Sheep Being Fed Clover

Another important aspect of our solitary walk with Christ is our willingness to be accountable for what we teach and the sources we recommend in our teaching.

This is not something that usually worries those within Evangelicalism. Unless it has to do with warning someone of a legalistic or very strange teacher.

Outside of that, we tend to recommend and quote most anyone in our sermons if that source is popular and if that source is advancing our point.

An Accepted Attitude

There is an accepted attitude today within Evangelicalism that we should not be so particular about stuff.

Meaning, we should avoid criticizing other ministries. We should not say anything negative about other churches. And we should downplay any errors we may see in the teaching of other Christians.

Since that would, presumably, be unloving, unkind, and divisive.

The way this attitude plays out, practically, goes something like this:

If something isn’t done or said correctly (such as in a sermon, book, or church classroom), we can fix it later. If someone doesn’t teach the right thing, then emphasize the good and ignore the bad.

If we cite an author or teacher in our sermons or church classrooms, people are not encouraged to raise an issue about the source of our material. Nor is a teacher expected to warn people about questionable teaching by other ministries; especially teaching which an oft-quoted leader holds — like a popular Christian author or preacher.  

In all things, it seems we are expected to just swallow the good and spit out the bad. With little thought about what we are fed. And with little thought about the materials we pass on to others; especially those materials which the church has passed on to us.

Being Accountable

When I first started out in this Christian life, and knew virtually nothing about spiritual things, I read just about everything I could get my hands on. I went to the local Christian bookstore as often as possible searching for material to feed my soul. While having no experience to help me navigate the excrement that was often displayed on those bookstore shelves.

Now, that may seem harsh.

But, in later years, I gained some experience working for a small Christian bookstore. And I’m very grateful that the church that ran that store, as an outreach ministry, took their calling seriously.

They believed in only carrying materials that were biblically sound. And, if a book or other media had something questionable within it, they would communicate that within the front of the book (such as by an inserted leaflet) or by making sure that the customer was aware of the problem when they brought it to the counter.

In other words, the bookstore ministry wasn’t there to sell books. They were there to feed the sheep. And they were careful about the food they fed those sheep.

And about the books, materials, ministries, and teachers they would recommend to others. 

That is called, loving our brethren.

By making ourselves accountable to the Lord and to our fellow Christians for what we teach, whom we quote, and whose ministries we recommend.

The Hard Identification Choice

This willingness to be accountable seems to be missing in Evangelicalism today.

It’s as if we feel no responsibility to warn and guide those around us of the dangers they might encounter when they unsuspectingly consume what is served up in the great Evangelical buffet.

It’s as if we intentionally skip over the whole accountability concept. By ignoring the potential errors our Christian brethren might fall into as a result of the teachers and books we recommend.

By our choosing to remain silent about the bad biblical positions which our favorite authors and teachers hold; presumably out of some misplaced loyalty to them. Or due to an unspoken rule that we are not wise enough or spiritual enough to question the popular scholars.

Or due to a false view of love that we often hold that causes us to shy away from necessary criticism, negativity and fruit inspection. 

Most churches have a very cavalier attitude regarding the sources they cite. And regarding the teachers, preachers and authors they recommend.

But based on what I have learned, love for others demands our vigilance on their behalf.

Love demands our willingness to go outside the camp with the Lord in our identification with Him, His word, and His truth.

Because, after all, silence gives consent

Photo by Kat Jayne from Pexels