Discernment, False Teachers, Social Media

Throwback Thursday ~ Four Reasons Why It Matters Who We Share, Pin, and Re-Tweet

Originally published May 22, 2014

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Scroll…scroll…wince…

Scroll…scroll…wince…

I find myself wincing a bit when I see people –who I know genuinely love Jesus—sharing, pinning, and re-tweeting quotes from false teachers such as Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, T.D. Jakes, and Christine Caine, just to name a few. Why? What’s wrong with the encouraging, even biblical, at times, things these people say?

First of all, let me back up a little. What is a “false teacher”? A false teacher is someone who is billed as a Christian pastor or Bible teacher who habitually and unrepentantly writes, teaches, or preaches things that conflict with the clear teaching of Scripture. For example, all four of the people I listed above teach some version of the prosperity gospel, the false teaching that is most rampant in the Western church today. Additionally, T.D. Jakes adheres to the false doctrine of modalism, and Joyce Meyer and Christine Caine blatantly disobey the Bible’s teaching that women are not to be pastors or instruct men in the Scriptures in the church.

These days, it can be difficult to keep up with who teaches sound doctrine and who does not, especially when pastors and teachers we thought were theologically orthodox seem to be turning apostate at an alarming rate. I myself have been a fan of more than one popular writer/teacher/preacher that I later realized was a false teacher (Joyce Meyer was one of them.) as I delved into what they actually taught and believed and compared it to God’s word. I know first hand that it’s easy to think that these people are good biblical teachers and preachers when what they say sounds good, makes us feel good, and has an occasional Bible verse sprinkled in.

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Because I’ve been there myself and know how easy it can be to be drawn in by false teachers, I don’t have any less respect for folks who re-tweet the occasional Osteen-ism of the day. In fact, I have more respect for them, because I know they love the Lord, they’re making an effort to find biblical teaching to listen to, and they have the courage to try to share the gospel with their friends and family via social media. Those are all fantastically good things, and they are to be commended.

But, still, the quotes we share and the people who said them matter. Why?

The quotes we share and the people who said them matter. Here are four reasons why…

1.
Lost people’s eternities are at stake.

Seriously? From hitting the “share” button on a false teacher’s status? Seriously. I don’t think that’s overstating the gravity of the matter. There’s no way to take the possibility of an eternity in hell too seriously.

Think about it: You have an unsaved Facebook friend. She’s getting to the point in her life where she figures it’s time to get her stuff together, so she starts looking into this whole Jesus thing. Where to start? She’s never even set foot inside a church. Aha! She remembers you’re a Christian. Maybe you’ll have a good lead for her. As she’s thinking about all this, you share Joyce Meyer’s status, and it appears in your friend’s news feed. “Ah,” your friend thinks, “this must be a good Bible teacher if my Christian friend follows her.” So she “likes” Joyce Meyer’s Facebook page and follows her on Twitter. Then she starts watching her on TV. Buys some of her books. Maybe attends one of her conferences. Because your friend has zero knowledge of the Bible, she believes everything Joyce Meyer says. It sounds good. It makes her feel good. She’s hearing a few out of context Bible verses here and there. But the problem is that Joyce Meyer doesn’t teach the Jesus of the Bible. She teaches a false god of her own creation. And if your friend doesn’t put her faith in the true Jesus of the Bible, she’s just as lost as she was before. Only now she thinks she’s a Christian. And you can’t convince her otherwise.

Sound far fetched? Maybe. Maybe not. But if there’s even the slightest chance something like that could happen, is it really worth justifying that status share? Furthermore, is it worth even following a teacher who could lead someone you love to an eternity in hell?

2.
It gives false teachers free publicity and a broader platform.

One thing I was very surprised to learn when I first began the process of having my book published1 is that publishers want non-fiction writers to have a built in audience, or “platform,” before they will publish your book. That means you’re already doing speaking engagements and/or have a decent sized ministry, have lots of followers on social media, etc. As I once explained to someone, “You don’t get your book published and then become [celebrity Bible teacher] you have to be [celebrity Bible teacher] in order to get published.”

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Social media stats are a big factor in a celebrity preacher’s/teacher’s platform. If T.D. Jakes suddenly lost the majority of his social media followers, you can bet the TV stations he’s on and the conferences he gets invited to would be taking a serious look at whether or not they’d continue to affiliate with him, because it would indicate that his audience is shrinking.

Conversely, when we re-pin, re-post, or re-tweet these folks, their social media stats go up. They not only get a broader platform on social media from which to spread their unbiblical teaching, they continue to get more book, radio, TV, and other media deals, get invited to speak at more conferences, and even start exporting their false teaching overseas (“missions”) to people who have never heard the gospel before and have no way of knowing they’re being lied to.

When we promote false teachers on social media, we bear some of the responsibility for the spread of their false doctrine.

If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.

2 John 10-11

When we promote false teachers on social media, we bear some of the responsibility for the spread of their false doctrine.

3.
It is disobedient to Scripture.

Often, when a Christian is told she’s following a false teacher, the common response is, “Oh, I just chew up the meat and spit out the bones,” meaning that she takes to heart the “good” things the false teacher has to say and ignores the bad.

The question is: where does the Bible say this is the correct way to deal with false teachers? Answer: it doesn’t. In fact Scripture says exactly the opposite.

For starters, Galatians 1:6-9 says that if anyone preaches a different gospel (such as the prosperity gospel) from the one that’s set down in Scripture, “let him be accursed.” “Accursed” means “damned,” sentenced to hell for eternity.

