Discernment

Discernment IS Love

I’m often accused of being “unloving” for writing in a direct or firm tone against false doctrine and other unbiblical issues in the church.

I received another such accusation recently on one of my older articles, “Nine Reasons Discerning Women Are Leaving Your Church“. I thought I’d share my response to the reader with you, because it seems there’s a misunderstanding among Christian women as to the biblical definition of love. It ain’t always “sugar and spice and everything nice” y’all…

“I don’t think you have a complete understanding of the biblical definition of love. You seem to think that “love” is restricted to always being sweet and nice to people. That’s not biblical.

–Was Jesus being unloving when He cleared the temple? (Matthew 21)
–Was Jesus being unloving when He rebuked the Pharisees? (Matthew 23)
–Was Jesus being unloving when He instructed us to disfellowship unrepentant sinners from the church? (Matthew 18:15-20)
–Was Paul being unloving when he turned Hymenaeus and Alexander over to Satan so they would learn not to blaspheme? (1 Timothy 1:19-20)
–Was Paul being unloving when he anathematized anyone who preaches a false gospel? (Galatians 1:6-9)
–Was Peter being unloving when he described false teachers in 2 Peter 2?
–Was Jude being unloving when he wrote to the brothers warning them about the evils of false teachers instead of writing about the gospel?

Am I being unloving in writing this article? No. Reproof, rebuke, and biblical instruction are all part of godly love. I am demonstrating love for Christ, His Bride, and His Word by pointing out biblical error that needs to be corrected. I am demonstrating love for ignorant pastors and churches by explaining to them why their most spiritually healthy members are leaving. I am demonstrating love for the thousands of doctrinally sound Christians out there who long to attend a healthy church and can’t find one because so many churches are in error in the areas I mentioned. And, I am demonstrating love for you by helping you understand what God’s definition of love is.

Is this article loving? You bet it is.”

Additional Resources:

I Can’t Sit Down, Shut Up, and Play Nice

Discernment: What’s Love Got to Do with It?

Discernment

Amanda Bible Williams and She Reads Truth

You are seeing this article as a part of “Project Breakdown“.


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.


Amanda Bible Williams
Not Recommended

Amanda Bible Williams is co-founder and CCO (Chief Content Officer) of She Reads Truth (SRT), “a worldwide community of women who read God’s Word together every day. Founded in 2012, She Reads Truth invites women of all ages to engage Scripture through curated daily reading plans, as well as online conversation led by a vibrant community of contributing writers.” Amanda’s co-founder of SRT is CEO, Raechel Myers. Amanda and Raechel have co-authored two books and collaborated on the She Reads Truth Bible and the He Reads Truth Bible.

I first learned of Amanda and SRT a few years ago through my friend Elizabeth Prata’s excellent blog. Check out part 1 and part 2 of her article She Reads Truth, IF: Gathering, and Women Bible Teachers.

Though SRT’s “What We Believe” section boldly proclaims, “we believe God’s Word is Truth,” Amanda has disregarded the Bible’s truths about false doctrine and the biblical role of women in the church by inviting female “pastors” and false teachers such as Sharon Hodde Miller (more on Sharon here), Erin Rose, and Lisa Harper (more on Lisa here) to be SRT contributing writers.

Amanda has appeared at several of LifeWay Women’s Abundance Conferences alongside the likes of Christine Caine, Jennie Allen,  Lisa Harper, Lysa Terkeurst and Curtis Jones (Beth Moore’s son-in-law/pastor who allows her to preach on Sunday mornings) and others.

Amanda has been featured on IF: Gathering’s YouTube channel. Amanda’s and Raechel’s book, She Reads Truth, is sold on IF’s website.

On Twitter, Amanda has retweeted and/or shown public affinity for several false teachers including Beth Moore (tweet, tweet), Ann Voskamp (tweet), Eugene Peterson, and Rachel Held Evans.

In 2018, Amanda’s SRT partner, Raechel, was a featured speaker at the Inspired for Life Conference alongside an advocate for female pastors and a social justice activist. (See article on Raechel for more details.) Amanda both attended and helped promote the event on Twitter:

 

For someone with such a well known ministry, Amanda has a very small online footprint, so it was difficult to find pertinent information on her for this article. She doesn’t seem to have a blog or website separate from the SRT website (which has minimal information about her). She doesn’t post often on social media, and when she does, it’s usually about her family, which, frankly, I find charming and refreshing. But that means there’s scant information on events she speaks at or participates in and her ministry associations with others. This could be a positive sign. Perhaps we’re not seeing online evidence of her, for example, preaching to men, because she’s not. On the other hand, perhaps she is associating with or following far more false teachers than we know of but she isn’t posting about it on social media, so there’s no evidence of it. It’s simply impossible to tell.

