Discernment

Jen Wilkin

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Jen Wilkin
Not Recommended, but
NOT a False Teacher 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

LifeWay Women Live 2020 Speakers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Additional Resources:

Articles on Jen Wilkin by Elizabeth Prata

Christian women, Church, Southern Baptist/SBC

Is the SBC’s Tent Big Enough for ALL Marginalized Christian Women?

I’m taking a short summer break this week. I hope you’ll enjoy this article from the archives. The annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention  also took place this week. Will you please pray that God will bring conviction of sin, repentance, and obedience to God’s Word in the SBC?


Originally published June 22, 2018

It started with Paige Patterson’s gobsmackingly horrible and unbiblical advice to an abused to wife to return to her husband. Then it was the lurid remarks he made about a teenage girl, with which he regaled a congregation during a sermon. Next came the allegations of his mishandling of two separate sexual assault cases at two different seminaries.

In response to all this turmoil, Beth Moore added to the conversation some vague stories of various unnamed men in Christian circles who had, in her perception, condescended to her or otherwise not treated her as an equal, leaving the impression that there is widespread, systemic misogyny within modern evangelicalism. Jen Wilkin, from a more biblical – yet, troublingly, similarly vague – perspective, joined the chorus, and has been afforded a wider audience for the “they can’t be pastors, natch, but we need more women in church leadership” platform she has been advancing for the past several years. (Which leadership positions or roles? We’re still waiting for Jen to specify.)

And the icing on the cake was SBC pastor, Dwight McKissic, publicly declaring that the way to “heal” all of these woes against Christian women and “right historic patterns of wrong against women” is to elect Beth Moore as president of the Southern Baptist Convention.

So this nebulous idea has been introduced that Christian women are getting the short end of the stick across the board in evangelicalism (specifically in the SBC) and that the way to fix things – all the way from genuine abuse and rape on one end of the spectrum to women whose feelings have been hurt because they’re not seen as equal to pastors on the other end – is to make sure, somehow, that women’s voices are heard and validated.

That’s a pretty “big tent” idea. And if it’s going to be a big tent, there’s room under there for everybody, right? To be consistent, compassionate, and fair, wouldn’t these folks have to make space for the voices of, and give influential positions to, any Christian woman who feels she’s been diminished? Let’s find out.

Allow me to introduce you to a group of Christian women who have been silenced and brushed aside for years, often by the very same people who are now hypocritically crying out that women need to be heard in order to keep them from being marginalized.

I give you discerning, doctrinally sound, often Reformed, Christian women.

We are women who have been subjected to insults, and accusations of heresy and hatred of the lost, because we hold to the doctrines of grace. We are women who have been attacked by pastors, pastors’ wives, women’s ministry leaders, and fellow church members for pointing out the false doctrine of popular women’s “Bible” study materials and merely asking to properly be taught the Word of God in our own churches. We are women who have been shouted down or ruled “out of order” at denominational meetings for asking that our Christian retailers stop selling materials containing false teaching. We are women who have been forced out of our own churches for taking a biblical stand against women preaching to, teaching, or exercising authority over men in the church. We are women who have been called haters, legalistic, divisive, threats to unity, jealous, and all other manner of slander simply for holding to Scripture and refusing to budge from it.

All this mistreatment of women at the hands of Christian celebrities, denominational leaders, pastors and other church leadership, and fellow church members.

Do we qualify as marginalized? We’ve been hurt, and in many cases, sinned against outright. No church discipline. No redress or recourse. Nobody wants to make sure we have a voice or a place of power – quite the opposite, in fact. A lot of us saw our own pastors hand-wringingly share Beth Moore’s detailing of her grievances against Christian men even as they pushed us and our biblical concerns aside.

Everybody feels sorry for Beth Moore. Who will cry for us?

We don’t want much, just a return to what’s biblical.

We want sound doctrine in the church and solid preaching in the pulpit.

We want this nonsense about a female SBC President – especially a false teacher like Beth Moore – to stop. Not only is it not biblical, it’s a patronizing toss of a trinket or pat on the head attempting to dry the tears of fussy little girls, and it won’t work to solve any of the real problems that are going on.