1 Timothy 4:7 and Titus 3:10 say that we are to have nothing to do with people who teach “irreverent or silly myths” or cause division by teaching false doctrine.

2 Corinthians 6:14-16 tells us not to be joined together or partner with unbelievers, lawlessness, darkness, Belial (the devil), or idols.

1 Corinthians 5:7-13 tells us that when a person infiltrates the church who claims to be a Christian, yet is greedy, an idolater, or a swindler— all of which are things that prosperity preachers are guilty of— we are to “cleanse out the old leaven.” We are “not to associate” with them. We are to “purge the evil person from among you.”

Titus 1:10-16 says of false teachers, “They must be silenced,” because they teach “for shameful gain what they ought not to teach.” Paul instructs Titus to “rebuke them sharply,” and that, “they profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.”

The entire second chapter of 2 Peter paints a dismal picture of the motives, the behavior, and the fate of false teachers:

“Because of them, the way of truth will be blasphemed.”

“In their greed they will exploit you with false words.”

They will “be destroyed in their destruction, suffering wrong as the wage for their wrongdoing.”

“They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, while they feast with you.”

“They entice unsteady souls.”

“For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved.”

“They promise them [people who listen to their false teaching] freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption.”

The entire epistle of Jude is dedicated to exhorting Christians to “contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.” Of false teachers, Jude says:

“Certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ…Woe to them!”

There’s more, because a large portion of the New Testament is dedicated to exhorting Christians to stay away from false doctrine and rebuke those who teach it, but I think you get the picture. Is it obedient to Christ and to His word to follow and promote someone He says is damnable? People who teach another gospel, such as the prosperity gospel, are the enemies of Christ. Who are we going to side with, Christ or His enemies?

People who teach another gospel, such as the prosperity gospel, are the enemies of Christ. Who are we going to side with, Christ or His enemies?

 4.
It is unloving and disloyal to our Master.

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Think about the person you love the most in this world. Maybe it’s your spouse, your child, a parent, or a friend. Next, think about your favorite celebrity, perhaps a movie star, a TV personality, or a famous author or athlete. Now try to imagine that that celebrity, in interviews with journalists, on talk shows he appears on, at personal appearances and speaking engagements, in books he writes, etc., routinely tells lies about the character of your dearest loved one. And thousands, maybe millions, of people believe him.

Would you continue to be a fan of that celebrity?

What if your loved one found out you were a fan of that celebrity? How would she feel to know you were a fan of someone who spreads lies about her?

If we wouldn’t follow someone who lies about a loved one, how much less should we as Christians have anything to do with a celebrity preacher, teacher, or author who drags the name of our precious Savior through the mud and lies about the gospel?

How can we as Christians have anything to do with a celebrity preacher, teacher, or author who drags the name of our precious Savior through the mud and lies about the gospel?

Friends, for all of these reasons and more, let’s stop promoting these false teachers on social media by publicizing their quotes and other materials. Looking for an encouraging quote to share? There’s nothing better than a verse of Scripture. Because Scripture can offer people something that false teachers can’t: truth and hope. As Jesus Himself said,

“Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” John 17:17


¹My book, Jacob, Journaling the Journey is no longer in print, and that’s a good thing! I wrote it before learning good hermeneutics and how to handle God’s Word properly. You can probably still find copies of it at online merchants, but I would not recommend that you buy or use it. If you want a good Bible study, the best thing is to simply pick up the Bible and study it for yourself. Right now, I have no plans to rewrite Jacob for future re-release.

Christian women, Discernment, Men

Throwback Thursday ~ Women and False Teachers: Why Men Don’t Get It, and Why It’s Imperative That They Do

Originally published September 22, 2017

Confession time: Sometimes – OK, often – I think my brain works more like a man’s than a woman’s. You’ve got a problem? Suck it up- here’s the solution. The mall? A perfectly horrifying way to ruin a Saturday. And why do we have to hug people hello and goodbye when we see each other multiple times a week?

I’ve always been more comfortable around men, and when I was single, I had mostly male friends. They’re generally¹ less mysterious and easier to figure out than women, and they don’t usually play those manipulative emotional games some women can be notorious for. If a man says he wants a cheese sandwich, there’s no hidden “you don’t bring me flowers often enough” meaning there. He just wants a cheese sandwich. I like that. It’s pretty much how I operate.

Which makes me the perfect person for God to plunk down smack dab in the middle of women’s ministry, right?

Harrumph.

God just has this way about Him of stretching us and growing us beyond our comfortable little confines. I used to be terrified of walking into a room full of women (They’re so unpredictable! You never know when a big emotional scene might break out!) But after years of teaching and discipling women, developing close friendships with women, serving and ministering to women, I now walk into that room and see precious sisters, created oh so tenderly and intricately by God’s loving hands.

God purposefully and intentionally made each woman unique, but with common traits and perspectives that bind us together as sisters and differentiate us from men. And because men aren’t wired by God the same way women are, sometimes they’re just not going to get the way women think about things, approach people, or respond to issues. Sometimes (shopping, flowers, hugginess) that’s no big deal. They can shrug their shoulders, extend grace, and make space for the women in their lives to think, feel, and react differently than men would without really taking the time to understand why.

There’s at least one biblical issue women respond to differently at the core level of their spiritual DNA than men do. And men, it’s crucial that you get it on this one.

But there’s at least one biblical issue women respond to differently at the core level of their spiritual DNA than men do. And men, it’s crucial that you get it on this one. You’re the pastors. The elders. The husbands. The fathers. The ones responsible before God for leading your churches and your families in doctrinally sound spiritual growth. You’ve got to get this for the sake of the girls and women you lead:

Women respond differently to false teachers than men do.

