There are hundreds, if not thousands, of different religious groups in the world today--the majority of them claiming to be Christian. We can all surely name many of the more prominent ones: Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Catholic, Pentecostal, and the list just goes on. Within each group is another set of groups that agree on certain points and disagree vehemently on others (see Freewill Baptists vs. Southern Baptists vs. Missionary Baptists vs. General Baptists vs. Primitive Baptists, etc…). Should we really concern ourselves with what these religious groups teach? Or should we just worry about the church of Christ and the teachings of Christ found in the Bible?
In all reality, there are many within the Lord’s church who would advocate ignoring denominations and their teachings. To do such would be a grave injustice to those lost souls in denominations as well as to members of the body of Christ who need to be well-grounded and ready to give an answer when those of the world ask questions about why we do certain things and not others (I Peter 3:15).
Paul, Peter, Jude, James, and John all wrote letters that had to combat error in one form or another. Be it the Judiazers, the Gnostics, or others, false doctrine was being taught. If you will notice, especially in the case of the Jews who were afflicting the Gentile Christians, the false doctrines originated from another religious group and infiltrated the church.
We should always be on guard and realize that most--if not all--of the departures from the faith of the past 200 years have been the direct result of brethren trying to be like those around us. Many of the most prominent errors (instrumental music, Saturday communion, direct operation of the Holy Spirit, faith-only salvation, etc…) are ones that first appeared in denominations and slowly worked their way into the church of Christ. That much is obvious.
If we do not know about the teachings of other religious groups, then we could find ourselves unprepared if and when we study with people. Those who are not well-grounded in the truth (which unfortunately is a larger segment of Christians than we’d like to admit) will not be able to answer someone who teaches error, and may indeed succumb to their false teaching, not knowing that it is condemning their soul to hell!
It is this writer’s firm conviction that the flock must be made aware of the truth of God’s word, and that they must also be made aware of the errors that exist so that they can help teach others who may hold those views.
In a recent study with a so-called “Jehovah’s Witness”, it was noted that they can be very persuasive, especially when studying with someone who does not study their Bible. They go out and actively proselytize, and convert people who do not know any better.
We need to always be prepared to give an answer, and defend the gospel (Phil 1:7, 17). The writers of the New Testament believed that error should be pointed out and refuted. Why are there so many today who believe otherwise?
By Bradley S. Cobb
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