Mailbag

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Prosperity gospel, Friendship, Christian colleges, Calvary Chapel, Non-denoms, “Unspoken”)

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

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

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


What is the prosperity gospel? Thanks!

It’s a theological framework that sounds Christian-ish, but it’s really not. There are a lot of unbiblical tenets of the prosperity gospel (more formally called Word of Faith heresy, less formally called “name it and claim it / blab it and grab it”) but the two you’re most likely to be familiar with are:

  • “It’s never God’s will for you to be sick, poor, or unsuccessful. If you are, that’s your fault for not having enough faith. If you just have enough faith, God is obligated to give you whatever you ask him for.”
  • From televangelists: “‘Sow a seed’ (i.e. “send me money”) into my ministry and God will bless you. The more you send, the more material stuff God will bless you with.”

Most “churches” and evangelical celebrities that espouse the prosperity gospel these days are also into New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) heresy. The easiest way to explain the NAR is that it takes the prosperity gospel and adds on weird (and unbiblical) “signs and wonders” such as faith healing, supernatural visions, “trips to heaven,” false prophecy and so on. Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer are examples of prosperity gospel heretics who are not also NAR. Bethel “Church” and Todd White are examples of combined prosperity gospel and NAR heresy.

Here are some resources you may find helpful:

What does the Bible say about the prosperity gospel? at Got Questions

God, Greed, and the (Prosperity) Gospel by Costi Hinn

The Mailbag: What is the New Apostolic Reformation?


I have a question regarding friendship. I have a friend/co-worker who is unrepentantly continuing a sinful behavior. I have tried to lovingly several times to point her back to Jesus as she is Christian. Her behavior happens to be quite triggering for me and my husband isn’t a particular fan of her as well. My question is, am I wrong for not wanting to continue the friendship? And if not, how do I do this in a loving, Christ-like way since we work together?

Wow, usually when you confront someone in her sin, the question of whether or not to remain friends takes care of itself, because the confront-ee isn’t too fond of the confront-or any longer. You must have found a wonderfully loving and gentle way to talk to her – great job!

The first thing we would need to clear up is what you mean by “friend”. To me, a friend is someone you choose to spend time with socially because you enjoy that person’s company. You have lunch together, go to the movies together, visit each others’ homes, etc. That’s not the same as being friendly with people you have no choice about being around. You’re probably friendly with your next door neighbor, your co-workers, and the people at your church, but you don’t make any effort to spend time socially with most of those people outside of those particular venues. (For more clarity, you might enjoy reading my article How Can We Be Friends? in which I discuss different levels of friendship.)

There’s nothing in the Bible that says you have to be friends with any specific person. In fact, the Bible speaks more about not developing or maintaining close relationships with people who are ungodly influences. (Here are just a few that came to mind.) But the Bible does instruct us to be kind and loving to those we come in contact with. In other words – going back to the difference between being friends and being friendly – you do not have to be friends with this person, but you do have to be friendly (kind and loving) toward her when you run into her at work.

If you are friends, which of you normally initiates your get-togethers? If it’s you, or if it’s about 50-50, you can gradually back off of inviting her to spend time time together, get busier with other plans (actual plans – don’t lie), and so on, and the friendship may dissolve organically.

If it’s her, or if you just want to be more direct, you can sit her down and kindly and gently explain that, while you enjoy your friendly working relationship with her, you won’t be able to spend time with her outside of work any more. Then explain the biblical reason why (spending time with her tempts you to sin, your husband doesn’t approve of the friendship and you need to respect his wishes, 1 Corinthians 5:11‘s admonition not to associate with professing Christians who persist in sin, etc.). If she’s actually a Christian, she ought to understand, and hopefully, losing a friend will provide her with additional incentive to repent.


My daughter will be heading to college next year. Do you have any Christian college recommendations? She visited one today and the Baptist church on campus that they use for their chapel has a woman pastor. The school also has a LGBT group for alumni, students and faculty. So sad. She is spiritually tired from high school and looking for an uplifting school that values both education and true spiritually.

I wish I had better news for you, but I think you’re going to find problems like that, as well as false doctrine being taught and promoted inside and outside the classroom, at the majority of Christian colleges you consider.

