Top 10

Top 10 Articles of 2019

I always enjoy the annual “year in review” articles and TV shows that run in abundance in late December, so I thought I’d contribute my own. Several Mailbag articles were among this year’s most popular, so I decided to make two separate lists, the Top 10 Mailbag Articles of 2019, and the top 10 non-Mailbag articles of 2019. Here are my ten most popular non-Mailbag blog articles from 2019:

Answering the Opposition:
Responses to the Most Frequently Raised Discernment Objections

There are also occasional comments and messages from women who are disciples of the false teachers I warn against, who take me to task for doing so. The same unscriptural accusations are raised again and again against me and against others who take a biblical stand against false teachers and false doctrine. Here, in no particular order, are the most frequently raised objections to my discernment work and my answers to them…


 10 Biblically Sound Blogs and Podcasts by Christian Women

False teachers. You can’t throw a rock out the window these days without hitting one. But are there any “good guys” out there who are getting it right? Discipleship, Bible study,and theological issues bloggers who rightly divide God’s word? You bet…


Christine Caine: Have No Regard for the Offerings of Caine

Unfortunately, Christine’s teachings and some of her actions do not meet even these basic biblical standards, and it is my sad duty to recommend that you not sit under her teaching for the following reasons…


 A Few Good Men: 10 Doctrinally Sound Male Teachers

Let me introduce you to a few of my favorite male authors of Bible studies
and other great Christian books and resources…


An Open Letter to Beth Moore – Timeline of Events

Since the discussion of the events and commentary surrounding the open letter have mostly taken place on Twitter, and many who have an interest in these events and comments are not Twitter users, this article is intended to be a timeline outlining the sequence of events, beginning with the publication of the open letter.


Living Proof You Should Follow Beth (No) Moore

For these reasons it is my sad duty to recommend that you not follow Beth Moore or receive any teaching from her or anyone connected to Living Proof Ministries.


Guest Post: Why I Left Elevation Church

I was part of Elevation Church for about six years. At the time, I thought it was the greatest church on Earth..


Going Beyond Scripture:
Why It’s Time to Say Good-Bye to Priscilla Shirer and Going Beyond Ministries

Should she repent in these areas in which she has broken Scripture and align herself with biblical principles, she would have no bigger fan than I, and I would rejoice to be able to point Christian women to her as a doctrinally sound resource. Until that time, however, it saddens me to have to recommend that Christian women not follow Priscilla Shirer or any materials or activities from Going Beyond Ministries for the following reasons…


 An Open Letter to Beth Moore

We as female Bible teachers ourselves write this letter to you in hopes of receiving clarification of your views on an important issue: homosexuality.


Leaving Lysa:
Why You Shouldn’t Be Following Lysa TerKeurst or Proverbs 31 Ministries

For these reasons, plus her habitual mishandling of Scripture, unfortunately, I must recommend that women not follow, support, or receive teaching from Lysa TerKeurst or Proverbs 31 Ministries(including any writers or speakers affiliated with Proverbs 31 Ministries)…


What was YOUR favorite article of 2019?

Top 10

Top 10 Articles of 2018

I always enjoy the annual “year in review” articles and TV shows that run in abundance in late December, so I thought I’d contribute my own. Several Mailbag articles were among this year’s most popular, so I decided to make two separate lists, the Top 10 Mailbag Articles of 2018, and the top 10 non-Mailbag articles of 2018. Here are my ten most popular non-Mailbag blog articles from 2018:

Christine Caine: Have No Regard for the Offerings of Caine

Unfortunately, Christine’s teachings and some of her actions do not meet even these basic biblical standards, and it is my sad duty to recommend that you not sit under her teaching for the following reasons…

Women Preaching: It’s Not a Secondary Doctrinal Issue

The violation of God’s command that women are not to instruct men in the Scriptures nor hold improper authority over men is a sin like any other. It is not a doctrinal issue in the same sense that other second and third tier doctrines are… 

Answering the Opposition:
Responses to the Most Frequently Raised Discernment Objections

