Tag Archive | false teachers

List of important Christians to follow on social media (not). Plus, ridiculous books

Crosswalk Ministry recently posted a story titled 20 Important Christians You Should Follow on Social Media. Crosswalk.com’s About says,

Crosswalk.com aims to offer the most compelling biblically-based content to Christians on their walk with Jesus. Crosswalk.com is your online destination for all areas of Christian Living – faith, family, fun, and community.

After seeing the list of “important” Christians you should follow, Crosswalk should not be your destination for anything. Why? Most of their list is populated by false teachers. Sadly, the author of this list states that she is a teacher/leader at her church. It is apparent that the author lacks discernment, which is terrible for a church teacher/leader. It’s clear that the publication’s editors lack discernment, too, because they allowed it to be published.

paul meme

We can pair this list of who (not) to follow with a recent vlog by Challies-

5 Most Ridiculous Books to Ever Become Christian Bestsellers

If you were to scan the lists of the best selling Christian books of all time you’d see some truly amazing books there. You’d see some books that have helped us better understand who God is and books that have instructed us. and how we as Christians can live lives of obedience to Him, and like you, I’m genuinely thankful for these books. Sadly though, you’d also see some truly flat-out awful books. Today I’ve narrowed down that list to the five most ridiculous books to ever become Christian bestsellers.

Asked what the biggest problem facing the American church is, John MacArthur replied that it is a lack of biblical knowledge, a lack of biblical discernment. When you see a list like Crosswalk’s, this certainly seems to be sadly true.

And besides, didn’t the Bible tell us that no believer is more “important” than another? (Galatians 3:28, James 2). Their list is a who’s who of false teachers. The list is a slideshow, and as each page came up it got worse and worse. I couldn’t think of any worse people to put on the list if I tried. They’re all there. I thought to myself, “Surely they won’t put Joel Osteen on their list, but when he popped up at #15 my heart sank lower than the floor.

Anyway, here is Crosswalk’s list of “important” Christians you should follow in their order:

  1. Beth Moore
  2. Steven Furtick
  3. Toby Mac
  4. Lysa TerKeurst
  5. Franklin Graham
  6. Max Lucado
  7. Judah Smith
  8. Joyce Meyer
  9. Andy Stanley
  10. Rick Warren
  11. Jen Hatmaker
  12. Tim Keller
  13. Candace Cameron Bure
  14. Levi Lusko
  15. Joel Osteen
  16. Sadie Robertson
  17. John Piper
  18. Shauna Niequist
  19. Christine Caine
  20. Brian Houston

Most of these people teach a false doctrine of one kind or another. I know that no one is perfect, and we all hold to some error at one time or another before being graciously corrected. However many of these people on the list teach not immature and temporary error, but permanently damning heresy. Meyer teaches (or taught) that she isn’t a sinner, and that Jesus went to hell and allowed satan to stomp all over His back. Joel Osteen refuses to preach half the Gospel (sin and wrath). Beth Moore gets extra-biblical revelation knowledge and purports to add to the canon by the prophecies and directives Jesus supposedly gives her.

These are actions that by God’s own word, the one who teaches them are doomed. (2 Timothy 4:3-4, Acts 20:28-30, 1 John 4:6, Titus 1:16, 2 Peter 2:3, Romans 16:18…)

Others teach error (Piper, for example) but at this point he can’t said to be false.

I’ve looked at Bure’s statement of faith and her life trajectory and can’t find anything that seems to contradict a foundational tenet or is a damaging teaching. So 1 out of the 20 might be solid, and she isn’t even a Bible teacher or preacher or ministry leader but is an actress (one who albeit takes her platform seriously and promotes Christian standards through the transparency of her life).

Discernment is spiritual insight that is honed by experience and age. However, discernment isn’t by osmosis. It doesn’t just drop in one’s lap. Wisdom is accrued through careful study of God’s word, prayer, and constant application. Through study, one becomes instantly familiar with what is true and what is false, even a little false. In other words, the discerning person has nuance and a humble spirit. The person who can discern displays biblical knowledge, wisdom, and the ability to proclaim it, apply it, and use it.

Ultimately, though, discernment comes from God. David prayed for discernment. Psalm 119:125 says (NIV)

I am your servant; give me discernment that I may understand your statutes.

 It’s obvious that the current global church lacks discernment in tremendous and devastating ways. Just as over the centuries, the leaders of Israel and eventually the Pharisees turned God’s glorious light and truth into a dark and perverse religion, today’s leaders of the Christian church have turned Christianity into a perverse and ridiculous paper tiger religion that saves no one.
Fortunately, God always has a remnant, which is what true believers are. We are certainly not the majority, if we ever were. A remnant, standing on the rock, proclaiming truth for the glorification of Jesus’ name remains unsullied. The rest, the so-called Christians on the top 20 list and their followers, are a crowd that lacks discernment, to their detriment, perhaps eternally.

