Doctrinal Controversies

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Dr. Brown dives into some of the most passionate doctrinal controversies today – charismatic vs. cessationist; Messianic Jewish vs. replacement theology; Calvinist vs. Arminian – and looks at some of the extreme responses to these teachings in the Body. Listen live here 2-4 pm EST, and call into the show at (866) 348 7884 with your questions and comments.

 

Hour 1:

Dr. Brown’s Bottom Line: Yes, we should expose heresy and we should do so clearly based on the Word, but let us work hard to preserve unity within the body; it’s precious in God’s sight.

 

Hour 2:

Dr. Brown’s Bottom Line: God in His word promised the outpouring of His Spirit until the end of the age. Shouldn’t we therefore rejoice in what the Spirit is doing, rather than be critical?

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Other Resources:

Dr. James White Joins Dr. Brown for a Special Broadcast Live from Spain

Dr. Brown Talks With Scott Volk about Replacement Theology and Wrong Theological Concepts

Dr. Brown Speaks with Steve Camp about What Makes Someone a Heretic, and Dr. Brown Takes Your Calls

35 Comments
  1. I think that this show demonstrates the “Protestant” / “Evangelical” / “non-denominational” dilemma: Since there is no authority to which you can appeal as a Christian, in which you can place your trust, and no arbiter, you have to conclude that the myriad interpretations of the Bible must be irrelevant to God, and that your childlike faith in Jesus Christ is enough. This sentiment is the essence of “not dividing over the issues.” Well, in total ignorance, that simple faith may suffice, but, since the information is available to us, if you choose to embrace error, even if you are well-intentioned, this problem arises: inevitably, you will end up with a false Jesus, and a path which is really no path at all. This is why God gave us a Church, so that there would be no confusion. Every heretic can love Jesus. Loving him and following him is not the issue. The issue is, when error creeps in, how can you be sure that your own orthodoxy is the genuine article?

    Instead of dismissing Catholicism as unbiblical, I would ask that my Protestant friends prayerfully consider the Church’s claims. Why do we have a liturgy? Why do we have such a high view of the Virgin? Make an effort to discover why we believe what we believe, and why our understanding of the Christian faith led us to our conclusions.

  2. Nicholas,

    You have some very good points/arguments. The problem is that you do not go back far enough. What the apostles practiced and wrote is the right way. The Catholic church is not the Apostolic church. Neither is protestantism.

    The Bible that the Apostles used was the law and the Prophets. From this they preached true doctrine. They practiced the then known scripture. Their writings were applications of these scriptures in the light of a Jewish Messiah that upheld, taught and practiced what was written in the law and the prophets. He told His disciples to do the same.

    The Catholic church is corrupt on many levels by even a cursory reading of the Bible. The same can be said of protestant churches. The idea of a church building and almost all of the holidays that the RC church practices is nothing like the apostles practiced.

    If we are going to do any research, maybe we should evaluate the thing that is called christianity today. It simply does not square with the Bible. How about if you research the claims of scripture and see if an uncolored reading really looks like your church?

    One thing is for sure. There is nothing in the early church with the apostles in the lead that venerates Mary as a demigod like Catholicism does. There is no xmas and easter. There is not pope. There are no last rites, indulgences, purgatory, or hail Marys. No rosary, no mandatory celibacy, no lent, no liturgy.

    Shalom

  3. Nicholas,
    You wrote:
    “Well, in total ignorance, that simple faith may suffice, but, since the information is available to us, if you choose to embrace error, even if you are well-intentioned, this problem arises: inevitably, you will end up with a false Jesus, and a path which is really no path at all.”

    This is exactly correct, but the pope and the catholic church is not the true authority. The writings of the apostles and prophets is.

    1Jo 2:3 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.
    4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
    5 But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.
    6 He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.

    The commandments spoken of by John are not Catholic dogma or protestant statements of faith. They are the ones that the Bible always called commandments. How else would we walk like Messiah.

