This past Sunday, August 16th, 2015 – a Scottish man claiming to be a prophet ascended the steps in Grace Community Church and openly rebuked John MacArthur for his doctrine of cessationism. One video from a member holding a smart phone was released quickly, and later a video from the ministry of Grace Community Church was likewise released. John MacArthur demonstrated a quick wit and pastoral sensitivity as he explained to the congregation what had just happened.
Tennessee courts reverse ban on ‘mother’ and ‘father’ – A recent controversy has been brewing over replacing the title “mother” and “father” with “parent 1” and “parent 2.” Tennessee has now reversed the ban, for the time being, and called for a review of the issue. We can all expect to see more news like this as the LGBT agenda continues to muddy the waters of human sexuality in America.
The Bible Project – You will want to bookmark this ministry and perhaps stay connected with them through social media (FB | YouTube). This non-profit ministry is focused on teaching the Bible through motion graphics. Below you will see their Exodus overview. Having just completed a lengthy series through Exodus, I was impressed. I noticed a few things that I would not agree with in a couple of their videos that I’ve viewed, but just as with reading books – you watch with discernment and evaluate through the biblical lens. These videos have great potential for teaching children.
There is a serious need in our culture to expose the false teachers and the false hope of the prosperity gospel. Russell Moore, in his article, “How the Prosperity Gospel Hurts Racial Reconciliation” writes, “You cannot reconcile people across carnal divisions with a gospel based on carnal promises.”
A few weeks ago, my daughter had to be hospitalized for a severe case of dehydration after coming down with the common stomach bug. It was a rare case of extreme dehydration that came on fairly quickly. As I stayed home on Saturday evening with the other three children, my wife took our youngest daughter Kalli to the hospital. We expected her to receive fluids and then be released. However, her case of dehydration was so bad, her blood work revealed some problems that had to be addressed quickly – by specialists. What I didn’t know was that she would spend three days in the hospital in recovery.
During this time at home, I had sent texts to my close friends, posted privately to our church family, and finally I posted an update and prayer request on Facebook to a broader audience. Later that evening, I received an e-mail through Facebook. Part of that e-mail reads:
I’m offended with you. Not long ago you publicly blasted a church for having a healing service. But now you are asking for prayer??? What is the prayer for? Obviously not healing because that would mean you do believe in miraculous healings.
To be fair, this person went on to explain that the purpose of the e-mail was not to slam me or ridicule me. The individual simply wanted an explanation. I would say, it’s a fair request since I had openly criticized the healing services in our community over the last year.
To be clear, I believe in miracles. God is big and sovereign and has the power to heal anyone, anytime, as He chooses. I do think it should be stated that the false claims of fake healers from Christian charlatans should be called out for what they are – aberrant and offensive frauds.
God’s Sovereignty in Miraculous Healing
God has consistently provided verifiable evidence that He has power over disease. He has put His power on display in the ministry and work of His Son – Jesus Christ. Not only did God prove to have power over disease, but He likewise demonstrated His power over death by the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
As the church is established by Jesus, He made a very specific promise to Peter and the disciples regarding His church. In Matthew 16:18, Jesus said, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” As Jesus established the church, the gates of hell would literally come against it. Although Jesus validated His ministry and His claim of deity through miracles, wonders, and signs, they still nailed Him to the cross to get rid of Him. They wouldn’t accept His gospel, but they couldn’t explain His power, so they killed Him.
That clearly didn’t work, because Jesus was resurrected from the dead on the third day. Out of all of Jesus’ miracles and signs, the resurrection on the third day was the authentication of Christianity that could never be explained away. Jesus was raised from the dead and appeared to hundreds of people over a 40 day period. As He prepared to ascend to the Father, He prepared His followers to receive the Holy Spirit in Jerusalem.
