This is a touchy topic…
But, it’s one I have felt led to talk about for quite some time. And, you know me…if I feel led to discuss then I’m eventually going to start typing.
So, let’s address this problem within the Christian community and the blogger community and then I want to share how you can recognize false teachers…even the one’s that have become your biggest role models.
More Christians in the blogging world — this is a good thing, right?
Within the past few years we have seen a huge increase in the blogging community of what we typically refer to as “Christian Influencers.” Generally, these are bloggers, business owners, artists, or speakers who openly talk about Christianity and their relationship with Jesus. You may see all of these influencers on varying sides of the scale: some speak mostly about Christianity while others have niches in which they will include their faith from time to time. Today, I want to focus on those who are a little more outspoken about their faith: the ones that would self-identify as a Christian influencer or at least say that their faith plays a large role in their blogging/business practices and what they hope to share with the world.
On the surface this may all seem like a really positive thing — more Christians speaking out about their faith is what we want…isn’t it?
And the broad answer for that is, yes — absolutely!
But, when we dig a little deeper than surface level we might see a common trend among these influencers: many of them are what the Bible would identify as “false teachers.” Why? Well, for one simple reason: they are promoting their own version of Jesus rather than the Jesus of the Bible. In other words, they are sharing A gospel, not THE gospel.
I could try to name all of the false gospels currently making their rounds through the Christian influencer community. But, I would much rather explain to you how you can recognize a false gospel — and therefore a false teacher — right away.
I unfollowed a lot of people
Before I tell you how to recognize and weed out those false teachers I want to explain to you my own journey in realizing the overwhelming amount of false teachers within this community that claims to want to glorify the Lord.
Not long after becoming a blogger myself I started to see a common theme among the influencers I followed. Which is exactly why I think God took my blogging dreams from mostly lifestyle to mostly talking about Him: because when I unfollowed the false teachers I realized how few real Christians existed in this community.
I can’t really say how I first started to recognize the false teachers. But, once I started my own blog and started brainstorming content I realized how much incorrect content was out there. Becoming an “internet encourager” made me long for encouragement for myself even more: you know, the whole thing about not pouring from an empty glass is a legit thing. But, when I sought that encouragerment from my typical Christian influencers I came away with a glass still empty. Something just didn’t seem right here. Why did I feel so discouraged by these encouraging women? Why did I feel like I was being drawn farther away from Jesus when they were supposed to be pointing me to Him?
Slowly, I started to understand the term “false teacher” and I started to recognize common trends among those that proclaim the name of Jesus but fail to truly follow Him. And I STOPPED following anyone with 10k followers and the name of Jesus in their Instagram profile. I unfollowed a lot of people – like, A LOT. And these days I hesitate to follow anyone with “faith,” “Christ follower,” or “Jesus girl” in their profile description. Because, simply proclaiming His name is not enough for me anymore. I want more. And so should you.
So…how do you spot the fakes?
I have a few things that I think will help you first narrow out the false teachers in your own “following” column as well as equip you to recognize them in the future so that you don’t open yourself up to information that is skewed or just plain wrong.
One of the first things you can identify in a “Christian influencer” that might be a red flag of a false teacher (or just someone who isn’t really a Christian influencer but has somehow picked up the title) is the sameness you see when comparing them to non-Christian influencers. It sort of goes back to the old “if it looks like a duck…” sort of thing. So, if your fave blogger claims to be promoting the name of Jesus yet they seem to have nothing in common with Him, but rather look a heck of a lot like the rest of the Instagram gals out there, you might want to start questioning. Real followers of Jesus should be immediately recognizable because they will look, act, speak, and live completely differently compared to the rest of the world.
