Discernment

Discernment Ministry - A Biblical Defense, Part 2

(Read the series so far.)

The Necessity

As we survey the Word of God it is impossible to miss the prominent place that God places on truth and the deep concern that our Lord has when His people err in doctrine or in living. The Old Testament is permeated with calls to live on the basis of God’s truth and warnings about those who stray and teach anything else. For example the heartbeat of God is evident in Jeremiah 23,

“Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture!” declares the Lord… “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who are prophesying to you. They are leading you into futility; they speak a vision of their own imagination, not from the mouth of the Lord… The prophet who has a dream may relate his dream, but let him who has My word speak My word in truth… Behold I am against those who have prophesied false dreams… I did not send them or command them, nor do they furnish this people the slightest benefit…” (Jer 23:1,16, 28, 32).

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Discernment Ministry - A Biblical Defense, Part 1

Discernment in our times

We live in an environment in which it is most difficult to stand for the faith. Not only will those who attempt to be on the front lines of discernment face the guns of those in opposition, but they may be hit by “friendly fire” as well.

For example: I recently wrote what I thought was a rather innocuous article expressing a high view of Scripture including a belief in its sufficiency. I was nevertheless surprised to receive a quick email rebuke by a pastor who also claimed to believe in the inerrancy, authority and sufficiency of the Bible and who ultimately accused me of taking what he called a “biblical charismatic” view. When I inquired as to how that could be, since I believe God speaks to us today only through Scripture and charismatics believe God speaks through means beyond the written Word, he did not reply.

I did not mean to imply to this pastor that I reject general revelation in which “the heavens are telling of the glory of God” (Ps 19:1-6), but that specific, authoritative revelation for this church age is confined to the Old and New Testaments. God is not adding new revelation or inspired texts to supplement the canon of Scripture. I believe that such revelations are unnecessary today because God has promised that the Scriptures are “adequate [to] equip [us] for every good work” (2 Tim 3:17).

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Fooling Yourself, Part 2

Read Part 1.

Groupthink and Collective Self-Deception

In George Orwell’s classic novel, 1984, Winston Smith lives in a world completely controlled by the government, personified by the moniker, “Big Brother.” Everyone is conditioned to believe exactly what Big Brother says is true. Winston, along with many others, spends his life manipulating history and documents so that Big Brother is always right, and has always been right, even when Big Brother changes his mind. Big Brother controls public thought through the promotion of “doublethink” and “newspeak.” In this way “thought crime” (disagreement) is prevented, and Big Brother retains absolute control, keeping people in constant ignorance and denial of the truth. By the practice of “groupthink” everyone is pressured into agreeing with whatever Big Brother proclaims.

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Compartment Rich, Discernment Poor

Note: This article was originally published at SI on November 8, 2006.
stainlesssteel.jpg“Mom, are you sure this is a Bible thing, or is it just an old thing?” As I sat with my son downloading previews of music he was asking me to evaluate, I suddenly yearned for the days when the only song in his musical repertoire that even faintly raised my eyebrow was one that involved a rather raucous garden escape by Peter Rabbit. Everyone needs an inquisitive, stratton_boxes.jpgstatus quo-examining teenager in his home. Teens are so adept at poking around in our neatly arranged boxes of rejection and asking those challenging questions about the items that interest them. It can be quite irritating at times, and I confess the inconvenience of it all has far too often driven me to seal the container shut and shoo away the grubby little paws that are daring to rummage through items I have proudly rejected for half a century.

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Compartment Rich, Discernment Poor

“Mom, are you sure this is a Bible thing, or is it just an old thing?” As I sat with my son downloading previews of music he was asking me to evaluate, I suddenly yearned for the days when the only song in his musical repertoire that even faintly raised my eyebrow was one that involved a rather raucous garden escape by Peter Rabbit. Everyone needs an inquisitive, status quo-examining teenager in his home. Teens are so adept at poking around in our neatly arranged boxes of rejection and asking those challenging questions about the items that interest them. It can be quite irritating at times, and I confess the inconvenience of it all has far too often driven me to seal the container shut and shoo away the grubby little paws that are daring to rummage through items I have proudly rejected for half a century.

I am just lazy enough to engage in some hefty, white-knuckled clinging to the convenience that boxes and labels offer. I thrive on organization, but since I’m not naturally neat enough to achieve it on my own, I tend to rely heavily on baskets and bins. I possess a “contained chaos” kind of style. As long as things look neat and orderly, my conscience usually finds soothing just enough to enjoy a few good patronizing pats on the back from that annoyingly virtuous woman of my dreams.

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