Monday, March 24, 2014

The List (qualifying statements)

I want to offer a few clarifying thoughts before I launch into The List.  I write these things knowing full well that some people will skip the introductory comments and go straight to The List.  I get that. I probably would, too.  However, if you are wondering what prompted The List, I'll tell you (and it's pretty simple).  Over the course of several months, the biblical texts I was preaching/teaching from seemed to deal quite a bit with the very real problem of false teachers in the church.  From 2 Peter, to 2 Timothy, to this Sunday's message from 1 John, the topic of false teachers (and warnings to the church and challenges to the leaders of a church) abound.  I wasn't choosing this topic (I typically preach expository messages through books) yet I could not avoid it.  So, if you really want to hear the what and why of The List, listen to those three messages noted above first (if you haven't already).  

I've also been long concerned with laziness with which many Christians approach doctrine and theology.  We have been duped into thinking that it doesn't really matter.  Day after day, on Facebook, email, twitter, etc., I see/receive links to and quotes from false teachers and their ministries from people who ought to know better.  Christians who should be discerning, often and tragically are not.  As J.C. Ryle said nearly 150 years ago: "Myriads of professing Christians nowadays seem utterly unable to distinguish things that differ. Like people afflicted with color blindness, they are incapable of discerning what is true and what is false, what is sound and what is unsound."  So, as a pastor charged by God to shepherd His people (1 Peter 5:2) and to combat false teachers among our people (1 Timothy 1:3-5), I felt like I need to do more than just fire warning shots around the targets.  I needed to identify those I feel are false teachers whose influence (and whose teachings) are destructive to Christians and to churches.


Finally, people ask me a lot: "What do you think about _________________?"  So, I decided to begin  The List.  But before I do, let me qualify with the following:


1) Yes, I understand we are all fallible.  No one is a perfect teacher, least of all me.  I am not listing every teacher than has ever said/written anything I disagree with.  I am not splitting theological hairs here or dissecting finer (and debatable) points of doctrine.  I am aiming at pretty low-hanging fruit.  Some have actually requested that I include certain people on The List that - while I can't agree biblically with all they teach - I certainly find them to be legitimate co-laborers in God's army.  This list contains people whose false teachings are pretty obvious. 


2) This list is not exhaustive or comprehensive by any means.  Surely readers of The List will wonder why so-and-so wasn't included (when they should have been, perhaps).  I simply don't have the time to research and list them all (and you don't have the time to read them!).  The sort of research required to sufficiently study and expose the plethora of false teachers in America today would take months if not years to complete.  One would have to sift through years of broadcasts, thousands of pages of written material, and untold hours of radio and internet programming to begin to handle it all.  Also, some have ministries that are so insignificant that's it's hardly worth the time even recognizing them.  The last thing I want to do is give them 1 more hit on the internet.  And, I reserve the right to add to The List.  Besides, as we get closer and closer to the end of days, more and more false teachers will appear - just as the Bible tells us.  (Matthew 24:24, 1 Timothy 4:1)


3) There are different levels of offenders (at least in my estimation).  Some of these you should run from and never look back.  They are heretics.  Their teachings defy scripture and the gospel.  They are either horrifically deceived themselves and thus pass on grievous error, or else they knowingly dispense lies for fame, profit, or worse.  Others, I have to admit, can be pretty good in some areas while being pretty far off in others.  To those at this end of the spectrum, I am not claiming they are not believers and fellow laborers, I am simply saying that enough error is found in their teachings that whatever good you may draw out is simply not worth the rest.  Maybe a good analogy is a fish with a lot of tiny bones.  I just don't have the time or desire to spit that much out, hoping for one good bite.  


4) I know going in that The List will be controversial.  I'm not trying to be contentious, divisive, or sensational. And, I hope what I post will be with some grace.  That being said, I have to (and you have to) recognize false teachers and teachings when you see/hear them.  And once you recognize them, you have to call them out.  Your and my spiritual health requires it.  The church desperately needs it.  The confused world demands it.  The idea that we are not supposed to "judge" in this area is unbiblical and ridiculous.   (For thoughts on right judging, listen to this message).


5) You'll have to search the scriptures as you search out the teachers and teachings I will mention here and see for yourself.  Don't take my word for it.  Search the Word.  Be a Berean and search the scripture daily so you will readily recognize truth from error.  And depend on the Holy Spirit to guide you into all truth. And then search out what these teachers are saying/writing and with Scripture in your head and the Holy Spirit in your heart, ask God for discernment.  


And now ... because it's 6:20 PM already on Monday, and I have been here for 101/2 hours already, I will have to finish The List up and post it tomorrow.  Sorry for the mild bait-n-switch.  


See you tomorrow!



- Paul Thompson



2 comments:

  1. I continue to be utterly amazed (and yet, I shouldn't be) - and dismayed (which I should be) - at the number of faithful, church-going, life-group-attending people/acquaintances and friends who regularly display an abysmal lack of knowledge of even fundamental doctrines and Biblical truths. I think of a friend who energetically defended her non-church-attending, sexually immoral, playboy-alcoholic brothers (her description, not mine) as "Christians" - simply because they were taken to Catholic church when they were children. She was indignant when I gently encouraged her to (1) define her understanding of what it meant to be Christian and (2) look for opportunities to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ. "They believe in Jesus" was her conversation-stopping response. To loosely quote David Platt, "every drunk on the street will tell you they believe in Jesus." So does Satan and his minions. And the number of those I personally know who imbibe large amounts of Olsteen, Meyers, Hinn, and like-minded teachers (usually without spending any offsetting time in the Word and prayer themselves) is - honestly - discouraging. (Sorry - am I stepping on your List?) I'm oh, so grateful for the years I spent under your preaching/teaching Paul, and equally grateful that God provided a bold, passionate, doctrinally-sound pastor in your stead. We are blessed. But oh, dear God, please strike hard blows against the blind eyes and hardened hearts of those who would rather have their ears tickled and their felt-needs met than learn the truths that magnify and glorify our Lord and Master! Keep preaching, Paul!

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  2. Would love to see thoughts on Francis Chan of Crazylove.org, Jefferson Blethke (Jesus>Religion) and that list of top 100+/- suggested books if/ when you have the time. We appreciate the effort into this blog.

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