Discernment

Throwback Thursday ~ Still Be Discerning about Discerners Discerning Discernment Ministries

discerners discerning discernment

Recently, one of my favorite blogs, ParkingSpace23 (a fantastic, doctrinally sound blog I’d encourage everyone to subscribe to), published an excellent article by John Chester called Still Be Discerning about Discernment Ministries. It’s all about John’s thoughts on discernment blogs and podcasts and why he has chosen to swear off of them.

John seems like a thoughtful guy and he handled what can be a touchy subject evenly, calmly, scripturally, and with grace. As someone who frequently writes on discernment topics, it gave me some good food for thought and an opportunity to biblically examine both my writing and reading/listening habits. It’s a great article, I was thankful for it, and I agree with a lot of his points.

But while John has decided not to partake of discernment blogs and podcasts, I still find discernment ministry to be an important aspect of this blog as well as my personal spiritual “diet”. Does that mean I think John, or any other Christian, is wrong for not wanting to regularly read or listen to discernment material? Absolutely not! But I’d like to present a bit of a different perspective regarding the value of discernment ministry.

In the first few paragraphs of his article, John draws a distinction between two different types of discernment ministries- a disctinction which I think is both astute and important. John differentiates between what I would call “propositional” discernment sites like CARM, and, if I’m understanding him correctly, mine – which generally post single, position paper-type articles on a given false teacher or false doctrine – and what I would call “daily news” discernment ministries such as Berean Research and Fighting for the Faith – which report on the shenanigans du jour of false teachers and apostate churches.

John’s position is that the propositional discernment ministries [PDM] can be helpful when needed, but he is not fond of the daily news discernment ministries [DNDM]. I think both can be beneficial, assuming they’re done biblically. Take a look at John’s points and my counterpoints, and then you can prayerfully decide whether or not it would be profitable for your sanctification to include discernment media as part of your spiritual fare.

John’s point: “[DNDMs] often spend much time dissecting sermons or blog posts that someone with even a rudimentary sense of discernment would have stopped listening to or reading within the first few phrases.”

Michelle’s counterpoint: “Someone with even a rudimentary sense of discernment” is the crucial phrase here. Perhaps John is blessed to pastor a body of believers who are good bereans and most of the Christians he knows are discerning. I hope that’s the case. It should be the case that every believer has “a rudimentary sense of discernment” and immediately rejects false doctrine when she hears it. Nothing would bring me more joy.

But, sadly, that’s not the case. In fact, in my experience, the exact opposite is true, especially among Christian women. The vast majority of Christians are very undiscerning when it comes to false teachers and false doctrine. Often, people lack discernment because they’re false converts. But because most churches don’t proactively teach discernment, there are also plenty of genuninely born again believers who take at face value that anything which wears the label of “Christian,” is sold at a Christian retailer, or is proclaimed by a Christian celebrity is biblical and trustworthy.

I know, because I used to be one of those undiscerning Christians who hadn’t been taught any better by my church. Sure, I could pick out charlatans like Benny Hinn or Todd Bentley, and I probably would have described people like Kenneth Copeland and Jesse Duplantis as “wrong” or “that’s not what Baptists believe” without really knowing why. But the Beth Moore Bible studies that every church I’ve ever been a member of has pushed on its female membership? I had no idea she was teaching false doctrine, especially since my own church was endorsing her books.

It wasn’t until I Providentially “stumbled across” Todd Friel’s TV program, Wretched, one night several years ago that I began to understand what false doctrine was, why it was wrong, biblically, and how it could hurt me and the church. And it wasn’t until I discovered Chris Rosebrough’s Fighting for the Faith that I learned how to compare everything to Scripture – to listen to sermons with a discerning ear and read Christian books with a discerning mind. Todd and Chris taught me the discernment no church ever bothered to mention to me. And from the myriad of discerning Christians I’ve known, heard from, and read about, people like me are the rule, not the exception.

It’s not right that the church isn’t teaching Christians how to be discerning. I think every biblically responsible discernment ministry would agree that it is the church’s job, not a discernment ministry’s, to teach Christians to be bereans. But that’s not happening. And I thank God for those ministries who are standing in the gap- who have helped thousands of Christians like me.

John’s point: “[DNDMs] are unbiblical. What I mean is that there seems to me to be no biblical model or mandate for this kind of ‘ministry’.”

Michelle’s counterpoint: John may hold more closely to the regulative principle than I do, which would, understandably, account for my difference in perspective from this point. We do a lot of things, both in church and in parachurch ministry, that there’s no specific biblical model or mandate for. There’s no biblical model or mandate for vacation Bible school or crisis pregnancy ministry or handing out gospel tracts or even writing for a Christian blog. Yet these, and many other ministries, can carry the gospel to the lost (I’ve heard of many people who have read/listened to DNDMs, realized they were false converts, and have become believers.) and edify the saved – just like discernment ministries can. And there’s certainly a biblical mandate for that.

John’s point: “Did Jesus ever engage in a point by point take down of a particular Pharisee’s teaching that is recorded in Scripture? How much do we know about the Nicolaitans…in Revelation 2:15?… Or… the Colossian heresy…in Colossians 2:8?”

Michelle’s counterpoint: Jesus didn’t do sermon reviews (that we know of) the same way Chris Rosebrough does. But He did publicly enumerate and correct many of the Pharisees’ false teachings in Matthew 23. He publicly clarified Scripture and corrected unbiblical beliefs and false teachings – “You have heard it said…but I say to you…” – in the Sermon on the Mount. He publicly warned people against the false teaching of the scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees. And every time those scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees confronted Him with questions or after a miracle, He set them straight for the whole crowd to hear.

As to the Nicolaitan and Colossian heresies, Colossians and Revelation 2 were addressed to particular churches. Just because we may not know much about these heresies doesn’t mean the Ephesian and Colossian churches weren’t thoroughly familiar with them. Perhaps that’s why John and Paul didn’t elaborate- because their intended audiences were already knowledgeable about those heresies. And perhaps the reason they might have been familiar with those heresies is that they were constantly being warned about them. Every book in the New Testament (except Philemon) warns against false teaching or false teachers.

