At this point, most are aware that famed Christian poet, writer and speaker Jackie Hill Perry has recently and publicly affirmed the ministries of several female heretics. Amid news of her participation at Propel Women’s Activate 2019 conference, Jackie has garnered a slew of controversy as many have attempted to make sense of her decision.
There might have been room to offer her the benefit of the doubt for why she ever signed on to the event, and many were prepared to offer it. Perhaps she didn’t know much about the ministries of the other speakers, namely the conference’s co-founder Christine Caine of Hillsong Church Australia. Or, maybe she was aware of these women and their errors, but wanted to share the Gospel and offer up a public rebuke. Yet, Jackie removed all doubt with a recent Instagram post and Insta-Story in which she unapologetically confessed her willingness to fellowship and do ministry with those whose doctrinal teachings oppose to the truth of God’s Word.
Where Scripture says light has no fellowship with darkness (2 Corinthians 6:14-17), Jackie cites her goal to better love her neighbor. Where Scripture says not to welcome or even greet those who bring a different gospel (2 John 1:10), Jackie cites a quest for “unity”. While her goals may be Scriptural (Christ does tell us to love our neighbor and He did pray for unity in the Body), her application of these Scriptures don’t align with the context upon which these truths stand. Christ has warned us against sacrificing truth on the altar of peace (Matthew 10:34-36). Her twisting of the Scriptures in this way is most troubling and could be telling of deeper matters most, including myself, don’t yet want to admit.
So, in an attempt to be slowER to speak and quickER to listen, I’ve avoided saying much on this issue too soon, despite many tagging and messaging me for my thoughts on this soon after the news broke.
If I’m honest, she’s certainly said some things and has had associations that have caused me great concern, which led me to unfollow her Twitter and Instagram feeds last summer and in all things “Jackie Hill Perry”, I’ve discerned a need to proceed with caution. Yet, I’ve still considered her a sister in Christ and, as such, this news has only caused me grief, confusion, disappointment and frustration. Thus, I thought it best to collect my thoughts as anything stated too hastily might not have been coherent or edifying. So over the past few days, I’ve examined my thoughts and Jackie’s statements under the light of Scripture. In the end, I’ve come away with the following open letter that takes care to directly respond to the various points she raised in her statement.
I’m going to be a bit Biblical, so prepare to humble yourself and grab your Bible, as both suit born again believers. Because I presently believe this descriptor applies to you, I am hopeful the Lord will move on your heart to consider and submit to the truth of what I am about to say, specifically in response to some things you’ve recently said.
”I’m not ‘tribalistic’ when it comes to ministry”
One thing I want you, and others who think as you, to know about Christ is He came to bring division (Matthew 10:34). You may not be “tribalistic in ministry” - which I gather to mean you are willing to minister alongside those of different denominations, but I trust you know that there must be factions among us, that those who are approved may be recognized (1 Corinthians 11:19). The purpose of this type of division is to weed out error that those who are faithful to the truth will be easier to identify. From what I know of you, you have been among those who faithfully brought the Gospel and have thus been recognized for such. Yet, your partnering with those who are not faithful to the truth has now made it challenging to know where you actually stand.
I’m sure you also know that there is no inherent sin in being separated and set apart when the separation is in keeping with the commands of Christ. Are we not God’s Royal Priesthood? Are we not called to be “a holy nation, His own special people, that [we] may proclaim the praises of Him who called [us] out of darkness into His marvelous light;” (1 Peter 2:9)? That sounds a lot like separation for the sake of ministry to me. Indeed, Jesus Christ, our Lord, confirms the need for separation in such cases, as one Day He will separate the sheep from the goats (Matthew 25:31-46) and the wheat from the tares (Matthew 3:12). Even now He separates light from darkness (Genesis 1:4; John 3:19, 8:12, 12:46; 2 Corinthians 6:14 and elsewhere). So what if one is “tribalistic” when the “tribe’s” mission has been to hold to the pure Gospel and faithfully defend the faith? And if you so desire to defect from the “tribe” simply for the sake of unity, why then join yourself with heretics? Do you believe they bring the Gospel? Because if you do, that reveals perhaps you never believed the truth. If you don’t believe they bring the Gospel, why would you knowingly partner with them and call them “friends”?
“God’s church is...made up of people that are complicated and nuanced”
In Scripture, we see Jesus dining with sinners one moment (Luke 5:29-31) and dining with His disciples the next (Luke 22:7-28). But it was because He came to call all men to repentance, and only those who respond to that call are part of His Church. Being in His Body is to be in fellowship with Him that we grow in the grace and knowledge of Him and come out of what is “complicated and nuanced”, which I presume was your more eloquent way of describing sin, confusion and double-mindedness.
