As a boy, I grew up the son of a fireman. I spent time hanging out with my father at the fire station, climbing on the fire truck, and hearing stories about my dad’s line of work. I was made to respect the power of fire from an early age. I had heard the stories about homes that had been completely destroyed, belongings that had been forever lost, and lives that had been taken by destructive blazes. Fire is one of those destructive forces that utterly destroys everything in its path.
When we read James, we hear the force of Old Testament proverbial language as he describes the destructive power of the tongue. According to James, the tongue is “a fire, a world of unrighteousness” (James 3:6). He goes on to say that the tongue is “setting on fire the entire course of life” and is itself “set on fire by hell” (James 3:6). Just as James points out, a little fire can set a great forest ablaze—so it is with the power of the tongue. We must respect the power of the tongue and fear the evil that can come if it’s not kept in check. Below are two dangers of an uncontrolled tongue.
The Tongue’s Deceptive Power
Think back to the Garden of Eden—paradise on earth. Adam and Eve were living the dream, until Satan entered the scene. Satan didn’t sing a song to Eve or draw her a picture with chalk art. He spoke directly to her with the slithering and deceptive tongue of a serpent. It was with his deceptive words that he led both Adam and Eve astray—and the result was that death entered the world (Rom. 5:12). According to Proverbs 26:28, “A lying tongue hates its victims, and a flattering mouth works ruin.”
How many times have you heard of people being harmed because of a lying tongue? It happens in the world of business, and then the world shattering end of Proverbs 21:6 comes to pass. The harmful effects of a lying tongue causes much trouble—and that’s why you hear the Psalmist pleading with the LORD to deliver him “from lying lips, from a deceitful tongue” (Ps. 120:2). God hates a lying tongue, and we must guard ourselves from becoming the victim or the deceiver—both deliver frightening consequences (Prov. 6:17).
The Tongue’s Divisive Power
Not only did Satan, with deceptive words, separate mankind from God—but time and again throughout history people have been divided because of the power of the tongue. According to the wise words of Solomon, “death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Prov. 18:21). Consider how many marriages have fallen apart because of the divisive words. Those are words that were used like a sword in disagreements that escalated to separation or deceptive words from a harlot who brought a marriage to an end. In Proverbs 5:3-6 we find this warning:
For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil, but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps follow the path to Sheol; she does not ponder the path of life; her ways wander, and she does not know it.
The power of the tongue, when used inappropriately, can bring much ruin to this world. It can destroy marriages, create division between parent-child relationships, create church splits, and at every juncture Satan laughs. Think on these warnings the next time you’re tempted to slander someone in a conversation. The next time you’re tempted to talk negatively about a pastor—consider the effect it could have. John MacArthur rightly stated, “The effects of slander are always long-lived. Once lies about you have been circulated, it is extremely difficult to clear your name. It’s a lot like trying to recover dandelion seeds after they have been thrown to the wind.” 
Some Practical Considerations
The next time you feel an eagerness to speak back to someone with sharp words (spoken word or written word), take a short time to consider the outcome. You may need to follow the 24-hour rule before responding—to be sure your intentions and words are carefully chosen and biblically accurate.
If you are friends with someone who finds it a hobby to gossip about others, you may need to lovingly confront this person with the danger of the tongue. Is this person a member of your church? Is this person seeking to harm people in your life or your church? Are you enabling this person to sin by receiving gossip and slander?
Remember the Lord knows every word you’ve spoken and every word that you have yet to speak, and we will all give an account of how we have used our tongue (Psalm 139:4 and Matthew 12:36).
Remember the one who keeps his tongue in check is one who stays out of trouble (Proverbs 21:22).
Whatever we do—whether in word or deed—let it all be for the glory of God. Be careful in how you use your words, whether in spoken word or written word—on social media or in conversations over coffee—the power of words to deceive people’s minds and destroy relationships is clearly laid out for us in the Scriptures. Just a cursory evaluation of the word “tongue” or “lying tongue” in the concordance of the Bible will reveal much about the destructive nature of the tongue.
Just like a forest is set on fire by a small spark—so can a church be divided by a simple conversation. Be wise in how you speak and in how you receive words online, privately, through books, blogs, and sermons.
