The Berean Library

Identifying False Teaching in Christian Bookstores

You are currently browsing the Seeker-Sensitive/Church Growth/Purpose-Driven category.

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)

Add a comment

The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts, by Gary Chapman


Biblical Resources:

The second weekend of the National Association of Nouthetic Counseling Conference (NANC) 2013, in San Antonio, TX, concluded yesterday. Dr. Stuart Scott mentioned the book briefly during one of his sessions!  I wanted to thank him in person for doing so, explaining how this book was a topic of conversation with a dear sister earlier that same day!

I shared with him the concerns I conveyed that morning to her, which he confirmed as accurate.  Also, Dr. Scott informed me of David Powlison’s chapter-critique from his book, Seeing with New Eyes.  Dr. Scott said, “It is basically all about conditional love.  I’ll scratch your back and you scratch mine. That is why even pagans love to read it.”

This book appeals to inflating personal egos, felt-needs, passions, desires, must-haves above God and His commands.  It fuels covert idolatry, idols of the heart.  It turns people’s hearts away from worshiping Him as His servant in His Kingdom for His glory and good pleasure towards setting up their own kingdoms with their rules of how they are to be served and pleased.  This book is subtitled, “The Secret to Love that Lasts.”  That would be self-love.  Not love of God and others.

David Powlison’s Review, Love Speaks Many Languages Fluentlyreveals how Chapman’s book teaches a secular model on marriage that is rooted in conditional love ideology.  As Dr. Scott referenced, “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine,” says Powlison, is the gist of Chapman’s 5LL.  In other words, “I’ll love you if you love me,” or “I’ll meet your needs if you meet mine.”  That plays out to the 50%-50% mentality at the end of the day.  Or 100%-100% could be deemed correct.  After all, that sounds exactly like what the world’s psychologists refer to as a win-win situation, doesn’t it?

However, my beloved sisters, that is a far cry from the biblical model for God’s design for marriage which is all about sacrificial love, exemplified in Christ, selflessly serving and loving each other, unconditionally.  “I’ll scratch your back even if you don’t scratch mine.”  “I’ll love you, even if you don’t love me in return.”  “I am here to serve you.”  This looks like 100%-0%.[1]  And because of the hope that is promised to believers in Christ, we are in a no-lose situation (no matter our circumstances, married or single).[2]

Remember, in the Old Testament, Hosea and his harlot-wife?  In this true story, we read the reflective depiction of the perfectly loving and faithful YWHW to His chosen, ever-wavering-from-covenant Israel.  In the New Testament, the perfect model of love and obedience is Christ who came to serve not be served.  His sacrificial atonement on the cross, the giving of Himself for His bride is God’s perfect love manifested in the Son.

We must understand it is the act of giving oneself, not feelings and/or emotions, that is primary in loving.  Our giving and serving will be imperfect.  We are, after all, still sinners by nature.  But, nonetheless, saved by grace, we must strive after Christ!  Christ loved me and gave Himself up for me (Gal 2:20).  God so loved that He gave His one and only Son (Jn 3:16).  He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins (1 Jn 4:10).  We must seek to obey to love, serve and be merciful in Christian love without the expectation of a return (Lk 6:32-36).

Drawing nearer to this figure of 100%-0%, living life here in marriage, for regenerated sinners is biblical and speaks volumes of love languages while each spouse is being transformed into the image of their Savior, Christ the Lord, in whom all hope resides. By God’s unending grace, repentance for sin and faith in Christ, in obeying His commands in humble servanthood to please Him with all thankfulness, this is where sanctification happens for the married couple through the indwelling Holy Spirit by the Word (Jn 17:17; Eph 5:22-33; 1 Thess 4:2-8; 1 Thess 5:18).

Though Powlison recognizes some practical, helpful application by Chapman toward thoughtfulness, the argument continues that even pagans do that for the give-to-get conquest. And for us, from this former mindset we must flee!

Hence, from Powlison’s Berean review, we can conclude that looking to Chapman and his book for advice, and all its spin off versions for children, teens and singles, is not wise.  It will send one in the opposite direction of God’s Word, building a house on sand (Mt 7:26-27).  As always, sisters, be alert and avoid any opposing or conflicting theologies toward God’s Word (Psalm 1:1-6).  Refuse to receive vain, empty, ear-tickling philosophies which are assuredly found in psychology models and practices (Col 2:8).

If your marriage needs help, may you be encouraged here to seek biblical counseling for you and your husband through the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC renamed) or pastors, elders, teachers in like-mindedness honoring the doctrines of the authority and sufficiency of the Scriptures for all matters of life, faith and heart/mind/soul/spirit.

