Fritz — Try the Spirits

While it is true that heresies are brought into the Church by the theological schools and the spiritual leaders, it is also true that it is the duty of every Christian in the church ‘to try the spirits whether they are of God,’ and ‘earnestly to contend for the faith which was once delivered to the saints.’ In doing this, Christians are not acting as ‘self-appointed leaders,’ but are doing what the Lord Himself in His Word asks them to do. After all, God will hold not only the spiritual leaders in the church, but also all the members in the Church responsible for the doctrines which are taught.

Fritz, Theological Monthly, Volume 1, 1921, p. 274.

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About Norm Fisher

Norm was raised in the UCC in Connecticut, and like many fell away from the church after high school. With this background he saw it primarily as a service organization. On the miracle of his first child he came back to the church. On moving to Texas a few years later he found a home in Lutheranism when he was invited to a confessional church a half-hour away by our new neighbors.

He is one of those people who found a like mind in computers while in Middle School and has been programming ever since. He's responsible for many websites, including the Book of Concord,, and several other sites.

He has served the church in various positions, including financial secretary, sunday school teacher, elder, PTF board member, and choir member.

More of his work can be found at


Fritz — Try the Spirits — 9 Comments

  1. The comment is very true….and it means that many in the church have been and are negligent and lazy in failing to read their Bibles and pray for wisdom and understanding, and have relied on pastors and theologians to do the “leg work” of plumbing the scriptures. Such people are more vulnerable to accepting false teachings and heresies. Luther saw the ignorance of clergy and laity alike, so he developed the Catechism, which is a faithful synopsis of scripture. We have the Apostles Creed and Nicene Creed, the Confessions, and we are without excuse.

  2. Really? 4 Congregations, 3 schools, child abuse & family abuse. Let work? No, it’s the hide it, principle. I don’t believe, we hold sway anymore, I’ve seen it & it is my lot, to protect my children & myself, from it. I tried them & called 2 Synodical Offices, not their problem. Call your District. Like they didn’t know & were not aware. How many years, do we have to play this game? While we watch real people pay?!

    Where is that, on BJS? No where. It won’t be, it isn’t a buzz word or term for us, Confessionals, either.

  3. @Dutch #2
    Missed your point! What are you saying? Be specific and reason a more articulate response which makes sense.

  4. John,
    Forgive me, for not being, quite cohesive. Testing means, for laity, questioning. Questioning choices, actions, or counsel, given. Does it not?

    From what I’ve seen, and by personal experience, being warned not to question, words & actions taken, with Doctrine, Resolution, Bylaw, at a Congregational level, is frightening. If we are to test, as well we should, He said so, then why the fear, of doing so? The fear of doing so, does not come from the pew.

    I’ve seen some vile things, these last few years. I did question, motives. I questioned why, Policy, Resolution, Bylaw, & those who lead, in Congregations. What did I find? Private admittance, yet public denial. What happened to me? Punished, for just asking: “why if we have A, B, & C, is this happening?”
    No one, hides anything, if you have nothing, to, hide. Defending what is not defendable or hiding truth, from others, that is a lie.

    This isn’t just about, words on paper. Those words, from Sola Scriptura down to a Congregation’s or Pastor’s actions, stem from all we have written, for us. When anyone questions, it is with courage, we do so. A few decades ago, I was never afraid to do so. I no longer do, as I know what happens, when we do so, now.

    I hope this clarifies. If not, do please contact BJS, for my email.

  5. I think one of the nuances of this that is often missed, is the respective responsibility of the clergy and the laity. The clergy have a much greater responsibility (and accountability before God) for their doctrine than the laity. However, apart from the Word of God (and the sound doctrine which arises from it) both may perish.

    Every Christian has the responsibility to hear the Word of Christ and abide in it, so that they may continue to abide in Christ. But in some veiled yet awful way, those who teach in the Church of Christ will be held to a greater judgment.

  6. Thank you Brad, for your post. It was the point, I was trying to get at.
    If I, as a member of laity, have cause, to fear testing and questioning, where does that leave, anyone?

    I’m not angry, as much as, I am unable to do, what I am asked to do, because, fear, is a real thing, with this. They, hold the Office. I can be replaced, I just fill a pew. If I do question & test, which I have, that, can follow me. I cannot, however, disregard, the duty, I have, when I may hear or see, with my own eyes & ears, that is at best, questionable. I do my utmost, not to anymore. I pay, far too high a price, for the doing.

  7. @Dutch #7


    I think some of this concern is resolved in a proper understanding of vocation. I have seen (and experienced) the kind of retribution you allude to, for testing those who follow another spirit than Him who speaks in Holy Scripture. There are pastors out there in the hundreds who have lost their livelihoods for attempting to live out their vocational duties to preach Christ and His Word alone– but that price of temporal suffering is small potatoes compared to the price of eternal perdition should they abandon the Word of Christ for contemporary fables.

    As a layman, you are of no less value than any pastor, elder, church board or committee member, but your vocational duties are determined by the neighbors God has given you to care for. The best you can do for yourself, your family, and those who will listen to you, is to abide in the Word of Christ while calling others to do the same. If your congregation or its leaders will not abide in the Word of Christ, then you must determine how best to serve the neighbors God has given you, beginning with your family. If such a congregation is putting both you and your family’s souls at risk by unrepentantly abandoning the Word of Christ, then you must find them a more spiritually safe and nurturing congregation where they may be drawn more faithfully to abide in Christ by His Word. Your vocational duty as a member of your congregation is secondary (at best) to your vocational duties to your family.

    The pastor’s duty is to sacrificially shepherd the people of Christ by His Word. The father or mother’s duty is to sacrificially shepherd their family by Christ and His Word, eventually into a community (congregation) where Christ’s Word and Sacraments are faithfully administered for the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation. The duties each vocation (pastor and laity) are complimentary, but ordered according to the neighbors given to our care.

    I hope that was helpful. Peace be unto you.

  8. @Brad #8

    Well explained, understanding our particular vocation is the key as we work and live in our family, church and community in praising God in everything giving thanks and thank you.

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