Discernment, False Teachers

Throwback Thursday ~ The Perilous Parable of Dr. Shepherd and Dr. Tickle

Originally published January 27, 2013

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Once upon a time, there was a college student who was majoring in engineering. Let’s call her Brie. (Why? No particular reason except that I’m hungry and I happen to like cheese. But back to our story.)

One of the pre-requisite classes Brie had to take for her major was calculus. Brie had heard about the various calculus professors at her university. Some were tough. Some were boring. A few had a reputation for being easy.

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Brie knew she did not want to take calculus from Dr. Shepherd. Although she had some friends who had taken his class and really seemed to know their stuff, calculaically speaking, they had told her that he demanded excellence of his students, had a no qualms about flunking students who weren’t trying and didn’t know the material, and gave regular—and challenging— homework and tests.

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Brie was leaning more towards Dr. Tickle. Everybody said she was really nice and cared warmly for her students. She wasn’t a stickler about deadlines for assignments, taught in a funny and entertaining way, and –most importantly for Brie—didn’t believe in tests. Brie hated tests.

All of the sections of Dr. Tickle’s classes usually filled up quickly, so Brie wasted no time registering, and, happily, secured a spot. She knew she’d made the right choice when, on the first day of class, Dr. Tickle started the lesson off with a one woman skit. She filled the rest of the class period with jokes and inspiring personal stories about her own days as an engineering major. No formulas. No notes. They didn’t even crack the spines on their new text books. Brie felt completely at home and comfortable in Dr. Tickle’s class.

About half way through the semester, Brie was regaling her friend, Tess, with a joke Dr. Tickle had told in class that day. Tess giggled at the punch line, but then her brow furrowed.

“Wow, you’re really taking Dr. Tickle for calculus?” Tess asked.

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“Sure,” replied Brie, “I love her class. Why?”

“Well, I took her calculus class for a few weeks. Dr. Tickle didn’t really teach much actual math. And even when she did teach us a little bit about how to work some of the problems, I checked my notes against the book, and she had completely botched it. She had left out parts of the formulas, and some of the other things she taught us were the exact opposite of what the book said. If I had stayed in her class, I wouldn’t have a clue as to what’s going on in the upper level classes I’m taking now. In fact, I probably wouldn’t even be graduating. I’d really recommend that you drop Dr. Tickle’s class and take calculus from a good professor who knows what he’s doing. I took Dr. Shepherd’s class. He’s tough, but he’s a great teacher.”

“What?!?! How can you say that about Dr. Tickle? I leave her class every day feeling great about calculus! Not once has she ever made me feel uncomfortable or stressed about my calculations. She’s so understanding and kind, and I love the fun way she teaches. I thought you were my friend, Tess, and I thought you were a nice person, too. How could you say such mean things about Dr. Tickle?

“I am your friend, Brie! I want you to be able to understand calculus properly so you’ll do well in the tougher classes that come later. I want to see you graduate with high marks and become a great engineer. I’m trying to help you!”

“Well, I think Dr. Tickle is a great teacher, and I really enjoy her class,” Brie responded coolly, “We’ll just have to agree to disagree.”

There are Dr. Shepherds and Dr. Tickles on church campuses, too. God has not called pastors to stand in the pulpit and tickle your ears with jokes and stories. Nor has He called them to make the Bible and his sermons all about you and your self esteem, your dreams, your health, or your lust for material things. God has called pastors to:

preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
2 Timothy 4:2-5

If you have a Tess in your life who is warning you that a pastor, teacher, or author you’re following is a false teacher, don’t react like Brie did. What if your friend is right? Do you really want to follow a wolf in shepherd’s clothing, or do you want to follow a Dr. Shepherd who will give you the truth of God’s word even if it’s difficult? Check him out. Where? Here are some resources:

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

Popular False Teachers & Unbiblical Trends

Is She a False Teacher? 7 Steps to Figuring it Out on Your Own

Discernment

Celebrate Recovery

If you are considering commenting or sending me an e-mail objecting to the fact that I warn against certain teachers or ministries, 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.


This article is kept continuously updated as needed.


I get lots of questions about particular authors, pastors, Bible teachers, ministries, and evangelical fads and trends, and whether or not I recommend them. Some of the best known can be found in the blue menu bar at the top of this page at my Popular False Teachers tab. The ministry below is one I’ve been asked about recently, so I’ve done a quick check (this is brief research, not exhaustive) on it.

Below are the biblical criteria I use when deciding whether or not to recommend a teacher, ministry, etc.

Generally speaking, in order for me to recommend a teacher, speaker, author, or ministry, he/she/it 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). A ministry or trend cannot allow or encourage any of these things.

b) The pastor, teacher, ministry, or trend cannot currently and unrepentantly be partnering with, yoked to, or frequently appearing with false teachers. This is a violation of Scripture.

c) The pastor, teacher, or ministry cannot currently and unrepentantly be teaching false doctrine.

I recommend against any teacher, ministry, or evangelical trend that violates one or more of these biblical tenets.

If you’d like to check out some pastors and teachers I heartily recommend, click the Recommended Bible Teachers tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page.


Celebrate Recovery
Not Recommended

Celebrate Recovery (CR) was created by John Baker, a member of false teacher Rick Warren’s Saddleback “Church”. It was “born out of the heart of Saddleback Church” with Rick’s approval and under his oversight, and, as you might expect, is fraught with unbiblical issues at nearly every turn. In the U.S. and abroad, over 35,000 churches and many secular organizations and businesses now offer Celebrate Recovery programs, and over 5 million people have completed CRs “Step Study” program.

