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Author: Wesley (page 7 of 93)

Will The Real Heretics Please Stand Up?–Part 5 Who understands the Apostles?

At this point the goal of the review is simply to represent the argument of Bercot the author of the book Will The Real Heretic Please Stand Up? Read the earlier sections of the review here, here, here, and here.

Bercot spends two chapters on the importance of the Early Christian writings in understanding the teachings and writings of the Apostles. His basic argument is that the Early Christian writers have a an advantage over contemporary interpreters.

Their Advantages

The advantages are:

  1. Time.  They were closer to the Apostolic teachings than we are.  This advantage makes it less likely that they have missed the apostles’ point. Unless the Early Christians purposely changed the apostle’s teaching, which Bercot believes is unlikely, then their teachings would potentially better represent apostolic truth.
  2. Small changes lead to major departures.  When you have several small changes to apostolic teaching over time those small changes lead to major departures from truth.  Thus overtime the result is something different from what the apostles taught.
  3. They understood the language. The New Testament was written in Greek, which was the native language of these Early Christians.  Although it is possible to learn the Greek of the Bible, there is a difference between someone who learns a language and one who is a native speaker.
  4. They understood the culture. There is no doubt that the culture of the 1st Century is different from the culture of today.  There are also some practices in the Bible that are foreign to our understanding.  However, these practices were not foreign to the understanding of the Early Christians.
  5. They knew the Apostles.  Not all of the Early Christians knew the apostles, but some did. This potentially gave them the opportunity to question and receive further explanation on difficult subjects.

Did they deliberately change the Apostles’ teaching?

After making these five points Bercot then establishes why he believes that the Early Christians would not have deliberately changed the teaching of the apostles.  His reasons are:

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They All Respond

Responses have been on my mind.  By responses I mean what typically happens at churches across America after a sermon is preached.  A lot of churches have what is called an invitation. In an invitation you invite people from the audience to come to the front and respond in some way to the message that was preached. The response might be confession of sin, prayer for strength, or desire for baptism.

For many responses are what make a sermon a hit or not.  When those in the church see a response the preacher normally hears an extra word of encouragement concerning that sermon.  If you are a preacher you might even get an extra amount of pride that your sermon was able to impact someone enough to get them to “come forward.”  I’ll admit it is cool when people publicly respond to a message.

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Will the Real Heretic Please Stand Up? Part 4-Luther and Augustine to Blame

This is part 4 of our Review of David Bercot’s Will the Real Heretic Please Stand Up? At this point in the review I am simply restating Bercot’s points.  In the final post I will provide evaluation of the work. Read the posts here, here, and here.

Bercot spends two chapters in Will the Real Heretic Please Stand Up?  to the discussion of two men–Luther and Augustine.  Bercot believes these two men have had the greatest  influence on the church today.  Thus, by extension these two men are to blame, or to be praised depending on your view, for a good amount of the differences we see between Early Christianity and Current Evangelicalism.  Thus, in Bercot’s thinking, they stand alongside Constantine as a major influence away from Early Christian teaching.

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1 Peter 5:12-14: Purpose and Conclusion

Peter has concluded the body of his letter.  He now brings his thoughts to conclusion.  He begins by providing a succinct statement as to why he is writing and then a statement of greeting.

Peter’s Purpose

I have written briefly to you, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it -1 Peter 5:12

I have written on the purpose of 1 Peter while introducing the book (Read it here).  Peter places his purpose at the end as the final point to be made to this group of persecuted believers.  They are concerned that the persecution they have faced meant that they were outside of God’s favor.  They wondered how could someone both be in God’s grace, but at the same time face persecution.

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Declining Numbers in the Church

Every few years 21st Century Christian publishers a book which lists by location all the churches of Christ in America.  In the list the church is given, sometimes descriptors are given, and then total members of that particular congregation are given.  The book is a needed resource for helping churches who teach similarly to connect with one another.

For those of you who are not familiar with what are commonly called churches of Christ each church is self-governed and there is no higher level of leadership than the local congregation.  Therefore each church is free, from the human standpoint, to preach, teach, and worship as they see appropriate.  We have no headquarters or governing body that sets the doctrine and practices for all churches.  So this book is a helpful way to find and connect with other groups of disciples of Jesus.

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