Can bad doctrine send you to Hell?

nodenom's picture

The few assembled on this forum are proof enough that Roman Catholics and Protestants and Mormons and JW's will never agree on certain points of doctrine. In fact within each denomination, you will also find disagreement.
This comes as no surprise since we are all still pretty messed up people. A large percentage of confessing 'christians' still suffer the same troubles as non christians as we play out our own little dramas we think important.

Now the question "how much wrong doctrine, dogma etc. must we embrace to lose our salvation"? In fact, can we lose our salvation by embracing wrong doctrine or do we just put ourselves in danger of never seeing the full life Christ has provided manifesting in our lives?

Will we ever see 'His kingdom come and His will being done' or will we just play our pitiful little parts on this stage and never see what could have been?

michael_legna's picture

Works which perfect must come before that which is perfected

jqlogan writes -
I am sure there are many who love the church as an extension of Jesus and that is a wonderful thing. I believe God will accept that type of indirect obedience to a point. But a love of church above Christ would be idolatry.

Yes, it would but that is not what Catholics do. They come to know and love Christ through the Church He built for that very purpose. Any love for the Church we have is because of its service in bringing us to Christ.

jqlogan said -
This is why God chose something so silly as preaching to win souls to His kingdom. God approaches us through our minds. He appeals to our reasoning.

ML said -
It is also why God chose something so silly as the Church to send preachers out to do the preaching to win souls to His kingdom. God approaches us through our minds and by appealing to our reasoning by sending out those to preach the Gospel - that is why the Church was established. Scripture tells us it is by hearing a properly preached understanding of the Gospel that one comes to believe, not by reading and interpreting on our own.

jqlogan writes -
The church indeed has the mission to reach the world with the gospel. But without the members the church is nothing.

And without the Church the members would be nothing because we would not know Christ. Because without the Church we would not have preaching (because no one would be sent) and we would not have the new Testament and we would not have shepherds and without them the sheep are scattered.

jqlogan said -
The early church used the same scriptures to make arguments against the teachings of the Jewish leaders. Jesus asked Nicodemus, "Are you a teacher of Israel and don't know these things?" So while it may have sufficed us to accept the preaching of men in times past it now behooves us to search the scriptures for ourselves to see if what they are telling us is indeed proper.

The early Church also saw Christ argued that even His disciples were to obey the teachings of those who sat in Moses seat – so your conclusion is not so clear cut.

jqlogan said -
This is a privilege we have today that was not afforded our ancestors when they were prohibited from owning Bibles in their common language for fear they would misinterpret them. So since we have this privilege today we should eagerly exercise it.

Our ancestors were never prohibited from owning Bibles except by the extreme price of them and their own illiteracy.

jqlogan said -
The only thing missing with the Hebrews appears to be faith. The scripture tells us they lacked faith. (Heb 4:2). It wasn't wrong for them to obey the law but they thought that by so doing they had a part in their salvation. Thus, they came to rely more and more on what they could do rather than on God. And over time they actually lost site of God until they eventually rejected Jesus.

Yes they lacked faith, but you should not jump to the conclusion that one verse tells you everything about the history of a nation. The rest of the Scriptures tell us a tale of them trying to earn salvation and being enslaved to the letter of the law.

jqlogan said -
But Galatians 3 and Romans 3 make it very clear that righteousness does not come from observing a law but comes only by faith in Jesus.

ML said -
NO it doesn't. In fact it never says "only by faith" anywhere in these writings. It only contrasts faith against works aimed at earning salvation, it never even contrasts faith with works of love, let alone separating faith so as to be alone. In fact there is only one place in all of scripture where the concept of faith only is found and that is in James where it says we are not saved by faith alone.

Jas 2:24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

jqlogan said -
Ok, perhaps it doesn't say "only." But the distinction is clearly made between faith and works with the conclusion that righteousness does not come by works but it does come by faith.

No the distinction is between faith and works done in an effort to make God a debtor. This does not include all works (love never tries to indebt others), how could it since the New Testament is full of verses telling us to do things to inherit eternal life.

jqlogan said -
That exclusionary language implies "only" by faith and "not" by works.

