By William C. Sexton
Recently in response to the article, “Can Christians Identify `False Teachers’?” (Truth, 11-22-79, p. 5), I received the following note from Iowa – the name is unimportant in this context, the concept and teachings are what I wish to deal with here.
According to your own definition of “False Teachers” (Truth 11/22/79, 9th paragraph), you are guilty, for you have not reached a state of perfection in doctrine. The scriptures do not use the term as you do. I will explain if you are interested. Let me know. If you hang on to this idea, you will excommunicate your wife!
Now, let us look at the 9th paragraph of that article and see if an unbaised mind will reach the same conclusion:
It is clear to the unbiased mind, I believe, that these authorities of the Greek word who translated ‘false teacher’ understand the meaning to be describing the person who is teaching something claiming it to be of God when in fact it is not l Consequently when any of us teaches things claiming that such is from God and it is not, then we are `false teachers.”
If one is familiar with some of the teachings that are going around and have been advocated for the last decade or more, he sees the fallacy of this man’s thinking, immediately: the distinction between doctrine and gospel theology is at the heart of it! Such cannot be sustained by the scriptures, however, and such needs to be seen for what it is – an effort to liberalize the teachings and sanctions of God’s people to accept whoever claims to have been baptized. We challenge each reader to give adequate consideration to the contents of these claims and the consequences of following that course.
I sent the following note to this Iowa accuser:
Your judgmental proclamation of me is untrue, a lie, having no basis other than your theological presupposition. There is not one word in the article where I made “a state of perfection in doctrine” as the standard. Instead, I affirmed that the scriptures are the standard, not man’s own subjective feelings.
Christ says, “If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him and if he repent, forgive him” (Lk. 17:3). I rebuke you in the name of Christ for charging me falsely (2 Tim. 3:3, “false accusers”) and call upon you to “repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of throe heart be forgiven thee” (cf. Acts 8:22).
I am interested in truth, but not in any more judgmental proclamations of ( Name), for I have received enough of
them – in that you have sent me several envelopes filled with such over the last couple of years. Remember?
1. I believe that the scriptures are all “inspired of God,” as they claim to be (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:20-21). If you don’t believe that, then any discussion about what is said therein would be unprofitable until we discuss that (cf. John 17:17). Your writings leave me thinking you don’t.
2. I believe that the scriptures were written to be understood (Eph. 3:3-4). If you disagree with that, then we’d need to discuss that, before concerning ourselves with the meaning of passages. If we can’t understand the writings, then it is foolish to spend time in that regard, and much of the theological proclamations I see have that underlying principle involved.
3. If “false teacher” is only the person with an impure motive, can I and you identify one? Must we read hearts to do so? Do you claim to have heart reading ability? I don’t have that ability myself! Did the Lord tell us to be aware of “false teachers,” to do something that we can’t possibly do?
Sincerely, William C. Secton
I have corresponded with brethren for nearly ten years, now, who have been advocating the doctrine-gospel distinction theology. I find it strange how un-reasonable very intelligent men can be when they accept a position and get all wrapped up in it, as these have done. A folder filled to the brim is in my file of a “certain brother’s” materials, letters from him wherein he is trying to persuade me that the first part of Mt. 28:19-20 must be understood alike but that the last part is impossible of being understood alike! He argues that the whole basis of division in the “brotherhood” (yea, in the whole of Christendom) is due to the failure to make this distinction.
If one will go to his concordance and look at the word doctrine – didache – he will find that people obeyed it in becoming “free from sins” (Rom. 6:16-18) and that the disciples “continued in” it, growing and learning what to do as Christians (Acts 2:42). Likewise, if one will look at the word gospel – euangelion – he will find that it refers to that by which one is “saved,” receiving the forgiveness of sins (Mk. 16:15-16; 1 Cor. 15:Iff) and that which one must continue to believe and accept, not accepting a “perverted” gospel (Gal. 1:6-10). We will be judged according to the “gospel” that Paul preached (Rom. 2:16). Paul was ready to “preach the gospel” to those who were at Rome, called saints (Rom. 1:15, 7).
So, the distinction that is made by “certain brethren” is artificial, humanly devised, designed to sustain some man developed theology! The presupposition is that man needs to be united when it comes to becoming a child of God, a Christian; but, then division is inevitable and cannot be otherwise. So, we ought to just accept each other without regard to differences in beliefs and/or practices. Yet, why are they so hard on us who differ with them? Reasonable?
After having discussed with some elders and a preacher one night in Wichita, in which one of the elders who was a English professor at WSU and who had argued that my view of Gal. 1:6-10 was wrong because we could not expect people to understand alike, I though “how silly” for the man to say I was wrong on the interpretation. If it was not possible to understand alike, then how did he know but that my view was not right? It seemed to me that he was arguing for something that could not possibly be right: for if I was wrong and he could discern it, then he was saying that what he was arguing for was wrong – because he. did know that I was wrong: we did have to agree! Is this not a case of “wise” men becoming fools (cf. Rom. 1:22, 21) and will not progress be made in the same direction of those Paul lifted up as bad examples?
Beloved, who is guilty of error, according to the scriptures? He who goes onward and fails to abide within the confines of revelation (2 John 9; Rev. 22:18-19). That revelation is complete, understandable, and practicable! Respect it and benefit from your response to it, beloved.
Truth Magazine XXIV: 41, p. 665
October 16, 1980