Home > Commentary > Cracks in the Church

Cracks in the Church

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I mentioned earlier this week that I am part of a group of guys that gets together every week to talk about things of faith.  Recently we have been studying on how to study the bible and decided to apply our learning to the book of Jude.  Our first assignment was just to read that short letter in the New Testament every day for a week.

That is it.  Just read it. Nothing more.  No studies.  No commentaries.  Just.Read.It.

As I have been reading the book each day, there has been something new that pops out at me.  This morning I was reminded that there are cracks in the church in verse 4 of Jude.

For certain persons have crept in unnoticed

These people that Jude raises the alarm over are not nice people and they are doing things to undermine the Gospel of Christ.  Yet, they have ‘sneaked’ into the church.  While their actions are somehow slipping the notice of the body of Christ that Jude is writing to, they must be evident to those outside of the church because Jude is aware and is feeling compelled to point it out to them.

That one piece of one verse in that little book makes me want to ask a very big question:

How does a church get to a point where those who teach a false doctrine can slip in unawares?

I have some personal opinions on the matter but I would like to hear from you.  How does this happen and how can it be prevented?

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  1. May 19, 2010 at 11:31 am

    IMHO I think we are seeing that today in so many ways. From the false TV evangelists who woo us with their smooth talk and health/wealth garbage to the local pastors who fall for anything and any approach as long as it brings in bodies. When there is “air” in the pulpit there will be “air” in the pew. When there is fluff from the pulpit there will be fluff in the pew. The Scriptures do say that in the last days people will want to hear what tickles their ears. Some wouldn’t know error if it was hand-delivered by the enemy himself.

    • May 19, 2010 at 1:33 pm

      Bill,

      You have hit on some very good points here. One thing that I would add, though, is this: It ain’t all on the preacher. The people sitting in the pew who have confessed Christ as their Lord are just as responsible for understanding their faith – in fact, I would say that they are commanded to do so. How else are they to know if the person in the pulpit is fluff-n-stuff or rock-solid?

      I seem to remember a letter in Revelation where Christ commends the body for their discernment on heretical teaching.

      The people need to start opening their bibles and holding the teachers and preachers accountable to it… as well as themselves. After all, it is the body-of-believers which ultimately allows or disapproves of the people who they will accept teaching from.

      • May 19, 2010 at 1:49 pm

        I 100% agree with you Tony. It is sort of frustrating when the preacher puts his time in on study, is eager to share it and when he does he gets blank stares or disinterest or clamoring for more entertainment.

      • May 19, 2010 at 2:00 pm

        I know exactly where you are coming from, Bill. I think part of the job of the preacher/teacher is to hold those under them accountable. That can be a tough/scary task because then we risk pushing somebody away.

      • May 19, 2010 at 3:10 pm

        By the way, if you are reading through these comments, Bill has a post today that presents a great analogy that ties into this discussion. You should stop by and add to the conversation there: http://billgrandi.ovcf.org/wordpress/?p=4026

  2. May 19, 2010 at 11:34 am

    Great point and picture. Maybe what we don’t say creates the crack. I think you are right that we need to step outside and look sometimes that it may be easier to see from the outside. Wow, this one has me chasing many thoughts this morning. Will be thinking on this today…

    • May 19, 2010 at 1:34 pm

      Me too, Tom. Been thinking on it all morning. Already formulating a response post for tomorrow… if I get enough time to get it done.

      I like what you said here:

      “Maybe what we don’t say creates the crack.”

      I think there is a lot of truth in that statement.

  3. randy morgan
    May 19, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    great post, tony.

    false teaching has been a problem since the church was in its infancy. and you’re right, tony: while the overseer is ordained to be the “watchman,” the people need to be aware of the attraction and profilgacy of false teaching.

    the one thing i would presume to add to this conversation is that we need to be aware of the patient nature of false doctrine. while we are on guard against flaming heresies, little lies and deceptions (usually in the form of normal, even attractive ideas) tempt the church toward false teaching.

    we need to sanctify our “itching ears.”

    • May 19, 2010 at 2:17 pm

      Excellent point, Randy, about the little lies (like foxes) that are more apt to be accepted. I really like how you worded the ‘patient nature of false doctrine’.

      You all are posting some great thoughts for me to mull over today.

  4. Zee
    May 19, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    glad i listened to Bill’s advice and came over to check your post. wow… does this hit home…

    i feel that this is the situation in my Church right now. i am trying to remain objective, yet this issue keeps glaring at me… anyway.