Here is my list. Top 20 people not to follow- and why

  1. Beth Moore (no)
  2. Steven Furtick (Steve Kozar says no) (Todd Friel says Furtick’s false)
  3. Toby Mac (Ryan Martin at Religious Affections says no)
  4. Lysa TerKeurst (Michelle Lesley says no)
  5. Franklin Graham (no)
  6. Max Lucado (no)
  7. Judah Smith (no)
  8. Joyce Meyer (CARM says no)
  9. Andy Stanley (Josh Buice says no), (no), (And just no)
  10. Rick Warren (Challies says no), (Warren publicly prayed to Islam’s false god),  (JMac negatively reviews Purpose Driven)
  11. Jen Hatmaker (Christine Pack says no), (Denny Burk says no)
  12. Tim Keller (no)
  13. Candace Cameron Bure
  14. Levi Lusko
  15. Joel Osteen (nope)
  16. Sadie Robertson (maybe)
  17. John Piper (there’s issues…) (and other issues)
  18. Shauna Niequist (Michelle Lesley gives her a ‘not recommended‘)
  19. Christine Caine (Rosebrough says no)
  20. Brian Houston (no, with a lot of other NO’s inside)

Pray to the Spirit for wisdom and He will give it without reproach (James 1:5). Be wise as serpents regarding “Christian” publications including mine and others listed on this page. Use your eyes to see and ears to hear when reading or listening to Christian material. Compare to scripture and give no place to falsity. Jesus is too precious and His torture, death, separation from the Father too heart-rending to cover with any compromise in doctrine by accepting false teachers.

It’s too bad about Crosswalk. That list sure is ridiculous.

Lysa TerKeurst is coming to Athens. Do not go see her.

Lysa TerKeurst of Proverbs 31 Ministries is coming to Athens, GA.

I strongly recommend that you not go see Lysa Terkeurst. Avoid her.

terkeurst

Here’s why.

First, about her: Her website states Lysa TerKeurst is president of Proverbs 31 Ministries and the New York Times best-selling author of The Best Yes, Unglued, Made to Crave, and 16 other books. She is also a speaker at conferences and a daily blogger. She is also wife and mom to 5 kids.

Here are some reasons to strongly consider avoiding Lysa TerKeurst in all her venues but especially in person when she arrives at Athens.  These are in no particular order. All are a concern.

terkeurst 4

1. Lysa’s home church is Elevation Church led by pastor Steven Furtick. Furtick is a prosperity teacher who opposes deep doctrine and mocks those who enjoy it, and has taken the title of Super Apostle. He also unsurprisingly preaches blasphemous things.

On August 9, 2016 in the Uninvited Book Release party held at Elevation on behalf of Lysa, (photo above) she once again claimed Elevation as her church and Furtick as her pastor, violating the degree of separation from false teachers demanded by the Bible. (2 Timothy 3:5, 2 Corinthians 6:14, Ephesians 5:7). Instead, she partners with them.  (source- Uninvited Book Release Celebration webcast).

1a. In another recent partnership, Lysa recently spoke alongside these men. Aside from Furtick, an additional two have been fired from their pastorates for being unqualified because they fell below reproach. (1 Timothy 3:2). Not excellent. TerKeurst should be separating herself from these ‘leaders’, not supporting, promoting, and partnering with them.

terkeurst 1

terkeurst 2

The person speaking here is Perry Noble, who was fired from NewSpring Church 5 months later. Driscoll had already quit ahead of certain discipline
and likely firing from Mars Hill Church.

A student will rise no higher than her teacher. So ladies, avoid Lysa TerKeurst, because her teachers, associates, and spiritual influences are very low.

2. Lysa preaches at the pulpit and at other venues in church, to men, violating a basic and clear scripture that women must not do so.

Source 1, TerKeurst at the Sunday morning service at Perry Noble’s church NewSpring;

Source 2, Steven Furtick introducing TerKeurst’s series of Sunday morning messages at Elevation Church, messages based NOT on the word of God but as a church they instead studied her book The Best Yes. Can you imagine not only violating a clear scripture that women do not preach, but using your own book as the basis for the message?!

Source 3, Mark Batterson (who is another false teacher), introducing TerKeurst at his church and asking the audience to receive the word she is about to bring.

I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.

(1 Timothy 2:12). Also see 1 Corinthians 14:34. As Michelle Lesley said in her piece on TerKeurst,

If a woman is supposedly knowledgeable enough about the Bible to be in the position of teaching and authoring, yet doesn’t understand or obey such a basic biblical truth, what does that say about the rest of her knowledge of the Bible? How can you trust that anything else she teaches you about the Bible is accurate and true?

If you follow Lysa you are partnering with her in her usurping rebellion, which is a sin. (James 4:17).

3. Lysa TerKerst teaches how to listen for the voice of God and to receive personal revelations.

As Learn to Discern Granny cited, with source page numbers from Uninvited, TerKeurst teaches that if you’re silent you’ll receive secrets and whispers and new information from Jesus, directly.

Now, Lysa also confesses she hears whispers from God. She relates, “I’ve got to spend time getting quiet so I can be prepared to hear new things from the Lord. Isn’t it a lovely thought that God might be waiting for silence … in order to share some of His best secrets with you? … in the silence, He whispered to my soul, You are not set aside, you are set apart ….” (p.112). Much like Sarah Young’s messages in Jesus Calling, Lysa, too, is saying she gets new revelations from the Lord.

