Take the picture above with its captions. The idea of these two not being associated with each other is absurd isn't it? History shows us that these two dictators were allies, supported each other and made common cause during World War 2. Along with Japan these two entered into in a formal alliance called the Tripartite Pact. This photograph, taken in context of the other historical evidence, reveals that there was indeed a very real "guilt by association" between these two.
One of the common charges laid against those who expose the connections between local ministries here in Israel and false prophets, false teachings, hypercharismania and nutty phenomena, is "Oh, that's just guilt by association", and this is supposed to dismiss any and all evidence of collusion between ministries and congregations here in Israel and known heretics and false teachers.
Clearly this matter needs untangling.
What It Is, What It Isn't
Guilt by Association actually has two forms. One is a logical fallacy which we need to avoid.
The other however, is most definitely a biblical concept and very clearly taught in the Scriptures.
People often confuse the two simply because they fail to properly define what is meant by "association".
False Guilt By Association
The fallacious form would better be described as 'Guilt by Random Association'; and this involves the assumption of guilt based upon factors outside the control of the accused. For example: John who has red hair, stands in a bus queue next to another man who also happens to have red hair, but unbeknownst to John this other man is a hardened criminal. If John is later arrested and charged with the same felonies simply because he has red hair and happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, this would be Guilt by Random Association and it is unjust and wrong.
Biblical Guilt By Association
The biblical concept, is Guilt by Approving Association, and this involves aiding and abetting, co-operation, assistance and endorsement, acknowledging in ministry, offering the hand of Christian fellowship (or even withholding censure where it is due), to those who teach false doctrines. Scripture is absolutely clear that this is forbidden and a very grave sin.
"Everyone who transgresses and does not remain in the teaching of Christ does not have God. The one who remains in this teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house and do not give him any greeting, because the person who gives him a greeting shares in his evil deeds. " (2Jn:9-10)
When we aid or abet, promote, defend, endorse, affirm or co-operate with those who teach error, or keep silence when they do; when we associate with them in Christian fellowship--we become just as guilty as they are in God’s eyes, -why? -because we have then become co-conspirators and confederates in their wickedness. Consequently, not only are we to shun those who actively propagate error, but also those who freely and persistently associate with them and overlook their false teachings in the name of 'unity' (or some such other lily-livered pretext) as well. Those who associate in Christian fellowship with known teachers of error are complicit in the sin and apostasy of those false teachers. This is a very sobering thought and it has far-reaching implications. Are we taking stock of our relationships and associations? Are we asking ourselves if we are complicit in the errors of others? Are we offering the hand of Christian fellowship to those who bring false doctrine and/or those who co-operate with them? Are we giving countenance to false teaching by either an approving association with its propagators, or by our refusal to rebuke their errors or name their names?
"Oh", but you might say, "Isn't that a bit extreme?" Only if you consider, Jesus, Paul, Peter, Jude and John extreme. Do we know better than they? Are we more wise?
Many godly men of old recognised that it is the clear and unambiguous teaching of Scripture that we must separate from error, -it is our bounden duty to do so, and they stated it in very clear and stark terms:
“Complicity with error will take from the best of men the power to enter any successful protest against it … Fellowship with known and vital error is participation in sin … As soon as I saw, or thought I saw, that error had become firmly established, I did not deliberate, but quitted the body at once. Since then my counsel has been ‘Come out from among them.’ I have felt that no protest could be equal to that of distinct separation from known evil … That I might not stultify my testimony I have cut myself clear of those who err from the faith, and even from those who associate with them.”
“To pursue union at the expense of truth is treason to the Lord Jesus.” — C.H. Spurgeon
"Here is the reason of such direction, forbidding the support and patronage of the deceiver: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds. Favour and affection partake of the sin. We may be sharers in the iniquities of others. How judicious and how cautious should the Christian be! There are many ways of sharing the guilt of other people’s transgressions; it may be done by culpable silence, indolence, unconcernedness, private contribution, public countenance and assistance, inward approbation, open apology and defence. The Lord pardon our guilt of other persons’ sins!’" —Matthew Henry on 2Jn. 9-10
‘But They’re So Nice!’