No it implies not by works aimed at earning salvation, so there is no room here for ONLY not to mention that to say only here puts you in contradiction with James who say we are not saved by faith only.

jqlogan said -
James is referring to a cursory profession of belief and not true faith in Jesus.

Yes and no.

First that is precisely the kind of faith we have until it is perfected and enlivened by works of love – which is why the devils never go beyond that kind of faith.

But second you are wrong, the faith Abraham had in Gen 12 and 15 which James and Paul refer to is not a cursory profession of belief, and that is the kind of faith which James says does not say all by itself.

jqlogan said -
He is explaining that true faith begets works and he does so to condemn those who preached a message of only believe without corresponding works.

No he is explaining that works perfect and enliven faith, and until it is enlivened it is not a saving faith. You cannot have something come from a dead thing and in turn enliven that which is dead, nor can you have that which is generated by something turn back and perfect that which generated it.

jqlogan said -
But I think we are mixing justification which is imputed to us and only comes by faith, and sanctification which involved an impartation of the divine nature.

You may be confusing them but I know them to be two interdependent aspect of the process of salvation.

jqlogan said -
It would seem that our Catholic friends are telling us we have it backwards; that one must first be obedient and then by those good works comes perfect faith. While the Protestant says, Nay! But first comes faith and then obedience.

ML said -
But the second approach has that which is imperfect and dead generating those acts which perfect it and enliven it. This is completely backwards as nothing which is dead can produce fruit and fruit cannot perfect a dead plant.

jqlogan writes -
Not at all. If Christ dwells in our hearts by faith then it is no longer I but Christ who lives in me that "generates" those acts.

No, it cannot be Christ doing all these works alone with no action on our part because we know we work out our salvation with fear and trembling and Christ never did anything in fear and trembling.

jqlogan said -
In fact, Paul says that without Christ we are reprobates. And, the Lord testifies of us that we cannot do good because we are accustomed to doing evil.

Alone you are right, we are reprobates, but it is not ONLY Christ which changes us, it is the grace of God that we can be changed, because change, conversion, repentance all come before salvation and that is when Christ dwells within us.

jqlogan said -
So it can only be by the Holy Spirit that we do any good works. If this is not the case then perhaps given enough time man would have worked things out without God.

The Holy Spirit certainly plays a role, as it is the source of Grace, but it is not ONLY by an indwelling of the Holy Spirit that we can do good works, otherwise we would have to be indwelt by the Holy Spirit prior to having a perfect and living faith. To me this would mean we would have to be indwelt with the Holy Spirit before we were saved and that makes no sense.

jqlogan said -
The first method relies on what the individual can do to help himself. The second method relies completely upon what Jesus will do to help the sinner.

ML said -
No the first relies on the grace of God and man cooperating with that grace in order to accept the free gift which depends completely on Christ to have made its offer possible.

jqlogan writes -
Yes, but Romans 8:7 tells us that the carnal mind is enmity against God and is not subject to His law; neither indeed can be.

Alone you are right, but with God’s grace it can be made subject to God’s will.

jqlogan said -
So God can't even work with this carnal nature. That is why a man must be born again. He must receive a spiritual nature which God can work with.

Where do you get the idea this working with the carnal nature is beyond the abilities of God?!

jqlogan said -
Now I must ask, How does a man obtain this spiritual nature? And even if that question is answered the first question still remains. What would cause a carnal mind to even seek to come into subjection to God whom he is at war with? We must conclude that God reached out to man when man was totally helpless and unaware of his condition.

The spiritual nature is obtained through a proper acceptance of the free gift through a living faith (which cannot be separated from works). Man with his carnal mind seeks and comes into subjection to God through cooperating with the power of God’s grace. God does reach out to us when we are totally helpless – that is what grace does.

jqlogan said -
Scripture says, "There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none that understandeth, There is none that seeketh after God; They have all turned aside, they are together become unprofitable; There is none that doeth good, no, not, so much as one." Romans 3:10-12 (ASV).

