Bible Study, Mailbag

The Mailbag: What Is the Verse Mapping Method of Bible Study?

 

What is the “verse mapping” method of Bible study? Do you recommend it? A friend was asking about it and she is a big follower of Proverbs 31 Ministries, which was a red flag for me.

This is an excellent question, because there are lots of different Bible study methods out there, some good, some not. And you want to make sure you’re using a method that will help you correctly understand the text so you can grow in your faith.

I had never heard of verse mapping either, so I did what I usually do when I’ve never heard of something but want to know what it is- I Googled it. And several red flags popped up for me too.

The first hit I got was this article written by someone who thinks Beth Moore is an exemplary Bible teacher and that The Message is a reliable translation. She linked to an article on verse mapping at Proverbs 31, whose author says we need to “listen to God’s voice“. The Proverbs 31 article linked to another blogger – “the one who taught us how to verse map” – who recommended closing your eyes, letting your Bible fall open and pointing to a random verse as one way to choose a verse to map.

The rest of the first two pages of search results all seemed to be from Christian women’s blogs, none of whom I was familiar with. That’s not to say there’s necessarily anything wrong with those women or their blogs, I’m just saying I didn’t see any well known, doctrinally sound ministries recommending verse mapping in the most popular Google results.

I get the impression from these articles that verse mapping methodology can be a bit fluid. The first blogger used a journal and made copious notes (her method appeared to me to be more akin to inductive Bible study). The other two used an index card and wrote very few notes. So it would seem there’s no one set way to do verse mapping.

Separating the method itself away from the taint of false teachers, some of the recommended techniques in verse mapping are solid and could be very helpful, such as using commentaries, looking words up in the original Greek or Hebrew, writing down what is happening in the verse, and looking at the immediate context of the verse. These are all good principles of biblical hermeneutics, and if you use them as part of a systematic study of a book of the Bible or as part of a study on a biblical topic, your understanding of God’s word will be greatly aided.

The problem is, those good techniques are mixed in with some bad techniques, so you have to be discerning enough to tell which is which. And, chances are, if you’re discerning enough to do that, you’re probably a good student of the Bible who’s already using the good techniques of verse mapping, so you don’t really need it.

The bad techniques?

1. Choosing random verses to dissect
There’s more to the context of a verse than just the couple of verses that immediately precede and follow it. There’s how the verse fits into its chapter, book, testament, and the overall narrative of Scripture. If you skip through Scripture picking out a verse here and a verse there to analyze you’re going to misunderstand those verses because you’re not going to know the larger context they fit into in their own immediate story and the story arc of redemption. Can you imagine studying any other piece of literature – a Shakespearean sonnet, the Declaration of Independence, a medical journal article – this way, picking out a random sentence or two here and there? Of course not. Then why would we study the Bible this way?

2. Personalizing the verse
One of the techniques verse mapping recommends is to cross out all general referents (you, they, we, etc.) and replace them with your own name. Do not do this.

First and foremost this exhibits utter disdain for the God of the universe who wrote the Bible. If He wanted your name to be in Scripture, it would already be there. You don’t get to change, even temporarily, what He wrote, and to think it’s OK to do so is arrogant and irreverent. These are the very words of God Himself- do you really dare to change them?

Second, it’s an extremely self-centered way to look at Scripture. The Bible isn’t about you and it wasn’t written to you. When those words were penned, there were real, live people – just as important as you – on the other end, and none of them were you because you hadn’t been born yet.

Third, doing this will almost certainly give you a wrong understanding of the verse. “You” doesn’t always mean you personally, Buttercup. Sometimes “you” means Israel. Sometimes “you” means the church. Sometimes “you” means Amos or Cain or Judas or Philemon. Sometimes “you” means God. Sometimes “you” even means Satan. And sticking your name in for one of these “you’s” is going to lead you away from a correct understanding of Scripture, not toward it.

3. Focus on anything that jumps out at you
Again, this is a very self-centered way to look at Scripture. Just because something jumps out at you doesn’t mean it’s the main point of the verse or that it has significant spiritual import. Certainly, if there’s a word in the verse that you don’t understand you should look it up. Or, if you find some concept in the verse interesting, go ahead and search out the cross-references for clarity. But don’t assume that word you’ve looked up or that concept you find interesting is the meaning of the verse just because it happened to catch your attention. When we study the Bible, we search for what God meant by that verse.

4. Find verses that minister to you
Now I ask you, if you follow that guideline, how often are you going to pick verses out of Leviticus that have nothing to do with your life today? When will you pick verses that step on your toes and convict you of sin? Will you ever examine hard verses that take a lot of historical and cultural understanding? At the risk of sounding like a broken record, this is a self-centered way to look at Scripture. Yes, the Bible can bring us comfort and reassurance, but the Bible isn’t a bottle of aspirin. You don’t just pop a couple of verses whenever you have a headache. The Bible isn’t there to minister to you. It’s there to equip you to minister to God, the church, your family, the lost. There’s a reason God wants pastors to preach the whole counsel of God – we need all of God’s word, even the parts that don’t “minister” to us.