Recommended Books:

1.  Strengthening Your Marriage, by Wayne A. Mack

2.  The Exemplary Husband:  A Biblical Perspective, by Stuart Scott

3.  The Excellent Wife:  A Biblical Perspective, by Martha Peace


1.  The National Association of Nouthetic Counselors (NANC) Conference, San Antonio, TX, 2013, Dr. James Allen Fain III.

2.  Counseling:  How to Counsel Biblically, John MacArthur and The Master’s College Faculty, p. 120. (parenthesis mine)

See Also, False Gospels: The Psychology Movement

Add a comment

The Circle Maker: Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears, by Mark Batterson

  Biblical Resources:

Dr. Gary Gilley’s Book Review

Book Review from Beginning and End Blog Reveals the Abomination of Witchcraft and the Prosperity Gospel in The Circle Maker

From Worldview Weekend, Brannon Howse and Chris Rosebrough Review The Circle Maker


“Mark Batterson’s The Circle Maker will have you praying circles around any situation you are facing.” -Craig Groeschel

“Honi the circle maker is a longtime legendary figure, and Mark Batterson is well on his way.  You will love the freshness of this approach to prayer.”   -John Ortberg

 “Mark Batterson is a master storyteller.  His stories illustrate important biblical truths that convict me in my heart.” -Ruth Graham

From the Velvet Brick Blog, Nancy Leigh DeMoss & True Women’s Conference ’12 Endorse and Utilize Batterson’s Teachings

Add a comment

The Alpha Course, by Nicky Gumbel

Biblical Resources:

Deception in the Church’s Exposé, by Sandy Simpson, with a Report on the Singapore Cell Church Model

Apprising Ministry’s EXCELLENT Berean Examination of Nicky Gumbel’s Teachings, by Michael J. Penfold.  Additional Research at Apprising Ministries Regarding John Piper’s Endorsement for a Preacher, and Desring God Conference 2013 Guest Speaker Candidate, who Utilizes The Alpha Course here

Add a comment

Halftime: Changing Your Game Plan from Success to Significance, by Bob Buford


 Biblical Resources:

A Christmas newsletter began going ga-ga over this book in that it “caused them to analyze, reassess and reaffirm their purpose in life” and “to develop a personal mission statement for the years to come.”  After reading this positive recommendation for Buford, I was compelled to do some research.  Just as we saw a raving promotion for this book in our personal mail, Dr. Gilley doesn’t miss to mention its numerous “great read” recommendations, in all its editions, for the believer in the Christian community.

Dr. Gary Gilley’s Overview 

Add a comment

The Deeper Journey: The Spirituality of Discerning Your True Self, by M. Robert Mulholland Jr.

Biblical Resources:

Dr. Gary Gilley’s Review

Add a comment

One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, by Ann Voskamp

Biblical Resources:

Dr. Gary Gilley’s Review

Bob DeWaay’s Review

John Samson’s Reviews here and here

Cindy’s Review, from No Ordinary Faith Blog





From No Compromise Radio Video, See Pastor Mike Abendroth Below:

Warning: This book contains blasphemous, explicit sexual language for the purpose of describing a believer’s relationship, “Holy Fulfilling” to the Almighty, Eternal, Holy and Righteous Triune God, which is why it is in this library.  It is also a twisted mockery and misinterpretation of The Holy Word of God and of great, past reformers and theologians, like Edwards and Spurgeon, who wrote with contemporary language of their day, not ours.  Thus, the reviews do contain quotes from the book for biblical examination only.  Fasten your seat belts and say a prayer to be able to ‘stomach it.’

Seriously, the pages I read at Amazon and the excerpts in reviews, was more than enough to discern its sensuality and paganism.  It’s as if this is a romance novel for bored Christian women… with the subject eventually being the L**d.  I can’t… No.  I won’t even type it all out here.  The first sentences of Chapter 1, right off, made me say to myself, “Eeeks, should I be reading this!?”  This book is said to be written by a Christian author and is sold in Christian bookstores.  Yet, I thought, “This book can’t be leading to anything of spiritual value.”  I found quite the opposite to be true.

It is spiritually dangerous.  It  appeals to the flesh!  Is describing one’s birth in such a manner really appropriate for a Christian book?  It is unnecessarily descriptive for shock value to immediately draw the reader in… in a barbaric, primeval, seductive, sensual way.   In Mk 7:21-23, Rom 13:13 and Eph 4:19, sensuality is to be put off along with the “old man.”  Further, the tool of sensuality is something that Peter describes false teachers using, in 2 Pt 2:2. We see this specifically with the profuse practice of new spirituality infesting the church with mystical techniques such as contemplative prayer, repeated prayers, lectio divina, yoga, labyrinths, prayer candles and the like. She seems to have an infatuation for the word “blood,” as well.  Her sensual descriptions of stroking her dad’s hair and that of her brother-in-law’s visit at the back door are just the beginning of sensuality unraveling out of control in this book.  As I mentioned, at the end of the spool of thread, it poisonously affects one’s image of a redeemed relationship with the L**d.  Offering such words to a reader that conjure up revolting, sexual imagery with our Holy God is a far cry from “a holy experience,” the name of Ann’s blog.  Rather, it is a sinfully disturbing one.

