It's commonly held by those who profess to follow Jesus Christ that doctrinal belief is of little consequence. The body of belief is condensed to those Bible teachings which are thought to be common to all. It's only on this basis that `ecumenism' can work. Catholics and Baptists and Methodists etc submerge their differences and work together.
But as the lead article in this issue explains - that's a dangerous track to walk. It's a path taken by many of the first Christians - and roundly opposed by the apostles.
Church historians have noticed that by the end of the first century, Christianity had been transformed from the apostolic standard. Fundamental teachings had been abandoned wholesale. Yet the apostles if they were to rise from the dead - then, as now - would be all too familiar with what they would observe.
For Christianity had become the very false teachings they had fought against. The outward form was there. The same characters were there. The same theological terms were in place. But all was changed at heart.
No-one attempts to forge a nonexistent three-dollar bill or two-pound note. To deceive, it has to appear real, to be superficially correct in detail. That's what happened to the teachings of Jesus and his appointed apostles. The true faith was counterfeited.
Jesus warned: "Take heed that no one is deceiving you. For many will come in my name saying I am the Christ [i.e., acknowledging Jesus as Messiah] and will deceive many" (Matthew 24:4). He even said that it's possible to prophesy, cast out demons, perform miraculous works - and be unknown to him (See Matthew 7:21-23).
In an encounter with some Pharisees, Jesus denounced them regards the heart of the true faith. He said: "All too well you reject the commandment of God that you may keep your tradition" (Mark 7:8).
It's a mark, too, of modern Christianity. Few follow God's instruction on when to worship. Instead most observe, with Christianized names and rites, the same Babylonian days thoroughly condemned in the Scriptures. Millions bow before carved images. God's plan and purpose for mankind is buried under pagan notions of heaven and hell and purgatory.
Could you be deceived?
To comment on this article or request more information, please contact James McBride by e-mail at the comment form below.
For PDF or mailed copy, see CGOM. Excerpt from New Horizons Volume 4 Issue 6, Novmber/December 2000. Edited by James McBride of the Churches of God, United Kingdom.
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