With so little information available on Amanda, and with very little knowledge of her own theology and handling of God’s Word, I want to give her the benefit of the doubt and withhold the label of “false teacher” until such time as more evidence is available that would support that label. That being said, I believe there is enough evidence that Amanda is sorely lacking in discernment that it would not be wise to follow her, use her materials (and certainly not SRT’s materials, considering their contributors), or attend her speaking engagements.

Furthermore, consider her ties to female “pastors” and false teachers. As I said in the introduction to this article, it is reasonable to assume Amanda’s doctrine is acceptable to these female “pastors” and false teachers and that she is not teaching anything that would conflict with their doctrine. If she were, they would not associate with her. If she were, she would not associate with them.

Discernment, Guest Posts

Guest Post: Why I Left Elevation Church

If your theology pretty much matches up with mine (as outlined in the “Welcome” and “Statement of Faith” tabs) and you’d like to contribute a guest post, drop me an e-mail at MichelleLesley1@yahoo.com, and let’s chat about it.

Why I Left Elevation Church
by Name Withheld


Disclaimer:
The author’s statements about her tenure at Elevation and
what particular Elevation pastors or staff said and did should be
taken as her own personal experience and not as irrefutable fact.


As you pull up to the parking lot, you are first greeted by someone directing parking traffic decked out in all orange. In the parking lot, there is a sea of Elevation Church bumper stickers plastered on everyone’s cars. You walk up to church, and you’re then greeted by volunteer after volunteer persuading you to join their eGroup or to join a volunteer team. It almost feels like you’re walking in the shopping mall and on every side of you there are sales people bombarding you trying to get you to buy their perfumes and colognes. After you dodge them all, you’re then surrounded by all sorts of people — local people, people who traveled from a few hours away, or people who flew in from out of country to attend this particular church. As you wait in line, you see to your left a merchandise table

You finally enter the auditorium of the church, and you’re ushered into your seat, or to what it may feel like, forced into your seat. “All the way down! Move all the way down, do not leave any empty chairs!” the usher tells you, because there can’t be any gaps where you sit for camera purposes. Suddenly, the lights dim and there’s a countdown on a giant screen letting you know when church will start. If you were new to the church, it would feel like you’re at a New Years Eve party. People all around you are excited and they start to stand up and clap and dance before the countdown even finishes. The person to your right is inserting the ear plugs that the church offers as you walk into the auditorium to help with the unbearably loud noise during worship. The lights come back on and the worship team comes on stage; there’s laser lights and fog machines and for a second, you think you’re at a concert. 

After some sort of high-quality, overly produced videos, the pastor then comes on stage. He first takes about five to ten minutes trying to gauge the crowd and then work the crowd to get them pumped up for whatever he is about to butcher, oh sorry, I mean preach. He puts up 1-3 Bible verses on the screen for everyone to follow along and then amazingly enough, spends about an hour and a half convincing the crowd that his Bible twisting is true. “The reason why you’re not being blessed by God, is because you don’t have enough faith!” he tells the crowd, some of whom are wealthy, and some of whom are living paycheck to paycheck, while he is on the stage dressed from head to toe in all Gucci.

After church ends, it’s an unbelievable ordeal to exit. You’re pushed and shoved, and people are stepping on your feet as you try to find your way out of the auditorium. Oh, and you’ll most definitely spend about ten to fifteen minutes sitting in your car in the parking lot trying to leave. You pull out of the church parking lot, and congratulations, you survived a visit to Elevation.

^^^^^

I was part of Elevation Church for about six years. At the time, I thought it was the greatest church on Earth and if anyone spoke negative about it, I thought they were just bitter. It felt like I was in a relationship with Elevation Church. With any relationship, in the beginning, it was puppy love and you just always want to be around them 24/7 so you volunteer extra hours and join everything that they have and buy all of their t-shirts and CDs. Then the relationship slowly became the overly attached partner that you so desperately needed to break up with, but didn’t know how to.

