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02 March, 2007 / theexpositor

Dr. Dan Edney:A Call for Discerning Discernment

   This commentary is written at the invitation of the host of The Expositor blog site, Mike Corley and is the result of many meaningful hours of personal discussion between two brothers in Christ.  Mike and I are partners in ministry working together producing the On Call with Dr. Dan Edney radio broadcast.  We have a close relationship involving professional work, personal friendship, and spiritual support of each other.  We have great respect for one another and have a mutual loving relationship in Christ Jesus.  We have come to know each other very well and have supported each other through several of life’s trials as we have worked together over the past five years.  The most interesting aspect of our friendship has to do with our differing opinions regarding many issues he chooses to tackle through the Expositor and Mike Corley Program ministries.  Hence, the following comments are composed for your review.

 

     Mike and I complement each other nicely in terms of how we approach life issues in general and controversy in particular.  As you know by following his writing and radio broadcasts, he is a bit on the bold side choosing to attack issues with full force and pulling few of the punches he throws.  He has been characterized as a bomb thrower, flamethrower, attack dog, and hammer attacker, and these are my descriptions as one of his best friends.  I will let him share his characterizations of me at another opportunity.  Why would someone chose to fellowship, work, and even solicit the opinions of someone who calls him such things?  Probably because he knows I care deeply about him, his family, and his ministry and know the tremendous value of each.  I suspect that he respects my opinions even when they differ sharply from his own because he knows I likewise respect his.  So why is any of this of importance?

 

     Mike and I have had several extensive discussions regarding the issue of discernment ministries.  Mike approaches the issue from the perspective of a preacher and defender of the Gospel while I have the perspective of a healer as a practicing physician.  As such, discernment is important to both fields of study we represent.  In fact, we agree that discernment should be actively pursued as part of each believer’s spiritual growth and also agree that far too many of us are lacking in this discipline.  Because of this deficiency among believers and the proliferation of false teachings invading the Church, we also agree on the need and importance of ministries devoted to exposing such false teachings and to boldly defend the Gospel.  Our differences have centered on style, techniques, and approaches to criticism rather than content.

 

     One discussion we had recently prompted Mike to ask me to write this commentary.  I shared with him my concern regarding various discernment ministries I had listened to and that I was becoming concerned about the “hammer doctor” phenomenon.  We have a descriptive term in medicine for physicians that develop such tunnel vision in their scope of practice that it destroys their objectivity, which is vital to the practice of medicine.  We describe such specialists, as “when you are a hammer then the entire world becomes a nail”.  Meaning that when your focus becomes too narrow or your perspective becomes too limited then your analysis of what is being evaluated becomes distorted and limited.  My observation had been that certain ministries seemed to be experiencing the “hammer ministry” effect finding false teachers where perhaps there were none.  This brought out the point of how to hold discernment ministries accountable.  How do we as the Church protect against self-proclaimed discernment ministries from being false teachers themselves.  Ironically, the best answer I have is by each one of us using biblical discernment and God inspired wisdom to protect the Church from all forms of false teaching.  This general topic emphasizes the broad point that as individual believers and disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ we are biblically instructed to be as were the Bereans {Acts 17:11} regarding all teaching given in the name of the Lord.  We are instructed by the Apostle Paul to test such teachings in the light of the scriptures.  In the end, the Holy Spirit has the ultimate discernment ministry and I take courage in knowing that fact.

 

     Yes, I do see and understand the need for legitimate God inspired discernment ministries and yes, I can recognize the great harm potentially done to sound biblical teachers by the carnal misuse of such ministries.  However, if we approach such issues and more importantly approach each other with a spirit of love we can each help to correct one another’s missteps and misstatements and cause the Church to be stronger for it.  The importance and even urgency of this truth lies in the teaching of our Lord in that in the last days false teachers will arise with increasing frequency to try to deceive us {Matt.24:4-8}.  For the sake of the Church and for the sake of the Gospel, let us be discerning indeed.

  

God Bless you.

 

Dr. Dan Edney

 

 

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4 Comments

  1. nathan / Mar 2 2007 19 07

    This is probably one of the best/most balanced articles I have ever seen on a discernment blog. Healing rather than bomb throwing is what Christ would have us do. I too see a need to keep one another in check with discernment ministries. However, I this we need to first GO to one another before we begin to sling mud on the air or on the internet. Kudos Mike, for not standing down, but for allowing more balanced views on your blog. “You can catch more flies with honey”

  2. Scott Reiber / Mar 8 2007 18 58

    Brothers,

    Dr. Edney writes,
    “This brought out the point of how to hold discernment ministries accountable.  How do we as the Church protect against self-proclaimed discernment ministries from being false teachers themselves.  Ironically, the best answer I have is by each one of us using biblical discernment and God inspired wisdom to protect the Church from all forms of false teaching.”

    An important question is raised: “How do we as the Church protect against self-proclaimed discernment ministries from being false teachers themselves. (?)” Certainly no one could ever disagree with each of us as individuals before God acting the part of Bereans to try all things by the Scriptures. But are we simply left to individual study, however necessary and important that may be?
    One very important matter of oversight which I have not heard mentioned is the God-ordained oversight of the Church. For example the process through which men are ordained as Pastors/Teachers (I Timothy 5:22) and the use of Confessions, that is insisting on conformity to the pattern of sound words, the system of doctrine or teaching set forth in the Scripture for those who are officers in Christ’s Church (I Timothy 4:13,16; II Tim. 1:13; II Tim. 2:2). Protestants as with the early Church have made use of Confessions and subscription to them in this regard.
    Another example is that of Acts 15, where the Church did not simply leave a doctrinal and practical matter to individuals to go their separate ways, but decided the issue on the basis of Scripture at the Jerusalem assembly.

    Surely this is a large subject!

    In the service of Christ the King,

    Scott Reiber

  3. Dan Edney / Mar 9 2007 17 23

    Excellent point. In looking at the total issue of protecting the church against false teaching, I agree fully that the ordained leadership of the Church-including lay leadeship and ministerial leadership are the most important and clearly biblicaly mandated form of acountability. Protecting the integrity of the Bride of Christ against attack in all forms used by Satan should be of utmost importance for all believers at all times. Thanks for clarifying this point.

  4. Trish / Mar 21 2007 18 48

    I have read this a few times now and have listened to the discussion betweeen Dr. Edney and Mike on the radio show but am still left with a lack of completely understanding the issue this commentary is trying to address.

    In an email to Mike I said, “In both the blog and the interview, it was almost as though he was trying so hard to not to be hammering a nail, he instead used a paintbrush to paint a broad picture but used white paint. I’m left confused as to who or what I should be cautious about, who is using a hammer and why is it wrong? Can you provide some clarification for me? I really do want to understand the concerns, but really am missing the full picture.”

    Thanks,
    Trish

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