Mailbag

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Christian romance novelist, home schooling sons, Spanish resources…)

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!

In these potpourri editions of The Mailbag, I’d also like to address the three questions I’m most commonly asked:

“Do you know anything about [Christian pastor/teacher/author] or his/her materials? Is he/she doctrinally sound?”

Try these links: 
Popular False Teachers /
 Recommended Bible Teachers / search bar
Is She a False Teacher? 7 Steps to Figuring It Out on Your Own
(Do keep bringing me names, though. If I get enough questions about a particular teacher, I’ll probably write an article on her.)

“Can you recommend a good women’s Bible study?”

No. Here’s why:
The Mailbag: Can you recommend a good Bible study for women/teens/kids?
The Mailbag: “We need to stop relying on canned studies,” doesn’t mean, “We need to rely on doctrinally sound canned studies.”.

“You shouldn’t be warning against [popular false teacher] for [X,Y,Z] reason!”

Answering the Opposition- Responses to the Most Frequently Raised Discernment Objections


I was saved in 2011 and am seeking direction on how to live my new life in Christ. Prior to my conversion, I was a romance writer (think: Harlequin). The writing bug still haunts me. I love writing and I’m attempting to write a Christian romance novel. I don’t feel like writing Christian non-fiction would be a fit for me. I have a strong creative desire for writing and graphic design. Is there a place for my fiction work for women? I’m praying about it. Any thoughts you have would be welcomed and helpful in how I pray about it.

Aw, a kindred spirit! Maybe that’s why this question warmed my heart so much, or maybe it’s because it’s profoundly touching and encouraging to hear from any Christian woman who is genuinely seeking how she can best glorify God with the gifts He has given her.

As I was contemplating your question, my husband’s favorite verse kept coming to mind:

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
1 Corinthians 10:31

The verse itself is appropriate to the situation, but so is its immediate context. Whatever we do – whether it’s something as significant as our vocation or as mundane as eating supper – we should do it in a way that glorifies God, represents Him well to others, and leads people toward Christ.

How many Christian romance novels have you ever read that do those things well? Not many, I’m guessing.

One of the ways the Holy Spirit leads us is by the way He has wired us. God has fearfully and wonderfully created each one of us with unique talents and abilities. We are bent toward some things and away from others. It brings honor to God when we submit to the way He created us and use the gifts He has given us to serve others and to serve and glorify Him. Perhaps your bent toward writing fiction is God’s way of leading you to write fiction that glorifies Him and points people to Christ, and to do it well. That’s something you could pray about.

As you plan out your next storyline, ask yourself some questions like:

✏ Is there a way I can pull back the curtain on God’s glory here?
✏ How can I point the reader to Christ in this scene?
✏ Is there a (rightly handled, in context) passage of Scripture I can add here?
✏ How can this character set a biblical example (of what to do, or not to do) for the reader?
✏ How would I summarize how this finished product brings glory to God and points the reader to Christ?

I would encourage you to continue praying and asking God for wisdom and guidance. Take advantage of every opportunity (writing-related or not) He sends your way, and steward it for His glory. You might also find my article The Mailbag: Christian Fiction Recommendations to be of interest.

And don’t forget: Look back over the parables in the gospels. Jesus authored a lot of God-glorifying “Christian fiction”! :0)


For mothers who homeschool their sons, what are some ways to get more masculine influence during daily school lessons (when fathers are usually at work)?

Honestly, and speaking as a mom who has home schooled three sons, I wouldn’t worry about it unless your husband is absent from the home (military, work travel, etc.) for extended periods of time or doesn’t come home at night until the kids are already in bed.

I mean, think about it, the typical family structure since the dawn of Creation has been for Mom to stay at home and raise and nurture the kids (girls and boys) and for Dad to go out and tend the crops or make the widgets or close the business deals, and there’s nothing in the Bible that indicates that your boys will be lacking male influence because of this. The manliest men in Scripture were raised this way. Jesus was raised this way.

If your sons are spending time with Dad when he comes home in the evening and on weekends, if he’s reading them stories and throwing the ball around with them and taking them to monster truck rallies and having them help rake the leaves and wash the car and things like that, they’re going to be just fine.

I would encourage you to instead steward your energies toward walking out in front of your sons what it looks like to be a godly woman, because that’s part of God’s ingenious plan of giving boys such a close relationship with their mothers during their formative years. Every day, you are training them up to be godly men and husbands by showing them the kind of woman they should be looking for in a wife, and how their future wives and children should be treated.

Don’t worry, and entrust your boys to the Lord. He will take care of all of you.

You might find my article The Mailbag: How Can Christian Moms Raise Godly Men? to be helpful.

