Should we point out error in churches we visit?

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lutroo

Puritan Board Freshman
I work for a Christian organisation in the UK. I recently helped with a deputation meeting for my organisation at a Baptist Church and at the front of the building was a quilt with a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ on it. This is clearly a violation of the second commandment and I wasn't happy about it but I kept my mouth shut, as we were there by invitation. Here's my issue... If you are visiting a church to take part in some way (I wasn't preaching, just giving a testimony - the evangelist I'm working with was preaching), do you have a responsibility to point out serious error in the church or should you just pass it by?
 

MLCOPE2

Puritan Board Junior
When we were in the beginning stages of our church's development our Pastor visited several of the area's smaller churches in the hopes of renting the building. On one occasion he came across a Methodist church that had a picture of "white" Jesus in the sanctuary and one of the members that was visiting with him asked what they would do were they to rent the building. Our Pastor quickly replied "I don't know who that guy is, but it isn't Jesus" :lol: Sorry, it's not much help but it was funny.

Although you've been a member for a little while it seems that this is your first post so :welcome:
 
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Tripel

Puritan Board Senior
do you have a responsibility to point out serious error in the church or should you just pass it by?

No, you certainly don't have that responsibility, and I'd argue that it's best you don't point out such errors. It's one thing to lovingly rebuke a friend with whom there is an established foundation of personal accountability. It's another to lovingly rebuke those whom you are just passing by.
As reformed Christians, we could probably walk into the doors of the vast majority of churches and find major faults, but it's not our place to make a stink about it. There needs to be some relationship there.

If you were to walk into my church as a visitor and point out all of our errors (and trust me, we have them) I'm probably not going to receive your input with much grace.
 

au5t1n

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Smash their idols! Take down the picture! Take a sledgehammer to their engine of idolatry (a.k.a. church organ)!

...or maybe don't. :lol:
 

jwithnell

Moderator
Staff member
You could point at the idol, gasp, clutch your throat and pass out on the floor. It might be more effective though, to quietly say upon leaving: "you might want to reconsider that quilt in the light of the second commandment."
 

lutroo

Puritan Board Freshman
You could point at the idol, gasp, clutch your throat and pass out on the floor. It might be more effective though, to quietly say upon leaving: "you might want to reconsider that quilt in the light of the second commandment."

:lol::lol:

I don't know how long I could keep my job if I did that!
 

Damon Rambo

Puritan Board Sophomore
Smash their idols! Take down the picture! Take a sledgehammer to their engine of idolatry (a.k.a. church organ)!

...or maybe don't. :lol:


That last one got a hearty amen from me! NOTHING is worse than the Draculesque tones of that accursed instrument! Pipe organs are the bane of of all that is called worship in the church! :)
 

Tripel

Puritan Board Senior
Smash their idols! Take down the picture! Take a sledgehammer to their engine of idolatry (a.k.a. church organ)!

...or maybe don't. :lol:


That last one got a hearty amen from me! NOTHING is worse than the Draculesque tones of that accursed instrument! Pipe organs are the bane of of all that is called worship in the church! :)

Seriously??? I can't imagine a better instrument to accompany a powerful hymn than a powerful organ.
 

AThornquist

Puritan Board Doctor
do you have a responsibility to point out serious error in the church or should you just pass it by?

No, you certainly don't have that responsibility, and I'd argue that it's best you don't point out such errors. It's one thing to lovingly rebuke a friend with whom there is an established foundation of personal accountability. It's another to lovingly rebuke those whom you are just passing by.
As reformed Christians, we could probably walk into the doors of the vast majority of churches and find major faults, but it's not our place to make a stink about it. There needs to be some relationship there.

Is there a biblical text that speaks to this effect? I'm not disagreeing with you in practice, but it would not be wrong to lovingly point out error. In fact, if one is brought to Scripture and error is exposed, regardless of a lack of "relationship," the child of God ought to be willing to interact and consider whether the Lord is actually glorified by what is taking place. There are those who can confront very badly of course, but that doesn't have to be the case.

If a visitor came to my church and did not lovingly and biblically point to a potential error in the hope of striving together to know the truth of God more accurately, I would wonder if they actually cared about our holiness before God. Why would they not stir us up to good works? Seriously, if I am afraid to build a brother (even though I don't "know" him) up because I am afraid that he might become offended, shame on me. It is better than man be offended than God dishonored.

