I read "Seven Characteristics of False Teachers" by Thomas Brooks recently. I originally read excerpts from his sermon at a website where the issue of false teachers/shepherds was being discussed. I want take slightly different angle.
As I see it, the dangerous teachers and shepherds are not necssarily the wacky ones like Benny Hinn. They are dangerous of course. They spew lies from the pit of Hell, no doubt. But they are obvious and most "conservative Christians" already understand that.
The ones I'm far more worried about are those that are hiding out in "solid" churches and seminaries. These are the ones that everyone follows, are considered "godly" (please, someone, explain to me exactly what that means), and weild a great amount of authority and respect both in the local church and for some also nationally or internationally.
These are men who "secretly sneak in among you" Jude 4. That means they profess a great amount of truth, yet hold to grevious error, either morally or doctrinally, or both.
Degrees, blogs, books, articles, theological soceities, seminaries, colleges, and speaking engagements are these men's arena. They are devious fellows; smart, politically suave, and they know just what to stay to stay under the radar....and to keep their position.
Ironically, however, they are arrogant enough to speak what they believe without shame. It may be because they feel safe in their supposed authority or influence that they believe they are untouchable, therefore to some, they express their beliefs, but to others they play the symantics game, blowing around smoke and playing with mirrors just enough to confuse most people....
Except God isn't confused. Nor is He blind. And He has equipped His churches with Christians with gifts from the Holy Spirit, for the common good and His glory. The gift of discerning of spirits is one gift that, along with the gift of knowledge, will detect the false teachers no matter their subtlety. They are found out because God demands us to use our gifts, protect His sheep, and wants His church to be pure in doctrine as well as practice.
False shepherds don't care about that. They are hirelings with a resume to fill and then move on to greener pastures when they've "out grown the ministry" (truly an anti-biblical notion) or run out of recylced sermons. All of course, "for the glory of God" and because "it's God's will".
Hierlings/false shepherds are notorious for being worse church-hoppers than most of the flock they ravage.
The issue of false teachers usually is brought up in relation to a "feel good" gospel. While I agree that often happens, my focus here is on those who seem solid. The gospel they proclaim isn't full of health and wealth Schullerisms or Osteenisms. On the surface, they appear at least, to be O.K.
The subtlety of error here, is that their gospel still will be man-centered. At some point, their gospel isn't ALL of grace nor is it ALL of Christ Jesus; their gospel is missing either: the resurrection of Christ Jesus, His Lordship, man's sin, or God's wrath. Often their gospel is an offer to a God-hater to "make a decision for Christ", to believe God "has a wonderful plan for your life", is "begging you to say "yes" to His offer while He is on bended knee". They will also use pragmatism in evangelism which is a reflection of their distrust in the Holy Spirit to move as He wills with whom He wishes, not to mention the power of the Scriptures.
Even more subtle is their view of other people's god. Everything these heretics proclaim to believe personally would most likely pass The Smell Test of "evangelicals" (a word that hardly means anything today). Most Christians are happy with something that sounds relatively sound and are unwilling to ask hard questions of a leader's beliefs in specifics. In reality, what they believe about what other people believe actually reflects what their own true beliefs about God.
The problem is, while espousing doctrines like the Trinity or the omnicience of God, they quietly will say things like:
"Just because someone doesn't believe in the Trinity, doesn't mean they have a different God."
"I'm so tired of Christians saying if someone doesn't believe in the Trinity, they don't have God."
"Mormons worship the same God as us, at least he has the same name..."
"Some Muslims have the same God as we do, but its sameness in part, not whole."
"My dear friend is an Open Theist but I KNOW he's a Christian because he has proclaimed salvation in faith alone in Christ alone."
"When Christians and Muslims speak of God, they are speaking of the same Being."
"Do Muslims worship/have the same God as Christians? Yes and no."
"Is the Father of Jesus the God of Mohammad? The answer is surely yes and no."
"Christians and Muslims can together affirm many important truths about this great God."
"However, while Islam today has much in common with Christianity on the essential attributes of God, there is a wide diverdence on His moral and relationship attributes."
"So while Christians and Muslims believe in the same God, they conceive of His nature differently."
"Though Muslims and Christians may believe in the same God as subject..."
"Allah is a perfectly legitimate name for God."
Every person quoted here is considered as Evangelical and Christian. All but one speaks publically and teaches at seminaries. But when asked, they play word games, use smoke and mirrors, but ultimately they reveal what they truly believe. One has to be a skilled swordsman to fight such heinous deception.
Scripture says there is but ONE God and HE has revealed His name and Himself already: Allah is not Him, nor is the god of the Mormons. If a person denies Jesus Christ the Lord, as do all religions but biblical Christianity, Scripture says they have not the Father either.
1Jn 2:21 I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth.
1Jn 2:22 Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son.
1Jn 2:23 No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also.
2Co 6:15 What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever?
2Co 6:16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, "I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Isa 40:25 To whom then will you compare Me, that I should be like him? says the Holy One.
Psa 147:5 Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; His understanding is beyond measure.