The value of heresy hunting 10

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.

  1. 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?
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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?
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

10 thoughts on “The value of heresy hunting

  1. Lane Chaplin Oct 9, 2009 10:29 pm

    Paul the Apostle hunted out the heresies that were going on in the church and preached against them. (Galatians) Warren would have to logically conclude that the Apostle Paul was concerned about Peter’s compromise of the Gospel and the Judaizers infiltrating the Church because Paul was simply ignoring the problems in his own life, and Paul had hypocrisy which God was supposedly more concerned about than the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Purpose Drivenism is a sad place to be. You have to pretty much abandon consistency in your arguments to hold to it.

  2. tara Oct 10, 2009 6:32 am

    i heresy hunt my HUSBAND!

  3. David J Horn Oct 10, 2009 9:22 am

    This is a major problem in the purpose driven movement. The longer I study this movement the more I see the ever shifting sands it is built upon.

    It’s really disturbing to watch these people lead so many people astray. By ignoring the Bible’s commandments to test the spirits, by not marking those who teach false doctrines, and by ranting against studying the Scriptures, these purpose-driven pastors are Judas goats. They are leading their people down a path to rebellion and carnality by teaching them to overlook heresy/false doctrines. They are teaching their people to condemn those of us pointing out the heretics and false teachers vs teaching them to help us. This attitude is 100% against the teachings of the Bible. In the Bible, we are told to be heresy hunters and to contend for the faith. We are told to preach the whole council of God in season and out of season, reproving, and rebuking.

  4. Corner Coffee Oct 10, 2009 3:57 pm

    The problem with “heresy hunting” comes when one of the following 3 happens:

    1. It’s given priority over our primary mission, that which Christ commissioned us to do before he ascended.
    2. It becomes a distraction from, or is thought more important than, the fruits of the spirit. “Think on these things.”
    3. It’s done with spite or vendetta.

    My guess is that following a pastor’s every move in order to provide content for your blog when he happens to say something that you interpret to be incorrect, probably falls into the realm of one or more of the 3 things I mentioned above.

  5. David J Horn Oct 10, 2009 7:30 pm

    Corner Coffee,

    If what you say is correct then why did Paul speak very highly of the Bereans? Please explain Acts 17 to us and break it down.

    Without checking the Scriptures to test the spirits, etc… is how we end up with heretics like Rob Bell, Benny Hinn, etc…

  6. Corner Coffee Oct 10, 2009 9:25 pm

    There’s nothing wrong with “heresy hunting”. It’s necessary. But most of us (including myself) have yet to tackle our pride and bring it under control enough to publicly go “heresy hunting”. We’re too weak.

  7. David J Horn Oct 10, 2009 10:30 pm

    Corner Coffee,

    With all die respect that simply does not make any sense. The Scriptures are very clear about searching the Scriptures to confirm the message being preached, the Scripture are very clear about marking those who are contrary to sound doctrine and having nothing to do with them, and the Scripture teaches us to study so that we know what is true.

    No where in the Scriptures does it say we all are too weak to do this. We are commanded to contend for the faith. Just because we have a sin nature does not mean that we cannot point out heresy, false doctrines, and errors.

  8. Corner Coffee Oct 11, 2009 12:37 am

    Privately, we should do exactly what you’re saying. Mark them and stay away.

    But when the hunt turns public, it tends to bring out the monster in people. I’ve seen too many well meaning individuals get eaten up with the rush of taking someone down, the website traffic, and the perceived influence.

    Let’s be honest, blogs are largely echo chambers, anyway. Who is there to warn? You’re not correcting the pastors themselves. You’re not gaining an audience with any of their members. The public hunt is largely unfruitful at best, and highly risky at worst.

    You wanna risk it? Be my guest. But I would always recommend against it. Let God (or someone else) take care of the “heretic” who lives 1500 miles from you.

  9. David J Horn Oct 11, 2009 9:24 am

    Corner Coffee,

    There is one problem with your private example. In the Bible Paul corrected Peter in public. Galatians 2:11-14

    A heretic 1500 miles away can still infect the local church etc…God commanded us to mark them and stay away. A pastors job is to take care of the sheep and part of this is marking false doctrines, false teachers, heretics, etc… There is nothing wrong with us Christians pointed out errors, heresy, and false teachings using a blog, books, verbal, or from the pulpit.

    We cannot sit silent and do nothing. Like I said earlier, the Bible is very clear about this subject. Matthew 10:32-36 Calling out these people will cause problems, but we are to contend for the truth no matter what the popular consensus may dictate.

    A good example of error can be seen in this blog where Perry Noble said God was blessing Joel Osteen. It’s gross errors like this is why we must mark these people and call them out by name in order to warn people about the errors, false teachings, and heresy.

  10. Paul Oct 11, 2009 12:58 pm

    Corner Cofee,

    I want to respond to your “3 reasons” from above, and then ask a question to others in this conversation. If I understood you, you basically said the primary mission for the Christian is basically evangelism. If I may, evangelism is the end result we should be focused on. so, my question is, does the Bible teach that our primary goal is evangelism? Should everything else be under it? It seems to me that the primary mission for the Christian is Christlikenss. Jesus said that the sum of the law is to love GOd with all your heart, mind and strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself. He later teaches that if you love me, you will keep my commandments. So, it seems to me that the heart of the Christian life is obeying Jesus as an act of worshp and gratitude for saving us. Would not then evanglism fall as a part of the Christian life? Should we not strive for doctrinal fidelity, biblical methods, Christ-like character, holiness, evangelism, missions, etc. togetheras a whole, and not separate?

    Second, “heresy hunting” (i don’t like the term, but i’ll use it anyway. in actuality, we don’t have to hunt. false teachers will reveal themselves) is vital to missions and evangelism. If we do not confront those with doctrinal error, we risk that person will take that unbiblical message to those that are lost, and deceive them further. It becomes very difficult to reach someone who has bits of the truth, but ultiately deceived. Go try to witness to a Jehovah’s Wittness for example. Yet, if it was not for “heresy hunters like Athanasius, how many would be modalist and heretics today? if not for Martin Luther, we would all be condemned to hell under the Roman Catholic system? If not for Augustin, we would be deceived in pelagianism? More recently, if not for Spurgeon, many would be lost to liberalism.

    Lastly, false teachers should be publically rebuked. All you have to do is read Paul. Remember, His letters were read aloud to all the surrounding churches. He is very hard on false teachers (for example, read Galatians ). The reason is because false teachers sin publically They mislead and deceive publically. They should be corrected publically so that others will see and avoid the same mistakes and conclusions.

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