Discernment, False Doctrine, Southern Baptist/SBC

A Naked Emperor in the Southern Baptist Convention

Originally published April 6, 2018

Think back to your childhood. Remember the story, The Emperor’s New Clothes?

Once upon a time, there lived an emperor. One day two swindlers came to his palace and told him they could weave cloth for his royal robes that was magical: to those who were foolish or unfit for their jobs, it would appear invisible. Only the wise and worthy would be able to see this fine fabric. The emperor hastily agreed to pay the “weavers” an exorbitant amount of money to make him such an amazing garment, thinking he would use it to weed out anyone unfit for royal service.

The weavers set about pretending to weave. From time to time, the emperor sent various folk to check on the progress the weavers were making, and – though in reality, none of them could see the non-existent fabric – all reported back that the garments were coming along nicely and the cloth was beautiful. But strangely enough, when the emperor himself looked in on the weavers, they held up the magnificent fabric, and he could not see it. Not wanting word to leak out that he was unfit to serve as emperor, he pretended to examine the cloth and complimented the weavers lavishly on their fine work.

Finally, the weavers informed the emperor that the garments were finished. They had the emperor strip down to his skivvies and pretended to help him on with his fine new “garments”. Word had spread among the emperor’s subjects about the magical properties of the fabric, and as the royal procession made its way through town, all shouted out praise for the emperor’s fine new clothes.

All. Except for one little boy.

“But he hasn’t got anything on!” the boy shouted.

It took the innocent honesty of a simple child to shock the emperor’s subjects back to their senses. The truth spread like wildfire, and the crowd began to cry out: “The emperor is naked!” “The emperor has no clothes on!” “He’s not wearing anything!”

But did the emperor admit to his foolishness, return to the palace, and get dressed? No. Sadly the story ends this way:

“The Emperor shivered, for he suspected they were right. But he thought, ‘This procession has got to go on.’ So he walked more proudly than ever, as his noblemen held high the train that wasn’t there at all.”¹

And so the “emperor” of leadership in the Southern Baptist Convention and those who carry its train march proudly on, despite the cries of simple peasants and innocent little children crying at the top of our lungs, “The emperor is naked!” “There are issues that need to be addressed, here!” “Listen to us!”

You’ll note that the story doesn’t say that the emperor was a cruel man, that he overtaxed the people, oppressed them into slavery, was a warmonger, or was in any other way an evil leader. In fact, one could argue that he had good intentions of making sure the people who served at various posts in his empire were of the finest caliber.

And while there are many issues that need to be addressed in my denomination, I think this could generally be said of the leadership of the Southern Baptist Convention as well. Call me a Pollyanna, but I have no reason to believe our denominational leadership – as a whole – is evil or has anything less than the best of intentions for the SBC.

There are many good and praiseworthy things going on in SBC life. We have hundreds of doctrinally sound pastors faithfully preaching the gospel week in and week out. Discernment and biblical literacy among Southern Baptist church members is slowly but steadily growing. The SBC takes a public, biblical stand on abortion and homosexuality while many other denominations do not. Our organizational structure for funding and sending out missionaries, while sometimes flawed in its execution, is without peer. Southern Baptist Disaster Relief is one of the finest relief organizations in the world. And there’s so much more. Find a godly Kingdom effort going on somewhere, and you’ll probably find a Southern Baptist involved in it. By the grace of God, while we’re far from perfect, we’re getting a lot of things right.

But even benevolent emperors get things wrong sometimes, and, Southern Baptist leadership, your drawers are flapping in the breeze on this one²:

Sin. The public sin our leaders commit that we excuse and the public sin our leaders commit that we discipline, and the fact that there’s a discrepancy between the two.

Recently, Frank Page, president and chief executive officer of the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention (one of the top positions of SBC leadership at the national level) resigned his position due to “a morally inappropriate relationship in the recent past,” which, we are left with little choice but to assume means “adultery”. (As an aside, Christians, when confessing sin, let’s knock off the the terminological hem-hawing and call a spade a spade. “I had a six month extra-marital romantic and sexual relationship with a married woman in my church,” or whatever. You don’t have to give all the gory details or name names, but, for crying out loud, if you’re going to confess, confess- don’t finesse.)

