An Exhortation to Christians Forwarding E-mails, and Discerning Truth in General


I sent the following out in my group e-mail list on 4/1/2010 (with some minor editing), and thought it would be worth reading by all Christians who visit my website:

Like most of you, I have occasionally forwarded an e-mail sent to me, WITHOUT confirming the validity of the information.  Fortunately, there is usually someone who writes back and shows me that it is wrong.   I then try to contact everyone I sent the wrong information to, in order to maintain my own credibility as a Christian.

However, I have been becoming more and more alarmed at how many e-mails I have been receiving, especially from CHRISTIANS, that have included false information.  Just this past week, I have had to write back to at least ten people, mostly CHRISTIANS, to show them that their e-mail had lots of wrong facts, and provide them websites to confirm this.  Unfortunately, most of these Christians don't even seem to bother to contact everyone they sent out the wrong facts to, and tell them the correct information, once they realize what they sent out was incorrect.. 

I understand the temptation to forward e-mails we receive WITHOUT CONFIRMING THE INFORMATION, just because we AGREE with or LIKE the conclusions.  Many Christians have grown up in churches where their ministers put MADE-UP stories into their sermons to make their point.  They are often moving and seemingly plausible stories, but when they are scrutinized, they are found to be fictional also.  This is a perpetually bad habit within Christianity, and it needs to CHANGE!

Christians owe it to God and to others to CHECK THE FACTS about EVERYTHING, before they pass it on!  They need to be like the Bereans in the book of Acts, who God saw as very "NOBLE" for critically checking the teachings of the Apostle Paul and Silas against what they found in the Old Testament, to see if their teachings accurately fit what was found in what was considered the Bible in that day:

Acts 17:10-11
10    And the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea; and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews.
11    Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, {to see} whether these things were so.

Of course this principle applies to ANY person teaching other Christians, orto those preaching to unbelievers.  On top of that, Christians are supposed to continually "TEST THE SPIRITS, TO SEE IF THEY ARE FROM GOD" (1 John 4:1), something rarely done by any Christians.  From my own observations, a majority of Christians decide truth more by their feelings, rather than taking a spiritually sober look at what is going on regarding what they see and hear.  Because of this, many Christians blindly label demonic activity as work of the "Holy Spirit," something that actually amounts to BLASPHEMY.  When you see a Christian attack those who want to test the spirits and see if they are acting according to Scriptures, and call them "unloving" and "causing divisions," you have a Christian who is DEMONIACALLY controlled to a signficant degree.  Spiritually healthy Christians ought to EMBRACE Christians trying to obey God to test the spirits, rather than shun or attack them!

As Christians, we have been demoniacally brainwashed to a large degree in most of our churches to buy into occultic New Age teachings, thanks to people like Rick Warren, and to a number of other "Christians" who preceded and can along after him.   As early as 1973, when I became a Christian, I was shocked at how undiscerning most Christians were about how to determine was truth was.  I recall going to many, many home "Bible studies", where we would open the Bible to some passage, and then the leader would merely ask, "what do you FEEL this passage means?"  I would irritate the leader and others with the seemingly "unloving" remark, "I'm sorry, but I really don't care about what others FEEL this passage means.  I want to know WHAT IT REALLY MEANS." 

I was not saying that God cannot reveal to individual Christians some kind of prompting on how to make a  personal application of a Bible passage in their own lives.  I am however saying that truth is not arrived by just sharing our IGNORANCE.  I am saying that we need to understand a particular Bible passage in the context of the REST of Scripture (comparing Scripture to Scripture).  I am also saying that we often need to find out the exact meanings of the Greek and Hebrew words that the Bible uses.  We need to find out the cultural and historical contexts also of each Bible passage.  If we did that, we would get rid of at least 80 percent of the disagreements between Christians in regards to the various so-called "interpretations" of the Bible.  It is the responsibility of our ministers to be EXPERTS in Greek and Hebrew, and on the biblical, historical, and cultural contexts of the Bible also.  To the shame of most of our seminaries, such things are not taught very much.  In its place, Emergent Church and Contemplative Spirituality has taken much higher priority.  In fact, these two heresies, which now go by so many different names in order to confuse us, are completely distorting the entire Bible and our accurate understanding of it!

I know I got a bit off from the original starting point of this article.  However, all this is VERY MUCH RELATED.  IF Christians want to make a favorable impact on unbelievers in order for them to become believers in Christ, we have to be MORE DISCERNING than unbelievers are when it comes to facts! We can't just base our faith on our feelings, or on some untested spiritual experience we have had (YES, PAGANS also speak in tongues, have healings, feel "God" in them, and have other REAL spiritual experiences, also). 

We as Christians need to CHECK THE FACTS, before forwarding information, even if we AGREE with the information's conclusions.  We also need to be humble (yes, me also) when we find out our information was wrong that we sent out, and then inform those we contacted with correct information.  Even if something sent to you at the bottom says it "was confirmed by snopes.com," check it out anyway, because I have found more than half of those claims to be false also!

If we just believe things blindly because we WANT to, then we are no better than the unbelievers that we are trying to convert.  We need to have REASONS for all aspects of our faith, and be ready at all times to give those reasons to any who ask us to:

1 Pet 3:15a
but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always {being} ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you

This article in many ways goes way beyond blindly forwarding e-mails.  It has to do with actively addressing ANYTHING we blindly believe in.  It also has to do with being willing to consider believing in things that we currently do NOT believe in.  It takes great amount of work and maturity to learn to not merely parrot somebody else's message, whether it be from our favorite Christian speaker, or "conservative" radio host.  