Not so with the church today. Christians are not only not being warned about the heresies and false teachers running rampant in evangelicalism, undiscerning pastors are actually embracing false teachers, inviting them to speak at their churches, simulcasting their conferences, sharing their social media posts, and ordering their materials for the church’s small groups. And the church at large is so biblically illiterate that Christians have no idea they’re being fed false doctrine.

John’s point: “Curiously many discernment mavens will quote 1 Peter 3:15 as a text that supports what they do. But to be blunt, it doesn’t, not by a long shot…. This is about being ready to proclaim Christ to those who would persecute you.”

Michelle’s agreement: I could not agree with this point more. This verse isn’t about discernment. (I usually hear this verse more frequently in support of apologetics ministries, and it isn’t about apologetics, either.) It’s about evangelism.

One of the main features of today’s false doctrine is the twisting of Scripture and ripping it out of context. How can we who do discernment work rebuke false teachers for taking Scripture out of context and then turn right around and do the same to justify our own ministries? We know better. Specks and logs, anyone?

There are plenty of other passages of Scripture (such as the ones I’ve cited above and others) that speak of the importance of warning against false teachers and removing false doctrine from the church. We should not be using a verse that has nothing to do with discernment to justify discernment ministry.

John’s point: “Don’t get me started on the lack of gentleness and respect [from 1 Peter 3:15] that permeates many of these blogs and podcasts.”

Michelle’s agreement/counterpoint: John is right, here. Some of the discernment ministries that (incorrectly) claim the first part of 1 Peter 3:15 as justification for their ministry are not following the second part of the verse which says to “do so with gentleness and respect”. There are discernment ministries whose articles I absolutely will not share or link to because their snideness and name calling are so over the top it overshadows the valid point they’re trying to make, sometimes even damaging their own credibility.

At the same time, we do see instances of Jesus using harsh language and calling false teachers names, and Paul, Elijah, and others couldn’t always be characterized as gentle or respectful.

The thing is, their cultural context was a little different from ours, and these are descriptive passages, not prescriptive. Sometimes different cultures call for different approaches. Additionally, one woman’s “gentle and respectful” is another woman’s “harsh and unkind.” I’ve written discernment articles that were characterized as hateful by some Christians and too nice toward the false teacher by others- both about the same article!

Although I fail miserably at it – often – I try to use 2 Timothy 2:24-26 as my guideline when I write:

And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

It not only reminds me of how to contend for the faith (not quarrelsome, kind, patient, gentle), it reminds me who I’m contending for (those being held captive by Satan’s snare of false doctrine), and why I’m contending (that they might repent, know the truth, come to their senses, and escape captivity).

John’s point: “[DNDMs] are unhealthy…’you are what you eat’…A diet of constant critical speech and reading is naturally going to produce a critical spirit.”

Michelle’s agreement: This is absolutely true. I don’t know whether it makes me over-critical or not, but when I OD on discernment media it certainly makes me feel angry, frustrated, depressed, and that there’s no hope for the church. It takes my eyes off Christ and the very real salvific and sanctifying work He is still doing in churches across across the globe, and causes me to focus on the monster of false doctrine instead.

It’s exceedingly important that we not go overboard on discernment or any other single aspect of theology or or spiritual life. In order to be spiritually healthy, we must have a balance of all the good things: discernment, Bible study, prayer, evangelism, fellowship, worship, service, etc. When I find myself spending too much time in Discernment Land, I know it’s time to step back and readjust my focus.

John’s point: “They are not very helpful…I don’t think very many Christians, especially the kind who read theological blogs, are going to be taken in by [blatantly obvious false teachers].”

Michelle’s agreement/counterpoint: I’ve already shared my thoughts on the helpfulness of discernment ministries for Christians who are not discerning, but, if I’m understanding him correctly, I think what John is saying here is that Christians who are already discerning aren’t going to be taken in by false teachers, and, therefore, have little need for regular consumption of discernment media. I generally agree with that. I still subscribe to a few DNDMs and peruse their daily headlines, not because I need to learn discernment, but because I like to know what’s going on in the church, just like people skim section A of the newspaper because they like to know what’s going on in the world.

I might add, though, that just because someone is the type of person who reads theological blogs doesn’t mean he’s on top of things, discernment-wise. Thom Rainer writes a theological blog (and books, and has a seminary Ph.D), yet persists in allowing false doctrine onto the shelves of LifeWay despite the many rebukes he has received from pastors, seminarians, lay people, and, yes, discernment media. Not long ago, I took a class via video from a conservative Southern Baptist seminary president who positively (albeit in passing) cited Beth Moore and Rick Warren in one of the sessions. And these are just two isolated examples. There are many more.

John’s point: “[DNDMs] often have significant blindspots…In their rush to expose the errors of others, often discernment bloggers/podcasters can overlook real problems with themselves or with their theological allies, especially in the areas of tone and conduct.”

Michelle’s agreement: This is so true. There’s no way I could disagree with this, because I have been guilty of it myself far too often. I would only add that this is not a problem specific to discernment ministry. Every ministry has blind spots because every Christian has blind spots. We’re all guilty of hypocrisy, myopia, failure, and sin. And, because we’re believers, when a brother or sister points out our sin, we repent, we receive God’s wonderful, cleansing, restorative grace, mercy, and forgiveness, and we move forward in obedience to Him and His word.

John closes out his insightful article with this thought:

I am not saying that you must swear off “discernment” blogs and podcasts, but I am saying I did, for the reasons above along with others, and I think I am better off for it. I would challenge you to consider what I have written and to think deeply about your spiritual diet. I am exhorting you to be discerning about discernment ministries.

I am not saying you must partake of discernment blogs and podcasts. But I am saying I do, for the reasons above along with others, and I think I am better off for it. I would challenge you to consider what John and I have written and to think deeply about your spiritual diet. I am exhorting you to think about it, study about it, pray about it, and discern what God would have you do about consuming discernment media.

Complementarianism

CARM Resource on Female “Pastors”

CARM has a great resource for sharing biblical truth about female "pastors".

 

Are you familiar with the Christian Apologetics & Resource Ministry (CARM)? You should be. It’s an invaluable resource. From answers to tough questions, to apologetics training, to information on tons of cults, world religions, and heresies, CARM is a treasure trove of materials that will inform you, help you grow in your faith, and evangelize and disciple others.

