Is John Piper Disqualifying Himself as a Teacher?

Is John Piper Disqualifying Himself as a Teacher?


John Piper was once regarded as a great contender for the faith. He was the go-to guy for apologetics in Reformed theology and the one that was looked to when those with twisted soteriology espoused their false doctrine. He has written  books on living a holy life for God and had a way of explaining Scripture that made him a desirable teacher for those truly looking to enhance their theological understanding of and relationship with God.

Yet, behind every fallen creature is a tendency to slide away from God. Behind every fallen creature is the tendency to please man. Behind every fallen creature is the tendency to become so engrossed in your own popularity that you fail to see the grave error that is taking over your life and ministry.

In recent years, John Piper has shown where his true allegiance is. He has staunchly defended false teachers such as Rick Warren and Mark Driscoll. The movement that has gripped his ministry, and taken him by the seat of his pants is known as New Calvinism. New Calvinism is a form of seeker-friendly semi-reformed theology. New Calvinists believe that as long as they have their Calvinistic theology right, there is much room for disagreement and liberty in most other areas.

While most New Calvinists fall into the “Young, Restless, and Reformed” category, Piper is certainly no young buck. Yet, the crowd he now runs around with certainly are.

He has been a repeat speaker at the popular student conference, Passion. The conference is a prime example of the compromised theology of the New Calvinist movement. The conference hosts false teachers such as Word of Faith pastrix out of Hillsong, Australia, Christine Caine, and several other false or compromised teachers, including Beth Moore, Louie Giglio, Levi Lusko and Francis Chan.

Why would he want to associate with these people? Why does he want to lend them credibility? The Scriptures clearly teach that believers are not to associate with false teachers for any other reason except to expose them (Eph 5:11). I think we can safely chalk this up to his disobedience of 1 Corinthians 15:33 (ESV),

Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”

In 2012, at the Passion Conference John Piper first experimented with a mystical form of prayer and meditative Scripture reading presented by Louie Giglio that is very similar to the heretical Lectio Divina. Since then, his passion for Passion hasn’t dwindled in the least. He will once again be sharing a stage in 2017 with these false teachers.

Piper has historically claimed a strong position of complementarianism–the theological view that teaches that men and women have complementary roles according to the Scriptures. Yet his passion for this has clearly subsided. Scripture teaches that a woman’s role in a church setting is to submit themselves to male leadership.

1 Timothy 2:12 (ESV) says,

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

and 1 Corinthians 14:33-34 (ESV) says,

For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says.

Women have a responsibility in the church to teach and take care of the children and to build each other up. But it is the responsibility of godly men to lead the church, teach the congregation, preach the Word, administer the ordinances, and handle the Scriptures appropriately. Yet, Piper continually affirms women who usurp the authority of male leadership by sharing the stage with them at seeker-sensitive conferences and defending them publicly in their sin.

John Piper put out a video at Desiring God affirming that it’s okay for men to listen to female Bible “teachers,” like Beth Moore, as long as “they don’t become their pastor.” In the video, he was asked by a listener, “I’m a guy, is it wrong for me to listen to Beth Moore?”

No, unless you begin to become dependent on her as your shepherd. It’s the way I feel about occassional women speaking in Sunday School.

Notice, his reply doesn’t come from Scripture, but solely from his “feelings.” I don’t see anywhere in Scripture that makes exceptions to the complementarian role of women in the church and home for “special occasions,” or “as long as you don’t become dependent on her.” This is not a biblical answer. This is hogwash.

He then goes on to defend his position by mangling the clear teaching of Scripture by saying that women who occasionally teach are not “authoritative teachers,” whatever that means.

Let’s see here, where in Scripture does it say that you can teach the Word of God without authority? Nowhere. It’s almost as if he’s never read the Scriptures pertaining to the roles of men and women in the Church. Further, how can speakers like Beth Moore and Christine Caine regularly take the stage in front of thousands of men and women, attempt to preach the Word of God, and not claim any authority?

This is pure apostasy. 2 John 9-11 essentially says that by taking part with apostates, you become one. It shows that John Piper has taken on an unbiblical position in order to remain popular with a wider audience. It shows that John Piper is not seeking to please God, but man.

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. – Galatians 1:10 (ESV)

[Contributed by Jeff Maples]

Gabe Lyons, Q and “Restoring Cultures”

Gabe Lyons, Q and “Restoring Cultures”

April 12, 2012

In mid-April, while many Christians earnestly scanned the Twitter stream and their favorite blogs for soundbites and one-liners from the Together for the Gospel (T4G) conference, another gathering was taking place several cities away, in Washington, D.C. Running from 10–12 April, this gathering was known as the Q Conference, and it would do each eager T4G spotter well to pay perhaps even more attention to this particular event.

The Q Conference is a brainchild of Gabe Lyons, who also helped to co-found the Catalyst movement several years ago. Lyons is also the author of the popular books, UnChristian and The Next Christians. According to the Q website,
Q was birthed out of Gabe Lyons’ vision to see Christians, especially leaders, recover a vision for their historic responsibility to renew and restore cultures. Inspired by Chuck Colson’s statement, “Christians are called to redeem entire cultures, not just individuals,” Gabe set out to reintroduce Christians to what had seemed missing in recent decades from an American expression of Christian faithfulness; valuing both personal and cultural renewal, not one over the other. Re-educating Christians to this orthodox and unifying concept has become central to the vision of Q.
We believe that inherent in Christian faithfulness is the responsibility to create a better world, one that reflects God’s original design and intention.
The claim that Christians have a “historic responsibility to renew and restore cultures” is not supported by Scripture. The Q website also does not offer any Scripture in defense of the claim that “inherent in Christian faithfulness is the responsibility to create a better world, one that reflects God’s original design and intention.”

If the responsibility of the Christian was to “renew and restore cultures,” one would expect that there would have been more such activity recorded in the New Testament. Yet, rather than reading of the apostles’ endeavors to make the world a better place, we see them preaching repentance and faith in Jesus Christ alone for individual salvation.

It is stated above that Lyons was initially inspired by Chuck Colson’s statement that, “Christians are called to redeem entire cultures, not just individuals.” The grievous errors in this statement work together to create confusion. Christians are not called to redeem anybody. Rather, believers have been called by God to share the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When Christians are faithful to this mission, God works to draw someone, by the power of His Holy Spirit, into a saving relationship with Him, thus redeeming the individual from his lost state and sin. The faithful believer, however, is not responsible for such redemption. Indeed, if man cannot save and redeem himself from his own sin, how can he expect to do so for others? Only Christ saves. Only Christ can offer redemption. While it is clear that Christians are not called to redeem other individuals, it should also be noted that Scripture does not call Christians to “redeem entire cultures.” True, eternal redemption happens at the level of the individual, and it is wrought by God alone. Thus, this statement, upon which the foundation of Gabe Lyons’ Q Conference was built, is erroneous and therefore hopelessly unsupportive.

The Q event is not the typical Christian conference. Gathering leaders from various walks of life, Q seeks to share “ideas for the common good.” Why, then, do Christians need to be aware of Q and what is taking place? After all, it sounds like a noble cause, seeking to make this world a better place, reaching out to young people to encourage them to engage with the culture in order to make a difference. Why should the Bible-believing Christian be wary of the endeavors set forth by Gabe Lyons? The following paragraphs, will seek to answer that question.

