A relatively prominent ministry recently put out an e-mail with a list of other ministries and ministers who they believe to be dangerous to the Body of Christ.
Some of them I completely agreed with. There were a couple names of people who I have seen blaspheme God unrepentedly, and I have outright refused to endorse them myself. But I would say that the vast majority of the names were on the list because of minor errors that should be addressed and fixed rather than those people being burned at the stake. In my mind, it’s the difference between putting a broken arm in a cast versus chopping it off!
Those of you who have followed this blog know that I am passionate about the truth. When people in the Charismatic movement are walking in error, I’m not afraid to address the issues. But I have also learned to tread lightly and avoid the pride that cuts others down for the sake of my own personal gain.
We do this a lot in the Charismatic movement. We point out errors as a subtle, masked way of saying “I’m right.” After all, if we can identify what’s wrong, then we must have the market cornered on what is right…right?
Suppose I were to look at a surgeon cutting into someone’s leg when the surgery is supposed to be on their heart. It would be good for me to say, “Hey, check your chart—I think you’ve got something backwards!” It would be good for me to alert a nurse to make sure this is the correct procedure. But it would be wrong for me to try explaining to the surgeon exactly what he must do.
Why? Because while the surgeon might actually be wrong and I could be saving the patient’s life by bringing attention to the actions, I might also be wrong! Some doctors today are actually performing heart valve transplants and other heart surguries by entering through the patient’s leg!
So I am not saying that we should stop scrutinizing other ministries and pointing out concerns, but I am saying that we need to be careful how we go about it. Are we trying to boost our own egos, or are we actually contending for the truth?
In Mark 9:33–41, Jesus asked His disciples what they were talking about on the way to Capernaum. The disciples didn’t want to admit the truth, though, because they had actually been arguing over who was the greatest.
Without them even telling Jesus, He addressed the issue with pinpoint accuracy: “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.”
Within a matter of moments, John spoke up and said, “Teacher, we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.”
Why did John try to change the subject? The Bible doesn’t say, but I can imagine being in his shoes and thinking, Gosh, do I ever feel stupid. I know! Maybe I can save face by pointing out something we did right!
Whatever the reason, John shares what they did on the road. Take note of Jesus’ response:
Mark 9:39–40 – “Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “No one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us. (NIV)
Which brings me back to this list of ministries. The people on this list were targeted because of some strange spiritual manifestations associated with their ministries. But the fact that many of these people do miracles in Jesus’ name and preach a solid Gospel was completely disregarded.
The author of that e-mail came accross to me like the naive apostle John, all excited that he was telling people to stop ministering in Jesus’ name when in fact they were on his side.
Do errors need to be addressed? Absolutely. But do we need to throw the baby out with the bathwater? Not at all. I would rather side with Jesus and say, “Whoever is not against us is for us.”
There is a way to go about warning of error that does not give the indication that we ourselves are perfect.
Now, I’m not talking about “wolves in sheep’s clothing.” So-called “ministries” that are teaching doctrines of demons and robbing from ignorant people need to be exposed for what they are and outright rejected. But when it comes to ministries that are proclaiming the genuine Gospel, working miracles in the name of Jesus, and demonstrating an attempt at humility while still demonstrating some glaring flaws, let’s be careful not to be too quick to condemn.
Jesus had no problem calling out the Pharisees for the error of their ways. But He was more than happy to let some average street person do miracles in His name even when He didn’t have a personal relationship with them. The difference is that one was acknowledging the Lordship of Jesus and the other was questioning it.
It’s admittedly tempting to publish the name of the man who sent out that e-mail to his list. It’s tempting to stir up controversy and bring traffic to this web site. But when I look at this man’s ministry, I see the same thing: preaching the true Gospel and working miracles in Jesus’ name. Therefore, I have no reason to throw out the baby–just the bathwater.
Galatians 5:15 – If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. (NIV)
God bless, –Art