And, ladies, we need to understand this about ourselves, too.

It started, not with the advent of modern feminism, or the church age, or even the Fall. It started in the Garden.

Genesis 3 begins…

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman

Have you ever wondered why the serpent approached Eve instead of Adam?

Before sin entered the world, before that snake in the grass even thought up his dastardly plan of deception, there was a void in the world. None of the animals or birds could fill it. Neither could Adam. God determined that, in order to make His creation complete, there was a need for woman to fill that void. So He reached down with His own two hands (so to speak) and personally crafted a woman.

God had made both animals and Adam out of cold, dead dirt. Not so with woman. God made woman out of soft, warm, living flesh, already coursing with life. God made man to tend the ground from which he had come. God made woman to tend the man from which she had come.

God made man to tend the ground from which he had come. God made woman to tend the man from which she had come.

And in the same way that God used a different method for creating man and woman and gave them different modes of work, He also gave them different mental and emotional makeups.

God created women with some incredible strengths. Women are usually much better nurturers than men. We’re often better at negotiating, compromising, and making peace between opposing parties. We’re more sensitive to what others are going through and how to treat people in a kind and compassionate way. We bear up under certain pains and stressors better than men do. We’re usually better communicators than men. And, frequently it’s much easier for women to trust, love, and give the benefit of the doubt to others.

And along with those unique strengths come unique challenges that we have to watch out for and that men need some insight about.

We’re kinder and more compassionate, so we have to be careful about people who would take advantage of that. Nurturing is great for raising our children, but if we baby them all their lives, that’s not healthy. Being trusting is a fantastic character trait, but it’s imperative that we be vigilant not to put our trust in the wrong person.

Could it be that the serpent approached Eve instead of Adam because he thought she would be more trusting, give him the benefit of the doubt, and thus be easier to deceive?

First Timothy 2:14 echoes this idea. In 1 Timothy 2:11-14, God explains that women are not to teach men or exercise authority over men in the gathered body of Believers – the church. He gives two reasons for this in verses 13-14. The first reason (13) is the Creative order: “Adam was formed first, then Eve”. God’s second reason is in verse 14:

and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.

It’s interesting that verse 13 refers to the specific woman, Eve, but verse 14 uses the more generic term “the woman.” Are women, as a whole, more likely to be victimized by deceivers than men are? Scripture seems to point us that direction.

In 2 Timothy 3:1-9, Paul warns Timothy that people – including those in the church – will become more and more degenerate during the last days. There will even be those who have an outer facade of godliness but are not operating by the power and indwelling of the Holy Spirit (5). In other words: false teachers. Verses 6-7 tell us that among these false teachers are those…

…who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.

In verse 16 of this same chapter we read that “all Scripture is breathed out by God,” and we know that God never makes mistakes or chooses His words haphazardly. So we know there’s a reason God uses the words “weak women” here. Not weak men, not weak Christians, not weak people – weak women. God graciously gives a warning to women not to be taken in by these false teachers, and an exhortation to men – particularly pastors, since this is a pastoral epistle – to protect the women of their churches and families against those who would prey upon tenderhearted, trusting women.

One reason these women are weak is that they’re led astray by various passions. Today, the word “passion” or “passionate” often has a sexual connotation, but that’s not the only meaning, especially not here. Dictionary.com defines passion as “any powerful or compelling emotion or feeling, as love or hate; a strong or extravagant fondness, enthusiasm, or desire for anything.” Merriam-Webster says passion is, “the emotions as distinguished from reason; a strong liking or desire for or devotion to some activity, object, or concept.”

As with so many other valuable characteristics God has blessed women with, passion is a two-edged sword. God wants us to have a passion for holiness, pursing Christ, and biblical ministry to others, but we have to be extremely careful to steward that passion with the reins, bit, and bridle of discernment and knowledge of the Scriptures. Otherwise, we will pour our passion – our powerful and compelling loyalty, enthusiasm, fondness, and love – into the wrong teachers and doctrines.

Which brings us full circle to Eve, because that’s where her train jumped the tracks.

But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.
Genesis 3:4-6 

Notice the serpent doesn’t invite Eve to do something blatantly evil. “God knows…” “…you will be like God.” He’s tempting her to do something she thinks is godly. Then Eve takes her eyes off God and His Word and looks instead at the tree.

🍃It was good for food The fruit would satisfy a felt need. It was practical. She and Adam needed supper. Here was an easy solution. And, besides, it looked delicious and nutritious.

🍃It was a delight to the eyes– The fruit appealed to Eve’s sense of beauty. It looked good to her.

🍃It was to be desired to make one wise– Eve had a passion to grow in wisdom and godliness, and this beautiful, appealing, practical, attractive fruit seemed, in her eyes, the best and most enjoyable way to reach that goal.

This is the same way women are being deceived today. The attractive “tree” (Ever notice that most false teachers are at least somewhat physically attractive – “a delight to the eyes”?) extends a branch with lovely-looking, supposedly nutritious fruit on it which she says will lead to godly wisdom and growth (even though her teaching conflicts with God’s written Word). And it’ll be delicious too. Those who bite the apple will feast on love, positive thoughts, encouragement, and self-esteem-building teaching. It’s too appealing to the woman’s senses – and she’s too weak in her knowledge of Scripture and her desire to obey it – to pass up. She succumbs to the passions of her senses, plucks the fruit, and eats.