We want false doctrine off the shelves of LifeWay, and for LifeWay, the ERLC, and others in leadership to stop organizing and promoting conferences and other events headlined by people they have already been informed (yea, as seminary trained pastors and leaders, should know without having to be told) are false teachers. Among the many things Jen Wilkin has rightly said is that we need to promote biblical and theological literacy among Christian women. When you go on a diet, the first thing you do is go through your kitchen and throw out all the junk food. You’ll never start eating healthy if you have an endless supply of candy bars in the pantry. The only way to begin to properly train women in Scripture and theology  is by “putting off” false doctrine in order to “put on” sound doctrine.

We want LifeWay to demonstrate that it actually cares about the spiritual health of women by putting its money where its mouth is. Ridding the shelves of false doctrine and the event docket of false teachers is going to cost LifeWay a lot of revenue. Women who want their itching ears scratched will quickly find another source of false teaching to pour their cash into. There’s not a lot of money to be made in encouraging women to study straight from their Bibles, sit faithfully under the teaching of a doctrinally sound pastor, and humbly serve the local church. Are Christian women worth it to you, LifeWay?

We want a strong doctrine of sin and church discipline to be understood and taught by our pastors and denominational leaders. The fact of the matter is that a woman who has been genuinely sinned against by a man who has abused her is in a different category from a woman whose feelings are hurt because she’s been told she can’t teach a co-ed adult Sunday School class. The first woman needs compassionate brothers and sisters in Christ to come alongside her and walk with her as God begins to heal her body and her heart. The abuser needs to be prosecuted to the full and appropriate extent of the law as well as to be placed under church discipline. The second woman is either in sin and rebellion (in which case she may need to be placed under church discipline) or she just hasn’t been taught God’s Word properly and someone needs to disciple her in that area. To put these two women underneath the same “big tent” just because they’ve both experienced some sort of hurt diminishes and confuses their situations and the solutions that would be biblically appropriate for each.

We want pastors and leaders to herald, praise, and validate the biblical role of women in the church. Women should not be taught only the things we cannot do in the church, we must also be taught what we must do in the church – what only women are uniquely and ontologically gifted by God to do. Women need to hear – particularly from the mouths of pastors and denominational leaders – the vital necessity of women discipling other women, women training the church’s children in the Scriptures, women serving in hospitality and mercy ministries, women properly using their administrative gifts, and so much more. Train us to teach. Equip us to serve. Encourage us to use our gifts in obedience to Scripture and for the glory of God.

We want men – from the heads of our denominations to the newly saved sinner in the pew – to step up and be godly men. We desperately need you to biblically and fearlessly lead the church. Don’t be afraid to stand up and put your foot down squarely on Scripture. Even if it makes you unpopular. Even if it rocks the boat at church. Even if people leave and never come back. As godly women, we can’t do our job if you’re not doing yours.

So how about it, brothers and sisters who are crying out for Christian women to be heard? Do doctrinally sound women get a seat at the table? Do we get to be heard? Will anything be done to correct the mistreatment we’ve received?

Or are there only certain women you want to hear from? Women who fit the popular social narrative. Women the world and most of the church will applaud you for listening to. Solutions that do more to glorify people than to glorify God.

Just how big is that tent…really?

Christian women, Church, Southern Baptist/SBC

Is the SBC’s Tent Big Enough for ALL Marginalized Christian Women?

It started with Paige Patterson’s gobsmackingly horrible and unbiblical advice to an abused to wife to return to her husband. Then it was the lurid remarks he made about a teenage girl, with which he regaled a congregation during a sermon. Next came the allegations of his mishandling of two separate sexual assault cases at two different seminaries.

In response to all this turmoil, Beth Moore added to the conversation some vague stories of various unnamed men in Christian circles who had, in her perception, condescended to her or otherwise not treated her as an equal, leaving the impression that there is widespread, systemic misogyny within modern evangelicalism. Jen Wilkin, from a more biblical – yet, troublingly, similarly vague – perspective, joined the chorus, and has been afforded a wider audience for the “they can’t be pastors, natch, but we need more women in church leadership” platform she has been advancing for the past several years. (Which leadership positions or roles? We’re still waiting for Jen to specify.)

And the icing on the cake was SBC pastor, Dwight McKissic, publicly declaring that the way to “heal” all of these woes against Christian women and “right historic patterns of wrong against women” is to elect Beth Moore as president of the Southern Baptist Convention.

So this nebulous idea has been introduced that Christian women are getting the short end of the stick across the board in evangelicalism (specifically in the SBC) and that the way to fix things – all the way from genuine abuse and rape on one end of the spectrum to women whose feelings have been hurt because they’re not seen as equal to pastors on the other end – is to make sure, somehow, that women’s voices are heard and validated.

