False teachers

lent2016

Reading: 2 Peter 2

But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them – bringing swift destruction on themselves. 2 Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. 3 In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.

 

Augustine was not impressed with his first reading of the Bible. In his search for wisdom he turned to the Manicheans, a rapidly spreading sect of the time. He had listened to them before and decided to join their ranks. Years later he recalled that period of his life in the following way:

Augustine
"They would say, ‘Truth, truth!’ and had plenty to tell me on the subject, but truth had no place in them. They told me lies not only about you [God], who are truly the Truth, but also about the elements of this world that is your creation. I ought to have gone beyond them and beyond what even truthful philosophers have taught out of love for you, my Father, who are the highest good and the loveliness in all lovely things."

How could it be that such a bright young man was so engaged with such a cult. He was drawn by the Manichean promises of achieving happiness through the means of reason, not faith. They also claimed that they were the true spiritual followers of Christ, liberated from the many alleged contradictions of the Old Testament. Worse still, their solution to the question of suffering assumed that two eternal principles, good and evil, were locked in a constant conflict.  These theories are strangely similar to the reasons given by those abandoning the church today: only accepting that which can be empirically and rationally justified; breaking free from the allegedly restrictive norms of the church; a modern approach to the questions of evil, disease, disaster, and life in general.

“Open my eyes that I may see
Glimpses of truth Thou hast for me
Place in my hands the wonderful key
That shall unclasp and set me free”