“Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” (Matthew 7:15).
The text of Matthew 7:15-27 was spoken by Jesus. He was a Jewish teacher speaking to a Jewish audience and warning all the listeners to be on guard for false prophets. Being Jewish they all, teacher and listener, had commonly understood definitions for the term “false prophet.” In Deuteronomy 13:1-5 a false prophet was one who made true predictions but led their followers to false gods. In Deuteronomy 18:20-22 the definition was one who made one false prophecy. In the Old Testament, living in a Theocracy, false prophets were to be stoned to death. In the New Testament (no longer a Theocracy) they were to be publicly exposed and avoided.
False prophets would look like true believers (come to you in sheep’s clothing). However, what they taught on the nature of God is false. Their fruit in Matthew 7:16-20 is the prophetic utterances and core teachings on the nature of God. In 21-23 He goes on to point out that simply because they use His name and even do seemingly miraculous stuff, they are still false prophets. He might even be regarded as an Anti–fill in the blank as He tells them:
“And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, You who practice lawlessness.'”
Jesus goes on to state that those who hears and acts on His words are wise and on a solid foundation and those who don’t are foolish and have a foundation of sand.
I am reminded of this passage from time to time as I talk with or write about groups that claim to be Christian but deny essential biblical teachings. Invariably they fall back to an emotional plea that I am a “hater,” “religious bigot,” “Anti-” something or other. I, like others who are missionaries to false religious groups hear this quite often and cannot really take it personally. In fact, to some degree we must find the humor in it. For example, I point out that my wife Joy has been called “The Whore of Babylon” so often we call her floozy for short. Most of the groups who make these claims seem to be of the opinion that we are on a personal mission aimed exclusively at them.
This issue was recently raised again by Gwen Shamblin’s attorney, Samuel J. Harris. The unfortunate part is that if I met Samuel Harris under other circumstances we would probably like each other. Like followers of Bill Gothard, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses and so many others, he has resorted to name calling with accusations of “religious bigotry,” “Anti-Remnant crowd,” “blinded by his hatred,” “vitriolic accusations ,” among others. He provides us with his definition of “religious bigotry” in Comment 8 of Gwen Shamblin “Suits” Up:
3. You asked me to define “religious bigotry” and I do so as follows:
Religious Bigotry is the obstinate devotion to one’s prejudices against others who have different religious doctrine and practices.
The dilemma here is that our devotion is to be to Jesus Christ and His teachings. He is the one Who in Matthew 7:15-27 held His doctrines to be the standard by which all others were to be tested. This theme continues after He resurrected Himself ascended in to heaven and then communicated communicated further to and through the Apostle Paul. We find this in the Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Colossians, 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus. We also find it in Peter’s & John’s writings as well as Jude. Evaluation, contrasting and comparing the teachings of anyone who rises up and proclaims that what they are saying is from God are to be scrutinized in this way. Samuel also draws on the ever popular “…self-appointed groups who devote themselves to labeling other groups…” in Comment 8 of Gwen Shamblin “Suits” Up.
This is at the very least a mischaracterization. I say this because we are not self appointed. Rather, all believers are “appointed” to “Beware of false prophets.” Jesus Himself said that those who do are “wise” and those who don’t are “foolish.” There is more written in the New Testament on the issue of false teachers and false teachings than nearly any other subject.
In Acts 20:28-31 the Apostle Paul during his meeting with the Ephesian Elders states to them:
Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears.
In 1 Timothy 1:3 Paul writes to the young pastor:
As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines,
As he moves through his letter to the young pastor he comes to chapter 4 where he gives the reasons for all that precedes:
But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.
Jude writes on false teachers in verse 12 & 13:
These are the men who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever.
Listen to the descriptions, “false prophets”, “savage wolves,” “speaking perverse things,” ” hypocrisy of liars,” “seared in their own conscience,” “hidden reefs.” Would Jesus, Paul, the Ephesian Elders, Timothy or Jude be considered “Anti-_____” or practicing “religious bigotry”? Of course they would, but only by false teachers and their followers.Ω
© 2007, Midwest Christian Outreach, Inc All rights reserved. Excerpts and links may be used if full and clear credit is given with specific direction to the original content.
