The Bible teaches us to expose false teachings. This is very important to do, for if you want people to understand the Gospel in order to respond to the Gospel, they will have to have correct information first. It doesn't take too long before we see someone preaching something that is off. It doesn't even take too long before we hear someone teaching something that is outright wrong.
First of all, we need to be learners of the word. We need to learn how to be discerning as well. We need to be able to separate the truth from the lies. This is a skill for every believer to have to learn well. We also should be teaching others to become discerning as well, so that when we are not with them, they will be able to discern for themselves what is right and what is wrong. This is of key importance.
Secondly, the Bible gives directions on how to handle a person who has done wrong. This is not the kind of wrong such as forgetting to feed the cat or saying a bad word. This kind of action is when a believer has done harm to another believer. A common example of this would be when one commits adultery. The adulterer gets caught and a fellow believer confronts him or her and urges the person to repent. If the person doesn't repent, then more people get involved. Finally, the church is involved, and if the person doesn't repent, he or she is no longer part of that fellowship. Of course, the goal is restoration, not destruction. Many, who have reached this point actually do repent and are restored to their families and church. Should the person not repent, they are simply excluded from the fellowship. End of story.
I recall a situation in the church I am at, in which a person who was not a member, but was somewhat involved, would borrow things from people and never return the items. These items were large, expensive items, and the owners never received their items back. This was a continuing process, and an announcement was made about this person, that no one should lend anything to him. This was a kind way of warning the church. Nothing more was said about it. The Huffington Post was not alerted to it. There was no more discussion about it, ever.
Another situation came to our church's attention. Many from the church were visiting a particular home church. Whatever this home church was, it seemed to be very popular. Some had even left our church to be part of this home church. There were no problems at this point until we listened to the messages from the man who was running this home church. He believed in God's grace to be so great and vast, that a person could do whatever he wanted and still be saved. It sounded like Universalism to me. Some of the men listened to this man's teachings on tape, and decided he wasn't teaching sound doctrine, and what he was teaching was harmful. Again, our pastor brought the issue to our attention one Sunday morning. I believe that was necessary for us to hear. It protected the sheep that were part of our flock. Again, the Huffington Post was not contacted. No one slandered that home church, but we were warned against it in a gracious way.
The internet is a blessing and a curse. We can share the Gospel with people around the world. We can meet other Christians in different cities, states, and countries. We can do Bible studies and pray for one another. But, we can also use the Internet to slander our brothers and sisters. I believe this breaks God's heart. We can destroy a person's credibility in two seconds. If I were mean and clever, I could take a story that has a little bit of truth to it, and embellish it, add some pictures to it, and use it to destroy a ministry. It's that easy to do. Something in our flesh loves doing that. We love putting others down. The problem is, Jesus tells us to 'love one another'. He also tells us to love our enemies.
One of the biggest schemes of the devil is to break apart the body of Christ. Now that we have the Internet, and the ability to contact the media, we can easily do that. We can take a story that has some truth and embellish it, and circulate it on FB. If it gets enough attention, the media is right there to get involved too.
When do we 'warn' people about a dangerous doctrine or false teacher? I think we can spend a lot of time warning people about false doctrines by teaching whatever is truth. We should be doing that anyway. Our students will become more and more familiar with the truth and will be able to discern truth for themselves. But when it comes to false teachers, we need to check our motives. It is easy to pick a person apart. The world does it all the time.The root is pride. We all have pride. We need to stop pride from developing in our lives. God will only use humble people to bring Him glory. Humble people do not rip other people apart. I have seen professing Christians tear other profession Christians apart. I see name calling on Facebook all the time. I see people calling out others and labeling them 'heretics'. They might really be heretics, but wouldn't it be more effective if we were to say, 'So and So believes Such and Such'?. 'Here is what the Bible says. Here is what So and So says', instead of saying, 'So and So is a heretic'. What makes So and So a heretic? Do we have So and So's side of the story, or are we only hearing what we want to hear and post to present So and So as a heretic and make our case presentable for all to see? Whenever we present only part truth mixed with some untruth, the whole becomes a lie. That is what the devil did in the beginning, and he is known as the 'Father of Lies'.
Sometimes, I think we convince ourselves that we really are 'warning' people about the dangers of a particular person or ministry, but, if we really look at our hearts, we're not doing that at all. I think of this in a similar way as 'joining a bandwagon'. We see posts from Christians who we like and respect, and those posts tell us that a Christian figure is either dangerous or a heretic. We assume that is true and we pass the information along. Someone else is thinking the same thing and takes that information and before you know it, the Christian figure has lost his reputation because someone had a twisted idea of the person and decided to make his opinion public.
This not only happens in Christian circles, it happens anywhere there are people. At least, people who are identified with groups. In the 1970s, there were farmers who grew coconuts. Coconuts were being studying and many valuable properties were found in coconuts, and the coconut industry started doing very well. That is, until the farmers who grew soy realized what was going on. They weren't happy because now people were buying more coconuts and less soy products, and they were beginning to lose money. So, they decided, to have some valid testing done on the properties of coconuts, but what they really did was to have some faux testing done that ended up with results in their favor. The took their false information stating the lack of nourishment coconuts have, and started exalting the benefits of soybeans. For a couple of decades, they did very well. But someone caught onto their game, and more research was done on coconuts, this time by an unbiased groups, and coconuts were now in demand once again.
When is it right to warn people about danger? It is right, when they could be endangered. But it is only proper when all factors have been considered, not just one side of the story. We have to remember that for every story, there are two sides. We have to know what is going on, on both sides. And we need to get our information from other sources than the one side, because it will be biased.
If a man is having an affair, and he belongs to a particular church, only those who know him in the church are to be involved. Now if he has a pattern of flirting and picking up women, and goes to another church, it is only fair that the pastor of that church be made aware of his behavior. This pastor will have to keep an eye on this man and protect the women in the church from being entangled in this man's sinful pattern. No one needs to call the newspapers or the newscasters on television. It doesn't involve them, unless they are part of that church. And if they are, they are not to broadcast this information. Again, the goal is to work with the wayward person in order for him to completely repent.
In apologetics, some debate skills are needed. In evangelism, tactical skills are necessary to communicate with lost people. When debating, one important rule is to never attack the other person. Take apart what he is saying, but do not attack him personally. That is called, Ad hominem. It is unacceptable in debates. It should be unacceptable in churches as well.
The bottom line is this; Our hearts are so deceitful, and we believe we are intending to 'warn' people of the dangers of a false teacher or professing Christian who is accused of doing something wrong. I think, many time, our idea of 'warning' the flock is really a mask for wanting to tear someone apart. Something in our flesh really loves putting people down and tearing people apart. You can detect this by the names of some of the groups on Facebook (Heresy Hunter, 'We shred wolves to pieces', etc) There is no need to hunt down heresy or to shred wolves apart. We don't have to look to hard to find heresy or wolves in sheep's clothing. What do we do with them though, when we find them? Do we rip them apart, or do we take apart what they believe in, and rebuttal that with truth from the Bible? If we truly love God, and we truly love people, we will take care in how we handle heretics and false teachings. Name calling and joke making are not God honoring ways to combat heresy. We always combat false teachings with the truth. The truth is a spiritual weapon. Can we trust God in helping people to see what is truth and what is false? Or are we more powerful than God, and do we have to take the problems of false teachings into our own hands?