Recently, I came across this resource article for churches which approve female pastors and elders. Readers often ask me for information like this that they can send out, so I thought I’d pass it along. Click here for the full article.

Discernment

Still Be Discerning about Discerners Discerning Discernment Ministries

discerners discerning discernment

Recently, one of my favorite blogs, ParkingSpace23 (a fantastic, doctrinally sound blog I’d encourage everyone to subscribe to), published an excellent article by John Chester called Still Be Discerning about Discernment Ministries. It’s all about John’s thoughts on discernment blogs and podcasts and why he has chosen to swear off of them.

John seems like a thoughtful guy and he handled what can be a touchy subject evenly, calmly, scripturally, and with grace. As someone who frequently writes on discernment topics, it gave me some good food for thought and an opportunity to biblically examine both my writing and reading/listening habits. It’s a great article, I was thankful for it, and I agree with a lot of his points.

But while John has decided not to partake of discernment blogs and podcasts, I still find discernment ministry to be an important aspect of this blog as well as my personal spiritual “diet”. Does that mean I think John, or any other Christian, is wrong for not wanting to regularly read or listen to discernment material? Absolutely not! But I’d like to present a bit of a different perspective regarding the value of discernment ministry.

In the first few paragraphs of his article, John draws a distinction between two different types of discernment ministries- a disctinction which I think is both astute and important. John differentiates between what I would call “propositional” discernment sites like CARM, and, if I’m understanding him correctly, mine – which generally post single, position paper-type articles on a given false teacher or false doctrine – and what I would call “daily news” discernment ministries such as Berean Research and Fighting for the Faith – which report on the shenanigans du jour of false teachers and apostate churches.

John’s position is that the propositional discernment ministries [PDM] can be helpful when needed, but he is not fond of the daily news discernment ministries [DNDM]. I think both can be beneficial, assuming they’re done biblically. Take a look at John’s points and my counterpoints, and then you can prayerfully decide whether or not it would be profitable for your sanctification to include discernment media as part of your spiritual fare.

John’s point: “[DNDMs] often spend much time dissecting sermons or blog posts that someone with even a rudimentary sense of discernment would have stopped listening to or reading within the first few phrases.”

Michelle’s counterpoint: “Someone with even a rudimentary sense of discernment” is the crucial phrase here. Perhaps John is blessed to pastor a body of believers who are good bereans and most of the Christians he knows are discerning. I hope that’s the case. It should be the case that every believer has “a rudimentary sense of discernment” and immediately rejects false doctrine when she hears it. Nothing would bring me more joy.

But, sadly, that’s not the case. In fact, in my experience, the exact opposite is true, especially among Christian women. The vast majority of Christians are very undiscerning when it comes to false teachers and false doctrine. Often, people lack discernment because they’re false converts. But because most churches don’t proactively teach discernment, there are also plenty of genuninely born again believers who take at face value that anything which wears the label of “Christian,” is sold at a Christian retailer, or is proclaimed by a Christian celebrity is biblical and trustworthy.

I know, because I used to be one of those undiscerning Christians who hadn’t been taught any better by my church. Sure, I could pick out charlatans like Benny Hinn or Todd Bentley, and I probably would have described people like Kenneth Copeland and Jesse Duplantis as “wrong” or “that’s not what Baptists believe” without really knowing why. But the Beth Moore Bible studies that every church I’ve ever been a member of has pushed on its female membership? I had no idea she was teaching false doctrine, especially since my own church was endorsing her books.

It wasn’t until I Providentially “stumbled across” Todd Friel’s TV program, Wretched, one night several years ago that I began to understand what false doctrine was, why it was wrong, biblically, and how it could hurt me and the church. And it wasn’t until I discovered Chris Rosebrough’s Fighting for the Faith that I learned how to compare everything to Scripture – to listen to sermons with a discerning ear and read Christian books with a discerning mind. Todd and Chris taught me the discernment no church ever bothered to mention to me. And from the myriad of discerning Christians I’ve known, heard from, and read about, people like me are the rule, not the exception.

It’s not right that the church isn’t teaching Christians how to be discerning. I think every biblically responsible discernment ministry would agree that it is the church’s job, not a discernment ministry’s, to teach Christians to be bereans. But that’s not happening. And I thank God for those ministries who are standing in the gap- who have helped thousands of Christians like me.

John’s point: “[DNDMs] are unbiblical. What I mean is that there seems to me to be no biblical model or mandate for this kind of ‘ministry’.”

Michelle’s counterpoint: John may hold more closely to the regulative principle than I do, which would, understandably, account for my difference in perspective from this point. We do a lot of things, both in church and in parachurch ministry, that there’s no specific biblical model or mandate for. There’s no biblical model or mandate for vacation Bible school or crisis pregnancy ministry or handing out gospel tracts or even writing for a Christian blog. Yet these, and many other ministries, can carry the gospel to the lost (I’ve heard of many people who have read/listened to DNDMs, realized they were false converts, and have become believers.) and edify the saved – just like discernment ministries can. And there’s certainly a biblical mandate for that.

John’s point: “Did Jesus ever engage in a point by point take down of a particular Pharisee’s teaching that is recorded in Scripture? How much do we know about the Nicolaitans…in Revelation 2:15?… Or… the Colossian heresy…in Colossians 2:8?”

Michelle’s counterpoint: Jesus didn’t do sermon reviews (that we know of) the same way Chris Rosebrough does. But He did publicly enumerate and correct many of the Pharisees’ false teachings in Matthew 23. He publicly clarified Scripture and corrected unbiblical beliefs and false teachings – “You have heard it said…but I say to you…” – in the Sermon on the Mount. He publicly warned people against the false teaching of the scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees. And every time those scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees confronted Him with questions or after a miracle, He set them straight for the whole crowd to hear.

As to the Nicolaitan and Colossian heresies, Colossians and Revelation 2 were addressed to particular churches. Just because we may not know much about these heresies doesn’t mean the Ephesian and Colossian churches weren’t thoroughly familiar with them. Perhaps that’s why John and Paul didn’t elaborate- because their intended audiences were already knowledgeable about those heresies. And perhaps the reason they might have been familiar with those heresies is that they were constantly being warned about them. Every book in the New Testament (except Philemon) warns against false teaching or false teachers.