    We will be accountable for what we know and/or could have known, if we would have applied ourselves. The Catholic and Protestant churches make YHWH’s commandments void and participate in vain worship just like the man made religion of Messiah’s day.

    Mr 7:7 Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
    8 For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men…
    9 And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.

    I will let this suffice, as to go much further would be getting off topic.

    Shalom

  4. Hi, Bo, I appreciate your response.

    Yes, I would agree that the RCC has seen corruption. There have always been corrupt men in the Church. But there were corrupt people in Peter’s congregation also (Ananias and Sapphira). The Body of Christ is made up of sinners. It is Christ himself who remains intact, and his Holy Spirit, who leads us away from error. Since the Church is Christ’s Mystical Body, moreover, the Church herself can never be overcome by the evil which assails her, even from within, even from the pope himself, if it be the case.

    From what I understand about you, you are a godly man with a Bible in his possession. And that’s a great first step. The problem is, you really have no way of being certain that your way of life comports with the teaching of the Apostles. I have no way of being certain, either, for that matter. Neither of us has a time machine, so we cannot verify our visions of the past. All we can do is let history be the judge. But history is indeed verifiable. I believe that history is on the side of Rome. We have a pedigree of 2,000 years. No one else can claim this.

  5. As I was just reading the first paragraph of Nicholas’ first post here, I believe he explained a lot about cults and how they get into ‘group think’, and how anyone who thinks for themselves, will not be listened to even if (or maybe especially if) what they are saying is the truth.

    We need more truth seekers and less group thinkers.

  6. Hi Nicholas,

    I haven’t listened to the show yet, but I want to answer to some things you stated.

    First of all, I firmly believe each and every Christian can and should appeal to the higher authority of Scripture over that of man. Of course you’re right that that’s where different points of view come in. Are they really that great a difference that we need to “divide” over them? I don’t think most are. With the exception of “cheap Grace” and legalism the greater majority of differing views are not a deal breaker in my mind. Remember Paul’s letter about the “weaker” members of the Body, who thought they must abstain from certain foods as that was their understanding of things. Paul says to give them leeway to do that and don’t cause them to stumble in their faith. I think there’s room in the Body for each member regardless of where they are in their understanding so long as they’re not in grave error and especially “teaching” their error to others. Grave error would be teaching legalism as the way to please God and/or that we can walk on in our sins because of the Grace of God.

    Then there’s the various liturgies that differ somewhat from denomination to denomination. I certainly don’t see that as a big deal either. So long as the Glory is going to Messiah and the Father, all forms of worship are to praise Them. When pastors depart from sound doctrine they’re bound to take many uneducated worshipers with them, which is why the Bible says that “not many should be teachers.” A perfect example of that is the Mormon Doctrine. Are there really good people who believe it’s true—sure! Is it their fault that they haven’t thoroughly investigated the claims and founding of their faith—sure! With the exception of the children who don’t know any better.

    As far as the Catholic view and regard for Mary, I don’t see how that was adopted from a careful reading of Scripture. No where is Mary exalted, let alone prayed to as an intercessor for anyone. That is not biblical doctrine at all but is an extra-biblical invention; for what end I don’t know. “For there is one mediator between God and men, the man, Messiah, Jesus.” 1 Tim 2:5
    If you could show me in Scripture where Mary is due any special worship I’ll consider changing my mind, but I can honestly say that when I read through the Bible (numerous times) I never got the idea that I was to exalt her in any way. That’s not to say that I don’t believe she was highly-favored among women–because I do believe that and I certainly have respect for her—wondering what was different about her that she was chosen to carry the Lord in her womb and nurse and care for Him until such time that He was called to go about His work. I did ponder what little we’re told about her and what it was that set her apart. I find it interesting that we’re told she “pondered those things in her heart.” I think she was a self-contained woman who trusted God in all things. I can see the inheritance of her ancestor, David, though, in her praise of God when being told of what she was called to do. Her lengthy song of praise very much reminded me of the Psalms written by David! 🙂

    When you say we should investigate your claims concerning “our understanding of the Christian faith [which] led us to our conclusions,” I can’t help but wonder if you didn’t inherit your form of worship from your parents rather than coming to it as a matter of truth that you discovered for yourself. And I don’t mean to put you down for it, if in fact you did learn it from your own ancestors—that’s usually how it comes about.

