Discernment, Sermons

Throwback Thursday ~ Why Our Church No Longer Plays Bethel or Hillsong Music (or Elevation or Jesus Culture), and Neither Should Yours

This video cannot be embedded on other sites.
Click the image above (or click here) to watch on YouTube.

Give this excellent sermon a listen. Pastor David Henneke, of First Baptist Church, Kingsland, Texas, walks his congregation through the Scriptures dealing with false teachers and false doctrine to explain why FBC will no longer use music associated with Bethel and Hillsong. He also warns them away from several other false teachers.

(This is also a good sermon to listen to if you’re confused about expository vs. topical preaching. This is a good example of a biblical topical sermon.)

Justin Peters and Todd Friel discuss the theological problems with Bethel, Jesus Culture, Hillsong, and Elevation music and why your church shouldn’t use their music in this video interview: Why Your Church Shouldn’t Play Bethel and Hillsong Music.

Is it wrong to sing songs from Bethel if they are theologically correct? In this episode of Redeeming Truth, Pastors Costi Hinn, Dale Thackrah, and Kyle Swanson provide insight into the dangers of supporting ministries like Bethel [and Hillsong, Jesus Culture and Elevation Music], that have a false understanding of who Christ is.

If you are looking for theologically accurate worship music to listen to or sing in your church, they have put together a Spotify worship playlist that you can listen to. Costi has also written an excellent companion article on his blog: Should Your Church Sing Jesus Culture & Bethel Music?


Excerpted from my article The Mailbag: False Doctrine in Contemporary Christian Music

“It’s imperative for churches to be discerning about the CCM they use in worship. If Jane Churchmember hears a CCM song in church and likes it, she’s likely to Google the song (probably right there in church- I’ve done it!), find out who sings it, and begin following that artist. Worship pastors who use CCM have a responsibility to vet the artists who perform the songs they select for the worship service to make sure they’re not sending Jane into the arms of a heretic. Additionally, music costs money, and you don’t want your church’s offerings supporting false doctrine.

Now, every time I address the subject of being discerning about worship music and that churches should not use worship music from heretical sources (such as Bethel, Hillsong, and Elevation) someone who’s defending using music from these heretical sources [will say]:

Well, [insert name of hymn writer here] wrote lots of perfectly biblical hymns, but he had some theological problems too, and you’re not recommending we get rid of all of his hymns.

Well, first of all, maybe we should more closely examine the theology of some of our most prolific hymnists and stop using their music because of what they believed. Quick – off the top of your head, name the three we should start with…

…And that’s what separates the errant hymnist from Bethel, et al. Most Christians, even those who prefer hymns over CCM, could probably not name three people who wrote hymns, let alone tell you anything about their theology. But if you ask the average Christian to name three top Christian artists, she could rattle them off in a second.

Most hymn writers have been dead for up to hundreds of years. They don’t have Facebook pages you can follow, nobody’s playing their stuff on KLOVE, they’re not on tour to promote their latest album, they don’t have thousands of followers worldwide, and their music is in the public domain, so your church isn’t financially supporting them or their work. If you wanted to follow their errant theology, you’d have to hit the books to research and study it. Contemporary musicians’ theology is only a click away on YouTube, social media, live streamed concerts and conferences, and on their web sites. Nobody is following dead hymnists’ false doctrine, but hordes are following contemporary musicians’ heresy.”


Excerpted from my article The Mailbag: Potpourri (…Solid churches with heretical music…)

“We have been searching for a doctrinally sound church in the area we moved to, and unfortunately it has not been easy! The few that we have found still use Hillsong, Bethel or Elevation music. I usually cross a church off the list quickly if they sing from those artists. But like I said, now I am finding even doctrinally sound churches are throwing some of those songs in. Do you have any insight to this dilemma?”

for pastors and ministers of music: This is yet one more reason it is detrimental to your church to use music from Bethel, Jesus Culture, Hillsong, Elevation, any musician connected these groups, or any other musician who isn’t doctrinally sound (after you have thoroughly vetted him/her/them.) regardless of how biblical the lyrics of any particular song of theirs that you’re using might be. You could potentially be turning away solid, mature, discerning Believers who might otherwise be interested in joining your church. The woman who sent in this question is not the first to ask me something like this – not by a long shot. This issue is increasingly of concern to Christians looking for a solid church. (For that reason, I do not list churches – even Reformed or seemingly otherwise doctrinally sound churches – on my Reader Recommended Churches list who use music from heretical sources like these.)

