Joyce Meyer, Jesus and Scholarly Integrity…

***I looked at my “drafts” folder tonight and realized that I had 54 blog posts at some stage of being written.  I’ve committed to finish up a one for you that will hopefully be a quick and useful reference at some point. This post only has been 8+ months in the making…sigh…***

Over the past 2+ years as I was reading my eyes out and learning a boatload of information about the Renewal (Pentecostal/Charismatic/Word Faith/etc.) movement, I ran across a lot of questionable information on the internet that suffered from three common problems:

  1.    Unverifiable Citations.  As I followed up on some quotes and claims, I found that many of them were either unable to be substantiated or questionably fabrications (I explain this problem in a full post here).  Because of that, I made a point of trying to stick to print resources in my research.  This ruled out some of the more colorful stuff that  I could have used, but it was a point of scholarly integrity for me.  If you cannot track down a quote to an original source and verify its credibility, it doesn’t really exist.
  2. Quote Misrepresentation.  Again, as I looked at some writers, I found plenty of zinger quotes that lost their zing when I followed them back to the original source.  Far too often, zinger quotes are extracted from a larger citation that is dealing with an entirely different subject matter.  Other times, a quote is simply stretched to infer something it doesn’t actually say.
  3. Invalid Arguments (including any number of logical fallacies).  As I looked at some writers, I found far too many arguments that didn’t hold much liquid.  Things like “guilty by association” arguments (person X is a heretic and person Y spoke at a conference with them, therefore person Y believes any number of heretical beliefs espoused by person X).  Here’s a nifty and useful chart of logical fallacies for those that are interested:

logical-fallacies

In researching Renewal people,  I wanted to avoid misrepresenting them, since bearing false witness is still a sin when you bear false witness about heretics.  Also, if you’re going to tear apart an idea/argument, it’s more powerful to tear apart the idea/argument in its strongest and most accurately represented form.

I may be too cautious for most folks but generally speaking, the internet needs a whole lot more caution.

Those previously mentioned problems (and a few more) are behind some of my reticence of speaking out about certain individuals.  For example, I’ve never written about Beth Moore mostly because I haven’t confirmed anything bad about her.  That’s not to say I haven’t heard a bunch of claims, and watched some rather incriminating video clips.  Still, I haven’t read anything that she’s written and therefore don’t have any official opinions on her outside of “I don’t doubt that she may have a bunch of good stuff, but based on the level and frequency of accusations she receives, it’s probably wise to steer clear of Beth Moore.”

That brings me to Joyce Meyer.  She was once a rather…uh…colorful heretic who said all number of things.  The internet is full of sound clips and sermon quotes from Joyce Meyer, especially from the early-mid 1990’s.  But in 1999, when Joel Osteen inherited Lakewood Church in Houston, several of the big names in Word of Faith circles all concurrently (and suspiciously) decided to change their image in order to reach a far larger target market.  In the first few years of the new millennium, along with Joel Osteen (this was Lakewood  before Joel took over…you may notice a slight change to now) Joyce Meyer went through a rather Oprah-esque change of image.  Not only did she have some serious cosmetic modifications…

Joyce Meyer change

…but she also changed from a tongues-speaking, fire-breathing Pentecostal preacher into a glorified life coach who never stops smiling (though that’s also due to extensive cosmetic surgery).  Joyce toned down her image and aimed it for a wider audience.  It worked well as her audience is now gigantic, but she couldn’t leave her various Word of Faith heresies behind.  She toned down her image and message, but some standard Word of Faith heresies still found their way into her printed works.  Stuff like:

A.  The Spiritual Death of Jesus.

“Jesus was taking your sins and those of everyone else upon Him as He felt this absence of His Father’s presence. He said, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (SEE MATT. 27:46, author’s paraphrase). Jesus knew it would happen, but the horror of separation from the bright presence of the Father was worse than He could have imagined, and it caused Him to cry out. He committed His Spirit to the Father and died. So they put Him – that is, His body – in a grave, and His spirit went to hell because that is where we deserved to go.

