Mailbag, New Apostolic Reformation

The Mailbag: Should Christians listen to “Reckless Love”?

For the next couple of weeks I’ll be preparing to speak at the Cruciform
conference, so I’ll be re-running some popular articles from the archives.
I hope you’ll enjoy this one.

Originally published May 28, 2018

 

Should Christians listen to the song Reckless Love? Should churches use this song in their worship services or other activities? Aren’t songs like this OK if they point people to Jesus and the lyrics don’t blatantly contradict Scripture?

Goodness, I have never seen so much buzz over whether or not a particular song is OK to listen to or use at church. Regardless of your opinion of the song itself, I think we could all agree that one awesome thing that has come out of the Reckless Love debate is that it has encouraged Christians to actually look at the lyrics of, and think theologically about, the songs they listen to on the radio or sing in their worship services.

That’s phenomenal. We should be analyzing every song we sing that way whether it comes to us via a dusty antique hymnal or Pandora. There are hymns, and gospel songs, and CCM songs, and CHH songs that need to be thrown out because they contain poor, or outright heretical, theology. Here’s hoping we will continue to be as meticulous in examining every song we hear as we have been about examining Reckless Love.

So what about the song itself? Is it OK?

I’m going to start off my answer by drawing from a previous article, God’s Not Like “Whatever, Dude,” About The Way He’s Approached in Worship:

Such was the case recently when Christian social media was up in arms (and rightly so) about Cory Asbury’s worship song Reckless Love, and whether or not churches should use it in their worship services. Discussion centered around the use of the word “reckless” to describe God’s love for us and whether or not that was a semantically and theologically appropriate adjective. “Relentless” was suggested as an alternative lyric. “Reckless” was defended as an appropriate lyric. And then Cory Asbury’s explanation of the song came to light and did further injury to his doctrinal cause…

…Focusing on the word “reckless” missed the point – at least the big picture point. You see, Reckless Love was produced by Bethel Music. And Cory Asbury is a “worship leader, songwriter and pastor” with the Bethel Music Collective. Prior to joining Bethel, he spent eight years as a worship leader with the International House of Prayer (IHOP).

Why is this important? Because Bethel “Church” in Redding, California, and IHOP are, functionally, ground zero for the New Apostolic Reformation  heresy. Heresy. Not, “They just have a more expressive, contemporary style of worship,”. Not, “It’s a secondary theological issue we can agree to disagree on.” Heresy. Denial of the deity of Christ. Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Demonstrably false prophecy that the head of IHOP, Mike Bickle, has publicly rejoiced in (He estimates that 80% of IHOP’s “prophecies” are false.) And that’s just the tip of our metaphorical ice berg when it comes to the NAR.

If you claim to be a Christian, and denying the deity of Christ (saying that Christ was only human, not God) and blaspheming the Holy Spirit aren’t enough for you, please take a moment right now to do some soul searching and ask yourself why that is. These people are blaspheming your Savior and you’re going to defend them? Denying the deity of Christ alone is enough to put a “church” outside the camp of Christianity. It is one of the damnable “another gospels” Paul refers to in Galatians 1:6-9.

But maybe seeing more of the fruit of the poisonous NAR tree will help:

“Holy” Laughter. The NAR blasphemously attributes this to the Holy Spirit, disregarding the fact that one of the fruits of the Spirit is self-control and that God demonstrates throughout Scripture that He is not a God of chaos, craziness, and confusion, but of orderliness and peace.

 

Fake and delusional prophecies. Pick any biblical prophet and read his prophecies in comparison with this. And don’t forget what the Bible says about false prophets.

 

Fake “glory clouds” of “gold dust” and “angel feathers” (glitter and feathers placed into the ventilation system) released during the worship service as a supposed sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit. I guess Jesus’ promise of the Holy Spirit and the many promises of His presence in the New Testament aren’t good enough.

 

Raising the dead. Oddly enough in this age of everyone making videos of everything and cutting edge medical technology, there’s never been a single medically verified, video evidenced resurrection.

