Saturday, November 09, 2019

Catholicism: 28 Weeks Later

Luis Dizon has penned a first-year retrospective on his reversion to Catholicism:

1. Before commenting on specific passages, I'll venture some preliminary remarks:

Human beings aren't logic boxes, so there can be personal pressures and incentives that figure in our political and religions affiliations. For instance, Luis said on Twitter (pined tweet): 

- During my Protestant days, I considered becoming a minister. I've since dropped this idea
- Not considering the priesthood. Permanent diaconate after marriage is still on the table, however

This drift of this seems to be that he wants to have a normal family life, something he'd be free to do as a Protestant minister but not as a Catholic priest. With that in mind, I wonder if the pool of marital prospects isn't a whole lot deeper for a Filipino-Canadian Catholic than a Filipino-Canadian Reformed Baptist. 

2. What kind of Catholicism did Luis actually revert to? Again, on Twitter (same thread) he says:

- My current Catholic orientation can best be described as "Semi-Trad." I go to a Novus Ordo parish, which I'm pretty comfortable with for the most part. But I try to do things the trad way whenever possible (recite prayers in Latin, receive in tongue, etc.)‏

- My views on Vatican II are complicated. I think some things were better before the council, and I'm in favour of a partial rollback. I wouldn't want a complete reversal, however. I still think the move towards vernacular, for example, is a good thing.

So he didn't revert to official, establishment Catholicism. He favors a "partial rollback" of Vatican II. In reality, he reverted to the Masada of RadTrad Catholicism. Catholic Essenes, like the Jewish Essenes and Qumran sectaries who viewed the official religious establishment in Jerusalem as an unclean thing to be kept at a safe distance. Only in this case the unclean thing is the religious establishment in Vatican City. Or, to switch illustrations, RadTrads be like Mormon fundamentalists holdup in their polygamist compounds. 

3. This, in turn, goes to a related feature of his position. His reference frame of isn't Catholicism as a living faith but the ersatz construct of RadTrads and Catholic apologists. 

4. Turning to statements in his retrospective:

At the same time, I was imbibing Reformed theology through ministries such as Alpha and Omega Ministries and Ligonier Ministries. I have read and listened to way more James R. White and R. C. Sproul than almost any other Reformed preacher, and I went deep into their brand of populist, reactionary Calvinism. 

I also distinctly remember watching Trent Horn vs. James White debate the question of whether Christians can lose their salvation in early 2017 (see here), and finding Horn’s arguments to be significantly better than White’s. I had watched some of White’s debates with Catholic apologists before, but I resolved at that point to watch every single one of them (you can find a list of them here). It’s easy to think that White did well in these debates when one’s impression of them comes from 15-minute excerpts and post-debate commentary on the Dividing Line. It’s quite another picture when one actually watches all of the debates from beginning to end (although to be fair, most of those debates weren’t available online until recently). Not all of the Catholic apologists he debated were equally proficient. I noted that when he faced off against, for example, Jimmy Akin, Mitch Pacwa, or Robert Sungenis, the latter would often offer very well-reasoned and compelling arguments for the Catholic position, which I was forced to reckon with.

i) What's striking about this is that, by his own lights, he's making Reformed popularizers and oral debates the yardstick for Calvinism. But that's not judging Calvinism by its most sophisticated exponents. What about Reformed exegetes like Greg Beale, Don Carson, Karen Jobes, Peter O'Brien, Ramsey Michaels, Vern Poythress, and Tom Schreiner (to name a few) or Reformed philosophers like James Anderson, Guillaume Bignon, Paul Helm, Paul Manata, and Greg Welty? 

Why would someone with his academic bent not take a more scholarly approach? Surely Toronto U has a magnificent theological library and an active interlibrary loan dept. So he made it easy for himself and took intellectual shortcuts by aiming low rather than high. 

(In a tweet he alludes to "Westminster Seminary theologians"–but he doesn't say if that refers to WTS or WSC, and he doesn't name the theologians in question.)

ii) There's an irony in mentioning Sungenis, who's now in self-exile from contemporary Catholicism.     

