Discernment

Jennie Allen and IF:Gathering

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


If you are considering commenting or sending me an e-mail objecting to the fact that I warn against certain teachers, please click here and read this article first. Your objection is most likely answered here. I won’t be publishing comments or answering emails that are answered by this article.

 

I get lots of questions about particular authors, pastors, and Bible teachers, and whether or not I recommend them. Some of the best known can be found above at my Popular False Teachers tab. The teacher below is someone I’ve been asked about recently, so I’ve done a quick check (this is brief research, not exhaustive) on her.

Generally speaking, in order for me to recommend a teacher, speaker, or author, he or she has to meet three criteria:

a) A female teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly preach to or teach men in violation of 1 Timothy 2:12. A male teacher or pastor cannot allow women to carry out this violation of Scripture in his ministry. The pastor or teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly be living in any other sin (for example, cohabiting with her boyfriend or living as a homosexual).

b) The pastor or teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly be partnering with or frequently appearing with false teachers. This is a violation of Scripture.

c) The pastor or teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly be teaching false doctrine.

I am not very familiar with most of the teachers I’m asked about (there are so many out there!) and have not had the opportunity to examine their writings or hear them speak, so most of the “quick checking” I do involves items a and b (although in order to partner with false teachers (b) it is reasonable to assume their doctrine is acceptable to the false teacher and that they are not teaching anything that would conflict with the false teacher’s doctrine). Partnering with false teachers and women preaching to men are each sufficient biblical reasons not to follow a pastor, teacher, or author, or use his/her materials.

Just to be clear, “not recommended” is a spectrum. On one end of this spectrum are people like Nancy Leigh DeMoss Wolgemuth and Kay Arthur. These are people I would not label as false teachers because their doctrine is generally sound, but because of some red flags I’m seeing with them, you won’t find me proactively endorsing them or suggesting them as a good resource, either. There are better people you could be listening to. On the other end of the spectrum are people like Joyce Meyer and Rachel Held Evans- complete heretics whose teachings, if believed, might lead you to an eternity in Hell. Most of the teachers I review fall somewhere in the middle of this spectrum (leaning toward the latter).

If you’d like to check out some pastors and teachers I heartily recommend, click the Recommended Bible Teachers tab at the top of this page.


Jennie Allen / IF:Gathering
Not Recommended

Jennie Allen is “a Bible teacher, author, and the founder and visionary of IF:Gathering,” an annual conference for women. She also blogs, hosts the Made for This podcast, and speaks at IF:Gathering and other events.

The IF:Gathering conference organization (now including IF:Pray, IF:Lead, IF:Equip, IF:Table, IF:Local, IF:TV, and Discipleship Collective), around which most of Jennie’s ministry centers, was “inspired by the question, ‘If God is real…then what?‘.” If God is real– is a troubling premise for an ostensibly Christian ministry. The Christian existence does not center around the pablum possibility that God is real, but on the rock-solid, stake your life and your eternity on it certainty that He is not only real but the Creator of, and Sovereign over, the universe, and the only hope of salvation for sinners. If God is real…then what? as the foundation of a Christian ministry is somewhat akin to If 1+1=2, then what? as the foundational concept of a Mensa-esque organization for the top mathematical minds in the world.

As to the “…then what?” part of the equation, Jennie’s and IF’s solution is woefully unbiblical. Jennie has an established history of embracing and partnering in ministry with false teachers, female “pastors,” and women who preach to men. Just a few of the many available examples:

Some of the guests on Jennie’s podcast have included Priscilla Shirer and Chrystal Evans Hurst (ep. 08), Beth Moore (ep. 04), Christine Caine (ep. 09), and “diversity expert” and Black Lives Matter supporter, LaTasha Morrison (multiple episodes).

Since the launch of IF:Gathering in 2014, Jennie has habitually featured false and biblically problematic teachers and female preachers/pastors as speakers and as part of IF’s leadership team:

Speakers featured at IF:Gathering over the years (many of them appearing multiple times) have included: Jen Hatmaker (here, in 2015), female “pastor” and homosexuality advocate Melissa Greene,  Ann Voskamp, Bianca Olthoff, Rebekah Lyons, Lysa TerKeurst, Jill Briscoe, Shauna Niequist, Angie Smith, Kay Warren (Rick Warren’s wife), female “pastor” Jenni Catron, Christine Caine, female “preacher” and author of Jesus Feminist, Sarah Bessey

female “co-pastor” Keisha Polonio, female “pastor” Jeanne Stevens…

Lauren Chandler, female “pastor” Layla de la Garza, Beth Moore, and others. (2020)

My guess is that all of the women who have spoken at IF have no qualms about preaching to men, and there may also be more female “pastors” in the bunch, but I was unable to research each of them, so I will just say, a large number of the women who have spoken at IF disobey God’s Word by preaching to men and/or “pastoring”.

