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On Being a False Teacher


The other day a friend of mine tweeted “false teachers are usually nice guys. Don’t be fooled.”

Probably a true statement, but it got me thinking about the label false teacher.

Now I don’t ever use the phrase “false teacher”, I don’t think I have ever even thought it about someone, but we all have language that basically gets across the same point.  Our words might be different, but when I label someone a “fundamentalist” or a “conservative”, or any other words I use to dismiss someones point of view I am pretty much labelling them a false teacher.  So basically, those I consider to be false teachers are those who’s ideas I don’t agree with and therefore keep at a distance.  I label them as false teachers (or fundamentalists, or conservatives) so I don’t have to engage with them or listen to them.  I don’t have to view them as a person but rather just a label.  Image

This is obviously unfair and I should know better for I have been labelled a false teacher and dismissed by thosewho didn’t bother to hear my heart, didn’t bother to engage in a meaningful dialogue.  The words I have been labelled with are different.  I get labelled “liberal”, “universalist” and other words that allow people to dismiss me.  And though it sort of feels good to be labelled “controversial”,like I am some kind of rebel, it saddens me that people do so without even a conversation.  Yet so many times I have done the same thing.

And when I am really honest I need to acknowledge that there is a good chunk of what I teach that is probably false.  I am a false teacher! I once heard theologian Tom Wright say before a lecture “30% of all I am about to say is false, I just don’t know what part.”  I only hope my percentage is that low.  When I look back at sermons I have preached I can see how I have changed.  Much of what I preached and taught 10 years ago I totally disagree with now, and would see as harmful,and there is a good chance that when I look back 10 years from now I will disagree with myself just as much.

So what am I getting at?  Are there people who teach dangerous stuff? Yes.  Do I need to be careful? Yes.  But I need to be slow to write people off.  Until I have really engaged with someone I have no right to disregard them, to label them and push them aside.  I need to truly listen to them hear their heart, get to know them as a person.  I am guessing if I do this then most people won’t comfortably fit in my labels, and even if they do, even if I still vehemently disagree with them, it will be a lot harder to write them off, because they will become more then a label, but a person and a relationship. And I always have to acknowledge that a part of what I am teaching is wrong, so I must never fully be comfortable, but always willing to grow and change, hopefully becoming less and less of a false teacher as I go.

So yeah, as a nice guy and a false teacher, I guess the saying is true.


About christianharvey

I am a youth worker, husband, dad and drummer.

3 responses to “On Being a False Teacher

  1. DC/C ⋅

    This just popped up in my E-Mail Christian, so I read it . You know, you should really keep in touch, even if you are a liberal”, “universalist” AND an Anglican to boot! lol! Despite differences that Christians have with each other, Jesus prayed in John 17 that we would all be ONE and he always gets his way! The reason why some people may call you a “liberal universalist” perhaps is because as an Artist, you prpbably absorb much of the culture around you quite deeply. This can be a danger but it can also be a learning curve and a Ministry. It is true that you (all of us) should listen to the heart of those sharing without being pulled into a world view which is quickly fleeting. John 16 says: “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.” We can speak truth from our hearts when we are in tune to the spirit and we can likewise listen to the hearts of others when we are in tune with Yeshuah. (Jesus)

    • Hey Dori, good to hear from you. You are right about the danger and/or ministry. It seems life is like walking a tightrope much of the time, you are always in danger of falling of one side or the other. Thanks for the comment, we should chat soon.

  2. Rachael ⋅

    I love that this wasn’t at all what I thought you were going to talk about and I see the truth in this. Relationships and growth are good and I believe what God designed us for. Do you really think that that much of what you said 10 years ago is false though? Wasn’t it true to you at that point in time? I believe so much of what we see as true is our perspective and experience. Of course our understanding of the truth will never be perfect as God sees it, since he’s the only one with the whole picture. But this is why our stories are important. And why the use of them is important to understanding who God is. And like we read about people in scripture to uncover who God is and Jesu, through relationships with one another and sharing experiences we do the same. I’m convinced that the minute we block each other out, and end their stories, we are shutting out the greatest and most obvious miracles and evidence of truth ever created… You and me. But I agree; this is probably absurdly false. If I really wanted to speak truth I’d quote every verse in the bible but I don’t know how to write sermons, nor was I ever very good at English essays very well….

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