Christians, of all people, should be ready to leave their comfort zones, and follow the command to "grow in the grace and KNOWLEDGE of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 3:18).  To grow in knowledge very often means to be willing to discard WRONG information formally believed, in order to accept CORRECT information.  This is a PAINFUL and UNCOMFORTABLE process.  It means going against much of what today's "Christianity" believes in and makes a priority in their lives.  It includes taking their political Party, and their politicians off their pedestals, no longer treating them as being beyond reproach and above questioning.   It also includes obeying the clear commands in 1 Corinthians chapter 5, which teach Christians to quit judging unbelievers
("outsiders"), letting GOD judge them, and instead,   JUDGE believers INSIDE our churches.  The problem is, Christians are busy condemning the behavior of unbelievers, who are dead spiritually and cannot help but sin, and look the other way when their own Christian brothers and sisters live in unrepentant sin of some form.  More often than not, it is our own leadership that is leading the way in sin, in their hypocrisy, lying, and general compromise in order to try to increase the size of their flocks.

Here are just a few small applications for believers in regards to these biblical commands I mentioned above:

All
conservative Christians know that Muslims are a demonic religion based upon violence.  All conservative Christians know that the Democrats are biblically wrong and liberal.  We really don't need to keep getting more e-mails on such things
endlessly ad nauseam.  We don't need to spend HOURS of each day listening to "conservative" talk radio and TV to get this message we already know.  

Instead,  we should our focus on things GOD COMMANDED us to do.  That includes PREACHING THE GOSPEL, and dealing with sin and heresy WITHIN OUR OWN CHURCHES!  E-mail us stuff that helps us clean up our spiritually dirty churches.  Somewhere along the way, Christians have been tricked into trusting POLITICS as being what will change the world.  Over and over, the Kings of Judah (books of 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles) were commanded to trust God in protecting them, rather than trusting a "lesser evil" nation, to protect them from a threatening foreign nation.  If that is still not clear, check out this verse:

Jeremiah 17:5
Thus says the LORD, "Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind And makes flesh his strength, And whose heart turns away from the LORD.

It is therefore UNBIBLICAL to trust in a political party, rather than in God!  In fact, I personally am friends with a person who THOUGHT they were a Christian, and was in Christian leadership, but they were NOT saved.  They USED to be heavily involved in "conservative" politics, but once they became saved, they realized exactly what I am talking about here.  Their focus on trying to change the world became SHARING THE GOSPEL, not trusting in politics, like most Christians do today.

In regards to biblically judging believers within our midst, I have some other observations to make that are important.

Some people might think that it is unbiblical to publicly name names of those who are teaching and behaving wrongly in the churches.  If that was true, then the Apostle Paul was also wrong in his numerous naming of specific people doing things wrong in various churches.  Here is one of those examples:

2 Tim 4:14-15
14    Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds.
15    Be on guard against him yourself, for he vigorously opposed our teaching.

Paul through the Holy Spirit even gives us the general guidelines on how to name specific people publicly that are not obeying Scriptures, and how to treat them:

II Thess 3:14 And if anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of that man and do not associate with him, so that he may be put to shame.

We do not shame others for our fun or enjoyment.  We do so in hopes that they would REPENT of their sins and wrong teaching, and be reconciled with God and fellow believers.  My article on repentance covers much of this mostly ignored and misunderstood biblical topic.  Most Christians do not realize that true forgiveness requires repentance, because without repentance, there is no reconciliation.  "Forgiveness" turns out to just be an empty word, and there is truly no return to a RELATIONSHIP between the "forgiver" and the one who has made an offense against the "forgiver."

As stated before, Christians need to QUIT IGNORING information that is outside of their comfort zone.  I believe God has called me to specialize in providing other Christians information outside of most Christian's comfort zones.  And I know many of you chose to IGNORE my information, rather than TEST it to see if it is valid or not.  Yes, it is theoretically possible that some (or even all) of my information is wrong.  It is therefore your CHRISTIAN DUTY to intelligently show me exactly why my information is wrong, using FACTS. 

Getting back to the matter of unverified e-mails being forwarded.  There are at least a few red flags that should make us suspicious about the information forwarded to us.  We
should be immediately suspicious of a forwarded e-mail if it is lacking a valid confirming link, specific dates, names, or other specific details, details that could could help in determining whether or not the information is valid. 

In general, it is fairly easy to check to see if these facts are valid.  What works for me in general, is that I copy and paste into Google a sentence or two of the e-mail that seems uniquely specific about the message.  Quite often, one of the first things that pop up, is a link to a site like snopes.com, or truthorfiction.com.  That is, if it is not a "Christian" e-mail.  If it is from a "Christian" e-mail, I then quite often have to add words like "truth or fiction", "myth", or "urban legend" to help me dig through all the "Christian" web sites that blindly posted the false information, in order to find a site that shows why it is false.  

I'm not saying that websites such as snopes.com or truthorfiction.com are always totally accurate either.  From what I can tell, these are non-Christian sites, so I suspect that they would not always be supportive of biblical teachings, such as creationism or in regards to Noah's Flood.  Nevertheless, I have found such websites to be more consistently accurate than many "Christian" web sites.   

Such practices of discernment can also be generally applied to the examination of any other information that we come across, such as the stories told to us in church sermons.

I hope that this helps.  And thanks again to those who do try to keep the  information I send out accurate and true, in spite of their own beliefs!


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