Misguided teachings in the church

A couple of blogs got me thinking about biblical-sounding teachings that are nowhere to be found in the Bible. The first is the “sinner’s prayer.” Bob Hayton does a good job of describing the dangers of this seemingly innocent addition to the words of the Bible and notes that no one recorded in the Bible was ever instructed to pray for salvation (see Romans 10:9).

Then there are the well-meaning traditions of Catholicism such as the primacy of Peter discussed by Isaiah on is blog. These also include the teaching that Mary had no other children besides Jesus despite the clear indications otherwise in the Gospels and the practice of “Confession.”

Another misguided teaching is one that I wasn’t really able to recognize until lately. It is something my teachers taught me as a child, namely that we have to confess our sins before God will hear our prayers. This stems from Matthew 5:23-24 which says,

Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

Now, I understand that we should confess our sins and get right with our fellow man. But is taking a gift to the altar the same thing as prayer? Surely not, as we are also instructed to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). God is the creator of the universe. He is omniscient. There is absolutely no way that he does not hear us when we pray just because we have sinned. This misguided teaching had me nervous every time I prayed for more than 20 years. I was always worried that I might have forgotten to ask forgiveness for something or that I wasn’t as sincere as I should have been and so God was not going to hear a very important prayer.

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6 Responses to “Misguided teachings in the church”

  1. Sicarii says:

    Thank you very much for the link, brother. I’ve been meaning to come in and say thanks but I’ve had trouble connecting to your site for the past couple of days. :-(

  2. casey says:

    Yeah, they were having some sort of DDOS attack at my datacenter. I hope it’s all fixed now. I couldn’t connect, either!

  3. Sicarii says:

    That doesn’t sound at all good. DDOS attacks indeed.

    I wager you were really antsy hoping nothing was lost. I know I’d be!

    Great to see that everything’s good again. :-)

    God bless, and Shalom!

  4. casey says:

    Well, I have backups taken daily, so the only thing that was really worrying me was that I thought there might have been some kind of fire or natural disaster at the datacenter, because even their site was unavailable. That was the longest downtime I’ve ever seen with my host/datacenter.

  5. MulledVine says:

    Thankfully its not the sin that stops God from hearing our prayers but I do think that if we don’t confess our sin, i.e. deny our sin, we lose fellowship with god in some sense which makes effective prayer difficult.

  6. casey says:

    Yes, I agree. Refusing to deny free reign to our sin will definitely end up preventing us from having fellowship with God. It’s just that the misguided teaching I got from my teachers put limits on God’s power.