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Identifying False Teaching in Christian Bookstores

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Wolves in the Pulpit

Dr. Tom Pennington, of Countryside Bible Church, in Southlake, TX, features his expository sermons here.  From that collection, a particular 3-part series  is showcased at The Berean Library entitled, “Wolves in the Pulpit,” from Matt 7:15-20.  Links are part 1, part 2 and part 3.  Part three contains a list of 10 ways how to fall prey to false teachers (minute marker 42:55).  Many of the “wolves in sheep’s clothing,” seen below, have authored books, including bestsellers, sold in Christian bookstores.  Beware!  

February 4, 2014, Janet Mefferd talked with Pastor Pennington on this specific series in a summarized fashion.  Excellent!

This is a very significant topic in the church as sheep are prone to stray and be misled.  Dr. Pennington is one such knowledgeable and discerning undershepherd who teaches us from God’s Word how to identify false teachers to beware of so as not to be misled as Jesus, Paul, Peter, John and Jude warned (Titus 1:9).

Ultimately, a false teacher cannot mislead a true sheep.  Praise the Lord!  The Shepherd will bring His sheep unto Himself.  However, sheep can be temporarily misled if they are new believers who do not have knowledge and discernment from God’s Word.  This happened to me twice, before and after conversion.  The first time I was misled by the Catholic religion.  The second time I was misled, it happened after being a fairly new convert in the church.  The church growth/seeker-sensitive, prosperity false gospel peddled by false teachers in the church,  “wolves in sheep’s clothing,” led me to a dangerous false pasture where I barely grew as a Christian nor produced much fruit for God.  Here’s the scary part.  I thought I was growing and serving the Lord in a pleasing way.  However, I would learn by God’s grace-filled correction from His Word that it was not as such.

Another “target” that Dr. Pennington highlights that false teachers prey on are the ones “who want to hear they can have a relationship with the Lord and yet live anyway they wish.”  As in, false teachers tickling itchy ears for people’s felt-needs and  self-centered living, giving license to sin, rather than preaching with an emphasis on Christ and His gospel to repent and live an obedient, holy life, by God’s grace, for the love and glory of God and for the love and interests of others.  Another “target,” or easy prey, of false teachers are those who sick and poor.

Dr. Pennington takes us back to Balaam as the earliest example of a false prophet, in Numbers, to the New Testament teachings and warnings concerning false teachers. He points us to three main markers seen in the character and conduct, content and converts of false teachers that will be identified in their fruit.

~Some Highlights from Dr. Pennington’s Series:

I.  Look at Their Fruit

Mt 7:20:  “So then you will know them by their fruits.”  Look at the fruit!   Look at the total of his character/conduct, content and converts.

A.  Examine Their Character and Conduct

False Teachers Will Demonstrate:

1.  Motivated by Greed (Balaam in Numbers & 2 Pt 2:15; Micah 3:5,11; Matt 23:25; Mark 12:40; Lk 16:14; 1 Tim 6:5; 2 Pt 2:3,14-15; Jude 11);

2.  Sensuality and Sexual Sin (Jer 23:14; Rom 16:18; Jude 4, 17; 2 Pt 2:10, 13-14, 18);

3.  Arrogance (2 Tim 3:4; 2 Pt 2:10, 18; Jude 8, 16)

 B.  Examine the Content of the Teaching Against the Scripture (Lk 6:43-45; Dt 13; Acts 17:11; 2 Cor 4:2; 1 Jn 4:6).  1 Jn 4:1-21 Guide:  Does it exalt Christ   and His gospel?  Does it promote true holiness and likeness of Christ?  Does it promote God’s Word?   Does his teaching promote love for God and others?

 C.  Examine Their  Converts (Lk 6:40; 2 Pt 2:2; Rev 2:20).  Do they act in godliness or licentiousness?

II.  Dr. Pennington’s Examples of False Teachers and Their Bad Fruit Doctrine: (go to minute marker 36:18 of Part 3)

A.  Pope Francis & the entire Roman Catholic System:  because it teaches a false works-based gospel;

B.  Cults (like Mormonism and Jehovah’s Witnesses):  because they have a false God than the biblical God and a different Jesus and a different gospel;

C.  Church of Christ (COC)/Galatian Heresy:  adding baptismal regeneration to salvation that is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone (though many have left this heresy in COC, many remain);

D. Post-modern (Emergent) Teachers:  Brian McLaren and Rob Bell who undermine cardinal, essential doctrines of the Christian faith;

E. Faith Healers and All Who Preach the Prosperity Gospel (list is very long, primary ones listed):  Creflo Dollar, TD Jakes, Joyce Meyer, Jan Crouch and her late husband Paul Crouch, Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, Paula White, Jesse Duplantis, Robert Tilton, Eddie Long, Todd Bentley, Fred Price, Benny Hinn, Joel Osteen, etc.  Spectrum ranges from the TBN gaudy-type to the intelligent, hip, smooth, edgy-type;

F. Beware Parents:  Christian colleges where in religion class teachers systematically tear down the faith once delivered to the saints.  *My note here:  we have seen this first hand with ecumenism at a local Christian school grades K-12.