Not so with the church today. Christians are not only not being warned about the heresies and false teachers running rampant in evangelicalism, undiscerning pastors are actually embracing false teachers, inviting them to speak at their churches, simulcasting their conferences, sharing their social media posts, and ordering their materials for the church’s small groups. And the church at large is so biblically illiterate that Christians have no idea they’re being fed false doctrine.

John’s point: “Curiously many discernment mavens will quote 1 Peter 3:15 as a text that supports what they do. But to be blunt, it doesn’t, not by a long shot…. This is about being ready to proclaim Christ to those who would persecute you.”

Michelle’s agreement: I could not agree with this point more. This verse isn’t about discernment. (I usually hear this verse more frequently in support of apologetics ministries, and it isn’t about apologetics, either.) It’s about evangelism.

One of the main features of today’s false doctrine is the twisting of Scripture and ripping it out of context. How can we who do discernment work rebuke false teachers for taking Scripture out of context and then turn right around and do the same to justify our own ministries? We know better. Specks and logs, anyone?

There are plenty of other passages of Scripture (such as the ones I’ve cited above and others) that speak of the importance of warning against false teachers and removing false doctrine from the church. We should not be using a verse that has nothing to do with discernment to justify discernment ministry.

John’s point: “Don’t get me started on the lack of gentleness and respect [from 1 Peter 3:15] that permeates many of these blogs and podcasts.”

Michelle’s agreement/counterpoint: John is right, here. Some of the discernment ministries that (incorrectly) claim the first part of 1 Peter 3:15 as justification for their ministry are not following the second part of the verse which says to “do so with gentleness and respect”. There are discernment ministries whose articles I absolutely will not share or link to because their snideness and name calling are so over the top it overshadows the valid point they’re trying to make, sometimes even damaging their own credibility.

At the same time, we do see instances of Jesus using harsh language and calling false teachers names, and Paul, Elijah, and others couldn’t always be characterized as gentle or respectful.

The thing is, their cultural context was a little different from ours, and these are descriptive passages, not prescriptive. Sometimes different cultures call for different approaches. Additionally, one woman’s “gentle and respectful” is another woman’s “harsh and unkind.” I’ve written discernment articles that were characterized as hateful by some Christians and too nice toward the false teacher by others- both about the same article!

Although I fail miserably at it – often – I try to use 2 Timothy 2:24-26 as my guideline when I write:

And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

It not only reminds me of how to contend for the faith (not quarrelsome, kind, patient, gentle), it reminds me who I’m contending for (those being held captive by Satan’s snare of false doctrine), and why I’m contending (that they might repent, know the truth, come to their senses, and escape captivity).

John’s point: “[DNDMs] are unhealthy…’you are what you eat’…A diet of constant critical speech and reading is naturally going to produce a critical spirit.”

Michelle’s agreement: This is absolutely true. I don’t know whether it makes me over-critical or not, but when I OD on discernment media it certainly makes me feel angry, frustrated, depressed, and that there’s no hope for the church. It takes my eyes off Christ and the very real salvific and sanctifying work He is still doing in churches across across the globe, and causes me to focus on the monster of false doctrine instead.

It’s exceedingly important that we not go overboard on discernment or any other single aspect of theology or or spiritual life. In order to be spiritually healthy, we must have a balance of all the good things: discernment, Bible study, prayer, evangelism, fellowship, worship, service, etc. When I find myself spending too much time in Discernment Land, I know it’s time to step back and readjust my focus.

John’s point: “They are not very helpful…I don’t think very many Christians, especially the kind who read theological blogs, are going to be taken in by [blatantly obvious false teachers].”

Michelle’s agreement/counterpoint: I’ve already shared my thoughts on the helpfulness of discernment ministries for Christians who are not discerning, but, if I’m understanding him correctly, I think what John is saying here is that Christians who are already discerning aren’t going to be taken in by false teachers, and, therefore, have little need for regular consumption of discernment media. I generally agree with that. I still subscribe to a few DNDMs and peruse their daily headlines, not because I need to learn discernment, but because I like to know what’s going on in the church, just like people skim section A of the newspaper because they like to know what’s going on in the world.

I might add, though, that just because someone is the type of person who reads theological blogs doesn’t mean he’s on top of things, discernment-wise. Thom Rainer writes a theological blog (and books, and has a seminary Ph.D), yet persists in allowing false doctrine onto the shelves of LifeWay despite the many rebukes he has received from pastors, seminarians, lay people, and, yes, discernment media. Not long ago, I took a class via video from a conservative Southern Baptist seminary president who positively (albeit in passing) cited Beth Moore and Rick Warren in one of the sessions. And these are just two isolated examples. There are many more.

John’s point: “[DNDMs] often have significant blindspots…In their rush to expose the errors of others, often discernment bloggers/podcasters can overlook real problems with themselves or with their theological allies, especially in the areas of tone and conduct.”

Michelle’s agreement: This is so true. There’s no way I could disagree with this, because I have been guilty of it myself far too often. I would only add that this is not a problem specific to discernment ministry. Every ministry has blind spots because every Christian has blind spots. We’re all guilty of hypocrisy, myopia, failure, and sin. And, because we’re believers, when a brother or sister points out our sin, we repent, we receive God’s wonderful, cleansing, restorative grace, mercy, and forgiveness, and we move forward in obedience to Him and His word.

John closes out his insightful article with this thought:

I am not saying that you must swear off “discernment” blogs and podcasts, but I am saying I did, for the reasons above along with others, and I think I am better off for it. I would challenge you to consider what I have written and to think deeply about your spiritual diet. I am exhorting you to be discerning about discernment ministries.

I am not saying you must partake of discernment blogs and podcasts. But I am saying I do, for the reasons above along with others, and I think I am better off for it. I would challenge you to consider what John and I have written and to think deeply about your spiritual diet. I am exhorting you to think about it, study about it, pray about it, and discern what God would have you do about consuming discernment media.

