Heart, Westminster Larger Catechism Study

Dialogue about Doctrine in the Protestant Church

I will make this point, but I expect it will ruffle some feathers. It’s now several years gone by since I taught through the Westminster Confession and the Shorter Catechism point by point early Sunday morning. But we met at 7:30am. For years we debated what was right or out of place in the contemporary church from the perspective of good doctrine. Overtime I think the “visual” church has continued to march towards liberalism and the accepting the culture, pursing the pragmatic ways of those in Leadership.

I’ve taken to trying to keep on life support by reading the old Protestant teachers like those in the first link below. There are a few in the last hundred years that I could add to the list. They range from those who have past, J. Gresham Machen, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, S. Lewis Johnson, R. C. Sproul, to John F. MacArthur who still lives. There are others but these have provided solid Biblical teaching and generally teach straight through the Bible, not adding to or leaving things out. On the whole most of the contemporary mega-names we hear today in conferences or books or TV have mega-church followings and subscribe to ways that present their teaching in attractional ways. Often pastors in smaller church’s seem to think quoting from the big names will enhance their own sermons with added wisdom or effect.

I could go on but the contemporary visible church is full of those who teach in any number of false ways. Many of you could name the names. (Btw most will teach some actual Biblical points, anyone 100% false would be too easy to discern).

We have been taught over years not to be judgmental, which is often a good thing, but it’s often misapplied. And surprisingly those who say “Don’t Judge” are often the most manipulative and condemning. Mike Ratliff, who I mention below has a whole teaching series on the topic. Judge Not! https://mikeratliff.wordpress.com/judge-not/
My wish and prayer is we could build a climate in the church where we have open dialogue about the issues the church faces. And I don’t mean just the political ones.
For some time I’ve been refining my reading of “blog” posts from people not too well known who point out both good Biblical doctrine and the issues they see. I’ve tried to avoid those who just rant or rave, and focusing on those who articulate well.

I would challenge anyone to for a month on a regular basis read what these folks say. It may change your perspective, though it may make things more difficult. Not everyone is retired or has time to read bloggers but most of you do find the time to follow the “big” name or popular people. If you do, do this, and want to openly dialogue let me know. Below is a good list to start, and often on their sites they point to others.


I like this concept.

Why Cripplegate?

https://thecripplegate.com/why-cripplegate/A small team of pastors you probably never heard of.

Centuries later, students from the pastors college led by Spurgeon resurrected the morning exercises. They took to gathering at the Cripplegate before class to not only imitate the morning exercises of the puritans, but also as a place to discuss and debate contemporary issues in theology. In that sense, it was sort of like a 19th-century blog. For them it became not only a place of prayer and preaching, but a gathering place for like-minded students to have edifying conversations about theology and ministry.

A second, Mike Ratliff. Is a Bible teacher since the late 1980’s, began in 1992 learning Koine Greek, Reformed in theology recognizing that God is Sovereign over all things.
https://mikeratliff.wordpress.com/

Getting back to examples of false doctrine there is no shortage of false teaching in the church. The most popular men pastors and teachers can excel in that area. Just check out the American Gospel movies. http://www.americangospelfilm.com/

The Word of Faith and New Apostolic Reformation lead in that area, but as I mentioned above there are many others in more traditionally solid denominations. Often saying good things but more often leaving much unsaid. And of course there are the ever present false faiths which are truly at odds with the Bible, though they may use many of the names or Biblical principles, but they generally add their own heresy. Mormons’, JW’s, Bahia’s, even the Unification Church and others still exist. Nothing new here check out the Old Testament false teachings and practices noted their or the NT gnostic deceptions.

Understanding the errors in the Protestant church is probably more important overall, than the truly false religions.
On a worldwide basis Protestants (in name, at least, Protestant counts generally include all the types in the American Gospel categories) after 500 years are numbered about 1/3rd of “Christians” with Roman Catholics being 50% and Orthodox making up the majority. But Protestants, (again the largely inclusive number), are only about 10-12% of world population. (PEW) In 500 years still a small share, those who really read their Bibles and follow Biblical doctrines and the historical Confessions and Catechisms are significantly less, probably less than 5%.

This is not to say there are not those fully saved in Christ in any of those faiths affirming Jesus as Savior.

“All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” (John 6:37)

Joh 6:39  And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.

Joh 6:40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.

Btw, If you are a women (who often have more insight than men and love to dialogue) I have come across three women bloggers who often challenge our contemporary acceptance the popular teachings that get sold to us. I would particularly recommend at least taking a careful look at what they present but you will need to consider for yourself if you agree. But again dialogue is good.

Here below is a recent one by Michell Lesley. She at times reposts older articles, since they still apply.

Also check: Elizabeth Prata https://the-end-time.org/DebbieLynne Kesperthttps://headstickdeb.com/Btw she and another blogger Justin Peters https://justinpeters.org/ do much from the context of their disabilities.

Note these 3 women are specifically teaching to women, so as a man I am just passing it along to you.

Anyway this kind of stuff does present a different side than what is common in the popular teachings out there. Being aware can’t hurt but might be challenging and even if it only keeps one watchful, it might be useful.

https://michellelesley.com/2021/11/04/throwback-thursday-build-the-wall-and-station-a-guard-a-plea-for-pastors-to-protect-6-areas-of-the-church-vulnerable-to-false-doctrine/

Throwback Thursday ~ Build the Wall and Station a Guard: A Plea for Pastors to Protect 6 Areas of the Church Vulnerable to False Doctrine

Michelle Lesley

Originally published August 5, 2016

The Great Wall of China

The Wailing Wall

The walls of Jericho

Walls. Sometimes they go up, and sometimes they come a tumblin’ down. When I was a kid it was, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” Now it’s, “Elect me and I’ll build a wall between the United States and Mexico.”