CR is open to professing Christians as well as the lost (in the CR program at Saddleback, non-Christians make up over 70% of CR participants – see below), and is modeled after secular 12 step programs (ex: Alcoholics Anonymous). Adapting worldly means and methods for use in the church (though characteristic of Saddleback) is not biblical. The biblical means for helping a lost person deal with addiction is to call him to repent and believe the gospel, and, if he gets saved, disciple him in obedience to God’s Word. The biblical means for helping a saved person who is committing the sin of drunkenness is to follow the steps of church discipline (beginning with a one on one call to repentance and restoration) commanded in Matthew 18, and if he repents, disciple him in obedience to God’s Word.

That CR adapts worldly means and methods is abundantly evident below in the video introduction to CR (found on the CR website’s What is Celebrate Recovery? page):

  • Notice Johnny Baker (son of founder John Baker) and his wife Jeni start with the typical AA introduction: Johnny: “Hi, I’m Johnny and (rather than “and I’m an alcoholic”) I struggle with…” Jeni: “Hi Johnny!”.
  • Rather than finding their identity in Christ who has graciously saved them out of their sin, they identity themselves by their pet sins and/or problems. This teaches people to see themselves (and presents them to others) as helpless and non-responsible victims rather than victors through Christ.
  • The terms they use to identify themselves are secular and psychologized (“addiction” “co-dependency” “adult child of family dysfunction”) rather than biblical (the sin of drunkenness, fear/idolatry of man, and sinful family relationships, bitterness, unforgiveness, or whatever “adult child of family dysfunction” actually means. Jeni defines this term at the 5:30 mark as growing up in a “dysfunctional family that caused hurt in your life…which I think we pretty much all have.” That definition doesn’t do much to clear things up).
  • In the caption “PastorS of Celebrate Recovery” there are two biblical issues: First, Celebrate Recovery is not a church, it’s a parachurch ministry (if it’s functioning as a church, that brings us to three biblical issues with this caption). Biblically, only churches have pastors. If what is meant by “pastors” is that they are “directors” of CR divisions (as the CR website’s Our Team page says) then that is what the caption should say rather than adulterating a biblical term which has a specific meaning.

    Second, Scripture expressly forbids women from serving as pastors.

    And all of that is in the first nine seconds of this 21 minute video.

Another issue made plain in the video is that Celebrate Recovery teaches a false gospel:

At 3:24ff, speaking to lost people, Johnny gives an incomplete (and partially false) presentation of the gospel as a means of differentiating secular recovery programs from CR. Notice the number of times he says “We believe…” instead of “the Bible says…” or simply stating the terms of the gospel as irrefutable fact. This leaves room for lost people to infer, “These are their beliefs, but they don’t have to be mine.”

The facts Johnny states about Jesus’ life and that He sent the Holy Spirit are technically correct, but what’s missing? Repentance and faith. No mention is made of personal repentance of sin or placing one’s faith in Christ – as the Bible defines it – anywhere in this video. In this particular segment, Johnny skips directly from “Jesus died as a sacrifice for our sin, rose again, and lives now,” to “He sent the Holy Spirit to live inside of us.” That is a false gospel. The indwelling Holy Spirit is a sign, seal, and guarantee of our salvation, and salvation does not take place without the repentance of sin and placing one’s faith in Christ.

Johnny goes on to say that “that [the indwelling Holy Spirit] is what gives us the power to find healing from our hurts, hang-ups, and habits”. But the lost people he’s talking to do not have the indwelling Holy Spirit to help them because they’re still lost, because CR’s “gospel” doesn’t call them to repent and believe.

Further evidence of CR’s false gospel can be found near the end of the video. At 20:11ff, Johnny quotes Romans 3:23, and then proceeds to define sin as “mistakes”. That’s unbiblical. A “mistake” is accidentally calling your son by your daughter’s name, or taking the wrong exit off the interstate, or forgetting to carry the one. Mistakes are, by definition, unintentional and usually morally neutral. Sin is always immoral and frequently intentional. We are born with a sinful nature, but we also choose to sin.

Johnny further describes sin as “hurting other people” and “other people hurting us,” and that’s partially true, but that’s where he stops. Again, this is unbiblical. Sin is primarily rebellion against God. God taught us this way back in Psalm 51 where David, repenting of his sin with Bathsheba said, “Against You [God], You only, have I sinned and done what is evil in Your sight.” God is the first, last, and ultimate object of our sin.

You’ll probably also notice that even though Johnny uses the word “sin” a few times, he never speaks in biblical terms about everyone’s need to repent of their sin. Rather the terminology he uses is “hurts, hang-ups, and habits” (instead of “sin”) and “healing from your hurts” (instead of “repentance”). This likely stems from the idea in secular recovery groups like AA that alcoholism is a “disease” you need to “heal” and “recover” from like the flu or the chicken pox.

This medical model of sin is completely unbiblical because it removes personal culpability and responsibility for sin, i.e. you can’t help “catching” alcoholism (the sin of drunkenness) any more than you can help catching the flu. Nowhere does Scripture suggest that we need to “heal” and “recover” from sin. Jesus commands us to repent.

Sin is breaking God’s law and rebelling against the holy God of the universe. That’s not the same thing as a “mistake” or “hurting/being hurt by others” or “hurts, hang-ups, and habits”. And we don’t need to “heal” from our sin, we need to repent of it, forsake it, and mortify it.

Finally, Johnny (probably not even realizing he’s doing so) substitutes CR for the biblical gospel. Follow what he’s saying:

All have sinned >> sin = mistakes/hurting others/others hurting us >> we’ve all made mistakes/hurt others/others have hurt us >> “that means all of us qualify for Celebrate Recovery”

Whereas the Bible says:

All have sinned >> sin = rebellion against God >>
we all qualify for the gospel

Celebrate Recovery is not the gospel, nor a substitute for the gospel, for drunkards or drug addicts or anyone else. The gospel is the gospel. And the gospel is what we all need.

