To Call Out False Teachers Or Not Call Out False Teachers — Does It Have To Be One Or The Other?


Six months ago, I lost a friend as a result of my participation in the Open Letter To Beth Moore. The lady agreed with many of the concerns about Moore, but she believes it’s more productive to teach sound doctrine.

She has a point. As I’ve been saying for a few years now, most of Paul’s epistles confront false teaching by offering the corrective of sound theology. In fact, my primary reason for taking you through Colossians each Monday is to show you how Paul taught discernment without ever naming a false teacher. In studying Scripture, I’ve learned that the apostles very rarely called out false teachers directly.

Furthermore, I’ve seen several self-proclaimed discernment blogs deteriorate into malicious gossip rags, intent on destroying the reputations of those with whom they disagree. In the name of discernment, the writers of those blogs reveal their obvious lack of Biblical discernment, frequently using guilt by association to prove their allegations or quoting people out of context.

People like the lady who withdrew from our friendship understandably react against discernment ministries (even legitimate ones) by categorically rejecting any public exposure of false teachers. One gentleman on Twitter told me that such exposure should occur exclusively within the context of the local church. Both he and the lady who took issue with me strongly believe that the Internet is not the appropriate venue for identifying false teachers.

Three months ago I lost another friend because I questioned the value of writing blog posts about Beth Moore that simply reiterate the evidence against her that other bloggers have already presented. I did present my case much too harshly; I apologized both publicly and privately for that sin.

But the lady demanded that I either confess my sin of teaching that we should never call out false teachers or produce a Scripture showing that calling out false teachers is wrong. When I countered that she misrepresented my position, she decided I was unrepentant.


But she had a good point. Ephesians 5:12 commands us to expose the works of darkness. The context of this verse offers no specifics on how to expose the works of darkness, so I think it would be a stretch to argue that we shouldn’t use social media to refute false teachers who have wide influence.

Beth Moore, for instance, uses Twitter to build her base of followers. She also has accounts on Facebook and Instagram. Additionally, she periodically posts on her ministry’s blog. She is an extremely public figure who uses the Internet all too well. For that reason, it seems entirely appropriate to warn women about her through social media.

My two former friends represent opposite (and extreme) ends of a spectrum. Both ladies have some valid points, but neither lady seems willing to consider a middle ground. I hope I misunderstand them, but I fear that I don’t.

I would encourage my first friend to remember that sometimes women who sit under sound preaching at church can still lack discernment when it comes to popular Bible teachers. Their pastors may not realize that women in their congregations buy books by popular women teachers who don’t handle Scripture properly. While it would be best if such women received guidance through their local churches, not all churches provide such guidance. Sometimes these women only hear false teachers exposed online.

And I would encourage my second friend to remember that sometimes too much emphasis on calling out a false teacher who has been exposed many times over can be counterproductive. If someone wants to move on, don’t accuse them of saying that they rebel against Scripture’s command to expose false teachers.

Instead of constructing an either/or dichotomy, let’s keep in mind that different situations call for different approaches.

 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. ~~Colossians 4:6 (ESV)

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6 thoughts on “To Call Out False Teachers Or Not Call Out False Teachers — Does It Have To Be One Or The Other?

  1. 1 John 4:20
    Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.

    John 13:35
    By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.”

    1 John 2:9
    If anyone claims to be in the light but hates his brother, he is still in the darkness.

    1 John 2:11
    But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness. He does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

    1 John 4:12
    No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God remains in us, and His love is perfected in us.

    Colossians 3:13
    Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.

    Matthew 6:14
    “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.

    Romans 15:7
    Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory.

    Ephesians 4:2
    Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.

    Ephesians 4:32
    Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

    Matthew 18:22
    Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

    Firstly, when reading Gods Word we see how brothers and sisters in Christ are suppose to interact and live with each other. Sadly your two “friends” are showing bitter unforgiving hearts. We have all sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God.

    On calling out a false teacher we are commanded by God to do so and to mark them and have nothing to do with them. Sadly we are in a technology age where the way to reach people is social media. Jesus called out the Pharisees in a public square and social media is your public square. You have done it in a loving manner as our hope is for all who call themselves Christians that they would turn to Christ. If Beth Moore is calling herself a Christian then Matthew 18 comes into play. This is the same for your friends, if they cannot repent of their unforgiveness, how can they say they know God?


    • While I appreciate your support, I don’t think it’s right to question the salvation of these two women. None of us is fully sanctified, and none of us have perfect doctrine. I think of the passage MacArthur introduced on today’s Grace To You broadcast:

      12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained. ~~Philippians 3:12-15 (ESV)

      I believe both ladies are doing their best to obey Scripture as they understand it. As someone who has fallen into extreme positions on more than one occasion, I want to extend grace while praying that the Lord will bring them to more balanced perspectives in His timing.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Good thoughts. I’m sorry you lost friends over this issue. But I am glad you are seeking to please the Lord, not people.


  3. Yes exactly. You need to be following behind the footsteps of the false teacher and crying out “Not true! Not true!” Otherwise how will the hearers of the false teaching — hear what’s real & true? Thank you Debbie


  4. Paul called out false teachers by name (2 Timothy 2:17, for example). IMHO, the debate represents the misunderstanding and misapplication of Biblical teaching. We are told to tell the truth in love. It seems that most people are on one side or the other and focus either on their false concept of “love” by not standing for truth, or standing for truth in a non-loving way.


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