Are You An Unteachable Christian?
September 24, 2020 • Jamey Escamilla
Recently, I watched a clip on YouTube of a popular Christian talk show.
I was pretty intrigued, but at the same time, disappointed by the tone of the show.
I’m going to describe to you guys what I saw and how I felt in order to make a point.
The clip I was watching was from The Lexi Show. Lexi was interviewing a famous preacher, Carlton Pearson.
Carlton had become known for teaching something that went way against what normal Christianity taught.
He was teaching inclusion, which basically says that all people are saved, even if they don’t believe in Christ.
And people didn’t like it. People still don’t like it.
At the time of this interview, Carlton had already been kicked out of a lot of Christian groups and disowned by other popular preachers.
So Lexi was going to have him on her show and interview him to see what’s up.
Can we find some common ground with Carlton, get into his mind, and see what he really believes?
This is sure to be a great show, right?
So I clicked on the show and began to watch.
A few seconds in, I was already thrown something I wasn’t expecting.
She had three other preachers on stage with her, ready to give their two cents on Carlton.
The title on YouTube didn’t say anything about that!
But it’s OK. Just like other talk shows, it’s probably good to have a few other people on the stage to dialogue and help make sense of what Carlton believes.
Joining them on stage in front of this live audience was another famous preacher and author, George Bloomer.
There was also another preacher. Not as famous, but I think he’s pretty well known. His name was Jamal.
And then, sitting right next to Carlton on stage, there was a teacher. His name was Van.
The direction of the show was for Lexi to ask Carlton some questions, he would answer, and then the other guys would give their thoughts on what he said.
The two preachers, George and Jamal, were apparently brought in to share what they thought about what Carlton would say.
Van was brought in for the same reason, but he was going to bring a more “academic” approach to the table.
Now, here’s why I was a little disappointed in the show.
The tone that was set, that was so easily seen, was that a “scholarly, teaching” approach to this episode was not needed.
There were comments made by some of the people on the stage about what Van, the teacher, was saying that seemed to suggest, “Well, nobody understands or cares about what you’re saying. You’re getting to deep with your intellectual approach.”
Van seemed to be the black sheep on stage.
He was explaining WHY there was a disagreement among the church with what Carlton was teaching.
He was doing it from an academic approach by bringing out what the Bible says and offering reason and logic to show why Carlton was wrong with his beliefs.
When Van told Carlton, “Here are the reasons WHY we disagree with what you’re saying”, Carlton told him, “All that…stuff I believe in, but the person on the street don’t care about that.”
Do you see the tone that is being set here?
And I worry that this is the tone for the whole church – no honor or respect for teaching.
More on that in a second. Back to the show.
You can see what Carlton believes about teaching and academics in Christianity.
I mean, I’m sure that he thinks teaching is necessary. But I bet he thinks that it’s not even anywhere NEAR as important as ministering to people on the street.
But is that true?
But sadly, what I gathered from the show was that Carlton was not the only one on the stage that seemed to feel that way about teaching.
George Bloomer even said to Van, “I didn’t come to converse from a scholarly view. You know what you’re talking about well. But (I came) to share with you my experience on this. The discussion of inclusion is at the hierarchy of the church and not where the common people are. Most people just know that they were lost, and now they’re found.”
And of course, the crowd cheered at that comment.
What George said is very true on many levels, but it’s what he didn’t say that bothered me a bit.
The discussion of whether or not inclusion is right can be a bit complex, and most people wouldn’t know why Carlton believed that or why it’s biblically wrong.
But what saddens me about George’s comment and the tone that was being set was this:
It gives the impression that teaching is not as important and out of reach for common Christians.
Just because we might not be where we should be in our knowledge of the Bible, that doesn’t mean that we’re not called to learn.
There’s an idea floating around here that teaching and learning is NOT for every Christian, and that it’s less important, or not important at all.
This seems to be what Carlton believes.
