Theologically Sound. Culturally Relevant.

johnmarkcomer1_1_orig

Is John Mark Comer a false teacher?

Category 2

Verdict: There is reason to be concerned on multiple theological issues

Preface

At the request of one of our readers, we have been asked to investigate whether John Mark Comer is a false teacher. You can make a request here, and we will honor it within reason. It is a source of joy to be trusted in such a way.

It is most reasonable to have never heard of John Mark Comer, but part of what we want to do in our Discernment ministry is to go beyond the low hanging fruits like a Joel Osteen or Paula White. This exists to answer people’s questions or concerns.

Background

John Mark Comer was leading a Portland megachurch called Solid Rock, which experienced tremendous growth. Amidst the growth, he became burnt out and Solid Rock dissolved as a megachurch, choosing for each franchise to become an independent church. John Mark Comer chose to pastor the Bridgetown location which was not the largest.

Bridgetown Church

Bridgetown Church in Portland, Oregon definitely hides its doctrinal beliefs on its website for a church that actually lists them. Their statement of faith is the Lausanne Covenant but is buried on their website here. Interestingly enough, during the COVID-19 panic, they had a form to submit prophetic visions.

Social Justice Gospel

One of the main concerns of the Lausanne Covenant, what makes it distinct, is a focus on justice. As a result, Bridgetown has a justice focus, not called social justice. But despite not being so obvious, like a Hillsong on supporting social justice over biblical justice, Bridgetown hides it, because John Mark Comer is well aware of what that will do to a church. However he still partakes in social justice causes. Following the 2016 election his current church, Bridgeport invited Mark Charles to speak to his congregation on racial reconciliation.

As racial tension continues to build, this is the beginning of an ongoing conversation about how we, as followers of Jesus, can best respond. Listen to the lecture from writer and speaker Mark Charles, in partnership with Imago Dei Community, as we lament the racial injustice that continues to haunt this nation.

A cursory background check into Mark Charles shows that he is a complete social Marxist. He is currently running for President of the United States as an independent with a platform deep into Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality. There is no excuse for inviting this grifter into a church.

Dec 15, 2017

John Mark Comer seems to push the envelop on progressive theology. It’s problematic is a sense that he sees anything positive that can be gained from apostate churches and that theologically conservative churches need to move to his happy middle. In fact we are seeing what is become of compromising on orthodox theology to come to the middle.

But it’s clear that John Mark Comer does dabble in the Social Justice Gospel and progressive theology.

Creational Monotheism

One of the reasons why John Mark Comer is in question here is likely his position on creational monotheism that has some labeling him a polytheist.

Solid Rock family,

Some of you have been asking some great questions about my recent teaching “Yahweh Elohim” and Solid Rock’s theology. To clarify, we are NOT polytheists. We ARE monotheists. We believe there is ONE real, true Creator God with NO equal or parallel. By using the language of “Creational Monotheism,” we are saying there are real spiritual beings in the universe UNDER the Creator God Yahweh. The demonic powers we read about in the scriptures are not “non-entities,” but are real. The New Testament calls them “demons,” “angels,” “spirits,” “powers,” “princes,” and “principalities,” but the primary Hebrew word used in the Old Testament is elohim or “gods.” These beings are “gods with a lowercase g.” They are not on par with the Creator God Yahweh. They are created, but have rebelled against their Creator to wreak havoc on the earth. This is the worldview of Jesus and of the Scriptures.

By using the language of “Creational Monotheism vs. Modern Monotheism,” we are challenging the post-enlightenment, Western European view of monotheism from the last 300 years that says there are no other spiritual beings in the universe. We don’t buy it, and we don’t think Jesus does either. At Solid Rock it is our deepest conviction to know and pursue the ways of King Jesus, to understand and adopt his way of thinking and his worldview. Stay rooted in the Scriptures, keep asking questions, and above all follow the Creator God in Jesus!

John Mark and the teaching team of Solid Rock

The problem with John Mark Comer’s theology here is that monotheism does not fail to recognize the existence of other spiritual beings. No one would assert that the Sadducees were modern monotheists whist the Pharisees were creational monotheists because the latter acknowledges angels and demons. The belief of spiritual powers of angels and demons is a primary belief in Christianity and is a part of every good faith statement. At best, this view is a straw man fallacy that unnecessarily causes strife in the body of Christ.