Another dangerous and unbiblical component of this concept of “sin is hurting others” is that the CR “gospel” conflates sinning against others with being sinned against under the banner of “hurts”. There is an enormous difference between a man getting drunk and beating his wife half to death and a wife who has been beaten half to death by her drunkard husband.

The Bible puts those two people in two different categories and addresses them discretely and justly. The man has sinned. The wife has been sinned against. The man needs to be brought to justice and repent. The wife needs to be cared for, helped to heal, and ultimately, to forgive.

CR throws both the husband and the wife into the same category because it doesn’t have a biblical definition of sin. The husband needs to “heal” and “recover” from his “addiction” and whatever “hurts” led him to “hurt someone else”. The wife needs to “heal” from being hurt by someone else. Treating the one who sinned and the one sinned against as though they’re the same by placing them in the same “recovery” program is damaging to both because it teaches the sinner he’s not responsible for his actions and has no need to repent, and it teaches the one sinned against that she’s no different from the one who sinned against her.

Now let’s take a look at some of the unbiblical 8 Principles and 12 Steps of the Celebrate Recovery program:

It’s a little confusing as to why CR has both 12 Steps and 8 Principles of recovery, but if I’m understanding it correctly, CR’s 12 Steps are designed to be sort of a bridge to assimilate people already familiar with the 12 steps of secular recovery groups (such as AA) into CR. CR’s 12 Steps are almost identical to the secular 12 steps. (The most noticeable difference is that the phrase “God, as we understand Him” has been changed to simply, “God”.)

The 8 Principles are CR’s own so-called “Christ centered” version of the secular 12 steps, supposedly based on the Beatitudes, and following the acrostic “R-E-C-O-V-E-R-Y”. But the ideas in the 8 Principles are very similar to the ideas in the secular 12 steps. So similar, in fact that each Principle is followed by a notation as to which of the 12 steps it corresponds to. For example, Principle 5 (“V” in the acrostic) corresponds to steps 6 and 7 of the secular 12 steps. And, although it should go without saying, the Beatitudes aren’t about hurts, addictions, or recovery.

So, on the macro-level, CR has taken a worldly philosophy and attempted to “Christianize” it slightly in order to appeal to the lost, which, again is typical of the way Saddleback – the original seeker driven “church” – tends to operate, and which, as I mentioned earlier, is unbiblical.

But what about the micro-level of the individual Principles?

Principle R1, the first half of V, and E2 aren’t bad. It would be better if CR actually cited and explained the Scriptures that teach these concepts and used biblical terminology, but overall these small snippets of the 8 principles are mostly aligned with Scripture. 2.5 principles. Out of 8.

Principle E1 is problematic:

Earnestly believe that God exists, that I matter to Him and that He has the power to help me recover.

Believing that God exists, that you matter to Him, and that He’s powerful is not the same thing as being born again by repentance and faith in Christ. Not by a long shot. The Egyptians at the Red Sea believed in God’s existence and power. The prophets of Baal all believed in God’s existence and power (right before Elijah slaughtered them all). And they definitely mattered to God, just not in a good way.

The issue here is that the unbeliever is not indwelt and empowered by the Holy Spirit to resist and flee from sin. It’s not that God isn’t powerful, it’s that as an unbeliever you don’t have access to, or a right to that power.

Principle C is another big nope:

Consciously choose to commit all my life and will
to Christ’s care and control.

Biblically, there’s no such animal. As an unbeliever, you cannot just make a fleshly decision of the will to commit all of your life and will to Christ’s care and control. It cannot be done without repentance, faith, and regeneration in response to the biblical gospel.

Principle O:

Openly examine and confess my faults to myself,
to God, and to someone I trust.

Sins. “Sins” is the word you’re looking for, not faults. Faults are not equivalent to sins. “Confess your sins to one another,” is what the Bible says. And while confession is a good thing, it’s not the same thing as repentance. A murderer can confess his crime, but feel completely justified in having done it, and be perfectly willing to do it again if given the chance. Repentance is grieving from the heart that you have sinned against a holy God, wishing you had never done it, and striving never to do it again. Also, look who comes first here in this line of confession – not God, but self.

The second half of principle V

Voluntarily submit to any and all changes God wants to make in my life and humbly ask Him to remove my character defects.

As I said above, the first half isn’t bad. The second half isn’t going to work for lost people because it doesn’t biblically identify their problem, which is sin, not “character defects”. And God is not going to remove their sin without repentance and faith in Christ. And if they’re trying to circumvent repentance, faith, and the biblical gospel in order to steal what they want from God, they’re not asking “humbly,” they’re asking pridefully.

Principle R2 is great if you’re saved, since all Christians are supposed to be doing these things anyway…

Reserve a daily time with God for self-examination, Bible reading, and prayer in order to know God and His will for my life and to gain the power to follow His will.

But not so great if you’re in the majority of CR participants who are lost. “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned,” 1 Corinthians 2:14 (emphasis, mine) tells us. And a lost person cannot “gain the power to follow His will” without the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Principle Y takes us back into false gospel territory:

Yield myself to God to be used to bring this Good News to others,
both by my example and my words.

Hold the phone, Henrietta. “This Good News” – capital G, capital N? What “Good News”? The “Good News” of Celebrate Recovery? That is out and out heresy. (And God doesn’t “use” people to bring heresy to others except as a judgment against them.) The only capital G, capital N “Good News” is the Good News of the biblical gospel, which CR has repeatedly failed to present and instead has substituted its own false gospel which is devoid of sin, faith, and repentance.