It was right and biblical for Dr. Page to publicly confess and express sorrow over his sin as well as to resign (it would also have been right and biblical for the SBC to remove him had he refused to resign, which, undoubtedly would have happened). He sinned against God, his family, the woman and her family, his church, his co-workers, and the entire denomination. He publicly embarrassed the Southern Baptist Convention and gave unbelievers fodder for scoffing when the report of his sin made the national news. This was a case of a well known Southern Baptist leader whose public, observable sin was handled biblically by SBC leadership. I am thankful for this witness to Christians and to the world that sin is not to be swept under the rug, but that sinners are to repent, be disciplined, and then be restored to fellowship (although, in cases like this, not leadership).

But we don’t handle all cases of public sin that way. Some public sin we reward by making the sinner into a wealthy, lauded celebrity.

“Impossible!” you say?

Check the shelves at LifeWay. Select twenty average SBC churches with women’s ministries and see whose books, DVDs, and simulcasts are being used again and again. Peruse the speakers at popular SBC conferences.

You’ll find names like Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, Lysa TerKeurst, Christine Caine, Ann Voskamp, Sarah Young, Andy Stanley, Steven Furtick, Rick Warren, and T.D. Jakes, just to name a few.

Have they committed adultery? Voiced approval of of homosexuality? Committed theft, abused their spouses, or promoted pornography? No. But those aren’t the only types of sins the Bible prohibits.

Every single one of them teaches false doctrine, from Sarah Young’s blasphemous “channeling” of Jesus, to T.D. Jakes’ denial of the Trinity, to Christine Caine’s Word of Faith heresy, to Lysa TerKeurst’s teaching of contemplative prayer.

All of these women who do speaking engagements unashamedly and unrepentantly preach to co-ed audiences. All of these men allow women to preach to co-ed audiences from their pulpits.

All of them who join in ministry with others have yoked or affiliated themselves with false teachers. Beth Moore and Joyce Meyer. Priscilla Shirer and T.D. Jakes. Steven Furtick and Joyce Meyer and T.D. Jakes. Rick Warren and the Pope.

Scripture plainly prohibits the teaching of false doctrine. It’s a major theme of the New Testament, for goodness sake. The Bible tells us that women are not to preach to men or exercise authority over them in the gathered body of Believers. And God’s Word makes very clear that we are to have nothing to do with false teachers, especially not partnering with them in “ministry”.

In the wake of Frank Page’s resignation, I asked this poll question on Twitter

followed by this one

Why are Southern Baptists leaders so quick to – rightly and biblically – oust Frank Page for, as far as we know, one isolated sin which he publicly confessed to and repented of, and yet overlook three major – and much more publicly observable and harmful to Southern Baptists – ongoing sins from pastors and teachers who have been rebuked and refuse to repent? Why, instead of disciplining them for their sin, do those in leadership give them fat book deals, invite them to speak at all the cool conferences, fawn over them on social media, and make them into celebrities?

How many sins will it take to disqualify and discipline these people? Four? Eleven? Ninety-six? Is there any amount of sin these pastors and teachers, and those like them, can commit that will cause those in SBC leadership to pull their materials off the shelves of LifeWay, deny them a seat at the table, and urge them to repent and step down from their positions?

I’ve been a Southern Baptist from the day I was born. I’ve been taught since the cradle roll that if God’s Word says not to do something and you do it anyway, that’s a sin. If God’s Word says to do something and you don’t do it, that’s a sin. And that sin is sin in the eyes of God.

Well is it, or isn’t it, Emperor?

If sin is sin in God’s eyes, why aren’t you treating Beth Moore’s sin like Frank Page’s sin? Why are you rewarding her for her sin and disciplining him for his?

The Bible says in James 3:1:

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.

Those who teach and lead bear more responsibility to teach sound doctrine and walk worthy because they are teaching and leading us by example.

Why are all the aforementioned pastors and teachers better examples to us in their rebellion and unrepentant sin than Frank Page was in his repentance of sin?

Why?

Southern Baptist peasants and little children see right through your foolishness on parade on this issue and we want answers. Biblical answers.

