A few days ago, I posted an extract from a piece of writing I am working on which explores false teaching. Here is what I wrote:
"Whichever brand of false teaching was being peddled, the results were the same – they left those who fell for it worse off. Those who fall for the empty promises of false teaching always end up short-changed. Instead of deeper spirituality they end up with less spirituality; instead of freedom they find bondage and instead of greater spiritual experience, they find themselves robbed of genuine spiritual experience. False teaching will always draw people away from Christ; consequently those who embrace it will find themselves devoid of many of the blessings of Christ."
Now, the extract above, simply summarises what the New Testament shows us about false teaching. I never named anyone, I never directed it at anyone, and I never even applied it to charismatic teachings. Hence, I was somewhat bemused when I received the following response from a loyal follower of all things extreme charismatic:
"You risk bringing the wrath of Almighty God upon you"
There were several other responses, none of them very coherent. However, the exchange emphasised an important truth for me, it seems the only unforgivable 'sin' in the modern charismatic world is for a believer to exercise discernment and question false teaching!
A few days later, David Robertson released an article which explored the moral failing of God TV's Rory Alec. Robertson's reflections mirrored that of many others who have concerns about God TV, he said "The Real Problem with God TV is not Rory’s Adultery", so what is the real problem? Robertson went on to say:
"The problem with God TV is not the moral failure of Rory’s adultery. It is the moral failure of associating the Good News of Jesus to the poor with the prosperity gospel and health and wealth blasphemy of Kenneth Copeland, Benny Hinn and Joyce Meyer."
Now, most biblically-minded Christians that I know, would have no problem with that statement, they recognise that it is true. However, many good Christians will struggle with one of the names on that list: Joyce Meyer. Joyce Meyer, over the years has gained incredible influence in charismatic and evangelical circles. Hence, it is no surprise that that some people will struggle to accept that there is a fundamental problem with her ministry.
Now, Matt Slick, over at Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry (CARM), has written a very good piece on some of the more heretical and lesser known side of Joyce Meyer. Matt has had a bit of time to research this in-depth, and I fully recommend his article. However, Matt's article is really exposing the heresies which most Word of Faith preachers promote. These teachings are not always explicit in the popular books which hit the Christian book shops. In addition to these issues, there are further problems with Joyce Meyer's brand of Christianity.
Last night I downloaded two samples of Joyce Meyer's books. Within the first pages of each book there were problems. Problems that are not just issues with Joyce Meyer, but problems that are characteristic of the modern evangelical brand of Christianity. The reason that Joyce Meyer is so widely accepted, is simply due to the fact that she is repackaging the message of the world, a message that is already embraced by a large proportion of western evangelicals. What is that message? The message is simple: Christianity is an individualistic, spiritualistic worldview that provides people with the opportunity for greater health, wealth and happiness.
Let me illustrate this with an excerpt from Joyce Meyer's book: How to Hear from God.
Before we look at what she says, let me say from the outset that the title of the book in itself is a clue that there is something wrong here. If you are having trouble hearing (directly) from God, the answer is simple: He is not speaking! When God speaks, you will know about it!
"The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD, over many waters. The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is majestic. The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars; the LORD breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon. (Psalm 29:3 -- 5)
Yet despite the fact that God needs no help whatsoever to make His voice heard, countless Christians have been deceived into thinking they need to read books, go to seminars, and hear teaching about how to hear from God. At best this is delusional at worst it's a scam.
With that being said, let's hear from Joyce . . .
There are so many problems with this opening page from Meyer's book, it is impossible to know where to start.
Meyer states that: "Learning to hear from God . . .is very exciting" No it's not. It's terrifying. In the desert, when God spoke in the presence of His people, they could not bear it, it was described as:
"a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them." (Heb 12:19)
Of course, the new mystics will respond: "Ah, but that was Old Testament, the New Testament has tamed the voice of God" Really? When God speaks in the presence of a crowd in the New Testament, the gospel writer states:
"The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered" (John 12:29)
We could go on to show more examples which clearly prove that hearing God is anything but exciting. However, Meyer's mention of excitement is actually quite revealing. I have a suspicion that those who pursue the mysticism of Meyer and others, do so because that is exactly what they are looking for -- excitement! Their Christianity is dull and lifeless. This is actually not speculation, Meyer tells us as much, later on, in her opening chapter.