Though John Mark Comer may be a pioneer of creational monotheism in contemporary Christianity, the idea is nothing new. In superhero comics, there is an unwritten understanding that God of Jacob is above all other god. So despite the fact that DC comics feature Greco-Roman and Egyptian gods, these gods fall below the one true god. This is what creational monotheism is in practice. And this is where creational monotheism becomes as logically untenable as theistic evolution. If you believe that the One true God can create other gods, even if subservient, there still exist other gods; therefore, creational monotheism is polytheism with extra steps. So, creational monotheism is a damnable heresy at worst. There is no plausible case for creational monotheism to be found in Scripture.

Conclusion

It’s commendable that someone is willing to step back from a megachurch structure to focus on their strengths, family, and the Great Commission. There is insufficient reason to question his salvation given what we were able to find. However there are concerning errors. Doubling down on creational monotheism is a serious error as is dabbling in the Social Justice Gospel.

It seems as though John Mark Comer grew up in a “conservative” church, wanted to move to a liberal church but realized theological liberalism is a blight and wanted some sort of path in-between. And I believe this is where all of the error we see stems from. We expound upon two of them opposed to other disagreements and staying out of the spiritual gifts debate so that when we note a pattern of error, this does not get bogged down in the weeds.

Updated 04/2020

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
Pinterest

18 Responses

  1. I am a former attendee of Bridgetown. Can assure you that there is more evidence of false teaching occurring. Since realizing what was going on there while attending, I have maintained a watchful eye on what is going on there and have been researching to connect the dots on the movement toward mysticism and the almost complete lacking of a gospel message or scripture, for that matter, coming from the pulpit. Thank you for posting this. It’s a good start to hopefully open the eyes of some who are looking for answers.

    1. I appreciate your feedback. A Cat. 2 is a warning of a possibility, and I try to err on the lower side. JMC has the background of someone who would embrace liberal theology (grew up in an orthodox or legalistic church + embrace of aspects of liberal Christianity), but has yet to go all the way. I can totally see how mysticism could arise, with his changing views on spiritual gifts, leading to abusing these teachings. Ultimately, the evidence compilation is limited by the level of exhaustiveness of the research. If you know of any sermons/articles of his to check out, this post can always be updated as information presents itself.

  2. Mysticism is most definitely there. They held a weekend seminar on dream interpretation, several enneagram weekend seminars as well as a series on the enneagram taught by Suzanne Stabile. , lectio divina, imaginative prayer (visualization), centering techniques, and the like. These are the examples that can be pinpointed, but it’s woven throughout most every sermon over the last few years. These can all be found over the last few years in their practicing the way sermon series. I will try to find some references for you and am happy to provide further info.

  3. Genuinely curious and would be interested in a discussion. Is the author/this website opposed to Marxism/socialism? If so, what is the reasoning?

    Just noted the Marxist reference and wondering. Thanks.

  4. You say “Bridgetown hides it, because John Mark Comer is well aware of what that will do to a church”. How is it that you presume to know someone’s motives or whether he is intentionally hiding something?

  5. While I’m not a fan of John Mark or the term “Creational Monotheism” , he is technically correct that the word “elohim” does mean “God” or “gods”. And that the Old Testament does seem to sometimes refer to spiritual beings in general as “elohim.”

    And the bible does say that elohim, as a plural, do exist, but that there is only one Creator God who we must put first above all (2nd commandment).

    Examples of elohim referring to multiple spiritual beings in the OT:
    – 1st Samuel 28:13 – Saul uses a witch to summon Samuel and the witch says “I see a god [ELOHIM] coming up out of the earth.”
    -Psalms 8:5 – ” For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels (Hebrew here is “elohim”), And hast crowned him with glory and honour.” Hebrews’ author in 2:7 seems to also refer to this verse and refer to “elohim” here as “angels”
    -Exodus 15:11 – “Who among the gods is like you, LORD? Who is like you— majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?” (implies that other gods do exist, but the LORD (Yahweh is above them all)

    This isn’t technically “polytheism” because this implies worship of multiple gods.

