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Naming Names

June 29th, 2010 | 24 Comments | Posted in Miscellaneous

finger_pointingOne of the criticisms I hear most is that it is wrong for me to “name names” of people who promote false teaching unless I first go to those teachers in private to address my concerns with them.

The implication is that no one should listen to me if I haven’t followed the proper order — going to the teacher first, then going public. False teachers, themselves, often promote this idea to shield themselves from criticism.

But this is a misuse of the teaching on church discipline found in Matthew 18:15-17. Here’s an article I wrote about this subject three years ago.

Naming Names

There’s a common view among Christians that it’s wrong to publicly criticize the teachings of other professing Christians.

People who hold this view cite Matthew 18:15-17. They believe this Bible passage teaches that anyone who has concerns about someone else’s teachings should go to that person privately.

In fact, some people have recently warned me that my blog is a violation of this command because it identifies people who are bringing false teaching into the church.

But they don’t realize that this passage is being used out of context. It doesn’t refer to addressing false teaching. It refers to addressing someone’s private sin. This can be seen in the larger context, which includes a discussion — immediately following this passage — of forgiving those who sin against us. Also, this passages deals, specifically, with church discipline — the manner of dealing with those who sin in a local church.

Public vs. Private Rebukes

Here’s what the Bible teaches about confronting sin and false teaching in the church:

• A private rebuke is given for private sin. Matthew 18:15-17

• A public rebuke is given for public sin. (See the apostle Paul’s public rebuke of the apostle Peter’s false teaching in Galatians 2:11-14. Also, see the apostle Paul’s public rebuke of a man who was flagrantly sleeping with his stepmother with his church’s knowledge in 1 Corinthians 5:1-13. Paul didn’t confront this man privately. In fact, he had never even met this man, as shown in 1 Corinthians 5:1, when he refers to a report he heard about the man’s sin. Yet, Paul confronted this public sin publicly because the sin effected the whole Corinthian church.)

Teachers who bring false doctrines into the church must be confronted publicly because their teachings are public. They write books, speak at conferences and appear on television programs promoting their teachings to thousands of people. Because they have public influence, they must be held to public scrutiny. If people go to them privately, then — in the meantime — thousands of people can be misled by their harmful teachings.

Teachers should expect — and even welcome — criticism of their teachings. The Bible warns them in James 3:1 that they are held to high standards because of their influence and will face stricter judgment from God than other Christians. They should be open to correction.

But many times the false teachers, themselves, are the ones who teach their followers the misapplication of Matthew 18:15-17. They use this as a technique to silence criticism.

What the Bible Teaches About Dealing With False Teaching in the Church

Here are some more things the Bible teaches, specifically, about dealing with false teaching. (My professor, Kevin Lewis at Biola University, provided the list below.)

• Name Names: In 2 Timothy, the apostle Paul identifies false teachers in the church, by name, four times. 2 Tim. 1:15, 2:17, 3:8, 4:14

• Warn the church publicly what the false teachers are teaching. 2 Timothy 2:16-18

• Silence the false teachers. (This means that church leaders shouldn’t allow people to teach false teaching in their churches.) Titus 1:10-11

• Refute the false teachers. Titus 1:9

• Do not give false teachers a platform or otherwise support them in their ministries. 2 John 1:10-11

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24 Responses to “Naming Names”

  1. Jackie Says:

    I am so thankful for this blog.  I pray that more people will stand up and teach the Truth.  There are so many false teachers today.  They seem to be everywhere!

  2. kati Says:

    Thank you for a very informative article. Carry on the good work.

  3. jonathan Says:

    Everywhere they are and its going to take a lot of time to name them and show who they are. No really all you need is the word of God that He has given us as a guide and a tool to unvail those who would use His church for worldly gain. But the Spirit also shows these for who they are. Awaken church the days are growing short and many false teachers are in the world….

  4. Leah Says:

    This couldn’t be a more timely word.  Do you think we should call out the false teacher in the church that claim evolution is justifiable with the Bible?  There is a mountain of evidence for creation, yet these teachers are allowed to be deceived and to deceive the children of God.

