I hate having to warn women against false teachers. I really do. I would like nothing better than to write Bible studies all day long, but, like Jude said, sometimes contending for the faith is more urgent at the moment. Today, as it was in the New Testament church, false doctrine is rampant. You can hardly throw a rock out the sanctuary window without hitting a false teacher, particularly female false teachers.
Invariably, when I warn against a specific popular false teacher I get a few responses from disgruntled readers jumping to that teacher’s defense. (I understand where those feelings come from. I’ve had to hear hard, biblical truths about teachers I’ve followed, too. It’s no fun.) I tend to hear the same arguments over and over (which is one reason I wrote this article). But there’s one thing all of these arguments have in common:
They’re not based on rightly handled Scripture.
Sometimes they’re not based on Scripture at all.
As Christians, we are supposed to base everything we believe and teach upon the truth of Scripture. And the women defending these false teachers aren’t doing that. They’re basing their defense of a false teacher on twisted, out of context Scripture and/or their own opinions, feelings, experiences, and preferences.
Sometimes these ladies will try to appeal to Scripture to defend the false teacher. I applaud them for that. Genuinely. At least they know that we’re supposed to be basing what we say and do on the Bible. That’s a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, most of these attempts only reveal how poorly they’ve been taught the Bible by the false teachers who have trained them.
“Did you meet privately with this teacher before writing this article?”
“You’re just judging! The Bible says not to judge!”
“You’re creating division in the church!”
Most of the time these women have no idea where those Scriptures are found, or even precisely what they say, much less the context of the verses they’re appealing to. (In order not to misunderstand their intent, I usually have to respond by saying, “Are you referring to Matthew 18:15-20?” or “I’m sorry, could you tell me which verse you’re talking about?”) They don’t know or understand the Scripture they’re alluding to, they’re just repeating what they’ve heard from the false teacher (or her other followers) defending herself and lashing out at those who call her to account.
Nothing More than Feelings:
Perhaps more disturbing are the near-Stepford gushings of some defenders:
“I’ve never heard anything so mean! How could you say such things about this wonderful teacher?”
“I just love her and the way she teaches!”
“You’re just jealous of her success.”
“She’s been such a help and encouragement to me!”
These ladies don’t even attempt to bring the Bible into the discussion, and their loving support for the false teacher is often coupled with vitriolic, completely un-Christlike, devoid of any fruit of the Spirit, attacks on those who dare to question the false teacher. I like this person. I’ve had a positive experience with this person. I have good feelings and opinions about this person. And that – not the Bible – is what I’m basing my decision to follow her upon. How dare you speak against her?
And is it any wonder? When women sit under the teaching of pastors and teachers who skip through the Bible ripping verses out of context and twisting their meanings, who say “the Bible says” followed by their own agenda and imaginings, who point women back to themselves as their own authority, rather than Scripture, by basing their teachings on their own ideas and life experiences instead of the Bible, what do we expect?
Jesus said in Matthew 7:15-20:
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.” (emphasis, mine)
Ladies, look at the fruits of these false teachers: women who believe false doctrine because they are unable to properly read, understand, and handle God’s word, and who base their belief system on their own feelings rather than on the authority of Scripture. That is bad fruit from a diseased tree.
Christian women must be properly trained in the Scriptures. How? By eradicating false teachers and all their sundry materials from our churches, homes, and Bible study classes. By properly training Sunday School and Bible study teachers. By teaching the women of our churches proper hermeneutics and sound doctrine. By exercising biblical church discipline against false teaching. And most of all, by reinstating the authority of Scripture to its rightful preeminence in our lives and in our churches.
It is imperative that we train Christians to understand and embrace that Scripture alone decides what we believe, which teachers we allow into our churches and our lives, and how we are to worship and practice the Christian faith. Basing these things on our feelings, opinions, and preferences is folly, a house built on the sand, because our hearts are deceitful and desperately sick, and we will always trend toward having our ears tickled with smooth words rather than having our souls pierced by the sharp two edged sword of God’s word. “Sanctify them in the truth,” Jesus prayed in John 17:17, “Your word is truth.” And, indeed it is. It is the only trustworthy basis for life, faith, and doctrine that will never lead us astray. When our feelings and opinions rise up against God’s word, God’s word wins.
May we hold high the banner of Sola Scriptura, training the precious souls of women to understand and submit to the authority of God’s word, that one day, bad fruit and diseased trees might become a thing of the past.