Don’t just stand there shivering, suspecting we are right, but thinking, “This procession has got to go on,” and walking more proudly than ever. Go back to the palace. Repent. Clothe yourselves with humility and obedience to Scripture, and come back and lead us rightly. Biblically.

Because the Emperor of Southern Baptist leadership has been naked for far too long.


¹H.C. Andersen Centret (The Hans Christian Andersen Centre). The Emperor’s New ClothesAccessed April 5, 2018.

²I am well aware that this is not the only problem in the SBC that needs to be addressed. It would be impossible to address every issue in one article, so this time I’ve chosen to focus on this one particular issue.

Discernment, Southern Baptist/SBC

Say “Nah” in Nashville to These Problematic Speakers at SBC21

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.

Photo credit: sbcannualmeeting.net

The 2021 annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention is coming up June 15-16, and you’re probably already sick of hearing about all the problems in the SBC.

Believe me, I am too.

But problems can’t be solved until they’re exposed and recognized as problems. And since I don’t hold a position of leadership in the SBC that would allow me to do anything to actually solve any of the problems, exposing and awareness is my ministry jam. Maybe it’ll help those who do have the power to help solve the problems.

You may recall the 2020 SBC Pastors’ Conference scandal in which David Uth, pastor of First Baptist Church, Orlando, and president of the 2020 Pastors’ Conference (a conference for SBC pastors immediately prior to the annual meeting) had planned to platform a host of unbiblical characters, including a female “pastor,” male pastors with female “pastors” on their church staff, pastors with unbiblical theology and ecclesiology, etc., as featured speakers.

That problem has not gone away, it has just been repackaged and rebranded and seems to be flying under the radar this year with all the (very good and needed) focus on repudiating 2019’s Resolution 9 and Critical Race Theory in general, the SBC presidential campaign, women “pastors,” and other issues, which are totally worthy of the attention they’re receiving.

But the issue of SBC leaders, entities – funded by your offerings, by the way – and other organizations platforming false and unbiblical teachers is also worthy of attention. It has been going on for decades and is only worsening. And that’s exactly what’s happening at some of the ancillary conferences, luncheons, and other events taking place at this year’s Convention.

There are so many of these ancillary events taking place it would have been impossible to vet every one of them, and several of the organizations sponsoring these events have not posted any information about the event online. Additionally, some of the speakers who may, indeed, be very unbiblical, have almost no online presence, so it’s not feasible to try to vet them. So in order to highlight the pervasiveness of the problem, I’m hitting some of the most prolific problematic speakers at a few of the events I think will be of most interest to you.

If you’re unfamiliar with the way I vet teachers and speakers, I’ve explained the criteria I use, and why, in my article Is She a False Teacher? 7 Steps to Figuring it Out on Your Own, as well as in the introduction to my articles on false teachers (for example). In a nutshell, two of the top biblically disqualifying issues with contemporary teachers are: a) women preaching to men (or men/pastors allowing women to preach to men), and b) yoking with false teachers. Those are not the only two issues which biblically disqualify a teacher, but they are two of the fastest and easiest things to check when vetting several teachers in a limited amount of time, so much of what you see below will fall into those two categories.

Rather than adding a zillion links, if you’re unclear as to why someone with whom one of these teachers is yoking is a false or unbiblical teacher, please see my Popular False Teachers & Unbiblical Trends link in the blue menu bar at the top of this page.

Additionally, aside from the full length articles linked to some of the teachers’ names, the information on each teacher below is nowhere near exhaustive, but rather, a thumbnail sketch of some of the major issues with each.

Send Conference (NAMB / IMB)
June 13-14

Photo credit: sendconference.com

Send Conference, sponsored by the North American Mission Board (NAMB) and the International Mission Board (IMB), is basically taking the place of the SBC Pastors’ Conference this year, and is open to all. One of NAMB’s major areas of focus is church planting in North America, and they have lately come under fire when it was discovered that several of their church plants had women pastors and that they are requiring their church planters to teach an adulterated gospel. Remember, NAMB and IMB are supported by your church’s contributions (your offerings) to the Cooperative Program and by your Annie Armstrong Easter offerings and Lottie Moon Christmas offerings, respectively.

