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Is the term "false teacher" thrown around too often?

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  • Is the term "false teacher" thrown around too often?

    I've noticed in Internet discourse, it is not too uncommon for people to use terms such as "false teacher" for those who promote doctrines they disagree with. Obviously, there are many instances where this term is perfectly applicable (as we see throughout the New Testament, for instance)... but I tend to think it's used in cases where it is perfectly acceptable for Christians to agree to disagree (i.e. people using this sort of invective in the Arminian-Calvinist debate). Has anybody else had this impression?
    "I am not angered that the Moral Majority boys campaign against abortion. I am angry when the same men who say, "Save OUR children" bellow "Build more and bigger bombers." That's right! Blast the children in other nations into eternity, or limbless misery as they lay crippled from "OUR" bombers! This does not jell." - Leonard Ravenhill

  • #2
    No, but I can see your point.

    "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

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    • #3
      Yes, I agree, KingsGambit. We should not be arrogant in thinking that only our understanding is correct and those who disagree are therefore false teachers.Who died and made us Messiah? Jesus is our teacher, and we have enough trouble living up to his teachings as we understand them and to the best of our ability with all our hearts and soul and strength. To focus on what we perceive to be the errors of others is to turn our focus away from from God. We would do better to lead by example, especially when we do not even realize that we are leading. When did we see you hungry or naked or sick?
      βλέπομεν γὰρ ἄρτι δι᾿ ἐσόπτρου ἐν αἰνίγματι, τότε δὲ πρόσωπον πρὸς πρόσωπον·
      ἄρτι γινώσκω ἐκ μέρους, τότε δὲ ἐπιγνώσομαι καθὼς καὶ ἐπεγνώσθην.

      אָכֵ֕ן אַתָּ֖ה אֵ֣ל מִסְתַּתֵּ֑ר אֱלֹהֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל מוֹשִֽׁיעַ׃

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      • #4
        Originally posted by KingsGambit View Post
        I've noticed in Internet discourse, it is not too uncommon for people to use terms such as "false teacher" for those who promote doctrines they disagree with.
        Staunch Baptists and overzealous strict Calvinists seem most inclined to employ this kind of rhetoric in my experience. This seems to be the tendency, at least. It's a quick way to "win" an argument cheap and easy. There are even some who believe it is a "heresy" to reject some form of "eternal security". As a Baptist who went against the grain by denying the teaching of "once saved, always saved" and wrote an entire volume defending his conclusions from Scripture, I can only imagine what Robert Shank was up against at the time.

        (Please no responses like "not all Baptists or Calvinists are like that". I quite understand.)

        http://www.amazon.com/Life-Son-Rober...ife+in+the+son
        Last edited by The Remonstrant; 03-30-2014, 08:22 AM.
        For Neo-Remonstration (Arminian/Remonstrant ruminations): <https://theremonstrant.blogspot.com>

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        • #5
          Not only "false teacher" but it's cognates. One of my biggest pet peeves of late is certain YECers claiming theistic evolutionists compromise their faith without even entertaining the thought that they believe in one because of the other on the basis of their honest reasoning.

          We should be much more charitable to each other but without swinging so far in the other direction that we don't judge at all. It takes discernment.

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          • #6
            Any teaching, which for what ever reason is false, that is being promoted. Is a false teaching, and so technically, the ones promoting them can be individually be regarded as a "false teacher." But not all "false" teachings are matters which would exclude one from salvation. Most of which are only secondary issues. And I would agree it is not "polite" to call such teachers "false teachers." When in fact those very teachers are believers winning others to Christ.
            Last edited by 37818; 03-25-2014, 04:49 PM. Reason: really bad grammar
            . . . the Gospel of Christ, for it is [the] power of God to salvation to every [one] believing, . . . -- Romans 1:16.

            . . . that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: . . . -- 1 Corinthians 15:3, 4.

            Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: . . . -- 1 John 5:1.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Manwë Súlimo View Post
              Not only "false teacher" but it's cognates. One of my biggest pet peeves of late is certain YECers claiming theistic evolutionists compromise their faith without even entertaining the thought that they believe in one because of the other on the basis of their honest reasoning.
              The two are not mutually exclusive. One can honestly believe something while not appreciating how the assumptions underlying that belief are incompatible with other beliefs one holds. In fact, it's incredibly commonplace.

              The label "false teacher" is shorthand for, "This person is wrong enough on something important enough that in general, his opinions should not be sought on anything."

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              • #8
                Originally posted by KingsGambit View Post
                I've noticed in Internet discourse, it is not too uncommon for people to use terms such as "false teacher" for those who promote doctrines they disagree with. Obviously, there are many instances where this term is perfectly applicable (as we see throughout the New Testament, for instance)... but I tend to think it's used in cases where it is perfectly acceptable for Christians to agree to disagree (i.e. people using this sort of invective in the Arminian-Calvinist debate). Has anybody else had this impression?
                Yes, I have had this impression as well. I fear that some people have gotten in such a 'heresy hunting mode' that they forget their first love (Jesus). For whatever reason, I have also noticed a tendency for people to jump on a bandwaggon of calling people 'false teachers' without ever learning what the people actually believe or have said (or have since clarified). This breaks my heart, as I fear that many people have joined in slander and false witness in the name of being 'holy' and 'righteous'.

                I have also found that often times for people that in general (and for well known figures)

                1. When you hate someone, they can do nothing right
                2. When you love someone, they can do nothing wrong


                But the thing that I have often thought about is how I would want someone to judge me. Would I want them to play 'gotcha' apologetics with me, or give me grace to mess up every once in a while (after all - I am just human).