14 thoughts on “Bad Fruit, Diseased Trees, and the Authority of God’s Word”
Great article. Very succinct. 👍🏻
Is a false teacher the same as a false prophet? Would you share your definitions of each? Is a false teacher just one who disagrees on a point of doctrine ie soteriology or eschatology? Do you believe in a theological triage system ala Al Mohler?
“Is a false teacher the same as a false prophet?”
For all intents and purposes, yes. I don’t really have differing definitions of the two. You tend to see “false prophet” in the Old Testament and “false teacher” with reference to the New.
“Is a false teacher just one who disagrees on a point of doctrine ie soteriology or eschatology?”
If you’re talking about Calvinism vs. Arminianism or Post-mil vs. A-mil, no. If you’re talking about someone who says Jesus isn’t the only way to Heaven or Jesus has already come back, but invisibly, or something along those lines, yes.
I’m not familiar with Mohler’s triage system, but if you have a link, I’d love to take a look at it.
“If you’re talking about Calvinism vs. Arminianism or Post-mil vs. A-mil, no. If you’re talking about someone who says Jesus isn’t the only way to Heaven or Jesus has already come back, but invisibly, or something along those lines, yes.”
Congratulations! You just performed triage! Here’s a link and if you google the phrase “theological triage” there has been much written since that original article.
I may be wrong but it seems like you place some of what some would call third tier issues into higher tiers when you triage? For instance complementarianism vs egalitarianism.
I know you’re very busy but perhaps if you’re interested and have time you could explain the ways in which you “triage” theology.
Lol, yes, I do triage, just wasn’t familiar with Mohler’s method. Thanks for the link. I didn’t see anything in the article I disagree with. I think the difference lies in the fact that…well if I could give an analogy, imagine a tree we’ll call “Christian theology.” In Mohler’s position, he deals with the entire tree of Christian theology. I specialize in a particular branch of that tree- the discipleship of Christian women. So, nauturally, I’m going to parse things specifically related to women and women’s discipleship more finely than he does, whereas there are other areas of theology I’m not going to get into much at all. For example, you’ll probably never see an article on this blog delving deeply into the various views of eschatology. It’s not that a detailed eschatology is unimportant, it’s just outside the scope of what I’m trying to do here. I can refer that out :0)
Another thing I tend to bring into my triage process is fruit. When I look at complementarianism vs. egalitarianism, for example, Scripture is the determining factor, but I also look at the fruit of complementarianism versus the fruit of egalitarianism. Complementarians generally have a higher view of Scripture, they handle God’s word rightly and in context, complementarian churches are less vulnerable to the infiltration of other false doctrines, etc. The fruit backs up the truth of the Scripture.
I hope that’s clear, lol :0)
What a great website full of excellent resources and articles on Bethel and all of the greedy deceivers out there today!
People seem to forget that in Galatians 1, Paul said that if even an angel preaches a false gospel he should be condemned to hell, and then in Galatians 2 he confronts his dear brother and fellow apostle Peter, publicly and powerfully, for slipping back into legalism. Why? Because the only thing that matters is the truth of the gospel, and NOT the reputation of men.
If we are supposed to follow Paul as he follows Christ(1 Corinthians 11:1), then certainly we are permitted to expose the greedy and deceitful liars of our day. As for the argument that we as believers are not supposed to judge? It’s a lie from hell:
Thank you. I’ve left the SBC/Baptist for many of the reasons you’ve stated. Women are not taught correctly, and the men don’t seem to care much. It’s as if they prefer it that way. Sad indeed.
Since we’re all sticklers for the Word of God here, doesn’t the Bible teach that women should not teach or is that just in church?
Just curious since there are some passages in the NT that seem to be ignored these days concerning women teaching publicly
You are so right that those passages are being widely ignored and flouted! The central one is 1 Timothy 2:11-15 (specifically 11-12). It’s not that women are not to teach at all or that women are not to teach publicly (outside the home), it’s that women are not to preach to, teach Scripture to, or exercise authority over men in the church (the gathered body of believers). It’s a fairly narrow and specific prohibition. So it would be fine, for example, for a woman to teach a Bible study/Sunday School class to other women or to children, to speak at a Christian women’s conference, etc.
Here are a couple of articles I’ve written that might help explain better:
Rock Your Role FAQs
Hello – Michelle have you heard of a ministry called “life tree?” In doing a very brief search, it appears their material is based on “experience” and “feelings” and using “party games” to demonstrated you’re on Jesus team. The kicker “hearing”Jesus voice in your family! UGH! I’m concerned for some friends who are involved.
I’m afraid I haven’t heard of it, but it sounds like something to stay away from.