Lysa TerKeurst is a ladies Bible study teacher. She has written several best-selling books and is founder of Proverbs 31 ministries. She is attractive, engaging, seems to have a good handle on the Bible, and is very popular with women. Sadly, however, there are numerous issues with the kind of Christianity Mrs TerKeurst promotes. (Her name is pronounced ter–rhymes with sir; keurst–rhymes with burst).
People have written about the concerning issues with Mrs TerKeurst before. Michelle Lesley did a great job on why we should be leaving Lysa, and Aimee Byrd negatively reviewed Mrs TerKeurst’s 17th and most famous book, here.
I’d like to add another of the credible discernment concerns with Mrs TerKeurst. Seth Dunn recently spoke of Mrs TerKeurst in his podcast The Christian Commute. I was impressed with how he stated one of the concerns with Mrs TerKeurst and why she should not be followed. I’ll transcribe it below. His podcast discussing Mrs TerKeurst is within the one called Driving Miss Beth to the Bus Stop. In it, Seth addresses how hard is to review women’s Bible studies when the “meat” of them are on video. He uses Mrs TerKeurst as one of the examples. Here’s Seth Dunn-
Ladies Bible Studies are a mess. Priscilla Shirer, Beth Moore, LifeWay Industry … they are often shallow, trite or downright hermeutically bad. I think one of the responsibilities as a man, as a husband, as a spiritual leader of my household is to make sure that my wife is being fed in Bible study, good food that doesn’t come from wolves.
Lysa TerKeurst is a member of Elevation Church, that’s Steven Furtick’s church. No matter what Lysa TerKeurst says in her Bible studies, she’s known as the Proverbs 31 woman, I’m sure you’ve seen her little sayings. Sometimes we automatically have guilt by association. It’s not so much guilt by association, it’s guilt by subjugation. She is under the authority of her pastor. Her being at Elevation Church implicitly communicates that she agrees with what goes on there and that she agrees with the teachings of Steven Furtick.
Furtick is a narcigete who reads himself into scripture, who uses preacher chords*, who has spontaneous baptisms. If you’re not aware of this, at Elevation Church they have young vibrant people get up during invitation time to act like they’re going to respond to the invitation in order to encourage other people to emotionally respond to the invitation so they’ll get baptized. That’s how they have such high baptism numbers. They manipulate people. At Elevation Church they have a coloring book they give to the kids, with a picture of Steven Furtick that says, “We are united under the vision that God gave Pastor Steven.” …So we know that Lysa TerKeurst is under this bad mojo Elevation Church. So we should already be suspicious of her.
Why do I bring her up? My wife came home with a Lysa TerKeurst Bible study. It’s called Twelve Women of the Bible, co-authored by Lysa TerKeurst, and my wife said she was given it from one of the ladies at another local church. It’s a Southern Baptist Church, I’ve listened to the preaching there, it’s solid. If you go onto their website and look at their statement of beliefs, it’s solid. You can be lulled into a false sense of security there. You can think ‘surely this solid Southern Baptist Church, with a solid expository preacher, who has a doctorate from a fine seminary, they wouldn’t have bad ladies’ teaching there, or any kind of bad bible studies.’ But they do. They’re passing out a Lysa TerKeurst book. -end Seth Dunn
Associations matter. In the secular world, when we apply for a tenure-track professorial position at a College or University, we don’t hide the college from which we earned our degree. We don’t hide that, because it’s important for the hiring committee to know under whom you sat and under whom you learned the stuff that you will in turn be spouting to the students who will sitting under you.
If a Bible teacher or preacher has been raised in an environment of false teachings, such as Anne Graham Lott, Tullian Tchividijian, and Franklin Graham have been raised by Billy Graham and have been influenced by his ecumenical-universalist notions, then it is a cause for concern that in their formative years they absorbed such doctrines and are more apt to promote them as they grow up and engage in ministry themselves. Another negative association might not be within a family but partnering as adults with other false teachers, such as Beth Moore with the prosperity gospel Osteens, with heretic Joyce Meyer, and with New Age Catholic Roma Downey. And so, TerKeurst sitting under Furtick is cause for severe concern. How can you learn discernment from a Bible teacher who does not possess it herself?
The second lesson here is that if you’re looking for a church and you visit and enjoy the pastor, that’s good. You’ve discerned that the pastor preaches rightly, that’s good. If you did your diligence and obtained a paper or looked at the website’s doctrinal statement from your prospective church and it aligns with the Bible’s major tenets, that’s good. But don’t stop there. What about the women? What about the Library? If the church has a library, go look at what books they allow to circulate among the members. If there is a Ladies’ Ministry, look look at the last few studies they completed.
As a matter of fact, if the preaching is very strong and solid, it is more likely that the women’s ministry will be weak, which means you need to look twice as hard. Why? Satan always attempts to creep in, and if he is blocked from the pulpit by firm truth, he will re-double his efforts to get in another way. That’s what thieves and robbers do. (John 10:1, Jude 1:4). The women’s ministry is often overlooked. So is the Library and so is the music. Vigilance is called for on all fronts, north, south, east, and west. No military force worth its salt fails to have a rearguard.
1. Attachments and background matters.What church does a Bible teacher belong to? What does her husband teach or preach? What does her life look like away from the church? Who does she partner with? These are discerning questions to ask.
2. Church, watch the spokes of the wheel as much as the center. Satan will try to enter at any point. Men’s Ministry, home groups, the church library, the music, the youth group, and the women’s ministry are all exposed to satan and need guarding as much as the pulpit does.
3. Leave Lysa TerKeurst alone. Seek better Bible study teachers. Women, you don’t need to study only from women teachers. As a matter or fact, I recommend that you don’t rely exclusively on female teachers. Mix it up. If there is a Sunday School group at church you feel comfortable joining, join one led by a man. If you do home studies alone or with friends or a more structured group, find one that is either co-ed or is led by a man, or if is led by a women, see if she is using a male-written study. I know that if you’re in a co-ed group the Bible admonishes us to remain quiet, and you would not feel as free to comment as when you are with all women. So I understand the need and desire to study with other females. But do mix it up sometimes. 🙂
4. Please also read the critiques from other ladies as to why you should leave Lysa TerKeurst alone. They explain the doctrinal aspects of why Lysa is weak and not good food for your soul.
Good online studies I recommend are women’s ministries from Grace Community Church, such as Every Woman’s Grace.
Michelle Lesley. She goes through books of the Bible including the Old Testament, as well as presents short series on discernment topics.
Jen Wilkin, recommended by Tim Challies.
To whom has your favorite female Bible study teacher submitted to? It matters.
*I do not know what “preacher chords” are or why Mr Dunn feels they are a negative.