Krystal and I are blessed to have a language helper who grew up as a pastor’s kid, was discipled in university with GBUR (like Intervarsity or Navigators), and continues to pursue ministry. Every week he is reading a new book. I asked Philemon to share what he believed were the most common false teachings in the church of Rwanda. I tried to preserve his words below:
- Salvation by works
This is the oldest false teaching, stemming from the beginning of the church in Rwanda. It emphasizes moral behavior (giving, tithing, contributing to church activities). This behavior attracts God’s love to you and gets you into heaven. It calls for repentance to achieve a better life, without an emphasis on faith. When you sin, you hide your sin in guilt. When you are caught, in shame you give as a “sacrifice” of repentance. People caught by this lie have a transactional view of God, and do not know the power of trusting Christ alone and receiving God’s unconditional love and forgiveness.
- Cheap Grace
This teaching swayed many of my peers. They argue that Jesus died to take away sin. Therefore, if you say you still have sin or do sin, you deny what Christ did. A Christian does not sin; all that a righteous person does is righteous. They deny the need for confession, believe in complete sanctification, and neglect self-control. We are not justified by works, so there is no problem in taking a bribe. They believe that even Jesus sinned, but God did not hold him guilty because he was declared righteous.
As a child of God, he owes you something. I should be the best because I am a child of God. If you are poor, your faith is insufficient, or you haven’t tested God [name it, claim it], or you haven’t been good. God wants you to be at the top so that the world will see and glorify him. Often these pastors preach on the promises given to Abraham and Israel.
The average Christian and many pastors do not know how to recognize a cult [or step-cousin religion] (Jehovah’s Witnesses or Latter Day Saints). Sometimes churches from good traditions/denominations can adopt cultic beliefs through guest preachers or false prophecy.
At first blush, it looks like solid biblical teaching could counter any of these, but the problem is also a problem of the heart. People want control of their salvation and their future. They don’t want to resist temptation.
Some of the blame falls on the pastors. God will hold church leaders and teachers to account for leading his flock astray. To this end, I strive to bring biblical literacy and discipleship into the lives of the pastors and church leaders, so they can lead well, that the Church of Rwanda would operate as the Body of Christ.
If this was of value to you, take a moment to share it with others.
As always, we appreciate your financial and spiritual partnership in this ministry to Rwanda.