Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Heart of Gnosticism

I write so I can remember.  I had a polemic streak a few years back and declared war against folks such as Rob Bell who denied the existence of hell and the need for repentance.  I still have that streak but I'm backed by people in the Reformed blogging community, and I have since moved on to charismatic leaders such as Joel Osteen who preach useless positivity because it never leads to the Gospel.  Or worldwide heads of the church who can't stop opening their mouths causing me to lose more respect for them.

Though confusing, I do find Irenaeus fascinating.  He's reviewed some of the more infamous heretics: Simon Magus, Marcion, the Ebionites.

Among these people are a man who based a whole cult following on his personality, an exegete who rejected all Judaism, the OT, the OT God, and only read the Gospel of Luke, and a group of Jews who insisted the Christians still need to follow the empty rituals that have already been fulfilled by Jesus and which no longer apply.

Does any of this happen today?  Yes, and sincere Christians still fall prey to it all.  Praise God for his salvation because without Christ, nobody has any hope.  There are more obvious heretics who seduce women, team up with Oprah, deny Christ as the only way to salvation from the Father's wrath, support a libertine lifestyle. 

Then there are people who I believe are sincere Christians but seem to think that simple Bible reading and prayer are not enough to have a satisfying relationship with God.  I can talk more openly about this, but Sarah Young of Jesus Calling is one such woman.  Sola Scriptura is not her thing.  She presents all her words as if they were directly from Jesus, thus making her work equal to Scripture.  She is mostly sound except for a few things.  But the more extreme examples of this are Jim Jones who believed he was Jesus, that David in Waco, TX who thought he was Christ, and who led many people to their deaths.

Whether true believers or not, it is always dangerous to feel like you have a link to divine inspiration that no one else has.  This is the heart of Gnosticism.  Even from well-meaning people, it can leave a hole in people that would not be there had they simply sought out Christ in his word.

I know what it's like to feel lost and that God isn't giving you all the answers.  I know the temptation to seek people who have easier answers.  I remember going to a healing ministry in Augusta when mom had cancer and feeling like I did not have enough faith because she still died.  I still get tired of people who preach that we can demand anything from God.  I remember seeking the easy answers only to be disappointed and then remembering that God is sovereign.  He has all the answers and all the good endings but we still aren't there yet.  And it's his pleasure to share with us the journey of his renewing the earth that he sees, and I realize how unworthy I am to even have a part in that.

But whether I get confused or somebody else, the fact is, Jesus alone is our salvation.  He speaks to us in the Bible.  And he gives a support group called the church that celebrates Easter every Sunday.  We can approach him directly without an intercessor since he is that intercessor.  And sometimes you writhe in agony when you can't understand something.  Just the same, God's Holy Spirit uses hard times to shape you into something that gives Him glory.  In the long run, it's painful, but beautiful and is worth not getting lost in short cuts.

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