I’ve read a lot of heresy in my life. If you would like to be a false teacher or just want to know how to spot theological error, then this is the article for you. “Test everything; hold fast what is good” (1 Thess 5:21).
- Always mix the truth with error. A good mother mixes the medicine with sugar to make the bitter pill easier to swallow. For every error, include a dozen truths. Say many commendable and true things about the Bible to get your foot in the door. Tell half-truths when it suits your purpose and use the terminology of orthodoxy but with a different meaning (see Mormonism and the liberals in the SBC during the 1980s).
- Mistranslate the Bible when it does not support your position. Distort the meaning of the original languages (see the Jehovah’s Witnesses and The Clear Word Bible of the Adventists).
- Only quote part of a verse or take it out of its original context. Use ellipses to take out parts you don’t like from the Bible or authors who you are trying to use to support your position.
- Misrepresent your opponent’s position by only presenting one aspect of it without dealing with it as a coherent whole.
- Use lofty speech, jargon, scholar-speech, and Greek and Hebrew to make your audience think that you can be trusted as an expert on the subject.
- Use phrases like “all scholars say,” “it is universally recognized,” or “this argument has been made elsewhere,” instead of doing the work of exegesis for your audience and assume that the sources you are using are already correct.
- Present the heresies of the past in a “fresh” light. Repackage Satan’s lies to be appealing to modern day “scholarship” (see the New Perspective on Paul and Open Theism).
- Move quickly without detailed interaction with other interpretations while using catchy phrases and taking cheap shots at your opponents or their argumentation. Stack arguments on top of arguments quickly so that the audience does not have a chance to question your exegesis or reasoning.
- Be enthusiastic and confident about your heresy. You don’t have many verses you can use to support your position, so make up for it in passion. Smile a great deal. Give your testimony about how you came to embrace your heresy. Poison the well so the audience is less inclined to listen to the other side.
- Avoid the best arguments against your position but keep using the same arguments for your position over and over again since the more you repeat something the more likely people will believe it. Avoid interaction with those who have properly exegeted the texts you use. Misrepresent them and their arguments.
- Do not read too many books and articles which oppose your position or you may be persuaded from your heresy. Never seriously interact with the best that the other side has to offer.
- Redefine the meaning of important terms so as to remove them from their historical usage and context. Oneness Pentecostals are famous for this: “Sure, I believe in the Trinity: The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one person.”
- Sit on the fence when it comes to issues that would expose the fallaciousness of your interpretation or methodology. Be as ecumenical and lukewarm as you can in order to appeal to as many people as possible.
- Don’t back up your assertions exegetically. Make assertions without proving them deductively from Scripture.
- Talk about how the verses that are used against your position are “difficult passages” so we should not be overly dogmatic on how to interpret them because “scholars” disagree. If they can’t agree among themselves, how could we? If you can find a Christian scholar who agrees with your interpretation of a verse, always use them as an authority. Use the word “mystery” a lot.
- Deceive yourself into believing that what you are saying is true. Most false teachers are self-deceived into believing the truth of their own assertions. The best liar is the person who never lies. If you believe you are speaking the truth, you will not be inhibited by your conscience and will have all the confidence of someone who believes they are speaking the truth. A person with a track record of trustworthiness is much more likely to be believed when they start speaking lies. The teacher while writing on the chalkboard never turns around and looks at the A+ honor student when she hears a loud crash behind her.