How to Avoid Heresy
Neo-evangelicalism relies upon marketing strategies to spread its leaven. For over a century American consumers have been trained by advertising to buy anything new – a new detergent, a new vacuum cleaner, a new style of dress, a new car, a new computer. In the same way, New Evangelicalism has advertised all of its doctrines, methods and teachings as “new.” There is therefore a very simple, easy way to avoid the heresies of neo-evangelicalism.
Avoid any NEW –
term, word or phrase (esp. if not in Bible)
concept and idea
fad, popular craze, or bestseller
Questions every believer should ask about“new” spiritual things
a. Is it truly Biblical? Remember: even the New Agers and occultists are “spiritual.” Just because something is spiritual doesn’t make it Biblical!
b. What is the origin of the concept? Do you know its roots? Can you check out its source freely? Is there a bibliography? Proper credit for ideas?
c. Is it a man’s idea? A worldly idea?
d. Does it conform to the whole counsel of God?
e. Is it a “new” understanding? A reinterpretation of doctrine?
f. Does it disparage traditional orthodoxy?
g. Does it promise too much? Does it use hype?
h. Does it require too much – especially methods, activities, obligations, works, formulas, rituals, etc.?
i. Does it have a “guru” factor?
How to avoid being seduced by a spiritual “guru”
a. Do you have the freedom to politely disagree, question, or exercise discernment without being labeled as “divisive,” harassed, ostracized, banished, abandoned, kicked out of church, or shunned?
b. Is his way the only right way? Is he an elitist?
c. Are there secret meetings where the contents cannot be divulged to outsiders? Are there secret teachings?
d. Are there oaths, covenant, rites or pledges?
e. Does he employ pity, excessive self-disclosure, or other emotive tactics to get your sympathies?
f. Is he too firm in his assertions that go beyond Scripture?
g. Does he have any critics? Is he too popular?
h. Or, does he use his critics as a way to be a “martyr” to garner support and sympathy?
i. Does he compromise – even in little areas – that lead open the possibility of leading sheep astray?
j. Does he insert just a “little leaven” in his teachings?
k. Does he make promises that go beyond the ones in the Bible? Does he claim extraordinary miracles?
l. Does he play upon emotions? Spiritual experiences? Does he use salesman type hype?
m. Is the Bible his final authority in all things? No matter what?
n. Does he employ the use of diagrams, programs, methods, formulas, systems, charts, techniques, tactics, assessments, measurements, mantras, chants, walks, marches, circles, disciplines and other man-made contrivances to create more “spirituality”?
o. Does he quote from the philosophies of men as if they were valid? Without disclaimer?
p. Does he build a foundation upon another man’s questionable works?
q. Does he bring in pagan ideas by sugar-coating them with Scriptures? Does he employ deception?
r. Does he bring Old Testament law into the New Testament? Dominionism? Kingdom theology?
s. Is he overly relational, relying on feelings language, or re-interpreting the Bible in psychological terms?
t. With whom does he associate? Who are his peers? Do they put pressure on him to conform in ways that are ecumenical or require him to compromise his beliefs?
u. With whom does he publicly appear? What organizations does he belong to? What conferences does he speak at? To whom or what is he linked?
v. Who trained him? Who influences him? What sources outside Scripture have influenced him? Who were his Bible school professors and what influenced them?
w. Does he push you to the point of being uncomfortable by bringing in ideas that may “desensitize” you to sin?
x. Does he try to examine your motives, psycho-analyze you, or judge you in ways that go beyond Scripture?
y. Does his personal life reflect holiness, righteousness and integrity? Can he bear up under close scrutiny?
z. Does he bad talk, denigrate, or malign fundamentalism or biblical separation? Does he claim Christianity has been a dismal failure without his new program, doctrine, idea or system?
“Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen” (1 John 5:21)
[The above material comes from the latest Discernment Ministries Newsletter (Jan./Feb. 2006), in an article entitled "The Necessity of Separation from Heresy" posted at http://www.discernment-ministries.org ]