Paul is referring here to mankind in general, as Abraham (who you refer to below in Rom 4) and others were indeed righteous, being so declared because of His faith AND works..

jqlogan said -
And again Paul writes, "For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, shall we be saved by his life." Romans 5:10 (ASV).

Yes, look at the verse you reference!!! We are saved not just by His sacrifice, but by His life too – in other words by His teachings. If we pick up our cross and follow Him, obey the Gospel that too plays a role in our salvation just as His sacrifice did.

jqlogan said -
What these scripture tell us is that when God came seeking after man he didn't find anyone who was seeking after God.

You are misreading these Scriptures then because we know Abraham and Enoch and many others did indeed seek after God.

jqlogan said -
In fact, he found that every one of His creation was His enemy. Paul says we were reconciled to God while we were His enemies. How can that be?

Because until Jesus’ sacrifice paid the eternal penalty for sin we were His enemies and so until this new economy of salvation was put in place and the New Covenant changed man’s destiny from eternal death to being heirs with Christ.

jqlogan said -
If your proposition is to be believed then at some point man had to lay down his hatred of God and comprehend that if He was going to be reconciled to God he must do some good thing in order to accept the gift.

Yes man lays down his hatred of God when his free will cooperates with the grace God gives him. By doing so he seeks God and comes to understand His will and then obeys the Gospel and the instructions in the Scriptures as to how to accept the gift.

jqlogan said -
But if a man works for something his reward is considered a debt and not a gift.

No if a man works for something with the intention of earning a reward then it stops being a gift and is counted as gift. But since God wills all men to be saved and come to the truth then man must do something to set himself apart from all those who are not saved. That something is cooperating with the grace God gives us to seek Him and obey His will so as to perfect and enliven the faith we have until it becomes a saving faith.

jqlogan said -
But if a man doesn't work for it then it is a gift. As scriptures says, "to him that worketh, the reward is not reckoned as of grace, but as of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is reckoned for righteousness. Even as David also pronounceth blessing upon the man, unto whom God reckoneth righteousness apart from works..." Romans 4:4-6 (ASV).

If a man doesn't work for it or if he does do something as instructed in an act of proper acceptance of the gift he is not earning it either and it is reckoned of grace.

Paul her is speaking not of all works, but works aimed at earning salvation and we see that from his specific reference to Abraham in Gen 15:4-6

Gen 15:4-6 4 And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir. 5 And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. 6 And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.

But to get a clear interpretation of this verse we must be careful to rely on all sources available and not develop our doctrine on one section of verse in isolation.

Consider James 2;21-24…
21Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? 22Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? 23And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. 24Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

See the wording in Rom 4:3 and James 2:23 they are identical; and James does us the favor of interpreting it in the very next sentence. We don't have to regret that Paul does not interpret this for us nor do we have to rely on our own interpretation. James has provided an interpretation by linking the case in Gen 15:4-6 with another related event in Gen 22:2-18 where works play a major role in righteousness.

James interpretation is that by works a man is justified and not by faith only. If I have to choose between modern Protestant interpretations and James' interpretation, I am going to accept his, after all his comes from the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

James is interpreting the same verse Paul refers to and James interpretation disagrees with those who see salvation through faith alone.

Note too that the promise made to Abraham by God in Gen 15:4 is made again after he attempts to sacrifice Isaac in Gen 22:18 and this time the promise is not based on believing but upon obedience.

Now you have to ask yourself are you going to believe your own interpretation or the one inspired by the Holy Spirit that is included in the Bible.

Romans 4:5 talks about the amzing gift of salvation and how we do not deserve it based on our works. God has imputed rigtheousness to all men, even though we are sinners - that is the miracle of the gift of salvation by grace. We did nothing and can do nothing to deserve it. All we have to do is accept this gift to receive this justification and the associated forgiveness of sins. The question lies in how we make a proper acceptance of the gift. Some claim the verse says specifically that all you have to do is believe. But besides the obvious problem about what belief means, whether it is merely mental assent or whether it goes so far as to include internalizing the message, taking it to your heart and then acting on it. The answer is clear when you look at the whole Bible and not just verses in isolation no matter how impressively they seem on face to support your position.