Calvinism/Arminianism, Celebrity Pastors, Cessationism/Continuationism, Church, Complementarianism, Homosexuality, Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday ~ Keep On Keeping Up: 5 Issues Christians Need Guidance About from Our Pastors ~ Part 1

Originally published January 16, 2014

14333566699421

Read Part 2 of this article, “Keep On Keeping Up: 6 More Issues Christians Need Guidance About From Our Pastors” here.

"Ignorance? Of Benny Hinn? A man in Brown’s position claiming ignorance of Benny Hinn would be tantamount to an Olympic swimmer claiming ignorance of Michael Phelps or for a high level employee of Microsoft claiming ignorance of Bill Gates."
“Ignorance? Of Benny Hinn? A man in Brown’s position claiming ignorance of Benny Hinn would be tantamount to an Olympic swimmer claiming ignorance of Michael Phelps or for a high level employee of Microsoft claiming ignorance of Bill Gates.”

Last week, I read a great article by Justin Peters entitled “Ignorance Is Not An Option.” In the article, Dr. Peters addresses a recent incident in which “charismatic theologian, author, and radio host Dr. Michael Brown” claimed not to know about the reputation and heresy of Benny Hinn, one of the most notorious false teachers in the Word of Faith movement. I know about him. You probably know about him. How could someone in Dr. Brown’s position not know at least the basics about Benny Hinn and why no Christian should endorse him?

It got me thinking- “ignorance is not an option” applies to far more than this one, isolated incident. We church members desperately need our pastors to keep up with at least the basics of current trends and thought in evangelicalism, and in theology and doctrine.

Why? There is a tsunami of materials, ideas, and personalities out there, and church members- even though we should seek to keep abreast, ourselves -need help sorting through it all. What’s biblical? What’s not? Also, pastors need to be informed about who and what they endorse (even tacitly), lest they encourage their church members to follow a person or doctrine that is not in line with God’s word.

So, what, specifically, are some of those current trends that we folks in the pew need our pastors to keep up with? Here are a few, along with some great resources to spare pastors some leg work:

Celebrity Pastors and Christian Authors: Do you know who Joyce Meyer, Matt Chandler, Rick Warren, Joel Osteen, John Piper, John MacArthur, Andy Stanley, Steven Furtick, Beth Moore, Mark Driscoll, Tony Campolo, David Platt, and Rachel Held Evans are (just to name a few)?

Do you know why your people should or shouldn’t be listening to/reading them? What about any controversies surrounding them? Do you have a general awareness of whether they have a track record of, and are currently teaching, sound doctrine or false doctrine?

Church members may not know the answers to these questions, but they’re walking into Christian bookstores and buying their books, re-tweeting them, and listening to their podcasts. If a church member comes and asks you about one of these pastors/authors, what will your recommendation be? We church members need our pastors not to go by the pastor/author’s popularity, whether what they write or say sounds pleasing to the ear, how many books they’ve sold, that their stuff is sold at a store you think is trustworthy, or how big their church is. Whether we know it or not, we need your deciding factor to be: Does what they teach consistently match up with God’s word (in context)?

*Resources:
Fighting for the Faith: Listen regularly, or make good use of the search box. Chris Rosebrough has analyzed the teaching of nearly all of the people in the list above as well as many others.

Apprising Ministries: While I sometimes feel Ken Silva’s tone is too sharp, his posts are saturated with links to articles and videos of questionable teachers (plus tons of other resources) that you can check out for yourself.

Complementarianism vs. Egalitarianism: In a nutshell, complementarianism is the view that God’s roles for men and women in marriage and in the leadership of the church are different, yet equally important. Wives are to submit to their husbands, and husbands are to lovingly lead their wives and children. The roles of pastor and elder are reserved to men, and women are not to teach the Bible to men or hold authority over men in the church.

Egalitarianism basically says that there are no gender restrictions on any positions in the church, including that of pastor, and that husbands and wives are to be “mutually submissive” to one another, removing any distinctive definition of headship.

The church, and women, especially, have been heavily influenced by culture on this issue, but what does God’s word say about it?

Resources:
Complementarianism vs. Egalitarianism- Which View Is Biblicaly Correct? by GotQuestions.org
The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood

Cessationism vs. Continuationism: Did the “miracle” or “sign” gifts such as speaking in tongues/other languages, healing, visions, direct revelation from God, raising the dead, etc., come to an end with the closing of the canon or death of of the last apostle, or do these gifts continue in the same way today?

Resources: 
Strange Fire Conference audio from John MacArthur

Continuationism and Cessationism: An Interview With Dr. Wayne Grudem- Part 1 and Part 2 by Tim Challies

Calvinism vs. Arminianism:  I don’t think I could boil down the tenets of Calvinism or Arminianism to a brief paragraph in any sort of way that wouldn’t have people on both sides hot under the collar. This has been a strenuously debated topic, particularly for Southern Baptists, for the last several years.

So, let me just say, and I’m sure everyone on both sides can agree, it is extremely important to know what the Bible says about our sin nature, free will, election and predestination, and whether or not a person can lose his salvation. These are weighty issues with eternal consequences that shouldn’t be dealt with lightly or in a way that seeks to reinforce our own opinions at the expense of what God’s word says.

Resources: 
Calvinism and Arminianism by Theopedia.com

Homosexuality In the Church: Homosexuality is certainly not the only sin out there, but it’s the sin that’s the hottest topic right now. Do you know the Scriptures that address homosexuality? Do you know how to answer the canard: “Christians say that homosexuality is against God’s law, yet they eat shellfish and wear garments of mixed fabrics, which is also against God’s law,”? What would you tell a church member who thinks it’s not loving to call homosexuals to repent of their sin and trust Christ or that godly “love” means we should validate their sin? Do you know how to help Christians who are former homosexuals deal with temptation to their old sins? Is it biblical to allow unrepentant, practicing homosexuals to serve in leadership positions in the church? Things like this may be going on in your own denomination, so it’s important for church members to be trained in what God’s word actually says.

Resources: 
Homosexuality by CARM.org
How Can We Help Christians Who Are Struggling with Homosexual Desires? by John Piper
Homosexuality and the Modern Church by Robert Gagnon and Tony Reinke

*The resources given are obviously not an exhaustive list. For the most part, they are resources I have used myself, found to be helpful, and trust to be generally doctrinally sound. There are many other wonderful resources out there, but, naturally, our most important resource is to compare all things to God’s word in context.