When a visitor walks into your sanctuary for the first time, your worship service is the “face” of your church to her. What kind of a first impression are you making? When you use music by doctrinally unsound musicians, it does not say, “We’re really a doctrinally sound church – honest! We only use songs from these groups whose lyrics are biblical.”. It says, “This church has leaders who aren’t discerning,” or “If this church uses music by these heretical groups, what other doctrinal problems does it have?”. Why put that stumbling block out there when there is plenty of music available with biblical lyrics written/performed by doctrinally sound musicians?

And there’s another stumbling block that using this type of music puts in front of weaker brothers and sisters that you may not have realized. I have heard from a number of Christians whom God graciously saved and rescued out of the pit of “churches” similar to Bethel, Hillsong, and Elevation. They tell me that when they walk into what they think is a doctrinally sound church and hear music from these and other heretical sources, it triggers a form of spiritual PTSD. It’s traumatizing to them. They immediately become fearful that your church is mere steps from turning into one of these types of “churches.” Will they grow out of that reflexive reaction? Yes, someday, as God continues to sanctify them. In the meantime, do you want the music at your church to cause them unnecessary anxiety? I hope not.

Even for Christians who have not come out of “churches” like these but are knowledgeable about their heretical theology, using these songs in your worship service is putting a stumbling block in front of them, too. Take me, for example. I’ve studied these groups. I’ve seen their heresy and the damage they do to both the Kingdom and to the individuals who follow them. And because of that, I’ve zealously spoken out against them. If I visit your church and an Elevation song suddenly flashes up on the screen, my ability to worship is completely derailed in grief that your church would use a song from that source – especially if you know about their theology and are well acquainted with music from doctrinally sound sources that you could have used instead. I cannot sin against my conscience by singing those songs. Consider me a “weaker brother” if you like, but do you care more about me as your sister in Christ, or your “right” to use music from these sources? What about Paul’s posture in 1 Corinthians 8:9-13?

But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.

If this was true in Paul’s personal life, shouldn’t it surely be true of our worship services? If you wouldn’t put a Christmas tree or portrayals of Jesus in your sanctuary because it might offend a brother in Christ, why would you use worship music that causes offense to your brothers and sisters?

Finally, what is the proactively good reason for intentionally choosing music from a heretical source? In other words, when you’re selecting music for the worship service, why would you choose, say, a Hillsong song about God’s glory, or Psalm 23, or the crucifixion, when you could just as easily choose a song from a doctrinally sound source about any of those things – a source that isn’t a stumbling block to anyone, won’t give anyone the wrong impression about your church, won’t lead anyone to follow a heretical “church,” and won’t use your church’s offerings to support a heretical “church”? What makes the Hillsong song you’re choosing better than the song from the doctrinally sound source? It doesn’t seem to me that there’s a good enough reason to use songs from these sources that outweighs all the good, biblical reasons not to use them.

There is simply no good reason for a doctrinally sound church to use music from heretical sources like these.

There is simply no good reason for a doctrinally sound church to use music from heretical sources like Bethel, Jesus Culture, Hillsong, and Elevation.


Additional Resources

Stop Singing Hillsong, Bethel, Jesus Culture, and Elevation by Scott Aniol

Why I Don’t Sing the Songs of Hillsong and Jesus Culture by Dan Cogan

Protecting the Sheep: Why churches should not sing Hillsong, Bethel, or Elevation music in worship services at Thinking and Living Biblically

Bethel Church (Redding, CA)/Bethel Music/Jesus Culture

Hillsong/Brian & Bobbie Houston

Elevation/Elevation Music

The Mailbag: What Is the New Apostolic Reformation?

The Mailbag: Should Christians Listen to Reckless Love?

