Let him be anathema

by Mike Ratliff

23 Then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ,’ or ‘ There He is, ’ do not believe him. 24 For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. (Matthew 24:23-24 NASB)

I have been a Christian since January 1986. I had just turned 34 in October so I was an adult with a wife and children when God had mercy on this sinner. However, I grew up in a “Christian” home going to church every Sunday until I grew up and went my own way. I know that Christians are commanded to be forgiving, kind, and gentle with others. However, we are also commanded to stand firm and withstand false teachers and their doctrines. When I began writing and blogging as an extension of my teaching ministry, I soon experienced a very rude awakening. When I wrote about things that were experiential and not tied to any specific doctrines no one seemed to care, but the closer I came to that dividing line that separates God’s Truth from everything else, the attacks of every sort seemed to descend on me from every direction. The more precise I came in laying out what is true from that which is not true, the angrier many of my so-called brethren became. It seems the way to ‘get along’ in the visible church is to accept the default form of Christianity and never, even if you have irrefutable Biblical truth to the contrary, teach against it. The one who does that is labeled as divisive as well as an enemy of Christian unity. But this stance is all one-sided. We are divisive for publishing God’s pure doctrines, but those who hold to man-made doctrines are allowed to say anything they want about us. It is as if they have free speech, but we do not.

Martin Luther understood this as well. He wrote of it in an article titled Avoiding the Doctrines of Men. He experienced exactly the same thing in the 16th Century as the Protestant Reformation took hold across Europe. He published truth exposited from God’s Word the right way, that is, exegetically. His enemies attacked everything he wrote and said, but their arguments were based on man-made philosophies and the doctrines of men, which were based entirely in pure biblical eisegesis. Reading the attack followed by the biblical refutation of each charge was just like listening to Dr. James White dismantle the arguments of Roman Catholic Apologists in our time who insist that Paul clearly taught about Purgatory in his epistles. Nothing has changed in that God’s Truth is still The Truth and the doctrines of men are still of Satan.

The EC, i.e. Emergence Christianity, is going full bore into Christian Liberalism. It’s leader is still Brian McLaren. One of the main tenets of this “New Kind of Christianity” is a denial of the Christian Orthodox doctrine of the Atonement. This doctrine is of God, not man. It proclaims that personal peace follows upon grace, mediated to mankind from the Father through Jesus, the Anointed Servant. God’s love for the world was demonstrated by the death of His only Son, who on the cross provided an atonement for human sin according to the purpose of God. In the Hebrew sacrificial tradition, the life of an animal could be substituted for that of a sinner, enabling him to be forgiven and reconciled to God in fellowship. By dying for the elect, Christ broke the power of sin and made it possible for individuals to know forgiveness instead of having to suffer death for their iniquity. By this act of divine grace, the believer is restored to fellowship with the Father. The standards of the world’s thought and conduct are rejected in favor of an obedient and holy life dominated by the sovereignty of God and Christian love one for another.

The EC’s stance on the mission of Christ is not the Atonement, but as an example to be followed in remaking the world into a better place. It is a “different gospel.” What should our response be to this? The context of the book of Galatians indicates that a different gospel from the one Paul preached had penetrated the church in Galatia. In Galatians 1:6-7, We find his description of this.

6 I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; 7 which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. (Galatians 1:6-7 NASB)

6 Θαυμάζω ὅτι οὕτως ταχέως μετατίθεσθε ἀπὸ τοῦ καλέσαντος ὑμᾶς ἐν χάριτι [Χριστοῦ] εἰς ἕτερον εὐαγγέλιον, 7 ὃ οὐκ ἔστιν ἄλλο, εἰ μή τινές εἰσιν οἱ ταράσσοντες ὑμᾶς καὶ θέλοντες μεταστρέψαι τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τοῦ Χριστοῦ. (Galatians 1:6-7 NA28)

Paul called the false gospel , ἕτερον εὐαγγέλιον, or “different gospel.” The Greek word Paul used here for “different,” ἕτερον, means ‘qualitatively different.’ That means it is not the same thing at all. However, in v7 where Paul says, “which is really not another…” he uses another word for “another,” ἄλλο. Αλλο means “another of the same kind.” In other words, the true Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ can be declared in different ways by different people, but to remain the true Gospel, its truth can never be altered. Those who had penetrated the Galatian church were preaching ἕτερον εὐαγγέλιον, another gospel that was not based in God’s truth.