 

Read Part 2 of this article, “Keep On Keeping Up: 6 More Issues Christians Need Guidance About From Our Pastors” here.

Celebrity Pastors, Discernment, False Teachers

Living Proof You Should Follow Beth (No) Moore

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.

Beth Moore is easily the world’s best known women’s Bible study author and teacher in the world. With her down home charm, endless energy, and stunning smile, she has captured the hearts of millions with her humor and storytelling style of teaching.

In forty years of ministry, Beth has written dozens of books. She also gives numerous Living Proof Live conferences every year and has a radio show and a television show on TBN, both called Living Proof with Beth Moore.

Beth truly seems to care about her followers and her passion about the issues of sexual abuse and racism have endeared her to many inside and outside the church.

As beloved and likable as she is, it would be so much easier and more pleasant to jump on the Beth Bandwagon than to have to warn against her as a false teacher. But as Christians, no matter how much we love a certain teacher, our highest love and loyalty must always be to Christ and His Word first, which means we must reject anything – even a beloved teacher – that is at odds with Him and the Scriptures. Beth Moore’s teaching and behavior conflicts with Scripture in several ways. For these reasons it is my sad duty to recommend that you not follow Beth Moore or receive any teaching from her or anyone connected to Living Proof Ministries.

1.
Beth Moore preaches to men

This is a video I chose at random (from the dozens of videos on YouTube featuring Beth Moore) which clearly shows men in the audience within the first 45 seconds. Beth Moore has, for quite a while, been teaching and preaching to men as well as women as you can see in this video. First Timothy 2:12 clearly forbids this.

For those who would defend her by saying, “She can’t help it if men come to her conferences,” or “Co-ed conference preaching isn’t ‘in the church’ so it’s OK,” Beth also preaches Sunday morning sermons to the entire congregation (including men) in churches (see also “preaching to men” link above). The screenshot below refers to Beth preaching the Mother’s Day Sunday morning service at the Tomball, Texas campus of her home church, Bayou City Fellowship, on May 12, 2019 (read more here).

Here (in a continuation of the preaching on Mother’s Day kerfuffle), Beth admits to having preached in multiple Southern Baptist worship services over her 40 year career (she has also preached in non-SBC churches) and seems to proudly defend her sin of doing so, while simultaneously boasting of her track record of obedience, by saying it only happened fifteen times.

It’s a bit confusing. Is Beth saying preaching to men is a sin and we should be grateful she only did it fifteen times? If so, this is not how we handle sin. We do not boast like the Pharisee about how few times we have sinned and how obedient we are, we grieve over even one sin, repent, and cry out with the publican, “God be merciful to me, a sinner!”. Also if Beth is saying it’s a sin, why is she defending the fact on Friday, May 10, that she is still planning to preach on Sunday, May 12? Why isn’t she instead confessing her plan to sin, humbly repenting, and announcing that she will not preach on Sunday?

If Beth is saying preaching to men is not a sin, why is she defending herself as only having done it fifteen times? Why didn’t she do it far more than only fifteen times over 40 years? Why not proudly enumerate all the times and places she has preached? Why have we not heretofore heard about these fifteen preaching events, as we hear about all her other speaking events, if it was OK for her to preach? Why didn’t she list the Mother’s Day event in question on her website alongside all her other speaking engagements? Why didn’t she talk it up on social media as she does with other speaking engagements? Why didn’t the church she’s speaking at excitedly advertise that she would be speaking as other venues do when she speaks?

Beth seems to know that preaching to men is a sin, but is trying to defend the fact that she does so.

2.
Beth Moore partners with,
and is being influenced by, false teachers

1604918_699878473386423_735390230_n
Beth Moore tweeted this in December 2013. “Lakewood” is prosperity preacher Joel Osteen’s church. Christine Caine also preaches to men and hails from the leadership team of Word of Faith (prosperity gospel) church, Hillsong.

One need only peruse Beth’s Twitter feed to see other false teachers she allows herself to be influenced by: Matthew Vines, Rachel Held Evans, Christine Caine, Sarah Bessey, Andy Stanley, and more (including Jen Hatmaker and Jonathan Merritt – see An Open Letter to Beth Moore in #5 below).

Beth Moore speaking at Hillsong’s 2012 Colour Conference.

Screen Shot 2012-11-11 at 7.10.17 AM

Beth Moore has been a featured speaker at Hillsong‘s Colour Conference for women several times (2014, 2015), and at the 2017 Hillsong Conference which is co-ed. She even has her own page at the Hillsong website. She was also a featured speaker at the “Be the Change” conference with Christine Caine and Lisa Bevere in 2012.

In 2014, Beth began an ongoing partnership with Joyce Meyer, regularly appearing on her television show and serving as one of two main speakers (the other was Christine Caine) at Joyce’s 2016 women’s conference. See the “Additional Resources” section at the end of this article for other false teachers Beth joins with.

“We’re excited to have Beth Moore in the studio with us today taping upcoming shows of Enjoying Everyday Life.
We’ll keep you posted as soon as they are available
.”

10608217_10152695622382384_1237037107390740359_o

In 2015, Beth launched her own show on TBN, which is sometimes jokingly called the “Total Blasphemy Network,” due to the fact that nearly all of their programs feature or are hosted by some of the worst of the worst false teachers, mostly those of the New Apostolic Reformation variety.

The pictures below were posted by head “pastor” of Hillsong, Brian Houston, on his Facebook page on March 8, 2019 after he interviewed Beth for his TBN television show “Let’s Talk, with Brian Houston”.

Brian Houston and Beth Moore

Laurie Crouch, Beth Moore, Matt Crouch (President of TBN), Brian Houston,
Victoria Osteen, Joel Osteen

On April 8, 2019, Beth appeared with Laurie Crouch (daughter-in-law of the late Paul and Jan Crouch) and Victoria Osteen on the TBN program, Praise.

Beth Moore, Victoria Osteen, Laurie Crouch

Scripture is quite clear that we are to have nothing to do with false teachers, especially when it comes to ministry.

