Lately, I've been noticing a lot of firepower from a certain group of pastors/preachers against another group of pastors/preachers.
That firepower is magnified by people on Facebook and Youtube proclaiming from the rooftops the point of view of these pastors, and throwing in their “amen” in the comments.
It's been all over my feeds, shared by friends, discussed by friends in tension-filled conversations, and bandied about by every psuedo-theologian in practice today. I've seen the claims from some that others are practicing occult members, muslims in disguise, spiritists, and downright demonic.
Since I have a platform, I'm going to air out my opinion. My heart is not to go after specific preachers, and I have no intention of starting a coup against anybody. More so, I think this is a perfect ground for us to remember how to think critically, take in everything we hear with a grain of salt, and to always weigh things against Scripture.
No matter the point of view, we're apt to collect a series of out-of-context soundbites in order to shape an entire judgment about a group of people, a church, or a movement. We take in what the preacher of our liking says, we latch onto it, and we go full force into attacking the ones that seem different or weird from us.
You may be begging me to give some specifics, and as loathe as I am to do so, I feel this post needs some specifics in order to give you some context to work with.
I have been noticing an onslaught lately against churches like Bethel and Hillsong, coming from the more traditional, fundamentalist sects of preachers. The Voddie Baucham, Paul Washer, and John MacArthur group of theologians. They have come out swinging, with many in their line claiming that the songs the Bethel and Hillsong side sing are heretical, their beliefs are downright occult-ish, and some in their group (I have heard from their ilk, but not themselves) that nobody who supports these churches is in fact saved.
I'm not here to defend the Bethel and Hillsong direction of churches. Though I haven't seen the amount of vitriol come from them against the other side...
However, a point needs to be made in this mess of divisive Christianity.
We tend to take our job of pointing out unrighteousness very seriously. We flail and argue against theologies we don't agree with, and as a typical conclusion, we decide that anybody who holds that certain theology is most likely either a)demonic and/or b)not even saved. We pat ourselves on the back that we have segregated with scapel-like efficiency the difference between salvation preaching and heretical teaching.
Our chest raises, our shoulders draw back, and we nod in agreement with the teacher of our liking, pointing out the flaws of all those “crazies” or “pharisees” that just don't see it right. And how could they? They're blinded by the demonic. They're actually demons wearing human skin clothes, leading away the masses with their obviously wrong practices.
I guess I sit a little bit in the middle on something like this, and get tired of the mudslinging. And I'll be honest, I rarely see the mud sling from the Bethel and Hillsong (read: charismatic) side towards the Washer and MacAurthur side (read: fundamentalists). Unfortunately, the mud tends to come from a position that rejects the more charismatic elements, and certainly behind that is a reservation about the gifts. The hardline calvinist movement beliefs in apostolic dispensation, meaning a rejection of the gifts for today. If we reject that the gifts exist today, then everything that might align with the gifts is then viewed through the lens of being deception and occult-ish.
No matter where it comes from, this is getting tiring. As I look through articles, blogs, and comments in threads, it becomes apparent that everyone else has it wrong. All of us are right, and yet everyone else is wrong. The attitude of being scripturally, theologically, and spiritually correct 100% of the time gets tiresome. The swinging of major hammers against churches because a pastor at some point, at some time, had a falling out in some way, reeks of attaching the sins of fathers to their sons.
Our obsession with rooting out the heretical teaching becomes an obsession that places our “being right” above our relationship with Christ. When we're more concerned about whether the guy across the street is real or not, our eyes are then off of Christ.
In the parable of the wheat and the tares, Christ points out that the master says to his servants NOT to pull up the tares, because it could take the wheat with it. He tells them to wait until the harvest, and then we'll separate it all out.
There's a major lesson in this. Should we spend our time going after every tare, or doing everything we can to help the wheat grow strong? Should we follow our master's heart about the situation, or decide that we've been giving the mantle of “heresey-smasher?” Did God appoint us to spend a lifetime going after doctrines and practices that we deem wrong? Did He determine that our calling in life was to dispute doctrines needlessly?
Or was our job to preach the gospel, and further the Kingdom of Christ? To become more like Him each day, and to help disciple others? This means we encourage brothers and sisters in Christ to go the right direction, and it doesn't even mean not correcting things where we feel we need to with those we're discipling.
But beware of the disputes and dissensions rising up. If your Facebook posts align more with what everyone else is doing wrong, then I'd ask you to weigh out the fruit being produced in your life. Is it a line to more self-righteousness? Or is there more production of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control? I'll be honest, the more these fruits are produced in me, the more heart I have for the people who may not be getting it perfectly. Do I correct where I need to? Absolutely. But I also recognize that people will be people, and that the power of God will deal with the more heretical lines when He chooses to do so.
Our fruit shows when we go after other groups of Christians time after time. After all, out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. And if our pouring out constantly revolves around the errors of others, then we need to re-evaluate.
My heart is not in defending everything coming out of Bethel, Hillsong, or to believe that everything coming out of MacAurthur, Washer and the like is wrong. I can certainly present my case for what I see wrong in the Bethel's and what is right in the MacAurthurs.
But at the end of the day, my passion is to raise up well-adjusted disciples that are so strong in an intimate relationship with the Lord, that they're not swayed by the doctrines of men. They've built their house on a solid foundation of Christ, and feel called and commissioned to do greater works than He. They love the Lord intensely, they've crucified their flesh in following Him, and they've emptied themselves of themselves to follow the will of the Father. They love their enemies as well as their neighbors. They love the Lord more than anything in this world, with everything they are. They're obedient to His will and guidance, and they recognize the love of God for His creation.
When a person is filled with Christ, they don't have much time to have to worry about the demonic. The demonic is a pitiful annoyance, and the Christian walking in Christ's authority only takes the time to remove the problem, then is back to the master's mission.
At the end of the day, we should be very wary of soundbites and what we're told about what others believe. I've watched people try to take down a church through a “gotcha” Youtube videos. When you actually look at the person's argument, it falls flat on it's face because they didn't do the research. They decided their time was better spent accusing a church and pointing out their own thoughts.
To me, this becomes a sign of the person's fruit. Do they spend more time telling you whose wrong, or what's edifying to the body and Christ?
Remember, a bank teller doesn't study the counterfeit to understand the real. They study the real hundred dollar bills constantly, because the more they study the real, the more they just come to know the counterfeit. And how often do they come across a counterfeit? Not often. And when they do, they report it as a matter of process, and then they're on their way. They don't start a campaign against it, and they recognize that the authorities will handle the counterfeit in their own way. They don't need to change their live to go after every counterfeiter. In fact, the counterfeit is only considered a time-waster, and they treat it accordingly.
I strongly urge you, treat these debates of doctrine as a waste-of-time. Look for yourself into Scripture, and seek the Lord's face on it. Seek the truth in Scripture, but don't stop there. I'm telling you: seek God's face. We got in wrong in the garden because we chose the law and knowledge of good and evil instead of going straight to the face of God. The pharisee's modeled this, so much so that Christ warned them that they were searching the scriptures for HIM! Don't just search the scriptures for the face of God, seek His face directly. The more you do, these arguments and debates become more insignificant in your own walk.
Be full of the fruits of the Spirit, and enjoy the produce.