That’s a pretty “big tent” idea. And if it’s going to be a big tent, there’s room under there for everybody, right? To be consistent, compassionate, and fair, wouldn’t these folks have to make space for the voices of, and give influential positions to, any Christian woman who feels she’s been diminished? Let’s find out.

Allow me to introduce you to a group of Christian women who have been silenced and brushed aside for years, often by the very same people who are now hypocritically crying out that women need to be heard in order to keep them from being marginalized.

I give you discerning, doctrinally sound, often Reformed, Christian women.

We are women who have been subjected to insults, and accusations of heresy and hatred of the lost, because we hold to the doctrines of grace. We are women who have been attacked by pastors, pastors’ wives, women’s ministry leaders, and fellow church members for pointing out the false doctrine of popular women’s “Bible” study materials and merely asking to properly be taught the Word of God in our own churches. We are women who have been shouted down or ruled “out of order” at denominational meetings for asking that our Christian retailers stop selling materials containing false teaching. We are women who have been forced out of our own churches for taking a biblical stand against women preaching to, teaching, or exercising authority over men in the church. We are women who have been called haters, legalistic, divisive, threats to unity, jealous, and all other manner of slander simply for holding to Scripture and refusing to budge from it.

All this mistreatment of women at the hands of Christian celebrities, denominational leaders, pastors and other church leadership, and fellow church members.

Do we qualify as marginalized? We’ve been hurt, and in many cases, sinned against outright. No church discipline. No redress or recourse. Nobody wants to make sure we have a voice or a place of power – quite the opposite, in fact. A lot of us saw our own pastors hand-wringingly share Beth Moore’s detailing of her grievances against Christian men even as they pushed us and our biblical concerns aside.

Everybody feels sorry for Beth Moore. Who will cry for us?

We don’t want much, just a return to what’s biblical.

We want sound doctrine in the church and solid preaching in the pulpit.

We want this nonsense about a female SBC President – especially a false teacher like Beth Moore – to stop. Not only is it not biblical, it’s a patronizing toss of a trinket or pat on the head attempting to dry the tears of fussy little girls, and it won’t work to solve any of the real problems that are going on.

We want false doctrine off the shelves of LifeWay, and for LifeWay, the ERLC, and others in leadership to stop organizing and promoting conferences and other events headlined by people they have already been informed (yea, as seminary trained pastors and leaders, should know without having to be told) are false teachers. Among the many things Jen Wilkin has rightly said is that we need to promote biblical and theological literacy among Christian women. When you go on a diet, the first thing you do is go through your kitchen and throw out all the junk food. You’ll never start eating healthy if you have an endless supply of candy bars in the pantry. The only way to begin to properly train women in Scripture and theology  is by “putting off” false doctrine in order to “put on” sound doctrine.

We want LifeWay to demonstrate that it actually cares about the spiritual health of women by putting its money where its mouth is. Ridding the shelves of false doctrine and the event docket of false teachers is going to cost LifeWay a lot of revenue. Women who want their itching ears scratched will quickly find another source of false teaching to pour their cash into. There’s not a lot of money to be made in encouraging women to study straight from their Bibles, sit faithfully under the teaching of a doctrinally sound pastor, and humbly serve the local church. Are Christian women worth it to you, LifeWay?

We want a strong doctrine of sin and church discipline to be understood and taught by our pastors and denominational leaders. The fact of the matter is that a woman who has been genuinely sinned against by a man who has abused her is in a different category from a woman whose feelings are hurt because she’s been told she can’t teach a co-ed adult Sunday School class. The first woman needs compassionate brothers and sisters in Christ to come alongside her and walk with her as God begins to heal her body and her heart. The abuser needs to be prosecuted to the full and appropriate extent of the law as well as to be placed under church discipline. The second woman is either in sin and rebellion (in which case she may need to be placed under church discipline) or she just hasn’t been taught God’s Word properly and someone needs to disciple her in that area. To put these two women underneath the same “big tent” just because they’ve both experienced some sort of hurt diminishes and confuses their situations and the solutions that would be biblically appropriate for each.

