Our women are being inundated with information, advice, posts, and quotes on the internet, social media, and through books that just isn’t Biblical.
Many of our women believe that because it’s being sold in a Christian book store (mortar or online) or written by a famous Christian author or Pastor, that it’s guaranteed to align with the Word of God.
I can’t help but wonder…
Are we doing enough to teach our women how to discern that which is theologically sound and that which is not?
When I see what many of the women in my church are reading and listening to (whether in their hands or quoted online) I know we are not.
Here’s the bigger problem:
- Our women are reading and listening a lot of things that are going to lead them astray from what God’s Word says.
- They are taking things written by man and treating it as if it is Truth.
- They are holding up books, blog posts, podcasts, and memes and treating them as if they are the inspired Word of God when they are not.
So what are we to do?
- We must be discerning ourselves.
- We must teach our women how to be discerning.
A few weeks ago I attended a class at our church on How to Interpret the Bible. As we worked through the observation, interpretation, and application (similar to the READ Bible Study method) we discussed how to discern the credibility of resources. Even resources that were created to supplement scripture can be contain errors.
What follows is a combination of suggestions from our Meck Institute teachers and my own personal insights and experience. My thanks to Casey Jordan and Alexis Drye for inspiring this post.
How to be Discerning:
1.Before reading anything we should pray and ask for guidance from the Holy Spirit.
If that spiritual “red flag” goes up and you sense something doesn’t seem quite right – investigate! Or just plain put it down! Just because you start a book doesn’t mean you have to finish it. I’ve actually thrown books away rather than allow them to wind up in someone else’s hands.
2. You need to know WHO you are reading.
Is this an author you are familiar with? Do you know what their beliefs are on key Biblical issues? Is this someone who is credible in their field? Degrees are notable, but not definitive. Does this person have experience with the topic they are writing/speaking upon?
3. Who recommended this resource to you?
Is this someone you personally know who has a strong walk with the Lord? Amazon reviews are not a reason to purchase a book or resource. Or maybe this was a book recommended by another author you admire. Keep in mind that book jackets and author recommendations are business driven – put some weight, but not too much weight, on those recommendations.
4. Review the sources.
Follow those footnotes and read the bibliography. Do you see the names of familiar books and authors that you know and trust?
5. Seek out wise counsel.
Ask a mentor or woman whose faith you admire if she has read the book or knows anything about the author. Email your Pastor and get their input. Ask trusted leaders in your church for book recommendations. If the materials in your church bookstore or library are carefully vetted (ours are), check those shelves for that book or resource.
6. Favor printed materials over the internet.
Publishers fact check and extensively proof-read an author’s work before publishing it. Internet articles often omit sources. But that doesn’t mean they are without error!
7. Test everything against the Scriptures.
This is the most important point – test everything against the Scriptures (not just one but all of God’s Word in its entirety). God’s Word is always the authority. Always. See 1 John 4:1.
- If someone is sharing an idea related to the Bible that is new or vastly different from what anyone else has ever written treat it as suspect. While someone may find a fresh new way to explain something, rarely are there new revelations uncovered in God’s Word.
- The Bible warns us repeatedly about false teachers. Read 2 Peter 2:1-3, 1 John 4:1, 2 Timothy 4:3, Matthew 7:15-20, 2 Timothy 3:6-7, and Romans 16:17. False prophets are still a problem today.
may not be able to should not slap a book out of the hand of the woman we see at church, we can lovingly let the women we have relationships with know that we have concerns about what they are reading. We can gently encourage them to do some research to discover for themselves if this is a book they should continue to read.
For among them are those who worm their way into households and deceive gullible women overwhelmed by sins and led astray by a variety of passions, always learning and never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. 2 Timothy 3:6-7
Unfortunately our advice will not always be met with appreciation.
I prayed for weeks for God to give me an opening to share some concerns with a women at our (then) church about a devotional she was reading. I gently mentioned that I had come across some really distrubing information about the devotional she had just named. She said she’d heard there were some “concerns” but that she really didn’t know the details about them. I asked her if she would be interested in reading a book I had that outlined the information in great detail. I lifted up silent praises to God when she said she would be interested in reading it.
I passed her the book and prayed her eyes would be opened.
Weeks later she returned the book. She admitted she hadn’t really read it. She told me that likes her devotional book, it makes her feel good when she reads it, and she believes herself to be discerning enough to know if it should be of concern.
My heart grieved and I wanted to argue, but thankfully the Holy Spirit caused me to yield.
For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 2 Timothy 2:3-4.
I am thankful that someday Christ will return and we won’t need to worry about false teachers, intentional or otherwise.
In the meantime we can do our best to guide our women to listen and read things that draw them closer to God and not away from God. Their souls are more important that our fear of overstepping.
Lord, help us to point our women toward your Word and your Truth.
I’d love to hear from you! How have you handled women in your church sharing or reading information that deviates from God’s Word?
One year ago: 11 Time Savers for Busy Women’s Ministry Leaders
Two years ago: Fall Table Talk Cards (Free Printable)
Three years ago: Mentoring Programs & Resources
Four years ago: Icebreaker: 4 Corners