In addition to Beth Moore speaking at IF:Gathering 2020 (and scheduled to speak at IF:Lead 2020), Jennie’s partnerships and displays of affinity with her are far too numerous to list (just Google Jennie Allen Beth Moore, and you’ll see what I mean) and have been going on for years. A couple of recent examples:

A webinar with Beth Moore:

An IF:Gathering video with Beth Moore:

 

Mutual admiration on Twitter: 

 

And here’s Jennie at a meeting “with twenty women leaders [including Bianca Olthoff] under the wisdom of Christine Caine and Joyce Meyer.”

 

Jennie has worked with and has been a featured speaker several times (including 2012, 2014, 2017, 2018, 2020) at the Catalyst conference, which is not only co-ed (so Jennie is teaching/preaching to men) but is also plagued by doctrinal problems and has featured a plethora of false teachers including founder Andy Stanley, Brian Houston, female “pastor” Charlotte Gambill, Brandon and Jen Hatmaker, and Rebekah Lyons among many others.

I can’t seem to locate a statement of faith for Jennie or what church she currently attends, so you’ll have to infer what she believes by reading her books and blog, but I have learned a few specifics about her theology. Jennie is a proponent of the unbiblical Enneagram. Jennie believes in extra-biblical revelation, and started IF:Gathering because “a voice from the sky” told her to. Jennie often focuses on “dreaming” (in the sense of future goals or creative aspirations), a concept foreign to Scripture. I downloaded her “Dream Guide” for 2019 and found some of her statements troubling:

 It really is as simple as this. Do the best you can in this world and as you’re going, love God and give Him away to people.

“Do the best you can in this world”? Where does the Bible say that? “And as you’re going, love God”? Like it’s an afterthought or an accessory to your life of “doing the best you can”? No. It really is as simple as this: Repent and believe the gospel, and walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.

When we create and thrive for the good of others, you’re participating in God’s redemptive work of making the world better. 

Again, the Bible doesn’t teach this anywhere. “God’s redemptive work” is not “making the world better.” The Bible clearly says that “the Lord will empty the earth and make it desolate, and he will twist its surface and scatter its inhabitants,” and, “the world is passing away along with its desires.” Furthermore, “God’s redemptive work” is to save people. That’s the entire point of the whole Bible. His redemptive work was completed in the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Christ to save sinners. And if you want to “participate in God’s redemptive work,” you don’t “create and thrive” (whatever that means) “for the good of others,” you share the gospel with them and disciple them as we’re commanded to in the Great Commission.

..this is our goal, to create beauty out of chaos and thrive.

Also not in the Bible anywhere. Also not our goal. As Christians, our goal is to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ, pursue holiness, and carry out the Great Commission. All of which are in the Bible.

Dreaming is an incredible privilege. It is a stewardship of the opportunities God has put in front of us.

Not to sound like a broken record, but, again, none of this is in the Bible, and the second sentence doesn’t even make logical sense. To “steward” something is to use it wisely and for a godly purpose. To do something with it to the glory of God. Sitting around “dreaming” isn’t doing anything. In fact, since “dreaming” isn’t something we’re instructed to do in Scripture, it’s actually squandering the “opportunities God has put in front of us” – opportunities like sharing the gospel, serving others, studying our Bibles, prayer, worship, etc. – which are things Scripture instructs us to do, in favor of sitting around relying on our dreams.

At the end of the “Dream Guide” are several “conversation card” questions about how you can improve yourself in the coming year. One of them is pretty good: “How could you better plug into and serve the local church?”. The rest are fairly narcissistic, and there’s nothing about studying Scripture, growing in holiness, prayer, or repenting of sin. Additionally Jennie quotes only one passage of Scripture in the entire booklet, and she quotes it from The Message, one of the worst versions (it’s a paraphrase, not a translation) of the Bible out there.

And regarding “being a strong woman in the church,” while Jennie mostly stays vague and neutral, she does touch on a few biblical concepts:

18:35- “What my husband heard from me was: My wife has strong gifts and a strong passion for God, and she wants to serve Him, and she’s not because of me.” As if she couldn’t passionately serve God with her gifts by being a godly wife and serving and submitting to her husband.