And while I can appreciate your ability to move through different circles, it’s nothing to boast about when doing so has led you to affirm those who betray Christ and leave the lost in their sin. Paul may have been all things to all men, but it was for the sake of relating the Gospel to them, not to play the hypocrite, justify sin and error, prove a personal point, or in any way undermine the Gospel message in doctrine or deed.
Moreover, Jesus was never a hypocrite who got “churchy” depending on whom He was around, and He most certainly didn’t call those in unrepentant sin His “friends”. He bestows that honor upon those who are His (John 15:15), and He didn’t share platforms or go on ministry tours with those in open rebellion to His teachings. And I’m sure you know that whether a Pharisee or His own disciples, Jesus rebuked whomever was out of step with His Gospel (Matthew 13, Mathew 16:23, 26:52; Luke 9:54-55). We should be willing to do the same.
Jesus calls us to not only repent, but to bear fruit in keeping with repentance (Matthew 3:8/Luke 3:8; John 15:16). We are called to mature in faith and part of our role in the Church is to sharpen one another towards maturity, not excuse sin and error for the sake of ‘unity’. The women with whom you’ve decided to do ministry might get out enough Gospel to preach that “Jesus is Lord”, but the whole of their teachings is so loaded down with heresy they undermine that proclamation. As such “Jesus” is no longer the Jesus revealed in Scripture.
“when there is a unified commitment to the gospel of Jesus Christ... the unity for which Christ prayed is made possible”
As Believers, our approaches to evangelism, spiritual gifts, and worship style may certainly vary, but it is the same Lord, the same Spirit, the same God who guides it all (1 Corinthians 12:4-11). The diversity we see in ministries isn’t meant to excuse overt error and blatant deviation from what is Biblical and essential for coming to and maturing in saving faith. You are correct in noting that Believers are unified in the Gospel. But this is why your presence at Propel Women and your admitted fellowship with false teachers is so alarming, as it undermines the Gospel and your own witness as a professor of it. The women with whom you’ve decided to unapologetically do ministry don’t preach the same gospel or the same Christ of Scripture . They don’t rest on the inerrancy of Scripture, for they instead twist the Scriptures and preach error. And by virtue of many of them serving as female overseers and teachers of men in their local churches, they clearly don’t reverence the authority of Scripture. They don’t hold a high view of God’s Word, nor do they have a Biblical love for God or their neighbor, as they are in open rebellion against Him and lie to the lost daily about the way to find and follow Him.
“I don’t agree with everybody I do ministry with (including the folk people might call “theologically sound”)”
Where matters are doubtful disputations (opinions), of course you don’t have to agree with everybody with whom you do ministry (including the “folk people might call ‘theologically sound’”). But, if you are Christ’s, you do have to agree with the Spirit of God; you do have to submit to the truth and commandments of the Scriptures; and you do have to agree with who Christ has revealed Himself to be, for what purpose He came, what He’s done, and what He’s instructed of us therein. And where you might find yourself in circles with those who publicly preach any deviation from those things, it is incumbent upon you to publicly rebuke them that those who follow them and you can clearly see the distinction - for such women are “false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ”. If you honestly believe God approves of your remaining on this tour, then you also recognize your duty, by the Spirit of God, to “cut off the opportunity” they seek to be regarded as bearers of the truth (2 Corinthians 11:12-14).
Yet, as long as you associate with them without making the distinction clear and have instead befriended them, you’ve effectively approved of and affirmed their ministries, which means you now share in their evil deeds (2 John 1:10). Do not be deceived, Jackie! Evil company corrupts good habits (1 Corinthians 15:33). Even if it is your earnest desire to take the Gospel to spaces you know it won’t be taught, if you do so in admitted fellowship with those you are fully aware bring a false gospel, you have failed to avoid the appearance of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22). This alone makes you guilty of sin.