 

Being “drunk in the Spirit”. This is not how you do Acts 2:13-21 or Ephesians 5:18-19, two of the passages the NAR mangles to support this demonic activity, which they blasphemously attribute to the Holy Spirit. (By the way, the guy in this video, Todd Bentley, was commissioned as an “apostle” by Bill Johnson, lead “pastor” of Bethel. And shortly after Todd cheated on his first wife, divorced her, and married the woman he was cheating with, Bill Johnson “restored” him to ministry. You can see video evidence of both of these things here and here.)

 

And if that’s still not enough for you, there’s fake faith healing (language warning- this was written by a non-Christian who, by the way, did not hear the gospel when she went to Bethel) including kicking people in the face and other forms of assault to “heal” people, grave sucking, and demonic tremoring. Then there are the incidents from overseas that you hear of from time to time such as the South African “pastor” who made his congregation crawl around on the lawn eating grass and drink gasoline to be closer to God, or the Kenyan “pastor” who ordered women to remove their bras and panties before coming to church so God could enter their bodies more easily, or the Zambian prophet who took it a step further and removed a woman’s panties in front of the entire congregation so he could pray over them for her infertility, or the South African woman who died because her “pastor” placed a heavy speaker on top of her and then sat on it to demonstrate God’s power.

You may not see this kind of craziness in every service at every NAR “church” but every single one of these incidents and practices (and so many more) springs from the same unbiblical theology of the New Apostolic Reformation.

Including Cory Asbury’s choice of the word “reckless” when he wrote the song Reckless Love. Cory is a product of the theology he’s been immersed in for so many years.

And that’s the main problem with churches using songs in their worship services from groups like Bethel Music, Jesus Culture, and Hillsong, which teach “another gospel”. In the same way that marijuana use can serve as a “gateway drug” to more dangerous and addictive narcotics, Reckless Love itself might not do too much damage, but…well, as I explained to another reader in a previous Mailbag article False Doctrine in Contemporary Christian Music:

It’s imperative for churches to be discerning about the CCM they use in worship. If Jane Churchmember hears a CCM song in church and likes it, she’s likely to Google the song (probably right there in church- I’ve done it!), find out who sings it, and begin following that artist. Worship pastors who use CCM have a responsibility to vet the artists who perform the songs they select for the worship service to make sure they’re not sending Jane into the arms of a heretic. Additionally, music costs money, and you don’t want your church’s offerings supporting false doctrine.

A common objection I see Christians make to this concept is:

Well, [insert name of hymn writer here] wrote lots of perfectly biblical hymns, but he had some theological problems too, and you’re not recommending we get rid of all of his hymns.

Well, first of all, maybe we should more closely examine the theology of some of our most prolific hymnists and stop using their music because of what they believed. Quick – off the top of your head, name the three we should start with…

…And that’s what separates the errant hymnist from Bethel, et al. Most Christians, even those who prefer hymns over CCM, could probably not name three people who wrote hymns, let alone tell you anything about their theology. But if you ask the average Christian to name three top Christian artists, she could rattle them off in a second.

Most hymn writers have been dead for up to hundreds of years. They don’t have Facebook pages you can follow, nobody’s playing their stuff on KLOVE, they’re not on tour to promote their latest album, and they don’t have thousands of followers worldwide. If you wanted to follow their errant theology, you’d have to hit the books to research and study it. The NAR musicians’ theology is only a click away on YouTube, social media, live streamed concerts and conferences, and on their web sites. Nobody is following dead hymnists’ false doctrine, but hordes are following NAR musicians’ heresy.

And as for music that springs from heretical theology pointing people to Jesus? Ask this wiccan young lady who went to Bethel and was told by someone “prophesying” (supposedly speaking what she heard God say) over her:

“I feel the Lord saying to you that He is very pleased with you. You have been so faithful to Him. You have been faithful to His Word, even when though there are many people telling you that you are now going the wrong way. But God knows it isn’t true. He wants you to know that He is proud of you. God knows that you are walking with Him and He is so proud of your faithfulness.”

She wasn’t pointed to Jesus. Nobody explained the gospel to her or told her she needed to repent of her sin. Instead, she was affirmed in her sin and told that she was, in fact, “walking with God” and “faithful” to Him when she was living in witchcraft (which earned the death penalty in the Old Testament) and had never put her faith and trust in Christ for salvation. And all of this by someone who was claiming to speak for God Himself. The Bible says it’s impossible to please God without faith in Christ.

