By Elizabeth Prata
Jackie Hill Perry is a self-described rapper, writer, teacher, and poet. She is also a married mother and an ex-Lesbian converted to Christianity ten years ago at age 19. She expresses her Christianity through spoken word poetry, music, and essays (some at The Gospel Coalition). She has published two CD’s, and is author of the 2018 book Gay Girl, Good God: The Story of Who I Was, and Who God Has Always Been. An upcoming Bible study is due to be released this October called, Jude: Contending for the Faith in Today’s Culture. Perry says she feels compelled to share the wondrous truths of Jesus through her God-given gifts as communicator.
Perry is also friends with and partnered to in ministry with some spurious characters, all in the name of ‘not being tribalistic’ according to Perry. She recently photographed herself with Bethel Church’s Jenn Johnson of Bethel Church (daughter-in-law of Bethel cult founder Bill Johnson, who along with her husband Brian founded Bethel Music and MusicU) and pronounced her a friend. Perry also has partnered with false teacher Christine Caine, speaking at Caine’s Propel Activate conferences. Perry wrote that she is concerned about several theologically sound preachers complicit in “white supremacy who are faithfully inspired by the theological musings of slave masters”. Perry is a strident social justice warrior.
She has also just been UNinvited to the Answers in Genesis/Answers for Women 2020 conference.
So, Jackie Hill Perry is a study in contrasts.
Justin Peters (@JustinPetersMin) wrote on Twitter this week,
August 26, 2019
As has Francis Chan, Jackie Hill Perry, sadly, has now endorsed some of the most rank heretics and obvious false teachers in the “evangelical” world.
Pastor Gabe Hughes also asked (@Pastor_Gabe) @JackieHillPerry-
Mrs. Perry, you were included in the documentary “American Gospel: Christ Alone,” exposing the heresy of the prosperity gospel movement. Yet now you are partnering in ministry with one of the very churches (Bethel in Redding, CA) critiqued in that film. Are you not aware of this?
Finally, though she says “where I disagree, I’m open to discussion, and where I can learn, I have ears to hear,” she instead, rebuked those who attempted to share concerns regarding the above listed statements and partnerships, implying that distancing one’s self from those who practice discerning separation is itself loveless and arrogant.
Reading her Twitter feed is a study of social justice and racial reconciliation.
She begs the age-old question, when is it time to warn against a person who seems to be on a downward slope into false religion?
Well, it seems, now.
Perry’s commitment to the pure Gospel seemed solid until lately when she wrote a concerning rant on her Instagram– (August 26)
There are several worrisome phrases in her piece that concerned me. I’m sure there are other concerning aspects that more discerning and articulate people will spot that I have not addressed.
It depends on what one means when they say they aren’t tribalistic. Though Seth Godin used the term “tribes”, it was Mark Driscoll in his earlier days that popularized it. Here from First Things in 2013, we have a short history of how this ridiculous term came into Christian use-
Driscoll tells Christians that they need to learn from each other, rather than criticize each other. He’s speaking to Evangelicals. He claims that Evangelicalism has been “tribalized.” In order for these tribes to be effective they need to cooperate and learn from each other. This talk of “tribe” is trendy thanks to guys like Seth Godin. Mark Driscoll has always been a trend follower. He claims that the tribes of Evangelicalism manifest themselves through “magazines, publishing houses, blogs, social media, conferences, and schools.” These tribes are led by tribal chiefs.
Now, back to JH Perry, she said she is ‘not tribalistic’. There’s a good not tribalistic, like, in terms of ensuring that one does not divide into factions, following certain teachers to the exclusion of others, with pride on the rise. The Bible dealt with that in 1 Corinthians 1:12. Paul rebuked those who haughtily claimed he or she ‘follows’ Apollos, vs follows Paul, vs follows Peter vs follows Christ. We remember we are one body, united by Christ’s blood.
That said, there is bad not “tribalistic” to use the faddish term, in who we should partner with in ministry. There IS such a thing as purposeful separation. The correct kind of separation glorifies God. The called-for separation is from those who teach false doctrine, promote doctrines of demons, and who snatch the unwary. (1 Timothy 4:1, 2 Timothy 4:3-4, Jude 1). As Justin Peters wrote this week:
Friends, the Bible is not unclear about how we are to deal with false teachers. We are not to partner with them. We are not to treat them as believers, befriend them (though we may evangelize them) or endorse them. They are to be marked and avoided (Rom. 16:17; 2 Jn. 9-11).
So yes, there are tribes. There’s the tribe destroying the faith, and the tribe upholding the faith.
Perry has chosen to ignore all the Bible verses that call for separation from false teachers and instead deliberately partners with them, in a twisted name of love.
Perry, to her credit, has for years spoken of her commitment to the gospel of Jesus Christ, the inerrancy and authority of Scripture, and love for God and neighbor, as she stated in her recent Instagram, and her music, interviews, and book.
Sadly, though, she has recently added another criteria to her bundle of characteristics that evinces a Christian. It’s whether or not they are “being blindly complicit when it comes to white supremacy, who are faithfully inspired by the theological musings of slave masters.”
Huh? That really does not make sense. The Bible is always clear. When you start overlaying cultural trends with advocacy of how to behave, that’s when things get muddy real fast, as they do here.
In 2017 Perry was hurt by “The decision made at #SBC17 to not denounce white supremacy”.
In 2018 she advocated for the church to ‘call sin sin, and to be aware of the small, flippant, and even subtle ways people speak about race.