And then a fascinating phenomenon begins to take place. The weak woman feeds her passions with the fruit of false doctrine, and then she begins to pour that passion – that intense, compelling loyalty, love, fondness, and enthusiasm – into the false teacher herself. As anyone who has ever tried to gently open a devotee’s eyes can attest, hell hath no fury like a confronted Beth Moore disciple. I have seen women defend their favorite false teachers – against clear Scripture, mind you – with a viciousness I’m not sure I could muster to protect my own children against physical harm.

Men may enjoy a particular false teacher, but women worship them.

Men may enjoy a particular false teacher, but women worship them.

And this is the crux of the difference that men rarely grasp when the topic of discernment comes up. I’ve talked to countless pastors who don’t understand why simply preaching and teaching sound doctrine from the pulpit and in the Sunday School class isn’t sufficient to protect their churches from the infiltration of false doctrine and false teachers. This is why.

I’ve talked to countless pastors who don’t understand why simply preaching and teaching sound doctrine isn’t sufficient to protect their churches from false doctrine and false teachers. This. is. why.

Maybe a man will hear hear a biblical truth, realize the preacher he’s been listening to conflicts with it, and simply walk away. A woman won’t. Because, not only has the teaching a woman listens to inextricably wrapped its tentacles around the very core of her soul, she has also formed an emotional bond with the teacher that’s almost impossible to break. She loves her. And she will nearly always choose that loving, bonded “relationship” over biblical truth, giving the teacher the benefit of the doubt and making excuses for her every step of the way.

A woman will nearly always choose that loving, bonded “relationship” with the teacher over biblical truth, giving the teacher the benefit of the doubt and making excuses for her every step of the way.

The Holy Spirit gets it. He understands the power false teachers wield over weak women and the destruction false teaching in general brings upon the church, so He inspired Paul to write Titus 1:9:

[A pastor] must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.

Pastors who only preach sound doctrine are only doing half their job.

Pastors who only preach sound doctrine are only doing half their job. And notice that this verse doesn’t merely say to “rebuke teaching that contradicts sound doctrine” in a generic sort of way. It says rebuke “those who” contradict it. “Those who” are people. Specific people. People with names.

Many pastors and teachers don’t want to name names of false teachers. They’ll quote false teachers, allude to them, describe them, and drop hints as to their identity, hoping against hope their church members will figure out who they’re talking about and stop following them. But they don’t want to call specific names. I understand the fear of naming names. It opens pastors up to attack by the aforementioned disciples of false teachers. I’ve experienced their venom, and believe me, nobody wants to go through that.

Guys – pastors, teachers, husbands – I’m telling you the women you’re preaching to, the women who are in the tightest clutches of false teachers aren’t getting your veiled allusions to generic, unnamed “false teachers”.

But guys – pastors, teachers, husbands – I’m telling you the women you’re preaching to, the women who are in the tightest clutches of false teachers aren’t getting it. They are not going to hear your veiled allusions to “some Christian authors who say…” or “the pastor of one of the largest churches in America teaches…” and think you’re talking about the false teacher they’re following. They think you’re talking about somebody else. The guy their neighbor is following. That crazy preacher on TBN. But not my favorite Southern Baptist “Bible” study teacher who’s a best seller at LifeWay and is touted on social media by well known pastors.

It takes courage – manly courage – to stand up in front of your congregation, class, or wife and warn them against specific false teachers, but that’s what godly men – who love the women in their churches and families and want to see them spiritually healthy – do.

We need your help, men. The church needs your help. Your family needs your help. Please get this so you can help other “Eves” not to be deceived and weak women to become strong followers of Christ, not false teachers.


¹If it’s not abundantly clear from context, please understand that I’m speaking in generalities in this article. Naturally, individuals vary.


Additional Resources

Popular False Teachers & Unbiblical Trends

Is She a False Teacher? 7 Steps to Figuring it Out on Your Own

Clinging to the Golden Calf: 7 Godly Responses When Someone Says You’re Following a False Teacher

Basic Training: Being Berean- 8 Steps for Comparing Teaching to Scripture

Do You MIND? : Five Reasons for Pastors to Mind What Their Brides Are Reading

Women In Combat

Church, Discernment

Throwback Thursday ~ Nine Reasons Discerning Women Are Leaving Your Church

Originally published July 24, 2015

Earlier this week, Thom Rainer, president and CEO of LifeWay, pubished a blog article entitled Six Reasons Why Women May Be Leaving Your Church. Although I am not particularly a fan of Dr. Rainer (due to his allowing materials from false teachers to be sold at LifeWay), I thought this article was a good one, and I agreed with several of the issues he raised, especially, that these issues need to be addressed by church leadership.

As a ministry wife and someone in the field of women’s ministry myself, I, too, have noticed women leaving the church. Not just women in general, but a certain subset of church-attending ladies: discerning women. While Scripture is pretty clear that we can expect women (and men) who are false converts to eventually fall away from the gathering of believers, why are godly, genuinely regenerated women who love Christ, His word, and His church, leaving their local churches?

While Scripture is pretty clear that we can expect false converts to eventually fall away, why are godly, genuinely regenerated women who love Christ, His word, and His church, leaving their local churches?

1.
Eisegetical or otherwise unbiblical preaching

Discerning women don’t want to hear pastors twist God’s word. The Bible is not about us, our problems, and making all our hopes and dreams come true. We don’t want to hear seeker-driven or Word of Faith false doctrine. We don’t need self-improvement motivational speeches or a list of life tips to follow. We want to hear a pastor rightly handle God’s word from a trustworthy translation and simply exegete the text.

