I include this picture of Pirate Christian's logo not because I take issue with it, but because I find it, alongside Justin Peters Ministries, to be one of the finest discernment ministries I've seen today.
As you guys may know, I have reopened my Discernment site. I do this with caution, as I know that discernment sites can easily fall into a major ditch. This is not to False Discernment ministries, as I am sure that Julie Anne Smith and David J. Stewart would not give me the time of day. I am speaking of true discernment sites that truly make mistakes. They are good Bereans, but do not do things completely as they should. This is both my advice for them and my wish for people to keep me accountable by. If someone is to find me breaking my advice, please let me know. I know it is easy to do.
1. Don't Lose Your Love for Christ
This issue can be seen directly in scripture. Let us go straight to Revelation 2:1-7 (ESV).
"To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands.'
If there ever was a discerning church to match that of Berea, it was Ephesus. They will not allow heresy to get a foot into their church. But there was one major issue. They had lost their love for Christ. They lost the very reason they should be fighting these perversions. It is the same today. We would rather write about why Joel Osteen has a horrible belief about God than worship God Himself. Many of us have lost our first love and have gone cold. We can't do that. Instead, we need to keep our love for Christ.
2. Never Forget the Gospel
Tony Miano, who recently started a Discernment Blog, preaching the Gospel and Exposing Roman Catholicism at the same time
So often I see Bereans (Those who discern) make a crucial mistake. They do not preach the Gospel. The Gospel should be our primary goal. Yet I see so many debates where people make many good points and I completely agree with every point they make, but I see no gospel presentation. I see countless interactions between these Bereans and false teachers where many good points are made, but rarely do I see the Berean love their enemy (The False Teacher) enough to show them the Gospel. Just think about it, God could have used your preaching of His glorious Gospel to save that person, and yet you, in complete disobedience, did not preach his precious message. You are contending for the very faith you refuse to spread, and you are defending the very message that you will not preach.
3. Have the Proper Attitude
When practicing Public Discernment, whether as a member of a discernment ministry, as a pastoral duty (And Discernment is a duty of a Pastor), or as a personal conviction, it is crucial that you realize that you are just as bad, if not worse, than Rob Bell or Doug Pagitt or Joyce Meyer. Furthermore, you and I are nothing more than heretics that repented. You and I are nothing but a Nadia Bolz-Weber that repented. You and I are nothing more than a Kenneth Copeland that repented. You and I are nothing more than a Kris Vallotton that repented. Keep that in mind.
Also, your discernment did not come from your self. It did not come from your own ability. That gift was given to you by God for the building up of the body. God did not give everyone that same gift to the same degree he gave it to you. He gave it to enough people to edify and protect his true Church. Recognize this when encountering someone who is unaware of the problems with Paula White or Mark Driscoll.
4. Guilt By Assosiation
Some people saw this picture of Chris Rosebrough with false teachers and assumed that was him partnering with them. He was instantly tarred and feathered by Bereans across the internet for partnering with them. They didn't even know the full context. He was there to expose them, and he never claimed that they were Christians.
Too many times have I seen Bereans do the same. They will ascribe someone a Full-Blown heretic because they had lunch with someone they believe is a false teacher. They will toss a man to the lions because they mentioned a false teacher.
I am not saying when David Jeremiah endorses A.D., Writes Two Books about it, then ignores multiple E-Mails warning him about Roma Downey and Mark Burnnett, that it should not concern us. To his degree, how much he has support people like Beth Moore and T.D. Jakes has almost become a part of his doctrine. When James MacDonald partners with T.D. Jakes and Mark Driscoll, it should concern you. At the same time, we have to recognize that a single appearance on TBN does not automatically make someone a heretic. They may have been unaware. They may not have the gift of discernment to the degree you do. Instead, why not contact them?
You may also be surprised to find out that that is not the whole story. Walter Martin appeared on TBN. With that alone, it is an issue. Not an essential issue, but an issue. But what if I told you that Walter Martin went on called false teachers by name? Then, with the whole story, we know that his first (and last) appearance was a very noble thing.
5. Let the Secondary be Secondary
If anyone is familiar with Mark Cahill, you would probably know that he finds Calvinism a heresy. Clearly, however, this is a secondary issue. Yet he completely condemned Living Waters Publications, Ray Comfort, Tony Miano, Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry (CARM), and Matt Slick for partnering with/being Calvinists.
Dan Corner is notorious for this. He condemns people for believing in Perseverance of the Saints and Once Saved Always Saved all of the time. I personally believe this. He, however, doesn't. If it was left at that, he'd be tolerable. However, he condemns Matt Slick, Ray Comfort, Paul Washer, S. Michael Houdmann, John MacArthur, Charles Stanley, and Adrian Rogers for believing you can't lose your salvation.
Imagine if I, as someone who believes Baptism is only for the believer, condemned those believe in infant baptism as heretics. I would then slander Kevin DeYoung, R.C. Sproul, R.C. Sproul Jr., Paul Tripp, Thomas Watson, Jonathan Edwards, John Calvin, John Knox, John Owen, George Whitefield, and many others. I would disregard all of the growth I could get by listening to their teachings.
If someone has a secondary doctrine wrong, then do not put them in your line of fire. That should be a given.
This is my advice to you, brethren, as you go out and expose false teachers. It is something I wish for you all to hold me to. If you find me to break any one of these pieces of advice at Discernment Watch, please let me know. It is more important than making sure I am discerning, in my opinion.
About the Author
Brandon C. Hines is a young writer from somewhere in northern Alabama who writes about Theology, Polemics, and Apologetics. His beliefs are best summarized by the 1689 London Baptist Confession.
You can search for various topics I have written about by going to Google and typing in a keyword, then typing site:Learningthepath.weebly.com after it.