False Teachers

Sharon Hodde Miller

If you are considering commenting or sending me an e-mail objecting to the fact that I warn against certain teachers, please click here and read this article first. Your objection is most likely answered here. I won’t be publishing comments or answering emails that are answered by this article.

 

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.


Sharon Hodde Miller
Not Recommended

Sharon Hodde Miller is the “teaching pastor” of Bright City Church in Durham, North Carolina, where she regularly preaches during the Sunday morning worship service.

Sharon also holds a Ph.D. from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in “women and calling”. She has authored two books and is a regular contributor to Christine Caine’s Propel Women and Raechel Myers’ She Reads Truth. She has also contributed to Ann Voskamp’s blog.

As I researched Sharon, I noticed something about her biographical information that usually appears in articles in which she is quoted, on websites, etc. While nearly all of these bios proudly present her as pursuing or holding a Ph.D. right off the bat, I don’t recall having seen an article or website in the dozens I looked at that also proudly presents her as a “pastor.” One reason for that is that some of the articles I looked at were published before Sharon and her husband planted Bright City Church in September 2018, which I believe is the first place she has served as a “pastor,” so one would not expect to see her listed as a “pastor” in these bios. However, in the year since she started “pastoring,” as of today, her bio on her own website, at She Reads Truth, her Twitter profile, the cover of her second book (released August 2019), and recent articles refer to her as “leading” (not “pastoring”) BCC “with her husband.” Sharon’s Facebook profile and Baker Books (which, again, released Sharon’s second book last week) call her a “pastor’s wife.” Is it possible that things have just been busy over the last year and Sharon just hasn’t had time to update some of these bios? Of course. We all get busy and forget or don’t have time to tend to details like that. But it does seem curious that someone who is heralded as having a Ph.D. in “women and calling” isn’t equally heralded as a female “pastor.” Why not be up front about it somewhere besides BCC’s website?

Sharon is friends with, under the influence of, and endorsed by Beth Moore. The two frequently interact on Twitter.

In her early years of ministry, Sharon spent a year working for Lysa TerKeurst’s Proverbs 31 Ministries, and considers that experience one way “God has equipped me on my journey.”

Sharon’s first book, Free of Me, was endorsed by false teachers Ann Voskamp, Christine Caine, Lysa TerKeurst, and Jennie Allen, (also, disturbingly, by J.D. Greear, who is currently president of the Southern Baptist Convention and a personal friend of Sharon’s). Sharon’s second book, Nice, was endorsed by Lysa TerKeurst, Bianca Olthoff, and female “pastor” Andi Andrew.

Sharon considered Rachel Held Evans a friend and wrote a tribute to her after her death saying “the church lost a powerful voice,” “her convictions were rooted in a genuine love for people,” “She advocated for those on the margins,” “that is why so many of us loved her,” and “I learned so much from [Rachel].” Rachel also promoted Sharon three times on her own blog.

Sharon has shown sympathy for and alliance with “woke” racialist Kyle James Howard for publicly slandering doctrinally sound pastor, Josh Buice.

Sharon has had numerous friendly interactions on Twitter with advocate of homosexuality, Jonathan Merritt. He calls her a friend.

In a 2016 Washington Post article, The high cost of popular evangelical Jen Hatmaker’s gay marriage comments, Sharon comments positively on Jen Hatmaker, calling her a “trailblazer” and saying,

“[Miller] believes Hatmaker represents a wave of evangelical women ‘who are not content to silo their faith,’ or to publicly support only the things that every Christian agrees on. ‘I happen to think that’s a good thing.'”

Sharon maintains a friendship with Jen on Twitter, and also recommended Jen’s blog (as well as Ann Voskamp’s and feminist/”preacher” Sarah Bessey’s) in her article Why I Am Thankful for Bloggers, a list of bloggers she is “thankful for,” “blessed by,” “God is using them,” and that these are “writers who influence me.”

Sharing her thoughts about IF: Gathering’s emphasis on social justice, Sharon was quoted in the Sojourners article Evangelical Women Look Beyond Bible Study to New Causes:

This was about expanding our vision outside of ourselves,” said Sharon Hodde Miller, a doctoral student at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School who is studying women in seminary. “It could play out in a variety of different ways but encompassed social justice, racial reconciliation, poverty, or thinking about the neighbor next door who is a widow.”

