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Dr. Michael Brown - The Shepherd for Wolves

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But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. - Galatians 2: 11-13 (ESV)

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In an effort to be transparent, I have always like Dr. Michael Brown. I found him incredibly learned, genial, and knowledgeable when it comes to dividing the Word. Then a few years ago he was a guest for an entire week on the Benny Hinn show. I spoke to him on his radio program shortly after to try and explain why he should not be so casual with his credibility to cast it away on such low hanging heretical fruit as Hinn. I remember at the time that Brown insisted he had not heard of the controversies surrounding Benny Hinn and I wondered how that could possibly be true. Perhaps the most disheartening thing was when he affirmed Joseph Prince as a brother in Christ who just has a hole in his theology. Yeah,a hole sucking untold numbers straight to hell. As I started to follow Brown more closely I noticed that he simply was right on doctrine but refused to call anyone false. What good is it to write an entire book on greasy grace and then call Prince a brother in Christ? I appeared on his show again years later at his request. He had taken issue with a devotional I had written where I explained he was a gatekeeper for the heretics from the NAR. Brown feigned ignorance of there even being an NAR and mugged me in the second segment of the show because I had the temerity to call Bill Johnson a heretic. Fast forward to today and it seems Brown has gotten some blowback for writing yet another critical book that refuses to name any names. He has taken to Charisma News to try and defend himself again. Let us reason together once more beloved as we slog through this defense, linked above.

"There are times when it is right to name names when calling out error and there are times when it is not right. How do we make that distinction? Let's start with the most basic premise of all: When we call out error, our goal is to be redemptive, not to be right. In other words, we are not calling out error to show how right we are. We are calling out error to expose evil, to warn people of danger, to urge people to repent. We are calling out error to save lives, not destroy lives. As for false teachers and heretics and wolves, we would love to see them repent. But if they refuse, then their blood is on their own heads. They will reap what they have sown." - Dr. Michael Brown

As always, Brown tries to sound like the reasoned voice in the crowd of pitchfork carrying villagers. What is too easy to not see is that while he says there are times when it is appropriate to name names, he simply never does it. As for his goal, he is wrong. The goal in naming names is to first be obedient to Scripture:

He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. - Titus 1: 9 (ESV)

Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. - Romans 16: 17 (KJV)

The Bible is explicitly clear here. Ministers of the Gospel are required to rebuke those who do not bring the true Gospel. It does not say to reason with them. It does not say to redeem them. It says to mark them. Now I agree that we do not do this in any sense to feel better about ourselves or glory in being correct but I have not seen any discernment ministry act in this manner. Brown is a master of setting up strawmen, false arguments, to avoid dealing with the truth. What is carefully woven into this opening however is the hard truth he cannot face. Brown protects wolves instead of sheep. His concern is about wolves repenting as opposed to protecting the sheep. I am not entirely sure however if that is biblical:

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. - 2Peter 2: 1-3 (ESV)

Wolves do not magically become sheep. They do not repent. This is why discernment must be very careful to not criticize for the sake if being critical. An error is not heresy. If we do not have grace and mercy we are no better. Despite what Dr. Brown believes, we do not reflexively cry heretic but only after repeated and historical accounts of doctrines of demons being preached without repentance after being corrected. Once they are there however as an established wolf, our concern needs to be on the sheep they are now devouring and not rehabilitating the ministry of the wolf. Their condemnation is from long ago, not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.

"But who, exactly, are the false teachers and heretics and wolves? Sometimes it is easy to see and sometimes it is debatable. And sometimes it is a matter of opinion. Whose opinion is right?" - Dr. Michael Brown

God's opinion is always right Dr. Brown. I agree that someone like Mike Murdock is easier to discern as false than Joseph Prince but the Bible applied to both of their teachings reveals the same thing; they are voracious wolves in the sheep pen. It is not a matter of opinion. It is back and white. Is what they teach biblically inaccurate, repeated over time, with a refusal to be corrected? The word heretic is not some incredibly high threshold. It simply means someone who teaches falsely. Jesus warned us consistently about them. We ought to pay attention.

"Do you know that some critics posted videos and articles after Billy Graham's death, saying he was a false teacher and heretic? And some of those same critics then blasted me as a false teacher because I spoke well of him. Virtually every day, I see fine Christian leaders called out as heretics and false prophets and wolves, simply because they teach something that some critic differs with. It's not always virtuous to name names." - Dr. Michael Brown

If someone blasted you as a false teacher because you defended someone else that would be wrong. You are a gatekeeper for false teachers. You are a shepherd for the wolves. I know you do not mean to be but that is what you are. When you spend a week on Benny Hinn's show you endorse him and what he teaches. When you cuddle up with Jennifer Leclaire and others who are fleecing God's flock you are providing cover for them. The other point here is that discernment ministries do not call out heretics because they teach something that we differ with but that they teach something God differs with.

"That's one reason that, whenever possible, I try to reach out to someone privately before writing about them publicly. (I'm not talking about the president or a TV star or the like, where that's not feasible. I'm talking about other Christian leaders or even non-Christian colleagues who are accessible.) And sometimes, the best thing we can do is describe the error. This way, people can see it for themselves and reject it." - Dr. Michael Brown

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