22:31- “I know that the obvious question that everybody wants to know the answer of is ‘What about roles and positions in the church?’…But I think we oftentimes get so distracted by that…that we are missing all the work that God has for us. And, you know, my view on that is every local church is going to have a different opinion about that…So wherever you go, Scripture just says, ‘Don’t be divisive,’…but the bigger issue to me is the way we view each other, the way we value each other…” Notice Jennie uses no Scripture to answer the “obvious question” everybody wants to know the answer to, she only gives her personal opinion that we are getting “distracted” by this legitimate, biblical question, and that the bigger issue – to her – is not what the Bible says about the role of women in the church, but “the way we value each other”. It’s a problem that “every local church is going to have a different opinion” about the role of women in the church because there is only one position on that issue that’s biblical. The local church doesn’t get to have an opinion on that issue, the issue is decided by Scripture and the church is to submit to and uphold Scripture’s teaching on it. Furthermore, Scripture does not just say, “Don’t be divisive.” Scripture is abundantly clear what the role of women in the church is to be, and both individual women and church leaders are to obey it.

The fact that Jennie consistently and unrepentantly platforms female “pastors” and women who preach to men at IF speaks much more clearly about her personal (and unbiblical) opinion on the role of women in the church than her finessing answer here.

27:21- The interviewer asks Jennie, “What does submission mean?” Her response is much too long to quote, so I’ll summarize. The first words out of Jennie’s mouth are, “That word? To me?” She then proceeds to give a not altogether unbiblical answer about how she loves submission, but it is mainly her opinion and personal experience with her own husband, not Scripture, and primarily centers around the fact that if she brings something to her husband for a decision and he decides unbiblically, he will have to answer to God for it, not her, and that she will have no accountability to God for any sin she might commit in the process. “It’s gonna be awesome!” she chortles, as the audience laughs along, as though there’s something funny about her husband standing before God and giving an account for his decision, and her blaming him for it. Jennie then pivots to describing how “that word [submit] has been used like a pistol to [many women’s] heads” and says “so the fact that that word has a bad rap makes sense to me…Here’s the problem, guys, we’re divided, but there’s reasons on it for both sides.” She seems to be saying that submitting or not submitting is not based on Scripture’s commands, but on personal experiences and situations, and that both submitting and refusing to submit are equally valid choices depending on our own experiences, feelings, and opinions. (And, no, I am not saying women should “submit” to being abused. That’s not the biblical definition of submission.)

 

Jennie seems like a lovely, genuinely caring person, and earnest when she speaks and writes, but none of those things qualify someone to teach Scripture. And in this case, Jennie is disqualified by her errant theology and unbiblical practices. I regret that I’m forced to recommend that you not receive teaching from Jennie Allen, her materials and conferences, or anyone connected to the IF organization.


Additional Resources:

IF:Gathering:

Important questions for church leaders at Berean Research

Almost: Our Encouragement and Concern with the IF:Gathering and
Almost: an addendum since releasing this episode at Sheologians

She Reads Truth, IF:Gathering, and women bible teachers. Part 3, the IF:Gathering at The End Time

If:Gathering: more information, including video claiming direct revelation at The End Time

IF:Gathering – updated review four years later at The End Time

If:Gathering: more information at The End Time

Book Reviews:

Restless: Because You Were Made for More at Wise in His Eyes

A Review of Jennie Allen’s “Anything: The Prayer that Unlocked My God and My Soul”

Other:

Review of Jennie Allen/Beth Moore webinar, and the ‘big announcement’ revealed at The End Time

Discernment

Jackie Hill-Perry

If you are considering commenting or sending me an e-mail objecting to the fact that I warn against certain teachers, please click here and read this article first. Your objection is most likely answered here. I won’t be publishing comments or answering emails that are answered by this article.

 

I get lots of questions about particular authors, pastors, and Bible teachers, and whether or not I recommend them. Some of the best known can be found above at my Popular False Teachers tab. The teacher below is someone I’ve been asked about recently, so I’ve done a quick check (this is brief research, not exhaustive) on her.

Generally speaking, in order for me to recommend a teacher, speaker, or author, he or she has to meet three criteria:

a) A female teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly preach to or teach men in violation of 1 Timothy 2:12. A male teacher or pastor cannot allow women to carry out this violation of Scripture in his ministry. The pastor or teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly be living in any other sin (for example, cohabiting with her boyfriend or living as a homosexual).

b) The pastor or teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly be partnering with or frequently appearing with false teachers. This is a violation of Scripture.

c) The pastor or teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly be teaching false doctrine.

I am not very familiar with most of the teachers I’m asked about (there are so many out there!) and have not had the opportunity to examine their writings or hear them speak, so most of the “quick checking” I do involves items a and b (although in order to partner with false teachers (b) it is reasonable to assume their doctrine is acceptable to the false teacher and that they are not teaching anything that would conflict with the false teacher’s doctrine). Partnering with false teachers and women preaching to men are each sufficient biblical reasons not to follow a pastor, teacher, or author, or use his/her materials.

