Major Doctrinal Shifts causing confusion in the Church todayVasu Vittal
Looking back, I am grateful that God sovereignly brought key people who impacted my life. One was my school principal who wrote a letter about false teachers in last days, years before my personal relationship with God. Somewhere at 18 and in life’s crossroads, I prayed asking God to become real as secret societies were beckoning my commitment. He did, and then on, the Bible became the basis for everything in my life and remains my point of reference.
The first time I encountered confusing doctrines was when a Christian leader taught that Creation is a myth. Years later, a colleague and friend succumbed to a road accident. We were on a family holiday and could not get back for the funeral. At his memorial service, the same person spoke sensitively on his life but went on to say his untimely death is proof that God is not sovereign. Not only his tragic death but the larger gross evil, suffering and injustice in the world are beyond his control. Many colleagues challenged him, but were told that revelation is progressive just like God’s ways over man. This article is a response to subtle and major doctrinal deviations that are abounding today. It is not exhaustive but explores concepts that affects sound teaching and introduces thinking patterns behind these shifts.
2 such frameworks are: Post-modernism and Open Theism. They call for a new exegesis and a new hermeneutic to build the emerging church of tomorrow. Post modernism in the church is defined as subjective, culture specific interpretation of the Bible in relation to today’s times and trends. Experience, feelings, intuition, inclusivity are more valid, than reason, truth, the Bible and traditions. Post modernism comes after modernistic thought, and truth evolves in one’s understanding of God. So, an individual’s life situation is more important and so God, in his love and mercy, responds to him individualistically. Truth is subjective for the person and disregards responsibility to others in a community. It gœs against the church, the faith community that we are called to belong to and serve as members of the body of Christ.
What dœs this mean for today’s church?
God speaks to us as individuals so that our response is other centered and not self-centered. When an individual’s experience defines God’s responses as a theology of God’s responses in a particular way, it often leads to fallacy. A fundamental principle of post-modernism is the old ploy of the enemy, “Did God really say?”. Post-modernism claims traditional interpretation of the Bible as incorrect and teaches the need for a ‘newer meaning’ for today’s context. The rationale of today’s world is different from ancient times or contexts of previous generations. Doubting the Bible and its interpretation is a strategy of post-modernism in preaching and teaching. We are exhorted by Paul to avoid those who use smooth words and flattering speech to deceive many. The first step is doubt and the next step is the lie that God did not say.
Open theism’s Characteristics:
God is love so He never allows evil or suffering to befall mankind.
Man’s free will has been affected by the fall so he is unable to choose following God.
God dœs not exhaustively know the future, so future exists only as a possibility.
Because the future is “open”, tomorrow is not fully determined, but depends partly on free decisions of God’s creatures.
God realizes He can err in judgment or things do not happen as planned so He changes His mind.
What should I watch for? The needs of the human heart remains same over centuries.
A theology of God based on one’s experience of God in a subjective context can become the basis for deviation from sound teaching.
A theology of God that allows culture to be its dominant informant is a danger that threatens churches today.
How dœs it apply to me personally?
Paul warned of false teachers in the church at Ephesus. Jesus prophesied of false teachers in the end times. Watch out that perversity is not normalized and defend the truth as the battle is fierce.
Hold to Biblical traditions at all times. Jesus said we shall know him, the truth, and the truth or Jesus sets us free. FAITH is vital to our relationship with God. With Faith are rewards, and without it, is God’s displeasure.
My response to false teaching since then, is to seek counsel from godly men, who love God and love truth, and prayerfully seek God through his Word. The Bible is the basis for truth about Jesus as God who, with all wisdom and love, established absolute standards of life and morality, to whom nations are accountable, who is the only way of salvation, the judge who judges sin in time and eternity. The gospel is not a story or principles, but Jesus Christ himself. The battle for truth defines Jesus and how to love and relate to Him.
Vasu is married to Sheba and they have 2 daughters Joanna & Amy. They are part of the ZŒ Ministries Chembur. His work in health and development among the poor and vulnerable has lead to currently being a student of advanced studies in Global Health. He provides technical and operational support to organisations in Mumbai and elsewhere. He loves coffee and learning besides gardening and Mozart.