I eventually became the lead photographer at one of Elevation’s campuses and even was on the photography team for their live album recording, Here As In Heaven, at the Spectrum Center Arena (formerly known as the Time Warner Cable Arena). I led a team of about forty people. The majority of them were older than me so it was challenging at times to be a leader figure when my team were twice my age. I pretty much lived at church, between meetings and special events they had going on, I was always working. And when you’re around a church for that long, you see and hear a lot of things. 

I overheard the campus pastor telling potential new staff that they had to take a bullet for the church if it ever came to that point. I heard some staff getting fired when they were asked if they were “team Elevation” to which the staff member said, “I’m team Jesus.” So they were fired for not “bleeding orange.” 

Before Steven Furtick gets on stage, the photography team at the campus that he is at immediately has to upload photos of what the crowd looks like that day so he can see how big or how small his crowd is.

Eventually, I decided to quit after what I was witnessing didn’t feel like a church to me. On top of that, I was absolutely exhausted every time I got home and was starting to lose passion for photography. 

And boy oh boy, the day I told my supervisor that I was quitting was not fun. I lost all of my friends. And I’m not being dramatic when I say that I lost all my friends. Everyone I worked with and thought were my friends shunned me and ignored all my text messages and blocked me on social media. I was a total outcast. It was a pretty lonely year. I’m not going to lie. It was rough. 

I kept praying to God to give me discernment and to open up my eyes if I’m doing something wrong, to bring clarity. And God sure did answer my prayer, in a major way. 

About four months ago, my mom came into my room to where I was and all excited she tells me, “Guess who I heard on the radio?!”. I shrug my shoulders and say, “Who?” She says, “Costi Hinn, Benny Hinn’s nephew! He was saying how everything that Benny Hinn says and does, as well as other false teachers is fake, he was essentially exposing him.” My mom and I were pretty big Benny Hinn fans. When I was younger and lived in Florida, we went to his crusade and we managed to get floor seats because we thought the closer we got to Benny Hinn, the closer we got to a healing or a miracle. I was absolutely shocked when she told me. So the millennial in me started to look him up on Twitter and I found a tweet he posted about Bethel Church in Redding, California. I was intrigued, because I was accepted to Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry (BSSM) but I ended up getting scammed seven thousand dollars that someone was supposed to give me and then I couldn’t go. Naturally, I was frustrated but I prayed to God to show me why I couldn’t go. This felt like an answered prayer. I replied to Costi’s tweet about Bethel and about two minutes later he replied to me, he gave me his email and out of the kindness of his heart, sent me his two books for free as well as an email full of information. I’m still trying to process all of it.

When I read Costi’s book, God, Greed, And The (Prosperity) Gospel, I read it so quick because I couldn’t put it down. It was three in the morning when I did finally finish it. I put the book down and just kept saying, “Wow.” I’ve been a Christian since I was three years old, and it felt like everything that I knew was one giant lie.

After that, I began to research more people and found so many good pastors and teachers that have shed a ton of light and information for me. Between what type of worship music you should and shouldn’t listen to, the type of church that you should attend, pastors you should stay away from, even down to the translation of the Bible that is good and which ones are bad. 

So what does my life look like now after I left Elevation? Well, I’m still in process mode. I keep doing my research and make sure that what I’m doing is biblically correct. I got rid of any books from false teachers that I had, got a different translation of the Bible, and deleted my old worship music playlist that was full of Elevation Worship, Hillsong Worship, and Bethel Music. I continue to pray for God to reveal to me what is the truth and little by little, I get new information.

This has most definitely been a journey of rediscovering Jesus, the true Jesus. It’s deconstructing everything that I was taught from false teachers and filling myself up with the true Gospel. And I am so grateful for God revealing to me the truth about Bethel Church before I got filled with even more deception by attending their school.

I share my story of leaving Elevation, because I want to help others who are being deceived by false teachers, like I once was, to be brought out so they can understand the true Gospel. I’ve seen – firsthand – false doctrine damage people so deep that they leave Christianity completely. When church becomes more about entertainment and theatrics, you have to ask yourself if it’s even a church. If you talk to anyone who goes to Elevation Church, you can tell that the focus is not centered on God, because the conversation always points to Steven Furtick and on his performance, not the actual word of God. 

I fully realize that not everyone is going to agree with me on this, especially those who I went with to Elevation Church. I love the people I worked with at Elevation Church, and it is because I love them that I am writing this because I want them to be brought out of deception. This has been no easy task, but it makes it all worth it to obey Christ.

Because good theology and sound doctrine matters.

