Of the Church.
Chapter 26, Paragraph 3.
“… and some have so degenerated as to become no Churches of Christ, but Synagogues of Satan;…”
2 Thessalonians 2:11,12
There are no perfect churches.
There is a mixture of believers and unbelievers, as well as error, in every church. However, that does not mean that any group that calls itself a church is truly a church. There are assemblies who claim Christ for their own but represent Him falsely. Such churches promote heresy, and as such are the enemies of Christ.
Heresy is a strong word, though. How do we know whether a church promotes heresy, or just is in error? Benjamin Keach in The Glory of a True Church defines heresy this way:
Heresy is commonly restrained to signify any perverse Opinion or Error in a fundamental Point of Religion, as to deny the Being of God, or the Deity of Christ, or his Satisfaction, and Justification alone by his Righteousness, or to deny the Resurrection of the Body, or eternal Judgment, or the like.
With such a definition, it is easier to see the difference between a false church and a misguided one. Jehovah’s Witnesses, for example, deny several of the points Keach lists. They would be a false church. A church that agreed with all the points above, but practices errors such as continuationism or dispensationalism, would be a true albeit misguided church.
This is why it is important to know the Gospel. Otherwise, you may be persuaded to call those who preach against Christ your brethren, and you may become hardened towards those who are in reality your brothers in Christ. Take heed that the essentials of the faith remain your essentials. Contend earnestly for the truth in secondary matters, but remember that they are secondary.
Questions to Consider
- Can you name some other examples of false churches? What about churches that are merely in error?