I recently read an article about a popular Christian teacher whom I followed rather blindly until about 15 years ago. I’ve since discovered that he’s a false teacher. To this day, it baffles me that I didn’t catch the more blatant errors in his theology — especially since more minor inconsistencies about his life actually did bother me. Anyway, I now avoid this teacher to the point that I won’t recommend otherwise solid articles in Saturday Sampler if they favorably quote him.
Needless to say, I’ve developed a definite bias against this man that would shock a friend of mine who once saw my bookshelf dedicated to him and jokingly referred to it as a shrine. He sadly embraced ideas which I now realize directly oppose the Gospel. So when I came across an article critiquing him, I expected clarity on the issues that most concern me about him.
I got that clarity, which the author documented very well. In that respect, I found the article quite helpful. After sharing it with John, we started destroying my books of his. So yeah, I found confirmation that his books have no place in my home, and that I must make sure they don’t fall into the hands of anyone else.
The remarks I’ve just made probably make you wonder why I’m neither naming the popular false teacher nor providing a link to the article about him. In answer, let me say naming him here would only cause controversy that would distract you from the point I want to make. And linking to the article would be a mistake because its author made some claims that I haven’t as yet been able to verify. Those questionable claims, in fact, have reminded me of a fundamental rule in both journalism and discernment ministry.
Alwavs double-check your facts.
A major pitfall in discernment ministry is that sometimes our zeal to expose false teachers causes us to believe every negative thing we read about them. We want to protect people from falling victim to deception, which is certainly admirable. But in our desire to build a strong case against them, we can accept accusations without thoroughly investigating those accusations. Ironically, in our eagerness to practice discernment, we cease to be discerning.
Again, I have no interest in exonerating the false teacher in question — or any false teacher, for that matter. At the same time, I’m interested in accurately presenting the truth. And the article I read, while it did support the majority of its claims by quoting the teacher directly, made a few extremely serious allegations without providing credible support. It did appeal to two Christians who seemingly substantiate the claims, but I want verification from the non-Christian entities that supposedly use this teacher to advance their agenda. Furthermore, I want verification that this teacher actually intended for his writings to serve that agenda. At present, I cannot find such substantiation.
I want verification from non-Christian sources because the article emphasized an alliance between this teacher and certain non-Christian groups. My thinking is that, if those groups actually do use his writings with the implication that he supported their false belief systems, I could find him on their websites. After all, if such groups truly do appropriate his writings in the way the article’s writer and the two Christians he quotes say they do, it seems reasonable that the websites of those groups would proudly point to their affiliation with him.
As of yet, however, I only find Christian websites (and lesser known Christian websites at that) linking this teacher to non-Christian groups. Are these Christians so anxious to discredit this teacher that they will make an association that doesn’t really exist? Maybe not. Maybe they’re saying things that most of us simply don’t want to believe, even though we know his theological errors elsewhere. I just find it suspicious that the non-Christian groups which supposedly embrace this teacher don’t seem to mention him publicly.
I’m willing to be convinced that these allegations are true, and I will investigate the claims as fairly as I can. But I’m not willing to be accept these claims on the basis of one article, even though I already have a bias against the teacher in question, True Biblical discernment doesn’t operate on confirmation bias. Rather, it looks for the truth. It seeks verification of each argument it comes across, even when an argument might strengthen the case against someone. It understands the importance of exposing false teachers in order to protect others from deception, but it also understands that God prohibits bearing false witness.
The first to plead his case seems right,
Until another comes and examines him. ~~Proverbs 18:17 (NASB95)
2 thoughts on “Just Because It Affirms My Bias Doesn’t Mean It’s Accurate”
Oh DebbieLynne…….I so agree with your main thesis! BUT……I am sooooo curious to know who this person is. My “wanting to know everything” bell is clanging loudly! It would satisfy my desire to know, but that desire reveals the sin of gossip, or pre-gossip, if you will. Thank you for speaking of a flaw we all have: personal bias.
LikeLiked by 2 people
Well, you’re honest! 🙂
LikeLiked by 1 person