This kind of music doesn’t point people to Jesus. It points them to the NAR version of Jesus, which, as evidenced above, is not the Jesus of the Bible. If someone puts her faith in the NAR version of Jesus, she’s not going to be saved, and she’s going to spend an eternity in hell. The Jesus of the Bible said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Nobody is getting to Heaven through any other version of Jesus except the Jesus of the Bible.

OK, now I’m aware of what the NAR teaches and I’m definitely not getting sucked into any of that! What about just listening to Reckless Love when I’m alone in the car? I believe what Cory said about why he used the word “reckless” and I’m OK with that.

That’s between you and God, but let me ask you a question as you prayerfully consider what would be pleasing to Him. What if, instead of the word “reckless”, Cory had chosen the words, “f—ing awesome”? And what if he had explained that, to him, that phrase just meant “really awesome” or “super duper awesome”? That, in his song, it didn’t have the vulgar meaning most people think of when they hear the f-word? Would you, based on his explanation, still sing that song?

Of course not. Because words mean what they mean, not what we want them to mean.

Cory can offer explanations about what he intended by the word “reckless” until he’s blue in the face. That doesn’t change the actual meaning of the word, which is what most people understand it to mean when they hear it. And, furthermore, Cory isn’t following the song around to every single person who hears it and explaining what he meant by it, so most people will hear “reckless” and assume it means what it actually means, not that Cory used the word “reckless” and meant something else by it. That’s not how human language works.

In considering whether or not to listen to this song, spend some time in God’s Word studying the way God wants to be approached by people (rather than how you want to approach Him) and how He reacted when they approached Him improperly. Remember, everything we do should be governed by Scripture, not our opinions and preferences, or whether we happen to like a particular song or not.

The NAR is a dangerous heresy that is sending people to an eternity in hell. People are getting saved out of “churches” like Bethel, not getting saved by them. Consider carefully, prayerfully, and according to Scripture whether God would be pleased by you having anything to do with NAR organizations. “What partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?”


If you have a question about: 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, 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.
Random Ramblings Ruminations Resources

Random Ramblings, Ruminations, and Resources

 

Some days you wake up and you just don’t know what to write about, and it’s a beautiful fall day – which is rare as hens’ teeth in south Louisiana – and you just don’t feel like writing, anyway. Writer’s block: it’s the bane of a blogger’s existence.

I have a Google Docs file I’ve entitled “Scratch Pad”. Whenever I get a good idea for an article, I jot down the gist of it there. Then, when it’s one of those “meh” weeks when I’m not overwhelmingly passionate about anything in particular, I can thumb through those ideas for some inspiration.

It’s one of those “meh” weeks.

I started sifting through my scratch pad, and I noticed some of those article starters had been on the list for a while, mostly because they could really be addressed in a paragraph or two and didn’t need to be stretched out into a whole article.

(Are you bored, yet? I feel like you’re bored. I’m already bored and I’m the one writing this thing.)

So today is going to be a “clean out the fridge” day with some short random ramblings and ruminations on a variety of topics, with maybe a helpful resource thrown in here and there if I think about it. I’m just going to set it all out there on the counter and, hopefully, you’ll see something that looks appetizing.

This may or may not become a regular (monthly or every other month or whenever) feature. I don’t know. It depends on how often I wake up feeling “meh” and whether or not y’all like it, so shoot me some feedback on this one, and we’ll go from there.

Helloooooooo? Is anybody still with me?

I see that hand!

Here we go…

The apostle Paula

There’s this…lady…on Twitter. She’s very sincere and passionate about her theology – most of which seems to be pretty doctrinally sound. I have no doubt that she has the best of intentions with her tweets, and that she’s a sister in Christ, but…well, let’s just say she has some…um…issues…which, at this point, she’s not willing to be discipled out of. She’s kind of a Servus Christi meets Steven Anderson meets Westboro (so EVERYTHING SHE TWEETS IS IN ALL CAPS AND VERY EXTREME AND INTENSE) but with fairly decent theology.

