Discernment

6 Ways Your Credibility is Crushed When You Defend a False Teacher

It’s so predictable it would be almost comical if it weren’t so wearisome and worrisome. Every time I write an article about a false teacher or mention on social media that someone is a false teacher, her disciples come out of the woodwork to defend her.

And every time, their arguments and defenses are formulaic. In fact, I wrote my article Answering the Opposition- Responses to the Most Frequently Raised Discernment Objections primarily because I was getting the same comments again and again and it was getting cumbersome to keep repeating the same answers again and again.

Not only are the same arguments raised repeatedly, but they’re raised in the same ways, ways which leave the person who’s making the argument without a shred of credibility. And if you want your argument to be believed, the first thing you’ve got to be is credible.

Lawyers know this. That’s why, when they select witnesses to testify in their cases, they prefer to choose people who are morally credible and/or factually credible. A morally credible witness is someone who’s likely to be believed based mainly on her reputation as an honest, upstanding person. A nun. A judge. A sweet little church-going grandma. A factually credible witness’ personal reputation might not even be at issue. She’s someone who’s believable because of the airtight factual information she’s able to present. Maybe she’s an expert in the field in question, or she’s in possession of receipts or videos or some other form of tangible irrefutable evidence.

When it comes to biblical doctrine and apologetics, there is only one witness who is morally and factually credible: God. You and I don’t have a moral leg to stand on because we’re sinners, so we can’t expect others to take our word for it in doctrinal debates simply because we’re such swell gals. And as far as the facts and truths of Christianity go, God is the ultimate expert witness, because He is the Author of those facts and truths.

So when we’re engaged in a discussion about what is Christian and what is not, our only feasible and credible position is to put God’s written Word – His testimony – center stage, stand off to the side, point a finger at it, and declare, “Thus saith the Lord.” It’s an open and shut case.

But people who defend false teachers can’t do that because if they did, they would be agreeing with God that the person they’re defending is a false teacher. So they offer their own testimony in other ways. And that’s where the wheels fall off – of their arguments and their credibility. Here are six ways your credibility can be crushed when you’re defending a false teacher.

1.
Rejecting the Authority of Scripture

This is a very real, serious, and pervasive problem among many professing Christians today. You’re fine with obeying Scripture – right up to the point where it disagrees with you or interferes with something you want to do. That’s not obedience, and that’s not Christianity. That’s the religion of you: you being your supreme authority, the lord of your life, the arbiter of what’s right and wrong.

Christianity is about surrendering everything about yourself to Christ and doing what He says to do in every circumstance. If He says, “Go,” you go. If He says, “Don’t,” you don’t. If He says, “Jump,” you say, “How high?”, and then you jump. You don’t call the shots. He does. You don’t get to have opinions and preferences that differ from His.

It’s clear that you’re not submitting to the authority of Scripture when you’re presented with, for example, 1 Timothy 2:12, and video evidence of your favorite teacher violating that Scripture, and your retort is, “But that’s the only place the Bible says that!”. (It’s not, but even if it were, how many times do you demand that God must say something before you’ll believe or obey it? Two? Seventeen? Ninety-three?) Or you attempt brush that Scripture aside as, “That was only an instruction for that particular time and culture,” when verses 13-14 make clear that it’s not.

Once again, you are in the driver’s seat, not God and His Word. You have no moral or factual credibility of your own. Why should someone believe you over God?

2.
Failing to Argue from Scripture

When someone says to you, “Scripture says X. Your favorite teacher says Y on page 252 of her book,” you can’t defend her by saying, “You’re just a mean old doody head!” or “But she’s so nice and she’s had such a positive influence on my life!”. It would be just as effective to say, “But she’s from Montana!” or “She flosses her teeth so nicely!” So what?

Maybe I am a mean old doody head. Maybe I’m not. Maybe she has had some positive influence on your life, or maybe you only think she has because your definition of “positive influence” is your definition, not God’s. That’s not the issue. The only issue is whether or not she is walking blamelessly and teaching what accords with sound doctrine as measured by rightly handled, in context Scripture. And to argue that she is, you have to get into your Bible, study it, and present your case from God’s written Word. In other words, the fact that you like her or she’s nice doesn’t prove that what she’s teaching is biblical. And arguing those things as though they do shows that you either don’t know or don’t care what the issue is; what you care most about is your personal feelings and preferences – not a strong argument for believing anything you have to say about her being a good teacher.

