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Thursday, June 23, 2011

New Angels of Light

There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved (St. Peter in Acts 4:12).

Jesus said to [Thomas], "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).

I recently learned of what was to me a new heresy circulating in Christian churches in Europe and America. It’s called Chrislam – an attempt to blend Christianity with Islam. Within the blending, Jesus is not worshiped as the divine Son of God. He is merely a great prophet, a wonderful moral teacher.

And a forerunner of the greater prophet, Muhammad.

According to reports, a growing number of churches and church leaders are telling their congregations Christianity and Islam are not only compatible, but that we share the same faith.

Actually, the theology inherent with Chrislam and propagated by those who call themselves Christians (aka, disciples of Jesus Christ), is not really new. Ever since the first century, false teachers have attempted to adulterate and dilute the proclamation of Jesus’ divinity as taught by all the New Testament writers and the Fathers of the Church – taught even to the point of their martyrdom in many cases.

In 325 A.D., one such group of early Church leaders met in the city of Nicea (in modern Turkey) to address a false doctrine being spread by another Church leader named Arius. The Nicene Creed is the result of that Church council.

As I mused about this latest surfacing of false teachers, I remembered an essay in one of my books based on the heresy known as Arianism. I am posting it today in hope that you will find it valuable:

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From the Nicene Creed: We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, one in being with the Father.

I remember Dr. Thomas. He was one of my college teachers who helped his class prepare for scheduled exams. He used to walk the aisles between our desks and review the information he expected us to know. As he spoke, he’d sometimes pause, clear his throat or make some other gesture to indicate what he’d just read was important. He never actually said, “This will be on the test,” but everyone knew, when Dr. Thomas gestured, we should pay attention.

Well, almost everyone. There were always a few students with other things on their minds – and they’d get the question wrong.

From the earliest days of the Church, people mixed heresies with the doctrines handed down by the Apostles. For example, in the early 4th century a renegade priest, Arius, rejected Church teaching regarding the deity of Christ. Arius believed Jesus was not co-eternal with the Father and was, therefore, inferior to the Father.

In 325 A.D., Church leaders met in council in Nicea (modern-day Turkey) to deal with the Arian heresy. The Council leaders knew that the wrong answer to the question of Jesus’ deity would inevitably spread through the Church’s understanding of sin, salvation, atonement, and forgiveness. Humanity’s eternal destiny was at stake.

To help the Church get the right answer, the Nicene Council responded in what I like to think of as the equivalent of clearing their throats. In this case, however, they also clapped their hands and blew a trumpet in a rising crescendo, as if to say, "Hey! Pay attention! This is really important."

So we couldn’t miss the point, the Fathers gave us the correct answer seven times in one sentence, proclaiming Jesus is: The only son of God; eternally begotten from the Father; God from God; Light from light; True God from True God; begotten, not made; one in being with the Father.

Yet, despite the seven-fold response, some got it wrong.

Some still do.

False teachers have always drawn men and women from Christian faith. That’s why Christ established His Church as the “pillar and foundation of truth” (1 Timothy 3:15).

When we recite the Nicene Creed, we join our faith with historic Christian doctrine dating back to the Apostles and preserved through apostolic succession. We have the opportunity to nurture that faith born in our hearts through the Holy Spirit, and instructed by the Church.

Who is Jesus? That’s an easy one, if we pay attention to the pillar and support of truth when it tells us who He is.

That's one test question we don’t want to get wrong.
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This essay is excerpted from my book, We Believe: Forty Meditations on the Nicene Creed. Click here for details.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Could you please tell me where you found the info on Rick Warren? I looked at his church website and the beliefs of the church and they sound Biblical to me. I am wondering because our church uses Rick Warren's materials and am concerned if we are being led astray. Thanks.

Richard Maffeo said...

I did an internet search for "Chrislam" and found a number of URLs. Here are a few:
http://www.nowtheendbegins.com/blog/?p=1366

http://blog.beliefnet.com/news/2011/06/van-impe-leaves-tbn-over-chrislam-remarks.php

http://www.cc.org/blog/presbyterians_boost_new_chrislam_religion

http://apprising.org/2011/02/22/the-rise-of-chrislam/

Hope this helps.

rich