Beware of False Teachers….
I attended seminary for almost ten years when I was in my late forties and, admittedly, I studied theology from a very conservative perspective. There are several pastors and teachers in our extended family and I think all of them have taken a pretty conservative stance in teaching the Bible. One of the things that I learned early on in seminary is that there is only one interpretation of Scripture but many applications. The Holy Spirit, based on our walk with God, illuminates us in different ways throughout our lives.
One of the things that I always look out for is false teaching. Being a teacher of Scripture is a very important role and the Bible clearly articulates that as early as the 1st century, even before the death of John in 98 A.D. or so, false teachers were already around. Moreover, what made these teachers extremely dangerous was the fact that they actually came out of the church! So it wasn’t that the people had to be concerned about outsiders trying to dissuade them from believing – the threat came from within the actual church itself.
This became such an issue that the apostle John wrote several letters, called epistles, that among other things addressed this very issue. He teaches us that the test for legitimate teachers is to ask them if they believe in the deity of Jesus – is Jesus God? If the answer is no, then you are not to adhere to their teaching and they are not be be welcomed into the church.
I bring this up because yesterday I got amped up about an article I read that was written by a seminary trained scholar who specialized in New Testament. To be sure, he holds a doctorate and attended Princeton. He has been on TV numerous times, is well regarded and has written approximately 30 books. In other words, this guy just didn’t fall off the turnip truck. Somewhere, he lost his way and became an agnostic atheist, philosophically being unable to reconcile evil and suffering.
Anyway, he postulates that the New Testament books of 1 Peter and 2 Peter weren’t written by Peter because Peter was uneducated and the Greek used just doesn’t match what someone of Peter’s background would be trained to write. As much as I hate to get into a dialogue about this, there has been some question throughout the years about the difference in the Greek construction of the two books, with 2 Peter seemingly different from the Greek used in the first epistle of Peter. But this is easily explained…
First of all, it was common for the writers of the New Testament to dictate their letters to scribes. In fact, Paul indicates in one of his letters that he wrote the end and signed it himself. But the rest of the documents were probably dictated to scribal assistants. This “theologian” that I read about yesterday doesn’t even bring forth the possibility that Peter used a scribe for his two books.
Or the possibility that Silvanus, Peter’s scribe, may have contributed more to 2 Peter than 1 Peter? Furthermore, at least from my perspective, God could have used anyone, including any one of us, to write the various books of the Bible. I believe that God, being omnipotent (all powerful) can do whatever He wants to accomplish, through whatever means He chooses to use. So whether Peter was “properly” educated or not, he gave the first sermon of the new church as Pentecost and there is no question that Peter was a very important part of the early church.
The agnostic atheist that I am writing about tonight admittedly doesn’t believe in God. Therefore, according the apostle John, this invalidates his teaching – period… But the problem is that there are people who are gullible and not as solid in their belief of the Bible. This makes them easy targets for people who can sway their opinion away from the Lord. Of course, that is a slippery slope.
Clearly, having a strong belief in God requires a step of faith at some point in your journey. And some folks just can’t get there. I believe that the Holy Spirit can help us in our journey. But it is fundamental to believe that the Bible is an authentic document and divinely inspired.
Tonight’s verse affirms that Scripture is from God Himself. The apostle Paul tells us, in 2 Timothy 3:14-17, “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
Here Paul lets us know, through his letter to his young pastor friend, Timothy, that all Scripture is inspired by God. Whether we understand how it came to pass or not, this is something that we are to take on faith. My encouragement tonight is that God wants each of us to learn as much about Him through His word as we can. My prayer is that each of us will sit under the teaching of a gifted, God centered teacher/pastor who believes in the deity of Jesus Christ. Jesus is God! Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…