Please see my post number 50 in the Gwen Shamblin “Suits Up” article.
By the way, when you say false prophets/teachers are you referring to yourself or Gwen? It could be equally applicable by your words.
So much of what you say is based on circular logic based on one assumption on your part. You assume that you are the righteous and therefore it is proper for you to designate who the false prophets/teachers are.
How is that different criticizing Remnant because it purportedly excludes people who don’t believe as they believe?
I’ll debate no more as this article is clearly the proper type of criticism of a religious doctrine. Not saying I agree, but it is not likely to inspire “unintended consequences.”
Samuel writes:”So much of what you say is based on circular logic based on one assumption on your part. You assume that you are the righteous and therefore it is proper for you to designate who the false prophets/teachers are.”
Again, you set up a false argument here. The article was clear that it is the Scriptures which make this determination and is therefore independant of any assumptions I may make about myself.
“So much of what you say is based on circular logic based on one assumption on your part. You assume that you are the righteous and therefore it is proper for you to designate who the false prophets/teachers are.”
This is not true. Don’s presuppositions are the inerrancy of Scripture and the authority of Scripture. I’ve heard Gwen Shamblin. She claims Scripture is her authority, too.
Don has spent many hours in other places teaching where Gwen deviates from the standard they both hold to as the source of their authority.
If he shows that Gwen says something which is obviously contradictory to Scripture, and claims this is a false (Scriptural) teaching, which he has done in other places, he can’t very well be dismissed because of “circular reasoning.”
Don’s assumption is not that he is the righteous one, but that Gwen is deviating from the sourcebook which they both hold to as their authority. If he provides examples of such, either agree with them, or if disagreeing, refute them, but this isn’t circular reasoning.
And I know it isn’t circular reasoning, because I’ve spent many hours studying logic!
(Last sentence meant to be an illogical joke, for those who might not understand)
Samuel Harris wrote:
Religious Bigotry is the obstinate devotion to one’s prejudices against others who have different religious doctrine and practices.
Samuel, in the New Testament, and particularly in the epistles, you will note that we as Christians are commanded to contend for the faith and to take a stand against erroneous teaching. You will note that the Lord Jesus Christ issued strong rebukes against the erroneous Jewish religious leaders of His day. And you will note that the apostle Paul regularly warned believers to be discerning and he alerted them to those who taught things that differed from Scripture.
This means that BOTH Jesus Christ AND the apostle Paul were “obstinately devoted” to a “prejudice” (biblical truth) against “others who have different religious doctrine and practices.”
Again, according to YOUR definition of religious bigotry, Jesus and the apostle Paul were religious bigots.
And, according to your definition, all those who dare to follow in Jesus’ and Paul’s footsteps and make an effort to discern and proclaim the difference between truth from error are religious bigots.
Obviously, your definition of a religious bigot doesn’t work, because it flies it the face of what Scripture says about taking a stand for truth and the faith.
Well it’s not my definition of bigotry. It came from a dictionary. For communication purposes, terms must be established on a neutral basis. Thus if we both agreed that “obstinate devotion to one’s prejudices against others who have different religious doctrine and practices” will be shortened to a single word of “golupogo” and we both agree that actions of a certain individual, say the apostle Paul, constituted the obstinate devotion to one’s prejudices against others who have different religious doctrine and practices then the word we would use to discuss the apostle Paul’s actions or words would be golupogo. That’s how the concept of language as a tool for communication works. I would note that Paul was a golupogo (read “religious bigot”) against his own Jewish faith to some extent after his conversion.
The problem you have with a neutral definition is that you perceive a pejorative connotation.
I would say that a simple minded person communicates words; an intelligent person communicates meaning.
