28 August 2009

Shall We Show Deference to False Pastors?

by Phil Johnson

I know I'm about 18 hours overdue with this blogpost, but I'm jet-lagged, busy, and preoccupied with a stack of more urgent things. Thanks for your patience.

Just now I was doing some reading in preparation for a message on Sunday, and I picked up one of my favorite sources of pithy comments on the gospels—J. C. Ryle's Expository Thoughts on the Gospels (vol 2). In his comments on John 10, Ryle makes a Pyro-worthy observation regarding "our Lord's strong language about the false teachers of the Jews. . . ." Ryle writes:
Those who think that unsound ministers ought never to be exposed and held up to notice, and men ought never to be warned against them, would do well to study this passage. No class of character throughout our Lord's ministry seems to call forth such severe denunciation as that of false pastors. The reason is obvious. Other men ruin themselves alone: false pastors ruin their flocks as well as themselves. To flatter all ordained men, and say they never should be called unsound and dangerous guides, is the surest way to injure the Church and offend Christ.

Talk amongst yourselves.

Phil's signature


donsands said...

How is that Bishop Ryle says it with an unction?

Thanks for that excerpt.

Have a good evening and a wonderful Lord's Day.

FX Turk said...

The question is not "whether". The question is "how".

Anonymous said...

As I've been reading and re-reading the epistle of Jude in preparation for writing/teaching a study of it, I've contemplated this subject. Jude is clear about the state of apostate teachers in the church, but as soon as we bring those denunciations into the contemporary church, we have to make distinctions among contemporary shepherds, pointing out those who are of the apostate variety. And some likers of these false prophets will be offended and call us haters. Frank is right - it's all in the how, not in the if.

olan strickland said...

The reason is obvious.

As obvious as why warning labels are placed on dangerous products that would otherwise appear harmless.

Anonymous said...

My first instincts is walk up and do a hard sidekick straight into their chest.

Since I can't do that, how do we confront false teachers.

They are running rampant and we are suppose to sit on our hands and do jack?

What does the Bible say about handling false shepherds or do we really let God be God and let him take care of it as he said he would in Jeremiah?

jakki said...

Thank you Phil for broaching this subject. It is indeed timely for me. As a recovering charismatic married to non-recovering charismatic, I find myself having to guard my words in regards to the TBN preachers he watches. While trying to point out the error of the teachers and the horrific consequences to the blind flock, I have a hard time controlling my speech. I try to do it with gentleness and respect. Then I remember the extent of Christ's intolerance for the money changers who were cheating the innocent, true seekers of God. Sorry, it just riles me up to see these people blatantly fleecing the sheep and leading them all merrily down the broad road to the Lake. I look forward to hearing you speak on Sunday. God bless.

puritanicoal said...

Another question, that plays off of Frank's "how" is "when". I have been tempted to stand up in the middle of a "sermon" and yell a warning.

Anonymous said...

I will put in my two cents if that's ok. I recently faced a situation where I needed to confront a bad teacher that I was sitting under. The HOW was a HUGE issue... I prayed for months and months about what to do and how to do it knowing that a confrontation of any kind could cost me my job.

I resolved to first be all the more certain that I preached nothing but the truth of God's word and not words of my own... then I prayed about how to approach him. I approached him privately and he blew me off, I tried a second time with the same result... so I talked with the deacon chair and he talked with the pastor and sided with him... 2 weeks later I was asked to resign... seeing that they stood behind him... I was glad to oblige.

It has been one of the most amazing times in my life and God has been so faithful to provide for me and my family and has led us to a congregation where I will assume the pastorate in just a few short weeks.

So I guess my word to you all is that these men should most definitely be called our on their mess. Just "gird up your loins" in advance and be prepared to earnestly contend for the faith.

Mike Westfall said...

Puritanicoal: As long as you precede your yelling with a "Thus saith the LORD," you should be OK.

Pierre Saikaley said...

Paul withstood even another apostle to his face when confronting the heresy of legalism.

Paul also exposed and expelled Hymenaeus & Alexander, associated with Philetus, false teachers in the church, who were ignoring their consciences and spreading false doctrine, concerning "the faith" cf. 1 Tim. 1.19-20; 2 Tim. 2.17.

So as to exposing false teachers/pastors-absolutely, no debate there.

Now as to how to do it...We should all be aware of false teachers. If we suspect one of bringing some bad teaching into the church, we should follow the procedure of Matthew 18.25 and follow Paul's prescription in 1 Timothy 5.19-20.