The skepticism and open rejection of the church by the religious establishment would have been overwhelming for a group of sketchy Jesus followers had it not been for the miracles, wonders, and signs that accompanied their ministry. The early disciples experienced great power from God in order to validate the authenticity of the church. From speaking in tongues (other languages) at Pentecost, to various other signs and wonders, the early church and the message of the gospel was being established by these signs. After the lame man was healed and could walk, the entire city of Jerusalem was in an uproar. The Sanhedrin held council after arresting Peter and John for the miracle. As they talked to one another privately and they could not escape the power of the miracle.
Acts 4:16 – What shall we do with these men? For that a notable sign has been performed through them is evident to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it.
As the church continued to grow, the mounting pressures continued to push back against the followers of Christ. God performed miracles through them to show the world that His church is genuine and the message of the gospel must be heard. The purpose of the miracles was not to make the disciples into superheroes. It was to validate the gospel and the church of Jesus Christ.
Miraculous Healing or Strange Fire?
Are today’s miracles genuine or counterfeit? Are the tongues in today’s Charismatic movement real or counterfeit? We should test the spirits to see if what is being claimed is of God – or strange fire (1 John 4:1). God does not take lightly false worship, and we recall what happened with Nadab and Abihu as they were consumed for offering up to God strange fire upon the alter before the Tabernacle (see Leviticus 10). They were consumed in a fire of God’s judgment.
Does God still perform miracles today? Yes, without a doubt He does. Does God still give miraculous gifts to His church as a normative manner of validating the truth claims of the gospel and the authenticity of the church? We must consider several important facts as we evaluate this question.
We know that the apostles were given as gifts to the church in the beginning to establish the early church and organize it for growth. The apostles are now dead and they are in the presence of God rather than the presence of God’s church. Therefore, we can say assuredly that the gift of the apostle was a temporary gift for a season in church history.
Speaking in tongues was a manifestation of the Holy Spirit and as the early Jesus followers spoke in tongues, the text of Acts 2 reveals that they were other known languages. The gibberish that is often called tongues by the modern Charismatic movement does not align itself with the power of the Holy Spirit and the tongues of Acts 2. Linguistically, the modern tongues movement does not line up with Scripture.
By the closing of the New Testament, the miraculous gifts are starting to fade away. As the apostles were dying, the miraculous gifts that were given by God to validate His church and His gospel message were likewise fading off of the scene with the apostles. By the time the close of the New Testament is complete, the miraculous gifts are not prevalent among the church throughout church history.
Consider the need for the gift of prophecy. To have a divine Word from God during the Old Testament was necessary because the full and completed Word of God was not in place. This gift continues into the New Testament age as the church was being validated and established, but once the canon of Scripture was closed by God, there would no longer be any need for a divine Word from God to be given. God’s Word is sufficient. Therefore, modern prophecy ministries deny the validity and sufficiency of God’s Word.
The modern faith healers that have come to us through a long line of religious charlatans dating back to the magicians who stood before Pharaoh. They are aligned with Balaam and Simon the Sorcerer rather than Peter and the apostles. Benny Hinn and others like him have been proven as false prophets. They do not have the validating power of the Holy Spirit upon them as we see in Acts and the early church.
Can the modern miraculous gifts be mimicked, mocked, and explained away? That seems to be the case. The false prophets of our age abound through the media of television and the Internet. Many of these false teachers hold miracle crusades where they ask for those people who need to be healed to come up on the platform to be healed. However, at the front there are screeners who separate certain people from the large crowd and only a privileged group of people are granted access to the stage. In the majority of the cases, the crusades are more about money than miracles and when you contrast and compare the miraculous gifts of the early church from those that we see paraded across the television screen today, the differences are more than the similarities.
We must be committed to exposing the fraudulent practices of false faith healers. Their work is not for God. Their message is based on health, wealth, and prosperity rather than the true gospel of Jesus Christ. In Atlanta, where I live and minister, the entire city is swimming with these prosperity preaching false faith healers.
