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What Luther Says

VIDEO: The Obligation And Temptation Of Dealing With False Teaching

I recently mentioned the impact that the "When Heterodoxy Hits Home" Conference had on me personally (and I wasn't even there!) once I realized the presence of sin in my heart whenever I attempted to combat such heterodoxy in the church today.

Now that the video versions of each presentation are available, I want to look at each lecture one-at-a-time and simply note some of the key highlights for you as they convicted me when I first listened to them.

Pastor Bryan Wolfmueller: The Obligation And Temptation of Dealing With False Teaching  

*- "Whenever the Bible says 'beware' it is warning us to beware of false doctrine and to beware of false teachers."

*- "False doctrine is always with us."

*- "Every single book in the Bible is written because of false doctrine."

*- "If we can assert, but we cannot deny, then we would not have the Scriptures."

*- "False doctrine is normal and false doctrine is difficult."

*- "Our response to false doctrine is governed first by the distinction between Law and Gospel and then second by our understanding of vocation."

*- He shares an EXCELLENT quote by Martin Luther from his Galatians commentary that Table Talk Radio listeners will be familiar with ("Kick The Dog, Comfort The Child")

*- His exposition of Galatians 6:1 (pointing out it's a warning) is fantastic

*- As victims of those who sin against us, we are tempted to sin by becoming angry (yep, guilty as charged!)

*- Anger always justifies its actions

*- "When someone comes and teaches falsely in the church, it's as if they've come and slapped Jesus in the face."

*- Luther: "Every heresy strikes at Christ!"

*- "The problem is this...We are not the Groom and Christ the Bride...Christ is the Groom and we are His Church...it is His vocation to protect us and not our vocation to protect Him."

*- The Martin Luther quote that he says he's wrestled with for 15 years now? Boy, I can see why! What do we do with that one!?!

*- I thought his comments on how Satan gets us to believe that false teachers/false doctrine is a "crisis" specific to our day-and-age were spot on!

*- "If I can create a crisis, then I can attack the Doctrine of Vocation, and then you start to follow me. Now, this is an abomination and a complete abuse."

*- "With us, the crisis is not the crisis of evangelism, but the crisis of false doctrine."

*- "False doctrine is not a crisis. False teachers are not an emergency. And that is the temptation that comes with correcting false teachers."

*- "He [Satan] wants to take the question from us 'what is my station in life according to the Ten Commandments?' and he wants to replace it with 'what is the problem that I have to fix?'"

*- "When we see false teachers in the church, our question is, 'what is my station in life, according to the Ten Commandments, with this sin?'"

*- The last 20 minutes featured a Q&A Session

*- An "Anger of Office" vs. An "Anger of Person"

*- "When false teaching comes, it's not an assault on us, but an assault on Christ."

*- "When you start to think 'I've got to do something about it or no one's going to do something about it!' as if we are the Lord's only hope in the world, and that He has to have us, I mean, that danger is for Pastors also, 'if I don't do this, then everything here's going to fall apart!' so the temptation is to step out of our office and assume the Lord needs us, and He doesn't. He gives us our vocation, He forgives our sins, He gives us good works to do, but He is never in need of us."

*- His concluding thoughts on "Institution vs. Movement" I thought were very profound

Clearly, this was a great subject to open the conference with!

For me, I needed to be told about the dangers of falling into the trap of thinking that I'm somehow God's sole "Arbiter of Biblical Truth" all the time.

Yes, I have a confession to make...but only within the specific vocations that God has given me.

Case in point (and it's just like the Lord to do this sort of thing!), last night I went to dinner with my boss (the company's President/CEO), a couple of Senior Managers, one Pastor, and "Pastor" Ted.

Many of you will remember "Pastor" Ted (a former Non-Denominational/Pentecostal/Word-of-Faith "Pastor" turned "Christian Career Coach") from a month ago when I did some LIVE-tweeting from my cubicle at work, which is right next to the Conference Room here where I first encountered this man and his deceptive doctrine.

Worse than this sincere, but sincerely wrong man condemning himself just about every time he opens his mouth to speak, is the fact that all my co-workers here are so enamored with this guy (see 2 Timothy 4:3-4). Truly, heartbreaking indeed.

Anyway, we all went to dinner last night. I had no idea what the agenda was. When we got there, we were told it was just a chance for six Christian men to get together to enjoy some good food and good company while discussing matters of the faith and thanking God for all He's done and continues to do in our lives.

Great! I can certainly go along with that. Still, I was a nervous wreck in the 24-48 hours leading up to this dinner and prayed like I've never prayed before. What was different this time around was that I desperately wanted to apply what I had just learned over the course of the past 1-2 weeks (like the things I learned from this presentation by Pastor Wolfmueller).

Since this was also my first time out with any of them in an informal capacity let alone my first time being in a situation where we could openly discuss the Christian faith (besides the prayers we say as a group each and every morning before our shift starts), I resolved to go into it by putting the best construction on things. This was a real first for me!

Maybe "Pastor" Ted wouldn't be such a flamboyant false teacher as he was the last time I encountered him indirectly. Maybe my fellow bosses and co-workers needed to be viewed as the "Comfort The Child" side of Pastor Wolfmueller's apt analogy since they obviously didn't know any better and were sitting under this guy's teaching thinking he was doctrinally sound (I mean, my boss even mentioned he was given a Kenneth Copeland Study Bible and hasn't "been able to put it down!").

So, I sat there stone-faced the whole time with only a courteous smile barely visible through my lips, made eye contact, and controlled my body language as best as I could so as not to give away my true feelings (at least, not yet). It was like I was asked to be an Academy Award winning actor or playing a high stakes game of poker or something! That's not to suggest that I was prepared to lie and change my confession based on the audience or people I was with (Galatians 1:6-10). Hardly!