In addition, I noted:  1)  a statement “after baptism…” her journey began.  Something to that affect.  As if that is the moment of salvation as the Church of Christ denomination wrongly believes; But in this case, it was an infant “christening.”  So, nothing mattered before the christening?  The value of life itself as given by the Creator?  And salvation does not occur at infant baptism which is, according to the Scriptures, for believers only;  2)  a tribute to a Catholic writer, Chesterton; 3) a claim that the author hears/heard God audibly, like Beth Moore and Priscilla Shirer, which always undermines the sufficiency and supremacy of Scripture, while pointing to Gnosticism.  What’s with the female gnosticism in Christianity?  Allow me to inform you.  It’s another false movement in and of itself, which is contributed to and published by Lifeway Christian Stores!

Overall, with such sexual writings of these ‘encounters’ of “Holy Fillings,” finding herself with God, “in Paris,” the romance capital of the world for lovers, I am lead to believe this author has one seriously tainted and perverted imagination, is experimenting with contemplative prayer (demonic influence falsely interpreted as divine during mystic, transcendental meditation) or both.  Needless to say, beware, my sisters in the Lord.

To confirm that, her blog, a holy experience, does reveal the evidence of involvement with and promotion of transcendental meditation!  Several pictures of prayer candles, in the form of a labyrinth, are present as well as the false teachings of pagan mystics like Phyllis Tickle, Brennan Manning, Richard Foster, Adele Ahlberg Calhoun, Henry Nouwen, etc., in authors/books being recommended.

-Karla Tadler



The Passion of the Christ DVD, by Mel Gibson

Biblical Resources:

Mike Gendron’s Review of Proclaiming the Gospel Ministries.

I am so thankful for Mike Gendron, former Catholic, and his ministry to reach Catholics and others with the True Gospel of Jesus Christ. Also, I am glad he addressed, specifically, The Passion of the Christ by Mel Gibson from the Roman Catholic Church (RCC). Droves of people, including myself, watched this film and many endorsed it when it was first released, in 2004, including some big name evangelicals as  seen on Wiki , who are incorrectly described there as “conservative.” I’ll provide the list here:   Billy Graham, James Dobson, Mission America Coalition, Salvation Army, Promise Keepers, National Association of Evangelicals, Campus Crusade for Christ, Focus on the Family, Pat Robertson, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Trinity Broadcasting Network, Rick Warren, Southern Baptist Convention, Jerry Falwell, Max Lucado, Young Life, Tim LaHaye, Chuck Colson, Lee Strobel, Northern Baptist Theological Seminary, Mothers of Pre-Schoolers (MOPS) and the United Methodist Church. But in the paragraphs that follow, you’ll see there are major problems with it. Namely, it promotes the Catholic religion and ecumenism.

The author of the Wiki entry records that Gibson uses a verse like this from the New Testament.  It is stated as such in Wiki, “Behold Mother, I make all things new,” is taken from the Book of Revelation,” being used as such in the screenplay.  That verse would be found in an extra-biblical Catholic bible. Further down in the Wiki entry is written “Virgin Mary” instead of “a virgin, Mary.”   These are mariology titles of the false, man-made, pagan, legalistic Catholic religion which wrongly teaches that Mary is co-redemtrix and co-mediatrix.  According to the Scriptures, these are lies.  Only the Lord Jesus is Redeemer (Acts 4:12; Col 2:13-14; 1 Pt 1:3,19-21; 3:18) and only He is the mediator between God and man (1 Tim 2:5).

Icing on the cake for Gibson would have been an official declaration of endorsement by the pope, which they feverishly tried to get, but supposedly the Vatican makes it a point to “not comment on any artistic works.”  You can see this documented in the Wiki resource, also.

In responding to criticisms of biblical and historical accuracy, as seen at Wiki, Gibson has responded like this, “I think that my first duty is to be as faithful as possible in telling the story so that it doesn’t contradict the Scriptures. Now, so long as it didn’t do that, I felt that I had a pretty wide berth for artistic interpretation, and to fill in some of the spaces with logic, with imagination, with various other readings.”

Did anyone just catch that!?   Again, he said, “I felt that I had a pretty wide berth for artistic interpretation, and to fill in some of the spaces with logic, with imagination, with various other readings.” That dear friends would be called eisegeting Scripture, which comes from the spirit of error.  It means to put into Scripture what you want in order to make it say what you want.   Exegeting Scripture is to correctly study what the Scripture says pulling out of the text its true interpretation, content and meaning for proper application, without adding to or changing or taking anything away from the text.  There is a warning in Revelation 22:18 for anyone who does the former, eisegetes Scripture.