As mentioned above, Gabe Lyons is an author and co-founder of the Catalyst movement. He is also the founder of Q and the driving force behind the event. Perhaps the best way to learn more about Lyons will be to examine his worldview from his own words. In the opening paragraph of his book The Next Christians, Lyons writes:
Seven years ago, I was twenty-seven years old and embarrassed to call myself Christian. This was especially odd because I was raised in a Christian home, graduated from a Christian college, and then served as vice president of a prominent Christian organization. By all accounts, I should have been one of Christianity’s biggest fans.
Unfortunately, I began to notice that the perceptions my friends and neighbors had about Christians were incredibly negative. In fact, their past experiences with anything labeled Christian had sent them running in the opposite direction. Ironically, I came to empathize with their views. Having grown up in a Christian bubble myself, I witnessed countless instances when the lives of Christ followers were incongruent with Jesus’s [sic] call to be loving, engaged, sacrificial, unselfish, and compassionate contributors to culture. The angst these experiences created would scare anyone from taking a second look at Jesus.
The Next Christians, 3
On page 5 of the same book, Lyons writes:
Research shows that over 76 percent of Americans self-identify as Christian. Yet I wonder how many of us are proud to carry that label. Are we hiding our faith in our back pockets? My guess is that many feel much like I did at twenty-seven when they encounter non-Christians at work, in coffee shops, on campus, in their neighborhoods, at weekend parties, or working out at the gym. The Next Christians, 5
It’s true, there are many people who tout the title of “Christian,” yet behave in a rather abysmal manner. Yet, does this justify an attitude of embarrassment at being identified with Christ? Should the Christian bow to the world if the world perceives Christianity unfavorably?
And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” Mark 8:34-38, ESV, emphasis added
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. John 15:18-21, ESV
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. 1 John 2:15-17, ESV
The Christian should not expect to be celebrated or embraced by the world. If, then, a Christian is reluctant to claim and name the name of Jesus Christ, is the issue really with the true Christian faith, or does the problem lie elsewhere?

It is interesting to note that in 1 John 2:17 (cited above), the Apostle explains that “the world is passing away along with its desires…” Indeed, this simple fact alone seems to contradict the foundational tenet of Q, that “inherent in Christian faithfulness is the responsibility to create a better world, one that reflects God’s original design and intention.” Yet, Gabe Lyons persists in the notion that there is “a new generation of Christians” whose mission it is to change —and even restore—this world. He writes:
I’ve observed a new generation of Christians who feel empowered. Restorers exhibit the mind-set, humility, and commitment that seem destined to rejuvenate the momentum of the faith. They have a peculiar way of thinking, being, and doing that is radically different from previous generations. Telling others about Jesus is important, but conversion isn’t their only motive. Their mission is to infuse the world with beauty, grace, justice, and love. I call them restorers because they envision the world as it was meant to be and they work toward that vision. Restorers seek to mend earth’s brokenness. They recognize that the world will not be completely healed until Christ’s return, but they believe that the process begins now as we partner with God. Through sowing seeds of restoration, they believe others will see Christ through us and the Christian faith will reap a much larger harvest. The Next Christians, 43, emphasis added.
This “restorer” mindset permeates the efforts of Q. Writing on the Q website in a lengthy article entitled, “Influencing Culture,” and quoting Charles Colson and Nancy Pearcey’s book, How Now Shall We Live, Lyons writes:
Ultimately, it was Colson’s explanation of the cultural mandate that grabbed my mind and my heart: … “Our job is not only to build up the church but also to build a society to the glory of God. As agents of God’s common grace, we are called to help sustain and renew his creation, to uphold the created institutions of family and society, to puruse science and scholarship, to create works of art and beauty, and to heal and help those suffering from the results of the Fall.” Source
Unfortunately, Lyons offers no Scripture to support this statement. As the article progresses, Gabe Lyons speaks about the great “conversion moments” in history, such as the First and Second Great Awakening in England and America, respectively. He seems to believe that the traveling evangelists offered only a “half-story” of the Gospel by not remaining in one place and “modeling the life of a Christian over the course of years.”
It’s easy to see that when forced to convey the most dramatic parts of the Christian story in a short period of time, parts of the story are easily overlooked. In the process, Christianity was losing its profound and life-giving answers to central questions no longer representing an entire life-system and worldview. It had become relegated to a personal, spiritual decision about where you would spend the afterlife. As more evangelical Christians adopted this half-story explanation of the faith, their cultural influence began to fade. The emphasis on heavenly pursuits overshadowed the idea of living a life that offered common grace and promoted cultural influence. Source
As Lyons’ essay continues, the reader will begin to realize that one of two things is happening: either Gabe Lyons does not believe that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is enough for salvation and redemption, or he has adopted a skewed understanding of the Gospel, believing that it extends beyond one’s individual standing before God. From the quotes already examined, it seems obvious that the latter is true. Lyons continues:
The idea of culture shaping is widely debated. Most people, and until recently myself included, implicitly believe that cultures are changed from the bottom-up and that to “change our culture, we need more and more individuals possessing the right values and therefore making better choices.”The problem is that it is only part of the solution. In a widely distributed briefing that was presented to The Trinity Forum called To Change the World, James Davison Hunter asserts, “It is this view of culture that also leads some faith communities to evangelism as their primary means of changing the world. If people’s hearts and minds are converted, they will have the right values, they will make the right choices, and the culture will change in turn.”
Hunter goes on to say, “…the renewal of our hearts and minds is not only important, it is essential, indeed a precondition for a truly just and humane society. But by itself, it will not accomplish the objectives and ideals we hope for.”18 This could explain why Christianity as it is practiced by many well meaning, admirable Christians in the past decades has failed to have significant traction.
What is the solution to this problem? According to James Davison Hunter, as quoted by Gabe Lyons, “Cultures are shaped when networks of leaders, representing the different social institutions of a culture, work together towards a common goal.” For Lyons, and for Q, these social institutions include:
business, government, media, church, arts & entertainment, education and the social sector. Their combined output of ideas, films, books, theology, websites, restaurants, investments, social work, laws, medical breakthroughs and technology drive an entire nation. Source
The astute reader will notice that these spheres of influence bear a striking similarity to the “seven mountains” of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). While Gabe Lyons is not (to this writer’s knowledge) involved specifically with the NAR movement, it is nevertheless interesting to note that the NAR holds to similar goals in seeking to redeem the culture. This simply demonstrates how widespread this particular false gospel has become.