James 3:5–6 — So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!  And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. (ESV)
John MacArthur, The Book on Leadership, (Hampton, VA: Nelson Books, 2004), 128.
Shai Linne has received quite a bit of critique regarding his song, “Fal$e Teacher$” since it was released. The critique for the song is often based on his decision to name names in the song. One such name spotlighted in his song is Paula White of Paula White Ministries. A recent critique came in form of an open letter to Shai Linne from a man named, Brad, the son of Paula White. The letter said the following:
Dear Shai Linne,
My attention was recently brought to your new single “Fal$e Teacher$” in which you say, “Paula White is a false teacher”.
This rhetoric is not new to me; I have heard it since I was a child. It is commonplace in our lives to be called “heretics”, “false teachers”, and “wolves”. Although “wolf” is vicious, it is still better than the oft heard cries of “whore”, “daughter of Babylon”, and “servants of Satan” that so often come from the mouths of our ‘Christian’ brothers and sisters.
My interest in this is because I am Paula White’s son. I also manage her ministry Paula White Ministries. One would think that hearing these accusations all my life would make me numb to their stings… but that is not the case. After all, it is my mother. This is the woman who birthed me, nurtured me, raised me to love Jesus, prayed for me when I didn’t, and patiently led me when I finally embraced the truth of His loving sacrifice. So when I hear a fellow Christian leader, whom has never had a conversation with me or my mother, call her a “Fal$e Teacher” I wonder what “Fal$e Teaching$” I myself have been inculcated with since I, more than anyone else on the face of the earth, have been most exposed to her teachings.
Is it the love of money? Working well over 40 hours a week for a yearly salary of $44,200 is not a bad living, and I am thankful that I have the ability to take care of my wife and myself. However, it is far from greed. My position in any other company would offer me well over 6 figures a year. Yet I am not taking up offers or knocking on doors. I forego money for the opportunity to work for a ministry that I believe in, a ministry that I witness daily changing lives across the globe. Including and especially the continent of Africa you gave a shout out too.
Is it false doctrine? I love Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who atoned for my sins. I worship the Trinitarian Godhead with all my heart, all my soul, all my strength, and all my mind. I believe it is my responsibility to teach the world the beautiful truth that Jesus Christ is God and that he has given us the opportunity to be in eternal fellowship with the Creator of the Universe. Undeserved Grace through Faith saves me.
Am I a heretic? My mother taught me these things. These are things she teaches whenever she speaks. Where is her heresy? Where are her “Fal$e Teaching$”?
You referenced 2 Peter 2 in your song, yet can you find one, even one instance in which my mother has “denied our sovereign Lord”? You cannot because it has never happened.
You also reference Matthew 7:16. To this I say, please come see our fruit. Come see the fruit my mother has borne. Visit the churches we assist in Haiti after the devastating earthquake they experienced. Come visit our church and our people and ask them to tell you the impact Paula White has had on their lives. Spend time with us as we visit the prisons and feed the hungry, just as Christ commissioned us. Sit with my mother and talk to her about your concerns and then see if they are validated.
Right now, your song “Fal$e Teacher$” is pure cannibalization without Biblical precedence. The Bible instructs us Christians how to handle faults in Matthew 18:15-17. Telling us to go to one another with our grievances. Instead, you have chosen to air your grievances to an audience that will already agree with you. Are you really doing right and protecting the sheep? Or are you creating more embitterment, more division and misunderstanding based on faulty premises and biases that you display openly?
We have never received a phone call or an email from you here at Paula White Ministries. You have never reached out to us and asked us to talk to you. Instead you simply called my mother a “Fal$e Teacher” with money signs in the name to emphasize a point you cannot justify. Instead you imply that she is a wolf, sent to devour the sheep. You imply that my mother, the very mother that prayed and wept unto God that He would extend His mercy and grace to her lost son, is damned as a heretic.
I pray you re-evaluate your stance. As of now, you are not operating according to the guidance of Matthew 7:16. You instead are falling into the trap that Titus 3:10-11 and Romans 16:17 warns us against.
