We’re drawn in by attractive book covers, the sensationalism of Christian celebrities, and well-trained speakers. Many times, dynamic personalities trump sound doctrine. Make no mistake, the Christian market for women is a huge money maker, primarily in books and conference ticket sales. It is sad when we find so much of our modern-day writing/speaking that is not faithful to the scriptures yet marketed as Christian. This reality has prompted me to create a guide for discerning Christian authors and speakers. My own guide uses serious discretion, but the essential question to ask will be is her message Word centered or world centered?
- Begin with the author/speaker bio.
- Where does she attend church and what is their statement of faith? This can take some work to determine.
- If you are having trouble finding a statement of faith, look for the church’s participation in missions work. Is the work attached to an association or convention of churches?
- What does this church or denomination believe regarding core doctrines (salvation, the trinity, grace, the sufficiency and authority of scripture, etc)?
- What would qualify this woman to write/speak on this topic? Consider her age and stage in life, education, etc.
- Does this author/speaker align herself with others? Consider book endorsements, fellow conference speakers, etc. Are these associates biblical?
2. How does the author/speaker represent God’s Word?
- Is the Bible authoritative or optional?
- Does the author/speaker encourage others to seek truth in the Bible or does she instill doubt?
- Does she elevate personal experience to have equality with or have greater value than the Word as a determination of truth?
- Are verses taken within the context and interpreted properly or are they misused in supporting a personal story or theory?
- Does the author/speaker use words undermining Scripture (masked in “I feel” and “I think” and not what God’s Word says)?
3. How does the author/speaker view God? Just because someone uses the word God or Jesus does not necessarily mean they are accurately teaching the Triune God of Christianity.
- What does the author/speaker say about what God has done?
- What does the author/speaker say about what God is doing?
- What does the author/speaker say about what God will do?
4. How does the author/speaker view man?
- Does the author believe man is inherently good or fallen from the time of the garden?
- Does the author elevate women to a position beyond God’s good design of what the scriptures allow?
5. What does the author/speaker say about sin?
- Do we need a Savior to save us from sin and the wrath of God, or simply a life coach to help us reach our full potential?
- Is there a formula or a ladder we need to climb to achieve a desired end result apart from the gospel?
6. What is the author/speaker’s worldview?
- What is her stance on creation, the fall, redemption, and restoration?
- Is the author/speaker offering our best life now or best life yet to come?
- Are the author/speaker’s words filled with mysticism and felt-needs psychology or does she point you to the Scriptures?
7. Determine the author/speaker’s platform.
- Does the author/speaker present herself as a victim or does she trust in God as Sovereign?
- Does the author/speaker promote a feminist agenda?
- Does the author/speaker promote a political or social justice agenda?
- Does she misuse the scriptures in supporting her platform?
Christian authors and speakers can help guide us into growth-producing habits fostering well being. Although, when lacking theological wisdom, they can distort readers’ understanding of the gospel and encourage practices that foster spiritual ill being. If we are being taught through the author/speaker’s own words, they should be held to a biblical standard. The apostle Paul commended the Bereans for verifying his teaching. We should do no less.