Just to be clear, “not recommended” is a spectrum. On one end of this spectrum are people like Nancy Leigh DeMoss Wolgemuth and Kay Arthur. These are people I would not label as false teachers because their doctrine is generally sound, but because of some red flags I’m seeing with them, you won’t find me proactively endorsing them or suggesting them as a good resource, either. There are better people you could be listening to. On the other end of the spectrum are people like Joyce Meyer and Rachel Held Evans- complete heretics whose teachings, if believed, might lead you to an eternity in Hell. Most of the teachers I review fall somewhere in the middle of this spectrum (leaning toward the latter).

If you’d like to check out some pastors and teachers I heartily recommend, click the Recommended Bible Teachers tab at the top of this page.


Jackie Hill Perry
Not Recommended,
but I am not applying the
label of “false teacher” at this time.*

Jackie Hill-Perry is a writer, speaker, and artist…[she shares] the light of gospel truth through teaching, writing, poetry, and music as authentically as she can.” Jackie is a Christian hip hop and spoken word artist who has released two albums, and two books. She first began to gain a following with her debut book, Gay Girl, Good God, her personal testimony of God saving her out of a life of rebellion and homosexuality.

Jackie’s initial foray into public ministry had her associating with well known Reformed (or, Reformed-ish) organizations with a reputation for doctrinal soundness such as Desiring God and The Gospel Coalition. She was even featured in the film American Gospel: Christ Alone, a documentary which presented the biblical gospel juxtaposed against the prosperity gospel. And, indeed, she still maintains many of these types of ties. For example, she is a featured speaker at the upcoming 2020 TGC Women’s Conference, and she recently announced that she will be pursuing her Master’s of Divinity degree at RTS (Reformed Theological Seminary).

Over the past several years, Jackie has publicly associated herself and/or yoked in ministry with a plethora of false teachers. I believe part of this stems from the fact that Jackie, like Jen Wikin, has has been added to LifeWay Women’s stable of women’s “Bible” study authors which, through LifeWay ministry events, has affiliated her with a number of false and problematic teachers. In addition to my normal concerns about someone yoking with false teachers (i.e. the Bible says not to, and disobeying God’s Word is a sin), I am concerned that LifeWay is using Jackie (for her reputation for being doctrinally sound) to lend credibility to the false teachers they promote, and I’m also concerned that Jackie’s previously doctrinally sound reputation is now suffering by being associated with these false teachers.

Since 2017, Jackie has partnered in ministry with Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, Christine Caine, Lysa TerKeurst, Lisa Harper, Lauren Chandler, and Amanda Bible Williams at various LifeWay Abundance and LifeWay Women Live conferences.

 

Jackie has partnered with Jennie Allen and Jamie Ivey in an IF: Equip (an arm of IF:Gathering) study, The Good Gospel.

 

In 2019, Jackie appeared at Rebekah and Gabe Lyons’ Q-ideas Conference(see also):

 

Jackie has been partnering with Christine Cane for a few years now in her Propel Women’s Activate conferences. Activate 2018 had her sharing a stage with Lisa Harper, Lisa Beverefemale “pastor” Dianna Nepstad, and Jenn Johnson of Bethel Music. Activate 2019, partnered Jackie in ministry with Lisa Harper (again), Sarah Jakes Roberts (daughter of modalist and prosperity heretic, T.D. Jakes, and co-“pastor” of two of his “churches”), female “pastors” Nona Jones and Oneka McClellan, and, once again, Jenn Johnson of Bethel Music.

In August 2019, largely due to the fact that Jackie posted this picture calling Bethel’s Jenn Johnson her “friend”

…many of Jackie’s followers were awakened, for the first time, to the fact that she has been sinfully yoking in ministry with false teachers for some time. She was rebuked by many of her followers and was even disinvited from speaking at Answers in Genesis‘ 2020 women’s conference (at which she had previously been invited to speak) when this news came to their attention. Unfortunately, instead of heeding these biblical warnings and rebukes, Jackie dug her heels in and defended both her actions and the false teachers in this Instagram post

…and in this Twitter post

…disdainfully characterizing those who were biblically right to call her to account as judgmental, arrogant, slanderous, loveless, critical, etc.

You might notice that while Jackie does cite a few Scriptures in these posts, she provides none which support her yoking with false teachers (because there aren’t any). She defends her actions and perspective only with her personal opinions and experiences (note how many times she says “I think,” “to me,” etc.). “…How are we deciding where the lines are drawn?” Jackie asks. The answer should be clear to any Christian and was certainly clear to those rebuking her: the Bible. God decides where the lines are drawn between doctrinally sound and false teacher, not Jackie or anyone else, and He makes that very clear in His written Word.