2.
The worship hour has become a variety show

Skits, guest stars, movie clips, dance routines, rock concerts, elaborate sets, light shows, and smoke machines. We didn’t sign on for Saturday Night Live on Sunday. This is supposed to be church. Get rid of all that junk, turn the lights on, give us solid preaching, prayer, and some theologically sound songs we can actually sing, and maybe we’ll stick around.

We didn’t sign on for Saturday Night Live on Sunday. This is supposed to be church.

3.
Women in improper places of church leadership

The Bible could not be more clear that women are not to be pastors, instruct men in the Scriptures, or hold authority over men in other capacities in the church. If your church has a female pastor, worship leader, or elders, or if women are teaching and leading men in Sunday school, small groups, or from the platform in the worship service, or if women are heading up certain committees, departments, or ministries which place them in improper authority over men, you’re disobeying Scripture, and we don’t want to help you do that by attending your church.

4.
Children are being entertained, not trained

There’s nothing wrong with a bit of play time or crafts for younger children, but we want our children trained in the Scriptures, not entertained for a couple of hours. We want their teachers to open God’s word and read and explain it to them at a level they can understand. We want them memorizing verses, learning to pray, and demonstrating an age-appropriate comprehension of the gospel. We want them to understand that church is joyful, yet, serious, not a Jesus-laced party at Chuck E. Cheese. We need church to bolster the Scriptural training we’re giving our kids at home.

5.
Women’s “Bible” Studies

The majority (and I don’t use that term flippantly) of churches holding women’s Bible studies are using materials written by Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, Joyce Meyer, Lysa TerKeurst, Sarah Young, and others who teach unbiblical ideas and false doctrine. Not minor denominational differences of opinion. Not secondary and tertiary unimportant issues that can be overlooked. False doctrine. While we long to study God’s Word with other women, discerning women will not sacrifice sound doctrine nor the integrity of Scripture to do so.

While we long to study God’s Word with other women, discerning women will not sacrifice sound doctrine nor the integrity of Scripture to do so.

6.
Ecumenism

Is your church partnering with other “churches” whose orthodoxy and/or orthopraxy are at odds with Scripture? “Churches” which approve of homosexuality or female pastors, or which hold to an unbiblical soteriology (grace plus works, baptismal regeneration, Mary as co-redemptrix with Christ, etc.)? Are you partnering with those who deny the biblical Christ altogether such as Muslims, Jews, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Hindus, Mormons, or Buddhists? Discerning women know Scripture forbids yoking ourselves to unbelievers and we want no part of it.

7.
Ageism

Look around at your pastor and staff, your lay leadership, your music team, the “face” of your church. How many of those people are over 40? Usually, discernment and spiritual maturity come through walking with the Lord over many years, yet, increasingly, by design, churches are run by twentysomething pastors, staff, and other leadership, who are often spiritually immature and/or lack the wisdom and life experience that come with age. The staff is often specifically structured this way in order to attract young people to the church. The counsel and wisdom mature, godly men and women have to offer is brushed off as old fashioned, and middle aged and older church members feel alienated and unwanted. While there are those among the twentysomething set who are godly and growing into maturity, discerning women value the wisdom and teaching of their godly elders.

8.
The “troublemaker” label

Discerning women who see unbiblical things happening in their churches and stand up for what God’s Word says about biblical ecclesiology and teaching are often vilified and labeled as troublemakers. We are called haters, threats to unity, complainers, gossips, negative, and a myriad of other scornful names. All this for wanting things done according to Scripture. Can you blame us for shaking the dust off our high heels and leaving?

Discerning women are often vilified and labeled as troublemakers. Can you blame us for shaking the dust off our high heels and leaving?

9.
Spineless or stiff-necked pastors

Discerning women have little respect for, and find themselves unable to submit to the authority of pastors who see people in their churches acting overtly sinful or propagating false teaching yet are so afraid of confrontation that they will not set things right. By the same token, we cannot continue to attend a church in which we bring scriptural evidence of false teaching or sin to the pastor and he outright denies the biblical truth we present to him. We cannot be members of churches in which pastors will not submit to Scripture or carry out biblical mandates.

Frequently, the discerning women you see tearfully leaving your church have been there for years. Sometimes they leave your church because it was never doctrinally sound to begin with, and God has opened their eyes to this as they grow and mature in Christ. Sometimes they leave because false doctrine and unbiblical practices have crept in and taken over a church that was once a refuge of trustworthy biblical teaching. Either way, these things should not be.

Maybe it’s not that discerning women are leaving the church, but that the church is leaving them.

Maybe it’s not that discerning women are leaving the church, but that the church is leaving them.


Additional Resources

Rock Your Role articles

Searching for a new church?

Mailbag

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Cremation… ID-ing false teachers… Church membership… Women translators)

Welcome to another “potpourri” edition of The Mailbag, where I give short(er) answers to several questions rather than a long answer to one question.

I like to take the opportunity in these potpourri editions to let new readers know about my comments/e-mail/messages policy. I’m not able to respond individually to most e-mails and messages, so here are some helpful hints for getting your questions answered more quickly. Remember, the search bar (at the very bottom of each page) can be a helpful tool!

Or maybe I answered your question already? Check out my article The Mailbag: Top 10 FAQs to see if your question has been answered and to get some helpful resources.


I can’t find any Scripture about cremation. Is this practice another pagan tradition Christians have accepted? I, myself was thinking it’s okay, but now I’m unsure. Thanks.

Thank you so much for setting a super example for us all by a) wanting to do the godly thing about this, and b) searching the Scriptures to find your answer.