Sharon also wrote a blog article endorsing IF: Gathering and encouraging her readers to attend, follow IF on social media, etc. About the leadership team of IF – which included Rebekah LyonsAnn VoskampJen HatmakerLauren ChandlerAngie SmithBianca Olthoff, and Christine Caine – Sharon wrote:

“This leadership team gives me the tingles–it’s like the Holy Spirit A-Team.”

The fact that Sharon is a female “pastor” ought to be more than enough evidence that those looking for a doctrinally sound teacher should steer clear of her and her materials, but the seemingly endless list of her ministry partnerships with false teachers belabors the point. Sharon is not someone Christians concerned about sound biblical doctrine should follow or receive teaching from.

Prayer Bible Study

Sweet Hour of Prayer: Lesson 1- Introduction

 

Welcome to our new study, Sweet Hour of Prayer: Learning to Pray from the People of Scripture!

“Lord, teach us to pray,” the disciples implored Jesus. Sometimes, no matter how close we are to Christ, we can feel unsure and awkward in prayer. Am I doing it right? Using the correct words? Asking within God’s will?

Over the next several weeks we’ll take a look at the topic of prayer through the example left to us by our brothers and sisters from the Old and New Testament. As we study it is my hope that your “hour of prayer” will become sweeter and sweeter.

You may wish to review my philosophy of Bible study at the “Bible studies” tab at the top of this page. My studies are designed to teach you how to study the Bible for yourself, which is why I don’t provide answers to the questions in the lessons.

My studies are also designed to be very flexible. You may answer all, any, or none of the questions in each lesson. All of my studies are self paced, so take as long or as short of a time in the passage and with the questions as you like. If, as you’re studying the text, the Holy Spirit leads you to focus on an aspect of the passage I haven’t addressed in the questions, awesome! Park yourself there and learn what He wants you to learn. These lessons are meant to be a tool for you to use as you see fit during your personal study time, not a school project where points are taken off if you don’t complete it the way the teacher wants.

As with all of my studies and articles, I use hyperlinks liberallyThe main Scripture for each lesson will be linked at the beginning of the lesson, and there will be additional links in the lesson questions. Whenever you see a word in red, click on it, and it will take you to a Scripture, article, or other resource that will help as you study.


Introduction to Sweet Hour of Prayer

Part of my philosophy of Bible study is that our main “diet” should be systematic, expositional study of the text. In other words: pick a book of the Bible, start at the beginning, and study it through to the end. Then, pick another book and start again. This method of studying helps us understand passages in their context and correctly apply them to our lives, and helps us avoid eisegesis, taking passages out of context, and incorrectly applying them.

However, there is a place for the study of a biblical topic such as peace, sin, the family, God’s wrath, or biblical womanhood. For example: if you’re struggling to trust God because of a sudden circumstance in your life, you don’t have time to study through every book of the Bible to learn what the Bible says about trusting God. You may need to spend some time in focused study on passages from various books that deal specifically with the topic of trusting God, and that’s OK. My goal with this study is not only that you learn what the Bible has to say about the topic of prayer, but also to demonstrate how to do a topical study properly so you can do topical studies on your own when the need arises.

Normally, in the introductory lesson to my studies, we take a look at the author of the book of the Bible we’re studying, the audience he wrote it to, the historical setting of the book, and other “backstory” issues. But because this is a topical study, and we’ll be examining passages from various books of the Bible, we’ll have to briefly address those issues as needed in each lesson.

So in the introduction to this study, I’d like to address two items in your “backstory.”

Salvation

If you’re not saved, this study isn’t going to be very helpful to you, because prayer is about talking to Someone we are in right relationship with, and if you aren’t saved, you aren’t in right relationship with God.

This week, before we tackle prayer, I’d like everyone – even if you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you’re saved – to work through the Scriptures in my article Basic Training: The Gospel. Do you understand the biblical gospel? Have you truly repented of your sin and trusted Christ as Savior? Spend some time alone with God examining your heart and life against these Scriptures. If you’re unsure whether or not you’re genuinely saved, I would encourage you to put this study aside and work through my study Am I Really Saved?: A First John Check Up first. You can’t approach God in prayer if you don’t belong to God.

Expectations and Presuppositions

What do you expect out of this study? What kinds of ideas or preconceived notions are you carrying into this study? Take some time to answer the following questions.

