It is more usual than not for brethren to cringe when preachers begin pointing out the strange teachings that exist in our brotherhood. Mental scans are done of the auditorium in hopes that “the family from that other congregation isn’t here this morning hearing this.” The tragic irony being that we have more concern for people’s feelings than their spiritual wellbeing.
I don’t know any preachers who go out of their way to “put people off” by deliberately upsetting them with accusations of false beliefs. But I do know some preachers who believe that we should avoid upsetting people by never mentioning the possibility of having false beliefs.
There are, of course, times and places for most things. Unscriptural teachings come in many shapes and sizes. If you don’t think that some of your brethren carry around silly ideas you are in for some surprises. When non-biblical or anti-biblical ideas are held—but not yet insisted upon—we do best to sit down and ask how the other person came to those conclusions. We can hardly expect a spirit of enquiry from others if we do not have one ourselves.
I would like to say that dealing with those who promote what I believe to be strange ideas is easy; it is not! These brethren have their fans and defenders and are often very good at playing the underdog. What can you do with brethren who have separated off as the “righteous few”? However, they are easy to spot—their diehards carry around 30-year-old lists of “false teachers who were once associated with certain other false teachers.” If they are right, they are right. Otherwise, they are setting themselves up for God’s judgement.
Instead, I pray that we are known as brethren who are easy to talk to about all scriptural matters. And that individually we are ready to have all of our personal beliefs and practices questioned by one and all—especially those strange ideas.