The Unveiling of Uninvited: Why One Should Unfollow Lysa TerKeurst
Recently, I picked up our church bulletin to find a Lysa TerKeurst leaflet announcing a Ladies Bible Study-- Uninvited. Upon looking at the leaflet my questions were: "Is this a study one should attend? Why, or why not?" Then, it was on to read, and to research each part of Uninvited: its author, its release celebration, its quote promotion, its Bible content, its Bible versions, its words and whispers, its references, its study guide, its publisher, and its declaration which led me to write this review: "The Unveiling of Uninvited: Why One Should Unfollow Lysa TerKeurst."
The Book: Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely (Thomas Nelson, 2016)
Its Author: Lysa TerKeurst, President of Proverbs 31 Ministries
Lysa, a mom of five children, has been married for nearly twenty-five years. In June, however, she announced, via her ministry blog, that she was divorcing her husband. TerKeurst, a member of Elevation Church, in Charlotte, NC. endorses and supports its controversial pastor Steven Furtick. Greatly admired for her charm, and her charisma many women eagerly follow her every word. And the question must be asked again, "Should they?"
Its Elevation Celebration:
On August 9, 2016 hundreds of ladies were jammed into Elevation Church" for a "Release Day Celebration" of Lysa's latest book: Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely. Lights flashed as a young Elevation Worship singer cavorted about singing: "Grace Like a Wave." After an introduction by an assistant, a spotlight was turned on the podium where in--rock-star fashion--TerKeurst was introduced.
Lysa then read from her book, gave a scripture study, and spoke "A Declaration" over the adoring crowd. In the end, while Lysa was gracious, and charismatic, the hoopla and hype made her seem guru-like, and her book seem sacred.
Roger Oakland, in The Good Shepherd Calls, talks about such books, and their authors when he writes, "The Bible has been set aside, and people are reading and studying books by human beings who have ideas and motives that often contradict the Scripture. Large Christian publishing companies in order to be financially successful, are looking for sure sellers from authors who are able to tickle the ears of their readers." (p.206)
Its Quote Promotion:
Uninvited has sixteen chapters, the declaration, a bonus chapter, appendices, and notes. In it are seventy-seven personal quotes: eighteen full page, and fifty-nine smaller ones. All are repeated three times each: within the text, in larger script, and in an appendix: "Things I Don't Want You to Forget!"
Now, verses, from The Message, The Voice, and other Bible versions are written in tinier script. At the end they are grouped under "Scriptures," but never are they especially highlighted as are her personal slogans.
Of these tweetable quotables Lysa says, "Sometimes a phrase lands in your soul with such a dead weight it leaves the deepest impression. I collect these phrases like other people collect stamps and Beanie Babies. I fill unlined pages of notebooks with ... these phrases. These words that move me are treasures. (p.6) But, Psalm 119:162, says this: "I rejoice at thy word, as one that fineth great spoil (treasure)."
A reviewer of The Best Yes (another Lysa book) noted her absorption with her own slogans. She wrote, "These slogans are ... repeated in large ... lettering, interrupting the text through out the book. ... there is a section at the end of the book contains all of these .... No, she does not ... suggest you tweet these lines, but they are lying there ... practically begging like a puppy in the window."
Good Reads also catalogs TerKeurst's many quotes--all 780+ of them. There one may sign on as "her follower," and find quotes listed in categories to use.
In summary, Lysa's adulation of her "treasured phrases" is troublesome, for it often seems to make them comparable to scripture. But however clever, and however quotable these slogans are Psalm 139:17 reminds us: "How precious are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!"
Its Bible Stories:
Certainly, the book has scripture in it, but a Bible study it is not for it skips about from book to book, and verse to verse in random order that invariably centers on Lysa's issues. And while expounding on specific Bible passages, she often embellishes these stories adding to the text.
In II Samuel 16, e.g., where Jessie tells Samuel David was out in the sheepfold, Lysa says, " ... I think* this one of the lamest excuses .... If David's father had any regard for his ... son at all, he could have found someone else to ... tend the sheep. I suspect* that behind that statement were ... thoughts like: Well, yes. I have one more son--the youngest ... But he doesn't look like a king, ... doesn't smell like a king. So I didn't invite him. Uninvited by his own father. Can you imagine* how David felt ... red-hot rejection. David's father inflicted a mark on his heart that read, 'You don't belong.'" Lysa adds, "I can't find any where Jesse ever tended to his son's heart." (p.97) How Lysa has twisted this story to fit her rejection agenda.
* My emphasis.
Its "Bible" Versions:
Lysa prominently features The Message in chapter four while endorsing its author Eugene Peterson. Lysa says, "I really appreciate Eugene's Peterson's take* on Galatians 5:22-25 ...." (pp.50-51) And again, in chapter nine Lysa quotes from The Voice, as well as The Message once more naming Peterson. (p.110)
* My emphasis.