Some of the problematic speakers at Send Conference include:

Tony Evans

Donna Gaines – Wife of former SBC president Steve Gaines (who, while sitting president, spoke glowingly on Twitter about an evangelical celebrity headlining his church’s women’s conference and promptly blocked me when I gently informed him said celeb is a false teacher. This conference took place under Donna’s leadership in the women’s ministry.)

Donna is on the steering committee of the SBC Women’s Leadership Network (see below). Her church has at least two adult co-ed life groups co-taught by women, and several groups that use materials by false teachers (Chrystal Evans Hurst, Priscilla Shirer, Anne Graham Lotz, Rick Warren, etc.) She has preached to co-ed audiences. She’s friends with, and endorsed by, Beth Moore, who has spoken at her church. Donna is on the “team” of She Loves Out Loud (alongside some women “pastors”), which in 2020 staged a prayer event including false teachers Priscilla Shirer and Sheila Walsh, which Donna hosted at her church, and which men were allowed to attend. Here she speaks out in support of fellow SBCWLN leader, Jacki C. King (see below) preaching to a co-ed audience and tells those calling Jacki to account to “chill”. And here, she says, “the diversity of your friends may be a mark of your spiritual maturity.”

J.D. Greear– Current SBC president. J.D. Greear has stated (quoting Jen Wilkin) in a sermon that the Bible “whispers about sexual sin,” publicly supports and defends false teachers like Beth Moore, and maintains a friendship with at least one female “pastor” – among many other things. And with his attention-grabbing stand on retiring the Broadus gavel and his unsubstantiated claim that “closet racists and neo confederates feel more at home in our [SBC] churches than do many of our people of color,” his continual references to “Great Commission Baptists” instead of “Southern Baptists,” yet standing with the seminary presidents in their statement repudiating Critical Race Theory, his stand on racial issues feels like a muddled attempt at straddling the fence.

Jamie Ivey LifeWay Women frequently endorses Jamie, which, unfortunately, is a red flag due to their habitual endorsement of false and problematic teachers. And, indeed, Jamie is appearing at LifeWay Women Live 2021 with Lisa Harper, Jackie Hill Perry, Jen Wilkin, Kelly Minter, Jennifer Rothschild, Angie Smith, and Lauren Chandler. She also spoke at IF: Gathering 2021 with a plethora of false teachers. Just since the beginning of 2021, Jamie has hosted Tony Evans, Lisa Harper, racialist Jemar Tisby, Francis Chan, Lisa Bevere’s son, Lauren Chandler, and Amanda Bible Williams on her podcast. Jamie has appeared on TBN’s Better Together show (several times, actually) with Laurie Crouch (co-head of TBN), Christine Caine, diversity trainer Janice Gaines, and female “pastor” Jada Edwards.

Jamie is also quite the proponent of the Enneagram and diversity (appearing at TGC 2018 with Jackie Hill Perry), and has been a featured speaker at co-ed conferences such as ETCH 2020, and the Enneagram Conference.

Jamie is also speaking at the Women & Work Forum (below) and the SEBTS Women’s Breakfast.

Katie McCoy– Assistant Professor of Theology in Women’s Studies at Southwestern Theological Baptist Seminary (SWBTS). Katie is friends with Jacki C. King and serves with her on the steering committee of SBCWLN (see below). She’s a supporter of Beth Moore (also here), and has favorably retweeted Christine Caine (also here) Jen Wilkin, Priscilla Shirer, and Jackie Hill Perry, all of whom preach to men and most of whom are false teachers. And here’s Katie sharing the stage with Kathy Litton (see below).

Katie’s church (where she is minister to women) allows women to co-teach adult co-ed Bible study classes. (The women’s ministry Facebook page of Katie’s church also promotes several events with problematic/false teachers, here, here, here, and further back, but it is unclear whether or not Katie was the women’s ministry leader at that time. It is my hope that she was not and that, under her leadership events like this have ceased.)