You didn’t find any Scriptures about cremation because Scripture doesn’t mention cremation, and there are no related biblical principles that directly indicate that we either should or shouldn’t participate in cremation. And, no, the way cremation is practiced today in Western culture, it is not a pagan practice. Therefore, cremation is an issue of adiaphora, or Christian liberty.

I think Todd Friel has done a good job of answering this question from his “burial is preferable” perspective…

…but I don’t find it compelling enough to move me from my “either way is fine with me” perspective, and I feel like some of the things he says are stretching it just a tiny bit. A few reasons:

  • In the same way that the overwhelming majority of people – even many Christians – don’t make the Ephesians 5 connection between husband and Christ, and wife and church in a wedding ceremony unless it’s explicitly explained to them, the overwhelming majority of people – even many Christians – aren’t going to make the connection between burying someone and the resurrection of the dead at a funeral unless it’s explicitly explained to them. Naturally, I’m all for those explicit explanations during those respective ceremonies. I’m just saying it’s not an automatic connection most people make merely from witnessing a wedding or burial.
  • If you’re buried long enough, your remains are going to decompose and disintegrate, just like someone who is cremated, dies in a fire, is buried or lost at sea, is eaten by a wild animal, etc. If you’re being buried instead of cremated because you want to be sure you have a body to be resurrected into, I would encourage you to do a little more study on the science of the decomposition of the human body. God is able to resurrect every saint no matter what happened to her body after death. And besides, you’re getting a new body anyway.
  • I think a perfectly biblical, and possibly even more strongly Scripturally supported argument could be made for stewardship. Burial is typically much more expensive than cremation. What about the person who would rather be cremated and give the difference in cost to his church? What about a struggling family who could scrape together enough for a cremation, but would have to go into debt for a burial?

This is an issue you will have to pray about, talk with your family about, and maybe even discuss with your pastor. If your conscience would bother you to be either buried or cremated, don’t violate your conscience. A few more resources that may help:

Burial vs. Cremation on Wretched TV

What does the Bible say about cremation? at Got Questions

What does the Bible say about cremation? by John MacArthur


Is Prophetess X a false teacher?

What do you think about the teaching of Apostle Y?

Can I get your thoughts on LifeWay Women’s newest divangelista1?

I’ve received several questions along these lines in recent weeks. Lemme just give you the quick and easy answers to these.

I would never literally bet my life on something, but if I were so inclined, I would feel perfectly comfortable betting that nobody who goes by the title Prophet/Prophetess or Apostle is doctrinally sound. In my experience, everyone I’ve encountered who has gone by one of those titles has been a New Apostolic Reformation heretic (NAR doctrine is literal heresy – another gospel). So, if you come across somebody who goes by one of those titles, there’s no need to sweat whether or not you should read her books or follow him on social media, just avoid all of them them all together.

I’ve mentioned this before, but I don’t think it has caught on widely, yet. It pains me to say this, but if you’re trying to find out if a certain female author or teacher is doctrinally sound and you need a quick rule out without doing hours of research on an someone you’re not familiar with, I would recommend avoiding any author or conference speaker platformed or promoted by LifeWay Women (the women’s division of LifeWay).

I’m not saying every author and teacher LifeWay Women features is necessarily a heretic or false teacher, I’m just saying that enough of them are that it’s reasonable to draw the conclusion that that’s mainly the type of woman they like to promote. (I mean, you don’t see them promoting women like me or Susan Heck or Martha Peace, do you?) I’ve written articles on many of their featured teachers. I’m not familiar with all of them, but all of the ones I am familiar with are biblically problematic.

And, of course, you can always use my article Is She a False Teacher? 7 Steps to Figuring it Out on Your Own for tips on researching any of these or other teachers.

Can I please, one more time, beg y’all to stop searching for the diamond chip in the pile of Women’s “Bible” study poo and just study directly from the text of Scripture? You don’t have to vet the Bible or worry whether or not the Author is doctrinally sound. God took care of all that for us.

And if you’re looking for some great women to follow on social media, blogs, or podcasts, or some wonderful pastors to listen to in your leisure time, click here.

1“Divangelista” is just a slang term I coined because the phrase “popular women’s ‘Bible’ study authors” is too long and cumbersome for writing. It’s a combination of the words “diva” and “evangelical” and rhymes with “Sandinista” (if you’re old enough to remember them) for no particular reason.


I came out of the New Age and am looking for a good church. I went to your recommended list and found a church I was interested in. It looked great at first, but it appears they have a rather strange ‘membership’ proposition. It consists of you going to membership classes, then in front of a panel of elders, then you have to attend for up to six months before your ‘interview’. Honestly, I find this bizarre, unusual and is this really necessary? Please could you comment, or get back to me as we have been looking for a spiritual home for a few years now. Thanks.

I’m so happy for you that the Lord is leading you to seek out a doctrinally sound church!

If I were to hazard a guess, I would say, based on no other information than what you’ve given me, that this is probably a very doctrinally sound church. Typically, the reason churches have membership processes like this is that they’re trying to make sure, as best they can, that they don’t admit lost people into membership. The membership classes are for you to learn about the church – their doctrine, their practices, etc. The six month waiting period and the interview are for the church to get to know you and observe the fruit of your life – to see whether your walk matches your talk, so to speak. During this process, they can get a pretty good idea of whether or not you’re actually saved and growing in holiness, and you can get a good idea of whether or not this church is a good fit for you and your family.

Here’s what I would suggest. If I’m understanding correctly, you read all of this information on the church’s website, right? Why don’t you try visiting the church for several weeks and see if it even seems like a church you’re interested in. If not, the membership process is moot. If so, set up an appointment with the pastor or appropriate elder and ask him any questions you may have about the membership process.