There are also occasional comments and messages from women who are disciples of the false teachers I warn against, who take me to task for doing so. The same unscriptural accusations are raised again and again against me and against others who take a biblical stand against false teachers and false doctrine. Here, in no particular order, are the most frequently raised objections to my discernment work and my answers to them…

A Naked Emperor in the Southern Baptist Convention

And so the “emperor” of leadership in the Southern Baptist Convention and those who carry its train march proudly on, despite the cries of simple peasants and innocent little children crying at the top of our lungs, “The emperor is naked!” “There are issues that need to be addressed, here!” “Listen to us!”…

Women and False Teachers:
Why Men Don’t Get It, and Why It’s Imperative That They Do

There’s at least one biblical issue women respond to differently at the core level of their spiritual DNA than men do. And men, it’s crucial that you get it on this one. You’re the pastors. The elders. The husbands. The fathers. The ones responsible before God for leading your churches and your families in doctrinally sound spiritual growth. You’ve got to get this for the sake of the girls and women you lead…

 A Few Good Men: 10 Doctrinally Sound Male Teachers

Let me introduce you to a few of my favorite male authors of Bible studies
and other great Christian books and resources…

 10 Biblically Sound Blogs and Podcasts by Christian Women

False teachers. You can’t throw a rock out the window these days without hitting one. But are there any “good guys” out there who are getting it right? Discipleship, Bible study,and theological issues bloggers who rightly divide God’s word? You bet…

Five Reasons It’s Time to Start Exercising “Moore” Discernment

This is not a request for you to believe me or agree with my personal opinion. I’m asking you to take a discerning look at the evidence and compare with Scripture what Beth Moore is currently doing and teaching. If you do, I think it will be obvious to you that, whatever she may have taught in the past, something is seriously wrong now…

Going Beyond Scripture:
Why It’s Time to Say Good-Bye to Priscilla Shirer and Going Beyond Ministries

Should she repent in these areas in which she has broken Scripture and align herself with biblical principles, she would have no bigger fan than I, and I would rejoice to be able to point Christian women to her as a doctrinally sound resource. Until that time, however, it saddens me to have to recommend that Christian women not follow Priscilla Shirer or any materials or activities from Going Beyond Ministries for the following reasons…

Leaving Lysa:
Why You Shouldn’t Be Following Lysa TerKeurst or Proverbs 31 Ministries

For these reasons, plus her habitual mishandling of Scripture, unfortunately, I must recommend that women not follow, support, or receive teaching from Lysa TerKeurst or Proverbs 31 Ministries(including any writers or speakers affiliated with Proverbs 31 Ministries)…

What was YOUR favorite article of 2018?

Discernment

Throwback Thursday ~ Discernment: What’s Love Got to Do with It?

Originally published January 22, 2016

discernment love

…so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ…
Ephesians 4:14-15

Christians who know what discernment is have a variety of perspectives about how it should be practiced. Should we teach about false doctrine at all or just make sure our church is teaching sound doctrine? Should we name the names of false teachers or speak about them anonymously? Should we warn people away from false teachers or just pray for them privately? What’s the biblical precedent for using a stringent tone when speaking of those who teach false doctrine?

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about the phrase “speaking the truth in love” from Ephesians 4:15 as it pertains to speaking and writing about false doctrine and false teachers.

Many Christian women have the mistaken idea that “speaking the truth in love” equates to being “nice.” We’re always smilingly sweet and never say anything that might hurt someone’s feelings or could rock the boat at church.

Are we to be kind? Yes. Are we to do our best not to hurt others? Of course. Should we be making waves over every little thing that rubs us the wrong way? Absolutely not. We are to deny ourselves, setting aside our personal preferences and, in many cases, even our own rights, to the point of laying down our lives for others.

But we need to understand the distinction between personal preferences and biblical doctrine. And that’s where I think a lot of people get confused. We die to personal preferences. We die for the purity of biblical doctrine. The enemy is stealthily infiltrating and conquering church after church with false doctrine. We are at war. And that’s going to mean ruffling feathers, rocking the boat, and hurting feelings sometimes. Because the full armor of God doesn’t come with a white flag or a pen for signing peace treaties.