Sheila Walsh

SBC Women’s Leadership Network Event
June 14

Photo credit: sbcwomen.net/events

I found and joined the SBC Women’s Leadership Network Facebook group before I realized there was a “network” behind it. I left said Facebook group when it became obvious that various admins of the group (some of whom are members of the network’s steering committee) were at least somewhat favorably disposed to women holding pastoral positions and that my questions about this and citing Scripture regarding the biblical role of women in the church were not welcome (despite the network’s claim to be “convictionally complementarian“).

The SBCWLN event is to be a panel discussion with Kathy Litton, Missie Branch (not included below as there is very little online information on her), Susie Hawkins, and moderated by Jacki C. King. All of these are members of the SBCWLN steering committee:

Kathy Litton– Kathy is the wife of current SBC presidential candidate, Ed Litton. This man who wants to be at the helm of your entire denomination, violates Scripture by allowing Kathy to “co-preach” the Sunday sermon at their Southern Baptist church here, and here, and several more sermons can be found at their church’s website. And here’s Kathy preaching to a co-ed audience at the 2017 MBC Great Commission Conference. Frighteningly, Kathy also serves as Director of Planting Spouse Development, with the Send Network (see above – interesting that it’s planter “spouse” instead of planters’ “wives” as it should be), the church planting arm of the North American Mission Board, which means she heavily influences other pastors’ wives.

Kathy and Beth Moore admire each other. Kathy and Ed “grieved” the SBC’s “loss” of Beth Moore, whose materials were apparently used in their church. Kathy participated in the 2018 SBC Pastors’ Wives conference headlined by Beth Moore and Lisa Harper, where Kathy conducted an interview with Beth’s daughter Melissa. Kathy follows Jackie Hill Perry. and Priscilla Shirer. Kathy wrote an article for Lois Evans’ (Tony Evans‘ late wife) blog, and has shared the stage with Lysa TerKeurst.

Susie Hawkins– Susie is the wife of O.S. Hawkins, president of the SBC’s Guidestone Financial Resources, and former board member of SBC compassion ministry, Baptist Global Response. Susie is a fan of Priscilla Shirer, and Beth Moore is a fan of Susie’s book. Susie participated in a conference with Jennifer Rothschild. Susie calls (false teacher) Ed and (female “pastor”) Lisa Young “dear friends“.

Susie retweeted her husband’s loving well-wishes to Beth Moore when she left the SBC (“And for the record she has not advocated women as senior pastors,” he defended Beth, which is hardly the point with her.) Her husband partnered with TBN to provide his book as a gift to their donors and partners (her retweets signal approval). Susie and her husband also appeared on TBN’s 2015 “Hope for the Holidays” show with heads of TBN Matt and Laurie Crouch, Joel and Victoria Osteen, Beth Moore, James and Betty Robison, New Apostolic Reformation leader Samuel and Eva Rodriguez, and John Gray (former Osteen associate “pastor” and recently revealed serial adulterer).

Susie also occasionally writes for her husband’s blog, in this article, Woman Devotional Writers of the Church touting the works of Catholic mystics. She has instructed a co-ed group in the Scriptures on at least one occasion.

Jacki C. King- Jacki is a pastor’s wife, podcaster, and speaker. Though she normally teaches women, Jacki recently came under fire for preaching the (co-ed) chapel service at Criswell College. She is on board with the “women need a seat at the table in church leadershipmovement typical of so called “narrow (anything but senior pastor) complementarianism”. And then there’s this tweet (hint: egalitarians, not “convictional complementarians” are the ones always focusing on the women of Romans 16, especially Junia).

Under Jacki’s leadership as women’s minister at her church, the women’s ministry has been a host site for IF: Gathering, attended a Jennifer Rothschild/Angie Smith conference, attended an event headlined by (Lysa TerKeurst’s) Proverbs 31 Ministries speaker Whitney Capps, and participated in a Lysa TerKeurst book study.

Jacki has declared herself to be “in [Beth Moore’s] corner” and warned pastors not to brush off women’s feelings about Beth’s departure from the SBC. It seems as though she believes Russell Moore’s recent slanderous and false allegations against Mike Stone and other conservative SBC leaders and has publicly declared that she will vote for Ed Litton (see “Kathy Litton” above) for SBC president. And indeed, if you run in the same circles I do on Twitter (doctrinally sound, actually complementarian, discerning, etc.) although she’s usually careful not to name names or be too specific in her tweets, her carping disdain for, and “correction” of biblically conservative Southern Baptists and other Christians is palpable.

