Posted in discernment, theology

How to Do Discernment: Partnering

By Elizabeth Prata

The issue covered in this essay today concerns participating with folks who might not be the most solid. Concerns were raised when John MacArthur participated in the Sing! Getty Music Worship Conference last month where also slated to speak were Anne Graham Lotz, Jackie Hill Perry, Conrad Mbewe, and in 2018, Tim Keller on video, Ravi Zacharias, and so on. There were over 30 speakers slated to speak at the conference.

Discernment isn’t cookie cutter nor is it dot to dot. Making decisions upon what one notices discernment-wise rests on the individual’s maturity, depth of study, conscience, and ability to apply scripture. It’s a process rather than a snapshot.

There were many people who became distressed when it came out that Jackie Hill Perry had partnered with the Christine Caine crowd at Caine’s Propel Activate Women’s conferences for the last few years, and more distressed when she declared Jenn Johnson of Bethel Church a friend and a sister. Many also became alarmed when Beth Moore did the same with Joyce Meyer, appearing on Meyer’s interview show and declared each other friends & spiritual sisters.

If one is partnering with known heretics, then they are not brothers and one should not partner with them. Nor should one definitively declare them in the faith. If a person does, that is cause for concern over their own discernment.

If one is participating in a conference and someone else is participating that promotes some doctrines that you disagree with but they can’t definitively be declared a heretic, then it’s up to the individual’s conscience to make that decision whether to participate and we should leave it to trust them to make it well.

Phil Johnson and Todd Friel discussed this issue in the following podcast “Degrees of separation and where to draw the line.

Gerhard Woest also made the following comment on Facebook about partnerships. Sometimes people  who claim to be discernment teachers use these issues to purposely confuse people and divide. Their own intents are not good and their activities certainly aren’t discernment but are discontent and stirring up strife.


A lot of rumours are going around about John MacArthur sharing the stage with some “heretics” at the Sing 2019 conference. 

And to be honest, although I have the utmost respect for John MacArthur, after I saw this ad I also became concerned and asked myself, “What on earth is John MacArthur doing there?” 

Well, the Bible teaches us to judge fairly, but it also says “believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” I therefore decided to look a little deeper into the matter and discovered that John MacArthur also participated in the Sing 2018 conference! 

My next step was to watch the video (8 minutes) and it then became clear to me that he used his time as an opportunity to glorify God. There was nothing Charismatic or “strange” about it. As a matter of fact, I believe his motives for attending is right – most probably to open some eyes.

People like Servus Christi (Joshua Chavez) are so quick to run with a skewed sensational video and sadly, we often buy into these ungodly types of ministries so easily. –end Gerhard Woest

Todd Friel spoke to that issue in this short clip, “Rules of Discernment”

John MacArthur at Sing! 2019-

You will want to make your own decisions when you see a person participating with wonky folks but do so with good intent, thinking the best of the person first, exhibiting patience, and watching them over time. A one-time stumble isn’t enough to dispense with an other wise solid brother or sister who had for decades or years demonstrated their trustworthiness.


Christian writer and Georgia teacher's aide who loves Jesus, a quiet life, art, beauty, and children.

6 thoughts on “How to Do Discernment: Partnering

  1. There’s so much imbalance in discernment ministries that the we need people like you to teach good reasoning skills. True discernment, as you know, isn’t a game of Gotcha. It requires good grounding in the whole counsel of God rather than a simplistic system of white and black hats.

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  2. Just wondering why you like John MacArthur so much. I honestly have tried to listen to him, and he makes me angry. I feel like he places himself above me. Perhaps it is me and not him.

    I admit I have never figured out where I stand in the Calvinist vs. Armenian camp. Probably because I don’t truly understand either of them fully.

    Just searching the web for discernment ministries and came across yours.



    1. Hi WIttyRedhead,

      Thanks for your comment. I pray you will find some resolution to the Reformed v. Arminian doctrines. It is highly important, they are at polar opposites to each other in certain respects.

      I like a wide array of preachers, including my own 4. But i admire what the Lord has done for us in MacArthur and through MacArthur. His output over 50 years has been without blot or scandal or major errors. That’s amazing. His tenure at The Master’s College and The Master’s Seminary helped that educational institution rise to a widely acknowledged level of acclaim. His books are numerous and all interesting and timely. If comparing to Charles Spurgeon of the 1800s, the two men are very similar in what the Lord has done.

      He does speak plainly about our sin and when I first started listening to him that made me angry too. I understand.

      I know folks who know him and they say he is extremely humble and generous, even using most of his salary to pay for houses for new professors or to help new students with tuition.

      If you are looking for good ministries to help you with the issue of Reformed vs Arminian, MacArthur’s “Why I am A Calvinist” is a good one,

      or others like RC Sproul’s “What is Reformed Theology” is also good,

      S. Lewis Johnson, here

      For good discernment ministries you cannot go wrong with Justin Peters, who has many teachings on Youtube, ‘Clouds Without Water’ is a great one, or Michelle Lesley at or Todd Friel’s Drive By Discernment, a series teaching about discernment, or various other teachings at his Wretched Radio program, on discernment topics.


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