Heresy Hunters?

Heresy Hunters

Heresy Hunters and the Caustic “Christians” They Produce

By Thomas Taylor

Have you seen “Christian” articles, blogs, and social media posts like this:

“Billy Graham Exposed!”

“It’s the Mark of the Beast to worship on Sunday!”

“You’re not saved if you’re not baptized by our church!”

“You’re going to hell if you read the wrong Bible (KJV Onlyism)!”

“So-and-so (minister/group) is only out to get your money!”

“If you believe in tithing, you’re a wolf in sheep’s clothing; a false prophet!”

“If you don’t tithe, you’re going to hell!”

I’m seeing a disturbing trend by “Christians” today; many Christians and so-called Christians believe it is their sworn duty to destroy other ministries that do not agree with them doctrinally. We all believe a little differently than other Christians as we grow spiritually. However, the language today by many so-called Christians is more and more judgemental. In other words, it is not just that we believe a little differently on a certain subject but “You’re of the devil” or “You’re going to hell,” if you don’t “believe what I believe.” I can’t see Jesus or Paul speaking this way. Also, today there are more heresy hunters than ever out there who think it is their sworn duty to call out by name every false teacher. Again, did Jesus do that?

Jesus did say to beware of the leaven, false teaching, of the Pharisees but He did not make it His mission to call them out by name and destroy them. It is said of Jesus, Matthew 12:19 KJV  “He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets.”  He said, Matthew 15:13-14 KJV  “… Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.” Jesus warned His disciples about the Pharisees, calling them hypocrites, blind guides, and white-washed tombs (read Matthew 23).  There is a difference between warning the people God has put under your charge about the falseness of a certain group and publicly (on the internet) going out to destroy their reputation, condemning them all to hell. We are not their judges and to judge before the time is very unwise.

What to do When Someone Teaches False Doctrine

As a Bible teacher I am all for bringing correction to the Church. Doctrine is extremely important, for in some cases it truly is the difference between life and death. However, we are missing God completely if we think perfect doctrine is the goal and it is our job to denounce everyone who doesn’t believe the way we believe. God wants correct doctrine but even more important than that God wants love. Are you loving your brother while at the same time trying to destroy his reputation and ministry? Is that really the voice of the Holy Spirit directing you ruin people for the cause of God’s Kingdom?

We all need to be aware of false doctrines and put them up against God’s Holy Word to see the Truth. However, this trend by “Christians” has gone far beyond Acts 17:11, “Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.” Christians, and so-called Christians, are being taught to be caustic, speaking vitriol toward genuine believers in the Body of Christ. Sure, they do not have perfect doctrine but anything within a body that tries to destroy the same body is what we call cancerous. Be careful who you attack dear brothers and sisters. Don’t take a pastor’s word that so-and-so believes and teaches such-and-such false doctrine. Check it out for yourself by listening to several hours of their teachings spoken within context, then decide if they are false or not. If they are, do what the Bible says do:

“If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. “But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED. “If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.  (Matthew 18:15-17)

First, privately talk to the one in error. It is not your job to immediately announce to the world their faults without giving them a chance to explain themselves. It may just be a word misspoken or a miscommunication.

Second, if they do not listen, have one or two others go with you to listen to what the one in error has to say. Again, this is in private.

Third, tell it to the church. This is not referring to the whole Body of Christ/Church (capital “C”), rather this is referring to the local assembly/local church (lower case “c”).  And this is most certainly not saying to go tell it to the entire world (the internet). This means have the local church as a witness against the supposed heresy. If they will not listen to the local church, then have no fellowship with him.

You may say, “I can’t do that since the one in error is too famous; I cannot contact them to discuss the matter. So I’d rather just expose them on the internet without giving them a chance to explain themselves.”  Is that really the right position to take? Is that what you would want to happen to you if you were in their position? You see, love considers doing unto others as you would have them do unto you.

I personally believe this person, the so-called heretic, should be subject to an authority that can bring correction to them and their doctrine. Every minister should have someone over them to hold them accountable, whether a senior in the ministry or a ministerial association that holds his credentials. If they do not, then that is where the problem is. It is really their responsibility to bring the correction, not his peers or those under him in authority.

You may say, “Well, Paul called out people by name and exposed them as heretics. So should I!” Paul did expose certain people by name – calling them out as wolves who were out to destroy God’s people. But Paul was also in a place of authority over the Church.  There are two things to consider about Paul exposing of those evil men. One, they were definitely not born-again. And two, Paul actually knew these men and spoke with them face-to-face to correct them. They would not listen to Paul so he exposed them. Unless you can follow Paul’s example and as an authority in the Body of Christ speak to them face-to-face, I’d be very careful about “exposing the heretics.” How you judge you will be judged.

Pharisaical Attitude

“They will make you outcasts from the synagogue, but an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God. “These things they will do because they have not known the Father or Me.  (John 16:2-3)

You certainly do not want to be classified as a one of these that the Bible warns us about. Sure you may be right about a false doctrine but you may also be missing the heart of the matter completely. You may be right about one particular doctrine being wrong, but to not love your brother is a far greater sin than whatever bad doctrine they may be teaching in many cases.

They answered him, “You were born entirely in sins, and are you teaching us?” So they put him out.  (John 9:34)

Heresy hunters think, “You’re the sinner! We’re the righteous!” This judgmental Pharisaical attitude is more cancerous than any doctrinal issue of which they are offended. The worse part is that they produce “Christians” that are more radical and pharisaical than they ever were. These Christians write blogs and post on social media against real Christians that are so violently scorning that one would have to wonder if they’ve even hear of the concepts of love and mercy.

The Christian Response to Caustic Christians

“Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. “Be glad in that day and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven. For in the same way their fathers used to treat the prophets.  (Luke 6:22-23)

The Body of Christ’s response should be to rejoice for the persecution. Then we love the persecutor and pray for them that spitefully mistreat the Body of Christ.

and we toil, working with our own hands; when we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure; when we are slandered, we try to conciliate; we have become as the scum of the world, the dregs of all things, even until now.  (1 Corinthians 4:12-13)

We are to bless, not curse those who oppose us. We are to endure the persecution from without while comforting and consoling the saints within. If we are the scum of the the world, let it not hinder your obedience to ministry God has called you – just as Paul continued to reach for the prize.

“Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. “At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. (Matthew 24:9-10)

The persecution against the Body of Christ by religious Pharisees is simply a sign of the times. Sadly what we see today is just the beginning; it will get worse in the final days. Do not be alarmed or too bothered by it. Jesus forgave those who crucified Him while it was happening. Our response should be the same. Love and forgive. Pray for the “unity of the faith,” Ephesians 4:13.

Deal the with the Doctrine

One thing for certain all Christians should do, no matter their standing in the Body of Christ, is to study the Word. When we know the Word of God for ourselves, no false doctrine can have a place in our beliefs. If we are called into the ministry, we should use our knowledge of God’s Word to cast down false doctrines in the Body of Christ. Notice, I said deal with the doctrine, not call out the person who spoke it. There may come a time for that, if your are in a position of authority in the Body. But do your diligence to teach your people the Word of God faithfully. I’ve found if you just do that, you don’t have to worry about your people following a false teacher. Their foundation will be strong enough in the Word to see through even the greatest of deceptions. Teach your people, the one’s God has given you authority over, and pray for them. That is your Christian duty. Extending into an authority God has not granted you, like becoming a heresy hunter, is treading on dangerous ground.

 

Excellent Link for Further Insight:
http://www.godward.org/new-millennium/March98/heresy_hunters.htm

 

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