3.
Mishandling Scripture

I appreciate it when people at least try to defend a teacher or doctrine by using Scripture. I really do. If nothing else, it shows you know that teachers and doctrine are supposed to be in alignment with Scripture and that Scripture is our authority as Christians. And those are two very important biblical concepts.

But when you attempt to defend a teacher with Scripture and it’s obvious you don’t understand the passage, have taken it out of context, or are twisting it, you’re making my argument for me that you should not be sitting under that teacher. Because if she were as great of a Bible teacher as you say, and you’ve learned so much from her, you wouldn’t be mangling God’s Word. She would have taught you how to handle it properly.

It’s hard for me to believe your argument when you’re making mine for me.

4.
Lying, or Denying Reality

I’m not sure which one is worse when it comes to defending false teachers. Increasingly, I will mention that, for example, Priscilla Shirer is a false teacher, and one of her followers will pipe up and demand that I provide evidence to back up this assertion. I provide this article, which contains copious amounts of both Scripture and video, audio, and text evidence of how Priscilla violates these Scriptures. The person then comes back and brazenly says I have provided no evidence and no Scripture. Not that she disagrees with the Scripture and the evidence I’ve presented, but that it isn’t there.

I guess I shouldn’t be so dumbfounded that this keeps happening, but I am. Because when you make a statement like that, there are only two possibilities: a) you’re lying – saying you’ve read the article when you haven’t, or b) you are denying the existence of something that’s in black and white in front of your own eyes. I’m not really sure how to handle that in Christian apologetics. If you’re clearly lying, you’re not believable, and there’s no common ground for reasoning and discussion. And if you’re denying reality – well, when I was getting my degree in psychology, we were taught that you needed to be medicated. All I can say is that neither speaks in favor of your credibility.

5.
Displaying the Fruit of the Flesh

We all know what the fruit of the Spirit is: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. But frequently, people (who profess to be Christians) do not present their defense of a false teacher with an accompanying display of that fruit. Quite the opposite, in fact. Their argument is presented in hatred, anger, bitterness, fear, unkindness, impatience, harshness, and with wanton abandon. We’re not talking a polite disagreement, here. We’re talking name-calling, profanity, threats, and verbal evisceration. From people who claim to be Christians. In defense of someone they don’t even know personally.

When you act that way, I’m hard put to even believe you’re a Christian, much less that you have a valid, biblical argument, or that this teacher is doing a bang up job of teaching you the Bible so you can be conformed to the image of Christ.

6.
The Bible Doesn’t Back You Up

This is the most significant reason people who claim to be Christians yet defend false teachers lack credibility. The Bible doesn’t find them credible either.

Take a moment and read John 9:1-10:31 (I know it’s long, but you need the context.) This passage is about knowing and following Christ (not, as so many false teachers like to claim, that if you’re a Christian you’ll be able to hear God speaking to you audibly). “Thieves”, “robbers” (10:1), “strangers” (10:5), and “wolves” (10:12) are all false teachers who do not enter the sheepfold by the door (Jesus – 10:1,7) but sneak in some other way. Jesus is very clear in this passage that if you’re truly His sheep, you will follow only Him, not a false teacher:

A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers. (10:5) … All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. (10:8) … I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, (10:14) … but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. (10:26-27)

First Corinthians 2:14 says that if you’re not saved, you won’t be able to understand the true, biblical things of God. The will seem like foolishness to you and you will reject them:

The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

In other words, Jesus says that following and defending false teachers doesn’t match your claim to be one of His sheep (a Christian). And rejecting incontrovertible biblical truth because you consider it to be foolishness is a symptom of someone who isn’t saved. Either you’re a genuinely born again Christian who embraces biblical teaching and rejects false teachers or you embrace false teachers and reject biblical teaching because you’ve never truly been born again. The Bible says you can’t do both at the same time.

 

God has made things pretty simple for us. He has given us His written Word as the standard for our beliefs and practices. All we have to do is hold it up, like a yardstick, next to every doctrine and teacher who comes our way and throw out anyone and anything that doesn’t measure up. It’s when professing Christians try to use another standard or fudge the measurements that problems arise. Credibility lies with those who believe and hold high the standard of God’s written Word – not because of anything within themselves, but because they stand behind and glorify the Author of truth.

