The living dead are all around us infecting the brains of their unsuspecting victims... But I am not talking about zombies here but rather about those who have passed away while their ideas, philosophies, recordings and writings continue to influence us today. To state the obvious upfront, some people in their lifetimes influenced society in a very positive way while others did not. To know the difference is of the utmost importance; especially when we delve into the world of theology. So our focus here in this post is on the people who may have infected us with some bad doctrine.
This post was prompted by a discussion I was having with a friend a while back who is deeply concerned about false teaching in the church today as we all should be. There is no shortage of voices and opinions out there seducing us with sugar coated poo cakes. The church is weak, confused and being tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine that blows past its creaky, wooden doors. Things were no different in the early church either as we read in letter after letter how Paul, John and the rest of the Beatles (just making sure that you are paying attention) addressed false teachers and exhorted other believers to hold firm to the true gospel and to the traditions that were once delivered unto the saints. So yes, just like back then, while there is an abundance of bad teaching out there today I think that there are also a lot of voices sounding the alarm bells as well which is a good thing.
But what about the dead guys? Very few people out there today seem to be discerning when it comes to things that were established in mainstream Christianity 100 years ago, 500 years ago, 1000 years ago or 1700 years ago…We can spot the modern wolf a mile away because his words are contrary to what has already been established in our minds. But it is far more difficult to spot the wolf that infiltrated the church years before we were born and by the time we started listening to preachers on a Sunday these ‘new ideas’ were already being taught as tried, tested and accepted old truths. Men like Augustine and Calvin both contributed greatly in certain areas doctrinally but they both strayed from Jesus and the apostle’s teachings in places as well. When something has been accepted as fact for centuries or even millennia it can be incredibly difficult to look at it objectionably again. Who knows how often we end up reading things into scripture that it never intended to say or endorse?
This is why it is important to read about the men, especially the theologians, who have shaped the church for the past 2000 years and this is why it is important to try to read the bible without imposing any preconceived ideas that we have (which is close to impossible unless you grew up in a cave) onto the text. As for me, I admit that I see dimly as through a dirty glass and my understanding is just as likely as anyone's to have being influenced by the world that has shaped me up to this point. So what is the solution then? Seeing as you will certainly read and hear things from a certain preconceived perspective, I have decided that if I am going to be wearing lenses it will be those of the rabbi who once died but was raised again. I will ask “does this glorify God or someone else?”, “Does this point to Christ or man?”, “Does this lead to life in Him or to death?” or “Does this make God look more like man or like Jesus?”
Beware of dead guys, unless they are pointing you to the Risen one; chances are they may be out to feast on your brain.
*The image at the top of this article was taken from http://www.comicvine.com/forums/rpg-9/zombie-vineverse-665344/