III.  Judgment of False Teachers:  Mt 7:19-20; 2 Pt 2:2-6,9-10; Jude 13-15.

A.  Examples of God’s Judgment in Scripture:

1.  God did not spare the angels of disobedience;

2.  The Great Flood;

3.  Sodom and Gomorrah, etc.

Why does God allow false teachers?  Answer:  1 Cor 11:19.  God allows false teachers because He is removing the chaff.  Allowed by God to test hearts.  True believers stick!


Be a good Berean!  (Acts 17:11)

“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy!  To the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord be glory, majesty, dominion and authority before all time, today and forever!  Amen.” (Jude 1:24-25)

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Bonhoeffer, by Eric Metaxas

Biblical Resources:

Eric Metaxas’ Testimony Promotes His Yale Education, Catholicism, New Age and Jungian Thought.  Let me just start off with there are so many things that throw red flags up in this testimony, obviously and subtly.  I won’t address them all, but if you are biblically discerned, by God’s grace, and interested in noting everything, you will catch them, after you watch it about a half dozen times, like I did.  I’ll just take a look at some things here.  For example, how ironic that Metaxas starts off with, “We’re talking about reality here…” and then moves to talking about dreams.  He dreamed that God confirmed that Eric accepted Christ because God used Eric’s OWN SYMBOLS SYSTEM to “one up him” to “blow his mind.”  WHOA!  That God showed Eric, in his dream, that Eric accepted Christ, in his collective unconsciousness which talks to his collect consciousness (Jungian).  Secondly, it isn’t biblical to say we “accepted Christ.”  It is we sinners who have been in rebellion toward God and need to repent and be accepted by Him.  We “receive Christ,” in the words of the apostle Paul, as in we receive the free gift of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Christ alone.  It is not the notion of accepting Christ that constitutes salvation.  That mentally or emotionally agreeing, mental ascent, to what Christ has done, His ministry, death, burial and resurrection to the right hand of the Father is not saving faith!  It is setting Him apart in our hearts, a convicting and regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, that enables us to repent and believe the gospel after the Lord shows us our sinfulness by His grace.  When this happens, you know it!  There is no question about it.  And you don’t need a dream to confirm it.  In fact, that is unbiblical.  Thirdly, confusion with Eric was noted when he said “something happened.”  Again, there is no question or confusion when Christ reveals Himself to a lost sinner.  It was “pain,” not sin, that made him consider praying to God with his friend.  This would be praying for a felt need rather than repenting for sin.  Fourthly, his testimony  is not only full of New Age teaching which he literally dreamed up, but it is blasphemous and spews arrogance and idolatry!  He depicts Christ as a goldfish, rather a “golden fish” (would that be like a golden calf?) which he pulled by the tail out of a lake, breaking through the ice to “inert water,” which he claimed represented his collective unconsciousness (Jungian).

Where was the gospel in this testimony?  It was never mentioned.  The Bible and the terms of the gospel (Lk 9:23-26, Mk 1:15; Jn 14:15), the narrow Gate that leads to the narrow path to life/salvation (Mt 7:13-14), the only Way to the Father, JESUS (Jn 14:6), what God has set in place for being born again, were never mentioned.  Metaxas claims he found Christ through the New Age, that occultic Jung, who communicated with spirits, led him there and that God confirmed this to Eric in a dream where God used Eric’s symbols.  Big red flag!  Lots of ‘em!  We do not find Christ, or have assurance of our salvation, by any other means other than the Bible (Rom 1:16; Rom 10:17; 1 Jn 5:13) and with the words of Paul again, by the “Holy Spirit testifying to our spirit,” (Rom 8:16). Not to what psychoanalyst Carl Jung calls the “collective conscious” or “collective unconsciousness.”  Metaxas is dangerously broadening the Bible’s definition of what it means to be truly born again.

He describes his testimony with New Age terms like “energy force,” “collective unconsciousness (Jungian),” “New Age Eastern force,” “cosmic energy force,” “connects us all together,” “not old-fashioned like a man with a beard on a cloud or Jesus.”  YIKES!!!!!  His testimony is one of many others directed and produced by Redeemer Presbyterian Church, pastored by Tim Keller, in NYC, every one of these testimonies widening the narrow door.  Eric’s testimony comes complete with New Age animation and sounds by Chaos Theory Music.

This is a classic example of a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Whether he realizes it or not, he is deceived by the false teachings of the New Age/New Thought and Psychology Movement coupled with his own pride and arrogance. He did make a true, biblical statement, which many wolves do.  Specifically, Eric commented about following Christ, even if it means to suffer for Him and to consider it joy, but then quickly turned to New Age false teaching.  He is promoting his books, the New Age, his Yale education and Bonhoeffer as a sound, biblical theologian, which he is not.

Metaxas is promoted and endorsed by Mormon Glenn Beck and purpose-driven, seeker-sensitive, ecumenical Rick Warren.  That should tell us something in and of itself!  In the interview, Metaxas says proudly that Bonhoeffer is a “Barthian,” as if this is a good thing.  Karl Barth was endorsed and promoted by Roman Catholic Pope Pius XII as being as great a theologian as Thomas Aquinas, who was a pagan Catholic that taught mysticism and contemplative prayer.  

Dr. Gary Gilley’s Take on Dietrich Bonhoeffer who purports sacramental regeneration in The Cost of Discipleship 

Apprising Ministries Gathers HERETICAL Quotes on Bonhoeffer who doubted the virgin birth and resurrection and denied Christ’s sinless life and deity in The Cost of Discipleship


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