Mailbag

The Mailbag: Top 10 FAQs

 

I get lots of great questions, and sometimes, they’re the same questions from lots of different people. So I thought today it would be fun, instead of answering just one person’s question, to answer lots of people’s questions. Here are the top 10 Mailbag questions readers most frequently ask:

“Do you know anything about [Christian pastor/teacher/author] or his/her materials? Is he/she doctrinally sound?”

The best way to find out if I’ve written anything on a particular teacher is to put her name (make sure you spell it correctly) into the search bar, which is located at the bottom of every page of the blog. You can also check the Popular False Teachers & Unbiblical Trends tab and the Recommended Bible Teachers tab (in the blue menu bar at the top of this page) to see if the teacher’s name is located there.

If you need answers on a certain teacher right away, and I haven’t written anything about her, you will need to do the research yourself, which is a skill every Christian needs to hone anyway. (You should never just take my, or anybody else’s, word for it that a particular teacher is/isn’t trustworthy.) In case you need a little help getting started, I’ve described how I do my research, complete with some quick litmus tests and shortcuts in my article Is She a False Teacher? 7 Steps to Figuring It Out on Your Own

If I haven’t written an article about a teacher you see as problematic who’s reaching a wide audience, you’re welcome to send me her name along with any links you may have to her unbiblical teaching or behavior. If I get enough questions about a particular teacher, I’ll probably write an article on her.

 

“Can you recommend a good
women’s/children’s/teens/particular topic Bible study?”

No. On principle, I do not recommend what I call “canned” (book, workbook, DVD, etc.) Bible studies- not even doctrinally sound ones. The church has become so utterly dependent on books and materials written by others that the majority of evangelicals have no idea how to simply pick up the Bible and study or teach straight from the text of Scripture. I may be the only one to stand against that tide, but I’m standing against it. We need to, as a general practice, cut out the middleman and get back to learning and teaching straight from the Bible itself.

If studying or teaching directly from Scripture is new to you, I would encourage you to check out the Bible Studies tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page, which explains more about my philosophy of Bible study and provides numerous resources to help you learn how to study or teach the Bible itself.

One of the resources you’ll find is all of the Bible studies I’ve written. They are all free for individual and group use, and you are welcome to print out as many copies as you need. My studies are learn-by-doing “training wheels” that teach you: how to study/teach the Bible in a systematic way, the kinds of things you should be noticing in the text, the kinds of questions you should be asking of the text, and how the various parts of the Bible fit together to tell God’s grand story of redemption through Christ. Work through a study or two. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be ready to unbolt those training wheels and study or teach on your own without needing to rely on anyone else’s materials any more – even mine.

Here are a few additional resources:

The Mailbag: Can you recommend a good Bible study for women/teens/kids?

The Mailbag: “We need to stop relying on canned studies,” doesn’t mean, “We need to rely on doctrinally sound canned studies.”

McBible Study and the Famine of God’s Word

 

“You shouldn’t be warning against [popular false teacher]
for [X,Y,Z] reason!”

Sorry, but that’s not what the Bible says. The question isn’t, “Why am I warning against them?”. The question is, “Why aren’t you?”

Answering the Opposition- Responses to the Most Frequently Raised Discernment Objections

 

I’m trying to find a doctrinally sound church. Can you help me?

It is my delight to help my brothers and sisters find a solid church. Please check out the Searching for a new church? tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page.

If you’re newly saved and/or coming out of the New Apostolic Reformation, prosperity gospel, New Age, Catholicism, Mormonism, etc., I would strongly recommend reading through all of the resources in the “What to look for in a church” section of that tab before beginning your search for an actual church. You need to know what makes a church doctrinally sound (or not), and those resources can help.

Notice that there are multiple church search engines at the top of that tab. If you don’t find something in your area at the first search engine, go to the next one, and keep going until you’ve exhausted all of them.

Keep in mind that doctrinally sound churches are becoming scarcer and scarcer. You may have to drive longer than you’d like to get to one. It may not meet all your preferences. You might have to try a different denomination than you’re used to. The most doctrinally sound church you can find within achievable driving distance may have a few biblical “warts” (for example: a generally solid preaching/teaching church but the women’s ministry uses materials by false teachers). It is possible that God may put you in that less than perfect church to sanctify you, or for you to help bring about biblical change.

Sometimes people e-mail me asking if I can help them find a church. Your best bet is really to use all of the resources at the “Searching for a new church” tab. I want to reassure you that, unlike Walmart, I don’t have any churches in the back store room that haven’t been stocked yet. Everything I have is out on the shelves at that tab. :0) However, if you’ve made a good faith effort at the “Searching…” tab and have exhausted all of the resources there, you’re welcome to drop me an e-mail, let me know what area you’re in, and I’ll ask around on social media. Just be aware that this is a last ditch effort and if you weren’t able to find anything at the “Searching…” tab, it’s unlikely any of my followers will have a lead for you. We’ll give it a shot, but it may be time to take advantage of the “Church Planting” section of that tab.

The leadership at my church is kicking off a new Bible study using materials by a false teacher. What should I do?

It breaks my heart that this is, indeed, a frequently asked question. Please see my article The Mailbag: How should I approach my church leaders about a false teacher they’re introducing?.

My church uses …
or
I’m looking for a new church,
and I found one that’s really sound, except they use…
Bethel / Jesus Culture / Hillsong / Elevation music
or other music from heretical sources.
What should I do?

