Discernment Challenge: If You See Something, Say Something

If You See Something, Say Something is a public service campaign started by the New York City Metropolitan Transportation Authority, now licensed by the Department of Homeland Security and has become popularized in use by police departments and transit officers across the country. It’s printed on posters and in radio PSAs, announced over loud speakers at train depots, airports and bus stations, and printed on fliers dispersed at sporting events. Chiefly the notion is this; if you see something suspicious, just say something.

The success behind the propaganda is based upon a simple supposition. People, the authorities suppose, don’t feel qualified to go make sophisticated intelligence briefings to the authorities, and that prevents people speaking up with they see something. So, therefore, people need to know that all they need to do is just say something. Saying something is better, the ad relays, than saying nothing. Saying something might just save lives or prevent a terrorist attack.

Not a day goes by that Pulpit & Pen doesn’t get a question in the email or Pulpit Bunker that goes something like this…

Someone in my friend’s list/church/family/workplace shared something from [insert false teacher] or [insert false teaching]. What should I do? How do I handle this?

Days, weeks, months, and years go by with discerning friends stewing in their annoyance and general antipathy toward their colleagues, peers, friends and family posting visions from Beth Moore, sexy intimate God-time with Ann Voskamp, direct and divine revelation from Sarah Young, general eisegetical poppycock from Perry Noble, nonsensical and steroid-fueled Jack Handey-style Deep Thoughts from Steven Furtick, or the latest attempt to build bridges by Rick Warren with whatever cult he’s been most recently invited to speak.

We know the pain. We feel your pain.

Kenneth Copeland has bound the spirit of syphilis in Papua New Guinea. Let me bang my head against the wall.

Another kid woke up in Heaven and came back with a best-seller. No, another kid. No. Another kid. Just shoot me in the face already.

Thom Rainer has some advice for the spiritual well-being of your church…which is amazing, because he sells literally every kind of spiritual poison known to man at Lifeway. Maybe there’s a prostitute with a booming antibiotics business on the side, and can cure that venereal disease for you.

Joel Osteen’s latest sermon was identical to the fortune cookie I got from the Great Wall of China Restaurant last Tuesday. Thanks for sharing it on your Facebook wall, so I can decree and declare my way off your friends list.

Oh, you think I want to see that Joyce Meyer clip? Yes, yes I do. But if you could do me a solid and rip my eyes out and jam pencils down my ears first, that’d be great.

Yes. Yes, we understand your pain. So, what do you do about it?

If you see something, say something.

There’s a sweet young lady who I barely know but who’s certainly “good people,” who I saw post a Lysa Teurkhurst meme today. I sent a polite message with a link to this polemical warning. My message was short, polite, and I referenced Hebrews 5:11-14 as a sign saying, “You can’t shoot me, I’m using Scripture.”

Then there was the time an in-law mentioned their daughter’s Baptist youth group was heading out to see Roma Downey’s Bible fan fiction (that’s the best term for whatever that movie was). I DM’d a short message about maybe needing to find a new youth group. That didn’t end very well.

Then, there are the Southern Baptists heading off to walk prayer labyrinths, gets words of knowledge, and hear some gobbledegook at IHOP because Ronnie Floyd (SBC President) was going to be there, so it must be legit. I sent a Let Me Google That For You of IHOP and Mike Bickle. The results were…mixed.

Here’s the truth, folks. There are a plethora of spiritual charlatans and doctrinal snake oil salesmen who really will ravage your friends, spiritually molest your family, theologically wound your coworkers and maim your loved ones. The fact is, if you love them and you see something, you should say something.

A few tips for you:

  1. Send a private message. Folks are prideful. Don’t accuse them of being a “discernmentless doctri-drone hell bent on aiding and abetting heretics” in public. Call them that in private. Or follow #2.
  2. Don’t accuse them, from the start, of being discernmentless doctridrones hell bent on aiding and abetting heretics. The fact is, they’re ignorant. They need to be taught. Now if they ignore repeated attempts at correction, then maybe the charge is true, but you might want to rephrase it.
  3. Tell them you send a warning or correction because you love them or care for them. Oh, and mean it.
  4. Don’t give up. And tell them you won’t give up. Tell them that every time they open an Osteen fortune cookie on their Facebook page you will send them a discernment article about Osteen. If they delete you or ignore you, that’s on them. Trust me – if every time someone shared an Osteen meme they got a lecture, they’d stop. Thing is, folks who share Osteen memes aren’t exactly up for a rigorous theological discussion in the first place. They know it.
  5. Be “that guy.” Mark Lamprecht infamously took down an article about Ergun Caner when prompted by his pastor, Johnny Hunt. Lamprecht wrote that he took down the (necessary, truthful and helpful) article because he didn’t want to be “that guy.” Folks, life’s too short to worry about being that guy. We need that guy. That guy is important. Be that guy. I know that guy is not popular. Be “that guy” who doesn’t feel the need to sit at the cool table.

Remember, if you see something, say something. Do it in love, do it tactfully, but for crying out loud, just do it.

Just say something .

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[Contributed by JD Hall]

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