False Teachers

6 Thoughts on Responding to the Death of a False Teacher

Rachel Held Evans died a couple of weeks ago. Myles Munroe, Paul Crouch, Jan Crouch, Tammy Faye Bakker, and Oral Roberts within the last several years. Eventually, Joel Osteen, Beth Moore, Andy Stanley, Joyce Meyer, Kenneth Copeland, Bill Johnson, and Priscilla Shirer will die.

Death comes for us all, including false teachers and heretics.

And how do we find out, and express our feelings about, the deaths of evangelical celebrities? It used to be via the newspaper and around the water cooler. Now it’s on social media.

There are three typical social media responses when a false teacher dies: Her fans laud her and turn her into a virtual saint. A few who claim to be Christians dance on her grave in celebration. And doctrinally sound Christians are kind of left groping for how to respond, biblically. There’s a feeling of wanting to have compassion for the family who has lost a loved one while not appearing to endorse or approve of the deceased’s false teaching and sin merely because she has died.

So how can we respond biblically to the death of a false teacher?

1.
Distinguish the Biblical Response
from the Cultural Response

“Don’t speak ill of the dead.” Where is this idea taught in Scripture? I can’t find it anywhere, can you? Does that mean we should speak ill of the dead? Of course not, because we don’t find a command to do that in Scripture either. I’m just trying to point out that a lot of the notions we have about death and other issues in life don’t come from the Bible, they come from our culture, etiquette, tradition, etc. If we truly want to respond to a false teacher’s death – or do anything else, really – in a biblical way, we need to be able to separate what the Bible tells us to do from what culture and society tell us is the right thing to do. In all aspects of life, that ability has never been more crucial than it is now.

2.
To Respond or Not to Respond; That Is the Question

There’s absolutely no biblical requirement for anyone to proffer an unsolicited public comment on the death of a false teacher. Or anyone else for that matter. Other than mentioning her name in this article, I have not publicly commented on the death of Rachel Held Evans for several reasons, though I found out about her passing shortly after it happened. My friends Gabe and Elizabeth did decide to comment on her death, and, in my opinion, both did a lovely job. Commenting or deciding not to comment can both be perfectly biblical.

The only time it’s really incumbent upon a Christian to speak to the issue of a false teacher’s death is when someone you know asks you about it directly. And even then, if the person seems to be overwrought with emotion, it might be wisest to simply postpone your comment until after a “cooling off” period has taken place.

3.
How to Respond

Briefly. Because the longer your comment, the greater chance you will either slip into eulogizing the false teacher or, conversely, making unnecessarily inflammatory remarks that will only serve to stir the ire of her family and followers and will make you look like a jerk.

Gently. Because even the gentlest remark is going to pour salt into the wound of someone who’s grieving if you’re not outright praising the deceased. And though “Don’t speak ill of the dead” isn’t a biblical concept, if you’re addressing the followers of a false teacher, you’re probably not dealing with people who are going to split that biblical/cultural hair. If they were overly concerned about distinguishing biblical concepts from worldly concepts, they wouldn’t be following a false teacher in the first place. Be sensitive to their cultural mores of gentle speech in this instance or you surely won’t get a hearing.

Non-speculatively. Because you do not have God’s omniscience, and speculation can serve no helpful purpose. Is it possible God ended the false teacher’s life as judgment for her unbiblical teachings? Yes. It is also possible He ended her life for a completely different reason known only to Him. Is it likely she will be spending an eternity in Hell? Yes. But unless you were at her bedside listening to her blaspheme the name of the Lord with her final breath, you don’t know that for certain.

Evangelistically. Because the greatest thing that could come out of the false teacher’s death, or anyone’s really, is for someone whose ultimate hope was in the hopelessness of false doctrine to find her ultimate hope in Christ.

4.
Prepare for Backlash

One of the reasons I intentionally chose not to comment on Rachel Held Evans’ death is that I knew I would receive tons of vitriolic, possibly even threatening, backlash from her disciples if I said anything about Rachel that wasn’t pure praise of her. At that moment in my week, due to various things going on in my life, I had neither the time nor the spiritual strength to deal with an onslaught like that. It’s not that I was afraid or didn’t know how to answer the barbs I’m sure I would have received, it’s just that it would have been a distraction from other things that were a higher priority in my life than responding to strangers about the death of another stranger.

If you choose to make a non-laudatory statement about the death of a false teacher, even if it’s gentle, compassionate, completely biblical, and annotated with Scripture, you must be prepared to be attacked by her followers. No matter how much the teacher claimed to be a Christian or how much her followers claim she helped them grow in the Lord, the fact of the matter is that the overwhelming majority of people who steadfastly follow, love, and defend false teachers over a long period of time are very likely not saved and will respond to your biblical remarks in the angry, emotional, often abusive way that can be characteristic of lost people.

