Mailbag

The Mailbag: Potpourri (What to do about Litton?…Couple teaching at marriage conference…False teachers- deluded or deceived?…You don’t need a Bible study)

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.


Biblically speaking, what would be the appropriate Christian response to Ed Litton’s plagiarism? More precisely, what should that response be among the masses who will never have access to Litton or those closest to him?

It’s a great question with an answer that will leave most of us Southern Baptists frustrated, I’m afraid.

To quickly catch up readers who aren’t in the know: Newly elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention, Ed Litton, has been caught in numerous instances of preaching plagiarized sermons going back several years. Many have called upon him to repent and step down as president. As far as I’m aware, to date, he has neither biblically repented nor commented on stepping down. There is no mechanism in place in SBC governing documents for removing a sitting president from office. (For more details, see the “June” and “July” sections of my article What’s Going On in the Southern Baptist Convention?)

There are several responses that could be appropriate in this situation for the average Southern Baptists who doesn’t know or have personal access to Ed Litton:

  • Pray. It is always appropriate to pray for someone who is sinning to repent. Additionally, if this situation is to be resolved biblically, God is the only One powerful enough to resolve it and wise enough to know the best way to resolve it. You also need to pray for your pastor as he guides your church to decide whether to stay in or leave the SBC, and you and your family need to pray together about your pastor’s decision and whether or not you can abide by it.
  • Inform. If you and your church are going to remain in the SBC for now, you have to stay informed on the major issues, and this is one of them. (That’s why I wrote the “What’s going on…” article linked above, to help you stay informed.) Keep yourself informed, keep your pastor informed, and keep your Sunday School class, circle of friends, and any other appropriate people at church informed. Ask your pastor how things stand with your local SBC association, and whether or not, and how, it might be appropriate for you or someone else to keep the association informed.
  • Connect. I would strongly suggest joining, following on social media, subscribing to the newsletter/email list, etc. of both the Conservative Baptist Network and Founders Ministries. If any action is taken on the plagiarism issue or any other problematic issue in the SBC, it will likely spring from one or both of these groups, and you and your church will want to consider joining forces with them.
  • Take action(?). There are a few ways to take action in this situation as an individual, such as sending Litton a (kindly worded, non-harassing) email urging him to repent and step down, expressing your concerns to the appropriate SBC leadership, or possibly starting a petition of some sort, but I would really suggest getting some advice from your pastor first.

    Honestly, I can pretty much guarantee any effort like that from an individual is going to be ignored. If the Resolutions Committee can refuse to allow a vote on a resolution proffered by 1300+ Southern Baptists, they’re not going to pay an ounce of attention to an email or a petition. Bluntly, you and I aren’t important enough to matter to those in SBC leadership. Your pastor probably isn’t either, nor the director of your association, nor even the head of your state convention. Maybe if somebody with enough power, position, and platform made enough noise about Litton stepping down (or any of these other issues) maybe, something might get done. But at this point, I’m not even sure who that might be.

    All of which brings us full circle to our first and most effective response: pray. This is a mess that only God can clean up.

My husband and I were talking about women teaching/preaching to men, and he brought up an interesting question: what about when your church has a marriage conference and there is a husband/wife team who comes and they both teach?

Thanks for asking this question, because this seems to be a common teaching model for marriage and family conferences. It seems like a complicated situation to us, but it’s not to God. He said what He said in Scripture, and He means it, regardless of the circumstances.

A Christian conference is a gathering of the church body for the purpose of biblical instruction. That is a context in which Scripture’s prohibition of women instructing men in the Scriptures applies (see #7 here). So whenever the husband/wife team are addressing the co-ed audience, they just need to make sure that the wife is not giving biblical instruction to the group at large. That should fall to the husband.

That doesn’t mean that the wife can’t open her mouth at all in front of the group. It would be fine for her to…

  • give her personal testimony
  • offer practical advice (ex: “Joe and I have found it really helpful in our marriage to start the day off in prayer and a discussion of that day’s schedule.” “Guys, we ladies really like foot massages!”, etc.)
  • speak directly to the women in the audience about their role, behavior, or attitude in marriage as needed (Ex: “Ladies, Ephesians 5 is clear that we are to submit to our husbands.”)
  • answer any questions during a Q&A time that don’t require her to exposit Scripture to a male questioner
  • ask a question or make a brief, non-exhortational comment after her husband gives the biblical instruction portion of the session (ex: “Honey, I’m thinking some people might need a little clarification on what ‘depriving one another’ means in 1 Corinthians 7. Can you explain that to us a little more?” “Yes, 1 Peter 3:1-6 has always been so helpful to me as I strive to be a godly wife. And verse 7 has some good instruction for husbands, right, Joe?”)

And, of course, the conference can be structured so there are times of co-ed instruction and times when the wife teaches the women and the husband teaches the men.

For a husband and wife team who are doctrinally sound, spiritually mature, and committed to obeying Scripture, it shouldn’t be that difficult to lead a conference like this in a biblical way.

As far as whether or not to attend a marriage conference in which a husband and wife team will be speaking to a co-ed audience, you’ll have to do your homework to find out how committed they are to obeying Scripture in this regard. Listen to some of their previous conferences, if they’re coming to your church, ask your pastor about it, or you could try emailing the couple and asking them.


I know that some of the false teachers we see on TV are delusional and really think they create things on the same level as God, but are some people genuinely confused and simply don’t understand that what they are teaching and believing is false? Are the ones who are just confused still heretics and false teachers?

Let’s take that last question first. If you teach false doctrine or heresy, you’re a false teacher or a heretic, regardless of your motive. Whether you think what you’re teaching is right, or you know it’s wrong and you teach it anyway, the end result is the same: you’re teaching error.

