I spent 6 years at DTS to get my ThM (Masters of Theology). In those 6 years I heard numerous chapel messages since chapel was a requirement (6 years is a long time!). Truth be told, in my maturing years, I have trouble recalling a lot. But one message made a profound impact on me delivered by Nathan Holsteen, a professor in the Theological Studies department. Now I took many classes with Dr. Holsteen and he was also one of my thesis readers. But what really resonated with me is this chapel message he delivered in 2013 entitled Beware of Mud.
The message was built on 2 John 6-11
And this love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it. For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of the Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we worked for, but may win a full reward. Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.
He laid out the problem, that certain teachers from among the flock were going about teaching something that contrary to the Christian message. And let’s be clear; they weren’t just some obvious outsiders disparaging Christianity but those who came from within the church, who “proclaimed” the name of Christ but used his name in a dishonorable fashion.
I also appreciated that he corrected the oft misunderstanding that not inviting them into the house meant slamming the door of your home on those who would contradict the historic Christian message. Rather, John is referring to inviting teachers into the church that teach a message that denies basic tenets of Christianity. His ending admonishment was quite clear;
Do not allow anti-Christian teaching at your church. And do not aid deceiving teachers in their ministry of destruction, or if I may, insist on teachers who are distinctively Christian
There are those today who wear the name of Christ and yet they teach something that is not Christian. Do not let these deceivers teach in your ministry and do not aid them in their ministry of deceit or your name is mud.
The message made a powerful impact on me about taking care to not endorse or align with those that disrupt Christianity and espouse another gospel no matter how much these “teachers” quote Scripture. The implication of 2 John goes beyond merely inviting someone into the church. But it’s who we give even an implicit nod to.
In this regard, I am very careful about who I give this implicit nod even when they sound good. It might very well be that someone might make a statement that I thoroughly agree with. But if I believe their foundation to be a corrupt version of Christianity, I cannot give any kind of approval. Predominantly, these tend to be peddlers of the “prosperity gospel,” teach some kind of moralistic therapeutic deism and/or are hyper charismatic and reliant upon some internalized sensory perception peddled as divine truth. Yes, they might use the Bible. And yes, they are popular. And some are even regarded in evangelical seminaries.
I have been chagrined too, when I’ve seen faithful ministers of the gospel share a stage with deceivers, those who talk the like a Christian, quote Bible verses, but whose framework of Christianity is rotted with sub-Christian teaching. But John’s, and moreover, God’s, message is clear – don’t align or endorse any such persons lest you participate in their evil deeds. This is why there are certain popular folks you won’t see me endorsing under any circumstances.
Check out Dr. Holsteen’s message. It’s 24 minutes well worth the time.