Have you ever heard someone say that they are protecting God's flock? I've heard it several times, mostly from preachers who will not allow someone with different doctrine to come to their church and engage in public debate/discussion. I recently had a fellow tell me this very thing when I asked him if he would be willing to have a public debate with me at his church. He said that he wouldn't allow me to come into his church and talk about what I believed on a certain topic (doctrine) in debate format because he was "protecting his flock." My question is this: is this how a minister is called to protect his flock?
Is keeping people from hearing alternate doctrine protecting the flock? I think it is more akin to being worried that they made be persuaded to look further or deeper into a subject that they may know little to nothing about. The problem with most Pastors is that they do not teach their members to study the Bible for them selves. It is certainly okay to have teachers, but people shouldn't rely on teachers for their salvation. They should listen to what the teacher is teaching, and then go back and study the verses of Scripture that are given in a diligent fashion. This way, even if the teacher/Pastor has presented the truth to them, the person will have studied it out them self and the truth (that particular truth) will become "part of them." They will believe it whole heartedly and will not be able to waver from it.
If a person just blindly accepts what the teacher has to say they will be more likely to abandon what they've been taught in difficult times of hardship, persecution, or the like. This is because they do not believe it for them selves, but only because there Pastor told it to them.
The way you protect the flock is to (1) teach the flock true doctrine, and (2) teach them to study the true doctrines in their personal Bible study life. This way when someone else comes to them with falsity they will be able to give a defense of the faith concerning the hope that lies within them.
The more I speak with professing Christians the more I realize just how unimportant it is to people to know the Bible in an in depth way. I recognize that a "babe in the faith" needs time to grow. My youngest son is almost 10 months old and there are certain foods I just cannot feed him at this time in his life. Many foods would cause him to choke and possibly die. As is the natural, so is the spiritual. Some people are new to the faith and have to be fed milk instead of meat. I am not overlooking this at all. What I am pointing out is something similar or the same to what the author of Hebrews pointed out years ago:
"For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of God's revelation. You need milk, not solid food. Now everyone who lives on milk is inexperienced with the message about righteousness, because he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature - for those whose senses have been trained to distinguish between good and evil. (Hebrews 6:12-14; HCSB)"
The author tells us of people who should be teachers, i.e. they should be able to explain the more in depth doctrines of Scripture to other people who may still be s in the faith. Wouldn't you say that someone whose been in church for the past 20 years should be able to eat spiritual meat? I sure would, but I find that there are people who have been to church for 20, 30, 40 years and still have not been weaned from the breast. They would be satisfied with listening to a message about John 3:16 every single Sunday morning, and as long as the preacher huffs and puffs a little and shouts to the top of his lungs, they feel like they've been to church for the week.
I'm not against John 3:16, nor do I believe all strong preaching is fruitless, I am just saying that it's time for people who've been Christians all their life to actually know something about the Bible. It's time for them to quit thinking that all that matters is going to church or singing their favorite song in church. This is what the author of Hebrews is speaking of. He tells us that anyone who lives on milk alone is inexperienced with the message about righteousness. I can understand this of someone who has been studying for maybe 1 to 5 years, but after this you got to quit going back to the milk container. Those initial years should have been spent learning the "milk." It's time to eat a steak dinner.
Blog by Matthew Janzen. Lover of Yahweh, Yeshua, my wife and 5 children. All else is commentary.