Now let’s clarify the first part of your question a bit, because you bring an interesting point to the table with the word “delusional”. “Delusional” is really mental health terminology rather than biblical terminology. Is it possible some of these folks are truly mentally unbalanced? Yes. But you know what else looks a lot like mental illness in some cases? Demon possession. And I’m convinced that at least a few of these heretics are demon possessed.

But I do think the truly possessed are in the minority, and the majority are simply deceived. They are of their father the devil, so they speak his language and their will is to do his desires:

Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies…Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”

John 8:43-44, 47

And this holds true whether we perceive the false teacher to be a conniving, greedy charlatan, or a “good guy” who’s just “honestly mistaken”. It’s also true whether or not he’s made a conscious decision to proactively serve Satan by knowingly teaching false doctrine. There are only two potential masters in a person’s life, Christ or Satan, and if you’re not a slave of Christ, you’re enslaved to Satan. There’s no middle ground for lost “nice people”. The “honestly mistaken” guy who’s teaching false doctrine is still doing his master’s bidding, he’s just deceived into thinking his master is Christ.

But when it comes to how we’re to regard and handle false teachers, it doesn’t really matter whether it’s delusion, deception, or demon possession, because God doesn’t require us to know what’s going on in their hearts and minds to be able to biblically evaluate them.

Our job is to evaluate what we can see – the person’s behavior, writings, sermons, teachings, and conversation – and determine whether or not it aligns with Scripture. If it doesn’t – regardless of what we think of the teacher’s motives or mental state – those teachings, and the person who teaches them, have no place in our churches or personal study materials.

The condition of the teacher’s heart and mind? That’s above our pay grade. We leave that to God.

Can a False Teacher Be a Christian?


I am looking for a Biblically sound women’s study on healthy eating habits and am hoping you can point me In the right direction? 

I think I’ve mentioned before that the top two questions readers ask me are, “Is _____ a false / sound teacher?” and “Can you recommend a Bible study on / for _____?”

I love the heart behind both of those questions because it tells me that the person asking wants biblical teaching, and nothing could make me happier. Truly.

But, no, I can’t point you in the direction of a doctrinally sound study on healthy eating habits for two reasons:

First, as a matter of principle, I don’t recommend what I call “canned” studies (books, workbooks, DVDs, etc.), even doctrinally sound ones, at all. I recommend women study (and teach) straight from the text of Scripture. You can read more about why I hold this position and how you can learn to study/teach straight from the Bible itself at the Bible Studies tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page.

The second reason I can’t recommend such a study is that such a study does not exist. Here’s why. Doctrinally sound studies start with a passage of Scripture and teach you what it says. And other than condemning gluttony, and making a few general statements about using your body to glorify God rather than to sin, the Bible says nothing about healthy eating habits (at least not in the way we use that phrase in 21st century America). And any study that says it does is mishandling Scripture and taking it out of context, and, therefore, isn’t doctrinally sound.

A perfect example of this is false teacher Rick Warren’s book The Daniel Diet, which is based on a mishandling of Daniel 1:8-16. (Daniel didn’t refuse the king’s food because it was unhealthy or to lose weight, but to obey God’s law and to avoid making himself unclean. Also, you’ll notice v.15 says that after ten days on this “diet” Daniel and the boys were actually “fatter”.) I would also warn you away from Lysa TerKeurst’s Made to Crave since she is a false teacher as well. And, it would not surprise me to learn that a number of other false teachers have written health and diet “Bible studies”.

The truth is, you don’t need a Bible study, you need a new paradigm. The paradigm you and many, many Christian women are currently operating under, probably without even realizing it is, “I have an issue. A book or Bible study will give me the solution for it.”. That’s not necessarily a bad or sinful paradigm (in fact, like I said, it’s very good and right that your instinct is to turn to Scripture), it’s just that there’s a better, more biblical, more helpful paradigm which, in a nutshell is, “Pursue Christ and trust Him with your issues.”

Here’s what I’d recommend:

Read my article about biblical decision-making: Basic Training: 8 Steps to Finding God’s Will for Your Life and begin applying those principles to your walk with the Lord and your eating issues.

As you go about pursuing Christ, you can certainly study any biblical passages that relate to your particular issues of healthy eating. Are you failing to exercise self-control? Failing to be content? Is it an issue of laziness? Do you have an unbiblical view of your body itself? Maybe you have a particular medical condition that requires a new diet. You’ll have to prayerfully determine exactly what your issue is, then study (in context and rightly handled) the passages that pertain to that issue1, repent of any sin you might be committing, and trust, believe, and obey God’s Word.

Pray, pray, pray. Ask God to help you with what you’re studying in His Word, to help you lose weight, to see your body the way He sees it, etc.

Make an appointment with your doctor and ask what he recommends.

Get some godly counsel. Is there a godly older woman in your church who could disciple you through this? Or maybe there’s a nutritionist or dietitian who goes to your church2? If you’re not sure, ask your pastor.

And, truly, this is what I would recommend to most of the women who write and ask me if I can recommend a Bible study or book on a very specific, personal life issue. Because it’s not necessarily about finding the “solution” to whatever your issue is. Often, it’s God giving you an issue to grow you, to move you to cry out to Him, and to lead you to depend on Him to carry you through whatever it is.

1If you’re not sure where to find those passages, ask your pastor or a godly friend for help. You can also Google “Bible verses about _____” and probably get some good lists of verses, but it’s imperative that you look those verses up and read them in context so you’ll know whether or not they actually apply.

2Don’t expect free advice or help just because it’s a church friend. Ask if you can make an appointment, and plan to pay the full fee just like you would if this person were a stranger.


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.

Mailbag

The Mailbag: Asked and Answered

Good Monday morning, readers. It is an honor and a joy to serve you in Christ. Welcome to all the newbies and to you seasoned veterans of the blog.

