Through the Narrow – What About the If:Gathering? By Gina Cook

What About the If:Gathering?


We need to warn women and their church leaders of one of the ways a false gospel, false teachers and a false Jesus are being brought to them under the guise of women gathering in “Christian” fellowship, worship and missions. We need to warn about the IF:Gathering and those who speak at it. It’s a two-day gathering that brings women away from pastoral oversight and into fellowship with one another under teachers who twist and corrupt God’s truths.

Many have already warned about IF:Gathering and have done an excellent job doing so (see these links: https://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=17334 

https://the-end-time.org/2017/02/06/ifgathering-more-information-including-video-claiming-direct-revelation/ )

…yet the warnings must be repeated and repeated. The alarm should continue on as so many women, families and churches are still impacted by serious errors from these popular teachers and this yearly event.  

From the IF:Gathering website we read: “Inspired by the question “If God is real… then what?”” IF? That alone is a problem. Look around folks, God is real. “Since” is the right word-

“For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power, and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20, NASB)

Also found on their website:

“Before there was ever an IF Gathering event or resource created, there was one phrase God continually laid on IF:Gathering’s founder and visionary, Jeannie Allen’s, heart-which is still at the core of what we are about today: disciple a generation”. 

You will find this sort of talk is common among those heading unbiblical ministries, whether knowingly or unknowingly. Just say God told you to do it in some form or fashion while wrapping it with Christian lingo. This practice gives instant credibility. 

Jeannie Allen heads up this yearly two-day event that brings in some of the most popular women teachers to speak to women around the world, mostly via Livestream, about loving Jesus and spreading His Gospel.

Sounds great. But it is far from great. In fact, what is most troubling about IF:Gathering is there is good truth mixed with such grave error. It is an example of 2 Corinthians 11:4, where a false Jesus and gospel are sold and bought with ease, without question. 

I actually attended the IF Gathering Livestream back in 2017 with the young women of my old church, very well-meaning and sweet women. Right before the event, I was alerted by other sources that IF:Gathering invited questionable teachers and was not sound. I looked into it to study the founder and the speakers invited previously and gave a heads up to the dear lady who was putting it on for our church. She listened but decided to continue on with it. So I decided to go and take notes- get the information first hand and see what was being introduced to my church.  

I don’t even know where to begin with how unbiblical it was. Again, there was good stuff, some truth shared but it was always coupled with massive error and Scriptures ripped out of context. They did focus a lot on “disciple-making, sharing the Gospel, reading the Word” and I realize God can use that to steer people in a biblical direction, and I pray that He does, despite the fact none of those terms were explained biblically. That’s the danger, my friends. 

The event included speakers Jeannie Allen, Ann Voskamp, Lysa Terkeurst, and other lesser-known speakers. These women are reoccurring speakers. 

One of my observations right off the bat was that most women talked to us like we were at a teen youth rally. “Worship” leaders and even some speakers would start out with an emphatic, “let’s do this!!” A couple of other women agreed with me on that.

Ann Voskamp was the obvious issue in the whole IF:Gathering, because even the women at my church who praised IF at the end (sadly many did and saw little wrong with what they just sat through) admitted that Voskamp was truly disturbing. To me, it sure seemed she was demonically influenced. In a very dramatic fashion she’d declare, “we need to transform ourselves”, although the Holy Spirit, through His Word, is Who transforms us. She yelled Christian words over and over like “cruciform”, as she flung the Bible in the air without opening it, without teaching from it once. Ann made little biblical sense and even sounded like she was trying to brainwash us with her repetitiveness and tone. It was very difficult to endure. I almost walked out before the feed messed up and cut out. We were unable to see the last part of her message. Thank You, Lord!