Jackie repeatedly says that she believes people like Jenn Johnson are just misguided and in need of correction, which would require us to ask, “Jackie, did you correct Jenn and the others you’ve been associating with who hold to unbiblical doctrine? If they did not repent and correct their doctrine (as appears to be the case) do you now consider them false teachers? And if you now consider them false teachers, why are you still partnering with them in ministry?”.

My friend Constance over at the Truth+Fire blog wrote a thoughtful, compassionate, and Scripture-filled article responding to this incident entitled Bye…Jackie?, which I would encourage you to read, as well as Elizabeth Prata’s excellent article (in the “Additional Resources” section below).

In addition to multiple partnerships with false teachers, Jackie, unfortunately, also preaches to men. Just a few of the copious examples:

Preaching the Sunday morning sermon (June 2019) at Progressive Baptist Church:

Preaching at the (co-ed) 2017 Urban Youth Workers Institute National Conference:

Preaching at the (co-ed) Jubilee 2020 conference:

Preaching at the (co-ed) 2019 Legacy ATL conference:

 

In addition to the concerns about Jackie yoking with false teachers and preaching to men (either of which, as I stated in the preface to this article are sufficient biblical reason to avoid a particular teacher), are some of Jackie’s remarks and associations that many perceive as her leaning toward or actually identifying with the social justice/critical race theory/intersectionality movement. While this is concerning if true, it is beyond the scope of this article and is something you will need to research for yourself if this is an aspect of her beliefs that concerns you.

*Despite the overwhelming number of examples of Jackie yoking with false teachers, preaching to men, and refusing correction, in my spirit, I do not feel comfortable applying the label of false teacher to her at this time, and I hope this label will never be necessary. There are two reasons for my reticence.

First, Jackie is young – only about 30 years old and 11 years saved as I write this. She is in desperate need of a godly, spiritually mature, discerning older woman to come alongside her, disciple her, and give her wise counsel as she grows up in Christ. Pretty much the same thing we all need at that stage of life and spiritual development. It is my hope that she will receive this kind of discipleship and that she will respond to it by repenting of the sins she is currently committing and begin walking in obedience to Christ and His Word in these areas. Let us hope she “is open to discussion” and “has ears to hear” about her errors instead of being “one who is uncorrectable and who resists correction,” and, as she requested, let us pray that where she is right now is not “where she ends up”.

Second, though I have not had the opportunity to peruse many of Jackie’s materials, it is my understanding that her teaching, while in need of improvement, is generally doctrinally sound, and that she neither blatantly twists Scripture nor teaches any overt false doctrine.

All of that being said, due to her numerous violations of God’s Word, and while we wait and prayerfully watch to see if she corrects these issues biblically, I am going to recommend for now that you not follow Jackie Hill-Perry or use her materials.


Additional Resources:

Jackie Hill Perry: Discernment Review by Elizabeth Prata

A Review of Jackie Hill-Perry’s “Jude: Contending for the Faith in Today’s Culture” by Thomas Coutouzis

Discernment

Jen Wilkin

If you are considering commenting or sending me an e-mail objecting to the fact that I warn against certain teachers, please click here and read this article first. Your objection is most likely answered here. I won’t be publishing comments or answering emails that are answered by this article.

 

I get lots of questions about particular authors, pastors, and Bible teachers, and whether or not I recommend them. Some of the best known can be found above at my Popular False Teachers tab. The teacher below is someone I’ve been asked about recently, so I’ve done a quick check (this is brief research, not exhaustive) on her.

Generally speaking, in order for me to recommend a teacher, speaker, or author, he or she has to meet three criteria:

a) A female teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly preach to or teach men in violation of 1 Timothy 2:12. A male teacher or pastor cannot allow women to carry out this violation of Scripture in his ministry. The pastor or teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly be living in any other sin (for example, cohabiting with her boyfriend or living as a homosexual).

b) The pastor or teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly be partnering with or frequently appearing with false teachers. This is a violation of Scripture.

c) The pastor or teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly be teaching false doctrine.

I am not very familiar with most of the teachers I’m asked about (there are so many out there!) and have not had the opportunity to examine their writings or hear them speak, so most of the “quick checking” I do involves items a and b (although in order to partner with false teachers (b) it is reasonable to assume their doctrine is acceptable to the false teacher and that they are not teaching anything that would conflict with the false teacher’s doctrine). Partnering with false teachers and women preaching to men are each sufficient biblical reasons not to follow a pastor, teacher, or author, or use his/her materials.

