Phil Cox

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If anyone preaches any other gospel...

22nd February 2006

It seems sometimes that the most serious charge that can be levelled at anyone in our generation is the charge of thinking that your own views are more valid that anyone else's.

Of course, the very people who teach us to think like that are themselves guilty (if guilty is the right word) of the very thing they condemn. The idea that we should not think our ideas are better than other people's is itself an idea. So those who think it should think that it is no better than its opposite - the idea that some ideas are better than others. But if they thought that, they wouldn't say what they do say ... (if you can follow that).

(For those of you with an interest in logic, I think this is a formulation of the classical "liar paradox")

In fact, if no idea is better than other ideas, then no idea has any value, since it's no better than its contradiction.

But, specifically for the Christian, it's essential to believe that (some of) our beliefs are superior to the beliefs of others. (The same is true for followers of many other religions, and it's true of atheists). This idea is SO unfashionable right now that it's hard to accept - but it's obviously true.

There are times when Christians need to ask themselves "Am I going to accept the Bible, or am I going to compromise Biblical teaching whenever it's open to the accusation of not being inclusive?".

In the first chapter of Paul's letter to the Galatians, verses 8 and 9, he says:

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!

The phrase "eternally condemned" is a translation of the Greek word "anathema" which means "cursed".

How politically incorrect is that?

Either The Holy Spirit inspired Paul to curse anyone who taught a gospel different from his own, or He didn't. What do you think? But the decision affects your thoughts and actions regarding those who profess to teach religion.

Are you getting nervous yet?

If you accept that Paul was inspired by the Holy Spirit, then you must accept that it is right to curse those who teach any salvation other than justification by the atonement of Jesus Christ alone, appropriated through faith alone.

If you do not accept this, then you can have no confidence in any of Paul's teaching.

Here are some other examples:

  • Either Jesus was right when He said "I am the way and the truth and the life. No-one comes to the Father except through me." or He was wrong.

Take your pick. But your decision is either:
- a decision to believe the Bible,
- or a decision not to believe it,
- or a decision to choose which bits you believe and which bits you don't (which reduces to the idea that you only accept the Bible where it teaches what you already think - which makes it useless, except as a crutch for your existing ideas).

  • Either Peter was right when He said "Salvation is found in no-one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." or he was wrong.

Again, you choose. Do you believe the Bible or not?

I'm not comfortable either. But I believe the whole of the bible was inspired by the Holy Spirit and is 100% true and reliable. And I have to take the consequences of that.