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

The Mailbag: False Doctrine in Contemporary Christian Music

Hillsong’s Theology of Music and Worship

Doctrinally Sound Teachers

Doctrinally Sound Christian Men to Follow – 1

Ladies, the Christian retailing machine isn’t doing us any favors when it comes to Bible study and theology.

First, they’ve created the impression that in order to study God’s word, we have to buy a book, workbook, or DVD by a Christian author. Next, they show us the materials we have to choose from by cordoning off part of the store or web site under the heading “Women’s Bible Study.” Finally, they fill the shelves in that department with materials penned almost exclusively by women, the majority of whom (even at supposedly trustworthy Christian retailers) are false teachers.

Let’s think outside that box, shall we?

First, you do not have to use someone’s book to study the Bible. In fact, I recommend that you don’t. Just pick up your Bible and study it in a systematic way. Next, if you do decide to use a Bible study book or other resource, it does not have to be written by a woman (though there are some great female teachers at the Recommended Bible Teachers tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page). If you limit yourself to women authors, you’re going to miss out on some wonderful teaching by the many doctrinally sound male teachers out there. Let me introduce you to a few of my favorite pastors and male authors of Bible studies and other great Christian books and resources.

IMPORTANT REMINDER: Don’t take my (or anyone else’s) word for it that any ministry, podcast, book, or blog is biblical in its doctrine. You MUST do the work of comparing with Scripture everything you read and hear. If it doesn’t match up with God’s word (in context), chuck it.

Charles Spurgeon– “The Prince of Preachers,” Spurgeon was “England’s best-known preacher for most of the second half of the nineteenth century…Spurgeon frequently preached to audiences numbering more than 10,000.” Most of his works are still in print in both hardcover and e-book format, and many are available online for free. You may wish to use his commentaries to aid in your study of the Word. The brief devotions in Spurgeons’ Morning and Evening  are a favorite of many, and you’re sure to be edified by his many other books as well.  Facebook  Twitter Instagram

John MacArthur– “John MacArthur is the pastor-teacher of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, as well as an author, conference speaker, president of The Master’s College and Seminary, and featured teacher with the Grace to You media ministry.” Dr. MacArthur has written approximately 400 books, including study guides, commenataries, Bible studies, and more. You might enjoy one of his free on line daily devotions, one of his study books, a sermon on the passage of Scripture you’re studying, or one of his books on a variety of biblical topics.  Facebook  Twitter Instagram

Steve Lawson – A pastor for 34 years, Dr. Lawson is now founder and president of OnePassion Ministries, “a ministry designed to equip biblical expositors to bring about a new reformation in the church.” He serves on the board of Ligonier Ministries and The Master’s Seminary, where he is also Professor of Preaching. Dr. Lawson has written a plethora of books, from commentaries to preaching texts, to an interesting series of profiles of godly men of the past such as Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, William Tyndale, and others. Follow along with Dr. Lawson’s Bible study lessons on video, And, of course, you’ll want to listen in to his sermons.  Facebook  Twitter Instagram

Todd Friel– Todd is the host of the Wretched podcast and television show, an outstanding resource dealing with discernment, evangelism, the church, theological aspects of current events, and various other topics. “Witness Wednesday” (the weekly episode airing on Wednesdays) is a great way to get “boots on the ground” training in how to share the gospel. Todd has produced a myriad of materials for both churches and individuals on biblical topics such as marriage, church history, parenting, anxiety, pornography, and more.  Facebook  Twitter Instagram

Paul Washer– An echo of Paul the Apostle, Paul Washer served as a missionary in Peru for ten years where he also founded the HeartCry Missionary Society. HeartCry now supports church planters in Peru and indigenous missionaries world wide. Paul is a challenging author and a sought after speaker who boldly exhorts the church. Be sure to explore his books, sermons, Bible study lessons, and videos.  Facebook  Twitter Instagram

Voddie Baucham– “Voddie Baucham wears many hats. He is a husband, father, former pastor, author, professor, conference speaker, and church planter. He currently serves as Dean of Theology at African Christian University in Lusaka, Zambia.” Voddie specializes in cultural apologetics, and has been instrumental in shedding light on and pushing back against Critical Race Theory, among other issues, when speaking at conferences and other events. Listen to one of Voddie’s many fine sermons and check out his books and other materials on a variety of biblical topics.  Facebook  Twitter Instagram