Please know Ann Voskamp is a known false teacher, writing and teaching twisted things about our Lord, yet has been a repeated guest speaker for IF:Gathering. Many have warned about her. You can read more about what she teaches here: https://biblicalbeginningsblog.wordpress.com/2019/12/31/through-the-narrow-ann-voskamp-seductive-romanticism-by-tami-dykes/

And here: 

http://www.piratechristian.com/messedupchurch/2018/5/podcast-interview-with-marcia-montenegro-one-thousand-gifts-review

I noticed several women speakers were telling their testimonies and seemed to leave out a real understanding or conviction on the True Gospel. That is the one thing I look carefully for when listening to any teacher or speaker. We shouldn’t want to just hear the words “Gospel” or “salvation”. It must be presented and explained biblically. That didn’t happen here. I didn’t hear the biblical definition of repentance explained at all. No mention of dying to sin and self as God explains in Scripture. Jennie started out with a focus on the “hurting and conflicted” and she says, ” I pray many experience Jesus” with the IF Gathering. These women wanted to receive and give an experience for sure but it was through their version of the Gospel, of their version of Christ. It seemed a social Gospel took the stage a few times as the focus zeroed on the racially oppressed and genders. Voskamp said she hoped women in countries that don’t have a Bible in their language would get one so they can read about the women of God in the Bible and what they’ve done. That was her reason for wanting women to have a Bible; to know about the women and what THEY did. What about Christ? 

“The Word,” “Gospel,” “Faith,” “Disciples” were mentioned a lot, as well as ‘Jesus’ name, but no true biblical use or honoring of them at all. I didn’t see the worshiping in Spirit and in Truth that God calls us to do in Scripture.

Miracles of healing, hearing God speak audibly was mentioned a lot. The Scripture was just a side note. One woman they showcased in a video said, “I now know I’m worthy of Jesus,” and she mentors young ladies to believe the same. The self-championing continued. 

We were taught that “the cost” and “the cross” that Jesus speaks of is dying to our dreams, fears, wanting to stay in our safe place, strivings, inadequacies, etc. But not to sin, as God would emphasize sin to be. It was never about a bunch of wretches needing Jesus to be saved from sin, it was about healing and forgiving our ooopsies, so-to-speak.

They would pray that the Holy Spirit to “come over us” “come in the place again (after we had taken a break, apparently God takes breaks too and needs to be told to come back to the meeting)”, and that He is “invited here”. Ladies, He does not need our invitation! The Lord is omnipresent and sovereign.

I heard women speakers say that God’s plan of salvation was “ridiculous” and that He is “crazy”, all said in fun. This is pure disrespect of our Lord and what He has done. No reverence for Him and His Word. 

Lysa Terkeurst, another alarming yet popular teacher and author, would be better suited to go into comedy; she is much better at that then actually teaching biblical truth. She has a great way with words but she twists God’s. She read Acts 1:7-8 then says that this speaks of us (when it’s actually speaking of the apostles) and made the point “people need to know that we hurt like they hurt.” No Lysa, they actually need to know Christ. Sharing hurts gets no one to heaven. We can sympathize and pray for those hurting yet sinners need the Healer to spiritually heal them from their sin. They need the Gospel.

Michelle Lesley explains more on why Lysa is a concern, here: https://michellelesley.com/2015/07/31/leaving-lysa-why-you-shouldnt-be-following-lysa-terkeurst-or-proverbs-31-ministries/

At the end, we were asked to name who “gave us Jesus” and who “caused us to love Jesus.” How about God Himself? We were told to be that person to someone else – the one who gives someone Jesus and cause them to love Him. Women would say, “I love Jesus because of my friend so and so”. People would say these phrases were meant it as “this person lead me to the Lord” or “they gave me the Gospel” but that’s not how it was said.  

Ladies, people who don’t ever say things how you think they mean to say it, probably don’t mean what you think they mean to say. Stop assuming and start testing teachings to Scripture. Lives depend on it.

These women are good at what they do. Whether they know it or not or intend to do so or not, they are good at wrapping junk up with Christian words and elevating emotion to the rooftops, bringing just enough Christian terminology and feel-goods in to make women totally lose any weak grip they may have had on discernment. I think if you are going to have a worldwide stage where some women who probably don’t know Christ will be watching, they should give the whole Gospel. That is their number one responsibility. The way of salvation needs to be made clear. What did they give instead? Lukewarm nonsense in the name of “Jesus.” It saddened me, disgusted me and fired me up to keep warning women of things like this.