To illustrate the combined impact that these seven sectors can have upon society, Lyons turns to the homosexual movement as an example.
In thirty years, the idea of being gay had moved from being commonly viewed as abnormal and abhorrent in society, to being an acceptable and normal alternative life-style. This illustrates perfectly the potential for cultural influence to happen when leaders throughout the seven channels of culture work together towards a common goal. Source
The misunderstanding that Christians and the Church have been commissioned to redeem and renew this earth and its cultures may lead to a disparaging view of the true mission of the Church. As a reminder, Christians have been called by Christ Himself to share the Gospel, calling sinners to repentance and faith in Christ alone for salvation. When the focus is turned away from Christ and His atoning work, and fixed instead on this temporal, transient and dying world, then the Church loses its effectiveness. Unfortunately, Gabe Lyons through his movement of Q is seemingly fixing his gaze upon the wrong thing. He says,
Sadly, by focusing on just the “spiritual” and the afterlife, the Christian church has strayed away from its potential influence in the here and now, positioning itself instead as just another subculture. Source
In response to the great gift of salvation in Christ, the Christian will undoubtedly bear fruit that manifests itself in “good works,” yet those good works are not the Gospel. To call the Church to put its energy into the “here and now” seems to contradict many exhortations within Scripture to “set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Col. 3:2). Indeed, the believer is told that this earth will one day pass away, and that God will create a New Heavens and a New Earth.
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.
Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.
2 Peter 3:10-14, ESV
So, why the concern? Why write such a lengthy article discussing some of the dangers of Q and of its founder, Gabe Lyons? After all, not many Christians were even aware that the event was taking place! Yet, the mindset and the doctrines of Q, which denigrate and downplay the Gospel of Jesus Christ, are beginning to permeate evangelicalism. Among the speakers in years past at the Q conference have been men like Brian McLaren and Rick Warren. In his speech, Warren told the audience that, “You are the message. You are incarnating Jesus in the world” (video can be viewed here). Are we really the message? Or is the message of salvation found in Jesus Christ?

This year, Ed Stetzer, president and “missiologist in residence” at Lifeway Research, was among the speakers at the Q Conference. Lifeway  has also invited Gabe Lyons to be a featured speaker at their upcoming Collegiate Summit. As collegiate leaders gather to learn new ways to influence the college students with whom they work, may it now be anticipated that the doctrine of “renewing the culture” will begin to disseminate among our youth?
Collegiate leaders invest a tremendous amount of time in the lives of college students, be it one-on-one coffee conversations, small group Bible studies, or conferences and events. But even the best leaders need some time to recharge. Collegiate Summit is an event just for leaders, and a perfect opportunity to fellowship with peers, worship, and renew their energy and focus.
Collegiate Summit is an interactive event that allows attendees to share insights, get new ideas, and learn from each other. Large group sessions feature leading teachers like Jon Acuff, Gabe Lyons, and Pete Wilson, as well as music from Dove Award-winning songwriter and worship leader Michael Boggs. Breakout sessions focus on specific topics and allow leaders to network, make new friends, and encourage each other.
The idea that Christians must strive to redeem and renew cultures and the belief that salvation of the individual is only “half” of the story of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, these are prominent and notable threats to the true Gospel. Yet the leaders who are influencing the churches of today are more and more gravitating to this type of false gospel. Be mindful, dear Christian. Learn God’s Word and hold fast to what it says.

Bad Fruit, Diseased Trees, and the Authority of God’s Word

Oct 2016
Posted by Michelle Lesley in Discernment

I hate having to warn women against false teachers. I really do. I would like nothing better than to write Bible studies all day long, but, like Jude said, sometimes contending for the faith is more urgent at the moment. Today, as it was in the New Testament church, false doctrine is rampant. You can hardly throw a rock out the sanctuary window without hitting a false teacher, particularly female false teachers.

Invariably, when I warn against a specific popular false teacher I get a few responses from disgruntled readers jumping to that teacher’s defense. (I understand where those feelings come from. I’ve had to hear hard, biblical truths about teachers I’ve followed, too. It’s no fun.) I tend to hear the same arguments over and over (which is one reason I wrote this article). But there’s one thing all of these arguments have in common:

They’re not based on rightly handled Scripture.
Sometimes they’re not based on Scripture at all.

As Christians, we are supposed to base everything we believe and teach upon the truth of Scripture. And the women defending these false teachers aren’t doing that. They’re basing their defense of a false teacher on twisted, out of context Scripture and/or their own opinions, feelings, experiences, and preferences.

Twisted Scripture:

Sometimes these ladies will try to appeal to Scripture to defend the false teacher. I applaud them for that. Genuinely. At least they know that we’re supposed to be basing what we say and do on the Bible. That’s a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, most of these attempts only reveal how poorly they’ve been taught the Bible by the false teachers who have trained them.

“Did you meet privately with this teacher before writing this article?”

“You’re just judging! The Bible says not to judge!”

“You’re creating division in the church!”

Most of the time these women have no idea where those Scriptures are found, or even precisely what they say, much less the context of the verses they’re appealing to. (In order not to misunderstand their intent, I usually have to respond by saying, “Are you referring to Matthew 18:15-20?” or “I’m sorry, could you tell me which verse you’re talking about?”) They don’t know or understand the Scripture they’re alluding to, they’re just repeating what they’ve heard from the false teacher (or her other followers) defending herself and lashing out at those who call her to account.

Nothing More than Feelings:

Perhaps more disturbing are the near-Stepford gushings of some defenders:

“I’ve never heard anything so mean! How could you say such things about this wonderful teacher?”

“I just love her and the way she teaches!”

“You’re just jealous of her success.”

“She’s been such a help and encouragement to me!”

These ladies don’t even attempt to bring the Bible into the discussion, and their loving support for the false teacher is often coupled with vitriolic, completely un-Christlike, devoid of any fruit of the Spirit, attacks on those who dare to question the false teacher. I like this person. I’ve had a positive experience with this person. I have good feelings and opinions about this person. And that – not the Bible – is what I’m basing my decision to follow her upon. How dare you speak against her?

And is it any wonder? When women sit under the teaching of pastors and teachers who skip through the Bible ripping verses out of context and twisting their meanings, who say “the Bible says” followed by their own agenda and imaginings, who point women back to themselves as their own authority, rather than Scripture, by basing their teachings on their own ideas and life experiences instead of the Bible, what do we expect?

Jesus said in Matthew 7:15-20:

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.” (emphasis, mine)

Ladies, look at the fruits of these false teachers: women who believe false doctrine because they are unable to properly read, understand, and handle God’s word, and who base their belief system on their own feelings rather than on the authority of Scripture. That is bad fruit from a diseased tree.

Christian women must be properly trained in the Scriptures. How? By eradicating false teachers and all their sundry materials from our churches, homes, and Bible study classes. By properly training Sunday School and Bible study teachers. By teaching the women of our churches proper hermeneutics and sound doctrine. By exercising biblical church discipline against false teaching. And most of all, by reinstating the authority of Scripture to its rightful preeminence in our lives and in our churches.

It is imperative that we train Christians to understand and embrace that Scripture alone decides what we believe, which teachers we allow into our churches and our lives, and how we are to worship and practice the Christian faith. Basing these things on our feelings, opinions, and preferences is folly, a house built on the sand, because our hearts are deceitful and desperately sick, and we will always trend toward having our ears tickled with smooth words rather than having our souls pierced by the sharp two edged sword of God’s word. “Sanctify them in the truth,” Jesus prayed in John 17:17, “Your word is truth.” And, indeed it is. It is the only trustworthy basis for life, faith, and doctrine that will never lead us astray. When our feelings and opinions rise up against God’s word, God’s word wins.

