Praise God for bloggers like Elizabeth Prata and Michelle Lesley who tirelessly research popular teachers and warn against the ones who mishandle Scripture. Sometimes we need to identify people and call them out. Early in the development of this blog, I joined them in writing about false teachers who routinely seduce women with their doctrinal errors.
I haven’t entirely abandoned that practice. At times, women need to be told directly that the teacher they follow so adoringly is failing to offer them healthy spiritual food. In such instances, I have absolutely no problem writing articles exposing such teachers.
That said, I believe we think of discernment ministry much too narrowly. Usually people associate discernment exclusively with calling out false teachers, forgetting that true discernment encompasses so much more than simply naming names of evangelical celebrities to avoid.
Fully developed discernment requires the hard work of studying God’s Word and learning its great doctrines.
A reader recently asked me to comment on a movement and teacher. She had already seen Michelle Lesley’s video on this teacher and read an article by another respectable discernment blogger. I’d never heard of either the movement or the teacher, actually, so I wouldn’t have had anything to contribute. But even if I did know something, I’d prefer to give her the tools to evaluate this movement and teacher for herself.
In my Bible Study on Colossians this past Monday, in fact, I wrote:
Think of it this way: you can read blog post after blog post decrying Beth Moore as a false teacher. But how much better to read posts helping you understand sound doctrine so well that you can identify her errors for yourself? The Word provides stability for Christians, as we depend on the apostles’ teaching to guard us against the winds of false doctrine (Ephesians 4:11-16).
The entire reason I write Monday Bible Studies is to help women develop enough discernment that they can measure a teaching against Scripture. Come to think of it, I hope my readers develop enough discernment skills so well that they can evaluate The Outspoken TULIP through the lens of God’s Word.
The apostle Paul desired the Philippians to have discernment. Lets take a look at what he says, shall we?
9 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. ~~Philippians 1:9-11 (ESV)
Notice that Paul prays for their discernment so that they might “approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ.” He said nothing right then about ferreting out false teachers.
His readers had to wait until Chapter 3 before he says anything about the Judaiers who falsely taught that Gentile Christians needed to be circumcised. Even then, he addresses their error with sound teaching on justification. Then he briefly rebukes the erroneous attitude that Christians don’t need to work toward personal holiness. By Chapter 4, he’s ready to resume discussion on how the church in Philippi should behave itself.
The Philippians needed discernment about false teachers, but they also needed discernment on a few other issues. Thankfully, Paul didn’t limit his epistle to the rebuke of heretics.
Elizabeth Prata, Michelle Lesley and other sound bloggers often alert readers to false teachers and dangerous trends that threaten the church today. I’m very thankful for their hard work, and believe they offer a vital service. (They also work hard to teach women the Word of God, encouraging women to exercise their own discernment.)
Rather than simply add my voice to their warnings regarding false teachers and popular movements, I’d like to teach discernment by helping women dig into God’s Word itself. Admittedly, learning discernment that way requires more effort and patience than reading a bullet list of a teacher’s errors. But it will enable you to evaluate popular teachers and trends without waiting for your favorite discernment blogger to weigh in.Follow my blog with Bloglovin