In conclusion, I would not recommend verse mapping as a whole the way it is presented in the aforementioned articles, but some of the individual techniques I noted can be helpful as part of your regular, systematic study of Scripture.

If you need a little help learning how to study your Bible using good study habits, click the Bible Studies tab at the top of this page.


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

Discernment, False Teachers, Mailbag

The Mailbag: Do you recommend these teachers/authors? Volume 2

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 3

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 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).

val7att5_400x400Jennie Allen– Not recommended. Jennie is the founder of IF: Gathering (for more information on IF, click on the “Popular False Teachers” tab at the top of this page). Here, she’s giving away books by her “friends” including Jen Hatmaker’s husband, Brandon, Margaret Feinberg, and Bianca Olthoff (all doctrinally problematic) and false teacher Beth Moore (“I love everything Beth writes!”). She’s a fan of false teachers Lysa TerKeurst, Christine Caine, and Ann Voskamp (also here) As of the time of this writing, she is a featured speaker at Catalyst 2016, which is plagued by doctrinal problems and features a plethora of false teachers including Andy Stanley, Brian Houston, female “pastor” Charlotte Gambill, Jen and Brandon Hatmaker, and Rebekah Lyons (here she partners more closely with Rebekah), among others.

The fact that Jennie is deemed acceptable by all of these false teachers does speak to her doctrine in an indirect way under the “birds of a feather flock together” premise. If she were teaching sound doctrine, it is very unlikely she would be accepted by so many false teachers and invited to speak at the venues, conferences, etc., she speaks at. And, conversely, prolific association with false teachers is bound to influence and shape her own doctrine. This review of Jennie’s book, Restless, and this review of her book, Anything, demonstrate further specific examples of the false doctrine she teaches. 

fs9wpg8e_400x400Lisa Bevere– Not recommended. Lisa and her husband John (author of many men’s ministry books, former associate pastor to Benny Hinn at World Outreach Center, and current board member of Joyce Meyer Ministries– I don’t recommend him either) head up their own speaking, writing, and preaching ministry called Messenger International. Lisa associates and partners with many false teachers including Joyce Meyer, Beth Moore, Christine Caine, Kris Valloton (Senior Associate Leader of Bethel Church/co-founder of Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry), Bethel Music, Bethel “Church”, Joel and Victoria Osteen, T.D. Jakes, Paula White, and Hillsong. Her extensive ties to Bethel are particularly troubling, and undoubtedly influencing her toward New Apostolic Reformation heresy.

As you can see from her calendar of events, Lisa frequently preaches the Sunday worship service at various churches, many of which are co-”pastored” by women, and is an advocate for women preaching. Lisa teaches extra-biblical revelation and twists and mishandles God’s word in many other ways as well. You can read more about her problematic theology in this review of her book, Without Rival.

headshot-resized_400x400Rachel Held Evans– Not recommended. There are so many ways Rachel deviates from orthodox, biblical Christianity, It would be impossible to describe all of them, even briefly. Rachel denies the Bible’s inerrancy as well as its authority. She rejects the Bible’s teaching that a conscious knowledge of and faith in Christ is necessary for salvation (inclusivism). She supports homosexual “marriage” as well as the idea of calling practicing, unrepentant homosexuals Christians and including them in church membership. She mercilessly twists and misuses Scripture to the extent that it would be comical for its ridiculousness were it not so blasphemous. (Denny Burk has an excellent article that covers all of these issues in more detail.) Rachel believes in evolution. Rachel has, at best, mixed feelings about abortion, supporting the funding of Planned Parenthood and decrying “abstinence only” teaching in sex ed classes. Rachel is a staunch feminist, egalitarian, and promoter of “gender equality” in the church. Pick a biblical issue or doctrine. Rachel is almost certain to be on the unbiblical side of it.

Rachel Held Evans died May 4, 2019. I commend to you Gabriel Hughes’ and Elizabeth Prata’s articles responding to her death.

xecm_hpro_256Heather Lindsey– Not recommended. The header of Heather’s website lists her as: Christian, Wife, Mother, etc., and “pastor.” Heather and her husband co-pastor a “church”, which is rebellion against Scripture.

Heather demonstrates extremely poor hermeneutics and lacks a basic understanding of Christ’s atonement in salvation. In this video , she not only teaches that you can lose your salvation by failing to forgive others, she also refers to examining Scripture in context as a way of “squirming out of” obedience to the Bible. In this article on how to study the Bible, Heather suggests praying in tongues, using music by some of her favorite artists, including Jesus Culture, Kari Jobe, and Hillsong, and using study materials such as the Joyce Meyer Everyday Living Bible, the Dakes Study Bible (embraced by Kenneth Copeland and Benny Hinn), The Power of Speaking God’s Word by Joyce Meyer, and Beth Moore materials. In the same article, she makes this odd statement in reference to Jesus being her “husband” (she misunderstands and takes several verses out of context to explain this relationship):

“When I was single, I would dress up, make reservations and take my bible & have a date night! I would go to the movies with Jesus! I would cook him dinner, brownies AND we’d watch a movie at home alone. We’d go grocery shopping together. At nighttime, I would talk to Him about what I should wear the next day (sometimes, we would disagree lol) I would ask Him how He wants me to wear my hair.”

