I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed yesterday searching for something interesting while I waited for my daughter to finish her dance class. My eye caught a post and the title made my heart sink. We have yet another false teacher in our midst. How many is that now? Like 1,578? Or is it 1,579? I lost count a while back. This “beware of_____” post was written by one of those people who enjoy keeping us all informed of the false teachers out there. Just in case we were all too foolish to recognize the numerous false teachings of the countless false teachers out there. So, friends, What Will We Do With All Of These False Teachers?
It seems like everyone and their grandmother is a false teacher these days. However, I am afraid that the disgraceful designation of “False Teacher” is tossed around much too easily today. We take something a speaker says out of context – they are a false teacher. We spot some men in their audience, they are a false teacher. This speaker says it’s OK to have money – oh my goodness, she must be a word of faith supporter! False teacher alert! False teacher alert! And so on it goes…a downward spiral. PS – Have I mentioned before how we Christians are so easily offended???
Are You A “Know-It-All”?
Yeah, I know that there are false teachers out there. I’ve heard a couple of them myself. BUT, my friends, I believe that we are taking this false teacher label a bit too far – or a lot too far. There are bloggers who have made it their mission to find every speck of dirt they possibly can on a person and tarnish their name through a blog post. And, quite frankly, I for one am getting tired of ‘hearing’ it. It grieves my heart to read such accusations made towards these people, mostly women, who I’ve learned from and who I respect.
To top it off, rarely do these ‘know it all’s’ actually give biblical evidence of false teacher actions. The biggest issue that is presented is that many of these women teachers like Christine Caine, Lysa TerKeurst, and Beth Moore is that men attend their conferences or listen to their teachings.
1 Timothy 2:12
Let’s take a look at the scripture that is referenced – 1 Timothy 2:12.
From what I can tell on the sites of some of these women in ministry (I haven’t looked at every single one), they do not describe themselves as ‘pastors’, but as speakers. When they speak, they are not in authority of any man. They are simply sharing what God has taught them. They are not in a position to bully a man into listening to them.
I am certainly not a Bible scholar, but I am quite certain that this passage does not say that a woman who speaks God’s truth to men is automatically a false teacher.
There are many speculations behind the reason Paul continued this passage with the story of Adam and Eve. Many Biblical scholars have differing views on this and they should not be ignored simply because they make us uncomfortable. However, I do know this; simply because a woman shares Biblical teaching with a man doesn’t make her a false teacher.
God called Deborah into leadership over Israel. And not because there was no man suitable for the job, but because that’s who He chose. It’s as simple as that, folks. Let’s not read more into God’s word than what it says here.
I could take the time to list off several more examples, but I’m sure you are capable of studying your own Bible, right? Go ahead, look for yourself.
PS – just because a woman is invited to speak on a Sunday morning does not mean she is the pastor of the church or that she is in authority over the men of that church. I’ve shared in front of my church before, that doesn’t make me a false teacher.
Women are to be Silent
I also found the word ‘silence’ interesting in this verse. I love looking at the meanings of words in scripture. So much information is gleaned from doing this regularly. Often, words mean something different than what we think they do – the true meaning has been lost in translation. It’s actually the same word used in 1 Timothy 2:2 (peaceable). It means without contention. In addition to this bit of information, there are other scripture references that talk about women speaking in the church. I’m sure you can do your own research on that (hey, I might be encouraging you to look at scripture yourself instead of listening to me!).
You know what, I don’t know the hearts of these women. Being a devout follower of any of these women is not something I aspire to. I don’t go to all of their conferences – actually, I’ve never been to a single one. I haven’t read every single one of their books – but I have read the odd one (and never read anything unbiblical in them). What about Bible studies (or should I refer to them as book studies, lest I offend someone – wait, I probably already have offended someone. Oops) – anyway, I’ve done a few studies from some of these famous women…but not a whole lot.
Don’t Get Me Wrong
Please don’t get me wrong here. I’m not saying women ought to lead churches. I, personally, would be incredibly uncomfortable attending a church with a woman as lead pastor or in any other official pastoral role. I honestly don’t believe that is God’s intention for the church. In this post, I am simply saying these 2 points:
#1 most popular Christian speakers who are women do not identify themselves as pastors as far as I can see – if some do such as Holly Wagner, I wonder if it is more in a similar context as Aquila and Priscilla (again – read your bible to find out more on this amazing couple in ministry). And I highly doubt Holly usurps her husband’s pastoral leadership. But I’m just guessing here – I’m giving the benefit of the doubt, character that seems to be seriously lacking in Christian circles.
#2 the fact that men listen to these women’s teachings does not qualify them as false teachers.
Build Up & Edify
I am also not saying that we shouldn’t call out false teachings. We must be vigilant in what we hear and listen to. We must weigh everything according to the scriptures – even the claims of those who seem to believe they have the final say on who is a false teacher and who isn’t. Many of those claims are simply opinion of how a piece of scripture is interpreted or lined up with man’s religious rules (See: Pharisee).
I don’t believe any of us Christians ought to make it our life’s ambition to drag another Christian’s name through the mud.
I don’t know about you but when I read someone’s blog post about how so-and-so is a false teacher, I start to feel quite discouraged after a while. My faith hasn’t been built up. Actually, I’ve just witnessed a Christian tear another Christian to pieces. Hardly edifying at all. Most of the time, I leave those blog posts sensing a lot of pride and arrogance on the part of the authors – not many have developed the tact that comes with calling out false teachers.
We are the image bearers of Christ.
We need to act like it. What are we spending a lot of our time doing? Finding dirt on people? Or finding ways to encourage? Are we spending more time discrediting a fellow Christian teacher? Or are we taking more time to make sure that what we are teaching is truth?
We just need to be so very careful in how we make other people look. We must not recklessly toss around the title of ‘false teacher’. It really is quite a scandalous accusation to make toward a fellow believer. One that we will surely have to stand before God and give an answer for.
Maybe it’s time some of us hopped off of our high horse, don’t you think?
Click here to learn how to identify a REAL false teacher.