Ladies, the canon is closed. (Revelation 22:18-19). Jesus is not currently speaking to individuals. He did that Himself in His incarnation, and via the Apostles and NT writers via His Spirit.

Therefore it is not surprising that TerKeurst teaches how to hear the voice of God in her video and pamphlet, also does so in prayer journals for sale and a book called Saying Yes to God.

For example, she said at her book release party, emphasis mine:

I have this feeling that Uninvited is not going to be just a book. I have a deep feeling in my heart Jesus has decided that too many of His people have been held back by rejection. I want to know if you are in this room tonight and you are ready to embrace that the devil might be vicious but he will not be victorious. Can I get an Amen! Uninvited Book Release Celebration webcast

Bible teachers should not be saying they have any inkling at all of what Jesus has decided. Of all the things on this page and of the ones I listened to and read, this is the worst for me. It is highly dangerous for a ‘Bible’ teacher to go around purporting to speak for the secret things that Jesus has decided in His power and will. It is a gross perversion of our calling as submissive witnesses to His glory and exaltation.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:9).

All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, But He does according to His will in the host of heaven And among the inhabitants of earth; And no one can ward off His hand Or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’ (Daniel 4:35).

Please avoid Lysa TerKeurst for these and other reasons, as noted in the articles linked below (which also have further links). It’s one thing when teachers such as this are ‘out there,’ but when they come to my city, a college town with vulnerable Christians and new babes in Christ who sit in the pews with me, it’s another thing entirely.

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Further Reading

Michelle Lesley has written graciously and fairly about Lysa, here: Leaving Lysa: Why You Shouldn’t Be Following Lysa TerKeurst or Proverbs 31 Ministries

Discerning Granny reviewed Lysa’s 2016 book, Uninvited hereA Review of Lysa TerKeurst’s Book: Uninvited

Grace To You: What is Biblical discernment and why is it important?

Ligonier: What is discernment?

How much error does a false teacher need to exhibit before they’re considered false?

The Next 500 Years: 2017 National Conference was held a few months ago. The synopsis of what the Conference was about follows:

The same God who brought the Reformation in the sixteenth century is still at work today. His plan has not changed, and what He has purposed for His glory and our good will be accomplished.

On March 9-11, 2017, Ligonier Ministries hosted its 30th annual National Conference. Alistair Begg, Tim Challies, Leonardo De Chirico, Sinclair Ferguson, W. Robert Godfrey, Michael Horton, Steven Lawson, Augustus Lopes, John MacArthur, Albert Mohler, Stephen Nichols, Michael Reeves, Derek Thomas, and Stephen Tong joined R.C. Sproul to celebrate the five-hundredth anniversary of the Protestant Reformation and consider the future of the church.

During the conference, there was a Panel Discussion/Audience Q&A comprised of Steven Lawson, RC Sproul, Al Mohler, and John MacArthur. Thirteen questions were asked and answered on a variety of topics. Since I’m interested in discernment, and since we can learn much from the men who were assembled, I was especially interested in their answer to the following question:

How do you define a false teacher? How much error is needed before they are considered false?

The answers were transcribed and this one begins at the 32:23 mark on the video, linked above.

Three good answers were given. Of course many other things can be said, they only had so much time and had other questions to discuss. Here is a synopsis of the three responses and I’ll add my own thoughts after that. You can view/read the full responses at the link above.

Dr Sproul said that when is a false teacher a false teacher is when he teaches falsehood. This might seem obvious but in this day and age where ‘tolerance’, ‘forgiveness’ and ‘non-judgmental-ness’ reigns, we have forgotten many of the basics. If he or she teaches falsehood, they are a false teacher. Would the Holy Spirit in us allow falsehoods to permeate a person and their teachings? No. His ministry is to point to Jesus.

Dr Al Mohler followed up Dr Sproul’s comment by saying that in addition to falsehood, any teacher who resists correction is also false. By the strict definition of teaching falsehood=false teacher, Apollos would have been false. However when he was corrected by Priscilla and Aquila, Apollos was glad, and accepted it. If you can think of some particular teachers today who teach falsely, and have definitely been contacted to repent of their falseness and given the truth, and they continue in falseness, then this helpful barometer might clear some confusion up as to who might be true and who might be false.

Dr MacArthur added another layer to the discussion with his response. A false teacher teaches falsely, but what would he be teaching that is false? In addition to behavior, (a truculent liar) what content does a false teacher teach?

MacArthur said that there are some absolutely non-negotiable truths that you are false if you deny the Trinity. If you deny the deity of Christ. If you deny His sinless life, substitutionary death, salvation by grace through faith, the gospel. That’s the drive-train of truth. Saving truth. Those are not negotiable.

So by those standards, and I admit there are others, a false teacher teaches things that are false (though not stated, would be additions to scripture in the form of personal thoughts, revelations, or visions) is uncorrectable, and twists or in some way denies the hard and fast basic truths of Christianity.

