Thursday, February 2, 2012

New book: 'The way of Balaam' - How the Emerging Church links to Gnosticism

The Way of Balaam: False teachers and the re-appearance of ancient Gnostic beliefs

Why do some Christians pray to God as ‘mother’? Why do some Christians use labyrinths and mandalas? Why do some believe that different religions are all part of ‘one truth’? What do actively homosexual Bishops have in common with militant feminism, ‘interfaith’ worship, and the watering down of core doctrines of the faith? Are these trends mere signs of an aberrant but harmless spirituality or are they sinister and toxic to orthodox Christian faith and practice?

It has been said that Christian orthodoxy (correct belief and behaviour) is never more than one generation from extinction. In other words, as is emphasized many times in the New Testament, we must be on our guard against false teaching. This is because false teaching is a poison to the Christian Church. It undermines the true Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, thereby bringing spiritual death to people in need of salvation. It subverts the truth revealed to us, and promotes ‘the lie’ – thereby colluding with the ‘father of lies’ himself.

Not least, false teaching brings the judgement of God upon Churches who allow it. I believe that the precipitous decline over the last 40 or 50 years in many of the Protestant denominations of North America and Britain is the direct result of the infiltration of unbiblical and in some cases outright heretical teachings. As an example, the Anglican Church of Canada declined 75% in attendance figures from 1961 to 2009; this is a church which embraces the belief that homosexual unions are good and normal, and perform ceremonies blessing them.

But what are these false teachings, and how do we recognize them? This is the main concern of my book, and I have tried to write it in language that everyone will understand. The issues are complex, but I believe they can be set out in a way that clarifies them. We need to know how to counter these false doctrines – it is not enough to quote a verse or two of the bible (correct though it is to base our responses on the Word) , we need to have a thorough and sound doctrinal understanding of what the Bible teaches.

Readers will perhaps have a question mark in their minds as to what Gnostic belief is and what it has to do with Christians today. As I explain in the book, Gnostic sects were among the first groups to twist the Christian gospel – they had a huge influence and led many astray into darkness in the times of the early church. They were groups that mixed Christian belief with the pagan religions of the Roman Empire, and eastern philosophies. Their teachings have reappeared from time to time in the history of the Christian church, but are reasserting their influence in our day and age, especially because of the impact of eastern religions like Buddhism and Hinduism in the West. They are subtle and once again will deceive many – but they can be recognized, and they can be countered.

The book chapter headings give an idea of the book contents, and so I list them below:

Introduction: The Way of Balaam and the implosion of the Western Church
1. The Quest.
2. Enter the goddess.
3. Gnostic Doctrines I: The primacy of experience; the nature of humankind; the problem with the world; the person of Jesus; the place of Holy Scripture.
4. Gnostic Doctrines II: Salvation through altered consciousness; the Resurrection; Mysteries that transform; Time and History.
5. The Coming Chaos.
6. Called to shine as lights in the darkness.

Many of the examples that I use in the book are taken from events that are occurring in mainline denominations, such as Anglican, Baptist, Reformed and Lutheran churches. However these false teachings are beginning to infiltrate large Free Evangelical and Charismatic/Pentecostal churches through the very influential leaders of the “Emergent Church” movement. Western culture has long abandoned its mooring in Christian thought and belief and the effect of this will be felt not only in North America, Britain and Europe, but throughout the world. Many prominent and respected Christian thinkers are warning us that we face the rise of a new world order that is totally pagan in its foundations and which will threaten the Christian Church in a way that has not been seen since the days of the Roman Empire. Not only is this new world order post- Christian, it is anti-Christian. Frederick Baue the Lutheran theologian tells us that what is coming is “a phase of western or world civilization that is innately religious but hostile to Christianity....or worse, a dominant but false church that brings all of its forces to bear against the truth of God’s Word”. If we are not prepared, if we do equip ourselves by seeking a deeper understanding of Christian truth and a deeper knowledge of our faith, we will be swept away by what is coming on the world. I hope that my book will go some way in helping people to gain that deeper understanding and so stand strong and be able to offer a sound and clear defence of their faith.

I believe that the Christian church today as never before needs believers that love the Lord Jesus and are committed to standing for the truth. My prayer is that my book will ignite a spark of renewed passion for the Lord among believers and a clearer understanding of His glorious Gospel.

“The Way of Balaam” is available from the following Bookshops:

Christian Connexion
Christian Book Discounters,

Or directly from the author: price R120 + R10 postage

Rev Dave Doveton is an Anglican Priest, and serves in the Diocese of Port Elizabeth. He is the rector of the parishes of St Barnabas and St Philips, and also serves as the Anglican Dean of Studies of Stellenbosch Theological Seminary.