"Niceness" is not a biblical criterion to evaluate a ministry or teacher.
Hell will be well populated with ‘nice’ people. The Mother Theresas of this world, who eased the physical suffering of those under their care, but deceived them into a lost eternity, by feeding them another gospel that damned their souls.
Some of the ‘nicest’ people are false prophets and false teachers. Satan camouflages his messengers (2Co.11:13-15) so their true nature does not immediately appear. False prophets always move amongst the flock disguised as sheep. They don’t wear t-shirts with “I’m your local false prophet” or “Support the messengers of Satan, give generously to help spread heresy” on them.
‘But They’ve Done So Much!’
Activity and "results" are not biblical criteria to evaluate a ministry or teacher either. Consider the words of Jesus:
"Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not; prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness."
Plenty of activity and plenty of results, but clearly there's a problem.
The Fruit Of A False Prophet
How does one recognise a false prophet if he is a nice person, seems sincere and of good character, helps little old ladies across the street, does all these mighty miracles, that Jesus mentions and has a “big” ministry that impacts many lives:--aren't these things "good" fruit?
We must understand, that the fruit of the false prophet is not found in these things, but in his teachings and false prophecies. The doctrines he brings reveal what he is (Dt. 13:1-11; Acts 20:28-32); it is by these things he leads others astray; it is by these things he will eventually be detected; and it is by these things he will stand condemned. Jesus isn’t condemning these false prophets to a lost eternity because of the miracles they did in His name, but because of the false prophecies and deceits whereby they led astray and destroyed those who followed them. That is what "fruit" means in this particular context.
The Devil is a liar from the beginning and the truth is not in him, though he masks his deceits under subterfuge and obfuscation, even to the extent of mingling it with some truth that it may pass cursory scrutiny; there will always be a destructive falsehood in there somewhere because he is a liar and that is his nature; and his servants operate in the same manner. Though there are other factors, the primary test of a prophet is always doctrinal. A true man of God, will always adhere to the Word of God and do his utmost to accurately comprehend that Word and faithfully convey its message.
A false teacher on the other hand, will, sooner or later;-even if he appears to have an orthodox doctrinal statement as part of his camouflage,--"leave the reservation" and distort the message, or even bring another one entirely once he has lured the undiscerning into his snare. His true nature as a servant of the Evil One will come out at some point, just as a tree will bring forth fruit after its kind, he will inevitably bring false and destructive teaching at some point.
Tell Us Who Your Friends Are, And We'll Tell You Who You Are
Those with whom we approvingly associate and confederate ourselves reveal a lot about our own character and inclinations. Ah, but you might say “Wasn’t Jesus the friend of sinners?” Yes He was, and still is; but never once did He approve of our sin. His message was “repent and believe”, and “go and sin no more.”
If someone approvingly associates with false teachers and false prophets,--those who bring false doctrines into the Body; if he offers them the hand of Christian fellowship and does not distance himself from them and their errors, then this reveals where his true sympathies and inclinations lie; or as another proverb puts it “birds of a feather flock together.” Complicity with false teaching and its propagators reveals our own disposition towards it.
"For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. " (2Tim. 4:3-4)
You can't associate yourselves with false prophets and false teachings, enter into covenants with them as some of our local false apostles have done, and then claim that you have "nothing to do with them" and it's all "guilt by association" and a "smear". To do so and maintain that there's no connection, is about as ridiculous as saying there's no connection between Hitler and Mussolini, when an ocean of historical documentation tells us otherwise. There's an enormous Internet paper trail of joint endeavours, sharing of platforms, common doctrines, networking and membership of organisations, co-operation agreements, messages and articles that tell us that in the case of our local false apostles the "guilt by association" is very real and tangibly culpable.
Oh-and BEFORE anyone says it, because there's always SOMEONE out there who will, I am NOT saying our local false apostles and pseudo-prophets are Hitler and Mussolini. I really shouldn't have to explain this, it SHOULD be clear from the context, but some people . . . . . . .