The Bible says not to add to His word, but it also says not to delete anything from His word. (Deuteronomy 4:2, Deuteronomy 12:32, Revelation 22:18-19). If I can add my own thought to he conversation: any preacher who regularly and defiantly omits one of the basic truths from Christianity is also false. I think we can all think of the prime example here: Joel Osteen. He has been asked many times why he doesn’t preach sin or wrath, and he says that is not his calling. We can’t have the Good News of blessing and salvation if we do not know what the bad news of sin and our need for Jesus to escape God’s wrath.

One more thought: the Bible has only one skill standard for teaching: “able to teach” as stated in 1 Timothy 3:2. As Crossway defines able: “refers to the ability to communicate and apply the truth of Scripture with clarity, coherence, and fruitfulness”. The rest are behavioral/moral standards. Any false teacher might be able to teach the truths of scripture faithfully, appear to be correctable, but live in opposition to the standards the Bible commands. Jimmy Swaggart comes to mind here. And one does not have to be a rampant sinner seeking prostitutes to be living like hell, there are many Bible teachers whose greed and profligate living is well known, as well as many female teachers who usurp their husband’s and the church’s authority. Any of those are in opposition to God’s standards for life.

During the panel discussion, Sproul said Calvin said no theologian is ever more than 80 percent right. Sometimes when I bring up that so-and-so is false, I’ll receive this type of response. The person intimates that we must tolerate the false teachers, because after all, we all sin and no one is 100% right. I think this misses the point entirely. I agree we’re all sinners, and no one is perfect. As mentioned, Apollos was teaching partially. I don’t think that Peter, Paul John etc had no possibility of growth or understanding as they studied and matured in their walk. Even Jesus grew in stature and wisdom. (Luke 2:52).

The difference between one of the Apostles or Apollos or any true preacher today is that:

1) they want to teach truth, scrupulously,
2) they are correctable when error is pointed out,
3) their overall growth is in wisdom and stature as time goes on,
4) their heart’s desire is that Jesus is glorified and the saints are growing.

A false teacher

1) is greedy
2) opposes God
3) is uncorrectable
4) makes sons of hell twice as bad as they are

False teachers ahead: beware!

dog-wearing-funny-mask-with-glasses
Photo by Braydon Anderson. Unsplash, free to use.

False teachers will always be with us until eternity begins and Jesus purges their blot from the new heavens and new earth. Praise Him for holiness and purity.

An exhortation about false teaching from Jeremiah

It says in 2 Timothy 3:13, evil men and seducers will wax worse and worse. The study note for that verse explains that “all the dangerous movements of the false teachers (cf. vv. 1-9) will become increasingly more successful until Christ comes. Cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:11).”

This is a sobering thought.

Very sobering.

False teachers are a scourge and a plague. They are worse than locusts who sweep across the field and leave only broken and inedible crumbs in their wake. False teachers destroy souls. False prophets bring Jesus into disrepute and they steal His glory. Lest we believe that those who follow these false teachers and prophets are helpless victims, they are not. Followers of these locusts love to have it so. They actually heap up the false teachers to themselves. (2 Timothy 4:3).

False teachers have been around since even before the world was formed and satan was spreading his evil merchandise in heaven to his companion hosts. (Ezekiel 28:16). Jeremiah wrote in around 600BC about the evil, unholy trio of false priests, false prophets, and followers of both:

An appalling and horrible thing
has happened in the land:
the prophets prophesy falsely,
and the priests rule at their direction;
my people love to have it so,
but what will you do when the end comes?
(Jeremiah 5:30-31)

The word in Hebrew for appalling is “a horror.” False teaching, false teachers, false prophets, and false converts who love them are a horror, from a word meaning ruin, desolation.

False teachers is a serious issue, people. We tend to want to lessen their impact by rationalizing. We want to decrease their evilness by calling them merely innocuous bones to spit out whilst we ingest otherwise good food. But is this how God sees them? No. He calls them and their followers a horror, a ruin, and a desolation.

False teachers and false prophets have been in existence since almost the beginning. False converts have also been with us, also. (Cain, anyone?). The 2 Timothy 3:13 verse reminds us that things will only get worse. The diffusion of evil will eventually blanket the world, and during its inexorable diffusion, its intensity will deepen.

The breach between light and darkness, so far from being healed, shall be widened [Henry Alford]

What this means for us is that we are at risk. We are more at risk than our parents or our grandparents, because as the verse says, things will get worse and worse. If we are at risk, then our children are more at risk. How are we at risk? Those who become false teachers want to deliberately ensnare you and me. They want to sell their merchandise because they are greedy. (2 Peter 2:3, 1 Timothy 6:5). If we for some reason are unstable or naive, we will be seduced. (2 Peter 2:14, Romans 16:18). The New Testament is rife with constant warnings. We can’t be content, ignorant, or relaxed about this.

Because we are all sinners, we can fall prey to these false teachers at any time. The antidote is not to be naive, but be wise. For we are not unaware of satan and his schemes (2 Corinthians 2:11). We must not be unstable, but cling to the solid Rock. Do this by constant repentance, persisting in the good works we’re commanded to do, and by prayer and study of His word. Envelop yourself with the blanket of His word.

I speak of this issue frequently. That’s for several reasons-

1. No matter where you read in the Bible, there is always either an issue of or a warning about false teaching. If it is a big deal to God, it is a big deal to me.

