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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.
Tara-Leigh Cobble, The Bible Recap, & D-Group
Tara-Leigh Cobble, or “TLC” as she likes to be called, “began her ministry as a singer-songwriter, performing her own songs and leading worship around the globe. After her first book was published, she added speaking to her repertoire. As a musician, writer and speaker, she spent more than a decade touring internationally before creating D-Groups and finding a home and community for herself in Dallas, Texas.”
More from Tara-Leigh’s bio: “I started D-Group (Discipleship Group) [with] a handful of college students in 2009 and it has grown into 250+ groups around the world…I love to speak to audiences about God and His Word, and I’ve written a few books with an aim to point others toward Him through my story as well as their own. I also write and host a daily podcast called The Bible Recap, which aims to keep people connected to reading the Bible when they’re tempted to quit for lack of understanding, as well as a daily radio show called The God Shot.”
In late 2021 / early 2022, requests started flooding in for me to review Tara-Leigh, mainly due to the fact that many were preparing to begin a “read through the Bible in a year” plan in January. They wanted to know if the suddenly popular program, The Bible Recap (TBR) – Tara-Leigh’s brief daily podcast “recapping” each day’s reading in a one-year chronological reading plan – was doctrinally sound and whether or not they should use it. To that end, I began listening to TBR and researching it, Tara-Leigh, and D-Group.
The Bible Recap (TBR)
I listened to about two dozen of the first 60 episodes of the “year 4” TBR season, making notes along the way. In each 5-10 minute episode, Tara-Leigh briefly summarizes that day’s reading and adds a few comments, ending with a “God Shot” – a point from the reading that stood out most to her, personally.
For the most part, I didn’t hear much that was biblically problematic in the TBR episodes I listened to. But someone spending eight minutes basically reiterating the primary facts from a passage of Scripture and getting it mostly right isn’t an automatic indicator that she’s doctrinally sound. False teachers can do that. Atheists can do that. Perfectly doctrinally sound pastors and teachers can do that. People everywhere on the spectrum between those two extremes can do that.
There were several times I thought that the way Tara-Leigh worded something wasn’t necessarily wrong, but also wasn’t as clear or precise as it should have been, and that people who were new to reading the Bible (a significant portion of her target audience) could have easily misunderstood. I didn’t make any notes on those instances because they didn’t rise to the level of false doctrine, and we’ve all had times when we could have worded something better.
I did make some notes on several other points. Here are just a few:
- Day 002 episode: “We don’t want to scream where Scripture whispers.“ An unfortunate choice of words, or was she echoing the sentiment from J.D. Greear – “We ought to whisper about what the Bible whispers about and we ought to shout about what it shouts about.” – that Southern Baptists in the know are all too familiar with? (TBR does include resources from Greear.)
“God let Noah know that this was only the beginning of their relationship.“ (Referring to Genesis 6:18). This is probably just a poor choice of words meant to indicate that this was the beginning of the Noahic covenant, or that God was reassuring Noah that he wasn’t going to die, but this is technically incorrect. Noah already had a relationship with God. That’s indicated by the fact that God had a conversation with Noah in 6:13-22, and it’s also why God found Noah to be the only righteous person on earth.
- Day 003 episode: After the flood, the earth was not “muddy and gross“ as Tara-Leigh describes it. Genesis 8:13-14 is clear that the land dried up completely. Furthermore, in the flood, God re-created the earth. It may not have had the holy perfection of Eden since this was post-Fall, but the God who deemed His Creation “good” in Genesis 1 didn’t re-create a chaotic and disheveled world that looked like a natural disaster had just hit it, either.
- Day 008 episode: “Are there times when God speaks to us? I believe God’s Spirit does give impressions to His children. After all, one of His names is ‘Guide’…Saying, ‘God told me X,’ carries a lot of certainty with it. I’d be more likely to say it this way, ‘I feel like God was saying X,’ or, ‘I feel like God was impressing this on my heart.’.”
Tara-Leigh is teaching extra-biblical revelation here because she’s a continuationist (more below). Extra-biblical revelation undermines the doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture. Of course, God guides us. And the way He guides us is through His all-sufficient written Word, as He tells us Himself. Reading, believing, following, and obeying the written Word God the Holy Spirit breathed out is being led, or “guided,” by God.
Furthermore, all throughout Scripture, when God spoke, there was absolute, stake your life on it certainty. If you weren’t certain it was God speaking to you, you’d better keep your mouth shut or risk execution. If you were certain it was God speaking to you, you’d better open your mouth and boldly proclaim exactly what He said, or risk execution. If the holy God of the universe is speaking to you, you dare not mealy mouth or equivocate. And if He’s not, you dare not say He is. There’s no fence-sitting on this one.
Finally, this “I feel” language again undermines the sufficiency of Scripture, and reinforces an all too common false doctrine in the church: believing, trusting, and obeying our subjective feelings and personal experiences over God’s written Word. And because that is a place and position only Scripture should occupy, that false doctrine, believed and practiced by so many, is idolatry. (Hear me clearly: I’m not saying that Tara-Leigh believes in, practices, or holds to this form of idolatry herself, only that this type of “I feel” language reinforces this sort of idolatry that others cling to.)