A final point to consider, and not a minor one, is the fact that Celebrate Recovery is embraced by the world. Contrary to what the powers that be at CR think, that is not a good thing. From the History of Celebrate Recovery page on the CR website:

“Celebrate Recovery is the number one outreach ministry at Saddleback Church, with over 70 percent of its members now coming from outside the church….Celebrate Recovery is not just growing in churches, but in recovery houses, rescue missions, universities, and prisons around the world. New Mexico was the first state to adopt Celebrate Recovery into its state prison system and now has Celebrate Recovery pods in all its state prisons. In August 2004, Celebrate Recovery was announced as California’s state-approved substance abuse program for prisons...We are part of a movement that God is blessing.”

God does not “bless” heresy and worldliness. And if we’re walking in obedience to Scripture and preaching and teaching the true biblical gospel the world will hate us, not love us. I’ll just let Scripture speak to those points:

If the world hates you, know that it has hated me [Jesus] before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. John 15:18-19

Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you. 1 John 3:13

They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. 1 John 4:5

You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. James 4:4

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. Galatians 1:6-10

These findings barely scratch the surface of Celebrate Recovery’s means, methods, and philosophy, but I think Christians who value sound doctrine will agree that this information is more than sufficient to warn people away from this unbiblical “ministry”.

If you aren’t a Christian and you need help with any sort of addiction or other problem, let me give you step 1 of Jesus’ program for addressing that: Repent and believe the gospel. Once you’re saved (or if you’re already saved as you’re reading this), find a doctrinally sound church, make an appointment with your pastor, and ask him to point you to someone who can disciple you in obedience to God’s Word. (If you absolutely can’t find a doctrinally sound church in your area, you could seek out an ACBC certified biblical counselor.)

The question is not, “Does Celebrate Recovery ‘work’?”. That’s pragmatism. The question is, “Is Celebrate Recovery biblical?”. And the answer to that question is a resounding no. Celebrate Recovery’s very foundations are unbiblical, and Jesus stressed just how crucial biblical foundations are:

Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.

Matthew 7:24-27

Additional Resources

An Analysis of Celebrate Recovery Addictions Program Part 1 and Part 2 at The Cripplegate

I am not thoroughly familiar with the websites below. I do not endorse anything on these sites that deviates from Scripture or conflicts with my beliefs as outlined in the “Welcome” or “Statement of Faith” tabs in the blue menu bar at the top of this page.

A Way Which Seemeth Right at The Berean Call (This link is not a blanket endorsement of this blog or author, only this particular article.)

Is Celebrate Recovery Biblical? by Chad Prigmore

Christian women, Discernment

Throwback Thursday ~ Women In Combat

Originally published March 18, 2016

Over the last few months, there’s been a lot of talk about the possibility of future U.S. military drafts including young women in addition to young men. I’ve admired godly male friends who have spoken out vehemently against this and expressed concern about the government trying to press their daughters or wives into service. Some even vowed to lay their lives down protecting their women from having to face the horrors and dangers of war.

But I wonder if these men – husbands, fathers, pastors, elders – know that many of their wives, daughters, and sisters in Christ are already in the trenches fighting off the enemy with every ounce of our strength and every weapon at our disposal.

It’s not a war for territory or political control or freedom from dictatorial tyranny.

It’s a battle for the purity of the Bride. And the souls of our sisters.

Daily. Weekly. At church. On line. In our families. We strap on our Swords, march out to the front and engage in hand to hand combat with the Enemy.

His troops: false teachers.

His weapon of mass destruction: false doctrine.

Sometimes we stand as a shield between grenade-lobbing grunts and weak sisters who don’t know how to fight, or even that they’re in a war. Who want nothing more than to knock us down into the mud as they desert our King and join our foes.

Sometimes we infiltrate the enemy camp to bring back intelligence on his troops to our commanders and generals, only to be ignored, reprimanded, or dishonorably discharged from the unit.

Sometimes we stand as guards at the walls of our churches, watching the adversary advance, sounding the alarm, and standing in stunned disbelief as our commanding officers smilingly welcome the enemy troops through the gate.

Why? Why, in a field of pink, are there so few Green Berets? Why is it that so many women are out on the front lines battling this insidious rival while most of our brothers in arms seem to be AWOL?

men1

As Steve Lawson famously said a few years ago, “Give us some men who know the truth!”

And to that I respond with a hearty amen. But with much love and respect to Brother Steve, I would add:

Give us some men who will DEFEND the truth.

And the weak women the enemy seeks to capture.

And the strong women who should be protected, working safely away from the line of fire to support the troops and nurse the casualties back to health.

Give us men who will…

…thoroughly vet any curricula, books, or materials used by their church’s Bible study classes.

…train all of their church’s teachers to properly handle and exegete the word of God.

…take a close look at the authors of the books and blogs their wives or church members are reading and the speakers at the conferences and retreats they’re attending.

…examine the doctrine of the singers their daughters or youth listen to and the leaders of the youth camps they attend.

…speak out with godly boldness (not jerkiness- godly boldness) against false doctrine and false teachers on social media, in Sunday School, in the sanctuary, in their homes, and in every arena in which they have influence.

…join the few brave brothers who are already standing in the gap to present a united front to ward off the enemy.

Godly men on active duty in their churches, homes, and in the public square are out there. I’m privileged to know several. But they need a bigger band of brothers to join them in fighting the good fight.

We need men who will gird up, gear up, and stand up. Because some women in combat are wounded, battle fatigued, and in need of some R&R. And we can’t keep fighting this battle without a few more good men.

1 cor 16 13
Discernment, False Doctrine, Southern Baptist/SBC

A Naked Emperor in the Southern Baptist Convention

Originally published April 6, 2018

Think back to your childhood. Remember the story, The Emperor’s New Clothes?

Once upon a time, there lived an emperor. One day two swindlers came to his palace and told him they could weave cloth for his royal robes that was magical: to those who were foolish or unfit for their jobs, it would appear invisible. Only the wise and worthy would be able to see this fine fabric. The emperor hastily agreed to pay the “weavers” an exorbitant amount of money to make him such an amazing garment, thinking he would use it to weed out anyone unfit for royal service.

