“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.
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.