- Day 043 episode: Tara-Leigh talks about the glory of God filling the tabernacle as a cloud, and the fact that Moses could not go into the tabernacle because of that glory cloud. She says there was a “density“ to God‘s glory, and gives the example that she has never been in a plane that had to fly above a cloud because it could not physically pass through the cloud.
This passage does not mean that God’s glory was a tangibly impassable barrier, like a brick wall. It means that God’s manifest glory was so magnificent and intensely powerful that it was too overwhelming for Moses to go into the tabernacle. It’s possible Tara-Leigh didn’t mean to convey that God’s glory was physically tangible, but I think that’s what most people are going to take away from what she said.
TBR recommends and partners with the YouVersion app. Although many people do not realize that YouVersion was created by and is maintained by false teacher Craig Groeschel’s LifeChurch.tv (it also features devotions and other materials by numerous false teachers), Tara-Leigh apparently does, and has partnered with YouVersion by platforming TBR there:
Tara-Leigh teaches the Bible to men, without reservation, through TBR. It is one thing for a woman to have a Bible teaching program or materials specifically for women available to the public and not be able to control who uses it. It is another thing all together to welcome and encourage men to be taught by a woman, especially in the gathering of the church body. This just validates and encourages the sin of women violating Scripture by teaching men.
TBR frequently features The Bible Project videos and podcast episodes in its episode show notes as supplementary materials, and TBP overviews of each book of the Bible are used exclusively. To be fair, many supplementary materials from doctrinally sound sources are provided, but they’re provided right alongside materials from false and/or problematic sources like Tim Keller (Day O16), Kay Warren (Day 038), J.D. Greear (Days 050, 323, 352), The Village Church (Matt Chandler’s church, Days 125, 291- Sam Alberry, 317), The Gospel Coalition (Days 133- Article: Did David Rape Bathsheba? answer: “David was a rapist.”, 213, 260, 277 & 352- Thabiti Anyabwile, 286, 315, 322, 323, 336, 345, 363) Skye Jethani (341).
“D-Group = Discipleship Group. We are men’s and women’s discipleship and Bible study groups that meet weekly in homes around the world.” D-Groups are gender specific and meet for eight sessions of study per year. Each session lasts six weeks and centers around a different book or curriculum. (D-Group is discrete from The Bible Recap, related only by the fact that Tara-Leigh heads up both.)
D-Group exists in three venues: church groups, home groups not connected to churches, and online groups. Commendably, in policy, D-Group requires that participants be members of, or actively seeking membership in a local church, and discourages participants from treating D-Group as a substitute or replacement for the local church…
…but the very fact that it establishes and encourages home groups and online groups not connected to a local church undercuts this commitment in practice. No doubt there are many online and home group members who eschew or are lax about membership in a solid local church, considering D-Group to be their church instead. Indeed, the Why D-Groups page of the website says that one of the results of being involved in a D-Group is: “And those who lack rich relationships with other Christians have found a place of encouragement and challenge.” Although it’s certainly not wrong to be encouraged and challenged by Christian friends outside your local church, the primary “place” this sort of thing should be happening is in the context of your local church. Additionally, group leaders are trained by the D-Group organization, not by the local church. Again, this sort of training should be taking place in the local church and under the authority of the pastors and elders there.
It’s an unbiblical structure and methodology. Discipleship proper is to take place within the context of and under the authority of the local church, not in parachurch ministries or groups, and certainly not in online “groups”. There is no provision, allowance, or instruction for parachurch discipleship in the New Testament. And if D-Group is Reformed, and as committed to “living out the truths revealed by God in Scripture” as they claim to be, they should already know this and work through local churches exclusively.
D-Group holds to continuationism (which explains Tara-Leigh’s aforementioned stance on extra-biblical revelation, and TBR resources from continuationists such as John Piper, The Village Church, etc.), and cites The Village Church’s position paper on continuationism as part of their Beliefs.
D-Group claims to be complementarian, but, apparently, they mean – without clearly saying so – so-called “narrow” or “soft” (essentially: anything goes except women as senior pastors) complementarianism. As I’ve explained in the past, so-called “soft/narrow complementarianism” is not complementarianism, but functional egalitarianism.
Under the Beliefs section of D-Group’s Resources page, two of the resources cited on complementarianism are from The Village Church and Mary Kassian. TVC is where Jen Wilkin, who preaches to men at conferences and other events is on staff as the director of family and student ministries, and where pastor Matt Chandler has publicly praised women who preach to men, like Beth Moore. The short TVC article cited isn’t very substantive, and merely states that they don’t allow women to be elders. I briefly reviewed the Mary Kassian article when it first came out in 2016. Long story short, she believes it’s OK for women to preach to and teach men except in the Sunday worship service (unless it’s Mother’s Day or another special event, then it’s OK).
Tara-Leigh herself preaches to and teaches men in person at her speaking engagements (see below).