The weavers set about pretending to weave. From time to time, the emperor sent various folk to check on the progress the weavers were making, and – though in reality, none of them could see the non-existent fabric – all reported back that the garments were coming along nicely and the cloth was beautiful. But strangely enough, when the emperor himself looked in on the weavers, they held up the magnificent fabric, and he could not see it. Not wanting word to leak out that he was unfit to serve as emperor, he pretended to examine the cloth and complimented the weavers lavishly on their fine work.

Finally, the weavers informed the emperor that the garments were finished. They had the emperor strip down to his skivvies and pretended to help him on with his fine new “garments”. Word had spread among the emperor’s subjects about the magical properties of the fabric, and as the royal procession made its way through town, all shouted out praise for the emperor’s fine new clothes.

All. Except for one little boy.

“But he hasn’t got anything on!” the boy shouted.

It took the innocent honesty of a simple child to shock the emperor’s subjects back to their senses. The truth spread like wildfire, and the crowd began to cry out: “The emperor is naked!” “The emperor has no clothes on!” “He’s not wearing anything!”

But did the emperor admit to his foolishness, return to the palace, and get dressed? No. Sadly the story ends this way:

“The Emperor shivered, for he suspected they were right. But he thought, ‘This procession has got to go on.’ So he walked more proudly than ever, as his noblemen held high the train that wasn’t there at all.”¹

And so the “emperor” of leadership in the Southern Baptist Convention and those who carry its train march proudly on, despite the cries of simple peasants and innocent little children crying at the top of our lungs, “The emperor is naked!” “There are issues that need to be addressed, here!” “Listen to us!”

You’ll note that the story doesn’t say that the emperor was a cruel man, that he overtaxed the people, oppressed them into slavery, was a warmonger, or was in any other way an evil leader. In fact, one could argue that he had good intentions of making sure the people who served at various posts in his empire were of the finest caliber.

And while there are many issues that need to be addressed in my denomination, I think this could generally be said of the leadership of the Southern Baptist Convention as well. Call me a Pollyanna, but I have no reason to believe our denominational leadership – as a whole – is evil or has anything less than the best of intentions for the SBC.

There are many good and praiseworthy things going on in SBC life. We have hundreds of doctrinally sound pastors faithfully preaching the gospel week in and week out. Discernment and biblical literacy among Southern Baptist church members is slowly but steadily growing. The SBC takes a public, biblical stand on abortion and homosexuality while many other denominations do not. Our organizational structure for funding and sending out missionaries, while sometimes flawed in its execution, is without peer. Southern Baptist Disaster Relief is one of the finest relief organizations in the world. And there’s so much more. Find a godly Kingdom effort going on somewhere, and you’ll probably find a Southern Baptist involved in it. By the grace of God, while we’re far from perfect, we’re getting a lot of things right.

But even benevolent emperors get things wrong sometimes, and, Southern Baptist leadership, your drawers are flapping in the breeze on this one²:

Sin. The public sin our leaders commit that we excuse and the public sin our leaders commit that we discipline, and the fact that there’s a discrepancy between the two.

Recently, Frank Page, president and chief executive officer of the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention (one of the top positions of SBC leadership at the national level) resigned his position due to “a morally inappropriate relationship in the recent past,” which, we are left with little choice but to assume means “adultery”. (As an aside, Christians, when confessing sin, let’s knock off the the terminological hem-hawing and call a spade a spade. “I had a six month extra-marital romantic and sexual relationship with a married woman in my church,” or whatever. You don’t have to give all the gory details or name names, but, for crying out loud, if you’re going to confess, confess- don’t finesse.)

It was right and biblical for Dr. Page to publicly confess and express sorrow over his sin as well as to resign (it would also have been right and biblical for the SBC to remove him had he refused to resign, which, undoubtedly would have happened). He sinned against God, his family, the woman and her family, his church, his co-workers, and the entire denomination. He publicly embarrassed the Southern Baptist Convention and gave unbelievers fodder for scoffing when the report of his sin made the national news. This was a case of a well known Southern Baptist leader whose public, observable sin was handled biblically by SBC leadership. I am thankful for this witness to Christians and to the world that sin is not to be swept under the rug, but that sinners are to repent, be disciplined, and then be restored to fellowship (although, in cases like this, not leadership).

But we don’t handle all cases of public sin that way. Some public sin we reward by making the sinner into a wealthy, lauded celebrity.

“Impossible!” you say?

Check the shelves at LifeWay. Select twenty average SBC churches with women’s ministries and see whose books, DVDs, and simulcasts are being used again and again. Peruse the speakers at popular SBC conferences.

You’ll find names like Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, Lysa TerKeurst, Christine Caine, Ann Voskamp, Sarah Young, Andy Stanley, Steven Furtick, Rick Warren, and T.D. Jakes, just to name a few.

Have they committed adultery? Voiced approval of of homosexuality? Committed theft, abused their spouses, or promoted pornography? No. But those aren’t the only types of sins the Bible prohibits.

Every single one of them teaches false doctrine, from Sarah Young’s blasphemous “channeling” of Jesus, to T.D. Jakes’ denial of the Trinity, to Christine Caine’s Word of Faith heresy, to Lysa TerKeurst’s teaching of contemplative prayer.

All of these women who do speaking engagements unashamedly and unrepentantly preach to co-ed audiences. All of these men allow women to preach to co-ed audiences from their pulpits.

All of them who join in ministry with others have yoked or affiliated themselves with false teachers. Beth Moore and Joyce Meyer. Priscilla Shirer and T.D. Jakes. Steven Furtick and Joyce Meyer and T.D. Jakes. Rick Warren and the Pope.

