Heresy Two-step

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On a recent Fighting for the Faith radio program host Chris Rosebrough had Pastor Bryan Wolfmueller as a guest to help with a sermon review. During the sermon review Wolfmueller mentioned something he called a heresy two-step. It’s a process that some might use to preach heresy or some position/doctrine that that is not from the text.

The way Wolfmueller identified the process was very helpful. I’ve written out a paraphrase of this process of preaching to watch out for.

The Heresy Two-step starts with two feet on the text. The allusion must be given that the text is going to be taught on. Then a sliding step backwards is taken into an abstraction. You move from the text to an idea about the text or to a word in the text. Once the text is abstracted and a general principle or something along these lines is made. You can now wiggle around and go in any direction you want. You can make the text say whatever you want. Instead of teaching the text you are pontificating on this abstraction which was drawn from the text.

I thought this to be a helpful analysis. Not only is it helpful for discerning false teachers, but it would seem to act as a measure for anyone who preaches/teaches. It should help those of us who do so to watch how we are arriving at a message from the text, especially, for the less experienced.

Helpful? Accurate? Thoughts?

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in Church Issues,heresy,Sermons

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ted Waller February 24, 2010 at 10:14 am

Excellent description of how many topical sermons are preached.

2 Biff Gordon February 24, 2010 at 10:36 am

Years ago one of my professors said, “Good exegesis prevents diving board preachers. What is a diving board preacher? He picks out a text, jumps up and down on it 2 or 3 times, and launches off into space.”

3 brianvoiceofthesheep February 24, 2010 at 10:42 am

I have seen this most recently in a study curriculum we were considering using at church, where the authors took a passage of Paul speaking of Jesus dying for all, and they built an entire theology of practice around ripping it out of context and teaching that Jesus died for all humanity as the basis for the whole course. Once that kind of foundation is established, almost anything goes. In this case, the authors pretty much just picked and chose whatever verses they wanted to use to support their program, regardless of the context.

A simple examination of the proper context of Scripture easily refutes this type of “two-step”. But the problem is that most Christians are not paying attention. They hear something that sounds good or right, and they go no further.

4 brianvoiceofthesheep February 24, 2010 at 2:10 pm

One other thought – those who take God’s words out of context to springboard onto something that is out of context with the passage they are using have a very low view of Scripture, in my opinion.

5 Mark Lamprecht February 24, 2010 at 5:19 pm

Biff, that has got to be the funniest explanation of poor hermeneutics that I’ve heard! LOL

6 TrueConvert February 24, 2010 at 5:27 pm

Ahhh yes, the old Green Beret maneuver. It’s where you parachute down into a passage, kidnap a text, and hold it hostage until it says what you want it to. Then you report your findings to the congregation…….this analogy can go for days I think LOL

7 Mark Lamprecht February 24, 2010 at 5:40 pm

Tripp and Brian, thanks for the comment. I’m going to keep this two-step in mind as I listen at times and as I prepare myself.

8 Mark Lamprecht February 24, 2010 at 5:41 pm

TrueConvert, lol…another “good” description.

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