Mailbag

The Mailbag: Potpourri (What is Word of Faith?… Readers’ help needed… Foreign language resources… How to find a wife… Fundraisers… Should I get re-baptized?)

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.


Do you have an article somewhere on this site about the deceptiveness of the word of faith movement? I tried using the search bar to find it but didn’t come up with anything. I have family members deeply rooted in this and have my own conflicting views on it and would love a nice breakdown of why you are so against it. Thank you so much for your blog and for your time.

You know, I never did write an article specifically on the Word of Faith movement, and I really should have. All I can say is that at the point in time several years ago when I was thinking about writing one, it was looking rather like the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) was going to swallow up the Word of Faith movement all together, so that’s where I concentrated my efforts.

To some extent, that “swallowing up” has happened, but we do still see some “churches” that are still mostly “pure” Word of Faith. In my opinion, Joel Osteen’s Lakewood is one good example of that. He’s still all about the health, wealth, and prosperity, but has never really gotten into the crazy antics of the NAR like faith healing, raising the dead, prophesying, holy laughter, being slain in the spirit, the apostolic structure and hierarchy of the NAR, and things of that nature.

The reason “I’m against” (and every genuinely regenerated Christian should be) both WoF and NAR is because they’re both literal heresy. They’re both the “different gospel” Galatians 1:6-9 anathematizes.

  • Neither of them worships the God of the Bible, but an idol they’ve created to appease the lusts of their flesh. They’ve simply stolen the names “God,” “Jesus,” “Holy Spirit,” etc., from the Bible and plastered them on these false gods they’ve created to do their bidding.
  • The “salvation” they promise is not salvation from sin unto obedience to Christ, but “salvation” from poverty, problems, illness, lack of success, and so on.
  • They don’t teach that we need to come to Jesus in repentance and faith because we’re sinners in need of a Savior, but rather that their “Jesus” can make all our problems disappear and all our dreams come true, very much like the crowds who followed Jesus just to see a miracle, get healed, get fed, or because they thought He was going to overthrow Rome and lift their oppression.

And there’s so much more. Let me give you some resources I hope will help:

The Mailbag: Should I Say, or Should I Go?

The Mailbag: What is the New Apostolic Reformation?

The Mailbag: Should Christians listen to “Reckless Love”?

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

Is the Word of Faith movement biblical? at GotQuestions

White Paper: Word of Faith at Berean Research

Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel by Kate Bowler (You may want to check your local public library for this one to save a little money. It was available at mine.)

Defining Deception, God, Greed, and the (Prosperity) Gospel, and More than a Healer by Costi Hinn


Our church ladies are searching for a presentation of Christ’s redemptive work from Genesis to Revelation. Supposedly it’s out there but no one can recall who authored it and/or put the study together…

I suspect John MacArthur and/or R.C. Sproul have some sort of teaching, book, etc., on this, but at the moment it’s not ringing a bell for me.

Readers, it sounds like they’re looking for something in particular rather than suggestions. Does this sound familiar to anybody? Comment below (not on social media), and I’ll alert the lady who sent in the question to keep an eye on the comments section.


I have a friend who speaks very little English and she wants to know more about the Bible and I would like to recommend a solid teacher who speaks Portuguese or has an interpreter as she really needs to grow in the Word of God.

I don’t personally know of any well known pastors or teachers who speak Portuguese, but many have had their materials translated into Portuguese. Here are a few to get you started:

John MacArthur’s books and materials (Just type “Portuguese” into the search bar)

Ligonier’s books and materials

Paul Washer’s books

I also found a number of sermons on YouTube that have either been captioned, dubbed, or translated into Portuguese. (For example: Paul Washer, John MacArthur)

Here’s what I would suggest. Go up to the blue menu bar at the top of this page and click on Recommended Bible Teachers. Scroll down to the men, gather up some names, and start typing them into both Google and YouTube followed by the word “Portuguese” (ex: “John MacArthur Portuguese”). Also try it without the last “e” as “Português” is the Portuguese word for “Portuguese” (like Español is the Spanish word for “Spanish”). I don’t think any of the women on that list have had anything translated into Porguguese with the possible exceptions of Martha Peace and Susan Heck.

Hi—do you have any recommendations for pastors who put out content in Spanish? My boyfriend cannot benefit from the teachings of any of the wonderful Biblically-sound pastors that you recommend, because he doesn’t speak English!

Try the websites and suggestions above, substituting “Spanish / Español” for “Portuguese / Português”. I think you’ll find some good resources.

Also—do you know of sound churches in Tijuana?

I don’t personally know of any, but I would encourage you to exhaust all of the church search engines at the Searching for a new church? tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page.


What advice for a Christian who is looking for a female to marry. [This Instagram “Christian” dating page] follows one of the Bethel Churches, and I’m skeptical on attending [their dating event].