Scripture plainly prohibits the teaching of false doctrine. It’s a major theme of the New Testament, for goodness sake. The Bible tells us that women are not to preach to men or exercise authority over them in the gathered body of Believers. And God’s Word makes very clear that we are to have nothing to do with false teachers, especially not partnering with them in “ministry”.

In the wake of Frank Page’s resignation, I asked this poll question on Twitter

followed by this one

Why are Southern Baptists leaders so quick to – rightly and biblically – oust Frank Page for, as far as we know, one isolated sin which he publicly confessed to and repented of, and yet overlook three major – and much more publicly observable and harmful to Southern Baptists – ongoing sins from pastors and teachers who have been rebuked and refuse to repent? Why, instead of disciplining them for their sin, do those in leadership give them fat book deals, invite them to speak at all the cool conferences, fawn over them on social media, and make them into celebrities?

How many sins will it take to disqualify and discipline these people? Four? Eleven? Ninety-six? Is there any amount of sin these pastors and teachers, and those like them, can commit that will cause those in SBC leadership to pull their materials off the shelves of LifeWay, deny them a seat at the table, and urge them to repent and step down from their positions?

I’ve been a Southern Baptist from the day I was born. I’ve been taught since the cradle roll that if God’s Word says not to do something and you do it anyway, that’s a sin. If God’s Word says to do something and you don’t do it, that’s a sin. And that sin is sin in the eyes of God.

Well is it, or isn’t it, Emperor?

If sin is sin in God’s eyes, why aren’t you treating Beth Moore’s sin like Frank Page’s sin? Why are you rewarding her for her sin and disciplining him for his?

The Bible says in James 3:1:

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.

Those who teach and lead bear more responsibility to teach sound doctrine and walk worthy because they are teaching and leading us by example.

Why are all the aforementioned pastors and teachers better examples to us in their rebellion and unrepentant sin than Frank Page was in his repentance of sin?

Why?

Southern Baptist peasants and little children see right through your foolishness on parade on this issue and we want answers. Biblical answers.

Don’t just stand there shivering, suspecting we are right, but thinking, “This procession has got to go on,” and walking more proudly than ever. Go back to the palace. Repent. Clothe yourselves with humility and obedience to Scripture, and come back and lead us rightly. Biblically.

Because the Emperor of Southern Baptist leadership has been naked for far too long.


¹H.C. Andersen Centret (The Hans Christian Andersen Centre). The Emperor’s New ClothesAccessed April 5, 2018.

²I am well aware that this is not the only problem in the SBC that needs to be addressed. It would be impossible to address every issue in one article, so this time I’ve chosen to focus on this one particular issue.

Discernment, Southern Baptist/SBC

Say “Nah” in Nashville to These Problematic Speakers at SBC21

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.

Photo credit: sbcannualmeeting.net

The 2021 annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention is coming up June 15-16, and you’re probably already sick of hearing about all the problems in the SBC.

Believe me, I am too.

But problems can’t be solved until they’re exposed and recognized as problems. And since I don’t hold a position of leadership in the SBC that would allow me to do anything to actually solve any of the problems, exposing and awareness is my ministry jam. Maybe it’ll help those who do have the power to help solve the problems.

You may recall the 2020 SBC Pastors’ Conference scandal in which David Uth, pastor of First Baptist Church, Orlando, and president of the 2020 Pastors’ Conference (a conference for SBC pastors immediately prior to the annual meeting) had planned to platform a host of unbiblical characters, including a female “pastor,” male pastors with female “pastors” on their church staff, pastors with unbiblical theology and ecclesiology, etc., as featured speakers.

That problem has not gone away, it has just been repackaged and rebranded and seems to be flying under the radar this year with all the (very good and needed) focus on repudiating 2019’s Resolution 9 and Critical Race Theory in general, the SBC presidential campaign, women “pastors,” and other issues, which are totally worthy of the attention they’re receiving.

But the issue of SBC leaders, entities – funded by your offerings, by the way – and other organizations platforming false and unbiblical teachers is also worthy of attention. It has been going on for decades and is only worsening. And that’s exactly what’s happening at some of the ancillary conferences, luncheons, and other events taking place at this year’s Convention.

There are so many of these ancillary events taking place it would have been impossible to vet every one of them, and several of the organizations sponsoring these events have not posted any information about the event online. Additionally, some of the speakers who may, indeed, be very unbiblical, have almost no online presence, so it’s not feasible to try to vet them. So in order to highlight the pervasiveness of the problem, I’m hitting some of the most prolific problematic speakers at a few of the events I think will be of most interest to you.

If you’re unfamiliar with the way I vet teachers and speakers, I’ve explained the criteria I use, and why, in my article Is She a False Teacher? 7 Steps to Figuring it Out on Your Own, as well as in the introduction to my articles on false teachers (for example). In a nutshell, two of the top biblically disqualifying issues with contemporary teachers are: a) women preaching to men (or men/pastors allowing women to preach to men), and b) yoking with false teachers. Those are not the only two issues which biblically disqualify a teacher, but they are two of the fastest and easiest things to check when vetting several teachers in a limited amount of time, so much of what you see below will fall into those two categories.

Rather than adding a zillion links, if you’re unclear as to why someone with whom one of these teachers is yoking is a false or unbiblical teacher, please see my Popular False Teachers & Unbiblical Trends link in the blue menu bar at the top of this page.

Additionally, aside from the full length articles linked to some of the teachers’ names, the information on each teacher below is nowhere near exhaustive, but rather, a thumbnail sketch of some of the major issues with each.