1. When you hear the word “prayer,” what do you think of?

2. Without looking in your Bible, jot down five or ten things you think the Bible teaches about prayer.

3. What does your church teach about prayer? Does your church hold regular prayer meetings? Is there someone in your church that you look up to as a good example of how to pray?

4. What Scriptures come to mind when you think about prayer?

5. Why are you interested in a study about prayer, and what do you hope to get out of this study?

6. What are the strengths and weaknesses of your prayer life? What are some things you’d like to improve about your prayer life?

Take some time in prayer this week to begin preparing your heart for this study. If there’s a specific issue you struggle with when it comes to prayer, ask God to teach you the truth of His Word about that issue and strengthen your prayer life in that area. Write down your prayer and review it when the study is over to see how God answered you through the study of His Word. I’m excited to have you join me in this journey of discovering what God’s Word has to say about prayer!

Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
That calls me from a world of care,
And bids me at my Father’s throne
Make all my wants and wishes known.
In seasons of distress and grief,
My soul has often found relief
And oft escaped the tempter’s snare
By thy return, sweet hour of prayer!

Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
The joys I feel, the bliss I share,
Of those whose anxious spirits burn
With strong desires for thy return!
With such I hasten to the place
Where God my Savior shows His face,
And gladly take my station there,
And wait for thee, sweet hour of prayer!

Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
Thy wings shall my petition bear
To Him whose truth and faithfulness
Engage the waiting soul to bless.
And since He bids me seek His face,
Believe His Word and trust His grace,
I’ll cast on Him my every care,
And wait for thee, sweet hour of prayer!

Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
May I thy consolation share,
Till, from Mount Pisgah’s lofty height,
I view my home and take my flight:
This robe of flesh I’ll drop and rise
To seize the everlasting prize;
And shout, while passing through the air,
Farewell, farewell, sweet hour of prayer!
William Walford 1845

Favorite Finds

Favorite Finds ~ August 27, 2019

Oh my! We haven’t had a Favorite Finds article in far too long! Here are a few of my favorite recent online finds…

Image result for cbmwIt’s a frequent accusation about Scripture’s treatment of women. But is it really what the Bible says? Does the Old Testament actually sanction rape by mandating that a woman marry the man who forcibly raped her? CBMW examines this fascinating biblical conundrum (which isn’t really a conundrum at all once you study it carefully) in Did Old Testament Law Force a Woman to Marry Her Rapist?

 

Love broccoli or hate it, I think you’re really going to enjoy this little parable about salvation from our friend Allen Nelson over at the Things Above Us blog. Allen’s article, Brittany the Broccoli Hater, talks about the spiritual transformation that has to take place to turn us from “broccoli haters” to “broccoli lovers.” (And if you like this article, be sure to check out the reviews of his books, From Death to Life and Before the Throne.)

 

Image result for grace to youHere’s something fun and informative over at Grace to You– an article series: Frequently Abused Verses. What Is the Eye of a Needle? Can We Really Do All Things Through Christ? On Whose Door Is Christ Knocking? This series straightens out the confusion over commonly mishandled or perplexing passages. (To read the remainder of the articles in the series, you will need to enter “Frequently Abused Verses” in the GTY search bar.)

 

Autism, Awareness, Puzzle, Heart, Love, AutisticTry to imagine what it’s like to attend worship service and other church functions if you have Autism Spectrum Disorder. Helpfully explaining his own experiences, David Delgado gives practical tips to people with ASD on preparing for and navigating church events, as well as advice for Christians wishing to better serve those with ASD in their own churches in his article Doing Church with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

 

The aptly named David Wesley gives us a lovely medley of a capella hymns and worship songs down through the ages. Those of you who are around my age will have fond (or terrible) flashbacks of youth camp at David’s 1969 offering. :0) He lost me somewhere in the neighborhood of 2010, but I believe there’s at least one Hillsong song, and probably some other doctrinally unsound artists, around that time period. So, if you don’t already know that you and your church shouldn’t be using Hillsong, Bethel Music, Jesus Culture, Elevation Worship music or music by anybody else who’s doctrinally unsound, let me just take this opportunity to say, don’t.

Mailbag

The Mailbag: Ministering to the Bereaved

 

How can I properly console a friend who has experienced the loss of a loved one? My friend’s baby recently passed away. I really want to know how to console her. What are some helpful things I can say to her and do for her (and hurtful things I can avoid saying to her) during this time?

