See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ (ESV).
The New Testament epistle authors wrestled with heretics influenced by cultures with polytheism and from Jews attacking this new sect of their faith. The epistles from the first century of the early church, have many references to controversies, false doctrinal, or heretical teachings that needed to be addressed by the apostles (Gal 1:6-9; Col 1:15-20; 1 Cor 15:12; 1 Jn 5:6-8 [not a complete list]).
We read in St. Paul’s letter to the Colossian church that he encouraged them not to deviate from orthodoxy or be lured by empty deceitful words. The teachings the Colossians heard may have sounded good but was a distortion. The message wasn’t consistent with the authoritative apostolic oral message or revelation about Jesus from the apostles. Paul didn’t encourage compromise but instead encouraged the church to use discernment skills and be cautious about what they heard.
Although today we aren’t wrestling against major Christological heresies or defining issues in Church Councils, we still wrestle with a growing threat of relativism sweeping through Christianity. As followers of Jesus Christ, there is somewhat too much compromise on issues related to morality and cultural topics. In fear of being labeled “conservative” or “out of date,” we capitulate to secularism. Far too often, professing Christians are on the opposing side endorsing secularist agendas that have no relationship with biblical precepts or Natural Law.
Personally, one of the beauties that pulled me closer to Catholicism was its authority and consistency on so many hot-button issues in our culture ranging from bioethics to life issues. A few years ago, I saw many denominations in America endorse and advocate same-sex marriage. Where many Protestant denominations detoured into relativism, the Catholic church remained steadfast in upholding the Sixth Commandment. In addition, the Church’s teaching authority on contraception is so natural and God-honoring that after a natural family planning session, Melissa and I decided to sign-up for NFP. Honestly, the process hasn’t been the easiest for us since we’re adjusting to so many things related to doctors and charting, but we’re committed to making it work for our family planning goals. I couldn’t be happier of joining such an authoritative institution against relativism in our culture.
Overall, we as Christians need to keep Paul’s exhortation. As he warned the Colossian church about flirting with potential heresy, we too need to beware of potential worldly ideologies that damage or jeopardize our worldview. In addition, we should beware of aligning the Christian worldview with other secular worldviews of morality or justice. The thing we need not present is a Gospel that’s compromised by the world.