The Mailbag: Potpourri (Small groups, Furtick, Slander…)


Today’s edition of The Mailbag is a tad different in format. Usually, I answer one reader’s question in a long form article. Today, I’m addressing various questions from several readers in a “short answer” format.

Please note: Due to the recent change in my comments/e-mail/messages policy, I’m not responding individually to most e-mails and messages. Several of these questions could have been answered instantaneously if the search bar had been utilized.

I wanted to ask if you could suggest a study for mums with young children, all of whom need lots of support and encouragement, as well as one who is struggling with her faith at the moment.

While there may be a good, doctrinally sound study out there for moms of small children, I’m not personally familiar with any. Still, I would recommend simply choosing a book of the Bible and studying it from beginning to end. The best and most biblical support and encouragement comes right from Scripture. See my article: You’re Not as Dumb as You Think You Are: Five Reasons to Put Down that Devotional and Pick Up the Actual Bible.

For someone struggling with her faith, the book of 1 John is excellent. If you don’t feel equipped to teach a book of the Bible, get some training so you can. Untrained, undiscerning teachers are a major way false doctrine creeps into the church. See: McBible Study and the Famine of God’s Word.

What are your thoughts on: Rebecca Manly Pippert, Revelation Wellness, Liz Curtis Higgs, Heaven by Randy Alcorn, Dr. Caroline Leaf, Stephen Ministry, Jan Markell’s Olive Tree Ministries, Johanna Michaelsen, and Angie Smith?

Rebecca Manly Pippert, Revelation Wellness, and Stephen Ministry: I’m afraid I’ve never heard of them.

Dr. Caroline Leaf, Jan Markell, Johanna Michaelsen, and Angie Smith: I’ve heard the names in passing, but I don’t really know anything about any of them.

Liz Curtis Higgs: I’ve never read any of her stuff or heard her speak, but I know that, until it disbanded this year, she was a featured speaker for Women of Faith, alongside false teachers such as Sheila Walsh, Jen Hatmaker, Sarah Jakes Roberts (daughter of T.D. Jakes), and musician Nichole Nordeman (pro-homosexuality). Partnering with false teachers, even if your own doctrine is sound (and I don’t know whether or not Higgs’ is), is prohibited by Scripture, so for that reason alone, I would not recommend her.

Heaven by Randy Alcorn: I read most of this book, but it was probably ten years ago or more. I don’t remember any specifics from the book, nor was there any egregious false doctrine that sticks out in my memory. All I remember is that I quit reading it because it was way too long and because a lot of it was – while based on Scripture – speculation and extrapolation as to what Heaven would be like. Randy Alcorn is not someone I currently keep up with very closely. Although I have recommended him as a fiction author: The Mailbag: Christian Fiction Recommendations, I don’t often read his blog or other non-fiction work. From the little non-fiction of his that I have read, my impression of him is that he is generally doctrinally sound, but may not thoroughly vet the people he quotes and appears with.

For more information on checking out various teachers and ministries, see my article: Is She a False Teacher? 7 Steps to Figuring it Out on Your Own

How can I find a solid church and what are your feelings regarding small groups?

For recommendations on finding a solid church, see The Mailbag: How Can I Find a Good Church?

I’m strongly in favor of small group Bible studies and Sunday School classes as a supplement to sound preaching from the pulpit, if the small group teacher is able to teach (availability and willingness do not equal ability to teach) and has been trained in good hermeneutics, and if he or she is teaching the Bible. For more, read my article McBible Study and the Famine of God’s Word.

Do you have an opinion of Steven Furtick?

I have many opinions of Steven Furtick (“pastor” of Elevation “Church” in Charlotte, NC), none of them good. He mercilessly twists God’s word, he yokes with false teachers (including T.D. Jakes, Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, Christine Caine and others), and he allows women to preach from his pulpit (Including Lysa TerKeurst. Furtick is her pastor, which is one of the reasons I warn against her.) Additionally, Furtick has been immersed in Word of Faith false doctrine for years, and is now venturing into New Apostolic Reformation false doctrine. For more information, see Fighting for the Faith, Berean Research, Berean Examiner, and Apprising. I’ve also seen a number of YouTube videos from various sources explaining the doctrinal problems and scandals with Furtick (use the YouTube search bar).