She also talks about having “a relationship with God the Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ,” demonstrating her lack of understanding of the role of the Holy Spirit.

Continuing in the same article, Heather indicates that she believes in and receives extra-biblical revelation and that she relies on her feelings rather than God’s word:

“I started to obey Christ..whenever He told me to do something. You hear God’s voice through your inner ear and some would call it your ‘gut’, conscience or ‘just something told you that you should have done that.’ I always CHECK my peace. If something comes up–I immediately tune into the Holy Spirit and I can tell if He is tugging my heart one way or another. I LISTEN to that peace. A great checker is if you’re in an unhealthy relationship & God is telling you to leave it–you won’t have any peace about the person.”

Heather’s blog is rife with recommendations for and references to Joyce Meyer and T.D. Jakes, she is an admirer of Sarah Jakes Roberts, and Heather and her husband Cornelius have preached at T.D. Jakes’ organization The Potter’s House. You can listen to a critique of one of her “sermons” here.

Screenshot_2016-08-07-18-18-00_kindlephoto-16261176Anne Graham Lotz– Not recommended. While the core of Anne Graham Lotz’s teaching isn’t radically off base, biblically, (i.e. she’s not blatantly teaching Word of Faith, NAR, or other heretical doctrine) there are too many red flags about her teaching and behavior to regard her as a trustworthy teacher of God’s word. She has no qualms about preaching to men. False teachers Rick Warren and Beth Moore have each written forewords for Anne’s books. Anne has poor hermeneutics. Here, she completely ignores the context of 2 Chronicles 7:14 and claims it as a promise for America. Here, while correctly stating several times that God speaks through His word, she also seems to teach extra-biblical revelation by saying we can mistake other people’s voices for the voice of God and continually using the phrase “listening for God’s voice.” Anne endorses unbiblical “circle-making” prayer, and she is beginning to dabble in NAR-esque prophesying. Click here for more information on Anne Graham Lotz.

kellyminter-1321-e1402589694418Kelly Minter– Not recommended. On the “about” page of Kelly’s web site, she describes false teacher, Beth Moore, as “one of my favorite bible study teachers” (as a somewhat inconsequential aside, I have little respect for Bible study authors who don’t even know that the word “Bible” is supposed to be capitalized – and, no, this was not a one time typo). Kelly also says, “Beth’s teachings were much of what God used in my earlier life to teach and transform me…”. Beth Moore is notorious for mishandling and twisting Scripture, so this should tell you all you need to know about following Kelly. Beth Moore also preaches to men, so it is not surprising that we would find Kelly preaching to men as well.

Kelly seems to have unbiblical ideas about how people should study the Bible. In this video she recommends that people who want to understand the Bible need to get a study (in addition to her own, she recommends Beth Moore and Priscilla Shirer) and “if you feel comfortable” get involved in a church to study “in community”. The biblical model for being taught Scripture is to join a church – this is not optional – and be taught the Word by the pastor, elders, and teachers. Doctrinally sound studies can sometimes be helpful, but they are supplementary to church instruction, not the primary source of instruction. Here, Kelly recommends not only Beth Moore and Priscilla Shirer, but also Jen Hatmaker, Jennie Allen, Lisa Harper, Jennifer Rothschild, and Margaret Feinberg. Kelly has guest blogged for Priscilla Shirer, is an admirer of Christine Caine, and has appeared on Christine Caine’s podcast.

Angie Smith– Not recommended. Wife of Todd Smith of the Christian music group, SelahAngie started out as a blogger, then blossomed into a Christian author and speaker. Her best known book to date is a women’s study: Seamless: Understanding the Bible as One Complete Story. 

While all of Angie’s currently scheduled speaking engagements appear to be for women’s events, she has preached at least one Sunday morning sermon (to a congregation of men and women)- at Cross Point Church.

Angie is on the leadership team of Jennie Allen’s (see above) IF:Gathering conference (along with false teachers Jen Hatmaker, Ann VoskampRebekah LyonsBianca Olthoff, and Christine Caine), has been a featured speaker at IF several times, and is scheduled to speak again at IF:Gathering 2019. Angie’s first speaking engagement of 2019 is at a Methodist “church” at which nearly all the ministerial staff are women, including the senior and associate “pastors”. She’s speaking at three Women of Joy conferences alongside false teachers Sheila Walsh and Lisa Harper. Angie partnered with Lysa TerKeurst to offer an online version of her study, Seamless, through the Proverbs 31 website. Angie partnered with Christine Caine for the Women of Faith Conference, and has appeared on Priscilla Shirer’s The Chat.