Edit - just to clarify, I am by no means saying we should go around searching for the errors of our brothers in order to point them out. Rather, if the situation arises, love ought to provoke us to be Priscilla and Aquila to our brother Apollos.
 

Tripel

Puritan Board Senior
Andrew,
I'm not suggesting that the Bible forbids correction apart from a close relationship. Rather, I'm suggesting that it is wise to have such a relationship in place.

Rebuke and correction are very personal, and are going to be best received when there is a relationship present where rebuke and correction are natural or are requested. It's one thing to simply say to give correction "lovingly", but sometimes the loving thing to do is be patient with your correction while you establish a better foundation.

For example...if you were to meet me and my family somewhere and witnessed what you thought was a bad example of parenting (which I am often guilty of), I am not going to take much of a liking to you giving me correction. Frankly, it's not your place. You can say it as lovingly as possible, but it's not going to sit well coming from you. That's the kind of thing best coming from a friend, family member, or church elder.
 

R Harris

Puritan Board Sophomore
I am by no means saying we should go around searching for the errors of our brothers in order to point them out. Rather, if the situation arises, love ought to provoke us to be Priscilla and Aquila to our brother Apollos.

The Priscilla and Aquila situation in Acts where they dealt with Apollos is the prime example. I find it interesting that Luke says they instructed him "in a MORE accurate view of The Way."

In other words, Apollos had some things right, but obviously not everything.

In today's churches, if Priscilla or Aquila did such a thing, 99% of all pastors would either politely or perhaps not so politely tell them thanks, but you can take a hike now.
 

Kevin

Puritan Board Doctor
No, it is not your duty.

And it would be deeply offensive if you visited someone and rebuked them for holding differing convictions then you hold to. Would you rebuke them for an unbiblical baptismal practice? For their choice of music? For their song choice? Sermon length? Sermon style? Ministry priorities?

I would hope that you would say no to all of the above.

We have a rule with our children, they are supposed to ask these three questions in the affirmative before saying something.

1) Is it true?
2) Is it loving?
3) Does it need to be said?


in my opinion your question fails on numbers 2 & 3.
 

JennyG

Puritan Board Graduate
Smash their idols! Take down the picture! Take a sledgehammer to their engine of idolatry (a.k.a. church organ)!

...or maybe don't. :lol:


That last one got a hearty amen from me! NOTHING is worse than the Draculesque tones of that accursed instrument! Pipe organs are the bane of of all that is called worship in the church! :)
I'll be surprised if you didn't hear my sharp intake of breath at that from right across the Atlantic.....luckily, Tripel took the words out of my mouth while I was still recovering.
A big pipe organ accompanying a full-throated congregation in heartfelt praise is the noblest, most glorious sound this side of eternity. The fact that the instrument has also been MISused in five hundred cheapo horror movies changes nothing!
 

lutroo

Puritan Board Freshman
No, it is not your duty.

And it would be deeply offensive if you visited someone and rebuked them for holding differing convictions then you hold to. Would you rebuke them for an unbiblical baptismal practice? For their choice of music? For their song choice? Sermon length? Sermon style? Ministry priorities?

I would hope that you would say no to all of the above.

We have a rule with our children, they are supposed to ask these three questions in the affirmative before saying something.

1) Is it true?
2) Is it loving?
3) Does it need to be said?


in my opinion your question fails on numbers 2 & 3.

Thanks. Still struggling a little though...

How do you know what needs to be said? Would you say that a picture of Christ at the front of the building where the congregation are looking during the worship is a secondary or primary matter? Would you draw the line at a full blown statue?
 

Tripel

Puritan Board Senior
Would you draw the line at a full blown statue?

A picture and a statue seem to be equally in violation, so no, I wouldn't rebuke them for it. Now, if they were bowing down to the statue? Well, I'd just leave.
 

AThornquist

Puritan Board Doctor
Andrew,
I'm not suggesting that the Bible forbids correction apart from a close relationship. Rather, I'm suggesting that it is wise to have such a relationship in place.

Rebuke and correction are very personal, and are going to be best received when there is a relationship present where rebuke and correction are natural or are requested. It's one thing to simply say to give correction "lovingly", but sometimes the loving thing to do is be patient with your correction while you establish a better foundation.

For example...if you were to meet me and my family somewhere and witnessed what you thought was a bad example of parenting (which I am often guilty of), I am not going to take much of a liking to you giving me correction. Frankly, it's not your place. You can say it as lovingly as possible, but it's not going to sit well coming from you. That's the kind of thing best coming from a friend, family member, or church elder.