There was a time in history when it was common practice for a city to have a wall built around its perimeter. Walls have historically been built for protection, to keep inhabitants safe from attacking marauders. When Israel returned to Jerusalem after Babylonian captivity, their first priority was to rebuild the altar – their focal point of worship. Next came the temple – to consecrate, or set apart, their worship. And, finally, the city wall – which protected everything, including their worship.

Today, when Christians plant a church, we start off with our focal point of worship, the author and finisher of our faith, Jesus Christ. He is the foundation of the church, the center of our worship, our rallying point.

As the church grows, we consecrate it, setting it apart from other organizations and gatherings by buying or constructing its own special building. It’s not a store or an office or a restaurant. It’s a church. It’s where believers gather to worship, fellowship, and be trained in God’s word.

But somehow we never get around to protecting our churches from enemy attack. Indeed, it hardly ever occurs to most pastors and church members that there’s a need for a wall.

But there is. A huge need. And for some churches, it’s already too late.

Pastor, I plead with you- it’s time to build a wall around your church. A “walls of Jericho”-high wall. A chariot races on top- thick wall. And an armed guard posted at the gate. Not to keep out visitors or people who might look or act differently from your congregation- God forbid! It’s to keep out the false doctrine that’s infiltrating and attacking the Body in so many ways. And some areas of your wall are going to need extra fortification because they’re protecting these six vulnerable areas.

1. The Preaching of the Word

Pastor, the buck starts and stops with you. Are you preaching the Word? In season and out of season? Are you rightly handling God’s word? Preaching sound doctrine and rebuking those who contradict it? Declaring the whole counsel of God? Or is your focus on preaching to entertain, to keep people happy, to encourage giving, or to keep from rocking the boat? Only you can answer these questions. Strong preaching is the first step in building a strong wall to protect your church.

2. The Teaching of the Word

How much do you know about how, and what, your Sunday School, Bible study, or other small group leaders teach? Have you ever observed, evaluated, or interviewed any of your teachers? Does your church have any formal qualifications for teachers? Are they required to go through any sort of training? Who are their spiritual influencers? Which celebrity pastors and authors are they recommending to their classes?

A teacher who is listening to or reading materials by false teachers during the week is going to have her theology shaped by those false teachers, and she’s going to bring that warped theology into the classroom where it will infect the students. A teacher whose main discussion questions are, “How do you feel about this verse?” or “What does this verse mean to you?” is not handling God’s word properly and, thus, not properly training her students. Find out what’s going on in your Sunday School classrooms, and strengthen your wall by strengthening your teachers.

3. Sunday School/Small Group Curricula

Because so few teachers are properly trained, churches tend to rely heavily on the Sunday School curricula to do the actual teaching. Have you examined your curricula lately? Are the lessons anchored in copious amounts of rightly exposited Scripture or are they mainly comprised of inspirational stories and illustrations? Are the discussion questions watered down pablum or do they challenge people to think and search the Scriptures for understanding? Does the curriculum recommend supplementary materials or music from doctrinally sound, or questionable, sources? Does the curriculum recommend “homework assignments” that include unbiblical practices such as contemplative prayer or yoga? Build a solid wall with solid curricula.

4. Women’s Bible Study

This is an area of your wall which needs major fortification. In many churches, it is the primary avenue through which false teaching infiltrates the Body. Is your women’s ministry using studies or materials by a best selling author like Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, Christine Caine, Joyce Meyer, Lysa TerKeurst (Proverbs 31), Jen Hatmaker, Lisa Harper, Lisa Bevere, Victoria Osteen, Jennie Allen, Rachel Held Evans, Ann Voskamp, Sheila Walsh, or anyone with “Jakes” in her name? Are they attending conferences, retreats, or simulcasts headlined by any of these people? Then the women of your church are being taught false doctrine. Your men’s Bible study curriculum also needs to be examined, but women’s Bible study is a major foothold of false doctrine.

5. Music

If your church uses KLOVE’s playlist to formulate its worship set, you’re probably importing false doctrine right into your worship service. You’ve got to vet both the lyrics (hymns don’t get a pass on this, by the way) and the artists for sound theology. When it comes to contemporary worship music, the most popular and common sources of false doctrine are HillsongElevation, and Bethel/Jesus CultureHere’s another good resource.

6. Ecumenism

Is your church partnering or fellowshipping with other local churches outside your own denomination? Are you thoroughly familiar with their beliefs and practices? Are those beliefs and practices biblical? Where do they stand on female pastors, elders, and teachers? Homosexuals as church members or leaders? Abortion? The inerrancy, infallibility, and supremacy of Scripture? Extra-biblical revelation? Signs and wonders? Works righteousness? Do they have a biblical statement of faith “on paper” but stray from it in practice? Not every organization that calls itself a Christian church actually is one by biblical standards, and we are not to partner or fellowship with those whose beliefs and practices do not line up with Scripture.

That’s a lot of vetting to do for a pastor who’s probably already overwhelmed and stretched thin. May I make a suggestion? Don’t try to do it alone. After all, those cities with protective walls hired soldiers to guard the gates. Is there an associate pastor who could take on vetting curricula and fellow churches and conference speakers? Is there a mature, discerning layman or woman you trust who would be willing to lend a hand with researching your music or women’s Bible study books? Do you have a “master teacher” capable of training your Sunday School and small group teachers? Ask your people for help. Use the able. Train the willing. Get that wall built to shut out false doctrine, and station your armed guards at the gates to check out everything that comes in.

The enemy is out there, dear pastor. Let’s make sure that’s where he stays.

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