My friend, Robin, attended a conference at which Jacki was the speaker. Check out some of the content of Jacki’s teaching (including the Enneagram, psychiatry, quoting false teachers, and out of context Scripture) here.

(Also, “everybody in leadership needs to get a therapist“?)

Women & Work Forum
June 15

Photo credit: Women & Work Twitter page (@womenwork_net)

Although much of the material at the Women & Work website looks reasonably biblical on the surface, the organization tips its hand with the last line of their statement of faith: “As it relates to the church, men and women are both expected to lead; however, the office of pastor is reserved for biblically qualified men.” (emphasis mine) If you’re as immersed in the pop-women’s ministry milieu as I am, you know what this means: so-called “narrow complementarianism.” In other words, women can fill any capacity or function in the church except the office of head pastor.

The Women & Work Forum event is to be an interview with Jamie Ivey conducted by Missie Branch (not included due to lack of online information) and Courtney L. Moore.

Jamie Ivey– See “Send Conference” above

Courtney L. Moore– Courtney is a pastor’s wife and the founder and president of Women & Work. As such, she is responsible for Jamie Ivey’s appearance at this year’s event and Jen Wilkin’s appearance at W&W’s 2019 event.

Courtney has taught at LifeWay Women’s YouLead conferences, so she has yoked with an organization that habitually promotes false teachers in general, and I have personal knowledge of a YouLead speaker Courtney has appeared with who is not doctrinally sound. Courtney is a fan of Jennie Allen, Beth Moore (“[Beth] loves Jesus and others no matter what is thrown at her. [Beth Moore], you are a treasure, and it was an honor to spend a few minutes with you.”), Christine Caine, and Proverbs 31 (where she apparently heard God speak to her {extra-biblical revelation} at a P31 event). Courtney was also involved in MOPS, speaking twice at MOPS events.

LifeWay Ministers’ Wives Luncheon
June 15

Photo credit: lifeway.com/en/events/

I’ve mentioned the issues with LifeWay selling materials by false teachers numerous times over the years, particularly in their women’s division. The LifeWay Ministers’ Wives Luncheon at this year’s Convention is placarded as, “An inspirational time for all ministry wives attending the Southern Baptist Convention to meet, fellowship, and worship together,” and features speaker…

Jen Wilkin

These are just a few of the problematic and unbiblical speakers who will be appearing at SBC21 events, but they highlight the pervasive problem in the SBC of lack of discernment and sound doctrine, yoking with false teachers, and women preaching to men.

Just say “Nah,” in Nashville.


Might I recommend the Founders Conference instead of the above events? Doctrinally sound speakers. Biblical teaching.

Mailbag

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Was John a prophet? … Christianese … Kendrick brothers movies … Confronting immodest nursing…)

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.


In response to the question about Simeon [in this article], would you consider John (the John that wrote Revelation) to be a prophet? I know he was an apostle but I was just wondering if he would also be considered a prophet due to all the Lord showed him regarding Revelation.

Great question! I love it when women are thinking deeply about the things of God. Since you’re asking my opinion, I didn’t delve into any scholarly works on the subject, I’m just going to give you my take on it based on what I know of Scripture.

As you probably know, in the Old Testament, there were two different types of people who prophesied:

  • Men who held the office of prophet – what we might think of as a “professional prophet,” so to speak – like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Elijah, Elisha, and so on.
  • People to whom God gave a “one and done” (or maybe twice or thrice) word of prophecy for a particular reason or moment in time, like Eldad, Medad, and the 70 elders, Saul, Eliezer, and others.

Jesus was, and is, the final, permanent occupant of the offices of prophet, priest, and king. This is why we don’t see the office of prophet or priest in the New Testament church or anyone installed as “king” over New Testament Christians.

