“Would You Recognize False Teaching?” by Pastor Pam Sutherland

TECHNOLOGY can be a wonderful and useful thing. I like being able to ask “Alexa” to answer questions, find a recipe, or play my favorite music. I like seeing pictures that friends and family post on social media. Like anything, however, humans can and will use it for evil. Just think of all the vile things that are posted on websites and social media. Technology has evolved to the point where you don’t really know if what you are seeing or reading is real or something that was produced by artificial intelligence (AI).

The other day the news was all abuzz about a supermodel produced by AI. Everyone commented on her beauty, most didn’t even realize she was not a real human being. AI can even produce holograms of people that appear very real. I’ve read about AI being used to fool people into thinking someone was saying something they never said. I’ve heard that college students are using AI to compose their papers. How would we know the difference?

The Bible often warns against false teaching. Would you recognize false teaching if you heard it? It’s fascinating how certain beliefs can become ingrained, even if they aren’t actually supported by the Bible’s text. Many people often attribute the saying, “God helps those who help themselves” to the Bible, yet it isn’t found in its pages. Similarly, the idea that “money is the root of all evil” is a common misconception – the Bible states that “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.”

These examples remind us of the importance of accurate interpretation and understanding when referencing the Bible’s teachings. That means we must read the Bible, study the Bible, and seek to understand what the Bible actually teaches. Would you recognize false teaching if you heard it? One Bible verse that addresses false teaching is 2 Peter 2:1 which warns about the presence of false teachers and their potential impact on believers.

What if AI was used to propagate misinformation about the Bible? Would you recognize AI’s input or influence on what you read? Maybe, maybe not. Would you be able to tell if this reflection was generated by AI? There may come a point when AI is widely used to disseminate false information about the teachings of the Bible, and it may sound quite authoritative. How would you know if you have haven’t studied it for yourself?

2 Timothy 2:15 says, “Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” This verse encourages us to diligently study and understand the scriptures in order to be well-equipped in our faith.

Grace and peace, 

Pastor Pam

NOTE: Pastor Pam Sutherland’s charges include Fort Gibson United Methodist Church in Castlewood, VA and St. Paul United Methodist Church in St. Paul, VA.

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