Doctrinally Sound Teachers

A Few Good Men, Again!: 10 Doctrinally Sound Male Teachers

Sometimes we ladies fall for the mindset that if we’re going to pick up a Bible study book, read a blog, or listen to Bible teaching, it has to be from a female author or teacher. Not so! There are a lot of fantastic, doctrinally sound, male Bible teachers, pastors, and writers out there – far more males than females, actually – and you’ll really be missing out if you limit yourself to women teachers and writers.

In A Few Good Men, and A Few MORE Good Men, I recommended some of my favorite male pastors, writers, and podcasters. Here are ten more; and these lists are by no means exhaustive!

IMPORTANT REMINDER: Don’t take my (or anyone else’s) word for it that any ministry, podcast, book, or blog is biblical in its doctrine. You MUST do the work of comparing with Scripture everything you read and hear. If it doesn’t match up with God’s word (in context), chuck it.


1. A.W. Pink – “Biographer Iain Murray observes of Pink, ‘the widespread circulation of his writings after his death made him one of the most influential evangelical authors in the second half of the twentieth century.’ His writing sparked a revival of expository preaching and focused readers’ hearts on biblical living.”¹ Pink pastored churches in Britain, Australia, and across the United States. During that time (1922-1953), Pink published a monthly magazine, Studies in the Scriptures. Each edition contained several articles expositing Scripture. He also authored scads of pamphlets and books on a number of theological topics. Perhaps two of his best known books are The Attributes of God and The Sovereignty of God. You can read these and many others of Pink’s works online for free at CCEL and Chapel Library or buy a bound or Kindle copy at Amazon.  Facebook 

2. Tom Ascol – Tom has served as pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, Florida for over thirty years and has taught theology courses at several seminaries. He is one of the founders, and current executive director of Founders Ministries, and a popular author, conference speaker, podcaster, journal contributor, and blogger. Check out Tom’s books Traditional Theology & the SBC and From the Protestant Reformation to the Southern Baptist Convention: What Hath Geneva to Do with Nashville?read one of his excellent articles, listen to his sermons, or subscribe to The Sword and the Trowel podcast, which Tom co-hosts with his associate pastor, Jared Longshore.  Facebook  Twitter

3. Allen Nelson – Better known as “Cuatro” to his friends (because he’s Allen Nelson IV), Allen pastors Perryville Second Baptist Church in Perryville, Arkansas. You can hear Allen’s heart for the life and health of the rural church on the podcast he hosts with fellow rural church pastor, Eddie Ragsdale, The Rural Church Podcast (also on iTunes), and you don’t have to be a pastor or member of a rural church to benefit from listening in. You might recall reading a review here on the blog of Allen’s recently published first book From Death to Life: How Salvation Works (ordering info. included). It’s a helpful treatment of the ordo salutis in plain English for plain Bible Belt “Christians,” a discouraging proportion of whom do not understand the biblical gospel. Allen is also contributing writer and roundtable member of the Things Above Us blog and podcast, and don’t forget to check out his sermons, too!  Facebook  Twitter

4. James White – An expert in apologetics, textual criticism, and theology, “James White is the director of Alpha and Omega Ministries, a Christian apologetics organization based in Phoenix, Arizona. He is a professor, having taught Greek, Systematic Theology, and various topics in the field of apologetics. He has authored or contributed to more than twenty-four books…is an accomplished debater, having engaged in more than one-hundred sixty moderated, public debates around the world with leading proponents of Roman Catholicism, Islam, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Mormonism, as well as critics such as Bart Ehrman, John Dominic Crossan, Marcus Borg, and John Shelby Spong. [Dr. White] is an elder of the Phoenix Reformed Baptist Church.” Check out Dr. White’s many books and debates, his blog, and The Dividing Line webcast (also on iTunes).  Facebook  Twitter 

(A word of caution: Dr. White maintains a personal friendship and occasional ministerial partnership with Dr. Michael Brown, who, although doctrinally sound in many areas of his theology, has become a safe haven for the worst of the worst New Apostolic Reformation heretics. To my knowledge, Dr. White does not endorse this behavior of Dr. Brown, and certainly does not endorse NAR heresy. I strongly discourage you from following Dr. Brown.)

