Any given day we can find something heretical and dangerous on the internet (do we even call it the world-wide-web anymore?). An exhaustive list of heresies would fill more pages than Scripture. Some of those errors are obviously wrong — for example an article claiming Jesus is not God. There are other doctrines that seem to skew Scripture ever so slightly and yet reek havoc on the soul like the family integrated faith movement. So how should we respond to error?
Before answering the question, there is another question needing attention. Do we address the error? Do we contend earnestly for the faith? The short answer is yes and probably not.
Yes, believers need to contend for the faith. But not every blog, article, or conference out there deserves a response. Why?
Good question. Because God’s Word teaches us to be on guard for the truth in our local church. Paul told the Ephesian elders,
“Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood” (Act 20:28).
Now, those words are not addressed to you or me. But we do learn something from them that we can apply to our ministry. I (and you) need to watch out for my own life. Shepherds need to watch out for the flock. What flock? The church at large? The church in Seattle? NO. I am to watch over the souls of the people physically in my church — among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Those committed to the ministry and can say with you, “I go to (insert your church name here).”
Those are the people the Lord placed in your local flock whom you are to shepherd. Those are the people you are to nurture and guard. Yes, it is possible one of those people is a false convert and will bring a false doctrine into the church. Therefore, be on guard.
Are false teachers out in the world? YES!!! The real question is, “Are they in your church?” “Is it you?”
So what do we do because Benny Hinn is false? Yes he is. Teach the truth to your people and let the Spirit convict, exhort, teach, and direct.
Paul tells Timothy, “Prescribe and teach these things. . . . Until I come, give attention to the reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching” (1 Tim 4:11, 13).
We are to teach and preach the Scriptures to those in our church. Teach yourself and those under you the truth. Help them to grow in their convictions about the truth. Train your people to know the truth so well so that when a person encounters heretical doctrine, he or she will discern it. As a bank teller I could recognize counterfeit money because I knew what real money felt like.
Why not respond to false teaching or enter into the dialogue and contend with the “church at large”? One, because there is not church at large where we answer to elders (a separate blog post coming on this later). Two, because we probably do not know the people we are about to tell “you are wrong.”
I have opened my mouth in many circles I should have kept it closed. I learned (and am learning) you may know the truth, have a valid observation, or a valid question, but due to a lack of relationship, I will probably not be heard. In fact, I should probably focus on winning people more than winning the argument. When reading people, I need to strive hard and seek to understand what the person is communicating rather then be quick to talk. (Always make sure you can be fair to the person’s argument). But this goes back to the main point. How long should I spend with someone on the internet to win them when there are people in my church I can spend time with? It seems obvious God placed me in a church to help mature the church (Eph. 4:11-16).
My fruitless discussions on the internet remind me of the truth. I am to devote my time to my local church and the relationships there. God ordained those relationships for my edification (and theirs). Focus on the people God places in your life. Love them. Teach and study the truth. Be on guard.
Reblogged this on I'm Listening to GOD and commented:
If you have not yet read the article titled “When should we address error?” at shepherdthesheep.com, take a minute to check it out. My last post dealt with defending truth and this article ask the question, should we fight error on the internet. I have asked myself the same question many times, and came to a similar conclusion as was given in this article. Arguing with people on the internet is fruitless at best, as many-if not most- people are not going to listen to what you have to say. I have rep roofed error on the internet in the past, but don’t spend a lot of time chasing down online heresy. I only have so much time to devote to this sort of thing and it seems better to me to invest in the people around me. It is far better to be a ” pillar and buttress of the truth” when you encounter it in person.
Thanks for writing this article. I have asked myself the same question many times, and came to the same conclusion that you have. Arguing with people on the internet is fruitless at best, as many-if not most- people are not going to listen to what you have to say. It is far better to be a ” pillar and buttress of the truth” when you encounter it in person. I recently wrote an article about the attack on truth and how we, as Christians, should react. It would be great if you could give me some feed back on it. (If you see any heresy feel free to call me out. Ha! )
Satan’s War on the Truth and How Christians Can Defend Against His Attacks.
Thanks, I posted a few thoughts on your blog. I’ve been thinking about this issue for a while and not sure I’m finished with the discussion yet either. While I don’t like going after heresies, I do think it is okay to have discussions and even theological disagreements. I think the difference is motive, tone, and purpose. I’m clarifying my thoughts now and hopefully will get it done soon.
But on this similar subject, here is another article I found EXTREMELY helpful and very similar to this discussion. http://theologyislife.com/2014/01/20/shame-on-all-of-us-even-him/
I agree. The source of the problem is attitude. Whatever does not proceed from faith is sin. Take a look at how Jesus handles two situation in Matthew. The firs being accusations from unbelieveing Pharisees, and the second a woman contending with Jesus after he initially refuses to answer he calls for help. The result: He rebukes the former and both praises and helps the latter. That is why I will not argue with people who are obviousely not listening. That being said, if I am in the conversation personally I stand for the truth, as Jesus did, and will do so for the defense of truth and those who hear it but may not know better. Here is the passage I spoke of concerning Jesus.
Matthew 15:1-28 (ESV) Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, 2 “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat.” 3 He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ 5 But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or his mother, “What you would have gained from me is given to God,” 6 he need not honor his father.’ So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God. 7 You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: 8 “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; 9 in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'” 10 And he called the people to him and said to them, “Hear and understand: 11 it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” 12 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” 13 He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. 14 Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” 15 But Peter said to him, “Explain the parable to us.” 16 And he said, “Are you also still without understanding? 17 Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? 18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. 20 These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.” 21 And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” 23 But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” 24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25 But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” 26 And he answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 27 She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” 28 Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.