    How does this happen and how can it be prevented?… how does this happen – agree with you regarding the fact that people who claim they belong to a Church (or are Christians, whatever terminology one prefers) have to “walk the walk,” to use the standard phrase. maybe this has become a cliche and often we disregard these things, but it is true. if we only claim that we follow Christ and yet we don’t even know His teachings – what’s the point? (makes me wish for persecution in Church… yeah, i am odd that way)

    how can it be prevented… *sigh* teach people. we have discussed this very issue with our Church board tons of times and for many hours. yet we still bump into one obstacle – if people do not want to learn, they won’t. it amazes me how people who are older than me behave like kids (NOT in the way “you should be like a child in order to get to the Kingdom of Heaven…”… but rather in a way “i will do what i want. i don’t want to learn. i am here to enjoy myself.”)

    *ahem* sorry for rambling. this is just one of the things that soooo bugs me.

    • May 19, 2010 at 2:48 pm

      Zee… go ahead and ramble anytime!!

      And I understand completely what you are addressing within your church and have given it much thought in the past. And here is where I boil it down to: When we are more concerned about protecting ‘our’ program/process/ministry than we are in obeying God, we will rationalize our decisions on pragmatics like “we have to do this in order to attract people so that they can hear the word”.

      We tend to forget that Christ told us to make disciples as we continued (go) on our paths and that if He was lifted up that it would be Him that attracted all men.

      It really boils down to whose kingdom are we really concerned about – His or ours?

      • Zee
        May 19, 2010 at 2:54 pm

        yep. that’s another thing that is very important – we aren’t called to entertain people (thank God!)

        it’s all too easy to fall into that trap – “maybe we can offer a swimming pool” or “maybe we can start a new kids’ program” or “maybe we should have three worship services instead of two on Sunday”… we become CEOs (or board of directors) of the Church when this is not what we are called to be. we are called to be servants, to show people His love and Him… and… like you said, we often are concerned about our own little “local-church” kingdom.

        (subscribed to your blog, btw – great stuff you got here… and that phrase sounded like Yoda’s 😀 )

      • May 19, 2010 at 3:16 pm

        I was over at your blog and I gotta say, I love the design.

        This post: http://nazareneblogs.org/zenichka/2010/05/13/band-aid-solutions/
        really stuck out at me.. less for the band-aid analogy and more for the color analogy… that was pretty clever.

        “Just because we take something black and paint it white, the black won’t become white. It will remain black until we change the very substance of it.”

        There is a lot that could be discussed in that statement.

  5. Zee
    May 19, 2010 at 4:55 pm

    yeah, that was sort of my venting post. whereas i have difficulty expressing myself sometimes in audible words because i do not like conflict and i like to think things through before saying anything (since people tend to get me wrong…), writing is the outlet for the thoughts.

  6. May 19, 2010 at 6:28 pm

    Hi Tony,
    I don’t think it can be prevented, I believe it is a part of the plan, we will have wolves among us and we must be able to spot them by their fruits. I am presently dealing with this very situation and have asked God and the Holy Spirit repeatedly to give me the answer, but my answer has been to trust in God and He will handle it. It is in MY nature to call someone on the carpet and kick them to the curb, that is MY nature. But I try more and more these days to lean on the Spirit and follow His leading concerning such matters.
    A few weeks ago, this person attacked someone behind their back and was saying horrible things, the Spirit kicked me this time and I pulled this fella off by his lapels and had a few words with him. He apologized and showed remorse at either what he said or shame at being caught, not sure which, but where do you go from there? I figure he deserves a chance like everyone else and if he keeps it up, the spirit will tell me to drag him off again. Anyhow, would be interested to know your take.
    God Bless
    Jim

    • May 19, 2010 at 8:58 pm

      Jim,

      What you have described is definitely a terrible situation. I may be mistaken, but it doesn’t sound like this person is trying to bring false teachings into the theology of the church but rather is displaying poor spiritual maturity in gossip and slanderous actions. In that situation, you have done the right thing in pulling him aside and addressing him as a brother in Christ and presenting him with the sin in his life. The bible is very clear on how to carry out church discipline if someone continues to demonstrate destructive behavior.

      I plan on responding to my post later tonight based on comments here and my personal thoughts. I will say this much, we cannot prevent people from entering the church body who have the ‘intent’ of causing division through heretical theology but we can and should be prepared to address them directly and quickly so that their teachings do not become the practice of the church body. The prevention is in the preparedness.

