Not too long ago we had a question in response to our post 3 Tips for Leading a Successful Bible Study. We thought we’d blog about it and share the question and our response here!:
I’m wondering what you suggest when Bible study leaders teach things that are clearly against what Scripture teaches? The article talks about being accepting, but how to accept false teaching?
Glad you asked! It’s a great question isn’t it? While we don’t recommend “accepting” false teaching, we can recommend clarifying Scripture with your Bible study leader or just asking a question in your group.
One set of tools we recommend that believers use are the Creeds (Apostle’s Creed, Nicene Creed, and the Chalcedonian Creed). In the early days of the Church, heresies cropped up everywhere as the gospel spread and Scriptural interpretation began to vary so leaders came together to put together the creeds to help believers identify the most basic and important beliefs of Christianity.
1. Creeds help Christians to distinguish between essential and nonessential beliefs. Not everyone who disagrees with you is a heretic! There are some beliefs on which Christians cannot compromise. On others, we can agree to disagree. The creeds—which focus on the essential beliefs that cannot be compromised—help us to distinguish between essential and nonessential beliefs.
2. Creeds help Christians to focus their faith and worship on the issues that matter most. The issues that the creeds emphasize—such as the Trinity, the character of God, the nature of Jesus, and the resurrection, for example—are the ones that the earliest Christians understood to matter most. These same beliefs can provide a unifying focus for contemporary Christians’ teaching and worship.
3. Creeds help Christians to articulate clearly how their beliefs differ from other teachings. The apostle Peter commanded his readers always “to be ready to provide to anyone who asks a defense for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15-16). When it comes to giving a defense for our faith, the creeds are crucial! When someone asks what Christians believe about the resurrection of Jesus, the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds provide concise summaries of this core doctrine. When a child in Sunday school asks why Jesus came to earth, a teacher who remembers the Nicene Creed can tell the child immediately, “It was for us and for our salvation.” If someone asks whether the virgin conception of Jesus really matters, the Christian who knows the creeds can immediately recall that, even for the earliest believers in Jesus, this was an essential doctrine.
We hope this answers some of your questions about clarifying doctrine and Scripture! If you think the teaching might be a serious error and you’ve been unable to reason with your Bible study leader, you might consider meeting with your pastor or church elder. For more advice on this, check out June Hunt’s Spiritual Abuse book for more insight!
FREE “Apostles’ Creed” eChart
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This “Apostles’ Creed” eChart gives an easy-to-understand description of what each phrase in the creed means and gives its biblical basis. It also shows why the creed was written and how false beliefs threatened Christianity at the time of the early church. Learn how the Apostles’ Creed captured the essence of the gospel and protected the early church from stumbling into error.
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