The IF:Gathering continues to invite false teachers and spread false teachings. This year, 2020, Beth Moore took the stage. Beth Moore has proven to be a very dangerous teacher as she takes the pulpit and preaches to men, as she lessens her stance on homosexuality and gives a soft gospel. More on her can be read here: https://michellelesley.com/2014/08/14/updated-five-reasons-its-time-to-start-exercising-moore-discernment/

And here: 

https://biblicalbeginningsblog.wordpress.com/2019/11/12/guest-post-more-on-moore-by-tami-dykes/amp/

Also, it should be noted that Ann Voskamp showed up again at IF:Gathering. Unfathomable. I can’t believe she is invited back after such disturbing displays in previous years. 

These poplar women teachers have not publicly come out repenting. They have not said they’ve taught error or anything of the sort-instead they continue to defend their beliefs and practices and teach error as they stand alongside other false teachers.  

Many pastors and church leaders are in the dark and choose to remain there after being warned, while women get captivated by false teachers and allow their poison to spread to others. This is serious and we need to pray for all ensnared, deceived by and/or indifferent to this wreck of a women’s gathering. It doesn’t encourage the Truth of God, it confuses it, it twists it and it corrupts it. May we prayerfully and compassionately warn and share the true Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ as test all things to His Word!


Above is an article written by Tami Dykes, Gina and Tami write Through the Narrow here at Tulips & Honey Hub. They’ll be posting articles every other Tuesday, accept for this week as I was unable to post yesterday. Both are published authors, and you can find Tami’s book here, and Gina’s book here. We’re blessed to have them apart of our team, and pray their writing will be as edifying to you as it is to us. – Lauren Hereford

Naming Those Heresies – and the Teachers who Promote Them

Naming Those Heresies

and the Teachers who Promote Them

Last month we played a game on social media called Name That Heresy, where we posted a quote expressing a heretical teacher and asked our followers to name what the heresy was. They were give extra entries into a giveaway if they could list Scriptures that refuted it, or name other preachers/teachers that believed the same. We all were able to learn a lot from one another, as well as open discussions up between those who were unaware certain heretical movements existed. There was so much information that one follower recommended an entire episode on it all, so that is what today’s episode is about!

We went through all 7 of the heresies which were listed, discussing the false teacher and what they were teaching. In this episode we also gave some shout outs, including one of our favorite podcasters, Women of the Table. They’re doing a series on Hell right now that has been really helpful! I also linked to Michelle Lesley, article is in the outline below, who has been plugging away at these heresies for the benefit of us all. Below is a time stamped outline, that we hope will be helpful for anyone who wants to skip through the episode to certain points. Don’t miss the blooper reel, waiting as ever, at the end like a cherry on top! You can, of course, listen across all major podcasting platforms such as PodbeaniTunesSpotifyGoogle PlayiHeart RadioStitcher, and in video form (eventually) on Youtube. We also now have a Patreon page, which you can find here https://www.patreon.com/Tulipshoneyhub. As always, beloved brethren, be good Berean’s and study to show yourselves approved.