It’s humorously played up, but Angie’s devotion to Beth Moore is a bit over the top. She calls herself “a little bit of a crazy stalker fan supporter of Beth Moore” and says her “favorite Bible teachers are Beth Moore and Priscilla Shirer,” adding, “I’m pretty sure they will both have special chairs very near to Jesus in heaven,” and “I have a little area of my house devoted to Beth Moore. Okay, that’s a lie too, but if it wasn’t idol worship, I probably would. At least a little candle or something? framed pictures? A life-sized cardboard cutout? Such a delicate balance between admiration and a restraining order…”

Space doesn’t permit me to list all the times Angie has partnered with false teachers nor all the false teachers she has partnered with. As I’ve previously mentioned, not only does surrounding yourself with false teachers influence your doctrine, it is impossible to be endorsed by so many false teachers unless your doctrine is acceptable to them, and they do not put up with sound doctrine.

nancy-demossNancy (Leigh) DeMoss Wolgemuth– Not recommended. There are many good things about Nancy and her ministry, Revive Our Hearts. Nancy’s teaching is generally doctrinally sound, and I would not label her a false teacher. I’ve personally done one of Nancy’s studies and didn’t find any theological problems with it.

I commend Nancy for stating on her Revive Our Hearts web site that ROH supports the Danvers Statement on biblical manhood and womanhood. Unfortunately, Nancy also believes it is appropriate for women to speak to mixed groups as long as they’re doing so “under the headship of male spiritual authority” and the woman is not in “a position of ongoing responsibility for the spiritual direction of men” (Scripture doesn’t make either of these exceptions).

ROH recommends multiple studies by both Beth Moore and Priscilla Shirer on their resource page and ROH has printed articles by Nancy and others positively referencing both Moore and Shirer (who was a featured speaker at ROH’s True Woman conference in 2012), as well as Lysa TerKeurst/Proverbs 31. There was also concern in 2012 over Nancy’s/ROH’s/True Woman’s use and endorsement of “circle maker” praying. Finally, ROH is an outreach of Life Action Ministries which subscribes to Keswick theology (source, source, source).

 

I truly regret that I’m unable to give a wholehearted endorsement to any of these women. 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, 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.

Discernment, Mailbag

The Mailbag: Do you recommend these teachers/authors? Volume 1

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 2, Volume 3

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 listed below and have not had the 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). On a few of these, I have also enlisted the help of theologically sound friends who are more familiar with these women than I am.

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).

Photo courtesy of prayinglife.org.

Jennifer Kennedy Dean– Not recommended. Jennifer’s calendar of events includes a column titled “Women Only?” which implies that she does teach men (at this time she has one co-ed event listed). An April 17, 2016 Facebook post also mentions she will be speaking to inmates at a men’s prison who are using one of her book studies.

Jennifer’s web site features endorsements by Lysa TerKeurst and Beth Moore, but I did not find any other obvious partnerships or appearances between Jennifer and well-known false teachers.

Some of Jennifer’s wording in quotes from her books and book descriptions give me pause because they sound similar to some of the phraseology false teachers use. However, I want to stress that I did not find any quotes in my quick check of Jennifer that seemed overtly unbiblical. She does favorably quote The Message and does not seem to understand that it is a paraphrase, not a translation, which does concern me since she is a Bible study author. I would need to examine her books and teaching more closely to get a better grip on where she’s coming from doctrinally.

12046903_1052179321495503_6933066421813121772_nLisa Harper– Not recommended. Lisa is a contributing writer at Proverbs 31. She has partnered with Christine Caine, Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, Lisa Bevere, and Victoria Osteen in at least one conference at Joel Osteen’s Lakewood. Lisa is also connected to IF: Gathering. Lisa considers Sheila Walsh (see below) a friend. And, she seems to think Joyce Meyer, Christine Caine, and Priscilla Shirer are kosher.

Photo courtesy of karenkingsbury.com

Karen Kingsbury– Recommended only for discerning, mature Christians. Karen Kingsbury is in a bit of a different category since she is a fiction writer. I asked about her in a group of theologically sound women I’m a member of. Here’s what they said:

“Her books are very “evanjellyfish.” Lots of personal words from God. Jeremiah 29:11 is quoted and misapplied several times per book. Ask Jesus into your heart. All the usual stuff.”

“There are absolutely problems with KK’s theology. Her latest series is about angels sent by God to earth to direct the lives of four chosen people and keep them alive so that one of the couples can bear a child named Dallas Garner who will turn the hearts of people back to God.”

“I actually saw The Bridge Part 1 and 2 on Hallmark that is based on her books. I would no way look to her for theology, but the movies were decent for a Christmas feel good movie. But that’s as far as I’d ever go with her stuff.”

“I really enjoyed the Baxter family series. As fiction. Not for theology. I’m pretty sure I rolled my eyes quite a bit at those parts. But – it’s fiction. I don’t hold fiction to the same standard that I would a theological book.”

“The angels series is way out there and could lead to very bad theology. If you read those books, you might want to compare it with a study of angels in Scripture.”