Send Conference (NAMB / IMB)
June 13-14

Photo credit: sendconference.com

Send Conference, sponsored by the North American Mission Board (NAMB) and the International Mission Board (IMB), is basically taking the place of the SBC Pastors’ Conference this year, and is open to all. One of NAMB’s major areas of focus is church planting in North America, and they have lately come under fire when it was discovered that several of their church plants had women pastors and that they are requiring their church planters to teach an adulterated gospel. Remember, NAMB and IMB are supported by your church’s contributions (your offerings) to the Cooperative Program and by your Annie Armstrong Easter offerings and Lottie Moon Christmas offerings, respectively.

Some of the problematic speakers at Send Conference include:

Tony Evans

Donna Gaines – Wife of former SBC president Steve Gaines (who, while sitting president, spoke glowingly on Twitter about an evangelical celebrity headlining his church’s women’s conference and promptly blocked me when I gently informed him said celeb is a false teacher. This conference took place under Donna’s leadership in the women’s ministry.)

Donna is on the steering committee of the SBC Women’s Leadership Network (see below). Her church has at least two adult co-ed life groups co-taught by women, and several groups that use materials by false teachers (Chrystal Evans Hurst, Priscilla Shirer, Anne Graham Lotz, Rick Warren, etc.) She has preached to co-ed audiences. She’s friends with, and endorsed by, Beth Moore, who has spoken at her church. Donna is on the “team” of She Loves Out Loud (alongside some women “pastors”), which in 2020 staged a prayer event including false teachers Priscilla Shirer and Sheila Walsh, which Donna hosted at her church, and which men were allowed to attend. Here she speaks out in support of fellow SBCWLN leader, Jacki C. King (see below) preaching to a co-ed audience and tells those calling Jacki to account to “chill”. And here, she says, “the diversity of your friends may be a mark of your spiritual maturity.”

J.D. Greear– Current SBC president. J.D. Greear has stated (quoting Jen Wilkin) in a sermon that the Bible “whispers about sexual sin,” publicly supports and defends false teachers like Beth Moore, and maintains a friendship with at least one female “pastor” – among many other things. And with his attention-grabbing stand on retiring the Broadus gavel and his unsubstantiated claim that “closet racists and neo confederates feel more at home in our [SBC] churches than do many of our people of color,” his continual references to “Great Commission Baptists” instead of “Southern Baptists,” yet standing with the seminary presidents in their statement repudiating Critical Race Theory, his stand on racial issues feels like a muddled attempt at straddling the fence.

Jamie Ivey LifeWay Women frequently endorses Jamie, which, unfortunately, is a red flag due to their habitual endorsement of false and problematic teachers. And, indeed, Jamie is appearing at LifeWay Women Live 2021 with Lisa Harper, Jackie Hill Perry, Jen Wilkin, Kelly Minter, Jennifer Rothschild, Angie Smith, and Lauren Chandler. She also spoke at IF: Gathering 2021 with a plethora of false teachers. Just since the beginning of 2021, Jamie has hosted Tony Evans, Lisa Harper, racialist Jemar Tisby, Francis Chan, Lisa Bevere’s son, Lauren Chandler, and Amanda Bible Williams on her podcast. Jamie has appeared on TBN’s Better Together show (several times, actually) with Laurie Crouch (co-head of TBN), Christine Caine, diversity trainer Janice Gaines, and female “pastor” Jada Edwards.

Jamie is also quite the proponent of the Enneagram and diversity (appearing at TGC 2018 with Jackie Hill Perry), and has been a featured speaker at co-ed conferences such as ETCH 2020, and the Enneagram Conference.

Jamie is also speaking at the Women & Work Forum (below) and the SEBTS Women’s Breakfast.

Katie McCoy– Assistant Professor of Theology in Women’s Studies at Southwestern Theological Baptist Seminary (SWBTS). Katie is friends with Jacki C. King and serves with her on the steering committee of SBCWLN (see below). She’s a supporter of Beth Moore (also here), and has favorably retweeted Christine Caine (also here) Jen Wilkin, Priscilla Shirer, and Jackie Hill Perry, all of whom preach to men and most of whom are false teachers. And here’s Katie sharing the stage with Kathy Litton (see below).

Katie’s church (where she is minister to women) allows women to co-teach adult co-ed Bible study classes. (The women’s ministry Facebook page of Katie’s church also promotes several events with problematic/false teachers, here, here, here, and further back, but it is unclear whether or not Katie was the women’s ministry leader at that time. It is my hope that she was not and that, under her leadership events like this have ceased.)

Sheila Walsh

SBC Women’s Leadership Network Event
June 14

Photo credit: sbcwomen.net/events

I found and joined the SBC Women’s Leadership Network Facebook group before I realized there was a “network” behind it. I left said Facebook group when it became obvious that various admins of the group (some of whom are members of the network’s steering committee) were at least somewhat favorably disposed to women holding pastoral positions and that my questions about this and citing Scripture regarding the biblical role of women in the church were not welcome (despite the network’s claim to be “convictionally complementarian“).

The SBCWLN event is to be a panel discussion with Kathy Litton, Missie Branch (not included below as there is very little online information on her), Susie Hawkins, and moderated by Jacki C. King. All of these are members of the SBCWLN steering committee:

Kathy Litton– Kathy is the wife of current SBC presidential candidate, Ed Litton. This man who wants to be at the helm of your entire denomination, violates Scripture by allowing Kathy to “co-preach” the Sunday sermon at their Southern Baptist church here, and here, and several more sermons can be found at their church’s website. (UPDATE – July 2021: Not surprisingly, once Ed Litton was publicly taken to task for allowing his wife to preach, he deleted the sermon videos.) And here’s Kathy preaching to a co-ed audience at the 2017 MBC Great Commission Conference. Frighteningly, Kathy also serves as Director of Planting Spouse Development, with the Send Network (see above – interesting that it’s planter “spouse” instead of planters’ “wives” as it should be), the church planting arm of the North American Mission Board, which means she heavily influences other pastors’ wives.

