The Roots of Error & Heresy

Matthew 22:29; 2 Peter 3:16
        Ye do err not knowing the scriptures.
       In which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.

Editor’s Note: In the first text, Christ refers to the Old Testament; in the second text, the Apostle Peter refers to Paul’s New Testament epistles and validates them as being scripture writings equal to the Old Testament scriptures.

CHARLES BRIDGES (1794-1869): All fundamental errors and heresies in the Church may be traced to this source—“Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures.”

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): Ignorance of Scripture is the root of all error.

ROBERT HALDANE (1764-1842): Ignorance of the Scriptures is the cause of high-mindedness in Christians. They are often arrogant and contemptuous through want of knowledge. In the absence of real knowledge, they often suppose that they have a true understanding of things with which they are still unacquainted, and are thus vain and conceited.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): Now the Bible itself tells us this. You remember the apostle Peter’s famous remark with regard to the writings of the apostle Paul. What he means is this. They read these Epistles of Paul, yes; but they are twisting them, they are wresting them to their own destruction. You can easily read these Epistles and be no wiser at the end than you were at the beginning because of what you have been reading into what Paul says, wresting them to your own destruction. Now that is something which we must always bear in mind with regard to the whole of the Bible. I can be seated with Bible in front of me; I can be reading its words and going through its chapters; and yet I may be drawing a conclusion which is quite false to the pages in front of me.

THOMAS MANTON (1620-1677): There are many causes of men’s mistakes. Some come to the word with a presumption of their own wit and leaning upon their own understanding, as if that should discover the whole counsel of God; and these God never undertook to teach.

WILLIAM TYNDALE (1490-1536): The source of all heresies is pride.

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): This has been a principle source of those various heresies and mistakes which are the reproach of our holy profession―that vain man, though born a mere “wild ass’s colt,” Job 11, has undertaken by his own strength and wisdom to decide authoritatively on the meaning of Scripture; without being aware of the ignorance, prejudice, and weakness, which influence his judgment.

WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): Make not your own reason the rule by which you measure Scripture truths.

GEORGE WHITEFIELD (1714-1770): Search the Scriptures with an humble childlike disposition. For whosoever does not read them with this temper, shall in no wise enter into the knowledge of the things contained in them. For God hides the sense of them from those that are wise and prudent in their own eyes, and reveals them only to babes in Christ; who think they know nothing yet as they ought to know…Fancy yourselves, therefore, when you are searching the Scriptures, especially when you are reading the New Testament, to be with Mary sitting at the feet of the Holy Jesus; and be as willing to learn what God shall teach you, as Samuel was, when he said, “Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth.”

WILLIAM S. PLUMER (1802-1880): Many fail in their studies because of the power of prejudice.

THOMAS MANTON: Many bring their prejudiced opinions along with them, and are biased and prepossessed before they come to the word of God, and so do not so much take up the sense which the Scriptures offer, as seek to impose their own sense on them…While we look through the spectacles of our own fancies and preconceptions, the mind, poisoned with error, seemeth to see what we see not.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): When we think the Scripture must be made to agree with the false ideas we have imbibed, no wonder that we complain of difficulty—how apt we are to misunderstand Scripture—to understand that literally which is spoken figuratively, and to expound Scripture by our schemes, whereas we ought to form our schemes by the Scriptures.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: The commonest cause of all this is our tendency so often to approach the Bible with a theory. We go to our Bibles with this theory, and everything we read is controlled by it. Now we are quite familiar with that. There is a sense in which it is true to say that you prove anything you like from the Bible. That is how heresies have arisen. The heretics were never dishonest men; they were mistaken men. They should not be thought of as men who were deliberately setting out to go wrong and to teach something that is wrong; they have been some of the most sincere men that the Church has ever known. What was the matter with them? Their trouble was this: they evolved a theory and they were rather pleased with it; then they went back with this theory to the Bible, and they seemed to find it everywhere. If you read half a verse and emphasize over-much some other half-verse elsewhere, your theory is soon proved. Now obviously this is something of which we have to be very wary. There is nothing so dangerous as to come to the Bible with a theory, with preconceived ideas, with some pet idea of our own.

D. L. MOODY (1837-1899): You cannot find a man who holds any false doctrine of religion who is not proud of it.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): It is a common fault that ignorance is closely followed by obstinacy.

WILLIAM S. PLUMER: When one is in such a state that he will not examine evidence and truth with a good degree of impartiality, it is certain that he will go astray. When men come to God’s Word, not to be taught, but to teach; not to learn the mind of the Spirit, but to find some way of supporting error, or of evading unwelcome truths; when with avidity they seize any thing favouring their dogmas, but carefully avoid whatever wars against their preconceived opinions, they effectually exclude themselves from the highway to any large attainments in theology. The light that is in them becomes darkness…Whatever our education may have been, we will find it no easy task to eradicate prejudices.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): Nevertheless, this is essential if we would learn the mind of God.

WILLIAM GURNALL: Take heed you come not with a judgment pre-engaged to any party and opinion.

WILLIAM S. PLUMER: Of all the dispositions requisite to success in the study of religious truth, none is more important than a sincere, constant, and ardent love of truth. No qualification before this. He who loves his opinions because they are his, or is greatly attached to views which are of high esteem in his sect or party because they are a Shibboleth, is a candidate for shame and error. Without strong love for the truth, no man has ever made any considerable progress in knowledge. It is indispensable. Nothing can compensate for the want of it.


This entry was posted in Bible Study and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.