The only Christian college I’m familiar with that I would be comfortable recommending is The Master’s University (TMU is separate from The Master’s Seminary. TMU is a regular Christian college that admits both men and women. TMS is solely focused on preparing men for the pastorate and does not admit women.)

Readers, you’re welcome to make other recommendations in the comments. I would just urge anyone considering those recommendations to carefully vet any college that is mentioned.


I really want to know what is wrong with Calvary Chapel doctrines?

I think the only place on the blog I’ve mentioned anything about Calvary Chapel is on my Reader Recommended Churches resource. And on that page, the only thing I’ve mentioned is that I don’t accept recommendations for Calvary Chapel churches (among others) for doctrinal reasons.

There are two doctrinal reasons I’ve chosen not to add Calvary Chapel churches to the list:

  1. The Calvary Chapel statement of faith clearly states that its churches believe and practice continuationism, and I don’t list continuationist churches. While I don’t believe otherwise doctrinally sound continuationist churches and Christians are heretics or false teachers, I also don’t believe this view is a correct handling of Scripture. Additionally, in my experience, continuationist churches are far more likely to fall into other doctrinal error and yoke with false teachers than cessationist churches are (not that cessationism guarantees a perfect church).
  2. Several years ago, there was a split in the Calvary Chapel denomination. I don’t remember all the details, I just recall that the churches on one side of the disagreement went in a doctrinally unsound direction, and the churches on the other side maintained biblical fidelity, but both sides kept the name Calvary Chapel. Since I vet every church that’s submitted for inclusion on the list, it would be extraordinarily difficult and time consuming to try to find out which side of the split a particular Calvary Chapel church ended up on.

Is a non-denominational church any good?

There are good non-denominational churches and bad non-denominational churches just like there are good denominational churches and bad denominational churches. It really depends on the individual church and their practices and teachings.

It’s important to carefully vet any churches you’re considering joining on an individual basis. Need a little help? Check out the “What to look for in a church” section of the Searching for a new church? tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page.


Are unspoken prayer requests supported biblically? I Googled it and many sites said no. Even though I need prayers from my Sunday school class I always pass because I don’t want to say why and I don’t know if unspoken prayer requests are biblical.

For any readers who are new to Christian-ese, an unspoken prayer request is when a Christian is asking others to pray for her, but doesn’t want to disclose the details due to sensitive information, embarrassment, privacy, etc., so she just says, “I have an unspoken prayer request,” or “Unspoken.”

While I really can’t think of anything in Scripture that prohibits or even discourages this, I would personally encourage anyone asking for prayer to at least give the people she’s asking some sort of direction. You don’t have to (and in many cases, shouldn’t) give private details, but you could say something like: I can’t give all the details, but please pray for me about: a problem I’m having at work, or a situation with a friend, or a difficult decision I have to make, or a sin I’m struggling against, or I have a challenging week coming up.


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.

Random Ramblings Ruminations Resources

Random Ramblings, Ruminations, and Resources

We’ve got to stop meeting like this…only once or twice a year, that is. When I first started 4R, I kind of envisioned it as a four or five times a year feature, and now we’re at about once a year. Well, life happens, I guess.

It’s time for some Random Ramblings, Ruminations, and Resources! Ready, set, go!

#FreeJamesCoates

Have you been following the story of James Coates, Pastor of GraceLife Church in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada? He was recently arrested and imprisoned for obeying God rather than men by refusing to stop holding church services and refusing to bar those who desperately wanted to attend from coming in to worship, among other official Covid-related reasons that were given. The restrictions on gathering in that particular are are so strict they have effectively shuttered churches. (No, they cannot hold services outside {Have you ever been to Canada in February? I haven’t, and even I know that’s a ridiculous suggestion.} No, “online church” is not the same as gathering in person and it is not a biblical long-term substitute for gathering in person.)

I’m not alerting you to this situation in order to debate whether or not James and GLC should have given in to the draconian demands of their local government. (Frankly, I was shocked and downright embarrassed at some of the cruel and critical comments that were made about James and GLC- by people who profess to be Christians – on my social media platforms Wednesday when I posted about this. And after everything I’ve seen in ministry, it takes a lot to shock and embarrass me. Those folks ought to be ashamed of themselves. No such comments will be allowed on this article or my social media platforms. They will be deleted and you will be blocked.)