2. I am a woman, and women are even more at risk for falling into false teaching and following false converts. (1 Peter 3:7, 2 Timothy 3:6, 2 Corinthians 11:3).

3. Because as satan floods the church with false converts who in turn pile up false teachers, it will be harder and harder to detect the genuine. We are an army of forgiven soldiers whose job it is to love Jesus with all our hearts, minds, souls, and strength, with no room for false teaching and no quarter for false prophets. Don’t give sway to it.

4. Because the purer we are individually and as a body, the more we can glorify Jesus. Our chief end in life is to do this. Don’t waver in being steadfast against false teaching and false teachers. They are not misguided, innocuous, harmless, or temporarily errant. They are evil. They are a horror. They are a ruin. This means being being willing to call Beth Moore an evil, abhorrent horror. To say that Sarah Young, Paula White, and others are full of deceit. Can you? Will you?

False teaching is a never-ending battle. We return to Jeremiah, writing in around 600BC, 2,500 years ago-

For wicked men are found among my people;
they lurk like fowlers lying in wait.
They set a trap;
they catch men.
Like a cage full of birds,
their houses are full of deceit;
therefore they have become great and rich;
(Jeremiah 5:26-27).

God asked in Jeremiah 5:31, ‘What will you do when the end comes?’ It is always the main question. Our lives are a vapor, this era is but a moment. To the Lord, it has been but two days since Jeremiah wrote, not over two thousand years. (2 Peter 3:8). The end will come, for us all. I pray I am still standing form on His truth. I pray you are too.

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Further Reading

The Cripplegate: Four characteristics of a false convert

Paul Washer’s site I’ll be Honest: A List of False Religious Hopes that Will Send Many to Hell

Mail Call #8: How much should “associations” factor into my assessment of whether a teacher is false or not?

Mail call! Another question from a reader.

A woman asked me recently whether she should read a certain book because the preface to the book was written by a false teacher, though the book itself was written by a solid teacher.

I’m glad that people are aware that associations can harm a reputation and can also be an indicator of future doctrinal problems in a leader or teacher. Associations do matter.

The pure and the polluted share nothing in common ultimately. And the people of God cannot form intimate relationships with those who don’t belong to God. All relationships like that are superficial. You cannot make a meaningful relationship with an enemy of the gospel. They live in a different world with a different and completely hostile and antagonistic leader. Separating from Unbelievers part 1

I posted an essay not long ago covering the event when Moore went on Joyce Meyer’s television interview show. The two women praised each other. Moore-Meyer is a bad association, one of many that Moore has shown (also associating with Jen Hatmaker, Victoria Osteen, Joel Osteen, etc) in spiritual endeavors.

Billy Graham used to associate with Popes in spiritual endeavors and praised them as brothers, that was another bad association among many that Graham has shown. His son Franklin hosted a Crusade where he’d invited a Catholic Bishop to give the opening prayer.Ravi Zacharias also went on Joyce Meyer’s interview show and praised her as a good Bible teacher. Dr David Jeremiah frequently appears on TBN channel flogging prosperity Gospel with other heretical Prosperity ministers during their annual beg-a-thon, also a bad association. So yes, when we see these teachers are associating with, praising, and not rebuking these false converts, it is a concern and often very telling as to the state of their heart and mind. We should not partner with people who abuse the Bible, twist God’s word, and distort the Gospel. As Michelle Lesley wrote this week, when she assesses a Bible teacher, one of the factors she looks at is that

She cannot currently and unrepentantly be partnering with or frequently appearing with false teachers in violation of 2 Corinthians 6:14 ff.

First of all, look to see if the pairing is a spiritual endeavor. If Beth Moore and Joyce Meyer ran into each other at the beauty salon and posed for a photo for a customer there, that would not be an association we would want to use as an assessment criterion. They would in that hypothetical case just being mannerly. The key is, are they pairing up in a spiritual endeavor?

Here, Ravi Zacharias appears on Joyce Meyer’s TV show,
and says that God is doing great things like Meyer on television.

And second, when we look at a leader or teacher’s associations, don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater. We have to take a prayerful & measured look when we’re looking at secondary circumstances like who is hanging around our author or preacher or teacher. Please allow me to share two examples from my own life.

One example is the Drive By series by Todd Friel. Todd Friel is the speaker on Wretched Radio and Wretched TV. He has a number of series where guest speakers give a 5-10 minute lecture on the series topic, whether it’s the Holy Spirit, or Discernment, or Marriage, etc. On one of the series, I believe it was Drive By Theology, pastor RW Glenn was a featured speaker on a number of the lectures. It turned out later that Glenn had been an adulterer the whole time and was eventually fired as pastor. Afterward, if a person was looking at the list of speakers on Friel’s DVD and saw Glenn’s name listed, on a DVD about the theology of all things, they might say, “I’m never going to listen to Friel again, he has bad associations!” That would be hasty because it was not known to Friel at the time that Glenn was sinning. He has since not been invited to participate in any further DVDs.

