In our overly tolerant world whereby even Christians are often persuaded to eschew criticism or discipline at all costs, we tend to avoid confrontation when it is indeed called for. In the recent past I dialogued with a local Christian leader who insisted that there is no Biblical precedent for exposing false teachers and those who would attempt to cause division within the brethren. The Bible cites many specific examples of false prophets and those who sow seeds of discord, and their exposure by those who reveal them by name.
“Their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.” (II Timothy 2:17-18) Many Christians decry the citing of actual names of those Christian leaders who teach heretical doctrines, saying that such an act is “unloving.” Paul, however, considered it an important evidence of true love to warn against those who would “overthrow the faith of some,” realizing that generalities would be useless.
Not only did Hymenaeus and Philetus make Paul’s list, but so did Demas (II Timothy 4:10), Alexander the coppersmith (II Timothy 4:14), the Cretians (Titus 1:12), another Alexander (I Timothy 1:20), and even Peter (Galatians 2:11-14) when he began to teach legalism. Likewise, the apostle John warned against the egocentric Diotrephes (III John 9) and the Nicolaitans (Revelation 2:6). Jesus referred to Herod as “that fox,” and our Lord and John the Baptist also had lengthly diatribes against the Pharisees, calling them “a generation of vipers,
and white washed sepulchers full of dead men’s bones.”
We need to be ready and willing to name those individuals, churches, schools, and other organizations that are denying biblical inerrant authority, compromising the doctrine of special creation, requiring humanistic works for salvation, or bringing in other heretical doctrines. We obviously need to be sure of our facts when we do this and also to bring such charges only if motivated by genuine concern for those apt to be led astray if we don’t speak out. But then we must, indeed, “mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.” (Romans 16:17)
*** Part of the above material was taken from a devotional article by the late Henry M Morris, former president and founder of the Institute For Creation Research. It is in the Days Of Praise devotional, December 8, 2011 entry. ***