Hall of Shame

Critical reviews of several popular teachers and denominations claiming to be conservative.

(Commentary with links; updated Mar. 12, 2024)

Alistair Begg

In what is a rather head-twisting bit of public advice given to a grandmother whose grandson wanted her to attend his same-sex "marriage" ceremony, Allistair Begg told her (and I quote):

"I know that we field questions all the time that go along the lines of: "My grandson is about to be married to a transgender person, and I don't know what to do about this.  I'm calling to ask you to tell me what to do" -- which is a huge responsibility.  I had a conversation like that just a few days ago, and people may not like this answer, but, I asked the grandmother, "Does the grandson understand your belief in Jesus?" - Yes.  "Does the grandson understand that your belief in Jesus makes it such that you can't countenance in any affirming way the choices that he's made in life?" - Yes.  "Well OK, as long as he knows that, I do suggest that you go to the ceremony, and I suggest that you buy them a gift."  "Oh" --she said-- "what?!"  She was caught off-guard.  I said, "Well here's the thing - you're love for them may catch them off-guard, but your absence will simply re-inforce the fact that they said, "These people are what I always thought: judgmental, critical, unprepared to countenance anything" ... and it is a fancy, it is a fine line, isn't it? It really is." (underlines and quotation marks, mine.)

This is truly sad for a man who, for the most part, has been a faithful Bible teacher over a long period of time.  Yet this most fundamental error --detected even by the likes of John MacArthur-- betrays a crack in his stance against the gay movement. Several public Christian ministers have approached him about this, and he's not "repenting" of it, since it was an application from his sermon on Jesus' advice to love your enemies.  One wonders if Alistair would advise a grandfather to drive his alcoholic grandson who lost his drivers license to the local bar.

This is pandering to the grandson's sinful choice. Attendance at such a wedding (and it's not a wedding by God's standards, but a civil union) where vows are made serves as a witness at a covenantal ceremony; to not speak out at that time provides an implicit endorsement. If grandma were to attend, she should be prepared to speak up against it publicly; some wedding ceremony services offer such an opportunity, as I did for my daughter at her wedding, instructing the attendees to "speak now or forever hold your peace".  I'm sure Alistair has conducted weddings.  This is very basic stuff for any minister.

The best I could say is that he was trying to grandstand a point about loving your enemy by making an outlandish example - but he made a mistake. That is forgivable - yet when confronted, he doubles-down on his advice.  THAT makes this very problematic.  

The OPC and Sexual Abuse

It is outrageous when the presbytery of a major conservative denomination cannot address sexual abuse of some female members by its leadership (here, abuse by a regional home missionary and an elder).  The most egregious case of abuse in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC) went to Jennifer Greenberg, one whose story in particular is extremely egregious, as it went unaddressed for decades, in spite of her numerous attempts to notify so-called godly leaders to help resolve her plight.  When the violated lamb went public with her claims (a very bold and difficult move for any abused woman), only one pastor (not in her presbytery) addressed the allegations.  It seems the OPC responds after their reputation is publicly tarnished. Kudos to that pastor for reaching out to help assuage her wounds, but I don't believe he helped prosecute the guilty.

In my experience, an OP presbytery will defend her own ministers relentlessly, even when flagrantly in violation.  This is yet another reason to avoid the OPC.  Dr. Paul Elliott of Teaching The Word ministries has documented at least three other reasons.

Jennifer tipped us off to an undisclosed plaintiff alleging "childhood sexual assault" in a lawsuit against Dr. Gregory Bahnsen and the OPC as defendants. She also gave an interview detailing how fellow Christian women can journey from abuse to freedom in Christ. She's written two books to help others, Not Forsaken (2019) and Defiant Joy: Find the Hope to Light Your Way, Even in the Darkness (2024).  They are painful to read.

There are also claims of abuse (not sexual) by Aimee Byrd who documents her departure from the OPC here. Many of her blog's links are broken, so these may as well over time.

The PCA: Gay Pastor and Creation Confusion

Not to be outdone by the OPC, the Presbyterian Church in America now accepts and promotes a gay youth pastor.  Folks, I'm not making this stuff up.

Furthermore, the PCA has held a watered-down view of a literal young earth, six-day creation since at least 1999, placing four (4) differing views (Calendar Day, Day-Age, Framework View, and Analogical Days) on equal footing.  Seems they worked hard to expand the Westminster Confession's simple phrase, "in the space of six days", into 2-3 pages of explanation. Their impressive 80+ page report concludes with a recommendation to allow for diversity of creation day views "as long as the full historicity of the creation account is accepted".  That's like saying all views are accepted as long as you believe it happened, which is what "full historicity" appears to mean.  (Oddly enough, "full historicity" is not defined in their terms, but it is listed in "elements of the orthodox view" - along with innerrancy of the Word of God, self-interpretation, unique creation of Adam and Eve in God's image, and Adam as a covenant head.  I fail to see how "self-interpretation" works for anything other than Calendar Day.)

They continue an ever-loosening stance on their requirements for the offices of teaching elders and ruling elders.

Ravi Zacharias

His own "Ravi Zacharias International Minisitries" (RIZIM) has confirmed that Ravi had sexually assaulted numerous women at a spa in which he had partial ownership. Sadly, he won't be prosecuted, because Ravi died May 20, 2020 and this news surfaced December 24, 2020.  The law firm examining the case (Miller and Martin PLLC) produced a full report in February 2021, concluding that "Zacharias used his ministry as a launching pad to gain sexual favors from women other than his wife."  That's putting it mildly; read the sordid details from a religious news outlet (which may be de-platformed, so I stashed a copy of it here).  Bro. Vince was at first mesmerized at Ravi's deep philosophical command of the atheistic community, but grew weary of Ravi's arguments as they notably lacked sufficient "thus saith the LORD" in his presentations.  It became evident to me that the sword of Ravi was preferred far more than the sword of God's word, and thus I stopped listening to him after 2-3 months, around 2013.

John Piper

Piper's foreword to a new book by Tom Schreiner can be found here, where we read a statement that clearly approves and commends a Heaven-By-Works message:

As Tom Schreiner says, the book 'tackles one of the fundamental questions of our human condition: how can a person be right with God?' The stunning Christian answer is: sola fide - faith alone. But be sure you hear this carefully and precisely: He says right with God by faith alone, not attain heaven by faith alone. There are other conditions for attaining heaven ... (underlines, mine)

In a recent Trinity Review, "John Piper on Final Justification by Works", authors Timothy F. Kauffman and Tim Shaughnessy address Piper's recent statement on justification, and analyze his comments throughout his various works over the last 20 - 30 years. The authors conclude he has a justification by works (plus grace) plan of salvation, which thing the Apostle Paul sternly warned against in Galatians.

John Piper condemns John 7:53 - 8:11 as being non-canonical, yet to assuage the troubled souls of his congregation, says it is still true.

Author Enoch Burke wrote a 165-page book on "The Hedonism and Homosexuality of John Piper and Sam Allberry".  The Castlebar, Ireland author has a Bachelors of Theological Studies, BA in History and Politics, and a Masters in Education.  Mr. Burke exposes Piper's preaching of mysticism which "rejects the clarity and sufficiency of Scripture [where] no longer does the Christian have enough in the Bible to teach him how God would have him to live: instead he needs a copy of  Desiring God."  Sam Allberry, promoted heavily by Piper and others in the Gospel Coalition, is a same-sex attracted Anglican who turns grace into lasciviousness. (Apparently, the term "gay" is bad, but "same-sex attracted" is OK.)  How much evidence does one need to reject Piper?

R.C. Sproul

While we appreciate his broad teaching platform of Reformed theology, R.C. Sproul (1939 - 2017) has sadly held heretical ideas concerning saving faith, as revealed by the Trinity Foundation. For instance, he refers to Roman Catholicism's men in charge as "godly leaders"; and calls the doctrine of justification by faith "Luther's View" (rather than calling it the "biblical view"), and appeals to Latin terminology to assert a complicated view of saving faith.

Concerning creation, Sproul sounds a confusing trumpet.  He was never a solid six-day creationist nor held strongly to a young earth.  From a 2011 Ligonier Ministries' post addressing his stance, Sproul admits that for most of my teaching career, I considered the framework hypothesis to be a possibility.  (The framework theory, one of at least 4 different views, was advanced by Westminster Seminary Professor Meredith Klein who strictly views Genesis 1 and 2 as allegorical, not literal.)  He allegedly changed his view in May 2008, but by August 2012, he distanced himself from a young earth position, leaving a theistic evolutionary view intact.  He still didn't get it, nor did for most of his career starting in 1965; i.e., for 43 years up to 2008.  His heretical views on creation are baked into his popular Reformation Study Bible (RSB), where a review of his Bible states the [RSB is] consequently more inclined to allow for alternative understandings of the days of creation. Ken Ham wrote a book detailing the massive damage done to the church's young people who leave the faith when they encounter evolutions bold assertions in college. Most college-age youth have never been taught the Bible's credible and compelling   or were shown evolution's long history of hoaxes (such as Ernst Haeckel's embryos, Piltdown man, Nebraska man - all of which were used as evidence at the Scopes trial). 

John MacArthur

Like Sproul, while we appreciate John's platform of generally conservative teachings, yet John has structural issues in his theology.  By his own admission, he is a dispensationalist and thus wrongly divides scripture.  He further confuses justification, regeneration, and sanctification, mixing works with faith in the wrong context, and from misapplied verses.  He subtly slips in a works-righteousness before God's throne, as noted here. Dr. Elliott (TeachingTheWord ministries) has an excellent assessment of MacArthur's doctrinal confusions. Starting at the section titled "A Warning: John MacArthur's Doctrinal Confusion", Dr. Elliott points out four of MacArthur's most significant errors:

  1. Lordship Salvation (a form of works salvation),
  2. John's denial that Jesus is the Son of God from all eternity, 
  3. John's repeated statements which deny the saving efficacy of Jesus' blood, and
  4. his broad ecumenical partnership with numerous ungodly religious leaders.

Trinity Review's assessment of John's book, The Gospel According To Jesus, does a comprehensive job showing how John mixes works with salvation.  Remember, this is John's peer-reviewed, carefully written book to explain salvation - and he blows it.

John promotes music showing no difference between the holy and the profane.  Christ Jesus through the Apostle John said to love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever (1John 2:15-17). Likewise, if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle? (1Cor. 14:8).

For instance, consider these musical selections promoted by MacArthur's The Master's University:

  • "Lord of All", 2009.  The opening lead tracks show no shame for using profane hard rock.
  • Chapel Band's "Foundation" album, 2014.  Tracks 1, 2 and 4 are likewise profane.
  • Getty Conference, 2018.  It is contemporary music that claims to be from Psalm 67, but the lyrics aren't even close.

2020's "Getty Worship Music Conference" has a host of errors, with MacArthur sharing the stage with John Piper, Trip Lee, Travis Cottrell (another rock artist), etc.  Can two walk together, except they be agreed? (Amos 3:3).  Ecumenism remains a stumbling block to John's ministry.
Concerning remarriage, MacArthur wrote remarriage is permitted for the faithful partner only when the divorce was on biblical grounds. In fact, the purpose for a biblical divorce is to make clear that the faithful partner is free to remarry, but only in the Lord. (underline, mine)  This is in direct opposition to the Bible.  In Romans 7:1-3, Pauls pivotal point of the law's dominion over man hinges on its lifelong affect which is only fully terminated by death.  The prime example Paul gives is that of marriage:  Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth? For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man. In Matthew 19:9b, the Lord Jesus said whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.  In 1Corinthians 7:39, the Apostle Paul wrote the wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth.  No exceptions for divorcees were made; and a divorced woman is considered "divorced", not "unmarried".  For further information, see our paper on the entire topic of divorce and remarriage, covering every verse in the Bible which relates to this.

Dr. James White

On the subject of canonicity (i.e., what is the Bible), Jim White is a deceiver to be avoided at all costs.  Though he boldy defends many conservative views of theology, he is very much a house built on sand, not on the rock.  It is clearly obvious that Dr. White is an errantist, because the errantist insists we do not know which Scripture (i.e., the Greek and Hebrew) are inspired and should be treated as divine, truthful and preserved down to the jot and tittle. In fact, he doesn't believe the Word has been preserved. His unflagging support for the critical text, the counterfeit Hebrew and Greek text behind nearly all modern translations, is Exhibit A in the courtroom of infallibility.  As of this writing, the critical text is in its 28th edition, meaning over 28 revisions of puts-n-takes as to what actually are the Words of God - and it's already removed 15% of the Greek NT which amounts to 48 pages out of a 600-page document.  The ESV publishers are blatantly taking advantage of this, presumably to keep future revenues flowing.

The Textus-Receptus site notes the following: James White is strongly opposed to the infallibility of the Greek Textus Receptus and the Hebrew Masoretic Text and rejects the King James Version as a corrupted translation. White casts doubt upon 237 verses of scripture. White does not believe any bible or any text in any language is at present the complete, inerrant, and 100% true Holy Bible, but believes that through searching for more manuscripts, people are getting closer to that goal.

Anyone who rejects Jesus' Words is to be rejected. Period. 

Update: Dr. Jeffrey Riddle has debated Dr. White several times, and his illuminating excerpts can be found here

Dr. White still foolishly asserts that text criticism never affects doctrine; for instance, on pg. 40 of his book, "The King James Only Controversy: Can You Trust The Modern Translations?", he wrote: "The simple fact of the matter is that no textual variants in either the Old or New Testaments in any way, shape or form materially disrupt or destroy any essential doctrine of the Christian faith.  This is a fact that any semi-impartial review will substantiate."  Really?  So if we remove the word "not", this doesn't impact doctrine?  Try changing a few words with your signed home mortgage documents and see if the bank believes no doctrinal stipulations are affected.

The late Dr. Theodore Letis points out that one of the world's loudest unbelieving scholars (Prof. Bart Ehrman) wrote an entire book on the subject of doctrinal influence from the text critical practice, titled "The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture: The Effect of Early Christological Controversies on the Text of the New Testament."  To spare you, we found and published over 30 doctrinal impacts which the Critical Text plies into the ESV.  I rebutted a local pastor on What You're Not Being Told About the ESV.  For the nitty-gritty details of every single instance, read Dr. Wilbur Pickering's answer to this common question, What difference does it make?

Mark Driscoll, Hillsong, Moody Bible Institute, Acts29, Calvary Church and Calvary Chapel

Julie Roys of the Roys Report has extensively covered many of the people above (MacArthur and Zacharias in particular) along with those listed in this subsection headline.  You can read their issues here.