Name That Heresy Episode Outline 

  1. Definition of Heresy: Timestamp – 00:06:19
  2. Little God’s Doctrine – Kenneth Copeland: Timestamp 00:08:03
    • “Every Christian is a god. You don’t have a God living in you, you are one!”
    • Quote from Fort Worth, Texas, K. Copeland Ministries, n.d. audiotape BCC-56.
  3. Kenotic Christ – Bill Johnson: Timestamp – 00:15:40
  4. Modelism – T. D. Jakes: Timestamp – 00:29:40
    • “There is one God, Creator of all things perfect and eternally existent in three manifestations. Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”
  5. 7 Mountain Mandate/Dominionism/Dominion Doctrine – Dr. James Kennedy: 
    •           “Our job is to reclaim America for Christ, whatever the cost. As the vice regents of God, we are to exercise godly dominion and influence over our neighborhoods, our schools, our government, our literature and arts, our sports arenas, our entertainment media, our news media, our scientific endeavors – in short, over every aspect and institution of human society.”
    • Said At a “Reclaiming America for Christ” conference in February, 2005, Kennedy
    • http://libertymagazine.org/article/the-rise-of-dominionism-and-the-christian-right
  6. Selfism/Narcigesis – Steven Furtick: Timestamp – 00:47:35
    • “Come on, I need you to receive this, because you have some stuff flying at you. You have some doubts in your soul, but stay behind your shield. Come on. Duck, David. Get behind your shield. Paul said it’s the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall quench the fiery darts of the wicked. I have a shield. Is anybody shielded by the power of God? If I stay behind my shield, Saul cannot kill what God has crowned. I got the winning hand. I might not look like much. I might just be a shepherd boy, but I have a winning hand, and God is my shield.”
    • https://sermons.love/steven-furtick/3655-steven-furtick-are-you-tired-of-fighting.html
  7. Marcionism – Andy Stanley Quote: Timestamp – 01:12:45

Shenanigans

Lauren: What is a creature in the ocean that you would want to be? Do you think mermaids are real?

Becca: 

If you’d like more information about Tulips & Honey Hub please visit our website: 5Solas.Online 

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Through the Narrow: The Dangers of Empowerment and Identity – By Gina Cook

In my last article titled, “The False and the Deceived,” I highlighted the fact that the occult has entered into solid, evangelical churches and it’s doing so in very unsuspecting, backdoor kinds of ways. The ways I brought up were through the altered teachings of the empowerment of the Holy Spirit and our identity in Christ. Now I’m going to follow up by going a little deeper into these specific teachings and why they are so attractive, who are the evangelical teachers peddling them and what other things they are teaching after you invest in their material.

As I briefly mentioned in the previous write-up, the Bible wants us to know about the empowerment of the Holy Spirit indwelling in us (Ephesians 1:13, Titus 3:5, 1 Corinthians 2:10-1612:11, John 14:16-17). It’s a beautiful and needed aspect of our Christian life. Without the empowerment of the Holy Spirit in us, we could not be saved and we could not truly please God, love God or obey God. Without the Holy Spirit illumining the Word to us we would not understand God’s Word and would still have our minds darkened.

So it’s crucial to understand Christians are identified in and empowered by the Lord and what that all means, but we must also understand what empowerment and our identity do NOT mean because that is where deception creeps in.

As John said, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” Sadly, in our flesh, we want to be special, to be in control, to see ourselves higher than they ought to. Many of us want to rub elbows with the Lord; to be God in many ways, sometimes without even realizing it.

Teachers who falsely teach on identity usually make the focus on yourself seem like a godly thing and that sells well. It’s truly remarkable how self-centered it is, yet to see so few pick up on that. It’s about flesh-petting power trips and “changing the world because I finally realize my potential, in Christ.” No, that is not how the world is changed. The worldly, lost souls find change through the power of the Holy Spirit through the preaching of the Gospel-the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16).

Seeking power and identity in the wrong places and wrong ways only puff up and corrupts. Just as we see in pagan circles, people just keep seeking more and more power, self-awareness and validation from the spiritual realm, and can’t seem to ever find enough.

Before I get into certain teachers that push these twisted teachings, it’s important to know what other terms and beliefs you can find once delving into their studies. This is not to say that people who use any of these terms are all the same, are all unsaved, false teachers or that all attach the same definition to these terms, yet when we come across a teacher using these terms, we should pay close attention and look deeper into what they mean by them.