Just to be clear, “not recommended” is a spectrum. On one end of this spectrum are people like Nancy Leigh DeMoss Wolgemuth and Kay Arthur. These are people I would not label as false teachers because their doctrine is generally sound, but because of some red flags I’m seeing with them, you won’t find me proactively endorsing them or suggesting them as a good resource, either. There are better people you could be listening to. On the other end of the spectrum are people like Joyce Meyer and Rachel Held Evans- complete heretics whose teachings, if believed, might lead you to an eternity in Hell. Most of the teachers I review fall somewhere in the middle of this spectrum (leaning toward the latter).

If you’d like to check out some pastors and teachers I heartily recommend, click the Recommended Bible Teachers tab at the top of this page.


Jen Wilkin
Not Recommended, but
NOT a False Teacher 

Jen is a women’s Bible study author, blogger, and conference speaker, and is on staff at The Village Church as the Executive Director of Next Gen Ministries (TVC’s ministry to “children and students ages 0–18″). To my knowledge all of Jen’s books and Bible study materials are generally doctrinally sound, but I have some concerns about her in other areas. That said, I do not believe Jen falls in the category of false teacher at this time, and I hope she never will. I’ve published a review of Jen’s book, Women of the Wordand here is one reader’s take on her book 1 Peter: A Living Hope in Christ:

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

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

I’ve looked through all of Jen’s current (spring/summer 2020) speaking engagements. All appear to be women’s conferences or events, and her speaking engagement request form says she is a “teacher who helps women…”.

While this is a good sign that Jen usually does not preach to men or teach men the Scriptures, concerns have been raised that she may be getting too close to, or occasionally crossing this line. For example, Jen’s staff position as TVC’s “Executive Director” of children’s and student ministries, depending on the exact nature of her job responsibilities, may (I am making a reasonable inference, as TVC’s website does not explicitly say) require her to teach Scripture to, or exercise improper authority over young men in the student ministry (which includes students through age 18) and men who teach or volunteer in the student ministry. The title “Executive Director” makes it sound as though she is over the entire ministry and everyone in that ministry is under her purview.

There have also been questions about exactly where Jen stands on the biblical role of women in the church. That she presents herself as, and is known as, a strong complementarian is very clear. She has stated equally clearly that women are not to hold the office of pastor. But beyond that, in listening to and reading her articles and interviews about the importance of women leading in the church, I’m not really clear on what positions of church leadership she thinks are and are not biblical for women. For example: May a woman guest preach the Sunday sermon as long as she is not the pastor of that church? Teach co-ed adult Sunday School? Preach sermons to mixed audiences at conferences? Indeed, in the video below (~32:05), Jen says:

“We need [women’s] visible leadership. How visible? As visible as your church’s complementarianism allows.”

This answer is at best, unhelpful, and at worst, opens the door for women and pastors to rebel against Scripture. More and more churches’ so-called “complementarianism” allows women to preach the Sunday morning sermon or serve in any pastoral or leadership position short of head pastor. The biblical answer to this question (aside from the fact that the church should be far more focused on servanthood than leadership) is: Women may serve in any position in the church that does not require them to preach to, teach Scripture to, or exercise authority over men, and which does not violate any other principles of Scripture.

Perhaps, somewhere, Jen has been very clear about biblical and unbiblical positions of leadership for women and I have just missed it. I’m not saying she definitely has an unbiblical stance on these issues, I’m just saying it is often unclear as to what her stance is. (I have attempted, in the past, to contact Jen about this issue and other questions, but have not received a response.)

Adding to this confusion, Jen has spoken at several co-ed conferences leading some to question whether or not she is violating Scripture’s prohibition against women teaching the Scriptures to men. I believe she has crossed that boundary on occasion. Give the first 15 minutes of the video below a listen. Despite the fact that Jen’s very first remark is that she is not teaching the Bible in this session for pastors and church planters, she almost immediately goes on to quote and allude to the opening chapters of Genesis (and later in the video, other passages) and teach on them. I would challenge you to listen to what she says and ask yourself, “If I heard a pastor give this type of instruction, would I consider it a sermon/Bible lesson?” I think most of us could easily answer, “yes”.

(This is also the teaching session in which Jen made her infamous remarks about menstruation helping women to understand the gospel differently from men {~25:45}, which is not only a private and potentially uncomfortable subject to address in public – especially for an audience of men – it’s a patently ridiculous teaching. Menstruation teaches us nothing about the gospel. The two subjects are completely unrelated. Also, aside from Jen, I’ve never heard a single woman say her period helped her understand the shedding of Christ’s blood better.)

