Correct False Teachings (Preserve Truth in the Church):
When false teachings are identified, they must be corrected. Matthew 18:15-17 (you may want to review this passage on rebuking others and church discipline) may come into play here. Here’s a good example of a well-intentioned person who had to be corrected:
Now a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John. So he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. And when he desired to cross to Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him; and when he arrived, he greatly helped those who had believed through grace; for he vigorously refuted the Jews publicly, showing from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ.
Acts 18: 24-28
Here’s a guy who is fervently serving God, but he didn’t fully understand the truth of John’s ministry. John was the forerunner to Jesus. Once Apollos was gently corrected in private, he was convinced of his error and changed his teachings accordingly. It’s not always this easy, but when Christians are sincere in studying and teaching God’s Word, they ought to be open to correction. This is a sign Apollos wasn’t a false teacher but was spreading a false teaching.
People aren’t susceptible to hearing false doctrines only in churches. Arguments and truth-claims against God come from both inside and outside the church. Christians and non-Christians alike are liable to follow false teachings with pleasant-sounding messages. 2 Timothy 4:3-4 tells us that there will be a time where people won’t “endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.”
Many are led astray by evangelists or documentaries on TV, popular “Christian” books, and other media. This isn’t isolated to Christian media, either. Everyone has a bias, so secular education, popular movies, and other forms of communication can lead people away from Christ just as much as pseudo-Christian media can. While we can’t address the same audiences as these media outlets do, we can be aware of the more common false teachings and keep an eye out for them in our local congregations.
Pastors are responsible to make their congregations aware of the more common lies in the culture and the rebuttals to them so the church can be more discerning.
Keep Unity in the Church
Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you.
1 Corinthians 1:10-11
While no two Christians are going to agree 100% on everything, we need to know the difference between essentials and non-essentials, and what’s considered within orthodoxy and what isn’t. The pastor ought to be trusted and followed, but everyone needs to understand he isn’t sinless or infallible - he’s human like everyone else. As Christians mature in Christ and become more discerning, unity will continue to develop. This isn’t to say there won’t be disagreements, but that mature believers should be able to handle disagreements maturely and not develop contentions within the church.
Using Scripture and reason, which is what apologetics is founded on, the body of Christ can grow in unity and Christian love for one another. We can discuss deeper issues and grow together. We need to be iron sharpening iron, all for the glory of God.