Lifeway: Jesus Wouldn’t Be Calling If They Really Had Doctrinal Guidelines

Lifeway: Jesus Wouldn’t Be Calling If They Really Had Doctrinal Guidelines


Lifeway Image

“In a recent interview, [Hatmaker] voiced significant changes in her theology of human sexuality and the meaning and definition of marriage — changes which contradict LifeWay’s doctrinal guidelines,” LifeWay spokesman Marty King told Baptist Press today (Oct. 27). “As a result, LifeWay has discontinued selling her resources.” (Source, Baptist Press)

While many on social media and blog-sites were commending the bold stand Lifeway made in pulling Jen Hatmaker’s books after her views on the LGBT issue and her position on gay “marriage” hit the front pages of the Christian “news” media, I sat back somewhat slack-jawed.

Disregard the comment from Lifeway spokesman Marty King that implied Hatmaker had “voiced significant changes” in her interview with Religion News Service. Her comments in that interview were not breaking news. Her positions on this issue were known quite some time before. The discerning sorts among the Christian world easily, and early, recognized the politically liberal and insufficiently biblical positions of Hatmaker. King’s statement on behalf of the 185 store media wing of the SBC was, then, inaccurate.

Though the commendations of many for Lifeway’s move to dump Hatmaker are themselves laudable, they seemed to fail to recognize the utter hypocrisy of this agency in doing so. Indeed, while we should applaud the removal of any unbiblical, false teaching proponent from the shelves of this purported “Christian” bookstore, the positive press Lifeway generated by their bold stand for “doctrinal guidelines” is bewildering.lwevent

Given what Lifeway has done with Hatmaker, when compared to what they yet allow to remain on their shelves and what they continue to promote – especially through the heresy-rich marketing sub-brand known as Lifeway Women – the tagline of the SBC agency should no longer be “Biblical Solutions for Life,” but something more akin to “Doctrinal Hypocrisy For Sure.”

Lifeway women's event

Dumping an author for her unbiblical support for gay marriage and her “an LGBT relationship can be holy” attitude was certainly the right move. But, given the abundant heresy that Lifeway hawks, it shows that they are more concerned about shooting press-gaining salvos for a socially conservative evangelical constituency than they are truly concerned about “Biblical solutions for life.” Your soul actually matters less than your perception of Lifeway’s care for it.

Lifeway deems it – again, rightly so – inappropriate to sell an author with Scripturally-illicit views on homosexuality, because of “doctrinal guidelines,’ yet they find it doctrinally tolerable to continue promoting and selling works of known false teaching by known false teachers? Are Lifeway’s doctrinal guidelines merely tied to prevalent cultural issues on which they can act and make evangelical hay, in this case with an author who wasn’t evidently sufficiently lucrative to their enterprise that her forced departure would frustrate their financial performance?

When one goes to Lifeway’s website, there are some impressive “Core Values” listed under the web-paged banner of “Vision, Values, and Mission.” While lacking the soteriological import of the Scripture-gleaned TULIP, Lifeway touts its own five points of core values. They are: Trustworthy, Collaborative, Innovative, Comprehensive, and Transformational.

Though these pithy statements may serve sufficiently to quench the SBC’s craving for a “Vision” statement, they represent even less in the way of “doctrinal guidelines” as does the generally-palatable, if not – to some – doctrinally-loose Baptist Faith and Message. The BF&M, by the way, is not referenced on Lifeway’s site as their overriding doctrinal guideline. The five points of Lifeway seem to be all that’s needed.

But by doing the right thing with Hatmaker, even if for back-slapping, self-aggrandizing benefit, it leaves one wondering how seriously Lifeway actually takes their own first pointed claim to doctrinal integrity.

Under their point number one, “Trustworthy,” Lifeway has the heterodoxical boldness to claim, “We believe the Bible is the eternal, inerrant word of God, and is the plumb line for all of our resources, and for everything we say and do. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)”.


“You know the most dangerous places for Christians to go? Christian bookstores. You’d be safer on a swat team.” Justin Peters

If you merely walk the aisles of your nearest Lifeway store – don’t do it; as Justin Peters says, you’d be safer on a swat team than walking into a Christian bookstore – it is evident to anyone with a modicum of Biblical literacy that these folks not only don’t use Scripture as a plumb line, they seem to have taken that line and choked to death any breath of astute, biblical discernment that may once have lived in the agency’s past.

Indeed, having choked discernment to death, they seem to leave a Tyndale-like impression on the doctrinally bewildered who stand in awe of the gross disregard for sound doctrine among their shelves. Where is the burning stake on which they’ve torched the remains of discernment and truth? To claim Scripture as the “plumb line for all our resources” not only tarnishes the integrity of God’s Holy Word, it illuminates the fact that Lifeway is ground zero for heresy.

