divine revelation.
Leads to a Slippery Slope of Relativism
Denying the inerrancy of Scripture can lead to a slippery slope where other core doctrines are questioned or denied. If we cannot trust the Bible’s account of creation, for example, what does that say about its teachings on redemption, the nature of God, or the end times?
Distorts the Gospel Message
If we cannot trust the Bible to be accurate in all its details, the very message of the Gospel could be distorted or lost. The inerrancy of Scripture safeguards the integrity of the Gospel, ensuring that the message of salvation is preserved in its purest form.
Implications of Denying Inerrancy
Weakens the Basis for Christian Doctrine
All Christian doctrine is derived from the teachings of Scripture. If the Bible is not inerrant, then the very foundation upon which these doctrines rest becomes shaky. We risk the integrity of doctrines such as the deity of Christ, the Trinity, and the means of salvation.
Compromises Moral and Ethical Standards
If the Bible is not wholly reliable, then it can no longer serve as an absolute standard for morals and ethics. This could lead to a form of situational ethics where moral choices are dictated by culture or personal preference rather than by God’s immutable word.
Erodes Evangelical Witness
Denying the inerrancy of Scripture undermines the church’s ability to stand as a witness to the truth. If we cannot unequivocally affirm the Bible’s reliability, how can we effectively share the Gospel and fulfill the Great Commission?
The denial of the absolute inerrancy of Scripture is a dangerous teaching that has infiltrated some churches today. This view undermines the authority of God’s word, leads to doctrinal confusion, and weakens the church’s witness in the world.
As believers committed to the objective historical-grammatical method of biblical interpretation, we must affirm the absolute inerrancy of Scripture as foundational to our faith. This commitment not only aligns us with the historical teachings of the church but also serves as a safeguard against the misleading ideologies and subjective interpretations that are prevalent in modern Christianity. Therefore, the denial of Scriptural inerrancy is a false teaching that should be vigorously opposed in order to maintain a biblically grounded faith.
Scriptural Support for Absolute Inerrancy of Scripture
2 Timothy 3:16-17
Text: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
Original Language: The term “breathed out by God” translates the Greek word “theopneustos,” which literally means “God-breathed.” This indicates that Scripture originates from God Himself.
Implication: If God is perfect and His Word is “breathed out” by Him, it follows that His Word must also be perfect—inerrant.
2 Peter 1:21
Text: “For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”
Original Language: The term “carried along” is translated from the Greek “pheromenoi,” which implies a forceful and directed movement. It is the same term used to describe a ship being driven by the wind.
Implication: If the men who wrote the Scriptures were “carried along by the Holy Spirit,” then it follows that the end product—Scripture—is free from error, as it originates from a divine, not human, source. The forcefulness of the word “pheromenoi” underscores the full involvement of the Holy Spirit, negating any possibility of human error interfering with the divine message.
Text: “The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.”
Original Language: The Hebrew term for “truth” here is “emet,” which signifies reliability and faithfulness.
Implication: The text does not merely say some of God’s Word is true, but that the “sum” of it is truth. This speaks to its inerrancy in all matters.
Text: “Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.”
Original Language: The Hebrew phrase “proves true” is “tzaraf,” meaning to refine or test, indicating a process that proves the purity of something.
Implication: The text argues that every word of God has been tested and proven true, again implying inerrancy.
Text: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.”
Original Language: Jesus refers to “iota” and “dot,” which are the smallest letter and the smallest stroke in the Hebrew alphabet, signifying the minutest details.
Implication: Jesus Himself affirms that even the smallest details in the Law (and by extension, all of Scripture) are authoritative and will be fulfilled, pointing to inerrancy.
1 Corinthians 2:13
Text: “And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.”
Original Language: The Greek term for “taught by the Spirit” is “didaktos,” which comes from the verb “didasko,” meaning to teach or instruct.
Implication: This verse implies that the words of Scripture are not human in origin but are taught by the Holy Spirit, which means they must be inerrant since they come from an infallible source.
Text: “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.”
Original Language: The Greek term for “adds” is “epitithēmi,” and for “takes away,” it’s “aphaireō.” Both signify a strong action of altering the content.
Implication: The severity of the warning against altering the text implies its completeness and inerrancy.
These Scriptures, backed by the original languages, provide a robust defense for the doctrine of the absolute inerrancy of Scripture. The inerrancy of Scripture is not merely a traditional belief but is thoroughly rooted in the Bible itself.