This, in fact, happened to a Facebook friend of mine who has a growing platform. She made just such a gentle, compassionate, completely biblical statement on Facebook about Rachel Held Evans’ death. I would link to it except that she had to delete the statement because some of Rachel’s followers found pictures my friend had posted of her child and proceeded to make vile remarks and threats against her child.

This is the kind of thing you can expect if you comment with anything but praise for the deceased, so keep it in mind when you’re deciding whether or not to say anything.

5.
Weep

Romans 12:15b tells us to “weep with those who weep.” It is absolutely good and kind to be compassionate toward someone – anyone – who has lost a loved one, whether it’s your brother or sister in Christ, the widow of your atheist nephew, or even the family of a false teacher. Take a look at what Jesus said in Matthew 5:43-45:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”

Christians showing compassion to the “evil” and the “unjust” is part of God’s common grace to the world. It is an opportunity to reflect the kindness of God that led us to repentance.

But another reason to be grieved by the death of a false teacher is that she is most likely beginning her eternity of death in Hell. Because people who continually and unrepentantly harden their hearts against God’s Word and godly rebuke and correction are displaying the fruit of an unsaved soul. And that is no reason to celebrate. As Ezekiel tells us:

Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?
Ezekiel 18:23

God does not giddily damn people. His heart is for all to come to repentance and faith in Christ. And that should be our heart as well. Could it be that, in His infinite mercy and grace, God gave that false teacher a final opportunity to repent and trust Him moments before her death? It could, and that is what we should hope for, not only for the false teacher and her eternity, but for the glory it brings to God every time He washes a sinner in the blood of Christ.

6.
Rejoice

But while we demonstrate compassion for the family and grieve the likely condemnation of the false teacher, there is also a righteous, Kingdom-focused, and biblical reason to rejoice: one more voice of blasphemy, lies, and deception has been silenced. At least in the sphere of influence of that particular teacher, no one will be led astray from Christ any longer.

But the wicked will perish;
the enemies of the Lord are like the glory of the pastures;
they vanish—like smoke they vanish away.
Psalm 37:20

God shall arise, his enemies shall be scattered;
and those who hate him shall flee before him!
Psalm 68:1

Will another false teacher step up to take her place? Almost certainly. Where there are those who clamor to have their itching ears scratched, a wicked confidence man will arise to peddle his ungodly snake oil. But for today, for a short time, perhaps, no wares will be sold to this crowd of customers. And that is reason enough to rejoice.

 

Commenting on the death of a false teacher can be a tricky needle to thread. When we choose to do so, let us exercise the common grace of compassion, reflect the kindness of a merciful God, and always be ready to give a reason for the hope that lies within us with gentleness and respect.


Additional Resources

Can a False Teacher be a Christian?

False Teachers

Karen Kingsbury

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.


Karen Kingsbury
Not Recommended

Karen Kingsbury is in a bit of a different category when it comes to her works of fiction. I asked about her in a group of theologically sound women I’m a member of. Here’s what they said:

“Her books are very ‘evanjellyfish’. Lots of personal words from God. Jeremiah 29:11 is quoted and misapplied several times per book. Ask Jesus into your heart. All the usual stuff.”

“There are absolutely problems with KK’s theology. Her latest series is about angels sent by God to earth to direct the lives of four chosen people and keep them alive so that one of the couples can bear a child named Dallas Garner who will turn the hearts of people back to God.”

“I actually saw The Bridge Part 1 and 2 on Hallmark that is based on her books. I would no way look to her for theology, but the movies were decent for a Christmas feel good movie. But that’s as far as I’d ever go with her stuff.”

“I really enjoyed the Baxter family series. As fiction. Not for theology. I’m pretty sure I rolled my eyes quite a bit at those parts. But – it’s fiction. I don’t hold fiction to the same standard that I would a theological book.”

“The angels series is way out there and could lead to very bad theology. If you read those books, you might want to compare it with a study of angels in Scripture.”

I would echo the respondent who said she does not hold fiction to the same level of doctrinal purity as non-fiction Bible studies, Christian living, or theology books. If you are a new Christian or not very knowledgeable of the Bible, it would probably be a good idea for to stay away from Karen Kingsbury books until you’re more mature in Christ and can spot and reject the theological problems in the books.

That being said, though Karen is mainly still a fiction author, she has been branching out a bit in recent years.