Linked below¹ are resources that have helped me on this journey of finding the truth. I am forever grateful for their knowledge and for pouring into me and sharing with me the true Gospel.

An incredible documentary that shows how important it is to spread the true Gospel and how dangerous the word of faith movement is: American Gospel

Books by John MacArthur that have helped me: Strange Fire and Charismatic Chaos

Books by Costi Hinn that have helped me: God, Greed, And The (Prosperity) Gospel and Defining Deception

A Bible chart that breaks down different translations of the Bible.

How to find a good church near you: 9Marks

Video from Fighting For The Faith (Chris Rosebrough) on Steven Furtick from Elevation Church: Steven Furtick and The Danger of a Dream

Other helpful people to watch on YouTube:

Melissa Dougherty

Doreen Virtue

Mike Winger

Justin Peters and his Website.

Lindsay Davis who was an ex-Bethel student (BSSM) sharing her testimony: Ex Bethel Student Tells All: Lindsay Davis Testimony from Melissa Dougherty and Doreen Virtue

And Michelle Lesley who was kind enough to give me an opportunity to share my story.


The author of this guest post wished to remain anonymous. She is a resident of North Carolina and a former member of Elevation Church.


NOTEs FROM MICHELLE:
¹I AM NOT thoroughly FAMILIAR WITH All OF THESE RESOURCES AND DO NOT ENDORSE ANY OF THEM WHICH DEVIATE FROM SCRIPTURE OR MY THEOLOGY AS OUTLINED IN THE “WELCOME” AND “STATEMENT OF FAITH” TABS AT THE TOP OF THIS PAGE. AS WITH ANY RESOURCE, PLEASE THOROUGHLY VET THE THEOLOGY OF THESE BEFORE USING THEM.
²See also the Searching for a new church? tab at the top of this page, which includes not only the 9Marks church search engine but many others, and additional resources, as well.
Discernment

Sheila Walsh

You are seeing this article as a part of “Project Breakdown“.


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.


Sheila Walsh
Not Recommended

Sheila is a women’s Bible study and children’s book author, speaker, and singer. Formerly a co-host of The 700 Club for several years, she now co-hosts Life Today with James Robison. Life Today routinely features false teachers as guests, including Joel OsteenJoyce Meyer, Paula White, T.D. Jakes, Kim Walker-Smith (Jesus Culture), and Beth Moore, among others.

Sheila habitually yokes in ministry and fraternizes with false and problematic teachers in other venues as well. Space does not permit me to list every incidence of Sheila doing so, but the following examples are representative.

In 2014, Sheila joined Beth Moore, Christine Caine, Priscilla Shirer, Victoria Osteen, and Lisa Harper for the Unwrap the Bible conference at Joel Osteen’s Lakewood “Church.”

Sheila is a contributor at Hillsong’s web site, spoke at Hillsong’s 2015 and 2018 Colour Conference, and has preached the Sunday sermon at Hillsong, saying, “I love pastors Brian and Bobbie [Houston] so much…”.

She gave an enthusiastic Instagram recommendation of an event at which Bobbie HoustonChristine Caine, and Sarah Jakes Roberts (T.D. Jakes’ daughter) were the featured speakers.

Sheila is one of the Women of Joy stable of speakers, which also includes Lysa TerKeurst, Lisa Bevere, Margaret Feinberg, Bianca Olthoff, Chrystal Evans Hurst, Christine Caine, Lisa Harper, Jennie Allen, Angie Smith, Karen Kingsbury, and Jennifer Rothschild. Sheila regularly speaks at WOJ conferences with these speakers.

Jennifer Rothschild’s Fresh Grounded Faith conference organization also counts Sheila as one of its featured speakers alongside Lysa TerKeurst, Angie Smith, Karen Kingsbury, and Ann Voskamp.

Sheila regularly and unrepentantly preaches to men including her aforementioned Sunday sermon at Hillsong, the Sunday sermon at another Hillsong campus, the Sunday sermon at Rick Warren’s Saddleback, a pastor’s conference she mentions in this video, the Sunday sermon at James River Church (which is co-“pastored” by a woman), the Sunday Sermon at NewHope Baptist Church, the Sunday Sermons at Emmanuel CC, and the Sunday Sermon at Transformation Church (also co-“pastored” by a woman), just to cite a few examples.