One term/teaching is “incarnational ministry” or being “incarnational”. To these teachers, we must be incarnational to reach people for Jesus. It’s about us “being Jesus,” being incarnate like Christ. Truth is, the only One Who can be Jesus is Jesus. The only One who can be God incarnate, which means God taking on human flesh, is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. To imply we are incarnational is to give the impression that we become carbon copies of Jesus. Incarnational ministry focuses on the person “being Jesus” instead of being Christ-like, which puts emphasis on their puffed up identity and gifting rather than focusing on Him and the Gospel message they are supposed to share. These teachers emphasize “living the good news/the Word” over preaching it and preaching it boldly. It becomes more about showing their faith rather than sharing it. The Bible does say, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven,” but that’s in the context of our godly lives giving evidence of the Gospel/True God that we are simultaneously preaching — our good works are in no way the power unto salvation-only proof of His saving power in us.

1 Corinthians 2:2 says “I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified”.

1 Corinthians 1:21 says, “For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.”

(For more on incarnational ministry you can check this link out: https://www.compellingtruth.org/incarnational-ministry.html )

Not only is it severely wrong/dangerous to teach that we can “be Jesus”/incarnational, but it’s also just as dangerous to believe our works and special gifting is the main power and influence on the lost. Incarnational ministry is closely related to “friendship evangelism” where people put more salvific value in the relationships they build than they do with the Gospel being preached (More on that can be found here: https://www.gotquestions.org/friendship-evangelism.html).

IMG_0673

Another popular thought in this movement is that “Jesus never taught in a classroom and doesn’t want you concerned about studying theology”. This is to suggest that Jesus isn’t concerned about teaching the Word as much as He is about living it out. The Bible says in James 1:22, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” Yet, this does not mean Jesus is against the study/teachings of Scripture or that He never taught the Word to groups of people sitting there listening to Him teach. We see in Scripture Jesus teaching in the synagogues and we read His instruction that we are to be studying the Word and rightly handling it (Matthew 5, Mark 10, Luke 4:15, John 8, 2 Timothy 2:15). How can we know how to live for God if we don’t know the Scriptures?

Another term, a practice, they may teach is contemplative prayer or “listening prayer”. It’s based on the false teaching that God talks to us in our prayer time and gives us personal, specific truth or new revelation. They will present this as praying to seek God’s direction. Many times it’s centered on reading/praying a Scripture verse and listening to what God then communicates to you during this quiet time. Listening for God outside of Scripture and feeling some sort of spiritual presence is the focus for them. They typically use Scripture as a part of a meditative practice that’s found in other false religions, where a person repeats a word over and over and tries to clear the mind of everything else to hear from the spirit realm. Jesus never taught us to listen to Him during prayer time. When He taught us how to pray it was all about our communication to Him, not the other way around (Luke 11). Contemplative prayer is more related to the mystical practices of the occult. In the occult truth is sought in self, nature, spirits, and forces but never in the true Lord Jesus Christ and His written Revelation to us.

Another teaching/practice that is usually found amongst these others; uniting with all denominations. There is this huge push to put aside doctrinal differences because Jesus “ate with sinners”. They teach to unite for the common goal of spiritual growth. We are to build relationships with those in other (false) religions to “bring the love and peace of Christ” in their lives. What is going on is Satan is the Father of Lies, false religions and false unity. The bigger and stronger you make this false unity, the more dangerous its influence becomes. It’s leavening the whole lump. God tells us very clearly, “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever?” 2 Corinthians 6:14-15.

The last teaching/practice I’m going to address (and there is much more I could mention) is the slow push to remove you from pastoral oversight and care by overemphasizing the importance of “life groups,” “small home church groups” or something of that nature. It’s insinuated that this is a warmer more biblical and productive fellowship, not the colder typesetting you get in a large church gathering under a qualified pastor. Please don’t misunderstand me, I know small gatherings for Bible study aren’t a bad thing necessarily and can provide great fellowship and instruction. Also, I know there are solid churches encouraging some form of small group gatherings, but for these teachers, close, intimate study groups are more about “connecting” than studying Scripture. You are told to build very strong relationships with these few people in your group and learn together under the study of the teacher’s material. As the studies go on and the more material you invest in, the teachings get more twisted and less likely to be held in the light of Scripture. What seems to happen, without anyone in the group discerning and sounding the alarm, is vocabulary starts to change, the Gospel starts to be watered down while relationships in the group and in the “missional work” they do together are strengthened. The scary part is the teachers behind much of this know the Gospel message for the most part. They can convincingly recite the Gospel enough on their websites and in their books to keep many alarms from setting off. God tells us, “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” in 2 Peter 2:1.

