Foundational Text: The book of Jude
False teachers and their false teachings are nothing new. That’s not a lacadasical statement, just a simple fact of the matter. But as the church has become more affluent materially and influential positionally, false teachers of all stripes —sexual, prosperity, doctrinal— have been able to sow seeds of discord with little to no resistance.
Part of that limited success is found in the intimidation tactic used against the church. That’s why we should never assist in spreading the worldly doctrine of “homophobia“. The very connotations of the word are punitive, broad based intimidation. False teachers are both incognito and open. An incognito profile allows them access to the sheep to deceive them, win their attention and perhaps even affection. Once that hurdle is accomplished, the pretense is shed and an open challenge to established doctrine is launched. That’s why early exposure of false teachers is critically important to the health and welfare of the sheep. As we have noted consistently here at GCM Watch, certain men were able to wreak sexual havoc on countless lives using these practices. Had they been exposed early and held accountable, perhaps they would have repented and many lives would have been spared. If fact that is the very reason why the bible tells us to rebuke openly so that others will fear and not sin. But today secret meetings and back room deals which are only to protect institutional images and bank accounts allow the false teachers to continue without anyone knowing. Thus, a false perception is cast in the church that all is well. Some leaders actually believe they are protecting the sheep but not revealing false teachers, but sadly it has the opposite consequence.
Jude’s stated intent for writing his epistle was to combat the false teachers who had “crept into” the church unaware (v. 4). This is the first goal of the false teacher: Get in without anyone noticing or sounding the alarm. False teachers attempt this by (a) pretending to appreciate the leader (b) pretending the established doctrine is good (c) pretending they are true believers. Some even take it to the point of persecuting others to prove it, albeit falsely and (d) pretending to live in accordance with established truth.
It was expected that as the Apostle Jude blew the trumpet to the church, there would be those who would question his authority to do so. But he did, not by prominently mentioning his blood relationship to the Lord Jesus, but instead based his strong appeal on the foundational principles of the faith. Today those fundamental bedrock principles are derided as “fundamentalism” or as Mark Lowry mocks “the fundies”. (v. 3). This is what we must do. Not to challege the church because of who we are “connected to” (i.e. “spiritual mothers”, “spiritual fathers’, etc,) but on the unwavering stability of the truth.
This faith, Jude argues, must be contended for against a very determined opposition. Its worth noting that Jude is compelled to write because of the damage to the flock false teachers could inflict. Today, sites like Pulpit Pimps, GCM Watch, Independent Conservative and others which follow in Jude’s tradition (and mandate) are derided as “divisive”, “gossipy” or “salacious”. That is exactly the cover the false teachers need to continue until they reach a place of authority in the church.
Should we call names? Although Jude did not offer to the reader the identities of those who had “crept in,” the sheer force of his exposure of their character and his detailed explanation of nature of their sin, motives and fruit would have left little doubt to someone who could discern those around them. The Apostle Paul did call the names of those who “did evil” and revealed identities of those who refused to repent and follow the teachings of Christ.
Jude takes the role of an older brother who has been in the fight and knows exactly what to look for in an opponent. Instead of telling the church he would fight, he rightfully challenged them to fight the false teachers. Far too many people in the contemporary church have been led to believe they have no responsibility in protecting the sanctity and integrity of the church, but Jude demolishes that myth. Every saint is to be alert, aware, ready and able to take the necessary action to defend that which was given to us by the Lord Jesus. It is not a duty assigned only to the clergy, the seminary trained or those in the fourfold ministry (Eph 4:11).