But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
– Galatians 1:8
At FOCA, we strive to maintain to the best of our ability the gospel as preached by the Apostles and recorded in the Scriptures. Though we may find the doctrines of the Scripture distasteful (almost always because we are lovers of sin, accursed by flesh of sin and death), these are the right teachings (“orthodoxy”, meaning right opinion). In this orthodoxy, we find all wisdom and truth from the Father and the Son, as revealed and explained to our minds and souls by the Holy Spirit.
As such, through the eyes of Scripture we can plainly see that what is believed by many who claim to be Christians is heresy. It does not conform to Scripture, and so is accursed doctrine. Let us look at the key principles that are so heretical, and why they must be rejected and opposed.
All You Need is Love
This is perhaps the chief heresy, though the reason behind this is less clear than meets the eye.
We know from Scriptures that God is Love, and he has shown his love for us in many ways (not the least of which is that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us). And we know that we are commanded to love one another, and even to love our enemy and pray for those who persecute us. But what is this love, and in what ways do we fall short as a rule?
First and foremost, we must look at the four words translated as “love”.
- Agape – unconditional love, compassion, mercy, etc. This love is not natural to man, but bestowed on us by God (who originates this love). This word is also translated “charity.”
- Philia – brotherly love, or friendship and affection. This is a natural love between close friends, brothers, and the like.
- Eros – Romantic (literally erotic) love. This love is properly shown between one man and one woman, exchanged equally and exclusively with one another. It is not the same as lust.
- Storge – familial or empathetic love. This is the love a parent should have for a child, and it resembles philia and agape (though it is more conditional than agape and more deep than philia).
All men appear capable, to one degree or another, of expressing and internalizing philia, eros, and storge. These are considered to be natural loves, because they are found in nature not merely among man, but among other beasts such as the wolf or the dolphin. What is missing, however, is agape.
All men can feel a mild sense of storge or philia for other men, and from this can come all manner of charitable works and assistance. Even among the most depraved among us, these are not uncommon (even Al Capone felt a protective storge for women and children). But these things are all conditional – storge applies only to family, philia only to friends, and eros only toward those to whom we feel both sexual urge and loving bond. Philia dies when brotherhood and friendship is shattered; storge dies when family divides; eros dies when that bond and urge are lost.
But Agape is felt by God even for those of his creation who despise and oppose him at every turn (read: everyone). It is this love that is unique among all loves, and it surpasses all human understanding. We come to know this love through our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit (the comforter) who is with us. This love that God has shown for us shines through us, and we act upon this love we do not understand and do not possess outside of God.
One more aspect to love is mentioned by Jesus Christ. In his earthly ministry, he said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” This means that agape love (the love which Christ desires for us) is not merely a feeling any more than storge, eros, or philia are merely feelings – they are expressed by action.
This action is obedience. When God shows us agape love, we reflect that love through obedience to His commands. As faith without works is dead, so too is love without action dead.
This agape love is not the same love meant by the Churchians, for they do not comprehend that which they read. We see it most clearly through their actions and teachings, and for this reason I do fear they will be among those who cry “Lord, Lord” but know Him not.
We are the body of Christ. We are his temple, and we worship Him in spirit and in truth.
A building has nothing to do with it.
The Churchian is marked by what is often derided as “Sunday Christianity.” The only time they are in any distinguished from the non-believer is Sunday Morning or Wednesday evening, when they dust off their unopened Bibles and go into the Church building to sing songs and listen to men with doctorates of theology speak. Then they go home, plop down in front of their televisions or computers, and act like everyone else for the rest of the week.
We have already said that agape love without works is dead. If we love Him, we must keep his commandments, and we must first know his commandments and pray earnestly for understanding and strength to obey (for the flesh rebels always against the spirit).
The early Church met in secret in catacombs (a combination of sewers and burial grounds). In many places today, Christians must hide their Bibles and meet in secret places, or meet in small groups at rotating houses and abandoned sites to avoid persecution up to and including torture and death. They live among the unbelievers, but they are made holy by the Spirit and the Word.
