Is David Pawson a False Teacher?

Not_as_BadI receive many visits to this blog because of my references to David Pawson. It seems a lot of people are trying to find out more about him and his teaching. Maybe one of the most worrying reasons for those visits is demonstrated in a commonly used search term – a phrase entered into a search engine to track down relevant information. That search term is “Is David Pawson a false teacher?”

Why do I find that worrying?

 I’d have to ask why people would be asking whether Pawson was a false teacher. I assume someone out there has been telling people that he is. But the real cause for concern is that people are hearing those claims and then trying to get answers from others about the legitimacy of Pawson’s ministry. I wonder how their final conclusions will be drawn. Will they accept the outcome of majority opinion?

I have no problem with people questioning Pawson’s teaching. I have regularly heard him insisting that his hearers SHOULD question it. But turning to others for judgement is not the way to do that. The way to test ALL teaching is to search the scriptures ourselves. To become personally familiar with what God has revealed of Himself and His ways through His word so we can assess for ourselves whether a teaching is false or not.

As well as this question about Pawson, I’ve often come across people who want names named. Whenever there are general warnings about certain doctrines and practices, there will be some who ask which teachers are being referred to? They want to know who is teaching the falsehoods being exposed. But what about those who are overlooked in the naming? What if someone preaching the same error escapes a list of named false teachers? Does their omission from the list give them legitimacy?

Of course not!

It is up to each of us, individually, to take responsibility for the teaching we accept. It’s up to us to make sure it genuinely conforms to scripture. It is up to us to make sure that the teachers we heed are not merely using scripture (usually parts of scripture) to support their own agenda or theological tradition. Are they leaving something out? Are there parts of scripture they tend to avoid? Do they have to “reinterpret” parts of scripture to make it agree with what they are teaching?

So is David Pawson a false teacher?

Search the scriptures for yourself and find out.

David Pawson and Proof Texts

Not_as_BadThis morning I read a contributor on another blog saying he doesn’t accept David Pawson’s teaching. That wasn’t surprising because I know the writer is a strong Dispensationalist and Pawson’s teaching challenges those dispensationalist views. But I can’t blame the man for dismissing teaching that opposes his chosen doctrines. I had my own struggle with Pawson in the early 2000s.

I knew of Pawson’s teaching back in the 80s and I had a collection of tapes of his preaching at Vision Ministries conferences in Sydney and Melbourne. This was before I entered one of the worst periods of my spiritual life when my faith was severely challenged for around 15 years.

When I returned to faith after that “spiritual crisis”, Pawson was one of the first teachers I came across through his messages on Islam. After hearing that teaching I sought out more and was horrified by some things I heard – I had trouble accepting a lot of his teaching and more or less pushed him aside. What had happened to him over the years? Surely his preaching had changed since I’d last heard him.

But then, as I read more of scripture for myself, I started to think that Pawson might be right and my own understanding wrong.

Maybe one of the “difficulties” with Pawson is his reluctance to give chapter and verse references to provide on the spot proof for his teaching. That kind of approach doesn’t fit with the way Christians have been conditioned to rely on “texts”. His approach makes us search the scriptures if we want to check what he says.

I found one of his most helpful teachings was a sermon about the Millennium. He had a lot to say about it but gave very little “proof” from scripture, so I assumed he was going overboard with speculation – after all, the only references I knew of this period were in Rev 20 and they gave very little detail. It was only through my general bible reading that I started to come across that detail, in the prophets, and I started to see where Pawson had found the ideas he was teaching.

It was helpful because the experience gave me one of the most important lessons I’ve learned – not just about the millennium. I found how ignorant I’d been and how necessary it was to search the scriptures for myself and not to rely on other to provide “proof” for the validity of their teaching.

see here for access to Mr Pawson’s teaching:

“does david pawson use scripture”?

The following question was in the “Search Engine terms” of this blog. It seems someone was trying to clear up some concerns about David Pawson’s ministry.

“does david pawson use scripture”?

It all depends on what the searcher means by “use scripture”, but I’ll give an answer based on my assumption of what the searcher was asking.

Perhaps the question was asked because Pawson rarely gives chapter and verse references during his sermons. He expects people to do more than check a few verses cherry-picked by the preacher to see whether the preaching is scriptural or not.
He has pointed out on many occasions that chapter and verse references are NOT part of the Spirit inspired scriptures. They were added by men for convenience, and have helped change our approach to scripture. People no longer “search the scriptures” like the Bereans, they look up references and in doing so usually miss the CONTEXT of the reference.

The experience that most helped me appreciate Pawson’s approach was hearing his teaching on “The Millennium”. His teaching included a lot of what I though was speculation. He described that 1000 year period in some detail but he referred specifically only to Revelation 20, and very few of his details were mentioned in that chapter.
However, my assessment changed as bit by bit I found ALL of what he had said revealed throughout the Old Testament prophets.

Pawson could have easily peppered his sermon with chapter and verse references, but I found it all MUCH more rewarding and convincing to come across those OT prophecies and their descriptions for myself.

Does “David Pawson use scripture”? He certainly does – and effectively so, in a way that makes it much more real and meaningful to us – but only if WE make use of scripture OURSELVES as something more than a collection of proof texts.

