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Authority, Personality, Familiarity

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen

Seems to be human nature to defer to someone in authority. Well, let me modify that: someone that seems to have authority. The scene of a traffic accident, a stranger stops, gives instructions, directs traffic, and takes charge overall until the police and EMTs arrive. (There is something that is called presence, where someone has authority and personality.) He or she may not have had any formal status, but people deferred to the air of authority. Atheists listen to Clinton Richard Dawkins, even though he is a lousy philosopher, and evolutionists believe his ridiculous claim that the human eye was "poorly designed". Unfortunately, Christians are often persuaded by people with what they perceive as authority.


Some teachers are good, but people succumb to perceived authority of bad ones.
Evangelist D.L. Moody, from J. Wilbur Chapman, 1900
As an illustration, allow me a personal anecdote. I was raised in the Untied Methodist Church (misspelling intentional), my father was a pastor. In an adult Sunday School class, I was allowed to give a presentation on why we can trust the Bible, which may have taken about twenty minutes. My father gave some closing remarks from his liberal perspective that essentially undermined my work. How could it happen? He was the pastor, so they were familiar with him. He also had authority and personality.

Some years later, I was giving talks in area churches on biblical creation science and theology. The pastors and churches had no reason to trust me aside from what I wrote to them and told them. Should I have done this? Should they have let me in? Looking back, I am uncertain. Sure, the pastor was usually there (I wanted them to hear the messages as well), and they could have corrected errors that a stranger could have presented, but that may not have been sufficient.

Don't be disunderstanding me, I'm not saying that a church should not have a teacher that they do not know personally. There are some established Bible teachers, those giving talks from respected creation science ministries, and others who can be welcomed. No matter who is invited, church leaders need to use prayer and discernment before allowing someone into the pulpit.

Taking this authority concern further, professing Christians are willingly deceived by false teachings, whether theistic evolution, liberalism, it's all about you instead of Jesus, the prosperity gospel, or other demonic doctrines. A major part of the problem is that too many of us are doctrinally weak, and do not know the Bible that we claim to believe. Then someone comes along that has a strong personality, a tremendous delivery, uses humor, presence . . . It's mighty difficult to speak against someone that people like, but is teaching things that are untrue. People like Paul Young's blasphemous book and movie The Shack, and he spews further heresy in his latest book.

There some professing Christians go, believing lies because they were gullible and uninformed. I'll be blunt, many are spiritually lazy, preferring to be like atheists who teach "truths" through "memes" that are suited to bumper sticker mentalities. Learning the Word is too much like work for some folks. Wonder if they ever noticed attitudes such as expressed in Psalm 1:1-2?

Now it's time for me to link to a lesson in discernment and how teachers can be deceptive — even demonic — while masquerading as teachers of righteousness. This takes a bit of effort, because the podcast is over two hours (!) long. I recommend downloading it so you can listen when it's more convenient. It's at Fighting for the Faith, and is called "The YOU Effect?" This message is done, but I still want to urge you to get into the Word, our final authority, and be discerning.


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