the weblog of Alan Knox

False teaching and teaching one another

Posted by on Oct 21, 2011 in blog links, community | 12 comments

False teaching and teaching one another

Whenever I talk about the church teaching one another (as opposed to one person or a small group of leaders doing all the teaching), I’m usually asked about false teaching. I’ve found that “teaching one another” has served to work against false teaching instead of encourage false teaching.

Now, Gavin at “Simple Church Alliance” has written a good article on the topic called “Simply False: False Teaching in Simple Church.”

I like the balance that Gavin presents between the importance of teachers and the importance of the whole church teaching one another. Both are found in Scripture, and both are necessary to the growth and maturity of the church.

I especially enjoyed the end of his article where Gavin offers some unhealthy patterns to watch out for:

Please hear me, gifted teachers help us understand scripture. However, we all have a great privilege and responsibility to bring our questions to God, diligently seek Truth in His Word, and listen to the Holy Spirit as He teaches us. In simple church gatherings, we can zero in on truth together as we are living this way individually. Simply being involved with simple church offers no guarantee to find and walk in the Truth. Just as in any church, false teaching can find a home in simple church. Here are some unhealthy patterns to watch out for:

* Simple churches become to homogenous only consisting of believers who all think alike.

* One person dominating discussion/teaching

* Failing to “weigh carefully” what is said.

* Failure of believers to learn to “feed themselves” on God’s word, with Holy Spirit as teacher, throughout the week. (This is why we encourage Life Transformation Groups that focus on reading lots of scripture)

* We find ourselves talking more about what a particular author or teacher has to say about God Word than God’s Word itself.

* An unwillingness to be challenged in our view of truth or challenge others (in love) on theirs.

* Intentionally or unintentionally avoiding others who do not think or believe like you.

* A sense of discouragement from simple church gatherings rather than peace (see verse above).

* Simple church relationships become primarily about policing behavior and theology rather than fulfilling the Great Commission.

* We have a need to be right, fail to give grace, lack of humility, and we fail to obey Romans 14.

I agree with Gavin that having the whole church take part in teaching is a great way to filter out false teaching. Of course, those gifted at teaching are part of that “whole church,” so they are to take part as well.

I think that one of the things that I’m most excited about is that in the last few years I’ve noticed more and more churches recognizing the need for “teaching one another.” Of course, in most churches, there is still too much of an emphasis on a single or small group of teachers. But, the trend seems to be toward encouraging input and interaction and teaching from the whole church.


12 Comments

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  1. 10-21-2011

    Would this not also be one of those instances where we see the role of elders as a backstop. Ideally functioning as respected voices of reason and balance able to exhort in sound doctrine and refute error.

  2. 10-21-2011

    This is something I have been doing a lot of thinking about recently, and really appreciate these insights. Thanks Alan and Gavin!

  3. 10-21-2011

    Tom,

    I would think that elders would be helpful, as would others among the church. In fact, all believers should be taking part in protecting one another from false teaching. But, yes, elders as well.

    Jeremy,

    Thanks. It’s amazing to me how much more the church learns and grows as we teaching one another together.

    -Alan

  4. 10-21-2011

    Alan,

    Very perceptive list.

    Gavin’s words are not limited to simple churches. A life-time of being there tells me that:

    Almost all, if not all, of these points are very recognizable in the traditional church, and in every expression of the church I have seen.

    With apologies to Gavin for slightly altering his list:

    Evangelical churches become too homogenous, only consisting of believers who DON”T think.

    With one person dominating discussion/teaching.

    Failing to “weigh carefully” (Acts 17:11) what is said.

    Failure of believers to learn to “feed themselves” on God’s word, with Holy Spirit as teacher, throughout the week.

    Preachers/teachers spend more time on what a particular author or teacher has to say about God Word than God’s Word itself.

    Any challenge to our view of truth is regarded as heretical/demonic. We don’t know Scripture well enough to challenge others (in love) on theirs.

    Intentionally avoiding others who do not think or believe like you.

    A sense of discouragement from church gatherings rather than peace, because of the amount of legalistically designed, guilt inducing preaching.

    Church relationships become primarily about policing behavior and theology rather than fulfilling the Great Commission.

    Evangelicals need to be right, fail to give grace, lack of humility, and we fail to obey Romans 14.

  5. 10-21-2011

    Aussie John,

    Excellent point! And, I think, you’ve made a point that is often overlooked.

    -Alan

  6. 10-22-2011

    Alan,

    Thank you for posting this. It has reminded me of the great importance of being taught by others in the Church, including elders.

    I have been challenged by this, as that list of Gavin’s can, in part, be applied on an individual level as well as the church body level. I know that I, whether intentionally or unintentionally, can avoid or even reject points that differ from what I believe. Perhaps the greatest defence against this, as both indivduals and as churches, is to seek and maintain a spirit of humility – a characteristic that is perhaps hindered or helped by differing church formats.

  7. 10-22-2011

    Mark,

    Yes, Gavin’s list is a good one. I like Aussie John’s addition/modification as well.

    -Alan

  8. 10-23-2011

    False teaching is not just teaching wrong ideas.
    One of the largest areas of false teaching is teaching in word only and not engaging with believers lives so that they can also see the teaching lived out. Every concept has corresponding actions and attitudes.

  9. 10-23-2011

    Tim,

    That’s a very good point!

    -Alan

  10. 10-26-2011

    I have been in three different small groups over the last several years and all of them have fallen apart due to one or many of the reasons that Allen gives in his blog. It brings me to tears when I think about it and I would give anything to just find a group of beleivers that I could join with who were committed to humility and staying together!

  11. 10-26-2011

    Oops, I guess it was Gavin’s list that Allen was quoting. So, Gavin or Allen, can I come to one of you house churches? I live in Richmond now. Are there any here?
    Thanks,
    Kristen Story

  12. 10-26-2011

    Kristen,

    Yes, it’s Gavin’s list, but it is a good list. :) I don’t think I know anyone in Richmond. I know someone east of Richmond in Williamsburg.

    -Alan