It’s time to talk about confronting apostasy
This is an ongoing, artistic and pastoral series on ending apostasy in the church: this is post 6 of the series. You can read the previous posts by clicking on the links below.
It’s time for confrontation.
After having applied a light blue paint in clusters to create the illusion of leaves, I made the mistake of then applying teal and white paint in horizontal strokes. The net result was a blurred mess.
While I stood there in my kitchen, assessing the blurred state which I had inflicted upon the foliage of my tree, I had a revelation.
“Blurring” has been a recurrent theme through this project: blurring the line between right and wrong, truth and lie, good and evil. Confusion and distortion are the tools of apostates, of those who live in darkness, seeking to dim our places and sources of light, holiness, and righteousness.
Before the “Blurr”
After the “Blurr”
When we choose to allow false teachers to persist unreproached, against the wishes of God, we further the destructive forces of confusion (the blurring) within the body of Christ.
Inaction is action.
When I was a toddler, my family moved away from the city, in part so that my older sisters could attend safer, better schools. Since there was no Episcopal Church out in our area, my parents and a handful of close friends founded a new church.
From the Church of the Annunciation’s website:
On January 10, 1988, twelve families gathered together on a cold winter day in the auditorium of the Cordova Center. There was no heat, only a borrowed kerosene heater from a neighboring ballet class. The group gathered as pioneers, establishing a new Episcopal Church in the growing Cordova community. On October 14th, 1988, with donated altar hangings, a bell, an organ and fixtures from all over the diocese, this group officially became the mission of Church of the Annunciation.
On January 9, 1994, the current church building was completed, dedicated and opened
Over the years, while our little church was growing, so too was an apostate movement within the national church. This heretical movement was secretive, clever, persistent, and patient in its slow, steady infiltration. Congregants across the country remained blissfully unaware.
More and more bad actors quietly rose to positions of power.
There was no national response.
There was no public rebuke.
There was no correction.
There was no confrontation.
Although this apostasy had not taken place in our little church, it was taking place in other churches. People knew and did nothing. Scriptural warnings had been ignored; the scriptural-outlined responsibilities of congregants and leaders were neglected.
As a result, the national church was officially hijacked by idolaters, worshipers of the flesh. The entire Episcopal Church of America has become captives of the philosophy of man (Colossians 2:8).
Our little church is ours no more.
Blurring the truth is evil. Allowing it to stand only aids in the spread of darkness.
But, what should you do?
How should you confront apostasy in your church?
“If anyone causes one of these little ones–those who believe in me–to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” Matthew 18:6
Scripture provides us with ways of confronting heresy, depending on whether that heresy is (A) private or (B) public.
For example, although I no longer belong to the Episcopal Church, Christ’s words in Matthew 18:6 haunt me. Because the Episcopal Church of America (ECUSA) is now going public with their false ideology, many souls are at risk. Thus, ECUSA must be publicly confronted.
While we’ll explore this subject in depth in my next post, you can read my public rebukes of ECUSA here and here.
For today, you have an important task:
Before you begin confronting apostasy in your church, you must prepare you heart and mind, pray for guidance, and examine your motives. As Rev. Elliot points out, there are three principles to consider:
- First, love must be your motivation in confronting apostasy.If you have in mind any motivation other than the preciousness of Christ, the preciousness of His truth, and the preciousness of His true church, then you need to think twice. Now, I do not say that to discourage you from doing what the Bible says you must do. Your duty is clear. But you must constantly, continually check your motivation and make sure that by God’s grace you keep it pure. And that motivation must be love for Christ, and His church, and His truth.
- Second, self-sacrifice must be this love’s demonstration.Confronting false teaching and apostasy is not the easy thing to do. Let me speak to you from experience. If you find that God has put you in the place of having to confront false teaching, you will find that it is going to be exceedingly time-consuming. It will take much prayer. It will take much effort. It will require you to spend much time in God’s Word. You will find yourself spending much time in dealing with people on both sides of the issue – people who are for the truth and people who are against the truth. It will take much discipline to stay the course.
You will need the whole armor of God. This is a spiritual battle of the most intense kind. Once again, I say this not by way of discouragement. Your duty is clear, and God will bless you for doing that duty in ways you may not immediately understand. But you must constantly, continually rely upon the Word of God as your authority and the Spirit of God as your teacher, and guide, and strength during the entire process. You will need to constantly check yourself for any danger signs that you are operating in the flesh. Remember that God’s strength is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). Remember that the work is done “not by might nor by power but by My Spirit saith the Lord” (Zechariah 4:6).
- The third principle I want to reiterate is this:Biblical truth is the issue. We are to speak the truth in love. The issue in confronting apostasy is always God’s truth. The issue is not persons, or personalities, or reputations, or creeds, or confessions, or anything else. Do not let any of these other things become the issue. Do not do that yourself, and do not let anyone else do it. If anyone tries to do that, you must endeavor to bring the focus back to the issue of truth and error. The Lord Jesus Christ said in John chapter 17 that God’s truth is that which sanctifies. It is truth that sets the genuine believer apart from the imposter. It is God’s truth that separates false teachers from the faithful ones.
As I begin to confront the “blurred” imagery of my painting, I ask that you take this topic to God. Pray, consider, wrest. Are you ready to take on this task? What are you willing to do?