Jenn Hatmaker heresy lifeway

The most evident, Scripturally-vile blasphemy permitted by, promoted through, and profited from, by Lifeway is the Jesus Calling franchise of heresy. A search for this term on Lifeway’s site returned 208 product “hits.” (See Screen Clip to Left)

Jesus is apparently calling anyone and everyone – outside of His Word, that “plumb line” of Lifeway, by the way – by speaking to a charlatan. There’s Jesus Calling for women (its most eager audience), Jesus Calling for children (because we certainly want to teach them that the Bible isn’t sufficient, making future Andy Stanley pew-sitters, perhaps), Jesus Calling for men (because, yes, men too disregard Scripture and prefer to have their itching ears scratched; men like Thom Rainer, President of Lifeway who permits this heresy to be sold and even a former SBC president, Johnny Hunt, who heartily endorsed it).

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

Christine caine lifeway Beth Moore Christine Caine

The presence, then, of extra-biblical, contemplative heresy like Jesus Calling is evidence that Lifeway actually cares nothing about the “doctrinal guidelines” to which they profess to adhere. Add to that the works of Trinity-denying modalist TD Jakes, the contemplative dangers of Lysa Terkheurst and Priscilla Shirer, the circle making heresy of Mark Batterson, the Scripture-twisting prayer teachings of Anne Graham Lotz, the word-faith, prosperity gospel pastrix Christine Caine, and her heresy-hurling gal-pal, the “I get revelations” Beth Moore, and it’s plain to see that Scripture isn’t only not a plumb line for Lifeway, it’s also not a remotely referenced guideline for them.

Whatever pressures were brought to prompt the agency to dump the gay-endorsing Hatmaker were not, be assured, primarly doctrinal in nature. But by claiming a doctrinal impetus for it, Lifeway has made one thing abundantly clear. It is assuredly the most hypocritical agency of the rapidly racing-to-downgrade Southern Baptist Convention.

The fact is, Jesus would not be calling if Lifeway indeed had doctrinal guidelines. But their driving guideline seems to be the bottom line, and that line can endure the occasional hit for the gratuitous sake of the rare, bold “doctrinal stand.”

Do the right thing, Lifeway. Dump ALL the false teachers. Start actually using that Word as the rule of faith and practice … and, instead of selling junk food for deceived goats, start selling sheep food founded on the clear, sound doctrine of the Word. Doing that would truly be a bold move based on doctrinal convictions.

Otherwise … well … your hypocrisy is showing.

[Contributed by Bud Ahlheim]

Did Hillsong Pastor Carl Lentz share the Gospel on Oprah’s show?

Did Hillsong Pastor Carl Lentz share the Gospel on Oprah’s show?

Steve Kozar over at The Messed Up Church reviews the full video of Hillsong New York’s pastor Carl Lentz speaking to Oprah, and we’ve shared it here with his permission:

Super Pastor Carl Lentz, from Hillsong New York, was interviewed by Oprah Winfrey and presented a confusing version of Christianity that uses some Biblical words, but ultimately had more in common with Oprah’s prominent New Age beliefs, than actual Christianity. You can view the entire video here.

It would have been great if Pastor Lentz would have clearly proclaimed the Gospel of Jesus Christ; people in Oprah’s audience really need to hear it: the Gospel of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. But he didn’t. He really appeared like someone attempting to say Christian things that wouldn’t offend non-Christians. He also proved himself incapable of disagreement with Oprah-even going so far as to agree with her when she said the Holy Spirit is “a thing, a power, a force,” or “divine energy.” Lentz agreed and told her “that’s exactly what it is: a divine energy.” Huh??

Interestingly, just a few weeks ago a major survey was released that showed how a large segment of the Christian population in America believes things that are totally heretical (like the Holy Spirit is a power or force). Carl Lentz proclaimed some of those very same things in this interview. Maybe he was really nervous and forgot what he was saying, but he repeated his murky version of Christianity throughout the entire interview-often getting close to the Gospel without ever proclaiming it.

In the video below, we’ve taken clips from this interview to highlight where Lentz biffs it. You may want to find out where he mimics the uninformed Christians in the State of Theology survey.

Clip 1. His first confused attempt at explaining the “Gospel.” Sort of. Kind of. I guess.

Clip 2. Oprah asks him “Do you believe only Christians can be in relationship with God?” His answer comes immediately: “No.” Although his response could have been much better, I will cut him a little slack, because this is a tricky question that Oprah seems to be using to test him, or even trap him. Because she never defined what she meant by “relationship with God” I’m not going to make too big of a deal out of this (plus, his response gets even worse). He is obviously very sensitive to the charge that Christians are judgmental and narrow-minded, and he seems to be over-compensating. He then goes on to give a pretty incoherent explanation of Jesus’s very clear words “I am the way, the truth and the life…” (without quoting the rest of the verse: “No one comes to the Father but by Me.”) He ventures into universalist territory and says “That’s what this whole Gospel is based on-it’s love…” He seems to be trying to explain something like the Law and the Gospel, but it comes out confusing and contradictory.

Clip 3. This is so unclear that after repeated listening it’s still confusing… Let’s just move on to the next one.

