Berean cogitations

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Naming names when we identify false teaching

In modern Christianity, people often say that if you're going to complain about erroneous teachings, then don't name names. Why? Because they perceive that the naming of names is somehow distasteful and abhorrent.

This perspective sounds loving and kind, which is doubtlessly why it's so popular. What does the Bible say, though?

First, it's worth noting that nowhere does the Bible say "Don't name names!" If often speaks about exposing false teachings and false teachers, but not once do the Bible writers warn believers not to mention anyone by name.

Second, the NT writers themselves mentioned people by name when warning fellow believers. For example, Paul cited Demas, Hymaneus, Alexander, and Philetus in his writings ((1 Timothy 1:18-20; 2 Timothy 2:15-18, 4:10,15). Similarly, John warned his readers about Diotrephes. Peter likewise spoke of those who followed the way of Baalam (2 Peter 2:15).

Why name names? Because sometimes that's what it takes to warn people, especially when it comes to popular teachings and popular teachers. Paul could have said, "Let's preserve unity by not naming any indivdiuals," but he didn't. Rather, he said that we are to mark those who persist in teaching error, for this is what ultimately causes division (Romans 16:17-18). What's more, he practiced what he preached.

Or, as another writer said,

If we sit idly by we are in essence encouraging false doctrine to be spread. Wolves in sheep's clothing are thus enabled to ravage the flock, thereby destroying any.Remember John the Baptist? He called the Pharisees and Sadducees (the religious leaders of his day) "a generation of Vipers". Today would we dare tell him to "your too harsh, be kind to our brethren and don't judge"?? We must always remember that the scripture admonishes us if we do not expose error in
the flock. What are we to do when we know of 'false' teachers?