When I make dogmatic comments on various social media about this or that person being a false teacher, invariably I receive push-back. It usually consists of one of two opinions- either they use ad hominem to accuse me of being critical, judgmental, or otherwise something negative. Or, they say they had a positive experience following the teacher and due to the experience they had, it proves the teacher is true. A sort of ‘I know s/he isn’t false, because s/he helped me!’
Either type of comment displaying zeal without wisdom also usually include some old chestnuts recycled from undiscerning person to undiscerning person. They include, Judge not, don’t touch God’s anointed, did you go to her … and so on.
I say zeal without wisdom and undiscerning, because these commenters know just enough of what is in the Bible but not at all what it means.
Here is a comment I received similar to the latter, and my reply. I tried not only to reply but also to make it a learning moment for the commenter and for others who will read it.
The commenter said- “Joyce Meyer is NOT a false teacher. She has helped many including me. Those who speak against God’s anointed are in danger of becoming like Miriam. I would encourage you to contact her and share your disagreements rather than going public to turn others away. Doesn’t the scripture say that if you have an issue with your brother to go to them first? I have been guilty of judging but then researched and the Lord showed me that His servants may not come packaged the way you want just like Jesus wasn’t packaged the way the religious leaders of the day wanted. Ask God what He thinks of Joyce Meyer and wait patiently for the answer!”
The commenter got ALL of the undiscerning replies in there! I replied back:
“Wow you covered a lot of errant talking points in your email. I’ll go through them one by one.”
“She has helped many including me.”
The benchmark of discerning whether a teacher is false is not whether they “helped you.” Every false teacher has a mixture of true and false in their messages. They are crafty and subtle. (Genesis 3:1). They appear to be helpful, because they would not be successful if they didn’t appear to be helping you in your walk. The way to assess whether a teacher is false is whether they teach according to scripture, not your personal experience of her. Meyer does not teach according to scripture. She teaches falsely.
“Those who speak against God’s anointed are in danger of becoming like Miriam.”
Every New Testament book except Philemon, spoke against false teachers. By your standard, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Peter, James, Jude, and Paul were “in danger of becoming like Miriam” because they spoke against false teachers. Several of them named the false teacher publicly. As a matter of fact, remember the incident in Galatians 2:11, 14 with Paul confronting Peter to his face in public? So the phrase cannot mean what you think it means.
The phrase ‘do not touch God’s anointed’ is a recounting of an Old Testament single incident between David and Saul in 1 Samuel 24:10. David is telling why he didn’t kill Saul when he had the chance to in that cave, not why he didn’t criticize Saul. And, all God’s children are ‘anointed’. We all have the anointing of the Holy Spirit. It’s not that leaders and teachers have an anointing that the rest of do not have. No. We all have it. Anyway, no one is immune from criticism. No one is untouchable.
“I would encourage you to contact her and share your disagreements rather than going public to turn others away. Doesn’t the scripture say that if you have an issue with your brother to go to them first?”
The scripture you speak of is in Matthew 18:15-18. It involves intra-church discipline, not public criticism of a false teacher. If a teacher is teaching publicly, then they can be criticized publicly. I refer again to Paul confronting Peter in front of everyone. John the Baptist called out false teachers publicly. So did Jesus.
We read in The Gospel Coalition, “The guidelines in Matthew 18 have to do with personal grievances between two individuals in the same church. They have nothing to do with the ethics and etiquette of online discourse.” This article may clear things up for you: 5 Situations in Which Matthew 18 does not Apply
“I have been guilty of judging but then researched and the Lord showed me that His servants may not come packaged the way you want just like Jesus wasn’t packaged the way the religious leaders of the day wanted.”
It is not a matter of disliking how a “teacher is packaged”. It is a matter of whether what they are preaching aligns with scripture. Joyce Meyer teaches and preaches things that scripture does not say. This article outlines where Joyce Meyer is wrong:
“Ask God what He thinks of Joyce Meyer and wait patiently for the answer!”
God is not speaking today. He has already spoken in His son (Hebrews 1:1-2) and all that is necessary to know and learn about Him is in the Bible and is sufficient for learning, reproof etc. 2 Timothy 3:16-17. He also says false teachers are condemned. Jude 1:4. I do not need to pray and listen for an answer. I just need to read my Bible and compare a teacher’s teaching to it.
Thanks for the comment, and the opportunity to sift through these old chestnuts about false teachers. These concepts are important, so I hope and pray you read the articles I linked to, and think on these things.
Joyce Meyers False Teachers Prosperity Gospel – Justin Peters. 3:28 video clip
The End Time (essay): Bullet points on why Joyce Meyer is a false teacher
A Word Fitly Spoken (30- min podcast)- Discerning False Teachers: Joyce Meyer
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