5. Moving along:

The Reformed phase of my life lasted for approximately nine and a half years. I continued to identify as Reformed even as I did my Master of Theological Studies at Wycliffe College (a seminary run by the Anglican Church). My sense for the need for a high sacramentology and a historically-grounded liturgy became more acute during my stay there. I thought, however, that I could have that while holding onto my Reformed Baptist confessional allegiance.

Some professing Christians seem to be psychologically hardwired to hunger for "a high sacramentology and a historically-grounded liturgy." They just have that emotional need for ecclesiastical handholding. It's not something I can relate to. 

6. Moving along:

At this same time, several of my friends in Evangelical and Reformed circles were crossing the Tiber. I would always have a friend crossing the Tiber here and there, but during the years 2016-2018, there was a sustained wave of conversions happening among my friend circles (there was also a smaller number of them opting for Eastern Orthodoxy, Lutheranism, and High-Church Anglicanism). 

Of course, most of the traffic is moving in the opposite direction. 

7. Moving along:

I would like to focus on two doctrinal issues which have played a large role in my disenchantment with Reformed theology: Perseverance of the Saints, and the denial of Baptismal Regeneration.

On Perseverance of the Saints, it seems that there are many passages that, if taken in their plain sense, teach that believers can lose their salvation. John 15:1-6, Romans 11:22, Galatians 5:4, Hebrews 10:26-30, and 2 Peter 2:20 all, if taken at face value, contradict the Reformed doctrine, and assert or assume that someone who has been saved can go back into the world and be cut off from Christ, if they do not continue to abide in Him. Scripture’s continued use of “cutting off” language makes no sense whatsoever if those being “cut off” were never in Christ to begin with. In order for the Bible’s language to make sense, they must have previously had a real relationship with Christ, who is the vine from whom they were cut off.

This is not to say that Scripture does not teach a concept of “Perseverance.” Scripture does teach that there is a category of people called “the elect,” and that those people will persevere to the end and be saved (Mark 13:13), and that such perseverance is the gift of God’s grace (Philippians 2:12-13). However, it doesn’t follow logically from that the elect constitute the entirety of God’s saints, or that those who fail to persevere to the end never had salvation. That is an extra postulate which, if we were to use Occam’s Razor, we ought to dispense with. In other words, it is much better to postulate the Perseverance of the Elect (which is a simpler concept and easier to defend biblically), rather than the Perseverance of the Saints.

i) It's fine to relabel it the "perseverance of the elect," but surely the label isn't the key issue. That's just semantic.

ii) I have nothing new to say about that. I wrote a whole thesis on that, combing through all the prooftexts pro and con:

At the time I wrote it I was struggling with "Fibro fog," so some parts are better written then others. If I could go back, I'd streamline the analysis of Heb 6 & 10. 

8. Moving along:

The same can be said about sacramental theology. I remember when discussing theology with a Presbyterian colleague (who has since become Catholic as well), that one of the major flaws in Reformed theology is its inability to account for the multiple passages in Scripture that quite obviously teach baptismal regeneration. I know that if I say “baptism saves you” to a group of my Reformed colleagues, most of them would instantly cry “heresy!” and “works-righteousness!”, yet those very words are a direct quotation from 1 Peter 3:20-21 (I include the previous verse about Noah being saved through the floodwaters lest anyone make the argument that this refers to Spirit baptism, as distinct from water baptism). There are many other passages which point towards baptism’s regenerating ability, which Reformed theologians are at pains to explain away. These include John 3:5, Romans 6:4, Galatians 3:27, and Titus 3:5, among others.

i) Once again, I have nothing new to say on that score. I've detailed why I think the prooftexts are fallacious. For instance:

ii) In addition, what, if any, academic monographs has Luis studied that challenge his position? For instance:

