Friday, April 15, 2011

The False Shepherds Who Steal Our Faith

Fr. Dale Matson

If someone asked me what my most prized possession is, I would say that it is my faith in Jesus Christ. He is the pearl of great price for which I have gone and sold all that I have. Actually, it is really not my faith at all but God’s faith granted to me. If I were to lose this faith, life would have no meaning, for all that is and has meaning derives its existence and meaning from Him. I guard this faith as if my eternal life depended on it because it does depend on it.

Our faith is strengthened through Prayer, Word, Sacrament and fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Our faith is nurtured and strengthened by their testimony. When we hear the Word of God faithfully preached and continue in His Word, we proceed by our own sight less. Gathering together allows us to exhort and comfort one another.

When I was going through renewal in the 1980’s, I had a hunger for God’s Word. I became involved in a two year Bible Study series called “Crossways”. The following is a comment about their goal. “Crossways International is a non-profit ministry whose goal is to foster deeper, more meaningful Christian discipleship by cultivating biblical literacy.” I believe this series does accomplish their stated goal but there were occasional comments that caused me to ask a question that should be the litmus test of all we hear and see. “Does this increase my faith?” I can still remember a statement in the series, questioning what King David was really like. Scripture said that David was a man after God’s own heart. Why was the Crossways author questioning the authenticity of David?

We must always remain under the authority of Scripture. It is not for us to use Scripture to advance our own agenda or to explain Scripture in a way that justifies our own confusion or worse, unbelief. In our modern era, unbelief has become a badge of enlightened honor in the church, when it should be a cause for great concern. In addition to the Scriptures, we are also guided by the church fathers that came to an agreement in the early councils, from whom we have inherited the Creeds. The understanding of the early church fathers is an important source and Paul warns the Galatians, “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse!” (1:8). Ultimately, you are responsible for dressing and keeping the faith God has given you.

The churches today have many false shepherds who are wolves in sheep’s clothing. They begin with the same question posed by the serpent in the Garden of Eden. “Did God really say that?” Whether the false shepherds are intentionally or unintentionally leading their sheep astray, they are still a tool of Satan. Do not put yourself under their spiritual authority. Do not remain in their churches. It is called the Church of Christ. Anything that diminishes Him or your faith in Him is of Satan. God the Holy Spirit is the witness to the truth in Scripture. As a believer you have the discernment and understanding of the Word of God not available to unbelievers, even if that unbeliever is a scholar or a bishop in the church. Yes, biblical literacy is important but be discerning when involved in a Bible study series and about who is leading it. Those going through renewal are those most receptive to teaching but most vulnerable also. If the teaching, sermon, interpretation, conversation does not increase your faith, it should alarm you. Amen


Fr. Glen said...

I am somehow saddened when I see communities who have left one anglican diocese to join another (over valid issues, I must add) and then still use up blog space to continue hammer on those issues that caused pain. I would hope that rather than spending a great deal of time pointing and railing and accusing, Anglican Priests who have made a decision could go on to spreading the gospel, expressing love to the unlovely, and leading others into the kingdom. We are about the Gospel, are we not? I challenge anyone to show Christ bringing anyone into the Gospel life by diatribes and argumentation. The Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin finally made their move, and atached themselves to Southern Cone. Isn't it time to quit throwing tomatoes, and instead to show the growth of the good fruit of joy and the Gospel.

Love and Grace to you,
Fr. Glen DeShaw

Dale Matson said...

Fr. DeShaw,
I believe the vast majority of my posts are listed under "Comfort" but based on your comment, I think you will find my next post to be another "tomato". I am in no way comparing myself to St. Paul but wonder if you would have problems with some of his writings. Are there things that he has said that bother you?