Because some of y’all are new, you aren’t yet aware of all of the resources here to help you. Or maybe you’ve been around a while and haven’t noticed something that might be helpful. Let’s remedy that!

First, if you’re new (or if you’ve never read it), check out Blog Orientation for New Readers and Old Friends. It’s like a Cliffs Notes intro to the blog.

Second, be sure to familiarize yourself with all of the tabs in the blue menu bar at the top of the page. That’s where I keep the info I’m most frequently asked about.

Third, there’s a search bar at the bottom of every page (and one in the blue menu bar at the top of every page) which might help you find what you need.

Fourth, if you don’t find your question answered in one of these ways or below, you might want to check previous Asked & Answered articles and The Mailbag: Top 10 FAQs.

And finally, let me get you new readers some answers to the questions several of you have asked. Some of you long time friends may have missed these along the way, so I hope they’ll be helpful to you, too!


Is it appropriate for a woman chaplain to teach men, evangelizing and then answering questions using the Bible to present truth in nursing home one on one or in a coed worship service at the nursing home?

I think I must have a number of followers who visit and care for those in nursing homes, because I’ve received several questions over the years about nursing home ministry. Can I just take a moment to say – thank you so much. What a blessing and an encouragement you must be to those precious ladies and gentlemen.

Let’s unravel your question just a bit because there are several issues at play:

First of all, should a woman even be a chaplain? I don’t want to give an across the board “no” because “chaplain” is such a catch-all term these days, and different organizations (hospitals, prisons, the military, nursing homes, etc.) probably all have different job descriptions for their chaplains which may or may not require a woman in that position to violate Scripture.

But if I were asked, “Should women be chaplains?” and I had to give a yes or no answer, my answer would be no, for the simple reason that most lost people (or even Christians) aren’t going to differentiate a chaplain from a pastor. To them, a chaplain is just a pastor who works in a hospital (or wherever) instead of a church. And it’s unbiblical for women to be pastors, so you don’t want to give the evil appearance of someone living in unrepentant sin. Even if you’re not technically violating Scripture in your position, you appear to be.

OK, for your next several questions, it’s immaterial whether or not these things take place in a nursing home:

Is it OK for women to evangelize (share the plan of salvation with a lost person) and answer biblical questions one on one with a man? Yes. Carefully and with wisdom: Rock Your Role FAQs #11

Is it OK for a woman to evangelize (share the plan of salvation with lost people) a co-ed group? Not if she’s essentially preaching a sermon and functioning as a preacher, which is what I’m inferring by your use of the term “worship service”. Rock Your Role FAQs #11

If it’s something more akin to you hanging out with 5 or 6 friends, some male and some female, and you start sharing the gospel with them, that’s different. That’s really more like a one on one situation.

Is it OK for a woman to preach/teach in or lead a co-ed worship service? No, regardless of the venue or her title. Rock Your Role FAQs #7 Rock Your Role: Jill in the Pulpit


This comment was mentioned in your article: “Having a blog in the public square for women that men trespass on is not the same thing as intentionally and unrepentantly preaching to men in the church setting as I’ve explained in further detail in this article.” Is Priscilla Shirer the pastor of a church? (“Church setting” was mentioned above.) I thought what she did was teach in seminars/conferences…Has she ever taken a stance that it’s okay for women to be pastors of churches? (I don’t believe women should be church pastors.) Please help clarify this for me. Thank you and God bless!

Great question! I think the confusion here is over the definition of the church, or “church setting”. I’ve clarified that in my article Rock Your Role FAQs #7.

I don’t know whether or not Priscilla Shirer has ever flat out said, “It’s OK for women to be pastors of churches,” but she yokes with and is friends with women “pastors” and she has preached the Sunday sermon in churches like she did just a couple of weeks ago at Joel Osteen’s “church”.


I discovered again that my husband is looking at pornography.

Oh honey, I am so sorry. I am going to strenuously recommend that you make an appointment with your pastor to get the counsel you need (even without your husband if he won’t go).

The Mailbag: You need to set up an appointment with your pastor for counsel…

Biblical Resources on Pornography


Is it Biblical for me to be a worship leader? I have men on the team (one of them my husband) and I obviously help them to learn the music and I pick the music…I will introduce a new song and talk about it and sometimes read a Scripture that ties in with the song, but I don’t expound on the Scripture. I also pray for the body during worship. Is this Biblical?

I know this is a hard answer to hear, but no, that’s not a position you should be serving in. You need to repent and step down. Rock Your Role FAQs #16

And if, as you mentioned in your email, you are in a church that has let you hold the position of worship leader for several years, allowed you to use music from Bethel, Hillsong, Elevation, etc., and was an environment that was conducive to your being steeped in false doctrine for many years, you almost certainly need to find a new, doctrinally sound church.


How would you react if attending a church that still promotes Beth Moore and Priscilla Shirer Bible studies and others?

I know that’s a tough spot to be in. I’ve been there myself. Here are some resources I hope will help:

The Mailbag: How should I approach my church leaders about a false teacher they’re introducing?

The Mailbag: How to Leave a Church

Searching for a new church?


I know what you’ve said about disposing of books by false teachers [3rd section], but what if it’s a false teacher’s study Bible? I don’t know if I should be burning a Bible.

It’s very interesting that I’ve gotten this exact same question twice in the past few days, one about Joyce Meyer’s study Bible and another about the Tony Evans study Bible. Yes, definitely get rid of those and praise God for opening your eyes to the false doctrine these teachers espouse!

I would still recommend disposing of a study Bible in the same ways I described in the article linked above for disposing of a regular book by a false teacher.

