A few years ago I watched in grief and horror as my friend Dr. Michael Horton had his theology and character maligned because of a photograph that he taken embracing Rick Warren with a statue of Calvin sitting on a table between them.
The people who posted the photo on their blogs and social media used the occasion to slanderously interpret the photograph as proof that Dr. Horton had changed his theology and was now endorsing Rick Warren’s aberrant doctrines and methodology. But, nothing could be further from the truth and time has proven them wrong.
In the course of my public ministry I have also taken photographs with men and women who are false teachers and heretics and have experienced my character and theology being attacked by slanderous misinterpretations of those photographs. But, the truth of the matter is that those photographs are very precious to me. One of the the reasons that they are is because I am forgiven heretic.
If you know my story then you know that I spent almost a year in cult and by the grace of God a dear sister in Christ took the time to research the cult that I and my wife were in and then invited us to her home for a meal and then opened the Bible and helped us see that what we were being taught was not what God’s word said.
My heart breaks, literally, for everyone of the false teachers that I critique on my radio program and by God’s grace I have had the opportunity to speak face to face with some of the people whom I have critiqued on the air. In some cases I’ve been able to build unlikely friendships with some of them.
That being said, it is also important for me to state that I believe that it is my duty to not publicly discuss these friendships. As much as it is dependent on me, I keep these friendships private because I do not want to ever be seen as exploiting them.
Therefore, it is important to for you to know that every photograph that has ever emerged on the internet of me speaking with or posing with a false teacher, aberrant teacher, or heretic has been put there by someone else.
I always find it fascinating that some people judge these photographs by mere appearances as if one of the possible interpretations of these photos is that I am tacitly giving approval to a false teacher's theology or their ministry (phrases like "not a snowball's chance in hell" come to my mind when I read such interpretations).
The fact of the matter is photographs capture a moment in history and unless someone is reporting the words that were spoken in that moment, it is almost impossible to understand what that photo means, especially to those who were part of that moment.
The more I am invited to speak at different venues the more likely it is that I am going to meet and be photographed with false teachers, heretics and aberrant teachers (it seems to go with my job). But, I want everyone to know that each of these photos have deep meaning to me because I experienced the conversations and know what was said in the moments in which they were taken.
Each photo, to me, is precious because each one represents an opportunity that I had been given by God and had used to love a false teacher by speaking the truth to him or her in love and in true concern for their eternal soul.
Sadly, those who are quick to post the these photos are also quick to offer false interpretations of these photos without ever reaching out to me in order to learn the context or the details of the conversations that took place in the venues where these photos were taken. They mistakenly believe that they can somehow perceive the correct interpretation without any research or any conversations. Ironically, many of those who do this believe that they are exercising discernment when in fact they are just being lazy and irresponsible.
True discernment requires withholding judgement until you know the facts of a matter.
As Christians, Jesus tells us to “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” (John 7:24)
χάρις ἔλεος εἰρήνη σοι,