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JCGarc55
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Joined: 2004/3/1
Posts: 103


 Contacting of Ministers before Criticizing their Teachings

Please feel free to delete this (Paul West) if you so please. I'm not trying to cause division, etc.

I do think a good question was brought up and one that is biblical and I'd be interested to get feedback because I know I'm possibly guilty. A few people mentioned that we should contact the person FIRST if we are going to make an accusation against a person based off (matthew 18:15-17). This is especially needful in your local church body. It's more difficult in today's world where Christians have the internet and we do not fellowship in a local church. I do agree that contacting the person first is the biblical thing to do BUT... with some people in reality it's nearly impossible. I can't pick up the phone right now and contact, for example, Joel Osteen, or Rich Warren. And actually I've seen a "discernment ministry" that shared their emails (unanswered to certain ministries) with questions. Joseph Farah of WND had this problem for awhile and Farah is well known.. at least more than me.. Most of the times these calls or emails go unanswered. Understandably, these men have many things to deal with and don't have time to answer every email or phone call. I'm sure some of us in our secular jobs have similar problems.

So how do we respond as Christians? These men have huge ministries and yet have books put out that are very unbiblical. Some have their own shows, and they are guest speakers and do conferences and influence MANY. Not just individuals but churches and even denominations. Personally, I've been part of 2 mega-churches where the teachings of Rick Warren and bill Hybels pretty much destroyed the church. I was involved in the church so I knew about the leadership going to their conferences, etc. Eventually I saw the outcome and had to leave. To this day they are still on the same path and I keep praying for these churches. So is it wrong for me to criticize warren or hybels? I'm sorry, but I don't think whether they do more for Christ should be a determining factor should it? Based on what?

I'm not a "pastor" but in the last 10 years or so, I've felt a responsibility to warn people about these false teachings and some times that includes sharing the false teachers names. I've seen first hand what happens when a church becomes part of Willow Creek Association. And yes, I'm sure people are saved in these churches that are in the WCA but does that mean that God approves of the method and we should not say anything? My wife was saved during a time when she was a covenant partner under Kenneth Copeland. Does that mean Copeland is right on? Not at all.

I do agree we need the right spirit when addressing these things. For me, the scriptures that have helped when considering false teachers is Luke 18:9-14.


[i]9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: 10 "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.' 13"But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.'[/i]

The reason being is that I try to remember to NOT ever compare myself or think of myself as anyone more discerning or spiritual when criticizing someone. The truth is that I'm a wretched sinner in need of His mercy. As some of you know, we sometimes like to criticize others to make ourselves appear more wise, righteous, etc.

So in conclusion, I do believe there is a more pressing need as as shepherd or just a fellow brother in Christ to warn people in these last days if we see someone in danger (Ezekiel 33) but we need the right spirit to do so.

My pastor has mentioned names at times but he does it only to warn the sheep. sometimes a pastor needs to do this because some people will come into the church inviting others to so and so's conference or "revival" or talking about this "great book" they just read. Know what I mean? Should the pastor hold off saying something until he's sent so and so a letter or made a phone call?

I look forward to your feedback. Or like I said, i you think this causes division then feel free to delete. Email me privately if you prefer.

 2009/9/15 15:12Profile
bdcutler
Member



Joined: 2009/9/15
Posts: 22
Mitchell SD

 Re: Contacting of Ministers before Criticizing their Teachings

The scriptures in Matthew were dealing with personal offences ("...if thy brother shall trespass against thee..."). However, I believe that you are correct in that false teachers should be confronted about what they are teaching, but if they continue, they should be rejected (see 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15, Titus 3:10). I'm sure that the Joel Osteens and Rick Warrens out there have had plenty more than two admonitions. Because of their pride, they've refused to question their own teachings and scrutinize it by the scriptures. However, I'm betting there are plenty of brothers and sisters out there who have been duped by these guys and have never been confronted by a brother in Christ about these teachings. We should remain patient with these men, that perhaps God will grant them repentance (2 Timothy 2:24-25)


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Benjamin Cutler

 2009/9/15 16:07Profile
ccchhhrrriiisss
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Joined: 2003/11/23
Posts: 4501


 Re:

Hi Jeremy and bdcutler...

Yes, I believe that all efforts should be made to contact individuals before we go about pointing fingers of "heresy" or "apostasy." This is not so much as to prevent a "watchman" from exposing the truth...as it is to gain clarity for any remark or idea that might have been misconstrued, badly communicated or misunderstood.

Quote:

bdcutler wrote:
I'm sure that the Joel Osteens and Rick Warrens out there have had plenty more than two admonitions.

How would someone know that this is true unless they actually contacted the accused?

I certainly think that we should "cry out" against false doctrine. However, I can't help but wonder if people are confusing "gossip" and "libel" with the duty of a "watchman?" We can certainly disagree with a pastor about doctrine. However, it is an entirely different matter to publicly call such a man an "apostate."

