ReVision

Where the Ill Winds Blow

We need to be able to recognize these.

Ill Winds (7)

we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting… Ephesians 4.14

Watch the wind
Good sailors know how to keep watch on the wind. The problem that occurred in Acts 27 was that those in charge of the ship carrying Paul misread the southerly wind that came to them in the harbor at Fair Havens. Their desire was to sail as soon as possible, and they put out into the wind, “supposing that they had obtained their desire” (Acts 27.13).

Sailors need to know how to read the winds. Regular winds blow across the major oceans of the planet – trade winds, easterly and westerly winds, and so forth. Good sailors know where they blow, what tr relative strength is, and how to make best use of them so they can chart a course and keep to it.
The misreading of that Euraquilon wind in Acts 27 cost the ship and all its cargo, and would have occasioned a great loss of life but for the intervention of God’s grace.

Put your sails into the wrong wind, and you could end up not only way off course, but in serious trouble of becoming shipwrecked in your walk with the Lord. It is very important that we know as much as we can about “every wind of doctrine” that blows across the sails of our soul day by day, so that we can steer continuously into the Wind of God, and slough off all contrary breezes.

The remainder of our study on Winds of Doctrine will be a crash course in making sure we know which way the winds blow, so that we can recognize and steer clear of those winds that can be troublesome, and tack more consistently into the wind of God.

The winds of doctrine we need to be aware of blow at us from three primary directions.

Worldly winds
Worldly winds are those prevailing winds of doctrine that blow at us from a wide variety of sources and can be found more or less active anywhere you go on earth. Schools, the media, all kinds of institutions and cultural artifacts, governments, and a good many of our neighbors sail by these winds, and it can be tempting to think that, because so many people have their sails unfurled here, they must be safe for us as well.

As we’ve seen, that can be partly true, but only if the Wind of God is the power that fills our sails. We will consider seven worldly winds that believers must recognize and know how to steer through if we’re going to keep from drifting off the course of our salvation. These are:

Humanism
Secularism
Materialism
Scientism
Relativism
Postmodernism
Evolutionism

Fleshly winds
Some winds of doctrine, while perhaps not so widespread or consistently active, can be as potent and even more potent than worldly winds in challenging our course with the Lord. I think of these as fleshly winds because their appeal is more directed to individual persons and their desires and aspirations. Again, we will examine seven of these, to learn how to identify and steer through them:

Narcissism
Solipsism
Hedonism
Presentism
Pragmatism
Racism
Tribalism

Ecclesiastical winds
Finally, strange as it may seem, some of the most potent and deceptive winds of doctrine arise within the community of faith, among believers in Jesus Christ. These can be among the most difficult to identify because, while holding to the terms and some of the key doctrines of faith, they blow us in dangerous directions toward hidden reefs that can shipwreck our faith. We’ll consider seven of these as well:

Syncretism
Experientialism
Antinomianism
Doctrinalism
Denominationalism
Functionalism
Traditionalism 

Our purpose will be, first, to recognize the characteristics of these various winds of doctrine. What is their source? What direction do they blow? Where, if we give in to them, are they likely to lead us? Second, because, as we have seen, the Wind of God can blow through many sources and channels, we’ll try to identify any good or reliable breezes in these various winds of doctrine that may be useful for us in our voyage of faith. Finally, we’ll look to the Word of God to help us identify specific ways of tacking against false winds of doctrine and, at the same time, keeping the sails of our soul hoisted into the breezes of God’s Spirit.

There are plenty of Euraquilon winds out there, eager to fill and shred the sails of your soul, and to drive your ship of faith onto rocks of disillusionment, disappointment, powerlessness, and despair. We need to know how to keep these winds from creeping into our soul’s sails unrecognized, so that we stay joyfully and fruitfully on course with the Lord.

For reflection or discussion
1.  Why did Paul say we are “children” if we’re always being blown around by “winds of doctrine”?

2.  Why is it important that we understand something about these winds and how to resist them?

3.  How aware of these “winds of doctrine” are you? In what ways do you experience them?

Next steps – Preparation: Keep a “log” of the various winds of doctrine you encounter for the rest of this study. Try to analyze the messages you’re getting, and see whether any of these winds are filling the sails of your soul.

T. M. Moore

At the website
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore