Question: Where do you get the courage to expose what you believe are false teachings of some of the best-known and most popular Christian leaders? Have you gone to each of them privately first, as the Scripture says we should? Can’t correction be accomplished simply by referring to the false teachings without bringing in personalities? Is it really productive to identify by name those who teach these things? Wouldn’t that instead be counterproductive by offending them and their admirers? And isn’t it very costly financially by causing you to lose the support of many people?
Response: This is the most frequently asked of any question and I am confronted with it everywhere. First of all, it is not a matter of courage but of obedience to our Lord and to His Word. We have no choice but to “earnestly contend for the faith” (Jude 3) and as we preach the Word to “reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Tm 4:2; 3:16). There is no alternative. We dare not ignore these commands—for the glory of our Lord and for the sake of those who have been deceived and whom we must do all we can to rescue.
We believe that correction must be as public and widespread as was the erroneous teaching. This is necessary both for the sake of the teacher and for his or her followers. Error that has been taught publicly must be corrected publicly. Private discussion about it does not benefit the multitudes who have been thereby deceived. We have found private discussion to be largely unproductive. Those whom we have confronted privately seem to agree with us at the time, then continue to teach the same error.
Yes, we believe that in most cases it is necessary and productive to identify false teachers by name. How else can reproof be accomplished? To identify false teaching in a general way is of little benefit. We must specifically identify not only the error taught but those who teach it because they are often so highly regarded that whatever they say is unquestioningly accepted without even noticing what is wrong with it—and thereby many are led astray.
The biblical requirement to go to someone alone is only when one has been personally “trespassed” against: “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone” (Mt 18:15). Any Christian leaders we identify by name have not offended us individually but have publicly taught what we sincerely believe to be false doctrine harmful to hearers and readers by the thousands (in some cases by the millions).
Does it keep us off radio and TV shows and take away from donations we might otherwise receive by standing for the truth and identifying those more popular than we are who teach error? Yes, but that is something we leave with the Lord. God forbid that we should ever allow such concerns to influence in any way our fidelity to our Lord and to His Word! That would be as foolish as exchanging the praise of God for the praise of men and an eternal heavenly reward for a temporal earthly one.