8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! 9 As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed! (Galatians 1:8-9 NASB)

8 ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐὰν ἡμεῖς ἢ ἄγγελος ἐξ οὐρανοῦ εὐαγγελίζηται [ὑμῖν] παρʼ ὃ εὐηγγελισάμεθα ὑμῖν, ἀνάθεμα ἔστω. 9 ὡς προειρήκαμεν καὶ ἄρτι πάλιν λέγω· εἴ τις ὑμᾶς εὐαγγελίζεται παρʼ ὃ παρελάβετε, ἀνάθεμα ἔστω. (Galatians 1:8-9 NA28)

8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel to you besides that which we preached to you, let him be a curse. 9 As we have previously said, and now again I say, if anyone preaches a gospel to you besides that which you received, let him be a curse. (Galatians 1:8-9 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

Paul is telling the Galatians and us, inspired by God, that if anyone preaches a gospel message, εὐηγγελισάμεθα, which differs even in the slightest degree from God’s truth revealed through Christ and the Apostles then ἀνάθεμα ἔστω. The term, ἀνάθεμα ἔστω, literally says in Greek, “let him be anathema.” Ανάθεμα refers to devoting someone to destruction in eternal hell (cf. Romans 9:3; 1 Corinthians 12:3; 16:22). Paul is telling the Church that if anyone attempts to change the Gospel message from the true Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ to anything else then they are to be devoted to destruction because of their damning heresy. They are teaching a “gospel” message that does not save and so must be opposed and exposed.

Therefore, when professing Christians proclaim  ἕτερον εὐαγγέλιον as the εὐαγγέλιον then we must take action. We must tell the truth to all who will hear. We must expose them as we lead those who listen to turn from these people about whom we proclaim to all, “ἀνάθεμα ἔστω!”

Soli Deo Gloria!

5 thoughts on “Let him be anathema

  1. Thank you for this post. I remember when we had the hard task of leaving our former church, but feeling we must say something about the wrongs being taught. It was very difficult, but it was also necessary. We weren’t exactly bold, more reluctant than we should have been. But, telling the truth as carefully and softly as we did, still got us very direct criticism and ridicule. Hopefully, we have learned and have taught our children to be less compromising.


  2. Hi Mike,

    As I got to the end of the first paragraph of your post I thought of the words of Jesus in Matthew chpt. 10, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.

    I think that “household” is also the church of our time.

    That last sentence of christianlady’s post “Hopefully, we have learned and have taught our children to be less compromising” is a reminder to me of a painful failure on my part to my (grown) children. My family spent about 30 years in a “easy believism-purpose driven” organization and have been out of that for only about three years and by the grace of God He has taken us to a small fellowship of believers whose pastor truly loves our Lord and is leading us closer to our God. Unfortunately I have friends and family (a daughter) still there who refuse to see the deception going on. This has caused a division which is difficult for my wife and I to navigate through.

    Thank you Mike for your faithfulness in proclaiming God’s truth. May He strengthen you and grant you wisdom in the new year – and always.


  3. Amen!

    Thank you Mike for this ministry and remember; never back down.
    This is the toughest time of the whole church age and it’s only going to get worse.
    I think some of us here know what that means.

    They are all advocating for the ‘pussyfooting’ method, if they can’t convince the church to be silent on these issues. They have their preorchestrated cards to play, planned far ahead from behind closed doors around their table. “If they say this, we say that, if they do that, we pull this card… cry ‘fowl ball,’ etc.” Their weapons are fashioned. But so is ours, the sword of the word of truth; God’s word, the bible. It’s what Jesus used to refute satan at the temptation. It’s what we must pick up, use, and learn to wield skillfully.

    But the biblical example is bold, it is courageous, it is of the utmost conviction in standing with the truth, contending for the faith, and snatching many out from the very flames of hell itself. It is no light matter, we are not to acquiesse in the name of getting along, or to bow down to their idol of unity, false unity over false doctrine, or all hold hands around their common ground idol either. No compromise, no tolerance of heresy, and no fellowship with darkness. We must blow the trumpet from the rooftops and don’t back down for anyone. Don’t cower to their golden calf. Raise the banner of truth and rally around it in the name of Jesus. That is our calling. If we don’t stand for His truth, we will fall for their lies.



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