May we hold high the banner of Sola Scriptura, training the precious souls of women to understand and submit to the authority of God’s word, that one day, bad fruit and diseased trees might become a thing of the past.

Johnny Hunt Endorses Jesus Calling, Dismantles Legacy

“The first person speaking of Jesus in Jesus Calling is a tremendous blessing in my life devotionally as His promises come alive in my heart.” Johnny Hunt

There was a time when Johnny Hunt was one of the most respectable names in all of Southern Baptist life.  As a defender of biblical inerrancy, Hunt was one of the leaders of the denomination’s “conservative resurgence” which solidified the Southern Baptist Convention as of the few remaining bulwarks against the theological liberalism which swept the United States during the 20th Century.  Hunt served as President of the SBC from 2008-2009.  He has served as pastor of First Baptist Church of Woodstock for over a quarter-century.  Under his preaching ministry the church has grown by the thousands.  So many people were drawn to FBCW by Hunt’s passionate biblical preaching that he once threatened to post “Go to Hell, we’re full” on the marquee if the church didn’t commit to increasing the size of its then over-crowded facility.  Unfortunately, it’s hard to finish well.  Over the past several years, Hunt has engaged in a number of missteps which indicate that his extensive influence in the SBC, as well as his own church, is detrimental.  Most recently, Hunt has endorsed the devotional book Jesus Calling.  Sarah Young, the author of thisbest-selling book, claims to have received direct divine revelation from Christ Himself and recorded it through a process similar to automatic writing.  This revelation, which is essentially a recycling of the 2nd century heresy known as Montanism, has been sold to millions of men and women.  Young writes in the voice of Jesus.  Hunt has endorsed her book.  If Johnny Hunt were just some pew sitter struggling with his walk, a criticism of his endorsement might be uncalled for.  However, he has thousands of people who look to him for spiritual guidance. The power and responsibility of such a position brings with it a higher level of responsibility and accountability.  Hunt has not exercised it well.  He hasn’t been exercising it well for quite some time.

Hunt's "first lady" likes Jesus Calling, too.

Hunt’s “first lady” likes Jesus Calling, too.

Recently, First Baptist Church Woodstock endorsed the feature film Young Messiah.  The film is allegedly based on the novel Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt by lapsed Roman Catholic author Anne Rice. A number of events in the film portrayed stories from non-canonical Gnostic gospels.  Christian Apologists, some of whom attend FBCW itself, have for years defended the veracity of the four canonical gospels against charges that later, heretical, and fictitious Gnostic gospels were erroneously excluded from the biblical cannon.  No bible-believing church has any business promoting such a film to an unsuspecting audience.


In 2014, FBCW Executive Pastor Jim Law claimed that Johnny Hunt commended disgraced former Liberty University Dean and known charlatan, Ergun Caner, to Brewton-Parker College. Caner, a friend and ministry partner of Hunt, was hired as that organization’s President.  Later that year, Caner was invited to fill the pulpit at FBCW, despite the fact that Caner was embroiled in a lawsuit with two Christians.  Caner eventually lost the lawsuit and was ordered to pay damages to the men he had sued.  Caner also lost his job at Brewton-Parker amidst accusations of racism, vulgar behavior, and adulterous activity.

Along with Caner, Bishop Eddie Long, and John Hagee, Hunt invited vacationers on a “missions cruise“to Jamaica aboard a luxury Carnival cruise ship.  It was surely a lucrative venture for Hunt and his megachurch friends.  Long was later embroiled in a male-on-male sex scandal.  Hagee is a well-known false teacher.

Under Hunt’s leadership, FBCW has expanded into a satellite campus model, which contradicts the Baptist Faith and Message 2000.  It now extends into two states.

Hunt has engaged in an opportunistic “church revitalization” scheme which enables his wealthy church to snatch up the value real estate of older, declining churches.

Upon his embattled and controversial resignation from the presidency of the North American Mission Board,  Hunt’s friend “Hollywood” Bob Reccord arranged for a $92,000 payment to be sent to Hunt (for his Timothy-Barnabas school).  Hunt would later sign a letter vouching for the integrity of Reccord.  The disgraced Reccord would later be a featured speaker at Hunt’s annual “Johnny Hunt Men’s Conference.

Despite his many missteps and baffling unwise endorsements, Hunt is essentiallycelebrated as a hero at his local church.  His endorsement of Jesus Calling is just one more item in a long list of Hunt’s egregious errors.  (He is at best only “website orthodox“.)  Christians should flee First Baptist Woodstock and all things Johnny Hunt.  This is a man who nominated the current SBC president and several previous ones; the danger of relying on his wisdom should not be taken lightly by Southern Baptists.

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

Discernment Made Easy: A List of Celebrity Christians Who Declare The Bible Insufficient


“If you wish to know God, you must know His Word. If you wish to perceive His power, you must see how He works by His Word. If you wish to know His purpose before it comes to pass, you can only discover it by His Word.”  Charles Spurgeon

Sometimes believers are blessed in our pursuit of obedience to God’s commands for discernment with what essentially passes as Berean no-brainers. Unlike those 1st-century Bereans who had carefully and cautiously reviewed Scripture to see if the things that Paul said were so, (Acts 17:11) occasionally it’s not necessary that modern believers have to do such detailed, prayerful Scripture study to discern truth from error. Sometimes we’re blessed with a list.

(Do not, fellow believer, rest assured on the perpetual availability of such free discernment gifts, however. Because the enemy is subtle, and always malicious, his attackers on the Word of God do not always fall so clearly in our lap as this one does. Always, always, ALWAYS we must “abide in my Word!” John 8:31  Do not be lulled into complacency!)

We have been provided a list of high profile “Christian” leaders, writers, pastors, and celebrities who, by their endorsement of a well-known work of heresy are making the equal claim that they do not believe in the authority, sufficiency, and finality of God’s revelation in His Holy Word. They are thereby declaring that the Bible is incomplete, that God failed to say all He intended to say in it, and that there is at least one person on the planet today to whom He is still giving apostolic-like, continuing revelation.  This, of course, is false and diabolically motivated.

Justin Peters comments on the dangers of Jesus Calling:

Here, then, is the list of those high-profile Christians who endorse the Montanist heresy that is Sarah Young and her Jesus Calling publications.

