2 Peter 2, Psalm 143
It would be difficult to find a group of people that that the New Testament epistles oppose more than false teachers, especially those instructing under Christian guise. I guess the devil would be the closest competitor. Peter, like Paul does not mince words about the fate that awaits those who act as messengers of Christ yet in some way “deny the Sovereign Lord who bought them.” Yet my anecdotal impression of how contemporary CHristians relate to our teachers and preachers is by taking extreme positions. I see Christians, especially on the internet, but also in our Bible schools who seem to accuse everyone but themselves of being heretics that are “blots and blemishes” (2 Peter 2:13). On the other hand there those who are so exhausted by theological debate that they are willing to indulge all kinds of theological lunacy. We must be careful to avoid either pit, for one refuses to listen and in so doing displays a lack of loving obedience; while the other ignores the seriousness of the maxim “ideas have consequences”. I am not arguing for balance, per se, for Peter has an extreme tone against actual false teachers. Rather, what I desire is that we learn to distinguish between simply mistaken beliefs as opposed to doctrines that place someone outside the bounds of Orthodox Christianity. For example a particular view on baptism or on which (biblical) atonement motif is most central to the Gospel’s presentation might make one mistaken, but not a heretic. In the spirit of Christian fellowship, we should gladly disagree with a person without quoting “Blackest darkness is reserved for them”. (2 Peter 2:17) Whereas if someone denies the divinity of Christ or that salvation comes through Jesus alone, we do not hesitate to denounce such beliefs as mistaken and incredibly dangerous, not to mention leaving the teacher of such heresy open to judgement. Be extreme in your opposition to heresy like Peter, but don’t be extreme in calling your family heretics. That is not the point of the ongoing warnings against false teachers in the New Testament.