How Do We Call Out False Teachers?

Several months ago the Christian hip-hop artist Shai Linne put out a song that was bound to be controversial. The song is provocatively titled “Fal$e Teacher$” with the dollar signs intentionally placed. Check out the song here.

Now some of the controversy has been pointed out here with posts by one of the questioned ministries here along with a response by Shai Linne here. This an important topic to consider, particularly as we continue into an age defined by social media driven instant news and content. What does it look like to call out false teachers in the church? In an age of increasing sentimentality, celebrity worship, and political correctness, how does one identify and offer corrective to false teachers?

As we are reminded a in the New Testament, false teachers have and will abound among the churches which comprise the Body of Christ (Matthew 24:24; Galatians 1:6-9; Ephesians 4:13-14; 2 Peter 2:1-3; etc.) At multiple points, the writers of the NT personally identify and call out false teachers who are operating within the ministries of various churches to whom they are writing (1 Timothy 1:20; 3 John 9; etc.) So not only are the NT writers familiar with false teachers, they also present a pattern of identifying false teachers and warning their flocks about them.

One of the things that seems apparent from the NT dealings with false teachers is that when each of the writers speaks specifically to a context which they are familiar. They have an established relationship with the people and the churches they are writing to and upon this relationship each, it appears, feels they have an obligation to warn of and ward off false teachers. Later first century documents (cf. The Didache) lay out specific tests for false teachers.

In our contemporary age we should be honest and note that there are false teachers within the Church. Any significant organization will always have to deal with people who attempt to come in and disrupt its core beliefs and practices. Also, the Church is a place where good teaching is given platforms. There is power in being a good teacher.

Our task, as church leaders, must be to mind the flocks and be on the alert for those who seek to divide and destroy. As leaders in the church we need to be mindful of destructive doctrines, false teachings, immoral practices, and other challenges to a complete understanding of biblical orthodoxy and orthopraxy.

We also must be aware that sometimes of the times where quick tongued pastors and leaders have condemned a ministry and person who had only good intentions or out of a hidden motivation.

One of the goals for us all should be to pursue understanding before indictment. We should go out of our way to engage with and hear from various ministries and individuals. Making a good faith effort to confront, biblically, might also allow us to have a better understanding of where a person or ministry is coming from and how we can encourage them or understand them.

When false teaching persists, church leaders have an obligation to call out such teaching (after private confrontation has been attempted) and protect those within our ministry.

False teaching will always persist in God honoring churches.

As ministry leaders we must also recognize that there comes a time and place to appropriately engage and warn of such teachers. The purity of the Gospel and the power of its proclamation alone are worth this work.

One of the great challenges that confronts us arises from the work of the Satan who knows that the opposite of biblical Christianity is not humanistic atheism (though that does pose a unique challenge.) The challenge for us to today, as it was in the first century and since then, has been that the opposite of biblical Christianity is pagan idolatry that looks like Christianity but is, in fact, not related Christianity at all.

 

The Golden Calves of false teaching proliferate too much in our lands and times. We must be on guard.