Firstly it needs to be stated that Joyce's religion, prior to discovering a way to "hearing God directly" does not sound like genuine saving faith in Christ. She claims she loved Jesus on the one hand, but on the other hand she says her religion was all about rules, church attendance and holidays. Either she had not heard about being saved by grace through faith, and had never really trusted in Christ alone, or she had, but she was caught up in the hamster wheel of religion. Either way, the solution for both possibilities is the same, she needed to rest in the finished work of Christ on the cross. She needed to be satisfied by seeing Christ as He is revealed in scripture. However, she also needed to understand that if she had genuinely glimpsed the all satisfying saviour, there is a sense in which we will always have an unfulfilled longing. We will never be fully satisfied this side of glory. As Paul tells us in Romans we "groan inwardly" longing for the day when Christ's glory is revealed in its fullness. However, the important point is, Joyce should have found her answer in Christ, not mystical voices.
This blog post has already exceeded an appropriate length. I haven't even begun to tackle most of the issues in the opening page of her book. I'll include a list of the concerns bellow, and a brief response to each of them.
1) Joyce confuses providence, "General Revelation" and guidance with "God's Voice." The Lord reveals his invisible attributes through creation, but the knowledge of God received through creation is limited. Likewise, while God uses circumstances to lead us and guide us, this is not where we find the "voice of God", for the voice of God, we must look to the scriptures. (See Westminster Confession chapter one for more information).
2) The whole thing is narcissistic. God's voice linked to God's plan for ME. It's all about me. God speaks to her about His plan for her, she wants God to speak to her about her future. This is no different to those who seek comfort from horoscopes, fortune tellers and Tarot Card readers. And it's not even spiritual. It's carnal. As fallen people we want security about the future, we want to know that our finances, health and success will all be safe-guarded. On the other hand, God does speak about our future, but not in the way we want. He speaks of future hope and glory. He gives us an assurance that we are eternally secure, if we build our lives on Him and not the things of this world.
3) Nowhere in scripture are we instructed to seek to hear a "still small voice." This has become an evangelical mantra but it is nonsense. We are no more instructed to seek a still small voice in order to hear God than we are to seek a burning bush, an Angelic visitor or a talking donkey! It's absurd. The "gentle whisper/still small voice" is taken from Elijah's encounter with God. It is one example of how God dealt with a prophet. It is descriptive, not prescriptive. It is a description of an event, not a command to follow! It also very, very dumb. How do you know which "still small voice" amidst the myriad of conflicting thoughts and desires within your heart is actually God's? You don't. This is why there is so much false prophecy within the charismatic movement.
4) The "inner witness", in scripture, is speaking about the assurance of salvation-- not the way in which God's voice is discerned. Again, there is no instruction in scripture to be led by a mysterious "inner witness". This has more in common with paganism than Christianity.
5) Joyce warns us that "we are in danger of missing it". Missing what? Missing God's plan for our lives. How can we miss it? By not actively seeking out his mysterious voice. This is the worst teaching ever! God's will for our life is not dependent upon us hearing, interpreting and following the directions of some mysterious subjective guidance. This is legalism of the worst kind. This has led many sincere believers into spiritual ship wreck. God is sovereign, and believers are only called to walk in prayerful obedience to God's revealed will. To be out of God's will is to sin against His revealed commands. However, even then, we are still in the hands of a sovereign God who has not lost control for one second.
6) Joyce Meyer is teaching a form of mysticism combined with the American Dream. The 'Awesome Plan for MY life' combined with the need to follow mysterious guidance is simply the American Dream (my great future of happiness, wealth and health) combined with mysticism (the need for spiritual experience). It is not Christianity.
7) The centrality and sufficiency of the scriptures is completely ignored by Joyce Meyer. "The Word" (but she doesn't even say that this is the bible) is mentioned as one source amongst a multitude of other sources. This is the foundational issue. A book which supposedly helps us hear from God yet it so conveniently ignores the essential, central and fundamental way in which God has spoken: the Written Word of God! I think someone needs to give Joyce Meyer a copy of the Westminster Confession!
"Although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men inexcusable; yet are they not sufficient to give that knowledge of God, and of His will, which is necessary unto salvation. Therefore it pleased the Lord, at sundry times, and in divers manners, to reveal Himself, and to declare that His will unto His Church; and afterwards for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the Church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing; which makes the Holy Scripture to be most necessary; those former ways of God's revealing His will unto His people being now ceased" (Westminster Confession Chapter One)
In conclusion, Joyce Meyer's teaching leads to false Christianity. A Christianity that is wrapped up in selfish ambition, narcissism, mysticism and borders on the occult. As someone once said, "If you want to hear from God, read your bible." In the same vein, if you want to grow in your Christian faith, ditch the Joyce Meyer books and read the scriptures instead. If you struggle to understand the scriptures, speak to your pastor, but make sure you attend a church that actually has a pastor who teaches the bible faithfully.