If I had a nickel for every time I heard a Christian tell me, “What??” every time I told them who I considered a false teacher or heretic, I’d probably have enough to buy a private beach house and quit college.
It’s true. Shai Linne put it best in his rap song False Teachers, “Today, the only heresy is saying that there’s heresy.” I don’t know what is more dangerous today: calling out a heretic or to be the heretic. What has become of our Christian culture? It’s as if we’re afraid of saying when someone is preaching a false gospel, and it is all under the guise of being “nice.”
Now, I believe in true and patient discernment, and I resent people who are quick to accuse someone of being a heretic. However, I also resent people who are too slow to call out false teaching in the Church and who are more concerned about protecting those whom they think are nice or are heroes of theirs.
Growing up, I listened to all kinds of teachers. Because I was raised in a fundamentalistic Pentecostal home, it was not uncommon to walk past a TV set and see Joel Osteen, Rod Parsely, Benny Hinn, Reinhardt Bonke, etc. The crazy thing is that most people today recognize these people are charlatans, but not because of the Gospel they preach, but money.
This is what I’ve learned so far from “discerning” evangelicals currently: 1) If the pastor is rich, he’s a heretic, and 2) If the pastor’s church is growing and he talks about Jesus, then he’s not a heretic. What’s wrong with this picture? I’ll say it: it’s a horrible way to discern between who is and isn’t a false teacher. How much a pastor makes doesn’t define whether he’s a heretic or not, and whether or not a pastor teaches about Jesus is not sufficient evidence to believe he’s sound.
The standard for what makes a teacher a heretic or a hero is the Gospel he teaches; it is not his looks and it is not his mannerisms, it is whether or not what he teaches is, plain and simple, the Gospel.
Let me give two examples.
Upon Dr. R.C. Sproul’s death, he was worth $5 million, but no true Christian would dare say he’s a charlatan. Quite the opposite, he was a great representation of Paul instruction to do nothing but “preach Christ.” In fact, I’d argue Dr. Sproul was the one who brought more attention to Christology and justification by faith alone than any other theologian in the past two-hundred years. Wealth doesn’t define your theology, rather where you stand on the authority of Scripture and your understanding of God’s role in salvation.
The second example I have is Steven Furtick of Elevation Church. He always preaches with a smile, and he looks very vibrant and in tune with the culture. I can’t even deny that he is an effective communicator to a degree, and he even uses the name of Jesus when he preaches. Nevertheless, he is a heretic. Why? In one of his sermons, he claimed that the most “amazing part about the Gospel” is that “God broke the law (click here to watch full clip). In that same sermon, he states that man didn’t have the “leverage” to obey the law. He preaches a false Gospel because the Bible clearly says we were dead in sin and that Christ paid the penalty for our sin, and it could only be possible if He never broke the law. One sin, and there would be no Gospel. Either Furtick is wrong, or we’re doomed.
It doesn’t matter how much “joy” someone may have or how much piety a person you perceive to be a saint has, if they preach a different Gospel than justification by faith alone, Christ’s imputed righteousness and God’s complete work in salvation, they are not only false in their proclamation of being Bible believers, but they are hell-bound.
It’s crazy to say that, and it’s hard for many people to hear that, but we must come to the serious realization that niceness doesn’t cut it in the Kingdom of God. What is necessary is believing in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and if any man or woman preaches otherwise, they must be denounced and discredited. I’ve known many nice atheists, Mormons and heretics all my life; some are good citizens and can even be trustworthy, but unless they repent, they are not saved. I would hope you wouldn’t want them to continue to be hell-bound and you would try to preach the Gospel to them. How much more do we want to make sure that deceivers to not lead people astray with a false gospel and letting them continue to pave the road to hell for many multitudes to come.
Paul was very clear in Galatians 1:8-9 (ESV) and his words still speak true today. I end my post with the very inspired word of God, and the Lord says this: “Even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.”
The Gospel is too precious; defend the good news of Jesus Christ and call out those who go against it.
Soli Deo Gloria.