Beware the Bridgers (revised)

Imagine you are building a house. You have carefully chosen your builder based on referrals, reviews, and personal interviews. During the project, your builder recommends and uses different subcontractors to finish the house. You do not know anything about these subcontractors but you trust them because you trust your builder.

Your builder is a bridger. He is bridging you to the services of someone else that you don’t know, have never heard of, but will choose to trust because of his recommendation.

Now if he is connecting you with a subcontractor that is dishonest or unqualified, you will find this intolerable and demand a change be made. I doubt you would be satisfied to allow the poor work to continue on the house in which you are investing so much time and money.

I’d like to submit to you that growing in Christ is just a tiny bit similar to building a house. We are intentionally trying to grow spiritually and we choose “builders” (preachers, teachers, authors, etc) to help us with this. Along the way, those builders recommend other subcontractors (or builders). We choose to trust because of the recommendations of our favorite “builders”.

For example, if I see that my favorite author is favorably quoting another author in a book I am reading, I will naturally think that quoted author is someone I can trust. Why else would he be quoted?

Or if my favorite preacher is hanging out with other preachers, I will naturally assume that they are trustworthy preachers. I can hardly expect someone of integrity and truth to “hang out” with those who just don’t care very much about either.

But what seems so cut and dried in the physical world (builder-subcontractor-dismiss if they don’t do a good job), gets very sticky and complicated in the spiritual world.

There are so many “solid” spiritual leaders that are bridging their followers to those who are deceptive and unqualified. It’s been a very interesting dynamic to watch, particularly over the past thirty years or so (although the beginnings of this go back way earlier.)

I have watched men and women I trust recommend and join with word-of-faith preachers (which preach a false gospel), Bethel and Hillsong (which are fatally compromised and without the gospel), social justice warriors (which preach a social gospel), and all sorts of other compromised and spiritually twisted leaders. I have seen them recommend and join with false religious leaders that preach a gospel that demands works (Catholicism, Mormonism, etc.) and call it “unity”.

These people are functioning as bridgers. They are giving validity to false religion and false teaching, bridging you to a different way of thinking, even changing how you think—probably without you even realizing it.

So you may be thinking: That’s all well and fine but what is your scriptural basis for what you are saying? Does it really even matter?

I’m so glad you asked! Let’s turn to scripture to explore this specifically.

There is a small verse in Romans 16 that I find many Christians are simply ignoring. Paul is ending his letter with loving greetings to specific people of the Roman church. And then he gives these instructions to the church in verse 17–

Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them.

Here Paul makes it abundantly clear that we are to have nothing to do with those who would preach anything contrary to the “doctrine which you have learned”. I think we could easily say this means anything contrary to the Holy Scriptures.

Let’s turn to one more passage but, first, let’s talk about darkness and light from a spiritual perspective. In His Word, God tells us that we once walked in darkness but are now in marvelous light. How did we end up in that marvelous light? Let’s go to I Peter 2:9-10 to find out–

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.

God called us. He called us out of the darkness and into his marvelous light. There is a vast difference between walking in darkness and walking in light. Now, let’s go to Ephesians 5, where Paul talks a bit more about this idea in verses 8-11–

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the [b]Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), 10 finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather [c]expose them.

Again, we are told not only to have no fellowship with those who walk in darkness (which most certainly would include those who preach a false Gospel, teach heresy, etc.) but to actually go a step further and expose them.

Now compare these scriptures to what you see happening in those who I will call “platformed Christians”. These men and women have a grave responsibility to lead their followers circumspectly and to lead them away from (rather than toward) false teachers and heretics. And, yet, is that what we are seeing? I’d suggest we are seeing the very opposite of this. Not only are we seeing these platformed Christians bridging believers to those who preach a different gospel, but we see those same believers refusing to acknowledge the dishonesty and lack of qualification of these false teachers. Their spiritual welfare is being undermined and so few seem to care. Instead of saying “halt the work”, they are embracing these false teachers recommended by the men and women they trust.

I’ll give you one clear (and rather extreme) example before I wrap up. Several years ago now, I heard R.C. Sproul in an interview. I had a fairly decent view of this guy going into this interview and had appreciated some of his writing. However, in this interview he talked favorably of Alice Cooper. Now, I grew up in the days when this rocker was known for his satanic and disturbing concerts. Sproul claimed that Cooper had changed and was now saved. I was surprised but took him at his word. However, something inside me needed to know and I started researching. It didn’t take me long. Cooper’s own website showed that he most definitely had not made any changes in his life.

This is one of the most disturbing partnerships I have ever witnessed (even to this day, I am so disturbed by this and can hardly stomach hearing the name of Sproul). Why would Sproul speak positively of a satanic rocker who was still satanically “rocking”? I will honestly never know. But can you see how Sproul assuring us that he is a “brother in Christ” gives him validity in the eyes of Sproul’s followers?

There are a plethora of much less obvious (and, therefore, often more dangerous) bridgers who are busily at work leading their followers astray by their partnerships, recommendations, and connections.

We each need to personally decide how we handle these bridgers. I am not here to tell you to never read or listen to them (although that is generally my own personal response). I am not here to tell you what to do. I am simply warning you that it is happening. And that we must beware these bridgers.

How do we do this?

We pay attention. We pay attention to who our favorite speakers and authors are partnering with in conferences. We pay attention to who they are quoting. We pay attention and we research.

However you decide to respond to a bridger, I hope that it will lead you to trust that person just a little less. At best, they are completely ignoring God’s Word in a very important area. At worst, they are intentionally, if subtly, leading their followers astray. Either way, they are either ignorant of the scriptures they are supposed to be so well versed in or they are nefarious in their purpose. Neither option is great, is it?

Bridgers are here to stay. This has become a popular thing to do, under the guise of unity. But this is not and can never be true unity. Jesus tells us He is the way, the truth, the life. True unity only comes when we are united in the true Gospel, which is the person of Jesus Christ and His work on the cross. Any teacher that adds to, takes away, or otherwise changes the Gospel must be avoided.

So please beware the bridgers. They are everywhere now. And, in fact, I would venture to say that most platformed Christians function as bridgers. View this as a red flag and keep your eyes open.

 

Please note: Everyone makes mistakes and sometimes point people a direction they later find out was wrong. I myself have done that. Watch for patterns and long-time connections. And watch for those partnerships with those that are so obviously heretical and false. And then give a bit of grace to those who may just not know and simply watch and be aware. Because we can all be deceived at some level. The key is to be willing to admit it and then make changes.

 

And another note: A few hours after I wrote this I received a very insightful comment from a reader that I believe is very important and needs to be included in this post. Here’s what he said–

Noteworthy is that if a subcontractor messes up or is just bad, the contractor is responsible nonetheless.  Also, my favorite go-to verse on this is 2 John vs 10-11.  We are not to greet false teachers or even invite them into our home– or you, in fact, share in their evil deeds.  I would elaborate on this and explain it that if people see you greeting them and even inviting them into your home, they assume the person is okay.

I believe that what he says is absolutely true and I wish I would have thought of these things myself! We must remember that 1) We most certainly are responsible for who we lead people to (which means we should take it very seriously before promoting anyone) and 2) We shouldn’t even greet or invite someone into our home who does not share our doctrine (again, this is the Gospel and the key doctrines that make up biblical faith). Please keep in mind that the reference here is regarding those who claim to be of the faith but actually and clearly aren’t.

 

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