I have a thick heavy book called the Art & Craft of Preaching. It contains essays and interviews about how famous or well-known pastors prepare their material. I bought it ten years ago. Since then, several of those pastors have apostasized. Men like Rick Warren, Bill Hybels are listed in the table of contents alongside good men of faith like Alistair Begg and John Stott. Would I refuse to have anything more to do with Alistair Begg because ten years ago he participated in a book with pastors who later became heretics? No. It may be very likely that Begg didn’t know the full list of the men what would be in the book, or it was not known that ten years later several of them would become heretics.

So be careful and not superficial. Look at
–at patterns
–over time
–repentance

We don’t make a superficial decision based on one instance, that would not be fair. YOU wouldn’t want someone to make a decision about you based on one error or one circumstance where we don’t have all the facts. In the second case, you look over time. Is the person constantly having bad associations? Do ALL this teacher’s books have a heretical person introducing it? Is she continually saying things that are not in the word or is always twisting the word? Is she sliding down a slope? Or was her partnering with a false teacher only one instance?

John MacArthur on unequally yoked:

The issue here is linking up with an unbeliever, side by side, under the same yoke, pulling the same furrow, in the same direction, with the same goals and objectives. Now, that might mean a partnership in a common business — if it is likely that the nature of your partnership will lead to compromising situations down the road when your worldviews collide.

Beyond all that, however, the primary application of 2 Corinthians 6 is with regard to spiritual enterprise. The primary warning is to never link up with an unbeliever in spiritual pursuits.

What does it mean to teach by allegorizing the scriptures?

Twisted scriptures

In 2 Peter 3:16, Peter wrote,

as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.

First, please note that he said that those who twist the scriptures do so to their own destruction. So often when I write about false teachers, false doctrine, and actually name the false teachers of doctrine, the ignorant and unstable become upset with it. They fire angry emails and comments asking what have I done lately for the Lord. They charge me with failing to pray for these misguided souls. They claim the false teachers are just making a temporary mistake and all will come out right in the end if we but have patience and love.

Not so.

Scripture twisters to be destroyed

They twist the scriptures to their own destruction. Here is MacArthur commentary on that part of the verse:

By distorting the scriptures, the false teachers were simultaneously securing their own destruction, (cf. 2:2, 3-12, 3:7; Jude 10, 13; Rev 22:18-19) as well as the spiritual demise of their followers. That’s why Peter warns his beloved readers beforehand,  so that they might be on their guard against the error of such unprincipled men (Phil 3:2; 1 Tim 4:1-7, 6:20-21; 2 Tim 2:15-19; Titus 1:16, 3:10).

Distorting the scriptures is a serious business. The many warnings not to do so should be taken seriously, not the least reason is that there are so many ways to distort the scriptures. This essay discusses two of them, spiritualization and allegorization, which are very similar.

Allegorization: A Twisted Practice

Here is John MacArthur defining spiritualization/allegorization:

What do you mean spiritualize or allegorize? Well, you use Scripture like some kind of story and make it mean whatever you want.

Here is Rev. Matt Slick defining allegorization:

To allegorize means to use a symbol as representing a more complex idea.

An example of this erroneous method of interpreting the Bible is recounted by John MacArthur, when he did just that in his very first sermon:

John MacArthur on “Don’t Spiritualize

Third, don’t spiritualize the straightforward meaning of a Bible verse. The first sermon I ever preached was a horrible sermon. My text was “An angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone” (Matthew 28:2). My sermon was “Rolling Away Stones in Your Life.” I talked about the stone of doubt, the stone of fear, and the stone of anger. That is not what that verse is talking about; it’s talking about a real stone. I made it into a terrific allegory at the expense of its plain meaning.

On another occasion I heard a sermon on “they cast four anchors…and wished for the day” (Acts 27:29 KJV); the anchor of hope, the anchor of faith, and so on. Those Acts 27 anchors were not anchors of anything but metal. … Don’t spiritualize the Bible; study it to gain the right meaning.

It’s not just men who allegorize. This wrong method of interpretation appeals to many false women teachers, too. It seems like a good method for the women who are emotionally driven and spiritually lazy. Like Beth Moore.

Exegetical Errors – If Mrs. Moore is exercising the position of a Bible teacher, then she should be able to properly exegete Scripture. Unfortunately, she is guilty of frequent allegorization where she misapplies Scripture. To allegorize means to use a symbol as representing a more complex idea. The problem is that with allegorizing, Scripture can be made to say almost anything. Let’s take a look at a few of the many examples of Beth Moore’s improper biblical interpretive practices.

Quote: Speaking of the demoniac of Matt. 8:28-34, she says, “before we proceed to the next point, consider a fact revealed in verse 27. The demonic didn’t live in a house. He resided in the tombs. I wonder how many people today are living “in the tombs”? I know a woman who is still so oppressed by despair that decades after the loss of a loved one, she still lives “in the tombs.” (Jesus, the One and Only, by Beth Moore, B & H Publishing Group, Nashville, Tenn., 2002, p. 143-144).

