When the Goal of Criticism is Love

woman consoling womanI know that sounds strange. When we think of criticism, we think of something negative and destructive.  But being critical does not necessarily have to be a negative thing. Judging something critically involves an intense analysis of what is being presented and measuring it against an objective criteria. Now that can be done in an unloving manner. The blogosphere and numerous pulpits demonstrate show no end of unloving and vicious criticism.

But the other extreme is considering any mention of criticism to be mean-spirited. In the wake of the Shai Linne Fal$e Teacher$ brouhaha, it is no surprise that this charge is levied against him and those who support his song – charges of self-righteousness and unloving criticism. I have encountered it myself, at times when I tried to point out how so-so and so’s teaching didn’t line up with the message of Scripture. I’ve been told that it was corrupt to engage in such criticism.

However, when I look at Paul’s letter to Timothy, I see a different picture.  Young Timothy is the pastor of the church at Ephesus. Now Ephesus was as pagan as it comes and Timothy was a bit timid in confronting some funky stuff that was seeping into the church.  Paul as an apostle commissioned by Christ is giving him instruction concerning the church;

As I urged you when I went to Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. These promote controversies rather than God’s work – which is by faith. The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Some have wandered away from these and turned to meaningless talk. They want to be teachers of the law, but they do now know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm (1 Timothy 1:3-7) Continue reading

On Judging Shai Linne and His Beef with False Teachers

shai linneWell, this is kind of a cap off post from this week’s activities and final thoughts on Shai Linne’s Fal$e Teacher$. If you don’t know about it, Shai is a Christian hip hop artist who is unashamedly Reformed. He blasted what has been labeled prosperity teaching (though there is actually a mix of positions represented)  in this single cut from his album, which was released April 9, 2013. I wrote a couple of articles over at Parchment and Pen here.

On Shai Linne and Judging False Teachers

Does Prosperity Teaching Deny the Gospel?

Having come out of those circles of the teaching represented by those on his list, I expected full well the backlash that many would have against the song. Primarily, I expected it because of a type of discernment that would be employed according to ‘what I feel in my spirit’.  It is a subjective reliance on intuition that in many cases does not submit to an objective criteria. It’s not that this type of discernment ignores the bible but that the bible itself is not the criteria for evaluation.

Of course, those that have embraced the teaching represented on that list and use this type of discernment will have problems with Shai Linne and his song. He is challenging the very thing that that leads to acceptance of the teaching in the first place. Now I’m not saying it is the only reason for opposition, but if this the basis for which his song is evaluated than naturally there are issues. Continue reading

Who Are You…Really?

Have you heard a preacher or pastor describe who we are like this?

“You are not the real you. You’re spirit is the real you and you just happen to live in a body” OR “you are a spirit who has a soul and lives in a body”

Please know that the preacher is regurgitating one of the oldest heresies the church has battled. Gnosticism arose out of Greek thought that split the physical from the spiritual.  The Father was this mysterious unknown being who produced spiritual beings that had attributes of Christ and represented a higher spirituality. The goal in Gnostic thought was to attain  this higher spirituality through secret knowledge.  Anything that was physical was bad, evil and essentially didn’t matter.  The ultimate goal was for the real you, the spirit, to be released from your body.

This was heresy for obvious reasons; it destroyed the personhood of God, the basis of redemption through Christ, and our humanity. This was not who God made you to be, a spirit being in a casing that didn’t matter. We are whole people. Now there are two views of humanity

Dichotomy: humans are made up of two parts – body and soul. The immaterial part is our soul and interchangeable for spirit.

Trichotomy: humans are made up of three parts – body, soul and spirit. I do have problems with this view because it splits our humanity up in ways that resemble Gnosticism. It also removes the part that connects with the Spirit of God from our humanity. Continue reading