How to Spot a False Teacher
False teachers. They are firmly established among the followers of Christ, presenting themselves as the ultra-faithful and ultra-spiritual. How can we recognize them and their false doctrines? The following, in some combination, are some common characteristics and tenets of false teachers today.
They are typically confident, outspoken, smooth-tongued, young, good-looking, tireless, charismatic, and encourage their own celebrity.
They are driven to spread their false doctrines and succeed in deceiving even the most intelligent and faithful, thereby obtaining sponsors.
They choose professions that impact the most people: teaching, writing, journalism, blogging, speaking, counseling and the social sciences.
They are practiced in flattery; they tell people what they like to hear.
They say things to make people feel more comfortable about weaknesses and sins.
They mischaracterize God and subvert truth to allow for weakness and sin.
They focus on feelings rather than truths and on outward acts rather than true religiosity.
They tell a lot of sociological stories that stimulate emotions and pride rather than reflection and humility.
They emphasize the self: self-esteem, self-fulfillment, self-importance, self-determined “truth.”
They dismiss generational wisdom, including discouraging parental guidance of children, in order to restructure an entire people’s religion, morals, traditions, and beliefs.
They presume to hold back realities, truths, and commandments, claiming to know that others are special, incapable, or unprepared for the gospel of Jesus Christ.
They mix in bits of incomplete truths to make their lies more believable. Example: They repeat the truth that “God loves you just the way you are,” but leave out how God wants us to better ourselves from the inside out, which is only possible by humbly relying on Christ, in order to qualify for the greatest of all His gifts: eternal life.
They distort truths. Example: they say no one is perfect, but they present this truth as a consolation and excuse for sin.
They spout scriptures and quotes from authority figures with interpretations that suit their purposes.
They dismiss doctrines, if confronted, which contradict their position, and steer the discussion back to flattery and psychobabble.
They sound more like Oprah Winfrey than they do the Apostle Paul; their ideas more closely follow popular and new-age “spirituality” than true Christianity.
They push personal happiness in a hazy, temporal, light-minded, and self-satisfied sense.
They mostly use soft words in fuzzy, hollow ways like journey, challenges, understanding, manage, diminish, conversation, fulfillment, acceptance, love.
They are virtually silent on the basic gospel principles of agency, sin, repentance, and divine redemption.
They don’t distinguish between things we can change and things we can’t change, or they switch them up.
They don’t talk about sins of the mind and heart. Wicked thoughts and desires are okay as long as hands are clean.
They do a lot of tooting of their own horns, such as how blessed they are to share their experiences, how their “challenges” [read: temptations they continue to cling to] have made them spiritual giants and leaders, how close they are to God, and how they know so much about the Atonement.
They play down the experience of mortality as not needed or particularly defining or significant. (2 Nephi 28: “Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die and it shall be well with us.”)
They claim spiritual growth while advocating weakness and sin (Matthew 6:24: serving two masters?).
They speak more of embracing ourselves as “who we are” than making step-by-step progress.
They reject the gifts of agency and repentance, and the doctrine of restoration (Alma 34:34, Alma 41), proclaiming that God in His time will wrench from us our wayward desires in this life or the next.
They put low expectations on God’s children, disparaging the possibility and individual desire to become new creatures, washed clean and forgiven through Christ.
They suggest that any and all souls will be saved in the end no matter what our character, disposition, or desires may be.
For conscientious members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, many of these false teachings should resound with what the several Book of Mormon anti-Christs preached, who used the very same concepts (and even some of the same exact words) and who were highly successful in leading many of the faithful followers of Christ astray. Now, as modern anti-Christs walk and talk among us like wolves in sheep’s clothing, it will take courage and pure-hearted devotion to the gospel of Jesus Christ to recognize and reject their cunning and worldly sophistries while learning, teaching, and living everlastingly true but now unpopular doctrines.
-Stephen & Janice Graham
*sounds like 99 percent of the world’s population….. any comments?