Too often people wrongly claim that if an author writes a book, or a preacher preaches a sermon, that no one is permitted to make judgments about the contents of these teachings without first asking the author’s or preacher’s permission. Paul did not ask Peter’s permission to publicly rebuke him nor did he ask Hymenaeus’ and Alexander’s permission to rebuke them for teaching false doctrine. Claiming that false teachers have the right to spread their teachings throughout the body of Christ until such time that a Matthew 18 procedure is set up and implemented is a category error. Matthew 18 concerns the accusation of sin brought by one member of a congregation against another. This requires two or three witness if personal confrontation is ineffective.
Teachings that are published far and wide do not need two or three witnesses; everyone can see what is being taught for themselves. These teachings must be judged to be biblical or unbiblical. Those who bring false teaching should be publicly corrected. If they continue to bring false teaching and disregard the faith once for all delivered to the saints, they should be considered wolves and the flock must be guarded from them.
Today the teachings of the wolves come by way of the TV, radio, internet, books, seminars and any other media that is available. No pastor could discuss each of these specific heresies with their authors, nor is it required. What is required is that pastors and elders refute the heresies with sound doctrine, and warn the flock about their pernicious influence. The sad truth is that very few elders or pastors are willing to do this. Many take it as a badge of honor that they correct no one, and glibly allow the wolves to devour the flock under the guise of humility and unity. If we refuse to judge false teaching, we have neglected our God-given responsibilities.