Remember in the very beginning of this book, I said that when you die, only your body dies. The rest of you, your soul and spirit, goes either to heaven or hell.

There is no hope of anyone going to heaven unless they believe this truth. You cannot go to heaven unless you believe with all your heart that Jesus took your place. He became your substitute and took all the punishment you deserve. He bore all your sins. He paid the debt you owe.”

Joyce Meyer, The Most Important Decision You Will Ever Make, New York: Warner Faith, 2003), 32-33 (bold and italics original)

B.  The harrowing of Hell.

“Jesus went to hell for you. He died for you. He paid for your sins. God was faithful to Jesus. God did what he told Jesus He would do. He raised Him from the dead. But until that happened, He was alone for three days satisfying the courts of justice and conquering the hosts of hell. He took the keys of hell and death. He preached to the prisoners held captive there about paradise. He led them out victorious.”

Joyce Meyer, The Most Important Decision You Will Ever Make, New York: Warner Faith, 2003), 33 (italics original)

Now those quotes are 12 years old, but that book (which is a book specifically laying out the gospel), is still for sale on places like Amazon.com (and both quotes can be read there in the book preview; feel free to verify them yourself).  Joyce hasn’t pulled that book off the market, so it stands to reason that she likely hasn’t renounced anything in it.  Also, both quotes are directly addressing those subjects; they’re not passing allusions.  In the first quote, she clearly and directly says that Jesus’ spirit actually went to hell.  In the second quote, she clearly and directly says that Jesus led people out of hell.  I’d submit both quotes as sufficient and compelling evidence that, theologically speaking, she’s about as reliable as The Muppets.

Joyce Pikids

I won’t get into hammering out the theological (and monumental) significance of both ideas; that would be a rather lengthy post in and of itself (though I’ve already written on whether or not Jesus went to Hell).  Nor will I give a biblical response to both errors.  This post has been sitting in my draft folder for several months, so I’m going to cut it off here and get it online.

Knowing that I have multiple writers (of no small influence) who read my stuff, I’d like to give this closing encouragement:

When writing about people of questionable theological orientation, always do your best to support accusations of questionable theology with verified direct citations related to the topic at hand from accessible resources.

That is a far higher standard than many currently hold themselves to.  It’s a lot more work and it takes a lot longer to do adequate research and write anything of substance.  Still, as a Christian, you’ll have to give account for every word you write, right? (Matt. 12:36-37)  How unfathomably horrible would it be to have your writing “ministry” be the source of missed rewards for all eternity?

Do your best to keep your sticks on the ice folks.

Until Next Time,

Lyndon “lying about heretics is still lying” Unger

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20 thoughts on “Joyce Meyer, Jesus and Scholarly Integrity…

  1. Being a writer of incredibly small influence it’s refreshing to know that I am not alone in letting unpublished drafts darken ‘the cloud’. I have found that the drafts that I’ve worked and set aside multiple times when published receive more positive feedback from people whose opinions I respect than posts that don’t spend months in draft stasis. Maybe the aging process works on e-documents too?

  2. Thanks for writing brother! In your research, do you find that word of faith folks promote Jesus going to hell, in lieu of Him suffering the wrath of the Father for the sin of His people on the cross, as based in a “God loves everybody” theology? One that tries to make hell an impersonal place for punishing sinners that God has no hand in? In reality hell and eventually the Lake of Fire, is a place where people will suffer eternally the wrath of our perfectly holy and righteous God, justly. Have you found that their Jesus in hell theology, is in line with their general theology of hell being that no sinner really suffers the wrath of God, but rather they suffer in a hell created by God that He has no personal hand in? In other words it seems to me they don’t understand the just and personal wrath of God on sinners in hell period, and as such it is just one branch of their heretical theology that further skews the atonement.

    In short, your post made me think a bit on this whole topic! Thanks brother!