The Bible says that women should learn in submission and not instruct men, however, The Great Commission is written to believers (which includes women). Therefore, if that is my aim to fulfill the Great Commission, in turn fulfilling God’s will, how am I sinning?

You’re not. Preaching to men, instructing men in the Scriptures, and holding authority over men in the church is not the same thing as evangelism and I have never claimed that it is.

I think a better grasp of the role of women in the church would be helpful for you. I’d recommend reading Rock Your Role: Jill in the Pulpit as well as the remaining articles in my Rock Your Role series. For more on women evangelizing men, read #11 in my article Rock Your Role FAQs.

I am wondering if you have ever done a post or topic on homeschooling? I have been praying for your conference.

I do home school, but I’m afraid I haven’t written anything on it. My friend Rachel over at Danielthree18 sometimes writes about home schooling, as does Gospel Centered Mom. These ladies could probably better point you in the right direction for doctrinally sound home schooling blogs than I can. It’s just not something I read much about or have an interest in writing about.

Thank you so much for your prayers. I am leaving Thursday to speak at a Christian women’s retreat in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, addressing the topic of suffering.

Readers, if your church would be interested in having me come speak at a women’s event, please click on the “Contact…” tab at the top of this page.

What is the criteria for a woman in regards to not teaching a man?…I particularly like The Voice translation for this in 1 Timothy 2:12…I think the ‘women teaching’ Scripture was more of a custom back in the day as is this Scripture about men and long hair.

I would recommend reading all of the articles in my Rock Your Role series, starting with Jill in the Pulpit. My article  A Head of the Times- Head Coverings for Christian Women? will help answer your questions regarding men and long hair (since the two issues are in the same passage), particularly some of the articles in the “Additional Resources” section (I would start with the WWUTT video near the end of that section). Also, we always need to keep in mind that God is the author of these Scriptures, not Paul. These are not Paul’s ideas and preferences, they’re God’s.

I would strongly recommend you find a reliable translation of the Bible rather than using The Voice paraphrase, which had several false teachers and female “pastors” as contributors. More info. at The Mailbag: Which Bible Do You Recommend?

Lysa TerKeurst (or Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, or anybody else I’ve warned against, I get this one a lot) should sue you for slander for the judgmental things you’ve said about her!

So you’ve obviously read my article about Lysa TerKeurst. Did you happen to see and read the big, bold notice at the top of that article (and every other discernment article I’ve written) which says:

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.

Your objection is answered in detail in #5 of this article. However, I’d like to add a few things:

1. There’s not a single teacher I’ve ever mentioned on this site that could sue me for slander. Not one. Why? Because slander is about false and defamatory speech. What you’re talking about is libel, which deals with false and defamatory writing. Get a dictionary and use your words.

2. In order to sue someone for libel, my understanding (maybe a reader who’s an actual lawyer could help out here) is that you have to prove that a) your reputation has been damaged (Anybody see people “Leaving Lysa” in droves? I don’t. Her “ministry” is, unfortunately, continuing to grow as far as I can tell.) b) that the allegations are untrue (The allegations I’ve made aren’t untrue. I’ve taken Lysa’s own words and actions – from videos of her speaking, and from texts of her writing – and compared them with Scripture. If she’s able to demonstrate – from Scripture – that what I’ve said is untrue, she won’t have to sue me for anything because I’ll gladly repent and print a retraction. But, judging from the way she generally handles Scripture, she’s not going to be able to do that.) and c) that the writer acted with malice. (I’ve made very clear that my desire is for Lysa – and the others – to repent and teach sound doctrine so I can point women to them as solid resources. How could being for Lysa in this way, and wanting to help her ministry, be construed as malicious?)

