Deception is rampant in our modern society. All you have to do is turn on the TV to see that. False news on both the left and right, satanism disguised as entertainment, indoctrination in our schools...etc... However, I've discovered that deception is also rampant in the church.
So many Christians around the world trust whatever the leaders of the church tell them--their pastors, elders, teachers and prophets, that they don't do their own homework in the Scriptures. We have access to so much good teaching online and elsewhere, which is great! But do we just accept what we hear as the truth just because the person declaring it has some theological degree? Or because they've been right on other topics, or because they "seem" like Godly people? Surely someone with a masters in Divinity has to be smarter than we are about Biblical truths, right? We must remember that no matter how dedicated they are to Jesus, they are still human and hence, fallible. That is why we MUST check everything against the Word of God.
All throughout both the Old and New Testament, we see warning after warning against deception. Jesus, Himself, warned His disciples strongly about being deceived on more than one occasion, and He prophesied that in the last days, many many people would be deceived. Though He certainly was referring to the lost, I also believe He was talking about the church. After all, in many of Paul's letters to the church, he warned against deception.
Hence, I thought it prudent to give a list of current deceptions I've seen, heard about, or witnessed in our modern Western Church. These are not all from me, but from several sources online. See if you agree with them or perhaps have seen them yourself.
Below is a list of some false theologies that exist currently in the Church. Some of them will obviously be heresies to you, others are more subtle. Remember Satan always uses a portion of the truth mixed up in a lie to trap us. Below them, is a list of Modern Church Strategies that are neither Biblical or effective.
False Theologies Infiltrating the Church
Universalism - There are many paths to the same God. People who believe this will tell you that Christians and Muslims worship the same god.
Hyper-Grace - We are saved ONLY by Grace and therefore once we receive Jesus, we no longer have to follow the law. We can live anyway we want, including daily indulgence in sin, because we are forgiven and still going to heaven
Legalism - The opposite of Grace, Legalism teaches that we must adhere to certain laws and behaviors in order to be saved. If your church is legalistic, there will be a spirit of guilt and judgement among the congregation, often fostered by the leadership. You have to tithe, go on missions, serve in ministry, go street evangelism...etc..etc..etc..
Prosperity Gospel - God's PRIMARY concern and goal for you is that you be healthy, wealthy, and successful. People who believe this will pull Scriptures out of context and claim them in Jesus's name. They tend to believe if someone is suffering, then they must have done something wrong.
The Emergent Church - in an effort to reach the unchurched, the new Emergent church uses a variety of techniques during the service such as props, movies, plays, poems, incense, candles to create a Feelings-centered reaction toward the Gospel. They make the Gospel more palatable by calling it a narrative or allegory rather than fact or truth. They tend to be more inclusive to other faiths, and do not believe in a need for forgiveness.
The New Age Movement - Universal tolerance and moral relativism (If it feels good, do it). God wants you to be happy. God accepts everyone. God will not judge you. You can eventually become divine!
The Irrelevancy of the Bible in Modern Culture - The Bible is inspired but the parts of it that pertained to the culture of Biblical times do not apply to our modern culture today. Hence, sexual immorality, including homosexuality, transgender, etc are not sins. The Bible is a changing document according to the times. Hence the reason for the acceptance of gay marriage and even gay clergy as well as recently Pentecostals accepting pre-marital sex.
Say a prayer, you're in the club! - There are NO altar calls in the Bible. I'm not against them, per say, and I know some people truly get saved, but I believe it's a lie from the pit of hell to tell people that all they have to do is come forward, say a prayer to receive Jesus, and they are saved. It's not a prayer that saves you. It's the Holy Spirit revealing to you your sinful, pathetic condition and thus, causing you to mourn over your sins and fall to your knees in repentance before God. Then it's a receiving of the sacrifice of Jesus on your behalf and an infilling of God's Spirit. I wonder how many people sit in pews each Sunday who aren't saved? There's no such thing as a Gospel that doesn't change you.
Modern Church Strategies that aren't Biblical
Creating a non-threatening environment, comfortable, familiar- Did you know that the purpose of the church service is NOT to draw in visitors or be evangelistic? Nope. The early church met to worship God, eat together, pray for each other, and most of all, disciple one another to equip each member to go out and save the lost. In fact, true church services where the Holy Spirit is active and powerful, would probably totally freak out a non-believer. Here's a litmus test for your church.
- Are the teachings deep or shallow?
- Is prayer low-key or moved to a different part of the day or week?
- Is the atmosphere intentionally not "scary" or strange to ensure visitors are welcomed?
- Does your church have a comfy cafe, serve donuts, have the sermon piped into the cafe where people can drink coffee and watch?
- Does your church focus more on entertainment? Popular music, plays, skits, comedians to attract the lost?
Underemphasis on Biblical training - I'm talking about real intensive training in the Word of God, Apologetics, the gifts of the Spirit and how to operate in them. How many churches offer this kind of training? And if they do have a class here or there, how many people actually show up? For me, I've had to seek out my own training through books and online classes because I get nothing from my local church.
Lack of Fiery Preaching! - If you've followed me for awhile, you know this is one of my pet peeves! If you're going to preach from God's Word, then preach from the ENTIRE Word and the ENTIRE Gospel, not just the parts that we are all comfortable with. Yes, of course, Jesus's sacrifice on the cross and His resurrection are most important, as are His love for us, His Words of comfort and grace and forgiveness. But what about His Judgement? You do know He's coming back as a Judge, don't you? What about hell? What about End-times? Shouldn't preachers be linking current events to prophesy in the Bible and warning people? How about some teaching on the power of the Holy Spirit to heal, cast out demons, raise the dead? How about speaking in tongues? What about waking people up from their stupor of grace to realize that God DOES require something from them in this life.
If you recognize some of these happening in your current church, please pray about it and ask the Lord what you can do to correct it, if anything, OR if perhaps He wants you to leave and find a more Biblically based church.