The Berean Library

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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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

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The Great Emergence ~How Christianity is Changing and Why, by Phyllis Tickle

 Biblical Resources:   

Richard Bennett (ex-Roman Catholic priest) of the Berean Beacon (richly informative video below) Exposes the Dangerous Ties of Pagan, Mystic Religions (specifically Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism) in the Emergent Church Movement (ECM). Mr. Bennett discusses the false teachings of Phyllis Tickle (The Great Emergence) and many, many more, like the Jesuits, Ignatius of Loyola, Thomas Merton. Also discussed is Richard Foster and Tony Jones who have been major post-modern contributors to the ECM false teachings.


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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

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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

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Seizing Your Divine Moment, by Erwin Raphael McManus

Biblical Resources:

Endorsements for this Book Include David Jeremiah, etc.

Phil Johnson of Pyromaniacs

Ken Silva of Apprising Ministries



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The Barbarian Way, by Erwin Raphael McManus

Biblical Resources:

Kjos Ministries’ Review

Let Us Reason’s Review

Phil Johnson of Pyromaniacs

Ken Silva of Apprising Ministries


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Soul Cravings, by Erwin Raphael McManus

Biblical Resources:

Dr. Gary Gilley’s Review

Phil Johnson of Pyromaniacs

Ken Silva of Apprising Ministries


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Wide Awake, by Erwin Raphael McManus

Biblical Resources:

Phil Johnson of Pyromaniacs

Ken Silva of Apprising Ministries


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Chasing Daylight, by Erwin Raphael McManus


Biblical Resources:

Phil Johnson of Pyromaniacs

Ken Silva of Apprising Ministries

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