After the teachers are investigated and confronted appropriately by witnesses, if they continue to sin they should be rebuked by the proper authorities in the church.

The flock does not rebuke the Shepherd, but other Shepherds bear that duty. however, all of us should be on guard against false teachers, and not tolerate their lies for one moment.

Morris Brooks said...

I think the "how" always starts with speaking the truth, not as a personal attack, but an attack on their heresy, their sin, or both; with your reasons backed up with Scripture.

Chad V. said...

In my opinion false teachers get far too much room in the church, especially amongst Calvinists. If a person is a Calvinist he often wont be regarded as a false teacher no matter what his other errors might be.

So sometimes it's not wether or not false teachers should be called out, it's identifying anyone at all as a false teacher.

The most dangerous men to the church aren't the cults, it's those who bring in error from within.

Drew Sparks said...

The how depends on the person. As a preacher, one should defend his flock as a shepherd would defend his sheep. Keeping the flock of God updated with the current dangers of false preachers should be a regular priority. As already stated in these posts, Paul warned fellow believers about false teachers or apostates by using their name. The sooner the flock is warned, the safer they will be, and they will also be able to be more discerning.

Then I think it depends on the role of the false preacher. His influence and his message usually determine how to respond to them. Again, as mentioned earlier, those who were in the temple were cleaned out by Jesus. He spent no time discussing with them or even preaching to them. He realized something needed to be done now, and got rid of them. However, we see that in the chapter following this instance, Jesus has a discussion with a pharisee, and it might have even been one he kicked out the day before. This is because he was not in the house of God and he was not preaching. So Jesus' approach was very different.

Sometimes the wolf comes running at the flock and the only way to deal with it is to beat it over the head. Other times, the flock is not in immediate danger, in which case we have to try to win the wolf.

Chris H said...

I figure that the immediacy of a response should be proportionate to how damnable the heresy is. I jokingly told my father (one of our elders) that if I started to hear someone saying Jesus wasn't God, I was turning off the mics (I usually am working the sound board at the back) in the middle of the sermon until an elder went up there to sort things out. He said it sounded like a plan to him.

Strong Tower said...

I suppose that Paul's writting a blog piece, anachronistically speaking, and telling others that he hoped that the false teachers would go the distance, is one way. And I suppose that warning them constantly not to teach such things and silencing them the best one can is another. Of course being instant in and out of season to make such defenses where necessary, etc...

but, no matter the why, when, where and what manner, there remains a little bothersome question of authority. Then again the first one to notice that there is a bridge out ahead ought to sound off rather than to go find the conductor and wait for him to tell the breakman that the engineer is about to drive the train off the rails into the gorge. Then there is the wisdom of not yelling fire in a crowded theatre and all when there is none, lest of course, there is one and the stage performer is telling the people it is all part of the act and it ain't.

olan strickland said...

In our day of multimedia we have high profile, famous false teachers. Just calling their names and adding the label false teacher probably isn't the best approach. For me I have found that the best approach is to take the heresies to task with the Scripture and after that attach the name of the heretic. This is how I deal with those from without (Acts 20:29).

Those from within (Acts 20:30) I confront with their error and if not repented of and corrected I deal with from the pulpit by preaching against their particular heresies showing their falsehood. That can be done without calling names and so far it has caused the ones teaching error to leave - especially after they see that others will no longer listen to them.

Steve said...

Many people are asking the question of "HOW?".

What about "WHO?"

Who qualifies as a false teacher? Anyone who teaches something that you disagree with?

Do they have to teach salvation apart from Christ, or does a "lesser" offense qualify?

Where do you draw the line?

Solameanie said...


Soteriology, Christology and the Godhead (Trinity). Those are usually pretty good places to start.

SLW said...

You are so right, one man's hero is another man's heretic. Personally, I would brand most Calvinists as the latter and non-Charismatics as dabbling with it. I suppose not too many here would feel that was justified. We all feel affirmed within the circled wagons of our own camp, but is not some caution warranted when someone who loves the word and Jesus as much as us is in our crosshairs?

Craig and Heather said...

As a "lay person", I probably don't have any helpful insight in how to out false teachers.

I appreciate those who offer warnings against the more flashy, well known "TV-style" preachers, although recognizing their wrongness isn't really my problem.

I do believe it is wise to arm the flock with Biblical knowledge of what a false teacher/prophet looks like. And also to stress the need for believers to personally be in God's Word so that we learn to recognize the Voice of the True Shepherd. There is then less need to name names or pick apart every heretical teaching (although I admit sometimes this is necessary).