I’m so glad you want to reach out to your friend with the love of Christ and minister to her during this difficult time. The Bible is very clear that because God is a God of love and comfort, we are to offer love and comfort to those who are grieving:

…weep with those who weep. Romans 12:15b

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Comforting and grieving with those who grieve is a ministry for which God has (generally) gifted, shaped, and equipped women in a way that’s unique and discrete from the ways He has (generally) gifted, shaped, and equipped men. Certainly pastors (and others) can, do, and should minister much needed compassion toward those under their care, and most Christians can attest to how helpful good pastoral care has been during a time of grief. But there’s something special in the way a godly woman can minister to the heart of a hurting woman and her family that should be nurtured and encouraged in the body of Christ.

Your question is a very wise one. As Believers, we have the desire to minister to those who are hurting, but we’ve all heard stories about well-meaning people who have said some really insensitive things that have caused further pain to the bereaved.

So what I’d like to do today is to offer a few thoughts on ministering to those who have lost someone dear and then open things up to all of my readers – especially those who have lost a child or another very close loved one – to offer some input.

Pray– Pray fervently for your heartbroken friend, asking God to comfort and heal her heart, provide for any material needs, and any other specifics you know of. Also, ask God to give you wisdom to know the right things to say (and not say) and do.

Remember: Your words can’t fix things.– It’s hard to watch someone suffer. As godly, tender-hearted , nurturing women, there’s often nothing we want more than to take all that pain away and make the sufferer happy again. Sometimes we ladies have it in the back of our minds that if we can just find the exact right combination of words to say in the exact right comforting tone, we can take away the pain of the person we’re comforting. We can’t. It’s something I have to remind myself of again and again. But it’s especially important to remember this when we’re comforting someone, because the more we talk, searching for those “magic words,” the greater risk we run of sticking our foot in our mouths and saying something hurtful instead of helpful. Additionally, when a grieving person’s emotions are raw, it can be extremely grating to listen to someone talk on and on and on. We would do well to take a lesson from Job’s friends…

[Job’s three friends] made an appointment together to come to show [Job] sympathy and comfort him…And they raised their voices and wept, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads toward heaven. And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great. Job 2:11b,12b,13

…Remember, it was only after these guys opened their mouths that the trouble began, because…

Make sure whatever you choose to say is doctrinally sound.– This is where Job’s friends got into trouble. They tried to “minister” to Job with unbiblical theology.

Heaven did not “gain another angel” with the death of your friend’s loved one. People, even Christians, do not turn into angels when they die. The deceased has not “gone to a better place” or “gone to be with Jesus,” nor will he “rest in peace,” nor is it true that “at least he’s not suffering any more,” if he was unsaved. Don’t say something like this unless you’re relatively certain the person was saved as evidenced by the fruit of his life. If you’re thinking about saying something theological-ish to your friend and you’re not sure whether or not it’s biblically accurate, either take the time to find out first, or err on the side of caution and don’t say it.

Say: “I’m praying for you.”– I’ve heard many grieving families say this is one of the most comforting things they can hear, especially if they know you to be someone who is faithful in prayer. Do not say you will be praying for your friend if you don’t really mean it. If you’re afraid you’ll forget to pray for her, set a reminder on your phone, stick a note on your bathroom mirror, tie a string around your finger – whatever you have to do to remember. From time to time, remember to let your friend know you’re still praying for her.

Say: “Can I pray with/for you?”– There might be a moment at the wake or during a visit when it’s appropriate to offer to pray with your friend, or pray for her out loud, just between the two of you. Ask God for wisdom to know if it’s the right time, if this would be encouraging to your friend (ex: if your friend is unsaved and/or enraged at God over her loved one’s death, this might not be helpful at the moment), and what would be the appropriate words to pray. Ask God to comfort your friend, provide for her needs, help her to know that He is there for her, and to strengthen her trust in Him.

Say: “I love you,”– Just a simple “I love you,” lets your friend know you care and are grieving with her. If appropriate, you might wish to also share a special memory of the deceased or recount how much he meant to you.

Share a Scripture: Was there a particular verse or passage focusing on God’s goodness or comfort that brought you peace and strength when a loved one died? Make sure you’re rightly handling it (i.e. it applies to someone who has lost a loved one, doesn’t appear to promise your friend something that was only promised to Israel, a particular Bible character, etc.), and recite it or jot it down (maybe in a nice sympathy card) for your friend.