REPENT! And Bring Back the Gospel.

As I write this I’m about halfway through Called to Controversy, Ruth Rosen’s biography of her father, Moishe, founder of Jews for Jesus. I’m enjoying the insights it gives into the man, the organisation and a significant time in recent history: the time of the “Jesus Movement”.

Use of the term “recent history” clearly reveals my own vintage. My serious journey to Christian faith began around the time that the Jesus Movement was touching Australia in the early 70s.

When I now read about that period of Christian history it reminds me how much things have changed. Attitudes have changed, priorities have changed, and the perceived nature of the gospel has changed. None of this change seems to be for the better.

A lot of it seems to have taken place in the 1990s at the same time I was going through a “spiritual crisis” that kept me away from Christian contact for almost 15 years. That crisis also seems to have kept me away from the causes of the change.

Prior to my crisis the believers I knew had a much different attitude to what I see today. Churches then held beach missions, sent people out onto the streets preaching the gospel and were devoted to evangelism. People were excited to share the gospel no matter how daunting it could seem at times. With the company and support of others it was easier to overcome any fears.

Maybe I’m looking in the wrong places but that kind of evangelism and commitment to the gospel, seems to be a thing of the distant past. There’s no longer a sense of urgency. There’s no noticeable desire to risk reputation for the sake of others and their eternal future.

Overall the purpose of those formerly evangelising churches seems to have changed. They have either slipped into a similar cultural rut to the historical, traditional churches or they have become self-absorbed centres of “blessing”, primarily desiring personal encounters with dubious signs, wonders and “prophetic” claims.

The whole focus of the gospel has been removed from any idea of repentance and the need for reconciliation with a Holy and Righteous God. The focus now seems to be on a desperate god so sentimentally attached to humanity that he will go to any lengths to win mankind over.

The “Churches” have by and large abandoned any sense of the genuine gospel. In most cases now, the gospel of Jesus seems to be entrusted to a scattering of individuals.

Preaching: Sermons or the Gospel Truth?

Thirty years ago I was a glutton for sermons, but I had specific tastes.

My primary diet was the teaching of Kenneth and Gloria Copeland. They taught exciting things that I’d never heard addressed in church before. I later found there were many others preaching a similar message but the Copeland version was the most accessible, being broadcast weekly on TV. They also made their teaching available for purchase and regularly offered reduced prices through special offers.

I would watch their broadcast each week with a cassette recorder set up beside the TV (this was before the digital age and even before I had a VCR). Then I could replay the sermon in the car throughout the week.

I was introduced to the Copelands through members of a home fellowship group run by the church I attended. After my initial strong resistance I eventually gave in. I finally understood a very important truth: that faith in God means that we believe HIM and HIS word above anything else. Above circumstances, above experience, above feelings, even above what we perceive with our senses.

All of those things were subject to error, but God is not. All of those things had the potential to be lies and to mislead – but God does not lie.

That realisation totally changed my life. But it was not changed enough.

I still hold to what I discovered about faith at that time – in the need to believe God and His word above everything else. It’s something so obvious that that all Christians will probably say they agree – until the consequences become a challenge and start to cost something.

But we need to be sure it IS God and HIS word that we are hearing and believing.

My hunger for sermons was my downfall. I relied too much on what others told me. Instead of trying to hear what God said, I was relying on the Copelands to tell me what He had said. I was listening to their interpretations of God’s word instead of to God’s word itself. I was even foolish enough to push aside the doubts that I had with some of their teaching. I ignored the fact that their teachings didn’t always measure up to scripture.

Because of this some parts of scripture confused me. Sometimes the biblical God didn’t seem to fit into the mould of the Copelands’ teaching. So I took the easy way out – I ignored those “difficult” parts of scripture, and I continued to allow the Copelands to filter and interpret scripture for me. But in doing that those questions about God (suppressed in the back of my mind) were never addressed and to me the bible never became a coherent whole.

In reality my faith wasn’t in God or His word – it was in those teachings ABOUT God, it was in the parts of God’s word that were addressed in those teachings. It was never in the WHOLE revelation of scripture. It was in parts of scripture taken out of their intended context and turned into sound-bites loaded with meanings that were never intended.

I collected an impressive arsenal of those sound-bites – memory verses I could quote and “confess” to counter any opposition I faced. I could run rings around most who tried to argue with me, quoting verse after verse to prove my point. But I never realised how I was misusing those verses because they were texts I’d learned from teaching tapes and not from scripture itself.

I’ve come a long way in thirty years. It took a lot of pain, confusion and at times despair. But over many years the damage inflicted by false teaching was stripped away. And I became aware of the need to protect myself against false teachers by testing everything, to become familiar enough with scripture to avoid obvious error.

I still enjoy listening to good sermons, but they seem to be much harder to find – even though the internet has made so much preaching readily available. There are many preachers with many sermons but it surprises me how the word of God is lacking from far too many of them. Even though there may be scripture references and scripture quotes – the use of scripture often has little in common with the actual biblical text it has been taken from. They are merely used as a tool to “support” a view held by the preacher, used for the preacher’s purposes, to make the preachers intended point instead of revealing GOD and HIS intentions.