I’m asking you to pray.

Pray for James, his wife, Erin, and their children, and GLC. (If the name Erin Coates sounds familiar it might be because she was one of my sister speakers at the Open Hearts in a Closed World online conference last summer, and coming up again this summer.)

The elders of GLC have suggested these prayer points:

Erin’s Instagram handle is @erincoates80 if you’d like to follow her. Here is her most recent update as of the time I’m writing this:

What is something tangible you can do? Open your churches. Worship Christ. Practice the one anothers, sing your hearts out, let your pastor see your eyes as he preaches the word of God to you. Don’t underestimate this task in your life. Obey Christ with all you have.”

Erin says it better than I ever could.

Fakes and Frauds

If you haven’t already subscribed to Justin Peters’ YouTube channel, what are you waiting for? I know it’s super-duper long, but you’ve got to watch one of his most recent videos: 2020 The Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Year For The Prophets, especially if you’re unfamiliar with New Apostolic Reformation heresy as it relates to false prophets / prophecy. This will get you up to speed. Also included is an excellent interview with Nathan Busenitz on what Scripture says about false prophets.

Hymn and Hymn, but Not Hymn

You’ve heard that old joke, right? One Sunday morning, the minister of music announced from the pulpit, “In honor of Miss Doretha’s 80th birthday, we’re going to let her choose three hymns today.” Miss Doretha jumped breathlessly to her feet, scanned the room, and began pointing: “I’ll take him, him, and him!”

Well some young whippersnapper took it upon herself (a few years ago, but I only saw it recently) to pick 10 Christian Hymns That Need to Be Put to Rest. At least I’m inferring from the tone of the article that the author, Jennifer, is a young whippersnapper, because – I’m sorry, I’m honestly not trying to be mean here, but to me she comes off as a bit immature and shallow.

Or maybe I’m just old and curmudgeonly, having reached the “GET OFF MY LAWN!” stage of life.

Jennifer’s argument for putting several of these hymns out to pasture seems to be, “This hymn is too hard for people to understand,” or “People don’t understand what these words mean”.

By her logic, we should ditch the King James Version of the Bible, the Puritans (certainly Jonathan Edwards – my stars, have you ever tried to read his stuff?), the Reformers, and the early church fathers.

Schools should stop teaching Shakespeare, Beowulf, and Chaucer. And we should probably get rid of some of our patriotic songs too (I mean who knows what a “rampart” is, anyway?)

It’s just further reflective of the worldly attitude of dumbing things down to the level of people’s sloth (excuse me – “laziness” – since some may not know what “sloth” means).

How about, instead of getting rid of hymns and words people don’t understand, pastors and ministers of music take a second and teach the congregation what those words and hymns mean? Or the congregation could pull their phones out and Google it. We do that with everything else – why not do it with hard words and build our vocabularies and our knowledge base?

But there are some hymns that need to go due to theological issues with their lyrics. I’ve got two picks and then I’ll let you get in on the game. Click on the titles for lyrics. (Please note, I don’t really know anything about the people performing these songs, but I’m guessing I wouldn’t recommend them since it’s pretty hard to find doctrinally sound Christians singing songs that aren’t.)

The Savior is Waiting

It pains me to list this hymn as one that needs to be put to rest because I’ve been singing it all my life and have a deep sentimental attachment to it. Also the music is lovely, and I really do think the hymnist’s heart was in the right place when he wrote it. But…

The entire tenor of the first verse reminds me of a mom nagging her reluctant child to befriend the snaggle-toothed, bespectacled, nerdy little kid on the playground who’s running around offering his entire Hot Wheels collection if somebody – anybody – will just please, pleeeeeeeeeze, be his friend. Jesus is not some pitiful little weirdo whose day would be made if you would do Him the honor of sitting at His lunch table. He is loving and kind, yes, but He is also King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and we humbly bow the knee to Him.

And don’t even get me started on verse two. People who are dead in their sins can’t “take one step toward the Savior,” my friend. Christ has to raise us from the dead to new life in Christ.