The average believer doesn't always have access to the "inside" information that our pastors do and in this age of electronic information overload, it is easy to access all sorts of "no-name" false Christs who proclaim to have "the" truth.

Not too long ago, my life was upended by running into some teaching that was "under the radar" as far as heresies go. And it really shook me up. My husband was worried about me and we both begged God to show me what is true. He directed my husband to point me to Jesus' words...

Therefore by their fruits you shall know them. Matthew 7:20

And he told me to find out what else the Bible says about recognizing false teachers by their fruit.

My spirit is much healthier for having had the experience.

For what it's worth,


Anonymous said...

I think we're way past the time for courtesies and congeniality. The inmates are running the asylum. Wolves in shepherds clothing are dominating our pulpits and goats are filling the pews. It's time to put down our coffee cups & conversation and pick up our swords. It's time for the Church to stand up and drive the reprobate out.

Chad V. said...


I don't think Phil had in mind what we would call "false teachers", that is those who are obviously preaching another god by rejecting cardinal doctrines but rather "false pastors". I think he meant men who are orthodox in basic cardinal doctrine but are false pastors because they lead their sheep astray in other areas. I think that's the point of Ryle's quote.

There are many pastors who hold key doctrines but turn the grace of God into lasciviousness or something similar. A pastor can lead many Christians astray and spoil their lives by leading them to do what is right in their own eyes, or he can become a Pharisee replacing God's commands with his own or exalting denominational tradition which in effect render the command of scripture void an so-on.

At least that's how I took Ryle's quote.

donsands said...

If a pastor comes to your church and says, "I don't believe in the virgin birth, but i have a good word from the Bible for your sheep about the gospel of God, and I love Jesus Christ", this pastor is a false pastor, and needs to be shown the truth of the Virgin birth from the Scriptures, and if he doesn't listen, then he should be shown the front door.

Same would go for all the essential teachings of Christ and His Apostles, and the Holy Writ.

It would be wonderful to get the false pastors and disciples out of the pulpits. May the Lord cleanse His Church of the leaven. Amen.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Anybody ever prayed about a "how" and then did a very good "how" in a truth-in-love correction of false, soul-damaging teaching and it still turned out badly?

Or are people telling me that if you always do a good "how", it always turns out well.

Jesus did a good "How" in Matthew 23, no?

How about pastor John MacArthur? How is his "how" received?

Craig and Heather said...

I agree. I have known pastors who had their doctrine correct, but were still false teachers by their lives. One mistake in theology does not necessarily a false teacher make, otherwise none of us could ever teach. However, as Heather pointed out earlier, you know them by their fruit. Notice how much of the elder qualifications in 2 Tim and Titus are about the person's life.

I think that is where we mess up often. We are so caught up in whether or not what they say is right, that we allow wrong lives in our leaders.

Having said that, let me say by God's grace I am a leader - and my walk with Christ is my utmost concern. Pray for us. Talk to us. Rebuke us if we need it. Believe me, people rebuke us regularly. :) Those of us who are following the Holy Spirit's leading in our lives can take it.

(Joseph told his brothers, "You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good")


Scott Shaffer said...

How many people reading here would consider their pastor(s) to be false pastors?

Anonymous said...

How many people reading here would consider their pastor(s) to be false pastors?

Are you serious? If someone thought they were sitting under a heretic why would they stay in that "church"?

I would guess that most of those who comment here are far too astute to put up with a wolf in the pulpit.

John said...

I can't believe you would tear down Bryan McLaren this way! You Pyros are so needlessly divisive and binary. Someday I hope you come to peace with our conceptions of God. To tear down a great leader like this reminds me of the time a middle class white American tore down Bono! If there was a hell, you would be going there...


AnotherOne said...

"I can't believe you would tear down Bryan McLaren this way! You Pyros are so needlessly divisive and binary. Someday I hope you come to peace with our conceptions of God. To tear down a great leader like this reminds me of the time a middle class white American tore down Bono! If there was a hell, you would be going there...


Umm Maclaren is totally not a great teacher at all,and really I believe the opposite of your first statement that really doesn't make much sense in the first sense so it is like totally like what in the world is this dude even thinking? I then thought on that thought to think that he makes no sense and came to that eaxact conclusion.

Sound a bit like Maclaren? Always trying to redirect you to something that really makes no sense and trying to keep everything mysterious instead of just coming out and saying it?

Don't trust the emergent church that thinks were working towards a better world. Their Eschatology is off. It is so far off that it doesn't even come to biblical Eschatology it is totally unbiblical.