Until the canon of Scripture was complete, however, and foretelling prophecy become obsolete, we do see occasional references to the second type of prophecy in the New Testament church. It seems to me that second category is the category John’s prophecy in Revelation would fall into. He held the office of Apostle, but not the office of prophet (since that position was filled), and God gave Him a “one and done” prophecy to communicate to us.


I’m learning so much from your articles, and I think my husband would benefit from and enjoy hearing what I’m learning. Can I share your posts with him? I don’t want YOU to be teaching my husband and break that command.

It’s always important to be obedient to God’s commands, but it’s equally important that we understand exactly what the command does and doesn’t prohibit so we can obey it properly.

For example, the sixth Commandments says, “You shall not murder,” but this Commandment doesn’t preclude self defense, capital punishment, fighting in a war, or vehemently annihilating an uppity rat or snake with a shovel (I hate rats and snakes. :0)

In the same way, the New Testament’s prohibition on women instructing men in the Scriptures doesn’t mean no male can ever learn anything – even biblical things – from a woman. For example, we see Lois and Eunice instructing Timothy in the Scriptures when he was a boy, and Priscilla, along with her husband Aquila, privately correcting and instructing Apollos.

The biblical prohibition against women teaching men in 1 Timothy 2:11-3:7 has a very specific context. Women are prohibited from preaching to or instructing men (not boys, girls, or other women), in the Scriptures (not in other subjects), or holding authority over men, in the context of the gathering of the body of Believers (the church). Women are also prohibited from holding the office of pastor or elder.

Long story short, yes, you can feel free to show your husband my articles and discuss them with him. Showing your husband one of my articles and having a private discussion with him about what you’ve learned from it doesn’t meet the criteria of the biblical prohibition against women instructing men. A blog is not the gathering of the church body, and as you can tell from the title of it, “Discipleship for Christian Women” I’m teaching you as a woman, not him as a man. The principles in these Scriptures are the applicable ones for sharing with your husband in this way, not 1 Timothy 2:12.

Additional Resources:

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

Rock Your Role FAQs

Rock Your Role article series


What do you think about Teacher X? She preaches to men…he partners with a bunch of false teachers…his church seems to hold New Apostolic Reformation beliefs…she teaches evolution…

While I’m always honored when y’all ask for my thoughts on a particular teacher, if you already know a teacher is sinning by preaching to (or allowing a woman to preach to) men, yoking with false teachers, teaching false doctrine, or unrepentantly doing something else unbiblical, you don’t need my – or anyone else’s – input or approval to stop following that teacher, refuse to use that teacher’s materials, etc. You’ve done what you’re supposed to do – you’ve compared that teacher’s behavior and teaching to Scripture and found it to be contradictory. You’ve been a good Berean. Go ahead and stay away from that teacher.

You might also find my article Is She a False Teacher? 7 Steps to Figuring it Out on Your Own to be helpful.


This week two separate women from different churches and ministry settings have used the words “Too Christianese” to describe words in a song or tract that were being considered for ministry with children. I wonder where this term has come from and why this has become a catchphrase. To me it felt critical and condescending at the same time as well as limiting to the church ministry to have to feel around for words so they are not labeled in this way. I should note we live in New Zealand so I’m not sure if this line of thinking is solely a problem for here or if it is an issue elsewhere.

I think that the foundational issue here is not the word “Christianese” itself, but the underlying paradigm that’s at play.

Sometimes, as might be the case in your situation, when people say, “This has too much Christianese in it,” they’re saying, “People don’t understand biblical terms like ‘sin,’ so we should ditch those terms in favor of other words most people understand, like ‘mistakes’.”

In other words: dumb the Bible down for people. That’s not a biblical paradigm. (And yes, that’s just as much a thing in the U.S. as it apparently is in New Zealand.) The biblical approach is to use biblical terms and teach people what they mean, especially when you’re dealing with children.

On the other hand there’s a lot of churchy “inside language” we use, often without even realizing it, that can make new Christians and people who don’t have a church background feel left out because they don’t know what we’re talking about. For example: “Unspoken prayer request,” “the right hand of fellowship,” “extend grace,” “backslider,” “altar call,” “rededication.” With these sorts of non-theological terms, it might be appropriate to find a clearer way to say things, or it might be appropriate to just explain what they mean.