                After all, Jesus didn't say people would know us by our keen theological ability, doctrinal perfection, or Biblical knowledge, but by our love for one another. That to me has been a huge guiding light.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by RBerman View Post
                  The two are not mutually exclusive. One can honestly believe something while not appreciating how the assumptions underlying that belief are incompatible with other beliefs one holds. In fact, it's incredibly commonplace.

                  The label "false teacher" is shorthand for, "This person is wrong enough on something important enough that in general, his opinions should not be sought on anything."
                  Great definition for "false teacher." I find its too often applied where the issue is not important - not an essential of the faith. One of the most annoying was someone was preaching on what I feel was a non-essential and said "If you don't believe what I just said, then you don't believe in Jesus."

                  In related thought, I think there are too many ministries out there that spend too much time attacking other ministries.
                  "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings." Hosea 6:6

                  "Theology can be an intellectual entertainment." Metropolitan Anthony Bloom

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by 37818 View Post
                    Any teaching, which for what ever reason is false, that is being promoted. Is a false teaching, and so technically, the ones promoting them can be individually be regarded as a "false teacher." But not all "false" teachings are matters which would exclude one from salvation. Most of which are only secondary issues. And I would agree it is not "polite" to call such teachers "false teachers." When in fact those very teachers are believers winning others to Christ.
                    The term has generally come to mean people who are actively overthrowing the faith of others (probably mostly because that's how it's biblically used) so I think it's most helpful to restrict the term to those cases.
                    "I am not angered that the Moral Majority boys campaign against abortion. I am angry when the same men who say, "Save OUR children" bellow "Build more and bigger bombers." That's right! Blast the children in other nations into eternity, or limbless misery as they lay crippled from "OUR" bombers! This does not jell." - Leonard Ravenhill

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by KingsGambit View Post
                      The term has generally come to mean people who are actively overthrowing the faith of others (probably mostly because that's how it's biblically used) so I think it's most helpful to restrict the term to those cases.
                      I'm inclined to agree. It would be a bad idea for Calvinists and Arminians to refer to each other as false teachers (for example). I personally do not believe one's personal salvation is necessarily in peril because he or she is a Calvinist (as strongly as I disagree with numerous points of this system of theology).

                      Read John Owen's A Display of Arminianism for a sampling of the kind of polemics I believe we would be wise to avoid.
                      Last edited by The Remonstrant; 03-28-2014, 12:24 PM.
                      For Neo-Remonstration (Arminian/Remonstrant ruminations): <https://theremonstrant.blogspot.com>

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by The Remonstrant View Post
                        [SIZE=3][FONT=Palatino Linotype]I'm inclined to agree. It would be a bad idea for Calvinists and Arminians to refer to each other as false teachers (for example). I personally do not believe one's personal salvation is necessarily in peril because he or she is a Calvinist (as strongly as I disagree with numerous points of this system of theology).
                        Also, I think we can all admit none of us have our theology 100% correct, and using the definition above, everybody would be a false teacher... but the Bible doesn't use the term in that manner.
                        "I am not angered that the Moral Majority boys campaign against abortion. I am angry when the same men who say, "Save OUR children" bellow "Build more and bigger bombers." That's right! Blast the children in other nations into eternity, or limbless misery as they lay crippled from "OUR" bombers! This does not jell." - Leonard Ravenhill

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by The Remonstrant View Post
                          Staunch Baptists and overzealous strict Calvinists seem most inclined to employ this kind of rhetoric in my experience.
                          That is also my experience. I have a facebook friend who was my 8th grade science teacher and sometimes the things he posts seem to indicate that anyone who doesn't believe exactly as he does (and he seems to be an extremely staunch and conservative Baptist) aren't really Christian. Lately he's been on a "are you a Christian?" tangent in which he tries to indicate that anyone who doesn't have an exact moment in time in which they "became" a Christian isn't actually a Christian at all. I grew up in the church and I never found myself apostatizing at any point, though I went through a brief crisis of faith at 18, but I have always found myself slowly growing a more nuanced faith so his tangents really rub me the wrong way.

                          So yes, "false teacher" is a term used too often on the internet, though there are definitely instances I've seen when it is called for.

                          "Fire is catching. If we burn, you burn with us!"
                          "I'm not going anywhere. I'm going to stay here and cause all kinds of trouble."
                          Katniss Everdeen


                          Christ our Passover has been sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by KingsGambit View Post
                            Also, I think we can all admit none of us have our theology 100% correct, and using the definition above, everybody would be a false teacher... but the Bible doesn't use the term in that manner.
                            Yes, well, I cannot recall the last time I have explicitly referred to anyone as a "false teacher" personally. Some persons are more likely to fall into this trap than others. Perhaps the opposite snare (as it were) would be a reticence to call anyone a false teacher. Of course we should not refer to persons as false teachers in haste, but can we not also run the risk of being too lenient? I think this is more our danger today (outside some fundamentalist groups and such). Pretty soon evangelicals will be tolerating pretty much anything.
                            Last edited by The Remonstrant; 03-30-2014, 08:34 AM.
                            For Neo-Remonstration (Arminian/Remonstrant ruminations): <https://theremonstrant.blogspot.com>

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              So, should we call prosperity preachers false teachers or not?
                              That's what
                              - She

                              Without a clear-cut definition of sin, morality becomes a mere argument over the best way to train animals
                              - Manya the Holy Szin (The Quintara Marathon)

                              I may not be as old as dirt, but me and dirt are starting to have an awful lot in common
                              Stephen R. Donaldson

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