Now, Dave and Tom field questions from listeners and subscribers in Contending for the Faith. Our question this week: When you are critical of Christians such as you were in The Seduction of Christianity, shouldn’t you go to them privately before publicly criticizing them? Isn’t that what Matthew 18 instructs us to do?
Again with Dave Hunt, here’s T. A. McMahon.
Tom: Dave I know it’s a little late, fifteen years later, but we had the problem fifteen years ago in how to respond to these men who were highly visible in the church and published. They had TV programs, radio programs, but is this an issue of Matthew 18?
Dave: Well, first of all, it’s not a Matthew 18 issue. Matthew 18 says if your brother offends you, or trespasses against you, you go to him. What we dealt with in The Seduction of Christianity and what we are dealing now and will continue to deal with—[it’s] not the only approach we’ll take. But it’s not a personal offense against me for someone to teach false doctrine publicly. I am concerned for the body of Christ, so it’s nothing that I would need to go to them privately about because they usually didn’t even name my name. I mean not only the reviewers and the critics later did that, but the people that we tried to bring correction for in that book and in other books that we’ve written. They publicly taught things that we believe are not biblical. We have quoted them in context, we have stated very clearly what they have said and then we have gone to the scriptures to see whether what they said was true. This is exactly what the Bereans did with Paul. They checked Paul out. Would anyone suggest that if when they went to the scriptures and they checked Paul out and they found out that he had contradicted the Word of God that then they shouldn’t correct him? Paul would be glad to be corrected and I will say that publicly over the radio. I’ve said it many times. If anything I say is not biblical, please, please tell me. I want to be corrected and I don’t want to go on in error. I wouldn’t consider it being critical of someone to simply point out—we’re quoting them, so that’s not being critical is it? And then going to the Word of God to see whether what they have said is true. I think it’s one of the greatest needs in the church today. It’s for correction and yet there are very few who are willing to bring this about. And I would have to lay this at the door of a number of Christian leaders. I often say to an audience, “I’m a nobody, why should I be running around pointing these things out? Why doesn’t James Dobson? Why doesn’t someone of that stature, when some of these things are so blatant and so obvious, why don’t they bring correction? We need someone to bring correction because you see, the reason for it, you know if it were only the person who said it, then you would go to them privately. But the fact is they have said it publicly and they have led a lot of people astray. The only way you can correct it is publicly.
Tom: So really, Matthew 18 deals with—just to repeat what you said in part—Matthew 18 deals with personal sin, brother to brother. If somebody is preaching out there or speaking or teaching and they are teaching to the masses through the media—radio, TV, and so on, that’s not a personal issue of sin. If somebody’s teaching false—can false doctrine really be personal sin against an individual and come under the context of Matthew 18?
Dave: Well no, because it’s being taught to the multitudes of people out there. But furthermore Tom, as I said, if I’m teaching something wrong, please correct me. If you want to do it publicly I don’t mind. Because if I’m wrong—I would—if I have taught something publicly that’s wrong, I would publicly admit it. So why would someone want me to come to them privately and discuss this privately? Now you know we have gone to as many of these men as we could privately.
Dave: Let me give you an example. I was on a panel with well, a number of people. I remember Walter Martin was sitting right next to me. And somebody asked something about Robert Schuller. And I said, well you know Robert Schuller some years ago went to Unity headquarters in LeSaint, Missouri. He addressed the Unity ministers and ministers in training. If people don’t know what Unity teaches, they deny everything in the Bible. They’re into yoga, UFOs, I mean all kinds of false spirituality, you name it and they’re into it. They deny the redemptive work of Christ.
Tom: Right, this is mind science.
Dave: Right. So this is one of the worst cults that you could possibly have out there. They are leading millions astray. A lot of books that—you know they are into success and so forth and so they influence a lot of people. Robert Schuller went there not to correct them, but to commend them, to share his church growth principles; to help Unity, this horrible cult grow larger! Now I think that’s reprehensible. And in the question and answer time one of them asked well, we hear a lot about the New Age movement these days, what should be our response as ministers to the New Age movement? And indicated that they were all part of the New Age movement and Robert Schuller didn’t skip a beat. He said well what we need to do in this age is to be positive and for you here, Unity ministers, that’s easy because you’re already very positive. But you understand that I have deal with people out there that you would call fundamentalists. They use terms like sin and guilt and redemption and repentance and what we have to do is positivize those. We’ve got to positivize religion. And Walter Martin was sitting next to me and he said Dave, I don’t want to hear you say that again. Because I have gone to Robert Schuller privately about this. And I have talked to him about it, he’s admitted that he’s wrong and he has told me he will never be involved with Unity again. So I said to Walter, well okay Walter if that’s what he says, but you’ve got more confidence in him than I have. I don’t remember whether it was a few weeks or months maybe too long thereafter I got in my car, I turned on the radio and I’m listening to the Bible Answer man. It’s Walter Martin and he’s saying, “Yes the next thing I know that Robert Schuller, he’s back involved with Unity again and now he won’t answer my letters and he won’t return my phone calls. So we have found, as you know, we have found the same thing. People will say—some of these leaders that we’ve gone to to try to discuss what we consider to be serious error, they will say one thing in private, but then they continue to go on in public. So we have no recourse.
Dave: Except to warn people out there. And Tom, I know I’m going on too long, but it’s up to everybody. All we want to do is lay out the facts. Here’s what they said, here’s what the Bible says, now you make your decision. We’re not pushing our opinion on anyone, but we would like to give them the opportunity to make an intelligent choice on this matter.
Tom: Right. And we’ve laid the ground work that Matthew 18—this does not fall under the context of what Matthew 18 is about, plus it’s basically impossible. How do you get to these people? Even when we were doing The Seduction of Christianity and we tried to contact these individuals, nothing. I mean they didn’t know who we were for the most part and they were not willing to respond to questions that we had. Those who do today as you said, the private conversations we’ve had—nothing really came of it.
Dave: Well, Paul Yongi Cho said, and it’s in writing, he said when Dave Hunt has a church as large as mine, then I’ll discuss it with him.
Dave: And we tried till we were stonewalled with a lot of these people that we tried to get to.
Tom: On the other hand, I don’t know if it’s because it’s down the line or not, but you remember when Christianity Today had an article defending Tony Campolo and Karen Mains. We were made out to be the Inquisition. There’s a step from—
Dave: Well Tom, people can check them out. I’m not angry about it. I’m not offended, but I’m offended for the body of Christ. I’ve had terrible reviews of some of my books, but the one thing that they never do. They don’t quote me. They don’t give page references and say this is what Dave Hunt says and this is why it’s wrong. They use ad homonym arguments. They just run me down something terrible and you’ve suffered the same. Even Christianity Today has done it and other reviewers. I don’t think that’s fair. I’ve never done that to anybody else. I don’t make ad homonym remarks about them. We simply quote what they say. And if they really believe what they say then they should be glad we are quoting them because we are giving wider distribution to what they say. But I don’t know, somehow I get blamed for what they say, because I quoted them. People don’t like what they said, but they don’t blame them, they blame me for quoting them.
Tom: Well it’s a sign of today’s guruism, of sacred cows, of following after men, women, the church.
Dave: Tom, it’s important and I hope that people are out there saying well, we don’t want to go on with this negative kind of stuff. Well I guess Jeremiah was very negative. He warned the people of Israel. I guess Paul was very negative. He warned with tears night and day.
Tom: Yes, we’ve quoted that.
Dave: I think it’s very important. I mean the truth matters. Jesus said if you continue in my word [this is John:8:30-32]. “If you continue in my word, then are you my disciples indeed. And you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” And so the truth is the issue here. It is God’s Word. And by the way, it tells us in the Book of Acts that the disciples were first called Christians at Antioch. So who is a Christian? A Christian is a disciple who is following Christ, who is continuing in his Word and is obeying his Word and has been set free by the truth. And if truth doesn’t matter to people out there, then I have question whether they even want to be Christians.
Tom: Right. And if they are Christians, truly loving the Lord, but they buy into these false ideas, false teachings, false doctrines, they are drifting into bondage. There’s no other way to go.
Dave: And we want to help them. And the only way we want to help them is not to give them our opinion. Let’s turn them to the Word of God.