Also, you don't even know what they belive doctorine wise at all you have to go from church to church to see what the believe they aren't even united in any way.

Now going to the post. I don't know I have been asking the how question for a long time now ,and really don't have a answer for it. Only that there are examples of sheep rebuking the Shepard in the bible in fact women even pulling aside to give people advice. I can't remember my bible source which is a big fallacy so take me for what it is worth,but that just sounds illogical.

After all the "Shepard" is just another human being so he will be wrong he needs people to keep him accountable so I guess we just need to bring our pastors to level ground by using the word of God to show them where they are wrong,and if they are a pastor that shoves you off and doesn't want to change and wants to keep in their heresy when you show it to them directly in the word I would leave that church ,or do what it tells us to do for church discipline?

Then the question arises does this fall under church discipline? I mean we defiantly have examples of it falling under that ,so I guess it does ,but pastors wouldn't admit do it would they?

Come on guys... girls...

Scott Shaffer said...


Of course. It is part of the "not in my backyard" thinking. Just like all public schools stink except the one my kids attend, or all congressmen are worthless except for the one I keep voting back into office. My point is that no one thinks their pastor is a false teacher.

Drew Sparks said...

Brian Mclaren typifies an apostate/false teacher. No one is trying to tear anyone down. Brian struggles with basic doctrines such as hell and the atonement, and the inerrancy of scripture. I ask you this, how can you be a great leader and avoid the plain literal text? WIll Brian ever preach on what it means to deny yourself? Will Brian ever teach that there is one way? Will Brian ever teach that you have to strive to enter the narrow gate? Strive being a word that means to agonize to enter. I have never heard this, and please prove me wrong, but these are things straight out of the word of God. It is not a tearing down of Brian, it is an effort to protect the flock of God.

Stefan Ewing said...

AnotherOne and Drew:

John was being sarcastic...

...I think!

Mike Westfall said...

SInce Brian McLaren was brought up:

Remember the "unknown god" that Paul references in Acts 17:23?

Brian McLaren sings a song to that unknown god.

(HT:A Little Leaven)

Drew Sparks said...

My bad :)

FX Turk said...

OK -- I dropped my dime here in the comments like in those cyclone donation machines at WAL*MART just to see where it would go.

Sure: we can all do the right thing and wag a finger at someone else's guy who, as it turns out, is a false pastor. It doesn't cost us anything to blog about it except time and (maybe) reputation.

So you're in your local church, and you think the pastor is a good preacher or something like that, and he's never done wrong by you, but you slowly realize that your church doesn't do any evangelism -- or at best, it is sort of not looking around for lost people.

Let's face it: a Gospel which is not proclaimed to lost people is about as useful as shouting into a canning jar, or as Jesus said, as putting a lamp under a basket.

Is your pastor a false teacher? How do you tell him if he is?

How about this: you tell him, and he realizes you are right, so he starts holding a recurring public meeting is a bar and grill which he calls "A Pint of Sense" in which he gives a 15-minute dose of systematics and then holds a 2-hour open mike session with anyone who has a question or comment about his topic, staffed with 3 or 4 men from the church who can also answer questions more privately.

Is your pastor a false teacher? How do you tell him if he is?

Anyone can spot a phony who thinks the pagan holy days are made to worship the God of Jesus Christ. Most pastors are living just like you in the gray area between their convictions, their sanctification, and their "wisdom and stature".

What do we do with those guys?

And keep this in mind: I'm not at all denying or challenging Phil's original post. I'm asking your personally to think hard about whether this issue in a way that you can live it at home in your local church.

Chad V. said...


What I did was I asked to speak with one of the pastors about the teaching that was coming form the pulpit. I explained my concerns and how I didn't see that they fit with the scriptures. That's what I did. A few months later I left that church.

Spike said...

Paul calls for unity in the church. Rarely will the sheep influence the influencers in a church. We vote with our hooves, and find unity elsewhere. I would never leave a church without dialog, but sometimes leaving, no matter how painful, is our only recourse.

Good gospel believing preachers can teach wrong things, like not preaching the gospel and teaching law, or adding too much works to what Christ has done when there actual understanding of it is all wrong, or they may have the gospel right, but a side issue horribly wrong. These are issues of conscience. Kevin DeYoung wrestles with it today, too:


My biggest fear is the near takeover of the truth of the Gospel by legalism and the prosperity gang. What may be obvious to us is behind blinders to them. They weaken all the flocks thru the media, and it should be confronted by the leaders of the church with more then a few books and blogs. I'm not sure those that oppose them could come to agreement on what is truth, though.