* Max Lucado, “Pastor and Bestselling Author”
* Mark Batterson, Pastor and author of another book of heresy, The Circle Maker
Melinda Gates, Wife of a billionaire
Roma Downey, Catholic Hollywood Mystic and Filmmaker
Rev. James Martin, SJ, Jesuit Priest
Shauna Niequist, “Bestselling Author of ‘Bread and Wind’ and ‘Savor’”
O.S. Hawkins, “Author of the Bestselling ‘The Joshua Code’ and ‘The Jesus Code’”
* Dr. Jack Graham, “Pastor, Prestonwood Baptist Church, Dallas, TX”
Sheila Walsh, “Bestselling Author and Speaker”
* Johnny Hunt, “Pastor, First Baptist Church, Woodstock, GA”
Dr. & Mrs. Richard Lee, “Speaker for the Award-Winning ‘There’s Hope In America’ Television Series”
Kathie Lee Gifford, “Host of the ‘Today Show’, Author, Singer, and Actress”
Delilah, “Nationally Syndicated Radio Personality, Author, and Songwriter”
* Robert J. Morgan, “Pastor of The Donelson Fellowship in Nashville, TN”
* Robert Morris, “Founding Senior Pastor of Gateway Church in Dallas, Texas”
Gretchen Carlson, “Television Commentator and Author”
Ainsley Earhardt, “Co-host ‘Fox & Friends First’”
Sean Lowe, “ABC Television’s ‘The Bachelor’ and Author of ‘For The Right Reasons’”
Charlie Daniels, “Award-Winning Country Music Superstar”
Jimmy Wayne, “Country Artist and Bestselling Author of ‘A Walk To Beautiful’”
Diana Hobbs, “President and CEO, ‘Empowering Everyday Women’ Magazine
Katie Farrell, ‘Popular Blogger of ‘Dashing Dish’”
Mike Reed, “Senior Vice President, Salem Media Group’
* Scott Sauls, “Pastor at Christ Presbyterian Church in Nashville”
Janet Hunt, “First Lady, First Baptist Church, Woodstock, GA”
Diane Strack, “Author of ‘New Start For Single Moms’”
Josh Warren, “CEO, Purpose Driven Communications”
* Rev. Bob Fuguay, “Author, Senior Pastor at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, Indianapolis”
Anne Wright, “Wife of Johnson Ferry Baptist Senior Pastor, Bryant Wright”
Emily Ley, “Founder of Emily Ley Lifestyle Brand”
James Robison, “Host of ‘Life Today,’ Founder of Life Outreach International & The Stream Website”
Reba McEntire, “Bestselling Author, Artist and Actress”
Linda Leathers, “Chief Executive Officer, The Next Door”
Dr. Cindy Ryan, “Pastor, Writer, Speaker and Blogger”
Mike Gallagher, “Host of Salem Radio Network’s Mike Gallagher Show”
Kristin Chenoweth, “Emmy and Tony Award-Winning Actress and Singer”
Phil Keaggy, “Guitarist, GMA Dove Award Winner, Grammy Award Nominee”
Lyn Mettler, “Writer and Blogger”

The list is sourced from the promotional website

So, while the enemy has amassed an impressive list of powerhouse, self-monikered “Christian” celebrities and notables to endorse this bestselling attack on the authority and sufficiency of Scripture, he’s also provided the Berean among us a helpful “Beware” sign. These notable names may be scratched off our list of reliable resources since they are eager to defy Scripture’s command regarding the fellowship of light and dark. (2 Corinthians 6:14)

“Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.”  Ephesians 5:11

In his letter to the believers in Colossae, Paul gives us an inspiring view of the power of God’s Word as, through it, He brings believers to greater holiness, greater obedience, bearing greater fruit. It is through His Word exclusively that God performs His sanctifying work, as Paul explains from his pastoral heart.

“We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf and has made known to us your love in the Spirit.”  Colossians 1:3-8

While there is no excuse for any believer – be they a Hollywood starlet, award-winning musician, influential business person, or obscure pew-sitter – to fail to defend God’s Word, what’s worrisome are the pastors and pastors wives who are highlighted in this list.  As Paul commended Epaphras to the Colossians, it’s unlikely that these list-making pastors endorsing heresy would receive an apostolic back-slap since they are actively taking “part in the unfruitful works of darkness.”


The pastor is to be the under-shepherd of the local church. A significant part of that task is to ward off the wolves from preying on the flock. Instead, here we see Southern Baptist pastors like Johnny Hunt and Jack Graham openly endorsing known heresy. Other “pastors” are noted from the list who, by their endorsement, do not defend God’s Word as final.

(Excluded from the asterisked-denoted list of pastors is Cindy Ryan, who is not qualified for the office, though she nonetheless claims it, giving further evidence of her own disregard for the Word.)


“Jesus is not calling or equipping through a 21st-century bestseller. Rather, He is calling and teaching by His Spirit through a two to three-thousand year old best seller.”  Tom Pennington, Strange Fire Conference (Source)

Be wary of those who are willing to endorse what Scripture does not. Do not forget our Lord’s closing words in His Word … “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city , which are described in this book.” Revelation 22:18-19

[Contributed by Bud Ahlheim]

H/T – Scott Staffiery

Print Friendly

Can We Add to God’s Word?

Can We Add to God’s Word?

Matthew 24:24; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 1 John 4:1; Jude 3; Revelation 22:18-19
by John MacArthur

Over the last hundred years, the church has seen an explosion of interest in the Holy Spirit—particularly in His work of empowering God’s people and revealing His truth. This renewed interest in the Spirit’s role in our daily lives has injected excitement and enthusiasm into many churches, as the Lord seems to be revealing Himself and His power in wonderful ways.

But for believers caught up in tales of a fresh unleashing of the Spirit, it may be hard to see the difference between what God is saying and doing today and what He said and did in the days when Scripture was being written. We must ask the question: Is there a difference between God’s Word as given then and the word He is supposedly speaking to and through believers today?

I think there is a major difference, and it’s something we must keep in mind if we are to keep the authority and infallibility of the Bible in proper perspective.

The Canon Is Closed

The truth is there is no fresher or more intimate revelation than Scripture. God doesn’t need to give us private revelation to help us in our walk with Him. “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17, emphasis added). Scripture is sufficient. It offers all we need for every good work.

Christians—particularly charismatics, as well as those who are merely “open but cautious”must realize a vital truth: God’s revelation is complete for good. The canon of Scripture is closed. As the apostle John penned the final words of the last book of the New Testament, he recorded this warning:

I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book. (Revelation 22:18-19)

When the Old Testament canon closed after the time of Ezra and Nehemiah, there followed four hundred silent years when no prophet spoke God’s revelation in any form.

That silence was broken by John the Baptist as God spoke once more prior to the New Testament age. God then moved various men to record the books of the New Testament, and the last of these was Revelation. By the second century A.D., the complete canon—exactly as we have it today—was popularly recognized. Church councils in the fourth century verified and made official what the church has universally affirmed, that the sixty-six books in our Bibles are the only true Scripture inspired by God. The canon is complete.

Just as the close of the Old Testament canon was followed by silence, so the close of the New Testament has been followed by the utter absence of new revelation in any form. Since the book of Revelation was completed, no new written or verbal prophecy has ever been universally recognized by Christians as divine truth from God.

Dividing Truth and Error

Jude 3 is a crucial passage on the completeness of our Bibles. This statement, penned by Jude before the New Testament was complete, nevertheless looked forward to the completion of the entire canon:

Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. (Jude 3)

In the Greek text, the definite article preceding “faith” points to the one and only faith: “the faith.” There is no other. Such passages as Galatians 1:23 and 1 Timothy 4:1 indicate this objective use of the expression “the faith” was common in apostolic times. Greek scholar Henry Alford wrote that the faith is “objective here: the sum of that which Christians believe.” [1] Henry Alford, Alford’s Greek Testament, vol 4 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1980), 530.