Again, one of the reasons it’s especially problematic for Jen to be teaching men, or to even to seem to be teaching men, is that she openly and unashamedly wears the label of complementarian. Boldly proclaiming complementarianism while actually or apparently teaching men muddies the waters and confuses the women who follow her as to what the Bible truly teaches about the role of women in the church. Are there times when it is technically not a violation of Scripture for a woman to speak with men in the audience? Yes (see #7 here). But weigh the impact Jen has on the church by speaking to men against the counter-evangelicultural impact someone of her stature could have by flagrantly refusing to teach men. Which would cause more people to sit up and take notice, set a better example for Christian women, and have a more biblical influence on the church?

Another concern about Jen is that she seems to be increasingly associating and appearing with false or problematic teachers.

In 2013, Jen wrote a blog post entitled, The Next Beth Moore in which she spoke glowingly of Beth Moore, her teaching, and one of her books. She has also had several friendly and/or affirming interactions with Beth on Twitter, and has pointed women to Beth’s writing. Jen has appeared on the IF: Gathering podcast with Jennie Allen (to discuss and promote Women of the Word), and has written a devotional for Lysa TerKeurst’s Proverbs 31 blog.

During LifeWay’s 2018 Abundance conferences, Jen appeared alongside Lisa Harper, Raechel Myers, Amanda Bible Williams, Christine Caine, Jennie Allen, Kelly Minter, Whitney Capps (of Lysa TerKeurst’s Proverbs 31 Ministries), and others.

 

L-R: Christine Caine, Lisa Harper, Raechel Myers, Whitney Capps, Amanda Bible Williams, Jen Wilkin, Jamie Ivey

In August 2020, Jen is scheduled to appear at LifeWay Women Live with Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, Jackie Hill Perry, Kelly Minter, Angie Smith, and Jennifer Rothschild. 

LifeWay Women Live 2020 Speakers

Jen has also been added to LifeWay Women’s stable of Women’s “Bible” study authors including many of the aforementioned teachers and others. In addition to my normal concerns about someone yoking with false teachers (i.e. the Bible says not to, and disobeying God’s Word is a sin), I am concerned that LifeWay is using Jen (for her reputation for being a doctrinally sound teacher and a complementarian) to lend credibility to the false teachers they promote, and I’m also concerned that Jen’s good reputation is now suffering by being associated with these false teachers.

In a strange irony, in the midst of unbiblically partnering with these false teachers, in her session, The Gospel and The Future of Bible-Centered Discipleship at the 2018 Southern Baptist Convention Pre-Conference (also to a co-ed audience), Jen teaches the following…

[Biblical literacy] guards against false teaching…Basic comprehension-level mastery of the text guards against false teaching. (~30:12)

You know what our [discipleship] formula has been for the last 20 years? [We’ve said], ‘We’re going to keep making [the level of biblical teaching] lower and lower’…It is our high calling, in the face of a biblical literacy crisis, to raise the bar in an age of low expectations. (~43:40…44:39)

And yet, Jen’s level of “mastery of the text” – to the point that she is instructing people in the text and teaching them how to improve discipleship – has not sufficiently guarded her against partnering with women who are largely responsible for the bulk of false teaching aimed at women today, who don’t teach “basic comprehension-level mastery of the text,” and who have continued to lower the bar and perpetuate low expectations for biblical literacy. Jen has associated with, talked to, and listened to the teaching of these women far more than I have, I’m certain. How does she not see this?

Finally, in the same way that the influence Steven Furtick has on Lysa TerKeurst as her pastor is worrisome, I’ve been seeing some things over the past few years with Jen’s pastor, Matt Chandler, and his wife, Lauren Chandler (with whom Jen sometimes appears at conferences), that have given me pause.

Jen is pastored by Matt, and as a ministry leader and staff member at The Village Church, she works under his direction and influence. Over the past few years, Matt has publicly praised or affirmed false teachers like Ann VoskampBeth Moore, and Jesus Culture. He has raised some questions about the extent of his continuationism by playing this video prior to a sermon, and with His notorious “pirate ship prophecy“. He allows Bethel and Israel Houghton (Joel Osteen’s former worship leader) music to be used for worship at his church. Matt allows his wife, a worship leader at TVC, to select this music, and to yoke with and be influenced by numerous false teachers. This is something to weigh when considering Jen, but weigh carefully. While it is probable that she is being influenced by Matt and Lauren and their associations, we do not know for certain the extent of her agreement with them about these associations.

In summary, my thoughts on Jen right now are that she is not a false teacher (since she is still generally teaching sound doctrine), but I still find that I’m not, in good conscience, able to encourage you to follow her, attend her conferences, or use her materials due to the red flags that are increasingly popping up with her. (As I said in the introduction to this article, there are better people you could be listening to.) We need to be cautious, watch Jen’s trajectory carefully, and pray for her, that God will deal with her heart and correct her about some of the unbiblical waters she has been wading into


Additional Resources:

Articles on Jen Wilkin by Elizabeth Prata

Discernment

Amanda Bible Williams and She Reads Truth

If you are considering commenting or sending me an e-mail objecting to the fact that I warn against certain teachers, please click here and read this article first. Your objection is most likely answered here. I won’t be publishing comments or answering emails that are answered by this article.

