Truth and Counterfeits: Discerning the Lies that Take People Captive

How do we answer this cultural moment? 


John Stonestreet

Many of the New Testament epistles chronicle the significant temptations that raged against the early Church, both from within and without. From the beginning, the Church was forced to deal with heresies, false gospels, and false teachers. For example, here’s Paul writing to the church at Galatia:  

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.  

Externally, the church faced the hostility of a pagan culture, along with the temptations to sexual perversity, idol worship, and worldliness in various forms. “See to it,” Paul wrote to the church at Colossae, “that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” 

The Church has faced the same kinds of challenges, from within and without, ever since. Knowing how to recognize and respond to them in this cultural moment is our calling. Alisa Childers, author of Another Gospel, has been an especially helpful voice to the Church in recognizing the challenges from within. Ryan Bomberger, author of the wonderful children’s books He Is He and She Is She, is a voice of courage and creativity on the issues facing the church from without.  

On July 25, Alisa and Ryan will join me for the 6th annual Great Lakes Worldview Symposium, “Truth and Its Counterfeits: Discerning the Lies that Take People Captive.” (Join us live in Bay Harbor, Michigan, or for the livestream. To register, go to 

The focus of this event is discerning what is facing the Church, from within and without, today. Christians need to know what Alisa and Ryan have to share. However, there’s also the matter of how we can respond to the people, both within and without, who reject truth. To that, Paul also has wise advice: “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” 

A strategy for this kind of dialogue comes right from Jesus. He was able to talk to almost everyone, from religious leaders to fishermen to women at wells to even Pilate, by asking questions. Here are six questions that can be used in even the most difficult of conversations: 

What do you mean by that? The battle of ideas is always over the definition of words. Thus, it’s vital to clarify terms. For example, the most important thing to clarify about “same-sex marriage” is the definition of marriage. So, when the topic comes up, ask, “Before we talk about what kind of unions should be considered marriage, what do you mean by marriage?” Often in these debates, we may be using the same vocabulary, but not the same dictionary.  

How do you know that is true? Assertions are often mistaken for arguments, and there’s a vast difference between the two. An assertion is a definitive statement made about the nature of reality. An argument is required to back an assertion. By asking, “How do you know that’s true?” the conversation moves beyond dueling assertions to why an assertion should be taken seriously.  

Where did you get this information? Once arguments are offered, it’s important to ensure the arguments are valid. For example, news reports love to shout headlines about some study that shows same-sex couples are better parents than straight couples. However, this quickly repeated talking point is based on limited, flawed studies. Broader-based studies all suggest the exact opposite.  

How did you come to this conclusion? Behind an argument are individuals with a story. The more passionate someone is about a topic, the more personal their story. Knowing their story is a reminder that the person you’re talking with is a real, image-of-God-bearing person.  

Two final questions are What if you’re wrong? and What if you’re right? It’s easy to sit back and make claims about the world, but what happens when those claims are released out into that world? Ideas have consequences that are always worth considering. For example, what happens if marijuana isn’t as harmless as people say it is, or if we are wrong to tell kids that they’re born in the wrong body? These are big risks to play with the next generation.  

Christians are called to know and defend truth at a time truth is contested. Please join us for “Truth and Its Counterfeits: Discerning the Lies that Take People Captive,” Thursday, July 25. To register to attend live or join the livestream, visit 

If you’re a fan of Breakpoint, leave a review on your favorite podcast app. For more resources to live like a Christian in this cultural moment, go to 


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