Again, not all teachers that use any or all of these terms are to be lumped into the same category but if anything, one must be very cautious about being under their teachings and influence, no matter what good things they have done or taught.

These teachers are perhaps not all well-known but they are making an impact. Some are associated with well-known and beloved evangelical preachers many of us have been taught and blessed by. Others are lone wolves. Some are organizations with several people at the head. Here are just a few of many who have taught one or all of the things mentioned above, ones that seem to have more influence in evangelical churches:

-Alan Hirsch, author of several books including The Forgotten Ways

-Jeff Vanderstelt; lead teaching pastor at Doxa Church in Bellevue, Washington, and says to be “the visionary leader of the Soma Family of Churches and Saturate resource ministry”. He is author of the book “Gospel Fluency” and the Saturate material. (He is the teacher I mentioned in my previous article; the one a previous church of ours had studied under.)

-The NAMB- North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptists. It is filled with these teachers. You will see some of these teachings here: Rethinking mission: Incarnational presence – NAMB

-Eugene Peterson; a Presbyterian pastor and author of the Message “Bible”. In his interpretation of John 1:14: “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.” This is a popular translation of the verse for those who teach incarnational ministry. By the way, the actual translation of this verse… “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Not even close.

Bob Roberts Jr., founding pastor of NorthWood Church in Keller, Texas who boasts and is very active in “loving people from every faith, and pioneering relationships with those that are usually shunned by Christians.”

“I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another.” 1 Corinthians 4:6.

It imperative that we understand our spiritual identity is about what He has done for us so that we may live for and serve God. When we are identified in Christ, the Son is the focus, not us. We have been reborn and adopted, redeemed and restored, for God’s glory alone. Truly we are unworthy servants who should be doing what we ought to do because He alone is worthy and if we truly love Him and His Word we will be like the Bereans. (Luke 17:7-10 , Acts 17:11)

I encourage that for us all, to keep testing what we are taught to the infallible, inerrant Word of God! “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16

By Gina Cook


Through The Narrow is written by Tami Dykes and Gina Cook, both are published authors. You can find Tami’s book here, and Gina’s book here.

Through The Narrow – The False & The Deceived: By Tami & Gina

Regarding the false and the deceived we could write books upon books and never be done covering all the kinds this world knows. Many have already written on and much has been talked about false teachers and teachings. The darkness won’t quit tweaking and twisting which is why we could never be done warning about all the ways satanic forces deceive. “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8. God has told us in 2 Corinthians 11:14 that Satan disguises himself as an angel of light, as well as his servants. They do this in countless ways. I want to talk about one of those ways that may not get as much attention but is just as dangerous.

I want to talk about some through-the-back-door approaches the occult is taking to invade many evangelical, Bible-preaching churches today — the teaching of empowerment and identity. 

Before I get to that I believe it’s important to first clarify what the occult is, generally speaking. It can simply be defined as, “Hidden, secret and mysterious, chiefly pertaining to the supernatural” and is widely known to include practices such as witchcraft, fortune-telling, clairvoyance, magic, tarot card reading and the list goes on. A lot of us know many of the charismatic churches and obvious false churches that hold to a false gospel like the Catholic churches, Christian Science churches, Mormon churches (and several others) have long embraced some occult type practices to one degree or another. I’m not talking about those churches, although they are also concerning. I’m talking about your evangelical, Baptist, nondenominational churches; you’re straight as an arrow grandparent’s country church that preaches from the Bible and claims the sufficiency and inerrancy of Scripture.