Note also the crucial phrase “once for all” in Jude 3. The Greek word here is hapax, which refers to something done for all time, with lasting results, never needing repetition. Nothing needs to be added to the faith that has been delivered “once for all.”

George Lawlor, who has written an excellent work on Jude, made the following comment:

The Christian faith is unchangeable, which is not to say that men and women of every generation do not need to find it, experience it, and live it; but it does mean that every new doctrine that arises, even though the legitimacy may be plausibly asserted, is a false doctrine. All claims to convey some additional revelation to that which has been given by God in this body of truth are false claims and must be rejected. [2] George L. Lawlor, Translation and Exposition of the Epistle of Jude (Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1972), 45.

Also important in Jude 3 is the word translated in our English Bibles as “handed down” or “delivered.” In the Greek it is an aorist passive participle, which in this context indicates an act completed in the past with no continuing element. In this instance the passive voice means the faith was not discovered by men, but given to men by God. How did He do that? Through His Word—the Bible.

And so through the Scriptures God has given us a body of teaching that is final and complete. Our Christian faith rests on historical, objective revelation. That rules out all inspired prophecies, seers, and other forms of new revelation until God speaks again at the return of Christ (cf. Acts 2:16-21; Revelation 11:1-13).

In the meantime, Scripture warns us to be wary of false prophets. Jesus said that in our age “false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect” (Matthew 24:24). Even extraordinary signs and wonders are no proof that a person speaks for God. John wrote, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).

Ultimately, Scripture is the test for everything; it is the Christians’ standard. In fact, the word canon means, “a rule, standard, or measuring rod.” The canon of Scripture is the measuring rod of the Christian faith, and it is complete.

(Adapted from Why Believe the Bible? and Charismatic Chaos.)

Praying Circles

Praying Circles

by Gary Gilley
July 19, 2016

Prayer is surely one of the most blessed of all privileges afforded the child of God. Just to think that sinners, even forgiven sinners, are invited to approach the throne of grace where we will receive mercy and grace in our time of need (Heb 4:14-16) is nothing short of astounding. In prayer we worship and praise our Lord (Psalm 34:1-3); in prayer we call on God to fulfill His great purposes (Matt 6:10), ask for our daily provisions (Matt 6:11), request forgiveness (Matt 6:12), and plea for protection from temptation (Matt 6:13). In prayer we ask for deliverance from the wickedness of others (Psalm 31:1-2), make our requests known (Phil 4:6), cast all our anxiety on the Lord (1 Pet 5:7), and much more. Christians love prayer, even when they foolishly do not take time for it. No believer is against prayer and anything that will encourage and inform us about prayer is welcomed. Anything, that is, which is biblical.

Unfortunately, it is often because of the very benefits and blessings of prayer that the people of God seem so easily deceived in its use. Two of the books I have written have substantially addressed this very issue. My first book, “I Just Wanted More Land,” Jabez, challenged the prayer of Jabez craze that had been invented by Bruce Wilkinson. Wilkinson, who should have known better given his theological training and ministerial background, ripped an obscure prayer out of the Old Testament and offered it as a model which, when prayed, “correctly,” virtually guaranteed a life of miracles and prosperity, or so he said. His book (The Prayer of Jabez) sold tens of millions of copies and generated a cottage industry of other books, products and ministries. My book challenged the whole premise behind Wilkinson’s application of the prayer of Jabez as well as the misguided hermeneutics Wilkinson used to come up with such an off-based interpretation of Scripture. What staggered me at the time (15 years ago), and still does today, is how many people, many of whom were/are surely Christians who love the Lord, could be taken in by such obviously misguided and deceitful claims. My most recent book, Out of Formation, examined the Spiritual Formation Movement which promotes numerous biblically unfounded disciplines that are supposed to enhance the believer’s spiritual life. The central discipline within the movement founded by Richard Foster and Dallas Willard is contemplative prayer, which is a form of mystical praying found nowhere in Scripture and yet proclaimed by the adherents of this movement to be the highest form of prayer. Today millions of those who would consider themselves Christians practice some form of contemplative prayer.

What unites the prayer of Jabez and contemplative prayer is that neither is taught in Scripture as a form of biblical praying and yet both have been embraced by great numbers of Christians. Believers are being duped on a regular basis because of their lack of discernment. And now they are being introduced to praying circles which, like the Prayer of Jabez and contemplative prayer, lacks biblical foundation.

The Circle Maker

This latest prayer fad stems from the teachings of Mark Batterson, lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington D.C., and in particular his 2011 book, The Circle Maker. The publisher claims that Batterson is offering a new way of praying (see advertisement on page 233 of The Circle Maker) based on a Jewish legend of Honi the Rainmaker, also called Honi the Circle Maker (pp. 11-13, 226). Honi, who lived a century before the ministry of Christ, supposedly drew a circle in the dirt, stepped into that circle and prayed for rain to end a devastating drought. He told God that he would not leave the circle until the Lord sent rain and, according to the myth, God soon sent rain. It should be noted that the story of Honi is at best a legend and most likely a myth. There is no independent or historical evidence that anything like this event ever took place. Even more importantly, this account is not drawn from Scripture. Nevertheless, when Batterson discovered the story he claimed it forever changed the way he prayed (p. 21). Now he circles his prayers, either by stepping into a drawn circle (it is recommended that a circle be drawn on the ground with chalk) like Honi, or by walking around the object of his desire, as the Jews walked around Jericho in the Old Testament. Batterson teaches that circling our prayers will result in God responding by producing a miracle. If my count is correct, and I am sure I missed a few, the word “miracle” shows up some 166 times, averaging almost one appearance per page of actual text. While certainly God can and does bring about miracles today, Batterson has cheapened the meaning and reduced it to the accomplishment of an improbability rather than the reversal or defiance of the laws of nature that the Lord set in place. Walking on water is a miracle, the purchase of a piece of property that was hard to get is not. Batterson does not distinguish between the two. Despite these obvious issues, on the back cover of the book it is boldly stated:

In The Circle Maker, Pastor Mark Batterson shares powerful insights from the true legend of Honi the circle maker, a first-century Jewish sage whose bold prayer ended a drought and saved a generation. Drawing inspiration from his own experiences as a circle maker, Batterson will teach you how to pray in a new way by drawing prayer circles around your dreams, your family, your problems and most importantly, God’s promises. In the process, you’ll discover this simple yet life changing truth.

There are numerous red flags in this short blurb. Two that should be noted immediately is that the author is “drawing inspiration from his own experiences,” not from Scripture. Experiences are not inspired, the Bible is. Therefore personal experience, not backed by the Word, is of little value at best and highly dangerous and destructive at times. We must never base our lives and theology on experience but on God’s revealed truth. Secondly is the word “new.” Batterson is offering us a “new” way to pray, which means it is not taught in Scripture. When someone offers us something new as a way of living the Christian life, the wise believer runs the other way. If it is new, it is not of God. If the Lord wanted us to incorporate something into our lives He revealed it in the Bible. The Circle Maker is much like The Prayer of Jabez. Both promise miracles if we will but follow little known and obscure prayers found in the past. Despite the fact that these prayers are not taught or mandated in Scripture, and not even drawn from Scripture as in the case with Honi, a unique system of prayer is based on these stories. It should not take a theologian, or even a very mature Christian, long to realize that something is wrong with drawing circles as part of our prayer life, and especially making outlandish promises in connecting with this method.