Interestingly, none of these events at which Sheila is preaching the Sunday morning sermon or otherwise preaching to or teaching men/co-ed audiences was listed on the calendar of events at Sheila’s website. She only lists women’s events she’ll be speaking at. As I continue to research evangelical women speakers, I’m seeing this trending more and more. Many only list on their websites women’s events they’re speaking at, and don’t list the events where they’ll be preaching the Sunday sermon or speaking at co-ed events. It is only speculation on my part, so I’m not making accusations or assumptions, but as I keep seeing this happen, I can’t help but wonder if it is to hide the fact that they are preaching to men in order to maintain a semblance of being doctrinally sound, and to avoid reproof for this sin.

In addition to yoking with false teachers and preaching to men, I noticed a few other things while researching Sheila.

There is no clear statement of faith or gospel presentation on Sheila’s website, but the home page of her website greets the reader in bold print with GOD IS FOR YOU (which she says is “her message”). Underneath, a caption says,

“Your destiny isn’t determined by your history. No matter what you’ve gone through or where you’ve been, God is inviting you to take the next step.”

Below this caption are two clickable buttons, “About Sheila,” (which, as you might guess, links to a page with Sheila’s bio), and “Start Again.”

“God is for you!”, the subsequent caption, and “start again” might cause the reader to think that clicking the “Start Again” button will lead to a page outlining the plan of salvation, but it doesn’t. It links to the About page of Sheila’s site which gives eight steps to…I’m not sure what. It is definitely not the gospel. Nothing is mentioned about sin, repentance, faith in Christ for salvation, the cross, the resurrection, or anything else you might expect in a gospel presentation. Also, there isn’t a single Scripture cited.

I honestly don’t understand if this is supposed to be aimed at lost people or saved people (Maybe she’s addressing backslidden Christians? I can’t tell.), but either way, it’s not about what Christ did to save us or how He sanctifies us, it’s a works-righteousness litany of all the things you have to do to pull yourself up by your bootstraps and “start again” (whatever that means). And it lists all these things you need to do (“we have to change the way we think,” “step out in faith,” “rise above disappointment,” etc.) but it doesn’t explain how to do them. There’s no mention of repentance, placing your faith in Christ for salvation, studying your Bible, prayer, or joining with a doctrinally sound local church. She mentions “the hope we have in Him” but doesn’t explain what that hope is or how to get it, which, in a sad irony, leaves the reader hopeless.

What’s more, there is Christian-ish vernacular that lost people are not going to understand: “Walk with Him in the garden,” “Christ redeems every drop of our suffering,” “find your hiding place under the shelter of God’s wings”…I’m not sure I even totally understand what she means by all of these things.

And the entire “God is for you,” posture of Sheila’s message, writing, and speaking give the sense that God’s main function is to be your magic Band-Aid to make all your owies go away. Certainly, God loves us, helps us, comforts us, and wants what’s best for us, but God isn’t for us – to serve our every desire and salve our every hurt. We were made for Him – to glorify, honor, and serve Him.

Sheila’s blog posts – though they are blog posts not Bible studies – reflect the current trend in women’s “Bible” study: personal stories from the author’s life with a few Bible verses sprinkled in here and there. Perhaps most of the Bible study books Sheila writes are in a different format and focus on the proper exegesis of Scripture (as I said, these are blog posts, not Bible studies), but if she writes all of her Bible studies in the same way and style in which she writes her blog posts, they should be avoided in favor of studying the actual Bible.

I have not had the opportunity to read all Sheila has written, but if the introduction and first chapter of her most recent book, It’s Okay Not to Be Okaywhich is marketed as a “Bible study,” are indicative of the way she writes these studies, the style is, indeed, very similar to her blog posts: personal stories with a few Bible verses (some from the completely unreliable paraphrase The Message) sprinkled in. (And the endorsement page of this book reads like a laundry list of contemporary false and problematic teachers such as: Lisa Bevere, Ann Voskamp, Christine Caine, Jennie Allen, Lisa Harper, Roma Downey, Bobbie Houston, and Karen Kingsbury.)

Furthermore, echoing her website’s ambiguous eight steps to…something, the first part of It’s Okay seems to muddle the line between saved and unsaved, sinner and saint. The thrust of this opening material and the theme of the book seem to be: “God’s love for you isn’t dependent on your striving for perfect behavior,” which is absolutely true, and something many Christian women need to grasp. However, in the midst of this “it’s okay to stop striving for perfection and rest in God’s love for you” talk, she refers back to the Fall:

The story continues in verse 10, when God asks Adam where he is: “He replied, ‘I heard you walking in the garden, so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked.'”

