Only two years after graduating from college, I became the editor of my church’s monthly newsletter. It didn’t take long to learn that I couldn’t please everyone all of the time. Writers complained that I was too ruthless in editing their articles, while my assistant editor complained that I was too lenient. No matter what I did, somebody would inevitability be unhappy with me.
I learned to live with the displeasure of others.
As a blogger, I’ve had to draw from that lesson I learned as an editor, particularly because I frequently write about discernment. Usually, the criticism I receive rolls off my back — I pretty much know that someone who defends a false teacher won’t be convinced by anything I write unless the Holy Spirit uses my words to guide her into Scripture.
And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. ~~1 Corinthians 2:1-5 (ESV)
Once in a while, however, I receive a comment that I think warrants a thoughtful response. The day after I injured my back, I received one such comment from a reader named Julie Dickey that has made me think through my blogging ministry a bit.
Debbie. I have been reading some of your posts and you seem to spend more time trashing other Christians theology than you do on the Bible. We are to be accepting with one another, not divisive. 1 Cor 1:10, Romans 12:16-18, Titus 3:9-11
Certainly, I don’t think this woman has read The Outspoken TULIP to any great extent, given her premise that I spend more time exposing false teachers than I do on teaching the Bible. Has she seen the various Bible Studies that I’ve written? Has she grasped the central point of the Keys To Discernment Bible Study that I’ve been writing on Paul’s letter to the Colossians?
Others have recently called me to repent of my unwillingness to name false teachers, making Julie’s criticism just that much more perplexing. Obviously, I’m sinning no matter what I write! In a way, my inability to please readers on either side of the spectrum amuses me, and perhaps assures me that I’ve found a good middle ground.
Be that as it may, Julie cited three Scriptures to support her criticism of me. I appreciate her for doing so. In response, I intend to spend the next three blog posts examining the Scriptures she cited to determine whether or not those Scriptures apply to the work of calling out false teachers.
Before writing those articles, however, let’s clarify that I am not trashing other Christians. I take care to focus on their teachings and/or behaviors that deviate from sound doctrine. Even Titus 3:9-11 (which Julie herself brought up) instructs us to mark divisive people.
All the New Testament epistles except Philemon directly confront false teaching and false teachers. One can’t properly write about the Bible without reference to First Century heresies. Occasionally, Paul even mentions false teachers by name. Consider, for instance, his words in the first chapter of Titus:
10 For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. 11 They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach. 12 One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” 13 This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, 14 not devoting themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth. 15 To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled. 16 They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work. ~~Titus 1:10-16 (ESV)
Please note that those of the circumcision party called themselves Christians, and many in the churches of Crete believed them to be Christians. Was Paul then trashing other Christians? Or was he urging Titus to purify the churches from doctrinal error?
We must be careful not to accept false teachers as fellow Christians simply because they possess a veneer of religion. If they teach things that deviate from God’s Word, they must be corrected and exposed before they pollute the Church.
Absolutely, we best battle false teaching by teaching the Word of God! Scripture equips us to discern truth from error, as I’ve been demonstrating in our study of Colossians. But sometimes we must name names in order to show people how Scripture refutes the plethora of false teachers and false teachings that infiltrate the 21st Century Church.
I’m sorry that attitude doesn’t please all of my readers.