(And not to leave out moms of girls, here’s Avoiding the Creepers: Six Ways to Raise a Biblically Strong Woman)


My new daughter-in-law is learning English, but her first language is Spanish. I’d like to give her some good, doctrinally sound books and resources in Spanish. Where can I find these?

I would check Grace to YouLigonier, and HeartCry Missionary Society (Paul Washer). I know they all have books and resources (sermons, articles, etc.) in Spanish, and if you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for on the site, you can contact them directly, and they can point you in the right direction.

And keep an eye on the comments section of this article. I’m sure my readers can suggest some great resources in Spanish, too.

Thanks for being such an awesome mother-in-law!


I am Lutheran. My church is very Scripture-based. I have been asked to run for church council for education. Do you think it is against Scripture?

Hello, you lovely Lutheran lady! I’m afraid I am too ignorant of what a Lutheran church council for education does to say whether or not it’s against Scripture.

I’m intrigued by the idea of “running” for a position of service in the church. I’m not sure actual campaigning for the position is in keeping with doing things decently and in order, but I guess that would depend on how it is done. And perhaps what you mean by “running” is that you’ve been nominated and you have to be approved by a vote of the church, but there’s no actual campaigning involved? I can’t see any biblical problem with that.

But I’m guessing the main thrust of your question is whether or not a woman should be serving in this position. As I said, I don’t know how this council functions, so I can’t give you a thumbs up or down. The best I can do is to tell you that as long as the position doesn’t require you to teach Scripture to men, exercise authority over men, or do anything else that’s unbiblical, and as long as your husband (if you’re married) is OK with you filling the position, it should be fine.

Let me offer you a couple of other resources that might be helpful:

1. Check out my articles Jill in the Pulpit and Rock Your Role FAQs. They may help give you a better idea of whether or not you should take the position.

2. My go-to guy for all things Lutheran is Chris Rosebrough. He is a doctrinally sound Lutheran pastor and host of the Fighting for the Faith podcast. I would recommend you contact him. He does a bit of traveling, so if he’s not able to get back to you right away, I would suggest you join the Facebook group that supports Fighting for the Faith and ask your question in that group. There are oodles of good solid Lutheran members who could probably help.


I’m praying for you…Here’s an encouraging word of Scripture…Here’s how God has used your writing to work in my life…

I have the best readers in the world – the best. I can’t imagine that any other writer has readers who are sweeter and more encouraging than y’all are. Hardly a day goes by that one of you doesn’t love me well by dropping me a few words that are so much kinder than I deserve.

I just want you to know that, while you may not think that’s much of a ministry, it is. It keeps me going and keeps me sane on the days when all the crazies are attacking and I feel like quitting. Your kindness matters. And I know it matters to all the other  people in your life that you’re being kind to, too – your family members, your friends, your co-workers, even strangers on the street. Don’t grow weary in the well-doing of ministering encouragement to others. It matters.

I just wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you to everyone who has offered me gracious words over the years. You are very much appreciated and loved.


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.

False Doctrine, False Teachers

Throwback Thursday ~ Hillsong’s Theology of Music and Worship

Originally published October 25, 2016c3banner1_fftf

Does your church use Hillsong music? Do you buy their songs or listen to them on the radio? Ever really sat down and compared the words you’re singing or hearing to Scripture?

If not, this episode of Fighting for the Faith will be eye-opening. Listen in as Chris Rosebrough, Steve Kozar, and Amy Spreeman examine the lyrics of several popular Hillsong anthems for biblical theology. They’ll also give you a behind the scenes look at what goes into planning a Hillsong-esque worship set. And you’ll hear from Geoff Bullock, one of the “founding fathers” of Hillsong music, about why he left Hillsong and his regrets about the songs he wrote while there. Hear more of Geoff’s story here and below:

 

Click below to listen to this fascinating episode of Fighting for the Faith:

Heresy Hiding in Plain Sight

Discernment

Throwback Thursday ~ Still Be Discerning about Discerners Discerning Discernment Ministries

discerners discerning discernment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John closes out his insightful article with this thought:

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

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

Mailbag

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Loneliness, Masons, Psych Meds…)

 

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 potpourrri 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 am wondering if it is common for women who really begin to exercise discernment and pull away from bad theology and false teachers to find themselves somewhat isolated and lonely? Are other women dealing with this same issue?

It probably sounds weird to say it this way but, no, you are not alone in your loneliness and isolation. I hear this often from:

…women who are growing in discernment and are beginning to realize that the rest of their church is growing more and more accepting of false doctrine.

…women who are having difficulty finding a doctrinally sound church to join.