Chris Rosebrough– If you’re looking for Chris’ previously daily podcast, Fighting for the Faith, that pirate ship has sailed. Chris is still the head of Pirate Christian Radio where you can find oodles of useful articles and audio, but the Aletheia is now docked at the Port of YouTube where Chris creates informative discernment videos on a variety of false teachers, false doctrines, and current events in evangelicalism. He is also the pastor of Kongsvinger Lutheran Church in Oslo, Minnesota, and quite an accomplished photographer.  Facebook  Twitter Instagram

R. C. Sproul– “Dr. Sproul was founder of Ligonier Ministries, founding pastor of Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Fla., first president of Reformation Bible College, and executive editor of Tabletalk magazine. His radio program, Renewing Your Mind, is still broadcast daily on hundreds of radio stations around the world and can also be heard online. He was author of more than one hundred books,” which you can find at Ligonier along with teaching materials on nearly any passage you’re studying, as well as other biblical books, music, and other resources.  Facebook  Twitter Instagram

Phil Johnson–  “Phil is the Executive Director of Grace to You. He has been closely associated with John MacArthur since 1981 and edits most of John’s major books…Phil was an editor at Moody Press before coming to Grace Community Church. He is an elder at Grace Community Church and pastors the GraceLife fellowship group.” Phil is an amazing lecturer and preacher with an incredible depth of knowledge of church and biblical history. You’ll enjoy the theological richness of Phil’s sermons (check out his “Bible Q & A” teachings) and be challenged by his blog articles at Pyromaniacs.  Facebook  Twitter


You can always find these – and more great Christian men and women to follow – at the Recommended Bible Teachers tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page.

Discernment, Sermons

Why Our Church No Longer Plays Bethel or Hillsong Music (or Elevation or Jesus Culture), and Neither Should Yours

This video cannot be embedded on other sites.
Click the image above (or click here) to watch on YouTube.

Give this excellent sermon a listen. Pastor David Henneke, of First Baptist Church, Kingsland, Texas, walks his congregation through the Scriptures dealing with false teachers and false doctrine to explain why FBC will no longer use music associated with Bethel and Hillsong. He also warns them away from several other false teachers.

(This is also a good sermon to listen to if you’re confused about expository vs. topical preaching. This is a good example of a biblical topical sermon.)

Justin Peters and Todd Friel discuss the theological problems with Bethel, Jesus Culture, Hillsong, and Elevation music and why your church shouldn’t use their music in this video interview: Why Your Church Shouldn’t Play Bethel and Hillsong Music.

Is it wrong to sing songs from Bethel if they are theologically correct? In this episode of Redeeming Truth, Pastors Costi Hinn, Dale Thackrah, and Kyle Swanson provide insight into the dangers of supporting ministries like Bethel [and Hillsong, Jesus Culture and Elevation Music], that have a false understanding of who Christ is.

If you are looking for theologically accurate worship music to listen to or sing in your church, they have put together a Spotify worship playlist that you can listen to. Costi has also written an excellent companion article on his blog: Should Your Church Sing Jesus Culture & Bethel Music?


Excerpted from my article The Mailbag: False Doctrine in Contemporary Christian Music

“It’s imperative for churches to be discerning about the CCM they use in worship. If Jane Churchmember hears a CCM song in church and likes it, she’s likely to Google the song (probably right there in church- I’ve done it!), find out who sings it, and begin following that artist. Worship pastors who use CCM have a responsibility to vet the artists who perform the songs they select for the worship service to make sure they’re not sending Jane into the arms of a heretic. Additionally, music costs money, and you don’t want your church’s offerings supporting false doctrine.

Now, every time I address the subject of being discerning about worship music and that churches should not use worship music from heretical sources (such as Bethel, Hillsong, and Elevation) someone who’s defending using music from these heretical sources [will say]:

Well, [insert name of hymn writer here] wrote lots of perfectly biblical hymns, but he had some theological problems too, and you’re not recommending we get rid of all of his hymns.

