In a previous blog, I explained some of my reasons for blogging against my birthright denomination – EFCI (Evangelical Friends Church International), of which EFC-NA (Evangelical Friends Church-North America) is a part. Click here for the blog, which is entitled “An apology – sort of – to readers in my birthright denomination”.
Blogging “behind their back” is definitely not the ideal. I believe the best route would be to sit down and discuss matters with church leaders and denominational leaders directly. But what if they will not discuss any issues (or have discontinued discussion)? What if there are serious issues in your mind which still have not been resolved? What if you corral a posse of like minded members to present the subject together, then leading officials still refuse to talk with you?
You can always “up and leave” the denomination (which technically I did years ago). But what about those that are left behind? I see the seeds of Spiritual Formation and Emerging/Emergent teachings growing every day in my birthright denomination, and I am very uncomfortable – even angry – with this. I find it very difficult to just sit back and do nothing, letting my many friends and loved ones in the denomination be led astray. (The denomination has gone WAY downhill in my opinion – it is far different from what it was 100 or 50 years ago.) I feel my only recourse at this point is to blog (as “nasty” and as awkward as it is), and to network with the many others in the denomination who are also concerned about these very same issues.
Question – how do we say ANYTHING about specific individuals, specific churches, etc. without offending and hurting? Is that even possible? Bottom line – is it ever right to name names, particularly the names of false teachers? And if it is ever right, when and how do we go about it? There are many opinions on this. The best opinions/articles on this will obviously be articles that incorporate biblical guidelines.
Click here for the entire text of one such article, by Brannon Howse. He was asked not to return to a church after he criticized Brian McLaren, Rob Bell, etc. by name. After explaining the scenario and describing his resulting feelings, he presents some thoughts about “naming names”, as follows. I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [bracketing].
Is It Negative and Unbiblical to Name False Teachers?
By Brannon Howse
… Let me answer the question of our article. Is it negative and unbiblical to name false teachers? The Bible is filled with examples of Jesus and others naming false teachers by name. For example, the Apostle Paul in 2 Timothy names numerous people by name.
2 Timothy 1:15: Phygellus and Hermogenes
2 Timothy 2:17: Mymenaeus and Philetus
2 Timothy 3:8: Jannes and Jambress
2 Timothy 4:10: Demas
2 Timothy 4:14: Alexander the coppersmith
In III John 9, John named Diotrephes.
Jesus called out the false teachers in Matthew 23 and Luke 11.
I truly believe that one reason why God allows false teachers is to provide believers with a test (1) of whether they will be faithful in their Biblical mandate to expose false teachers and thus protect the sheep from the spiritual poison of wolves in sheep’s clothing.
Ephesians 5:11 makes it clear we are to expose false teachers; “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.”
If a shepherd/ pastor will not point out the wolves that are among the sheep then this should be a clear warning to the flock that the shepherd/ pastor does not have their best interest in mind. Such a hireling is not called of God but is simply involved in an occupation for personal gain as revealed in I Timothy 6:5.
In addition, such non-shepherds are revealing that they are more interested in their reputation and being seen by the larger community as tolerant and non-judgmental as defined by the unsaved world.
False teachers also give the sheep the opportunity to test the commitment of their shepherds/ pastors. If the pastors/ shepherds on your church staff fail this Biblical test then it is time for the leaders of the church to replace such hirelings with real shepherds. If this Biblical action is not taken, then it is time for you to find a new flock that has a shepherd that will alert the sheep to the spirituality immature and even wolves in sheep’s clothing that are on his own church staff.
Show me a shepherd/ pastor that will not name false teachers and I will show you a false teacher.
Pastor Jim Bublitz gives further insight into the positive results that come when we name false teachers by name:
… From those words it is clear that God allows teachers of error for the same reason as He does persecutors of His people: to test their love, to try their fidelity, to show that their loyalty to him is such that they will not give ear unto His enemies. Error has always been more popular than the Truth, for it lets down the bars and fosters fleshly indulgence, but for that very reason it is obnoxious to the godly.
The one who by grace can say “I have chosen the way of Truth” will be able to add “I have stuck unto Thy testimonies” (Psalm 119:30, 31), none being able to move him therefrom.
“For there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.” (1 Corinthians 11:19).
Committed Christians must publicly name false teachers because it is impossible to privately correct public false teaching. [Doing this is uncomfortable and difficult – but this pastor’s statement verifies what I and thousands of others have been doing on the Internet.]
This fall I received an e-mail from a young lady that is a junior in high school near Atlanta, Georgia. In her e-mail she stated that because she had attended two Worldview Weekend Rallies in Atlanta and heard me expose the false teaching of emergent Pastor Rob Bell, she had been equipped to reject his false teaching when a Bible study group at her Christian school decided to read one of his books. She informed me that she immediately recognized the name of Rob Bell and remembered what I had spoken. This young lady had the courage and conviction to politely hand the book back to the group and to warn them of Bell’s false teaching.
This young ladies testimony has come to my mind many times this fall and has been a real source of encouragement to me to continue to speak truth no matter how negative or offensive it may be to the non-discerning.
If I had not named the name of Rob Bell, how would this student had known to reject his book and false doctrine? If I had not named the name of Rob Bell would this student now be spiritually deceived? If I had not named Rob Bell by name would she have been able to warn her peers to this spiritual poison?
The late Pastor Vance Havner wrote, “We live what we believe; the rest is religious talk.” Living what we believe includes our willingness to name the name of false teachers and to endure the criticism and persecution that will surely follow. To do any less would be treason to our calling, to our mandate, to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. [I have felt this criticism and persecution. It makes my heart heavy, yet thankful at the same time for having been able to help expose false teachers. The readership of this blogsite is growing daily – in a very encouraging way. I want to do what I can in my remaining years to bring people back to a strong faith in Jesus Christ, no matter how difficult.]
When we expose false teaching and false teachers we are proclaiming and defending the authority, accuracy, and application of God’s Word; the very thing that false teachers seek to undermine.
Living what we believe requires speaking Biblical truth and Biblical warnings no matter how negative or offensive it may be to the spiritually immature, non-discerning or wolves that crept in among the sheep.
Jude 3:1-4 commands all believers to contend for the faith that is under attack from false teachers. “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.” Truth is never negative to those who seek to serve The Truth.
Click here for the source of this excerpt
(1) I feel I have indeed been tested. I know I have sounded very inflammatory and judgmental to many. But on my end, it is a very painful feeling, almost embarrassing, being painted as the “bad guy” for exposing others [including world famous false teachers] in a denomination before the Internet world. Especially when my intent is not to hurt my denomination, but to HELP it – I would love for the denomination to have the biblical “Holiness” emphasis it once had. What I’m saying is, the hurt goes both ways.
Sometimes I doubt whether I made the right step by blogging about my birthright denomination. I’m guessing that, not only have I lost friends permanently, but I have probably hurt my chances of ever truly fellowshipping with this denomination again.
Yet, on the other hand, I have made many, MANY new friends – friends who feel exactly the same way I do about Spiritual Formation and Emerging/Emergent teachings. And although I have known most of these people for only a few months, I feel more bonded with them than many people I have known in my birthright denomination for a lifetime!
Well I feel encouraged now, and re-emboldened. And, to all of you exposing false teachers and going through the same feelings: may God bless and strengthen you!