by Coleen Sharp | Jun 4, 2019 | Blogs
Thank you for your responses to our recent podcast and article, both by email and on our Facebook page. We appreciate your attention to detail in responding to many of our points. We have had a chance to review your responses and consider your perspective. In the interest of working towards the best possible outcome, we have again reviewed MOPS resources, along with statements made by you and your organization and can not at this time change our position regarding MOPS.
We hope you will consider our response to your statements. The first point below is in regards to your email that was sent from you and the MOPS board (also on the MOPS blog), and the remaining points are in response to your Facebook comment* made on May 31, 2019.
- “As we listened to the podcast and read the blog, we found it primarily revisiting concerns from 2016 which we thoroughly responded to then and made adjustments where needed. These concerns have been addressed.”
The concerns from 2016 were not addressed appropriately, and we believe the problems remain. The gospel is still not central to the MOPS curriculum. The clear gospel is difficult to find in MOPS resources. It should be central to MOPS, as it once was. Mandy, while you yourself proclaim that Jesus is the Messiah and the risen Christ, there are things missing from your message. We’ve yet to hear you talk about how we’ve sinned against a Holy God and a clear explanation of the gospel, the good news.
We have copies of letters sent to both you and the MOPS board, along with your responses. These letters are as recent as 2018 and express some of the same concerns we talked about on the podcast and in the article. These have been brought up before, and the responses from you and MOPS were disappointing. There’s been ample time to make appropriate changes, and yet the same errors continue.
- “I made a mistake in quoting John Phillip Newell, honestly I wouldn’t do it again and didn’t understand his theology at the time.” (Point 3)
Newell’s book, The Rebirthing of God, is a rejection of the true gospel. Mandy, as we said on our podcast, when you talk about books, women listen. Women buy those books. If you truly recognize the serious errors in this book, future editions of Starry-Eyed will be changed, and a statement will be released recognizing the serious errors.
By the time you published Starry-Eyed in 2016, you would have been working in ministry for about 17 years. You were also educated in doctrine, having been to seminary. The unfortunate thing is that you did not just simply quote Newell, you called his book, The Rebirthing of God, one of your favorite books, and built the entire 13th chapter of Starry-Eyed around one of Newell’s concepts (Page 93). We do find it hard to believe that you did not understand his “theology” at that time, as quotes from his book show a blatantly obvious rejection of the atonement of Jesus Christ:
“…the cross has been so strongly linked with a particular doctrine of salvation. They [talking about Christians] have either been explicitly taught or given the impression that a price needed to be paid for God’s forgiveness, and that price was the death of Jesus. The teaching is often referred to as the doctrine of substitutionary atonement. Although a payment needed to be made, says the doctrine, we are not worthy to make the payment ourselves, so a substitute sacrifice was needed. Jesus died on our behalf to propitiate the anger of God.
“One of the problems with this doctrine is that it runs counter to our deepest experiences of love. Who are the people who have most loved us in our lives amid our failures and betrayals? Could we imagine them ever requiring payment to forgive us? True love is free. Perhaps so much wrong has been done by this doctrine that the cross has become an irredeemable symbol for many, both within the Christian household and beyond. But I hope not. I hope it can be redeemed because, essentially, it is a symbol of the mystery at the heart of Christianity’s great gift to the world – the belief that love can reconcile all things.” (The Rebirthing of God: Christianity’s Struggle for New Beginnings, Page 107)
- “As far as Rob’s Bell’s quote, I quoted where he says “the most powerful words we can use are ‘me too'”, and they were written in one of his earlier books before his theology shifted. The quote had nothing to do with theology, only how we connect with people.” (Point 3)
Rob Bell’s theology had shifted far before 2016, and even before the publication of his earlier books that you quoted from in Starry-Eyed. His theology had shifted by the time his first book was published in 2005. We also must note that you did go on to quote him in your most recent book that was published in 2019, Have More Fun. In fact, it’s clear from your endnotes that you knew people would be uncomfortable with you quoting Bell:
“Here is the deal. Some of you will see Rob Bell’s name and automatically put this book down. I think that is a total bummer because he has great ideas about parenting that have nothing to do with theology. I also think we can agree about some things and disagree on others and still be friends.” (Have More Fun, pg 183-184)
