Discernment, False Doctrine

A Naked Emperor in the Southern Baptist Convention

I’m taking a short summer break this week. I hope you’ll enjoy this article from the archives. The annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention is also taking place this week. Will you please pray that God will bring conviction of sin, repentance, and obedience to God’s Word?


Originally published April 6, 2018

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

Once upon an 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, False Doctrine

A Naked Emperor in the Southern Baptist Convention

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

Once upon an 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

Throwback Thursday ~ Disney, Dalai, or Divangelista?

Originally published February 26, 2016.

disney dalai divangelista1Social media and the internet are a gold mine for inspirational quotes, and today’s most popular divangelistas post a lot of them. But, does inspirational always equal biblical? Shouldn’t you be able to tell the difference between a line from a Disney movie, a platitude from the Dalai Lama, and biblical truth from a Christian leader? In homage to Tim Challies’ Joel Osteen or Fortune Cookie? I give you Disney, Dalai, or Divangelista?. Try to guess who said it, then click on the link below the quote to see if you were right.

1. All major religious traditions carry basically the same message, that is love, compassion and forgiveness. The important thing is they should be part of our daily lives.

Disney, Dalai, or Divangelista?

2. Compassion naturally creates a positive atmosphere, and as a result you feel peaceful and content.

Disney, Dalai, or Divangelista?

3. Venture outside your comfort zone. The rewards are worth it.

Disney, Dalai, or Divangelista?

4. Patience to wait does not come from suffering long for what we lack but from sitting long in what we have.

Disney, Dalai, or Divangelista?

5. Today is a new day, and every day you can be one step closer to conquering your fears!

Disney, Dalai, or Divangelista?

6. You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.

Disney, Dalai, or Divangelista?

7. In our struggle for freedom, truth is the only weapon we possess.

Disney, Dalai, or Divangelista?

8. In every situation, in every interaction, in every day, be a noticer of the good.

Disney, Dalai, or Divangelista?

9.  All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.

Disney, Dalai, or Divangelista?

10. When we stop fearing failure, we start being artists.

Disney, Dalai, or Divangelista?

11. Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions.

Disney, Dalai, or Divangelista?

12. Our fate lives within us. You only have to be brave enough to see it.

Disney, Dalai, or Divangelista?

13. You must not let anyone define your limits because of where you come from. Your only limit is your soul.

Disney, Dalai, or Divangelista?

14. If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.

Disney, Dalai, or Divangelista?

15. It is useless to compare yourself to someone else. That person has a completely different path to follow.

Disney, Dalai, or Divangelista?


What was your score?
0-3:
You spend waaaay too much time reading your Bible and listening to sermon podcasts to keep up with the latest fluff from divangelistas or to get out and see a movie. The Dalai Lama? Is that the Thursday special at that Asian restaurant down the street?

4-10:
Cut back on the “inspirational” Pinterest boards and trade out your kids’ DVD of Frozen for an Awana CD. Read some books by the old dead guys like Spurgeon or Ryle, and learn how different (and how much better) Christian doctrine is from Buddhism.

11-15:
Would you consider yourself a good person?
(I kid! I kid! You probably just have a photographic memory!)

Discernment, False Teachers, Mailbag

The Mailbag: Do you recommend these teachers/authors? Volume 3

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

mailbag

Volume 1     Volume 2

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. Below are some others I’ve been asked about recently, so I’ve done a quick check (this is brief research, not exhaustive) on each of them.

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 the women and ministries listed below and have not had much of an opportunity to examine their writings or hear them speak, so most of the “quick checking” I did involved 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).

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).

Jill Briscoe- Not recommended. “Jill has written more than 40 books, traveled on every continent teaching and encouraging, served on the boards of Christianity Today and World Relief, and now acts as Executive Editor of a magazine for women called Just Between Us. Jill can be heard regularly on the worldwide media ministry called Telling the Truth.”

When I began my research of Jill a few months ago, there was a “live chat” feature on her web site, Telling the Truth, and I had a lengthy exchange with a kind and polite representative of the ministry named Elizabeth who answered several questions for me. A couple of brief excerpts from our chat:

Jill is on the boards of Christianity Today and World Relief, and she is an executive editor of the women’s ministry “Just Between Us,” – so her doctrine would most likely line up with much of the doctrine of those organizations.