I agree with what you say. I suppose one issue with this topic is that we are forced to speak in generalities since we cannot give an answer for every circumstance. However, I believe it is at least true that wisdom is needed in pointing out error and much of the time a visitor will not be in a position to do so rightly; nevertheless, there are times when error ought to be pointed out for the sake of the brethren and, whether or not some are offended, a loving rebuke is necessary. If we will not direct the eyes of some to error, they may not see it because they have become so familiar with it and are desensitized, or perhaps they never really considered the ramifications of what is being done.

So again, my point is not that we should have a Rebuke Ministry to local churches; I am merely saying that to remove completely the option of pointing out error leaves us complacent and willing to compromise in a few situations, whatever they may be. Going to the extreme of "Never do it!" is not the biblical answer, In my humble opinion.
 

Tripel

Puritan Board Senior
Andrew,

I think Kevin made some good points above. What about baptism? Whatever your view of baptism, you probably believe that those holding a different view are in the wrong. Since I see that you are a baptist, I assume you would believe that my church is in error by baptizing our infants. So if you were to visit my church, would you correct the members of our session?
 
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pesterjon

Puritan Board Freshman
The elephant in the room, in my opinion, is that Reformed or Calvinistic people are well-known in some evangelical circles for being "that guy" who feels a need to correct everything and everyone who is not "theologically correct." I'm Reformed and believe we have a lot of work to do in realizing we have a very important calling, but that calling is not to be the world's theological police force.

So then in situations like this where I do not hold any authority, I typically would ask an "innocent" question at most or if pushed by someone else respond with sarcastic humor (the only kind I know). It would be an exercise in grace for some Calvinists to walk into such a church and focus on what is right and good, rather than what they have gotten wrong. For anyone who has recently pulled their head out of the sand, American evangelicalism is generally in a sad state of affairs and you will find a thousand things to be critical of in most any church. And if you think that is what God has called you to, I believe you are more a part of the problem than part of the solution.
 

AThornquist

Puritan Board Doctor
Since I see that you are a baptist, I assume you would believe that my church is in error by baptizing our infants. So if you were to visit my church, would you correct the members of our session?

No. That would be stupid. If I am going to your church I already would know your doctrinal position on baptism and would not need to go there in order to point out any perceived error. If, however, I went to your church and Pastor Martha Feelgood was blessing the Dalai Lama, I a) would not have expected it and b) would point out the error by pointing to Scripture.
 

JennyG

Puritan Board Graduate
The elephant in the room, in my opinion, is that Reformed or Calvinistic people are well-known in some evangelical circles for being "that guy" who feels a need to correct everything and everyone who is not "theologically correct." I'm Reformed and believe we have a lot of work to do in realizing we have a very important calling, but that calling is not to be the world's theological police force.

So then in situations like this where I do not hold any authority, I typically would ask an "innocent" question at most or if pushed by someone else respond with sarcastic humor (the only kind I know). It would be an exercise in grace for some Calvinists to walk into such a church and focus on what is right and good, rather than what they have gotten wrong. For anyone who has recently pulled their head out of the sand, American evangelicalism is generally in a sad state of affairs and you will find a thousand things to be critical of in most any church. And if you think that is what God has called you to, I believe you are more a part of the problem than part of the solution.
There's a lot in what Jonathan says.
In Scotland (as probably a lot of places) Calvinist has become a dirty word, and I don't think it's ONLY because of the distortion Satan is always going to work at involving truth with.
The Scots being by nature a somewhat cantankerous race, in the past really did sometimes collect odium by their holier-than-thou attitudes. It's the kind of reputation that's much easier to earn than it is to shed
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
No, it is not your duty.

And it would be deeply offensive if you visited someone and rebuked them for holding differing convictions then you hold to. Would you rebuke them for an unbiblical baptismal practice? For their choice of music? For their song choice? Sermon length? Sermon style? Ministry priorities?

I would hope that you would say no to all of the above.

We have a rule with our children, they are supposed to ask these three questions in the affirmative before saying something.

1) Is it true?
2) Is it loving?
3) Does it need to be said?


in my opinion your question fails on numbers 2 & 3.

Thanks. Still struggling a little though...

How do you know what needs to be said? Would you say that a picture of Christ at the front of the building where the congregation are looking during the worship is a secondary or primary matter? Would you draw the line at a full blown statue?