Joel Osteen will tell you what the gospel is, he just hasn't a clue as to what it means. Can right thinkers agree on it, and set him straight in a way that will open his mind? I doubt it, or they would have by now. Perhaps if we didn't have so many issues of our own, and were united around the Gospel of Jesus Christ, feeling it should be protected.

Craig and Heather said...

1) We should pray for him.
2) We should take a careful look at our own selves to make sure we are not in the same boat.
3) We should respectfully discuss it with him.
4) God leads from there.

I have done these things and I did wind up leaving. However, I left on terms where we can still talk. This is not always possible, I understand that.

Romans 12 says that as much as it depends upon us, we are to be at peace with all men. If a pastor is wrong, but is God's man, perhaps God will have me leave the assembly, but will still work things out some point in the future.

(If he is God's servant, but just not doing the Master's bidding, I still cannot judge another man's servant to his Master - to his Master he stands or falls - and if he is God's servant, he will eventually stand - for God is able to make him do so. - my convoluted way of applying Romans 14)

To sum up - you may have to leave after dialogue. But be sure your dialogue is reflecting God's heart, not just your irritation. (How do I know God's heart? Well, are you walking with Him daily - there are no short cuts)

God may use you later. Resist the urge to slam the door on the way out.


Esv4Lifer said...

You can't say anything about someone who has the title pastor or bishop in front of thier name without getting the whole Juanita Bynum "touch not the Lord's anointed" diatribe. It seems now a days that folks are more worried about respecting the title rather than the Biblical office. Pity, beloved...it's a downright shame.

Unknown said...

I keep on being astonished at Mr Johnson's eagerness to engage in criticism of others without first cleaning out his own closet. The following is a copy of a comment posted on the British blog 'Unashamed Workman':

Dear Workman,

May I ask you (and so many other reformed bloggers)to seriously consider removing ‘Team Pyro- Friend of Sinners’ logo from your Blogpage and to cease promoting Phil Johnson’s Team Pyro website which mixes some good theological material with much material which is crass, ridicules and is bullying/disrespectful of those with differing beliefs, and on occasion is simply blasphemous. Have you, for example checked out the ‘PyroWear’ section which containes the following by way of a few examples:
-T-shirts with the following misuse of scripture on the front ‘they were filled with the Holy Spirit and all I got was this lousy t-shirt’
-’JESUS OR DIE’ motif on infant bibs and bodysuits
-’Chastity Athletics’ t-shirts for women with ‘Tell your wife about my shirt’ or ‘My husband bought this shirt’ written accross the chest (breast) area
- ‘Phil Johnson is my Homeboy’, ‘Martin Lloyd jones is my Homeboy’ etc etc t-shirts (Phil Johnson may enjoy the self promotion but M L-J and other historic theologions and preachers would turn in their graves.)

Surely it is time for you and other reformed bloggers to disassociate yourselves from this kind of stuff and the arrogant and God-dishonouring attitude which goes along with it. The truth should not be mixed with muck in this way and those who belive they have the truth should speak it in love and not in ridicule of others as is often the style of Mr Johnson and his blog.

Meanwhile, thank you for your blog which, by way of contrast, I find very helpful.


Dan Smith

by dan smith August 28, 2009 at 11:44 am

Anonymous said...

Profile Not Available


Craig and Heather said...

Profile Not Available


LOL! The Profile Police make another citation :oD

I am hoping to ask a serious question, and it relates to the 2:39 am post by "dan".

There are believers whose personal consciences do not allow for the possibility of "good theology" and (at least in their own minds) "crassness" to co-exist. And they will more thoroughly scrutinize those who have taken on the role of "teacher", "elder" or "pastor". I think the Bible actually does indicate that leaders in the church should hold themselves to a higher standard so as to avoid unnecessary offense and distraction from their message.

I know that it is impossible to please everyone.

I know that sometimes false accusations arise against God's appointed leaders precisely because they are teaching truth. It is amazing some of the things people will try to pick apart.

I know that some people just have a difficult time distinguishing between "confidence" and "arrogance" and presume that anyone who is "sure" is simply being "high-handed" or dismissive of everyone else.

And I know we all have blind spots that God will not fail to address in His children, in His time. We need to be patient with each other--even our leaders who are not perfect.

That said, I wonder how should leaders (who otherwise have much to offer by way of their ability to teach) respond to concerns that some (or perhaps many) people may have about their "tone", choice of words, or overall presentation.