3. If Lysa (or any of the others) did try to sue me for libel, she would only be further proving my point about her disobedience to Scripture, because Scripture instructs Christians not to sue each other. That’s not going to do a lot for her credibility in court.

Thanks for playing.

Why haven’t you answered my e-mail/social media message or posted my blog comment?

See: New E-Mail, Messages, and Blog Comments Policy

From the “Welcome” tab: As of March 2017, I will not be responding to (and often, not publishing) blog comments which require more than five minutes of my time to answer. While I love hearing from readers, it is simply taking too much time away from my family to engage in long, in depth, or teaching conversations in the comments section of my articles.

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.


The Mailbag: Christian Fiction Recommendations



I love to read Christian fiction but find that it can be a bit of a minefield. It can get off course theologically and may reflect the world more than biblical Christianity. Have you ever given recommendations on Christian fiction writers?

Great question! We all need a little mind candy now and then, but we don’t want it to be a vehicle for delivering bad theology to our brains.

First, let me sort of set the stage for what’s in my mind when I think of “Christian fiction.” Other people might have other definitions of this book genre, and that’s absolutely no problem, but, to me, Christian fiction has an overtly biblical message or theme and maybe even a blatant presentation of the gospel. When I think of “Christian fiction” I’m not thinking merely “family friendly” (a good clean story with nothing biblical in it), or a novel with a character in it who happens to attend church or be a Christian but there’s nothing else biblical in the book, or a fiction book on a non-biblical topic that’s written by someone who’s a Christian. So the books I’ll be recommending below will fit this definition of “Christian fiction.”

Next, I know the bulk of Christian fiction marketed to women is romance and Amish romance. And, in keeping with the “stick out like a sore thumb” weirdness that is Michelle Lesley, it’s not a genre (Christian or secular) I personally enjoy. There’s nothing wrong with it if you can find a good one and you like romances, but the books below aren’t romances simply because that’s not what I read. I tend toward biblical history novels and – I don’t know if there’s a particular name for this type – “real life scenario” contemporary Christian lit.

A few final points:

•I don’t hold Christian fiction to quite as high a theological standard as I do Christian non-fiction (theology, Bible studies, “Christian living” books, etc.). Some of the books below may have a few theological “cow pies” you’ll have to step around and ignore, but, for the most part they’re in line with biblical theology.

•My personal standard for recommending a biblical historical fiction book (a fictionalized account of a true Bible story, such as Lynn Austin’s and Chris Skates’ books below) is that the book has to stay true to what the Bible actually says took place including the dialogue, details, and chronology, and any of the fictionalized parts have to comply with biblical principles, theme, history, and culture of the time period.

•I haven’t checked any of these authors (as I would non-fiction Christian authors) to see where they stand on the role of women in the church, and I haven’t researched any of them to discover whether they associate with false teachers.

That said, here are a few recommendations:

Karen Kingsbury– Although her older works of fiction may not be too problematic, she is not someone I’d encourage you to read because of her recent theological trajectory.

Lynn Austin– Here’s a “book report” I wrote on Lynn Austin’s Chronicles of the Kings series. I read that entire series and loved it. It was VERY good and theologically strong.

Chris Skates– Chris’ biblical historical fiction rendition of the story of Noah and his family in The Rain was a fun read.

Those are the only ones I’ve actually written about. Here are some others I’ve read and enjoyed over the years. (Quoted excerpts courtesy of

Hank “The Bible Answer Man” Hannegraaff:

The Last Disciple– “As the early church begins to experience the turbulence Christ prophesied as the beginning of the last days, an enemy seeks to find John’s letter, Revelation, and destroy it. Meanwhile the early Christians must decipher it and cling to the hope it provides as they face the greatest of all persecutions.”

(Update: A few months after the original publication of this article, Hank Hannegraaff decided to join the Greek Orthodox church. Though I read and enjoyed this fictional book of his, I would no longer recommend his non-fiction work or ministry as biblically trustworthy.)

