“False teachers are not committed to Scripture. They may speak of Jesus and the Father, but the heart of their ministry will not be the Word of God.
They will either add to it, take away from it, interpret it in some heretical fashion, add other “revelations” to it, or deny it altogether.” The Pathology of False Teachers
False teachers are the dangerous “wolves” that Scripture warns about. This is not a term to be assigned lightly, so Scripture must be consulted to tell us what we need to know about wolves.
- They look like sheep (true believers) and they claim to speak for the Lord. They proclaim to be Christians and nothing obvious would say otherwise.
Matt 7:15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.”
- We will know them by what they produce. They are often characterized by corrupt character and error in teaching.
Matt 7:16 “You will recognize them by their fruits.”
- They are an absolute certainty. They are IN the visible church and WILL draw others away by twisting God’s Word.
Acts 20:29 “I (Paul) know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you (the church), not sparing the flock and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them”
1 John 2:19 “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.”
Why would Christ use the term wolf? Because of the very REAL danger of following them. Believers need to be discerning, recognizing that wolves can take on many faces.
Gospel Coalition writer Joe Carter wrote an article worth consideration titled Beware of Broken Wolves .
In his article Joe writes,
“Wolves often look like sheep, so to spot a wolf we can often look at what values and qualities are esteemed by a particular religious community. In Jesus’s day outward religiosity was prized, so the wolves looked like legalists. And in the early post-apostolic age, secret knowledge was valued, so wolves took the form of learned Gnostics.
The values of the evangelical community in America today are diverse, so it’s not surprising we have a broad diversity in the species of wolves we encounter.
In our own age, health and wealth are precious,
so some wolves take the form of preachers selling a prosperity gospel.
We also seek to change the world for the better,
so some wolves take the guises of “social justice” or “family values” advocates.
But there is a particularly nasty breed that often goes unnoticed,
a type that we might call the “Broken Wolf.”
These are the false teachers who use their own authenticity, pain, and brokenness to attract believers who are also suffering and broken—and then using their “brokenness” to lead the sheep to turn away from God’s Word and embrace sin. They blend into the flock because Christians are not—and should not be—suspicious of broken people. They appear “in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves” (Matt. 7:15).”
Seth Barnes, founder and President of Adventures in Missions, has many earmarks of a “Broken Wolf”. Seth’s blogs appear to be written to connect with those who are the “down-and outers”, those who can relate to his “brokenness”.
We will compare Seth’s writings to the type of “wolf” described in Carter’s article.
Joe Carter gives three reasons he believes Broken Wolves are a grave danger to your family and to your local congregation. They are as follows:
1. Broken Wolves Are Authentic
“The majority of the Broken Wolves you’ll encounter are truly broken people. They have suffered real pain and hurt—sometimes even at the hands of the church. They are the type of people we should naturally rush to comfort and protect, for they need love and refuge.”
On his blog Seth writes, You have to work at being authentic. You have to put yourself out there with all of your mess, and the bigger a big shot you become, the more you have to work at it. We’re all messed up. Grace begins with admitting the mess and showing your brokenness. I don’t particularly enjoy offering up my issues in this blog for all the world to see, but the liberation process has got to start somewhere, so why not with me?
Seth, “I was painfully aware of my brokenness as a teenager. I was short, had acne, and had no idea whatsoever what to say to girls. Also, it didn’t help that the girl I liked was going out with a handsome, all-state football player. I looked like Woody Allen in contrast – I wanted to be a pole vaulter in track, but was so afraid of failure, I never even picked up a pole once. In fact, I just figured that failure was all part of my identity. I thought, “Well, I guess I am just going to be that little guy that always fails.”
“But what separates Broken Wolves from Broken Sheep is the former believe their brokenness provides them—like the Gnostics of previous eras—with secret knowledge, such as fresh insights into the human condition. Because they can see more clearly than those who are “whole” (i.e., the average, hypocritical churchgoer), they “re-interpret” Scripture, discarding the musty old understandings of previous generations of Christians for interpretations that just so happen to align with the latest preferences of the secular culture.”
Seth, “I was talking with a life coach last week. He probed broken areas of my life that I had dealt with a long time ago. I’m a grown man in my 50’s, yet when my coach put a magnifying glass up to my early life, I still had to struggle with my feelings as a high school student. “How did you feel?” He asked. “I felt small, lonely, and inadequate. I was depressed,” I answered, wishing he would move on to the next subject.
“If you are going to be able to lead at the next level, you’re going to need to be able to talk about that stuff.”
I knew what he was saying is true, but here’s my struggle: If talking about my brokenness helps others, it also causes me to relive and rehearse those old feelings. Helping them hurts me.”
Here are a few posts on how he reinterpreting Scripture. Deceived and Deceiving and The Ancient Lie of Eden Retold
Related to this, we also have previously shared this testimony from a former Racer’s experience at Training Camp, telling us,
“…we were told to imagine that we were holding a box. Inside this box were all of our ideas and beliefs about God; everything that we had been taught growing up or had learned on our own. We were then commanded to throw this imaginary box on the ground and stomp on it, showing that we were not going to be constrained by our theological upbringings and that we were no longer going to put God in a box.”
2. Broken Wolves Are Beyond Criticism
“Your parents probably taught you from an early age not to harm the already hurting (Prov. 22:22). We therefore hesitate to criticize the broken, even if we recognize them as false teachers. No Christian likes to be considered a bully. And the harsh reality is that if you call out a Broken Wolf you will be called a bully… “
A former Racer shares with us this testimony ,
“Not wanting to cause division or be labeled as someone who is unwilling to show grace to others, the overwhelming majority of Racers will begin adopting and practicing this “culture of grace.” However, if a Racer does chose to vocalize certain concerns about the beliefs and practices of other participants or the leadership of AIM, their team members and superiors will likely view him or her as one who lacks grace. Even if there is not a direct reprimand for raising questions or concerns, the individual will likely be shamed in subtle ways for not completely “buying into” the World Race culture.”
3. Broken Wolves Are Appealing
“Because we share the concerns of our Great Shepherd, Christians are drawn to people who are broken, hurting, and vulnerable. As the Psalmist says, “The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (Ps. 34:18). Unfortunately, the Broken Wolves often get there first. They arrive swiftly with the gospel of affirmation: “You’re fine the way you are; it’s the rest of the world that’s screwed up and causing you to suffer.”
Seth “It seems inside out, but lately leadership gurus are beginning to tout the benefits of vulnerability in leaders. Leaders who are in touch with their brokenness and able to share it take the pressure off their followers to be anything other than themselves.”
Seth has a “Different Gospel” of vulnerability and affirmation. It is not the saving Gospel, we see trickling down this organization he has begun. Many other leaders have bought into the mystical ideas that come out of our own minds, puffed up with pride about how great we are, taking the focus off of Jesus Christ. We can see evidence of this in the World Race public Facebook writings, here is an example.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you NOT to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
—Marianne Williamson (universalist/emergent/new age spiritual leader)
We do not have the glory of God within us. The glory is HIS alone and true believers merely reflect His Glory by our sanctified life. This is New Age mysticism being posted by AIM on their Facebook page. The very first comments on this page question this!
“Why is The World Race promoting a New Age guru?”
“Universalism. Ugh. No Christian message at all.”
“Not in all of us . . .”
It is very refreshing that others pick this up. To be clear, Scripture never indicates ALL are children of God.
“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:12-13
A Broken Wolf would not want to exclude anyone, especially the hurting. However, even those that have had a tough life here in this world will not be excluded from judgment. They must be warned.
Continued in Part 2