Home > Ezekiel's Forehead, The Preaching Office > How Pastors Allow the Sheep in their Congregation to be Torn Apart by Wolves

How Pastors Allow the Sheep in their Congregation to be Torn Apart by Wolves


Franz Pieper, Professor, President of Missouri Synod, author of “Christian Dogmatics”

  Again, only he is a fit minister of the Church who is able to refute false teachers.  That is listed as one of the necessary qualifications of an elder or bishop: “Holding fast the faithful Word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers…whose mouths must be stopped” (Titus 1:9-11).  The popular demand that the public teacher refrain from polemics is not supported by Scripture.  Scripture admonishes pastors to “avoid foolish questions and genealogies and contentions about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain” (Titus 3:9).  Nor dare we engage in polemics from carnal motives, in carnal zeal.  “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh” (2 Cor. 10:3).  It is also to be noted that in Titus 1:9 the words “able by sound doctrine to exhort” precede “able to convince the gainsayer.”  That means that the clear presentation of the true doctrine must come before the refutation of the false doctrine.  The hearers will thus be in a position to see that the polemics are justified and will be able to make the condemnation of the false doctrine their own.  And they will hardly suspect the teachers of being contentious and unjust.  Scripture thus warns us against false polemics.  But the demand that polemical theology be excluded from Christian theology is contrary to Scripture.  The duty of refuting false doctrine and rebuking false teachers is laid upon the teachers of the  Church in Titus 1.9-11 and many other passages fo Scripture….

Walther does not go too far when he writes: “A man may proclaim the pure doctrine, but if he does not condemn and refute the opposing false doctrine, does not warn against the wolves in sheep’s clothing, the false prophets, and unmask them, he is not a faithful steward of God’s mysteries, not a faithful shepherd of the sheep entrusted to him, not a faithful watchman on the walls of zion, but as the word of God says, an unfaithful servant, a dumb dog, a traitor.  The terrible consequences of the minister’s failure to use the elenchus are before our eyes—many souls lost and the Church deeply hurt.  Polemics are absolutely needed.  Not only because a doctrine is more fully comprehended in the light of its antithesis, but mainly because the errorists so craftily mask their error behind a show of truth that the simple Christians, if not forewarned, are despite their love of the truth only too easily deceived.  The pastor cannot wash his hands in innocence, pleading that he has always preached the full truth, if he did not at the same time warn against the error and, when necessary, identify it by naming the errorist; if his sheep, either while he is still serving or after he had to leave them for another field, become the prey of the ravening wolves in sheep’s clothing, he is guilty of their blood.”  (Walther, Pastorale, p. 82)

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  1. Pat
    July 29, 2012 at 11:46 am

    Thank God for the Holy Spirit He is our great teacher,and though we know not all of the doctrines,He is well able to warn us. The Holy Spirit knows all of God’s will,and (He has said false prophets will rise up and perform great miraculous signs and wonders so as to deceive, if possible, even God’s chosen ones. see I have warned you Matthew 24:24 (NLT) So you see we are not to look to any man,that’s where so many problems lie trusting man instead of God’s word. The Holy Spirit will open God’s word up to us,all we have to do is get in His word with and open mind and heart. Thanks for your visit

    • July 29, 2012 at 1:35 pm

      Rev. 2:2 has Jesus commending the church at Ephesus for testing those who claim to be apostles and rejecting those who are false. So yes, the Holy Spirit promises to lead us into all truth–through the Word of the Apostles. And that word is found in the NT. If we are agnostics about whether or not the Scriptures are clear, we’re on our way back to Rome. Or maybe even worse.

      We should receive pastors and teachers who are faithful, support them, and receive their teaching. But is a big problem to substitute your pastor or denomination for the Pope. Unfortunately the skepticism about Scripture and doctrine among protestants opens the door to the wolves who want to tear apart the sheep.

  2. August 1, 2012 at 10:12 pm

    The rebuke and condemnation of false teaching comes even from Christ himself. He spoke many times with the Pharisees, refuting their false doctrines and evil teachings, and preaching the Gospel in the moments after the rebuke, because His Truth was set out even more against their falsehoods.

  1. August 4, 2012 at 8:17 am
  2. October 4, 2012 at 12:14 am
  3. February 8, 2014 at 10:34 pm

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