I launched Truth+Fire two years ago (June 2015) expecting to merely share my faith.
My first post, 5 Truths about Salvation You Don’t Want to Hear, But Need to Know, was written at a time that I was recommitting my life to God after being angry with Him for about nine years. Now that He and I were cool again, I felt “qualified” to put new Christians up on what this faith walk is “really" all about. I laugh at myself now. Not because the piece is no longer valid or relevant, but because I now know that list is infinite! If one is truly growing in their faith, that list will require perpetual updates as God takes us from glory to glory in our knowledge of Him through Jesus Christ.
I also recognize the irony in the title of that piece, as I would eventually come to learn quite a few things I REALLY didn’t want to hear, but DESPERATELY needed to know. One thing in particular was that most, if not ALL, of my my favorite and/or former pastors are (and have long been) false teachers.
DENIAL. GRIEF. ACCEPTANCE.
Men like T.D. Jakes, Joel Osteen and Eddie Long were especially hard for me to accept as "false" because I’d held them in such high regard for so long. Granted, I’d heard many inside and outside of the Church call these men “false” throughout the years, but the “evidence” offered up was mostly related to their wealth. As such, I just assumed individuals making such claims were merely “haters”. My first church home, New Birth Missionary Baptist Church (Atlanta, GA), was a mega church, so I was used to seeing wealthy “men of God”. And, of course, I’d been indoctrinated into ‘Christianity’ under the auspices of the “prosperity Gospel”, so I just didn't see the issue.
But through my Bible studies and writing for this blog these past two years, my understanding of Scripture has especially increased - and this increased knowledge has given me as much insight into the state of the Church and the world as it has myself. So when I came to read and understand the full counsel of God for myself...when I FINALLY came to understand and truly believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ and was FINALLY born again... it was hard for my spirit to digest the things Osteen, Jakes and many many others taught. Most caught wind of these men years ago because they judged their outward appearance - their prosperity. But I could only catch wind of them after I judged their spirit.
By the grace of God, my spiritual ears were now tuned to the truth, and anything from the “prosperity Gospel” was a sour note. Osteen, Jakes and other members of the Prosperity Gospel Choir of Worldly Saints were now singing off key, and I literally couldn’t stand to listen to them anymore! I actually have visceral reactions to their preaching now...I cringe, turn my head, close my eyes, shudder, and I purse my lips up to my nose as if I just got a whiff of a strong stench. I can SMELL the lies! (YUCK!)
I was SO embarrassed that I’d allowed myself to be fooled for so long. I repented, and I lamented for quite some time. I lamented for my ignorance and for those teachers. My little world was rocked! But I finally accepted reality and endeavored to warn my fellow sisters an brothers in Christ
CRYING OUT IN THE WILDERNESS
Before going public with my revelations, I spent hours upon hours analyzing their sermons and interviews (which are readily available on YouTube) to be certain I had specifics. Now that I knew better, I could tell their sermons weren't rooted in the Gospel by the sermon titles alone. But I dove in. As they preached on a given topic, I compared what they had to say against what the Word of God said about the same topic. (They were ALWAYS in error or offering up half-truths). IF they quoted scripture, I checked God’s word to see if they used said scripture in the proper context. (They were ALWAYS out of context). If they retold a narrative from the Old Testament, I checked to see if they’d EVER bring the narrative back to the overall Gospel. (They NEVER did). I even noted many instances of them DIRECTLY countering God’s word. Through my fresh pair of eyes, it was utterly heartbreaking to witness these men speak!
But what has been the most heartbreaking is sharing my findings with professed Christians, especially (old) friends.
I’ve come to find that no matter what evidence I present - no matter how specific, those who wish to follow Jakes, Osteen and others will find a way to defend them. (This was ESPECIALLY evident when I tried to warn people about The Shack.)
A few Christians recently asked me for a specific example of Jakes countering God’s word. Here’s a recap of how that conversation played out:
Person 1: So I see you post a lot that T.D. Jakes is a "false teacher". But how? If I'm a new believer, what example can you give me that I shouldn't listen to him?
Person 2: Yeah, how do you know he's false? Cause that's a strong accusation. You gotta be careful about putting your mouth on people, Constance.
Me: Yo, this man is always slyly introducing false doctrine. Just like Satan did with Eve in the Garden. And his sermons NEVER share the Gospel. His social media posts, interviews...he just ain't bringing folks the pure truth of God. And I'm not speaking from personal opinion. I don't have a personal issue with that man and I don't gain anything by publicly calling him "false" other than to warn fellow Christians in love. I'm just telling y'all what the Word says. The Word says "blue" and he's steady going around saying, "pink"! If you know what's in God's Word, THAT's what exposes him!
