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Twelve Telling Tests of Timeliness

By Dusty Peterson, 2005




When it comes to the various errors infiltrating the Christian Church, folks can naturally feel that some of the older issues are ‘old hat’ and that the Remnant should ‘move on’ from them and focus instead on the latest problems.  This is entirely understandable, but I have identified twelve tests which I believe must all be failed before effort on some older issue can confidently be termed “out of date”.  I supply these tests below.  

As you will see, I have split the twelve tests into two sets of six, the titles of which are hopefully self-explanatory.  In the context of pieces written by Bayith on ‘past’ issues, my tests seek to reveal: (a) whether we were justified in spending time producing them, and (b) whether you are personally justified in spending time reading them.  Of course, all twelve tests apply if someone is undertaking research for an item they plan to produce.  



1)       Does the planned item say, or do, anything new within the discernment community?  The item in question doesn’t have to say anything new to be of value, for it could still be worthwhile even if it just consolidates or rearranges existing material into a form that gives a fresh perspective (or if it simply makes a point more clearly than had previously been achieved).  (I would argue that the ‘Powers’ chart published by Bayith in the ‘Rubies’ section of our website does exactly this.)  Focused critiques, i.e. those which concentrate on achieving a very specific group of closely-related tasks, seem fairly rare but can be surprisingly valuable – not least because they are often irrefutable, definitive, and comparatively easy to locate (as well as offering new insights).  

2)       Does the piece say, or do, anything new for the Remnant as a whole?  The discernment world may be fully apprised about a given subject, but it doesn’t necessarily follow that we have yet managed to communicate this knowledge fully to the rest of God’s faithful People.  (For instance, there still exists a significant amount of confusion and error within Remnant circles about the true nature of a certain ‘old’ issue.  I have generated a chart on the subject which, although not saying anything new, does distil related facts gleaned from many places into one compact diagram to help remove this confusion.  At present I am not aware of any individual critique which includes all the information given there.)  

3)       Does the piece say, or do, anything new among apostates?  A particular critique may well be ‘out of date’ for watchmen and for all other Remnant folks, but what about those deceived souls who still accept, and believe in, the problematic issue and who are still endorsing it, and its leaders, to others?  Have we yet rescued all the apostates in this camp who are capable of being rescued?  We must be sure to keep these poor people fully in mind.  The Lord Jesus certainly did (Matt. 15:24 ; Luke 19:10 ), presumably because lost sheep are the ones in most danger.  

4)       Is anyone still suffering the direct or indirect effects of the issue?  If so (and this is clearly the case with the subject discussed in the aforementioned chart, where numerous people are still bound by serious mental and/or physical ailments after indulging in it), then helpful material on the issue is clearly not out of date for them.  Critiquing a grave matter like the one exposed in my diagram cannot be compared to discussing, for example, some long-forgotten postal evangelistic campaign.  

5)       Are any of the new problems that are entering the Church built on this older problem?  Many modern issues seem to involve the same old people, or share the same old influences.  Thus it can be useful, in terms of newer problems, to continue exposing the older, root problem.  For instance, are any of the leaders of the original problem still active and unrepentant?  If so, creating a solid piece about the old problem might well be invaluable for current followers of the individuals who led it.  (In the case of my chart, many of its leaders and endorsers are still very active indeed.  If the conclusion from my chart is correct then this tells us much about the leaders who promoted that movement and who are still (mis)leading a lot of people today.  The main area of specialization for Bayith Ministries is a newer issue than that on my diagram, but the newer matter is founded on the same old people and employs similar techniques - making it very sensible for us to expose the earlier matter too.)  

6)       Did the Lord tell the creator of the critique to produce it?  In truth, this is the real test (although it may be somewhat harder for observers to check than my other tests).  No matter how up-to-the-minute an item is, if God didn’t ask for it then it should not have been produced.  Equally, God’s ways are not our ways and He could easily inspire someone to create a piece on a subject from the past.  



You or I may find ourselves investigating an ‘old’ issue.  Is it automatically ‘out of date’ to do so?  If any of the following tests pass then such a study is not necessarily redundant.  

7)       Is the problem continuing, in any form, anywhere in the world (and if not, could it ever recur in the future)?  If the erroneous activity is still taking place somewhere around the globe, then it is patently not obsolete for investigation.  (I sometimes get told that my main area of research is past its time, yet the issue on which I am working is still being employed by over a million people a year.  It is obviously very nice for someone to be told that he or she could do useful work for the Church on some new issue, but we mustn’t forget those souls who are still being deceived by older problems.)  

8)       Do we know any believer who hasn’t yet grasped the heart of the old issue?  Although they are related, an important distinction exists between the ‘watchman’ and ‘discernment’ roles.  Watchmen are on the walls to give prior warning of things which are trying to infiltrate the Church.  But what happens after the problem has managed to get in?  

Someone with a pure watchman role is called to focus on each new fad while it is ‘hot’, so that they can provide useful initial pointers and some preliminary guidance from their substantial Christian experience.  But this can mean that they don’t always have a chance to dig down to the absolute core of any particular issue.  Also, it invariably means they don’t have the luxury of time to produce a definitive critique before they need to switch their gaze.  This sometimes also means they can’t see precisely where the new thing fits into the bigger picture of the false church.  The problem with all this is that, once the problem has breached the walls, some believers end up jumping from one fad to another because no-one has fully spelt out to them the underlying problems and the common patterns for which to be on the lookout.  Surely it is only when folks properly grasp a subject that they can be expected to respond properly to it.  