Christianity Today is such an “anything goes” theological train wreck that it’s often derisively dubbed Christianity Astray. I’m not saying Jill agrees with every article they publish, but, word to the wise, don’t ever tell people you’re trying to convince you’re doctrinally sound that your doctrine lines up with Christianity Today. Here’s the closest thing I could find to a statement of faith for World Relief. There is zero mention of the gospel or evangelism, but can you count how many times the word (social) “justice” is used? Just Between Us has a brief, if generic, statement of faith. What’s there (which is not much) is doctrinally sound, but a quick look at JBU’s Facebook page tells another story. Neither Lisa Harper nor Proverbs 31/Lysa TerKeurst are doctrinally sound, and we also learn that Jill will be a featured speaker at IF:Gathering’s IF:Lead conference.

Screenshot: 9/22/17

Some additional insight into Jill’s theology can be found in this excerpt from her book, God’s Front Door. Jill “writes several short dialogues with the Father” (in a “Jesus Calling-ish” style) to help readers cope with life issues large and small. It is unclear whether or not she also directs the reader to Scripture for help in dealing with life’s problems, but that is where Christians should find guidance, not in someone’s fictionalized dialogues with God.

[Jill] does speak to audiences which include men, though it is under the authority of the leadership of those churches and groups, and also under the authority of her husband, Stuart.

Elizabeth also e-mailed me a copy of the “form letter” e-mail Stuart sends out when questioned about Jill preaching to men. It’s too long to reprint here, but basically his stance is that 1 Timothy 2:12 was a prohibition that applied only to the theologically ignorant women of Paul’s day and is no longer applicable. In addition to that error, the Bible nowhere says women may preach to men if they’re doing so “under their husband’s/a pastor’s/a church’s authority”.

Finally, Jill spoke at 2017’s IF:Gathering alongside false teachers Jennie Allen, Rebekah Lyons, Shauna Niequist, Bianca Olthoff (below), Lysa TerKeurst, and Ann Voskamp, among others.

Lauren Chandler- Not recommended. Lauren’s primary claim to fame is that she is married to Matt Chandler, pastor of The Village Church, author, and speaker. Lauren is an author, conference speaker, singer and songwriter, and sometimes leads worship at TVC. Because her speaking engagements are infrequent and she has only authored one book, information on her doctrine and teaching are sparse. I have no reason to believe her doctrine deviates significantly from Matt’s, which could be characterized as generally doctrinally sound Reformed Charismatic. I also have no reason to believe she preaches to men, as all of her speaking events I’ve been able to locate have either been women’s events or marriage conferences with her husband.

The reason I would not recommend you follow Lauren Chandler is her lack of discernment in partnering with and being influenced by false teachers. As worship leader at TVC, Lauren has selected music by Bethel and Israel Houghton (Joel Osteen’s former worship leader). She has guest blogged for Priscilla ShirerHere, she publicly declares her desire to meet Christine Caine, which is something she will be able to cross off her bucket list later this week when she appears alongside her (as well as false teachers Ann Voskamp, Bianca Olthoff {below}, Jennie Allen, Rebekah Lyons, and female “pastor” Jeanne Stevens) at IF: Gathering 2018. In fact, Lauren has become an annual fixture at IF:Gathering (2013-2017).

In addition to appearing with Ann Voskamp at various IF: Gatherings, Lauren proudly appeared with her (as well as Rebekah Lyons and another female “pastor”) at this 2014 conference. Ann Voskamp wrote the foreword for Lauren’s book, an endorsement for Lauren’s book, and wrote about their friendship on her blog. In this interview, Lauren lists Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts as one of the three books that has “most profoundly shaped how you serve and lead others for the sake of the gospel”.

Beth Moore is another major influence on Lauren. Lauren participates in small group Beth Moore “Bible” studies. Last summer, LifeWay Women partnered Beth and Lauren in a joint summer Bible study event. In the video promo, Beth speaks about her personal friendship with Lauren (which is evident in their Twitter interactions) and Matt and the time their families have spent together. Beth wrote an endorsement for Lauren’s book. In this interview, when asked, “Who is a great female leader or writer that you look up to/read?” Lauren answered, “I truly love Beth Moore…”.

When false teachers have this much influence on someone’s teaching and ministry, she is not someone you should be following or receiving teaching from.