But how do we war for the truth “in love”?

Well, think about the concept and practice of “love.” Love always has an object. We don’t just say, “I love.” We say, “I love my children,” or “I love peanut butter and chocolate ice cream.” Speaking the truth “in love” is not as much about our demeanor or tone of voice as it is about the object of our love. It’s our love for others that compels us to speak biblical truth. And it’s that same love for others that should drive the manner in which we speak the truth.

So when it comes to speaking the truth about false doctrine, how should we be motivated by love? And love for whom?

We love Christ– As Christians, our love for Christ should motivate everything we do. If we’re speaking truth from fleshly motives such as pride, the desire to make a name for ourselves, or the competitive drive to win an argument, everything we say can be 100% factually right and we can still be spiritually in the wrong because the motive of our heart is wrong. God isn’t a debate judge awarding us points for compelling arguments. God weighs the heart.

We love God’s word– To love Christ is to love the Bible because Scripture is literally God Himself speaking to us. Besides the cleansing of the temple, the passage in which we see Jesus’ righteous anger displayed most clearly is Matthew 23. Here, Jesus delivers a scorching rebuke to the scribes and Pharisees for twisting God’s word and, in doing so, leading people away from the truth of Scripture. It is only natural for those of us who have the mind of Christ and are indwelt by the Holy Spirit to have that same love for God’s word and feel righteous anger over the maligning of it.

We love the church– To love Christ is also to love His bride, the church. Christ gave his life to cleanse the church “so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.” Seeing Christ’s bride blemished and corrupted by false doctrine should grieve us deeply and motivate us to call the church to be cleansed “by the washing of water with the word.”

We love the captives– Paul speaks of false teachers “who creep into households and capture weak women.” Often, the women who follow false teachers simply don’t know any better. They are casualties and prisoners of war held hostage by the enemy. We are to love them enough to show them the truth of God’s word so that “they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.”

We love the enemyEvery Christian was at one time an enemy of the cross. Every last one of us. Until someone loved us enough to intervene with the truth of the gospel. False teachers – those who, despite biblical correction, unrepentantly teach doctrine which is plainly refuted by Scripture – have made themselves enemies of the cross, even if they call themselves “Christian,” even if they wear the title of “pastor,” even if they’re holding a Bible in their hands and refer to it occasionally as they “teach” us.

In the same way a loving sister would not turn a blind eye and hope for the best if her sibling began using drugs and became increasingly addicted, it is not loving to stand idly by and allow false teachers to continue to sink deeper and deeper into Satan’s clutches by doing his bidding without making every effort to stop them in order to rescue them.

Sometimes – just as with the drug abuser – this can be accomplished early on with a private word of correction. And sometimes – as with the addict – more extreme measures of “tough love” and intervention must be employed. But we always love them enough to desire that they come to repentance and embrace the truth.

 

Our love for these also drives the manner in which we speak truth to them. A good soldier would never deal with a civilian casualty in the same way he would fight off an enemy bent on waging war. Likewise, part of discernment is knowing who the enemy is (and is not) and dealing with people in a biblically appropriate way. This requires humility, wisdom, thorough proficiency with our tools and weapons, unceasing prayer, and complete dependence on and self-crucifying love for our King. We trust in Him and His word to guide us in the wise and loving way to humbly speak His truth.

Discernment. Speaking truth. What’s love got to do with it?

Everything.

Discernment

Throwback Thursday ~ I Can’t Sit Down, Shut Up, and Play Nice

Originally published November 6, 2015

sit down shut up 2

“She’s at it again, going off the deep end about some church or Christian celebrity who does things just a little differently. She’s so nit picky, judgmental, and divisive. Why doesn’t she just shut up and be nice?”

That’s what I imagine most of my friends on my (personal) Facebook page are thinking whenever I post something about the latest false doctrine or false teacher. Maybe that’s what you think, too. “Ugh. One of those dreaded discernment bloggers.”