 

I get lots of questions about particular authors, pastors, and Bible teachers, and whether or not I recommend them. Some of the best known can be found above at my Popular False Teachers tab. The teacher below is someone I’ve been asked about recently, so I’ve done a quick check (this is brief research, not exhaustive) on her.

Generally speaking, in order for me to recommend a teacher, speaker, or author, he or she has to meet three criteria:

a) A female teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly preach to or teach men in violation of 1 Timothy 2:12. A male teacher or pastor cannot allow women to carry out this violation of Scripture in his ministry. The pastor or teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly be living in any other sin (for example, cohabiting with her boyfriend or living as a homosexual).

b) The pastor or teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly be partnering with or frequently appearing with false teachers. This is a violation of Scripture.

c) The pastor or teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly be teaching false doctrine.

I am not very familiar with most of the teachers I’m asked about (there are so many out there!) and have not had the opportunity to examine their writings or hear them speak, so most of the “quick checking” I do involves items a and b (although in order to partner with false teachers (b) it is reasonable to assume their doctrine is acceptable to the false teacher and that they are not teaching anything that would conflict with the false teacher’s doctrine). Partnering with false teachers and women preaching to men are each sufficient biblical reasons not to follow a pastor, teacher, or author, or use his/her materials.

Just to be clear, “not recommended” is a spectrum. On one end of this spectrum are people like Nancy Leigh DeMoss Wolgemuth and Kay Arthur. These are people I would not label as false teachers because their doctrine is generally sound, but because of some red flags I’m seeing with them, you won’t find me proactively endorsing them or suggesting them as a good resource, either. There are better people you could be listening to. On the other end of the spectrum are people like Joyce Meyer and Rachel Held Evans- complete heretics whose teachings, if believed, might lead you to an eternity in Hell. Most of the teachers I review fall somewhere in the middle of this spectrum (leaning toward the latter).

If you’d like to check out some pastors and teachers I heartily recommend, click the Recommended Bible Teachers tab at the top of this page.


Amanda Bible Williams
Not Recommended

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Discernment

Sheila Walsh

If you are considering commenting or sending me an e-mail objecting to the fact that I warn against certain teachers, please click here and read this article first. Your objection is most likely answered here. I won’t be publishing comments or answering emails that are answered by this article.

 

I get lots of questions about particular authors, pastors, and Bible teachers, and whether or not I recommend them. Some of the best known can be found above at my Popular False Teachers tab. The teacher below is someone I’ve been asked about recently, so I’ve done a quick check (this is brief research, not exhaustive) on her.

Generally speaking, in order for me to recommend a teacher, speaker, or author, he or she has to meet three criteria:

a) A female teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly preach to or teach men in violation of 1 Timothy 2:12. A male teacher or pastor cannot allow women to carry out this violation of Scripture in his ministry. The pastor or teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly be living in any other sin (for example, cohabiting with her boyfriend or living as a homosexual).

b) The pastor or teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly be partnering with or frequently appearing with false teachers. This is a violation of Scripture.

c) The pastor or teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly be teaching false doctrine.

I am not very familiar with most of the teachers I’m asked about (there are so many out there!) and have not had the opportunity to examine their writings or hear them speak, so most of the “quick checking” I do involves items a and b (although in order to partner with false teachers (b) it is reasonable to assume their doctrine is acceptable to the false teacher and that they are not teaching anything that would conflict with the false teacher’s doctrine). Partnering with false teachers and women preaching to men are each sufficient biblical reasons not to follow a pastor, teacher, or author, or use his/her materials.

Just to be clear, “not recommended” is a spectrum. On one end of this spectrum are people like Nancy Leigh DeMoss Wolgemuth and Kay Arthur. These are people I would not label as false teachers because their doctrine is generally sound, but because of some red flags I’m seeing with them, you won’t find me proactively endorsing them or suggesting them as a good resource, either. There are better people you could be listening to. On the other end of the spectrum are people like Joyce Meyer and Rachel Held Evans- complete heretics whose teachings, if believed, might lead you to an eternity in Hell. Most of the teachers I review fall somewhere in the middle of this spectrum (leaning toward the latter).

If you’d like to check out some pastors and teachers I heartily recommend, click the Recommended Bible Teachers tab at the top of this page.


Sheila Walsh
Not Recommended

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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