This past weekend, I had the joy of spending time with a dear friend of mine, Dawn Hill. Dawn and I first got introduced to each other a couple years ago through our involvement in the American Gospel 3 docuseries project that is set to release in the Fall of 2023. Dawn was a false prophetess in the NAR for almost 20 years, and I learned that we experienced so much of the same spiritual abuses and deception when my husband Paul and I were involved in the Word of Faith movement many years ago.
While I was visiting Dawn, we sat down for an impromptu podcast episode trying to answer the question: What is our standard of truth? Below is some more reflection from Dawn on what we discussed in the podcast:
Have you ever heard someone say, “It is not the Father, the Son, and the Holy Bible?” If you have ever rebutted a practice or belief with Scripture, pointing to the context and the importance of rightly dividing the Word of God properly, you likely have heard this statement. It is an interesting statement when I think about it because there seems to be an issue with having a high standard based upon a proper understanding of Scripture, though those who would make such a statement would profess to having a high view of Scripture. I think it is worth noting that the author of Scripture, the Holy Spirit, cannot be divorced from His own Word. Yet, statements like this are made to draw a distinction between those who place value on the move of the Holy Spirit and those who would be deemed as void of the Holy Spirit.
Having a high view or high standard of truth as a believer in Christ is vital. What does it mean to have a high standard of truth? It means having a firm foundation upon the final authority as Christians, and that is the Word of God. It is not enough to simply quote a Bible verse or to say the name of Jesus in a message. We know that false religions profess a Jesus of sorts, and we know that false teachers can quote Bible verses. This is why it is important for us to abide in His Word and to know what God has spoken.
Many are looking for answers to questions and difficulties in life, and many want to know the Lord in a greater way. Unfortunately, there can be a tendency to lower the standard in order to achieve these desired answers and results. in 2 Timothy 3, we read Paul’s words to Timothy regarding what the last days and what to expect from false teachers in their character and conduct. These false teachers would have a form of godliness but deny its power. They would creep into homes and captivate weak women who were weighted with guilt from sin, women who would not come to the truth of saving faith in Christ Jesus. Some of these women may have even gone from one false teacher to another, wandering further and further away from the truth of the gospel.
It is not hard to see this in our time with the rise of popular teachings about health, wealth, and prosperity. We see many flocking to alleged Holy Spirit infused gatherings where the fire of God is claimed to have fallen. People are seeking to hear God for themselves while receiving a prophetic word from their favorite minister. We hear of people perpetually seeking out deliverance from indwelling demons while professing to be Christians. There are countless conferences, webinars, and online courses to spiritually fatten the masses. You can allegedly learn how to interpret your dreams and visions. Books abound with the next one claiming to fully equip others in the area of prophecy and spiritual warfare. People are told to receive impartations and activations of spiritual gifts from anointed leaders. Let’s not forget the music, the bait that lures people into specific teaching from specific teachers.
While there is nothing inherently wrong with attending a conference or in reading a solid and helpful book, the concern lies in the content and the low standard of truth being perpetuated. The concern is that personal experience and emotional hype begin to set the standard and are used to interpret Scripture. There is great concern that many are not hearing the true gospel of Jesus Christ and are accepting a low standard of truth, or trust is being placed in an individual’s personal revelations rather than what God has already revealed in His Word.
I think of these women in 2 Timothy 3, and I recognize it is not isolated to the first century church. It is alive and leading others astray. Paul told Timothy what these false teachers would do; they would be lovers of self and of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness yet denying its power (2 Timothy 3:2-5). The instruction was simple: avoid them. These false teachers will go from bad to worse in their deception personally and among those they influence. Paul later goes on to encourage Timothy in the way he should walk and conduct himself, pointing him to the “sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 3:15) The Word of God was the high standard in Paul’s time, and it has become timeless in that truth for us today.
When our standard of truth is low and swapped for another, we will overlook teaching and conduct contrary to Scripture. We will set subpar standards for ourselves and others. We will ascribe God’s name to things completely negating His instruction and ushering in rebellion against God Himself. We may even tolerate another gospel without even realizing it. To be loving yet frank, we will make statements such as the one I noted earlier, not realizing that such a statement attempts to undermine the foundation of our faith. It denigrates the Word that is God breathed. But the standard of truth matters. The gospel of Jesus Christ matters. We must have a high standard with the foundation being His written Word rightly understood. This is not demanding perfection from fallible people or idolizing the Bible, but it proclaims the perfection of God revealed in His Word by His Spirit and through His Son. Holding to a high standard of the Word of God agrees with God’s own view of His Word.
Listen to this conversation with Dawn Hill and I as we discuss the hyper-charismatic movement and the importance of holding to a high standard of truth: The Lovesick Scribe Podcast: The Standard of Truth- A Conversation Between Former Wayward Sheep on Apple Podcasts