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Editors Note: The following short exchange consists of three articles

Response to the Last Paragraph of "Guarding the Guardian"
Jesse G. Jenkins

Bobby wrote that according to Jesse Jenkins “ must have a flawed character like is described in 2 Peter 2:1-3 before he can be labeled as such,” i.e.., a false teacher. Bobby knows that is not so unless he has a very good forgetter. I am a stickler for using words or phrases like I believe the Bible uses them. This is the reason I do not use the word “Christian” as an adjective. However, I have never said one sins if he uses the word as an adjective, such as speaking of a family where all are Christians, as a “Christian family.”

Just so, I told Bobby that I will not call one a false teacher unless I am convinced that he has both a character problem and a doctrine problem. But I also told Bobby that I do not think one sins if he calls one a false teacher simply on the basis that he teaches false doctrine if he lets it be known that he is only taking about the error taught and not the man’s character.

And Bobby has twice made a tape recording of me telling him that, once in Austin and once in Lancaster. So, I have never said that “one must have flawed character” to be labeled a false teacher. I have said I do not do it, but I have told Bobby that I do not charge him with sin if he chooses to do so.

Let me plainly state what I do believe. I believe that in every instance where the N.T. uses “false” as a prefix to teacher, prophet, witness, brethren, etc. the context shows the one so called has both a character and a doctrine problem. Thus, that is the way I will use the phrase. However, I recognize that it is common practice today for one to use the phrase when only speaking of the error taught. I grant one that right, but I will not join him in doing it. And I can not understand why when I name and expose the error, say on MDR, identify the one teaching the false doctrine, and refuse to extend to him the right hand of fellowship, Bobby, demands that I also label the man a false teacher. And if Bobby thinks it necessary for him to call my name, I can not understand why he will not state what I have told him I believe rather than misrepresenting me.

Bobby uses Hymenaeus, Alexander, Phygellus, Hermogenes and Philetus (1 Tim. 1:18-20; 2 Tim. 1:13-15; 2 Tim. 2:16-18; 2 Tim. 4:14-15) in his effort to prove that one is to be called a false teacher where no character flaw is evidenced. Gentle reader, if you will carefully check these passages you will see that Paul did not label these men “false teachers.” These are my passages. Paul exposed their error, identified them as the teachers thereof and warned others about them. That is exactly what I do where no character flaw is evidenced by a teacher of error! What Bobby and others need to do is examine the passages that use the phrase false teacher, false prophet, etc. Just as the Baptist tries to prove that baptism is not for remission of sins by looking at passages that do not even mention baptism, Bobby has tried to prove his contention about false teachers by looking at passages that do not even mention false teachers. The Baptist needs to look at passages that speak of Baptism if he wants to learn about baptism; and just so, Bobby needs to look at passages that speak about false teachers, prophets, etc. if he wants to learn how the N.T. uses that phrase. And to help him and others do so, I here list those passages.

  • False Christs: Matt. 24:24; Mk. 13:22

  • False witnesses: Matt. 15:19; 19:18; 26:59-60; Mk. 10:19; 14:56-57; Lk. 18:20; Rom. 13:9; 1 Cor. 15:15; Acts 6:13
  • False brethren: 2 Cor. 11:26; Gal. 2:4
  • False apostles: 2 Cor. 11:13
  • False teachers: 2 Pet. 2;1
  • False prophets: Matt. 7:15; 24;11,24; Mk. 13:22; Lk. 6:26; Acts 13:6; 2 Pet. 2:1; 1 John 4:1

Bobby accused me, and others, of "redefining who a false teacher is." He said that  until a few  short years ago no one defined the way the N. T. uses the phrase "false teacher"  as I define it. Even if that were true, I wonder how Bobby could possibly know it. The truth is that it is not so. I do not remember defining the way I believed the N.T. uses the phrase any differently than I do now. And I have commentaries that make a distinction between the false teacher and the doctrine he taught. But the bottom line is that it is totally nonsensical and lacking in brotherly love for one brother  to mark another brother off just because he  will not put the label on a man, but who does expose his error, identify him as the teacher thereof, warn others not to be mislead by him, and who refuses  to fellowship him. Brethren. We need to use our energies to fight false doctrine rather than fussing and trying to destroy one another over labels. Brethren who agree on divorce and remarriage, Romans 14, worldliness, the worship, work and organization of the church need to be fighting error side by side with all their might instead of devouring one another.

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