Well, first of all, maybe we should more closely examine the theology of some of our most prolific hymnists and stop using their music because of what they believed. Quick – off the top of your head, name the three we should start with…

…And that’s what separates the errant hymnist from Bethel, et al. Most Christians, even those who prefer hymns over CCM, could probably not name three people who wrote hymns, let alone tell you anything about their theology. But if you ask the average Christian to name three top Christian artists, she could rattle them off in a second.

Most hymn writers have been dead for up to hundreds of years. They don’t have Facebook pages you can follow, nobody’s playing their stuff on KLOVE, they’re not on tour to promote their latest album, they don’t have thousands of followers worldwide, and their music is in the public domain, so your church isn’t financially supporting them or their work. If you wanted to follow their errant theology, you’d have to hit the books to research and study it. Contemporary musicians’ theology is only a click away on YouTube, social media, live streamed concerts and conferences, and on their web sites. Nobody is following dead hymnists’ false doctrine, but hordes are following contemporary musicians’ heresy.”


Excerpted from my article The Mailbag: Potpourri (…Solid churches with heretical music…)

“We have been searching for a doctrinally sound church in the area we moved to, and unfortunately it has not been easy! The few that we have found still use Hillsong, Bethel or Elevation music. I usually cross a church off the list quickly if they sing from those artists. But like I said, now I am finding even doctrinally sound churches are throwing some of those songs in. Do you have any insight to this dilemma?”

for pastors and ministers of music: This is yet one more reason it is detrimental to your church to use music from Bethel, Jesus Culture, Hillsong, Elevation, any musician connected these groups, or any other musician who isn’t doctrinally sound (after you have thoroughly vetted him/her/them.) regardless of how biblical the lyrics of any particular song of theirs that you’re using might be. You could potentially be turning away solid, mature, discerning Believers who might otherwise be interested in joining your church. The woman who sent in this question is not the first to ask me something like this – not by a long shot. This issue is increasingly of concern to Christians looking for a solid church. (For that reason, I do not list churches – even Reformed or seemingly otherwise doctrinally sound churches – on my Reader Recommended Churches list who use music from heretical sources like these.)

When a visitor walks into your sanctuary for the first time, your worship service is the “face” of your church to her. What kind of a first impression are you making? When you use music by doctrinally unsound musicians, it does not say, “We’re really a doctrinally sound church – honest! We only use songs from these groups whose lyrics are biblical.”. It says, “This church has leaders who aren’t discerning,” or “If this church uses music by these heretical groups, what other doctrinal problems does it have?”. Why put that stumbling block out there when there is plenty of music available with biblical lyrics written/performed by doctrinally sound musicians?

And there’s another stumbling block that using this type of music puts in front of weaker brothers and sisters that you may not have realized. I have heard from a number of Christians whom God graciously saved and rescued out of the pit of “churches” similar to Bethel, Hillsong, and Elevation. They tell me that when they walk into what they think is a doctrinally sound church and hear music from these and other heretical sources, it triggers a form of spiritual PTSD. It’s traumatizing to them. They immediately become fearful that your church is mere steps from turning into one of these types of “churches.” Will they grow out of that reflexive reaction? Yes, some day, as God continues to sanctify them. In the meantime, do you want the music at your church to cause them unnecessary anxiety? I hope not.

Even for Christians who have not come out of “churches” like these but are knowledgeable about their heretical theology, using these songs in your worship service is putting a stumbling block in front of them, too. Take me, for example. I’ve studied these groups. I’ve seen their heresy and the damage they do to both the Kingdom and to the individuals who follow them. And because of that, I’ve zealously spoken out against them. If I visit your church and an Elevation song suddenly flashes up on the screen, my ability to worship is completely derailed in grief that your church would use a song from that source – especially if you know about their theology and are well acquainted with music from doctrinally sound sources that you could have used instead. I cannot sin against my conscience by singing those songs. Consider me a “weaker brother” if you like, but do you care more about me as your sister in Christ, or your “right” to use music from these sources? What about Paul’s posture in 1 Corinthians 8:9-13?

But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.

If this was true in Paul’s personal life, shouldn’t it surely be true of our worship services? If you wouldn’t put a Christmas tree or portrayals of Jesus in your sanctuary because it might offend a brother in Christ, why would you use worship music that causes offense to your brothers and sisters?