I don’t consider myself a discernment blogger, but rather a discipleship blogger. Discernment (warning against false teachers and false doctrine) is part of discipleship, but so is missions and evangelism, Bible study, and assorted “Christian living” topics, all of which I try to cover in balance.

Nobody seems to mind those latter topics, but a lot of people get their noses out of joint when I call attention to a false teacher, an unbiblical doctrine or practice, or an apostate “church.” I have been asked why I hate women. I’ve been told I’m what’s wrong with Christianity. And, I’ve been called every name in between for pointing out “Christian” teachers, doctrines, and “churches” that behave and teach in ways which directly contradict Scripture.

Who needs that? Who needs the hassle and emotional stress of being attacked, especially when you’re not even getting paid for it? Why don’t I just drop the discernment portion of my blog and social media and blow rainbows and unicorns up everybody’s skirt? It’s certainly a formula that works for other bloggers who choose to go that route, and everybody would be happier.

Well, let me tell you a little story.

I recently shared the gospel with someone who claimed to be a Christian. Why would I do that? If she says she’s a Christian, she must be one, right? Wrong. Before I shared the gospel with her, I asked her to explain her understanding of the gospel to me. Instead of talking about repenting of her sin and placing her faith in Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection to save her from her sin, she gave me a laundry list of ways she was a good church member and all the activities she had ever participated in at her church. The name of Jesus did not come up once, nor did the cross, sin, nor repentance.

In case she had misunderstood my question, I then gave a very simple, biblical explanation of the gospel. She proceeded to tell me how wrong that was according to the teachings of her church. You see, all her life, this lady has belonged to an apostate church that teaches a false gospel of works righteousness (your own good works make you righteous before God, instead of Christ’s work on the cross).

This is a very real lady who really believes she’s a Christian who’s going to spend a very real eternity in Hell unless she repents and believes what the Bible says about salvation. Which is not what her so-called church is teaching her.

That’s why I do discernment work. Because real people’s eternities are at stake. False doctrine is not some trivial little difference of opinion over nothing issues in the church like pews versus chairs or what color the sanctuary carpet is. I’m not being judgmental or hateful over unimportant preferences.

People are dying and going to Hell forever
because they’ve been taught false doctrine. 

And sometimes I wonder if anybody gets that.

So, if that’s what’s so important, why don’t I limit myself to writing about “first tier” issues like works righteousness or the deity of Christ which directly affect a person’s salvation? Does it really matter if churches allow practicing homosexuals to be church leaders or allow women to preach to, teach, and exercise authority over men?

Yeah, it does. Because if you take a look at churches that have their first tier issues wrong, they took their initial steps down the road to that destination by compromising and disobeying Scripture on issues, such as homosexuality and female usurpation, which are indirectly related to salvation. In other words, by the time the cancer has metastasized, it’s too late. Early detection, early cure.

Galatians 5 and 1 Corinthians 5 put it like this:

A little leaven leavens the whole lump.

In the same way that a couple of teaspoons of yeast leaven my entire batch of dough and a few cancer cells will grow and spread throughout the whole body, so, a little false doctrine, if left unchecked, will spread throughout the local Body of Christ and eventually kill it.

I care about y’all. I care about your churches. I don’t want to see a single person damned or church turn apostate. It absolutely breaks my heart when I encounter women who don’t know the gospel or have a complete misunderstanding of Scripture simply because that’s what they’ve been taught by a so-called church or a “Christian” celebrity that they trusted. These things should not be. Christ loves you and wants you to have a right relationship with Him and a right understanding of Him and His word. And I couldn’t live with myself – or Him – if I didn’t tell you that.

My voice and my platform are small. I don’t reach the millions of people the false teachers on the shelf at your local Christian bookstore reach. I am flawed and far from perfect. But I will continue to do everything I can, as biblically as I can, where I am and with what God has given me, to reach the women God places in my path in real life an on line with the glorious truth of His word.

Eternities are at stake. The church is at stake. I can’t sit down, shut up, and play nice.