However, I concluded from everything I had been prayerfully considering over the past week that I needed to be strategic about things (again, another first for me!).

Instead of charging into the discussion like a bull in a china shop with guns blazing and looking for a quick kill shot, I purposed to just sit there silently the whole time just listening to everything that was being said as Biblical fact from people who I was meeting for the first time or who I was out in public with for the first time.

My self-imposed rules of the game were simple. Trying to put the best construction on things, and trying to view each and every one of them with compassion and sympathy (as if it wasn't necessarily their fault that they believed what they did) as well as with humility, I reasoned that I would only give my confession in one of two circumstances: (1) if/when anyone perverted the Gospel of Jesus Christ and made any statement whatsoever that misrepresented the doctrine of Justification/Salvation and/or (2) if/when anyone specifically asked me for my thoughts on something that was just talked about. Otherwise, my lips were going to remain sealed until God saw fit to give me the clear opportunity within that particular vocation -- as hard as it might be for me!

Boy, was it ever so hard for me! You know, come to think of it, it was probably one of the most difficult experiences I've ever had to go through too. Would you believe that I was never asked -- not even once by a single person out of the five others who were there with me over the course of a three hour dinner! -- to comment on anything even though I basically sat there the whole time just listening and taking it all in!?! So be it.

Now, I know this is HIGHLY UNCHARACTERISTIC for someone like me, but I'm trying to apply what I've just learned. Sure, some of you might think I still should've said something though. I get that. Look, I was fully prepared to. The good news is I didn't take and publish any pictures of myself smiling with my arms around these guys.

All kidding aside, I know that there's talk to make this a monthly get-together. I also have to work with most of these people on a daily basis. Not that I would ever put preservation of my career over-and-above my public confession for Christ (and history proves that I never have after having lost a couple of jobs once I spoke up and spoke out!), but I'm thinking the better play was to let them say anything and everything they wanted to say so that I can now carefully craft a response.

I've already had one of the Senior Managers come up to me privately early this morning when I first arrived at work to ask me what I thought about last night, which gave me the prime opportunity to give my confession and to disciple a dear brother in Christ one-on-one and without any distractions. Praise the Lord for giving me the patience that was required last night! Praise the Lord for giving me such an opportunity within my vocation! I have no doubt that the same with happen with the others who were there last night. That's what I was praying for.

Now, this "Pastor" Ted is another story though! I'm looking forward to the next time we all get together, because I'll be prepared with my Bible in hand and a list of questions for him along the lines of things like "So the last time we got together you said that a person isn't a 'true Christian' or that they may have a lack of faith if they haven't even spoken in tongues so I was curious about that, went to my Bible after that dinner, and was wondering how we are supposed to reconcile that with 1 Corinthians 14 and even Acts 2:6?"

That's all I can do. For every assertion he made last night that went unchallenged, I already have a counterpoint in mind derived directly from God's Word. For a man who went on-and-on about the Word being the truth and how we need to believe what it says, I'm hoping he is humble enough to listen, to repent, and then to stop preaching and teaching such nonsense as "divine healings" on a whim, "miracles" performed whenever you want to perform them, "prophetic words" being spoken to your conscious by Jesus, "signs" on demand, and/or "visions" that leave you knowing for certain that you're anointed and in God's presence.

The sad reality is that while they all have it absolutely right when it comes to Jesus Christ being the propitiation for our sins, they all have it absolutely wrong on so many other doctrines, which makes them heterodox Christians (a.k.a. brothers in Christ, but brothers I would never worship with). That's why I prayed for patience and played by those two self-imposed rules last night.

In a Lutheran layman's terms, yes, we have an obligation to deal with false teaching, but there's also a very real temptation to commit sin by reacting before thinking as well as by thinking we know the best timing and the best way to go about confronting false teaching with the truth.  

I am grateful that it played out the way that it did last night. I trusted in God instead of trusting in myself like I so often have in the past and am fully expecting Him to convict hearts and minds with the truth of His Word that I am planning to share with them in response to what I heard last night.

NOTE: I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or a Christian, Candy-Making, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this note, I'm also a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little over a year ago. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and point us back to) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Finally, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier pieces I wrote on this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that category since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). In addition, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by those old beliefs of mine. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because we now have this disclaimer, and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse notes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I defer to what other Lutheran Pastors have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries. I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a dude's diary in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#trending" at the time, but is instead all the things that I'm studying myself at the moment. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Grace and peace to you and yours!


About JKR

Christian. Husband. Father. Friend.

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Thank you for visiting A Lutheran Layman! Please feel free to leave a comment or a question since we do not exercise censorship. We've seen a similar policy with other blogs and it's worth repeating: Please act as if you're a guest in my home, and we'll get along just fine. I think anyone would agree that the kind of back-and-forth that is characteristic of blogs/chat forums and social media is becoming tiresome for all of us. Still, we should confess, edify, and love (and contend and defend when needed). Bottom line? Search the Scriptures! Apply Acts 17:11 to anything and everything you find here and, if you do happen to disagree with something you find here (which is certainly ok), or think I'm "irresponsible" and "wrong" for writing it, then please refute my position by supporting yours with Scripture and/or the Confessions. I don't think that's an unreasonable request, especially for those who identify themselves as "Christians" here, right? Besides, Proverbs 27:17 tells us "Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another" and 2 Timothy 3:16 says, "all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness." If you have an opinion that's great, I welcome it, but try to support it using God's Word. I mean, if the goal here is to help us all arrive at the truth of God's Word (myself included), then it should be easy to follow through on this one simple request (I'm talking to all you "Anonymous" visitors out there). Grace and peace to you and yours!

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