Information on The Message "Bible": A Breach of Truth from: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=16449
Information on The Voice: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=9306
Its Words and Whispers:
Lysa has words and whispers pop into her head, or drop into her heart. Lysa writes, "God drops a word in my heart. Like a swig of orange juice just after brushing my teeth, I recoil at the unexpected taste. Of grace." (p.80)
And in "Friendship Breakups," Lysa mentions a notion that popped into her mind. Lysa says, "But one day this terrible, wonderful notion popped into my head: Fight for her. ... I asked the notion, 'Are you Jesus?' And did you in fact just say 'fight for her?'" (p.70)
Now, Lysa also confesses she hears whispers from God. She relates, "I've got to spend time getting quiet so I can be prepared to hear new things from the Lord. Isn't it a lovely thought that God might be waiting for silence ... in order to share some of His best secrets with you? ... in the silence, He whispered to my soul, You are not set aside, you are set apart ...." (p.112) Much like Sarah Young's messages in Jesus Calling, Lysa, too, is saying she gets new revelations from the Lord.
Of Lysa's few footnoted references two in chapter ten stand out: one attributed to Stephen R. Covey, and another to Dr. Walter Brueggemann. Lysa asserts she liked Covey's terms: "Scarcity Mentality," and "Abundance Mentality" taken from: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. And Lysa maintains the Bible teaches these ideas too. (pp.121-122) However, Timothy Oliver from Watchman Fellowship, Inc. shares ideas in Covey's book are filled with "the false gospel and paradigm of Mormonism." And in "Religion in American History: Stephen R. Covey: Business Savant, Self-Help Guru, Mormon Theologian" Matthew Bowman informs us that The 7 Habits borrows extensively from a prior Covey Mormon theology book: The Spiritual Roots of Human Relations published by the LDS Church-owned Deseret Book.
From Covey, Lysa jumps over to positively quoting "The Liturgy of Abundance, The Myth of Scarcity" from progressive, Emergent, anti-Israel, Renovare Bible contributor, and social justice advocate Dr. Walter Brueggemann now retired from the Presbyterian Church USA's Columbia Theological Seminary. (pp.122-123) Exactly who Brueggemann is can be heard in a 2015 video "Keynote Lecture with Walter Brueggemann" done at a "Faith and Social Justice" conference at the radical Pullen Memorial Baptist Church in Raleigh, NC.
What a travesty TerKeurst references Brueggemann whose viewpoints are something we must run from, rather than embrace!
Its Study Guide:
Uninvited, like most studies, comes with a six-session workbook-like guide: the Uninvited Study Guide and video. As I paged through it I noted that the guide was written by Lysa, and a former Nav Press editor Karen Lee-Thorp. Researching Lee-Thorp led me to discover that she had also co-authored five other study guides (Jesus Calling Bible Study Series) with Sarah Young.
I also found that Lee-Thorp was married to Greg Herr* who is a Roman Catholic Benedictine Oblate in California. Herr tells of their conversions to Catholicism, he from being a Baptist and she (Lee-Thorp) from being an Anglican. Such a sad scenario Lee-Thorp, now a Catholic, has co-authored a study guide for Evangelicals.
* Gregory Martha Herr, Obl.S.B.
Uninvited, and its study guide are both published by Thomas Nelson; Lee-Thorp's and Sarah Young's Jesus Calling series is also from Thomas Nelson. Coming in December 2017, Thomas Nelson promises a new TerKeurst devotional Embraced.
When naming Thomas Nelson it must be noted that the publishers, when called out by Warren Smith on specific issues in Jesus Calling as e.g. God Calling, channeling, visualization etc., removed them from later editions. Read more about Thomas Nelson's deceptive tactics in: Changing Jesus Calling by Warren B. Smith (2014).
TerKeurst ends the book with "The Declaration" where she writes, "As you finish this book this is what I want to declare over you: ...." One slogan-like-line with its rhyming words says, "I declare that the Lord will give you relief from your unbelief. ... It will happen." Lysa goes on to state if an attack comes from the enemy she prays God will lift you up with truth, and draw you close with His loving tenderness. Then Lysa adds this: "And shame Satan back to hell with His resurrecting power."
Lastly, she scripted a Lysa slogan, and more alliterative lines with rhyme declaring you are destined for love, for you have a story that you must tell to His glory. One thing Lysa did not declare was a single word of Scripture! (pp.211-212)
Which Is it? Lysa's Words, or Thy Words?
Lysa loves words. She even keeps a "Words I Love" notebook. (p.30) Certainly, Lysa is talented, and so very likeable, but so very liable to sweep the reader along with her so as to become focused on, and fascinated with her stories and words. Maybe you are one of Lysa's ladies. Maybe you've posted her treasured phrases. Maybe you've placed Lysa on a pedestal. But after all, Lysa is just a fallible lady like you and I. We must not worship at her feet! We must not put her books above the Book of Books! We must not follow Lysa, but follow the Lord alone!
And ladies, rather than being in love with Lysa's words, may we say with the Psalmist, "Oh how I love thy law! it is my meditation all the day." May we also say, " ... I love thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold." And may we pray, "Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law!" For then we can surely testify, "How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!"
Learn to Discern Granny Verse: Psalm 119:11
"Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee."