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)