Sharp Rebukes for False Teachers

Listen to the words of Alexander Campbell’s thoughts in a letter to a Mr. Clark on April 1, 1830. Campbell wrote,

“That all men err, and, consequently, you and I, is, as you say, a self-evident position, and it is one reason why I never dare impose my inferences and my reasonings and conclusions upon others as terms of Christian communion. Whatever is matter of fact, plain and incontrovertible testimony, in that, and that alone, in which we cannot err-and that only should be made a term of communion. Our safety is in an unerring rule. By that let us walk; and if in any thing we should be otherwise minded, God will teach us, by our own experience, what we fail to learn from precept.

You ask me for a confession of my feelings, or propose such questions to me as call for an examination of the motives or influences which governed me in many pieces which I have published. No it would be saying too much, for one who has been so roughly and so savagely used by many, under the cloak of religion, to say that I have never felt angry, or set down aught in a spirit incompatible with the gospel. But without conceding the right which any person may claim to bring me to confession, and without boasting of my motives and feelings, I will say, that they have been, if not universally, very generally, of the most benevolent and charitable character. Always in benevolence, but not always in the spirit of christian love, have I written. Let me explain. Some person who have slandered and abused me, I do not love as christians. For as soon would I call the highwayman who had attacked me on the road, a christian, as some persons who have aspersed me. I feel, I think, towards them, as Paul felt towards Alexander the coppersmith. But yet there is not one of them for whose reformation and salvation I could not pray. And if it were in my power to reward them good for evil, I should rejoice in the opportunity. But when they appear as religious instructors and advocates of sound doctrine, I must not, I dare not, and I will not spare them. If I were writing my last essay, and about to lay down my pen forever, and they were the theme, I do not think that I would write in a different spirit, or speak in a different style of such persons. I differ, perhaps, in sentiment from you and many of my brethren, in what consists a christian spirit, a charitable spirit. John the Immerser, the Saviour of the World, and the Holy Apostles are my models in this, as in many respects. To a generation of vipers, to a fox-like Herod, to Scribes and Pharisees who tithed mint, anise, and dill, and neglected a righteousness, mercy, and the love of God; of such men as the false teacher in Corinth, the judaizers in Galatia, and the false teachers mentioned by Peter and Jude; of such man as Hymeneus, Philetus, Alexander, and Diotrophes, I would speak as the New Testament speakers have spoken. And still I would become all things to all men, that by all means I might save some. Such is my christian spirit.”

About Scott J Shifferd

Minister, church of Christ in Jacksonville, FL. Husband and father of four. Email: ScottJon82[at]
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18 Responses to Sharp Rebukes for False Teachers

  1. Phil says:

    Never have I said that words are not used to communicate. However, I have tried to make you see that the Spirit communicates and gives us understanding apart from written words. He works directly on our heart, not just using written words in the text of scripture.


  2. Phil says:

    I’ve never said that words don’t have meaning. But we’re dealing things loftier which are transcendent. Words often fall short of conveying such things. That why parables are used. At some point one must get outside the box of logic to truly understand spiritual ideas and principles.


  3. Phil says:

    Never once does the bible indicate that God communicate ONLY by written words. If you can produce a scripture that says God communicates “only” by written text then please do.

    I have shown you otherwise and I have experienced the presence of God and his very subtle guidance through His Spirit in me. Basic Christianity should teach this. God does not favor those who are intellectually superior and able to process written text over those who have limited reading and word skills.


  4. Phil says:

    Does Jesus communicate with spoken and written words only?
    Romans 8:26
    In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.
    1 Corinthians 12:8
    To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit.
    Colossians 1:9
    For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,
    1 John 3:24
    The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.
    1 John 4:13
    This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit.


    • Do you not know that the Spirit makes intercession with words and that the groanings are our own? Do not those groans have meaning?

      Do you not know that the Spirit communicates wisdom by words in 1 Corinthians 2:13?


  5. Phil says:

    Every mind is subjective and hears what they do based upon lots of factors. You and I can read the same words and come to different conclusions. No one is objective. the mind of flesh is subjective. It cannot be otherwise.

    The problem is that we rely upon the flesh to dissect and impart the meaning of words that are spiritual in nature (when reading scripture). We can use typical word dissection to understand the Constitution and other law books. But the NT cannot be approached from this typical intellectual mindset and be understood as the God intended. God’s message is deeper than the words that try to describe it. It’s like trying to describe the most beautiful sunset and hoping to convey it’s beauty through those words. It cannot be done to allow the reader to enjoy that sunset as if they were there.

    False teachers can also be those who teach the practical messages of the scriptures but miss the spiritual message that transcends the practices that look so good in their form. Don’t be fooled by those who obey the commands and look compliant in their form. Underneath that facade can be anything but what is seen on the outside.


    • To your first paragraph, did God not invent language and did Jesus not seek to communicate through words?

      To your second, you are right and it is true that the depth of the beauty of the Gospel is amazing to contemplate starting with the words of Christ.

      To your third, false teachers do deceive, but John was right that those who follow Christ are of Christ (1 John 4:12-16).


  6. Agreeing on the words of Christ is essential. This must be perfect and it can be. A perfect preacher can not exist, but a preacher understanding the words of Christ can be done including each and every teaching.

    By “the Pattern”, I’m assuming that you are referring to what practices that we must follow. There are very few one-cuppers and they all refuse to study. These are also non-institutional and bind the traditions of men on others. I do not see this as a division in the churches of Christ, but an apostasy from the Church.

    Guy Woods and Gus Nichols differed in their conclusions of the Holy Spirit, but both were friends and did not divide. I believe that both were generally right. God, Christ and the Father, indwells in us (Eph. 3:17, 1 John 4:14-16) by the Spirit (1 John 3:24) indwelling at obedience (Acts 5:32). The Spirit’s only instrument is the Word (Eph. 6:17), which is also spirit (John 6:63) and also indwells (Col. 3:16), and the Spirit only indwells by hearing the Word, the Gospel (Rom. 10:17, Gal. 3:2). Trying to wrap your mind around that is as hard as fully understanding the Godhead. It is something to know and revere, but how cannot be understood. I’ve never heard of anyone dividing over this strange debate of how the Spirit indwells by the Word being either literal or “figurative”, and I have a thorough recollection of the history of the churches of Christ.

    The pattern of sound words is the Scriptures. Differing beliefs and practices are the result of willful ignorance and, or corruption.


  7. churchesofChrist says:

    I mean by church of Christ preacher – those who preach within the churches of Christ.

    I believe there are sound preachers too, but not perfect preachers, nor preachers who preach everything perfectly. Sure, most of these sound preachers may agree on most things…the 5 acts of worship are viewed by most the same way. But, when we preach “The Pattern” we then have all sorts of opinions, even to the point that we break fellowship with each other. And our “out” is to call this matters of judgment or expedients. As long as we can agree on the 5 acts, we pretty much get along….even then there are struggles…some one-cuppers consider those who use multiple cups to be in error and there are issues of the Holy Spirit too…does he reside in us, or does He reside in us thru the word ONLY?? Plus, there are many many other issues that have divided the churches of Christ. We are full of division and act as if we are not….we are fast to point out how denominated everyone else is, while pretending we are united….and this is sad and its time we are honest and its time we address these issues with each other. If I ask you for a complete detailed pattern list of everything in the New Testament and I ask other preachers….guess what??? The Pattern List will not be the same……………..


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