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    "You are really cool you are married to an European!! How cooler can you be??"
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    "Oh, you did not ask for Bonhoeffer's opinion did you? You wanted mine..."
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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

False Believers

A popular phrase we hear often these days is, “true believer”. I’m uncertain of the origin of this concept but I am certain that this redundancy is most often used these days to mask a logical fallacy that, when applied to faith in Christ, provides a fertile field in which to cultivate the perception that faith is grounded in works and not in the Grace of God. The fallacy I am referring to is the concept that there are “false believers”.

The temptation to accept this concept as valid is almost overwhelming. There are most surly those who do not truly believe and there are certainly those who hold to a false belief and so therefore these persons must be considered as false believers. It only makes sense, right? Wrong! The term is an oxymoron. The one who does not truly believe makes a false profession of faith and the one who holds to a false belief clearly believes a lie. The one does not believe at all and the other truly believes a lie but the one who believes in Jesus Christ truly believes the Truth. There is no such thing as a false belief in the Truth.

It seems that most often the greatest confusion caused by those who accept this concept arises when they fail to make a distinction between believers who are faithful and those who are not. Faithful believers are considered “true” believers and unfaithful believers become “false” believers with the distinction being made, not by the Grace of God, which is through faith in Christ Jesus, but by works alone. Once it is accepted that believers can be both true and false then every reference to believers in the scripture can be construed to address both those who are in Christ and those who are not. From this perspective every admonition, warning and condemnation is placed on those without Christ and every praise, promise, and blessing is heaped on all believers rather than on those who are faithful in Christ.


Blogger dorsey said...

heh. I think "true believer" was likely coined as a coercive device by someone who wanted to get everyone around to his way of doing things.

Kc, do you think the man described in 1 Cor. 3:15 bears on this distinction?

6/03/2008 05:46:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

I suspect you're right about the use of this phrase and yes; I think many of us will suffer loss in judgment.

6/03/2008 06:54:00 AM  
Blogger dorsey said...

I was thinking of the discussion over at Jim's, and the question of being in error/false teaching and yet still saved.

I would consider a believer one who confesses that Jesus is Lord and believes that God raised him from the dead (all the while acknowledging that it's not up to me).

Let me throw this out there. I know Jehovah's Witnesses deny that Jesus is God. However, if they believe that God raised him, and confess that he is Lord of all (even if not God), could they be saved, despite their utterly works-based theology and some of the other lunacy?

Maybe this isn't a good question, because I don't really have an intimate understanding of JW, nor whether the above is a plausible representation of their beliefs. I'm not really satisfied with the way I've articulated this, but do you see where I'm going? If you meet the primary requisite, how much error does it take to disqualify you from being saved?

Everyone has some false belief.

6/03/2008 07:44:00 AM  
Blogger Another Voice said...


I get it. I do it. It comes down to me judging others when I am not their master. And by their works, at that. Thanks for the word, Bro.


I hope you don't mind a correction based on KC's post:

"Everyone has some false belief." to "Everyone has belief in something false." ??

I hope there's an answer to your question as I have been wondering the same thing.


6/03/2008 07:59:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Brother there is a heated debate currently raging over the minimum knowledge required for faith in Christ and while I do have my own opinions my position is that there’s no practical reason for us to try and identify this. Christ’ command to us was to teach all things and I find no reason to preach or to teach anything less.

With respect to soteriology it is incumbent on each of us to make our calling and election sure and we are strictly forbidden from judging the heart of another. I can judge none but my own and even that, not by my own abilities, but by the Grace of God. We can help one another but each of us must work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.

With respect to Christian fellowship I look to 1st John for guidance and while I know that there are tares with the wheat I also know Christ has forbade us from threshing.

Now to answer your question: ;-)

I have no doubt that our ignorance will not prevent us. If it did then none of us could be saved.

Missy thanks, as always, for this and all the contributions only you can make! ;-)

I don’t want to split hairs but I do think there are false beliefs in the sense that what is believed is not true but theses are not false believers because they genuinely believe what is false.


6/03/2008 08:15:00 AM  
Blogger Kris said...

Great post, KC.

I also think the following statement in your comments to Missy is good;

"I don’t want to split hairs but I do think there are false beliefs in the sense that what is believed is not true but theses are not false believers because they genuinely believe what is false."

I think that is so true. If I didn't then I would be left with the 'belief' that only one system of theology, church denomination, etc can be "believed" by 'true believers'.

IOW if you don't "believe" in the 'true' system that is based on "truth" then you must be a 'false believer', right? :)

Do you think Fred Phelps the Baptist pastor from Kansas is just an unruly brother or do you think it is some 'deeper' problem?

6/03/2008 06:38:00 PM  
Blogger Rose~ said...

I agree - it is a poor term. I agree - this concept (as you have explained it) strips the warning passages of their application to believers.

There may be false professors, lying about what they believe, but we know this is not how the term is employed.

6/04/2008 10:11:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Well said Kris. It may be a bit of an oversimplification but I believe that is precisely why the body of Christ is so divided. Thanks for the insight!

Rose thanks so much and, as always, I totally agree! ;-)

6/04/2008 03:50:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

(Kris I have to plead ignorance on Phelps)

6/04/2008 03:52:00 PM  
Blogger dorsey said...

Regarding Phelps, as we always say, I can't judge the man, but "God hates fags," "Thank God for AIDS," "God is your enemy," and "Thank God for dead soldiers" are not part of any gospel I recognize.

6/04/2008 07:19:00 PM  
Anonymous GordonCloud said...

Great post, KC.

I would agree with you and Dorsey that this label probably came from someone who was trying to use it to coerce someone else.

Jesus used the description of "wheat and tares". It's not hard to tell the difference between the two. Strangely, though, the magnifying glass people use to distinguish between "true" believers and "false" believers keeps getting larger and larger.

6/05/2008 09:54:00 AM  
Blogger Penless Thoughts said...

Great post and discussion!!!!

6/05/2008 02:52:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Dorse that’s just awful.

Preacher I think it goes right back to the insecurity. The more wrong you are the more right I must be.

Ms. Susan thank so much. I pray all are doing well at your place.

6/06/2008 12:40:00 AM  
Blogger Mrs Zeke said...

It seems like many things that people say like "so and so is a true believer and so and so is not because..." was all solved by Dr Seuss with The have and The have not's.

See all is well in the world we should follow Dr. Seuss!

Be loved you are

6/06/2008 12:35:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Lady Z it's so good to hear from you! I too am a fan of the Seuss man, I am. A fan of the Seuss of the Sam, yes I am. ;-)

I hope all is well with you and yours.

6/06/2008 05:11:00 PM  
Blogger David Wyatt said...

Great thoughts brothers & sisters!

11/17/2009 02:12:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Thanks so much Bro. David. It's so kind and encouraging of you to take the time to read and comment on these old articles. You're a wonderful brother! ;-)

11/17/2009 02:40:00 PM  
Blogger David Wyatt said...

Bro. KC, I get such a blessing not only from your articles, but the interaction between brothers & sisters here! Thanks for your encouragement brother!

12/14/2009 10:50:00 PM  

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