I understand the visceral aversion to throwing away, destroying, or burning a Bible, and, believe me, that aversion comes from a very good place in your heart and mind. You love and revere God’s Word. You see it as high and holy. That is a good and right perspective to have. But let me offer you a couple of thoughts here.

Just for a moment, compare (I’m not saying these two things are equivalent) properly disposing of a study Bible by a false teacher, or even a regular Bible that’s old or damaged and no longer usable, to properly disposing of an American flag.

If you’re a patriotic American, you’re probably familiar with the U.S. flag code that tells us that the proper way to dispose of a flag that has been sullied, damaged, or is old and no longer usable is to burn it respectfully.

Just as properly and respectfully disposing of a flag by burning it is not the same thing as burning it in rage-fueled protest because you hate America, properly and respectfully disposing of a Bible that has been sullied and damaged by false teaching (or a regular Bible that’s too old or physically damaged to be used) by burning it is not the same thing as burning a Bible in rage because you hate God. Don’t forget, God can see into your heart and understands exactly why you’re burning that Bible. He’s the one who put the desire in your heart to get rid of it in the first place.

Also, in the same way that the flag you hold in your hands that needs to be disposed of is, fundamentally, simply a piece of cloth, the Bible you hold in your hands that needs to be disposed of is, fundamentally, simply paper.

Hear me carefully. I’m not saying we shouldn’t treat our Bibles (or the flag) respectfully. What I’m saying is there’s nothing supernatural or mystical about the paper pages you hold in your hands. The Bible is waaaaaaaay bigger than that. It can’t be contained by paper and ink. It goes far beyond paper and ink. It’s living and active. It stands forever.

Be careful not to slip across the line from conceptual reverence for the Word of God in toto into superstition about the paper pages you hold in your hands. Respectfully disposing of a Bible isn’t going to cause bad things to happen to you. Again, God sees your heart. He knows exactly what you’re doing and why.

If you’d like, make a little ceremony of it around your chiminea or fireplace. Say a prayer thanking God for His Word and thanking Him for opening your eyes to false teaching. Read part or all of Psalm 119, one of these passages, or another passage that extols God’s Word. Sing a hymn about the Scriptures, like Holy Bible, Book Divine, Standing on the Promises, Every Promise, or Wonderful Words of Life1.

Don’t be afraid to properly dispose of study Bibles by false teachers. You’re not disrespecting the paper pages of God’s Word, you’re doing it because you respect the heart of God’s Word.

1I didn’t vet any of these artists/groups, and I’m not endorsing any of them who conflict with Scripture or my statement of faith. These videos are just to give you an idea of how each song goes.


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.

Mailbag

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Was John a prophet? … Christianese … Kendrick brothers movies … Confronting immodest nursing…)

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.


In response to the question about Simeon [in this article], would you consider John (the John that wrote Revelation) to be a prophet? I know he was an apostle but I was just wondering if he would also be considered a prophet due to all the Lord showed him regarding Revelation.

Great question! I love it when women are thinking deeply about the things of God. Since you’re asking my opinion, I didn’t delve into any scholarly works on the subject, I’m just going to give you my take on it based on what I know of Scripture.

As you probably know, in the Old Testament, there were two different types of people who prophesied:

  • Men who held the office of prophet – what we might think of as a “professional prophet,” so to speak – like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Elijah, Elisha, and so on.
  • People to whom God gave a “one and done” (or maybe twice or thrice) word of prophecy for a particular reason or moment in time, like Eldad, Medad, and the 70 elders, Saul, Eliezer, and others.

Jesus was, and is, the final, permanent occupant of the offices of prophet, priest, and king. This is why we don’t see the office of prophet or priest in the New Testament church or anyone installed as “king” over New Testament Christians.

Until the canon of Scripture was complete, however, and foretelling prophecy become obsolete, we do see occasional references to the second type of prophecy in the New Testament church. It seems to me that second category is the category John’s prophecy in Revelation would fall into. He held the office of Apostle, but not the office of prophet (since that position was filled), and God gave Him a “one and done” prophecy to communicate to us.


I’m learning so much from your articles, and I think my husband would benefit from and enjoy hearing what I’m learning. Can I share your posts with him? I don’t want YOU to be teaching my husband and break that command.

It’s always important to be obedient to God’s commands, but it’s equally important that we understand exactly what the command does and doesn’t prohibit so we can obey it properly.

For example, the sixth Commandments says, “You shall not murder,” but this Commandment doesn’t preclude self defense, capital punishment, fighting in a war, or vehemently annihilating an uppity rat or snake with a shovel (I hate rats and snakes. :0)

In the same way, the New Testament’s prohibition on women instructing men in the Scriptures doesn’t mean no male can ever learn anything – even biblical things – from a woman. For example, we see Lois and Eunice instructing Timothy in the Scriptures when he was a boy, and Priscilla, along with her husband Aquila, privately correcting and instructing Apollos.

The biblical prohibition against women teaching men in 1 Timothy 2:11-3:7 has a very specific context. Women are prohibited from preaching to or instructing men (not boys, girls, or other women), in the Scriptures (not in other subjects), or holding authority over men, in the context of the gathering of the body of Believers (the church). Women are also prohibited from holding the office of pastor or elder.

Long story short, yes, you can feel free to show your husband my articles and discuss them with him. Showing your husband one of my articles and having a private discussion with him about what you’ve learned from it doesn’t meet the criteria of the biblical prohibition against women instructing men. A blog is not the gathering of the church body, and as you can tell from the title of it, “Discipleship for Christian Women” I’m teaching you as a woman, not him as a man. The principles in these Scriptures are the applicable ones for sharing with your husband in this way, not 1 Timothy 2:12.