In other words, when does Paul's stance of being "all things to all men that he might save some" become "I am what I am and if you don't like it you may just need to move on".

When is it no longer necessary to defer to the "weaker brother"?

For the record, while I have not searched through it extensively, I have not been offended personally by anything on this site.

Actually, I have been quite blessed as the discussions have been very relevant to what God and I have been working through in my own heart and I am thankful for the opportunity to interact.

I apologize if this comment is considered to be off topic or in not keeping with the rules. In my own mind, it is relevant to the subject at hand and I was hoping someone might have an answer.


FX Turk said...

'dan' --

You forgot the 'GOD HATES GAGS' t-shirt. Obviously, that one should pass the muster.

Send me your size and address, and I'll be happy to send you one for free.

Unknown said...

Frank, a very nice and generous of you to offer ;) but I will politely decline and save you the postage to the UK! If the 'God hates gags' t-shirt you mention really exists on your website (does it?!)it is just one more example of crassness (the laugh is presumably meant to come from what rhymes with 'gags').

I know that it would be it would be nice to put my comment down to a lack of sense of humour but I was making a serious point and I would value a measured and serious response. (Do I really need to explain why I would find putting your 'JESUS OR DIE' bodysuit on my 6 month old or seeing it on any other child very distasteful?!!!)

We are made in the image of God and God has given us a sense of humour to thoroughly enjoy but we still need to be careful how we use it: I don't think our Christian liberty should extend to mocking God, misusing his Name or his Word, or mocking other believers (however wrong we think they are),non-believers or sin.

Thanks Heather for your thoughtful response and question/s.

By the way, I don't have a profile simply because I am not a blogger nor do I regularly comment on blogs. I thought etiquette only required my name not my bank account details!:)

donsands said...

"I thought etiquette only required my name"

The rules are that we need to know a bit more than a name. Certainly not your "bank account details".

I see TeamPyro a lot different than you do Dan.

We are looking at the same blog and posts, and i see Christ being honored by these three men of God. i am edified for the most part, and encouraged in the faith, and convicted by the truth. And I see the love for the Lord and His truth the main theme at TeamPyro.

And if that is true, that these brothers love the truth, then they will also love the Church, their families, the lost, and even their enemies.

Jesus was speaking the truth to the religious leaders in His day, and His disciples said to Him, "Master, you are offending them."

Jesus said, "Every tree that is not planted by my Father will be plucked up."

I'm not saying that nay of the TeamPyro doesn't have to repent at times, we all do.

I'm simply saying for the most part I am very blessed by their excellent teachings, exhortations, and their witness for the Gospel, and contending for the faith.

FX Turk said...

I'll throw in a "Jesus or Die" shirt and send it to the UK if you give me your address.

No, it is not crass. I'm thinking Acts 2 specifically -- and specifically as a response to the P. Diddy shirts from last year's election which said "Vote or Die".

philness said...

Chad V,

If your pastor was preaching things falsely and you leave how is that earnestly contending for the faith my brother? Now those sheep you jump the fence from are worse off without you there.

brad said...

Paul Showed NO mercy to false teachers. The Truth is non-negotiable.There is no version of the truth. There can be liberty of conscience, but not at the expense of the Gospel. We should strive for Unity among the brethren, but not while entertaning heresy.We are either saved by grace or works, so spit in your palm, draw a line in the sand, take up sides, and fight the good fight.

Unknown said...

You say 'its not crass' and cite Peter's earnest serious and pleading sermon in Acts 2 as your proof. Well its obvious that we differ on two counts here: 1. My conscience will not allow me to use Scripture in the way you do 2.There appears to be a cultural difference here too because I would venture to say that most Christians in the UK would find the example crass and at least mildly offensive, particularly on a child.

Don Sands, I praise God with you for the godliness and truth of much that is on this blog but I question some of what goes under the name of 'contending for the truth', whether crass humour or over eager and un-grace-filled criticism of others.

As for a little more detail about me I will let you know what films I like on a separate occasion if you really want to know(thanks for letting me off the hook with the bank account details, though!):)

Let each man examine his own conscience...

Chad V. said...


I appreciate your comment but your assessment just isn't so. I think jumping the fence is an unfair assessment.

I'm not going to get into all the sorted details in order to justify my actions but I am convinced that what I did was necessary in order to contend for the faith.

There are others here who I'm sure know what I'm talking about.

threegirldad said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
threegirldad said...