Can miracles be performed today? Is there any evidence that miraculous healing takes place today? I think the answer to both of those questions is in the affirmative. However, I do not believe that God is gifting His church with a normative practice of miraculous gifts. The age of the prophets has passed from us. The age of the apostles has faded off into the sunset. The canon of Scripture is closed. The Word of God is completely sufficient. God is sovereign and He does still perform miracles and that’s why we pray! We trust God to do the extraordinary. The focus of our prayers is upon His power. Rather than focusing on a prayer room, a crusade, or a certain group of gifted people in the local church, the entire church comes together to pray to God who can perform a miracle for His glory.
I’ve actually heard preachers claim that they blow the Holy Spirit upon people in the local mall as they walk around shopping with their family. Those same preachers hold miracle crusades and devote themselves to a ministry of miracles, wonders, and signs. Anyone who claims to have the power to control the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Trinity, is very confused. Miracles are real because God is real. From creation to the resurrection of Christ, we see God consistently performing miracles. One day, He will bring this present world to a final culmination that aligns with His sovereign purposes. The return of Christ will be a miracle. Until then, we can trust that our sovereign God continues to rule over all things at all times and we can call upon Him and plead for the His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. As we think through these issues, we must not allow hucksters to deemphasize the miracle of Jesus’ resurrection and the miracle of the new birth by peddling false miracles in the name of Jesus.
B.B. Warfield has written, “[Miraculous gifts] were not for the possession of the primitive Christian as such; nor for that matter of the Apostolic Church or the Apostolic age for themselves; they were distinctively the authentication of the Apostles. They were part of the credentials of the apostles as the authoritative agents of God in founding the church. Their function thus confirmed them to distinctively the Apostolic Church, and they necessarily passed away with it.”1
1. Counterfeit Miracles, Banner of Truth, 1918, p. 6.
Someone once said, “Wolves look good dressed up in wool.” That is a very true statement indeed. Jesus Himself said in Matthew 7:15, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” As we consider the threat of false teachers, what should be the response of a shepherd of one of God’s flocks? Should false teachers be named openly? Is that the proper response or is that sinful?
Some people argue that it’s a slanderous thing to name people openly when calling out heresy. Others suggest that we must tread lightly and be very cautious in these areas. What path is most acceptable in the sight of our Lord? That’s the real question we must consider when we stand in the pulpit with the open Bible. As we consider the challenges of preaching in a world saturated with heresy, we labor for the glory of Christ and the joy of God’s sheep.
Calling Names – The Positive Side
John MacArthur once said, “The teaching of a false prophet cannot withstand scrutiny under the divine light of Scripture.”1 When a pastor stands in the pulpit and shines the light of the gospel upon false teaching and names the names of false teachers, this can be very beneficial to the congregation on several different levels. New Christians can see the dangers that are lurking, even in the most unsuspected places such as the shelves in the “Christian” bookstore. When the names of false teachers are not veiled, the sheep of God’s pasture are able to see the wolves clearly. It provides the children of God an advantage as they watch for their souls and the souls of their own household.
In short, the positives of actually naming names will protect the church from serious doctrinal error. False teachers are depraved morally and entrapped by their commitment to viciously attack and oppose the pure gospel of Christ. More than one church in the pages of history has been assaulted by false teaching. To name the names of false teachers is a responsible thing to do. It may violate the tolerance code of our modern culture, but it protects the church, exalts Christ, guards the gospel, and reveals error.
Calling Names – The Negatives
I recall preaching a message several years ago where I was distinguishing the true gospel from the health, wealth, and prosperity teachings. I decided that I would name names as I illustrated the dangers of that doctrine. When I went down a list of false teachers, I recall a woman abruptly got up from her seat and left the room. She wanted to meet with me the next day in my office and when we talked she explained that she was offended by the fact that I had called a specific person a false teacher. When I provided clear evidence from the Scriptures, she was unwilling to submit. This woman was not a member of our congregation. She had been visiting for several weeks and as a result of this, she never joined our church. When you call names from the pulpit, you do run the risk of growing at a slower pace than some of the more ecumenical congregations.
