Quite often we will receive an email asking if we have researched a certain Christian author, teacher, or leader. More often than not, this is an influential woman teacher we are asked about. And rather than being disheartening, this blesses us that people – especially other ladies – are concerned about who is teaching good doctrine and who is not.
We received one of these emails just last week and it got me to thinking. Why don’t we just share at least part of the process we go through when researching a Christian woman leader or teacher? Maybe it will help you understand a little more what goes on here on the backside of this blog and our email inbox! And perhaps it will give you courage to do the same. Besides, we are currently going through the chapter on false teachers in 2 Peter in Sunday School, so a couple posts here may have to do with this topic.
Even though we used the term “follow” in the title of this post, it’s not one we enjoy using. Yet it does seem to be what many so often do these days – they read something great from a leader or author and begin to follow their every book, post, and tweet. You have probably heard people claim how a new, popular book changed their life! Why don’t we say this more often about the God-breathed words of Scripture?
There is and should be only One that we follow on this earth: Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God. As born-again Christian women, we bow the knee to One, we follow only His teachings, and live to please only Him. Show me a woman who is more excited to tell you how God, through His Word and Spirit, has done more to change her life and make her like Christ – than any other bestselling Christian book . . . and you are looking at a woman who knows the Father.
So who should we read? Who should we listen to? Are we to cut out all popular teachers?
No, we are not saying all teachers are wrong. Sometimes if you speak caution, you begin to leave the impression to others that you think there is no one teaching truth in the world anymore. This is not so. But, however, you may have to dig a little deeper than the bestselling shelf at Barnes & Noble Bookstore.
Since we are asked often about teachers, especially women teachers, we are going to be addressing them here. And here are four questions to ask concerning a woman leader. However, please remember there could and should be many more questions – but this is a jumping off point to get us women to use these minds God gave us! For instance, a reader already mentioned using the headcovering stance as another sifting question. This is good, and I just want to encourage you ladies to think this through with your husbands. They are our authority and, if they are born again believers, they have much wisdom.
Four Questions on Women Teachers
1. What does she believe about women preaching in the church or teaching men?
I Timothy 2:12-14 says, “But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.”
“Usurp” means to seize and hold onto by force or without legal right. We women were lovingly and uniquely created to be a helpmeet to our husbands. We were not given the legal right to take over their position, nor to teach them. This would include preaching.
So if we find out this woman we are researching does indeed preach or teach to men or mixed audiences, this is our first huge red flag. By doing so, she is in direct rebellion to these verses in Timothy.
Now here are a few more questions to get you thinking: Why would I trust what else this woman teaches – if I see she has already shunned these verses? Can she have the protection of God when she has stepped out from under her authority (the man)? And if she is no longer protected spiritually, wouldn’t Satan more easily be able to insert his lies into her teachings?
2. Does she claim to have special revelation or a better way to the Christian life?
It seems that so many these days want to be popular and famous. And it’s apparent Satan is using the old trick of secret knowledge to elevate some people who honestly should remain silent. If a teacher claims to have a better way of doing the Christian life than what is clearly laid out in Scripture, or they hold the secret key to happiness and prosperity – be very careful.
It is true that God will continually be sanctifying us, drawing us ever closer to Him, and showing us another layer of truth to the Scriptures. We are not saying the Holy Spirit doesn’t help us to understand the words of Jesus better and give us enlightenment as to what they mean – for that is part of the Spirit’s work. John 14:26 says “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”
The Spirit will only confirm what is already in the Bible – what Jesus already said to us.
If a leader is pushing a better way – at the least, this can lead to a heart full of pride on their part. At the worst, it has the potential to become a special revelation – something that is not contained within the Bible itself. And this, my friends, is where the devil wants us to be. Adding to and taking away from the Holy Scriptures.
3. Does she push “hearing God’s voice”?
Again, we are not saying God does not speak to us. In fact, we have recently felt where God’s Spirit was leading us with very direct and specific promptings. Ideas or Scripture would come to mind that showed us what the next step in a sensitive situation should be. But we also sought counsel from older, wiser people – and we backed it up with Scripture.
Regarding teachers, we are concerned when a woman is overly focused on how others should hear God’s voice. This obsession can get out of hand and you can end up claiming everything that comes to mind during your devotions is from God, like Sarah Young has done with Jesus Calling.
We are also not saying that God does not have the power to speak in an audible voice. But there is a Biblical test that is simple to apply – it is contained within I John 4:1-4, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world. You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”
What God brings to your mind will never contradict Scripture. ALWAYS back up the direction/speaking/voices you hear with Scripture. The Bible also says our heart is deceitful above all things (Jeremiah 17:9). Not every thought to come to our minds is from God.
4. Have we applied the time test?
A while ago, I began to be concerned about Jen Hatmaker – but had nothing really big and specific that I could put my finger on. You will find that false teachings coming out these days (especially those regarding the Emergent Church theology) are slippery and hard to pinpoint – rather like nailing jello to a wall. However, as time passed, she showed her fruits when she approved of homosexual marriage. This was sad, but not entirely surprising.
So if you still have concerns after applying the first three questions and are getting negative answers to those, don’t discount the caution in your spirit. Time will tell one way or the other. Jesus said in Matthew 7:20 (regarding false prophets), “Wherefore by their fruits, ye shall know them.” Remember that fruit can take a long time to mature.
So if we must answer “yes” to any of the questions above, immediately a red flag is raised in our minds and we proceed with great caution. And if there is need for caution, we then think of it this way: Would we be able to recommend this as someone our 12-year-old daughter should learn from?
There is always a hesitation in our spirits to post anything controversial like this, yet we know it is also needful. This is especially driven home considering the emails we get asking for information on leaders. So we hope that with posting these questions here, it will encourage you women who read this and are concerned – to do research of your own.
This is going to be your best bet against the false teachings that are headed our way: Know the truth of the Word thoroughly – so that you will recognize the lies.
If you wish to do some research, here are a few websites that have helpful information on current leaders. Again, please remember that we may not believe the same as these websites in all doctrine, but they do their research well and from a biblical standpoint.
May God bless those of you who are concerned for the souls in your keeping!
We need more like you . . .