It’s time for me to name-drop. I’ll start by just going ahead and publicly saying it was psychologist and relationships expert Dr. Ron Elmore at T.D. Jakes’ “God’s Leading Ladies” conference at the Forum in Los Angeles in 2004 that I refer to in “Don’t Be Silly.” This present post attempts to explain why I would name names of public figures in the professing Christian church, showing there is precedence for doing so in the Bible and equal urgency to do so in this day and age.
When it comes to naming names particularly in Christian leadership, please understand for the record that it is not because of anything I might have against them personally. For instance, I don’t know Ron Elmore or T.D. Jakes personally, have never interacted with them on a personal level, and don’t know anyone who has. Rather, the purpose of naming names is strictly in the context of exposing false doctrine or deceptive leadership in defense of the truth of God’s Holy Word so that fellow believers are protected.
Please also understand that I’m not expressing just mere personal opinion but am relying on the Word of God to support what I say. Furthermore, in cases involving a leader’s more personal sin or character flaw, I may mention the sin or flaw but not mention his or her name or ministry unless clearly allowable by God’s Word.
When I do name names to expose false doctrine or other deception, most often it will be in the context of what an individual has said publicly, especially in a teaching or preaching capacity. The reason is to make people aware of it and warn them about its dangers. Many of those I mention are widely accepted as representatives of true Christianity. But just a simple review of what they teach clearly reveals the gross contradictions. Not only is some of their most popular doctrine unsound, it also often denies the essentials of the faith, as in the case of T.D. Jakes’ modalistic view of the Trinity and Creflo Dollar’s teaching on our supposed equality with God.
(Modalism in effect denies the triune nature of God. It says God has revealed Himself in “modes” — first as the Father in creation (Old Testament), then the Son in redemption (New Testament), and now the Holy Spirit in regeneration (post-Christ’s resurrection). It holds that the three Persons of the Godhead do not co-exist simultaneously. Please see my Statement of Faith page for Scriptures that prove the opposite. Creflo Dollar has implied numerous times — my husband has watched his Wor(l)d Changers broadcast for years — that believers are also divine, even though the Bible clearly states in both the Old and New Testaments that there are no other gods besides Almighty God.)
I will also expose individual leaders’ misrepresentations of the truth in other contexts of potential harm to my fellow believers, such as when it relates to the person’s own personal sin or character issue, or when he or she commits slander (i.e., false witness) against fellow Christians or makes major ministry decisions without thorough investigation and spiritual discernment from God (e.g., giving pulpit teaching time to non-Christian and even anti-Christian speakers).
Mentioning names in a negative light for the purpose of exposing and thereby protecting the sheep of God from doctrinal error and spiritual deception, is a clearly established precedent in the Bible. Consider the following divinely inspired passages:
Galatians 2:11-14 — The Apostle Paul names the Apostle Peter for doctrinal error and hypocrisy. This is particularly significant since Peter was the seasoned apostle, one of the original Twelve, the one whom Jesus Himself called the “rock” upon which He would build His Church. This might be an example of what I talk about in my blog post, The Emperor Has No Clothes!
1 Timothy 1:20 — Paul mentions Hymenaeus and Alexander as blasphemers.
2 Timothy 2:17 — Paul specifically names Hymanaeus (a second time) and Philetus as false teachers.
2 Timothy 4:10 — Demas is mentioned as being too worldly.
2 Timothy 4:14 — Paul claims Alexander the coppersmith wronged him personally.
Titus 2 — Chapter One describes the Cretans as chronic liars.
3 John 9-11 — John warns the church about Diotrephes.
Along with this precedence established by the divinely inspired Bible writers of mentioning people by name in order to warn believers, we have these additional Bible passages to reinforce the urgency:
“Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which you have learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple.”
– Romans 16:17-18
“Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.”
– Colossians 2:8
“Let no one defraud you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the Head …”
– Colossians 2:18-19a
“My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.”
– James 3:1
Clearly, it wasn’t wrong for the divinely inspired writers of the Bible to warn believers in their day by mentioning individuals by name, and indeed it was crucial that they did.
Of course, I am notsaying or implying that I or any other lay Christian is on the same level as the inspired writers of the Bible. Not at all! But, as the above Scriptures and others show, it is also not wrong for any honest and humble adherent to the truth of God’s Word to follow those writers’ example, as long as the motive is not personal but is in obedience to the will and calling of God.
Ephesians 4:11-14 compels all followers of Jesus Christ to be aware of and vigilant against false doctrine and false leaders for the sake of the spiritual well-being and growth of every member of His Church. It says,
“And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness by which they lie in wait to deceive“
Therefore, please know in advance, I will not be moved to “cease and desist” by anyone’s socially, experientially or tradition-derived subjective opinions, especially in light of what the objective revelation — that is, the Bible — clearly teaches.
Of course, I welcome your thoughts, including if you disagree. Please share scriptures to support your opposing position, just as I have done to support my position. Leave a comment and I will reply as soon as I can.