Karen has written several “Bible” studies, including The Family of Jesus and The Friends of JesusIn this promo article for The Family of Jesus Karen explains:

“The Family of Jesus allows me to take a fictitious look at Joseph, Zechariah, John the Baptist, Elizabeth, James, and Mary in stories anchored by Scripture and cultural relevance – but with storytelling between those points. These stories will make you feel for the precious family members of Jesus. They will make you feel connected to Him in a way you may not have felt before.

So, this is a “Bible” study in which you will be studying fictitious stories about Jesus’ family members. Because the Bible itself isn’t good enough to make you feel connected to Jesus. (Lots of emphasis on feelings, of course.)

Karen has also begun speaking at Christian conferences. If she were only speaking on topics such as how to be a good fiction writer, or finding a publisher, or things like that which have little to do with theology, it wouldn’t be much of an issue. However it appears that she is speaking on theological topics at least sometimes as well as speaking before co-ed audiences.

Karen is one of the main session speakers at the 2019 North Carolina Baptist Missions Conference. The topic of her talk is not listed, but missions is a biblical topic, and both the promo video and the conference brochure clearly indicate that she will be speaking to a co-ed audience.

Karen will be speaking at three different Women of Joy events in 2019. As I’ve noted in other articles, WoJ frequently employs false teachers such as Christine Caine, Sheila Walsh, and Jennie Allen at these events, and indeed, Karen will be speaking with Sheila at one of her WoJ events and Jennie at another.

Mixing fiction with Bible study and partnering with false teachers are both dangerous and unbiblical.

False Teachers

Lisa Harper

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.


Lisa Harper
Not Recommended

Though she normally speaks at women’s events, Lisa does, on occasion, preach to audiences containing men, as we can see her doing at Elevation Church (which she says in the video she “loves” and “watches all the time” 4:16) pastored by false teacher Steven Furtick and his wife, Holly (both of whom Lisa says she “deeply respects” 4:22). Lisa has also preached the Sunday morning sermon (men in the audience) at Cross Point Church. You can listen to a discerning analysis of this sermon from Chris Rosebrough here. She makes several biblical errors, including extra-biblical revelation (“God told me”). And, Lisa recently preached the Sunday morning sermon at a branch of the heretical Hillsong franchise.

Lisa is a contributing writer at Proverbs 31. She has partnered with Christine Caine, Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, Lisa Bevere, and Victoria Osteen in at least one conference at Joel Osteen’s Lakewood. Lisa is also connected to IF: Gathering. She is a longtime friend of Jennie Allen, and has produced materials for IF: Equip. Lisa considers Sheila Walsh a friend.

Lisa spoke at Joyce Meyer’s 2018 women’s conference alongside false teachers Priscilla Shirer and Sarah Jakes Roberts (daughter of T.D. Jakes).

Lisa joined with faith healing “apostle” of the New Apostolic Reformation, Todd White, as well as false teachers Christine Caine, Priscilla Shirer and “Pastor” Debbie Morris to speak at the 2018 Pink Impact conference.

Lisa was a featured speaker at Christine Caine’s Propel Women conference in 2016 along with Joyce Meyer, Bianca Olthoff, Beth Moore, Lisa BeverePriscilla Shirer, and Lysa TerKeurst.

Unfortunately, it would be impossible to list all of the false teachers Lisa has partnered with. The list is long, and Lisa appears to have very little discernment or knowledge of the Scriptures that prohibit her from doing this.

I have written a critique of the first lesson and teaching video of Lisa’s study Job: A Story of Unlikely Joy. Assuming this is a representative sample of her teaching and writing, I would strongly caution women against using Lisa’s materials or attending her events. Lisa’s “teaching” is riddled with biblical errors and consists mainly of jokes and personal stories rather than careful exegesis of Scripture. The study revolves around the participant’s feelings, preferences, and personal opinions rather than delving into God’s Word, and is decidedly narcissistic.

False Teachers

Jennifer Kennedy Dean

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 Kennedy Dean
Not Recommended

Jennifer’s calendar of events includes a column titled “Women Only?” which implies that she does teach men (at this time she has four co-ed events listed, though the exact nature of her involvement is unclear at some of them). An April 17, 2016 Facebook post also mentions she will be speaking to inmates at a men’s prison who are using one of her book studies.

Jennifer’s web site features endorsements by Lysa TerKeurst and Beth Moore. Jennifer has had Priscilla Shirer as a guest on her radio show. Jennifer is a keynote speaker at the 2019 Global Media Summit, which will be hosted by Paul Crouch, Jr. and his wife Brenda. If the name Paul Crouch sounds familiar to you, it’s because Paul is the son of the late Paul and Jan Crouch, founders of Trinity Broadcasting Network. Paul Jr. is still extensively involved with TBN.

