“Save yourselves from this crooked generation!” (Acts 2:40). “Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1 Timothy 4:16). “My brothers if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins” (James 5:19–20). “And have mercy on those who doubt, save others by snatching them out of the fire” (Jude 23).
This will be the first blog in a series in which I wish to address a matter on my heart.
In surveying the church scene in Namibia, I have said on a number of occasions to fellow pastors and elders, “One of our greatest duties in these days is to ‘save’ Christians!” I am not, of course suggesting at all that we can add to the great saving work of Christ. Christ alone saves us and justifies us. PERIOD!
The saving work to which I refer here, and which is referred to in the texts cited above, relates to the work of biblical shepherding by pastors. It also relates to the brotherly care and concern which any Christian should have when he or she sees a fellow believer drifting into sin and doctrinal error.
Here is my first concern. Many Namibian Christians are enamoured by the teachings of mainly (though not exclusively ) American prosperity teachers. Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, Benny Hinn, Frederick Price, Kenneth Copeland, Myles Munroe have a substantial following in the country. We have Pastor Chris and T. B. Joshua, Ray McCauley who are the African versions. The average Christian on the street hardly examines nor questions their teachings.
A number of Namibian churches are currently preparing for the visit of Joyce Meyer to this country in 2014. If I understand the above quoted texts correctly, then I believe that biblical Christians have a duty to save those caught in the web of deceit of these prosperity teachers. I have studied the roots of the prosperity movement (The Word of Faith) movement for more than 25 years, and I conclude with many others that this is, frankly speaking , “a different gospel” (Galatians 1:6). I know that this posting is not going to make me popular, but I have come to the conclusion that if I do not warn you, I will be an unfaithful shepherd, leaving you in the hands of these fierce wolves (Acts 20:29–35).
The following material is an excerpt from a blog article written by Rick Henderson. You can read the complete blog posting here. My purpose is to alert you to the person and teaching of Joyce Meyer. Henderson writes,
When I first heard her tell her story I was deeply moved and impressed. She is an amazing example of overcoming hurts and abuse. She will forever have my admiration and respect in that regard. Furthermore, she gives spectacular advice. If my wife or if one of my daughters went to her in a moment of crisis, I believe they would return with magnificently helpful advice. If they went to her for teaching, they would return with deadly heresy.
1. She teaches that Jesus literally stopped being the Son of God on the cross. “He could have helped himself up until the point where he said, ‘I commend my spirit into your hands.’ At that point he couldn’t do nothing for himself anymore. He had become sin, he was no longer the Son of God. He was sin.”
2. She teaches that Jesus went to hell and became the first-born again man. “Do you know something? The minute that blood sacrifice was accepted Jesus was the first human being that was ever born again. Now that was real it happened when he was in hell.”
3. She teaches that Jesus paid for our sins in hell. “There is no hope of anyone going to heaven unless they believe this truth I am presenting. You cannot go to heaven unless you believe with all your heart that Jesus took your place in hell.”
4. She teaches that words have power and you can release the power of heaven through your words.
5. She teaches that you need special revelation from God to understand what she teaches because it is NOT contained in the Bible. “The Bible can’t even find any way to explain this. Not really. That’s why you’ve got to get it by revelation. There are no words to explain what I’m telling you. I’ve got to just trust God that he’s putting it into your spirit like he put it into mine.” And, “Now spirits don’t have bodies, so we can’t see them. Okay? There probably is, I believe there is, and I certainly hope there is several angels up here this morning that are preaching with me. I believe that right before I speak some anointed statement to you, that one of them bends over and says in my ear what I’m supposed to say to you.”
6. She teaches that she is no longer a sinner.
I could continue with examples of her utter misuse of scripture, false teaching and blatant heresy. In America, Christians have an embarrassment of riches. We can buy more books, download more podcasts and tune into more helpful teachers than anyone else on the planet. The lies that she teaches are easily lost in the hum of all the great teachers we hear. But this is not the case in the third world.
In many other countries their resources are far fewer. Uneducated pastors, who are doing their very best and uninformed Christians have this garbage pumped into their countries through radio waves and TV broadcasts. Because Joyce Meyer is endorsed here, she is trusted there. And, she can afford to spread her message with the money she makes from American Christians who buy her books, CDs and who attend her conferences. Her influence is severely disrupting the church in the third world. Her teachings are the unfortunate starting point for Christians in the third world and it is birthing even greater heresies.
The devastating reality that we have to come to grips with is that when we support her here, we support the churches she is undoing there.
There is nothing wrong with being wealthy. I love it when Christians are rich. That should mean more money to fund the mission. But there is a line to how much money we as leaders should spend on ourselves. I don’t know where the line is, but it is somewhere before the ministry purchasing million dollar homes for us and our kids. That line is somewhere before purchasing us a $10 million private jet. The line is somewhere before the ministry spending $261, 498 for 68 pieces of furniture. That equates to $3,845.56 per item. That line is somewhere before spending so egregiously that the U.S. Senate investigates us. Joyce Meyer lands on the other side of that line.
The following link includes audio from Joyce Meyer. Around 5:30 she is asked if people will get more money back to them if they give financially to her ministry. Not only does she teach giving as a way to leverage more money from God, she is reckless with desperate people. She is not at all concerned if people give to her instead of paying bills. This is intolerable!
Questionable Example and Lack of Accountability
I challenge you to watch a typical message by Joyce Meyer. Here are a few of things you will notice:
1· She pauses about every five minutes for applause. And if people don’t applaud she is likely to say something like, “I’m preaching better than you’re acting.”
2· She talks about herself constantly. She is the main character in every story she tells. Even when she talks about herself in a self-deprecating way, some how it comes across in a way that causes people to admire her more.
3· God talks to her and reveals new information to her … a lot!
Her ministry lacks real accountability. Her family and her close friends are the governing board. This is an organization that receives almost $100 million dollars annually, and with no substantive accountability.
What I wrote and linked in the first section should have been enough to completely remove her from our sphere of trust. Her doctrine is horrific. Her hermeneutics are horrible. She is a woman who seems to have an unrestrained love for money and applause. Her finances are questionable at best. Her example is questionable at best. Her impact on desperate people here, as well as churches and pastors around the globe is wildly destructive.
I lament with you a sense of loss if she was a teacher you trusted. I lament that someone who is so wrong has so much influence with so many. I do not regret, however, pointing to her as a false teacher and as one who should be rejected.