…women who go to churches that are mostly doctrinally sound but can’t attend their church’s women’s ministry events or women’s “Bible” study because the event centers around (or the study is written by) a false teacher.

Sometimes the loneliness is something you just have to endure for a while. Maybe God has placed you at this church in order to pray for its health and work for biblical change. Maybe God led you away from your last church because it was too far gone in false doctrine to turn around and you haven’t been able to find a new church yet.

Be patient. Use this time of loneliness to draw nearer to the Lord. If you’re married, pour your energies into a closer relationship with your husband. Try to cultivate a deeper friendship with one or two other women instead of dwelling on the fact that there aren’t any classes or group gatherings for you to attend. And, secondarily (your primary focus should always be on face to face relationships), try joining a Christian women’s group on social media. Hereherehere, and here are a few I’m familiar with and can recommend.

And don’t forget, Jesus knows what it feels like to be lonely and rejected for standing for biblical truth. Rejoice – you are sharing in His sufferings.


The wife of a pastor I trust mentioned on social media that she went to [secular singer’s] concert and thought it was fantastic. I know his music isn’t something we should listen to but how do I deal in regards to her husband’s teachings?

Well… let’s back up just a little bit.

I’m not very familiar with the singer you named, but from what little I’ve been told, he’s not biting the heads off bats on stage or building an altar to Satan in his living room. He’s a “pop/Top 40” or “adult contemporary” kind of guy who mostly sings love songs. Now, does that mean it’s blanketly OK for Christians to listen to his music? Not necessarily. Does it mean we should blanketly question the sanctification of a Christian who enjoys listening to him, or the doctrine of her spouse? Not necessarily.

Assuming she would not publicly admit to liking a celebrity who is well known for blatantly promoting sin in his life or his music, what her social media remark probably means is that the singer’s music doesn’t generally glorify sin, and the pastor’s wife either isn’t aware that the singer overtly promotes sin (abortion, the homosexual agenda, a false religion, etc.) off stage or she’s familiar enough with his life to know that he doesn’t, so she has made the decision that it’s OK to listen to his music.

Perhaps you would make a different decision about your own listening habits, but it’s not your place to impose your listening standards on this woman or to judge her husband’s entire body of doctrine by one remark his wife made on social media. Scripture doesn’t say we can never listen to an unsaved singer or that we can never listen to music that’s not expressly “Christian.” The Bible does say we’re to set our minds on things that are pure, lovely, excellent, etc., but it does not say that you or I get to determine what is pure, lovely, excellent, etc., for another person’s conscience, unless rightly handled Scripture clearly addresses it. We are to work out our own salvation on issues about which the Bible is silent.

Unless the woman’s social media remark was just one in a pattern of questionable or sinful comments or behaviors, I don’t think it’s fair to jump to the conclusion, based on this one comment alone, that the pastor is doctrinally unsound, a poor spiritual leader to his wife and family, or otherwise unfit for ministry. Continue to exercise as much discernment when listening to him as you would with any other pastor or teacher you follow.

Do You MIND? Five Reasons for Pastors to Mind What their Brides are Reading


Would you have a problem being a member of a Lutheran church? Our church is possibly disbanding and my husband (Southern Baptist all his life) is interested in visiting there. I read about a few differences, but I am not sure if they are differences to keep us away.

(I just want to note that this reader asked me if I would attend a Lutheran church, so that’s how I’m answering – for me. Naturally, if my husband and I were faced with this issue, we would discuss it and pray about it, he would make the final decision, and I would gladly abide by that (biblical) decision. Also, I’m not answering for anyone else. I have godly, doctrinally sound friends who are Lutherans, and I’m certainly not saying they – or anyone else – need to leave a solid local Lutheran church.)

Like your husband, I’m also a lifelong Southern Baptist, and though I’m Reformed (most of the SBC isn’t), and there are a lot of problems in the Southern Baptist Convention at large, I’m not ready to jump ship just yet. There are still a lot of doctrinally sound SBC churches out there (I’m a member of an awesome one) and there is space for those churches and doctrinally sound individuals to continue working for change to correct those problems. So, to answer that aspect of your question, I would not seek out a church of any other denomination at this point in my life.

However, if my family had to move to another place where the only doctrinally sound church available to us was a Lutheran church, knowing only what I know right now about Lutheranism – which, admittedly, is at a moderate level – I would joyfully attend it. (I would definitely study up on Lutheran doctrine more, though, if I were in that situation.)