There you have it!
Shame.
Fear.
Covering up.
Hiding.
…and we’ve been doing it ever since.¹

While a Christian striving for perfection rooted in fear of losing God’s love and a lost person’s willful disobedience may both be displeasing to God, they are not the same thing and should not be conflated in this way. It is right and good for a sinner to feel shame and guilt for rebelling against God, because she is guilty, she is covered with shame, until she repents and trusts Christ as Savior. But this is a completely different animal from someone who has already had the guilt and shame of all of her sin (including any lack of trust in God’s love for her) washed away by the blood of Christ, and who is striving to please Him, albeit imperfectly. It is concerning that Sheila does not clearly differentiate between the two.

Southern Baptists should be aware that, despite the fact that Sheila unrepentantly preaches to men, yokes with false teachers, and seems to be somewhat ambiguous on the gospel, LifeWay does carry her materials.

Sheila is a charming woman who lavishes great passion and love on her audiences, but, unfortunately, I cannot recommend her to you as a biblically trustworthy teacher you should follow.


¹From chapter 1 of It’s Okay Not to Be Okay. Taken from Amazon’s free Kindle excerpt of the book, which has no page numbers. This quote looks to be a page or two before the end of the chapter.
Discernment

Jennifer Rothschild

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.


Jennifer Rothschild
Not Recommended

Jennifer is “an author, speaker, Bible study teacher, wife and Mom. And, I happen to be blind.”

Jennifer habitually yokes with false teachers. She calls Beth Moore a “dear friend,” and has “teamed up with [Beth]…to lead national women’s conferences.” Beth wrote the foreword to Jennifer’s book, Lessons Learned in the Dark and endorsed Jennifer’s bookMe, Myself, and Lies on her own blog.

Jennifer’s conference ministry, Fresh Grounded Faith, features false and problematic teachers such as Lysa TerKeurst, Ann Voskamp, Liz Curtis Higgs, Karen Kingsbury, Angie Smith, and Sheila Walsh as regular speakers.

Among the other connections and yokings Jennifer has with these teachers (and others), which are too numerous to list…

Lysa TerKeurst has endorsed at least two of Jennifer’s books, Missing Pieces and God is Just Not Fair. Jennifer has been featured on Lysa’s Proverbs 31 website multiple times, including featuring her book Psalm 23: The Shepherd with Me as an online study.

Ann Voskamp (whom Jennifer calls a “dear, dear friend in the introduction to a guest post Ann wrote for Jennifer’s blog) also endorsed Jennifer’s book, God is Just Not Fair, has appeared on Jennifer’s podcast, and is featured on Jennifer’s website multiple times (likewise Sheila Walsh).

Jennifer was a contributing author to the study, The Faithful, alongside Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, Kelly Minter, and Lisa Harper.

Jennifer is scheduled to appear with Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, Kelly Minter, and others at a 2020 LifeWay Women Live event.

Though the general posture of Jennifer’s teaching, conferences, and materials is geared toward women, Jennifer has no problem violating Scripture by preaching to men at her speaking engagements. Her website says she “speaks 25-30 times per year to groups – mostly women.”

And Jennifer’s Fresh Grounded Faith website clearly says on the FAQ page:

What if my husband or son wants to attend with me?
This is a women’s event and all of the facilities are structured to cater to women. On occasion, you’ll see a few men in the audience and that’s okay with us.

Karrie, who runs the instant chat feature on Jennifer’s website confirmed this when I asked about it: “We definitely have had men attend with their wives etc. We have no problem with that. As long as they know it is geared towards women. We even have men on the platform sharing in worship and in ministry.”

The way both of these responses are worded and presented seems to indicate that women preaching to men as a violation of Scripture is not even a factor to consider for Jennifer and her staff when it comes to whether or not men should attend Jennifer’s conferences. They aren’t twisting Scripture to defend allowing men to attend, it feels more like they don’t know Scripture prohibits women from preaching to men. The answer they have presented gives the sense of, “There may not be a men’s restroom easily available, and men might not like this conference because the swag and the content of the teaching will be pink and girly, but as long as they’re aware of those things and they still want to come, they’re welcome!”. This is troubling because, if Jennifer and her staff firmly stood behind Scripture on this issue, it would be very easy for the FAQ page and Karrie to simply say something like, “In compliance with Scripture, Jennifer does not teach men. Therefore, her conferences are restricted to women only.” But they don’t even make that small effort.

