See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits1 of the world, and not according to Christ. (Colossians 2:8)

Evangelical Rebirth Of The Tradition Of Men

As we look at our opening text once again from the King James Version we get a hint as to what all false religious teachers have in common, even though their doctrine often differs — Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. 

Now let’s look at what Jesus Himself had to say to the religious leaders of His own day:

And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men. ’You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! (Mark 7:6-9)

You should be able to see that these are almost identical words to those we read in Colossians 2:8. But let’s stop and think here for a minute. Isaiah originally spoke those words quoted by Jesus above in Mark 7 to the people of his own time, did he not? Then it becomes obvious that this kind of centered on the self “worship” was going on in Isaiah’s time as well. Let me share something that you may wish to take to the Lord in prayer. I find it interesting to look at how Scripture shows us Adam and Eve are in the Garden with God in the beginning.

For instance, they would have initially known exactly what God’s triune nature is like; as they were able to be in His presence prior to the fall. However, by only the sixth chapter of Genesis we read — So the LORD said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land” (v.7). This means a Being of pure Love is so grieved with mankind that He is going to destroy them. How does this Truth fit with the wishful musings of how God is so truly, madly, deeply in love with all of mankind?

Obviously, it doesn’t; because it’s a myth. It’s part of the rotten fruit of years of seeker sensitive man-centered evangelical preaching; and sadly, this lame love of self (cf. 2 Timothy 3:2) is spreading even further as Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism metastasizes throughout the church visible. And it may also be the beginning of the final fulfillment of the absolute truth of this prophesy:

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

As one given such a forum as this, the Lord be praised, I am constrained by Christ to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) as I point these things out to you. You see, I must speak in the love I have been given for my God Who saved me—as does every true doulos (means slave) of Christ—regardless of how human beings perceive it. That we must leave to the LORD God Almighty Himself; because the pastor-teacher’s job is spelled out very clearly in Holy Scripture. For example, a main focus is to — Preach the Word (2 Timothy 4:2).

The word preach in the original Greek is keryxon from kerusso and literally means — “to proclaim as a herald.” So we have the image here of the old “Town Criers” going through the city proclaiming their messages. And Dr. Ralph Earle is absolutely correct when he says — “The preacher is not to air his own opinions but to proclaim God’s eternal, authoritative Word of truth.”[1] Since that comment comes from a classic commentary set, it’s not as if evangelical preachers have lacked this information.

James 3:1 shows they will be held accountable for it. I’ve shared before that John MacArthur gave a great answer when he was asked why it was he only quoted Scripture and didn’t give more of his own opinions when he preached. The respected Biblical expositor replied: “God’s opinion is my opinion.” I will close out this particular teaching in a rare case where I will share my opinion on this matter of a sad circular pattern I see in mankind’s flawed reasoning that I do believe is based on solid Biblical study.

A Sad Case Of Seeking The Approval Of Man Rather Than Of God

I mentioned Adam and Eve in their initial perfected state knew exactly Who God is prior to their fall into sin. We then moved ahead to the devastating effect of sin upon the condition of mankind until the LORD God Almighty finally destroys all but eight people in the Great Flood. So we go along from that time until the Creator Himself comes into His Own creation as a Man and stands right in front of the leaders of the chosen people of God. Think with me now, here is the very LORD God revealed in the Hebrew Scriptures, which they had been entrusted with, now literally standing there in front of them and they haven’t even a clue as to Who He is.

They had misunderstood the Scripture about Who God is and what He wants from mankind; and so the Master finally has to say to them — “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires” (John 8:44). And now I offer this to you; do you think that is just possible that in this seeker sensitive movement within contemporary evangelicalism we are seeing this same type of misunderstanding about Who Jesus is and what He has sent us to do in His world? Let us also keep in mind here that Jesus of Nazareth is truly the LORD God Almighty of the Old Testament in human form.

We need to come to grips with the fact that this type of sentimental “brotherly love” taught by men e.g. like Rick Warren and James MacDonald with his Elephant Room and Joel Osteen is actually a false human concept of love? The motivation as to why these men preach this is irrelevant, the question before us is simply: Is this possibly the seed for the ultimate deception of the devil; his ruse to convince mankind that what God wants is for everyone to live in peace and harmony and to be a “universal brotherhood” leading all the world to work together to usher in their own flawed view of “the kingdom of Heaven?”

