It is with great regularity that I receive emails, letters and occasionally phone calls from folks who want to tell me how mean, divisive, negative and generally a troubler of the brethren I am. Others contact me to ask how they can be discerning without being viewed as mean, divisive, negative and generally a troubler of the brethren? In a church culture that has seemingly gone mad and is embracing all manner of false teaching solely on the basis that it is “spiritual,” the name calling of those who attempt to follow the biblical mandate to be discerning will increase from the current howls to shrieks akin to the creatures in Invasion of the Body Snatchers. But is that any reason to stop? After all it seems that the false teachers are being more honest with their views than Evangelical leaders are. For example, in our article Thus Saith Rome we pointed out that Rick Warren had said:
And you know, growing up as a Protestant boy, I knew nothing about Catholics, but I started watching ETWN, the Catholic channel, and I said, “Well, I’m not as far apart from these guys as I thought I was, you know?”
In addition, according to Pastor Brett Schrock, Purpose Driven’s director of strategic relationships “… we’re seeing God unify His churches.” In our article we pointed out a number of areas that seemed to contradict their claims including their view that salvation is organizational and comes solely through the Roman Catholic Church. Of course we were called to task by a number of folks for being mean and divisive. My initial response is “You may be right. I may also be short and fat but the big question to answer is, am I wrong? We can certainly talk about all of my personal defiencies later but for the moment you need to demonstrate where I have been wrong in my analysis.” Then on Wednesday, July 11, we find the Rome affirming what we have written in Pope, Restating 2000 Document, Cites ‘Defects’ of Other Faiths. It is the age old “only true church on the face of the earth” claim that is made by so many groups. Reading this got me to thinking, “I have heard the refrain of “troubler” somewhere before. The word came from King Ahab, of whom the Scriptures say:
And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord more than all who were before him. (1 Kings 16:30)
Ahab spent a great deal of time and resources trying to track down Elijah the prophet and Elijah arranged a meeting with him and when Ahab arrived Ahab walked in mouth first:
”Is this you, you troubler of Israel?”(1 Kings 18:17)
Elijah’s response is very instructive:
”I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father’s house have, because you have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and you have followed the Baals (I Kings 18:18).
Those who choose to neglect sound biblical teaching often have to resort to name calling against those who point it out. Elijah didn’t succumb to the emotional pressure that comes of this sort of tactic. He remained steadfast on what God had clearly said in essential teachings. A few chapters earlier we meet the prophet Ahijah. Jeroboam, the leader of Israel who was leading them to false worship and false teaching had his wife go to see the prophet and she did so with the intent to deceive. She was met with a very divisive statement from the prophet:
”Come in, wife of Jeroboam, why do you pretend to be another woman For I am sent to you with a harsh message.” (1 Kings 14:6)
Sent with a harsh message. Who sent him? God. Was it divisive? Most certainly. However, as Dr. Norman Geisler has pointed out, being divisive isn’t necessarily a bad thing. When he got married he promised to divide from all other women and no one seemed opposed to that. We often make it a practice to divide child molesters from children and all agree (except the child molester) that this is good and right.
We also read in the book of Hebrews about a number of other troublers of the brethren who:
… experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground. (Hebrews 11:36-38).
It is difficult for me to read this without weeping. “Men of whom the world was not worthy.” Who were they trying to please? God. They were unwilling to sacrifice the core teachings from God on the altar of popularity. If they were told, “We can’t throw the baby out with the bathwater” they would have likely responded, “There isn’t a baby there all you have is rancid bathwater. Quit trying to make soup out of it.”
It seems to me that Christianity is being redefined as, “Niceness is the closest thing to godliness and saying someone is wrong is not nice.” We may need more Peters and Johns who said to the religious leadership who were sell outs in exchange for position:
”Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19-20)