Important Questions: Should the Church Name & Oppose False Teachers?

There’s a new kind of wisdom being preached that says it’s fruitless to name and oppose false teachers, and that, instead, we should apply ourselves to other more fruitful endeavors.

So that is the question we will be address.

Should the Church bother itself with naming and opposing false teachers?

LIMITTING THE BODY

Double standards are something that I try to keep an eye out for when considering what I’m hearing, and I both see and experience a double standard when I encounter this kind of wisdom; namely, that those who say that it is fruitless to oppose false teachers because we should be applying ourselves to more fruitful endeavors then apply themselves to opposing anyone who names and opposes false teachers.

So, while it may not be every member’s place in the body to name and oppose false teachers, we have to ask ourselves if there is a place for that function anywhere in the body, and, if so, does this new wisdom limit those parts of the body in which this work has a place?

GOD’S STANDARD

Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron… If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed.

~1 Timothy 4:12-6

Among those things that Paul exhorted Timothy to be a good minister of Jesus Christ in instructing the brethren in was the dangers of deceiving spirits and demonic doctrines that false teachers speak in hyposcirsy.

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. ~1 John 4:1

John follows Paul’s exhortation by encouraging the brethren to test every spirit to see whether or not they are from God because of the multitude of false prophets that have gone out into the world.

The Bereans were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of the mind, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. ~Acts 17:11

In God’s standard, no one was exempt from being tested; not even an apostle! Far from being criticized for testing all things that were said, the Bereans were praised for their diligence.

Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ. ~Jude 3-4

Jude found it necessary to exhort the brethren to contend earnestly for the faith because of the false teachers who had crept in unnoticed.

When we tell members of the body that they are fruitless for opposing those false teachers and false prophets who sneak in bringing destructive heresies into the body, we do not uphold God’s standard, we oppose it.

It is just to answer today’s question by asking another question: should the Church bother itself with opposing those members who feel led to name and oppose false teachers? Invariably most people who do not feel comfortable with one will engage in the other.

OPPOSING BY NAME?

This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, having faith and a good concsience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck, of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme. ~1 Timothy 1:18-20

One function of naming a false teacher or prophet is that it makes it more difficult for them to sneak into an assembly unnoticed and introduce their destructive heresies elsewhere. Paul did not shy away from naming people who were in error;

And their message will spread like cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort, who have strayed concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past; and they overthrow the faith of some. 2 Timothy 2:17-18

The message of false teachers was viewed as a cancer not to be ignored; both the message and the messenger were named and opposed.

I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctring that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naïve. ~Romans 16:17-18

The unity and liberty of the body was of such importance that Paul instructed the brethren in Rome to keep watch for individuals who bring division and bondage and avoid them because they do not serve the Lord Christ, but their own appetites. The duty to keep watch is not reserved for an apostle only, but for the brethren as a whole.

LETTING THE BODY WORK

A city that shames its watchmen will be overthrown when the enemy invades. I believe we need to acknowledge individuals who know God’s word and heed their warnings when they sound the alarm against the wolves they spot trying to sneak into the assembly.

Our shepherds need to keep watch over the flock; let us not reject their tending.

When I hear the new wisdom that discourages watchmen from sounding the alarm, I look at the state of the Western Church and I find little reason to trust this new wisdom. But what really dismays me is that those who don’t want to put their fingers on the name of false teachers will so readily apply themselves to shaming anyone who does.

This is the real travesty; our watchmen have become the hunted!

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