Responding to theological viruses

by Barry Newton

How biblical authors addressed issues confronting early Christians fascinates me. Take for instance, the situation where a theological virus had injected disinformation DNA into a congregation, mutating doctrine and practices.

Apparently, the Colossian Christians faced just such an infection. The viral concoction seems to have been replete with promises of deeper insight, connection with spiritual beings, and the opportunity to take spirituality to a new level by adhering to rigorous rules.

Paul’s letter responded with antiviral antibodies.

First, he expressed thanks for what their faith and love had already accomplished for Christ. He prayed that their understanding of God would further deepen, thus causing them to produce even more fruit.

With this introduction, already Paul was challenging the intruder’s claims that modifications were needed. If the Christians were already producing fruit, why change?

Paul was merely warming up. He then unleashed a robust study on how God’s work through Christ had transformed their spiritual reality. They could maintain these privileges, if they would continue with Christ.

In the midst of this, he heavily underscored Christ’s exalted position above all spiritual powers.

If they truly comprehended Christ’s position and identity, as well as what Christ had achieved for them at their baptism, their response to the new teaching was obvious. Don’t grant these intruders the right to belittle them by judging Christians as inferior. Don’t submit to the rules of defeated spiritual powers.

After all, if you already have everything – why change?

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Barry Newton

Married to his wonderful wife Sofia and a former missionary in Brazil, Barry enjoys trying to express old truths in fresh ways. They are the parents of two young men.

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