Pass It On

This was the (depending on your age) Shout to the Lord, or Oceans, or Way Maker of my day, kiddies, and I have lots of fond memories attached to it, too. It was the song you sang at youth camp, and sometimes – if your minister of youth and music was cool, like ours was – during Sunday night church. (Some of my contemporaries will remember that we used to yell out, “Praise God!” after the phrase, “I’ll shout it from the mountaintop.”).

Whether or not the composer intended to base the opening words of this song – “It only takes a spark to get a fire going” – in Scripture, it evokes James 3:5b, which, in the most popular modern translation around the time this song was written said:

Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.

Which would be all well and good except for context, context, context. Because James 3:3-6 says:

When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4 Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. 5 Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

Scripture out of context…fires of hell…yeah, as peace, love, and “I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony” as this song is, I think it could be put to rest.

What do you think? Are there any hymns you think could be mothballed because of their unbiblical lyrics? Comment below and share. But play by the rules:

  • It has to be a non-contemporary hymn. Let’s say anything written between the first century and 1980.
  • None of this, “Everything from Bethel, Hillsong, and Elevation!” stuff. Everybody knows that already. This is about hymns.
  • “Because of their unbiblical lyrics.” Not because the hymnist him/herself apostatized, fell into sin, etc.
  • I get that all of this could be avoided if every church only sang the psalms. That’s beside the point.

OK, get out those hymnals and let’s hear it!

Faith Works

A few thoughts on Hebrews 11:8-19:

The original audience of Hebrews was first century Christians from Jewish backgrounds. Slavery to Law-keeping was so ingrained that the Holy Spirit gave them a chapter of “Old Testament Survey” (let the seminarian understand).

In this portion of the chapter, He demonstrates to them that the central figure of their faith, the one in whom they had their biological, tribal, and spiritual inheritance – Abraham – left them a legacy, not of Law-keeping, but of faith. Abraham believed God, and that is what was credited to him as righteousness, not any good deeds that he might have done. And, indeed that is the preeminent truth of the entire Old Testament: faith in God and in the Christ to come, not good works.

We are part of that same spiritual legacy of faith today. No amount of good works will save you: being a nice person will not save you, going to church, giving offerings, and serving at church will not save you, being baptized will not save you, praying to saints and other religious rituals will not save you, parroting a “sinner’s prayer” will not save you.

Only repenting of your sin and trusting that Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection paid the penalty for your sin of an eternity in hell will save you.

If you’ve never placed your faith in Jesus and been completely changed into a new creature in Christ with Christlike desires and a hatred for sin, how about doing that today? Check out the What Must I Do to Be Saved? tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page for more information.

Discernment, False Teachers

Bethel/Bethel Music/Jesus Culture/Bill Johnson

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


This article is kept continuously updated as needed.


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

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

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

Generally speaking, in order for me to recommend a teacher, speaker, author, or ministry, he/she/it 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, teacher, or ministry cannot currently and unrepentantly be teaching false doctrine.

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

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.


Bethel / Bethel Music / Jesus Culture / Bill Johnson
Not Recommended

Primary issues with Bethel / Bethel Music / Jesus Culture / Bill Johnson: Heresy (New Apostolic Reformation – NAR), false teachers/heretics, women “pastors”/preachers

From my article God’s Not Like “Whatever, Dude,” About The Way He’s Approached in Worship:

Bethel “Church” in Redding, California, and IHOP are, functionally, ground zero for the New Apostolic Reformation heresy. Heresy. Not, “They just have a more expressive, contemporary style of worship,”. Not, “It’s a secondary theological issue we can agree to disagree on.” Heresy. Denial of the deity of Christ. Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Demonstrably false prophecy that the head of IHOP, Mike Bickle, has publicly rejoiced in (He estimates that 80% of IHOP’s “prophecies” are false.) And that’s just the tip of our metaphorical ice berg when it comes to the NAR.

IHOP and Bethel are, by biblical definition, not Christian organizations and certainly not Christian churches. They are pagan centers of idol worship just as much as the Old Testament temples of Baal were. The only difference is that, instead of being creative and coming up with their own name for their god, they’ve stolen the name Jesus and blasphemously baptized their idol with that moniker.

