We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum. A.W. Tozer
Therefore let God-inspired Scripture decide between us; and on whichever side be found doctrines in harmony with the word of God, in favor of that side will be cast the vote of truth. --Basil of Caesarea
Once you learn to discern, there's no going back. You will begin to spot the lie everywhere it appears.

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service. 1 Timothy 1:12

Monday, April 18, 2011

Where Is the Teaching About Discernment?

This is a repost of an article I posted one month after I started this blog in late 2007.  It is just as valid now as it was then. 

One of my greatest frustrations with the church at large today is the lack of willingness on the part of pastors to preach on discernment issues. Where is the assembly where a pastor will spend a sermon preaching about false teachings in the church?
There is so much poor teaching in the average stuff found in so-called "Christian" book stores that they are virtual minefields for the undiscerning, and yet you don't hear that message from the pulpit.  Fads bring new books into the hands of unsuspecting Christians on a daily basis. What is worse, is not just the poor teachings, but the aberrational, apostate and even heretical teachings adorning the bookshelves of these stores, and very often the shelves of the Church libraries.  Pastors on the whole don't address these issues to warn the flock of the danger of these false teachings; they are unwilling to name names of false teachers. Meanwhile the sheep of these flocks buy these books with their cyanide-laced pages without ever being warned.
Where is the pastor who will speak out against the legalistic, scripture-twisting darling of the home-school movement, Bill Gothard?  Where is the pastor who will speak out against the scripture-twisting of Rick Warren? How many have been warned about the Blackabys and their mysticism ("Experiencing God", etc)? Where is the warning against the aberrational spiritual warfare models of Neil Anderson? How many women are enthralled by the Word of Faith heretic Joyce Meyer?
Bruce Wilkinson had his books, starting with "The Book of Jabez," which twisted the referent Bible passage beyond all contextual meaning, and they sold like hotcakes to the point where Emmaus Bible College - a normally solid school - was giving them as gifts to graduates! Where was the discernment? Beth Moore is known for some good teachings but she also twists the Scriptures very often beyond all recognition and also teaches the same spiritual warfare aberrations as promulgated by Neil Anderson and the Word of Faith heretics. Where is the warning about these from the pulpit? What about the best-selling books by Joel Osteen; where is the pastor preaching against these from the pulpit? John Eldredge's book "Wild at Heart" is "wildly unbiblical" (to quote Midwest Christian Outreach), as is his "Waking the Dead," both rife with pop-psychology and unbiblical teachings and yet they are promoted by the church at large!
I could go on and on listing false teachers and their books, but I think you get the idea. Christians are being fed a steady diet of spiritual junk food that makes them feel good, and yet they are being slowing poisoned with poor teachings, aberrations, apostasy and even heresy because the vast majority of pastors refuse to address such issues.
Pastors, it is time to protect your flocks from the wolves in sheep’s clothing!


Anonymous said...

Thank you Glenn, for re-posting this. You are absolutely right - we desperately need pastors that are courageous enough to address this from the pulpit. So many today are afraid of people, afraid of offending, afraid of seeming too negative; afraid of being considered judgmental, etc. Some will warn but do not want to name names. They do not have the courage of the Apostle Paul who named names. Also some sincerely believe that what they should do is only preach what is true and that will help their people to spot the false. But it sure seems like some christians need much more help than that. Some Christians are more discerning/mature than others. Some never are discerning and don't get "hints" about false doctrine. They need it explained clearly and concisely. They need the wolves to be named, that they might take heed. I am so thankful for the internet Christian world. I go to a solid church, but they do not name names and rarely speak of error.

Christian Ease said...

I don't remember seeing you at our last church ... you must have been sitting in the back. Actually, I really, realy loved those people and their passion. Here comes the but,... they jumped on every bandwagon that came around the bend, including better than half of those you mentioned. The problem is people like me fulfilling some misperceived obligation to sit through studies, as I did with purpose driven drivel, all the while biting my tongue. Sitting through those milk-toasty, self-engulfing,self-help, self-esteem,self,self,self,self heresies made me look at the Catholic sacrament of penance in a whole new light. How much more Lord? Save me please! Anyway, I had enough, or rather too much. Actually, they were very accepting of every thing I said also. Now that really scared me ... but we wouldn't want to offend anyone would we?

Steve Bricker said...

When I was asked to teach on Spiritual Warfare, someone recommended and loaned me Anderson's The Bondage Breaker and Victory over the Darkness, because the teachings had helped with his daughter. I read the former and had the same opinion as you.

Later, a guy at Maranatha decided he wanted to lead a men's study through the latter book, so now I am reading it on my own to see what is in it. Abundant psychology with appropriately placed anecdotes; held together by enough Bible passages to make it palatable enough to swallow.

Mandy said...

Nice to see you calling out Bill Gothard by name! My family was blessed by Gothard's seminar when I was a kid, but as a teen I decided to look up his scripture reference lists and found them padded with references that had nothing to do with the subject heading of their respective list. That was then, what a shock to see what errors he promotes now! And what horrible bondage some of his followers are now in. Pastors and lay leaders, we all need to speak up!

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Neal Anderson is CERTAINLY not someone you'd want to read for spiritual warfare. He is about as aberrant as it gets!!

Dan said...

discernment brings division; division brings lower attendance, lower attendance brings lower "offerings", lower "offerings" bring lender phone calls, lender phone calls brings stress, stress does not bring peace.


Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Oh we certainly wouldn't want to lower our attendance then, would we?