Additional Resources:

Rock Your Role: Jill in the Pulpit (1 Timothy 2:11-12)

Rock Your Role FAQs

Rock Your Role article series


What do you think about Teacher X? She preaches to men…he partners with a bunch of false teachers…his church seems to hold New Apostolic Reformation beliefs…she teaches evolution…

While I’m always honored when y’all ask for my thoughts on a particular teacher, if you already know a teacher is sinning by preaching to (or allowing a woman to preach to) men, yoking with false teachers, teaching false doctrine, or unrepentantly doing something else unbiblical, you don’t need my – or anyone else’s – input or approval to stop following that teacher, refuse to use that teacher’s materials, etc. You’ve done what you’re supposed to do – you’ve compared that teacher’s behavior and teaching to Scripture and found it to be contradictory. You’ve been a good Berean. Go ahead and stay away from that teacher.

You might also find my article Is She a False Teacher? 7 Steps to Figuring it Out on Your Own to be helpful.


This week two separate women from different churches and ministry settings have used the words “Too Christianese” to describe words in a song or tract that were being considered for ministry with children. I wonder where this term has come from and why this has become a catchphrase. To me it felt critical and condescending at the same time as well as limiting to the church ministry to have to feel around for words so they are not labeled in this way. I should note we live in New Zealand so I’m not sure if this line of thinking is solely a problem for here or if it is an issue elsewhere.

I think that the foundational issue here is not the word “Christianese” itself, but the underlying paradigm that’s at play.

Sometimes, as might be the case in your situation, when people say, “This has too much Christianese in it,” they’re saying, “People don’t understand biblical terms like ‘sin,’ so we should ditch those terms in favor of other words most people understand, like ‘mistakes’.”

In other words: dumb the Bible down for people. That’s not a biblical paradigm. (And yes, that’s just as much a thing in the U.S. as it apparently is in New Zealand.) The biblical approach is to use biblical terms and teach people what they mean, especially when you’re dealing with children.

On the other hand there’s a lot of churchy “inside language” we use, often without even realizing it, that can make new Christians and people who don’t have a church background feel left out because they don’t know what we’re talking about. For example: “Unspoken prayer request,” “the right hand of fellowship,” “extend grace,” “backslider,” “altar call,” “rededication.” With these sorts of non-theological terms, it might be appropriate to find a clearer way to say things, or it might be appropriate to just explain what they mean.

As to where the term “Christianese” came from and why it has become a catchphrase, I plead ignorance. :0)


We used to regularly follow and enjoy the Sherwood people/movies (i.e. the Kendrick brothers and their crowd)…We’ve pretty much moved away from them due to some theology & discernment concerns (working with/fellowships with Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, as well some muted undertones of the prosperity gospel) and was hoping to hear your opinion on where you’d classify them.

I guess I’d stick those movies in the same category as “Christian fiction” books, meaning that I don’t hold works of fiction to the same high standard as, say, Bible study or theology books, but that doesn’t mean anything goes, either. (I’ve explained more about that here.)

Here’s where I’d land on those movies, or any other work of Christian fiction:

  • Don’t get your theology from works of fiction. This includes any “Bible” studies, devotionals, journals, curricula, programs, or any other materials based on a novel or movie. Get your theology from the Bible, from good teaching and preaching at your church, and from theological books from trustworthy authors/teachers.
  • Think about the financial angle. Will your conscience allow you to financially support the people who made the movie, the actors in the movie, and any false teachers or false doctrine in, or associated with, the movie?
  • Evaluate your spiritual maturity and level of discernment. If you’re spiritually mature and skilled in discernment, you may be able to step around a few doctrinal “cow pies” in a novel or movie that’s otherwise generally in compliance with Scripture. If you’re a new Christian or have not honed your discernment skills, you might want to forego certain novels and movies, or at least watch or discuss them with a spiritually mature, discerning friend.

Thank you thank you for the article on being discreet when breastfeeding. There was a lady at the ballpark yesterday, walking around, and sitting down with it popped out in front of everyone!!!!! I just about lost it and don’t want to. But I need to know how to approach her nicely. I hope and pray I can.

Hang on just a sec, there. I think you might be misunderstanding something. That article was addressed to Christian women about policing their own personal behavior. It was not written to anyone about addressing other people’s behavior.

If you have a personal discipling relationship with a Christian young woman for whom this is an issue, and she’s open to it, you may want to share that article with her and disciple her in the area of modesty.

But don’t go up to random strangers and address this issue. It doesn’t matter how nicely you approach her, it’s not going to go well. And, assuming she’s lost, she’s not going to care about biblical reasons for modesty. Please trust me, and the massive number of emails and comments I got from professing Christian women who were offended by that article, on this. Avert your eyes, mind your business, and look for an opportunity to share the gospel with her instead.


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.

Mailbag

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Imprecatory prayers, Woman leading co-ed small group, LifeWay litmus test…)

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.


I tried subscribing to your blog using the email subscription box, but I wasn’t able to. Here’s my email address. Can you do it for me?

First of all, thank you so much to all of you who subscribe (or are trying to) to the blog via email. I really appreciate it.

I’ve received this question from two or three of y’all over the past couple of weeks, so I reached out to WordPress (my blog host) just to make sure there wasn’t anything technologically wrong. They checked things on their end and said everything seemed to be working fine, and indicated that a number of people had been successful in subscribing to the blog via email in recent days. So, after chatting with the customer service guy for a few minutes here are some suggestions we came up with if you’re having trouble subscribing via email:

  • Unfortunately, I cannot subscribe to the blog for you. You have to do it yourself, so sending me your email address and asking me to subscribe for you won’t work.
  • Try using a different device. For example, if you’re trying to subscribe on your phone, switch to your computer, or try using a friend’s phone.
  • Try clearing your browser cache
  • Make sure you’re typing in your email address correctly- no typos – and into the correct box (the one that says “enter your email address”).
  • If all else fails, ask a friend who’s there with you to help.
  • If nothing works, you can always follow me on social media. I post my blog articles on my social media accounts every day.

