Answering a Fool, Mailbag

The Mailbag: Answering a Fool #4


Answer a fool according to his folly,
lest he be wise in his own eyes.
Proverbs 26:5

There’s a lot of foolishness masquerading as Christianity these days. Occasionally, I get e-mails and messages showcasing this type of foolishness. It needs to be biblically corrected so these folks can stop “being wise in their own eyes,” repent, and believe and practice the truth of Scripture. From time to time, I share those e-mails in The Mailbag with a biblical corrective, not only so the e-mail writer can be admonished by Scripture, but to provide you with Scriptures and reasoning you can use if you’re ever confronted with this kind of foolishness.

To answer a fool according to his folly (or in the case of most of the foolishness addressed to me – a professing Christian acting the fool by spouting unbiblical folly) is to stand toe to toe with him and firmly and biblically address his unbiblical foolishness without backing down or letting him run roughshod over you – sometimes even mirroring his own words back to him to help him see his hypocrisy. Some Christians think holding your ground, refusing to compromise on biblical truth, and offering correction in this way is unkind or unloving. It is not. Not if you’re going by the Bible’s definition of love rather than the world’s definition (“be nice” “accept everything” “don’t confront”), and not when you’re dealing with a pridefully stubborn person. One of the most unloving things a Christian can do is to see a professing brother or sister in biblical error and ignore it rather than trying to help that person see the truth of God’s Word. Jesus, Paul, Peter, Jude, John, Jeremiah, Isaiah, and many others, did this plenty of times in Scripture, and, often, much more stringently that I and other 21st century Christians do. Sometimes love – real, biblical love – has to be tough in order to reach someone’s heart.

(This reader’s blog comment {in blue},
responding to this article, is reprinted in full.)

Kay Arthur is a servant of the Lord and those of us who are Christians and love God and do her Bible studies can discern for ourselves. Who are you to bring up such things? Go study the Word of God yourself and take the log out of your own eye. Maybe you can go find somewhere to serve and stop trying to bring dissension among believers. I’m sure you can find better things to do then [sic] pick apart a woman who has devoted her entire life to teaching the Word of God. The woman is 86 yrs old, let’s all try to leave a legacy as she is doing.

All right, let’s break this down, shall we?

Kay Arthur is a servant of the Lord…

I never said she wasn’t. I’ve clearly stated on many occasions, including twice in the article you commented on (which I’m assuming you read) that I do not regard her as a false teacher, and I have never questioned her salvation, nor (unless she apostatizes) do I plan to.

By the way, did it ever cross your mind that I might be a servant of the Lord? Just because someone is serving in a way you don’t personally like, doesn’t mean she’s not serving the Lord. A lot of people didn’t care for…say…John the Baptist’s methods, or Jeremiah’s messages, or Paul’s teaching, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t servants of the Lord. When determining whether or not someone is a servant of the Lord, the question is not, “Do I like what this person has to say and the way in which she says it?” the question is, “Does this person’s teaching and behavior line up with Scripture? Is she bearing fruit in keeping with repentance? Is she teaching what is good? Is she following the principle of teaching sound doctrine and rebuking those who contradict it?”.

…and those of us who are Christians and love God and do her Bible studies can discern for ourselves.

So why haven’t you discerned for yourself the things I’ve mentioned in the article? Why are you arguing against the issues I’ve brought up instead of agreeing with them? And why are you accusing and slandering me for exercising biblical discernment? It doesn’t appear from your comment that you are “discerning for yourself” or you would have already noticed these issues and you’d agree with the biblical passages I’ve cited that these things conflict with Scripture.

But you’re right, some Christians who love God and do her Bible studies can discern for themselves. Which, in several cases, is what has led them to write to me and ask about the issues with Kay that I’ve cited in the article. They’ve been discerning. They’ve noticed that some of the things Kay teaches and does conflict with Scripture.

Who are you to bring up such things?

I am a Christian being obedient to the clear teaching of Scripture to contend for the faith.