A while back, she asked me something along the lines of (I forgot to bookmark her question to me) what I thought of the way she presented the gospel to the lost (which included a lot of in depth Reformed theological concepts). This was my answer to her, in case it might be helpful to you…

OK, everything you’ve said is technically biblically correct and that’s really good! But it’s not just about having the facts right. If you want to be an effective witness you have to have the facts right AND the right approach. And I know you want to be effective- also good!

If I could just offer you a few things to think about:

–Reformed theology is great. I believe it. I think everybody should believe it. But lost people aren’t going to get it (1 Corinthians 2:14). They aren’t going to understand terms like sheep, elect, justification, etc., and that’s OK. They can learn that after they’re saved. I would suggest finding a way to simplify – not water down – just explain things in a simpler way that even a child could understand: “God is perfect and holy. You’re not because you’ve sinned by lying, coveting, etc. The punishment for sin is an eternity in Hell. Jesus paid the penalty for your sin by His death on the cross, burial, and resurrection so you don’t have to spend eternity in Hell. If you turn sorrowfully from your sin and trust in His finished work on the cross, He will save and forgive you.” Something like that.

–It could just be the way you’re coming across on Twitter, and maybe you don’t sound like this in real life, but you’re coming across as judgmental and condemning rather than, “I love you and I can’t bear the thought of you continuing in this life or in eternity without Jesus.” Most people today are really looking for somebody to love them. It’s like the old saying goes: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

–I think it would be better to leave off the persecution part [she had included something in the gospel presentation about how Christians should expect to be harshly persecuted], NOT because it isn’t true, but because repentance and trusting Christ is overwhelming enough for the moment. Persecution is not something we hide and we definitely don’t go the other way and tell people everything will be awesome if they get saved, but you don’t want to put a fire hose up to the mouth of a baby who can barely handle a bottle, either.

She didn’t agree with me, said I was peddling a seeker-driven, watered down gospel that would send people to Hell, and decided she needed to harass me on a regular basis, so, unfortunately, I had to part ways with her. Eh, what can you do? 🤷

A book report

My reading habits have been terrible over the past couple of years. I blame social media and TV. (Embarrassingly, that’s one of the main reasons that, with extremely rare exception, I don’t write solicited book reviews.)

But I had been wanting to get my hands on Costi Hinn’s and Anthony Wood’s book, Defining Deception, ever since it first came out. I finally got around to ordering it, I just finished reading it, and now I want to commend it to you.

It’s good. Get it. Read it.

If your church uses Bethel or Jesus Culture music, give a copy to your pastor and minister of music. (Actually, get all of your pastors copies anyway. It’s Pastor Appreciation Month, and I don’t know a pastor who doesn’t love a good book.)

First of all, it’s short. I mean, if it were any shorter, it would be a booklet, not a book. So even if you’re a reading schlub like me, you could finish it in under a week. Some of you book nerds could sit down and finish it in a couple of hours.

It’s basically a primer on the New Apostolic Reformation, using Bethel as the iconic NAR exemplar (which it is). You get a history of the NAR including key figures in its founding and growth, an explanation of the theological problems and heresies within the movement, a brief course in basic pneumatology, several appendices which answer more specific questions readers might have, and more. And it’s all helpfully written at a level any Joe or Jane in the pew without a seminary degree can understand.

This NAR garbage is making its way into average churches like yours. Read up and be prepared.

Hearing voices

Remember earlier this year when Vice President Pence had made some sort of comment about God speaking to him and The View’s maven of mockery, Joy Behar, chortled:

“It’s one thing to talk to Jesus, it’s another thing for Jesus to talk to you. That’s mental illness…”

(I told you some of this stuff had been sitting in the hopper for a while.)

It pains me to have to say this because I despise everything Joy stands for, as well as her smug, derisive, self-righteous, condescending, supercilious, insulting attitude toward anything conservative or Christian, but unless Brother Mike was talking about God speaking to Him through Scripture…

…she was technically right.

Ouch. That hurt more than I thought it would.

Now, hang on before you start hurling those stones at me. I’m not saying that otherwise sane people who think they’re hearing God speak to them are mentally ill. They’re theologically wrong, but they’re not insane.