I would echo the respondent who said she does not hold fiction to the same level of doctrinal purity as non-fiction Bible studies, Christian living, or theology books. If you are a new Christian or not very knowledgeable of the Bible, it would probably be a good idea for to stay away from Karen Kingsbury books until you’re more mature in Christ and can spot and reject the theological problems in the books.

Photo courtesy of twitter.com/rebekahlyons

Rebekah Lyons– Not recommended. Rebekah and her husband Gabe (who previously helped co-found the Catalyst conference, which has featured false teachers Beth Moore and Christine Caine) are the founders of “Q,” an organization which attempts to join Christians with secular cultural and governmental leaders as well as other non-Christians, including Muslims, in order to make a Christian impact on culture through “The 7 Channels of Cultural Influence.” These “7 Channels” are identical to the seven mountains found in the Seven Mountain Mandate of the New Apostolic Reformation’s false teaching of Dominionism. Scripture does not tell us to partner with non-Christians to impact culture, in fact, it explicitly tells us not to.

Rebekah has appeared at IF: Gathering. The transcript of her speech is Ann Voskamp-esque sloppy theology at best, emergent at worst. Rebekah also appeared at Q with IF: Gathering founder Jennie Allen speaking on Women in the Church. You’ll notice that Gabe commends IF for not “getting into doctrine” when it comes to women’s roles in the church, and virtually no Scripture is cited in the entire talk, only opinions (there was so much double speak in the video that I was unable to glean anything else of substance).

Among other topics, including marijuana and robots, Q Denver 2016 will feature speaker Melinda Selmys, a Catholic blogger and author who wiil share “My Struggle with Gender Dysphoria.” She “encourages faith communities to provide trans people with the social, emotional, and spiritual support that they need in order to heal.”

Photo courtesy of raechelmyers.com

Raechel Myers– Not recommended (nor anyone associated with She Reads Truth). Check out this resource and this one. Elizabeth Prata, author of these two resources adds:

“I had direct interaction with Raechel Myers regarding the concerns I’d written about. She falls far below the ‘unrepentant … false doctrine’ benchmark. As an elder woman attempting to teach her, the younger, sound doctrine and to be self-controlled (Titus 2:2, 4-5) she not only was unrepentant but she was very angry and decidedly UNcontrolled. She would not listen one bit and so, she did not hear. The entire scene made me very sad for all the IF:Gathering women, because they are intelligent and have energy, verve, and dedication. If they’d put all that in the right direction they all could have been role model women and wives for the glory of Jesus.”

snShauna Niequist– Not recommended. In addition to regularly preaching the Sunday sermon at Willow Creek, this information is from a friend who knows Shauna’s family personally:

“[Shauna is] the daughter of Bill Hybels, the founder and pastor of Willow Creek in Barrington, IL. Because of very personal experience with it, I will tell you that this stuff they peddle has proven to be the worst kind of Christianity, and probably a Matthew 23:14-15 type of situation, at least in my opinion.

Next, this post right here ought to really be enough.

She is a friend of Rachel Held Evans. She is touring with Jen Hatmaker, who is a complete mess. Really, there is no other way to describe her than secularism covered with some bible words.

Aaron [Shauna’s husband] is a worship leader at Willow Creek. He began a HUGE movement with contemplative prayer a couple of years ago. Because of his music, he comes off as very spiritual and sound, but there is nothing inherently Christian about anything he says or does, really. Take a look at Aaron’s blog here, which will give you more insight.

There is ZERO discernment with this family, they either promote or flock to whoever is popular, and they are all about using words that sound really great, but have no substance to them at all. They are on this big thing lately about “Holy Spaces”, which sounds great, but is so anti-biblical when you really think about it. You don’t create a space that is holy, only God can do that. Anyway…

This is the Willow Creek legacy, in a nutshell: their lack of sound doctrine, lack of bible, lack of biblical discernment, and their false teaching and false gospel. Shauna, and Aaron, are simply products of what her dad has built, which is a huge gathering of people who neither know Christ, nor have reverence for His word.”

Shauna also publicly congratulated Jen Hatmaker for affirming homosexuality.

screenshot-2016-10-29-at-5-00-58-pm

jrJennifer Rothschild– Not recommended. Although a dear, godly, discerning friend heard her speak several years ago and recounted to me that Jennifer handled God’s word correctly and taught the biblical gospel at the conference she attended, a brief perusal of Jennifer’s blog raises too many red flags for me to recommend her at this time. Perhaps Jennifer is slipping in her discernment.

Jennifer has several endorsements from the likes of Beth Moore and Lysa TerKeurst prominently displayed on her web site, says she “loves James and Betty Robison,” and speaks 25- 30 times per year “to groups – mostly women,” (implying that she does teach men). She also calls Ann Voskamp a “dear, dear friend” in the introduction to a guest post Ann wrote for Jennifer’s blog, and will appear with Ann (again) at an upcoming event.

susiesquare-300x300Susie Shellenberger– Not recommended. According to her website Susie is  “an ordained elder in the Church of the Nazarene” (The office of elder is expressly limited to men in Scripture.) and spent several years serving as a youth pastor.