Is it OK for Christians to pray imprecatory prayers against evil people?

I’m going to say “yes,” but with some New Testament provisos:

Examine your heart first. What is motivating you to want to pray an imprecatory prayer against this person? Do you hate her? Want revenge? Are you jealous of her? If the motive of your heart is ungodly, you need to deal with that first. You should not enter into any sort of prayer about anything if your motives are sinful (unless, of course, you’re praying that God will change your motives!)

Just as God’s greatest desire for you was for you to repent and be forgiven in Christ, that should be your greatest desire for others. Do you desire, from the heart, that God would save this person, or do you find yourself hoping God will hurt her or send her to Hell? Again, examine the motives of your heart.

It’s never wrong to ask God to stop someone from sinning or to protect you or others from that person’s sin. (Which is not the same as an imprecatory prayer).

Is the person you want to pray the imprecatory prayer against someone you know personally? If so, a better prayer would be to ask God to help you love her, forgive her, and give you opportunities to be a godly influence on her.

Is the person you want to pray the imprecatory prayer against someone you don’t know and have virtually no access to such as a well known false teacher or an evil governmental leader? This is probably the best fit for praying what we would think of as an imprecatory prayer. When I pray for false teachers, here’s what that prayer generally sounds like:

Dear Lord- I pray for Teacher X. Would you please pour out your grace and mercy on her, give her the gift of repentance, and graciously save her? However, You know all things, and you know whether or not she will be saved. If You know she will not bow the knee to Christ, I am asking You to please remove her from all positions and relationships of influence she has. Even though I know that You may be using her as an instrument of judgment against those who want their itching ears scratched, I am asking you to show mercy – to her, to them, and to the visible church – by sitting her down and shutting her up. But whatever You decide, I trust You.

Some people would probably say that’s not really an imprecatory prayer, and I might agree with them, but, to me, that’s what an imprecatory prayer sounds like when run through a New Testament filter.


We have a co-ed small group in our home which my husband leads, however due to work, sometimes he is gone. There isn’t another person who feels comfortable enough to lead so I usually just keep us on track by getting us through our questions which are based on Sunday’s sermon. So, does this mean that when my husband is gone, we should cancel our Small Group?

Though it is very servant-hearted and loving toward your husband and church for you to be willing, you should not be leading the group when your husband is gone. There would be nothing wrong with reading aloud some questions you’ve been provided if that’s all it was, but I would assume the leader has to at least provide some biblical guidance. What if someone answers a question with false doctrine that needs to be biblically corrected? What if no one can answer the question and answering it yourself requires you to teach Scripture to the group? That’s going to put you in the position of possibly violating Scripture and/or your conscience by teaching the Bible to a mixed group. That’s not fair to you or to the group.

Here are some things I would suggest:

  • If your husband can change his work schedule around or change the date or time of the small group meeting so he doesn’t have to be absent (at all or as much), that would be helpful.
  • Your husband should talk things over with your pastor and ask him for suggestions of other men (outside the group) who can lead when he has to be gone.
  • I’m sorry, but there’s no other way to say this (and please understand, this is not directed at you, personally, but a general statement about so many churches these days). The men in your group need to man up. I’m sorry they feel uncomfortable, but that has never been a biblical excuse for men failing to do what God has called them to do – lead. Barak felt uncomfortable doing what God had called him to do, and look how that turned out. Godly men manage to find a way to do things that make them uncomfortable all the time out of obedience to Christ. Your husband can mentor them, the pastor can train them, whatever. They all need to get together, figure it out, and step up. This shouldn’t be something you even need to worry about. It’s not your burden to carry, it’s theirs.

    And besides that, you’re uncomfortable too, aren’t you? At least uncomfortable enough to write and ask me whether or not you should be doing this or if the meeting should be canceled. So you – a woman – feel uncomfortable about doing something you shouldn’t be doing but you have to do it anyway, but these men feel uncomfortable about doing something they should be doing – leading – and they don’t have to do it because they feel uncomfortable? Does that sound biblical? Or even fair?

Perhaps it’s time for evangelical pastors and elders to start giving some thought to what is going on in the culture of their churches that makes men comfortable slacking off and shoving their God-given responsibilities off onto the shoulders of women.

So no, it shouldn’t come down to you leading or canceling the meeting all together. The best and healthiest thing that could happen here is for the men to step up and lead.

Additional Resources:

Adam 3.0: Meanwhile, Back in the Garden, It’s Deja Vu All Over Again

The Mailbag: I Have to Preach Because No Man Will Step Up


I’ve discovered your podcast and started listening to the one on how to study the Bible. You speak of LifeWay in it. Am I to avoid ANY and all books and authors they sell/endorse on their website? Like Mr. X Preacher and Mr. Y Author? I have a library full of books listed on LifeWay!

Thank you so much for listening in to A Word Fitly Spoken!

I’m sorry, but I think you may have misunderstood what I said on our How to Study the Bible – And How Not To! episode.

We started off the episode by discussing how not to study the Bible, and one of our first points was that you should not use “Bible” studies authored by false teachers. I gave a list of some of the best selling women’s “Bible” study authors to avoid (Beth Moore, Lysa TerKeurst, Priscilla Shirer, Christine Caine, etc.), and then I followed that up by saying this:

And I’m going to add one more. This is actually the first time I’m publicly saying this, and as a Southern Baptist, it pains me to say it, but if you need a quick way to rule someone out without doing hours of research on an author you’re not familiar with, I would avoid any author or conference speaker promoted by LifeWay Women – that’s the women’s division of LifeWay.