The point in this whole debate [over the song Reckless Love] is not the word “reckless”. The point is that Christian churches should not have anything whatsoever to do with idol worshiping pagans as they approach God in worship. Yet Sunday after Sunday churches use Bethel music, Jesus Culture music, Hillsong music, and the like, in their worship of God.

New Apostolic Reformation

New Apostolic Reformation articles

The Mailbag: What is the New Apostolic Reformation?

The Mailbag: Should Christians listen to “Reckless Love”? (Contains videos and discussion of blasphemous NAR music, practices, and beliefs, many at/connected to Bethel)

Articles by Unbelievers

Meet The “Young Saints” Of Bethel Who Go To College To Perform Miracles at BuzzFeed (This article is from a secular source and was written by a non-Christian journalist, under cover at Bethel. It contains a smattering of profanity.)

Born Again Witch: Witches at a Pentecostal Church – Healings and Prophecies by Annika Mongan (This article is the third in a series and was written by a practicing witch whose coven visited Bethel. No one shared the gospel with them, and they were affirmed in their sin.)

Theological Issues

Bethel EXPOSED with Emilio Ramos and Justin Peters

Errors of Bethel & Jesus Culture by Anthony Wood

At What Price Awakening? Examining the Theology and Practice of the Bethel Movement by Stephen Tan

Bethel Church Believes a Different Gospel by Gabriel Hughes

Bill Johnson’s Different Gospel? at WWUTT

Responding to the False Teaching of Bethel Church, Jesus Culture, and Todd White by Gabriel Hughes

Dangers of Bethel (Kenotic Heresy) at Christ Is the Cure

Books

Defining Deception: Freeing the Church from the Mystical-Miracle Movement by Costi W. Hinn & Anthony G. Wood

Music

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

The Dangerous Teachings of the Jesus Culture Movement at Pointing to Christ

Jesus Culture is more dangerous than bad politics with Todd Friel and Phil Johnson

Book Reviews

Book Review: When Heaven Invades Earth, by Bill Johnson by David Schrock

An Invasion of Error: A Review of Bill Johnson’s—When Heaven Invades Earth by Bob DeWaay

Specific Incidents at Bethel

Lindsay Davis and The Escape From Hogwarts at Fighting for the Faith

Pastoral Response to #WakeUpOlive (Bethel’s Dead-Raising Charade) by Costi Hinn

Bethel Church’s Use of Lord of the Rings Staff to End Racism Sparks Debate at Christian Headlines

Collections of Articles/Episodes

The Bill Johnson Cornucopia of False Teaching, Bible-Twisting and General Absurdity at Messed Up Church

Bethel articles at CrossEncounters with Tony Miano

Bethel articles at Berean Research

Bill Johnson articles at Berean Research

Bethel posts/episodes at Fighting for the Faith

Bill Johnson posts/episodes at Fighting for the Faith

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

I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. Romans 16:17-18

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

Discernment, False Teachers

Hillsong/Brian & Bobbie Houston

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


This article is kept continuously updated as needed.


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

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

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

Generally speaking, in order for me to recommend a teacher, speaker, author, or ministry, he/she/it 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, teacher, or ministry cannot currently and unrepentantly be teaching false doctrine.

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

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.


Hillsong/Brian & Bobbie Houston
Not Recommended

Primary issues with Hillsong/Brian & Bobbie Houston: Heresy (Word of Faith/prosperity gospel/New Apostolic Reformation – NAR), false teachers/heretics, women “pastors”/preachers (Bobbie and others)

New Apostolic Reformation

New Apostolic Reformation articles

The Mailbag: What is the New Apostolic Reformation?

