How can we determine which preachers we will quote? Whether it be from the pulpit, on social media, or in some other way, discretion and discernment are required in choosing which preachers and teachers we will quote. Whether the quote is in itself scriptural is not sufficient reason for it to be used but consideration must also be given to the one to whom it is attributed. If that person has seriously erred on some major point of doctrine then consideration must be given as to how freely, if at all, we can quote them. Whilst it is not necessary to agree with someone on every absolutely everything, we cannot justifiably quote someone with whom we disagree on the fundamentals of the Christian faith. What should we consider when choosing which Christian preachers we will quote?
1. Adding a caveat to the quote
There are some preachers whom we can quote without the slightest hesitation, men such as Spurgeon and Calvin. Any differences which we may have with these men are of such small issue that we can quote them freely. Yet what of those with whom we disagree on more significant matters. On these occasions it will be necessary to state clearly that we we do not recommend all that they teach, in order that we would prevent others from following their errors. When it comes to essential doctrines however, we must look elsewhere, for we cannot in good conscience quote those with whom we are at serious and fundamental disagreement.
2. The unquoteable
Heretics and apostates. When the major doctrines of the gospel are abandoned and serious error and compromise takes place then those involved should not be the ones whom we would seek to quote in a Christian context. Likewise those who have evidenced an openly immoral lifestyle during their ministry, women who have usurped the position of pastor and those who have advanced the cause of ecumenism. The difference between these and others whom we might quote under some caveat, is that of erring on fundamentals, compared with specifics.
3. Our audience
If we quote a particular preacher will it result in others following that preacher? This is not a concern where we are in agreement with a sufficient amount of their teaching, but does become a greater issue the more we disagree with them. Do those who will read or hear the quote have the necessary discernment to recognise any doctrinal failings which that preacher may have. Who we quote may depend not only on their theology of that person, but also on those who will read or hear the quote.
4. Living and dead preachers
It is easier to quote the preachers of years gone by for we can already see how they have finished. If they have erred on some issues we can see the full extent of their error, and can easier evaluate whether it is appropriate to quote them or not. With those however who are still living we may wonder if, having deviated on 'minor' issues, they might also do so in the future on major issues. This is not to suggest that we should only quote preachers from the past, only that it is easier to do so.