In the facility where I work there is a Wednesday lunch time fellowship/Bible study. I am not a frequent Visitor, for a variety of reasons, but I’m on the distribution list the study facilitator maintains and I receive the Wednesday morning announcements confirming that it will indeed take place, along with the topic of discussion. Yesterday morning I received this one:
“Today, we’ll continue our new study of Psalm 91: God’s Umbrella of Protection, from the book by Peggy Joyce Ruth. We’ll look at Chapter 2 which looks at verse 2, “I will say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!’” Peggy says to circle the word ‘say’ in verse 2 in your Bible, “because we must learn to verbalize our trust.” She believes that the more we say verses 1 and 2 out loud, “the more confident we become in His protection.” Do you believe as she does? Bring examples of when speaking Scripture out loud boosted your confidence. Peggy also says that in times of trouble, “Take notice of what flies out of your mouth.” “The worst thing that can happen is for something to come out that brings death. Cursing gives God nothing to work with. This Psalm tells us to do just the opposite – to speak life!” What comes out of your mouth in times of trouble, death or life? I think this will be a great day of discussion. See you at noon! Bring your lunch.”
The first questions that came to mind were 1) Who is Peggy Joyce Ruth? 2) Am I looking at Word of Faith (ala Kenneth Copeland) teaching? And 3) Is Psalm 91 really about our needing to “verbalize our trust”?
1) Peggy Joyce Ruth. Well, at first I couldn’t find out a lot about Peggy Joyce Ruth other than a short bio on her ministry website and a few transcripts of interviews with Sid Roth, of “It’s Supernatural” fame. It seems that she spent about eight years in psychological torment, including electric shock treatments, received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit at a Pepsi Cola meeting in New Orleans, had peace for two years and the spirit of fear came back to torment her again.
Then one night God appeared to her in a prophetic dream/vision one night and spoke to her audibly and said ‘‘in your day of trouble call on Me, and I will answer.’ To make a long story short, she said this was God leading her to Psalm 91, which she has been studying for about thirty years while receiving ‘divine’ insight to its meaning. She now has published a series of books about Psalm 91, with editions for toddlers, youth, teens, mothers, and military members (regular and pocket sized editions), as well as a collection of testimonies of those who come through some really tough stuff and were miraculously delivered thanks to clinging to the promises of Psalm 91 and quoting it a lot.
2) The Kenneth Copeland Connection. A day after looking into her ‘ministry’ and reading Sid Roth Interviews I discovered the August 2015 edition of Kenneth Copeland’s Believer’s Voice of Victory magazine. She was the cover story for that edition and there was a lengthy article about her inside which focused more on all of the ‘taking spiritual authority over demons and dark forces’, as is to be expected from Kenneth Copeland. While Sid Roth was all about the “Supernatural”, Kenneth Copeland was all about “taking authority”.
3) Psalm 91. The other thing I did was read Psalm 91 again to see if it was teaching anywhere that we “must speak/verbalize” Psalm 91 to see miraculous deliverance(s) when we are in a pickle. (Especially verse 2, the crux of Ms Ruth’s ‘divine’ revelation). Turns out from my plain reading in context and ALL of the commentaries I consulted (10 or so); Ms. Ruth’s teaching is nowhere to be found. The Psalm certainly promised divine protection for those who trust in the Lord, in all manner of circumstances, but no way does it teach any “Word/Faith” techniques/practices.
All this brings us to the crux of this post – discernment. You see, after my initial questions and first round of research, I sent an email to the Wednesday Bible study facilitator with my concerns:
“It might be profitable to actually examine Ps 91:2 to see if it is actually teaching “we must learn to verbalize our trust”, or is it an expression of a heart sentiment, knowing and trusting that God is a refuge and strength. Don’t take my word for it. Here is a link to several commentaries concerning Psalm 91:2.
This a wonderful Psalm concerning God’s protection in all the circumstances and storms of life, and one in which we can take great solace and comfort, but is it really teaching about personally verbalizing a passage for better confidence. Personally, the more I read and study scripture the more confidence I have in its truth. In this case, reading and studying other passages that speak about God’s protection for his children will go much farther in that regard.”
I received a hearty “Thanks for your input!” reply and sent another short email asking if anyone had looked into Peggy Joyce’s credentials as a Bible teacher. Here is the reply from my friend:
“I did a little bit and nothing jumped out as questionable.”
At that point, and mostly because I had not been attending the Bible study and been part of the process in selecting something new after the previous topic being discussed, I could only wonder why my friend found nothing questionable about this woman’s teaching if he had looked into her. Was it because his ‘little bit’ of investigating was very, very little, or he found the same stuff I had found (since there was little to find anyway) and was clueless concerning bad doctrine? Did he get sucked in by the novelty of new revelation that was pleasing to itching ears? What?
This is not a personal criticism, but rather an observation. After all, my friend might have a LOT of company. While I am sure that there is a certain amount of truth in Ruth’s books and teachings, I am equally sure that lies always ride in on the horseback of truth. I don’t remember when I first heard it or who said it, but someone said that sound discernment isn’t so much knowing the difference between truth and lies, but it’s being able to tell the difference between truth and ‘almost’ truth. Perhaps he was right.
On the other hand, maybe the disease technically termed “itchingearitis” causes the desire for plain Biblical truth (inherent in the new heart of a believer) to fly out the window. If that’s an accurate statement, there is a single and 100% effective solution for that believer. Read the Book for what it says, and be cautious concerning ‘extra’ material. First and foremost, let scripture interpret scripture. When we do that, our ears become sensitive to little clues that something might be amiss, and are less susceptible to being tickled.
Yes, I would say that ‘discernment troubles’ abound in the ranks of professing Christians, given the amount of very questionable ‘teaching’ these days.
And remember. . .lies come prancing in on the horseback of truth.