    I think Catholicism is beautiful in it’s services and I can see the appeal for many to have strict order and set beliefs, but I can’t accept those elements of it that are not aligned with Scripture nor that the Pope is filling anyone’s shoes until the Lord returns, especially seeing that Peter was the Apostle to the Jews and Paul to the Gentiles and as I’ve said I don’t see where Mary deserves anything other than respect and contemplative honor for her role as surrogate for the Lord’s earthy body.

    Did someone on the show dis Catholicism? Just seems like you were on the defensive. Know that I respect you very much and have no problem interacting with you and welcoming you as a brother in Christ.

    The beauty of being a Christian is that we can worship all day, every day, without ever stepping foot in a church building or repeating any sort of creed at all! 🙂

    Thanks.

  7. Does this sound like a doctrinal controversy?

    As Christians we should hope to become worthy of suffering great pain at the rebuke of Jesus Christ.

    The reason I say that is because of what I just read in Proverbs.

    Proverbs 17:10
    A reproof entereth more into a wise man than a hundred stripes into a fool.

    I’ve heard it said that the closer one gets to Jesus, the more difficult and painful.

    All the more reason to embrace the cross. As we do we will become transformed into his likeness.

    Does Galatians 6:17 (KJV) fit well with Prov 17:10?

  8. As I read Sheila’s post above, I was reminded that there is a ditch on both sides of the road, and there is a time to everything under the sun.

  9. To properly understand a church one should see it from the inside for awhile. Often words are used to convey slightly different meanings than we are used to hearing, and this tends to happen more when we are exposed to different groups and cultures.

  10. Hi Sheila, good to correspond with you again, as always,

    Our faith in Christ, our common baptism, the fact that we confess three persons in one Godhead, this unites us as brother and sister in a singular way.

    I was raised Catholic, I fell away from the faith at a point, and then I returned to the Church. When I discovered Dr. Brown, the Messianic Jewish slant really appealed to me, but I would go on to embrace a stricter Catholicism eventually, and, today, I identify as a Traditionalist. I firmly believe that God’s grace led me to orthodox Catholicism. My upbringing was a tumultuous one. I had no real guidance in religion. I was not reared in the Catholic faith in an authentic manner, except insofar as it was a cultural expression. There was always piety, but it was more of a family tradition, as you suggested, although I always believed in and loved Christ in my heart and soul. As a matter of fact, I feel more like a recent convert to the Church. In a sense, I suppose that I am. (I guess I would consider myself to be a born-again Catholic.)

    I believe that God gave us a Church. And that’s really the main issue. I think that if we start out with the basic question, What is Christianity?, we would find an historical record which leads us to the lineage of the Church of Rome, because this institution is the one which handed on the faith, and its definition, to each generation in every century. The Eastern Orthodox bodies can claim this, too, but they would have to be the only other option. For instance, the Protestant reformers received their instruction in Christianity from their parish priests, who were Catholic. Martin Luther was himself a Catholic priest. The Bible was compiled and arranged by an authority which pre-dated Luther by more than a thousand years. He decided to take it upon himself and revise the canon. There were ecumenical councils which met and debated the nature of the Trinity. Some of the most brilliant minds struggled with various interpretations of the Scriptures before being led, by the Holy Spirit, to make pronouncements as to their meaning. Frankly, I think that these facts would pose a problem for non-Catholics: to ignore all of this history is not intellectually honest.