Kevin makes good and important points- would that we all would try to look at things in this way and make this world a better place.

Trying to put myself in your shoes here, I might add something. Yes, you are a guest and what you describe does not seem a "first order" issue (as Mr. Packer might use that term).

But I would, respectfully, in the course of ordinary engagement with the people there, look for opportunity to mention your understanding that re-created images of our Lord are not appropriate as per the second commandment.

This is not a complete analogy, but it would be like:

Someone invites you over to see their c.d. collection and amongst many good c.d.'s there was one you did not like. I might politely say, as it came up, the particular singer here is known as a child abuser, and I can't get past that... allowing maybe it has unduly affected your ability to even consider his music. Done respectfully, in the ordinary course, you are not "correcting"... you may even be contributing for a more meaningful, deeper, hopefully more interesting exchange.

Nobody is going to be interested in an attitude of "you have poor taste generally because you have this kind of c.d." though, particularly when you are the guest- that's what I think we are getting at here.

Look for a natural opening to input that- not as their corrector, but as the heartfelt, honest comment of a guest who himself is struggling with this.:)

If you look for that opportunity, pray for it, God may well grant it- and who knows what He will do with it.
 

Tripel

Puritan Board Senior
Since I see that you are a baptist, I assume you would believe that my church is in error by baptizing our infants. So if you were to visit my church, would you correct the members of our session?

No. That would be stupid. If I am going to your church I already would know your doctrinal position on baptism and would not need to go there in order to point out any perceived error.

So are you saying that an image of "Christ" does not represent a doctrinal position? The church in question (I assume) knows about the 2nd commandment, and their understanding of that commandment is that it does not apply to such images. We're not talking about an issue that is crucial to the Christian faith, and it's really not all that black and white. There's been plenty of debate among the reformed members of the PB regarding the application of the 2nd commandment.

The issue is not as different from baptism as you suggest.
 

MarieP

Puritan Board Senior
Smash their idols! Take down the picture! Take a sledgehammer to their engine of idolatry (a.k.a. church organ)!

...or maybe don't. :lol:


That last one got a hearty amen from me! NOTHING is worse than the Draculesque tones of that accursed instrument! Pipe organs are the bane of of all that is called worship in the church! :)

Seriously??? I can't imagine a better instrument to accompany a powerful hymn than a powerful organ.

The tongue is an powerful organ...
 

AThornquist

Puritan Board Doctor
Since I see that you are a baptist, I assume you would believe that my church is in error by baptizing our infants. So if you were to visit my church, would you correct the members of our session?

No. That would be stupid. If I am going to your church I already would know your doctrinal position on baptism and would not need to go there in order to point out any perceived error.

So are you saying that an image of "Christ" does not represent a doctrinal position? The church in question (I assume) knows about the 2nd commandment, and their understanding of that commandment is that it does not apply to such images. We're not talking about an issue that is crucial to the Christian faith, and it's really not all that black and white. There's been plenty of debate among the reformed members of the PB regarding the application of the 2nd commandment.

The issue is not as different from baptism as you suggest.

Uh . . . what? I have not even dealt with the 2nd Commandment issue in any of my messages, and have exclusively dealt with his question: "Here's my issue... If you are visiting a church to take part in some way (I wasn't preaching, just giving a testimony - the evangelist I'm working with was preaching), do you have a responsibility to point out serious error in the church or should you just pass it by?"

I also haven't mentioned anything about the 2nd Commandment being a doctrinal position (obviously it is) and the only reason I spoke of baptism was because you brought it up. My point was that I obviously know the doctrinal difference in baptism before I step into your church, so I would not need to go there to speak against it. I don't believe it's a matter worth separating over. So, I'm not suggesting what you say I am. My entire participation in this thread has been to say: there are times when someone needs to speak against serious error. To look over every "difference" indiscriminately is what has caused the American country club--err, church--to be so liberal and faithless to Scripture.
 

OrangeCalvinist

Puritan Board Freshman
As Christians are we not to oppose that which is wrong? and as Christians are we not to warn others of their folly and danger in continuing to sin against God? ignorance of idolatry in our churches is not an excuse for continuing to commit it and not wanting to offend is not an excuse for cowardice... we must contend for the faith delivered to the saints not hide it away under the cloak of friendship and acceptance...we should expose and reprove error not ignore it!
 
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