  5. RayWalker Says:

    Matthew 26:52 says: Then Jesus said unto him. put your sword back into its place, forall who draw the sword will die by the sword.
    Matthew 7:2 says: For just as you judge and criticize and condem others, you will be judged and criticized and condemned, and in accordance with the measure you delt out to others, it will be dealt out again to you.
    Judge not lest you be judged. Whith what measure you judge others, you will be judged. I have been trying to sow as much grace seed as I possibly can. 
    Each new Christian denomination was formed from a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit at a given time. A new denomination was formed and much like the desciples, wanted and did construct an altar or denomination and basically said ” here is God”. Everyone else is out. So we have all kinds of denominations that think that they have all of the answers and everyone else is an idiot and a false prophet or false apostle. It happened to Paul and Peter, because they had a new message that did not match up with the teachings of that time. I personally know a few of the people that you have included on your list of false teachers. They would not stoop so low as to do what you and your website and followers are doing because they are much too mature to endulge in such childish antics. Their fruits were light years above others because of their relationship with the Holy Spirit and consequently became leaders. As in every move of the Holy Spirit, the enemy comes immediately to squelch it and place counterfit people to distract from the true message. Please do not think that I would try to protect the counterfeit prophets, apostles and teachers but by doing so, you seem to be throwing out the baby with the bath water. You have not given us a list of true apostles, prophets or even teachers. I have personally known main line pastors that were not even born again. Yes, not even born again pastors. Their fruits screemed loudly. One did not have to search for their fruit, it was there for the picking and it was ugly. I have confronted several of them and their answer was simply this. It is my job and nothing more. I am a hireling. Notice I said that I personally confronted them. It is not my church to protect. It belongs to Jesus and he has the ability to overcome all of our stupidity 
    and come out on top.
    Acts 5 the apostles were teaching in the name of Jesus and were about to be stoned. A certain man named Galilean basically said this. If this new doctrine is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is of God, you will not be able to stop or overthrow or destroy them, you might even be found fighting against God. If it is not true, it will fizzle out and be of nothing soon. He was a wise man.
    Revelation 2 says to the church of Ephesus. I know your works and you hate the false teachers and false apostles and false prophets. But I have this one thing against you. You have lost your first love. How can you love your enemies when you cannot love those in the church, even if THEY have sin in their life. You are busy sorting out people but have not been washing their feet. Jesus says you will know them by their love, not their judgemental critical nature.

  6. David Wickline Says:

    Thank you for this blog.  I felt that you would be pressured to stop exposing false teaching.  These people are dangerous to the point that (I believe) they would do or encourage others to silence folks that are pointing out their errors.  Your blog awakened me to the extreme that some of these folks are going to.  As a new Christian several years ago, I embraced the charismatic theology with open arms.  I wanted all that the Lord had for His people and wanted to walk and live by faith to glorify Him.  I once prayed and commanded a dead woman to rise from the dead at a hospital.  My faith was strong.  I realize now that my faith was misguided.  I once gave a prophecy over a friend that he would glorify God in his future. He died drunk, overdosed on drugs.  What happened? My imagination got away from me and I believe that much of the prophecy and so called word of knowledge comes from the imagination.  We are to cast them down and bring into capitivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.  I had a book on my shelf for many years and recently began reading diligently after seeing many youtube videos of these teachers. I do believe that false teaching is being given.  I don’t know how many of these folks really believe what they are doing and those who actually know that they are giving false teaching.  The book: Charismatics Chaos by John MacArthur.
    A book with much research and bibically authorative.  Please read this book with open mind and prayer.  I do want all that the Lord has for me and know that I have all the blessings in Christ.  I believe that many people enamoured with this teaching are not discerning.  I mean:  if someone says that God gave them this or that, or dream, or whatever, who are we to question?  This is the danger of experience veruses authorative scripture.  We do walk by faith and not by sight (ie. personal words spoken over us, or prophecy about us.  I love all the BRETHREN.  Would be easier to say we can agree to disagree BUT this is false teaching not a gray area.  Please, if you are involved in this, study, study, study WOG.

  7. Mary Ann Says:

    Hello RayWalker,
    You seem to ignore the scriptures posted that support publicly refuting false teachings and teachers.  Even Jesus publicly refuted the teachings of the Pharisees who twisted and added to the Word of God.  And I might add, because Jesus exposed them, they were hostile toward Him. 

  8. Paul Says:

    The false teachers need to be publicly exposed, and denounced. It’s unfortunate that some people believe that they need to be approached privately, first.