9)       Have all discernment ministries decided against specializing in the issue?  If there is no ‘world expert’ on a given subject then it is potentially the case that the Lord is calling you to become such.  I personally believe it would be advantageous, in order to help generate deeper analyses of subjects, if more ministries were more specialized.  It would also mean that the rest of the Body of Christ had somewhere reliable to go to if they ever needed detailed or specialist information on a subject.  (For instance, I think there ought to be ministries specializing in each of the names displayed on the ‘Powers’ chart which Bayith has published in the ‘Rubies’ section of our website - even though many of the people on the chart are very ‘out of date’ (i.e. dead).  Not only are their writings still around, influencing modern leaders and other folks, but a thorough analysis of their doctrines and practices would enable the discernment community to reveal any underlying patterns and similarities so that the Church could be better alerted to watch out for these things among modern teachers.)  

In regard to specialization, it is also worth noting that some ministries can be in danger of spreading themselves a bit too thinly – potentially leading them to make non-trivial errors which could harm them and/or the Church.  It is obviously wise to look carefully at a subject before we dogmatically pronounce on it.  (In all this, I am not thinking of those ministries that itinerate, for such folks are very likely to be asked questions publicly about all manner of errors and it is therefore important for them to have some familiarity with a great many problems in the Body.)  

Another obvious danger from lack of specialization is that ministries can find themselves duplicating work that is already being done elsewhere, which can simply serve to waste valuable time and effort.  In terms of new problems entering the Christian Church, there will undoubtedly be a number of ministries who are called to do leading-edge work, and doubling-up of effort is unavoidable here, but it doesn’t mean that every discernment ministry is called to exclusively investigate new things.  

10)    Is there anything of significance still to be said on the issue or, if not, is there any useful form in which it is still to be said?  It can take years to get to the absolute core of an issue, for it usually necessitates a huge amount of research and thought.  Next, you have to find an effective way of presenting your findings to other people.  In other words, the true heart of the issue has to be clearly explained to everyone else.  This requires more thought and effort, and therefore more time.  Then your explanation has to be made graceful (and preferably readable), which again requires time.  Finally, you have to actually get the thing published, which can itself take years.  

A further complication is that different apostates may need different types of treatment.  For example, some folks may be happy (or may even prefer) for the truth to be given to them in a direct way, but they may only be prepared to read short articles.  Other people may be happy with longer items but may require them to include lots of quotes and source references before they will believe your claims.  Some apostates may be best catered for by approaching a given issue from a particular angle (i.e. by initially concentrating on a mildly tangential aspect of the issue about which they are reasonably sound).  And so it goes on.  Until every type of need has been catered for, the rescue work is not necessarily finished.  

11)    Are the existing critiques problematic for apostates?  Put simply, do any of the existing analyses do the job?  They may cover every aspect of the issue, but if they also touch on superfluous areas then they may well be asking too much from folks in deception (because such critiques may oblige people to cope with too many challenges in one go).  Alternatively the critiques may have some other major flaw, e.g. they may contain some aberrant teaching or may be written by someone with heretical views on other doctrines.  These things can mean that God may well want one or more replacement critiques to be produced.  The sad truth is that not all analyses seem terribly ‘inspired’.  Some of them only cover an apparently random set of topics.  Others lack grace or have some other fatal shortcoming.  (I plan to develop this matter in future articles, God willing.)  

12)    Is it possible for the old issue to at least act as a sensible vehicle for exposing problems with any other, more current, issues coming into the Church?  In other words, even though there is no known ‘relationship’ between two given issues, do any of the problems present in the older issue exist in the new one?  If so, studying the former can be a handy way of undermining the latter without having to be as confrontational as would be the case if we criticized the modern activity directly.  This is especially true if the newer issue can be shown to be continuing the work of the older problem (just in a different guise), for then we oblige people to question the newer thing if we can prove that the old one is not of God.  

I believe good-quality discernment material will often be quite ‘generic’ – i.e. worded in such a way as to make it readily applicable to other problems in the Church.  (My main area of interest over the last six years has been a certain issue which exhibits many of the central problems that have beguiled the Church over recent decades.  As a result, we at Bayith Ministries have been able to write a critique of this particular issue in such a way that many reviewers are graciously calling the result a widely-applicable exposé of key problems in the Church as a whole.[1])  



Ironically, a critique written sometime after the event can be the most fruitful of all.  This is particularly so if the issue in question was something about which proponents got unusually heated, because such people may actually require a number of years to elapse before they are prepared to reconsider the issue calmly and rationally.  It is precisely when something is written after the event that some of the souls most heavily involved will feel able to face criticism of it, for they will no longer have such a large stake in being right.  Furthermore, properly exposing an old issue can be a potent way of getting apostates to think for themselves and to stop being so gullible about present (and future!) issues.  

There is yet another justification for continuing to expose older issues:  As we have seen, the benefit of hindsight enables us to see the wood and not get lost in the trees.  Satan and his minions have set ways of working (Eccl. 1:9; 2 Cor. 2:11 ) – thus if we can fully discern and expose these ways then we can put other believers in a position where they are able to spot more things for themselves.  Seeking fresh ways to wake God’s people up to Satan’s devices may therefore involve looking at older issues, but it is clearly a legitimate endeavour.  

In closing, I would suggest that the biggest problem is not old critiques, but uninspired ones.  (God-given critiques are surely not in the habit of going out of date very rapidly.)  One of the key ways in which Satan undermines the Church today is to start one fad after another, one movement after another, trying to confuse the Church and keep the watchmen and discernment ministries busy.  If too many of us go chasing after the latest thing and never really spend enough time on that issue to be able to produce definitive and useable treatments which would settle the issue for apostates beyond any doubt, then I have to question whether we are doing our job properly.



[1] The item in question is the book Alpha – the Unofficial Guide: Overview.




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© Dusty Peterson