THE CULT OF INTELLECTUAL SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS

An Indictment of Subversives within God's Church, by
Gary Ray Branscome
 
 

The essence of self-righteousness is a refusal to humble oneself before God.

    People usually associate the word “cult” with strange religious beliefs, and to an extent that view is justified because many cults are quite bizarre. Nevertheless, it would be a serious mistake to assume that all cults are bizarre, or that only strange religions are dangerous. In fact, most cults try to hold up a veneer of respectability, and just as Satan can disguise himself as an angel of light, cult members can outwardly appear to be good decent people (2Corinthians 11:13-15). What makes a particular group of people a cult is not their strangeness, but what they teach!

    To those living in ancient Israel, the Pharisees represented the height of respectability. However, if the Pharisees had actually been following the Jewish religion, Jesus would never have called them “hypocrites” [i.e. fakes]. Of course, they did not see it that way. They were convinced that they were right, and they were very sincere in what they believed. Nevertheless, they were sincerely wrong! In the same way, many in our country are outwardly very respectable, sincere, and convinced that they have the truth, yet we know from Scripture that they are leading people into hell. The purpose of this essay is to help you to recognize some of them.

    First of all, the words, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” tell us that those who are truly Christ’s sheep will accept everything that the Bible says (John 10:27). Likewise, the words, “he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error” tell us that those who refuse to hear what the Bible says have a spirit of error (1John 4:6). For that reason, we need to be wary of anyone who questions what the Bible says.

    However, because the devil never makes it easy for us to recognize false prophets, most cults will interpret statements of Scripture to support their doctrine, and when you reject their interpretation will try to make it look like you are the one who is rejecting what the Bible says. That is why it is important to clearly distinguish between what the words of Scripture actually say, and what they are interpreted to say. For example: although some people interpret the words “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s” as a command to keep Christian influence out of government. All that passage actually says is that we should pay our taxes. While it may reflect the fact that the Jewish religion was separate from the Roman government, because the word “separate” is not in the text, it is not a command to keep anything separate.

    Getting back to those who reject what the Bible says. What about professors who reject the Biblical account of creation, Christ's virgin birth, His resurrection, or what the Bible says about homosexuality? Wasn’t the Apostle Paul trying to warn us about such people when he said, “after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:29-31). Isn’t it obvious that those who undermine faith, cast doubt on God's Word, and contradict what God said are doing the devil's work. If so, we need to realize that Satan has raised up a cult within modern churches. A cult, not of bizarre behavior, but of intellectual self-righteousness. [See 2Peter 2:1.]

THE CULT IN OUR MIDST


    Just as no one can come to God on the basis of their own righteousness, no one can come to God on the basis of their own reason (John 6:44, Proverbs 14:12). Therefore, just as we must humbly admit our sin, we must humbly admit our ignorance, and submit our thinking to the Word of God (2Corinthians 10:5, Romans 12:2, Isaiah 8:20). However, since the leadership of many Christian colleges and seminaries is controlled by those who are intellectually self-righteous, the job of passing on and preserving the faith is often in the hands of those who are working to destroy it (Acts 20:29-31).

    When students complain of professors who undermine their faith, isn’t it obvious that those professors are doing the devil’s work? And, if they are doing the devil’s work, isn’t it equally obvious that they are false prophets and agents of Satan? If so, every Christian has a responsibility to expose and condemn their evil work (Ephesians 5:11). Furthermore, if you are slandered, condemned, or persecuted for exposing such people, you need to take comfort in the fact that Christ was persecuted for exposing the hypocrisy of the spiritual leaders of His day (John 15:20, Luke 21:13).

    Some time ago, a local talk show host spent two hours voicing his displeasure with those who insist that God created the world in just seven days. When a listener pointed out what the Bible said, he brushed it aside, insisting that we have no way of knowing how long the days were, or if the story of Adam and Eve is an allegory. However, all of his big talk only showed his ignorance. For, the Bible not only tells us that God created the world in six days, but also defines those days by telling us that each one had a “morning” and an “evening”. Likewise, the Bible not only presents the story of Adam and Eve as history, but also defines them as real people by telling us who their descendants were, and by including Adam in the lineage of Christ. Therefore, the problem is not with the Bible. On the contrary, the Bible is perfectly clear. That talk show host simply refused to accept what the Bible said, and by so doing revealed the fact that he has a spirit of error (1John 4:6, Isaiah 8:20).
I might also point out that he was only parroting many in the academic world, who try to deify themselves by rejecting and explaining away the Word of God. In contrast, God expects us to be humble, admit our own ignorance, and correct our thinking by bringing into accord with what the Bible says (Isaiah 8:20, 1Timothy 6:3-5, Romans 12:2).

    Those who claim that the Bible contradicts itself provide us with another example of intellectual self-righteousness. The proof of what I say can be seen in the fact that they never claim that the facts of nature contradict each other. For example, they never claim that the fact that iodine is poisonous contradicts the fact that we need some in our diet. Likewise, they never claim that the fact that positively charged particles repel each other contradicts the fact that positively charged particles bind together in the nucleus of an atom. They only claim to see contradictions in Scripture because they are trying to determine the truth of Scripture by their own intellect, and failing just as self-righteous people always do (Proverbs 14:12, Luke 1:51 and 10:21).

[Note: Since the words, “Judge not lest ye be judged” are directed at those who compare themselves to others in order to convince themselves of their own righteousness, they do not apply to those who trust in Christ (Matthew 7:1, 1Corinthians 5:12-6:3, Luke 18:11).]

CONCLUSION


    While Christ never minced words in dealing with false teachers, He was not dealing with members of another religion, but hypocrites in His own. Therefore, when He condemned self-righteousness, rebuked those who rationalized sin, and denounced doctrines that give people a false assurance of salvation, He did so because that was the responsible thing to do. Furthermore, when He called the Pharisees “hypocrites,” He did so because they were hypocrites, not because He was in a bad mood. Moreover, it is important to understand that it was their doctrine that made them hypocrites, not insincerity (compare Matthew 16:12 with Luke 12:1).

    Because human nature has not changed, we deal with many of the same problems that Christ dealt with. Now, as then, there are those who think that they should be listened to because of their learning, even though they are unwilling to humble themselves before God, and so deny the truth of Scripture, condone sin, and undermine faith. However, what the devil tries to cover up, is the fact that such people are persecuting us. They persecute us by making fun of what we believe. They persecute us by mocking us in the classroom. They persecute us by infiltrating our churches and trying to undermine faith in God’s Word. They persecute us by denying missionaries the support that they need to live on. They persecute us by slandering us, or calling us “funnymentalists”. They persecute us by having “conservatives” fired, or passed over for promotion. They persecute us by trying to lead our children away from faith in God’s Word. And, they persecute us by denying hard earned pensions to those who join a more conservative denomination.