Discernment, False Teachers

Steven Furtick/Elevation/Elevation Music

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.


This article is kept continuously updated as needed.


This article is what I call a “clearinghouse article”. It is a collection of articles written by others on the teacher, ministry, or unbiblical trend named below. Either I have not had the time to write a full blown article on it myself, or I felt that the articles listed did a fine job of explaining the biblical issues and there was no need to reinvent the wheel.

Disclaimer: I did not write most of the articles below, and I am not thoroughly familiar with all of the websites used in my clearinghouse articles. I do not endorse anything on these sites that deviates from Scripture or conflicts with my beliefs as outlined in the “Welcome” or “Statement of Faith” tabs in the blue menu bar at the top of this page.

Here are the  biblical criteria I use when deciding whether or not to recommend a teacher, ministry, etc.:

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 recommend against any teacher or ministry who violates one or more of these biblical tenets.

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.


Steven Furtick/Elevation/Elevation Music
Not Recommended

Primary issues with Steven Furtick: Twists and mishandles Scripture, considers T.D. Jakes (prosperity gospel, New Apostolic Reformation, modalism, proponent of women “pastors”) his mentor, yokes with numerous false teachers, allows women and false teachers to preach at his “church”

From my article The Mailbag: Potpourri (Small groups, Furtick, Slander…):

Reader: Do you have an opinion of Steven Furtick?

My answer: I have many opinions of Steven Furtick (“pastor” of Elevation “Church” in Charlotte, NC), none of them good. He mercilessly twists God’s word, he yokes with false teachers (including T.D. Jakes, Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, Christine Caine and others), and he allows women to preach from his pulpit (Including Lysa TerKeurst. [Elevation is her home church, and] Furtick is her pastor, which is one of the reasons I warn against her.) Additionally, Furtick has been immersed in Word of Faith false doctrine for years, and is now venturing into New Apostolic Reformation false doctrine. For more information, see Fighting for the FaithBerean ResearchBerean Examiner, and Apprising. I’ve also seen a number of YouTube videos from various sources explaining the doctrinal problems and scandals with Furtick (use the YouTube search bar).

Theological Issues

Flee From Furtick by Justin Peters

It’s Time to Walk Away from Steven Furtick by Cam Hyde

Are T.D. Jakes and Steven Furtick Heretics? by Gabriel Hughes

Steven Furtick at CARM

Something in the Milk Ain’t Clean: Avoid Steven Furtick in 2018! at Truth+Fire

Steven Furtick – False Teacher at SO4J

Theologian Rebukes Pastor Steven Furtick’s Claim That Doubting Bible Is OK, Says ‘Doubt Is Disobedience’ at The Christian Post

Steven Furtick is the Most Dangerous Kind of False Teacher at The Chorus in the Chaos

Book Reviews

Unqualified, Not Unworthy at Grace to You (a review of Steven Furtick’s Unqualified)

Music

Why Our Church No Longer Plays Bethel or Hillsong Music (or Elevation or Jesus Culture), and Neither Should Yours (multiple videos/articles)

Collections of Articles/Episodes

The Steven Furtick Cornucopia of False Teaching, Egomania and Hair Gel (multiple articles) at Messed Up Church

Steven Furtick episodes at Wretched

Steven Furtick episodes at Fighting for the Faith

Elevation episodes at Fighting for the Faith

Steven Furtick articles at Berean Research

Steven Furtick articles at Berean Examiner

Steven Furtick articles at Apprising Ministries

If you came here looking for a critique of individual Elevation Music songs, that’s not really what this is about. Everything connected to Steven Furtick – Elevation “Church,” Elevation Music (as an entity and all individual songs), Orange/Code Orange events and materials, and all Elevation programs, materials, and events – are all fruit of the poisonous tree of false teacher, Steven Furtick. No, you cannot biblically pick and choose songs from Elevation Music that don’t seem to overtly violate Scripture. The Bible never tells us to “chew up the meat and spit out the bones.” It says:

I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.

Romans 16:17-18

“Watch out” for false teachers. “Avoid them.” That includes everything about them: all their materials, books, events, music, social media, etc. Would the God who breathed out these words of Scripture be pleased if we ourselves, or our churches, use materials by people who “do not serve our Lord Christ”?

Discernment, Sermons

Sermon and Videos: Why Our Church No Longer Plays Bethel or Hillsong Music (or Elevation or Jesus Culture), and Neither Should Yours

Want to see what it looks like to have a pastor who loves God, God’s Word, and his sheep more than the applause of men? Give this sermon a listen. Pastor David Henneke, of First Baptist Church, Kingsland, Texas, walks his congregation through the Scriptures dealing with false teachers and false doctrine to explain why FBC will no longer use music associated with Bethel and Hillsong. He also warns them away from several other false teachers.

(This is also a good sermon to listen to if you’re confused about expository vs. topical preaching. This is a good example of a biblical topical sermon.)

(Technical difficulties? When you click the Play button on this video, you may get an error message. However, simply click on the line that says “Watch this video on YouTube,” and you’ll be able to watch. If that doesn’t work, copy and paste this link into your browser bar: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C7R6AKFlWhI& or go to YouTube and search for “‘Why our church no longer plays Bethel or Hillsong Music’ Pastor explains false teachings”.)

Justin Peters and Todd Friel discuss the theological problems with Bethel, Jesus Culture, Hillsong, and Elevation music and why your church shouldn’t use their music in this video interview: Why Your Church Shouldn’t Play Bethel and Hillsong Music.

Is it wrong to sing songs from Bethel if they are theologically correct? In this episode of Redeeming Truth, Pastors Costi Hinn, Dale Thackrah, and Kyle Swanson provide insight into the dangers of supporting ministries like Bethel [and Hillsong, Jesus Culture and Elevation Music], that have a false understanding of who Christ is.

If you are looking for theologically accurate worship music to listen to or sing in your church, we have put together a Spotify worship playlist that you can listen to. Costi has also written an excellent companion article on his blog: Should Your Church Sing Jesus Culture & Bethel Music?

I’m not familiar with this blog nor the author of this article (so I don’t endorse anything from either of them that conflicts with my theology) but here’s a great article by minister of music Dan Cogan on this same topic: Why I Don’t Sing the Songs of Hillsong and Jesus Culture.


Additional Resources

Bethel Church (Redding, CA)/Bethel Music/Jesus Culture

Hillsong/Brian & Bobbie Houston

Elevation/Elevation Music

The Mailbag: What Is the New Apostolic Reformation?

The Mailbag: Should Christians Listen to Reckless Love?

God’s Not Like, “Whatever, Dude,” About How He’s Approached in Worship

The Mailbag: False Doctrine in Contemporary Christian Music

Hillsong’s Theology of Music and Worship

Mailbag

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Here are some resources that may help:

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

Hillsong’s Theology of Music and Worship

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A few more quotes from said apologist:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I Know Greek, So That Verse Is Wrong!


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

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

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


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

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

Inline image

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

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

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

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

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


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