The definition of religious bigotry I provided does work because it is the generally accepted meaning among those of us who communicate using American-English.
Where bigotry gets its negative meaning is in the fact that it can lead individuals to act in unfair manner. Prejudice can evolve into hate.
I disagree by the way that Jesus was obstinately devoted to prejudice against other religious practices. Jesus brought us a new message and did not define himself by focusing on what was wrong with others. I know you would hate the truth of this fact, but readers here seek meaning based on prejudice against others’ religious practices.
You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall. We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said thank you, and went on your way.
OOPS. Sorry, the realization that communicating with individuals who play word games is futile caused my mind to drift off to the movie, “A Few Good Men” or to be politically correct, “A Minimally Acceptable Number of Positively Motivated Persons”. Thus endeth lesson on communication by that thing called language.
In fact, given the level of discussion here, I must end it in the only way it can be done.
1…2…3…I DECLARE VICTORY.
Y’all take care and I hope you find happiness and peace.
People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones…
You are accusing people of the same religious bigotry that members of Remnant show. My Remnant family member has missed weddings and funerals of (previously) close members due to the fact she wouldn’t step foot into a “counterfit” church. I’ve gone to weddings of people close to me, even a Wiccan ceremony that I was very uncomfortable, but supportive of those I love. (Both husband and wife now have a relationship with Christ)
I refuse to be called a biggot due to the fact I have problems with Remnant Fellowship. Just because I have qualms against something, doesn’t mean I hate all members and anybody associated. My problems are with the Remnant leadership. I DO think it is dangerous in the realm of Christianity… which I will not go into right now, but that does not make a biggot.
Samuel Harris wrote:
“Well it’s not my definition of bigotry. It came from a dictionary. For communication purposes, terms must be established on a neutral basis.”
Samuel, even if your definition of bigotry comes from the dictionary, it still doesn’t work. Here’s what you’re up against: Christianity is an exclusivistic faith. Jesus said there is salvation in no one but him alone. The apostle Paul said that whoever preaches a different gospel is to be accursed. Jesus, Paul, and the other New Testament writers taught a truth that demands total devotion, that demands no compromise with competing religious claims.
Evidently the dictionary defines biblical Christianity’s exclusivity claims as religious bigotry. And you do, too. See what’s happening here? The Bible and the dictionary are at odds. You’ve chosen to side with a mere dictionary. Don and others have chosen to remain true to the Bible.
You say that Jesus brought a new message. No, he did not. “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy, but to fulfill” (Matthew 5:17). God’s truth had become buried under the religious traditions of men, and Jesus came and pointed them BACK to the truth that had become obscured.
You say Jesus did not define himself by focusing on what was wrong with others. Take a look at Matthew 5:21-48, where Jesus pointed out new, incorrect thinking and pointed people back to God’s old truth. Take a look at Matthew 6:1-18, where He condemns the hypocritical religious leaders who pray wrong, fast wrong, and give wrong. Take a look at the confrontations between Jesus and the Jewish religious leaders in Matthew 12…Matthew 15…Matthew 16:1-4…Matthew 19:1-15…Matthew 21…and especially Matthew chapters 22 and 23. That’s just a sampling. A huge chunk of Jesus’ ministry was devoted to confronting error.
Now, I’ll add this important point: Just because we who are Christians hold to an exclusivistic faith doesn’t mean we can act like bigots. But it DOES mean we’re to take a stand for truth. As Ephesians 4:15 says, we’re to speak the TRUTH in LOVE.
You, Samuel, are confusing bigotry for what, in reality, is a stand for biblical truth. That’s the stand Don is taking here.
In closing, you say you declare victory. But a victory that doesn’t uphold God’s truth is a hollow one indeed.
Steve, thank you. I have nothing to add, just a big AMEN!
Samuel J. Harris:
“Jesus brought us a new message and did not define himself by focusing on what was wrong with others. I know you would hate the truth of this fact,”
Don, I’m sitting here laughing right now at Harris’ statement. What planet is he from?