In addition to writing and speaking, Jennifer also runs a ministry to women in leadership, WomensMinistry.net, which, commendably, is geared toward women who lead women’s ministries in their churches (rather than toward women who unbiblically assume the position of pastor, elder, etc.). Most of the (free) information on the site seems to be practical help and tips for leading a women’s ministry, which, of course, is not out of line with Scripture. However, I did notice two things which gave me pause.

First, while the vast majority of the wording on the site led me to believe this ministry is about equipping women who lead women’s ministries, there were a few sentences sprinkled across the site that didn’t seem to make sense if this is all strictly about women’s ministry:

“If you are a woman in ministry leadership, including women’s ministry…” (What forms of “ministry leadership” are included besides women’s ministry?)

“[If] Your heart’s desire is to: See women, men and children come to know the Lord…Connect with fellow women’s ministry leaders and women in ministry.” (What does men coming to know the Lord have to do with women’s ministry? What does “women in ministry” mean, since she has differentiated it from “fellow women’s ministry leaders”?)

I don’t want to draw any definitive conclusions from these few statements. Perhaps it was just a poor choice of wording. Maybe “including women’s ministry” and “women in ministry” is referring to women who teach children or a work in a parachurch pro-life ministry or something like that. Maybe “see…men…come to know the Lord” means that leading women well will enable wives to share the gospel with their unsaved husbands at home. I don’t know. I just find it confusing and unclear, especially since Jennifer has no problem with men attending her conferences to be taught by her and other women.

Of greater concern than these examples of (hopefully) poor wording, is the Prayer Journal offered as a downloadable free resource. The text of the journal is based on the usual out of context misunderstanding of Psalm 46:10 (“Be still and know that I am God.” Indeed, many of the Scriptures in the journal are taken out of context and misunderstood.) and goes on to teach “listening prayer,” a form of the unbiblical practice of contemplative prayer:

“He wanted me to ‘Be Still’. He didn’t want me to just have a prayer time with Him where I was doing all of the talking. He wanted to have a conversation with me. He wanted me to “listen” to what He had to say.” p.3

Though the author does say, “I am not talking about an audible voice from the Lord, but a gentle whisper, or a still, small voice that you hear within your heart.” (p.3- this allusion to God’s “still small voice” is an out of context misunderstanding of 1 Kings 19:12), she includes in the journal a long section entitled A Guide to Listening to God (p. 17-18) with verbiage that completely contradicts her own statement:

…God continues to speak to me. Since that first time I heard God’s voice…It has been important when I talk to God that I listen as He speaks to me. It is a two way conversation…Prayer is a dialogue with God, not a monologue.

This section also includes quotes from Priscilla Shirer and Henry Blackaby.

In the section “Four ways to measure if God is speaking” only the first could be considered biblical (and only if you consider extra-biblical revelation to be a doctrinally sound Christian practice, which it is not). The others are completely subjective and feelings-based:
1. Does what you hear align with God’s word?
2. Confirmation is received through a worship service or Bible study.
3. A Christian friend listens, prays for you, and agrees with what God might be saying.
4. Personal experience, a “God Moment”.

Later in the journal, in one suggested prayer for the lost, the author presumptuously speaks for God, providing His “answer” to the prayer:

“‘Lord, I am overwhelmed with memorizing Bible verses to share with a lost person.’ (God’s reply) ‘Just tell them my words of John 3:16. Love, God .’” p.25

Jennifer may not have written the prayer journal herself, but offering it as a resource from her ministry indicates that she has read it, approves of it, and believes it will be helpful to the people who receive and use it.

One of my readers, Holly, commented on Jennifer’s study Hosea: Unfailing Love Changes Everything:

I picked up her Hosea study to do with two dear sisters in Christ. After one day of us starting, we were texting each other about unbiblical teachings in it.

The book came across as all God can do is love, He doesn’t have a choice, and weaving US into the story of Hosea and Gomer. We quit the study, and sent our books back to Amazon. Blessed are we, they gave us a refund.

The contemplative prayer is just like Lysa [TerKeurst] and Priscilla [Shirer].

Jennifer seems like a lovely person who has admirably overcome the challenges in her life and has a genuine desire for women to know and grow in the Lord, but with the unbiblical ministry relationships and theologies she holds, I cannot recommend her teaching, conferences, or materials to you.