Recently we posted “10 invalid arguments in defense of false teachers” by Rick Becker. Now Becker lays out 8 reasons believers shouldn’t remain in a church. One of the reasons people often cite for staying is that they feel they play a valuable role in the church, such as secretary, worship leader, Bible teacher, or even one of the pastors. Becker isn’t buying it. He believes that those who stay are compromising. So, your choice “is between contending for the faith, or remaining content with a distortion of the faith.” You can read Becker’s piece over at Famine In The Land:
When the scales of deception are removed from their eyes, many find themselves in a dilemma. They realise that the church that they love, attend, and where they were possibly even saved, teaches false doctrine. False doctrines such as word of faith, the prosperity gospel, dominion theology and of course the unhealthy mixture of all three found in the New Apostolic Reformation are working their leaven in the visible church. Furthermore, accompanying these false doctrines are false practices and manifestations. Individuals are torn in two. Should they leave? or should they stay and attempt to navigate the spiritual minefield that they find themselves in? This post looks at invalid reasons that some use to justify their refusal to walk away from a poisoned well.
If you are not familiar with the false doctrines mentioned above, here are some examples of people and ministries that teach them: Bethel church (Bill Johnson & Kris Vallotton), Hillsong (Brian & Bobbie Houston, Carl Lentz), Randy Clark, Lance Wallnau, Todd Bentley, Georgian Banov, Heidi Baker, Joyce Meyer, John & Lisa Bevere, Christine Caine, Rick Joyner, Patricia King, Cindy Jacobs, Chuck Pierce, Craig Groeschel, Rick Warren, Paula White, T D Jakes, Steven Furtick, Joel Osteen, Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Todd White, Beth Moore, Bill Hybels, Andy Stanley, Mike Bickle, Ann Voskamp, and many more. In South Africa – CRC churches (At Boshoff) Breakthru Life church (John Crumpton), Rivers church (André Olivier) River ministries (Andre Roebert) Oasis Christian Church (Sarel van der Merwe) Christian Family Church (Theo Wolmarans) and many more. If your church uses material from any of these folk or promotes them in anyway, you should be concerned!
The following reasons are not legitimate reasons to stay in a church that teaches false doctrine:
1. I’ll simply ignore the bad teaching – eat the meat and spit out the bones To put it another way – don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. There is no biblical mandate for this argument. Those who teach contrary to the gospel need to be marked and avoided, not marked and ignored. “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them“ Romans 16:17
In his letter to Timothy, Paul explains that someone approved by God “rightly divides the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15) He then gives an example, of two teachers who did not rightly divide God’s word: “Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some.” (vs 18)
Finally, Paul tells us what our response should be: “But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.” (vs 19)
By sitting under a pastor who twists the word of God, you are submitting yourself to someone God has disqualified and submitting yourself to someone who is responsible for damaging the faith of their followers. You pastor should in fact be the one rebuking those who teach false doctrine. He “ must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it“ Titus 1:9
The church at Thyatira was rebuked for “tolerating that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants..” Revelation 2:20. We must avoid the irreverent babble of those who distort the word of God to suit their own carnal appetites. False teachers need to be silenced, not supported: “For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach” Titus 1:10-11
A ravenous wolf has nothing to offer you: they come to steal, kill and destroy.
Don’t fool yourself into thinking the situation is static in the sense that the current level of false doctrine will remain constant. It begins with singing Hillsong or Jesus Culture songs, and before you can say “heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss” your pastor will be introducing the doctrines of Hillsong and Bethel.
Soon your leaders will find it necessary to attend a Bethel or Hillsong conference, and then new materials and courses such as Sozo or a school of supernatural ministry will be introduced. You will probably observe new terminology coming from your pulpit, as new teachings come with some catch phrases. These words, for example, accompany NAR teachings: “shift, alignment, presence, atmosphere, impartation, acceleration”
God’s word is ignored or twisted beyond it’s original meaning, resulting in progressive error: “while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”2 Timothy 3:13-17
2. I’ll just stay and be a witness
That may work for a short while, but at some point you are going to be accused of “sowing division” and your “rebellious spirit” will be dealt with by your leaders. Your first port of call in any case should be your leaders. A meeting with them, explaining your concerns, will quickly determine whether your discernment is appreciated. There were no undercover believers in the early church; they broke away from the various sects and teachings of the pharisees. If you want to be a testimony then you need to leave and have no fellowship with darkness. Those who are interested in truth, will come and ask you for the reasons you left and that will be your opportunity to present the truth.