Tony Evans- Not recommended. Tony Evans has been the senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship for over forty years. He has authored over 100 books, hosts a daily radio program, The Alternative with Tony Evans, and serves as chaplain to the Dallas Mavericks.

But in women’s ministry circles, he’s probably best known as false teacher Priscilla Shirer’s dad. Tony contributed to the new edition of Priscilla’s book Discerning the Voice of God, which teaches the unbiblical doctrine of extra-biblical revelation, and Priscilla wrote the foreword for his book, Prayers for Victory in Spiritual Warfarewhich contains some of Tony’s unbiblical views of spiritual warfare. Tony also seems to hold to inclusivism.

Tony has written a number of devotions for Lysa TerKeurst’s Proverbs 31 Ministries. He allowed Christine Caine to serve as keynote speaker at his church’s Desperate for Jesus 2017 women’s conference and he participated in a panel discussion that included her. Tony allowed Beth Moore to speak at Desperate for Jesus 2010, and later invited her back to speak again.

Rachel Hollis- Not recommended. Rachel is a self-made lifestyle blogger, podcaster, and author. Aside from calling herself a Christian and scattering references to “faith” and God through her writing like a few sprinkles on a poisonous cupcake, Rachel is, at best, extraordinarily biblically ignorant, and, at worst, not saved. Her “theology” is basically anything goes (any religion, any sin you want to participate in {except the ones she doesn’t like, like “judging”}, any dream you want to pursue, etc.), no gospel, entrepreneurial self-help. The best way to grasp her self-idolizing teaching is to read these excellent, doctrinally sound reviews of her best-selling “Christian” book (it’s marketed in the Christian genre and published by a Christian publisher) Girl, Wash Your Face by RebekahAlisaElizabeth, Summer (Part 1, 2, 3), and Challies, and listen to the Girl, Check Your Theology episode of Theology Gals. You can also check out reviews of Rachel’s second book, Girl, Stop Apologizing, by Theology Gals and Jen Oshman. These godly ladies (and gentleman) do a praiseworthy job of comparing Rachel’s ideas with Scripture and demonstrating the multiple ways Rachel’s books, and her ideology, are decidedly not biblical.

In addition to the multiple, egregious theological errors Rachel teaches…

Rachel and her husband host a weekend couple’s conference called Rise Together. You’ll notice I didn’t say “marriage conference”. That’s because it is open to “everyone in a romantic relationship” including unmarried couples and couples of “every orientation” (read: homosexual). Fortunately, the $1795 per couple price tag for tickets will deter many from attending.

Rachel and (feminist, pro-homosexuality) Jen Hatmaker are friends. Jen is the author of Rachel’s favorite book: “…this book really did fundamentally change the way I view the world around me and the way I choose to live my life.” Jen has appeared at Rachel’s Rise Conference, Rachel has appeared on Jen’s podcast (in which Jen promoted Rachel’s book), and they’ve connected on a number of other occasions and projects. After getting a feel for Rachel’s “theology”, I thought, “I’ll bet she’s a pretty big Oprah fan.” Yep, that too.

Unless you’re someone who’s a student of discernment and you need a lot of practice (like, a LOT) comparing unbiblical ideas to Scripture, I would recommend you stay far, far away from Rachel Hollis and her materials.

Chrystal Evans Hurst- Not recommended. “Chrystal is a gifted writer, speaker, and worship leader….the eldest child of Dr. Tony and Lois Evans…Chrystal has recently co-authored a book, Kingdom Woman: Embracing Your Purpose, Power, and Possibilities, with her dad.” Tony Evans (see above) is not someone a doctrinally sound woman would co-author a book with. Priscilla Shirer, Chrystal’s sister, wrote the foreword for Chrystal and Tony’s book as well as Chrystal’s first book, She’s Still There. It would seem that Chrystal approves of Priscilla’s and Tony’s unbiblical theology and they approve of hers (which, logically, would mean her theology either agrees with or doesn’t significantly contradict theirs).

Besides Priscilla, Chrystal has numerous ties to false teachers: Chrystal was a featured speaker at Lysa TerKeurst’s conference, She Speaks 2017, is a staff speaker for Lysa’s Proverbs 31 Ministries, and has written several devotions for the Proverbs 31 web site. Chrystal and Christine Caine were the featured speakers at Desperate for Jesus 2017 at Chrystal’s home church (Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship, pastored by her father). Here and here, Chrystal recommends a Joyce Meyer book. Lisa Harper was a recent guest on Chrystal’s podcast. Chrystal was a featured guest on the Jesus Calling podcast. Chrystal has positively retweeted Jen Hatmaker (who is pro-homosexuality).

