By Elizabeth Prata
Is this teacher good? Is this Bible study credible? Is this book safe with good doctrine? I’m frequently asked these are normal and good questions, and I know that other ministries that offer discernment teachings are asked also.
We all should be practicing discernment, all the time. (Philippians 1:9). Hebrews 5:14 says discernment comes with training and maturity-
But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
Sometimes ladies don’t have time to pre-read a study to determine if it’s acceptable, they barely have time between the kids, husband, church, and home to read the study itself. Other times sisters just need a second opinion before setting up the appointment with the Ladies Minister or the Pastor. Other times a person just needs a jog or a jig into a direction, a framework that sparks their own thoughts.
So we’re asked. I’m grateful when I am asked, because I know there are women out there who care about good doctrine and only want to study with credible materials or people. Discernment as a tool or a skill (or in some cases, the gift) isn’t just for calling out false teachers or spotting poor doctrine melded with the true. It’s a book or a movie review. It’s oftentimes a lesson in itself teaching how to compare materials with scripture. It’s honing of the mind as it conforms to Christ. It’s all that and more.
Here are some resources I use for my own reasons, which include all of the above. I offer these resources to you as an additional tool in your discernment toolbox.
Phil Johnson. Phil is Executive Director of Grace To You, the online ministry of Grace Community Church. (GCC). He is also editor of John MacArthur’s books, and a pastor in the GraceLife Pulpit, Sunday School Ministry of GCC. He has the gift of discernment, and often speaks on topics such as current fads and their impact in Christendom, false teachers, and other discernment issues. You can find his sermons at the GraceLife Pulpit. Phil also speaks at various conferences, including the well-known Strange Fire conference, which examined and evaluated the doctrines, claims, and practices of the modern charismatic movement. As a matter of fact,t he entire conference itself is a lesson in discernment and well worth your while. Phil also ran a blog for many years that dealt with discernment issues, Pyromaniacs, which has recently been revived with other writers contributing. You can search its archives. He also has a wealth of material here. He’s been online for over 20 years.
Justin Peters. Justin is an itinerant pastor with several specialties. He preaches expositionally, and also has an interest in teaching discernment matters via his series Clouds Without Water. Justin has written a book called Do Not Hinder Them, about evangelizing children, and has spoken out about the fad of ‘heaven tourism‘, examining the claims of those who allege they have traveled to heaven and back. He preaches and teaches extensively at conferences, for example, the Judge Not Conference, the Strange Fire conference here, and here, and here in an extensive interview about Lying Signs and Wonders, as well as many other places that can be found on Youtube.
Bob DeWaay. Critical Issues Commentary is a treasure trove of discernment works and other topics, led by Pastor Bob DeWaay. Critical Issues Commentary was founded to help people find their way out of unbiblical teachings that confused their understanding of the faith. There is so much at the site, you can take an entire course for free on Hermeneutics, or Systematic Theology, watch the video, How to Discern a True Work of the Spirit, learn from a five-video series on How Do We Really Hear From God, read articles reviewing Jesus Calling, Bill Johnson’s book, or Ann Voskamp’s book, and so on. His About page says in part, “Critical Issues Commentary is… a series of carefully researched essays on important theological issues. Since 1992 more than 80 articles covering more than 60 specific “critical issues” have been published. Each article contains Biblical exegesis as well as interaction with famous teachers and teachings. Our prayer is that God uses this effort to help readers grow in their faith and be strong in their witness.”
Michelle Lesley. Michelle runs a discipleship ministry, online here, and has written articles on various false teachers. She also travels and will speak at your church or organization. If you go to her site, there is a link at the top called Popular False teachers. You can also search her archives for specifically what you’re looking for. Michelle graduated from LSU with a degree in child and adolescent psychology, and earned her master’s family counseling. She is a married mother of six. She loves being a stay at home, home schooling mom and enjoys reading, staying active at church and in women’s ministry…
Sharon Lareau. Mrs. Lareau at Chapter 3 Ministries is another treasure trove of biblical information, reviews, women’s issues, marriage, apologetics, and more. She is a 30-plus years married mom who homeschooled for 18 years. She says, “It is my prayer that Chapter 3 Ministries is a blessing to other women. It is my desire to encourage greater understanding about the biblical role of the Christian wife and to offer support for living it. It is also my desire to support my sisters in Christ in their efforts to be ready in the defense of our great hope. This defense can be given through our testimony and through the work of apologetics.” She has recently written a review of Tim Keller’s book “Prayer” as well as reviewed several of Beth Moore’s Living Proof Conferences. There’s a lot at the site, check it out.
Abandoned to Christ. Sunny Shell of Abandoned to Christ also ministers to women via her website and of course in real life as all of the above people do. She writes “about living abandoned to Christ in marriage, biblical submission, parenting, friendships, evangelism, and my often debilitating and very painful health issues for the past 13 years—all with the eternal, rich, and hope-filled perspective of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” She is a married mother of two adult children who also volunteers at church, blogs, is writing her first book, and disciples younger women. She has a list of recommended books, resources to follow and stay away from, and reviews, such as The Shack, the movie Son of God, Ann Voskamp/Beth Moore/Sarah Young, and much more.
Wretched. Todd Friel of Wretched Radio & TV also delves into apologetics and discernment issues. He has a wonderful series called Drive By, thus called because you can listen to the short lectures as you drive to work. They are generally between 7-15 minutes each. The series includes Drive By Discernment– 70 short lectures on the topic of discernment. There is also a DVD called Judge Not, about true biblical judging, or discernment. There is a wealth of short clips on Youtube under the Wretched Channel also. Don’ miss Too Wretched for Radio, short interviews with Phil Johnson on various fads, discernment topics and apologetics in current time.
Challies. Tim Challies has been blogging, reviewing books, and offering up discernment resources for ten years. His website is a treasure trove of archived book reviews, to the good and the bad, plus lots of other resources.
Chapel Library: a Ministry of Mt. Zion Bible Church. This resource is not specifically aimed at discernment or apologetics but it is just too good not to include here. It’s often overlooked or amazingly, fairly unknown widely. It is another rich, full site of lots to choose for free. The Bunyan Archive, courses for free, studies in scripture, 850 books, tracts, and pamphlets to read online or download for free, including Adoniram Judson and the Missionary Call by Erroll Hulse, Advice for Seekers by Charles H. Spurgeon, Am I Really a Christian? by Thomas Boston, Anxiety by Arthur W. Pink, and so MUCH more. The whole site offers over 1100 resources for free.
I hope these resources suit you, there are many men and women out there, who labor for Christ and the common good.