Please see my article The Mailbag: How should I approach my church leaders about a false teacher they’re introducing?. You can find information about Bethel, et al at the Popular False Teachers & Unbiblical Trends tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page. Some other resources that may be helpful:

Why Our Church No Longer Plays Bethel or Hillsong Music (or Elevation or Jesus Culture), and Neither Should Yours

The Mailbag: Potpourri (“Potty Prayers,” Women as Children’s/Worship Pastors, Solid churches with heretical music, Eternal Security)– See section 3. (I urge all pastors, elders, and ministers of music to read this.)

The Mailbag: False Doctrine in Contemporary Christian Music

 

My friend is following a false teacher. How can I help her see this? 

Here are some resources that can help:

Words with Friends: How to contend with loved ones – at A Word Fitly Spoken (many additional resources linked here)

Words With Friends by Amy Spreeman

Clinging to the Golden Calf: 7 Godly Responses When Someone Says You’re Following a False Teacher 

 

Whaddaya mean women can’t preach to men? Of course they can!

Again, sorry, but that’s not what the Bible says. I would strongly encourage you to read all of the articles in my Rock Your Role series, which examines the Scriptures dealing with the role of women in the church. (Remember, for Christians, God’s Word is our authority, not our feelings, opinions, and preferences.) I would suggest starting with these:

Jill in the Pulpit

Oh No She Di-int! Priscilla Didn’t Preach, Deborah Didn’t Dominate, and Esther Wasn’t an Egalitarian

Rock Your Role FAQs

The Mailbag: Counter Arguments to Egalitarianism

Why isn’t Teacher X listed at your Popular False Teachers tab?
Does the fact that she’s not listed mean she’s doctrinally sound?
Why isn’t Teacher Y listed at your Recommended Bible Teachers tab? Does the fact that she’s not listed mean she’s a false teacher?

Please understand that these are not comprehensive lists of every false teacher or doctrinally sound teacher in existence. There are thousands of both, so that would be impossible. Also, don’t jump to conclusions about any teacher who’s not on the list. The absence of a particular teacher’s name on either list says nothing definitive about whether or not I would recommend that teacher.

The articles I’ve written about false teachers have mainly been in response to readers inquiring about them. In other words, if you don’t see a particular teacher’s name on the list, it’s probably because I haven’t been asked about her, I’ve been asked about her but haven’t had time to get to it yet, or for one of the reasons below.

The teachers on the recommended teachers list are those I’ve personally listened to or read at enough length that I feel comfortable endorsing them. Most of the teachers on the list trend toward being Calvinistic/Reformed and cessationist because I believe this is the most biblically correct view of Scripture, and because, in my experience, those of these persuasions are generally more discerning about associating with false teachers, and more expository in their teaching. (Of course there are some non-Calvinist/Reformed pastors and teachers who are stellar in these areas. I’ve had the privilege of knowing a few personally.)

There are a few other reasons you might not see someone’s name on either the false teachers or the recommended teachers lists:

• My articles on false teachers are nearly always about teachers: who are well known (thus the “Popular” in “Popular False Teachers”), who women in my particular audience – average American evangelical women – are most likely to follow, and whose materials are being used in those average American evangelical women’s churches. It takes multiple hours of research to vet teachers, and I have to invest those hours into the teachers who are deceiving the greatest numbers women in my audience.

• I don’t tend to write articles on teachers who are so blatantly heretical and/or are so well known for being heretical that it should be obvious (unless I feel there’s some compelling reason to do so). This is why you won’t see, for example, Kenneth Copeland, Benny Hinn, or Nadia Bolz-Weber on the false teachers list. Kenneth and Benny are fairly well known for being prosperity gospel heretics, and a 30 second Google search should make it obvious to most Christians who aren’t already familiar with her that Nadia is a liberal heretic. And, again, your average American evangelical woman isn’t following people like this, and her church isn’t using their materials.

• Normally, I don’t write about contemporary teachers who are dead, especially if they’re not particularly popular with my demographic. This is why you don’t see names like Billy Graham or David Wilkerson on the list.

I have a dire and complicated family/marriage/church situation,
can you help me?
Can you mentor/disciple me?

I deeply wish I could answer “yes” to all of these inquiries. I’m a helper. I want to help people. But I also know that in most of these situations, I’m not the right person for the job. So my answer to these inquiries has to be “no”. I cannot engage in counseling or discipling/mentoring relationships via e-mail.

The first reason for this is that my primary duty before the Lord is to care for my husband and children, to manage my household, and to be a faithful church member. That takes a lot of time and energy. And if you’ve ever read my e-mail policy, you know I don’t even have time to answer most of the e-mails I receive, let alone the time that’s required to properly disciple, mentor, or counsel someone through a difficult circumstance.

But the second reason I’m not the right person for the job is that all of these are the job of the local church. It’s not right for me to get between you and your pastor when you need counsel or between you and an older sister at your church when you need to be discipled. You need someone who can walk with you, face to face, for the long haul, through these situations. Relying on me would be cheating yourself out of connecting with the person at your church who could be there for you the best and help you the most.

And, finally, especially in dire counseling situations such as abuse, extreme marital problems, or complex issues at church, I’m not familiar with the laws and resources in your area, I’m only hearing your side of the story, I’m not getting all of the details, etc. Your pastor or an older sister at church is there. They can better help you navigate the intricacies of the situation and provide you with more effective solutions than I can.


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.