    Where did Christianity come from? It comes to us from the Apostles. The Apostles had successors. Their primitive movement, after its humble beginnings, did not fracture and die off and come together again piecemeal. It had to have subsisted. As a Catholic, I believe that it subsists in the Church. Dr. Brown once said on his show something to the effect of, “None of us can claim to have the same movement that the Apostles had.” I found that to be a very disturbing statement. A Christian should desire to be a member of a congregation that is a part of the historical church. As tempting as it is to say, We follow the Bible, and the Bible says (a), (b), and (c), and we do these things, etc, this still does not answer the question, Who taught us the faith? Who taught us the Trinity? How do we know that Jesus meant it in a figurative way, when he commanded his followers to eat his body and drink his blood? Are we sure that he did not mean it literally? Are we sure that early Christianity was not liturgical? There is strong evidence that it was, and that there was a high Eucharistic theology in the early church. What did people believe before there was a New Testament? These questions need to be considered, I think.

  11. As far as the early church being liturgical, I suppose that would depend on how early we go. Does the church in Corinth appear to be liturgical when we read I Cor 14, especially verse 26?

  12. Some have understood the reference in 1 Corinthians 11:23-25 to be about the primitive Christian liturgy: “For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread…”

    The observance of the Lord’s Supper is always a kind of liturgy, even if it is done in the way in which Evangelicals do it today, even in a “low church” setting, because people are still getting up and going to receive Communion, there is still music playing, the minister is still performing a mediating function. Were the Apostles wearing vestments, was their incense, etc, no, these things developed over time.

    Also, there are liturgical allusions in the Didache, as well.

  13. Nicholas,

    But if we do it the way Messiah did it, it is Passover with a family or 2 or a small group of people sitting around a table sharing a meal and remembering YHWH’s salvation and recognizing the symbolism in the cup after dinner and the unleavened bread. Not really liturgy, though there are traditions and aspects that are usually there. Messiah did not invent something called “Communion.” He showed the symbolism in Passover that revealed Him. As often as we do what He did at our Passover meals once a year, we show His death till He comes. Anything beyond this or at a different time than this is not what Messiah taught His body.

    There is nobody standing and dealing out wafers onto peoples tongues when we walk in Messiah’s footsteps. This liturgy has nothing in common with the early church. Virtually everything that has come down to us through the Catholic and even the Protestant Churches started 50 to 300 years after Messiah. No Apostle would recognize what has been labeled “The Lord’s Supper” today. It certainly isn’t supper anymore. It is a mid-morning nibble. This obviously huge discrepancy ought to be a pretty good indicator that the Church has invented its own religion instead of remaining true to YHWH’s word.

    Shalom

  14. Bo,

    I think even what you are describing can be considered a kind of liturgical action. It is distinct from the agape feast, because it calls to mind the Messiah’s death and resurrection, precisely because it commemorates his paschal sacrifice in a unique way, in a way in which we participate in it as members of the Lord’s body. I assume when you bring your family together at table, it is a solemn and reverential occasion. Taking the bread, praying over it, passing the cup, etc, this is all part of religious worship, thus it is, by definition, liturgy. By virtue of the theology underlying it, it is not simply a communal meal. It is a unique communication with God. Building on this, the Catholic liturgy creates a setting appropriate for this holy communication, specifically to orient the mind to heavenly things, which is why the priest dresses a certain way, moves a certain way, which is why we kneel down, etc.

  15. Nicholas,

    Messiah didn’t put on special robes or move a certain way or kneel down. He didn’t do the mid-morning nibble. All this is traditions, doctrines and commandments of men that turn from the truth…that make our worship vain and YHWH’s commandments of none effect. WWJD…He wouldn’t do it the Catholic way…or the protestant way.

    Shalom

  16. But, Bo, the Israelites, in the wilderness, did not perform sacrifice the way the later priests did when there was a temple and a city of Jerusalem. These things developed over time, but the function and intention was the same.

  17. Nicholas,

    But, Nicholas, what were the differences? The same number and kinds of sacrifices were performed on the same days. Only the place was different. So if we apply this to “The Lord’s supper,” the place is the only difference. The day of Passover is the day. The time is at night. The wine and unleavened bread are eaten after dinner and no priest or pastor is officiating. What has developed, or should I say devolved in the “Church”, over the centuries is not in keeping with the word of YHWH the Father or YHWH the Son.