If you end up needing to find another church, be sure you carefully peruse all of the church search engines and other resources at the Searching for a new church? tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page.

I would also encourage you to listen to this brief sermon series my pastor preached earlier this year about church membership. (Our membership process is similar to, though not quite as extensive as the one you described.)


I agree with you about women’s preaching. But I have a question, what do you think about when a woman translates the message of the preacher? I’m a missionary in Mexico and over here they don’t see a problem with women preaching in most of the churches. So one time at our church my husband gave his testimony in English to the American community and I translated in Spanish, and the other day someone asked me when I would like to preach on Sunday at the Mexican church and I was like “no thank you, I don’t think that is something I will ever do” but this person said: you have preached already. When you translated for your husband…. I personally don’t think is the same. But what are your thoughts?

You are correct. Translating and preaching/teaching are not the same thing, and a woman translating for a pastor or teacher is not something that falls under the biblical prohibition against women pastoring, preaching, or instructing men in the Scriptures. I, myself, have translated for worship services in the past.

That being said, because of the confusion and biblical ignorance of the people you’re working with, it sounds like the wisest thing would be for a man to translate if at all possible, and for you to take the women aside and disciple them in a proper understanding of the Scriptures that govern the role of women in the church.


We understand and agree with the value and Biblical reasoning behind church membership. We are in a small town with limited church options. The most solid church here is a church that requires believer’s baptism for membership. My husband would be more in line with paedo baptism and was baptized as an infant. He is a solid, Biblical, regenerate believer. Because of this we cannot be members. I have no idea what we should do in this situation.

OK, let’s take a deep breath and put things into biblical perspective. As you know, church membership is very important and shouldn’t be treated as trivial, but in a situation like this in which you’ve done everything you possibly can to pursue membership, but it’s impossible, your husband is not sinning by not going through the formal membership process. (You didn’t specify, but from your message, it sounds like you either have been baptized as a Believer or would be willing to submit to credo baptism.) Let me offer you a few thoughts:

  • (This first thought is for my unmarried readers, and is not meant as a criticism of you.) Single ladies considering marriage – it is extremely important that you and your intended be as close to 100% agreement in your theology as humanly possible before you get married. As you can see from this dear sister’s dilemma, differing views on things like baptism are not a “no big deal” proposition, and can cause issues in your marriage and in parenting.
  • If you haven’t already done so, the two of you need to make an appointment with the pastor and discuss your concerns, beliefs, and questions. Some churches have a provisional type of membership for situations like this.
  • Have you thoroughly scoured all of the church search engines at the Searching for a new church? tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page? Perhaps there’s a new church you’re not aware of, or another church in a neighboring town that would be a better fit for your family.

If this church is absolutely the only option available, and you’ve talked with the pastor, my counsel would be for you to go through the membership process (assuming you’re credo baptist) and for both of you to attend and serve faithfully, as far as is possible (most churches don’t allow non-members to serve in certain ways or positions). If your husband’s convictions about baptism change at some point, he can then pursue membership.

And, as I suggested to the previous reader who asked about church membership, I would also encourage you to listen to this brief sermon series my pastor preached earlier this year about church membership. I think you’ll find it encouraging.


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

Mailbag

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Michelle’s personal info… Female apologists… Cardinals are dead loved ones?… MacArthur a Mason?)

Welcome to another “potpourri” edition of The Mailbag, where I give short(er) answers to several questions rather than a long answer to one question.

I like to take the opportunity in these potpourri editions to let new readers know about my comments/e-mail/messages policy. I’m not able to respond individually to most e-mails and messages, so here are some helpful hints for getting your questions answered more quickly. Remember, the search bar (at the very bottom of each page) can be a helpful tool!

Or maybe I answered your question already? Check out my article The Mailbag: Top 10 FAQs to see if your question has been answered and to get some helpful resources.


Could I get your home address? I have some questions that I don’t want on the internet.

Where do you live? What church do you go to?

Have you ever gotten an email or DM/PM from someone you don’t know asking for personal information out of the blue like that? I have.

I love all of my followers and I love that by following me, reading my blog, listening to my podcast, etc., you feel a kinship, maybe even a friendship, with me. I dearly wish we could all be friends in person – and if you’re a genuinely regenerated Believer, one day we will be – for eternity! I can’t wait!

But while we’re on this broken, sinful earth, I’ve heard all the same “stranger on the internet” horror stories you have, along with the warnings not to give out personal information to said strangers.

That’s why my Contact and Social Media page – the only place I’m aware of where my email address is available – clearly says in the very first sentence (right under “Important information. Please read before e-mailing“):

I handle all correspondence with readers via email or social media private message (i.e. no phone calls or snail mail).

The next paragraph begins:

I regret I am unable to answer most emails/PMs unrelated to speaking engagements, and I cannot engage in discipleship or counseling relationships with individual readers via email/PM.

In addition to the fact that I don’t have the time that’s required to engage in email relationships (I’m sorry, I wish I did.), if you need one-on-one counsel or discipleship God’s plan is the local church, not the internet. It’s not right for me to get between you and your pastor or you and a Titus 2 older woman at your church, and it wouldn’t be the best for your spiritual growth, either. This is just one of the dozens of reasons it’s imperative that you be a faithful member of a doctrinally sound local church.

I’m honored (I mean that!) that any of y’all would want me to answer your questions individually or give you personal counsel, but even if I could, it wouldn’t be God’s design or what’s best for you. And for safety reasons, although I’m sure none of you have sinister motives, I have no way of knowing whether you’re you or some whacko is impersonating you, so if you ask for personal information from me, it’s not that I don’t love you, it’s just that I don’t know you, so you’re unlikely to receive a reply.


