Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Should pastors preach against false ideas and false ideologies in church?

From Thinking Christian.

Excerpt:

Justin Buzzard tells this story:

About ten years ago I heard Ben Patterson, campus pastor of Westmont College, say something that I will never forget. Ben told the story of a retired pastor who began noticing that his former congregation was sliding away from orthodoxy. The pastor saw this as his fault, noting the one thing he thought he did most poorly as a pastor. The pastor stated, in two sentences, his great failure as a pastor:

I always told people what to believe. My great mistake is that I never told my people what NOT to believe.

It’s possible to be so “biblical” that we’re unbiblical.

I’m referring to pastors, churches, and individual Christians who say, “we’re sticking to the Bible, and we don’t ever need to study anything but the Bible.” The great men and women of the Bible didn’t say that. They didn’t just preach in support of God’s truth. They knew the lies that were current in their cultures, they named those lies—with very contemporary examples—and they exposed what was false about them. When Isaiah ripped apart idol worship so sarcastically in Isaiah 44:9-20, he knew what he was talking about. So those who only study the Bible are failing to follow its example!

I think the reason for this is because the church is so focused on providing a happy music show every week, so that people can feel happy and affirmed, that they would never want to be negative and exclusive. That might make the people in the audience feel offended or excluded. That’s why pastors never set up Christianity as being true in distinction to other views that are false. And pastors surely would not appeal to external evidence from science and history – that might make people who don’t know any science and history feel bad, and spoil their happy feelings. It seems to me that pastors need to get back into the habit of connecting the Christian to real life. False ideas are harmful, and the pastor’s job is to stand up to wolves that might harm his flock – not to ignore the wolves. A very good place to start would be in the area of capitalism and taxation, or maybe in the area of sexual ethics and marriage.

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8 Responses

  1. mike singer says:

    Great post – Disciple Apologetics for Christians.

    The NT epistles are full of warning against false doctrine (Gnostic, Grace vs. works, false teachers, etc).

    In essence the church has placed often placed on building churches / attendance vs. edifying the body of Christ to make disciples for the sake of $$$ to pay for programs, salaries, and large buildings. In review of history, the outpouring / movements of God were done in the the most humble of circumstances / situations (Birth of Chris and Day of Pentacost to Azusa Street revival – all poor and humble people and places).

    Incorrect doctrine, wordliness, and pride has entered has been status quo in all but a few churches.

    The original gospel was “the Kingdom” and the original commission was to “make disciples” and not to go to heaven.

    God has His chosen Saints (elect) that He is working with and the rest of the church is scaffolding.

    I think a better place for the church to start (including myself) is repentance and taking a really hard look at the seven churches mentioned in Rev 2 & 3. The common thread is “to whom who overcomes”… Notice it is to a individual and not a group..

  2. Matt says:

    As a Westmont alumnus I can say that Ben Patterson is a great human being. I have to say that you might be disappointed with the state of apologetics at Westmont. At the time I went there there was only one apologetics class (not an apologetics degree like Biola has).

  3. Jared says:

    All of what you mentioned WK explains what is wrong with the mainstream Christian church. Charismatic churches espousing positive confession, crazy acts of the supernatural, and self, self, self, give people what they want: power and self-love. Now, this is disguised as Christianity, but it really isn’t. These folks do not to defend their beliefs to skeptics because they feel that their “supernatural” events and services are solid evidence for their beliefs.

    I would say that the self-centered “your best life now” movement gives people free motivational speeches every Sunday. This is also an indirect pursuit of self. I want to feel good and be happy, so I’m going to church! This movement isn’t interested in defending Christianity because they don’t really get any heat from the skeptical crowd. Some atheists even watch Joel Osteen! lol

    Another horrible thing about both of the movements is that the runners of the movements encourage their congregation to give, give, and give their money to the church. “The more you give, the more you’ll get blessed and prosperity will drench you!” they’ll say. It’s stealing and it’s just wrong.

    When ardent defenders of classical Christianity stand up and point out what’s wrong with the mentioned movements, they get blasted with the “you’re being judgmental” gun, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Pastors should teach what is true, what isn’t true, and then WHY it isn’t true. When the self-serving movements like the ones I mentioned are analyzed closely, you can see that they’re not Biblical based denominations.

    I should note that these people are entirely free to start these movements and establishments, but I wish they would quit labeling their system of thought Christianity.

  4. Basil Wellingtion says:

    Great post! Everyone needs to read ‘Loving God with all your mind’ by JP Moreland.

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  7. brother t says:

    In a battle myself over this subject, i am of the conviction that the fruit we see in our land is the result of bad preaching, exclusion of any doctrinal messages, i have been placed into a very anti-intellectual enviroment and trying to press forward, where experience is exalted and faith is played down, remember me in your prayers

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