    Shalom

  18. @Bo,

    Respectfully, I differ that the Jewish believers didn’t have any liturgy in their service.

    1 Corinthians 14:16f says,

    How will the uninformed person say “Amen” when you make a Berakha?

    Here is a little of the liturgy of St. James, which I translated back into Hebrew myself. Read it, and tell me, you don’t think it was originally written by a Jew.

    https://fbcdn-sphotos-f-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-xfa1/v/t1.0-9/163348_10151262731067834_1197409479_n.jpg?oh=ee7ec9d02249cb3540069356938c55a0&oe=552EEDE8&__gda__=1429286631_d2a3bd43d65375a6c9e3e442a79fe157

  19. You also said,

    The problem is that you do not go back far enough. What the apostles practiced and wrote is the right way. The Catholic church is not the Apostolic church. Neither is protestantism.

    We know this about the Ebionite break away group from the original Jerusalem Nazarene Jews:

    They used to observe the Sabbath and the rest of the Jewish ceremonial, but on Sundays celebrated rites like ours in commemoration of the Savior’s resurrection. – Eusebius History III 27, 3–6

    Rites like ours… they were earliest and original Orthodox Christians who were Jewish and kept the Torah.

    There is also historical records about the signing of the cross that it goes back to Jewish Believers who said it goes back to the Paleo-Hebrew ת, which is a cross.

  20. David Roberts,

    You do not have to respectfully differ with me…I am quite used to insults and accusations. 🙂

    Shalom

  21. Bo,

    May I ask, what is your faith background, did you come out of a particular denomination? Also, do you attend any kind of church, or are you a part of some kind of movement? How do you worship on the Sabbath? At home, or with others?

    Thanks.

  22. I can understand where people do not want “unity” with certain believers. There are people I do not want to even speak with because every time I speak with them I start developing desires for women and coming under very strong and constant condemnation whereas when I stay away from them I am completely sexually victorious and rejoice in the Lord’s acceptance of me. I cannot but conclude that though these Christians may know the Lord to some degree they also have demons. I do not want their demons in my life or the demonic desires their demons work in them. Remember Israel was capable of being Israel even if they were besieged by their enemies, thus also Christians can be truly Christian even if they are oppressed. Therefore, it behooves me to reject them if they do not want to repent. I cannot afford to befriend such people.

  23. And the constant condemnation, threats and fear (which actually MAKES YOU SIN) have A LOT to do with their interpretation of salvation–those who refuse to rejoice in the finished works of Christ until they have fellowship with Him tend to try to earn their way to Him (whether by singing “worship” songs, so-called “entering the presence” through so-called “serious prayer”, through doing of good deeds, etc.,–things which used to impress me, but with which I am now [now that I know the Good News to a greater degree] wholly unimpressed) instead of receiving the FREE acceptance based on Jesus. I want to help them so bad but I have to become stronger in my faith before I do or else we’ll both end up “drowning”.

    Basically, those who tend to put their trust and hope in their own personal performance tend to suffer from this the darkness I spoke of (e.g., a constant condemnation, and always being “just on the edge” of being “in trouble with God”) they just cannot shake.
    I’m not saying righteousness doesn’t matter (of course it does–grace and faith MUST create righteousness for the glorification of God [Ro 1:16-18,3:31,7:1-6,8:1-4]), but what we disagree on is the foundation stone of righteousness.

  24. *correction: If not “makes you sin” then “drives you towards sin” by not giving you the power to not sin (sort of like the Law in Ro 7).

  25. For anyone who might need the information, “sexually victorious” means “Living in holiness and cleanliness of heart, mind, and body with respect to sexual matters.”