Her emphasis on race might be a personal concern, having grown up black, just as divorce is a personal concern of mine having been the child of divorced parents, but using her platform to single out one sin that by default should be decried along with all other sins anyway, speaks to an undue emphasis that skews one’s perception of unity in the church. She believes she’s promoting unity in the church when overemphasis on race is actually divisive. Over the years as the groundswell of thrown-about terms such as white supremacy, slave masters, slaves, and racism had grown, Perry has drifted more toward the singled-out version of calling sin sin by more narrowly focusing on race, rather than promoting unity through Christ where all sins are a blot against Him.
Hers is social justice language and has nothing to do with Christianity. It is unknown whether Perry is immaturely following a trend, or allowing her deep-seated feelings on the subject of black vs white to finally emerge, but this faddish talk of slave masters and using scare quotes on “theologically sound” people influenced by white supremacy and old slave masters is unhelpful. Any time we see a fixation on cultural issues as criteria for partnering or even loving those around us who also claim Christ is a concern.
She lacks it. This became quite evident in her follow up rebuttal to the outcry of partnering with Jenn Johnson & Bethel Music. On August 29, Perry issued a tweet of a 7-page screen shot of her written response to concerned brother’s email and also here continued. In it, Perry announces that she does not believe Word of Faith doctrine is heresy.
She’s wrong. It is.
She does not believe that the Charismatics are in error, just misguided and uninformed.
For someone who wants us all to be “nuanced” she certainly has lumped in 300 million people along a wide Charismatic spectrum into one group- and has declared them all genuine Christians.
In fact, JHP has been partnering with Propel Women and false teachers such as Lisa Harper, Christine Caine, Lisa Bevere, Priscilla Shirer, Shelley Giglio, Jenn Johnson and Bethel Music, since at least 2017 (source & source), and also with Sarah Jakes Roberts, daughter of TD Jakes (source)
She says that people’s reactions to her partnering with Bethel & Jenn Johnson were merely visceral reactions, and insinuates therefore that such concerns are dismissable, (while obviously her immediate response tweets were measured and worthy).
She says that she operates in “spaces” that are “primarily Conservative-Evangelical and Reformed” but she does not always remain in those “boxes” and she is free to move about, doctrinally. She said she doesn’t want people to have expectations of her that she doesn’t have for herself.
It’s not a measure of maturity to hop from one doctrinal camp to another, it’s the opposite. (Ephesians 4:14).
I’m sorry, but we do have expectations that especially our leaders remain theologically settled. We do expect that laymen and leaders won’t hop around like a bunny from one group of friends touting one doctrine to another group touting a different one. Peter did that and was rebuked to his face by Paul. (Galatians 2:11). The Circumcision group was cast out and the Nicolaitians were decried.
We are not free to be doctrinal shape-shifters. Our settled convictions forming the basis of our ministries aren’t “boxes”. She speaks of the context of her life primarily of people who have influenced her rather than doctrines she believes. She says she “doesn’t define false teachers in the way that others do,” which is not a mark of maturity nor of discernment.
Disbelief in absolutism
Post-modern adherents disbelieve there is such a thing as absolute truth. We saw hints of that in Perry when she claims that her ministry “isn’t in a box” and she is “too free” to stay in one tribe or another. Now in her rebuttal she said that it grieves her that people are put into categories, or have been classified as this or that. She said, “There’s more depth and nuance to where someone stands than there is as shown in their books or their talks.”
No. No, there isn’t. When someone writes a book outlining their theological convictions or when someone stands on a stage or a pulpit proclaiming their theological convictions, they are literally telling you where they stand. You don’t rely on unseen depths or nuances. Your job is then to compare what they say to the Bible.
Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. (Acts 17:11).
Perry is actually demonstrating in herself and advocating that others employ an indistinct theological viewpoint and accept all who claim Christ unless they are at some far, far end of an undefined spectrum. Yet doctrine is actually narrow, divides, and excludes most people, even and especially many who claim Christ. (Matthew 7:21).
Preaches to men
She preaches sermons, called sermons, to both men and women. She did at UYWI National Conference in 2017, Chicago’s Legacy Disciple Conference, Legacy ATL 2019, and many other venues. Partnering with women such as Christine Caine & Propel Activate does not bode well since the women involved in that conference also preach and believe it is totally OK with God that they do so.
Perry converted at age 19 in 2009. A year later she made news and notice when she issued her spoken word rap called “My Life as a Stud” (about taking on the manly role in a lesbian relationship). A couple of years later came the famous “Jig-A-Boo”. Many people were stunned at such a young person’s wisdom and courage contained in the title and the lyrics of Jig-A-Boo, myself included. The problem is that young, untested people launched into positions of acclaim or responsibility before they are tested often leads to downfalls, pride, or drifting into false teaching. I hope that is not the case with Perry, she said herself at the end of her 7-page response that she’s young and to pray for her and give her time. But the slide is evident and it’s not new.
Remember, her original rant on Instagram and her 7-page response is to push-back to the rant are all so that she can defend her decision to partner with one of the worst cult leaders operating today and other false teachers. Her refusal to separate from Jenn Johnson, Bethel, Propel, and to listen to those who urge her to do so are marks of someone who should not be followed, at least not at this time.
I do pray this young woman will heed correction and that the Lord will graciously guide her back to solidity. She is a gifted communicator who loves the Lord and obviously has much to say and an ability to say it.