Friday, September 17, 2010

Don't Be Too Accepting... for Everyone's Sake.

If you are a really loving person, refusing to see faults in other people, then I appreciate you. But I also think that you could be putting a lot of folks in trouble--including yourself. 2 John 1.10-11 might be written to you: "if anyone comes to you and brings false teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works." In this passage, St. John was telling an early Christian lady that she would have to (1) identify false teachers, (2) hold them to the fact that they were false teachers, and (3) refuse to have anything to do with them on account of the fact that they were false teachers. To whoever would refuse this advice, St. John gave a warning: "whoever greets [accepts] him takes part in his wicked works." If this man comes along with teaching that goes against God's word, or tries to take advantage of impressionable Christians, or is generally immoral, then the one who accepts him into the church is held responsible for the things that this false teacher does with that acceptance.

The Danger of Trying to See the Best In People
Here are 4 dangers that could come with being too accepting:

1. Close friends will be hurt. By refusing to oppose people like Benny Hinn, you could open other people up to the harm that they cause. If he is actually performing fake miracles, taking money from poor folks by promising them future blessings from God, and living in ridiculous amounts of wealth as a result, then saying "but he really loves the Bible" is only going to keep your friends from recognizing how harmful he can be. If he is actually a crook and you refuse to say anything, then you're only helping him and hurting others. The same goes for more normal people: if the guy down the street is initiating inappropriate relationships with children, then you are harming children by not calling the cops. Sometimes you need to refuse to accept people for the good of everybody else involved. Otherwise you'll ignore the harm that they are doing, and will fail to protect the people around you from that harm because you refuse to see these people as actually dangerous.

2. You will be hurt. By refusing to confront serious problems with false teachers, you could be led into serious harm or error yourself, either believing false doctrine or being led away from the path that God has told you to go down. I have a friend who spent some time being discipled by this guy who said that he was a prophet, but met none of the Biblical tests for a prophet, and she refused to believe that he was a false teacher. As a result she nearly let him take her away from an important ministry and struggled for a long time afterwards with whether or not she had disobeyed God by not listening to this guy's words. Her self-doubt, emotional hurt, and near involvement in a local cult all stem from the fact that she was just too loving to see this guy for what he really was. This friend of mine is an example, but the same thing could happen to anyone else. As my brother or sister in Christ, I love you: don't let yourself get hurt like this.

3. Refusing to confront false teachers can hurt them. As the proverb goes, a king without followers is not really a king at all (I'm paraphrasing). In the same way, it's hard to be a false teacher when there is no one to teach, and by confronting them early on you could save them from some serious harm. What they want is for you to say that they can teach you; what they need is for you to confront them on their bad theology, illegitimate 'prophecies', and unfitting lifestyle for a teacher of God's word. If you refuse to do this, then you will only end up humoring them and letting them believe their own hype--to their destruction! Warn them before it's too late. It's the most loving thing that you could do.

4. You'll end up working against God Himself. When you look at an N.T. Wright or a Brian McLaren, or even entire wayward denominations, and say that their beliefs don't matter because they "wrote the best defense of the Resurrection ever" (N.T. Wright), or "they are reaching a younger generation" (Brian McLaren) or "I like their traditions" (Roman Catholic Church), then you are effectively saying that the Gospel doesn't matter. In that line of reasoning, it doesn't matter that Brian McLaren denies the exclusivity of Christ or the existence of Hell; it doesn't matter whether N.T. Wright tells people that their salvation depends partly on them instead of on Jesus; it doesn't matter that the Roman Catholic Church encourages people to idolize figures other than Jesus as mediators between them and God, or that they teach about a purgatory where Christians -Christians!- suffer for the sins that Jesus already died for before they get to enter into heaven. When you make exceptions for these people, you are saying that the things they deny don't really matter. If you believe that, or tell other people that, then you might find yourself on some very worrisome ground. The acceptance of heresy is the denial of the Gospel.

To sum up, those sorts of people who love others and overlook faults are good for the church. But they can also be the weak spots; the ones who allow all sorts of harmful teaching to get into the church or allow harmful figures to gain access to places that they shouldn't (like the neighborhood creep who has inappropriate relationships with children). If you are this kind of person, don't allow your accepting nature to harm yourself or others.

1 comment:

  1. Looking back, that's not a bad discernment post. Thanks to whoever it is that's been driving up the count on this topic.


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