I would guess that most “Christian” dating sites are a lot like most “Christian” book stores: lots of anything and everything that calls itself “Christian” (regardless of whether or not it’s biblical) and a tiny handful of actual Christian.

I’ve been married almost 30 years, so this is not really my wheelhouse. The best advice I can give you is to join a doctrinally sound church if you’re not already a member of one. The first and most important reason for this is that Scripture commands it, and if you’re a Christian, you’re to obey God’s Word. (If you need some help in your search, click here.)

But a side effect of being a faithful, invested member of a doctrinally sound local church is that, as you’re growing into a more godly man, the single women of your church are growing into godly women with the same beliefs and theology as yours, which is vital to a healthy, Christ-centered marriage.

If your church is short on single women, set up an appointment with your pastor and talk things over with him. I would also suggest talking with a few of the spiritually mature older women in your church, letting them know you’re looking for a godly woman to marry so they can be on the lookout, but it would be a good idea to bounce this off your pastor first.


I absolutely love your page and the wisdom you share! Would you please share the link to my fundraiser on your social media?

I am so sorry, but I don’t feel comfortable sharing fundraisers of people I don’t know or have any sort of relationship with. There are soooooo many online scammers out there, and there’s really no way for me to vet you and your fundraiser and find out if you’re legit. My followers trust me, and I don’t want to pass along something that might turn out to be a scam.


I did not grow up in the church, let along hearing God’s word, and it wasn’t until I got married that I started going to church and reading my Bible. My husband was Lutheran, so I went through confirmation class and then was baptized by sprinkling. It never occurred to me what baptism really meant and it’s definition until we became reformed Baptist. I have been studying and learning about baptism more lately and it has been convicting me to be baptized; again. I feel that my understanding of the outward expression of what baptism is definitely has changed. I truly believe that baptism should be full immersion; symbolizing the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, and myself dying with Jesus and being born again in Jesus. So should I be baptized by full immersion, with the new understanding of what it is, or is my first baptism just as good? My pastor told me that because I was not fully immersed that technically I should not be taking communion because he said both go hand-in-hand. I don’t want to do something wrong by being baptized again but I also don’t want to do something wrong by not being baptized by full immersion. My conviction has been on my heart for a while now to be baptized again but I want to make sure that it’s the Holy Spirit convicting me and not just my heart telling me to do something.

I think your pastor is right, and you should trust him. If you’re unclear about the reasons he has given you for being re-baptized, ask him to explain again.

Please accept this in the spirit of love and concern in which I offer it – I hope you will give this some thought: Why would you trust the counsel of a stranger on the internet over your pastor’s counsel? If you don’t trust him and/or you disagree with the theology he’s teaching you, why are you still a member of that church? Just something to think about.


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

Discernment, False Teachers

Throwback Thursday ~ The Perilous Parable of Dr. Shepherd and Dr. Tickle

Originally published January 27, 2013

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Once upon a time, there was a college student who was majoring in engineering. Let’s call her Brie. (Why? No particular reason except that I’m hungry and I happen to like cheese. But back to our story.)

One of the pre-requisite classes Brie had to take for her major was calculus. Brie had heard about the various calculus professors at her university. Some were tough. Some were boring. A few had a reputation for being easy.

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Brie knew she did not want to take calculus from Dr. Shepherd. Although she had some friends who had taken his class and really seemed to know their stuff, calculaically speaking, they had told her that he demanded excellence of his students, had a no qualms about flunking students who weren’t trying and didn’t know the material, and gave regular—and challenging— homework and tests.

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Brie was leaning more towards Dr. Tickle. Everybody said she was really nice and cared warmly for her students. She wasn’t a stickler about deadlines for assignments, taught in a funny and entertaining way, and –most importantly for Brie—didn’t believe in tests. Brie hated tests.

All of the sections of Dr. Tickle’s classes usually filled up quickly, so Brie wasted no time registering, and, happily, secured a spot. She knew she’d made the right choice when, on the first day of class, Dr. Tickle started the lesson off with a one woman skit. She filled the rest of the class period with jokes and inspiring personal stories about her own days as an engineering major. No formulas. No notes. They didn’t even crack the spines on their new text books. Brie felt completely at home and comfortable in Dr. Tickle’s class.

About half way through the semester, Brie was regaling her friend, Tess, with a joke Dr. Tickle had told in class that day. Tess giggled at the punch line, but then her brow furrowed.

“Wow, you’re really taking Dr. Tickle for calculus?” Tess asked.

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“Sure,” replied Brie, “I love her class. Why?”

“Well, I took her calculus class for a few weeks. Dr. Tickle didn’t really teach much actual math. And even when she did teach us a little bit about how to work some of the problems, I checked my notes against the book, and she had completely botched it. She had left out parts of the formulas, and some of the other things she taught us were the exact opposite of what the book said. If I had stayed in her class, I wouldn’t have a clue as to what’s going on in the upper level classes I’m taking now. In fact, I probably wouldn’t even be graduating. I’d really recommend that you drop Dr. Tickle’s class and take calculus from a good professor who knows what he’s doing. I took Dr. Shepherd’s class. He’s tough, but he’s a great teacher.”