Now hear me, I’m not saying that every woman in LifeWay Women’s stable of women’s Bible study authors is necessarily unbiblical or a false teacher, but the majority of them are – certainly enough that I feel comfortable saying you could use their endorsement as a litmus test of who to avoid.

I was specifically talking about authors and conference speakers endorsed and promoted by LifeWay Women (the women’s division of LifeWay). I wasn’t talking about LifeWay in general, and I wasn’t saying that every single author you can find in LifeWay’s online store is a false teacher.

What I was trying to get across is this: Say you’ve heard of a new women’s Bible study by Jane Doe. You’ve never heard of her and don’t know anything about her, but you’ve heard other women raving about her. You’re wondering, “Is Jane Doe doctrinally sound?”.

I’m saying if you go to the LifeWay Women website and you see Jane’s picture plastered all over the place as their latest and greatest author and conference speaker, she’s probably not doctrinally sound, and if you don’t have time to read the book and compare all of her teachings to Scripture, you can take their endorsement of her as a signal that you should probably avoid her.

A brief note on the two particular men you mentioned. I would not recommend either of them – not because their materials are sold by LifeWay, but because there are theological issues with both of them. If you want to listen to or read some godly pastors and authors who rightly handle Scripture and will help you grow properly in Christ, please check out the Recommended Bible Teachers tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page. (If you need the list narrowed down a little, I would recommend starting with John MacArthur, Steve Lawson, Gabriel Hughes, or Josh Buice).


I’m trying to remember the name of a recent release book that warns of singing the Hillsong/Bethel songs in church but I’m drawing a blank! Can you help me? I thought Costi Hinn wrote it but he just helped promote it maybe?

I personally haven’t read any recent books that I recall mentioning this (lots of blog articles, videos, podcasts, etc., but not books).

It is possible that Costi mentioned this in one or both of his books, Defining Deception or God, Greed, and the Prosperity Gospel (both of which I would highly recommend). I’ve read both, but it’s been a couple of years, so I don’t remember whether or not he specifically mentioned churches using Hillsong, Bethel, etc., music in either of them. I know he has mentioned it several times on his blog and podcast.

The only other book that keeps coming to mind is Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel by Kate Bowler. It’s not really recent, and I only read part of it when it first came out (2013), so I don’t know if she deals with that subject or not. But it keeps coming to mind, so I thought I’d mention it. (And if nothing else, it’s a very good reference book.)

Readers, any ideas which book (not online articles, podcasts, videos, etc. – BOOK) this sister might be thinking about?
Comment below.


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.

Mailbag

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Paul’s gospel, National repentance, Pastor search committee, Pastor’s wife teaching men)

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 also 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!

In these potpourri editions of The Mailbag, I’d also like to address the three questions I’m most commonly asked:

“Do you know anything about [Christian pastor/teacher/author] or his/her materials? Is he/she doctrinally sound?”

Try these links: 
Popular False Teachers /
 Recommended Bible Teachers / search bar
Is She a False Teacher? 7 Steps to Figuring It Out on Your Own
(Do keep bringing me names, though. If I get enough questions about a particular teacher, I’ll probably write an article on her.)

“Can you recommend a good women’s Bible study?”

No. Here’s why:
The Mailbag: Can you recommend a good Bible study for women/teens/kids?
The Mailbag: “We need to stop relying on canned studies,” doesn’t mean, “We need to rely on doctrinally sound canned studies.”.

“You shouldn’t be warning against [popular false teacher] for [X,Y,Z] reason!”

Answering the Opposition- Responses to the Most Frequently Raised Discernment Objections


Didn’t the risen Christ give Paul the Gospel of salvation by grace through faith? Paul called it “my gospel”? Is the Great Commission the same as Paul’s gospel? Thanks!

Not exactly, but it’s great that you’re noticing those little details as you study God’s Word!

“Paul’s” gospel…

Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, 2 Timothy 2:8

…is the biblical gospel of salvation that Paul preached – the good news of what Christ did to save sinners through His death, burial, and resurrection – and the call to repentance and belief.

The Great Commission…

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

…is the church’s (and individual Christians’) “marching orders” to share that gospel with sinners and disciple them to maturity in Christ. It is God’s main purpose for the church.

So, in a nutshell, the gospel is what Christ did. The Great Commission is what we’re supposed to do with the gospel.


I got into quite the discussion with people today who feel that prayers of repentance for our national sins are not only unnecessary, but an affront to them because THEY did nothing wrong. I cited Daniel who prayed prayers of repentance for his nation, though he led a righteous life. They got all confused with Old Testament sacrificial law and that Christ was the ultimate sacrifice so we only need repent of our OWN sins. Could you address this, please?

Well…depending on exactly what they were saying, they may have been at least partly right. We can certainly pray that God will lead individuals in our nation to repent of whatever sins they may have committed, but we cannot repent on behalf of another person or of a nation. God does not hold us responsible for the sins of others, and we cannot repent for the sins of others. (see Ezekiel 18).

If you’re referring to Daniel’s prayer in Daniel 9, if you’ll read very carefully, you’ll notice he is confessing the sin of his people, lamenting over the sin of his people, and asking God to pour out His mercy on his people despite their sin, but he is not repenting on their behalf.

It is impossible to repent for someone else’s (let alone a whole nation’s) sin because repenting is more than:

  • confessing that sin has occurred,
  • admitting that someone is guilty for having committed that sin,
  • feeling sorrowful over sin,
  • asking forgiveness for sin, or
  • asking God to be merciful toward the sinner.

Repentance means to turn away from your sin, to forsake it, to stop doing it because you want to obey God instead. Although I’m sure he wished he could have, Daniel could not turn away from someone else’s (the nation of Israel’s) sin. And, he specifically says in verse 13: “we have not entreated the favor of the Lord our God, turning from our iniquities”.