What are your thoughts on female apologists? Do we treat them the same as “female pastors”? These women frequently speak at mixed gender conferences on Biblical topics. I question, though, what’s the difference between letting a woman get behind the pulpit at a Saturday conference for both genders versus a Sunday morning?

That’s a very good question – one many more Christians should be asking – and the answer is, “There isn’t a difference.”. If something is a sin on Sunday morning, it’s just as much of a sin on Saturday afternoon, Tuesday at midnight, or Thursday at brunch.

It doesn’t matter what a woman’s title is Wait, that’s not quite accurate. It does matter if a woman bears the title of pastor, overseer, elder, bishop, or the title of any other biblical office or position that Scripture restricts to men. There is never a time when it’s biblical for a woman to bear such a title. Why? Because if she bears the title of, say, “pastor,” and she’s doing the job of a pastor, she’s sinning by violating Scripture’s prohibition against women pastors. If she bears the title of “pastor” and she’s not doing the job of a pastor, then her title is a lie, which is also a sin.

But beyond those biblical titles and offices (for example: there’s no biblical office or position of apologist, conference speaker, etc.), it doesn’t matter what a woman’s title is. What matters is whether or not she’s violating Scripture by teaching men in the gathering of the Body. When the Body is gathered for teaching and/or preaching, whether that’s on a Sunday morning for church, on a Saturday at a Christian conference, or whatever the day, situation, event, or venue, women are not to instruct men in the Scriptures. Period. I don’t care what she calls herself, what she says she’s trying to do, or who gave her permission to do it. God’s Word doesn’t give her permission, and she’s violating Scripture.

When the Body is gathered for teaching and/or preaching, whatever the day, situation, event, or venue, women are not to instruct men in the Scriptures. Period.

A couple of resources you may find helpful:

Rock Your Role: Jill in the Pulpit

Rock Your Role FAQs

Fencing Off the Forbidden Fruit Tree


How can we minister to unbelievers who believe cardinals are loved ones visiting1, or other signs they believe are their lost loved ones communicating with them?

To those of us who have been saved a long time and have never run into this idea culturally, it seems silly and laughable. But try to remember how scary death and the afterlife seemed before you got saved. Lost people have no way of making sense of death. No hope and peace of an eternity with Christ. Of course they make up ridiculosities like “There’s just nothingness after you die,” or “Everybody goes to Heaven” … or cardinals. They’re trying to comfort themselves, and this is the best that fallen mankind has been able to come up with. Only Jesus makes sense of death and eternity.

Only Jesus makes sense of death and eternity.

Most people who remark on the appearance of a cardinal this way probably “believe” it about as much as they “believe” there’s a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, or “step on a crack, break your mother’s back,” or that they’ll really have seven years’ bad luck if they break a mirror. It’s just something people once heard somewhere and they say it so they’ll have something to say at the moment.

So the first thing I’d probably do is say something like, “Oh really? I’ve never heard that before. Where does that belief come from?” or “Very interesting. Why do you believe that?”. And listen. Being interested in someone’s beliefs not only demonstrates that you care about her, but it’ll give you a better grasp of where she’s coming from, spiritually (maybe she really does believe cardinals embody the spirits of the dead), and hopefully it will give you an opportunity to share the gospel with her. And that’s what she desperately needs if she believes this cardinal ma-lark-ey. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist!) :0)

1In case it’s not obvious, this is not a Christian site and I’m not recommending it for anything other than the explanation of this superstition.


I listen to John MacArthur’s podcast daily. I love his study Bible and have learned so much from him. A friend recently sent me [a link from a so-called discernment site]. Are you aware of Pastor MacArthur having any ties to the Free Masons? Praying for discernment. Thank you for your help and guidance.

I’m so glad you’re seeking to be discerning rather than just believing whatever random thing you’ve heard on the internet. Good on ya!

This is just one of the many silly false accusations about John MacArthur that are floating around out there. (Frankly, by now, I’m kind of surprised nobody has accused him of being a robot from Mars.) But why believe me? Listen to Dr. MacArthur in his own words:

But I’m really glad you asked, because this is a great opportunity for me to share a couple of quick discernment tips with everyone:

  • Consider the source. Ever heard that before? It’s certainly true of blogs and news sites and discernment ministries. Some are reliable and trustworthy. Some are not. If you’re not sure, don’t just blindly trust the information from that site, especially if it’s largely speculation, conjecture, opinion, or just plain sounds nutty (or is backed up only by other sites fitting that description). Do your homework. Use sources you know to be trustworthy that are backed up by Scripture and other trustworthy sites.

    (Personally – and this is the kind of thing you learn from experience, so it never hurts to reach out to somebody like me and ask if you’re new to this discernment stuff – I would never trust a website named GodIsTerrible dot whatever – the website shared with the reader who sent in the question. I know it’s based on part of a KJV Bible verse, but I don’t really care what the blogger’s motive was for choosing that domain name. Without context, it’s blasphemous and deliberately deceptive, and that’s not someone I’d consider trustworthy on anything biblical.)
  • Straight from the horse’s mouth. If you want to know what someone believes, it’s always best to go straight to the source, particularly if it’s someone you know or have reasonable access to. If it’s someone you don’t have easy direct access to, like Dr. MacArthur, go to his website, find the search bar, and start searching. You can even use an internet search engine. I found the video above by typing “John MacArthur masons” into Google. It was the second hit.

Keep up the great work of being a good Berean!


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