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Creflo Dollar, founder and senior pastor, World Changers International
Image credit: patheos.com
There is a degree of double-mindedness in the Church today when it comes to false teachers.
It is a duality which manifests itself primarily in the fact that, as Christians, we will readily acknowledge that the Bible addresses the issue of false teachers (Jeremiah 23:1-4; Matthew 7:15; Acts 20:29-31; 2 Peter 2:1-3; 2 Corinthians 11:13-15; 1 John 4:1), and yet, we will not hesitate to take offense when what the Bible says about false teachers is applied to certain individuals of whom we happen to be fans.
That’s right – fans.
We say things such as “I like” this preacher or that evangelist or that teacher, as if they were performers on a stage. And though many of them are, no doubt, it is our personal fondness for these individuals that all too often shapes and influences our theology, despite the heresy they propagate.
The manner in which these false teachers engage their followers is so sophisticated and subtle, that it lulls them into a degree of personal attachment that renders the veracity of their hermeneutics of no real importance.
What was once declared as, “Thus says the Lord!”, has now become, “Thus says [insert his or her name here]!”
Consequently, biblical truth is no longer determined through an objective analysis of the Word of God, but is defined solely on the basis that the person with whom we are so enamored said so. And because I happen to be a fan of the person who said this or that, what he or she said must be the truth, right?
“For our exhortation does not come from error or impurity or by way of deceit; but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who examines our hearts. For we never came with flattering speech, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed – God is witness – nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others.” – 1 Thessalonians 2:3-6a (NASB)
One would think the answer to the aforementioned question would be rather obvious, but it is not.
As dangerous as biblical heresy is in and of itself – and no Christian who is truly redeemed would deny that false teachers are in fact a present-day reality in the Church – an equally concerning problem is the apparent ease at which those who subscribe to their deceptive practices are so quick to come to their defense, as if upholding the integrity of the person they’re so infatuated with were of greater importance to them than defending the integrity of Christ and His gospel.
“Truth could not be truth in this world if it were not a warring thing, and we should at once suspect that it were not true if error were friends with it. The spotless purity of truth must always be at war with the blackness of heresy and lies.” – C.H. Spurgeon
At the heart of the issue of false teachers – and those who defend them – is the question of truth.
The reason there are “false” teachers to begin with, is because there is such a thing as truth. It is Christ Himself who declared that the word of God is truth; and who prayed that those who believe in Him would be sanctified in that truth (John 17:17).
When we who profess to follow Christ take more offense at someone pointing out to us the error of an individual we may admire than at the error itself, we look less like the body of Christ and more like a cult of personality.
Ironically, it is this very issue which the apostle Paul addressed with those who composed the church at Corinth:
For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not mere men? What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one.” – 1 Corinthians 3:4-5 (NASB)
In devoting ourselves so fanatically to the men and women who have attached their name to the various “ministries” they lead, we ascribe to mere finite human beings the glory, reverence, honor, and adoration that should be ascribed only to an infinite God (1 Chronicles 16:25-34; Psalm 29:1-2; Psalm 96:7-13).
It is this emotional and psychological attachment that blinds us to the error being proffered by these false teachers, and that is idolatry.
It should never be assumed simply because someone stands on a stage raising a Bible in the air while leading thousands of people in chanting a mantra, that what is being spoken is biblically and theologically sound.
“For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but what it really is, the word of God.” – 1 Thessalonians 2:13 (NASB)
Despite all the buzz words and clichés being thrown around about “living your best life now” and being “world changers”, what ultimately matters is whether or not what is actually being preached is biblically accurate.
With this in mind, we must be willing to set aside our own personal preferences and predilections about individual personalities for the sake of the reputation of Jesus Christ.
The Gospel is much larger than any individual.
As followers of Christ, we should be just as passionate that the Gospel is preached in truth as we are convinced that the Gospel is the Truth.
Even if it hurts our feelings.
Humbly in Christ and for His glory,
What are the marks of a false teacher? – John MacArthur
Signs of the false teacher – Ligonier Ministries
5 Errors of the Prosperity Gospel – The Gospel Coalition
Watch out for those who lead you away from the truth – Desiring God