“Some of them, being blindly complicit when it comes to white supremacy... are faithfully inspired by the theological musings of slave masters”
And speaking of sin, as you point to some of those “folks people might call ‘theologically sound’” as being “blindly complicit to white supremacy,” I would like to highlight your use of the term “blindly”. If these “folks”, whom you seem to count as brothers in Christ, had their eyes opened by the Holy Spirit that they are indeed in sin, would they not repent? So what is the goal of making such an uncharitable accusation? To justify your own actions? To justify the actions of the false teachers with whom you now fellowship? You are correct that this is “a whole other conversation”, as it has absolutely nothing to do with the matter at hand. Besides, even if your accusations holds true, the one “blindly complicit” to sin is not to be compared to - nor does it excuse your partnership with - those who brazenly practice it. The women with whom you’ve decided to do ministry, though having been repeatedly and publicly rebuked, openly preach another gospel and another Christ, and Scripture says such individuals are an anathema (Galatians 1:8). So if you MUST accuse brothers who bring the truth of being “faithfully inspired by the musings of slave masters”, keep in mind that you’re effectively praising the musings of women who preach not only what keeps their hearers enslaved to sin, but is leading them to eternal destruction!
“where I disagree, I’m open to discussion”
I am happy to see that you are open to discussion, are willing to learn and have ears to hear when you encounter those with whom you may disagree. As such, I am hoping this open letter to you would spark said discussion. But your knowing affirmation of the women at Propel 2019 presently demonstrates you’re also willing to give credence to those with whom you disagree in the Gospel in the name of “love” and “unity”. That’s the area causing me and others the greatest area of concern. You KNOW these women aren’t doctrinally sound. (Don’t you?) You KNOW they don’t bring the Gospel. (Don’t you?) You KNOW those who consistently preach heresy are deemed evil workers, and yet you’re willing to cling to them! Jackie, Scripture says, “Love must be sincere”. If you’re going to truly demonstrate brotherly/sisterly love and unity in Christ, you must DETEST (reject) what is evil and cling only to what is good (Romans 12:9)! And please don’t ask us to ignore what you are doing now on the merits of what you’ve said in the past. Your history may be what causes us to grant you grace and charity, but it doesn’t make you without excuse nor does it absolve you of sin and its consequences (Ezekiel 18:24). In recent days a man most considered solid in the faith announced his departure from Christ. You must endure, and you must watch your life and your doctrine closely (Matthew 24:13;1 Timothy 4:16).
“just in case you think I’m apart of “your tribe” just know that I’m not”
At the end of the day, whether you identify as “Reformed”, a “Calvinist”, a “Southern Baptist” or whatever is ultimately of no concern to me - especially given that I don’t particularly hold to those man-made labels, myself. While I believe such labels were born out of an attempt to systematize Biblical truths, I can see how Believers tend to place more emphasis on the labels than on the truth they were meant to represent. As such, men become less likely to “test every spirit” and err on blindly accepting anyone who bears those labels as “safe” while counting those who don’t as “problematic” or “false”. So if your gripe is with that, I feel you 1000%. But your Instagram statement demonstrates your willingness to go so far to prove a point against this that you’ve been ensnared by deception and sin. The issue here is not that Christine Caine, Jenn Johnson, Sarah Jakes, et al. are not “Reformed”. The problem is they are FALSE TEACHERS! And as a Believer, “your tribe” is ultimately the Church, which is made up of born again Believers evidenced by their bearing and abiding in the truth of Christ. No one cares what denomination these women are in. The ultimate issue is that these women do not bear fruit as being born again into the family of God.
“I’m too free for that”
We are free IN CHRIST, indeed (John 8:32; Romans 6:22). But you are, frankly, using that freedom as a license to sin rather than freedom from the bondage of sin and error (Galatians 5:13; 1 Peter 2:16). You are presently in sin and error, Jackie, and you are causing many of your brothers and sisters in Christ to stumble as a result. Again, from what I’ve known of you, you bear the truth thus I’m hopeful that you are indeed my sister in the Lord. But if you do not consider yourself to be part of our “tribe” simply because we’d rather hold to the truth over seeking unity with darkness, then perhaps you are not with us. And if that is the case, I’m sincerely sorry to see you go. But, in love and charity, for the sake of your own soul and those under your influence, I would be remiss to not to bring these concerns to your attention for your sincere consideration in the hopes the Lord would grace you to remain. As such, this entire message has not been one of condemnation, but of grace.
I sincerely pray God would have you see the merits of all that has been stated herein, and I pray that you repent.
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*Editorial Note: It has come to my attention that Jackie Hill Perry has made an additional statement on this matter since I originally drafted the letter above, but before it was officially published. A copy of her second statement appears below. After reading it, and learning that Jackie has been part of Propel since 2018 I recognize that she is indeed unrepentant of her fellowship with those she’s fully aware bring a false gospel. She is also being guided by her own understanding, rather than submitting to the truth and correction of the Scriptures. Please pray for her repentance and sincerely consider avoiding her ministry in the meantime.