As I look at my book shelves it's filled with authors who have been questioned and labeled as 'false teachers' or at least 'not quite on message' at times.
Carolyn Custis James
Ruth Haley Barton
Martin Luther King Jr.
And many more. All are under the evangelical umbrella and all suspected by one group or another as possibly theologically dangerous.
Dare I say I also have books by Franciscan friars and Benedictine nuns, Anne Lamott, Brennan Manning, Kathleen Norris, John Piper, D.A. Carson, liberal Methodists, and ‘any war is a bad war' Mennonites. Each and all living out faith in Jesus in ways much differently than others I know. And for sure they are suspect for their theological perspectives in at least some of the circles I travel in.
Could it be that one of the problems with our theological approach these days is that we limit ourselves to listening to only those people we agree with and we are only looking for standup guys and gals with similar theologies and ideologies to our own? And if they are too dissimilar then are we guilty of lobbing grenades of suspicion ...dismissing them, labeling each as being ‘outside the faith’? Just asking.
I can go to certain websites and anyone associated with using spiritual formation terminology is viewed as heretical. That includes folks like Larry Crabb who loves Jesus deeply. Even my wife has a made a ‘watch’ list or two for having certain guests on her program. And I’m saddened for I know how deeply orthodoxy runs in her own life and the lives of her guests.
On the flip side those on the left side of orthodoxy look at right leaning evangelicals and wonder when ‘they’re going to get it’ and accuse them of abandoning the true faith and for allowing false prophets in their midst.
Of course, most of the world doesn’t give a rip about our internal discussions, books, music or movies. They’re just trying to make sense of life and they’re choosing in record numbers to figure things out without the church. And people are leaving the church because the answers they’re getting are just too pat. ‘Trust and obey’ isn’t cutting it for them.
I think there are false teachers and heretical teachings. There are people who say ‘thus sayeth the Lord’ and you wonder what rock they’ve been hanging under and what scripture they adhere to. Drives me crazy.
But I’ve been wondering. What do you think are the non-negotiables of orthodoxy these days? What would make you label someone as theologically suspect or a false teacher? What's the line that someone must cross that immediately invalidates their point of view? I'll be interested in what you have to say.