How not to be a pompous ignoramus

I thought this week about the whooping cough scare in the schools. There has been a lot of press about it. The schools and health care community are dealing with it. I also received a text and an email from Elon this week because they were practicing their emergency alert system, in the event that there’s a tornado coming or another disaster strikes. Alamance Community College had an “active shooter drill” on campus last week in order to prepare for the event if it really does happen.
Medical warnings in the schools. Tornado warnings at the university. Active shooter drills at the college. These are all very important warnings, and we should not minimize them at all. There’s another warning, however, that has been issued to the church, and it is just as important.
The threat to the church, like a tornado or a terrorist on a college campus, is deadly and dangerous. In fact, it may be more so, because the poison of this threat affects not just this life, but life eternal. At the very least, this threat can render a church ineffective in its mission and turn it into a weapon against the truth, rather than the pillar and the ground of the truth.
Paul wrote, “and if anyone tries to teach some doctrinal novelty and does not follow sound teaching (which we base on our Lord Jesus Christ’s own words and which leads to Christlike living), then he is a conceited idiot!” (J.B. Phillips’ translation) Another translation says that this one who has brought doctrinal novelty into the church is a “pompous ignoramus.”
There was a constant parade of itinerant teachers in the first century, some who were legitimate, many who were not.
The illegitimates came with novel ideas and people with itching ears flocked to these characters.
These teachers are even more dangerous today because they don’t have to come to the church building in order to corrupt sound doctrine. They do it through webinars and podcasts. They go on talk shows. They speak on college campuses. They write books.
Many of these “teachers” do not claim to follow Christ, and so we should expect novelty doctrines from them. But what about those inside the church who teach and preach novelty doctrines? What about the doctrine that the book “Love Wins” made popular last year, that there is no Hell? How does Jesus refute that in His own words? Or what about the doctrines of God and sin that were twisted in the huge bestseller “The Shack”? What about a TV preacher who taught recently that the reason tornadoes hit Kentucky and Indiana and killed 39 people was because there weren’t enough people praying?
For the record, I am not comfortable claiming that these men are false teachers, but I have no problem saying that those are examples of false teaching.
What is the church to do? Perhaps we need an emergency alert system. Wait. We already have one, and it is the clear and compelling case for Christ and His doctrine that is laid out for us in the Bible.
The reason why the average Christian cannot spot a doctrinal novelty a mile off is because he does not know the truth when it is right under his nose.
How do we avoid being a pompous ignoramus or following those who are? We read the Bible, knowing that the main things are the plain things. We embrace the truth.
Then, we will be able to reject doctrinal novelty and avoid those who are “obsessed with disputes and arguments over words.”

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