Galatians 1:6-92 Corinthians 6:14-16, 11:3-4, 2 John 9-11, Romans 16:17-181 Corinthians 15:33, Proverbs 13:20

3.
Beth Moore claims to receive direct,
personal, extra-biblical revelation from God

Beloved, I am convinced one of our severest needs is pure rest. Not only sleep, but refreshment and recreation. Recently God spoke to me about capturing what He and I are calling “Sabbath moments.” Like many of yours, my schedule right now is particularly tough, and I see no time in 400000000000000263331_s4the near future for a number of days off. God spoke to my heart one Saturday morning while I was preparing for Sunday school: “My child, in between more intense rests, I want to teach you to take Sabbath moments.” I wasn’t certain what He meant. Just that morning God confirmed His desire for me to drive all the way to the other side of Houston to the medical center to visit a patient with brain cancer. I was very thankful for the privilege of visiting this patient, but I knew in advance it would be tough emotionally and far from restful.
Excerpted from Beth Moore’s The Beloved Disciple


What God began to say to me about five years ago, and I’m telling you it sent me on such a trek with Him, that my head is still whirling over it.th

He began to say to me, ”I’m gonna tell you something right now, Beth; and boy, you write this one down. And you say it as often as I give you utterance to say it: ‘My Bride is paralyzed by unbelief. My Bride is paralyzed by unbelief.’” And He said, “Startin’ with you.”
Excerpted from Beth Moore’s “Believing God” video

Pick up any Beth Moore book or watch any video of her teaching, and count how many times she says, “I think…” or “I believe…” or bases her teaching on a personal experience or story rather than teaching what God’s word clearly says.

2 Timothy 3:16-17, Romans 10:17, Hebrews 1:1-2

4.
Beth Moore refuses correction

In this video, Beth Moore pre-emptively strikes out at anyone who sees and hears what she will soon be teaching or doing and finds it to be in conflict with Scripture. Do you notice she does not quote or read a single passage of Scripture to back up what she is saying? Notice how many times she says “I believe…” This is all based on her own subjective ideations. You can find the transcript here if you would like to read it.

Instead of taking a step back and honestly evaluating where she is wrong on the biblical issues she has been called to account for, Beth Moore frequently doubles down as in this blog post striking out against people calling her a heretic or a false teacher for “disagreement” or “getting something wrong.” My comment to her (which I’m amazed they actually published):

Beth-

You’re absolutely right, a simple difference of opinion between two people doesn’t make someone a false teacher. And making a mistake or getting something wrong doesn’t make someone a false teacher either, if, when she is shown from Scripture that she is wrong, she repents and stops doing/teaching whatever she was wrong about.

That’s not what’s going on here.

You have been shown numerous times by numerous people that you mishandle and disobey God’s word (you preach to men in direct violation of 1 Timothy 2:12ff, you have unequally yoked yourself with false teachers in the prosperity gospel movement such as Christine Caine, Joyce Meyer, and others, also in violation of Scripture, you twist and misapply God’s word, etc.) and yet you persist in doing so and continue to justify yourself and cast aspersions on brothers and sisters in Christ who call you to repent and conform to God’s word. THAT is what makes you a false teacher, not a simple mistake or disagreement.

You are not being called a false teacher because of man’s opinion, but because you rebel against God’s word and lead others to do the same. Please repent, obey God’s word, and teach sound doctrine. That is what the women who listen to you need.

At the end of this same blog post, in response to comments like mine calling her to repent for her false doctrine, Beth later wrote an addendum which further illustrates her inability to accept correction. The addendum included this odd statement, displaying either her confusion or ignorance about God’s word and His authority:

“Nothing equates with the Scriptures: no word of knowledge, no prophetic message, no insight, no revelation, no dream, no vision. Nothing. That doesn’t mean they can’t be valid. The New Testament says they can. But they must never supplant or be placed on the same level with the Scriptures.”

This makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. First of all, where – in context and rightly handled – does the New Testament say this? It can’t. All of the dreams, visions, prophecies, etc. in the Bible from God to His people became Scripture once they were written down, and we know that all Scripture is breathed out by God. Know what that means? God Himself equates all of these types of revelation with Scripture.

When God speaks, God speaks. He doesn’t speak authoritatively in Scripture and non-authoritatively or less authoritatively outside of Scripture. Doing so would make Him imperfect and, thus, not God. People who claim to receive “words of knowledge, prophetic messages, insights, revelations, dreams, and visions” claim that these extra-biblical revelations are God speaking to them. If this is true, and this really is God speaking, then His spoken word to them is“on the same level as Scripture”. (And I won’t even go into the instances in which these folks, including Beth Moore, have said God has told them something that conflicts with Scripture or that God told them something was going to happen and it didn’t. I guess God just gets it wrong sometimes?) If it is not true and it really isn’t God speaking to them then why are we listening to them and why are they saying that their own ideas and imaginings are God speaking to them?

Proverbs 18:2, Ecclesiastes 7:5, Galatians 2:11-14

5.
Beth Moore is heading toward affirming homosexuality

In the summer of 2019, five women bloggers and Bible teachers and I, published An Open Letter to Beth Moore. It was subsequently signed by nearly 500 additional Christian women. The letter was merely a request for clarification of Beth’s views on homosexuality since she maintains public, adulatory friendships with well known homosexuality-affirming evangelicals such as Jen Hatmaker and Jonathan Merritt, and since she has been virtually silent on the issue of homosexuality in recent years while not hesitating to speak out on other heinous sins.

For two and a half weeks, Beth ignored the letter, slandered the signers of the letter, and refused to make her position on homosexuality clear in any venue. It was then discovered that Beth had biblically addressed the sin of homosexuality in her book Praying God’s Word, but had later removed this section from the book because she felt she had “exceeded Scripture”. Finally, Beth wrote a blog post explaining why she had removed this passage and making a biblical statement on human sexuality, yet still not declaring homosexuality to be a sin. (You can read more about this series of events in my articles Questions about the Open Letter to Beth Moore and An Open Letter to Beth Moore – Timeline of Events.)

A few weeks after Beth’s blog post, Beth admitted she has been looking into the arena of same sex attracted (SSA) Christianity on her LifeWay-sponsored TBN television show, in an episode entitled Staying Afloat on the Fellow Ship – Part 4. 