In the About Susie’s Speaking and Schedule sections of her website, several events which are usually co-ed (such as church revivals and college chapels) are suggested as events at which she might speak. “People” and “audiences,” rather than “women,” are the terms used for her listeners at these venues, implying that she teaches men.

Most of Susie’s books are for or about teens, and, while I haven’t read any of them, some of the titles and descriptions seem a bit troubling:

Masterpiece: 18 Encounters with Jesus that Prove it’s All About You (Even Rick Warren knows “It’s not about you.”)

Girl Talk With God: It’s Actually About Talking With Him and Listening to Him Talk Back (God speaks to us through His word, not an audible voice.)

Secret Power to Faith, Family, and Getting a Guy: A Personal Bible Study on the Book of Ruth (The book of Ruth is not “a Cinderella story” as the description purports, nor God’s instructions on how to get a boyfriend.)

headshot_newSheila Walsh– Not recommended. Sheila was a co-host of The 700 Club for several years, and recently announced she’s joining the leadership team of Life Today (James Robison). She has appeared at Joel Osteen’s Lakewood alongside false teachers Beth Moore, Prisicilla Shirer, Christine Caine, and Victoria Osteen, and is a contributor at Hillsong’s web site. She gave an enthusiastic Instagram recommendation of an event at which Bobbie Houston (Hillsong), Christine Caine, and Sarah Jakes Roberts (T.D. Jakes’ daughter) are the featured speakers. I also skimmed this interview with Sheila and found some of her answers troubling, particularly the one towards the end where the interviewer asks her about “people of other faiths who sincerely love God.”

awAmanda Bible Williams– Not recommended (nor anyone associated with She Reads Truth). Check out this resource and this one.

 

 

I truly regret that I’m unable to give a wholehearted endorsement to any of these women. 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, 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.

Discernment, False Teachers

Leaving Lysa: Why You Shouldn’t Be Following Lysa TerKeurst or Proverbs 31 Ministries

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.

leaving lysa

According to her web site, “Lysa TerKeurst is president of Proverbs 31 Ministries and the New York Times best-selling author of The Best Yes, Unglued, Made to Crave, and 16 other books.” She also blogs prolifically and speaks at numerous Christian women’s conferences.

Lysa is charming, friendly, and down to earth- the type of person I would probably want to be friends with if I knew her personally. We have several things in common: a big family (she has 5 kids, I have 6), women’s ministry, we’re even just a couple of months apart in age (which shocked me, since she looks so much younger!).

I first became familiar with Lysa a year or so ago when her name, articles, and memes of her quotes (and those of Proverbs 31 Ministries) began appearing in my news feed on Facebook. What I was seeing sounded good, and I hoped against hope that she was a doctrinally sound teacher of God’s word that I could recommend to my friends and readers. In fact, I resisted vetting her for a while because I was afraid of being disappointed by another popular Christian women’s author and teacher who seemed biblical on the surface but turned out not to be.

Sadly (and I genuinely mean that- I was sad), that is exactly what I found when I began to research Lysa TerKeurst at the request of several of my friends and readers. It’s my prayer that Lysa will repent of the areas in which she is acting against Scripture, learn biblical hermeneutics so she can rightly handle God’s word, and have a tremendous – doctrinally sound – impact on the thousands of women who love her so much. I would love nothing more than to give her a virtual “high five” and highly recommend her to others if she would do so.

Until such time, I regret that I must recommend that women not follow Lysa TerKeurst or Proverbs 31 Ministries (including the other women who write for and are leaders in this ministry) for the following reasons:

Preaching to men

Lysa unrepentantly preaches to and instructs men at church worship services (see below under “Unbiblical Training” for more links) and co-ed Christian conferences such as The Most Excellent Way to Lead and Catalyst in violation of 1 Timothy 2:12-14 (as well as the many other passages of Scripture that do not allow this). Without exception, every female Bible teacher I know of who unrepentantly instructs men also teaches other doctrinal error (usually Word of Faith or seeker driven false doctrine).

If a woman is supposedly knowledgeable enough about the Bible to be in the position of teaching and authoring, yet doesn’t understand or obey such a basic biblical truth, what does that say about the rest of her knowledge of the Bible? How can you trust that anything else she teaches you about the Bible is accurate and true?

In the past year or two (post-2015, when I originally wrote this article) it seems as though Lysa has at least decreased the number events she speaks at which are open to men. All of the events on her website (I can’t vouch for any which may not be listed on her website) for the latter half of 2018 seem to to be women’s events. If Lysa has intentionally made the decision to speak at fewer (or no) co-ed events, this is indeed a positive sign. I cannot, however, find any evidence that she has publicly announced this decision or repented for previously disobeying Scripture by preaching to men. Public sin requires public repentance.