Paul Maier:

A Skeleton in God’s Closet– “Dr. Jonathan Weber, Harvard professor and biblical scholar, is looking forward to his sabbatical year on an archaeological dig in Israel. But a spectacular find that seems to be an archaeologist’s dream-come-true becomes a nightmare that many fear will be the death rattle of Christianity.”

The Constantine Codex– “While touring monasteries in Greece, Jon and his wife Shannon—a seasoned archaeologist—uncover an ancient biblical manuscript containing the lost ending of Mark and an additional book of the Bible. If proven authentic, the codex could forever change the way the world views the holy Word of God.”

Kathi Macias:

People of the Book– “Farah lives in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, with her family, and wants nothing more than to develop a deeper devotion to her Muslim faith. She sees the month of Ramadan as her chance to draw nearer to Allah, and pursues that goal. All goes well until the prophet Isa—Jesus—appears to her in a dream and calls her to Himself.”

Joy DeKok:

Rain Dance– “What happens when a Christian woman facing a childless future and a woman seeking an abortion are waiting to see the same doctor? What if after that “chance” encounter they are unable to forget each other?”

Randy Alcorn: I’ve read and enjoyed most of Randy’s fiction books. Off the top of my head, I don’t recall any I wouldn’t recommend. Two of my favorites were:

Safely Home– “Is this the day I die? Li Quan asks himself this question daily, knowing that he might be killed for practicing his faith. American businessman Ben Fielding has no idea what his brilliant former college roommate is facing…But when they are reunited in China after twenty years, both men are shocked at what they discover about each other.”

Edge of Eternity– I would call this book a modern day Pilgrim’s Progress. “Imagine Being Pulled Into the Hereafter. While You’re Still Alive. A disillusioned business executive whose life has hit a dead-end, Nick Seagrave has lost loved ones to tragedy and his family to neglect. Now, at a point of great crisis, he unbelievably and inexplicably finds himself transported to what appears to be another world.”

Frank Peretti: Years ago, I was a big Frank Peretti fan and read most of his novels. I don’t remember any overt heresy in his work, but it’s been well over a decade since I’ve read anything by him, so that could just be my faulty memory. Most of his novels deal with spiritual warfare, so there’s the potential for some errant theology there. Read discerningly. Two of my Peretti favorites are:

This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness (a two book series)- “The small town of Ashton is the unexpected setting for an epic clash between good and evil as a Christian preacher and a news reporter unearth a plot to take over their small community, and eventually the world.”

There are also some books that would fall under the category of Christian fiction which I would strongly recommend against:

The Shack (or any other book) by William Paul Young: While I mentioned that I don’t hold Christian fiction to as high a theological standard as Christian non-fiction, I definitely don’t recommend any Christian fiction fraught with blatant heresy or whose main goal is to teach heresy, and that’s what Young himself has stated is one of the objectives of this book (although he doesn’t consider his views heresy). The movie based on this book releases next month (March 2017). Here are some resources that will explain the theological problems in The Shack in more detail.

Inappropriate/Unbiblical Content: In an effort, I guess, to be cutting edge, cool, or gritty, there are novels marketed under the Christian fiction genre which contain profanity, graphic sex scenes, and glorification of other sinful behavior. I would not recommend those books regardless of the reason these types of things are included in the book.

Girl “Porn”: This is really more about what’s going on in the reader’s heart than the book itself. It’s been said that romance novels can be a form of literary “pornography” for women. I mentioned graphic sex scenes above, but I would also caution women away from non-graphic Christian romances if they cause you to create an idol in your heart of the “ideal” man that no real life man can measure up to. If you’re married, read a lot of romances, and find yourself increasingly dissatisfied (in any way) with your husband because he can’t hold a candle to the leading men in the books you’re reading, you need to put those books down and walk away from them. That’s coveting.

False Teacher Fiction: There are a few false teachers who have branched out into the fiction genre. Beth Moore and Priscilla Shirer have both recently released novels, T.D. Jakes has written some fiction, and I believe there are a few others. Even though these books may be fiction and might not even contain any false doctrine, I could not, in good conscience recommend a fiction book that could serve as a “gateway drug” to their non-fiction books.

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.