[blast it -- need to pay more attention to cut-n-paste; take 2...with the important missing word added]


On at least one level, the "God Hates Gags" play on words is a veiled reference to a particularly merry band of pseudo-believers who unfortunately inhabit the capital city of my fair state in the USA. Just google the phrase "God Hates [insert word that rhymes with 'Gags']," and click on the first link. If it takes you more than, oh, 30 seconds to be 10,000 times more offended than by anything that you think Frank has done, then your sense of moral outrage is hopelessly skewed.

Every comment you've posted in this thread makes it painfully clear that you really have no clue who - or what - you are criticizing.

Try aiming some of your righteousness indignation at the group referenced above (I guarantee that I'll thank you for it). For that matter, try aiming. You know: Ready, Aim, Fire...not Ready, Fire, Aim.

Nash Equilibrium said...

Well now, back to the subject at hand. I think the hardest situation I ever faced was where the pastor of my church started eliminating things from the truth, rather than adding to it. Example, the Gospel became more fuzzy, e.g., "love God and love people," in other words, highly incomplete.

The people who were charged with confronting the false teacher (the Elders) either could not see this because of their decades-long association with him, or because they were just too undiscerning, or too lazy to learn about emerg*, or because they didn't want to confront him. And they could not be made to understand this man's transformation and fixation on emerg*.

So after a couple years of appealing and praying, I decided that since those who are in charge wouldn't correct this man, we would leave, which we did. Painful but necessary.

Summary: I don't know what we do about the TBN false teachers, but at the local level I think we have to rely on the Elders to do their job.

Unknown said...

Ok, I give up...why can non of you get the concept that a decent Christian father may find it offensive to contemplate his or anyone elses child wearing a 'God Hates Gags' bib, bodysuit, hoodie etc. (as are sold on this website) which draws attention with a play-on-words to the reprehensible activities of the group you mention? I just wouldn't want my child to wear anything that would even acknowledge the existence of such stuff. Sorry if you think that is stupid...and threegirldad, we don't carry guns (thankfully) in the UK so that might explain my apparent ineptness (that and the fact that I wasn't trying to shoot anyone just raise a point I thought was valid). Having now been shot at myself I'll try to get out of here while I remain alive...

Young Mr. Brown said...

This is a subject the elders in our church recently struggled with.

Last year, a fellowship group in our congregation invited Mr. X, (a pastor of another denomination) to speak at a meeting in our church. Faithful believers had heard this man, and were impressed. Mr. X accepted the invitation, and the meeting was advertised.

When I heard about the meeting, I was concerned, because I had heard that Mr. X had said that homosexual practice was not wrong. I told the elders, and asking him what his position was. Mr. X wrote back an angry letter in which he refused to say what his position was. When pressed, he withdrew his acceptance of the invitation.

The elders, out of a desire for discretion, did not say anything publicly about Mr. X to our congregation.

So, getting back to the "how?" question, did the elders get it about right?

Stuart Wood said...


I hope I speak for at least a few others who have quietly observed this sad exchange when I say that your concern is completely valid. These merchandise slogans are not only in bad taste, but communicate a wrong spirit about Christianity. As Christians, we are to seek to win the lost through sound words and deeds of love, grace, and truth. In such light, what are we to make of these crass provocations and mockeries? They needlessly drive people in the wrong direction. The opposition you have received here, Dan, says far more about the spirit of the critics than the validity of your point.

DJP said...

There y'go, Dan. You have an "attaboy" from an obsessive slave to manmade traditions, who says that, if you don't preach the Gospel in exact words that neither the apostles nor any other evangelist in Acts used, you're preaching a false and damnable Gospel.

Is that a happy thing to you?

threegirldad said...

and threegirldad, we don't carry guns (thankfully) in the UK...

I'm aware of that.

so that might explain my apparent ineptness (that and the fact that I wasn't trying to shoot anyone...

Metaphor, Dan. Metaphor...

mike said...

This is easy when we are doing an invisible witch hunt, then you mess it all up with reality and real humans.
I am closely affiliated with a pastor who grew up in a dysfunctional home by every definition of the word. Because of the effect that his environment had, his default is to encourage and comfort the broken and disenfranchised, above all else.
I have sat and discussed at length that if we scour the deserts are retrieve the lost, and nurse them back to strength, only to send them back out there feeling cared about, no eternal value has been done. (Might be an appropriate application of a “Jesus or Die” shirt.) In our discussions, he will usually agree, but things don’t visibly change.
I have tried to convince him that we must love enough to offend at times, but since that is my specialty, it often sounds like a broken record even to me.
Is he a false teacher? It hurts me to truly try and answer that, but I know it is an incomplete gospel of comfort acceptance and love.
I don’t have the answer that works perfectly in my life or his, so we pray for each other a lot, and both feels like we are not doing enough.

