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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.
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 Tour, LifeWay 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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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