By David Gunn
Since its inception, the church has waged a long, hard struggle against theological error. “Beware false prophets,” Jesus warned His disciples, “who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves” (Matt. 7:15). Sure enough, false teachings arose almost as soon as there were congregations to lead astray, prompting Peter to write, “Beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked” (2 Pet. 3:17). Jude, too, echoed this sentiment: “I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3).
But while the threat of heresy has been ever-present, its precise shape has varied from generation to generation. Almost a century ago, our association of churches was birthed on the battlefield of the fundamentalist-modernist controversy as orthodox traditionalists squared off against liberal progressives. Today, the specter of liberal theology has mostly faded away. In its place a host of other heresies has arisen, threatening to rob the church of its spiritual vitality and contaminate its life-giving message.