Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Help! My Friend Is Reading a Dangerous Book

A question was asked at our Bible Discussion Group on how to sensitively approach someone who is in a false religion in order to open discussion as to the truth. This same question has been asked of me personally regarding how to approach a friend whom you see carrying around a book by a false teacher.

At Discussion Group, I'd offered my process of how I deal with friends involved with false teachers, false doctrine, or false religion. I'd said that first, it depends on the relationship you have with them. If you don't know the person or are only bare acquaintances, it won't do to walk up to them and just say something brusque or out of the blue that in effect, amounts to saying "You're doing it wrong."

The Bible encourages and commands discipling relationships with one another. This is so we can keep each other accountable. We can carry each other's burdens. Ultimately, close involvement with each other means can edify and grow one another and one way we do this is by helping sisters course-correct.

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

We can't build up a sister if we let them wallow in false doctrine. (Jude 1:23). Alternately, we won't build them up if we are tactless and brusque. (2 Timothy 2:25, Galatians 6:1).

Assuming you are close enough with the sister to have established trust and are known to each other in a friendly way, then what I do is begin by asking questions. Perhaps the person is reading the book for research purposes. Maybe someone less discerning gave it to them and they haven't thrown it out yet. Maybe they are getting ready to give it to someone else. Maybe a lot of things. Just ask. "Are you reading that book? What do you think of it?" "Let me know when you're done, I'd love to get your take on it..." Etc.

Finally, I always have something else to offer the person in the books' stead. It doesn't help the person as much to just say that their book is a dangerous book, without having something in which to substitute. If they'd lacked discernment enough in the first place to get or read that book, then offering them material written by a credible author steers them into a better direction.

I was pleased when I'd come across this short discussion from 2016 where Noël Piper, Kathleen Nielson, and Gloria Furman discuss this very question. I was even more pleased when they shared that they do the same: ask, be gentle, discuss. Phew, at least I'm not off the deep end with this.

The women also discuss two other questions. If you can't play back videos, here is a link to just listen.

One final thing. Their title mentions 'a dangerous book." Undoctrinal books ARE dangerous. Books like The Shack, Love Wins, The Circle Maker, any and all non-doctrinal, unorthodox books present a danger to the Christian. Adam and Eve only had to obey one command, and within a shockingly short time, satan easily managed to twist that command into a suggestion. Paul said to Titus that false doctrine upsets whole families (Titus 1:11). Paul warned Timothy that false doctrine undermines the faith. (2 Timothy 2:18). Make no mistake, (because satan isn't making the same mistake), the false doctrine contained in books, movies, pamphlets, and studies is a very present danger to the Christian mind and heart.

Here is the blurb for the short video:
Your friend is gushing about that book she’s been reading. It’s on the Christian Living bestseller list, but for whatever reason you suspect the book is more influenced by the spirit of the age than by a biblical worldview. ... Nielson cautions against the overcorrection of reading only the Bible, since reading widely can actually enhance Bible reading, and Piper warns against becoming the kind of reader who only reads books from your own "tribe."

Help! My Friend Is Reading a Dangerous Book
Noël Piper, Kathleen Nielson, and Gloria Furman Discuss










4 comments:

  1. You may be shocked at my response.

    In the matter of false teachers' writings, I am brutally honest and aggressive. "WHY are you reading Science and Health With Key To the Scriptures? Are you not healthy? Do you not know the Scriptures?"

    Being gentle and malleable has it places. But when you do battle with Darkness, I think it is better to prayerful and aggressive. (I admit, the approach has its risks. My wife ran into a former member of a large Bible study I taught at our church. The member was older, and she didn't quite understand who my wife was, I suspect. Anyway, she said to my wife, "Oh, you were in the Chapel Bible study? I don't like that Jim Porter." Turns out I'd hit two of the false prophets that she sent contributions to.

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  2. This is a good approach one on one, but a situation I was in, the person was recommending to the group. Feelings were hurt when it was pointed out its dangers by two of us. There were at least 3 women reading it. Not sure how it should have been handled.Book in question was Sarah Young, "Jesus Calling."

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  3. A lot of people are very invested in their deceptions, so often it doesn't matter how gently or now aggressive we speak against false teaching; we end up being rebuffed nonetheless.

    That said it helps to remember it's the Holy Spirit who opens their eyes, not us. Even believers who are astray... it's the Holy Spirit who opens their eyes. Maybe that will help us from taking it personally, or trying to do too much in our own strength?

    When the Shack first came out, a beloved sister in the Lord contacted me right away and spoke against it aggressively. You see, another woman had recommended the book to me. Fortunately - I had also just read about the book myself and its many heresies. So because of my beloved friend's warning, combined with my own discernment, I just praised God for having the Spirit keep me safe! :)

    -Carolyn

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  4. I agree that regardless of what one says or how one says it, one does have to say something. I'm not sure what I would say, but I would definitely also try to ascertain why my friend was reading that book and provide them with several other really good options.

    I think people get offended because in the flesh they don't want to look like idiots. I had two friends. One was on a fad diet which she raved about to everyone in our group and another friend, who is a nurse, debunked it on her. She felt like it was working, but it turned out to be not the diet but the additional requirement of exercise with the placebo effect that was doing the trick. She took it well, but I could tell it was a bit of a blow because it made her look and seem foolish. Aren't we all the same? The ego doesn't like to take hits, but a good friend will still tell the truth, hopefully as gently as they can.

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