by Leigh-Ann Brisbin
Dear CVC Ladies,
It has been on my heart to share a few things with you about discernment. There has been some Christian news around Jen Hatmaker and other well known women bloggers/speakers/authors and recent beliefs they have that are contrary to scripture. Many of them are ladies who are without accountability, discipleship and/or under advisement. A few years ago I watched a video of Jen promoting her book For The Love. What was memorable to me about the promo piece was that she made a judgmental statement about men/husbands that was said in jest, for a laugh. I did not think it was funny. It may seem I am overreacting, but let me explain. God has called teachers, speakers, leaders to a standard of leadership to lead others in Christ-likeness so my radar went immediately up. When we use humor to degrade another it is not funny. We are called to respect our husbands and everyone as children of God with worth and value. In one quick joke the opposite was communicated.
In the summer of this year my oldest daughter (who is not touchy feely by the way) hugged me and thanked me for being a mom who respects her children. I thanked her and asked what had prompted that statement? She took me to Jen’s Facebook page where I read a post discussing how she was disciplining her child to teach her respect. The problem was that it was in a way that was disrespecting and embarrassing her. Our children learn by how we model our own behavior. She prompted others to share similar stories of how they parent, or were parented, because it is just “too funny”. I read posts that literally made me cry because I was so heartbroken. Story after story shared of disrespecting children, putting them on display and showing “tough love” all in the name of discipline. I wanted to respond but retracted for fear of it only causing facebook banter and reminding myself that it is God who convicts, and it is not me to judge. I am no perfect mother myself. However, after a few days of really wrestling with the fact that so many people were following and reading this post, I sent a response from a mother, counselor, and fellow sister in Christ urging women to remember how words and actions can have lasting negative effects on our children especially as they are developing the part of their brain that makes sense of their identity and value.
A few months later a friend of mine attended Jen Hatmaker’s Belong tour and shared with me how upset she was that it was quite secular and had very little mention of God, His Kingdom focus, or scripture. Recently you may have heard that Lifeway books has pulled her books from their shelves and no longer endorses her because she retracted her post affirming traditional marriage and publicly endorsed same sex marriage and LGBT relationships.
Another seemingly similar red flag for me was with Glennon Doyle Melton. She wrote a best seller book called Love Warrior and has a blog, Momastery. I know many young wives and moms are reading her blog and going to her conferences. She shared about redemption in her marriage after infidelity. However, when I began to read a little further on her blog to see more of her postings I started to see warning signs of inconsistency with scripture. I found several posts regarding what she believes about marriage and salvation. One of them a reader point blank asked her the question if she did or didn’t believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior. She responded with an answer that is more in line with a Unitarian belief system than a Christian one. Here are her own words:
“I do not believe that every marriage should be saved. I’ve seen too much and listened too hard to believe that. I do not value marriage more than I value the individual souls inside of marriage. And I do not judge a love’s worth by how it ends… whether they stay or go.
I stayed…Sister left… We both did the right thing. Listen to me: Some loves are perennials—they survive the winter and bloom again. Other loves are annuals—beautiful and lush and full for a season and then back to the Earth to die and create richer soil for new life to grow. The eventual result of both types of plants is New Life.”
She has now filed for divorce …
Reader – “ I am a Christian. It is a basic tenet of Christianity that Jesus is the only way to God. Do you believe that or not?
Glennon: “Do I believe that Jesus is the only way to God? Yes and No.
One of my favorite definitions of faith is from William James, who defined faith as: “a belief in an unseen order of things.”
The way I think about that is this: There is an order of things that we can see happening around us. A visible, obvious order of things…We can see it in front of us as reality but something inside of all of us rejects this order of things. We know it’s JUST NOT RIGHT. We know there’s another way. A better order of things. One we can’t see yet but we know deep in our bones.
The better way, the underneath perfection of things that I feel deep in my bones looks like this: …There is Justice. Peace. Love. Equality.
This sort of unseen order of things — in my view — is heaven on Earth. Christians might call it the Kingdom of God. My Jewish friends call it Shalom while my atheist friends call it Love or Peace. Loving kindness. Our Buddhist brothers and sisters might call it something else. ALL PEOPLE who are working to bring the above unseen order of things to Earth now — whether they are atheist, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, or Christian — THESE people are my faith partners. I don’t really care what label you give yourself, I care about the unseen order of things you believe in and are working towards.
Do I think people need to follow the way of love and humility and service to see God? Yes. Do I believe they have to CALL this way Jesus? Do I believe that salvation is a matter of semantics? No.”
“Many Christians become concerned when I say that I don’t believe that professing faith in Jesus is a magic spell that unlocks the doors of heaven – On Earth or beyond. And that I do believe there’s a real heaven, and I do believe that ultimately we’ll all find our way there”.
There is truth and there are things out there that have a veil of truth but underneath loaded with falsity. We must know which is which.
