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Better Than Rubies
Telling Tests of Timeliness
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issue can confidently be termed “out of date”.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.
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).
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.)
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.
), presumably because lost sheep are the ones in most danger.
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
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.)
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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
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
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
(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
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
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.
) – 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
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
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.