But there were also false prophets in Israel, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will cleverly teach destructive heresies and even deny the Master who bought them. In this way, they will bring sudden destruction on themselves. 2 Peter 2:1 (NLT)
Close to forty years ago Francis Schaeffer wrote about the heresy 21st century false teachers of the new theology….faith in faith itself hold up as the way to having your cake and eating it too! Schaeffer wrote:
Probably the best way to describe this concept of modern theology is to say that it is faith in faith, rather than faith directed to an object which is actually there….The same word, faith, is used, but has an opposite meaning. Modern man cannot talk about the object of his faith, only about the faith itself. So he can discuss the existence of his faith and its size as it exists against all reason, but that is all. Modern man’s faith turns inward.
Have you ever prayed for a pony? A child that prays for a pony to be standing next to the tree on Christmas morning, silver-buckled saddle and bridle, all ride-ready and waiting is generally going to be disappointed that inward-turned “faith” doesn’t work.
Francis Schaeffer makes the point of the Apostle Peter’s warning about false teachers and preachers who want us to swallow that “genuine” faith is all about believing like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz; if you click the heels of your ruby red slippers together three times and believe hard enough, you’ll be back in Kansas when you open your eyes. Or that pony will be there. Or the cancer will not have happened. Or…or…
The main problem is that God isn’t even a consideration in that kind of “faith”. That’s having faith in faith – not faith in God. Faith in God, by comparison, is a childlike trust that a prayer, once offered TO God (not flung in space in spite of God)…is then released into the care and better decision-making ability OF God.
In truly Christian faith, our prayers are a matter of placing our trust in God’s ability as Creator, Sustainer of Life, Lover of All Persons, His ability as GOD, to straighten-out our crooked prayers and give us what is best…not what we crave. This is the essence of Jesus’ prayer in the Garden: nevertheless…not my will…your will, Father. (Matthew 26:39)
Francis Schaeffer makes the point with clarity that this is the primary difference between what passes for Christianity at Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church, and what Jude(1:3) calls the genuine faith, once-delivered to the saints:
In Christianity the value of faith depends upon the object towards which the faith is directed. So it looks outward to the God who is there, and to the Christ who in history died upon the cross once for all, finished the work of atonement, and on the third day rose again in space and in time.
The “new theology” suggests (over and over again) that we can have what we want, when we want it, so long as we build our faith. That new Cadillac, new house and any pony you can imagine is our right! This is so opposite of what Scripture actually says about faith…that it is our gift from God to trust-in and rely-on God (see Mark 11:22).
So, really…the “new theology” isn’t really that new. It’s been around since Adam and Eve decided they wanted what God had (and we know how badly THAT turned-out).
For you, today
When you pray, it would be a good thing to begin with, “Our Father”, and let that set the tone for what you’re going to ask.
Forget the Ruby Red Slippers, Dorothy, have faith in God; leave the keys to the new house and Cadillac in His hands.
That’s real faith!