K. Aland, Did the Early Church Baptize Infants? (Wipf & Stock 2004)

R. Bauckham, "Sacraments?," Gospel of Glory: Major Themes in Johannine Theology (Baker 2015), chap. 5.

E. Ferguson, Baptism in the Early Church: History, Theology, and Liturgy in the First Five Centuries (Eerdmans 2013) 

T. Schreiner & S. Wright, eds. Believer's Baptism: Sign of the New Covenant in Christ (B&H 2007)

H. F. Stander & L. P. Louw, Baptism in the Early Church (EP Books 2004)

D. F. Wright, Infant Baptism in Historical Perspective: Collected Studies (Wipf & Stock 2007)

9. Moving along:

The two issues mentioned above compound one another if they are taken together. If Baptismal Regeneration is true, then Perseverance of the Saints is necessarily false. This is because if Baptism saves, then it saves all who are baptized. But if it saves all who are baptized, then that includes those who fall away from the Christian faith after their baptism. Reformed soteriology will not tolerate such an idea. This is just one of many ways that a thoroughgoing adherence to Reformed theology inevitably leads to a lower Sacramentology.

It's true that these are interrelated. Does "thoroughgoing adherence to Reformed theology inevitably lead to a lower Sacramentology"? Or does it correct superstitious priestcraft? 

10. Moving along:

Up to this point, I have not even brought the Church Fathers into consideration yet. Thus far, it already appears from Scripture alone that Reformed theology is on shaky ground. It becomes even harder to sustain once one considers the testimony of the saints throughout history. I have oftentimes made the argument that neither Perseverance of the Saints nor the denial of Baptismal Regeneration can be traced back earlier than the Reformation. From the Apostolic Fathers onwards, the testimony on these two issues is unanimous. One would have to assert that nobody got it right since the Apostles died until the Reformers came along.

I don't have an informed opinion on that. And I don't care. The so-called church fathers aren't my lodestar:

i) Well-meaning Christians can be wrong. Christians disagree with each other on lots of issues. They can't all be right. Catholics argue with each other all the time.

ii) We know from the NT that doctrinal error and confusion crept into the church during NT times. Churches actively overseen by apostles. Antiquity carries no presumption of orthodoxy. 

iii) The rupture between church and synagogue led to exegesis and theological developments foreign to the Jewish context of the NT.  

11. Moving along:

It seems to me that if the Scriptures are clear on a topic and that all of pre-Reformation church history is unanimous on the same point, then there should be no question about which belief is the orthodox one. On just the two points listed above, one can safely rule out Reformed theology and all of the many sub-traditions that have branched off of it as valid understandings of Biblical Christianity. 

i) What does unanimity amount to when only a fraction of the population is literature, has access to books, and theological dissent is a free ticket to the auto-da-fé? This argument, endlessly repeated by Catholic converts and apologists, is sociologically naive. 

ii) Is Catholicism a bastion of historical unanimity? Luis is recycling a stock argument which, with many variations, goes basically like this:

"I converted to Rome because I was impressed by its fundamental historical continuity." When confronted with many examples of dramatic discontinuity, the convert then replies that since dogma never changes, changes to traditional teaching means that was never infallible, irreformable teaching.  

But that's circular. On the one hand, doctrinal continuity is cited as evidence for Catholicism, but when counterexamples are presented, the convert appeals to the authority of the Catholic church to determine what counts as fundamental continuity. So they use church history to prove Catholicism while they simultaneously use Catholic authority to sift church history. 


  1. I read a report today that Pope Francis denies the physical ressurection of Christ. I wonder how Luis explains the infallible leader of the one true holy Catholic church being an apostate.

    1. Pope Francis really changed the meaning of the old joke, "Is the pope Catholic?" didn't he.

  2. When it comes to baptismal regeneration (BR), there is no unambiguous passage in the Bible that teaches it. All the passages proponents cite could easily be (and in my opinion be better) interpreted in ways that don't assume or lead to BR. The preponderance of the New Testament evidence is that one enters into a salvific/gracious state under the New Covenant through faith. I would challenge Roman Catholics to read the NT afresh from Matthew to Revelation and mark down all the times it touches upon entering the New Covenant and how ones does so. The OVERWHELMING NT data points to faith as the instrument by which one enters into it.

