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I get lots of questions about particular authors, pastors, and Bible teachers, and whether or not I recommend them. Some of the best known can be found above at my Popular False Teachers tab. The teacher below is someone I’ve been asked about recently, so I’ve done a quick check (this is brief research, not exhaustive) on her.
Generally speaking, in order for me to recommend a teacher, speaker, or author, he or she has to meet three criteria:
a) A female teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly preach to or teach men in violation of 1 Timothy 2:12. A male teacher or pastor cannot allow women to carry out this violation of Scripture in his ministry. The pastor or teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly be living in any other sin (for example, cohabiting with her boyfriend or living as a homosexual).
b) The pastor or teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly be partnering with or frequently appearing with false teachers. This is a violation of Scripture.
c) The pastor or teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly be teaching false doctrine.
I am not very familiar with most of the teachers I’m asked about (there are so many out there!) and have not had the opportunity to examine their writings or hear them speak, so most of the “quick checking” I do involves items a and b (although in order to partner with false teachers (b) it is reasonable to assume their doctrine is acceptable to the false teacher and that they are not teaching anything that would conflict with the false teacher’s doctrine). Partnering with false teachers and women preaching to men are each sufficient biblical reasons not to follow a pastor, teacher, or author, or use his/her materials.
Just to be clear, “not recommended” is a spectrum. On one end of this spectrum are people like Nancy Leigh DeMoss Wolgemuth and Kay Arthur. These are people I would not label as false teachers because their doctrine is generally sound, but because of some red flags I’m seeing with them, you won’t find me proactively endorsing them or suggesting them as a good resource, either. There are better people you could be listening to. On the other end of the spectrum are people like Joyce Meyer and Rachel Held Evans- complete heretics whose teachings, if believed, might lead you to an eternity in Hell. Most of the teachers I review fall somewhere in the middle of this spectrum (leaning toward the latter).
If you’d like to check out some pastors and teachers I heartily recommend, click the Recommended Bible Teachers tab at the top of this page.
Karen Kingsbury is in a bit of a different category when it comes to her works of fiction. I asked about her in a group of theologically sound women I’m a member of. Here’s what they said:
“Her books are very ‘evanjellyfish’. Lots of personal words from God. Jeremiah 29:11 is quoted and misapplied several times per book. Ask Jesus into your heart. All the usual stuff.”
“There are absolutely problems with KK’s theology. Her latest series is about angels sent by God to earth to direct the lives of four chosen people and keep them alive so that one of the couples can bear a child named Dallas Garner who will turn the hearts of people back to God.”
“I actually saw The Bridge Part 1 and 2 on Hallmark that is based on her books. I would no way look to her for theology, but the movies were decent for a Christmas feel good movie. But that’s as far as I’d ever go with her stuff.”
“I really enjoyed the Baxter family series. As fiction. Not for theology. I’m pretty sure I rolled my eyes quite a bit at those parts. But – it’s fiction. I don’t hold fiction to the same standard that I would a theological book.”
“The angels series is way out there and could lead to very bad theology. If you read those books, you might want to compare it with a study of angels in Scripture.”
I would echo the respondent who said she does not hold fiction to the same level of doctrinal purity as non-fiction Bible studies, Christian living, or theology books. If you are a new Christian or not very knowledgeable of the Bible, it would probably be a good idea for to stay away from Karen Kingsbury books until you’re more mature in Christ and can spot and reject the theological problems in the books.
That being said, though Karen is mainly still a fiction author, she has been branching out a bit in recent years.
“The Family of Jesus allows me to take a fictitious look at Joseph, Zechariah, John the Baptist, Elizabeth, James, and Mary in stories anchored by Scripture and cultural relevance – but with storytelling between those points. These stories will make you feel for the precious family members of Jesus. They will make you feel connected to Him in a way you may not have felt before.“
So, this is a “Bible” study in which you will be studying fictitious stories about Jesus’ family members. Because the Bible itself isn’t good enough to make you feel connected to Jesus. (Lots of emphasis on feelings, of course.)
Karen has also begun speaking at Christian conferences. If she were only speaking on topics such as how to be a good fiction writer, or finding a publisher, or things like that which have little to do with theology, it wouldn’t be much of an issue. However it appears that she is speaking on theological topics at least sometimes as well as speaking before co-ed audiences.
Karen is one of the main session speakers at the 2019 North Carolina Baptist Missions Conference. The topic of her talk is not listed, but missions is a biblical topic, and both the promo video and the conference brochure clearly indicate that she will be speaking to a co-ed audience.
Karen will be speaking at three different Women of Joy events in 2019. As I’ve noted in other articles, WoJ frequently employs false teachers such as Christine Caine, Sheila Walsh, and Jennie Allen at these events, and indeed, Karen will be speaking with Sheila at one of her WoJ events and Jennie at another.
Mixing fiction with Bible study and partnering with false teachers are both dangerous and unbiblical.