Finally, what is the proactively good reason for intentionally choosing music from a heretical source? In other words, when you’re selecting music for the worship service, why would you choose, say, a Hillsong song about God’s glory, or Psalm 23, or the crucifixion, when you could just as easily choose a song from a doctrinally sound source about any of those things – a source that isn’t a stumbling block to anyone, won’t give anyone the wrong impression about your church, won’t lead anyone to follow a heretical “church,” and won’t use your church’s offerings to support a heretical “church”? What makes the Hillsong song you’re choosing better than the song from the doctrinally sound source? It doesn’t seem to me that there’s a good enough reason to use songs from these sources that outweighs all the good, biblical reasons not to use them.

There is simply no good reason for a doctrinally sound church to use music from heretical sources like these.

There is simply no good reason for a doctrinally sound church to use music from heretical sources like Bethel, Jesus Culture, Hillsong, and Elevation.


Additional Resources

Stop Singing Hillsong, Bethel, Jesus Culture, and Elevation by Scott Aniol

Why I Don’t Sing the Songs of Hillsong and Jesus Culture by Dan Cogan

Bethel Church (Redding, CA)/Bethel Music/Jesus Culture

Hillsong/Brian & Bobbie Houston

Elevation/Elevation Music

The Mailbag: What Is the New Apostolic Reformation?

The Mailbag: Should Christians Listen to Reckless Love?

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

The Mailbag: False Doctrine in Contemporary Christian Music

Hillsong’s Theology of Music and Worship

Mailbag

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Todd Friel on Rick Warren, Enneagram, Should I stay or should I go?…)

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 can be a helpful tool!


Do you have any thoughts on Todd Friel’s latest comment that Rick Warren is not a heretic?

Yes, I’m a faithful listener of Wretched Radio, and I did hear that episode. (You can listen to the specific remarks this reader is referencing here starting around the 5:25 mark.)

I’d like to start by saying that I don’t speak for Todd, so if this is of great concern to you, I would recommend contacting Todd directly and getting a “straight from the horse’s mouth” response from him.

The following is what I understood Todd’s remarks to mean:

I believe Todd was using a more classical theological definition of heresy used by many pastors and theologians (and which I agree with), which a lot of people are unaware of these days because the term “heresy” is tossed about so haphazardly (I’m sure I’ve been guilty of it myself). In this definition, real heresy is narrowly focused. It has only to do with the basic doctrines of salvation. In other words, the things you have to believe to be a Christian, and the things you can’t believe to be a Christian.

For example, T.D. Jakes is a heretic for two reasons: a) he is a modalist, a classic heresy which denies the biblical nature of the Trinity, and b) he preaches Word of Faith heresy – “another gospel” as described in Galatians 1:6-9.

Rick Warren, on the other hand, is someone I would categorize as a “false teacher” (again, I cannot speak for Todd, so I don’t know if he would use that label, but I think he would agree with the remainder of this paragraph). He says and does a lot of unbiblical things which he needs to stop and repent of, and nobody should be following him, but he does not preach or claim to believe anything (to my knowledge anyway) that goes against the basic doctrines of salvation. If you sat him down and talked to him, he would affirm the biblical doctrine of the Trinity, the deity of Christ, that Christ is the only way of salvation, etc.

I think the confusion is that the classical definition of heresy differentiates between true heretics and false teachers, but many Christians don’t seem to understand that because the terms “heretic” and “false teacher” are often used interchangeably. This is a definitional thing. Todd is not saying Rick Warren is a doctrinally sound pastor you should be following. He’s made that abundantly clear on a number of occasions.


My friend Samuel had a great question on Twitter recently:

This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith,
Titus 1:13

It’s a great passage with a lot to consider. My thoughts:

1. Look at the rest of 13: “that they may be sound in the faith”. That’s the goal of the sharp rebuke- to bring them out of false doctrine and restore them to sound doctrine. That goal is what should inform the “sharpness” of the rebuke as well as the tone.

2. I think the “sharpness” has more to do with the urgency and immovability of the content of the message you’re conveying, and gentleness, kindness, etc., have more to do with the way (tone) in which you convey it.

3. Notice the word “For” at the beginning of v. 10. It draws our attention back to v. 5-9, the qualifications for elders. In other words, “Elders need to have these qualities (5-9) because of the need to silence and sharply rebuke these false teachers (10-16).” Verses 7-8 call for an elder not to be “arrogant…quick-tempered…violent…but…self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined.” Those qualities should govern how an elder gives a sharp rebuke.

4. I totally agree [I think someone else in the Twitter discussion mentioned this] that we should follow Christ’s example in Matthew 23, but we need to keep in mind that a culturally appropriate sharp rebuke in the first century Middle East might not be exactly the same as a culturally appropriate sharp rebuke in 21st century America. We convey the same message, but in a different way.


What is an Enneagram? A church in my area is offering a Bible study on it. Is it biblical?

The Enneagram is basically a tool that purports to help you discover which of nine fundamental personality types you are in order to maximize your strengths and grow in areas in which you are weak.

Is it biblical? There are a lot of different opinions and information out there, so it depends on who you ask. Some would say it’s merely a tool that helps identify less Christlike areas of your personality so you can be aware of, and strive to be more obedient in, those areas of weakness. Others grab on to the Enneagram and dive headfirst into the New Age mysticism that seems to be lurking in all its nooks and crannies.

I would just ask – have you ever read a passage of Scripture that says we need to analyze our personalities – using any tool, for any reason? No, you haven’t. And that’s the main reason I would say you don’t need the Enneagram or any other personality evaluation tool. Just like Christians for the past 2000 years haven’t needed them.

God gives us everything we need for life and godliness in the Bible. Do you tend to be too much of a people pleaser? That’s called fear of man. It’s in the Bible. Too harsh with others? You’re being unkind. It’s in the Bible. Struggle with anxiety? You’re not trusting God. It’s in the Bible.

A lot of people don’t want to hear this again and again because it’s not shiny and new, popular and fun like the Enneagram, personality tests, or internet quizzes (plus it takes longer and involves hard, spiritual work), but we don’t need to be looking for the latest evangelical fad to microwave us into spiritual maturity. We need the slow, deep, plodding work of studying our Bibles, sitting under good preaching and teaching at church, being discipled by older, wiser brothers and sisters in Christ, praying for wisdom, and repenting of sin.

If I were considering using the Enneagram, here’s what I would ask myself:

Why would I rather use the Enneagram – which isn’t mentioned or suggested anywhere in Scripture and has some sketchy spiritual elements to it – than use the methods (prayer, Bible study, discipleship, etc.) I know God has prescribed in Scripture?

For more information on the Enneagram here are some good resources:

Enneagram at Berean Research

Christian Answers for the New Age (Marcia posts great information on her Facebook page. You may have to scroll a bit or ask her to find the specific topic you’re looking for. Here’s something on the Enneagram I happened to find near the top of her feed today.)

Girl What’s Your Number? The Enneagram Episode at Sheologians

The New Age & Quack Spirituality Origins of the Enneagram with Marcia Montenegro and Steve Kozar


Can you recommend a good resource on _____ [a very specific relationship issue]?

There are a lot of wonderful books and other materials out there that can help us deal with certain relational issues, and when I’m aware of those resources I try to recommend them if I think they would help. I am all for reading and learning from helpful, doctrinally sound materials.

But the more specific and interpersonal the issue is, the less helpful resources are, because those resources are general by nature and can’t address every conceivable scenario, including yours. Sometimes you don’t need to read a book, you need to have a conversation with the other person(s) involved in the issue.

For example, if Sally is constantly gossiping about you to other people at church, you don’t need to read a book on gossip or relationships between church members. You need to go to Sally and ask why she’s saying these things. You might need to set the record straight about your behavior that she’s gossiping about. You might have received a false report that she’s gossiping about you. You might need to rebuke her and proceed to the next step of church discipline. But you won’t know any of those things unless you sit down and talk to her. And you’re not going to find those answers in a book.

In other situations, getting the wise counsel of a godly older sister in your church, or setting up an appointment with your pastor for counseling can be much more helpful than simply reading a book. These people know you and care about you. They’re available to help you and answer your questions. They can walk through the changing ups and downs of the situation with you over time. You can’t get all of that from a book.

Materials and resources are great and can be very helpful, but not in every situation.


I still meet with my ladies Bible study group, but they continue to choose very questionable material. Teachers that you have warned against as false and I agree with you. I have voiced my concerns to them over and over and at this point I am just starting to sound like a broken record. My question is, do I still participate and try my level best to help them discern or do I just leave the group?

In my article The Mailbag: Should I attend the “Bible” study to correct false doctrine? I addressed the question, “Should I attend a study using a false teacher’s materials in order to correct false doctrine, or should I decline to attend the study due to the unbiblical materials they’re using?”

Either option can be perfectly biblical depending on the situation and the people involved. This reader chose to go the former route, which brings up an additional question: If I join this group and they continue to teach false doctrine via materials by false teachers despite my correction, how long do I hang in there and continue to correct?

Since every situation is different, I can’t give a hard and fast answer to that. I would reiterate the counsel I gave in the previous article about praying for wisdom and discussing it with your husband and your pastor. If, in these discussions, you and your husband decide that, in addition to the women’s group, there are sufficient biblical reasons to look for another church, you may want to hang in there until you move to a new church.

If you decide to leave the group, another natural time to make the break would be when they finish the book they’re currently using and before they begin a new book.

If the question is less, “When should I leave?” and more, “Is it biblical to leave the group when it’s obvious they aren’t going to listen to biblical rebuke and sound doctrine?” the answer is yes, and practically the whole Bible is precedent for this.

Think back over the Scriptures. What is the Bible’s general posture and response to people – particularly God’s people – who have been repeatedly warned about their sin or presented with biblical truth, and choose to continue in that sin or ignore that truth (as this group seems to be acting toward the reader)?

Think about God’s repeated warnings to Old Testament Israel about their sins of idolatry and syncretism (which are basically what importing false doctrine into a church is). Even God didn’t hang in there continuing to warn them forever. What was His eventual response to them? He used pagan nations to conquer them and send them into exile.

Passages like these also help us see the New Testament’s take on moving on when sound doctrine is rejected:

As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.
Titus 3:10-11 (For more on false doctrine as “division”, see Romans 16:17-18, Jude 18-19.)

And if any place will not receive you and they will not listen to you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.
Mark 6:11 (see verses 7-13 for context)

Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.
Matthew 7:6

Do you have scriptural grounds to leave if a group rejects biblical correction of their false doctrine? Yes. When should you leave? You’ll have to ask God to give you the wisdom to decide.


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.

Favorite Finds

Favorite Finds ~ August 21, 2018

Here are a few of my favorite recent online finds…

Here’s something helpful that came out of the TGC Women’s Conference earlier this summer, the 9Marks at 9 breakout session Women and the Local Church. Karen, Keri, Bev, and Abigail discuss what makes a church, the importance of the local church, what makes a healthy church, practical things you can do to help your church become healthy, prioritizing the local church, and the impact your commitment to the church makes on your children.

 

Wretched has, not one, but two freebies for you! Download the gospel booklet Don’t Stub Your Toe or The Biggest Question video (also available in Spanish) and share them on social media or via e-mail with friends who need to hear the gospel. You might even enjoy reading and watching them yourself!

 

 

Pastor Allen Nelson has written a helpful seven-part review and response to Rachel Held Evans’ new book, Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again. It’s over at the Things Above Us blog, and it’s entitled God-Breathed: A Response to Rachel Held Evans’s View of Scripture. If you’re unfamiliar with Rachel, you can read more about her here, where I have also linked Allen’s article series.

 

At night or in the morning? Commentaries or journaling? “In January 2018, Crossway surveyed over 6,000 readers, asking questions about their Bible reading habits.” They’ve given us some of the results of that survey in a nifty little infographic, How Do You Read the Bible? 

 

 

Yet she will be saved through childbearing—
if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.
1 Timothy 2:15

Have you ever wondered what that verse means? WordBoard explains with the Boardies video What Does She Will Be Saved Through Childbearing Mean?