Heretical or not?

If you read “discernment blogs” you will soon discover that there are very few, if any, teachers of the word of God that meet all the standards that have been set up.  Sooner or later, someone you have watched on TV or have read their book will appear on the latest blog watch list as persons to avoid as heretical.  The only one untouched by criticism so far as I know is John MacArthur.

Some, I think, rightly deserve some criticism – such as Rick Warren for inviting three non-Christian doctors to teach his people about weight loss and his seeker-driven mentality.  T.D. Jakes is a known modalist and has never repented publicly of that heresy.  Mark Driscoll cusses and speaks in an incredibly vulgar manner.  These men have drawn criticism for what they themselves have done.

Others have been skewered on the fire for associating with those who are suspect.  James MacDonald comes to mind for hosting the Elephant Room 2 and refusing to challenge T.D. Jakes on his modalist beliefs.  John Piper drew criticism for hosting a Desiring God conference at Rick Warren’s church.

Let me offer my opinion on three popular ministers and why I don’t think they belong on any “heresy watch list.”

Beth Moore

 

beth mooreBeth Moore is a favorite target of Ken Silva and others for having the audacity to include women from different denominations in her ministry.  Their argument against it has to do with The Roman Catholic Church being heretical and thus every person who is Catholic must be heretical too. I would agree that Catholic doctrine needed Reformation (and Martin Luther addressed that) but I don’t see why women from Catholic churches can’t come to a ladies’ bible study.

The second criticism comes from statements that Beth Moore makes such as “I heard God say…” or “I felt God lead me to…”  This hardly rises to the level of heresy.  As far as I know, cessationism vs. continuationism is not a fundamental doctrine that would cause one to be shunned from orthodox Christianity.

A third criticism arises from Beth’s participation in the “Be Still” conference where contemplative prayer and lectio divina were endorsed.  I too have questions about this and certainly don’t endorse this teaching per se but don’t consider it a deal breaker.  After all, John Piper stood right beside her at Passion 2012 and gave his blessing to what she did.

In my experience of watching Living Proof Live meetings, and having done the Daniel, Jesus the One and Only, Inheritance, Revelation and James bible studies – I like Beth Moore and her style of teaching. Now that she has her daughter Melissa doing research and writing, the overall quality of the materials has gone way up.  Before you crucify Beth Moore for her lack of hermeneutics in earlier works, may I remind you that the SBC has recently decided that women don’t belong in hermeneutic classes.  I’m certainly glad I went to seminary before women were barred from attending!

Perry Stone

 

Perry StoneI have watched Perry Stone and attended his meetings for a dozen years or more.  In all that time I have never heard or read anything from him that even remotely rises to the level of heresy.  One complaint I have heard frequently is his use of extra biblical sources in presenting a theory.  The people complaining though don’t mention that Perry always states what source he is using and that it is not to be considered as authoritative as the bible.  When he talks about giants in Gen 6:4 he clearly says that he has a theory about that instead of issuing dogmatic assertions.

The other complaint I have heard is his association with TBN and in particular Rod Parsley.  In the case of TBN, I’m grateful they have at least one person I like to watch who hosts the program on a semi regular basis.  As far as Rod Parsley, I’ve known him for over twenty years.  I can see where Perry and Rod would hook up – both are revivalists.  I don’t think though that Perry endorses every word of faith teaching that Rod would but that doesn’t preclude them from being friends nor should it.

Jonathan Cahn

 

CahnI almost hesitate to address this one as the firestorm of controversy is still brewing.  Let me say that I have read The Harbinger and have read most of the criticisms of it from various discernment ministries. Having spent over thirty years with charismatics and having attending seminary, I can see where both sides are coming from.

I think Jonathan has ably addressed the criticisms of his work and others have as well so that I don’t need to elaborate here.  What I will offer are some of my observations.

First, not everyone is a theologian.  You cannot judge books marketed for general audiences in the same way you judge theology textbooks.  The message of The Harbinger is that America needs to repent and turn to God.  How Cahn delivers that message could have been polished up a bit but it is hardly heretical to suggest repentance.  Rather than denouncing the whole book, a word of encouragement and some editing tips would have been more appropriate.

Secondly, just because he appeared on television shows to promote his book doesn’t mean he agrees with everything that television host has ever said.  Just because John MacArthur appeared on Larry King Live doesn’t mean he is Jewish.  He was promoting a book and took the advice of his press agent on what programs to appear on.  Cahn is not a media savvy celebrity and I hope he doesn’t become one either.  A little bit of grace would be nice for someone who is new to all this attention.

Summary

 

Not everyone is a heretic.  Most of the people in the limelight who are criticized are simply not as educated in academic theology as some of us would like.  That doesn’t make them a heretic and it doesn’t mean you can’t learn from them either.

Hold people accountable for what they do and say not for appearing on the same show or stage with someone.  This whole guilt by association to the 2nd and 3rd degree thing is getting old.  Every person should stand or fall on what they themselves have said or done.. Amen?

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6 comments on “Heretical or not?

  1. I think the online world has resulted in an obsession to categorize Bible teachers as this or that so we can decide if we can ‘follow’ them or not. It is an exhausting endeavor. I finally decided that all I can really do (with any integrity) is judge a particular teaching. If, over time, that teacher keeps teaching questionable things, I no longer listen, but I have no idea what their ENTIRE theology looks like.

    Honestly I don’t listen to any big name folk. I MIGHT hear someone on the radio and go online to hear the whole teaching, but that’s probably the end of my ‘follow.’

    I know it sounds simplistic to say “Just read your Bible,” but it really is the only way to know you are learning from the right people. As the amount of information continues to grow beyond what any human mind can faithfully remember, sort, and judge, it is becoming more and more important to just go back to simply reading and studying our Bibles.

  2. Wait a minute. There is much more wrong with Beth Moore. I have heard her completely twist scripture out of its simplest context to say things it does not. It is not only a matter of proper hermeneutics, but a matter of need – “this is that I need it to say”. I attribute this to her need to reach women for “healing” their hurts, much like what we have seen Joyce Meyer and Paula White do in the last decade. It is quite popular, but not biblically correct. In addition, she thinks God speaks to her to give words of advice or direction to her listeners. “On the way over here God told me…” Forget that. What does God speak thru His word? That is the basis of any bible teacher!

    For her to be a part of a very dangerous practice of contemplative prayer and lectio divina, which she did in Be Still is beyond excuse. She is one of the reasons these practices have permeated the church. I had my own personal experience when I had to meet/confront the pastor and the women’s ministry leader just before they were getting ready to show this garbage to the women of the church. And do you know that the pastor actually admitted that he hadn’t even watched the dvd? He simply trusted that Beth Moore was a good bible teacher, after all the women love her, and he trusted the woman he put over the women’s ministry to make the right decision. Well, as it turned out I found that woman’s minister was a practicing emergent! And to this day I have reason to think so is/was the pastor.

    And why would we include Catholics in Christian meetings? Our doctrine is not the same – we have nothing in common with them. Either a person is a Christian or they are not. There is no such thing as a Catholic Christian. I don’t know that I would bar a Catholic from a bible study, but if I did I would pay very close attention to what went on in those meetings. Are they there to understand the one true God, the one way of salvation or are they there to cause a division? There is a bit to consider and I would hold this thinking with anyone who is not saved. Also, the bible is clear in that the word of God is for those with understanding, those who are saved.

    As far as Piper, he also acknowledges and endorses Rick Warren and we know how far off the mark Warren has become.

    Ugh. There is absolutely NO discernment going on these days. The church is swallowing every thing thrown at them. There is not much difference between Christians and the world these days and all we have to do is sit in the pew and watch what takes place. If not there, then become involved to see what goes on in the back rooms. And I for one have found it is a very good idea to watch who pals around with whom, because there is a reason they stand together. And if we keep watching we see them both fall off into apostasy. And no, that is not me swinging too wide, it is simply the outcome I have witnessed over the last 4 years. I am completely amazed and greatly saddened. But I have learned to trust in the Lord, read and study the bible and stay away from mainstream and television “Christianity”. It is THE wolf in sheep’s clothing.

    • As far as the Catholics are concerned – all teaching is done through the book and the videos at a Beth Moore bible study. If you attend – you are there to learn. So Catholic women coming to a bible study would only benefit them.

      As far as the contemplative prayer and lectio divina – I haven’t seen the online world crucify John Piper yet. He stood right beside her on the stage at Passion 2012 along with Francis Chan. If you are going to crucify Beth Moore – then you also must crucify John Piper, Francis Chan, James MacDonald, Mark Driscoll and all the rest because they have either endorsed her or stood beside her on stage.

      I seem to recall a certain discernment blogger who lost her job over suggesting that John Piper might not be infallible. When the discernment world is ready to tackle that one – I’ll hear what they say about Beth. Fair is fair.

      • It’s hardly crucifixion, just pointing out what I have learned in exposing false teaching/ers as the bible instructs. Your reasoning in this concerns me. Whatever one does or does not do has no reflection on another. False teaching is to be exposed.

  3. Is it heretical to invite Catholic women to a Christian bible study? I would say no. They are not there to teach but to learn. Second point – can Christians “hear from God” most people would say yes with the qualification that it be 100% in line with the Scriptures. No one is advocating putting personal words above the bible like the NAR crowd does and to my knowledge, after three years of SBC involvement, I have not heard anyone including Beth Moore ever put her own words above that of Scripture. So is she a heretic in this regard? Again, no.

    The only point of concern I have with Beth is her involvement in contemplative prayer. I have been to 5 studies so far (Daniel, Jesus, Revelation, Inheritance, and James) plus 2 simulcasts and have never heard her even mention contemplative prayer or use any New Age “buzzwords”. So what we know is that ten years ago she did a video called “Be Still” and this year did a silent prayer thing at Passion 2012. Is that enough to dismiss her as a heretic? I remain concerned but not ready to pass judgment yet.

    My impression though, is that in the discernment community, we are too willing to criticize those who may not know better while letting someone of Dr Piper’s caliber completely off the hook for things he “does” know better than to do. Beth Moore hasn’t been to seminary but her daughter Melissa has and has come on board recently as a research assistant to her mom. I’ve seen the quality of the materials go way up. I’m willing to give them some grace.

  4. Javanut. To be honest with you. The discernment community main role is not to expose false teachers. The discernment community is to teach the word of God. The discernment community warns people of false teachers not because they want to but out of love for the word of God. They do not want people to be deceived and they want to maintain the purity of the word of God. There is no excuse to let John Piper out of the hook. The discernment community does that because John Piper is supposed to be one of them. It is difficult to expose someone as a heretic when that person is part of your team. Exposing John Piper is like exposing another brother. It is a pretty difficult thing to do. That is why, someone who is not part of that community, would be able to see John Piper as what he is which is a heretic. Yes. John Piper is a heretic and Mark Driscoll and the rest who acknowledges John Piper even though John Piper hangs out with Rick Warren belongs in the same cloth.

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