Here’s where she’s technically correct. In the era in which Joy came of age – before everybody and their dog started receiving extra-biblical revelation – if you were hearing voices in your head that nobody else could hear, whether you said it was God, or the devil, or Elvis talking to you, you were carted off to to a nice little institution and sedated. Heavily.

I happen to know this because when I was working on my bachelor’s degree in psychology (toward the end of that era), I did a lot of course work in abnormal psych (no idea where I was going with that, I just found it gruesomely interesting) and hearing non-existent voices telling you what to do was one of the criteria that pointed toward a formal diagnosis of schizophrenia or psychosis.

I don’t know if Joy or anybody else mentioned that, but that was my first impression of her comment about mental illness. I’ve been saying the same thing ever since I was in college- if Christians keep claiming they’re hearing God speak audibly to them, the world is going to start thinking they’re crazy. Because when it comes down to the price of eggs, there’s no outwardly demonstrable difference between observing a sane person hearing God tell her what to do and observing a schizophrenic hearing God tell her what to do. In the world’s eyes- why are we calling the first person a Christian and the second person insane?

Just one more reason to stick to sola Scriptura and the sufficiency of Scripture.

Is there an echo in here?

Sometimes I think social media has warped people’s brains.

Let me ask you something: If a pugnacious stranger knocked on your front door and started yelling at you, insulting you, and spewing all kinds of unbiblical garbage, would you welcome him into your living room with a humble smile on your face and put up with being treated that way on the off chance that you might learn something from his perspective on the issue, or to prove to others how open-minded you are?

Yeah, I wouldn’t either. In fact, I’d lock the door and probably call the police.

And yet those very people (and various SuperChristians who are apparently way more spiritually mature than I am, at least in their own opinion) demand that that kind of behavior be graciously tolerated and accepted on Twitter and Facebook, sneeringly accusing those of us who either refuse to engage with them, or block them, of living in a little “Christian bubble” or “holy huddle” or “echo chamber”.

Look, if you’re on social media for the purpose of verbally abusing people who think differently from you or to argue with strangers, I guess that’s your business (although if you claim to be a Christian you need to stop doing those things and repent), but that’s not why I’m on social media.

I’m on social media to keep up with far away friends and family, to promote my ministry, to help people I can help (who want to be helped), and to network and fellowship with like-minded Believers.

I’ve had lots of wonderful conversations with kind and polite people – Believers and unbelievers – who see things differently than I do, and I’m all for that.

But I’m not going to engage with rude, abusive people who are out looking for a fight. I’m just not. That would ruin the enjoyment I get out of social media. And if you want to call that “living in an echo chamber”, go right ahead. That doesn’t shame me in the least. I have nothing to prove about my level of open-mindedness and there’s nothing in Scripture that says I have to engage with people like that or subject myself to their abuse in order for God to consider me loving or tolerant or open-minded. The End.

A plea to the pastors

One of my recent Twitter threads:

Pastors- The women of your church need to be taught how to properly handle/study the Bible itself. Not Bible study books/DVDs – the Bible.

Many of them are so biblically ignorant I can’t explain to them why their favorite teacher is a false teacher because they have no frame of reference for comprehending such a thing and therefore just assume I’m (or anyone else who warns them is) being mean and hateful. They believe anything the false teacher says, not because she’s biblical, but because they like her and she makes them feel good.

For. the. love. please stop depending on canned studies (even the few doctrinally sound ones out there) in your women’s Bible study/Sunday school classes and get someone to teach who actually knows how to teach God’s Word and can teach them how to study God’s Word for themselves at home.

They are falling for false doctrine either because no one has properly taught them the gospel and they’re false converts or because they don’t know enough of the Bible to know that what they’re hearing conflicts with God’s Word. I can’t even simply tell women to compare what they’re hearing to Scripture because they have no idea what that means, why they should do it, or how to do it.

Don’t just assume they know the gospel or know their Bibles or are getting what you’re preaching. Some of them are not. A lady I know recently told me how excited she was about the new Joyce Meyer book she had just ordered. This was after three years of her faithfully sitting under doctrinally sound preaching. You’ve got to be intentional and proactive and make sure they are being properly trained in God’s Word.

I know I’m preaching to the choir with most of the pastors who follow me and are already doing a great job of training the women in your church. But if you could just double check to make sure. Please. We’re losing a generation of women to “feel-ology” and it breaks my heart.