Clip 4. Here is where Pastor Lentz really jumps the shark. He is the poster boy of hip, trendy pastors and he preaches at the most hip and trendy church on earth: Hillsong New York City. But he actually says that they are teaching the ancient faith and it doesn’t need to be hip and trendy. Here’s a proposal for Pastor Lentz: remove your rock band, the lighting crew, the dancers, the sound crew, discontinue the slick marketing videos, and start using Hymnals (with good theology). Stop dressing like an attention-starved rock star. Then ask all the celebrities to stay away for a while (so they can be catechized privately). After you’ve done that, see if your church continues to grow. I dare you. Let’s be honest: Hillsong New York City is an entertaining spectacle and you know it.

Clip 5. Oprah asks him “For you, who is Jesus?” This starts off very clear: “He’s God.” But then he gives a cluster of incomplete phrases like “He’s the answer, He’s the sacrifice, He’s the atonement, He’s the way in…” He’s the answer to what? He’s the sacrifice for what? He’s the atonement for what? He’s the way in to what? His comments almost appear as a response to all the “critical Christians” who think he should be more Biblical and traditional. Yes, these are Christian words from the Bible, but he’s leaving out the full equation. He could have easily completed his thoughts and said something like: “Jesus is the Son of God, the second person of the Trinity. He came to earth as a baby in the miraculous virgin birth, which we celebrate at Christmas, and He was crucified on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins, but He rose from the dead, which we celebrate at Easter. And He’s coming again to judge the living and the dead.”

Clip 6. Oprah cuts him off and inserts her New Age version of faith-which turns Jesus into a mere moral example: “Jesus came to show the way, this is how you do it.” Lentz simply agrees with her. Come on Carl, you know this stuff; Jesus came because wecan’t follow Him good enough; we need a Savior to save us from our sin, not a just moral example to remind us of our sin.

Clip 7. Here’s the bizarre Holy Spirit section, where Pastor Lentz repeats the common heresy that the Holy Spirit is a force or energy-not the third Person of the Trinity.

Clip 8. Here’s where Lentz gives his hip, cool and utterly wrong explanation of Christianity. He says “because of Jesus you have the right to put your hand up and totally start a new cycle. That, to me, is the essence of what we’re trying to do.” What is he talking about? A load of laundry?? Lentz says he’s “trying to get people to allow God to do what only God can do.” This is a pretend God. The true and Living God, revealed by Scripture, spoke the whole universe into existence, and He doesn’t need our permission to do anything.

Clip 9. Here Pastor Carl Lentz totally twists God’s Word by repeating the idea that “Be still and know that I am God” is about me and my own personal happy place. This verse (Psalm 46:10) is not about your own personal happy place. Read it in context. “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

Charles Finney 1792-1875

Charles Finney 1792-1875

Clip 10. Lentz tells Oprah that starting a “relationship with Jesus” (a phrase that doesn’t exist in the Bible) is all about us making a decision and making a commitment, it has nothing to do with God choosing us. It’s all up to us. Charles Finney would be proud of this little Pelagian.

Clip 11. Finally, Oprah asks him “Success is?” Lentz says “Seeing other people thrive. That’s, for me, I couldn’t think of a more successful life than being able to look back and say people’s lives were better because they crossed my path.” This is what any motivational speaker or leadership guru would say (including Brian Houston). If heaven is real, and if hell is real, why would any pastor not mention his concern for the souls of mankind as his primary goal? Why does Pastor Carl Lentz seem only concerned with the temporal well-being of people, instead of their eternal destination?

The Gospel is, by definition, exclusionary. In John 14:6 Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” To his credit, Carl Lentz actually quoted (half of) this verse twice during this interview. But the unbelieving listener would have been given the distinct impression that failing to follow Jesus would only result in a less than ideal life. And besides that, Oprah has established the belief that all religions are, at best, essentially the same, so not choosing Jesus simply leaves open a thousand other spiritual options. This is Oprah Winfrey’s show, after all; she is not going to allow the true Gospel (the one she rejected many years ago) to make an appearance while she’s in charge. That’s why she had Hillsong Pastor Carl Lentz as a guest. He was no real threat. In the end, he and Oprah made everyone comfortable with “whatever works for them.”

As an interesting side note, Bobbie Houston made the following over-the-top comment on Instagram; it really appears like she made a preemptive strike against the criticism that Pastor Lentz brought upon himself:

Read Bud Ahleim’s article about it here: Bobbie Houston: If You Hate Hillsong, You Hate God

Here’s a LOT more information about Brian Houston (Carl Lentz’s mentor and senior Pastor) and his Hillsong church: “The Brian Houston & Hillsong Cornucopia of False Doctrine,  Abuse, Obfuscation & Money Generation”

For those of you who think it’s mean and unloving to criticize Hillsong, Carl Lentz (or any other popular teacher) here’s a list of Bible verses to consider: Shocking Stuff You’re Not Supposed to Know.

If you’re having a knee-jerk reaction to try and defend Carl Lentz or Hillsong, check out: Confirmation Bias: Why You Are Protecting Your False Beliefs.

Finally, here’s an important article that will help you be more discerning and a lot less gullible: Defusing Demonic Dirty Bombs.