What harm can be done if someone goes through the trouble to VERIFY, TEST or allow for CLARITY before someone takes it upon themselves to call out someone as an "apostate?" I learned a long time ago that there is often "another side" of many (if not [i]most[/i]) stories.


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Christopher

 2009/9/15 16:41Profile
JCGarc55
Member



Joined: 2004/3/1
Posts: 103


 Re:

hello chris,
while I agree we should verify things, there are a number of teachers today where its unquestionable that their teachings are dangerous. It's in their books, websites, and they have stated it several times over. In other words, it's not a question of hearing the other side or getting the proper context. In those instances, I think we need to warn people that are deceived or possibly being lead astray.. ...If the Spirit leads.

I do agree that we should be careful before using those "heresy" and "apostate" terms though.. It all depends upon the teaching in question.

Thanks again for the feedback.

 2009/9/15 18:30Profile
PaulWest
Member



Joined: 2006/6/28
Posts: 3405
Dallas, Texas

 Re: Contacting of Ministers before Criticizing their Teachings

Quote:
I look forward to your feedback.


I do commend your post; I thought it was well-written and conveyed a genuine concern. I can only share with you what I believe is the heart of God and the mind of Christ. I myself spent years as a watchdog and a sword-wielding sentry for the church and thought it my duty to ruthlessly expose all error, heresy, blasphemy, word of faith, charismania, antinomianism, et cetera in a broad, public way. Any person or ministry who didn't fit the pattern I found to be scripturally and theologically correct was sent directly to the firing squad without appeal.

However, I found myself increasingly bitter and judgmental throughout it all. I found that the more people I condemned to the proverbial heretic's stake, the more would then appear, and it became easier and easier each time to pronounce judgment on the next batch.

As I embarked upon my self-imposed heretic-rebuking fest, I found my own walk with Christ and devotion begin to wane. I noticed that I stopped hearing the still, quiet voice of God speak into my life. I was going so full-charge into battle with warning and rebuking that I couldn't hear the voice of my own Captain when He began to warn and rebuke [i]me[/i]. One day, however, I heard a clear trumpet call that I've never forgotten:

[i]"Leave them alone"[/i]

I heard that every tree my Father didn't plant would one day be uprooted; and that the blind following the blind would both fall into the same ditch. These were the words of the Captain, and I decided to follow Him in this instruction. I saw that while on earth, my Captain mentioned no names, never went on a tirade or a diversion against one particular person. He spoke instead against general hypocrisy, the hypocrisy of the scribes and pharisees, and to beware of their leaven. He didn't mention the individual religious leaders in detail with specifics of their character or ministry that caused them to be damned. Even if you notice with Judas Iscariot, Christ never mentioned his name as the betrayer of the Son of Man publically.

I chose to obey what I read and follow what I noticed as a pattern in Christ's ministry. It seemed He never had time to write any letters to the Sannhedrin or to the Herodians or scribes and lawyers -- He was too busy ministering to the sick and mute and blind and maimed and preaching the Kingdom to the poor to write a letter to those who were bent on scattering instead of gathering. In fact, when brought before them, He never even opened His mouth to either justify His ministry or rebuke theirs.

So I too stopped publically rebuking others, and writing letters of criticism to ministries I had no business meddling with. When I spoke to other believers about these things, all God told me was to warn others not to follow them, and "not to do as they do", and I have found time and time again this to be totally sufficient. If we are careful to walk before God with a clear conscience and in a spirit of humility and meekness, the Holy Spirit will lend power and authority to our admonitions and warnings which will automatically vindicate the truth...and confirm that which is false without us so much as lifting a finger or launching into a vitriolic tirade.

I hope you pray about what I've written here. It will save you from alot of headaches and embarrasment and further your growth into hearing the finer whisperings of God's voice to your spirit.

Yours,

Brother Paul


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Paul Frederick West

 2009/9/15 18:43Profile
Leo_Grace
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Joined: 2009/6/14
Posts: 703


 Re:

Dear Brothers in Christ,

Please allow me to add to this discussion. It is very important nowadays to be, not only discerning of the teachings of others, but also to be openly critical, if necessary, in order to warn those who would otherwise be led down the wrong path. However, there is also a danger of possibly being so careless in our approach that we may cause even more harm than good.

Scripture gives us two basic things we must do before we start criticizing someone else or his/her teachings:

The first is - we must search ourselves, our own sinfulness and our own motives. JCGarc55 said:

Quote:
The reason being is that I try to remember to NOT ever compare myself or think of myself as anyone more discerning or spiritual when criticizing someone. The truth is that I'm a wretched sinner in need of His mercy. As some of you know, we sometimes like to criticize others to make ourselves appear more wise, righteous, etc.

So in conclusion, I do believe there is a more pressing need as as shepherd or just a fellow brother in Christ to warn people in these last days if we see someone in danger (Ezekiel 33) but we need the right spirit to do so.


