Discernment,  Doctrine & Theology

But Please, Don’t Call Me a Discernment Blogger

“Discernment ministry.” The phrase often carries with it a negative connotation that, whether we care to admit it or not, has at least a trace amount of validity to it.

I have been called a “discernment blogger” by a variety of people. The label has escaped as a hiss from the lips of those who loathe such websites and who think that all things theological must be subject to some vague, nebulous, mushy, emotionally-laden form of secular love and “tolerance.” At the same time, the name of discernment blogger has been given to me as a mark of appreciation by men and women whose opinions I deeply respect and admire.

For a long while, I wore the label proudly and legitimately. A quick glance at the DNBS archives reveals that yes, I indeed was a discernment blogger. Emphasis on the was.
Over time, the Lord has changed the focus of my mind, heart, and subsequently this blog, and that no doubt has been evident over the past couple of years or more. Yes, there will be elements of discernment forever entwined in the posts on this blog and in the podcasts of Equipping Eve, this blog’s sister ministry. The duty of discernment cannot and should not be shirked, for it is a command of all Christians.

Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. (Jude 3)

All Christians ought to be as the Bereans were, and test all things against Scripture.

Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. (Acts 17:11; cf. 1 Thess 5:21)

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. (1 John 4:1)

But the weird and wild world of internet “discernment” grows wearisome. It is not for the faint of heart and, sadly, that is due less to the actual duties of discernment and largely to the members of the discernment world. In some circles, “discernment ministry” can become no different than worldly reporting, an endless game to see who can write the most shocking headline and who can reveal the latest “downgrade” or “apostasy” first. There are secret circles of bloggers in cahoots, and yet, at the same time, there can be circumstances that lead to mistrust and unnecessarily hurt feelings among these same comrades. This blogger stood on the front lines of the discernment world for quite some time, and has the proverbial battle scars to prove it; but eventually, this blogger wanted out.

It was nearly three years ago that I began to see that God was leading me away from this “discernment blogging” world. In time, He diminished my desire to follow and post every allegedly newsworthy story. I grew tired of saying the same thing over and over, and I grew more and more annoyed each time another discernment “soldier” wanted to stop the presses for the latest news that wasn’t actually news. How many articles must you write before you realize that nobody cares that so-and-so had his picture taken with this other so-and-so? Are they both spurious teachers? Have they been known to pat each other on the back before? If the answer is yes, then it is not news.

Above all, this blogger wanted out because I saw the painful results that stem from a glut of “discernment” reporting. Dear reader, I saw your sin…I saw my sin. If I were to show you the statistics for this blog over the years, you would notice a clear and unavoidable trend: controversy sells. Like it or not, my dear reader, your heart is revealed in the clicks of your mouse. The most popular posts since the conception of this blog are those that scream headlines with big names. Yet the posts that truly were designed to edify remain as afterthoughts.

This reveals a blackness and a desire for scandal in the heart of the reader, and trust that this blogger is well aware of her own role in this reality. And so, at this time, please accept my apology. While I can honestly say that every “discerning” post written here was developed with the motivation of exposing error and guarding truth, nevertheless, headlines were carefully crafted and words were chosen deliberately so as to contribute to the reader’s response. These are skills learned and honed by every “discernment blogger” and, unfortunately, they are often used as mere means of manipulation, even if done so unintentionally.

Again, please do not misunderstand, I think it is essential that we name names and expose error in teaching. When someone is twisting the Word of God, we must not be silent. But if we clang and clamor and complain without our broader purpose being one of delivering the truth, then we fail. Could it be that some discernment folks are so focused on error that they elevate it at the expense of the truth?

Christians are called to be discerning, and Christians are called to expose error. But Christians are also called to study and hold fast to the word (Prov 4:4; Titus 1:9), to speak the truth gently and in love (Prov 15:1, 16:24; Eph 4:15), to commit ourselves to the Lord daily in prayer (Ps 145:18; Matt 7:7-11) , to walk in a manner worthy of the great gospel by which we have been saved (Eph 4:1; Phil 1:27; Col 1:10; 1 Thess 2:12) and to thereby imitate the Lord (Eph 5:1-2).

If we are busy doing these things, our discernment will be exercised naturally as we walk in holiness and pursue righteousness. Our desire to live for and serve Christ our King will understandably and naturally lead to a zealous protection of the truth. But the Truth—Christ—and His Word must dominate our efforts. We must be about the business of exalting Him.

While many “discernment ministries” do strive to keep Christ central, others simply do not. Instead, they ironically end up pointing people to the false—the very thing they claim they are warning against. May that never be the fate of this blog or its sister ministry. It was the fight for truth that brought me to this place, but by God’s grace I have seen that there are other ways of engaging in that war. Sometimes the immediate battle may require “discernment” armor, but most days it simply requires faithfulness to Christ and to His saving gospel.

I am thankful for the evolution this blog and ministry have undergone by the grace and direction of God, and I have no intention of shutting things down. And though I cannot know how God will use this ministry in the days ahead, I do know this: woe is me if I do not preach the gospel.