When a Christian is sitting in the pew and he hears the name T.D. Jakes or Joel Osteen called from the pulpit as a false teacher, it could lead him to research their name, ministry, teaching, and perhaps a book they have written. Now, that may not be the case for the majority of the congregation, but what about that inquisitive young Christian that’s merely checking them out? Could calling names be harmful to the Christian who has no exposure to their ministry until their name was called from the pulpit during a sermon designed to expose the health, wealth, and prosperity doctrine?
Calling Names – A Biblical Argument
In 1 Timothy 1:3, Paul instructed Timothy “remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine.” Interestingly, different doctrine is the combination of two Greek words, didaskalia“to teach” and heteros, which means “of a different kind.” The point Paul was making is clear. Don’t allow teachers in Ephesus to deviate from the path of the true gospel.
In Titus 1:11, when referencing false teachers, Paul said to Titus, “They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach.” In other words, one of the biblical qualifications of an elder is one who is able to stop the mouths of heretics. Therefore, one of the basic duties of a pastor is to protect the church from heretics – those who pervert the gospel. In 2 Timothy 3:13, Paul warned Timothy by describing the false teachers as, “evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.”
Several times in Paul’s writings we find that he actually named the names of false teachers.
In 2 Timothy 1:15, Paul named Phygelus and Hermogenes. These men are thought to have served as elders and had denied the faith.
In 2 Timothy 4:10, Paul named Demas as a man who had deserted Paul because he loved the world.
In 2 Timothy 4:14, Paul named Alexander the coppersmith. He was apparently a threat to the church at Ephesus and was an enemy of Paul and the gospel that Paul had labored to preach.
Did Paul’s name calling harm Phygelus and Hermogenes? Sure, it probably led Timothy to go back and report this to the elders in Ephesus and it’s likely that these men would have experienced a damaged reputation as a result. Was this the right call by Paul? What about Demas who had literally deserted Paul as he was in the Mamertine prison awaiting execution? Did the fact that Paul called his name to Timothy harm his character? While this was a personal letter to Timothy, it would have been made known to the wider church community at some point. Could this have damaged Demas? When Paul called out Alexander, the metal worker who had opposed Paul in Ephesus, did that harm his industry?
As we think through the reasoning of Paul’s name calling, we must realize that Paul was not willing to stand aside while the depraved wolves devoured God’s sheep. He was a man of strong conviction and he possessed a pastor’s heart. He wanted to protect the church and he desired to guard the gospel. Two different times in two different letters, Paul commanded Timothy to guard the gospel (1 Timothy 6:20; 2 Timothy 1:14). The preservation of the gospel was at the heart of Paul’s decision to call out specific false teachers and enemies of the cross.
In conclusion, pastors and bloggers should make the aim of their ministry Soli Deo Gloria and the guarding of the true gospel. If a person is proven to be a false teacher by their doctrine, it would be irresponsible to veil them to the Christian community. As ministers of the truth, we have an obligation to guard the good deposit that has been entrusted to our care in order that their message does not spread like a deadly disease (2 Timothy 2:16-17). We must make sure that we use the words “heretic” and “false teacher” in the most careful way as possible. When labeling people we must utilize wisdom and discernment. These labels can damage people and their character. If we error in our judgement, it can leave lasting damage upon the individual. If a person is indeed a false teacher, the label serves them well. May our writing and preaching exalt Christ and shut the mouths of false teachers. However, as we write and as we preach, if we labor to teach the true gospel, it will expose false teaching as a red barn in a green field. We don’t need to be experts on all world religions, but we must seek diligently to know God as we see Him revealed in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
According to J.I. Packer:
The mark of the false prophet or teacher is self-serving unfaithfulness to God and His truth…There are teachers in the church today who never speak of repentance, self-denial, the call to be relatively poor for the Lord’s sake, or any other demanding aspect of discipleship. Naturally they are popular and approved, but for all that, they are false prophets. We will know such people by their fruits.2
Soli Deo Gloria,
Pastor Josh Buice
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
1. John MacArthur, Matthew 1-7, Moody, 1985, 471.
2. J.I. Packer, Your Father Loves You, Harold Shaw Publishers, 1986, 9/19.
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$e Teacher$”: