Popular false teachers give bloggers plenty of material to keep us busy. And when a false teacher has a Twitter account, he or she becomes the gift that keeps on giving.
I do understand the sense of urgency that compels people to call out these false teachers. Over the years, I’ve used this very blog for that purpose, and I certainly don’t rule out doing so again. As evangelicals grow more and more Biblically illiterate, false teachers gain greater power to spread their deception.
But in our urgency to warn our brothers and sisters against false teachers, we can stumble into a variety of pitfalls that could potentially undermine our message. For example, we could overload our readers with more information than they can process in a single sitting. I want to address this pitfall as an encouragement to be aware of the people we’re trying to help.
Believe me, I well know (from personal experience) that followers of any false teacher will stubbornly resist arguments showing that their beloved idol presents a counterfeit gospel. Therefore I empathize with the desire to pull out every shred of evidence against that teacher all at once. We naturally want to make an air-tight case that the teacher in question should absolutely not be followed!
But when bloggers write lengthy articles in their efforts to expose a false teacher, they can end up implicitly demanding that their readers drink from a fire hydrant. A large arsenal of information, while it makes our case conclusive, can overwhelm people to the point that they feel glutted. Rather than persuading readers to turn from a false teacher, we drive them away from us.
Scripture teaches that even good things can became detrimental if we neglect moderation.
15 With patience a ruler may be persuaded,
and a soft tongue will break a bone.
16 If you have found honey, eat only enough for you,
lest you have your fill of it and vomit it.
17 Let your foot be seldom in your neighbor’s house,
lest he have his fill of you and hate you. ~~Proverbs 25:15-17 (ESV)
By refuting error, we definitely do a good thing. I’m by no means saying that we should stop warning against false teachers or that we should compromise our message. But neither should we try to squeeze every possible indictment against a given false teacher into a long blog post.
People read blogs with the expectation of posts being between 400 and 1500 words. If you can even get them to read a post challenging a false teacher they follow, you’ll most likely alienate them by writing anything longer. Most readers won’t even begin reading a post if they can see that it will be a major time investment. They’ll be even less likely to read a long article that they perceive as an attack on their idol.
I know we want to protect people from deception, and that desire honors the Lord. But let’s proceed with respect for the people we want to reach. Drinking from us fire hydrant could drown them.