False Teachings about Christianity. James 3:1-10

James 3:1-10 – Controlling What We Say

In the Apostle James’ letter, he addresses the 12 tribes of Israel which are scattered abroad – that is, in exile or pilgrimage and who are facing many trials and temptations which could lead them away from the accurate teachings of the newly emerging Christian faith.   Many biblical scholars believe that James’ letter was addressing both Jewish and Gentile Christians.  Because the believers are separated, it is hard to know and keep the correct teachings and it is easy to be led astray by false teachings.

As a matter of historical fact, false teachings about Christianity were so rampant the first 300 years of Christianity that the Emperor Constantine assembled the Great Ecumenical Councils beginning in 325 AD to establish and officially document what the Christian Church really believed.

James also warns those who are reckless with their comments not guarding what they say about others. To elaborate and distort a tale, whether deliberately or unintentionally, can have dire repercussions for another.

We see this today in our lives as well.  Even more so today than in centuries past because of the instantaneous world-wide reach of the media through the internet.  But in fact, not only the media, but also in the classroom, in our families and in our churches.    

St. Jerome in his Sermons writes, “The sword kills the body, but the tongue kills the soul….”[1] 

St. Basil the Great comments on Psalm 33(34):14, (…keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit…), “…the tongue is very active and many-sided……for from it come slanders, coarse jokes, accusations, bitterness, false teachings…”[2]

[1] Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament XI, InterVarsity Press, Ill., p38

[2] Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament XI, InterVarsity Press, Ill., p39