We want pastors and leaders to herald, praise, and validate the biblical role of women in the church. Women should not be taught only the things we cannot do in the church, we must also be taught what we must do in the church – what only women are uniquely and ontologically gifted by God to do. Women need to hear – particularly from the mouths of pastors and denominational leaders – the vital necessity of women discipling other women, women training the church’s children in the Scriptures, women serving in hospitality and mercy ministries, women properly using their administrative gifts, and so much more. Train us to teach. Equip us to serve. Encourage us to use our gifts in obedience to Scripture and for the glory of God.

We want men – from the heads of our denominations to the newly saved sinner in the pew – to step up and be godly men. We desperately need you to biblically and fearlessly lead the church. Don’t be afraid to stand up and put your foot down squarely on Scripture. Even if it makes you unpopular. Even if it rocks the boat at church. Even if people leave and never come back. As godly women, we can’t do our job if you’re not doing yours.

So how about it, brothers and sisters who are crying out for Christian women to be heard? Do doctrinally sound women get a seat at the table? Do we get to be heard? Will anything be done to correct the mistreatment we’ve received?

Or are there only certain women you want to hear from? Women who fit the popular social narrative. Women the world and most of the church will applaud you for listening to. Solutions that do more to glorify people than to glorify God.

Just how big is that tent…really?

Discernment, False Teachers, Mailbag

The Mailbag: Do you recommend these teachers/authors? Volume 3

If you are considering commenting or sending me an e-mail objecting to the fact that I warn against false 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.

mailbag

Volume 1     Volume 2

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. Below are some others I’ve been asked about recently, so I’ve done a quick check (this is brief research, not exhaustive) on each of them.

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 the women and ministries listed below and have not had much of an opportunity to examine their writings or hear them speak, so most of the “quick checking” I did involved 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).

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).

Jill Briscoe- Not recommended. “Jill has written more than 40 books, traveled on every continent teaching and encouraging, served on the boards of Christianity Today and World Relief, and now acts as Executive Editor of a magazine for women called Just Between Us. Jill can be heard regularly on the worldwide media ministry called Telling the Truth.”

When I began my research of Jill a few months ago, there was a “live chat” feature on her web site, Telling the Truth, and I had a lengthy exchange with a kind and polite representative of the ministry named Elizabeth who answered several questions for me. A couple of brief excerpts from our chat:

Jill is on the boards of Christianity Today and World Relief, and she is an executive editor of the women’s ministry “Just Between Us,” – so her doctrine would most likely line up with much of the doctrine of those organizations.

Christianity Today is such an “anything goes” theological train wreck that it’s often derisively dubbed Christianity Astray. I’m not saying Jill agrees with every article they publish, but, word to the wise, don’t ever tell people you’re trying to convince you’re doctrinally sound that your doctrine lines up with Christianity Today. Here’s the closest thing I could find to a statement of faith for World Relief. There is zero mention of the gospel or evangelism, but can you count how many times the word (social) “justice” is used? Just Between Us has a brief, if generic, statement of faith. What’s there (which is not much) is doctrinally sound, but a quick look at JBU’s Facebook page tells another story. Neither Lisa Harper nor Proverbs 31/Lysa TerKeurst are doctrinally sound, and we also learn that Jill will be a featured speaker at IF:Gathering’s IF:Lead conference.

Screenshot: 9/22/17

Some additional insight into Jill’s theology can be found in this excerpt from her book, God’s Front Door. Jill “writes several short dialogues with the Father” (in a “Jesus Calling-ish” style) to help readers cope with life issues large and small. It is unclear whether or not she also directs the reader to Scripture for help in dealing with life’s problems, but that is where Christians should find guidance, not in someone’s fictionalized dialogues with God.

[Jill] does speak to audiences which include men, though it is under the authority of the leadership of those churches and groups, and also under the authority of her husband, Stuart.

Elizabeth also e-mailed me a copy of the “form letter” e-mail Stuart sends out when questioned about Jill preaching to men. It’s too long to reprint here, but basically his stance is that 1 Timothy 2:12 was a prohibition that applied only to the theologically ignorant women of Paul’s day and is no longer applicable. In addition to that error, the Bible nowhere says women may preach to men if they’re doing so “under their husband’s/a pastor’s/a church’s authority”.

Finally, Jill spoke at 2017’s IF:Gathering alongside false teachers Jennie Allen, Rebekah Lyons, Shauna Niequist, Bianca Olthoff (below), Lysa TerKeurst, and Ann Voskamp, among others.

