Elizabeth Prata’s Plague Of False Teachers Models Healthy Discernment

Untitled-1Are you confused about my views regarding discernment ministries and blogs? If so, I really can’t blame you. Sometimes I probably appear to be talking out of both sides of my mouth, criticizing discernment ministries that capitalize on naming false teachers in one post and then exposing a false teacher in the next. “Which is it, DebbieLynne?” you may ask.

When I read  A plague of false teachers in Elizabeth Prata’s blog this morning, I immediately put aside my blogging plans for today. Her essay clarifies so much of my position on discernment blogs that I believed I should take the time to carefully explain how I think discernment ministries and blogs ought to operate.

Notice that, in making her case for calling out false teachers, Elizabeth depends on carefully working through texts from Jeremiah, explaining their historical context before applying them to Christians in the 21st Century. Keeping Scripture in proper context is absolutely key, especially in dealing with false teachers. Precisely because false teachers notoriously mishandle God’s Word in order to advance their agendas, discernment ministries and bloggers must take extra precautions to handle it with integrity.

Beyond correctly handling God’s Word, however, Elizabeth encourages her readers to study Scripture themselves as the first line of defense against false teaching. She emphasizes that knowing God’s Word, both by placing ourselves under solid Bible teaching and by studying it as individuals, develops our ability to distinguish between truth and error.

Bingo!

In contrast, some well-known “discernment ministries” use all their resources to discredit anyone they dislike, regardless of whether or not the person actually qualifies as a false teacher. Rather than examining the teachings of the person they critique, they resort to gossip, slander and character assassination. Evidently,  they are more interested in discrediting their opponents than they are in directing their readers to Scripture.

I have no objection to occasionally naming names as an aspect of discernment ministry, though as I grow in Christ I realize that doing so should be a minor part of that ministry. Our concentration should be on teaching the Bible as accurately as we can and encouraging others to go directly to Scripture.

Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. ~~Acts 17:11 (ESV)

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