Brenda Leavenworth- Not recommended, however, not having evidence to the contrary, I do not believe Brenda is a false teacher. “Brenda is the Women’s Ministry Director at Reliance Church,” which is a Calvary Chapel church. She is the author of Far Above Rubies, a study of biblical womanhood from Proverbs 31 and supplementary series of workshops on cooking, hospitality, organization, etc., corresponding to each chapter of the study. Brenda also “teaches courses in Proverbs 31 and Women’s Ministry for the Calvary Chapel Bible College.”

I appreciate that Brenda seems to be very involved in her home church, prioritizing ministry there over outside ministry. Reliance Church’s statement of faith, as stated on their web site, seems to be doctrinally sound. I’m also intrigued by the concept of the Far Above Rubies study/workshops, and would be interested in reading/attending it myself.

I did not find any personal or speaking event connections between Brenda and any known false teachers, nor do I see any online evidence that she teaches men. Besides the fact that I haven’t had the opportunity to read or listen to her teaching, the two red flags holding me back from endorsing her are:

The current Calvary Chapel conflict. For years, Calvary Chapel has generally had a reputation for being a doctrinally sound mini-denomination. However, over the last few years, several of its member churches have cut ties with CC due to decisions by those in CC leadership to move toward less doctrinally sound teachings and practices than they have previously upheld. I have no idea whether or not Brenda is in agreement with any or all of these decisions made by CC leadership, but the fact remains that she teaches at the CC college and is an active member of a CC church. You can read more about the issues with Calvary Chapel here.

Vetting of resources. The women’s ministry resources page of Reliance Church’s website recommends resources by Francis Chan, Lysa TerKeurst, John Maxwell, and Hillsong. Sometimes people are unaware of the doctrinal problems with the resources and teachers they recommend, and this may be the case with Brenda, but teachers and leaders are held to a higher standard. It is not biblically appropriate for those in positions of leadership to recommend materials by people who teach or behave in ways contrary to Scripture, and I cannot recommend someone who does.

Leslie Ludy- Cautiously and tentatively recommended pending further information (please see remarks by “Leslie A” in the comments section). “Leslie Ludy is a bestselling author and speaker with a passion for helping women become set apart for Christ. She and her husband, Eric, are the authors of twenty-one books…Leslie is the director of Set Apart Girl and Set Apart Motherhood.” She also spearheads an annual women’s conference, writes and oversees Set Apart Girl magazine, and hosts a weekly podcast.

I’ve put a bit more time than usual into researching Leslie, because, while there have been a few vague questions raised about her here and there, I find her to be generally doctrinally sound, and I wanted to make sure I wasn’t missing something. As far as I can tell, Leslie ministers and speaks only to audiences of women. I have found no connections between her and any known false teachers. I have read several of Leslie’s articles (I especially appreciated this one), have listened to two or three dozen of her podcasts, and have read through the doctrinal statements on the various websites she and her husband, Eric, run. Though there are a few points of theology on which I do not necessarily agree with the Ludys, I have not, at this point, found anything I would classify as false doctrine or anything that would suggest I should warn women away from Leslie.

Bianca Olthoff- Not recommended. Bianca works as “Chief Storyteller” for the A21 Campaign, false teacher Christine Caine’s human trafficking organization. A perusal of her calendar page shows her speaking at Pray, Love, Lead at Saddleback (Rick Warren’s “church”), IF Gathering, Thrive (Lysa TerKeurst & Ann Voskamp), Bethel- Redding, Elevation (Steven Furtick), and numerous other conferences with false teachers and female “pastors,” at least one of which is being held at a “church” pastored by a woman. Bianca believes she receives extra-biblical revelation from God about people at her conferences needing healing. She also has several Sunday speaking engagements at churches, some of which, undoubtedly, will have her preaching to men. (This video indicates she is preaching the Sunday sermon, which means she’s preaching to men, and here she admits to teaching God’s word to men.)