    14 I THANK God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius,
    15 so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name.
    16 (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.)
    17 FOR CHRIST DID NOT SEND ME TO BAPTIZE BUT TO PREACH THE GOSPEL, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
    18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.- 1 Cor. 1:14-18

    We even have Paul THANKING GOD that he didn't baptize many people in Corinth. The Apostle even goes on to say that Christ didn't send him to baptize, but to preach the Gospel. He calls the WORD of the Cross [i.e. the Gospel message] the power of God for people's salvation. He evidently thought that the reception of the message through hearing and believing led to salvation, not baptism. His use of the phrase "WORD of the cross" emphasizes the importance and priority of hearing and understanding the Gospel for the reception of its benefits. Why would he CONTRAST baptism with the preaching of the Gospel if baptismal regeneration is part and parcel to the reception of the Gospel of salvation? Even the thief on the cross was saved apart from water baptism.

    The few passages cited to support baptismal regeneration can easily be interpreted figuratively. And in ways that we are supposed to understand are not meant to be literal. Peter says in Acts 2:40 "save yourselves". Taken literally, that would imply Pelagianism Or Semi-Pelagianism if the whole context were taken into consideration, but severed from the rest of the NT. But even Roman Catholics reject those interpretations because of the preponderance of positive NT teaching that would go against them. The same is true of baptismal regeneration on account of the NT emphasis on faith and believing the Gospel.

    Assuming for the sake of argument that baptismal regeneration is false, its development in the early church can easily be explained by misunderstanding the teaching and practice of baptism and taking them to their extremes [what Steve referred to as "superstitious priestcraft"]. It happened with the bronze serpent on a pole [2 Kings 18:4]. The legitimate use of the serpent was turned into superstitious idolatry. That's not to say that baptismal regeneration is necessarily idolatrous. Its origins and early development in the church was innocent enough. But its later development led to a sacramentology that virtually denied the freeness and availability of the grace of God as taught in the NT.


    1. When it comes to the difference between 1. the Perseverance of [all] Saints [PotS for short] versus 2. the Perseverance of [only] the Elect [PotE for short], I agree with Luis that that's a real distinction and that the 2nd is a possible way to interpret the NT. That Non-Calvinistic, yet Augustinian interpretation is a viable option in my opinion. While there are undoubtedly NT passages that teach apostasy in some sense, there are also other NT passages that would seem to preclude the possibility that genuinely regenerated believers can finally and permanently fall away. I would argue that PotS can better encompass all of the Bible's teaching than PotE. Proponents of PotS can understand passages of apostasy as referring to those who fell away and were Christians from man's fallible epistemic perspective. But proponents of PotE would have a very difficult time explaining passages that talk metaphysically [as opposed to epistemically] regarding how those truly regenerate cannot fall away.

      For example:

      No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.- 1 John 3:9

      They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.- 1 John 2:19

      Moreover, there are other theological problems with PotE.

      For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day."- John 6:40

      He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously/freely give us all things?- Rom. 8:32

      If God really loves all saints/believers who are in the covenant via regeneration [BR or non-BR], why doesn't He grant the gift of perseverance to all of them? Why only the elect? That would seem to be a problem for Augustinian Catholics. Though, non-Augustinian Catholics might be able to answer that challenge (e.g. Molinists et al.).

    2. typo correction:

      The preponderance of the New Testament evidence is that one enters into a salvific/gracious state under the New Covenant through faith [alone].

      The word "alone" is necessary because without it Catholics will agree with the statement.

    3. Instead of thanking God that he didn't baptize many people, the Apostle Paul should have been praying that God allow him to baptize MORE people. That is, if baptismal regeneration is true, and is the normative way one enters into a salvific/gracious state. Yet, contrary to Catholic expectations, Paul says God DIDN'T send him to baptize, but to preach the Gospel. That's not how Roman Catholic missionaries talk, or ought to taught. If Roman Catholic sacramentology were true, we'd expect the NT to have sooo much more teaching on the doctrine, practice and vital [life giving/sustaining] importance of both baptism and communion. The NT authors aren't fixated on baptism and communion as Catholics are. They're fixated on the Gospel and its belief.

