Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Need for Biblical Discernment

I'm generally perplexed when I read a statement like this:
"Yesterday I saw yet another website dedicated to accusing a prominent pastor.  This one did not strike me as savage, the way other such websites have.  It seemed more mature.
But I wonder if this is doing the Lord’s work at all.  Even if every accusation against this pastor is true, I am unconvinced God wants us to set up websites for such a purpose."
This is the same sentiment held by modern-day ecumenical groups who think that we "Christians" should all just get along without what they perceive to be criticism or judgment. The Bible does call us to love one another, but it also calls us to discernment and possible separation, (Eph. 5:11; 2 Thess. 3:6).

The above quote is from Pastor Ray Ortlund's article "Are We Doing the Lord's Work?" posted on his Gospel Coalition blog on August 17, 2013.  Pastor Ortlund questions the need for public, biblical discernment and offers three emotional cautions.  However, if a fellow Christian has true accusations against a prominent pastor regarding improper biblical teaching, then that pastor needs to be called out in a public manner.

With the plethora of mobile devices, the world we live in today is, and will continue to be, on-line.  By definition, a prominent pastor has an on-line presence.  Therefore, if a pastor has strayed from biblical doctrine, then a blog post is an acceptable way to counteract his false teaching, and the on-line forum is precisely where the unsound doctrine or practice needs to be addressed.

Ironically, Pastor Ortlund has done exactly what he is criticizing when he calls out the rogue blogger in his blog post.  Yet, unlike the blogger who has true accusations, his critique seems more concerned with the possibility of a wrong motivation behind the questionable blog post rather than the content.  According to the Bible, only the Lord can see the heart, (1 Sam. 16:7); therefore, Christians should not be focusing on motivation, but like the Bereans, we should be receiving the word with all readiness of mind, searching the scriptures daily, and determining whether those things are in-line with God's word, (Acts 17:11).

As a society we are overloaded with information, some good and some not so good.  An unfortunate reality is that many modern-day churches lack true discipleship.  At the same, there is an overwhelming availability of so-called Christian books, sermons, podcasts, YouTube videos, etc.  Consequently, the growing population of illiterate Christians needs the help of on-line discernment ministry websites and blogs to weed out non-biblical teaching.  Without this on-line help I would still be reading what I consider "junk" Christian books and not growing in Christ.

Obviously, there's never a need to attack or malign a prominent individual who needs to be corrected, but public chastisement is proper and necessary because masters (or teachers) shall receive the greater condemnation, (James 3:1).  It's actually the loving thing to do.

"Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin," (James 4:17).