Did you ever think that this is really the root of the coming deception that the Bible speaks of as a type of Global Family for the Antichrist, and which is already growing through this apostasy? I offer that the answer to these question has to be stated in the affirmative. What if such as these are so smug and self-satisfied in their inclusive form of “Christianity” that they truly are being deceived into thinking they have it all figured out. Deluded fools with their mythology of some mush god of “love” who just dances in delight with mankind.

So, he/she/it smiles as spiritually bankrupt Love Wins mythology  causes millions of professing Christians to ignore the countless people who remain trapped behind the Gates of Hades that wouldn’t to be able to withstand the forceful onslaught of Christ’s Church militant (cf. Matthew 11:12; 16:18). Such as these listening to the mystic mush god’s false teachers like Rob Bell need the Gospel, not fickle fables. For another example, consider  the mythology of a DVD set called Exploring the Future of Christianity:

In the Exploring the Future of Christianity series, best-selling author Ken Wilber, Christian contemplatives Father Thomas Keating, Brother David Steindl-Rast, Cynthia Bourgeault, and many other progressive Christian thinkers offer their visions of hope for the future of the world’s largest religion, helping it to fulfill its potential as one of the world’s most powerful “conveyor belts” of human development at a time when it is so badly needed. These luminaries envision the Christian journey in a new way, with radical implications for our spiritual lives and for the world as a whole.

This series is your invitation to participate in the timely conversation that Integral Life is hosting concerning the Future of Christianity. Join us in looking at this ancient tradition with new eyes, drawing from the riches of its contemplative practice and the latest understanding of how human beings develop. And connect with others on the same journey, those looking for renewed depth along the Christian path, informed by some of the world’s most innovative and influential spiritual visionaries. (Online source)

As you can see, the goal is an inclusive “Christianity,” one which all in the Global Family can find a place within. Space doesn’t allow explaining who each of these false teachers are; suffice to say quasi-Buddhist Ken Wilbur’s work is recommended by the aforementioned Bell and the others by Living Spiritual Teacher and Emerging Church guru Brian McLaren, In my opinion, in lust for the acceptance of the world and the approval of man, such as these have attempted to avoid at all costs the persecution that has been promised by Christ to all of His true followers (cf. John 15:20; 2 Timothy 3:12). This is also what Jesus is referring to when He warns about the Global Family — “And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another” (Matthew 24:10).

Remember now, our Lord is not just talking about the end times; have you not read — the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12)? Now let’s take into account that the sad cyclical pattern of mankind’s sin nature causes him to continue to lose track of Who God really is after each time the Lord may bring about times of refreshing. As we do, it will help us better understand these Words of Christ — “So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:16), and “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me (v.20).

We need to remember that in proper context Jesus is actually speaking to the historic church at Laodicea, and as we then take into account this continual forgetting about how God really is, and what He really wants us to do, it now leads us to a fuller understanding of these verses as we consider the other side of God’s double-edged Sword here. Even professing Christians can end up misrepresenting the nature of God. As this apostasy grows it seems to me that we had best give ourselves to some serious prayerful study of God’s Word lest we be taken in by the increasing lies and accelerating deceptions.

You know the single most ridiculous assertion I have heard against the work I do here through Apprising Ministries is that I am doing this to create a following, and then to make money from it. But it looks to me like there is a whole other ecumenical and inclusive movement afoot within contemporary evangelicalism who’re overemphasizing God’s love in order to just that. So let me just leave you with something found in Isaiah chapter 6 in order to encourage you as people turn away from you, even when you share the truth as gently and lovingly as you can. This double-edged sword also speaks to our time as well.

We also need to keep in mind here that what we will read is also speaking the Truth in love; because these Words are actually spoken by the LORD God Almighty Himself:

And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.” And he said, “Go, and say to this people: “‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’ Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and blind their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.” (Isaiah 6:8-10)

If the Lord were to tell you up front that this would be your ministry, would you still be willing to go…

End notes:

[1] Frank E. Gaebelein, ed., Expositor’s Bible Commentary: With the New International Version of the Bible[Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1976-92), in Zondervan NIV Study Bible Library, limited ed., 2 Timothy (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2001), CD-ROM.

See also: