Calling out Names !!

Naming Names      The world as well as the religious segment has long complained about "name calling." There are also strong movements underway within churches of Christ to remove all identification. The devil, I submit, has always sought vagueness, veiled accusation, and anonymity (Gen. 3: 4, 5). Opposition to "name calling" usually falls under two categories: doctrinal and spiritual softness, and the protection of error and the means of accusing the faithful preacher who exposes error and the errorist. The identification of errorists is certainly scriptural (2 Tim. 1: 15). There does not appear to have been a hard fast practice among inspired preachers in the matter of identifying false teachers by name. Sometime, they did call the name and on occasion, they withheld the name of the false teacher (2 Tim. 2: 17, 18; I Cor. 15: 12, 32). No doubt, the prevailing circumstances determined the need as to the degree of identification. Let us now explore the scriptures to determine more about such exposure.      Before we become more specific in our study of error and teachers of error, we must first appreciate the fact that God recognizes the truth and hates error. The Godhead that consists of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit singularly accent truth and denounce error (Duet. 32: 4; Jn. 1: 14, 14: 6; Jn. 15: 26, 16: 13). It is in the word of God that we learn what is the truth and, by contrast, what is fallacious (Jn. 17: 17, I Thes. 2: 13). Man is morally obligated to speak the truth, handle it aright, and walk and worship in the truth (Eph. 4: 15, 25; 2 Tim. 2: 15, 2 Cor. 4: 2; 2 and 3 John; Jn. 4: 24).      Possible situations regarding religious teachers. The scriptures reveal a number of possible scenarios relative to those who purport to be teachers of the word. One may sincerely preach the truth in love (Phili. 1: 17, Eph. 4: 15). One may preach the truth, but have impure motives (Phili. 1: 15, 18). We also observe that one may teach error but have a good heart (Acts 18: 24-28). In the just referenced case of Apollos, he did not continue to teach partial truth when he learned the whole truth. Had Apollos refused the truth explained to him by Aquila and Priscilla, he would have ceased having a good heart (see Jn. 7: 17). Moreover, there is the circumstance of one teaching error with an intent to deceive the hearers (Eph. 4: 14, 2 Pet. 2: 3, 10, 12, 15, 18, 19). Regardless of the situation, when error is taught it must be exposed for the sake of others who might be adversely influenced. However, there must be accuracy in such name calling, having verified the damnable teaching of the person. We cannot always know the motives, but we can and must know the teaching.      The scriptures are replete with instances of name calling. Jesus called names in that he clearly identified false religions (cp. Matt. 23: 23). Paul called names on a number of occasions (2 Tim. 2: 17, 18). We find Luke naming individuals (Acts 13: 8, 18: 24). John, the apostle of love, did not hesitate to mention people by name (3 Jn. 9). Nehemiah the great prophet of God called names (Nehe. 6: 14). Moses is also seen naming certain men (Num. 16: 1).      Proposed reasons for not identifying teachers of error. "You must first privately go to the person and talk to him," we are told. In this connection, Matthew 18: 15 is sited. However, the text and instruction of Matthew 18 is pertaining to personal transgressions or to one being directly sinned against, not to simply the matter of a general teacher of perverse matters (see Matt. 18: 15-21). Some discourage identification by saying, "he is not a false teacher because he is honest in his inaccurate teaching." As seen above, when error is propagated, it must be challenged and the proponents revealed. If the teacher is truly honest, he, as Apollos, will repent of the false teaching and will embrace the truth. We also hear, "he is only off on one point." One damnable error is all it takes