BTW, even Steven Colbert acknowledges that God does not appreciate puns.

Chad V. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Young Mr. Brown said...

My apologies.

The sentence in my post that read "I told the elders, and asking him what his position was", should have read I told the elders, and they wrote a letter asking him what his position was.

Chad V. said...

I wonder if Stuart has questioned Dan on every single point of doctrine so that he can conclude whether or not he's a true brother or maybe just a brother in "progress".

Or maybe he'll just set aside all that for the sake of unity against tacky baby clothes.

Nash Equilibrium said...

False pastors? Anyone want to say anything about false pastors here? Or, are we going to get permanently sidelined by those who are swimming in the pure headwaters of Lutheranism?

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"Shall We Show Deference to False Pastors?"

Shall we show deference to the more than 3,500 church leaders who signed the Religious Declaration on Sexual Morality, Justice, and Healing?

Scan through the signatories and please think about how to be an irenic peacemaker without being regarded as "divisive" or "intolerant" or "insensitive" or "meanspirited" or a "fundamentalist" or a "literalist" or "unloving".

Be deferential to the importance of *tone* because *tone* is all about the "HOW" and it's so vitally important to get the "HOW" right as others have mentioned above.

Word Verification: gushfu


Nash Equilibrium said...

Wow, what a crock of high-nitrogen potting soil that "declaration" is. Their first point makes it clear where they get their truth from: "...medicine, social science, the arts and humanities." In other words, from anywhere other than the Bible.
Thanks for sharing.

olan strickland said...

3237 endorsements as of August 27, 2009

Irenics? :)

Tom Austin said...

please think about how to be an irenic peacemaker without being regarded as "divisive" or "intolerant" or "insensitive" or "meanspirited" or a "fundamentalist" or a "literalist" or "unloving" .

TUAD - Maybe not caring how those people regard us is the first step to getting things back on track.

donsands said...

"..whether crass humour or over eager and un-grace-filled criticism of others." -dan

Would you give some examples please?

And by crass, what exactly do you mean?

wordsmith said...

"Religious Declaration on Sexual Morality, Justice, and Healing" - Yeah, that's pretty religious, alright.

Too bad they weren't more concerned about their "declaration" being Scriptural. The last thing this world needs is religious blather regarding "sexual justice" and similar inanities.

Mike Westfall said...

> "Religious Declaration on Sexual
> Morality, Justice, and Healing"
> Yeah, that's pretty religious,
> alright.

Downright puritanical, actually.

one busy mom said...

Ok - tossing my 2 cents in.

What about the Pastors who tolerate fasle teaching elsewhere in their own churches? Or worse, never even get around to finding out what's actually being taught?

Ya know - like that nice guy leading the adult fellowship group who's teaching 'that it's all about what the Bible means to you'. Or the Elder who's now got folks convinced that Christians can be possessed by Satan and has some poor new believer seriously terrified.

Somehow those errors seldom seem to get addressed.

Van said...

On this occasion Jesus didn't start by condemning false teachers, naming them by name and tearing them down. Instead, he healed a man, and claimed to have done it because it was part of the reason he had come... so that the blind might see, and the seeing be made blind. The Pharisees then asked if they were the ones he was speaking of... and he replied with a parable that they seemed to understand quite well. It opened their hearts to the truth of their sin. If I read this right, Jesus was contending for the faith of his flock, and his flock only. Later in the NT Paul wrote letters to different churches, always to edify and build up those he felt responsibility for.

Personally I do my best to care for those entrusted to my care. I don't waste time trying to tear down other teachers, I instead try to use my words to edify (eph 4:29) I do my best to teach accurate doctrine, and identify false doctrine. I don't have to worry about identifying false teachers, their fruits do a fine job of that. I do my best to maintain a close relationship to those in authority over me, so when I am wrong they can correct my lovingly, and when I question them they actually pay attention and answer my questions honestly.

Jesus didn't call anyone names here. He simply described the difference between a good and bad teacher, and let them figure it out themself.

Nash Equilibrium said...

"I don't have to worry about identifying false teachers, their fruits do a fine job of that."

Is this true for you alone, or is it a universal truth?

If it's universal, were the Apostles who did call false teachers by name, wrong to do so?

How do you know that all who are under your care are able to sort out the bad apples from the good, by themselves, no matter how new they may be in the faith?