Articles by Unbelievers*

(May contain profanity)

Can Jesus Close the Wage Gap? Inside Hillsong’s Instagram-Fueled Women’s Movement at Elle

11 Things To Know About Hillsong Church at Cosmopolitan

Sunday service: one writer investigates the truth behind Hillsong church at Vogue

Hillsong: A church with rock concerts and 2m followers at BBC (this article also covers the homosexual worship leaders incident- see “Specific Incidents at Hillsong” below)

*More articles by unbelievers below

Theological Issues

Is Hillsong a biblically solid church? at Got Questions

You Need More Money by Brian Houston

Hillsong Church at Apologetics Index

Music

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

Hillsong’s Theology of Music and Worship

Should we Listen to Hillsong Music? by Justin Peters

Specific Incidents at Hillsong

Brian Houston covers up his father’s child sexual abuse at Hillsong

Hillsong’s Brian Houston failed to report abuse and had conflict of interest – royal commission at The Guardian*

Hillsong pastor Brian Houston stands by decision not to report dad’s child abuse to police at Christian Today

Pedophiles being protected-at it’s finest. Hillsong and Houston, September 2019, Parliament Address*

Naked Cowboy at Colour (women’s) Conference

Cowboy-cott Hillsong

Homosexual worship leaders / Hillsong’s homosexuality policy

Why TV’s ‘Broadway Boyfriends’ will keep singing with Hillsong Church by Jonathan Merritt*

Hillsong’s Brian Houston says church won’t take public position on LGBT issues by Jonathan Merritt*

Sleazy Christmas performance

Hillsong’s “Sleazy Silent Night!” at Fighting for the Faith (here is the video to which the article refers)

Carl Lentz on abortion

Hillsong Pastor Carl Lentz Provides Moral Cover For Abortion On ‘The View’ at The Federalist

Apostate worship leader

Hillsong Worship Leader Leaves the Faith by Gabriel Hughes

Collections of Articles

The Brian Houston & Hillsong Cornucopia of False Doctrine, Abuse, Obfuscation & Money Generation at Messed Up Church

Hillsong articles at Grace to You (enter “Hillsong” in the search bar)

Hillsong posts/episodes at Fighting for the Faith

Brian Houston posts/episodes at Fighting for the Faith

Hillsong articles at Berean Research

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

I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. Romans 16:17-18

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

Discernment, New Apostolic Reformation

The International House of Prayer (IHOP)/Mike Bickle

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


This article is kept continuously updated as needed.


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

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

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

Generally speaking, in order for me to recommend a teacher, speaker, author, or ministry, he/she/it 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, teacher, or ministry cannot currently and unrepentantly be teaching false doctrine.

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

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.


The International House of Prayer (IHOP)/Mike Bickle
Not Recommended

Primary issues with IHOP: Heresy (New Apostolic Reformation – NAR), false teachers/heretics, women “pastors”/preachers

From my article God’s Not Like “Whatever, Dude,” About The Way He’s Approached in Worship:…

Bethel “Church” in Redding, California, and IHOP are, functionally, ground zero for the New Apostolic Reformation  heresy. Heresy. Not, “They just have a more expressive, contemporary style of worship,”. Not, “It’s a secondary theological issue we can agree to disagree on.” Heresy. Denial of the deity of ChristBlasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Demonstrably false prophecy that the head of IHOP, Mike Bickle, has publicly rejoiced in (He estimates that 80% of IHOP’s “prophecies” are false.) And that’s just the tip of our metaphorical ice berg when it comes to the NAR.

IHOP and Bethel are, by biblical definition, not Christian organizations and certainly not Christian churches. They are pagan centers of idol worship just as much as the Old Testament temples of Baal were. The only difference is that, instead of being creative and coming up with their own name for their god, they’ve stolen the name Jesus and blasphemously baptized their idol with that moniker.

New Apostolic Reformation

New Apostolic Reformation articles

The Mailbag: What is the New Apostolic Reformation?

The Mailbag: Should Christians listen to “Reckless Love”? (Contains videos and discussion of blasphemous NAR practices and beliefs)

Articles by Unbelievers

(May contain profanity)

Love and Death In the House of Prayer at Rolling Stone

Theological Issues

What is the International House of Prayer (IHOP)? at Got Questions

The International House of Prayer (IHOP) at CARM

What is the International House of Prayer? at WWUTT

IHOP is DANGEROUS! Stephanie’s testimony by Stephanie (former IHOP intern)

Collections of Articles

The Mike Bickle and IHOP Cornucopia of False Teaching, Bridal Weirdness and 24/7 Confusion at Messed Up Church

IHOP articles at Berean Research

IHOP episodes at Fighting for the Faith

Mike Bickle episodes at Fighting for the Faith