The very fact that a church leader and author is attempting to instruct fellow believers how to practice the Christian life, especially in a vital area such as prayer, based on an extra-biblical myth rather than Scripture, should be all a discerning believer needs to know to walk away from his teachings on the subject. But it might prove helpful to dig a little deeper into Batterson’s theology. This is especially true given that Christian notables such as John Ortberg, Ruth Graham, and Rich Wilkerson (founder of Peacemakers) endorse The Circle Maker, and that Batterson considers Andy Stanley and Louie Giglio among his close friends. In fact, he has spoken at Stanley’s Catalysis Conference on a number of occasions. [1] And his teachings on prayer have been adopted by Nancy Leigh DeMoss of Life Action Ministries (more on this later).

Below are some concerns about Batterson’s approach to Scripture and his theological teachings, in addition to the fact that the whole circle prayer methodology is based on an ancient myth and not Scripture:

We are told that every promise in the Bible is ours to claim, no matter the context. For example, Batterson was reading from the book of Joshua concerning the Lord’s promise to Joshua that he would give “you every square inch of land you set your foot on – just as I promised Moses.” As he read this promise given specifically to a biblical character he felt that God wanted him to stake claim to the land that he believed God was giving him and his church (p. 17). Such misuse of Scripture and misappropriation of biblical promises to others, but claimed for himself, are found throughout the book (see pp. 15, 41, 53-55, 59, 89-90, 100-101, 128, 131, 151, 199). Batterson is even willing to mistranslate Scripture to make his point. The most blatant example is Habakkuk 2:1, in which the author inserts “circle” into the verse to support his theology, translating, “I will stand upon my watch, and station me within a circle” (p. 159). The NASB reads, “I will stand on my guard post and station myself on the rampart; and I will keep watch to see what He will speak to me…” Batterson claims that Habakkuk and this text were the inspiration for Honi: “His inspiration for the prayer circle was Habakkuk. He simply did what the prophet Habakkuk had done” (p. 159). This clearly is not true. At no time did the Old Testament prophet (or any other personage in Scripture) draw a circle and then step into it to pray.
Prosperity theology abounds. In addition to the constant use of the word miracle to describe answers to prayer, statements like the following are common: “I’m confident that you are only one prayer away from a dream fulfilled, a promise kept, or a miracle performed” (p. 15), and “[God] allows our small plans to fail so that His big dream for us can prevail” (p. 71). Nor are these mere cheerleading slogans which echo the preaching of Joel Osteen and other prosperity teachers, (pp. 15, 51, 71, 180-188, 197-198); Batterson obviously embraces the theology behind the prosperity gospel which is that visualization plus faith plus verbalization lead to miracles. At one point he tells his readers to record their vision (visualization), have faith and verbalize (pp. 184-185).
Following prosperity methods, He adds that drawing a circle and stepping into it in prayer are the keys to getting what we want from God. Batterson often promises that by drawing circles around what we want will lead to miracles and fulfilled dreams (e.g. p. 16). After all, “God said it, I’ve circled it, and that settles it” (p. 94). This quote is found in the context of a story of a young boy who is unable to talk. A pastor claimed Isaiah 59:21 as a promise from God that someday the boy will be able to speak. Apparently the promise has not been fulfilled ten years later, but his parents have circled it in their Bible and are convinced that God will one day deliver on His promise. The tragedy of accepting false teachings becomes real when a story such as this is read. It is more than a bit irritating that people buy into these deceptions; it is heart breaking (cf. pp. 23, 37, 64, 79-80, 129, 138).
Much of Batterson’s understanding about how God directs us is based upon the idea that the Lord will speak to us directly apart from Scripture. Batterson assures us that we should expect God to prompt us regularly, giving us revelations which carry the full weight of His promises. It is these subjective promises that we can claim, not just biblical promises. In addition to the story above we can expect God to give us the name of our child (p. 26), define our specific purpose in life (p. 29), give us revelation about the purchase of property (pp.40-41, 107), show us how much money He will give us (pp. 63, 67-68), and tell us when to take wool socks to work (p.115). He will occasionally tell us what to preach (p. 131) and prompt us to make phone calls (pp. 200-202). And despite the fact that there is no clear way that these so-called voices can be discerned to be the Lord’s (something he admits), still we need to obey these promptings as we would Scripture (pp. 117-121, 125, cf. p. 208).

Given the obvious problems with the exaggerated claims of Batterson and the clearly unbiblical basis and assertions in reference to prayer circles, what is the attraction? Apparently, the incredible promises given coupled with such little effort (praying inside a drawn circle or walking around the object of one’s desires while praying) are just too much to resist. After all Batterson tells his readers, “The Circle Maker will show you how to claim God-given promises, pursue God-sized dreams, and seize God-ordained opportunities. You’ll learn how to draw prayer circles around your family, your job, your problems, and your goals” (p. 16). In a YouTube video Batterson adds, “You can’t just read the Bible, you need to start praying circles around the promises.”[2] I guess such an offer is just too good to refuse for many Christians. Of course, those who actually analyze Batterson’s promises in light of Scripture, especially that the basis of prayer circles is an ancient myth and not the authoritative Word of God, will see through the deception.

The Influence of Prayer Circles

Batterson is clearly misguided in The Circle Maker. And after critiquing his many other theological problems, his embracing of the prosperity gospel, his emphasis on the subjective, and belief in additional revelations to believers today, his atrocious hermeneutics and misuse of Scripture, it would be easy to dismiss him as a confused pastor who will affect only those already in his theological camp. If that were the case, I would not have bothered to write this analysis. I have already mentioned that Andy Stanley has promoted Batterson and his errant teachings to tens of thousands of Christian leaders and young adults by inviting him to preach at his conferences. Even Glenn Beck is promoting The Circle Maker. [3] But it gets worse. At Revive Our Hearts women’s conferences sponsored by Life Action Ministries and led by Nancy Leigh Demoss, unsuspecting Christian women, mostly from the conservative end of evangelicalism, have been introduced to prayer circles as an acceptable and biblical method of praying. Nancy DeMoss has been on the staff of Life Action Ministries since 1980. She is the author of numerous books and a sought-after conference speaker. She is also the host and teacher for Revive our Hearts and Seeking Him, two nationally syndicated radio programs. In an article found on Revive Our Hearts’ website, DeMoss writes:

It’s a challenge Life Action has issued repeatedly to men, women, teens, and even children. It’s a simple expression of a heart prepared for God’s work—and no matter how many times it’s done, it keeps illustrating something critical about the revival we are praying and pleading for God to send. It involves a simple piece of chalk. This piece of chalk represents a turning point, a moment of surrender, a change of heart. It marks the difference between those who would pray, “Lord, change them” and those with humility to plead, “Lord change me!” It is a piece of chalk with which we kneel and draw a circle around ourselves and then look to heaven expectantly and pray, “Lord God, send revival, and begin it right here in this circle.” [4]

Shortly after writing this short piece DeMoss spoke at a True Woman Conference in Indianapolis in September of 2012. There chalk circles were drawn throughout the conference room and the ladies at the conference were told to step into these circles for prayer. An article on the website states:

On the very first night Nancy Leigh DeMoss opened the conference by sharing an illustration of a British evangelist of the 1860s, who encouraged people to “Go home, lock yourself in your room, draw a circle around yourself, and pray fervently that God would start a revival within that chalk circle.” Throughout the convention center white circles had been applied to the floor. Women were encouraged to step into the circle to ask God to start His work of revival in their heart first. It was thrilling to see that occurring throughout the conference. [5]

Pictures of participants doing so can be found at the conference’s web address as well as below:…. Those attending the conference were also sent home with little bags containing chalk so that they could immediately begin drawing prayer circles at home and perhaps at their churches.