So, I share all this with you not to stand in a place of judgment, nor to demonize Jen Hatmaker, Glennon Doyle Melton, or anyone else, but to say that as women of God, desiring to grow in our spiritual journey and more into Christ-likeness, we MUST be discerning as we read blogs and books, listen to podcasts and attend conferences. There are so many wise women out there and we definitely want to glean and grow from the resources we have been given, but information is at our fingertips and we must know HOW to discern if something we read or hear is truly from the Lord. Many many women today are writing and/or are self proclaimed teachers/speakers, but that does not mean they are always wise. Let us not be attracted to humor, knowledge, similar demographic/circumstances, or even love without truth, but instead be attracted to Jesus. This will always be the best starting place and you will know when it is not about HIM.
We must also not be quick to judge either. We are fallen beings, and none of us is all knowing. We do our best to understand and wrap our human brain around the magnitude, mystery and vastness of God and how he relates to his people this side of heaven, but we don’t do it perfectly. Grace must also be offered. We are all on a journey of Christ-likeness and will make mistakes along the way. I started teaching 50-75 women at a weekly bible study when I was 25 years old and relatively unschooled in the bible. I was a self-feeder, had a great discipler, and was a willing servant. Most of the women were older and wiser than me. I prayed everyday that the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart would be acceptable to God who IS my Rock and my Redeemer! (Psalm 19:14) God used me anyway, fruit was born, but I certainly made many mistakes in my leadership and theology when my flesh got in the way. Still 18 years later, having been to seminary, grown immensely in my own walk and study of the word, and still praying everyday that the words of my mouth and meditation of my heart will be acceptable to my Lord, my Rock, and my Redeemer, I am still going to make mistakes in ministry. My flesh will still creep in and I do hope and pray that people will show me grace along the way. I say all that to say there are times I read something that someone else wrote, or hear something someone says that I don’t entirely agree with, or it is different than my Christian experience. That doesn’t mean I throw the baby out with the bathwater either. The key is not be quick to judge either way, but to listen well, over time, test and discern, major in the majors and minor in the minors.
- Think about the foundations of our faith (the majors) and what we believe. If it is contrary to the gospel it is not truth period! If someone has a pattern that is contrary to scripture, neglects, or disregards living out principles of faith in scripture (majors), this must be someone I reconsider following or run quickly from!!
- If this is someone who is speaking truth on the foundations of faith based in scripture and this is just an area I disagree with, or know that it is not fully clear in the word of God (minors), then can I agree to disagree there and still hold fast to the teachings of truth?
As believers we must do our due diligence to pray for God’s wisdom to go before us, know his word, and be discerning. I told you specifically about the red flags with Jen Hatmaker and Glennon Doyle Melton, again not because I expect them to be perfect, but because I want you to see why there were red flags. I read, watched, and waited to see how their ministries would unfold. Ones true colors always show through. Think about those red flags I shared with you in relationship to this test of discernment and be wise about who you let lead you in your faith journey. We must be self-feeders first.
A good rule of thumb I use to discern is this:
If it is of God it will…
- Exalt God and reveal His character (Is this about God? Does it help me to know more about Him? Are they speaking mostly about HIM! Does what I am reading/hearing help me See Him as Lord? Does it give me a reverence and right position with Him? Does it make me hungry to know more about Him?)
- Line up with scripture (If I don’t know scripture I won’t know if it does/doesn’t line up with scripture…so be in the word and be a self-feeder first! The more you do, the more you will see when things don’t line up with His truth.)
- Edify and humble the believer (refine/transform my heart, illuminate truth of my own heart, cause me to repent, and draw me closer to the Lord?)
- Be smarter than me/bigger than me (God’s perspective, not someone’s opinion)
- Be affirmed by my Godly counselors/Christian community
If it is not of God it will…
- Exalt self or others and expose flesh/ distort the character, identity and truth of God
- Neglect the value and necessity of, misuse/misinterpret, and contradict the word of God.
- Draw the believer more into pride, selfishness/self motivated actions, desires of the flesh, sin
- Be a limited / earthly perspective, cause a misinterpretation of self, others and situation.
- Will disregard effects and consequences of sin.
Ladies, please remember that this is of utmost importance that we learn to be self-feeders! I do believe Jen Hatmaker is a believer with good intentions but some misguided teachings, interpretations and opinions, that are seemingly led by self/flesh. I have serious questions about Glennon Doyle Melton and her faith. God is love but he is also truth. The word says Jesus is the only way, the truth and the life and no one comes to the father but through Him. Her words are contrary to this. We are responsible for our own journey with the Lord and our own slippery slope that could lead us astray. Let us love and show grace, but be careful in who we follow and learn from.
Here are a few thoughts I have on who are good resources for our women. This certainly isn’t an exhaustive list, in part because I can’t fully know everyone who is out there and all of what they say, hence why being able to discern for ourselves is so imperative.
A few women leaders who are grounded in Scripture:
Two of our very own 🙂