Discernment

Throwback Thursday ~ Still Be Discerning about Discerners Discerning Discernment Ministries

discerners discerning discernment

Recently, one of my favorite blogs, ParkingSpace23 (a fantastic, doctrinally sound blog I’d encourage everyone to subscribe to), published an excellent article by John Chester called Still Be Discerning about Discernment Ministries. It’s all about John’s thoughts on discernment blogs and podcasts and why he has chosen to swear off of them.

John seems like a thoughtful guy and he handled what can be a touchy subject evenly, calmly, scripturally, and with grace. As someone who frequently writes on discernment topics, it gave me some good food for thought and an opportunity to biblically examine both my writing and reading/listening habits. It’s a great article, I was thankful for it, and I agree with a lot of his points.

But while John has decided not to partake of discernment blogs and podcasts, I still find discernment ministry to be an important aspect of this blog as well as my personal spiritual “diet”. Does that mean I think John, or any other Christian, is wrong for not wanting to regularly read or listen to discernment material? Absolutely not! But I’d like to present a bit of a different perspective regarding the value of discernment ministry.

In the first few paragraphs of his article, John draws a distinction between two different types of discernment ministries- a disctinction which I think is both astute and important. John differentiates between what I would call “propositional” discernment sites like CARM, and, if I’m understanding him correctly, mine – which generally post single, position paper-type articles on a given false teacher or false doctrine – and what I would call “daily news” discernment ministries such as Berean Research and Fighting for the Faith – which report on the shenanigans du jour of false teachers and apostate churches.

John’s position is that the propositional discernment ministries [PDM] can be helpful when needed, but he is not fond of the daily news discernment ministries [DNDM]. I think both can be beneficial, assuming they’re done biblically. Take a look at John’s points and my counterpoints, and then you can prayerfully decide whether or not it would be profitable for your sanctification to include discernment media as part of your spiritual fare.

John’s point: “[DNDMs] often spend much time dissecting sermons or blog posts that someone with even a rudimentary sense of discernment would have stopped listening to or reading within the first few phrases.”

Michelle’s counterpoint: “Someone with even a rudimentary sense of discernment” is the crucial phrase here. Perhaps John is blessed to pastor a body of believers who are good bereans and most of the Christians he knows are discerning. I hope that’s the case. It should be the case that every believer has “a rudimentary sense of discernment” and immediately rejects false doctrine when she hears it. Nothing would bring me more joy.

But, sadly, that’s not the case. In fact, in my experience, the exact opposite is true, especially among Christian women. The vast majority of Christians are very undiscerning when it comes to false teachers and false doctrine. Often, people lack discernment because they’re false converts. But because most churches don’t proactively teach discernment, there are also plenty of genuninely born again believers who take at face value that anything which wears the label of “Christian,” is sold at a Christian retailer, or is proclaimed by a Christian celebrity is biblical and trustworthy.

I know, because I used to be one of those undiscerning Christians who hadn’t been taught any better by my church. Sure, I could pick out charlatans like Benny Hinn or Todd Bentley, and I probably would have described people like Kenneth Copeland and Jesse Duplantis as “wrong” or “that’s not what Baptists believe” without really knowing why. But the Beth Moore Bible studies that every church I’ve ever been a member of has pushed on its female membership? I had no idea she was teaching false doctrine, especially since my own church was endorsing her books.

It wasn’t until I Providentially “stumbled across” Todd Friel’s TV program, Wretched, one night several years ago that I began to understand what false doctrine was, why it was wrong, biblically, and how it could hurt me and the church. And it wasn’t until I discovered Chris Rosebrough’s Fighting for the Faith that I learned how to compare everything to Scripture – to listen to sermons with a discerning ear and read Christian books with a discerning mind. Todd and Chris taught me the discernment no church ever bothered to mention to me. And from the myriad of discerning Christians I’ve known, heard from, and read about, people like me are the rule, not the exception.

It’s not right that the church isn’t teaching Christians how to be discerning. I think every biblically responsible discernment ministry would agree that it is the church’s job, not a discernment ministry’s, to teach Christians to be bereans. But that’s not happening. And I thank God for those ministries who are standing in the gap- who have helped thousands of Christians like me.