One of the most misleading things I have noticed about “Christian influencers” is positivity. Of course, positivity is not a bad thing. And you should be seeing it present in the life of those who claim the name of Jesus. But, if your fave Christian influencer only ever talks about Jesus in terms of prosperity, love, worthiness, enoughness, success, and wealth…well, they might not really be following Him. Because a REAL Christian influencer will tell you about the struggle with sin, the unworthiness of the human race, the struggle to not conform, the reality of spiritual warfare, and the command that we must die to self every day. These are tough topics to cover — much harder than constantly telling you that you’re “worthy” — so look out for influencers who try to make Christianity look like a trip to Disney world.
This one might be fairly obvious: but if they only ever refer to their walk with Christ as their “faith” or they tend to imply that their choice of faith is what is true for them “but might not be true for you,” girl…hit that unfollow button FAST.
4. trendy/buzz words
This will take some critical thinking on your part: you can’t write off a sound teacher just because they use buzz words. However, there are words used in the Christian community these days that have no biblical grounds whatsoever. In fact, many of them point to some pretty unbiblical viewpoints and versions of the gospel that completely expel the need for Jesus.
Some buzz words & phrases to look out for or take with a grain of salt might be…
- self-love / love yourself
- you are enough / you are worthy
- just do you
- God wants you to be successful/wealthy/happy
- your opinion of yourself is the only opinion that matters
- Jesus would have been ______ (fill in the blank with any political, social, cultural, or trendy title)
- God is whoever you want him/her to be
- God is different for you than He is for me
Additional red flags might be any conversations that suggest God has changed his mind about something, Jesus was anything less than perfect & sinless, or that biblical definitions or commands are no longer relevant in our culture today. If any of these tend to be recurring conversations initiated by your favorite bloggers and influencers, I would suggest taking a little time to explore their profiles, blogs, and content at length and determine if they are portraying a false version of Christianity.
5. jumping on bandwagons
This might fall in line with the previous point, but I would suggest you really think critically about any Christian influencers that tend to jump on the latest bandwagon surrounding cultural, social, or political topics. It goes back to that whole “sameness” thing. If an influencer starts to support certain causes that all of the non-Christians are you might want to do a little more investigating. Is this their way of playing it safe rather than proclaiming the truth? Are they just uninformed on the topic? Or do they honestly believe what they are promoting is biblical?
Recognize them INSTANTLY
Keeping an eye out for these five things will help you start to weed out some of the false teachers out there, sure, but they aren’t a flawless way to make sure you are only following true followers of Jesus. In fact, none of that will really matter if you aren’t first seeking the truth from the only two flawless sources that we have access to: the Word & the Holy Spirit.
The only way to spot a lie is to know the truth, so start reading girl. Get your bible and dig in. Pray for understanding and discernment and start studying the Word like your life depends on it – because, well…it sort of does. Not only will this help you gain a firm grasp of biblical principles so you can quickly spot unbiblical teaching, but it will also ensure that you are learning from the Word of God rather than just the word of man.
The Holy Spirit is a powerful thing. And He can tell you when something isn’t right. So, get alone with God in prayer regularly and start to understand what it feels like when the Holy Spirit is pressing on your heart about something. When I was starting to pay more attention to the people I followed and determine which ones no longer needed to appear in my feed, I relied on the Holy Spirit for most of my decisions. Why? Because sometimes I struggle to grasp certain biblical teachings. But, I always know when the Lord is saying “this is not someone I want you to admire.”
I like to look at it this way: a fan of an author can only tell you what they interpreted the book to mean…only the author can tell you what he really meant. So, when a biblical application comes up in my feed that seems off I just turn to the Holy Spirit and let Him guide me. Lord, is this really what you meant? And I usually find the answer pretty quickly.
I know this is A LOT to take in. But I just felt like it was so important to address because day by day I see more and more people claim the title of Christian blogger yet they are promoting 90% unbiblical practices and principles. If you are thinking of joining the Christian blogger community…I would suggest trying to apply these things to what you want to cover on your blog. Because the only thing worse than teaching people not to follow Jesus is teaching them to follow the wrong Jesus.