Son of Paula White
The purpose and privilege of calling out names when referencing false teachers is often debated within Christian circles. Some insist that we should never do it while others insist that it is permissible but that we should proceed with great caution. As we reference the New Testament with regard to naming names of false teachers or ministries, it seems clear that New Testament preachers often named names of people to avoid. In fact, Paul named names of individuals and claimed that they were under the judgment of God (see 2 Timothy 4:14; 1 Timothy 1:18-20).
If false preachers are deceiving people through modern Internet and television outlets, how will they be exposed unless someone places them under the spotlight? While it is necessary at times to spotlight false teachers, we must proceed with discernment, love, and much prayer before naming names. Too many blogs are used to misrepresent, harm, and spew false statements about individuals and ministries in the name of discernment. As Tim Challies pointed out in his article, they often have “neither truth nor love.” For instance, if the preacher down the street from me holds to a different position on the 5-points of Calvinism, I have no right to name him as a false teacher and treat him like a heretic. If we use the “H” word or name someone as a false teacher, we must make sure that they are qualified to receive such a harsh title.
In the case of Shai Linne, he does a good job of responding to Paula White’s son in his letter:
This is Shai Linne. I’m writing to reply to the recent open letter you wrote in response to my song, “Fal$e Teacher$“. In that song, I referred to Paula White, among others, as a false teacher. I’m glad that you responded because it serves as a reminder to us all that this discussion involves real people with real families and real souls. Therefore, this is not something that should be taken lightly. It’s very serious. Before I directly address the substance of your open letter, I first want to commend you for a few things that encouraged me as I read it.
1. I was encouraged to read your confession of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. I loved hearing you affirm the blessed Trinity, the deity of Christ, His atoning sacrifice and salvation by grace through faith in Christ. I can’t even type that last sentence without it affecting me. Beautiful truths, indeed! Those truths are the foundation of my hope and joy. My soul leaps when I hear someone affirm these things as you did. Amen and amen.
2. I was encouraged to read of your obvious love for your mother. What son couldn’t relate to the passion behind what you wrote? If someone said anything that I perceived as negative or untrue about my mom, I would be the first to defend her. As a son who dearly loves his own mom, I could identify with you. Thank you for setting a good example for sons out there in stepping up to defend your mother.
3. I was encouraged to hear of your mother praying for your salvation, as well as teaching you the faith. Again, I can relate. I myself am the result of a praying mother. In fact, I once told my mom that I would never become a Christian. Even as I entered adulthood while continuing in rebellion against God, she never stopped praying for me. I am eternally grateful to her for crying out to God on my behalf when I was dead in my sins! So I was glad to hear you mention what you did about your mother. It’s a good model for other mothers to emulate.
The Real Issue
With that said, Brad, I don’t think your letter actually addresses the real issue. My song was not about you, your financial status, the genuineness of your faith, your mother’s prayers for you or the good things that Paula White Ministries does. The song was about the false doctrine that Paula White and others have publicly taught for many years and continue to teach.
Speaking of public teaching, you mentioned Matthew 18:15-17 to support the idea that I should have contacted you privately first. The irony, of course, is that you made this claim in a letter that is open for the public to read without contacting me privately first. Why did you choose to go about things in this way? Is it because I came out and said something about Paula White publicly and therefore you felt it deserved a public response? If that’s how you thought about it, you would be right. And that’s exactly why I addressed Paula White’s public teachings publicly. Here is a helpful article by noted New Testament scholar D.A. Carson on why Matthew 18 doesn’t apply in situations like this.
I want to address a few of the false teachings themselves. I went straight to the Paula White Ministries website and your Youtube page so I could hear what you have released as representative of Paula White’s teaching. There are many things I could speak on, but I’ll highlight three here.
1. False View of the Atonement
Paula White did a series called 8 Promises of the Atonement, that at the time of my writing this, is currently featured on your ministry website. In it, she states that physical healing and financial abundance in this life are provided for in the atonement of Christ. See the following video at the 25:00 mark where Paula White teaches “salvation includes healing.” She says it again at 28:30. But then she goes even further. If you keep listening, she talks about commanding her body not to be sick because of the blood of Christ. She ends this section by boldly declaring around 29:40:
“You are not going to die of sickness. When you go, it’s going to be because of your appointed time of old age and full of life”
For Paula White to say this to a large crowd of people is both false and irresponsible. She has no idea how those people are going to die. The truth is that Christians do get sick. Many godly believers die at young ages from sickness and it is not due to their lack of faith or because they haven’t embraced what’s theirs through the atonement. It’s because God is sovereign.
