This is a four-part series. I’ll examine the website, teachings, and women of “She Reads Truth” in 2 parts (What They Say, and What They Do). Part 3 will take a look at the conference known as the “IF:Gathering” which many of the She Reads Truth women are involved in. In part 4 I will discuss women teachers in general from a biblical perspective, and provide a list of solid teachers (men and women) of the Word.
A younger sister asked me about this website, in which six women write devotional bible reading plans and encourage women to gather to read the bible via their (free) plans. The women are Raechel Myers, Amanda Bible Williams, Diana Stone, Hayley Morgan, Rebecca Faires, and Debbie Eaton. The website is beautifully designed. It is good looking AND easy to use. The women’s bios are located in the easy-to-find “About Us” section. By the look of the photos and the words used to describe them they come across as healthy, wholesome farm women, apple-cheeked and devoted mothers to happy, wholesome, apple-cheeked farm children with smiling husbands on the side. Simple lives, just struggling wives doin’ laundry (like us, just like us!) trying to know Jesus in the best way possible.
The women assure the reader that they have husbands who look over their theological work and pastors who do the same. They write that they are humble, submissive wives, creating bible reading plans for like-minded women almost by accident, and gee, needing to morph their growing-popular website into a Limited Liability Company before they knew it.
But are they?
Not so much.
When you look into a teacher to determine whether he or she is credible, there are two things to look at.
–What they say (the doctrine they teach)
–What they do (how they live out their doctrine)
The bible warns us that many will come in His name (claiming to be one of His children) but many will not actually be, according to what they say.
|Amanda Bible Williams, Editorial Director
of SRT. Twitter profile photo
I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. (Romans 16:17)
The division comes when teachers try to pry you away from Jesus’ side, dividing you from His once for all faith and separating you from His doctrine, not by what they say, but by what they do.
Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them. (Hebrews 13:9)
Therefore it’s important to look at what they do, not just what they say on their statement of faith page. How do they act? What is their life? Many, many church or Christian websites put up a statement of faith, and many, many of them don’t live what they say.
The Gospel Coalition published an interesting article on this exact topic the other day titled “Is Your Church Functionally Liberal?”
The liberal churches I’ve known are not openly hostile to the Bible. They like the Bible. They want their preacher to use the Bible. They have home Bible studies. What makes them “liberal” is that the Bible alone is not what rules them. They allow into their doctrine, their ethos, their decisions, other complicating factors. The Bible is revered, in a way. But it is not the decisive factor. It is only one voice among others.
Doctrinally conservative, but functionally liberal. What they say, vs. what they do. Both matter, when it comes to examining a teacher for credibility.
So in She Reads Truth (SRT) you have an attractive website, run by attractive ladies, with a statement of faith that is as sterling as it gets.
In just one of their statements, with which I agree, because it is from James 1:22, they write that they believe we should be doers of the Word, not just hearers. So for them it is not just about reading the bible together, it is about what we do after we read it, our response. So far, so good.
However, thinking it through, don’t leave it there. Exactly what response do the administrators and writers of SRT believe are we being called TO? What do they say we should do in living out the Word that we receive?
Social Justice. They are believers in a response to God’s word that includes “social justice“. Back up for a moment…social justice?! What is social justice exactly? Isn’t that were we help poor or oppressed people? That’s biblical, right?
Well, there are two kinds of movements that address poverty and injustice in the world. The biblical one, and all the others, including the SRT women. Here is what the modern-day notion of what “social justice” is.
According to the National Association of Social Workers,
“Social justice is the view that everyone deserves equal economic, political and social rights and opportunities. Social workers aim to open the doors of access and opportunity for everyone, particularly those in greatest need.”
There is much more to it and more that is behind the modern movement (not the biblical movement). GotQuestions discusses the modern-day notion of social justice and its politically charged activists.
Social justice is often used as a rallying cry for many on the left side of the political spectrum. “Social justice is also a concept that some use to describe the movement towards a socially just world. In this context, social justice is based on the concepts of human rights and equality and involves a greater degree of economic egalitarianism through progressive taxation, income redistribution, or even property redistribution. These policies aim to achieve what developmental economists refer to as more equality of opportunity than may currently exist in some societies, and to manufacture equality of outcome in cases where incidental inequalities appear in a procedurally just system.” (Source)
|Woman carrying leeks to market in the Andes. EPrata photo|
It’s based on a false premise that in all cases the rich have oppressed the poor in order to become rich, an injustice that needs to be rectified through income redistribution and other government programs and activist political means. So what is the biblical call to address the poverty problems and the oppressed? Because the bible does speak to it.
The Christian notion of social justice is different from the contemporary notion of social justice. The biblical exhortations to care for the poor are more individual than societal. In other words, each Christian is encouraged to do what he can to help the “least of these.” The basis for such biblical commands is found in the second of the greatest commandments—love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:39). Today’s notion of social justice replaces the individual with the government, which, through taxation and other means, redistributes wealth. This policy doesn’t encourage giving out of love, but resentment from those who see their hard-earned wealth being taken away. (Source)
The true Christian response to stewardship is an individual one, not an activist one. So which does SRT promote? The latter. More of the activist social justice, less of the biblical, individual call to personal stewardship. Therefore, their ‘what we believe’ is an unbiblical call to an incorrectly interpreted response to the bible’s demands regarding the poor.
Basically, there is a tension between a God-centered approach to social justice and a man-centered approach to social justice. The man-centered approach sees the government in the role of savior, bringing in a utopia through government policies. The God-centered approach sees Christ as Savior, bringing heaven to earth when He returns. At His return, Christ will restore all things and execute perfect justice. Until then, Christians express God’s love and justice by showing kindness and mercy to those less fortunate.(Source)
Does the SRT website say all that? No. It only mentions social justice once in the What We Believe section. So how do I know the women promote the unbiblical view of social justice and not a correct notion of stewardship? From what they do. That will be part 2.
But first, one other mention of ‘what they say’. I read many of their reading plans. Some are good. Many of the books they promote are good too. Many are reformed. Many are solid. Nancy Guthrie is promoted, as well as Reformed classics like the Valley Of Vision and Matthew Henry’s commentary. On the down side, Billy Graham is promoted, as well as panentheist Ann Voskamp, and pragmatist Rick Warren, which are negatives. One of the editorial staff, Debbie Eaton, used to be a woman ministry leader at Warren’s Saddleback church, so the Warren book isn’t surprising. The SRT ladies promote several books by Gary Haugen, who is also a writer for She Reads Truth. Haugen is CEO of International Justice Mission. There’s that personal agenda again.
Under the “What We’re Reading”, they promote one of Lysa TerKeurst’s books. Last February, Lysa preached an entire Sunday at Perry Noble’s church. Perry Noble is a false teacher. Women are not to be preaching the church service. (1 Timothy 2:11–14). Lysa attends Steven Furtick’s Elevation Church, which is not a church and Furtick is not a true preacher. Lysa is an undiscerning usurper and She Reads Truth has no business promoting Lysa’s books.
As for the specifics of the reading plans, in looking at just a few of them I saw the usual mistakes many women make when they interpret the bible. Here are two issues as just a sample. In their Day 25: “The Shepherds go To the Manger” Christmas devotional, author Raechel Myers stated that Jesus is the Prince of Peace. She wrote that Jesus came to make wars cease. She wrote that Jesus came for peace on earth.
Connecting the Prince of Peace with making wars cease is incorrect. We are at war with God because we are sinners. His peace is reconciliation through justification. She did mention reconciliation a bit further on, but her approach is not the best because she connects peace and war wrongly in this devotional. In Mt 10:34 Jesus says “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword!” In His first incarnation, Jesus came to bring a sword that will divide even families. Wars and rumors of wars will characterize the age of his post-Incarnation. Wars will not end until after the church age ends, after the Millennium Kingdom ends (Revelation 20:7-8) and it is only after eternity begins that wars cease.
Later in the devotional Myers says that God asks us (asks? not commands?) to be still and know that He is God.
The ‘be still’ verse is from Psalm 46:10, and what it means is this–
“Let his enemies be still, and threaten no more, but know it, to their terror, that he is God, one infinitely above them, and that will certainly be too hard for them; let them rage no more, for it is all in vain: he that sits in heaven, laughs at them; and, in spite of all their impotent malice against his name and honour, (Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible.)
The overall approach of taking snippets of verses on a topic or theme from the NT and the OT and building reading plans from that is not the best. It’s common, but it is not the best. First, mixing OT and NT is a dangerous hermeneutic. Often, OT verses are for Israel only (Jeremiah 29:11, for example, is often misused (I know the plans I have for you… so is Psalm 46:10, Be still)… Expositional teaching is best.
of International Justice Mission (IJM)
What happens with plans like these developed by liberal women like these is that verses get misused because they are stripped from context. It is actually the Beth Moore hermeneutic approach. Strip out-of-context verses and use them to make your point, like the Psalm 46:10 verse or Isaiah 55:1 I mention below. Mix in between the verses some personal stories and with them, personal agendas (i.e the social justice devotional written by Gary Haugen, founder of International Justice organization). It is best to offer a passage, and explain what it means in context and according to the culture at the time. Sometimes they do this well. Other times they don’t.
Here is a second example of “What They Say.”
At SheReadsTruth, in the Reading Plan for Day 28 of the “O Come Let Us Adore Him” devotional, writer Amanda B. Williams mentioned (but didn’t paste) Isaiah 55:1a. The verse reads,
“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters;”
Williams equates the verse’s ‘being thirsty’ with women who are needy, have longings, are broken, need to be accepted, have a blessed ache, need to be loved, and driven into His arms. Those are direct phrases from the devotional. These phrases appeal to women. They are phrases that include such language as “sweet reminders” or “whisperings” crafted subtly to be a catalytic connector to our sensitive, emotional side. In this way, their devotionals do not appeal to the mind. They strive to appeal to the heart, the emotions. The devotional’s language creates a sense of romantic intimacy with the Lord through a female emotional yearning that sets Jesus up to be lover and filler of needs.
Except, that’s not what studying the Word is all about. (Romans 12:2, Ephesians 4:23).
Except, that’s not what Isaiah 55:1 means.
Gill’s Exposition says of Isaiah 55:1, the sense is not an emotional one but
a spiritual one; thirsting after forgiveness of sin by the blood of Christ; after justification by his righteousness; after salvation by him; after more knowledge of him, more communion with him, and more conformity to him;
The thirst in the verse is not having “longings” – another example of feminine vagueness these types of blogs promote. The ‘thirst’ is not to “be accepted” (whatever that means or meant in junior high), the thirst is a desperation for forgiveness of sins. It is the universal invitation to Gentiles for salvation, not satisfying “needy women”. In this way the SRT women trivialize majestic verses. These verses are spiritual truths, not emotional satisfactions. They’re definitely not romantic longings.
SRT plans are not really study. At SRT, it isn’t really ‘digging into’ God’s word. They are more like breathless romantic reactions to out-of-context verses written by liberal women who have an unbiblical approach to the Word.
I hope I was clear.
Six months after the conclusion of this series, Lighthouse Trails researched the IF:Gathering also. Please read their extensive research here