Lauren Chandler- Not recommended. Lauren’s primary claim to fame is that she is married to Matt Chandler, pastor of The Village Church, author, and speaker. Lauren is an author, conference speaker, singer and songwriter, and sometimes leads worship at TVC. Because her speaking engagements are infrequent and she has only authored one book, information on her doctrine and teaching are sparse. I have no reason to believe her doctrine deviates significantly from Matt’s, which could be characterized as generally doctrinally sound Reformed Charismatic. I also have no reason to believe she preaches to men, as all of her speaking events I’ve been able to locate have either been women’s events or marriage conferences with her husband.

The reason I would not recommend you follow Lauren Chandler is her lack of discernment in partnering with and being influenced by false teachers. As worship leader at TVC, Lauren has selected music by Bethel and Israel Houghton (Joel Osteen’s former worship leader). She has guest blogged for Priscilla ShirerHere, she publicly declares her desire to meet Christine Caine, which is something she will be able to cross off her bucket list later this week when she appears alongside her (as well as false teachers Ann Voskamp, Bianca Olthoff {below}, Jennie Allen, Rebekah Lyons, and female “pastor” Jeanne Stevens) at IF: Gathering 2018. In fact, Lauren has become an annual fixture at IF:Gathering (2013-2017).

In addition to appearing with Ann Voskamp at various IF: Gatherings, Lauren proudly appeared with her (as well as Rebekah Lyons and another female “pastor”) at this 2014 conference. Ann Voskamp wrote the foreword for Lauren’s book, an endorsement for Lauren’s book, and wrote about their friendship on her blog. In this interview, Lauren lists Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts as one of the three books that has “most profoundly shaped how you serve and lead others for the sake of the gospel”.

Beth Moore is another major influence on Lauren. Lauren participates in small group Beth Moore “Bible” studies. Last summer, LifeWay Women partnered Beth and Lauren in a joint summer Bible study event. In the video promo, Beth speaks about her personal friendship with Lauren (which is evident in their Twitter interactions) and Matt and the time their families have spent together. Beth wrote an endorsement for Lauren’s book. In this interview, when asked, “Who is a great female leader or writer that you look up to/read?” Lauren answered, “I truly love Beth Moore…”.

When false teachers have this much influence on someone’s teaching and ministry, she is not someone you should be following or receiving teaching from.

Tony Evans- Not recommended. Tony Evans has been the senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship for over forty years. He has authored over 100 books, hosts a daily radio program, The Alternative with Tony Evans, and serves as chaplain to the Dallas Mavericks.

But in women’s ministry circles, he’s probably best known as false teacher Priscilla Shirer’s dad. Tony contributed to the new edition of Priscilla’s book Discerning the Voice of God, which teaches the unbiblical doctrine of extra-biblical revelation, and Priscilla wrote the foreword for his book, Prayers for Victory in Spiritual Warfarewhich contains some of Tony’s unbiblical views of spiritual warfare. Tony also seems to hold to inclusivism.

Tony has written a number of devotions for Lysa TerKeurst’s Proverbs 31 Ministries. He allowed Christine Caine to serve as keynote speaker at his church’s Desperate for Jesus 2017 women’s conference and he participated in a panel discussion that included her. Tony allowed Beth Moore to speak at Desperate for Jesus 2010, and later invited her back to speak again.

Rachel Hollis- Not recommended. Rachel is a self-made lifestyle blogger, podcaster, and author. Aside from calling herself a Christian and scattering references to “faith” and God through her writing like a few sprinkles on a poisonous cupcake, Rachel is, at best, extraordinarily biblically ignorant, and, at worst, not saved. Her “theology” is basically anything goes (any religion, any sin you want to participate in {except the ones she doesn’t like, like “judging”}, any dream you want to pursue, etc.), no gospel, entrepreneurial self-help. The best way to grasp her self-idolizing teaching is to read these excellent, doctrinally sound reviews of her best-selling “Christian” book (it’s marketed in the Christian genre and published by a Christian publisher) Girl, Wash Your Face by RebekahAlisaElizabeth, Summer (Part 1, 2, 3), and Challies, and listen to the Girl, Check Your Theology episode of Theology Gals. You can also check out reviews of Rachel’s second book, Girl, Stop Apologizing, by Theology Gals and Jen Oshman. These godly ladies (and gentleman) do a praiseworthy job of comparing Rachel’s ideas with Scripture and demonstrating the multiple ways Rachel’s books, and her ideology, are decidedly not biblical.

