The Use of the Bible in Preaching: Joyce Meyer

The Use of the Bible in Preaching: Joyce Meyer October 21, 2009

Joyce Meyer is a major evangelical author and speaker. She is most well known for her TV in radio presentations which she has been doing for over 20 years. For a long time her broadcasts were entitled Life in the Word.” This week I read through Part of Seven Things That Steal your Joy by Meyer. The chapter I read entitled “Be Uncomplicated.” In this particular chapter there seemed to be a whole lot of life, but not much word.

The chapter opens up with two verses from John (10:9-10) where Jesus states “I am the door,” and concludes that he has come to bring life in abundance. This passage is cited directly from the Amplified Bible. This gets my attention right off the bat. Although I enjoy reading the Amplified Bible its whole premise is using an illegitimate totality transfer of the Greek to the English which I think can be VERY dangerous, and is not appropriate for teaching. It’s ok in this case though since Meyer doesn’t actually use the text for any of her points. Instead she goes on a series of anecdotal tangents for five pages.

I found it interesting that her tangents seemed somewhat disingenuous. Her second main point focused on not accumulating too many things. She talked about collecting more stuff then you need and cluttering the house. I find that her own life doesn’t mirror this lesson all that well. She owns who owns several homes so I suppose she has room to avoid “clutter,” but if you teach accumulation of things as something that will “steal your joy” make an attempt to live like it. The whole thing felt to me like an appeal to a common complaint the reader may have, but her point was not backed up with any passage of scripture or even a credible personal anecdote. For me passages like this give me the impression that Meyer does not think her audience to have significant biblical literacy.

When we finally do get back to the Bible (five pages later), she beings to do a word study on the term foolishness found in 1 Corinthians 1:21. Instead of looking at the context of the passage or the Greek she uses the definition of the word found in Strong’s Concordance. To me this is silly it either indicates that Meyer is either ill-equipped to study the word in depth, or is trying to squeeze the word somewhere it was never intended to go.

The next passage used is 2 Corinthians 11:3. This passage expresses Paul’s concern that the church in Corinth might be deceived by other preachers. Meyer takes it a completely different direction and claims that it’s talking about Satan complicating out lives. This kind of blatant disregard for what the text is actually saying continues. She uses Deuteronomy 6:4 to construe the oneness of God to mean going to him is simple. Then she changes the meaning of 1 Thessalonians 5:17 that says “pray without ceasing” to “Pray as long as the anointing is on you to pray.” This seems to be a clear example of changing scripture to fit a more charismatic perspective which Meyer holds.

She ends by using James 4:2 and John 16:24 to show that we should ask God for Joy. In this case she mostly lets the scripture stand without commentary so I have no big issues. Meyer doesn’t teach heresy in this chapter, she even has some good things to say, but I can’t get over how loosely she seems to hold the scripture she claims to hold so tight too.

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