“What?!?! How can you say that about Dr. Tickle? I leave her class every day feeling great about calculus! Not once has she ever made me feel uncomfortable or stressed about my calculations. She’s so understanding and kind, and I love the fun way she teaches. I thought you were my friend, Tess, and I thought you were a nice person, too. How could you say such mean things about Dr. Tickle?

“I am your friend, Brie! I want you to be able to understand calculus properly so you’ll do well in the tougher classes that come later. I want to see you graduate with high marks and become a great engineer. I’m trying to help you!”

“Well, I think Dr. Tickle is a great teacher, and I really enjoy her class,” Brie responded coolly, “We’ll just have to agree to disagree.”

There are Dr. Shepherds and Dr. Tickles on church campuses, too. God has not called pastors to stand in the pulpit and tickle your ears with jokes and stories. Nor has He called them to make the Bible and his sermons all about you and your self esteem, your dreams, your health, or your lust for material things. God has called pastors to:

preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
2 Timothy 4:2-5

If you have a Tess in your life who is warning you that a pastor, teacher, or author you’re following is a false teacher, don’t react like Brie did. What if your friend is right? Do you really want to follow a wolf in shepherd’s clothing, or do you want to follow a Dr. Shepherd who will give you the truth of God’s word even if it’s difficult? Check him out. Where? Here are some resources:

Clinging to the Golden Calf: 7 Godly Responses When Someone Says You’re Following a False Teacher

Popular False Teachers & Unbiblical Trends

Is She a False Teacher? 7 Steps to Figuring it Out on Your Own

Mailbag

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

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

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

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


What is the prosperity gospel? Thanks!

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

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

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

Here are some resources you may find helpful:

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

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

The Mailbag: What is the New Apostolic Reformation?


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Is a non-denominational church any good?

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

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


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

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

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


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

False Doctrine, False Teachers

Throwback Thursday ~ Hillsong’s Theology of Music and Worship

Originally published October 25, 2016c3banner1_fftf

Does your church use Hillsong music? Do you buy their songs or listen to them on the radio? Ever really sat down and compared the words you’re singing or hearing to Scripture?

If not, this episode of Fighting for the Faith will be eye-opening. Listen in as Chris Rosebrough, Steve Kozar, and Amy Spreeman examine the lyrics of several popular Hillsong anthems for biblical theology. They’ll also give you a behind the scenes look at what goes into planning a Hillsong-esque worship set. And you’ll hear from Geoff Bullock, one of the “founding fathers” of Hillsong music, about why he left Hillsong and his regrets about the songs he wrote while there. Hear more of Geoff’s story here and below:

 

Click below to listen to this fascinating episode of Fighting for the Faith:

Heresy Hiding in Plain Sight

False Doctrine, Word of Faith Movement

Throwback Thursday ~ I Beg Your Pardon? I Never Promised you a Rose Garden.

Originally published February 5, 2009

I once heard a pastor say that a gospel that doesn’t work everywhere is a gospel that doesn’t work anywhere. He was referring to the so-called “prosperity gospel” that seems to be gaining momentum in the U.S.

If you’re not familiar with this movement, the basic idea is that, if you just have enough faith and/or sow enough seed (i.e. send money to a certain “ministry”) God will bless you with wealth, new cars, new houses, etc. It must work, right? The pastors who push this “name it and claim it” (or as someone I know puts it: “blab it and grab it”) crack “gospel” certainly seem to be doing well financially.

The problem is, it doesn’t work for everyone. How did it work for Paul? What about John? Stephen? Peter and the other apostles? Certainly, they were faithful and gave everything for the cause of Christ, and what did it get them while they were here? What about Christians in India, China, parts of Africa, parts of the Middle East, and many other places today? They are being tortured, imprisoned and even killed for following Christ. Where is their health, wealth, and prosperity?

The fact is, God has not called us to a life of ease. He has not called us to life at all, but to death. Death to self, death to pride, death to greed:

And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.”
Luke 9:23

So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh – for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
Romans 8:12-13

No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.
Matthew 6:24

God never promised us a rose garden. He promised us that if we follow Christ, we will be persecuted and hated. Wow, just when you thought witnessing couldn’t get any harder! What a selling point for Christianity! But this is what our brothers and sisters across the globe face every day. Many of them, when they make a commitment to follow Christ, are signing their own death warrants.

What God has promised is so much better than material wealth. He has promised that when we delight ourselves in Him, He will give us the desires of our hearts (Psalm 37:4). When we truly do delight ourselves in the Lord, the desires of our hearts will mirror the desires of His heart. We won’t crave fleshly things like wealth, but holiness, compassion, justice, and a closer relationship with Him. He hasn’t promised us material rewards here, but hereafter.