What’s the problem with bringing up such things? You want to hide the fact that a Christian teacher is deviating from Scripture in certain areas? Can you cite any rightly handled, in context Scripture which supports that idea? Because the Bible never suggests we should hide sin or unbiblical teaching:

Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. Ephesians 5:11

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 1 John 1:5

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Galatians 6:1

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. James 3:1

(I’m not suggesting, via these verses, that Kay is demonic or a false teacher or anything like that. But anything that you or I or Kay or anyone does that is sinful and/or contradicts Scripture is a work of darkness, and the Bible does not even hint that these things should be covered over, swept under the rug, or hidden. In fact, it says the opposite. God’s desire is always that sin and unbiblical teaching be dealt with and corrected in a biblical manner for His glory and our good.)

And what’s the problem with me or anyone else bringing up such things? In fact, why aren’t you bringing up such things? You’re a discerning Christian who loves God, and does Kay’s Bible studies – why haven’t you brought up the issues with Kay? The Bible clearly instructs us to hold to rightly handled Scripture and reject whatever contradicts it. Why aren’t you doing that? And why are you attacking me for following the Bible’s instructions? That’s not the fruit of a discerning Christian who loves God.

Either Kay is actually being obedient to Scripture in the issues I’ve cited in the article and you can prove that with evidence and Scripture (in which case, it’s actually to your advantage that I’ve brought these things up so you can publicly disprove what I’ve said and exonerate Kay), or she is being disobedient to Scripture in these issues (in which case, it’s also to your advantage, spiritually, that I’ve brought these things up so you can be aware and take Scripture’s side on these things rather than taking Kay’s side).

Go study the Word of God yourself and take the log out of your own eye.

What log? You’re wielding Scripture like a weapon and an insult against a sister in Christ who is obeying God’s Word, and you don’t even seem to understand what it means in context. (And neither of those things, if you’re a student of Kay’s, speaks very well of her teaching). And the reason I know that is because I’ve studied Scripture, as you’ve probably surmised from the copious amounts of it which I’ve cited in that article and this one.

If you’ll read the entirety of Matthew 7, you’ll notice that, in context, verses 1-5 (from which you’ve drawn your remark above) warn against judging others hypocritically. In other words, we’re not to judge a brother or sister for a slight fault (speck) when we’re guilty of that same fault to a much greater degree (log). Can you please explain precisely how I have done that in the article about Kay? Where have I taught unbiblically about spiritual warfare or endorsed someone else who does? When have I ever shared a stage with the likes of Beth Moore or Priscilla Shirer, much less co-authored books with them? When have I ever invited men to a conference I’m speaking at? How am I judging Kay hypocritically rather than judging her with right, biblical judgment?

Further along in Matthew 7, Jesus Himself not only judges false teachers (and, again, I’m not saying Kay is a false teacher) and false doctrine, but tells us to recognize them by their fruits (i.e. make judgments about what is and isn’t biblical). Obviously Jesus is not guilty of hypocritical judgment by warning against false teachers and telling us to do the same, and neither are those of us who obey His instructions.

What is hypocritical judgment is you casting aspersions at me  – like: I haven’t studied the Word, and I’m hypocritically judging someone – with no evidence or biblical support. You have no evidence or grounds for saying that I don’t study the Word. In fact, I think that the twelve years’ worth of material on this blog is sufficient evidence to refute that claim. You have also provided no evidence or biblical support to your claim that I have a “log in my eye.”

But the biggest hypocritical judgment you’re committing? You’re accusing me of being unbiblical based solely on your own personal opinions, not based on Scripture. You have cited no rightly handled Scripture whatsoever. You’re accusing me of judging while you’re judging me. Who’s got the log in her eye?

Maybe you can go find somewhere to serve…

Another unsubstantiated, unbiblically judgmental accusation. You know nothing about me. You have no idea whether I’m “serving” somewhere or not. I am a faithful, active as I’m able to be member of a local church and I serve it in any way I’m permitted to. Furthermore, I am serving the Lord with this ministry. At the moment, I’m doing so by rebuking your unbiblical judgments and ideas.

…and stop trying to bring dissension among believers.

And another Scripture you seem not to understand, which you’re wielding against a sister in Christ like a weapon and an insult. (And, again, your lack of understanding of the Scriptures does not speak well for Kay’s teaching. Jesus said we will know whether teachers are good or bad by the fruit of their ministry. You’re part of the fruit of Kay’s ministry. How do you think your misunderstanding and misusing Scripture reflects on her?)

I’m guessing (since you didn’t quote or reference it) the verse you’re alluding to is Romans 16:17. Let’s look at what it actually says:

I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them.

Where have I said anything contrary to sound biblical doctrine as taught in Scripture? This verse teaches that the people who cause divisions and create obstacles (“bring dissension”) among Believers are the people who teach things and act in ways that are contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught by Scripture. For example, the things Kay has taught and done (ex: teaching men, yoking with false teachers, etc.) that are contrary to Scripture. Had she not taught and done these things, there would be no “dissension” because I would have been able to happily and wholeheartedly recommend her and you wouldn’t have had anything to complain about. When there is dissension among Believers it is the fault of those who are contradicting Scripture, not those who are standing for Scripture.

I’m sure you can find better things to do then [sic] pick apart a woman who has devoted her entire life to teaching the Word of God.

Log, meet speck. Pot, meet kettle. Do you not see the hypocrisy of you saying this to me? My life is devoted to teaching the Word of God as well, even the parts you don’t personally like. And yet here you are picking me apart. I’m sure you can find better things to do.

And, again, twelve years’ worth of material on this blog. One article about Kay that was written four years ago. Over 1600 on other topics including Bible study, discipleship, encouragement, evangelism, apologetics, recommended Bible teachers, Biblical Counseling resources, and resources for helping people find solid churches all over the world, among a plethora of other topics. Although there’s nothing wrong with the article I wrote on Kay – so I don’t need to “find better things to do” – I’m sure any objective person would see a 1600+:1 ratio as evidence that I’ve certainly found other things to do.

Furthermore, writing a carefully annotated discernment article addressing and explaining multiple issues with a teacher is not “picking someone apart”. It’s called being ethical, biblical, and thorough. (And by the way, one of the reasons I have to be so thorough is because if I only briefly cited one or two issues, I would get critics like you saying, “That’s all you’ve got? That’s nothing!”. It’s a lot harder to dismiss multiple and well-documented incidents.) While some people may choose to write a paragraph casting unfounded aspersions and making unsubstantiated accusations against sisters in Christ (log), I prefer to be as fair, biblical, and extending of grace to the person I’m critiquing as I possibly (speck) can.

The woman is 86 yrs old, let’s all try to leave a legacy as she is doing.

I’m sorry, is there some sort of age limit beyond which we’re allowed to sin and teach unbiblical doctrine with impunity? I don’t recall seeing that in the Bible anywhere. Solomon was elderly when he started worshiping false gods, and yet God doesn’t shy away from pointing this out publicly. In writing. Unconcerned about how doing so might impact Solomon’s legacy. Age is no excuse for sin or unbiblical teaching. In fact, God specifically says quite the opposite:

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Titus 2:3-5

The truth is, we’re each responsible for our own legacy. If Kay wants to leave a more godly legacy, the areas I addressed need to be biblically corrected. I am doing my best to leave a legacy of pointing women to Christ and His Word, teaching them to be discerning, and encouraging them to be faithful to their local churches. There are many areas in my life in which I need to be more obedient to God’s Word so that I can leave a more godly legacy.

Misunderstanding and misusing Scripture. Falsely accusing, slandering, and hypocritically judging a sister in Christ. How’s your legacy looking? It’s something to think about, because, as you rightly pointed out, we should all look to the legacy we’re leaving. And we should strive to make it a godly one.

If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.