Discernment. Both David and Solomon continually asked God for discernment so they might serve Him and his people wisely. The Apostles preached about the need to be discerning regarding spirits and teachings of leaders. It is obvious God wants us to have a discerning heart when we deal with things of this world and in the spiritual realm.
- Yet discernment seems to be getting a bad rap these days. When Christians discern that perhaps something might be wrong with a teaching or movement these days, they need to be very careful about addressing it. Many attempts by well intentioned Christians to question the teachings of television preachers or movements is often met with scorn and an accusation that they are being divisive or coming against one of God’s prophets. Rick Warren in his “Purpose Driven Church” curriculum warns that when people question ideas like removing crosses from churches, you need to come against them and remove them from positions of leadership, so it will not cause disunity in the Body.
Now do some watchmen or discernment ministries go off the deep end wrongly questioning or accusing leaders of heresy where there is none? Yes, and they need to repent of it and be more prayerful and discerning before they publicly accuse a fellow Christian of false teaching. But there is also a “smoke and mirrors” game going on with some churches and organizations when someone wants to question something being taught or promoted. Case in point—Rick Warren. Many discernment ministries who are increasingly concerned with Warren’s teachings or leanings on The Daniel Plan, Chrislam, and Tony Blair’s global spiritualization movement attempt to contact Warren before going public with their concerns. We have done so before we air concerns about Warren—but getting them to return a call or address the concerns is stonewalled and rebuffed. So when a discernment or teaching ministry public questions what is going on, they are scolded and told they have no right to do so until they meet with the individual so we can “know their heart”.
Is it sound practice to talk with an individual before you publicly question some of their teachings? Yes. But what do you do when you go to them, asking for clarification or explanation first, and the messages you leave go unanswered? If a defendant in a trial pleads his fifth amendment rights, does the district attorney simply drop the case? Or does he move forward presenting the facts and circumstantial evidence, always giving the accused the right to respond?
We live in a world where being politically correct and sacrificing the truth to avoid hurting peoples’ feelings is rampant. And when we sacrifice truth to spare feelings we are in deep trouble.
Look, any one of us can and does make mistakes. No Pastor or teacher is above error or a misstatement. But when they refuse to explain their statements or wrap themselves in a cocoon, refusing to address the concerns of fellow believers, their teachings become fair game for discussion.
Yes, discernment and questioning church leadership seems to be getting a bad wrap these days. The motto of the church in America seems to be “unity at all costs”. But biblical truth must never become a casualty of that unity.
- Rick Warren Tweets Trauma As The Root of Dogma? (christianresearchnetwork.com)
- Discernment Ministry – A Biblical Defense (svchapel.org)
- True or False? How to discern if a prophet is for real (standupforthetruth.com)
- Our Nation and Church at a Crossroad (standupforthetruth.com)
- Judging Method, But Not the Heart (standupforthetruth.com)