Kathy and Beth Moore admire each other. Kathy and Ed “grieved” the SBC’s “loss” of Beth Moore, whose materials were apparently used in their church. Kathy participated in the 2018 SBC Pastors’ Wives conference headlined by Beth Moore and Lisa Harper, where Kathy conducted an interview with Beth’s daughter Melissa. Kathy follows Jackie Hill Perry. and Priscilla Shirer. Kathy wrote an article for Lois Evans’ (Tony Evans‘ late wife) blog, and has shared the stage with Lysa TerKeurst.

Susie Hawkins– Susie is the wife of O.S. Hawkins, president of the SBC’s Guidestone Financial Resources, and former board member of SBC compassion ministry, Baptist Global Response. Susie is a fan of Priscilla Shirer, and Beth Moore is a fan of Susie’s book. Susie participated in a conference with Jennifer Rothschild. Susie calls (false teacher) Ed and (female “pastor”) Lisa Young “dear friends“.

Susie retweeted her husband’s loving well-wishes to Beth Moore when she left the SBC (“And for the record she has not advocated women as senior pastors,” he defended Beth, which is hardly the point with her.) Her husband partnered with TBN to provide his book as a gift to their donors and partners (her retweets signal approval). Susie and her husband also appeared on TBN’s 2015 “Hope for the Holidays” show with heads of TBN Matt and Laurie Crouch, Joel and Victoria Osteen, Beth Moore, James and Betty Robison, New Apostolic Reformation leader Samuel and Eva Rodriguez, and John Gray (former Osteen associate “pastor” and recently revealed serial adulterer).

Susie also occasionally writes for her husband’s blog, in this article, Woman Devotional Writers of the Church touting the works of Catholic mystics. She has instructed a co-ed group in the Scriptures on at least one occasion.

Jacki C. King- Jacki is a pastor’s wife, podcaster, and speaker. Though she normally teaches women, Jacki recently came under fire for preaching the (co-ed) chapel service at Criswell College. She is on board with the “women need a seat at the table in church leadershipmovement typical of so called “narrow (anything but senior pastor) complementarianism”. And then there’s this tweet (hint: egalitarians, not “convictional complementarians” are the ones always focusing on the women of Romans 16, especially Junia).

Under Jacki’s leadership as women’s minister at her church, the women’s ministry has been a host site for IF: Gathering, attended a Jennifer Rothschild/Angie Smith conference, attended an event headlined by (Lysa TerKeurst’s) Proverbs 31 Ministries speaker Whitney Capps, and participated in a Lysa TerKeurst book study.

Jacki has declared herself to be “in [Beth Moore’s] corner” and warned pastors not to brush off women’s feelings about Beth’s departure from the SBC. It seems as though she believes Russell Moore’s recent slanderous and false allegations against Mike Stone and other conservative SBC leaders and has publicly declared that she will vote for Ed Litton (see “Kathy Litton” above) for SBC president. And indeed, if you run in the same circles I do on Twitter (doctrinally sound, actually complementarian, discerning, etc.) although she’s usually careful not to name names or be too specific in her tweets, her carping disdain for, and “correction” of biblically conservative Southern Baptists and other Christians is palpable.

My friend, Robin, attended a conference at which Jacki was the speaker. Check out some of the content of Jacki’s teaching (including the Enneagram, psychiatry, quoting false teachers, and out of context Scripture) here.

(Also, “everybody in leadership needs to get a therapist“?)

Women & Work Forum
June 15

Photo credit: Women & Work Twitter page (@womenwork_net)

Although much of the material at the Women & Work website looks reasonably biblical on the surface, the organization tips its hand with the last line of their statement of faith: “As it relates to the church, men and women are both expected to lead; however, the office of pastor is reserved for biblically qualified men.” (emphasis mine) If you’re as immersed in the pop-women’s ministry milieu as I am, you know what this means: so-called “narrow complementarianism.” In other words, women can fill any capacity or function in the church except the office of head pastor.

The Women & Work Forum event is to be an interview with Jamie Ivey conducted by Missie Branch (not included due to lack of online information) and Courtney L. Moore.

Jamie Ivey– See “Send Conference” above

Courtney L. Moore– Courtney is a pastor’s wife and the founder and president of Women & Work. As such, she is responsible for Jamie Ivey’s appearance at this year’s event and Jen Wilkin’s appearance at W&W’s 2019 event.

Courtney has taught at LifeWay Women’s YouLead conferences, so she has yoked with an organization that habitually promotes false teachers in general, and I have personal knowledge of a YouLead speaker Courtney has appeared with who is not doctrinally sound. Courtney is a fan of Jennie Allen, Beth Moore (“[Beth] loves Jesus and others no matter what is thrown at her. [Beth Moore], you are a treasure, and it was an honor to spend a few minutes with you.”), Christine Caine, and Proverbs 31 (where she apparently heard God speak to her {extra-biblical revelation} at a P31 event). Courtney was also involved in MOPS, speaking twice at MOPS events.

LifeWay Ministers’ Wives Luncheon
June 15

Photo credit: lifeway.com/en/events/

I’ve mentioned the issues with LifeWay selling materials by false teachers numerous times over the years, particularly in their women’s division. The LifeWay Ministers’ Wives Luncheon at this year’s Convention is placarded as, “An inspirational time for all ministry wives attending the Southern Baptist Convention to meet, fellowship, and worship together,” and features speaker…

Jen Wilkin

These are just a few of the problematic and unbiblical speakers who will be appearing at SBC21 events, but they highlight the pervasive problem in the SBC of lack of discernment and sound doctrine, yoking with false teachers, and women preaching to men.

Just say “Nah,” in Nashville.


Might I recommend the Founders Conference instead of the above events? Doctrinally sound speakers. Biblical teaching.