Response: The biblical text is about Jesus’ authority over the demonic realm, not about people living “in the tombs.” The two demoniac’s that were living in these dark places were exceedingly violent (v. 28). They said to Jesus, “What do we have to do with you, Son of God?  Have you come here to torment us before the time?” Jesus then commanded the demons in these two men to leave, and they went and entered into swine (vv. 31-32). The point of the text has nothing to do with people who are held in bondage by emotional traumas. Beth’s allegorizing the text to make it fit her need is a wrong use of the text.

As both John MacArthur and Matt Slick stated, the danger of spiritualizing and allegorizing is that the person who is spiritualizing can just pick out of the air any symbol they want to make mean something and use it to interpret the Bible that way. Once you unhitch from the text you can then insert any symbol for any meaning or interpretation you like. “In the tombs” are not actual tombs, but symbolizes woman in despair. The “anchors” are not anchors but stand for faith, hope, etc. The “stone” was not a stone but symbolized fear. If I decided to allegorize those same texts I could decide that tombs means marginalized people in social injustice, anchors means lack of sanctification progress, and stone means hindrance to prosperity. Voila.

The only acceptable allegorizations

The Bible does have some allegories within it that can be explained as they are. There’s –

  • Nathan’s parable of the rich man who killed a poor man’s beloved pet lamb, 2 Samuel 12:1-4
  • Jesus’ parables have a wide range of degrees of allegorical symbols, many of them explained in the text just after the recording of the parable itself.
  • In Galatians 4:21-31 Paul uses the story of the children of Sarah (Isaac) and Hagar (Ishmael) and the images of Jerusalem above and Mount Sinai as a double allegory, which Paul then goes on to explicitly explain. “Now this may be interpreted allegorically: these women are two covenants…(v. 24)

No need to make up our own symbols when the few times allegories are used in the Bible they are already explained for us. Nor does the presence of allegories in the Bible give us license to continue our own allegorizations. Scripture interprets scripture.

Good interpretive practices

This article from 9Marks discusses the 9 marks of a prosperity gospel church by comparing good church practices with prosperity church practices. One could just as easily substitute any false practice by comparing to these 9 good marks. Topping the list is that a good church will practice expositional preaching on a regular basis.

Expositional preaching is

…at its simplest is preaching that is focused on explaining the meaning of Scripture in its historical and grammatical context. Expositional preaching involves explaining what the Bible says to a contemporary audience that is likely unfamiliar with the cultural and historical settings that the passage was written in.

The word exposition simply means “a setting forth or explanation.” So expositional preaching is the explanation of Scripture that is based upon diligent study and careful exegesis of a passage. It is the primary call of the pastor or preacher as we see in 2 Timothy 4:2: “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.”

No need for application

Where many preachers get into trouble is that they believe their sermon needs some sort of ‘application’ at the end. It could be that they have interpreted rightly, have explained the text in a solid expositional sermon, but when they get to the end they feel that it needs explicit teaching on how to apply the text to their congregants’ lives.

Here is an answer to the oft-asked question “Why Doesn’t John MacArthur Add much Application to His Sermons?” He is asked this because he is one of America’s best known-preachers for teaching exposionally, having taught verse-by-verse through the entire New Testament over the course of 42 years. Yet there is very little application in any of his sermons. Here’s why:

Now let me tell you what happens when you preach effectively. You do explanation. In other words, you explain the meaning of Scripture, okay? The explanation carries with it implication. In other words, there are implications built into this truth that impact us. You add to that exhortation. And I’ve said things tonight to exhort you to follow what is implied by the text. Now when you deal with the text and the armor of God, like tonight, all I can do is explain it. That’s all it does. There aren’t any applications in that text. It doesn’t say, “And here’s how to do this if you’re 32 years old, and you live in North Hollywood.” “Here’s how to do this the next time you go to a Mall.” “Here’s how to do this when you go in your car and you’re driving in a traffic jam.” It doesn’t tell you that. And if I made my message mostly a whole lot of those little illustrations, I would be missing 90 percent of you who don’t live in that experience.

It’s not for me to do that. Application belongs to the Spirit of God. All I’m interested in is explanation and its implications. And the power comes in the implication and the Spirit of God takes the implications of what I’ve said tonight, all these things I’ve said, I don’t need to say all kinds of little scenarios to you and paint all kinds of little individual circumstances. All I need you to know is this is what the Word of God says and the implications are powerfully brought to bear with authority on your life and I exhort you to respond to those implications, it is the Spirit’s work to drive those implications into direct and personal application.

Ladies, I Warn About Beth Moore Again

I’d like to refer you again to the picture at the top. I’ve listened to a lot of Beth Moore as well having listened to as other ladies who claim to be good Bible teachers. Beth Moore is not a good Bible teacher. If you have gone through her “Bible studies” please think about how many of the examples Moore has used like the ones in the picture at the top. The example from Matt Slick is only one of the several of Moore’s faulty interpretations he reported. Chris Rosebrough has also explained why Moore’s allegorizations are faulty. So has Justin Peters. Mike Abendroth. And so on.

I consider Moore “patient zero” in the infection into conservative, evangelical circles of her faulty way of teaching through made-up allegory. She has done it that way for so long that generations coming up are now also teaching it that way.

I warn you to avoid any teacher who consistently uses allegorization as their main way of interpreting scripture. Remember, they twist to their own – and their followers’ destruction.