Another thing to remember is that Daniel is interceding for God’s covenant people. They belonged to Him. They had agreed to follow Him. America is not in a covenant relationship with God. For a Christian today, interceding for the church and praying that God would lead Christians to repentance would be more analogous to what Daniel was doing.


We lost our pastor almost a year ago and are struggling to find a new one. Do you have any suggestions of where we could send the information about our church and the position in hopes of finding a suitable candidate?

I would suggest sending your information to:

The Master’s Seminary’s Pastor Search page

Founders Ministries Minister Search page

Expositors Seminary

I hope you’ll find a wonderful, godly pastor very soon!

Now, although this might not be possible for your particular church, I would like to throw something out there for the consideration of any pastor or church member who might be reading this. The most biblical model of leadership for the local church is that it be led by a plurality of elders.¹ For that primary reason, I would encourage every church that doesn’t already have this leadership structure in place to look into it and give strong, prayerful consideration to transitioning into leadership by a plurality of elders.

However, secondarily, there are practical benefits to your church being led by a plurality of elders, and avoiding being “pastorless” is a huge one. My own church recently welcomed a new pastor after being without one for two full years. That two years was a struggle. The interim pastor was a stranger to us and we were strangers to him. He did not know the ins and outs of life at our church or the strengths and weaknesses of our church. As affable as our interim pastor was, it was always in the back of everyone’s mind that he was temporary. This was not our pastor and everyone knew it. And then there were some other issues that arose during his tenure that awaited the new pastor’s arrival.

When a church is led by a plurality of elders, many of these issues can be avoided or lessened. When a lead teaching elder dies, moves, or steps down for whatever reason, there is, ideally, already another elder available to step in and take over. This elder already knows the church and the people and they know him. There’s no need to assemble and train a pastor search committee, launch a nationwide search, wait on resumes to arrive, interview candidates, present them to the church for a vote, and then hire a stranger about whom you know virtually nothing except what’s on his resume and whatever he says in his interview. The transition from elder to elder is smoother and immediate with little upheaval and relational trauma to the church body.

Just something to think about.

¹I’m not saying that churches which aren’t elder-led are apostate or intrinsically sinful, I’m just saying that if you want to get as close to the biblical model as possible, go with a plurality of elders.

I am a relatively new (about one year old –  but growing in discernment!) Christian, and I attend a small Baptist church of about 15 people in the remote area in which I live. The pastor’s wife leads both men and women in a “Bible” study group using popular (biblically questionable at best, such as Max Lucado) books instead of reading Scripture. I choose not to attend these studies, but because the church is so small, my absence is obvious and noticed. People comment that they have not seen me at “Bible” study. 

Everything else that happens in the church, the sermons, worship, prayer, are all on point biblically, thus far. My pastor is a godly man as far as I can tell, so my only issue to date is these co-ed, led by a woman, “not-Bible” studies. Should I take my concerns to my pastor? I’m already on a bit of shaky ground with the pastor’s wife. I’m reluctant to upset the apple cart any more. However, if the right thing to do is to address it and deal with potential consequences (shunning, whatever) then I want to do the right thing by my Lord and Savior. How would you guide me in this situation?

I know this is a really difficult situation to be in and I’m sorry it’s making you uncomfortable at church. Yes, when we see sin in the camp, we must speak up, so you should begin preparing to address this situation. Normally, I encourage women to go to the person most directly in charge of the issue first, which in this case would be the pastor’s wife, but I’m guessing that if you’re on “shaky ground” with her it’s because you’ve already tried to address this with her. The next step is to go to the pastor.

I would encourage you to spend a little time studying through the book of Esther, realizing that she was in a somewhat similar situation to yours: God revealed to her an ungodly situation that would harm His people, and she – at great personal risk – had to go to the man in charge and implore him to right the situation, not knowing how he would respond. It could be that God has specifically placed you in this church “for such a time as this”.

Notice that Esther asked that her people be gathered to pray for her. If you have any like-minded friends or loved ones who will pray with you as you prepare your heart to talk to your pastor, that would be beneficial. I have already prayed for you, and I am asking everyone reading this to stop and take a moment to pray for you as well.

If the pastor tells you you’re wrong or doesn’t rectify the situation, and there’s another, better church you could join, even if it’s not as convenient as this one, prayerfully consider moving your membership there. If, as you said, everything else at your current church really is doctrinally sound, and you have no other options for a doctrinally sound church to attend that’s within achievable driving distance of your house, my counsel to you would be to stay at this church, continue not to attend the “not-Bible” study, and fervently pray for God to change the hearts of your pastor and his wife.

If you stay and people continue to say, “We missed you at ‘Bible’ study!” all you have to say is, “Thank you!” or “It’s nice to be missed,” or something like that. I can’t speak for everyone, but when I say, “I missed you at _____,” to someone, it’s not a demand to know why she wasn’t there, it’s to let her know that I love her and missed fellowshipping with her. Hopefully, that’s all your fellow church members mean by saying that. If a nosy Nelly asks why you weren’t there, keep in mind that you’re not required to give her that information just because she asked. You can say something like, “I have a conflict and can’t attend,” which is truthful (you have a biblical conflict and can’t, in good conscience, attend), yet gives no one the opportunity to say that you were gossiping or trying to stir up division in the church. If she continues to pry, look her dead in the eye and keep repeating, “I have a conflict and can’t attend” until she comes to her senses and realizes it’s none of her business why you weren’t there.

Here are some resources I hope will help you:

Rock Your Role: Jill in the Pulpit

The Mailbag: How should I approach my church leaders about a false teacher they’re introducing?

Searching for a new church?


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.