Though Beth’s words may not sound problematic to some, Elizabeth Prata explains in her article Listen carefully to what she is saying in this video…, exactly why Beth’s remarks signal her trajectory toward acceptance of homosexuality:

In her latest lesson video on unity and fellowship, Moore used many phrases and code words that indicate her stance toward same sex attraction, homosexuality, and their attendant issues, is aligned with the aforementioned folks she was supposed to be ministering to in love by warning against these very things.

Moore makes it sound as if homosexuals are doing Jesus a favor by choosing celibacy. Homosexually attracted people are no different in their sin than…any other flavor of sexual sin…touting their “tremendous sacrifice” makes it seem as if they are.

I believe this video and Moore’s recent handling of the homosexuality issue means Moore seems to be readying herself to ‘come out’ as it were, of affirming homosexuals in some way as believers.

 

These are five theological areas in which Beth Moore behaves and speaks in ways that mishandle God’s word or otherwise conflict with the Bible. Below are some additional specific evidences of her false teaching and disobedience to Scripture.

Additional Resources:

My articles and resources:

After Thought Podcast Guest Appearance Part 1, Part 2: The Open Letter to Beth Moore

The Rapp Report Podcast Guest Appearance: The Open Letter to Beth Moore and Complementarianism

Theology. Driven. Podcast Guest Appearance: Beth Moore, the SBC, and Christian Women

The Mailbag: What did you think of Beth Moore’s “A Letter to My Brothers”?

The Mother of All Rebellions: Having a Woman Preach on Mother’s Day


Articles and resources from others:

Disclaimer: The specific links below are provided and endorsed as evidence pertaining to this article only. I do not endorse any of these sites in so far as any of them might deviate from Scripture or conflict with my beliefs as outlined in the “Welcome” or “Statement of Faith” tabs at the top of this page.

Overviews/Series – Multiple Theological Problems with Beth Moore:

Critiques of Beth Moore (long version) by Elizabeth Prata

Critiques of Beth Moore (newest) by Elizabeth Prata

Articles on Beth Moore by Elizabeth Prata

Why Your Pastor Should Say “No More” to Beth Moore and Why the SBC Should Say “No More” to Beth Moore by Josh Buice

The Beth Moore Cornucopia of False Doctrine, Mysticism, and Impassioned Frenzy by Steven Kozar

Beth Moore at Fighting for the Faith

The Fundamental Problem of Beth Moore at Voice of Reason Radio

Preaching to Men:

Beth preaches the Sunday morning sermon at Transformation Church, June 2019 (see Chris Rosebrough’s brief critique of this sermon here)

Beth Moore vs. Owen Strahan at WWUTT Podcast
(Related links):
Michelle Lesley’s Twitter thread on Beth’s Sunday sermon preaching
Beth Moore’s Twitter response to Midwestern Seminary professor Owen
Strahan’s article on biblical complementarianism

The Mother of All Rebellions: Having a Woman Preach on Mother’s Day

Beth Moore Goes off Like a Bottle Rocket by Gabe Hughes

Beth Moore, Do You Have Your Own Rule Book? by Cody Libolt

How Beth Moore Is Calling Down Pentecostal Fire at Charisma (Please note, this is an article praising Beth for doing unbiblical things and is provided only for evidence of such. Charisma promotes all sorts of false doctrine, and I definitely do not recommend or endorse it.)

Beth Moore preaches the Sunday sermon at Bayou City Fellowship Church

Beth Moore preaches the Sunday sermon at Louie Giglio’s Passion City Church

Partnering with False Teachers

Beth Moore, Joyce Meyer, and Christine Caine Q&A after Joyce Meyer’s 2016 Love Life Conference

Beth Moore’s new television show on (Word of Faith) TBN (Sponsored by LifeWay)

Andy Stanley Weighs in on Beth Moore at Wretched

Unbiblical Teaching and Misuse of Scripture/Book Reviews

Beth Moore’s ‘Sabbath Moment’ Playdate with God by Do Not Be Surprised

Beth Moore – False Teacher at The King’s Dale

Beth Moore by CARM.org

“Breaking Free” from Beth Moore and Her “Try Hard” Theology by Lisa Nunley at Sola Sisters

Theology…More or Less With Beth by Sarah Flashing at Midwest Christian Outreach

What Happens When We See Beth Moore Teach the Bible- Podcast and Resources by Equipping Eve

Justin Peters and Brannon Howse on Beth Moore (The actual title of this video is a bit misleading. It is mostly about Beth’s ecumenism/false teaching. Joyce Meyer is not mentioned until the last 1-2 minutes of the video.)

Biblical reviews of Beth Moore simulcasts and other materials by Chapter 3 Ministries

Why We (Still) Warn Against Beth Moore at Things Above Us

Book Reviews:

So Long, Insecurity: You’ve Been a Bad Friend to Us by Beth Moore at The King’s Dale

Breaking Free: Discover the Victory of Total Surrender at The King’s Dale

Beth Moore’s “Breaking Free” at The Watchman’s Bagpipes

Jesus the One and Only at The King’s Dale

Praying God’s Word: Breaking Free from Spiritual Strongholds at The King’s Dale

Beth Moore- A review of “Stepping Up” at …Say What?


The (Rotten) Fruit of Beth Moore’s Ministry

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.
Matthew 7:15-20

Beth’s followers and supporters are the fruit of her ministry. Are they good fruit or bad fruit? Is she a healthy tree or a diseased tree? Would a godly, doctrinally sound teacher have multiple followers who are homosexuals and homosexuality-affirming? Who rebel against the Bible’s teaching on gender roles? Who blithely blaspheme, spew profanity, and threaten Believers who object to Beth’s sins and false teaching? Who slander and make false accusations against Believers, and display every opposite of the Fruit of the Spirit?

An Open Letter to Beth Moore – Timeline of Events (Scroll down toward to the end of the “Saturday, July 6” section for comments from Beth’s homosexual and homosexuality-affirming followers.)

Twitter thread showing many ungodly comments from Beth’s followers


Better is open rebuke than hidden love.
Proverbs 27:5