John’s point: “[DNDMs] are unbiblical. What I mean is that there seems to me to be no biblical model or mandate for this kind of ‘ministry’.”

Michelle’s counterpoint: John may hold more closely to the regulative principle than I do, which would, understandably, account for my difference in perspective from this point. We do a lot of things, both in church and in parachurch ministry, that there’s no specific biblical model or mandate for. There’s no biblical model or mandate for vacation Bible school or crisis pregnancy ministry or handing out gospel tracts or even writing for a Christian blog. Yet these, and many other ministries, can carry the gospel to the lost (I’ve heard of many people who have read/listened to DNDMs, realized they were false converts, and have become believers.) and edify the saved – just like discernment ministries can. And there’s certainly a biblical mandate for that.

John’s point: “Did Jesus ever engage in a point by point take down of a particular Pharisee’s teaching that is recorded in Scripture? How much do we know about the Nicolaitans…in Revelation 2:15?… Or… the Colossian heresy…in Colossians 2:8?”

Michelle’s counterpoint: Jesus didn’t do sermon reviews (that we know of) the same way Chris Rosebrough does. But He did publicly enumerate and correct many of the Pharisees’ false teachings in Matthew 23. He publicly clarified Scripture and corrected unbiblical beliefs and false teachings – “You have heard it said…but I say to you…” – in the Sermon on the Mount. He publicly warned people against the false teaching of the scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees. And every time those scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees confronted Him with questions or after a miracle, He set them straight for the whole crowd to hear.

As to the Nicolaitan and Colossian heresies, Colossians and Revelation 2 were addressed to particular churches. Just because we may not know much about these heresies doesn’t mean the Ephesian and Colossian churches weren’t thoroughly familiar with them. Perhaps that’s why John and Paul didn’t elaborate- because their intended audiences were already knowledgeable about those heresies. And perhaps the reason they might have been familiar with those heresies is that they were constantly being warned about them. Every book in the New Testament (except Philemon) warns against false teaching or false teachers.

Not so with the church today. Christians are not only not being warned about the heresies and false teachers running rampant in evangelicalism, undiscerning pastors are actually embracing false teachers, inviting them to speak at their churches, simulcasting their conferences, sharing their social media posts, and ordering their materials for the church’s small groups. And the church at large is so biblically illiterate that Christians have no idea they’re being fed false doctrine.

John’s point: “Curiously many discernment mavens will quote 1 Peter 3:15 as a text that supports what they do. But to be blunt, it doesn’t, not by a long shot…. This is about being ready to proclaim Christ to those who would persecute you.”

Michelle’s agreement: I could not agree with this point more. This verse isn’t about discernment. (I usually hear this verse more frequently in support of apologetics ministries, and it isn’t about apologetics, either.) It’s about evangelism.

One of the main features of today’s false doctrine is the twisting of Scripture and ripping it out of context. How can we who do discernment work rebuke false teachers for taking Scripture out of context and then turn right around and do the same to justify our own ministries? We know better. Specks and logs, anyone?

There are plenty of other passages of Scripture (such as the ones I’ve cited above and others) that speak of the importance of warning against false teachers and removing false doctrine from the church. We should not be using a verse that has nothing to do with discernment to justify discernment ministry.

John’s point: “Don’t get me started on the lack of gentleness and respect [from 1 Peter 3:15] that permeates many of these blogs and podcasts.”

Michelle’s agreement/counterpoint: John is right, here. Some of the discernment ministries that (incorrectly) claim the first part of 1 Peter 3:15 as justification for their ministry are not following the second part of the verse which says to “do so with gentleness and respect”. There are discernment ministries whose articles I absolutely will not share or link to because their snideness and name calling are so over the top it overshadows the valid point they’re trying to make, sometimes even damaging their own credibility.

At the same time, we do see instances of Jesus using harsh language and calling false teachers names, and Paul, Elijah, and others couldn’t always be characterized as gentle or respectful.