      • May 19, 2010 at 11:39 pm

        You know, I agree with you on that Tony. I may have misunderstood what you were saying. Yes, if someone is attempting to lead the body in an other than Biblical manner off of the path to God, Yes we must deal with them. That is a very dangerous situation that I have seen happen too frequently in my life that has caused church splits, and turned people away from God.
        Satan uses this as a tool to split and seperate God’s people whenever possible, and it has been very succesful in the past. In my experience, false teachings are many times easy to spot because they are either an interpretation issue, or as I have seen, someone trying to convince the body that they have certain “gifts of the Spirit” and attempting to get a following of their own. I believe there are definantly “gifts of the Spirit” But I am wary when someone comes to tell me that I should follow them because they are anointed. Anyway, I agree with you. They must be dealt with.

  7. May 19, 2010 at 6:34 pm

    this is why the lifestyle of accountability should be taught and lived out by example.

    …not that this will eradicate the “wolves in sheep’s clothing” but it will help….

    in reality though, it’s something that can’t really be stopped…coz even in Jesus’ close circle, there was one bad apple that got mixed into the 11 other good ones…and we all know what happened to him.

    • May 19, 2010 at 9:04 pm

      Patricia,

      Yes, there is an element of accountability. We are all accountable to the word and being able to recognize when something doesn’t jive with it.

      Judas was a bad apple but he was never given a platform to teach or instruct from that ‘badness’. Others were never tempted to follow in his example. Jude is providing instruction to a church body who has allowed false teachings to become acceptable. The base issue was that they did not recognize that these teachers were giving a false theology.

      Every church has the ability of having those types slip in through the cracks. The question is to understand what the crack is and how to prevent it.

  8. May 19, 2010 at 10:53 pm

    I think every church will have these people.

    Maybe they came into the church with the best of intentions, but over time have grown cold to the thought of God.

    I go to a church that the pastor is ordained by God through the people. It is not his concern to get bodies into the church. He speaks the truth. He spares no details. He shares his faith the way God shows it to him.

    So many people similar to how I used to be are in the church because the pastor’s allow it. Sometimes, a little tough lovin’ goes a long way! If pastors would show the same amount of concern for the soul as they did for the money, these cracks will become less and less.

    I’ve been there! I was a hypocrite to my faith. I believed as long as I went to church, I was okay. But I wasn’t before God. One Sunday, the pastor stepped up to me and said, “This next week, I’d like to visit with you.”

    He pointed out a few areas where I had allowed things to influence me. He showed me areas of my life that were pride driven. And it hurt. I asked him why it was his concern.

    His reply, “Although I’ve been alive many more years than you, I am still learning along with you. When I was a kid, I was a lot like you. I wished I had had someone to tell me before I got older and it got harder.”

    That’s love. That’s truth. Pastors need to step up. We as church members need to step up. We are responsible for the cracks in the church. We alone.

    • May 20, 2010 at 1:34 am

      “That’s love. That’s truth. Pastors need to step up. We as church members need to step up. We are responsible for the cracks in the church. We alone.”

      Duane.. I agree. Completely.

      Especially in the truth department. Somewhere and somehow we must be able to discern the truth.

      My next post will address my opinions on this matter, but I have been extremely blessed by all of the responses today concerning this topic. The electronic community is pretty cool.

  9. mike
    May 20, 2010 at 2:02 am

    The cracks have been there in the Church from the beginning of the Church, you mentioned Judas whom Christ allowed to walk with Him while He was here on this earth and there were others mentioned for our example in the Gospels, as well as the writings of Paul. We have been forewarned of them by just about every writer in the Bible, are we supposed to prevent them though is where my biggest question comes in at.
    Jesus knew of Judas and that he was a devil from the beginning and yet allowed Judas to accompany Him, these men in Jude who crept in unawares Jude refers to as being ordained to that purpose. Jude even uses the illustration of Michael and satan how when they fought over Moses body that Michael didn’t rebuke satan but said the Lord rebuke thee.
    So are we to prevent these cracks or de we allow God to take care of them?

    • May 20, 2010 at 2:07 am

      How would you answer the reason for Jude writing the letter in the first place?

  10. mike
    May 20, 2010 at 2:31 am

    Fair enough question, so how does Jude tell them to prevent them or what they should have done in the first place to have kept them from coming in?

    • May 20, 2010 at 2:39 am

      That is in my next post.. I am currently working on it. 😉

  1. May 20, 2010 at 4:12 am
  2. May 27, 2010 at 7:20 am

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