Don, do you “define” yourself as one who focuses on what is wrong with others, or on what the truth of Scripture is? If the latter, then Samuel’s point is ridiculous. I don’t think he’s ever read the Bible:
From Matthew 15:
Then some Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem, saying, “Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.”
And He answered and said to them, “And why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? “For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and, ‘He who speaks evil of father or mother, let him be put to death.’ “But you say, ‘Whoever shall say to his father or mother, “Anything of mine you might have been helped by has been given to God,” he is not to honor his father or his mother.’ And thus you invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition.
“You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying,
‘This people honors Me with their lips,
But their heart is far away from Me.
‘But in vain do they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’”
. . .
Then the disciples came and said to Him, “Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this statement?”
But He answered and said, “Every plant which My heavenly Father did not plant shall be rooted up. “Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit.” [end quote]
And there are many, many more passages like this one, and not only from Jesus, but from Peter, Paul, John, and Jude. Samuel seems to be accusing Don of defining himself by focusing on what is wrong with others, and I would not agree with that. And neither should Jesus be defined as focusing on what is wrong with others, but in so many places, Jesus DID BLAST FALSE TEACHING WHICH CONTRADICTED SCRIPTURE. Therefore, PART of the “message” that Jesus brought was to blast false teachers.
Just the same as you are doing with Gwen Shamblin, Don. Keep up the good work.
Samuel Harris, I would suggest you study your Bible a little more. And oh, please, don’t give me this talk of telling me you only said Jesus wouldn’t “define” himself that way, that you are perfectly aware of the MULTITUDE of places where he called the Pharisees and others “hypocrites” and “blind guides.” What you said was clearly innuendo that Don was defining himself that way.
I’ll tell you how theologians mostly answer the question of how Jesus defined himself, and that is that He did the will of His Father — that He was “sent” from the Father — and PART of the will of the Father was that Jesus STRONGLY denounce false teaching in very certain terms.
mr harris declares victory. i can call myself tall, thin and young, but that doesn’t change anything. amen to all who have defended BIBLICAL TRUTH.
Well! this has been a most interesting discussion thus far, to say the least!
I, for one, wonder how much this demonstrates the flagrant futility of “Remnant Fellowship,” that its attorney would choose to wage one of his battles in the wee little blogosphere like this.
Up the ante a bit, and this would be similar to Sandy Burger hastily jumping onto FreeRepublic.com to demand the conservatives accept his explanations for walking stiltedly out of the National Archives with his socks full of documents.
Doesn’t it seem a bit comically small-scale?
Some laughs have been made about Mr. Harris’s “nyanee nyanee nyah nyah” satirical remarks, but frankly those “jokes” seem to echo of incidental self-parody.
What manner of attorney is this? who mixes it up with Christian critics on the web? I’ve not heard of such a thing before.
And thus far, to be honest, it has been one man versus a veritable horde of opposers — hardly a fair argument. So is this equivalent to arguing the case in the media? a la Amber Frey’s lawyer appearing with Greta van Susteren “On the Record”? If so, who exactly has been influenced to take Gwen Sham-blin’s side in this media venture?
And again, does it not illustrate the absurdity and small-time nature of this little faction that its attorney would resort to cyber-flame wars to begin with?
Don Veinot and many of you, who are much more familiar with “RF” than am I, have behaved with supremely Biblical “humble orthodoxy” throughout both these blog installments and ensuring feedback (likely unlike me just now, firing my own satirical flame arrows at the wounded).
To conclude here, though, I wonder: does this discussion count as admissible-in-court evidence of some kind?
Might anyone present have a friend, spouse, relative, who can fill curious me in on how the blogosphere might be affecting court cases now-a-days?
Or is it common now for attorneys to get online and yell around with regular ol’ cyber-civilians like the rest of Western civ?
this is an interesting question. what purpose drives Mr. Harris to post in this blog? and why post in the manner he does? he has not proven that the people who are the object of the law suit are guilty. what purpose has he served?