Perry Noble seconded Rick Warren’s “argument” against heresy hunters yesterday.
RT @RickWarren: Heresy-hunting lets u to ignore the mess in your own life. God is more concerned about your hypocrisy than other’s heresy.
Let’s examine that.
- Where is the hypocrisy? Warren assumes that anyone who finds heresy is a hypocrite. Pointing out heresy is about identifying unbiblical teachings. In most cases, those heresy hunters can only make their argument by pointing to Scripture. What’s wrong with that? What’s hypocritical?
- Are messes disqualifying? Warren’s standard is that you have to have a perfect life to start worrying about what pastors are teaching. It was my impression that pastors only talked to imperfect people, so I suppose Warren’s formulation gives every pastor a free pass on everything they teach.
- Is God really not worried? Warren asserts that God thinks hypocrisy is worse than false teaching. James 3 tells us that God holds teachers to a higher standard. Paul and Peter contain far more numerous and serious warnings against false teachers than they do against hypocrites.
- Aren’t we all hypocrites? Anyone who affirms a moral code, which includes all Christians, cannot keep that code in all instances. Does that mean we should all keep quiet about it? If that’s the rule, who’s going to be preaching in our churches this Sunday?
- Who does most damage? A hypocrite affects only those people who know him or her intimately enough to see the discrepancy between words and deeds. A heretic affects the spiritual health of everyone who hears him.
- When are we allowed to heresy hunt? The problem with heresy is that it doesn’t look like heresy. That was Peter’s point in 2 Peter 2. Heretics hide and never announce themselves. If we’re not allowed to actively look for them, how will we ever find them?
I know that Warren and his followers use the term heresy hunter as a pejorative, but it’s an activity that should be embraced by all believers. After a few months of “heresy hunting” on this blog, I’ve discovered a few things about the activity.
- I heresy hunt my own pastor. Every time my pastor or someone else steps to the pulpit and opens the Bible, my heresy detectors are on. Is what I’m hearing consistent with Scripture? Are the verses from the reading being expounded consistent to their wider context? etc. With my pastor, the answers to those kinds of questions have consistently been in the affirmative. That’s why he’s still my pastor.
- Heresy hunting is commended in Scripture. The Bereans heresy hunted against Paul. Paul! Here’s someone who really was preaching the directly inspired word of God, yet they wouldn’t believe it until they’d checked it against Scripture. I’m sure many of the Bereans had messes in their lives, yet they’re described as being more noble than other believers.
- Heresy hunting isn’t just about the heretic. Think about the process of discovering heresy. To do so, you take a teaching and compare it to Scripture, usually multiple Scriptures. This is the basis of the nobility of the Bereans. Not only did they listen to Paul’s teaching, but they added to it and deepened it with their own study. The net effect is that they got a second helping of God’s word.
NewSpring pastor, Shane Duffey, doesn’t see the connection:
i’d love to compare the time “discerners” spend in the Word vs. on the web searching for people & reasons to hate… i’d bet the web wins
I’ll bet, and testify from my own experience, that the Bible wins going away.
I discovered this for myself in my posts a while back on Simeon. Perry Noble’s characterization of him as a crazy old man prompted me to examine the Scripture to see exactly who Simeon was and what role he played in the story of redemption. The discovery that he had to have been a priest was new to me, but an exciting insight into the unity of God’s redemptive plan and the perspecuity of Scripture. Regardless of what anyone thought about the original teaching or teacher, I was blessed and grew spiritually by engaging in the process of careful Bible study.
A biblical teacher will seek to develop a congregation full of heresy hunters.
A heretic will not.