Lifeway: Jesus Wouldn’t Be Calling If They Really Had Doctrinal Guidelines
BY BUD AHLHEIM · NOVEMBER 1, 2016
“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.”
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.
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
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]