In this regular feature, Dave and Tom respond to questions from listeners and readers of The Berean Call.Here’s this week’s question:Dear Dave and Tom, I noticed in the product offering page of your newsletter that you have books that criticize Bill Gothard and Dr. James Dobson.My question is: Did the authors of these books seek out these fine Christian men according to the instructions found in Matthew 18? I have been greatly blessed by Mr. Gothard and Dr. Dobson and am offended that you would carry books questioning their ministries.
Tom: Dave, we—our resource materials, we have lots of books and we try and select books that we think are thoughtful, that certainly are honest in their approach.We don’t agree with everything in every book, I mean, we can’t or we would just have your book or maybe not even just your book but your book and my book that I co-authored with you and then we might have some problems there, okay?
Dave: Well, Tom, first of all, I think the writer of this letter is coming from a wrong perspective.I get criticized all the time.If there are valid criticisms I don’t look upon it as a criticism or an attack—please, help me!Anybody listening out there, if I am teaching false doctrine, if I’m doing something that isn’t right, please help me, I don’t want to.So, I’m not going to be offended if you have a valid criticism.Now, this person is not pointing out anything that is invalid in these books.I haven’t read the books.I haven’t read the book about Bill Gothard—
Tom: Well, you’ve read a number of them, some of Dobson’s books and so on.
Dave: And you and I have sat down with James Dobson and we have discussed some differences that we have.
Tom:And you’ve had conversations with Bill Gothard.
Dave:Yeah, so I don’t think we should hide from differences.
Tom:We’re not attacking; these books are not attacking these individuals.
Dave:We shouldn’t keep it secret that there might be some differences.I think it would be very helpful.I would love to have an open discussion with James Dobson, for example.We’ve had some letters back and forth.I would love to have an open discussion with James Dobson or some other Christian psychologist; I think it would be beneficial to the church.Now, I recall years ago after Seduction of Christianity, came out, that John Ankerberg and other talk show hosts, tried for a number of years to get some leading Christian psychologists to come on their programs and discuss the issues with me, with Martin Bobgan, with Jay Adams and so forth, and none of them were willing to do it.I don’t think that’s right, I think an open discussion of issues would be very helpful.The church started out that way that was a precedent that was set in Acts 15.They had an open discussion before the apostles and elders and it is reported for us, reported to the whole church.
Tom:Dave, an open discussion, before them all, as the Scripture says.That’s important because if you have a private discussion—we’ve had many private discussions with leading Christians with regard to their teachings or their books or whatever it might be and what’s come of that?Yes, there seems to be an agreement and so on, but their books are out before the public and only in one case can I think where a book was withdrawn and changed because the individual that we were in communication with said you’re right, I pushed this too far.
Dave:There were a couple of examples, but secondly, Tom, let’s look at Matthew 18.Verse 15, “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone:” Now this is not the case when someone has preached widely, they have been on radio and television, they have written books, which I believe are not biblical.I’m not saying these people are not Christians, I believe they are, they love the Lord, they are trying to serve the Lord.Can’t we help one another to serve the Lord better by sharpening one another with the truth?So, when a person publicly says something that we believe is not biblical and it’s seriously wrong—For example, the whole idea of self esteem has been taught, not just by James Dobson, but by many others.The secular world has been investigating that.They thought self esteem was the key—
Tom:To solving all our problems….
Dave:Right.And California had a Self Esteem Task Force—they tried to prove this.They found out it isn’t true.Even the kids said—students said—wait a minute, what’s the point?No matter what you do they praise you to build up your self esteem! And I think that people who have been teaching this—and there have been many—owe an apology to the church and to the world because it simply isn’t true that self esteem is the big problem.
Tom:So, there’s no research out there that would support this major doctrine, especially among Christian psychologists.
Dave:It’s to the contrary and the Bible says, “In lowliness of mind let each esteem better than himself,” Okay?So, when someone is teaching something publicly, that’s not an offense to me personally.This is talking about someone offends me personally, then I don’t spread that to the church, I go to them alone, it’s between me and them and we have a procedure here.So, Matthew 18 doesn’t even apply to this situation.You write a book, it’s subject to review.I mean, my latest book, What Love is This?, wow! You ought to go on the internet and see how they are just ripping me up one side and down the other and in many cases it doesn’t sound like they have even read the book.Okay, I don’t object to that, they’re free to do that.
So, for someone to say well, you should only keep this—and Tom, you raised a good point.We have met with some of these men in private and they have said one thing in private but they are not willing, except with a couple of cases, not willing to make a correction publicly.Then, what is the point?I remember Walter Martin rebuking me for saying something about Robert Schuller—Dave, don’t you ever say that again.Okay, Walter!This happened to do with Robert Schuller speaking at the Unity Headquarters and praising them and so forth, one of the worst cults out there.Well, a couple of months later, I turned on the radio and there’s the Bible Answer Man, and because Walter said, oh I’ve gone to him privately and he’s not going to do that anymore, and here’s Walter saying, Well now, the next thing I know Robert Schuller is back to Unity again and he won’t answer my phone calls or my letters.So, what are we going to do?I think we have to have an open discussion before the church on some of these issues and why men have shunned this, I don’t know!I think it would be beneficial.
Tom:Right.And one other point, Dave, we need to do it in a way that’s pleasing to the Lord.