I know personally and hear story after story of churches steadily abandoning their once biblically solid foundation and quickly falling into mysticism and strange doctrines. One wouldn’t think any true church or born again believer would dare touch anything of this nature with a 10-foot pole. Most don’t intend to I’m sure. From what I’m seeing and hearing, as a former Catholic medium who was seduced by the occult herself before the Lord graciously saved me, I’ve sat in some evangelical churches that preached the true Gospel and started to notice this stuff coming in, but as a very light-weight and agreeable version. It sneaks in under the radar to many unsuspecting, well-intentioned people and within the walls of trusted churches-many times entirely unhindered. And unless by God’s grace that it is seen, warned against and snuffed out, it doesn’t take long to spread.

All the practices that can be considered occult, as it is defined, can usually be put in either of these two categories; First, desiring secret knowledge and second, desiring supernatural power. This also goes for every false religion because all humanity, in some form or fashion, desire one or both of these two things. Satan knows that and it seems the lure has been specially designed with that in mind.

Although there are several ways the occult can sneakily enter in, such as through music, like that of Hillsong and Bethel, I don’t want to talk about the music aspect at this point. 

We have the full-blown heretics that fill TBN with their heretical teachings of Christ and mysticism. We have Sarah Young and her man-centered and heresy-laden book “Jesus Calling,” Beth Moore and her contemplative prayer practices and visions, Priscilla Shirer and her public proclamations of needing more than Scripture which leads her to teach we are to listen to personal communication from God that, “makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up”. I could go on and on.

Yet with that said, there are churches whose members mostly reject TBN preachers, Beth Moore, Shirer, Young and the like for their “off” teachings, and yet a person could sit in their women’s Bible group and hear the whispers of the occult still blowing through. You sit there long enough and you will hear women say they received a sign from God regarding a decision they had to make. Perhaps the lesson goes in the direction of “know who you are in Christ” but meant in a way that God never instructed on. The focus quickly becomes what God can do for us, but in a way that seems spiritually healthy and “in touch” with God. It gets unchallenged and met with “amens” as others share their experiences of God giving them personal experiences or pep talks. They may start praying to God to hear from Him instead of going to the Word to do so (this is contemplative prayer). They claim God is doing things that are nowhere taught or supported in the Word. 

These situations may not scream, “Occult” too many people but every single one connects to the general practices and definition of the occult. Again, the occult is about the hidden, secret and mysterious things of the supernatural. It’s about seeking out the supernatural in ways the Bible never condones.

Going back to what I said earlier about the teaching of empowerment and identity:

I have seen the focus of empowerment as a common thread. Certain teachers today have found a way to take the biblical teaching of the empowerment of the Holy Spirit in believers-meaning we are empowered to love Him and obey Him- and turn it into some sort of man-centered, identity crisis; some attempt to have spiritual encounters/proofs, personal messages, and (never promised) personal blessings from God. It usually starts by sounding very biblical, with a focus on knowing our empowered identity in Christ as believers. Yet, instead of staying on Biblical tracks with it, it slowly veers into dangerous territory.

Not long ago, I sat in a church somewhere in the Bible belt, a Scripture preaching, and Gospel loving church who let in one particular teacher. It was a teacher who persuaded them with such sincerity and convincing manipulation of Scripture that we are to understand all of what empowerment of the Holy Spirit means — and if we don’t, we will not honor God or enjoy the fullness of Christ or spiritual blessings. It started to sound as if we don’t know our identity and keep focusing on it, everything falls apart. They recite the well-known phrase that is based on Scripture, “We have the same Holy Spirit living in us that raised Jesus from the dead.” That is found in Romans 8:11, “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” What a beautiful passage, if we stay within the biblical context, but they don’t. 