A dialogue among the main speakers including Jan Parshall, Priscilla Shirer, Joni Eareckson Tada and DeMoss is recorded below. Over 8000 women attended the conference from all over the country and many other parts of the world:

Leslie (interviewing the others): This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Monday, October 1. Today, we’ll hear highlights from the conference and we’ll hear from some of the True Woman speakers. They’ll describe the work God did in their own hearts as they sought the Lord for personal revival.

Bob: We began the event first thing by asking all of the speakers who were going to be speaking in the main session to come up on the platform.

Nancy (conf): There was an old-time revivalist whose name was Gypsy Smith. Perhaps you’ve heard of him. The story is told that Gypsy Smith would go to a town to preach—he was an itinerant preacher. He would come to the town where he had been invited, and he would come to the outskirts of the town. He would stand and draw a circle in the ground, in the dirt on the outskirts of town. Then he would step inside that circle, and he would begin to pray for God to move in that town. He would say, “Lord, please send revival to this community. But, oh God, let the revival start inside this circle. Let it begin in me.”

Holly Elliff: I loved that during the conference around the auditorium and in various places there were circles. And those circles were symbolic because they represented the fact that every woman wanted to put herself there, draw a circle around her own life and say, “God, what do You want to do in me?”

Nancy (conf): And as you pass by those in the days ahead, I want to encourage you, if there is room, to just step inside one of those circles.

Bill Elliff (conf): And those circles just remind us that it’s always personal . We can get real theoretical about revival and awakening. But it starts with me. And if it doesn’t start with me, if it doesn’t start with you, then it doesn’t start.

Leslie Bennett: I can’t live on yesterday’s revival. The white chalk circles all around this conference center were a constant reminder that I need revival. Every moment of every day I must humble myself before God and ask Him to come into my heart to do what only He can do as I seek Him and I’m repentant before Him—that He will make my heart afresh. He will make my heart anew and fan the flames of my heart for Jesus. I so appreciated that reminder as we went about the conference all weekend long. Revival starts with me.

Nancy (conf): Your face, Lord, I will seek.

Leslie: Not with anybody else. It’s not them. It’s me.

Nancy (conf): It’s not my brother, not my sister, not my mother, not my pastor, not my friend who came with me. It’s me, oh, Lord, standing in the need of You.

Bob (conf): One of the unique things about the way the stage is set up this year is that the speaker’s podium, the platform podium, there’s a large white circle around it.

Nancy (conf): Because seeking Him starts right here in our hearts as we’re speaking.

Bob (conf): And so as we’re calling women to seek God and to seek Him for revival in their own lives and then in their churches and then in our nation, we’ve drawn a circle around the podium.

Joni : Because all the speakers had an opportunity to stand in it. And of course, I had an opportunity to wheel inside that circle. May revival begin with me.

Juli: I’m preaching to myself first. I’m the first one who needs the very messages coming out of my mouth.

Bob (conf): You can’t go and call women to a place if you’re not ready to go there yourself. That’s hypocrisy.

Joni: May renewal in the church begin with me inside that circle.

Nancy (conf): And to step inside that circle and say, “Lord, would You send revival to my family? Would You send revival to my church? Would You send awakening to our nation, to our world? We desperately need it. But oh, Lord, would You start the revival inside this circle? Let it begin in me.”

Janet: So let me tell you what happened for me as a speaker when I stepped into that circle. I was under very strong conviction. David said, “My sins are ever before me.” That’s what I felt when I was in that circle. I thought, “Lord, I’m not here to teach these women. I’m here to seek Your face.” [6]

There is no desire here to question the sincerity of these women, nor their Christian character, nor is their doctrinal content as a whole being challenged. But this is just the point. Even among Christian leaders who take solid theological stands, and who are well-respected within conservative circles we are finding a strange acceptance of a practice found nowhere in Scripture. Unfortunately, however, prayer circles can be found in many pagan religions. American Indians, Muslims, Hindus and Mormons all practice prayer circles. [7] And even Wiccans use circles in their practice of magic. [8] This is not an accusation that those using prayer circles are participating in witchcraft or pagan religions. It is to say that there is nothing distinctively Christian about prayer circles. As a matter of fact, there is nothing Christian about them at all since they do not stem from Scripture.

Biblical Prayer

To hear all the praise being poured out on Mark Batterson’s The Circle Maker and prayer circles, the unaware child of God might swear that this kind of prayer is what Jesus practiced and taught His disciples. But this is not true. As a matter of fact, circle prayers are not mentioned in the Bible at all. David did not write a psalm about them, Jesus did not mention them, and the epistles, while calling on us to pray without ceasing, are silent on the subject. Paul, in his marvelous New Testament prayers (e.g. Ephesians 1:15-23; 3:14-21; Colossians 1:9-14) ignores them. At no time or place in all of the Word of God are we commanded, told to examine, follow as a model, or use circles for our prayers.

It would be good to close this paper with a very brief overview of what the Bible teaches about prayer. It is not as if the Bible has no instruction concerning how to pray. And it is always of utmost importance to begin with Scripture on any subject and let it inform us before we jump in another direction. What do we know about prayer from God’s Word? There is so much mentioned concerning prayer in the Bible that whole volumes could not do it justice, so we will narrow our scope to just one incident in the life of Jesus. When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray (Luke 11:1), what did He say? Did He say, “Well, boys, first you draw a circle in the sand; next you stand in the circle and pray for what you want”? Not at all. In Luke 11:2-4 He gives them what we often call the Lord’s Prayer. It begins with God and His greatness. Next it focuses on the big picture of God’s plan for the future – His kingdom. Concerning the individual the requests are simple. While there is certainly nothing wrong with bold prayers, and there are many found in Scripture, most are not “big, audacious, and hairy” as Batterson calls for (p. 179). The disciples were taught to ask for daily physical needs, “Give us each day our daily bread.” And they were to seek the forgiveness of their sins even as they forgave others. And finally they were to ask for deliverance from temptation. While other prayers in the Bible, especially the prayers found in the epistles mentioned above, line out many other things for which we are to pray, it is most instructive to read Jesus’ answer to a direct question about how to pray. How simple, clear, free of gimmicks, and authentic is this example of prayer. No true Christian wants to minimize the power of prayer, but it must be prayer as taught in Scripture not based on myth and/or invented by people.




[4] www.



Only portions of this dialogue are recorded. The full conversation can be read on the link above.