5. Tim Challies – Founder of one of the most widely read conservative Christian blogs on the web, Tim Challies has been writing on a variety of theological and “Christian Living” topics for over fifteen years. An avid book reviewer, Tim is also an author in his own right. Two fun features of Tim’s blog are his daily “A la Carte” column, a curation of articles and other resources from around the web, and Free Stuff Fridays, a weekly giveaway of books, conference tickets, software, music, and all kinds of other awesome Christian resources and materials. Catch Tim at a speaking engagement or on his YouTube channel, listen to his sermons, and take a look at his terrific products over at Visual Theology, and Tim’s publishing company, Cruciform Press.  Facebook  Twitter

6. Kevin DeYoung – Kevin is the senior pastor of Christ Covenant Church in Matthews, North Carolina, serves as board chairman for The Gospel Coalition, and holds the position of assistant professor of systematic theology at Reformed Theological Seminary. Kevin is the author of several books, including Crazy Busy and The Biggest Story, the story arc of redemption for children. Read Kevin’s articles at his blog, DeYoung, Restless, and Reformed, check out his books, tune in to his sermons and videos, or catch him at an upcoming conference like Faithful.  Facebook  Twitter

7. Darrell Harrison – “An expository Bible teacher with a passion for helping Christians understand what they believe and why they believe it,” Darrell’s love for God’s Word and God’s people is evident no matter which ministry “hat” he wears. Darrell is a faithful member of Rockdale Community Church in Conyers, Georgia, and is training to become an ACBC certified biblical counselor. But Darrell is probably best known for blogging and podcasting. At Just Thinking…For Myself, Darrell writes eloquently on a variety of theological topics and current events. “The Just Thinking podcast is an extension of the Just Thinking blog and is hosted weekly by Darrell Harrison and Virgil Walker. The mission of the podcast mirrors the mission of the blog: applying biblical truth to social, cultural, political, and theological issues in our world.”  Facebook  Twitter

8. Tom Buck – Tom’s no nonsense quips and keen insight into the current affairs of Southern Baptist life have made him something of a legend on Twitter, but Tom is first and foremost a pastor. “Tom has a strong passion for the local church and a desire to lead the church to be Word-centered in everything it does. He is committed to the expositional preaching and teaching of God’s Word” as senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Lindale, Texas. Listen to Tom’s sermons online or on iTunes. You can read some of Tom’s compelling articles at The Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel (which Tom contributed to), Delivered by Grace, and Reformation 21.  Facebook Twitter

9. Costi Hinn – Costi is “the Executive Pastor of Mission Bible Church in Orange County, CA. He is passionate about equipping Christians to live boldly for Jesus Christ. Due to his background and expertise, he educates people around the world on strategies for dealing with the prosperity gospel.” Though not one to capitalize on the family name, much of Costi’s background and expertise that uniquely qualify him to address the blight of the prosperity gospel and New Apostolic Reformation, stem from his personal experiences as nephew and ministry assistant of NAR faith healer Benny Hinn. I highly recommend Costi’s excellent book on the NAR, Defining Deception: Freeing the Church from the Mystical-Miracle Movement (co-authored with MBC’s pastor, Anthony Wood) as well as his Truth & Transformation video series with Justin Peters. Check out all of Costi’s sermons, videos, and podcast appearances, and be sure to subscribe to his blog at For the Gospel.  Facebook  Twitter

10. Jerry Bridges – Jerry Bridges spent most of his professional career in parachurch ministry, serving in a variety of positions and capacities with The Navigators. He is remembered for his clear and easy to grasp writing style which has endeared to the hearts of millions his books The Pursuit of Holiness, The Practice of Godliness, Trusting God, and over twenty others dealing with topics in theology and discipleship. Get a list (with links) of all of Jerry’s books, listen to his sermons, talks, and interviews here and here, and watch his videos on YouTube.  Twitter


Also check out:
A Few Good Men: 10 Doctrinally Sound Male Teachers
A Few MORE Good Men:10 Doctrinally Sound Male Teachers

Apologetics, Movies

Movie Tuesday: The Bible vs. Joseph Smith

 

“In this unique documentary, produced entirely in Israel, a Christian and a Mormon sit down to dialogue about one of the most important questions of faith: How do we know if a prophet is speaking the truth? Listen in on their fascinating discussion and follow along as they travel throughout the Holy Land in search of the facts. They will put Biblical prophets and Mormon prophets to the test in order to find out if their predictions actually took place in history. If even one prediction fails to come true, then that prophet fails the test!”

