Berean cogitations

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Criticizing the doctrines of other Christian teachers

I was talking to a pastor (not from my church!) recently about a popular Christian book. I explained that I had some grave reservations about its content, and that I felt it compromised on the Gospel and other essential teachings.

This pastor was not pleased, for he placed great value on Christian "unity." He said,
"I would rather spend more time refuting the Mormons and the Jehovah Witnesses than other Evangelical Christians. If we want to talk about 'false teachings' then certainly this is more obvious."

Now, I know this pastor meant well, but I think his view was completely unbiblical. After all, why shouldn't a believer speak up if someone is preaching deceptive doctrines? Did Paul not exhort us to "test all things" (1 Thess 5:21)? In particular, if the Gospel is being compromised -- even by a Christian teacher -- should we not voice our concern?

Now, I understand his viewpoint. He says that the Mormons and the JWs are in greater doctrinal error, and so we should focus on refuting their beliefs. I think his viewpiont is misguided though; after all, the Bible never says that we should only stand up against false teachings from the cults. In fact, I would argue that erroneous doctrines from within the church can be more dangerous, since they are often harder to detect! For this reason, we must confront false teaching whereever it abounds.

Besides, I think it's rather silly to insist that we should refute the Mormons and JWs instead of pointing out erroneous teachings from within the church. He assumes that you can only do one of those things, and not both. As if you're ever going to encounter a Mormon and, say, Robert Schuller at the same time!

Finally, I think his claim is self-refuting. He said that Christians shouldn't go around voicing their disagreement with what other Evangelical Christians teach. Well, I'm an Evangelical Christian, and he's saying that I'm wrong. Moreover, he says that my church is wrong, since they hold to the same belief. Why didn't he spend that time confronting a Mormon missionary, since he claims that would be a better use of one's time?