  26. The reality is that what we are to “obey” [Jn 3:36 ESV, Ro 1:5, etc.,] (and are perfectly capable of “disobeying” [Ro 11:17-22; 2 Th 1:8; Hb 3:12,13, etc.,], so I can’t believe in OSAS) is God’s Law of Faith—the fundamental necessity is that we fulfill the requirement that we “believe” the Good News and receive and arrive at the knowledge of God that we have not earned.

    Those who depart from “what they received from the beginning” will not abide in God [1 J 2:24], but they will desert God Who called them in Messiah’s Grace [Gal 1:6; Ja 1:14]. If they desert God and Messiah, where God would be their righteousness [Jer 23:5,6], we know they will be insufficient with respect to “bearing fruit” [Jn 15]; the end result of such an “unfruitful” life (necessarily filled with the “‘unfruitful’ deeds of darkness” [Ep 5:11]) is that they will be cut off from Messiah, dry up, be gathered and then thrown into the fire.

    The “Good News” is that if we ever wish to return to/reconnect with God, it’s as simple returning to and obeying God’s Word and Law [Mal 3:7-10]–i.e., the Law of Faith [Ro 3:27]. God IS His Word, so returning to His Word is returning to Him.

  27. No one wanted to help me understand the Good News (or if they tried, their answers were, without a single exception, incomplete answers–they would just get angry with me when I would test their “answers”) so I had to study and PRAY (I came up against many intellectual walls I could not scale) for the understanding of the Good News on my own.
    Thank God He is showing it to me.

  28. Daniel,

    I think you’ve grown by leaps and bounds over these few years. I see a big difference. It seems you’re much more at peace and more sure of yourself even while you’re still learning. We’re all still learning. I think that’s the beauty of Scripture, there’s always something new to uncover!

    Blessings to you!

  29. Sheila,
    I believe it is Proverbs which teaches to give credit where credit is due, so I have to tell you the true reason I’ve learned: I started asking God for understanding and He answered my prayers. I’m not trying to “correct” you, or be contrary, but He should be credited with my progress. It is His doing.

  30. Daniel,

    I understand that 100 percent! Praise God!

    Isaiah 26:3 You will keep him in perfect peace,
    Whose mind is stayed on You,
    Because he trusts in You.

    🙂

  31. Sheila,
    Amen. A lot of the time, I hear God telling me that I doubt and that I need to trust. My question has been WHAT INFORMATION to trust, and that is what I desire to know more and more perfectly.

  32. I’ve found that the activity of grace will not exceed our faith–is exactly correlative to the revelation of the Truth we hold–therefore, I seek to understand more perfectly what the contents of that “message” we are commanded to “believe” is.

  33. Daniel,

    Humility is an admirable quality and one that the Lord takes note of. Scripture says all of us only know in part, but when Messiah returns we shall know Him and be known of Him with perfect understanding. From reading your defense of the Gospel I know that you have it right. Whether there be minor edits here and there none of them could ever change the finished work of Messiah—it cannot be altered by anyone in heaven or on earth. You can trust the Word of God knowing that nothing can undermine the truth as God is truth. Perhaps in answer to God encouraging you to trust, you’re missing what’s right in front of you—-He’s asking you to trust Him—-not to go looking for a stray sentence here and there that you don’t think belongs, if in fact, that’s what you mean by “what information to trust.” It’s not a matter of ‘what to trust” but of “who” to trust.

    Sometimes I find myself becoming a bit too cerebral about my studies and then I’ll run across some passages that just fill my heart so full of His love for me that this watery stuff starts coming out of my eyes! 🙂 Yes, we should all learn to trust and to overcome by abiding in Him.

    “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.”

    God’s grace is more than sufficient and far exceeds your doubts.

    I hope that helps in some small way.

    Wishing you peace, Daniel.

  34. Sheila,
    1. Yes, I desire humility.
    2. By “what information to trust” I mean “What is this message I am being told anyway?”
    3. He also tells me “trust in the Lord with all your heart” verse LOL However you have to remember that verse probably refers to obeying the Law of Moses which addressed all of their “ways”.

    Peace

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