Wellspring Group- Not enough online information for a recommendation or warning. Wellspring Group is a parachurch workshop ministry. According to their website, “We long to see lives, marriages, families and churches transformed so broadly and radically that it actually changes the leadership culture of the church, both here in North America and also around the world. We dream of… Overflowing Transformation.” I did not see anything overtly unbiblical on Wellspring’s web site, and many of their objectives and descriptions of their teachings sound biblical and gospel-centered. I did not discover any ties between Wellspring and known false teachers. However, I did note several red flag-raising buzzwords on the site which gave me pause.

One of these buzzwords was “spiritual formation.” Some churches and ministries innocently, and ignorantly, use the term “spiritual formation” as a trendy new synonym for the word “discipleship,” and their “spiritual formation” classes are just as doctrinally sound as if they called them “discipleship” classes. If this is the way in which Wellspring is using the term, that’s not a problem, other than the confusion it causes. The confusion comes in because of the unbiblical spiritual formation movement, which centers around mysticism, works righteousness, contemplative prayer, and other unbiblical doctrines and practices. If Wellspring incorporates these things into its workshops, I definitely do not recommend it.

If you have the opportunity to attend a Wellspring workshop, I would urge you to proceed with caution and – as with any other Christian event or teacher – be a good Berean and compare everything you hear to Scripture.

Update: After reading this article, one of my readers who has personal experience with Wellspring Group wrote in and shared her thoughts. If everything she says is accurate, I certainly would never recommend Wellspring Group. You can read her review of the program here.

Jen Wilkin- Cautiously partially recommended. Jen is a women’s Bible study author, blogger, and conference speaker, and is on staff on the executive team of The Village Church. To my knowledge all of Jen’s books and Bible study materials are doctrinally sound (though I have not personally read any of them), but I have some concerns about her in other areas. That said, I definitely do not consider Jen to be a false teacher. I’ve published a review of Jen’s book, Women of the Wordand here is a reader’s take on her book 1 Peter: A Living Hope in Christ:

“…in the foreword Jen wrote, ‘a paraphrase, such as the NLT or The Message, can be useful but should be regarded as a commentary rather than a translation.’ However, aside from that, I have found no other problems with the book at all. It is an eight week long study of 1 Peter based on the method of Bible study that she writes about in Women of the Word. My favorite thing about this study is that it causes us to focus on what the text is telling us about God. I love how Jen Wilkin is teaching women to study the Bible properly. I wish she would be more discerning about who and what she endorses though. There are so few women who bring us solid teaching and discernment.”

I’ve heard several positive reviews of Jen’s books from other trusted and discerning friends as well.

I’ve looked through all of Jen’s speaking engagements listed for spring 2018. All appear to be women’s conferences or events, and her speaking engagement request form says she is a “teacher who helps women…”. None of the events listed on her blog have her appearing with any false teachers, but she is scheduled to speak at the Abundance conference in November 2018 alongside Lisa Harper, Rachael Myers, and Amanda Bible Williams. Which leads into to my concerns about Jen.

In addition to the sharing the stage with these problematic teachers, I’m concerned about some connections Jen has with Beth Moore and other false teachers. In 2013, Jen wrote a blog post entitled, The Next Beth Moore in which she spoke glowingly of Beth, her teaching, and one of her books. She has also had a couple of friendly interactions with Beth on Twitter. Jen has appeared on the IF: Gathering podcast with Jennie Allen (to discuss and promote Women of the Word). She wrote a devotional for Lysa TerKeurst’s Proverbs 31 blog. I want to stress that these things have been few and far between, and it is possible, to some degree, that Jen isn’t aware of the doctrinal problems with these women or that she simply made a few unwise associations as we all do from time to time.

In the same way the influence Steven Furtick has on Lysa TerKeurst as her pastor is worrisome, I’ve been seeing some things over the past few years with Jen’s pastor, Matt Chandler, and his wife, Lauren (with whom Jen sometimes appears at conferences), that have given me pause. Jen is pastored by Matt, and as a ministry leader and staff member at The Village Church, she works under his direction and influence. Over the past few years, Matt has publicly praised false teachers like Ann Voskamp, Beth Moore, and Jesus Culture. He recently raised some questions about the extent of his continuationism by playing this video prior to a sermon. He allows Bethel and Israel Houghton (Joel Osteen’s former worship leader) music to be used for worship at his church. Matt allows his wife, a worship leader at TVC, to select this music, and to yoke with and be influenced by numerous false teachers (see section on Lauren Chandler above). Again, this is something to weigh when considering Jen, but weigh carefully. While it is probable that she is being influenced by Matt and Lauren and their associations, it is quite possible she could be expressing her concerns to them about these associations behind the scenes.