The thing is, their cultural context was a little different from ours, and these are descriptive passages, not prescriptive. Sometimes different cultures call for different approaches. Additionally, one woman’s “gentle and respectful” is another woman’s “harsh and unkind.” I’ve written discernment articles that were characterized as hateful by some Christians and too nice toward the false teacher by others- both about the same article!

Although I fail miserably at it – often – I try to use 2 Timothy 2:24-26 as my guideline when I write:

And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

It not only reminds me of how to contend for the faith (not quarrelsome, kind, patient, gentle), it reminds me who I’m contending for (those being held captive by Satan’s snare of false doctrine), and why I’m contending (that they might repent, know the truth, come to their senses, and escape captivity).

John’s point: “[DNDMs] are unhealthy…’you are what you eat’…A diet of constant critical speech and reading is naturally going to produce a critical spirit.”

Michelle’s agreement: This is absolutely true. I don’t know whether it makes me over-critical or not, but when I OD on discernment media it certainly makes me feel angry, frustrated, depressed, and that there’s no hope for the church. It takes my eyes off Christ and the very real salvific and sanctifying work He is still doing in churches across across the globe, and causes me to focus on the monster of false doctrine instead.

It’s exceedingly important that we not go overboard on discernment or any other single aspect of theology or or spiritual life. In order to be spiritually healthy, we must have a balance of all the good things: discernment, Bible study, prayer, evangelism, fellowship, worship, service, etc. When I find myself spending too much time in Discernment Land, I know it’s time to step back and readjust my focus.

John’s point: “They are not very helpful…I don’t think very many Christians, especially the kind who read theological blogs, are going to be taken in by [blatantly obvious false teachers].”

Michelle’s agreement/counterpoint: I’ve already shared my thoughts on the helpfulness of discernment ministries for Christians who are not discerning, but, if I’m understanding him correctly, I think what John is saying here is that Christians who are already discerning aren’t going to be taken in by false teachers, and, therefore, have little need for regular consumption of discernment media. I generally agree with that. I still subscribe to a few DNDMs and peruse their daily headlines, not because I need to learn discernment, but because I like to know what’s going on in the church, just like people skim section A of the newspaper because they like to know what’s going on in the world.

I might add, though, that just because someone is the type of person who reads theological blogs doesn’t mean he’s on top of things, discernment-wise. Thom Rainer writes a theological blog (and books, and has a seminary Ph.D), yet persists in allowing false doctrine onto the shelves of LifeWay despite the many rebukes he has received from pastors, seminarians, lay people, and, yes, discernment media. Not long ago, I took a class via video from a conservative Southern Baptist seminary president who positively (albeit in passing) cited Beth Moore and Rick Warren in one of the sessions. And these are just two isolated examples. There are many more.

John’s point: “[DNDMs] often have significant blindspots…In their rush to expose the errors of others, often discernment bloggers/podcasters can overlook real problems with themselves or with their theological allies, especially in the areas of tone and conduct.”

Michelle’s agreement: This is so true. There’s no way I could disagree with this, because I have been guilty of it myself far too often. I would only add that this is not a problem specific to discernment ministry. Every ministry has blind spots because every Christian has blind spots. We’re all guilty of hypocrisy, myopia, failure, and sin. And, because we’re believers, when a brother or sister points out our sin, we repent, we receive God’s wonderful, cleansing, restorative grace, mercy, and forgiveness, and we move forward in obedience to Him and His word.

John closes out his insightful article with this thought:

I am not saying that you must swear off “discernment” blogs and podcasts, but I am saying I did, for the reasons above along with others, and I think I am better off for it. I would challenge you to consider what I have written and to think deeply about your spiritual diet. I am exhorting you to be discerning about discernment ministries.

I am not saying you must partake of discernment blogs and podcasts. But I am saying I do, for the reasons above along with others, and I think I am better off for it. I would challenge you to consider what John and I have written and to think deeply about your spiritual diet. I am exhorting you to think about it, study about it, pray about it, and discern what God would have you do about consuming discernment media.