    4. Though, not as bad as Zeus did Tantalus, Augustinian Catholics would seem to have a theology where God tantalizes saints who are elected only for temporary grace but not for eternal glory. Making God an "Indian Giver" (no ethnic slur intended). Where God gives people some taste of salvation, then eventually takes it back by withholding final perseverance which He could have unilaterally granted. How is that loving on God's part? How does that fulfill God's promise that He would never forsake us [Ps. 37:28; Heb. 13:5; Josh. 1:5]? That if God is for us, nothing can be against us [Rom. 8:31; Ps. 56:9]? That he won't withhold any good thing from believers [Rom. 8:32; 2 Pet. 1:3; Luke 12:32; 15:31; Ps. 73:23-24; et cetera]? That God's mercy endures forever [Ps. 136]?

      [Again, the above critique doesn't apply to non-Augustinian Catholics like Molinists and others]

    5. //If Baptismal Regeneration is true, then Perseverance of the Saints is necessarily false. //

      It's also the case that if Perseverance of the Saints is false, that doesn't necessarily entail that Baptismal Regeneration is true.

      //I have oftentimes made the argument that neither Perseverance of the Saints nor the denial of Baptismal Regeneration can be traced back earlier than the Reformation. //

      And similarly there are many distinctive Roman Catholic dogmas that have no precedent in the earliest church fathers. As even other Catholic denominations would argue against Catholicism. Not to mention Protestant apologists.

      //..yet those very words are a direct quotation from 1 Peter 3:20-21 (I include the previous verse about Noah being saved through the floodwaters lest anyone make the argument that this refers to Spirit baptism, as distinct from water baptism). There are many other passages which point towards baptism’s regenerating ability, which Reformed theologians are at pains to explain away. These include John 3:5, Romans 6:4, Galatians 3:27, and Titus 3:5, among others.//

      None of the passages cited require an interpretation of baptismal regeneration. Regarding John 3:3-5, there are so many possible ways to interpret the passage that it's really dishonest how some (not all) Catholics attempt to prove baptismal regeneration from it. Here's one possible alternative interpretation (among many alternatives). Messianic Jewish theologian Arnold Fruchtenbaum says in mp3 file 4 of his "The Jewish Life of Christ" that the phrase "born of water" was a Pharisaical term to refer to being physically born a Jew which automatically gave one the right to God's Kingdom in Pharisaic theology. Fruchtenbaum goes on to say that the Pharisees believed in 6 types of being "born again". Two of which Nicodemus was not qualified for. Four of which he had already fulfilled.

      See file 4 starting at 26 minutes and 40 seconds HERE.

      The Six Ways of Being "Born Again"
      1. When a Gentile converts to Judaism
      2. When a Jew is crowned king. However there's no indication that Nicodemus was of the house of David.
      3. When at the age of 13 a Jewish boy goes through a ceremony that makes him a man. It was later called (what is familiarly now known as) a "bar mitzvah".
      4. When a Jewish man gets married. Nicodemus, being a "ruler of the Jews", had to have been married. A non-ruler Pharisee needn't be married (e.g. likely St. Paul).
      5. When a Jewish man is ordained a rabbi. Nicodemus was a rabbi since he was a member of the Sanhedrin.
      6. Becoming the head of a rabbinic academy. Which Nicodemus was because the definite article is used to refer to him as "THE teacher of Israel".


    6. According to Fruchtenbaum, When Jesus said "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.", He's denying Nicodemus' assumption that the Kingdom of God was automatically his because of his Jewish birth. Rather, he needed to be both born of water (i.e. born physically as a Jew) and born of the Spirit to see the Kingdom of God. That's why Jesus immediately says, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." So, being "born of water" is equivalent to "that which is born of the flesh is flesh". The passage does not have anything to do with baptism. I'm not as dogmatic on that interpretation, but it's not implausible given the Jewish context and the fact that Nicodemus was THE teacher of Israel.