  3. I understand what you are saying and I agree that when judging someone as a heretic you should stick to what they provably say. But I also believe that head pastors should be held accountable for the teachings they promote and support inside their churches. When a senior pastor uses church funds to pay 5 figure speaking fees to blatant heretics to infect their sheep, I think we must also hold those people to account. These same senior pastors endorse and sell the speakers’ heretical books in their church bookstores – usually in large and prominent displays. If they do not subsequently correct the wrong teachings to their flock then, IMO, they are both actively and passively endorsing these heretical teachings.

    If people like TD Jakes and Joyce Meyer received no more high paying gigs and didn’t have their books pushed at the largest megas they would stop teaching their heresy and move on to something else. The leaders that prop them up and allow their sheep to have their minds and souls influenced by this poison, uncorrected, are acting as conduits for the heretics. The end product is the same. The flock believe the false teaching because their senior pastor, whom they trust in, endorses the heretics. Their pastor transfers church funds to them. He lauds them with praise, features and promotes their books and uses strong language to show support, like Robert Morris saying both Jack Hayford and TD Jakes are the Apostle Paul of their generation. Morris may not teach every detail of these two dangerous men, but by giving them such unqualified praise, promoting their books sold on all of his campuses, transferring significant wealth to and featuring them, he IS supporting their false message.

    Consider that many of the largest megas pay an enormous sum to Robert Morris to teach his tithing heresy at their churches. They line up to book him. They want their flock to learn and believe in this false doctrine. But they are afraid to teach it themselves. So Morris gets to bring in well over $300,000 a year in side income to preach this one heretical message. It did not come out of the mouths of the home church’s senior pastor, but it IS the false message he desperately wanted his flock to hear and believe in and he paid vast sums to inflict this on his flock. In my book that makes them just as bad. Okay, please give me a five second head start to duck before you open fire.

    • I’m not sure what you’re arguing against here. Nothing Lyndon said here suggests anyone would get a pass on that. If a pastor invites Robert Morris to teach on tithing, that’s a strong, documented tie to the Morris’ bizarre tithing theology. It does not indicate that the pastor shares his opinion re: Jack Hayford or anything else. If someone like, say, Francis Chan were to speak at a conference where Robert Morris is speaking as well, that’s a much weaker tie to Morris’ theology. We might wish they travelled in completely separate orbits, but on that basis alone we couldn’t credibly claim that Chan agrees with anything Morris teaches.

      The point is a) make sure the claims you make about people are verifiably true, and b) only let those facts prove what they actually prove.

  4. Looking forward to the dialogue on this thread.
    I am frowned upon because I have given warnings about Beth Moore and Joyce Meyer and other women who choose to preach from the “pulpit”? Joyce and Beth have become quite good friends.
    What has me greatly concerned is there are many in the pulpit who will quote Joyce Meyer. Why is this so?

    • It is so because Joyce Meyers makes over $110,000,000 a year. She owns several homes, travels in a Gulfstream G-IV and argues that instead of spending $23,000 on toilet, she actually spent the $23,000 on a single chest of drawers, because that’s so much more reasonable. Pastors rush to quote Joyce Meyer in the hopes that her Midas touch will rub off on them. If she can rake in $110M a year telling folksy Erma Bombeck style stories wrapped with an occasional reference to the name “Jesus” then maybe quoting or imitating her might result in a few million dollars in crumbs coming their way. Does anyone believe that if Joyce was a humble St Louis housewife of modest means, anyone would be quoting her?

      This Pentecostal divorcee started her life out embezzling from her employer in order to fund a vacation to California because she loves the high-life. She describes her rebirth in Christ as having occurred during a beauty appointment where she was mystically filled “full of liquid love” and then became “drunk with the Spirit of God” later that night at a bowling alley. Joyce was able to parlay this into well over a BILLION dollars in revenue. Could this emulation be anything other than pursuit of fame and fortune?

      • LT – Thank you for your succinct evaluation. So obviously these men in the pulpit put more faith in a possible “Midas touch” then humbly studying and obeying the Word?
        So, when I hear men quote Joyce Meyer; should I remain silent. I am a woman and I want to be careful as to how to correct properly using 1 Timothy 2 as a reference.
        I am presently in a delicate life situation and do not have a husband to defend the faith?
        I grieve the fact that I am unable to find a church that glorifies the Lord. I am not being judgmental. I’ve contacted pastors affiliated with the Master’s College and when they searched out where I live they agreed that I was indeed in a “dry” place and encouraged me to prayerfully glean from the Christ-honouring ministries available via the internet until God would move me or change the heart of at least one local pastor.