As to where the term “Christianese” came from and why it has become a catchphrase, I plead ignorance. :0)


We used to regularly follow and enjoy the Sherwood people/movies (i.e. the Kendrick brothers and their crowd)…We’ve pretty much moved away from them due to some theology & discernment concerns (working with/fellowships with Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, as well some muted undertones of the prosperity gospel) and was hoping to hear your opinion on where you’d classify them.

I guess I’d stick those movies in the same category as “Christian fiction” books, meaning that I don’t hold works of fiction to the same high standard as, say, Bible study or theology books, but that doesn’t mean anything goes, either. (I’ve explained more about that here.)

Here’s where I’d land on those movies, or any other work of Christian fiction:

  • Don’t get your theology from works of fiction. This includes any “Bible” studies, devotionals, journals, curricula, programs, or any other materials based on a novel or movie. Get your theology from the Bible, from good teaching and preaching at your church, and from theological books from trustworthy authors/teachers.
  • Think about the financial angle. Will your conscience allow you to financially support the people who made the movie, the actors in the movie, and any false teachers or false doctrine in, or associated with, the movie?
  • Evaluate your spiritual maturity and level of discernment. If you’re spiritually mature and skilled in discernment, you may be able to step around a few doctrinal “cow pies” in a novel or movie that’s otherwise generally in compliance with Scripture. If you’re a new Christian or have not honed your discernment skills, you might want to forego certain novels and movies, or at least watch or discuss them with a spiritually mature, discerning friend.

Thank you thank you for the article on being discreet when breastfeeding. There was a lady at the ballpark yesterday, walking around, and sitting down with it popped out in front of everyone!!!!! I just about lost it and don’t want to. But I need to know how to approach her nicely. I hope and pray I can.

Hang on just a sec, there. I think you might be misunderstanding something. That article was addressed to Christian women about policing their own personal behavior. It was not written to anyone about addressing other people’s behavior.

If you have a personal discipling relationship with a Christian young woman for whom this is an issue, and she’s open to it, you may want to share that article with her and disciple her in the area of modesty.

But don’t go up to random strangers and address this issue. It doesn’t matter how nicely you approach her, it’s not going to go well. And, assuming she’s lost, she’s not going to care about biblical reasons for modesty. Please trust me, and the massive number of emails and comments I got from professing Christian women who were offended by that article, on this. Avert your eyes, mind your business, and look for an opportunity to share the gospel with her instead.


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

Discernment

Jen Wilkin

Jen Wilkin will be speaking at the LifeWay Ministers’ Wives Luncheon at the upcoming 2021 Southern Baptist Convention. If you’re attending, you might want to know more about her.


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.

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

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 (2021) 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 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”. *(Unfortunately, the full length video of Jen’s complete teaching session has been removed from the internet. The video below is an excerpt of the full length video.)

(This is also the teaching session in which Jen made her infamous remarks about menstruation helping women to understand the gospel differently from men, 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.)

In another instance of preaching to a co-ed audience, Jen was one of the featured speakers at The Gospel Coalition’s 2021 Conference. TGC, as many have noted, seems to be on a woke / social justice trajectory. Jen has been featured on TGC’s site numerous times.

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.

And in March 2021, when Beth Moore cut ties with the Southern Baptist Convention, Jen offered this glowing farewell…

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?

And remember when J.D. Greear, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, got himself into all kinds of hot water for saying in a sermon, “The Bible whispers about sexual sin.“? He was quoting Jen Wilkin.

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. Matt and Lauren and their associations with false teachers have undoubtedly influenced Jen.

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

Jen Wilkin on What Pastors Need to Know about Women: Comments and Caution Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 at Conservative Resurgence: Voices.

Discernment

Sheila Walsh

Sheila Walsh is speaking at the Send Conference (NAMB/IMB) at the upcoming 2021 Southern Baptist Convention. If you’re attending, you might want to know more about her.


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.

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.

Comments are closed on this article because it is a reprint and I like to keep all the comments in one place. If you’d like to comment, please do so on the original article. If you’d like to link long term to this information, I’d recommend you link to the original article as well, since I sometimes delete reprints to keep the blog tidy. :0)