The Lutheran doctrines I’m most familiar with that I don’t agree with are some (not all) of their beliefs and practices regarding baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Those are the areas where I would suggest you and your husband start studying. Examine the Lutheran application of the Scriptures regarding those issues, pray about it, talk to the Lutheran pastor about it, talk to a non-Lutheran pastor you trust about it, and decide whether you can submit to Lutheran doctrine in those areas. I don’t know if those or other Lutheran doctrines are differences that would keep you away or not. There are plenty of doctrinally sound folks who are Lutherans, so obviously, they’re differences that don’t keep everybody away.

Let me point you toward a couple of those doctrinally sound Lutherans who might be able to help with your questions and give you better resources than I can:

Chris Rosebrough – a Lutheran pastor – heads up one of my favorite podcasts, Fighting for the Faith. You might want to give him a listen and/or contact him for some advice or resources.

Jorge Rodriguez, also Lutheran, admins the Fighting for the Faith Facebook group. I’ve seen several questions on Lutheran doctrine in the group, so you could post questions there or contact Jorge through his blog, Faithful Stewardship.

I’m not sure how much time either Chris or Jorge has to answer individual messages, but it’s worth a shot.


Should Christians be Masons?

I don’t know what’s going on with the Masons and their infiltration of the church these days, but I’m seeing this question pop up more and more.

No, Christians should not be Masons if for no other reason than that their ceremonies, beliefs, etc., are so shrouded in secrecy. Christians are people of the light, not people of the darkness. But there are many more unbiblical tenets to Masonry that preclude a genuinely regenerated Christian from joining. Here are some resources if you’d like to study up:

Should Christians Join the Masonic Lodge? by Steven Tsoukalas

What is Free Masonry and what do Free Masons believe? at Got Questions

Freemasonry and the Christian at The Master’s Seminary


I wanted to know your take on Christians and anti-depressants and/or anti-anxiety medication.

I’m neither qualified, nor do I think it would be wise, to make a blanket statement for or against these types of medications. As a maturing Christian and student of the Bible for many years and as someone with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and half a master’s in family counseling here is what I’m willing and qualified to say:

☙Many of the issues people see therapists for – including some forms of depression and anxiety – are actually spiritual issues. Before seeing a psychologist, psychiatrist, or therapist, and certainly before trying any psychotropic medication, I would recommend that someone talk with a pastor, a mature Christian friend, or an ACBC certified Biblical counselor (not the same thing as a “Christian counselor”) to make sure she correctly understands and has applied the biblical gospel and what the Bible says about the issue she’s facing. It’s not by accident that our God has names like Prince of Peace, Wonderful Counsellor, Comforter, and the Great Physician.

☙Sometimes Christians – doctrinally sound Christians who aren’t living in any unrepentant sin – have emotional or organic brain issues that require psychological/psychiatric intervention and/or psychotropic medication. There are psychological/psychiatric treatments that do not conflict with Scripture, and no Christian should feel guilty for partaking of them if she has dealt with all potential spiritual issues related to her problem and has exhausted all other less extreme measures to deal with her problem. Christians who play armchair expert and blanketly denounce any form of psychological/psychiatric intervention as unbiblical and satanic are misinformed and aren’t helping anybody, least of all brothers and sisters in Christ who are dealing with mental issues.

☙Psychotropic drugs can have some intense side effects, which is one reason I would recommend exhausting every other possibility first: first spiritual issues, then behavior and/or talk therapy. If you find you must take a medication, make sure you have a good doctor who knows your medical history, get a second or third opinion, and do lots of research.

What are some biblical ways of addressing my child’s mental illness?


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.

Sermons

What I’ve Been Listening to Lately

I am so thankful for my pastor and my teachers at church. They are my main source of spiritual nourishment (along with my personal time in the Word), but for some reason they don’t seem to want to come over and teach me while I’m doing the dishes or putting on my makeup. Go figure! So for leisure time listening, I’m thankful for the great men and women of God whose teaching is available online. (These all happen to be available on iTunes, too.) Here’s some awesome audio I’ve come across lately that’s sure to encourage and edify you:

Sheologians had Steven Bancarz – a survivor of New Age false doctrine – on last week to talk about New Agey, occultic, mystical stuff and why you should say no-ga to yoga. It was good. You should listen.

New Age Jesus and How to Find Him with Steven Bancarz

 

Sometimes it can be hard to trust God for provision, or to carry you through a difficult situation. John MacArthur’s multi-part series, Anxiety-Free Living, on the Grace to You Radio Podcast explains from Scripture why and how we can trust God for every need.

 

 

Kerrie suffered horrible abuse at the hands of C3 “Church” and Hillsong in Australia. False doctrine and the so-called churches that promote it destroy real lives, folks. Listen in as Fighting for the Faith’s Chris Rosebrough interviews Kerrie Ferguson about her harrowing experience.

A Look at the Dangers of False Ecclesiology