In addition to the multiple, egregious theological errors Rachel teaches…

Rachel and her husband host a weekend couple’s conference called Rise Together. You’ll notice I didn’t say “marriage conference”. That’s because it is open to “everyone in a romantic relationship” including unmarried couples and couples of “every orientation” (read: homosexual). Fortunately, the $1795 per couple price tag for tickets will deter many from attending.

Rachel and (feminist, pro-homosexuality) Jen Hatmaker are friends. Jen is the author of Rachel’s favorite book: “…this book really did fundamentally change the way I view the world around me and the way I choose to live my life.” Jen has appeared at Rachel’s Rise Conference, Rachel has appeared on Jen’s podcast (in which Jen promoted Rachel’s book), and they’ve connected on a number of other occasions and projects. After getting a feel for Rachel’s “theology”, I thought, “I’ll bet she’s a pretty big Oprah fan.” Yep, that too.

Unless you’re someone who’s a student of discernment and you need a lot of practice (like, a LOT) comparing unbiblical ideas to Scripture, I would recommend you stay far, far away from Rachel Hollis and her materials.

Chrystal Evans Hurst- Not recommended. “Chrystal is a gifted writer, speaker, and worship leader….the eldest child of Dr. Tony and Lois Evans…Chrystal has recently co-authored a book, Kingdom Woman: Embracing Your Purpose, Power, and Possibilities, with her dad.” Tony Evans (see above) is not someone a doctrinally sound woman would co-author a book with. Priscilla Shirer, Chrystal’s sister, wrote the foreword for Chrystal and Tony’s book as well as Chrystal’s first book, She’s Still There. It would seem that Chrystal approves of Priscilla’s and Tony’s unbiblical theology and they approve of hers (which, logically, would mean her theology either agrees with or doesn’t significantly contradict theirs).

Besides Priscilla, Chrystal has numerous ties to false teachers: Chrystal was a featured speaker at Lysa TerKeurst’s conference, She Speaks 2017, is a staff speaker for Lysa’s Proverbs 31 Ministries, and has written several devotions for the Proverbs 31 web site. Chrystal and Christine Caine were the featured speakers at Desperate for Jesus 2017 at Chrystal’s home church (Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship, pastored by her father). Here and here, Chrystal recommends a Joyce Meyer book. Lisa Harper was a recent guest on Chrystal’s podcast. Chrystal was a featured guest on the Jesus Calling podcast. Chrystal has positively retweeted Jen Hatmaker (who is pro-homosexuality).

Brenda Leavenworth- Not recommended, however, not having evidence to the contrary, I do not believe Brenda is a false teacher. “Brenda is the Women’s Ministry Director at Reliance Church,” which is a Calvary Chapel church. She is the author of Far Above Rubies, a study of biblical womanhood from Proverbs 31 and supplementary series of workshops on cooking, hospitality, organization, etc., corresponding to each chapter of the study. Brenda also “teaches courses in Proverbs 31 and Women’s Ministry for the Calvary Chapel Bible College.”

I appreciate that Brenda seems to be very involved in her home church, prioritizing ministry there over outside ministry. Reliance Church’s statement of faith, as stated on their web site, seems to be doctrinally sound. I’m also intrigued by the concept of the Far Above Rubies study/workshops, and would be interested in reading/attending it myself.

I did not find any personal or speaking event connections between Brenda and any known false teachers, nor do I see any online evidence that she teaches men. Besides the fact that I haven’t had the opportunity to read or listen to her teaching, the two red flags holding me back from endorsing her are:

The current Calvary Chapel conflict. For years, Calvary Chapel has generally had a reputation for being a doctrinally sound mini-denomination. However, over the last few years, several of its member churches have cut ties with CC due to decisions by those in CC leadership to move toward less doctrinally sound teachings and practices than they have previously upheld. I have no idea whether or not Brenda is in agreement with any or all of these decisions made by CC leadership, but the fact remains that she teaches at the CC college and is an active member of a CC church. You can read more about the issues with Calvary Chapel here.

Vetting of resources. The women’s ministry resources page of Reliance Church’s website recommends resources by Francis Chan, Lysa TerKeurst, John Maxwell, and Hillsong. Sometimes people are unaware of the doctrinal problems with the resources and teachers they recommend, and this may be the case with Brenda, but teachers and leaders are held to a higher standard. It is not biblically appropriate for those in positions of leadership to recommend materials by people who teach or behave in ways contrary to Scripture, and I cannot recommend someone who does.