Christ, rather than teaching salvation by faith alone actually taught the necessity of works as part of truly accepting the Gospel as a way to salvation. If you can't find anything like what you think Rom 4:5-6 means within the Words of Red themselves then you have probably misinterpreted what Paul is saying in this verse. We certainly know that Christ and Paul do not disagree, so the error must be yours.

So what are we to conclude. Is it reasonable to assume that James was a more thorough searcher of the Word then Paul, so that he got an interpretations that is more reconcilable than Pauls? No of course not. The more reasonable conclusion is that Paul was not trying to teach faith alone, so there must be another message behind Pauls writing. This message is directed at those who still sought salvation through the law. It is meant as a correction of that doctrine. Faith is what IS counted as righteousness, but only because of God’s grace. Without God’s grace even our faith is insignificant when it comes to salvation. We could not be saved regardless of how strong our faith was if Christ had not acted as the atoning sacrifice. But what type of faith is Paul referring to here? Not a dead faith certainly, but a perfected faith. A true faith is accompanied by works. Those works are not what save us, they aren’t even what justify us or count toward righteousness. We are righteous only because our sins are covered by the blood of Christ. This wonderful free gift must be accepted though, and we do so by accepting Christ into our hearts and that requires an act of faith. We must do this on our own – we must accept the gift freely offered. That acceptance comes through a true, heart felt faith.

We must ask ourselves just what constitutes a true, heart felt faith? It is an acceptance of Christ and His message. His message is one of love for another. This needs to be an active love that is expressed through works. If your heart is right you will do these works gladly. As you do them your faith will be made stronger – perfected. If you get lax then as the old adage goes ‘An idle mind is the devils workshop.’, and your heart felt faith will lessen. How much works are required to maintain your faith? No one knows! Except of course God. For to know this requires that you know, not only your current state, but your future states as well. Salvation is a process not an event. You must persevere. You cannot know if tribulation in the future will shake your faith. That the feeling you hold in your heart, that makes you so hot now, won’t change and you might become lukewarm or even cold. To claim to know this is to claim to know the future and you cannot do that.

jqlogan said -
Whatever James has to say in this regard must be reconciled to these very plain statements from the apostle Paul who understood the matter of grace all too well.

Whatever Paul says needs to be reconciled with James writings and the entire rest of scripture. And the clarity or apparent clearness of his comments cannot be the determining factor; because it is possible to proceed in that way and find yourself in contradiction with some verse you have not yet considered. The better and only way to do this is to reconcile all verses of scripture to each other before formulating doctrine.

jqlogan said -
For Paul was definitely not seeking after Jesus when he was upon his mission to wipe out those early Christians. Yet, at that moment when Paul was Christ's most zealous enemy, Jesus called him. Now if you can show some good work that Paul did in his conversion you may begin to gain a little favor.

Paul was indeed seeking after Jesus, he just didn't realize it because Paul was indeed sincerely seeking the truth and was seeking to do God's will - he simply was completely wrong about what that will was.

jqlogan said -
BTW, in an early reply you suggested that I was less than civil in my remarks concerning the ignorant masses. You do understand the difference between ignorance and stupidity, right? Being ignorant is not a derogatory statement in and of itself. To be ignorant simply means to not know. We are all ignorant of many things and you have never hesitated to point out my ignorance regarding matter of Catholic faith.

You do understand the difference between accusing an individual of ignorance and accusing an entire class of people of the same thing, right?

If I play chess with some female and explain to her why she lost to me and what her weaknesses are I am merely expressing a fact and offering assistance in her getting better. But if I make a generalization about all women being weak chess players (as Robert Fischer - former world champion did) I am making a statement of prejudice and it is one to be repented of.

Your comment seemed to call into question the intelligence of the mass of Catholics who went before us. That is a judgment you cannot make since you do not know anything about those masses. To judge before knowing is prejudice.