The year 2017 is another year with an increased level of access to information from across the globe, and Christians encounter countless facts and opinions on a daily basis. This allows the current generation of Christians to not only be the most informed, but also to possibly be struggling with a greater level of confusion on what to believe.
At a Korean Global Mission Summit on Wednesday, Jeff Iorg, the president of Gateway Seminary of the Southern Baptist Convention, noted these trends and called on Christian leaders to continue to firmly and vigorously defend the Scriptures through the various avenues available to them.
In particular, Iorg focused on countering the ideas perpetrated by “false teachers,” which he defined as those who take the Bible and use it to justify their beliefs which are contrary to the Christian faith. One example of false teaching which Iorg cited was that of accepting and using the Bible to justify same-sex marriage.
“We are surrounded by detractors who ignore or ridicule the Bible,” Iorg said. “While they seem intimidating, the greater problem … is so-called Christian leaders who claim to take the Bible seriously, while recasting its meaning to suit their selfish purposes. The example of this issue today is those who use the Bible to change definitions of gender, morality, sexuality, and marriage.”
He suggested two main avenues through which Christian leaders can counter false teachings. One avenue is through communication platforms, such as preaching, teaching, or writing. This would be most accessible by pastors and professors, for example.
“When a false teacher takes a public stand, open rebuke is biblically appropriate,” Iorg said. “Those of us who have public leadership responsibilities know public analysis, evaluation, and critique comes with the territory. False teachers may be confronted through the same media they use to promulgate error.”
But Iorg also encouraged Christian leaders – including pastors and professors, as well as those who may not have such a public voice – to confront false ideas through day to day relationships with family and friends, which he called “personal apologetics,” and noted that this is “the process of correcting false teaching (the results of false teachers) more than the teachers themselves.”
One poignant example he gave was that of parenting. As children are inundated with various opinions and information through the media, their ideas may be shaped by voices that are beyond the reach of parents, no matter how much they may try to shelter their children. Even at school, children may be exposed to ideas promoted by their teachers which may be contrary to the Bible. Iorg encouraged parents to be proactive in discussing these ideas, and said he himself “took them [the outside influences] on aggressively.”
The important point is to have an “honest dialogue,” he added, and said it’s important for parents to also allow their children the freedom to make the wrong choices, while also letting them know of the “Bible’s standards and expectations,” as well as the consequences that may ensue from their choices.
Whether with children or with friends, Iorg emphasized that personal apologetics must be focused on countering the false ideas, rather than attacking the individual.
“Their thoughts are the result of false teachers or errant teaching, not the cause. Keeping this distinction in view will increase your patience, lessen your anger, and generate conversations rather than lectures,” Iorg noted.
“Your objective isn’t to beat people up with information. Your task is telling the truth, as lovingly and patiently as possible, confronting false teaching rather than attacking the person who has been duped by it,” he added.
Iorg also reminded leaders of the importance of persevering in personal and public apologetics, saying that false teaching leads to “destruction.”
“Lives are ruined when the Word of God is flaunted. Those of us who teach the Bible’s plain meaning are often marginalized as uncaring and intolerant. The opposite is actually true,” he said.
“We love people so much we are willing to be ridiculed for telling them the truth. We can’t stand idly by while people are propelled toward catastrophe by sweet-sounding error. When false teachers win the day – whether culturally-elite, media personalities or well-educated, erudite preachers – people are eventually destroyed by following their lead. No truly caring person can tolerate such dastardly abuse. We are compelled to speak up.”
Meanwhile, the Korean Global Mission Summit took place from February 20 to 22 at Gateway Seminary in Ontario, CA and Beautiful Church in Rowland Heights, CA.