Finally, there have been questions about exactly where Jen stands on the biblical role of women in the church. That she presents herself as, and is known as, a strong complementarian is very clear. She has stated equally clearly that women are not to hold the office of pastor. But beyond that, in listening to and reading her articles and interviews about the importance of women leading in the church, I’m not really clear on what positions of church leadership she thinks are and are not biblical for women. For example: May a woman guest preach the Sunday sermon as long as she is not the pastor of that church? Teach co-ed adult Sunday School? Preach sermons to mixed audiences at conferences? Perhaps she has been very clear about these types of things somewhere and I have just missed it. I’m not saying she has an unbiblical stance on these issues, I’m just saying I’m unclear as to what her stance is. I have attempted to contact Jen about this issue and other questions, but have not received a response.

In summary, my recommendation on Jen right now is that, as far as I know, her books, articles, Bible study materials, and any of her speaking engagements that don’t include doctrinally unsound teachers, are biblical and trustworthy. Just don’t assume everyone she associates with socially or in ministry is doctrinally sound and someone you should receive teaching from.


I truly regret that I’m unable to give a wholehearted endorsement to all of these women and ministries. I’m sure they’re all perfectly nice people who, in their own hearts, have only the best of intentions, but Christian leaders and teachers have a grave responsibility to Christ and to their listeners to teach sound doctrine and walk in obedience to Scripture. Please understand that this is not a personal attack on any of these women or ministries, only answers to readers’ questions about whether or not I recommend them and their materials.


If you have a question about: a well known Christian author/leader, a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

Discernment

Disney, Dalai, or Divangelista?

disney dalai divangelista1Social media and the internet are a gold mine for inspirational quotes, and today’s most popular divangelistas post a lot of them. But, does inspirational always equal biblical? Shouldn’t you be able to tell the difference between a line from a Disney movie, a platitude from the Dalai Lama, and biblical truth from a Christian leader? In homage to Tim Challies’ Joel Osteen or Fortune Cookie? I give you Disney, Dalai, or Divangelista?. Try to guess who said it, then click on the link below the quote to see if you were right.

1. All major religious traditions carry basically the same message, that is love, compassion and forgiveness. The important thing is they should be part of our daily lives.

Disney, Dalai, or Divangelista?

2. Compassion naturally creates a positive atmosphere, and as a result you feel peaceful and content.

Disney, Dalai, or Divangelista?

3. Venture outside your comfort zone. The rewards are worth it.

Disney, Dalai, or Divangelista?

4. Patience to wait does not come from suffering long for what we lack but from sitting long in what we have.

Disney, Dalai, or Divangelista?

5. Today is a new day, and every day you can be one step closer to conquering your fears!

Disney, Dalai, or Divangelista?

6. You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.

Disney, Dalai, or Divangelista?

7. In our struggle for freedom, truth is the only weapon we possess.

Disney, Dalai, or Divangelista?

8. In every situation, in every interaction, in every day, be a noticer of the good.

Disney, Dalai, or Divangelista?

9.  All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.

Disney, Dalai, or Divangelista?

10. When we stop fearing failure, we start being artists.

Disney, Dalai, or Divangelista?

11. Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions.

Disney, Dalai, or Divangelista?

12. Our fate lives within us. You only have to be brave enough to see it.

Disney, Dalai, or Divangelista?

13. You must not let anyone define your limits because of where you come from. Your only limit is your soul.

Disney, Dalai, or Divangelista?

14. If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.

Disney, Dalai, or Divangelista?

15. It is useless to compare yourself to someone else. That person has a completely different path to follow.

Disney, Dalai, or Divangelista?


What was your score?
0-3:
You spend waaaay too much time reading your Bible and listening to sermon podcasts to keep up with the latest fluff from divangelistas or to get out and see a movie. The Dalai Lama? Is that the Thursday special at that Asian restaurant down the street?

4-10:
Cut back on the “inspirational” Pinterest boards and trade out your kids’ DVD of Frozen for an Awana CD. Read some books by the old dead guys like Spurgeon or Ryle, and learn how different (and how much better) Christian doctrine is from Buddhism.

11-15:
Would you consider yourself a good person?
(I kid! I kid! You probably just have a photographic memory!)