First John 4:1 says, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” How do Mormonism’s prophecies stack up to the Bible’s prophecies? Watch as both are put to the test and find out!

Apologetics

Throwback Thursday ~ There’s No Such Thing as an Atheist ~ The Final Chapter

Originally published March 20, 2009

There’s No Such Thing as an Atheist  Part 1  Part 2

So, if our minds know God exists, and our hearts know God exists, where does that leave the so-called atheist or agnostic?

Well, like I said before, there’s no such thing as an atheist, only a rebellious human being.

If a person knows God exists, as we all do, and yet refuses to acknowledge Him or submit to His authority, he is by definition, rebelling against God. The Bible describes it this way:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness…….For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened…….For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. Romans 1:18, 21, 25

This refusal to acknowledge the truth about God will not last forever, though. As my husband puts it, everyone is either a member of the “Believers club” or the “future believers club”.

so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:10-11

The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God ” Psalm 14:1a

Considering that we know God exists and that we will all have to acknowledge that one day anyway, atheism and agnosticism are foolish belief systems.

Apologetics

Throwback Thursday ~ There’s No Such Thing as an Atheist~ Part 2: The Tell-Tale Heart

Originally published March 17, 2009

There’s No Such Thing as an Atheist Part 1  Part 3

 

Another way that we instinctively know God exists is the pre-programming of our hearts. Just as some computers are sold with certain software already installed, we come with the software of God’s law already installed in our hearts:

For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, Romans 2:14-15

It’s called a conscience, and we’re all born with one, whether we’re raised in any particular religion or not. We know when we’ve messed up. How do we know? We feel guilty or ashamed.

Somehow, guilt has gotten a bad rap these days. Don’t believe the hype. Guilt is good; a gift of God, even. Not long ago, I heard a popular television preacher telling the thousands of people in his church that, “God doesn’t want us to feel guilty.” While it’s true that a Christian need not be plagued by feelings of guilt over things for which he has already asked and received God’s forgiveness, initially, when we do wrong, we most certainly should feel guilty.

God has lovingly designed us with a sense of guilt and shame in order to draw us to Him. Guilt is to our relationship with Christ what a toothache is to our relationship with the dentist. The toothache tells us something is wrong with a tooth, it needs to be fixed, and we’d better get to the person that is qualified to fix it right now. If no one ever felt guilty, no one would ever see his need for salvation and turn to Christ in repentance, without which, salvation does not take place.

So, how do we make the connection between our conscience and the God who created it? How does our having a conscience prove that God exists? Well, it does require some introspection, but for anyone who will take a few minutes to sit down and think about why he feels guilty over his wrongdoing, the answer will become apparent.

We know that feelings of guilt and shame do not stem only from participating in criminal activities. Most of us are law-abiding citizens, and yet we have still felt guilt over wrongdoing which may have been perfectly legal. Ironically, by the time someone commits an actual crime, he may have suppressed his conscience so many times that it has become seared and he does not experience feelings of guilt for what he has done.

Alright, if we’re not breaking the law and still feel guilty over some particular behavior, could it be that we feel guilty because we’re hurting someone? Well, generally speaking, we certainly should feel guilty if we hurt someone’s feelings or reputation, or if we disappoint or betray them. But, how would that explain our feelings of guilt over things that have no apparent effect on others, or that no one knows about? What about that piece of gum you stole from the store as a kid? How about that test you cheated on in college?

“Wait,” you may say, “the kid stealing the candy and the student cheating on the test aren’t feeling guilty, they’re feeling afraid that they’ll be caught and will have to suffer the consequences.” True, guilt and fear of being caught usually go hand in hand, but they are definitely two separate feelings. We know this because we can feel fearful of consequences for performing actions we know to be right. Ask any good Samaritan who helps someone despite the fact he knows he might be sued later, or a missionary who knows he may be harmed if he shares the gospel, or a German who hid Jews from the Nazis during World War II. Fear of getting caught and guilt over wrongdoing are two different things.

So what other explanation could there be for the guilt we feel over our wrongdoing which is not breaking the law, not hurting anyone, and which no one else will ever know about?

because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. Romans 1:19

Our hearts know, even if we don’t want it to be true, that there is a God.