Introduction to Preachers and Teachers
by Matt Slick
‘But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and a sword comes and takes a person from them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require from the watchman’s hand,’ (Eze. 33:6).
This section on preachers and teachers is a sad necessity. Some will say it amounts to a witch hunt for only the negative in people who don't agree with CARM's particular brand of Christianity. While we cannot control people's opinions - and have no desire to do so - we do request that those who resent CARM's examination of people simply check out what is said against Scripture.
"A little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough," (Gal. 5:9).
It takes very little poison to harm someone. A few drops of arsenic added to a drink can kill, even though the majority of the drink is fine. So too with false teaching. It isn't the majority of the good stuff that that is a concern. It is the small amount of error. Some error does not affect one's salvation, but others do.
If someone were to teach that the rapture isn't going to happen at all, that doesn't make the person a dangerous teacher. But, if that same person said that Jesus was not God, then it would mean the person is violating one of the essentials of the faith and that person should be avoided. Again, just a little error -- of the right kind -- is dangerous.
So, when we examine various teachers and preachers, we aren't so much concerned with the differences of opinion in the non-essentials. We are interested in the issues that concern the health of church and the proper representation of biblical theology. Therefore, we are concerned with such things as...
- Affirming its complete sufficiency and inspiration
- Using God's word in such a way as to apply it in a manner that is consistent with its context
- Extra biblical revelation
- Claiming revelation knowledge directly from God
- Harmony with the essentials of the Christian faith
- God: The Trinity, monotheism, the immutability of God, the holiness of God
- Jesus: Second person of the Trinity, his two natures, his permanent indwelling as man, his physical resurrection, his sinless life
- Man: Man's sinful nature, utter helplessness to save ourselves, not being divine (i.e., little gods)
- Atonement: The atonement of Christ was completely finished on the cross
- Salvation: salvation by faith alone through grace alone in Christ alone
- The call to men as leaders in the church
- Women are not to be pastors and elders
- The Church is to equip the body of Christ, not make it dependent upon the teacher/preacher
- Seeker sensitivity - is the service aimed at unbelievers or believers?
- Emergent church
- Christ centered sermons verses moralistic preaching
- Are they asking for money - this is not wrong, but it is important
CARM is dedicated to Christian orthodoxy, the defense of the Christian faith, and equipping the Saints. There are many attacks against us from non-Christians, but we must also deal with the aberrations that occur within the church. This necessitates an examination of anyone who opens the word of God and tells the body of Christ what it means. Unfortunately, it sometimes means appearing to be judgmental. But think about this: Heresy quickly manifested within the early church. This is why many of the New Testament epistles were written -- to correct error. Here are just a few examples of this.
- Don't pass judgment on people regarding non-essentials (Rom. 14:1-12)
- Avoiding divisions in the body of Christ (1 Cor. 1:10-17)
- Immorality in the church is rebuked (1 Cor. 5:1-13)
- Proper means to take communion (1 Cor. 11:23-30)
- Proper use of spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 12:1-31)
- The order of our resurrection (1 Cor. 15:20-49)
- Circumcision is not necessary for salvation (Gal. 5:1-15)
- Christ won't return until the antichrist is on the scene (2 Thess. 2:1-12)
- Warning against apostasy (1 Tim. 4:1-5)
- Qualifications of being an elder (Titus 1:5-7)
- Don't show partiality (James 2:1-13)
- Warning about those who teach Jesus is not God in flesh (1 John 4:1-6)
If error crept into the early church so quickly, shouldn't we be all the more diligent now and examine those teachers and preachers who offer so many contradictory interpretations of Scripture? Of course we should. After all, the Scriptures tell us that even Paul the apostle was checked against Scripture.
"And the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea; and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so," (Acts 17:10-11).
Are today's teachers any better than Paul? Not by a long shot! We need to be careful because...
- "For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect," (Matt. 24:24).
- "But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves," (2 Pet. 2:1).
- "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world," (1 John 4:1).
Today's Errors Include...
There are many false teachings within the Christian church today. Some of them include saying that we are little gods, that Christ died in order to make us wealthy, that Christ lost his divine nature after being crucified and regained it later, that homosexuality is just an alternative lifestyle, that abortion is acceptable, that salvation is maintained by our good works, etc. These and other profound errors attack the very fabric of Christian truth. This is why we have to be diligent, to examine everything (1 Thess. 5:21), and to use Scripture as our final authority (2 Tim. 3:16).
The seriousness with which all Christians should take God's word, and examine those who teach it, cannot be overstated. We teachers are in for it on the Day of Judgment if we don't teach properly.
"Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we shall incur a stricter judgment," (James 3:1).
It is not our desire at CARM to look only for dirt on people. In fact, it is with sadness that we examine the preachers and teachers within Christianity and seek to identify any problems - problems that are, unfortunately, way too profound and common. But, we are obligated to compare all things to Scripture, to use sound judgment, to promote the truth of God's word, and denounce all who would oppose and misuse it. So, may these examinations of various preachers and teachers be used by God to inform his body and also, by his grace, to help those who are teaching falsely to repent.
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