    Aside from the fact that the scriptures are misinterpreted ( as noted in the article ), how does one approach a Benny Hinn, or a Kim Clement, privately ? It is not realistic, in any sense.

    And even if were possible to arrange a private meeting, does anyone honestly believe that they would retract what they say ? They couldn’t, even if they wanted to, because they claim that what they say is done under the guidance or inspiration  of the Holy Spirit, who cannot lie.

    Any false teacher who actually confesses to their lies, will lose their following – not a good thing for them in these days where the ” Prosperity Gospel “, is their bread and butter.

  9. Ray Walker Says:

    This will be the last time that I will respond to any comments on any of this web site. It hurts me so much to think that you might not be all that you could or should be because it appears to me that you will not avail yourself to be trained and matured by the ministry gifts that the Lord Jesus paid for with his blood and sacrifice. Jesus said to beware of false prophets. Not all prophets, but false prophets. If you think that all modern prophets and apostles are false, why not the evangelist, pastor and teacher. I am not a novice and have seen a lot of things in the kingdom. One would have to be a fool to not see some of the junk that is out there, especially in the church. I especially appreciate and miss the daily comments by Herb Peters. There will be a day that you will tear down your denominational shingles and throw them at the feet of Jesus, and beg for forgiveness. Our divisions are costing the kingdom it’s very life. Please read about the Church of Ephesus. Jesus understood that they hated the false prophets but Jesus said, because of this blood thirsty man hunt you are on, you have lost your first love in being kind, considerate and loving. You have lost the ability to turn the other cheek and forgive. If you do not return to your first love, I will remove your lampstand. There are true modern day apostles, prophets, evangelist, pastors and teachers that are maturing the saints. Thank you Lord Jesus for the five-fold ministry gifts that you gave to teach and train and mature me so that I may do the work of the ministry.

  10. Dave Says:

    Holly: You are right about the merging of the apostles / prophets movement with mainline evangelicals – Lou Engle (The Call) interviewed today by Focus on the Family’s “Friday 5.” Where is Focus going after James Dobson?

  11. Carolyn Says:

    It’s a nice thought…can’t we all just get along? Maybe in heaven, but down here we have evil imposters and white washed tombs and snakes and vipers to contend with, just as Jesus did. We have Jannes and Jambres and Balaam and Jezabel spirits. Opposing spirits who want us to tolerate them, but have no intention of tolerating us. If we don’t expose the wolves, they will eat us alive, as well as our offspring. And if we don’t judge a tree by it’s fruit, we are in direct disobedience to Christ. The true message IS what we are contending for.
    Good post Mary Ann. Could not have said it better!

  12. Mary Ann Says:

    “….it appears to me that you will not avail yourself to be trained and matured by the ministry gifts that the Lord Jesus paid for with his blood and sacrifice…”

    With all due respect, Ray Walker, it seems quite an assumption that we have not been trained and matured by the ministry gifts.  On the contrary, it is because we have been trained and matured that we are able to recognize the false from the truth.  And it is “Basic Training 101” to discern the truth by comparing teachings and prophecies to the Word of God.  By doing so, these prophets have been proven false.

  13. Leah Says:

    The Word of God says that the “sun would go down on the prophets.”  We see that did happen at Jesus’ death on the cross.  There are no “prophets” for the Church.  The gift of “prophecy” is the interpretation of prophetic scripture, not prophecy like the Prophets of the Old Testament.  Prophets were for Israel, not the Church.  Apostles are for the Church.
    We’ve spent too much time dwelling on what self appointed “prophets” are saying about our lives and our futures instead of leaning on and trusting in the Word of God.
    People in the church that I attend look at me funny when I say things like, “God said to me…”  It ought not be so.  Because I have a relationship with my Lord, should I not hear Him speaking to me?  I wouldn’t be married if I had not heard Him say that I was in love with someone I had only considered a brother!
    Seriously, we can hear from God, and we do not need a self appointed prophet to tell us what God would say to us.

  14. Carolyn Says:

    The wolves are predators. They walk among us and stalk our children and we are supposed to “turn the other cheek????” Read your Bible again Ray Walker, in context this time.
    Are we afraid to ruffle a few feathers? I hope not because if the wolves get a chance at those feathers, it’s not pretty. There are feathers everywhere, lost marriages, lost faith, betrayal, back stabbing and divisions between believers. I can turn my cheek to those who offend my sensitivities but a wolf? I am to expose. Otherwise, someone I love may be next on his hit list. And if he’s got a name, I’m going to expose that too.