We do not worship at the temple, or in church. We worship in our lives every day, through prayer, meditation on the Scriptures, doing good deeds, dedicating all our work to our Lord, and the like.
This is a common problem among the unbeliever and the weak Christian who has not yet received discernment from the Spirit.
Jesus warned us that many would come in his name to deceive the people, and this is as true today as it ever was. Because the Churchian is not a student of the Scriptures and does not pray unceasingly, he lacks understanding and falls prey to the deceivers. Whether the deceivers come preaching prosperity gospel (“You do not prosper because you don’t give enough to God, or you don’t believe hard enough”) or feelings-based religion (“Learn to love yourself first”, “Guilt is the enemy of godliness”, etc.), they lead many astray.
Be not deceived by these charlatans and their honeyed words. We have been given the most sure protection from them in the Word and the Spirit – the first teaches, and the second explains and gives strength to obey. When we pray for discernment and understanding, God does not lack generosity and will dispense it abundantly as He wills. In earnest search for truth, God will come to us and give us all understanding and truth, for we do not serve a God of deception and lies but a God of truth.
Jesus said, “the sheep know the shepherd’s voice.” We pray without ceasing that God will speak to all his flock, so that they who will recognize it may follow his direction.
Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given unto me.” This same teaching is reflected in Hebrews, where Jesus is called the Great High Priest, and a priest under the order of Melchizedek (who gave God’s blessing to Abram before the establishment of the Old Covanent/Testament with the Jews). Therefore, all authority in the Church meets at the head – that is, Christ Jesus, our Lord, with the Name above all names.
No authority of man supersedes that of Christ. If any teaching of man contradicts the word of God, it is the Word that remains and not the teaching. So it is that we the brethren may know and be certain when a pastor or bishop errs and contradicts the Scripture, for Christ alone has the final say and delegates authority over spiritual matters.
Moreover, not only do the bishops and priests have no authority to surpass that of Christ, but neither does the Church as a whole. We are the body of Christ, and when we are saved by grace we are then Christians in name and truth. We may choose to form earthly leadership to guide us (as Paul outlined to Timothy concerning bishops and deacons), but these are simply aspects of our own incompetence as fallen creatures. We have but one God, and one High Priest, and one Spirit, and no man or denomination or regional house of worship holds dominion over them.
It is as though we are all priests, but we serve one God and have one High Priest over us (that is, Christ). No other teaching may supersede this, and those men who we choose to have in earthly authority over the Church must be of good repute, filled with the Spirit, wise, and submissive to the plain truths of Scripture.
Acceptance of Heresy
This is a category of errors, among which we often find the following:
- Adherence to rituals such as exorcism to drive out demons or keep them at bay, the practices of which so strongly resemble witchcraft as to stagger the imagination
- Communion with lesser spirits than our God, whether the spirits of the dead (which are merely familiar spirits – demons) or angels (for Satan masquerades as an angel of light) or any other spirit. This is called witchcraft and sorcery, and is expressly forbidden in the Scriptures.
- Prayer to other than our God. There is but one God, and he is a jealous God (meaning that he desires what is his by right – our worship and devotion).
- Other forms of mysticism including astral projection, vain repetitions (I include here the rosary, contemplative prayer, centering prayer, etc.), gnosticism, and many more besides. If it is not in the Scripture, or it it is expressly forbidden in Scripture, it is not of God.
We Reject This
As Christians, we are commanded to be in the world but not of it. We are holy – that is, set apart by God for His purposes.
We reject “all you need is love” philosophy because the love preached by this doctrine is not that same love commanded by Christ.
We reject church-centrism because we are a brotherhood without the building, and we have a God who is with us at all times and places. We also reject it because our faith is a living faith that is within us at all times and places, and we are commanded by Christ to obey at all times and places.
We reject heresies of all forms, and those who preach a false gospel, because we are Christians serving the living God, bound in faith to serve and love the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ, and endowed with the Holy Spirit to understand and serve as He wills.
And we reject all authorities that would stand between us and Christ because He alone is our authority. If any man would have authority over the Church, this authority must not be one of intercession but of service to the brethren as Christ and the apostles commanded and demonstrated.