When you think of discernment bloggers, do you automatically imagine mean spirited women hunched over their keyboards as they run google searches on all the latest Christian teachers that they hope to discredit? Such bloggers, I’m sorry to say, do exist. At times, I’m even more sorry to say, I’ve been one of them.
Sometimes we actually do need to identify the false teachers that crawl all over the evangelical landscape because women (even women in solid churches) buy their books, watch them on TV and/or attend their conferences. Therefore, there’s a place for naming them and demonstrating how they distort the Word of God. In fact, failure to do so can leave our sisters trapped in deception.
At the same time, limiting our definition of discernment simply to calling out false teachers in itself distorts the meaning of discernment. Discernment encompasses so much more than knowing which popular teacher to avoid. To complicate matters, readers actually want bloggers to tell them who the false teachers are.All of us who write blogs of this nature inevitability get asked what we think of certain speakers or if it’s okay to by a certain writer’s books. Rather than conducting their own research, they rely on us.
Even worse, many readers enjoy the gossip aspect. Sadly, my most popular articles have names of well-known evangelical celebrities in the titles, while my posts on the Protestant Reformation and my Bible Studies receive little attention.
Ironically, the articles on the Protestant Reformation and my Bible Studies probably have more instruction on how to develop good discernment than 1,000 exposes on the false teachers running around out there. The Reformation, for example, came about because men like Luther, Calvin and Zwingli compared Roman Catholic doctrine to the Bible and challenged Rome on its unscriptural teachings and practices. In turn, studying the Bible enables us to recognize doctrinal error.
True discernment requires the hard, but gratifying, work of knowing church history and (even more important) knowing God’s Word. As we understand what Scripture teaches and how Christians throughout church history defended its teachings, we develop increasing discernment that helps us see when a popular Christian teacher or writer distorts the Word of God. Many Christian women desire to be discerning. Praise the Lord! God indeed wants His people to exercise discernment.
9 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. ~~Philippians 1:9-11 (ESV)
Dear sisters in Christ, I beg you to broaden your understanding of discernment and discernment ministry. While there definitely are times when bloggers will find it necessary to name specific teachers who deceive the Body of Christ, we better serve our readers by providing tools for cultivating discernment. That way, all of us will be filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ.