Exposing False Teachers (No.1): Joyce Meyer
This is the first in what I hope will be monthly (or bi-monthly) articles exposing you to false teachers. My aim isn't to be rude, but truthful and defensive of the gospel of Jesus Christ and those I'm called to shepherd in my local church body. There are wolves pretending to be one of us and wolves are dangerous. These articles aren't about brothers and sisters in Christ we disagree with. Consider these articles danger signs, telling you 'these people aren't a part of us. They don't believe as the Scripture teaches. Their aim is to lead you away from God and the gospel. Run! Don't read a single book. Don't listen to a single sermon. Do not trust them with your soul- at all.
Why Articles Like This Are Needed
Before we dive in, consider these passages below to understand why articles like these are needed. I will include these passages in each of these articles I write in an effort to keep us biblically grounded on the necessity of the articles and demonstrate the need for us to call out false teachers.
"But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. 2 And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. 3 And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep." (2nd Peter 2:1-3 ESV)
17 "I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them." (Romans 16:17 ESV)
8 "But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed." (Galatians 1:8-9)
"For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ." (Jude 1:4)
As you see, I want to be faithful as a pastor. I want to warn you of those who may have crept into your life un-noticed. I want to warn you of those who are creating obstacles to your faith. I want to warn you of destructive heresies. I want to expose those who pervert the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Furthermore, I want to be faithful to the Lord and jealous of His Scripture and gospel. So, I've decided to dedicate a significant amount of time (and energy) into research and writing for this series. I pray this is read broadly by those in my local church (and certainly those outside) so that we may be edified toward the God who is unchanging and His unchanging Word.
Joyce Meyer is a False Teacher
Now on to the teacher this article is crafted about. As I began thinking through this series, I thought, 'I don't need to expose Joyce Meyer, she has already been discredited enough by people way more skillful at this kind of stuff than me. But I am always shocked by the book donations people drop off at my local church- there is always a Joyce Meyer book in there. Then I look at her social media influence or hear someone speak positively about her ministry and I am reminded that like cockroaches, it's difficult for the influence of a false teacher to die. So although much has been written, I will write to my local church. Now, I want this to be constructive, so I'd like to deal with Meyer's teachings, position/education/theological/ background, and her character so that we may dismiss her as the false teacher she is. I certainly pray she repents and becomes a Christian. If she does not, my prayer is that her ministry would be obliterated.
Now, I could bury us with the amount of false teaching Meyer spews out, but for clarity's sake I am going to limit it to three teachings that make their way into much of what she writes and teaches. I will give you her words, then I will give you the position of the Scriptures.
(1) Erroneous teaching on Doctrine of God, Deity of Christ and the atonement:
Meyer's own words: “The Devil thought he had it, the devil thought he had won. Oh they were having the biggest party that has ever been had. They had my Jesus on the floor and they were standing on his back jumping up and down laughing and he had become sin. Don’t you think that God was pacing wanting to put a stop to what was going on. All the hosts of hell were up on him, up on him, up on him. The angels are in agony, all the creation is groaning. All the hosts of hell was up on him, up on him, they got on him. They got him down in the floor and got on him and they were laughing and mocking, “haha you trusted God and look where you ended up. You thought he would save you and get you off that cross – he didn’t haha.” (click here for the audio clip of this)
“Sunday morning here comes the sun. Sunday morning God gets himself together. Justice has been met somehow everything has been taken care of and oh God gets his voice together and he hummers up three words and they go roaring through the universe and entering the gates of hell. He said it is enough. It is enough.” (click here for the audio clip of this)
“He could have helped himself up until the point where he said I commend my spirit into your hands, at that point he couldn’t do nothing for himself anymore. He had become sin, he was no longer the Son of God. He was sin.” (click here for the audio clip)
(2) According to Meyer, Jesus was the first born-again man:
Meyer's own words: “Do you know something? The minute that blood sacrifice was accepted Jesus was the first human being that was ever born again. Now that was real it happened when he was in hell.” (click here for the audio clip)
(3) According to Meyer, she has achieved sinlessness through positive thinking:
Meyer's own words: “All I was ever taught to say was I a poor miserable sinner. I am not poor, I am not miserable, and I am not a sinner. That is a lie from the pit of hell. That is what I were and if I still was then Jesus died in vain. I am going to tell you something folks I didn’t stop sinning until I finally got it through my thick head I wasn’t a sinner anymore and the religious world thinks that is heresy and they want to hang you for it. But the Bible says that I am righteous and I can’t be righteous and be a sinner at the same time.” (click here for the audio clip)
Confronting Meyer's False Teaching
Confronting Meyer's Teaching about the Father
The nature of Meyer's false teachings cannot be ignored. They are blasphemous against the God of the Scripture and they present to her audience a Triune God that does not exist.
First, her teachings about God present Him as a frantic, out of control, concerned Father who wants to stop the punishment of Christ, but couldn't until the right moment. Finally, when God regains His composure, He shouts, 'that's enough! I can't take it any more!' Hopefully this makes your stomach turn sour, but just in case you do not see the error, let's go to the Scripture.
Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. (Isaiah 53:10)
"I am God, and there is none like me,
10 declaring the end from the beginning
and from ancient times things not yet done,
saying, ‘My counsel shall stand,
and I will accomplish all my purpose..." (Isaiah 46:9c-10)
It was God's will to crucify Jesus. And God decreed it before the foundation of the world. God has in fact declared the end from the beginning. He is not frantic. He is not out of control. He has no equal. God is all-sovereign, and all-powerful. He is not puny. He is not powerless to stop evil or suffering. Our God is the Consuming Fire (Hebrews 12:28-29) and He is unchanging in His character (Malachi 3:6).
Confronting Meyer's Teaching on Satan and her "Ransom Theory" Theology
This leads me to the second issue I have with Meyer's teaching and perspective. She believes in what theologians call the "The Ransom Theory". That is to say, she believes that God had to pay a ransom to Satan so that we could have salvation. She believes that Satan is God's arch-nemesis and therefore, His equal. So when she speaks of Christ's crucifixion and death, she speaks of it in ransom language.
Satan is not God's equal and Jesus did not pay any price to Satan. God owes no one a debt (Romans 11:35). Man owes God a debt because God is holy and we are sinful. Therefore when Jesus was incarnated, lived, died and was gloriously resurrected, He paid a price we owed to God not to Satan. I will break fellowship with anyone who thinks otherwise.
Confronting Meyer's teaching on the Atonement
The third issue we should have with Meyer's teaching (which is connected to her Ransom to Satan theology) is her view of the atonement. She believes Jesus went to hell after the crucifixion to suffer and be beat on by demons so that we would not have to. First, when Jesus declared "It is finished" on the cross, He actually meant that God's wrath was satisfied. Secondly, her doctrine of Hell is something out of a cartoon or some b-budget horror film. Hell is the unrelenting wrath of God. In other words, it's worse than the fiction Meyer is promoting. Jesus was on the receiving end of God's wrath on the cross. It was not necessary for Him to then go to hell to be beat up by some gang of demons. Again, this is just another way Meyer distorts the atonement and promotes her own perspective and meditations detached from the Scripture.
Confronting Meyer's Teaching about the Deity of Jesus
Next, Meyer teaches that Jesus ceased to be the Son of God when he died. Again, I cannot articulate quite how blasphemous and heretical this is. Jesus has always been God and has never ceased to be God and never will cease to be God. Meyer's perspective on imputation is brutally distorted. Our sins are imputed to Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:21), God's wrath is poured out on Jesus (1 John 2:2; 1 Thessalonians 1:10), and Jesus' person and work are credited to those who repent of sin and trust in Him exclusively as Savior (Ephesians 1; 2:8-9; Colossians 3:3).
Confronting Meyer's Teaching about Jesus being "born again"
Again, Meyer believed this happened in Hell after the crucifixion of Jesus. She has assembled an entire theology based on her views on the atonement. Just as Jesus never ceased to be God, so Jesus was never born again. Jesus speaks to Nicodemus about being born again in John 3 and it is in the context of spiritual regeneration. In other words, for a person to become a believer, their heart must be regenerated by the Holy Spirit and then they respond with repentance of sin and faith in Christ. Jesus' heart was never regenerated. There was never a time he needed to repent. Jesus is the perfect, spotless lamb unstained by the sin of the first Adam. On the contrary, Jesus redeemed the actions of the first Adam (Romans 5) because of His perfection- because He is truly God and truly man.
Confronting Meyer's Teaching on her becoming Sinless
Meyer as a prosperity gospel teacher (which I will address in a moment) promotes a quasi pelagianistic positive thinking theology (say that 3x fast). She believes and promotes that Christians can become sinless, like her, if they only stop thinking of themselves as sinners. Certainly, the Apostle Paul would disagree with her:
13 "Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure.14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. 15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good.17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin." (Romans 7:13-25)
I could make this section even longer, but Meyer's sinless theology is completely foreign to Scripture. As believers, sin still indwells us. Indeed we are a new creation in Christ, but we are not rid of our sinful bodies impacted by Adam's sin. We are eagerly waiting for the day we have our sinless glorified bodies. That day is coming when Christ returns, but it has not arrived yet. Christ has not returned yet. We are not in the New Heavens and the New Earth. Not only is Meyer's teaching here in error, but I find it extremely arrogant and disturbing that she would stand in front of a crowd and announce her sinlessness to the watching world. I wonder what her husband thinks of her sinless claims when they argue about something? It must be really difficult for him to admit he is the one who is always wrong. In all seriousness. He knows she's lying. She knows she's lying. But her claims sell books and tickets, so they continue to make these preposterous assertions.
On Meyer's Position, Theological, and Educational Background
Meyer holds three honorary doctorate degrees from at least two prosperity gospel schools (historically speaking). She holds an honorary PhD from Life Christian University, an honorary doctor of divinity from Oral Roberts University and an honorary doctorate in sacred theology from Grand Canyon University (which admittedly I can't find information on without giving them my information, which I refused to do).
Meyer was ordained as a pastor (ignoring that the office of pastor and elder is reserved for men- 1 Timothy 3) almost 30 years ago and preaches and teaches both men (ignoring that women are not to teach men in the context of the local church- 1 Timothy 2:12) and women all over the world at conferences and local churches.
She is a part of the Word of Faith movement, which is a 'name it and claim it' cult that teaches that God's will is for you to prosper (financially, health, etc.) and that if you don't it is because you lack the faith needed to do so.
If you're sick, it is because you lack the faith to claim your promise of health healing from God. If you're poor or middle class it is because you haven't claimed your promise of financial wealth from God.
On Meyer's Character
Napolean once said, “I am surrounded by priests who repeat incessantly that their kingdom is not of this world, and yet they lay hands on everything they can get.” There are obviously Joyce Meyer types in every generation. Meyer is obsessed with health and wealth and believes that she has claimed promises of health and wealth from God. She boasts of her 10 million dollar private jet, her 2 million dollar primary residence, the expensive homes she bought for her children, her other homes and vacation homes she has scattered elsewhere, her and her husband's expensive cars and their lavish lifestyles. She believes this is a marker of God's favor and spiritual maturity and she charges her audience for secrets into how they can achieve what she has achieved.
Wall Watchers, a non-profit Christian organization that investigates the finances of large organizations such as Meyer's called on the IRS to investigate financial impropriety back in 2004. So far, Meyer continues to operate. I file this underneath "character" because it takes a certain character type to be obsessed with material wealth and health. It takes a certain character to endure financial investigations. It takes a type of character to live lavishly (and brag about it) off of those she preys on and promise sinlessness, health, and wealth if only they think more positively.
This is my first article aimed at exposing false teachers. There is so much more I could write about Joyce Meyer, but this article is already way longer than I want it to be. I want to end this article and every article on this subject in the same spirit Pastor and author John MacArthur ended a radio broadcast when he prayed an imprecatory prayer over false teachers on his "Grace to You" program long ago. MacArthur prayed that God grant these false teachers repentance and faith in Jesus and then he said, "[God] if you do not give them repentance, then bring your curses down on their heads." (taken from Sam Waldron's MacArthur's Millennial Manifesto). I write in the same spirit. Lord, change Joyce Meyer's stony heart and grant her true repentance and faith or bring curses down upon her head.