Leslie Ludy- Cautiously and tentatively recommended pending further information (please see remarks by “Leslie A” in the comments section). “Leslie Ludy is a bestselling author and speaker with a passion for helping women become set apart for Christ. She and her husband, Eric, are the authors of twenty-one books…Leslie is the director of Set Apart Girl and Set Apart Motherhood.” She also spearheads an annual women’s conference, writes and oversees Set Apart Girl magazine, and hosts a weekly podcast.

I’ve put a bit more time than usual into researching Leslie, because, while there have been a few vague questions raised about her here and there, I find her to be generally doctrinally sound, and I wanted to make sure I wasn’t missing something. As far as I can tell, Leslie ministers and speaks only to audiences of women. I have found no connections between her and any known false teachers. I have read several of Leslie’s articles (I especially appreciated this one), have listened to two or three dozen of her podcasts, and have read through the doctrinal statements on the various websites she and her husband, Eric, run. Though there are a few points of theology on which I do not necessarily agree with the Ludys, I have not, at this point, found anything I would classify as false doctrine or anything that would suggest I should warn women away from Leslie.

Bianca Olthoff- Not recommended. Bianca works as “Chief Storyteller” for the A21 Campaign, false teacher Christine Caine’s human trafficking organization. A perusal of her calendar page shows her speaking at Pray, Love, Lead at Saddleback (Rick Warren’s “church”), IF Gathering, Thrive (Lysa TerKeurst & Ann Voskamp), Bethel- Redding, Elevation (Steven Furtick), and numerous other conferences with false teachers and female “pastors,” at least one of which is being held at a “church” pastored by a woman. Bianca believes she receives extra-biblical revelation from God about people at her conferences needing healing. She also has several Sunday speaking engagements at churches, some of which, undoubtedly, will have her preaching to men. (This video indicates she is preaching the Sunday sermon, which means she’s preaching to men, and here she admits to teaching God’s word to men.)

Wellspring Group- Not enough online information for a recommendation or warning. Wellspring Group is a parachurch workshop ministry. According to their website, “We long to see lives, marriages, families and churches transformed so broadly and radically that it actually changes the leadership culture of the church, both here in North America and also around the world. We dream of… Overflowing Transformation.” I did not see anything overtly unbiblical on Wellspring’s web site, and many of their objectives and descriptions of their teachings sound biblical and gospel-centered. I did not discover any ties between Wellspring and known false teachers. However, I did note several red flag-raising buzzwords on the site which gave me pause.

One of these buzzwords was “spiritual formation.” Some churches and ministries innocently, and ignorantly, use the term “spiritual formation” as a trendy new synonym for the word “discipleship,” and their “spiritual formation” classes are just as doctrinally sound as if they called them “discipleship” classes. If this is the way in which Wellspring is using the term, that’s not a problem, other than the confusion it causes. The confusion comes in because of the unbiblical spiritual formation movement, which centers around mysticism, works righteousness, contemplative prayer, and other unbiblical doctrines and practices. If Wellspring incorporates these things into its workshops, I definitely do not recommend it.

If you have the opportunity to attend a Wellspring workshop, I would urge you to proceed with caution and – as with any other Christian event or teacher – be a good Berean and compare everything you hear to Scripture.

Update: After reading this article, one of my readers who has personal experience with Wellspring Group wrote in and shared her thoughts. If everything she says is accurate, I certainly would never recommend Wellspring Group. You can read her review of the program here.

Jen Wilkin- Cautiously partially recommended. Jen is a women’s Bible study author, blogger, and conference speaker, and is on staff on the executive team of The Village Church. To my knowledge all of Jen’s books and Bible study materials are doctrinally sound (though I have not personally read any of them), but I have some concerns about her in other areas. That said, I definitely do not consider Jen to be a false teacher. I’ve published a review of Jen’s book, Women of the Wordand here is a 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 speaking engagements listed for spring 2018. All appear to be women’s conferences or events, and her speaking engagement request form says she is a “teacher who helps women…”. None of the events listed on her blog have her appearing with any false teachers, but she is scheduled to speak at the Abundance conference in November 2018 alongside Lisa Harper, Rachael Myers, and Amanda Bible Williams. Which leads into to my concerns about Jen.

