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What Luther Says

Why Do Christians Easily Believe False Teachers?

Maybe you've seen a recent and disturbing (although not that surprising) poll that's making the rounds within various Lutheran circles in the past few days.

That got me thinking about Jesus' own stunning suggestion that His "elect" can be deceived into believing half-truths and outright lies.

Matthew 24:24 (ESV) For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. 
Mark 13:22 (ESV) For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect.

What a crazy thought, isn't it?

The Lutheran Study Bible has this to say about both verses...

When things turn desperate, people instinctively recognize the need for a spiritual answer. Under such wretched conditions, it is no wonder that false teachers would attract so many followers. God's people, however, will no fall for charlatans. The power of God's Spirit helps believers in Jesus to remain true. Counterfeit miracles could mislead people and draw them away from Jesus, the only Savior. Those who believe owe their faith, perseverance, and salvation to the triune God alone.

I remembered a list I had saved long ago. I don't remember who put it together, but it attempts to explain some of the reasons why other fellow believers may fall for the false teachers who come in God's name.

Here are some of those reasons in no particular order even though they're numbered...

Many things combine to make the present inroad of false doctrine peculiarly dangerous.

1. There is an undeniable zeal in some of the teachers of error: their “earnestness” makes many believers think they must be right.

2. There is a great appearance of learning and theological knowledge: many believers fancy that such clever and intellectual men/women must surely be safe guides.

3. There is a general tendency to free thought and free inquiry in these latter days: many believers like to prove their independence of judgment, by believing novelties.

4. There is a wide-spread desire to appear charitable and liberal-minded: many believers seem half ashamed of saying that anybody can be in the wrong.

5. There is a quantity of half-truth taught by the modern false teachers: they are incessantly using Scriptural terms and phrases in an un-Scriptural sense so it all sounds right to believers who are listening to them.

6. There is a morbid craving in the public mind for a more sensuous, ceremonial, sensational, showy worship: men/women are always preferring the subjective experience fueled by feelings instead of God's Word and Sacraments.

7. There is a silly readiness in every direction to believe everybody who talks cleverly, lovingly and earnestly, and a determination to forget that Satan often masquerades himself “as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14).

8. There is a wide-spread “gullibility” among professing Christians: every heretic who tells his story plausibly is sure to be believed, and everybody who doubts him is called a persecutor and a narrow-minded man. 

Of course, that's not a comprehensive list by any means, but it's a good start.

What else would you add to it to make it more complete?

In a Lutheran layman's terms, there's a reason why we are warned repeatedly throughout the Bible "do not be deceived" since the flesh is weak and Satan is seductive.

Don't ignore these warnings. my dear friends (1 Timothy 1:19-20)!

NOTE: Please understand that I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or just a regular Christian, Executive Recruiter, 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 disclaimer/note, please understand that I'm also a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little more than 2 years ago now. 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 repeatedly point us back to over and over again) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Also, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier pieces I wrote for this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that "Old Evangelical Adam" 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!?!). This knowledge of the Lutheran basics was completely foreign to me even though I was baptized, confirmed, and married in an LCMS church! So, 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 they are not blasphemous/heretical, 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 both past and present 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 (this disclaimer/note is a perfect example of what I mean! haha). 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 "Christian 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. Feel free to comment/email me at any time. Grace and peace to you and yours!


About JKR

Christian. Husband. Father. Friend.


  1. I would posit that the ever-increasing availability and popularity of some false teachers serves as another form of "proof" that their message must be true and sound.

    For example, in my former LCMS church, I could mention certain false teachers (Joel Osteen, Rick Warren, John MacArthur, etc.) and, amongst the confessional Lutherans present, I would find agreement. But then I'd try to lump Beth Moore in the same group and get all kinds of push-back. I believe this has something to do with her popularity and the fact that her teaching has managed to infiltrate virtually all churches. Plus, from what I hear, her studies are "deep" and "intellectual" and use a lot of Greek and Hebrew, so how could they be misguided?

    I see similar things whenever I mention politicians or public schools. You'll hear, "Oh, yeah, those politicians are all terrible...but my representative is great." Or, "Public schools are horrible, but the one my kids attend is pretty good."

    It's a shame. Nowadays, whenever I listen/read someone, I keep one eye/ear on the lookout for false doctrine, and I study our BOC doctrine so I won't be deceived. But it's difficult...and sometimes exhausting.

  2. I think that's all spot on for sure -- well stated! I've had the same experiences too. In fact, just last weekend, I brought up how dangerous Joel Osteen is and get some intense push back. I quickly made the comment that I wasn't saying that the person who watches and likes him is "bad" (because they likely don't know any better), but that they need to be more careful and test the things he's teaching as Biblical truth or else it could be spiritually dangerous to them. They disagreed. Minutes later, this same person went on and on about how she feels like "God is punishing me" since so many other people she knows have all kinds of material possessions and money and she's struggling from paycheck to paycheck. I rest my case. That is Exhibit A of how dangerous it can be sitting there listening to Osteen week after week when he spews the kind of non-Christian garbage he does. Very sad indeed.

    Bottom line? You closing words are so true: "But it's difficult...and sometimes exhausting." Yes it is!

    Grace And Peace,


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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