First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. -- 1Timothy 2:1-4 (ESV)
This subject has come up before when Christians want to defend the wolves who devour the sheep of the Lord. I get it. I really do. The unnamed sheep seem to mean nothing to us because the church does such a poor job of explaining who our new family is once we are saved. Even Jesus said when His mother was waiting to see Him that who is His mother and brother except he who does the will of the Father. In churchianity, the purpose driven growth schemes have created carnally successful silos of each individual church that pays lip service to being part of the kingdom but the reality is once you leave such a church, you will find out how close your family really was all along.
The cult of personality preachers that are created through this same paradigm are worshiped in churchianity. Just try saying something critical of Joseph Prince or Joel Osteen and get ready for the onslaught from the unsaved goats that follow them. So it is of no surprise that great swaths of what is called the church today would rather defend the most voracious wolves on the planet than care for the sheep they are slaughtering. When dealing with the lost who fall for false doctrine, we hear the same refrain that they should somehow know better or that they should have read their bibles. No mercy. Yet out of the other side of their mouths are the same defenses for the wolves -- you don't know them! They just love Jesus so much! Judge not!
So it always seems to go like this whenever discussing false teaching. In making a generic post the other day regarding the purpose of discernment, I casually referenced the truth -- which is that we should not be praying for wolves. While many agreed there was the same choir responding that the bible says we should just be loving and praying for everyone. Once again, I get that. It sounds noble and pious. I do not actually care what it sounds like however. I just want to know if it is sound biblically and guess what? It is not. Before examining this, let us clear up some background issues that are always conflated with this discussion only to muddy the conversation. First of all we are dealing with false teachers, not people who are making an error in their teaching. Anyone can make a mistake or say something in error. It is unfair and not discerning at all to condemn someone for a simple error. For example, a few years back, Victoria Osteen said that we worship God for ourselves, not for Him. Part of the discernment world flipped out. I waited. I wanted to see what she would say in response to the criticism. After all, she could have just said it in error. That would not change the fact the she and her heretic husband are huge false teachers but at least regarding this issue it would not be. A week later she came out with Joel holding her hand and doubled down. Done deal. Look, the people we are talking about do not have mere holes in their theology. They have been confronted multiple times over years of ministry and have refused to repent of the false teaching. In the conversation this week someone actually asked for links regarding whether Bill Johnson has ever been confronted regarding his teaching. C'mon. A simple Google search reveals the truth.
Which leads us to the next reality. False teachers are not our brethren who have sinned against us, as referenced in Matthew 18. Heck, I do not even expect Joel Osteen to answer any charges I might bring to him. He doesn't even know me. But the charges have been brought over the years and unfortunately most often through secular interviews. His response is that he feels people already know all they have done wrong and he just wants to encourage them. Well gosh that sounds nice but it is not the Gospel. So when I am dealing with Joseph Prince's antinomianism, Brian Houston's prosperity gospel or Joyce Meyer's word faith the notion that I have to personally confront them is quite silly. Now, if Houston suddenly said in a sermon that all religions lead to God, which he did, my job is to wait and let him either correct himself or pull a Victoria Osteen. Sure enough he denounced what he said and clarified that he misspoke. Good enough for me! Many discernment ministries still lay Chrislam charges at his feet and that is unfair. Anyone can misspeak. He still leads one the most heretical churches on the planet but I would not hold against him the one thing he admitted was a mistake! When considering the issue of whether false teachers are our brethren let us also consider the words of the Apostle Peter:
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)
This is why the foundation test of doctrine must be met first. We are not merely dealing with a rogue teaching but a destructive heresy. Prosperity gospel teaches people that God wants them to be rich and leads people to worship mammon instead of God. Word faith usurps the power of God for ourselves. These are not merely aberrant teachings. They purposefully present a different gospel and a different christ -- which cannot save you according to Romans 1. Paul expands on this teaching in Galatians:
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel-- not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. -- Galatians 1:6-10 (ESV)