D-Group is governed by women. Of the 36 members of D-Group’s “team,” all but four are women. These four men are under the authority of – among other women – founder and CEO Tara-Leigh, of course, as well as a female “Theology + Content Director”. This is not a direct violation of Scripture, since the D-Group organization is not a gathering of the church, but this does align with and point to their “soft complementarianism” posture.
D-Group recommends many of the same false and/or biblically problematic teachers and resources as The Bible Recap, and more:
In the Diversity and Racial Reconciliation section of D-Groups Beliefs page, resources are cited from woke and racialist sources such as Eric Mason, Latasha Morrison’s Be the Bridge, and The Witness, a list of theological works by black theologians and pastors, including Jarvis Williams, Anthony Bradley, Thabiti Anyabwile, and Raphael Warnock, the horrifyingly liberal “pastor” and Democrat senator who endorses the torture and murder of unborn children. (The Witness also includes a book on homiletics written by a woman.)
I don’t want to overstate this point, but it’s worth noting. Are worldly terms and constructs like “diversity,” “racial reconciliation,” and “LGBTQIA” congruent with a doctrinally sound Christian ministry? Where does the Bible use these terms or teach such constructs?
As founder and leader of TBR and D-Group, Tara-Leigh’s theology concerning continuationism, functional egalitarianism, extra-biblical revelation, and social justice issues is evident.
In addition to her organizations holding to a functional egalitarianism position, Tara-Leigh personally teaches men via her speaking engagements.
The following two videos are currently featured on her website’s “Speaking” page, as exemplars of her teaching.
Tara-Leigh preaching at a co-ed retreat (Tara Leigh Cobble INTV Retreat | October 26, 2018)
Tara-Leigh speaking at The Nines (the NINES 2019 – Loving Scripture, Biblical Literacy, & the Future of the Church | October 31, 2019 – Men clearly audible in the audience throughout). The caption on this video on Tara-Leigh’s website reads: “TLC speaking to pastors at The Nines Conference (Buckhead Church, Atlanta) about the future of the church.”
Unfortunately, Tara-Leigh also has an affinity for false teachers and false doctrine.
This is the pinned tweet – the first thing you see – on Tara-Leigh’s Twitter account. Apparently, Beth is a “fan” of TBR and Tara-Leigh “learned approximately 90%” of her Bible teaching from Beth Moore.
Here, she calls Jennie Allen one of her “favorite” leaders.
And since she brought it up in this post, I’d like to address another issue here. Tara-Leigh refers to her own “therapist” and also says, “I can’t think of a teacher/preacher I respect (in modern times) who hasn’t openly talked about seeing a licensed therapist…I believe in it so much that I’ve even paid for therapy for my team members. It’s VITAL.”
While everyone faces difficulties from time to time, and some of those difficulties are intense enough that a time of pastoral or biblical counseling is needed, routine or ongoing “therapy” from a “licensed therapist” (which, in the common vernacular, and at “trauma” events like this one, usually refers to a secular psychiatrist, psychologist, or other mental health professional) is no more “VITAL,” or even indicated, for normal, healthy individuals – even for non-Christians – than a weekly trip to the doctor for someone who isn’t sick.
The idea that Christians, across the board, need to be in therapy on a regular basis as though that’s normal or vital is found nowhere in Scripture, and undermines the Bible’s teaching that Scripture alone is sufficient for life and godliness.
Tara-Leigh’s notes from a “conversation” with “black and white Christian leaders and pastors” about “what the church’s role might look like in the midst of our current civil rights movement.”. You’ll notice the concepts of white privilege, systemic or “covert” racism, that white people need to “just listen,” etc. (Several pages. You’ll need to scroll through.)
Tara-Leigh seems like a very nice person with a sweet heart and genuine motives. She has some good ideas, and I’d like to be able to heartily recommend her to you. But unfortunately, even though she’s much closer to the “Nancy Leigh DeMoss Wolgemuth / Kay Arthur” end of the spectrum than the “Joyce Meyer / Rachel Held Evans” end of the spectrum that I mentioned in the introduction, and I don’t think I’d feel comfortable saying she’s a false teacher at this point, I can’t proactively recommend her or any of her ministries or materials to you either. There are better people you could be listening to.
Since the original publication of this article, a number of readers have asked if there is a program similar to TBR that takes followers through a chronological Bible reading plan with a daily recap of each day’s reading. I am not aware of any other program or podcast like that. The closest thing I know of is when I led my ladies’ Sunday School class through the chronological plan in 2014 and taught a weekly lesson selected from that week’s reading. If that’s of interest, you can always find those lessons at the Bible Studies tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page (at the very end under “Miscellaneous”).
Other readers have said they were listening to TBR, but stopped when something seemed “off” to them. Now, they just use the TBR podcast episode titles to tell them which passage to read for the day. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that, but if you’d like something that’s a little less cumbersome, I’ve got a printable of the entire year’s readings for you. Every year around New Year’s I publish a “round up” of Bible reading plans. The chronological plan is always first on the list because I recommend it so highly. Go to the Bible Studies tab and click on “Bible Reading Plans,” then click the link on #1, and print it, bookmark it, screenshot it, etc.