Follow up- There are some people in this world who are what I call “calendar gifted.” They remember every birthday, every anniversary, every significant date, and they send a card or note, or commemorate the day in a way that makes the recipient feel like the most special person in the world. I do not have that gift. I am in awe of people who do have that gift. If that’s one of your giftings, put it to work in ministry by reaching out to your friend on her loved one’s birthday, the anniversary of his death, their wedding anniversary, etc. What a blessing you will be to your friend.

Hugs and tears– Sometimes the best thing you can say is nothing at all, just “weep with those who weep”.

Don’t say something you wouldn’t want to hear if you had just lost a loved one.Matthew 7:12 reminds us to treat others the way we would want to be treated. This is a very helpful filter when it comes to what to say or not to say to your grieving friend. Think about your own children. If one of them died, would you want to hear, “Well, at least you have your other children,” or “You’re still young- you can have more children.”? Probably not. (Also, in a way, this falls under the “don’t say unbiblical things” category. While these statements may be factually true, Christians recognize that every individual is uniquely created in the image of God. Other children can never replace the one who was lost.)

Don’t try to give a theological treatise on why the person died.– “God wanted your loved one to be with Him,” “He had finished the work God gave him to do,” “God decided it was his time to go,” “God wanted to spare him further suffering,” etc.

The bereaved person almost certainly doesn’t want to hear it, you don’t have the chapter and verse goods to back up any kind of statement like this, and it smacks of trying to “let God off the hook” for allowing the person to die. Your friend is probably already wondering why God ended the person’s life at this time. You don’t have the answer, and it’s prideful to think that you do. Nobody needs you to wax theologically eloquent on why the person died. So don’t.

Just do it./DON’T just do it.– “Don’t tell the person, ‘If there’s any way I can help, let me know.’ Grieving people are overwhelmed. They can’t think of what they need at the moment, and later, they may feel uncomfortable asking for your help. Just find something helpful to do and do it.” I’ve read this advice about how to help the bereaved more than once. Don’t ask, just go over and clean her house, or go buy her groceries, or take her a meal, or whatever.

If you’re extraordinarily close to the bereaved person and know all of the ins and outs of her household, this might be helpful. But if you’re simply a friend from church, a next door neighbor, etc., I would not recommend “just doing something” without checking with your friend first to find out if what you think would be helpful would actually be helpful. You don’t want to just show up with a meal on the night three other ladies have just shown up with a meal and a fourth has already taken your friend out to dinner. You don’t want to just show up with perishable groceries when other people have already packed her fridge. You don’t want to just show up to clean her house when somebody already cleaned it yesterday. Instead, think of two or three things to suggest to your friend and ask if that would help her. “Could I bring dinner for your family one night this week?” “I know you have a house full of people and you probably haven’t had time to do laundry. How about I take it to my house and take care of that for you?” “Could I drop your kids off at school tomorrow morning?” “Is there something else I could do that would be more helpful than what I just suggested?”

Offer to be an intermediary.– I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything quite as helpful as someone who steps up to “handle” things between the family of the deceased and others who want to help. An intermediary can be the “bad guy” who explains to surprise visitors that the bereaved person is resting and isn’t up to a visit right now. She can organize a meal or grocery schedule, fill people in on funeral arrangements, field “What can I do to help?” questions, and assign tasks the bereaved person needs done. If you’re someone who’s good at understanding and carrying out someone else’s wishes or instructions, offer to step into this gap for your friend. (And be sure to reassure her that your feelings won’t be hurt if she doesn’t want/need this or if she’d rather someone else do it.)

OK readers, it’s your turn. What are some things you’ve found helpful or encouraging (or unhelpful/hurtful) that people have said or done when you have lost a loved one, especially if you’ve lost a child?


Additional Resources:

On Funerals, Grieving, and Suffering (links to resources on suffering and ministering to the bereaved)


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

A Word Fitly Spoken Podcast

A Word Fitly Spoken – Episode 2

 

Episode 2 of the A Word Fitly Spoken podcast – Is This Church for You? – is up! Have you given it a listen yet?

You can listen or download at the A Word Fitly Spoken website, or catch the episode on Podbean, Google Play, TuneIn, or Stitcher. (We know many of you are waiting on iTunes. We are too! It should be up and running soon.) And don’t forget to follow us on social media!

How about them apples? :0)