McBible Study and the Famine of God’s Word

Bible Studies

Mailbag

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Heretical church music, Mistranslating 1 Tim. 2:12, Books for women…)

Welcome to another “potpourri” edition of The Mailbag, where I give short(er) answers to several questions rather than a long answer to one question. I also like to take the opportunity in these potpourri editions to let new readers know about my comments/e-mail/messages policy. I’m not able to respond individually to most e-mails and messages, so here are some helpful hints for getting your questions answered more quickly. Remember, the search bar can be a helpful tool!


I need guidance in approaching the worship director of the church I started attending 6 months ago (haven’t joined yet) due to his frequent use of Bethel/Jesus Culture/Hillsong/Elevation Church music. I stand there in silence most of the worship time because I just don’t feel comfortable singing those songs. I don’t want to meet with him and be that person who is critical and legalistic but I feel convicted that someone needs to. Should I go talk to the pastor first (we have somewhat of a relationship since I’ve met with him a couple times and agree with his theology)?

It’s awesome that you are discerning enough to know that music from these heretical and New Apostolic Reformation organizations shouldn’t be used by any church. I encourage you to keep having those “powers of discernment trained by constant practice” of distinguishing good from evil (Hebrews 5:14).

I also want to encourage you that inquiring about the theology of a church or its music – especially as someone who is deciding whether or not to join that church – is not being “critical and legalistic”. That is what scoffers say about discernment issues, but it is not the biblical way of viewing “contending for the faith”. Do not allow ungodly people with their unbiblical personal opinions to deter you or even make you feel bad for doing what is right and good and godly.

I agree with you that someone needs to address the issue of the music. It is possible that’s why God put you into this church at this time – to pray for the church, the minister of music, and the pastor about this, and to lovingly explain the issues.

Since I’m not personally involved in the situation, I can’t offer any advice as to whether to approach the minister of music or the pastor first. I would suggest you pray and ask God to give you the wisdom to know which one of them to speak to first, and trust Him to direct your paths. You might want to consider which of these men you feel will be more receptive to what you have to say. If you go to the minister of music first and he brushes you off, I would encourage you to go to the pastor next. I think both of their responses will help you decide whether or not you want to join this church.

Here are some resources that may help:

The Mailbag: How should I approach my church leaders about a false teacher they’re introducing?

Hillsong’s Theology of Music and Worship

The Mailbag: Should Christians listen to “Reckless Love”?

Popular False Teachers (further information on Hillsong, Bethel, Jesus Culture, Steven Furtick)


A popular Christian apologist I follow says that the prohibition against women preaching, teaching Scripture to men, and holding authority over men in the church in 1 Timothy 2:12 is translated incorrectly.

I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.

He says it should not be translated as “woman” and “man” “but as “wife” and “husband”, and that he believes Bible translators mainly translate it as man woman due to tradition (i.e. men have historically been the pastors and teachers in the church).

This is why linguists – professional experts in the biblical languages – are hired to translate Scripture, not apologists.

Bible translators (of reliable translations) are true to the text, not church tradition or personal convictions. Furthermore, when translators are working on the text, it is not a lone individual who writes down what he thinks the Greek words say and that’s the Bible you end up reading. There are teams of translators, linguists, editors, and even computer experts who work on the text. They check, and double check, each other’s work. So even if one translator was translating according to tradition or opinion, it would be caught by others and not allowed to slip through the cracks.

All of the most reliable English translations translate the words as “man” and “woman”, not “husband” and “wife”.

And just for kicks, I checked this verse in about a dozen of the less reliable translations, and every single one of them translates it “man” and “woman”. Even versions that got other parts of verse 12 incorrect still use “man” and “woman.” For goodness sake, even The Message and The Passion “Translation” possibly the two worst English versions of the Bible (They’re not even translations. The Message is a paraphrase, written by someone who endorsed the heresy-laden book The Shack and has made statements affirming homosexuality. And Passion is the new New Apostolic Reformation version of the Bible, based, supposedly, on new revelation directly from God.) both say “man” and “woman”. And the NAR is totally OK with female preachers, so you know they’re not using “man” and “woman” due to tradition.