Before people know it, they have been fed the idea, which is wrapped in some Scripture and Gospel talk, that our identity in Christ is more about expecting the cool stuff, opening our minds to what God might want to do or say to us personally, embracing the mysterious; the things the Bible never said for His Church to focus on. If we reject it and just want to know and obey and preach God’s Word, we have essentially “put God in a box” and have become automatic Pharisees in their eyes. 

It started out focusing a lot on Gospel spreading. It was agreeable. It was a community and missionary-minded. It seemed like the punchy evangelical remedy to a church that held sleeping men and seeking women. Soon after the lessons started my husband and I started seeing a shift into what we can do that Jesus did. We can be empowered like Jesus. We can do the same miracles that Jesus did. 

Wait, what?! 

Isn’t this some sort of crazy charismatic talk? We know some charismatic teachers, the well-known TBN ones especially, teach that Jesus was a mere man who was empowered by the Spirit while on earth, so, therefore, we are mere men who can be empowered by the Holy Spirit too, doing exactly what Christ did while on earth. That’s heretical. That’s not anything our church has ever condoned or taught before. So as soon as those words left the teacher’s mouth in our little evangelical, solid study group, a bomb just went off for me and my husband. Where did THIS come from? We can do all that Christ did? So, are we to start calming storms now? We were stunned this teaching was staring us in the face. We were even more stunned that all leadership and many others in the groups didn’t even question it and thought we were going to grow so much from it. Bringing up the concerns over and over didn’t help. This teacher’s teachings on Christ and Christianity, to them, are “simply said wrong, but he means this or that.” They were also quick to say, “Look at all he does and says over here and there. He cares about getting the Gospel to people and goes to a good church. He is friends with this trusted pastor and he speaks against false teachers, etc.” Truth is, leadership and many in the church liked his ideas and how he spoke. These people will speak against Joyce Meyers for her unbiblical teachings yet allow this, unfathomable.

I talked with a dear lady whose church studied under the same teacher years before. She said she was greatly concerned and would be praying for our church; she knew the destruction and the downgrade that can happen. In a few years, her church went from solid to completely unrecognizable and compromised. Our church was seemingly going in the same direction. 

Give it enough time and little rebuke, it becomes less about the Gospel and more about experiences and personal interpretations. Personal claims of what God has said or done can rarely be questioned, because “how dare we say God can’t do this or that.” People begin to think that focusing on their identity and empowerment, as taught, is spiritually enriching. People want more secret and special knowledge, they want to see more proofs of God’s approval and empowerment in their lives, in ways that are invigorating and unique. They claim to seek more of God but only invite the demonic and ungodly.

So one convincing “evangelical” teacher came in and that’s all it takes, step by step, chip by chip. It weakens and distracts so cleverly and so quickly especially when church leaders are lacking in discernment. Even when they are discerning and see this for what it is, they may hardly say a peep about it because of uncertainty or fear. “Pharisee,” “witch hunter,” “Bible-beater,” “limiting what God can do” cards are quickly pulled out. The church is left without protection from their shepherds.   

These teachers subtly and carefully introduce it in your most unsuspecting churches, to the immature in faith, the weak and lost. If we love the church, the truth; if we love the Lord we will prayerfully and carefully watch and warn.

I pray more and more people realize that the occult or pagan practices don’t stay in pagan churches, with the Wiccan or with the fringe. It doesn’t stay within the walls of the known heretical churches nor does it come from just the lips of the most heretical teachers. Demons want to bring it to the best church. It’s not innocent or secondary. 

Yes, believers and good churches can embrace these types of things as well and as a result will, stunt their growth, bring God’s discipline even judgment, stumble others and withhold honor due to God. Even after being enlightened to the truth, people have to unlearn and heal from the brainwashing of these abusive teachings. 

There is much more that can be said about this. Next time I’ll dive a little deeper into these specific teachings and why they are so attractive, who are the evangelical teachers peddling them and what other things they are teaching after you invest in their material.

“Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8.

By Gina Cook


Through The Narrow is written by Tami Dykes and Gina Cook, both are published authors. You can find Tami’s book here, and Gina’s book here.