In addition to the sharing the stage with these problematic teachers, I’m concerned about some connections Jen has with Beth Moore and other false teachers. In 2013, Jen wrote a blog post entitled, The Next Beth Moore in which she spoke glowingly of Beth, her teaching, and one of her books. She has also had a couple of friendly interactions with Beth on Twitter. Jen has appeared on the IF: Gathering podcast with Jennie Allen (to discuss and promote Women of the Word). She wrote a devotional for Lysa TerKeurst’s Proverbs 31 blog. I want to stress that these things have been few and far between, and it is possible, to some degree, that Jen isn’t aware of the doctrinal problems with these women or that she simply made a few unwise associations as we all do from time to time.

In the same way 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 (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 false teachers like Ann Voskamp, Beth Moore, and Jesus Culture. He recently raised some questions about the extent of his continuationism by playing this video prior to a sermon. 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 (see section on Lauren Chandler above). Again, this is something to weigh when considering Jen, but weigh carefully. While it is probable that she is being influenced by Matt and Lauren and their associations, it is quite possible she could be expressing her concerns to them about these associations behind the scenes.

Finally, there have been questions about exactly where Jen stands on the biblical role of women in the church. That she presents herself as, and is known as, a strong complementarian is very clear. She has stated equally clearly that women are not to hold the office of pastor. But beyond that, in listening to and reading her articles and interviews about the importance of women leading in the church, I’m not really clear on what positions of church leadership she thinks are and are not biblical for women. For example: May a woman guest preach the Sunday sermon as long as she is not the pastor of that church? Teach co-ed adult Sunday School? Preach sermons to mixed audiences at conferences? Perhaps she has been very clear about these types of things somewhere and I have just missed it. I’m not saying she has an unbiblical stance on these issues, I’m just saying I’m unclear as to what her stance is. I have attempted to contact Jen about this issue and other questions, but have not received a response.

In summary, my recommendation on Jen right now is that, as far as I know, her books, articles, Bible study materials, and any of her speaking engagements that don’t include doctrinally unsound teachers, are biblical and trustworthy. Just don’t assume everyone she associates with socially or in ministry is doctrinally sound and someone you should receive teaching from.


I truly regret that I’m unable to give a wholehearted endorsement to all of these women and ministries. I’m sure they’re all perfectly nice people who, in their own hearts, have only the best of intentions, but Christian leaders and teachers have a grave responsibility to Christ and to their listeners to teach sound doctrine and walk in obedience to Scripture. Please understand that this is not a personal attack on any of these women or ministries, only answers to readers’ questions about whether or not I recommend them and their materials.


If you have a question about: a well known Christian author/leader, 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.

Bible Study, Blog Swap, Book Reviews

Blog Swap ~ “Women of the Word”- A Book Review

blog swap

It’s time for another awesome blog swap! Blog swaps give me the opportunity to share other talented bloggers with you, plus offer you fresh content that’s a great supplement to our regular fare here. If you’d like to do a swap, click on the link above for more information.

Today, I’m excited to be swapping with a new blogger, Michele, of Living Our Days. Michele is a wife, mom, and grandmother. When she’s not home schooling or working in her garden, she is reading tons – and I mean tons – of books, which she writes helpful reviews of. Living Our Days also includes a great variety of Michele’s poetry, Christian Living articles, and helpful material for her ladies’ Sunday School class, which is currently studying the book of Nehemiah.

I was so glad to read Michele’s insightful review of Jen Wilkins’ excellent book, Women of the WordI have recommended it many times to women who long to rightly divide God’s word but aren’t quite sure how to do so.

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“I can’t recall the last time I devoured a book in one evening, but that’s what happened with Women of the Word. I’m sure the reason is Jen Wilkin’s laser focus on the topics that (after my family) are most important to me — knowing the Bible and teaching the Bible. I found the book to be immediately relevant and useful, not only in my teaching ministry, but also in my personal study.”

Want to learn how to be a better student of God’s word? Hop on over to Living Our Days and check out Michele’s article, Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin: A Book Review, and then head over to Amazon and get yourself a copy!

Have you read Women of the Word?
What did you think of it?

Blog Swap Disclaimer: Christian bloggers who participate in Blog Swaps have submitted an acceptable statement of faith to me. Although I do my best to thoroughly vet the theology of the bloggers I swap with, it is always possible for things to slip through the cracks. Please make sure any blogger you follow, including me, rightly and faithfully handles God’s word and holds to sound biblical doctrine.