December 6, 2002
How to Fight False Teachings
"Among you also there will be false teachers who will struggle in pernicious heresies. They will go so far as to deny the Master Who acquired them for His own, thereby bring on themselves swift disaster. Their lustful ways will lure many away. Through them, the true way will be made subject to contempt" (2 Pt 2:1-2).
"Let us, then, be children no longer, tossed here and there, carried about by every wind of doctrine that originates in human trickery and skill in proposing error" (Eph 4:14).
- A priest counsels an unmarried couple to fornicate "if they really love each other."
- A priest in a diocesan chancery says that abortion and homo-sexual acts may or may not be wrong, depending on a person's conscience.
- A seminary professor publicly denies the importance of the doctrine of Immaculate Conception of Mary.
- All but two people in a parish's adult education group advocate giving condoms to their teenage children. They say it is unrealistic to expect their children to be chaste.
- A seminary professor of moral theology maintains that sometimes suicide is permissible.
- A pastor takes the authority to OK the tubal ligation of one of his parishioners.
- A couple shops around for a priest who will approve the use of artificial contraception. They don't have to shop long.
The situations listed above are much more common than we would like to believe. We live in a time of false teaching "when people will not tolerate sound doctrine, but, following their own desires, will surround themselves with teachers who tickle their ears" (2 Tm 4:3). These false teachings are so destructive to people's lives that we must "fight hard for the faith" (Jude 3), and "guard the rich deposit of faith" (2 Tm 1:14; 1 Tm 6:20). "There are many irresponsible teachers...these must be silenced" (Ti 1:10-11).
To fight false teaching, we must:
- pray. "Pray that we may be delivered from confused and evil men" (2 Thes 3:2).
- repent. "Remove the plank from your own eye first; then you will see clearly to take the speck from your brother's eye" (Mt 7:5).
- obey the Lord and His Church. God's word promises: "We are ready to punish disobedience in anyone else once your own obedience is perfect" (2 Cor 10:6).
- know true teachings. We must do our best to know the Bible (see Acts 20:30- 32) and the teachings of the Church (see 1 Tm 3:15), especially the teachings of the Pope.
- teach the truth. "I charge you to preach the word, to stay with this pealing-- constantly teaching" (2 Tm 4:2).
- "profess the truth in love" (Eph 4:15). We must hate the sin of false teaching, but love the sinners. Love is based on truth (2 Jn 2).
- correct false teachers sharply (Ti 1:13) but gently "in the hope always that God will enable them to repent and know the truth" (2 Tm 2:25). If our correction is not followed, we should pray about informing the pastor, bishop or proper higher authority about the false teaching. We should do this only after informing the false teacher that we are contacting his or her superior.
- "stay clear" of those who "oppose the truth" and "with perverted minds...falsify the faith" (2 Tm 3:5, 8; see also 2 Jn 10-11). "The influence of their talk will spread like the plague" (2 Tm 2:17). We should not leave our church; instead we should be careful not to let ourselves be infected with secular humanism and "blinded by the god of the present age" (2 Cor 4:4).
- be willing to suffer persecution and death. "Even to the death fight for truth, and the Lord your God will battle for you" (Sir 4:28).
- rejoice in the measure that we share Christ's sufferings (1 Pt 4:13). God's truth will win out. "His truth is marching on" ("The Battle Hymn of the Republic").
When we receive true teaching and fight false teaching, God's divine revelation is much clearer to us. This clarity is the basis for unity in the body of Christ, victory over temptations, and commitment to live our lives for the Lord and His Church. So, "fight hard for the faith" (Jude 3).
Nihil obstat: Reverend Edward Gratsch, December 22,
Imprimatur: + Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Auxiliary Bishop and Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, December 30, 1993.