So, what causes someone to push error in the church and/or believe it for themselves? Here are five reasons.
1. They are intentionally coming into the church to deceive. It may well be that they have a specific agenda. Often it is about personal gain. Historically false teaching -whether insisting that church members do penance and pay indulgences or getting them to pay tithes and seed gifts to show faith -has been about power and control.
2. It is something that they have simply heard and believed. It may well be something they have grown up with. In our context, we have people coming into the church who have come out of prosperity churches, Catholicism and groups like the Jehovah’s Witnesses. It can take a long time to get some things out of your system. The important thing is whether or not they are teachable.
3. Intellectual pride. This is why it is so important that Theological study isn’t treated as an academic exercise detached from the church. When this happens, students and lecturers treat knowledge and learning as their private possession. It can be fun to play around with fanciful and speculative theories. However, it is deeply dangerous. Similarly, when people get cut off from the reality of life in the local church or in the wider church, then that’s when they begin to obsess about issues that are important to them but not central to the Gospel and not particularly relevant to local church life.
4. Linked to the 3rd point is a poor spiritual diet. Someone can spend so much time among false teachers through the books they read and the websites they click on that it eventually begins to rub off of them. They set out to defend the faith but end up shipwrecking their own. Notice that a significant issue with points 3 and 4 is isolation. We need to watch out for those who get isolated from the rest of the flock.
5. To justify sinful behaviour. Sadly, I’ve seen this happen. A friend of mine realised that they could not live up to the demands that they saw in the Bible (as it happens I also think that they were heavily legalistic about some things and licentious about others) and so it was just easier to stop believing in the infallibility of Scripture and from there to deny the deity of Christ. We often talk on faithroots.net about how what we believe affects how we live. Sadly, the converse is true as well. How we live often affects what we believe.