And it’s definitely what Jamal believes. I know that because of his comment to Van about teaching:
“If we were in a seminary forum, what (Van) is suggesting for an intellectual stimulus plan would be appropriate. Unfortunately we messed up. I don’t know how it was planned to orchestrate, but we’re in church.”
The crowd goes wild, almost as if to celebrate the idea that we’re apparently just a church, and we don’t have to learn.
Let me say this. I think all these people on the Lexi Show are great men and women of God. This article is not to pick a fight with them personally or anybody that follows them.
But I wanted to bring out a point that seems to be mainstream Christianity:
Biblical teaching is only for ministers and academic Christian professors, and it’s not even that important.
Is that true?
Is learning and teaching the Bible only for ministers and academic Christians?
I don’t know where we got that idea.
I guess it’s just kind of something we adopted from the “church world” through the years.
“The preacher locks himself in a room to learn and interpret the Bible.
I pay for his living expenses so he has time to do it and doesn’t have to work like me.
I go to church.
The preacher tells me what the Bible means.
I accept it all as truth and don’t ask questions.
After all, learning the Bible is a little boring to me anyways.”
Now, I don’t have all the answers. I’m still learning.
But I think everyday, more Christians are being taught little untruths here and there.
These untruths come from bad studying, which leads to misinterpretations of the Bible.
C’mon. As Christians, the majority of our beliefs are from the Bible.
If we interpret it wrong, then most of our beliefs will be wrong.
And wrong believing leads to wrong living and wrong words.
This is why I believe it’s important for EVERY Christian to have some type of effective Bible study in their life.
You can’t depend on anyone else to do it for you.
You’ll learn more and it’ll mean more when you do it for yourself.
I’m not saying that you need to go to Bible School or learn ancient Greek and Hebrew.
But I am saying that you should at least go beyond this:
“I read this in the Bible today. Here’s what I think it means. Here’s how I apply it to my personal struggles. So that’s what it means.”
Here’s a few ways you can have effective Bible study in your life:
Attend your church’s Bible studies and ask questions
Start a small group with some friends where you gather and discuss the scriptures
Use Bible study software like blueletterbible.org or esword.com
Watch Bible teachings online about some topics that you’re interested in learning
Just start reading your Bible. It’ll make you want to learn more
But if you don’t even do that, you should recognize one important thing:
Teaching is important
You need to respect Bible teaching and Bible teachers.
No, they’re not always right.
But that’s where YOU come in.
WHY are they wrong? What did YOU find out?
We need to make room for teaching in our churches and in our lives.
Many churches and people don’t.
Why does teaching seem to be less significant in the church?
One of my theories is because we’ve just kind of blended “teaching” in with every other office.
Have you ever heard of the “5 Fold Ministry”?
In Ephesians 4:11-12, it says:
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up
So in the church, we teach that these are five offices that God gives to “build” the people up.
We even give people these titles, if we feel that God has called them to that office in this five-fold ministry.
Pastor Jim. Apostle Juanita. Prophet Tom. Evangelist Joshua.
But in the church, you never hear of anybody with the title of “teacher”, do you?
Teacher James. Nah.
If you’re a prophet, evangelist, or an apostle, I bet you can also “teach” the Bible.
Even pastors are also simultaneously called teachers:
“Pastor Frank “taught” on baptism tonight.”
But teaching is a unique office of the five-fold ministry, and we need it.
I’m not saying that nobody else except a “teacher” can teach the Bible.
But we need to remember that teaching is more than just opening your mouth and talking about the Bible.
Teaching is breaking the word down and rightly interpreting what it means, not just saying what it says.
I used to go to a local church’s “Bible study” on Wednesday nights.
You know, the service where half the congregation is missing because they’re tired from the workweek?
The problem was, it wasn’t really what I would call a “Bible Study”.
It was just a preacher preaching, trying to get the church fired up.
I didn’t learn anything.
Meanwhile, I had questions about this scripture or that scripture.
Or somebody told me something bad about God this week, and I didn’t know how to answer them.
And I wasn’t getting the answers at Wednesday night “Bible Study”.
Another reason we don’t exalt teaching is because we don’t want anyone telling us what the Bible means.
“God lives in me! He gives me the interpretation. I don’t need no teacher to “teach” me the scriptures!”
Pastors like to lead their church by preaching from the Bible every Sunday.
I bet it would really ruffle their feathers if some big shot “teacher” came in one Sunday morning and began showing them that they were in error with some of what they were saying.
But that’s the teacher’s job. The job we’re not respecting because we don’t like it.
Teachers are supposed to show us the correct interpretations of scripture so we can align our speech and lifestyle to what the Bible really means.
Another reason we don’t respect teaching is because we feel that the Bible is an abstract painting.
You ever see one of those weird paintings in a museum with only a line or a splash of color on it?
It seems that it doesn’t really have one meaning to it.
So everyone that walks up to that painting can say they think it means this or it means that… and they’re all correct!
But the Bible is not an abstract painting, handing out thousands of different doctrines so we can all fight over them.
If that were true, why would the Bible have all those scriptures that say things like:
“Defend the faith that God has entrusted once for all time to his holy people.”
“But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse!”
“There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people by which we must be saved… “Whether it’s right in the sight of God for us to listen to you rather than to God, you decide.”
“Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth.”
This is why you can’t just turn the truth loose and let everyone believe what they want to believe about it.
We need people to tell us what that truth is. We need teachers.
Is Bible teaching not that important?
We spend a lot of time asking the question, “What’s more important?”
In life, this is a principle that more people need to ask themselves and live by.
In the Bible, would you say that there are some principles that are more important than others?
Many people would say yes. I’m one of those people.
But sometimes, it’s hard to draw the line on what’s more important than other things. The Bible doesn’t always clearly say what is.
Most of the time, what someone says is more important is just what’s more important to them.
It’s related to what they like to do, and what they feel their calling is.
People often say about teaching and having the correct doctrine, “It’s not that important. We just need to love Jesus and love others.”
This is a bad thing to say, because it diminishes the overall value of teaching.
Believing this will cause you to practically never invest in teaching, because, “All that matters is loving people the way I think Christ wants me to love them.”
One could also argue that if you love Jesus and others, you will invest in teaching, because loving others requires not lying to them with untrue things from the Bible.
Let me propose to you another way to look at things.
Instead of looking at things individually and putting what we think is more important ahead of others, let’s ask this:
What can we put into the “most important” category, and what can we put in the “possibly less important” category?
Wait, isn’t that the same thing?
No. Because this way, you only have two buckets to put all your eggs in.
That way, you can put loving people AND teaching as BOTH super important things that need to be addressed in our churches.
You see, it’s not a question of what’s more important.
It’s a matter of what’s important, period.
Does the Bible say to do it, or not?
Christ did minister to the hurting, feed the poor, speak on injustice, and heal the sick.
But is that ALL he did?
“Well, it doesn’t matter what else he did. Those are the most important things.”
The Bible also says that Christ and the disciples spent a lot of their time teaching in the synagogues and countering false doctrine.
Think about it. If you lived in the time of Jesus, would you really walk up to him and say:
“Why are you wasting your time babbling about scriptures from a book that’s hundreds of years old? You should be out there ministering to the people…
… The people on the street don’t care about that.”
The reality is that it sounds good and right to say that ministering to people on the street and getting people saved is MORE important.
But that doesn’t make it true, and it diminishes everything else that we should do as Christians in perceived value.
It just kind of seems like a waste if we’re going to minister to the people on the street, bring them in and “get them saved”…
… and then not teach them the truth.
We’re not just supposed to “get people saved”.
We’re supposed to “make disciples”.
And that’s where good, biblical teaching comes in.
It’s time to accept ministering to the people on the street AND teaching as both important, and make time for both of them.
Let’s not create an atmosphere where teaching is not important in our churches.
Let’s respect it and not ignore it just because we don’t like it.