On calling no man “Teacher”

We like to point out to Roman Catholics that Jesus says call no man “father.”  We think that’s a good criticism of their praxis (and it is).   But I’ve seen something even more troubling:   this problem is infinitely worse in the subcultures of American evangelicalism.   We rally behind our favorite teachers and allow no criticism, not even dissent, of them.  Roman Catholics and EO really don’t have that problem.  Here is how a discussion goes.   Some of us will say that many aspects of Christian Reconstruction went off the rails and Rushdoony was wrong on a number of issues (denying the 3-fold distinction of the law, food laws, 2nd Commandment, Paedocommunion, denying the covenant of works, separating himself from the church for 8 years, etc).  Notice we didn’t say anything about his character.  I like Rushdoony, actually.  I think he is a fine teacher and his series on  So here is the conversation:

Recon1:  Show from Scripture where Rushdoony is wrong?

Me:  He held to the ongoing food laws.

Recon1:  Like I said, show one verse where he is wrong on the food laws.

Me:  Seriously?  (Eventually I quote 1 Timothy 4)

And this train wreck went on for about 100 more posts.  Obviously, you can see what’s going on here.   No criticism of “our venerated teacher” is allowed.

And I am grateful that God brought me out of this.  I used to be the world’s worst.  I used to rally behind different teachers.  I don’t want to sound overly pious, but I think I now understand what Jesus meant by not calling any man teacher.  I have a lot of sermons and lectures on my iPod, but it’ so scrambled I often don’t know who is saying what.

3 comments on “On calling no man “Teacher”

  1. Angela Wittman says:

    I think I’ve encountered Recon1… But if the recons would take time to explain their position or acknowledge where a teacher was wrong with humility, it might do wonders for the movement. I believe Andrew Sandlin, who influenced me, also had an unapologetic attitude. 😦

  2. Hmmm. Can one also say that Calvinism or the the Reformed Faith “went off the rails” because Calvinist and Reformed theologian Rushdoony was wrong on a number of issues? I think Calvinism and CR can both survive the failings of Rushdoony.

    Many today say that John Calvin was wrong on some issues (e,g, Michael Servetus, infant Baptism, eschatogical pessimism, his failure in not writing a commentary on Revelation, his view on the Virgin Mary, etc). I recall seeing an old book entitled, Calvin Defended which was a lengthy defense of Calvin against his many common accusers.

    But one could say that at least Rushdoony’s errors never led to anyone’s death like it did with Servetus in Calvin’s Geneva.

    But for the record, I agree with Calvin and Knox’s defense of Servetus’s civil execution.

    C.H. Spurgeon was also wrong on some issues (e.g. denying Infant Baptism, partially censoring a reprint of Thomas Watson’s <Body of Divinity book because of its pro-infant Baptism stance, and of course, Spurgeon’s premillennialism).

    Martin Luther? Where to begin? Consubstantiation, Law/Grace dichotomy, weak on Third Use of the law, denying the canon of Revelation, his opposition to Zwingli, his concessions to Papal authority in his 95 Theses, etc.

    My, my, it seems that every “teacher” has some errors.

    Personally, I have always welcomed criticism of reformed teachers. The problem however is that often the criticisms are unfair or malicious or simply overstated. Constructive brotherly criticisms are few and far between.

    BTW if Jesus didn’t want any man to be called a teacher, then why would He keep supplying the church with teachers/pastors for the past 2000 years? Of course, we are not to venerate them, or swallow everything they say, or see them as beyond criticism. But should that not be a given? Or is that your point? That it is not a given?

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