CAN YOU SPOT THE DOCTRINAL ERROR?

By Akin Ojumu

One of the two statements below is a doctrinal error that contradicts the fundamentals of the Christian faith. Can you tell which one is it? Are you Biblically savvy enough to detect a doctrinal error?

Statement 1:
There is one God, Creator of all things, infinitely perfect, and eternally existing in three manifestations: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Statement 2:
There is one God, Creator of all things, infinitely perfect, and eternally existent in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

One of these two statements is Modalism (aka Sabellianism), which is a Scripturally erroneous view of the nature of God and the Trinity. The doctrine originated from a bishop in the early church, a guy by the name Sabellius.

The difference between the error and the truth in the above statements is so subtle it is easily missed. Yet, it's so dangerous with profound implications that strike directly at the heart of the Christian faith, and it is a devastating assault on the foundation of our Belief. And that is the nature of error. On the surface, it looks innocuous. But it is deadly poison.

In one of his treatises on the danger that Modalism poses to the Christian faith, Augustine of Hippo (aka Saint Augustine) remarks, "In no other subject is error more dangerous, or inquiry more laborious, or the discovery of truth more rewarding."

Apostle Paul urged Timothy, his spiritual son, to, "Study and do your best to present yourself to God approved, a workman who has no reason to be ashamed, accurately handling and skillfully teaching the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15).

There's no greater responsibility that a Christian has than to accurately teach the Word of God. Discernment of error is the duty of all Christians. Our very lives depend on it. This is especially true for those who consider themselves leaders in the Church. To whom much is given, much is required. It is better not to teach at all than to teach error. A deliberate and persistent teacher of erroneous doctrine is doomed.

“If anyone causes one of these little ones – those who believe in me – to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea" (Matthew 18:6).

You cannot afford to trifle with the Word of God or play hanky-panky with His Truth. This is serious business. Sadly, many Christians fail to understand the gravity of this matter. They continue to sleep at the wheel of their spiritual destiny, thinking this is no big deal, it's business as usual.

"On the day of judgment people will have to give an accounting for every careless or useless word they speak" (Matthew 12:38).

Excuses in defense of those who teach error such as, "Oh, he misspoke," or, "He didn't mean it that way, this is what he meant to say," will be untenable when we all stand before the judgment throne of God. Regardless of whether the person misspoke or actually believe in what they said, what is said is what people hear.

It is what comes out of the mouth of the speaker that those whose faith is weak hear, and not what the speaker might have meant to say. What is spoken out loud, and heard, becomes the "little leaven" that spreads through the dough and destroys the souls of men. 

Distressingly, there are far too many teachers of error out there in the world today who parade themselves as men or women of God, and who are regarded as oracles of God by the millions who follow them and hang on to every poison they teach. That's the greatest threat to Christianity today.

It is, therefore, incumbent on all true Christians, those who really know and serve God, to rise up and fight the good fight of faith. God did not send His only begotten Son to the world to die a shameful death on the Cross to save us from eternal damnation just for us to goof around until He comes back again.

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