Unbiblical Training

Lysa is a member of Steven Furtick’s Elevation Church (where she has preached the Sunday worship service – at her own church and others, including Perry Noble’s NewSpring Church – on several occasions), and has written articles and made videos supporting his false and eisegetical teaching.

If you are not familiar with either of these men, you should know that they both egregiously and narcissistically mishandle God’s word (click links above). Both of them support and agree with prosperity preachers such as T.D. Jakes (also a modalist), Joyce Meyer, Christine Caine, etc., and many of these have preached at their churches. Perry Noble is perhaps most famous for having AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” played during his Easter Sunday service a few years ago. He has been publicly rebuked by the president of the South Carolina Baptist Convention for unbiblical teaching. And, in 2016, was removed from the pastorate for alcoholism and his “posture toward marriage” (he and his wife have since divorced).

This is the type of false teaching Lysa supports and is being fed each time she attends her home church. The old adage, “You are what you eat,” is true in both the physical and the spiritual realm.

Partnering with false teachers

Lysa partners with false teachers in violation of Scripture.

•Lysa calls Christine Caine a “dear friend” and has partnered with her at conferences such as LifeWay Women Live. Christine Caine is a proponent of the false Word of Faith (prosperity gospel) doctrine, as a leader at Word of Faith “church,” Hillsong. Because this is “another gospel,” (Galatians 1:6-9), partnering with Caine is a violation of 2 Corinthians 6:14-18

Here, Lysa appears on the Jesus Calling podcast.

•Lysa has shared the stage at conferences with Beth Moore. Beth has written for Lysa’s blog and has recommended Lysa at her own blog.

•Lysa will partner with Lisa Harper for several upcoming conferences including LifeWay’s The Word Alive Israel TourLifeWay Women Live, and Women of Joy.

•Lysa spoke at the 2017 IF:Gathering conference.

•Lysa appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Network (and features this fact on her website).

•Lysa partnered with Ann Voskamp and Bianca Olthoff at the 2017 Thrive Conference.

Teaching false doctrine

As many other popular Christian teachers do these days, Lysa promotes the unbiblical practice of “listening prayer,” which is a form of contemplative prayer. Not only is this practice itself not mentioned or taught anywhere in Scripture, the mere suggestion that we need to be hearing – audibly or inaudibly – the voice of God during prayer flies in the face of clear biblical pronouncements that God’s word, and God’s word alone, is all we need and all we are to look to for the doctrine and practice of the Christian faith.

Lysa proves this out in her PDF entitled “How to Hear God’s Voice,” a piece pointing women toward her book, What Happens When Women Say Yes To God.

In the PDF, Lysa’s opening sentences say:

“Every day, God speaks to us. Sometimes He invites us to draw close and listen as He reveals Himself, His character, and His direction. Other times He calls us to participate in His purposes. Still other times He simply whispers to remind us of His amazing love for us.”

Where, chapter and verse, in context, does Scripture say this? Where does Scripture say we need to be hearing from God as the PDF goes on to talk about? It doesn’t.

Lysa goes on to say:

“God will never speak to us or tell us to do something that is contrary to His Word. But unless we know Scripture, we will not be able to discern whether what we are hearing is consistent or not with the Word.”

My question to Lysa would be, “Did God speak to you and tell you to preach to men, partner with false teachers, and promote false doctrine?” Because all of these things are “contrary to His word.” Either Lysa doesn’t know Scripture well enough to know that these things are not consistent with the Word, or she is not discerning enough while she is “listening to God’s voice” to know that these things are not consistent with the Word, neither of which speak in favor of heeding her teaching about listening prayer.

Furthermore, extra-biblical revelation is unnecessary. We already have God’s sure and certain Word in the Bible. We don’t need God to “speak” to us. He has already spoken – and had men write down – everything we need for living out the Christian life. All we have to do is study it. So, if God “speaks” something to us and it matches what the Bible says, we didn’t really need God to “speak” it. It was already in the Bible in the first place. And if God “speaks” something to us and it doesn’t match up with the Bible, we know it wasn’t God. Either way, we don’t need to be hearing voices. We only need to study God’s Word.

So we can see that “listening prayer” is both unbiblical, and – from Lysa’s own words and according to her own parameters – doesn’t even work for the person who is teaching it. When the disciples asked Jesus how to pray, he gave them a very simple model. No guess work or instructions to listen to God’s voice. We would do well to follow His teaching.

Twisted Scripture

From the doctrinally sound reviews of her books, it seems Lysa’s main method of teaching is eisegesis. Her books contain a plethora of stories and personal experiences, which she uses to formulate her own spiritual principles, and then adds in portions of Scripture (often out of context) to support her ideas.

Another improper teaching method Lysa uses is to imagine how a character in the biblical text might have felt, or what might have been going on behind the scenes in a Bible story, present these imaginings as fact, and build doctrine off of them instead of just sticking to what the text actually says.

The proper method of teaching Scripture is exegesis. Exegesis is taking a passage of Scripture in context, and “leading out” of it- teaching what the passage says and means.