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  • Landon Chapman

    Amen! I found myself in the same rut over at my site and, the heartbreaking reality that controversy drives traffic. It's really a shame.

    Proud of your honesty and commitment to growing in the faith.

  • EBenz

    I appreciate the encouragement, Landon. As I said, I switched gears on the blog awhile ago, and as I had less time to dedicate to the site, I wanted everything I did post to be edifying, challenging, and God-glorifying. But, watching the constant ambulance-chasing of discernment ministries compelled me to speak up even after all this time.

  • tmshafer

    Thank you for sharing your heart and helping those out here who desire truth over all to remember what's important! I am encouraged!

  • Linda Dodson

    There have been a few blogs I have unfollowed because the tone was outrage (“can you believe he/she said that?!?!?) along with a “tsk tsk isn't that terrible” without pointing the reader to the truth of scripture. One of the reasons I treasure your ministry is because your compass is firmly aligned to point your readers and listeners to God's word. And yes, these false teachings are awful and we dare not be silent, but to simply cluck our tongues or bang our heads on our keyboard avails nothing.

  • DebbieLynne7

    Your honesty is both compelling and convicting. Certainly, there's a real need for discernment in evangelical circles, but all of us (yes, me too) have noticed that we attract more readers if we put certain names in our titles. Shame on us for exploiting the heretics!

    But it's equally disturbing that our tabloid type articles attract so many readers. Why don't more people flock to posts about the Word of God? We must pray that women will develop a hunger for Scripture greater than their craving for controversy.

  • Lori at Falsified Ministries

    Amen and Amen. Landon was a forerunner on this, then Pamela Couvrette took note as well. We were in the mode of switching to this, as you know from our convos, and it's freeing to realize that the Truth is far more attractive than the heresy hunting. Lots of deprogramming needs to happen for many of us. It really is telling like you said to see what the popular posts are on the analytics page huh? It's a good indicator of where the professing Christian culture is at. Love ya sis!

  • Pamela Couvrette

    Well said! I have been feeling the same way this year. I have taken a break from blogging as I prayerfully pursue a new project. As one person said to me, “Imagine God saying, 'You spoke about Joel Osteen a million times, but did you speak about my Son?”. Ouch.

  • Michelle

    I've noticed the same thing over on my blog and social media. It bothers me that my biggest “hit getters” are always the discernment posts and never the Bible study posts.

  • Amy Spreeman

    Thank you, comrade. I don't like what I see in my own heart, and reporting the filth does stain the hands that pull back the veil. This has weighed on me as it has many others. I am inspired by you and the others here. Again I say thank you.

  • Cody Lutz

    I love this, Erin. Thanks for your candid humility – that's edifying in itself. It seems when we simply strive to make the truth more lovely to people, what is false will naturally become distasteful and exposed for what it is.

  • TruthIsEternal

    Thanks for your honesty and your concern for your readers. I am no blogger but I am very big on discernment. When I ran across Slice of Laodicea I was so glad someone was sounding the alarms to alert the church regarding false teaching, wolves in sheep clothing and doctrinal error. I am no theological but I love the truth of God's Word. After reading lots of discernment blogs and websites with this type of information, it takes a toll on you personally because it grieves your spirit. It nice to know what's going on in Christendom but it can be overwhelming. Thank you for all you do and continue to do. Peace and blessings.

  • Peter Lewis

    Erin, I for one (and likely for many) appreciate your constant and unshakable efforts to point us all back to Christ and God's wonderful gospel. Yes, discernment is critical, and thank God for you and for what you do, but rest assured, the clearest thing in all your posts is your love for God and his salvation message. You are always (always) pointing your readers in the right direction!

  • EBenz

    Amen, Debbie Lynne, we definitely should be praying in this direction! I found myself becoming greatly disappointed in my readers. The more they flock to the controversy, the less I want to even mention it in passing.

  • EBenz

    You're welcome, my friend. I get sad and weary for those who I see still wrapped up in what often may be a self-made “battle,” whether they are reporters or simply readers. We must keep our focus on the One we claim to be serving!

  • EBenz

    So thankful for your encouragement, Cody!

    It seems when we simply strive to make the truth more lovely to people, what is false will naturally become distasteful and exposed for what it is.

    I love how you've said this. Amen and amen!

  • Michelle Lewis

    Thank you for this; I have found myself more and more disheartened by all the sites that have proliferated in cyberworld. Depending on your personal preference you can find a site that finds just about anyone as being “heretical”, “apostate”, etc. I can only imagine how this plays out for people who are new believers with no foundation. I am grateful for your honesty. Thanks!

  • Anonymous

    I appreciate your post. I do find it interesting, however, that this post has drawn more comments than any of your other recent posts (I am a long time reader and I don't think I've missed any of your posts over the years). Keep up the good work. – Deborah

  • Anonymous

    I liked the article. I wonder if being a discernment blogger doesn't ultimately become depressing. At one of the discernment blogs I'm always amazed at how angry and bitter the authors and the commenters are. Wading thru the unceasing negativity always amazes me. One looks in vain for any comment that would offer grace to the people/men who are the object of the article. Are these people actually followers of Jesus Christ? I don't know but one wonders.