Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Ten Commandments of Discernment

"Century after century, man's religious imagination leads him to re-create ancient heresies in reaction to the same orthodoxy, which has now been constant for so long." -Harold Brown, Heresies

What is orthodoxy and what is heresy? These questions are critical in apologetics. Unfortunately, many Christians with a zeal to defend their faith often neglect studies that will lead to a solid foundation in orthodoxy and, as a result, sometimes fall into the errors of either being too hard on a teaching or being too easy on it.

Below is a brief excerpt from Robert Bowman's book Orthodoxy and Heresy. This section is dubbed, "The 'Ten Commandments' of Discernment." This is a helpful starting point for being biblically discerning.

1. Learn to exercise discernment while growing as a Christian in faith, love, and holiness.
2. Develop a thorough and sound grasp of Scripture.
3. Learn to think in a logical, sensitive manner.
4. Study Christian doctrine from a variety of traditions within orthodox Christianity.
5. Learn as much relevant information as possible about a questionable teaching or religious group before making any judgment.
6. Base your understanding of a questionable doctrine on what those who espouse it say about it themselves, but do not assume that the use of orthodox language guarantees orthodox beliefs.
7. Treat the information supplied by ex-members with both respect and due caution.
8. In uncertain or borderline cases, give the benefit of the doubt to the person or group in question.
9. Begin with foundational matters.
10. Consult with reputable discernment ministries that honor biblical principles of discernment.

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