    • Well, speaking out against people like Meyer certainly is NOT a way to make yourself popular!

      There are a lot of people in the pulpit who likely don’t know how bad Meyer is, and don’t necessarily have the time or desire to find out.

      I don’t really get too worked up if someone quotes something good that Joyce Meyer, Beth Moore, Ann Voskamp, etc. says. I tend to congratulate them on FINDING the good stuff that they say. It’s like the theological version of “Where’s Waldo”…

      That usually makes people confused and opens up some interesting dialogue…ha!

  5. Lyndon,

    I always appreciate your work and the careful diligence in your research and writing. And it always leaves me wanting more!

    As someone who read and extensively reviewed 4 of Beth Moore’s books a couple years ago, I can unequivocally say that she is a dangerous Bible teacher and a regular source of non-Biblical new revelation from God. And most of what I have seen lately suggests that she has only gotten worse since that time. Her public appearances with Joyce Meyer appear to be consistent with the downward trajectory of her ministry, teaching, and personal revelation.

    I look forward to reading those 54 blog posts and your book next year!

    Merry Christmas,

    Dale

    • Thanks for the kind words Dale!

      I don’t doubt you at all.

      I just haven’t confirmed it personally, so I reserve comment.

      I’m just trying to guard my tongue from making undue judgments. I know that many others have studied Beth Moore and have arrived at similar conclusions about her.

      Namely, “bad news”.

      I’m sure you could articulate that idea with far more details than I could!

  6. Whenever I see Word of Faith criticized, the spiritual death of Christ is mentioned, but the problem with that is assumed, never explained. This is unfortunate because it’s not intuitively bogus in the way that most WOF theology is. Substitutionary atonement = He went to hell for me, seems legit. So I appreciate that link to at least start to unravel some of it.

    • Sure Ryan.

      That’s a fair question. I don’t have a ton of time but I’ll try to give you some thoughts.

      1. Jesus said, on the cross, that he was going to the Father. Luke 23:42-43 suggests, rather strongly, that Jesus went to the Father’s side after he died. If Jesus didn’t, then we either have Jesus lying or Jesus going on some strange sort of 2-stop postmortem tour. That leads us to our next point.

      2. Hell is the final place for the pouring out of God’s wrath on sinners. The key word there is “final.” One of the key points regarding Hell is that nobody gets out, for any reason.

      Ever.

      Luke 16:26 suggests that even in this age, there is no way to escape Hell and no way for anyone in Heaven to enter.

      Now you might want to play up the “Jesus is God and can do whatever he wants” card, but we get into serious, and I mean SERIOUS, theological problems if Jesus rightly goes to Hell as a punishment for sin and then just kicks the doors in and leaves.

      If nobody else gets to leave, then Jesus cannot either without violating his own justice…and *poof*

      There goes the universe, destroyed in a theological singularity when God ceases to be God.

      There are several other problems that one can discuss (i.e. How and to what extent did Jesus need to suffer as my substitution? Does penal substitution demand receiving the *eternal* punishment for sin?), but those two points should get your started in thinking about the implications of Christ suffering God’s wrath in Hell.

  7. A lifetime ago, when I was involved in a WoF church, I was told, “It was Christ’s spiritual death that was required to make restitution for sins. If physical death was all that was required, the two thieves could have paid the price for sin.” Copeland is quoted by Hanegraaff as pointing out that the spiritual death of Christ was foreseen in the image of the serpent on the pole among the Israelites – “And the Lord said (to him personally), ‘Because it was a sign of Satan hanging on that cross’ … ‘I accepted, in My own Spirit, spiritual death; and the light was turned out.’ ” It was commonly taught that since sin affected our spiritual well being, only spiritual death could atone for it.

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