So we’ve got one apologist who’s of the opinion that it should be “husband” and “wife” against scads of translators who are experts in their fields and whack job NAR “translators” who approve of female pastors, who all use “man” and “woman”. You would think someone out of all of those people would have translated it “husband” and “wife” if that was the correct translation. It’s telling that even “translators” who push the egalitarian agenda won’t go so far as to change it to “husband” and “wife”. I think the apologist is somewhat out of his depth here.

A few more quotes from said apologist:

Verse 11 and following is directed at women in the context of their relationship with a man to whom they are supposed to be entirely submissive. That is a marriage relationship…1 Timothy 2 talks about the relationship between husband and wife; it’s chapter 3 that talks about church leadership.”

No, verse 11 is not directed at women. Neither are any of the other verses in chapter two or the rest of the book. First Timothy is a pastoral epistle. It was directed at Timothy by the Holy Spirit via Paul as sort of a “policy and procedure manual” for the church. This passage is not talking to women about their marriages, it is talking to pastors and elders about how to run the church. Verses 11-12 are talking about the role and behavior of women (all women, not just wives) in the church setting. They are not to instruct men in the Scriptures or exercise authority over men. That  definitely “talks about church leadership” by excluding women from leadership roles that place them in authority over, or instructing, men.

And keep in mind that when 1 Timothy was written, there were no chapter and verse markings. The text was one continuous flow. If you begin reading in 2:11 and go through 3:13 (try reading it here, adjusting the settings to remover chapter and verse markings), I believe there’s a strong case to be made that 2:11-15 is actually the introduction to the qualifications for pastors, elders, and deacons. The passage (2:11-3:13) starts by stating who is disqualified from those positions and why (2:11-15) and then moves on to who is qualified and how (3:1-13).

Furthermore, if you’ll take a look at verses 8-10 of chapter two, which immediately precede the verses in question (11-12) and provide context, you’ll see more instructions to both men and women. Are only husbands to pray? Are only wives to dress modestly and respectably and adorn themselves with good works? What about single men and women, divorced men and women, widows and widowers?

No other place in Scripture teaches that all women should be under the authority of all men in the church. If this passage is to be interpreted the traditional way, this makes a new and unusual pattern of submission.

And this passage (1 Timothy 2:12) doesn’t teach that either. The statement that women are not to have authority over men doesn’t flip around to mean that all men are in authority over all women. That’s fallacious logic, silly reasoning, and patently unbiblical. The text says what it says and that’s it. You can’t turn it inside out and make an inference from an incorrect converse. That’s being a poor workman and mishandling Scripture.

It’s abundantly clear that “man” and “woman” are the correct translation in 1 Timothy 2:12. If anyone is being more loyal to an agenda than to the text here, it’s the apologist, not the translators.

Rock Your Role: Jill in the Pulpit (1 Timothy 2:11-12)


What do you recommend as daily devotionals for children, ages 2 and 10? I am looking to start daily Bible time with the kids before we start school.

I don’t recommend “canned” Bible studies and devotionals, but rather teaching straight from Scripture itself. I’ve explained this more, including a few suggestions for teaching your children, in my article The Mailbag: Can you recommend a good Bible study for women/teens/kids?

If you’re looking at a 5-10 minute time frame, you might want to work your way through Proverbs one verse at a time, or possibly some of the shorter Psalms. I usually set aside a 30 minute block of time and read through a book with my boys one chapter a day, asking questions and explaining things along the way. If you’d like, feel free to use any of my studies at the “Bible Studies” tab at the top of this page, selecting and simplifying the questions you feel are most appropriate for your children.


How can I subscribe to your blog via e-mail?

If you’re on a computer, there’s a little box in the left sidebar where you can enter your e-mail address:

Inline image

I don’t know if your phone is the same as mine or not, but here’s what the e-mail sign-up on my phone looks like:

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I was wondering if you had a list of recommended books for women. I’m trying to offer an alternative to an NAR book that has nice ideas and some good thoughts but also strays into Spiritual Formation and, of course, really off-base hermeneutics. 