Some of Jennifer’s wording in quotes from her books and book descriptions give me pause because they sound similar to some of the phraseology false teachers use. However, I want to stress that I did not find any quotes in my quick check of Jennifer that seemed overtly unbiblical. She does favorably quote The Message and does not seem to understand that it is a paraphrase, not a translation, which does concern me since she is a Bible study author. I would need to examine Jennifer’s books and teaching more closely to get a better grip on where she’s coming from doctrinally, but the aforementioned problems of teaching men and associating with false teachers are enough for me not to recommend her.

Jennifer died unexpectedly of a heart attack on June 12, 2019.

Celebrity Pastors, Discernment, False Teachers, Word of Faith Movement

Throwback Thursday ~ Of Mega-Blogs and Molotov Cocktails

Originally published January 30, 2014megablogs molotov

I Look Down on Young Women With Husbands and Kids, and I’m Not screaming-womanSorry, screamed the headline. Quite an attention grabber. It certainly grabbed mine. So, of course, I read the article.

It was brash. Extremist. Rude. Rather one dimensional and completely devoid of nuance. And it made me mad, too, since I used to be a young woman with a husband and kids. (“Used to be,” as in, I still have the husband and kids and I’m still a woman, but “young” would be a stretch at this point.)

I was all set to write a blog post in response about the value of wifing, mothering, and working outside the home. You know, whatever God has called you to. So as prep for my article, I read the article again. And again.

And, like a toddler yanking at the hem of my skirt to get my attention, an epiphany pushed and shoved its way into my consciousness.

It wasn’t real.

Or maybe I should say: I suspect it wasn’t 100% sincere.

Have you ever visited a mega-blog like Buzzfeed or Mashable? They churn out tons of cheap content every day, glasscandy-532959which means lots of hits on their web sites and lots of posts that go viral, which means lots of money from advertisers. (Nothing wrong with that, but it’s usually not terribly deep stuff. Sometimes people want a little mind candy, and that’s OK.)

Guess what? Lots of people want a piece of that pie and it’s easier to copycat than to innovate, so there are lots of other upstarts out there trying to become the next mega-blog. Like Thought Catalog, which published the aforementioned article on young women with husbands and kids.

As they say, there’s no such thing as bad publicity, and in a PR move that would make even Miley Cyrus chartreuse with envy, Thought Catalog threw out a Molotov cocktail of an article, stood back, and watched the crowd gather. Nearly a quarter of a million shares on Facebook. Almost 2000 re-tweets. Over 11,000 comments. From a PR standpoint, there’s pretty much no choice but to admire them.

Is Amy Glass, the author of the article, a real person? Maybe she is, or maybe it’s a pseudonym for someone who works for Thought Catalog as a content writer. If she’s a real person, are these her genuine thoughts and feelings, or did she throw in a hearty dose of hyperbole to push her readers into clicking, tweeting, sharing, pingback-ing, and writing response articles?

I don’t know.

There’s a lot of deception going on out there these days (I’m not saying Thought Catalog is being deceptive. Honestly, I haven’t poked around over there enough to know.) and it’s not just “out there.” It’s inside the walls of the church, as well.

joel_osteen-false_prophetThere are plenty of “Buzzfeed” pastors, leaders, and Christian authors who are throwing out cheap content and bombshells…

…2014 is going to be the year God turns everything around for you!
…Just say what you want! If you can say it, you can have it!
…God wants you to achieve all your dreams, so reach for the stars!

Joyce-MeyerThe glass breaks, the flames fly, and the crowd gathers. Their churches are overflowing with people. Their books become best sellers. They’re invited to speak at all the big conferences. And when the little guys start copying them and their methods, they know they’ve arrived.

But are they telling you the truth? And if you’re one of their devotees, how do you know whether or not they’re telling you the truth? Do you even want to know, or are you just happy with being entertained or being told what you want to hear?

There’s a way to find out. Get your Bible out and study it. Don’t just give it a surface reading– do the work and dig. Use the brain God gave you and pursue the knowledge of His word. Ask Him to open your eyes to understand the truth of Scripture. Love God with your mind, not just your emotions. Don’t be deceived.

Because they hated knowledge
and did not choose the fear of the Lord,
would have none of my counsel
and despised all my reproof,
therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way,
and have their fill of their own devices.
For the simple are killed by their turning away,
and the complacency of fools destroys them;
but whoever listens to me will dwell secure
and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.
Proverbs 1:29-33