To serve man

I used to watch the old anthology series from the 1950s and 60s called The Twilight Zone. Rod Serling used to intone a message at the beginning, and then there was doo-doo-doo-doo music, and the black and white episode would begin.

My favorite episodes were “Time Enough At Last“, “The Shelter” and “To Serve Man

About To Serve Man, I am going to SPOIL it for you. The episode is 55 years old but still has cultural (and moral) repercussions. Don’t read this if you don’t want to hear about the ending.

Wikipedia says,

“To Serve Man” is episode 89 of the anthology series originally airing on March 2, 1962 on CBS. The story is based on the 1950 short story “To Serve Man”, written by Damon Knight. The title is a play on the verb serve, which has a dual meaning of “to assist” and “to provide as a meal”. The episode is one of the few instances in the series wherein an actor breaks the fourth wall and addresses the viewing audience at the episode’s end.

Here is Wikipedia’s full synopsis of the episode:

The Kanamits, a race of 9-foot-tall aliens, land on Earth. One of them addresses the United Nations via telepathy, announcing that his race’s motive in coming to Earth is to aid humanity by sharing their advanced technology. After answering questions, the Kanamit departs and leaves a book in the Kanamit language without comment, which leads Michael Chambers, a US government cryptographer, to be pressed into service.

Initially wary of an alien race who came “quite uninvited”, international leaders begin to be persuaded of the Kanamits’ benevolence when their advanced technology puts an end to hunger, energy shortages, and nuclear proliferation. Trust in the Kanamits seems to be justified when Patty, a member of the cryptography staff led by Chambers, decodes the title of the Kanamit book: To Serve Man. The Kanamits submit to interrogation and polygraph, at the request of the UN delegates. When declaring their benevolent intentions, the polygraph indicates that the Kanamit is speaking the truth.

Soon, humans are volunteering for trips to the Kanamits’ home planet, which they describe as a paradise. Kanamits now have embassies in every major city on Earth. With the Cold War ended, the code-breaking staff has no real work to do, but Patty is still trying to work out the meaning of the text of To Serve Man.

The day arrives for Chambers’s excursion to the Kanamits’ planet. Just as he mounts the spaceship’s boarding stairs, Patty runs toward him in great agitation. While being held back by a Kanamit guard, Patty cries: “Mr. Chambers, don’t get on that ship! The rest of the book To Serve Man, it’s… it’s a cookbook!” Chambers tries to run back down the stairs, but a Kanamit blocks him, the stairs retract, and the ship lifts off.

Michael Chambers’s ship quarters are a cot in a spartan interior. A voice offers him a choice of dish at all the regular meal times. Each time he refuses food with increasing irritation. At last he says to the audience: “How about you? You still on Earth, or on the ship with me? Really doesn’t make very much difference, because sooner or later, all of us will be on the menu… all of us.” The episode closes as he gives in and breaks his hunger strike.

The episode was rated the best twist ending ever. It certainly has stuck in my memory.

The title To Serve Man is a play on the verb serve, which has a dual meaning of “to assist” and “to provide as a meal”.

We see what we want to see, based on our expectations, and previous experience. We usually connect the new to the known.

When satan comes along, he does not announce himself as a tiny man with horns in a red jumpsuit holding a pitchfork. He deceives. He deludes the unwary into thinking he is there to serve you. But satan actually is there to serve you.

Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you. (Matthew 7:6).

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8)

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. (Matthew 7:15).

Satan wants to serve you … up on a dinner plate.

But we are not unaware of satan’s schemes. (2 Corinthians 2:11)

For examples, false teachers begin softly, humbly. They seem kind and willing to serve the local or the global body. But false teachers are actually waiting for the moment to pounce. They patiently build up a loyal following, they insulate themselves, and they wait. They are wolves. Wolves are patient, the pack will track a caribou for days. See how wolves hunt:

A wolf pack may trail a herd of elk, caribou or other large prey for days before making its move. During this time, they are already hunting, assessing the herd, looking for an animal that displays any sign of weakness, and this is just the beginning. Wolves must also factor in other conditions that will affect the hunt; weather and terrain can tip the scales in favor of predator or prey. For example, a wide-open plain favors the ungulates, who, if full-grown and healthy, can outrun the fastest wolf. On the other hand, crusty snow or ice favors the wolves whose wide round paws have evolved to perform like snowshoes and carry them effortlessly over the surface. An experienced wolf is well aware that hoofed animals break through the crust and can become bogged down in deep snow.

Do not entertain false teachers. Do not coddle them, forgive them, allow them, make excuses for them…Titus 1:16 says,

They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.

Of that verse, John MacArthur preached:

The next time you see a false teacher, you might say, “You rebellious, empty-talking, deceitful, lying, evil beast, slow-bellied glutton.” And you would certainly be within the framework of Scripture. You might have to cope a little bit with 2 Timothy 2, verse 25, which says, “We are to rebuke them with gentleness.” So say it kindly.

Remember, false teachers and false Christians don’t want to serve you, even if their mouths profess it. They want to serve you … up to the wolves…lions…pigs. Satan’s book…it’s a cookbook.