I don’t really know of any off-hand along those lines that I would recommend. The problem with “Christian” books for women by women is that most of them contain false doctrine. A couple of suggestions:

1. The Bible. If you’re looking for a book with nice ideas and good thoughts, Psalms might be a good place to start. Getting grounded in God’s Word and digging deep into Scripture itself is the best way to guard your ladies against the false doctrine you’re describing.

2. There’s no reason women can’t read books authored by men. If you already have a particular doctrinally sound book in mind that was authored by a man, go right ahead and use that one. I would recommend any of the male authors under my “Recommended Bible Teachers” tab (as well as any of the female authors listed there). You might also find the kind of book you’re looking for at GTY or Ligonier.


If you have a question about: 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.

Women of Genesis Bible Study

The Women of Genesis: Lesson 27- Deborah and Rachel

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 89, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26

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Read Genesis 35-36

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Questions to Consider

1. Study a map of Jacob’s travels, locating Haran, Shechem, and Bethel (35:1). What happened in Jacob’s life at each of these three places (review previous lessons if necessary)?

2. Where (city and nation) was Jacob living when God told him to move to Bethel? In what major way had living in the Shechemite area of Canaan influenced Jacob’s family? (35:2-4) In the book of Exodus, when we see Israel journeying through and into the Promised Land, what is the main offense against God that the Canaanites are guilty of? How did their idolatry impact God’s people?

3. Briefly review previous lessons (links above) in which we examined various reasons Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob didn’t want their children to intermarry with Canaanites. Even though the Ten Commandments (prohibiting idolatry) and the Levitical law (prohibiting intermarriage with pagans) had not yet been given, how might Canaanite idolatry have played a role in this? And if idol worshiping pagans weren’t good enough for Jacob’s children to marry, why did his own family possess foreign gods? (35:2-4)

4. Regarding the sin of idolatry, what were the three steps (35:2-3) of repentance Jacob led his family in? How can these steps be a model of repentance for us today?

5. Compare Genesis 28:10-22 with 35:1-15. Why did God tell Jacob to go back to Bethel (35:1)? What are the similarities and differences between the two passages with regard to God’s and Jacob’s words and actions? What promises did God make to Jacob in each passage? Describe the worship that took place in both passages.

6. Who was Deborah (35:8), and about how long had she been with the family? In what ways was Deborah’s death honored and memorialized (using your footnotes, what does Allon-bacuth mean)? Considering that we rarely ever hear the names of servants, much less the memorializing of their deaths, what might we surmise about Deborah, her character, and her relationship with Isaac and Rebekah’s family and Jacob’s family? How can you have an impact for Christ on others by serving them?

7. Refer again to the map in question 1. Where did Jacob travel in 35:16-27?

8. Examine 35:16-26 and review our previous lessons about Rachel. If you were writing Rachel’s obituary, how would you describe her? If Jacob were giving the eulogy at her funeral, what might he say about her? Why do we hear about Deborah’s, Rachel’s, and Isaac’s deaths, but we don’t hear about Leah’s or Rebekah’s deaths?

9. Compare Genesis 30:22-24 with 35:16-26. How was Rachel’s prayer answered? Using your footnotes, what do Ben-oni and Benjamin mean, respectively? Why do you think Jacob changed the baby’s name?

10. Who wrote the book of Genesis? Who was the original audience of the book of Genesis? Why might God have considered the information in chapter 36 important for this audience to know? How is this chapter a fulfillment of prophecy?


Homework

Jacob’s family was influenced toward idol worship by the Canaanites they lived among (35:2-4). Think about the various environments you live in: your community or neighborhood, your church, family, friends, workplace, clubs or organizations, social media, etc. Do any of these environments influence you toward idolatry – putting something in God’s place in your affections, loyalties, priorities, and time? Idolatry is a sin that should be repented of and forsaken. Read my article The Christian Introvert: Putting Off Social Anxiety, Putting On Serving Others to learn about the process of putting off sin, renewing your mind, and putting on godly behavior. Thinking about your own idolatry, write down how you can “put away those foreign gods” (put off), “purify yourself and change your garments” (renew your mind) and “arise and go up to Bethel…and make an altar to God” (put on).


Suggested Memory Verse

Then let us arise and go up to Bethel, so that I may make there an altar to the God who answers me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone.
Genesis 35:3