I would like to continue to draw serious attention to the phrase “other readings,” as well.  As noted on Wiki, Gibson’s resources for the making of the fillm included mystic Catholic devotional writings on the crucifixion from two nuns.   Firstly, María de Ágreda who wrote The Mystical City of God. And secondly,  Anne Catherine Emmerich who wrote The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Both of these were cited as being influential in such scenes as Christ suspending from a bridge after His arrest in the Temple and demons who came to attack Judas after he sold Christ for thirty pieces of silver.  A couple more scenes described in Wiki are as follows:  “Other scenes unique to The Passion of the Christ include the one in which the crucified thief who taunted Jesus has his eye pecked out by a crow, and the flashback of the carpenter Jesus building an elevated, four-legged table for a Roman. The scene of Satan carrying a demonic baby during Christ’s flogging has been construed as an imitation of traditional depictions of the Madonna and Child.” More Catholic resources for Gibson included two priests, William J. Fulco and Jonathan Morris, who were part of his consultation team for theological and/or language subjects.

Theses details provide a vivid enough picture, without completing exhausting everything that could be noted of the film.  Suffice it to say, I think we can deduct that Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ is more about Mel’s passion for the pope and promoting paganism.  I heard it said recently that to re-inact the crucifixion is blasphemous and draws away from the sufficiency of the Scriptures alone.  I agree.  We are called to “remember,” the Lord’s death by the Scripture, with the Lord’s Table and everyday in our hearts filled and overflowing with thanksgiving!  We are never called to reproduce it. “It is finished!” If anyone of us were supposed to see it, be an eyewitness, then we would have been there. This film, in doing so with a $30 million budget, grossed over $611 million dollars, all for the name and glory of the Catholic religion.

During this season of remembering and honoring Christ’s sacrifice, with Resurrection Sunday just around the corner, the sales continue to climb in the Christian bookstores, etc.  Resist the urge to jump on the band wagon!  May we be blessed in truly remembering what the Lord has done in a God-pleasing way without this film or re-inacting the crucifixion.  Open your Bibles, be at Church for Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday for the Good News!  The tomb is empty!  He has Risen!  Hallelujah!!!

-Karla Tadler

Add a comment

The Language of Love, by Gary Smalley and John Trent, PhD.

Biblical Resources:

article excerpt: “Smalley, Gary >> Gary Smalley > NavPress author, focuses on counseling, most writings exclude the use of Scripture and focus on humanist psychology and often contrary to Scripture ideas to deal with relationships. Smalley conducts family seminars through his Today’s Family. Smalley has been a leading proponent of right-brain/left-brain pseudoscience aka myth, which claimed to describe personality types by brain hemisphere dominance. Disproved by neuroscientists as well as zero scriptural basis, it claimed to give insights to male/female communication effectiveness.

The popularization of this ‘stuff’ was due to The Language of Love, co-authored by Gary Smalley and fellow psychologist, John Trent and which was published and promoted by Dr. James Dobson’s Focus on the Family Publishing. Smalley and Trent have been frequent guests on Dobson’s radio program. In Winning the War Within, Smalley and Trent endorsed an even more widely accepted myth, that of low self-esteem as being the cause of most of our problems. Apparently “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” is not really the issue to be concerned with. Gary Smalley has been a frequent speaker, promoter and writer for Promise Keepers.”

See Also, False Gospels: The Psychology Movement

Add a comment

Love Wins, by Rob Bell

Biblical Resources:

Kevin DeYoung’s Review

The Gospel Coalition’s pdf of Kevin DeYoung’s Review

Dr. Albert Mohler’s Review

Berit Kjos’ Review

Dr. John MacArthur Warns About Rob Bell’s False Teachings

Sola Sisters’ Review part 1, part 2 and part 3

“If It Looks Like a Duck and Quacks Like a”  …well you know, Tim Challies’ Review

UPDATE (04-24-11): Mart De Haan of the RBC Ministries Network, Including the Long-Standing and Popular Our Daily Bread, Has Referred to Rob Bell as a “Brother” and Considers Bell to be Quite Possibly RIGHT as Seen Here

News Media Commentator, Martin Brashir, Examines Bell’s Teachings, with a ‘Berean Book Review’ in hand… and hits the nail on the head! ☛ “You’re amending the Gospel, the Christian message, so that it’s palatable to contemporary people who find, for example, the idea of heaven and hell very hard to swallow.”  

Brilliant Parody of Rob Bell’s Teachings in Love Wins

Dr. Mohler leads a prayer for Rob Bell

Add a comment