5 Reasons Pastors Must Confront Error

Error comes from a variety of places. Regardless of the origin, it must be addressed or it will spread. When pastors refuse to correct error they minimize the importance of Truth, confuse their members, and put at jeopardy the testimony of their churches.

Sometimes when a pastor confronts error he is accused of being divisive or focusing on things that are not that important. However, those who make such accusations fail to understand why pastors must confront error regardless of public opinion.

Martin Luther once said that, “One can fight battles on many fronts, but if he fails to fight on the front where the battle rages the hottest, he is unfaithful.” John Calvin once said, “A dog barks when his master is attacked. I would be a coward if I saw that God’s truth is attacked and yet would remain silent.”

The defending of Truth and the confronting of error has long been understood to be a primary responsibility of the pastor.

Here are five reasons why pastors must confront error, regardless of the consequences.

1- It’s biblical.

Titus 1:9 instructs the pastor to “hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.” (ESV)

Pastors are told in Act 20:28-30 to “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.” (ESV)

In I Timothy 1:3 Paul said, “charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine.” (ESV)

More examples could be given, but the Bible is clear that it is the job of the pastor to protect his congregation from error by confronting that error when it appears.

When a pastor confronts error, he is being obedient to Scripture.

2- It offers protection to other church members.

In most churches there are people who are babes in Christ. They are not yet mature believers and are not capable of discerning truth from error. If left to themselves, they can be easily led astray. There are also people who are not nearly as grounded as they think they are. They oftentimes think they understand an issue, but in reality, may fail to understand the theological context, the historical dangers, or the overall biblical teaching.

When a pastor confronts error, it points other believers toward Truth. 

3- It protects the testimony of the church.

A church’s reputation is tied to that of its members. If members are spreading error, that becomes the reputation of the church.

When a pastor confronts error, it demonstrates a concern for the overall testimony of the church. 

4- It demonstrates to those holding to the error how important Truth is.

Sometimes people hold to error out of naivety. Perhaps they have been deceived, and don’t realize that what they are communicating is in fact error. Ignoring this allows them to continue to slip down the dangerous path and passively teaches that Truth is not really that important.

When a pastor confronts error, it demonstrates a concern for those holding to error.

5- It provides opportunity to teach true doctrine.

When error is confronted, the pastor then also has the opportunity to teach Truth. The reason so many people are led astray is because of a lack of doctrinal teaching. Refusing to confront error promotes doctrinal ignorance.

When a pastor confronts error, it provides the perfect opportunity to point people to the Truth.

Closing Thoughts

Doctrinal error is dangerous. In fact, more than just dangerous, it can be contagious. It must be dealt with. When a pastor is truly committed to the Truth of God’s Word, he will be willing to confront error — regardless of the consequences.

What are some other reasons it is important for church leaders to confront error? Comment Below!