Person 1: Give us an example.
Me: Ok...so his Instagram is FULL of error. For example, he has a post up that says "fear is a gift" and he goes on to share how fear is actually favor from God to help us reach our destiny in life. Fear is NOT a "gift"!
Person 2: Oh yeah...cause the Word does say, "God has not given us a spirit of fear."
Person 3: But maybe he has a different definition of "fear".
Persons 1 & 2: Yeah!
Also, in "Positive Thinking is False Thinking..." I explore some of the dangerous doctrines of Joel Osteen upon the release of his latest book "Think Better. Live Better." (Check it out if you're ready for it...not many were.) Another piece of evidence presented itself in the video below, in which Osteen admits that he and Jakes are a lot alike. Per Osteen, both he and Jakes appeal to people by merely speaking from the heart. (Mind you, the Lord says the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked(Jeremiah 17:9), but whateva.) Osteen says he and Jakes don't "talk a lot about doctrine or theological things" (quote begins at the 4-minute mark), as if such topics are optional for them as pastors. (SMH!)
I have several other examples, but won't share much more here because 1) it's well after 4 a.m. at the time of this writing, and I'm exhausted and 2) experience has taught me that laying everything out for everyone is futile if they don’t want to see the truth. No matter what I present, I’m always met with some version of, “Yes, [insert false teacher’s name here] DOES preach the Gospel! I've heard it!”
So, here’s what I propose: Prove it.
LET'S PLAY A GAME
I’ve spent nearly a year presenting evidence that Osteen and Jakes, especially (since they're the most popular of them all), are two of the ravenous wolves Jesus warned us about (Matthew 7:15), only to be told “Touch not God’s anointed. Do His prophets no harm!!!” Meanwhile, these people fail to recognize that these men are neither anointed, nor are they prophets. If they ever were anointed, they lost it long ago. (But, I digress.) So now the onus is on their supporters to back THEIR claims. If anyone wishes to continue to willingly entertain these men and their teachings DESPITE the evidence based on God's Word, I invite them to defend Jakes and Osteen, if they can.
In fact, I thought it clever to make a game of it. To celebrate our anniversary, Truth+Fire is hosting its first contest: the Jakes/Osteen #GospelChallenge. I’m requesting all supporters of Jakes and/or Osteen to submit links to their sermons, interviews and other official public teachings (books, social media posts, etc) that demonstrate either of both men teaching the pure Word of God. Each qualifying link will be awarded points and the supporter with the most points wins (something)! To enter, please see the contest details.
I SAID ALL OF THIS TO SAY...
I’ve learned and have grown more in Christ in the past two years than I did the first 10 years after I joined New Birth. God’s Word has a way of presenting some inconvenient truths for those of us who wish to hold to our sin and error. But it also sets us free if we surrender to it. It opens our eyes to so much more than we ever knew was possible. It renews our mind, guides us and protects us. It tells us who God is and who we are. It tells us how to spot truth and discern error. It's by far the most beautiful and amazingly powerful books I've ever read! It is, indeed, the unadulterated Word of God. The fact that there are actually men and women claiming to preach from it while simultaneously contradicting it (as it said would happen) is yet again proof of its inspiration of the Holy Spirit. I truly regret I didn't take the Lord's Word seriously sooner.
I pray Osteen, Jakes and others in their clan come to repentance if, at this point, it is even possible. (They've been at it for at least 20 years! Good grief!) Yet my greatest concern is for those who still follow these men out of innocent ignorance. I pray those who truly desire to know God get understanding, develop a hunger for studying God's word for themselves, and will move far away from these men and other false teachers as soon as possible.
I was fortunate to be yanked out of darkness and overcome their deception. But I spent nearly a decade mad with God because the prosperity Gospel they preach had failed me. I spent nearly a decade with a warped understanding of God and how Jesus even fit into the mix. I spent nearly a decade never truly hearing the Gospel, and I sat in a state of arrested development as a “babe in Christ”, if I were in Christ at all! Yet, I own my error and my sin in allowing myself to be deceived. I should have been studying to show myself approved (2 Timothy 2:15). Nevertheless, I have repented. I have removed the plank from my eye, and I just want to help others do the same! I still have much more learning to do. But with God's help I assure you it won’t be under the guidance of a wolf in sheep’s clothing. I pray the same for all of you!
P.S. Thank you to all of my subscribers for joining the Truth+Fire mailing list and sharing in this journey with me these past two years. Your support has been so encouraging. It's honestly been a fun ride, and I pray for the opportunity to do this for many, many, many more years to come. (In Jesus' name!)
I love you all!