  15. Bruce Says:

    One thing I know – the prophets of God are correct and accurate 100% of the time. Never ever are they wrong. Period!

    One other thing I know: God has strong words of warning for those who say: Thus sayeth the Lord when albeit I have not spoken”

    Hard to believe this is even being debated.

  16. Mary Ann Says:

    “Hard to believe this is even being debated.”

    Well, scripture does say that some prophecies will not come to pass because they were spoken presumptuously (out of arrogance or pride).  (Deut. 18:22) In those cases believers should not be afraid (or give credence) to them.  So as I see it, we are separating the false from the truth and showing why these “prophets” should be given no heed.


  17. lillyann Says:

    Also, Romans 16:17,  to make note of the false teachers and avoid them.

  18. Chris Says:

    There is a problem with this article in that it tries to use scripture out of context just as it tries to tell us that Matthew 18:15-17 are taken out of context.  Paul may have pointed out false prophets but he is the one that says over and over that there is a biblical way to rebuke them and that starts with a PRIVATE conversation.  Nowhere does he say to stop there, he just explains that a person should have the opportunity to correct themselves before YOU go doing it for them.  To have a person say “I was wrong in my teaching” is of much greater value that you to tell everyone that “that person is teaching wrong”.  One should never try to excuse a good biblical practice in order to “expedite” the release of others!  That is just wrong.  Now if they do not change there is still yet a second process before going to the masses.
    We as Christians would be of ONE VOICE if we would simply stick to biblical teachings in all things.  When we jump the gun and send out lists of people, we defeat those people but we also defeat the use that God may have for them!!  Let God use them in their false teachings, follow biblical guidlines to correct them and if it has to be, then expel them publicly.

  19. RP Says:


  20. Loretta Gallegos Says:

    Tell it like it is. I just happened to find a website regarding false prophets and false teachers. I was actually looking for false prophets and found false teachers also. I wasn’t surprised to find (who) they were. I have to admit I was kinda taken in by the “Prosperity” “Name and Claim it” bunch. Thanks be to God that He would reveal the truth to me since I was open to researh. Don’t be intimadated by speaking out about them. Christians need to know who the wolves are.  REMEMBER, The Lord is with You and You are your Daddy’s girl.  Thank You.

  21. Don Says:

    @ Ray Walker and Mary Ann. I must side with you Mary Ann on this issue of pointing out and exposing error and false doctrine. Scripturlly there’ s enough evidence to prove that we are to warn the wicked and the righteous Ezk. 3 and 33.
    But as well to people like Ray Walker who needs to read the rest of the Bible in Ephesians Paul gives the purpose of the fivefold ministry, for equipping of the saints, for the work of ministry, for the building up of the body of Christ, bringing the Body of Christ into unity, but not just any unity , but unity of the Faith. Only the message of the Cross can bring the Body of Christ together in true unity, and maturity. But notice verse 14 says that we should no longer be tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind and doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but speaking the truth in love…. True love will not with hold the truth but will expose error and proclaim truth. Eph. 5:11-14

  22. Lucille Vigue' Says:

    Thank you so much for this article.  I too have been taken to task about sharing info on those who are teaching false doctrines, mainly emergent type doctrines which mislead believers down a path lies, devoid of respect for the absolute truth of a Sovereign God!

    I appreciate what I think is courage to stand for the Word of God in the face of man’s resistance to accept a lie instead of God’s truth. 

    Please continue to print warnings and urge people to read and study scripture so they are not caught off guard.  Blessings to you in the Name of Jesus!

  23. Sheree Johnson Says:

    You are right on…I agree that the Bible tells us to expose false teachers.  Unfortunately, so many people are afraid to stand up and name names for fear of being persecuted.  Thank you for your willingness to do what the Bible tells us to do.

  24. Tristan F. Morrow Says:

    It would make sense to publicly rebuke (not humiliate) someone that’s in a pulpit or on tv. If you take one man that speaks publicly to 1000 people and those 1000 people are led to believe in a particular false teaching then in order to undo the damage you would have to rebuke him publicly so that the 1000 that were misled could be restored to truth. I don’t think it’s about who’s right or wrong inasmuch as what’s truth and what’s false.

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