Jesus also warns us:

Mt 7:3-5 [color=CC3300]“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye."[/color]

[b]We must be right before God before we attempt to correct others.[/b]

Second, we must determine whether the point to be argued is a clear and essential aspect of our faith that can and must be set right. [b]If the matter is non-essential, or if Scripture is unclear about it, then argument is pointless.[/b]

Ro 14:1-10 "Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat."

[b]All too often, heated arguments occur among brothers concerning peripheral matters of practice, or of doctrine, or of experience that really need not be discussed. Such things should be ignored, and we should stand united regarding the more important things we have in common.

I believe if we apply the two steps given us by scripture before questioning others, there will be a lot less to fight about.[/b]

 2009/9/15 18:48Profile
RobertW
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Joined: 2004/2/12
Posts: 4636
Independence, Missouri

 Re:

Personally I think the danger is when folk get so consumed with dealing with heresy, etc., that they miss what God is truly calling them to do. I look on (as I'm sure many of us do) and see the barrage of criticism going that some folk seem to be constantly doing and I wonder, "Hmmm, are they doing anything 'else' in the name of the Lord?" I mean, are they relieving the afflicted and ministering to the saints, etc?

I have a hard time dealing with folk that seem only to be a denouncer. We need doctrine and we need correction; but in many cases folk need to have established themselves in love within the body of Christ. I guess I have taken on heresy as much as anyone and share Paul and others concerns; but God help us to see Christ leading us also in the edifying of the saints. If all one does is reprove and rebuke it is hard to see any edification there.


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Robert Wurtz II

 2009/9/15 19:03Profile
Lysa
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Joined: 2008/10/25
Posts: 3400
This world is not my home anymore.

 Re: Contacting of Ministers before Criticizing their Teachings

I have two things...

First, I used to go to a church where the pastor lied to me about three different things but it wasn't lying to him. He told me that he told me what I wanted to hear. My closest friends know this and I know that I know if they went to him to ask him about it, he would turn it completely around to be all my fault. That was my only point, that some pastors will never state the truth TRUTH, only their version of it.

Secondly, I don't know if this will help or not but this morning the Lord gave me a verse to help me (concerning an acquaintance)...

[i][b]Give your servant therefore an understanding heart to judge your people, that I may discern between good and evil[/b]; for who is able to judge this your great people?[/i] 1 Kings 3.9

I want this to be my prayer for me when dealing with any child of living God.

God bless


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Lisa

 2009/9/15 19:34Profile
ccchhhrrriiisss
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Joined: 2003/11/23
Posts: 4501


 Re:

Hi Jeremy...

Quote:
JCGarc55 wrote: hello chris, while I agree we should verify things, there are a number of teachers today where its unquestionable that their teachings are dangerous. It's in their books, websites, and they have stated it several times over. In other words, it's not a question of hearing the other side or getting the proper context. In those instances, I think we need to warn people that are deceived or possibly being lead astray.. ...If the Spirit leads.

I agree. If something is obvious and apparent, then it is good to warn others about such things. I suppose that what I was referring to are specific issues that aren't so obvious. For instance, we can preach against the extreme "prosperity" doctrines that encourage its adherents to [u]want[/u] the things of this world. We can even point out those preachers and teachers who preach such a message. However, it would be a little unwise to make claims about the person that is NOT based on the obvious or substantiated by indisputable evidence.

Unfortunately, the internet is filled with websites that go a step further than just stating the obvious. Rather than basing their words on something that is indisputable, these “watchmen” use their personal liberty to hurl accusations that are mostly based upon personal judgment derived from circumstantial reasoning.

As a teenager, I fellowshipped with a congregation that had several people who claimed to have the ministry of“discernment.”There was a very sincere man in the church who I liked to talk with. He was noticeably into the things of God (if that makes sense). He was excited, and loved to share his faith with others. Within a year of having moved to town, this man became a Sunday School teacher. In fact, his wife became a Sunday School teacher for younger children. However, he disagreed with some of the “discernment” folks about a few things. This caused them to question his ability to “hear God.” This friction was weird because the disagreement was over some silly issue.

One day, one of the “discerners” actually saw this brother coming out of a bar in a bad side of town. Within a week, word spread that this brother was seen coming out of a bar. Within two weeks, people were meeting with the pastor to discuss this brother’s lack of leadership to merit teaching Sunday School. Within a month, the gossip had gotten very carried away. The brother decided to step down from teaching Sunday School. A few months later, he accepted a transfer to another location. No one had bothered to ask him about all of this. One day, I was driving past that same bar. Sure enough, there was this brother outside. However, he had his Bible in his hand and was praying for a man.

I think that we need to be extremely careful about just which accusations we make publicly (especially if one desires to be a "watchman"). It would be a sad condition to be right about such a man (that he preaches false doctrines) but guilty of bearing false witness against the same man by making a false or misleading accusation.

In other words, we should strive to tell the truth...and nothing more than the truth.
:-)


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Christopher

 2009/9/15 19:58Profile
Laviver
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Joined: 2009/1/11
Posts: 98


 Re:

Great post Paul West. Wisdom is there that only experience can teach.

 2009/9/15 20:38Profile





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