As He says in Deut. 32:39, “‘See now that I, even I, am He, and there is no god beside me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand.”
Psalm 139:14 says “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be”.
God sovereignly determines when we live and when we die. And if He appoints or allows a sickness to take our lives, it is because His infinite wisdom determined that it be so.
At the 2:00 mark of this video on your website, Paula White lists “financial abundance” as one of the promises of the atonement. This is false. It is also a slap in the face to the millions godly saints throughout the world today (and church history) who do not live in “financial abundance” like many of us live here in America. Jesus commends the church in Smyrna when He says:
“‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan” – Rev. 2:9
In His kindness and care, the risen Savior tells the church in Smyrna that He is aware of their poverty. What does He say after that? Does He tell them that they’re poor because they haven’t fully embraced the promise of His atonement? Does He say they’re poor because of a generational curse, as Paula White teaches at 13:20 in this video? No. He reminds them that though they are materially poor in this world, they are actually rich in God’s eyes because of their union with Jesus Christ! Like C.S. Lewis once famously said, “He who has God and everything else has no more than He who has God only.”
In 1 Timothy 6:7-8, which is in the same context of a passage I mentioned in the song, it says “For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” This is consistent with the New Testament emphasis on contentment, which is almost always mentioned in contrast to the love of money (Heb. 13:5). I’m encouraged to see that you try to put that into practice in your own life, Brad. But in doing so, you’re actually contradicting the teaching of Paula White, who says that the atonement promises your financial abundance. She obviously embraces this teaching herself. It is well documented that she, along with others mentioned in the song, was investigated by the U.S. Senate for financial impropriety due to their extravagant lifestyles. Much more could be said about this, but let me get to the next false teaching.
2. False “Sow a Seed” Teaching
This is something that is common among the people I named in the song, including Paula White. The premise is that if you give a certain amount of money, God will multiply it and you’ll get more money back in return. As I studied the prosperity teachers, I noticed that they often used this tactic when taking an offering. But when you study the Scriptures, you find that the “sow a seed” passages that are usually referred to are not talking about money at all, but the knowledge of the kingdom of God, which leads to salvation (See Matthew 13:1-23). Even in 2 Cor. 9:6-15, where seed is used in connection with financial gifts, the emphasis is on generously supplying the needs of other churches (vs. 12) and having what you need to serve others effectively (vs. 8). Living out the American Dream is not in view there.
In the following video, Paula White gives an appeal for money at The Potter’s House, the church pastored by T.D. Jakes. Around 2:10 she says, “God is speaking to many”. She then tells them what God is supposedly saying, “Give a $126 dollar offering. For some it may be $1,260, for some it may be $12,600”.
Now if I’m sitting in that audience that day and Paula White says, “God is saying give $126 or $1,260 or $12,600”, what am I supposed to do? If God is saying it and I don’t do it, I’m being disobedient. But here’s the thing. I don’t have to wonder whether or not God is saying that through Paula White because God has already spoken in His Word, the Bible. And in the Bible, God said:
“Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Cor. 9:7)
What Paula White does in that video absolutely qualifies as compulsion and it actually made me sad for her as I watched it. In this video at 25:08, in the middle of an appeal for money (Start it at 22:28 to get the full context), Paula White promises that “Your seed today is gonna turn everything around for your children, your grandchildren, your family, your spouse, everyone in relation to you. But you have to activate it. Call that toll-free number.” There is no way that that statement could be true for each of the thousands of Christians and non-Christians watching the show that day! What makes it worse is that she’s claiming to speak for God as she does it. And that brings me to the final and perhaps most serious falsehood.
3. Falsely Claiming to Speak For God
As I’m sure you know, Brad, God takes speaking in His name very seriously. To say that God said something that He didn’t say is to lie on God. God takes this sin so seriously that in the Old Testament, the person found guilty of this was to be executed. Check out Deuteronomy 18:20:
“But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.’”