People that previously had expressed concerns to you about Bell felt as if they were being mocked with this endnote. Rob Bell is a heretic who is actively trying to tear down Christ’s church, and who without question is spreading a false gospel. Scripture addresses how we should respond to such people:
“Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.” (2 John 1 9-1,1 ESV)
- “I will tell you that since Starry-eyed, I try not to quote from controversial figures who don’t align with traditional Christian teachings anymore, because as my leadership grows I am aware that my words have more weight and I don’t want to be misunderstood or assume that I align with that teaching.” (Point 3)
Unfortunately, this statement from you does not line up with who you have quoted from in your most recent book, Have More Fun. In this book, you quoted from Richard Rohr’s book Falling Upward. Rohr is a Catholic Mystic with a completely heretical view of Jesus and the gospel. This is just one reference point to what Rohr says he believes in his book you chose to quote from:
“Sin and salvation are correlative terms. Salvation is not sin perfectly avoided, as the ego would prefer; but in fact, salvation is sin turned on its head and used in our favor. That is how transformative divine love is. If this is not the pattern, what hope is there for 99.9 percent of the world? We eventually discover that the same passion which leads us away from God can also lead us back to God and to our true selves.” (Falling Upward, Page 60)
You also say in your response that you try not to quote from controversial figures and yet we’ve only named three– there are others. We have to question the type of people that are influencing you, by the books you read and the people you listen to.
You never offer any warnings about these men or explicitly renounce their heretical teachings. Bell, Newell and Rohr are not just “controversial,” they are false teachers that attack our Lord and the Church. We know that you claim to not specifically quote from Rohr or Bell’s theology in your books, but your quotations from them are read as a tacit endorsement. Do you acknowledge that the men you quote from, are more than just controversial – that they are false teachers who are intent on leading people away from the saving gospel of Jesus?
It’s unclear from your statement if your regret in quoting these men is because they’re controversial, or because you truly understand the seriousness of their errors. Furthermore, your books are still heavily promoted within the MOPS curriculum/leader materials. As long as this is the case, your statement “I try not to quote from controversial figures who don’t align with traditional Christian teachings anymore” is simply untrue. You are currently and actively quoting and promoting these false teachers.
- “In response to who do I think Jesus is, I believe Jesus is the Christ, the risen Messiah and the only path to salvation.” (Point 4)
We just wonder, how can you hold this view and yet quote from several individuals who believe the direct opposite?
- “For our leaders, we provide a leader certification that walks them through how to do evangelism and reach moms who do not have a faith background. I encourage you to check out our materials and see for yourself what we provide.”
We did address the MOPS Evangelism Perspective video in the podcast, as it does not share the gospel once, nor does it encourage women to turn to their Bibles. Rather the focus is on nourishing oneself, coming alive, and going in peace.
We know that it has been brought up that Theology Gals, Coleen and Angela, have never been involved with MOPS. This is something we’ve recognized from the start, it’s one reason why we included Stephanie in the discussion. A journalist doesn’t have to be involved with an organization to adequately report on it. In preparation for the podcast, we spoke with many people that were previously involved with MOPS, many of them leaders, with years in the program. We also spoke with people currently involved with MOPS.
Several people have questioned whether we went to you privately with our concerns prior to publishing the article and podcast. As we’ve explained several times now, public errors are open to public criticism. We spoke with several people that had already come to you with the same concerns.
As we stated in response to you on our Facebook post, the gospel is not “an encounter with Jesus” or “starting a relationship with Jesus”. It is the good news that Jesus Christ has done for you what you could not do for yourself: He was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life satisfying the requirements of the law on our behalf, died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins, and rose again on the third day. This is the gospel.
We aren’t looking for explanations or apologies, we are simply addressing information coming from your organization that contradicts the Word of God. In Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology, under the word repentance it says, “More commonly the translation is ‘turn’ or ‘return.’” That’s what we are calling on MOPS to do, repent, turn away from unbiblical theology and false teachers, and return to the true gospel of Jesus Christ, and the proclamation of it.
*Mandy’s response is in the comments of this post.