      Regarding Rom. 6:4, an interpretation of BR would contradict Paul's earlier teaching in the previous chapters on justification. Regarding 1 Pet. 3:20-21 and Gal. 3:27, nothing in their statement or surrounding contexts would imply a real metaphysical transaction like that taught in BR. Titus 3:5 is the only passage that [IMHO] could possibly teach that type of metaphysical transaction. But it's not clear that Paul is talking about water baptism. Even if he is, he nor the church might not have believed or taught that it was ONLY through water baptism one is regenerated. To interpret the passage as a clearly teaching BR is to commit the Cum Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc Fallacy. In fact, there are cases in the book of Acts where people were Holy Spirit baptized BEFORE their water baptism. So, evidently water baptism isn't a necessary concomitant aspect of Holy Spirit baptism. That Paul would connect/associate water baptism with Holy Spirit baptism is only natural since the former represents the latter and under normal circumstances we can't see when someone is baptized in the Spirit. Which is something normally invisible. But to dogmatically connect the two as intrinsically intertwined is to violate Paul's own teaching mentioned above. That he DISCONNECTED reception of the Gospel with water baptism. Because he contrasted the two and said Christ DIDN'T send him to baptize, but to PREACH the Gospel. That one passage is a much greater blow to BR, than all the passages Luis cited in defense of BR.

      Obviously, more experienced Protestant theologians, exegetes and apologists could better address the Catholic BR prooftexts than I briefly did above.

    7. 11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.
      12 O LORD of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you!- Ps. 84:11-12

      This passage teaches that God doesn't withhold anything from those who walk uprightly. God's blessings are [in some sense] conditioned on uprightness. With the arrival of the New Covenant we further understand that our uprightness is ultimately sourced in God in some sense. As I fallibly understand it, even Roman Catholics affirm Operating Grace [analogous to Arminian Prevenient Grace] whereby God's grace must first initiate a work in a person's heart before they can positively respond to the offer of salvation. As well as Cooperating grace.

      Ps. 84:11-12 is talking about those who are ALREADY in a gracious state. Given a Catholic Augustinian view how could God withhold the gift of perseverance if people are already walking uprightly? What would interrupt and interfere with their continued uprightness if it's not God's withholding the gift of perseverance? But the passage says that God would not withhold any good thing from those who walk uprightly. Why wouldn't that include the gift of perseverance? So, there would seem to be a contradiction in the Augustinian view of the Perseverance of [only] the Elect which allows for other saints not elected to glory to finally and eternally fall away. Again, I'm open to the possibility of PotE, but PotS seems more Biblically, theologically and logically consistent.

      There's no need to correct all my typos, but here's one that I think is worth it.

      //But to dogmatically connect the two as intrinsically intertwined is to violate Paul's own teaching mentioned above. That he DISCONNECTED reception of the Gospel [that brings salvation to its believers] with water baptism. Because he contrasted the two and said Christ DIDN'T send him to baptize, but to PREACH the Gospel. That one [or single] passage is a much greater blow to BR, than all the passages Luis cited in defense of BR [combined]. //

  3. Replies
    1. Feel free to repeat, elaborate or add to your VERY INSIGHTFUL comments. I didn't mean to steal your thunder, but I had to add the link because you comments are SO very insightful. I'm tempted to elaborate on them myself.

    2. Please do, AP! :) I mean I'd definitely be interested to hear what you have to say if you want to elaborate on anything. And I didn't mind but in fact I completely appreciated your adding the link to my comments. That was very helpful of you. Although I don't think my comments were very insightful, lol. :)

  4. > “If there is such a unanimous witness contrary to my convictions in so many ages and places, am I really holding on to the historic Christian faith?”

    One thing which is rarely picked up is that, even (arguendo) if one were to grant this, there's a massive assumption that's been made - that the bulk of Christian history is now past. What if it's not? What if it's future? What if the actual future contains the church world-wide generally agreeing upon the contrary? Out-sourcing your considered opinion on "what is true?" is a rather risky bet. I notice a trend, though, among many highly intelligent Catholic converts that they have idolised a kind of intellectual certainty. The thought that there's something, somewhere, in their theological system which is not perfect torments them. In the accounts they give of their journeys, the underlying assumption is that the one thing absolutely essential is to get rid of all potential inconsistencies and reach a state of intellectual perfection. Rome offers them the "freedom" of being able to out-source all the hard calls, in one go. Dizon's blog ends in a telling place - look, all these entities in history have agreed on this list of things. Even if that list were to be granted (which I don't), all that that would establish in reality is that wrong turns were taken early ... but as Steve points out, we know that from the discussions of false teachers in the New Testament anyway.