The verses following that one give the litmus test for how we can determine whether or not someone is speaking for God:
“And if you say in your heart, ‘How may we know the word that the Lord has not spoken?’—when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously.” (Deut. 18:21-22)
There is nothing new under the sun. People have been falsely claiming to speak for God for thousands of years. Here’s what God said when it was happening in Jeremiah’s day.
“Behold, I am against those who prophesy lying dreams, declares the Lord, and who tell them and lead my people astray by their lies and their recklessness, when I did not send them or charge them. So they do not profit this people at all, declares the Lord.” – Jeremiah 23:32
As sincere as Paula White may be, she is extremely reckless in the many false things that she says God told her to tell her listeners. The videos I provided are enough. Just go back and listen to how often she says God is saying something that He could not possibly be saying to everyone listening to her at the time. “You are not going to die of sickness” is just one of many examples I could give. Sadly, her teaching is characterized by this falsehood. She and the other people I mentioned in the song do this all the time.
This is getting long, so I’ll bring it to a close. I know you love your mother, Brad. I love mine as well. I made Fal$e Teacher$ because there are many other sons out there whose mothers have had their lives greatly damaged by the false teachings of Paula White and the others mentioned in the song. I would love to hear that Paula White has repented and renounced the many false things that she has taught. I am praying to that end. But until she does that, I must soberly maintain that the Biblical category of “False Teacher” does, in fact, apply her. And those who follow her must be warned. And just so you know, I have your email address and will gladly take this conversation offline with you if you’d like.
grace and peace, shai
As we study the Bible, it is extremely important to read it and interpret it within the proper context. If a person is mishandling the Bible for the purpose of satisfying selfish gain, that particular individual will be judged by God. However, as responsible Christians, pastors, bloggers, theologians, and in the case of Shai Linne (singers; rappers) – we must point out the wolves who are coming in sheep’s clothing. As we proceed, we must be careful not to misrepresent a person’s position just because he or she differs on a specific issue. In fact, I like how Shai Linne talked about submitting to his pastors for advice before going forward. This is extremely helpful and shows a desire for Christ-exalting fruit rather than a mean-spirited attack.
For the glory of King Jesus,
Pastor Josh Buice
Shai Linne’s explanation of the song, “Fal$e Teacher$”:
There is a famine in our land today, and it isn’t a famine of food or water, but of spiritual discernment! In recent days, I have been perplexed as I have witnessed pastors and church leaders applaud things that shouldn’t be celebrated. If anyone in the church should be expected to possess a good measure of spiritual discernment, you would think that pastors and church leaders would be among the top on the list.
With the rise of Glenn Beck’s new political revivalism that boasts of a faith engine, many evangelical leaders are supporting and celebrating his movement without question. In fact, Beck is currently complaining of the fact that the political left is in an uproar about his faith message, but it’s interesting that he doesn’t mention anything about the concerned Christians. Why? Perhaps there really isn’t a great concern among professing Christians! Isn’t that the real tragedy? When an open professing Mormon rallies the troops of conservative Americans around his message of a conservative political revival in the name of a false god of Mormonism and thousands of professing Christians lock arms with him – that’s a tragedy!
This past week, I have heard stories of a dancing woman who anoints chairs with oil and is able to see visions of angels, religious perversions in the name of conservative politics, verses of Scripture ripped out of context, and bumper sticker theology accepted as truth without searching the Scripture. It seems obvious that we have a true famine in our church today centered on a lack of discernment.
The Apostle Paul addressed the church at Philippi by saying the following:
And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God (Philippians 1:9-11).
Notice the phrase, “And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment.” Paul desired for the church at Philippi to have spiritual discernment that would protect them from the false teachers and sinful traps of the world. As we see the tragic perversion of God’s Word on television broadcasts like TBN and other media outlets, it is extremely important that all Christians seek spiritual maturity that leads to spiritual discernment. While all Christians may not have the same level of discernment, the Spirit of God provides all Christians with a measure of discernment as it relates to understanding Holy Scripture.
As we strive toward holiness and spiritual maturity in our faith, may we likewise seek spiritual discernment that will allow us to see false doctrine, biblical perversion, and sinful traps like a red barn in a green field!