Lysa also tends to use inaccurate and unreliable paraphrases of Scripture in her books, such as The Message and The Voice. When we study God’s Word, we need to study God’s Word, not what somebody else thinks God’s Word says.

Here are several fair and doctrinally sound reviews of some of Lysa’s books. Most of them contain excerpts and quotes from the books demonstrating Lysa’s mishandling of Scripture and other theological issues.

Review of The Best Yes by Aimee Byrd

The Best Yes? at Housewife Theologian

Unglued at The Gospel Coalition

Review of Unglued at Wise in His Eyes

Book Review: Uninvited at A Beautiful Inheritance

A Review of Lysa TerKeurst’s Book: Uninvited by Lois Putnam

What Happens When Women Walk In Faith by Nana Dolce

 

Lysa does not strike me as someone who is consciously and intentionally trying to maliciously deceive women and lead them astray, but rather as a (sadly) typical evangelical woman – undiscerning, centered on feelings and personal experiences rather than fidelity to Scripture, and a woman who has – like countless others – received poor instruction in her church and has no idea how to rightly handle God’s Word. Unfortunately, Lysa has not heeded God’s warning in James 3:1 that she will be held to a higher standard than those other women because she has chosen to teach when she is not qualified to do so.

For the reasons outlined in this article, I regret I must recommend that women not follow, support, or receive teaching from Lysa TerKeurst or Proverbs 31 Ministries (including any writers or speakers affiliated with Proverbs 31 Ministries).


Addendum

Before I address these two issues, I want to make crystal clear that they have nothing to do with why you should not receive teaching from Lysa or Proverbs 31 Ministries. Nothing. Furthermore, I am not, in any way saying that these things are her fault or any sort of punishment from God for any of her past behavior or teaching. Conversely, though these have have been terrible and painful situations in Lysa’s life that we can only sympathize with, they do not excuse her unbiblical teaching or other wrong behavior. But, as God is rich in grace and mercy, it is my prayer that He is using these circumstances in her life to do His good work in her heart.

The only reason I address these issues here is because they are major events in Lysa’s life, and to leave them out would give the impression I was not aware of them. Additionally, I would invite you to take a moment to pray that God would comfort and heal Lysa and her family. And, finally – if you read the subsequent information and feel any sense of glee over Lysa’s hardships, I rebuke you in the strongest of terms. You are in sin and you need to repent. Christians do not celebrate the pain of others, we pray and demonstrate compassion.

Lysa’s marriage:

In June 2017, Lysa announced that she was pursuing a divorce from her husband of 25 years due to his multiple and persistent infidelities and substance abuse.

While some criticized Lysa for giving specific details of her husband’s failures in her announcement, I believe she did the right thing in order to demonstrate that she was pursuing the divorce for biblical reasons (ongoing unrepentant adultery) – not only to protect her own reputation, but to make sure her followers understood that divorce is not something that should be pursued lightly or for unbiblical reasons.

My only concern with her announcement are her statements: “God has now revealed to me that I have done all I can…” and “…I have decided that Art has abandoned our marriage.” Though she may not mean anything unbiblical by these statements, I’m concerned that, coupled with her feelings/personal experience-based approach to teaching Scripture and her promotion of extra-biblical revelation, a follower could easily be led to say, “I’ve decided that my husband has abandoned our marriage and God has revealed to me that I’ve done all I can,” even if that reader does not have biblical grounds for divorce. (Again, this is why Lysa’s teaching of extra-biblical revelation is problematic and dangerous.)

On June 17, 2018, Lysa posted a positive-sounding, yet somewhat indefinite message to her Facebook followers:

Although Lysa doesn’t seem to have elaborated on her family situation beyond this one comment, there has been speculation that she and her husband have reunited. Certainly, this would be wonderful news.

In December 2018, Lysa announced that she and her husband had reunited with a renewal of their wedding vows. I rejoice to know that God has blessed her and her family with this reconciliation.

Lysa’s health:

In October 2017, Lysa publicly announced that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer and would be pursuing treatment. In November 2017, Lysa underwent a successful double mastectomy. Her doctors subsequently declared her to be cancer free. It is good and right to rejoice in her healing and to hope she remains in remission.


Additional Resources:

Disclaimer: The specific links below are provided and endorsed as evidence pertaining to this article only. I do not endorse any of these sites in so far as any of them might deviate from Scripture or conflict with my beliefs as outlined in the “Welcome” or “Statement of Faith” tabs at the top of this page.

Steven Furtick, Lysa TerKeurst, and Code Orange by The Wartburg Watch

Lysa TerKeurst, Proverbs 31 Ministries, and Two-Way Conversations with God by Jono Martin

Need help exchanging “whispers with God”? at Berean Research

Lysa TerKeurst Is Coming to Athens at The End Time

Lysa TerKeurst- Some Helpful Articles at Truth in Word Publishing

One more reason to avoid Lysa TerKeurst of Elevation Church at The End Time

Listening to God by Lysa TerKeurst

A Few Questions for Lysa Terkeurst at Where Ordinary Life Meets Divine Truth