    If anything it’s henotheism “adherence to one particular god out of several,” or monolatry “the worship of one god without denial of the existence of other gods.”

    Now, we could say that the Israelites just didn’t know better and that their theology was evolving over time. that’s fine. But I don’t think it’s right to label John Mark’s stance as polytheism with extra steps.

    1. Hi, new to the chat and likely wont post again but Mike Heiser’s significant work on these topics is some of the best modern scholarship on this topic. The reading is not for the feint of heart but there are no new revelations here. They are new to our western (modern) minds. YWHW is the almighty and only creator. The fact that other spiritual entitles owe their existing to Him in no way undermines or limits any belief in classical Monotheism. I’m not the scholar in these areas. Read Hesier and Richard Bauckham on these topics. Compelling. Rb David Fohrman also has a fascinating series of lecture on Jewish monotheism in the Genesis “let us create”…text. Also worth a listen. https://drmsh.com/

      I humbly suggest that ‘monotheism’ may be understood as an expression of “almightiness” and omnipotence not only “only-ness”. If you read this far, I appreciate your consideration.

  6. I’m trying to be discerning, but am ill equipped by lack of bible knowledge. I listened to John Mark’s first podcast of the ways of Jesus. I really liked it! To me he was truth telling. Was I wrong? I find it very challenging to discern accurate theology. I am a baby follower of Jesus.

  7. Just out of curiosity, has anyone ever done a critique of your ‘ministry’?

  8. I have been listening to JMCs podcasts on Sabbath. Several things pop out that strike as almost cultic in nature.
    1. His pacing, timing, intonation, timber are almost hypnotic
    2. In E1 of the series he boldly claims “I have Gospel for you…”
    3. He expresses over and over again how confusing the Bible is, and responds with”…I’ll tell you all about that [whatever specific item he just mentioned] later….”
    4. No references to the Holy Spirit/Ghost, Divine Revelation or being born again
    5. Stresses frequently an age discrepancy (I’m so much older than you, you haven’t experienced this yet, etc…)
    7. All of his non-biblical references are to Philosophers.
    8. Biblical references are often taken from context to support his proposed philosophy
    9. Ecumenistic message based on the wide variety of philosophers he references

    It seems his purpose is to draw in younger crowds with a new gospel, a draw of almost cult-like tendencies, where people will vehemently defend him, not the principles he teaches. His message purports that he has all the answers as his audience is young and naive, and the Bible is “just so confusing.”. He teaches a new gospel – the gospel of Sabbath, with him at the center as chief priest, philosopher and teacher.

    My pastors have never been afraid to say, “Don’t take my word for it; you go read the Bible for yourself.”
    Beware.

    1. John,
      You are perceptive. These are some of the same things that concerned me when I was attending his church and started to realize that he was teaching false and unbiblical ideas. He relies heavily on non Christian philosohpers as well as “mystics” from the Roman catholic tradition almost exclusively. It was only when he would (rarely) quote an mainstream evangelical that he would issue a “warning along with the quote that he did not endorse everything that person teaches. this type of warning was never given when quoting people like Richard Rohr or Thomas Merton, both of whom endorse Hinduism. It took me a long time of listening closely to what he said week after week and looking into each of the people that he referenced to figure out what his real teachings were and where he was heading with the church. He is no longer the pastor of Bridgetown, as he decided that his teachings on contemplative practices were too important not to spread them further than he could as a pastor. He is now working to create an organization that can help other churches and individuals embrace and teach mysticism through spiritual practices found in ignatian spirituality. His books are subtle, but I believe that his aim is to draw people deeper into the teachings of contemplative spirituality with these new endeavors.

  9. Who isn’t a false teacher? Not Lucifer but the Ahriman has corrupted the minds of the many and any specific claim to the truth is incomplete and riddled with ignorance. Nonetheless, the Christ impulse will continue to illuminate the hearts of man even as the darkness reigns over the earth.

  10. #1 Once they start attacking the “social gospel” I see a red flag.
    Are these social Gospel:
    Let justice run down like a mighty stream
    To share your food with your neighbors
    They all had all things in common
    Sold his land and brought the money…
    CAPITALISM, even when spelled in all capitals IS NOT GODLY. Not the true gospel either.
    It’s the gospel of greed. Fundamentals or charismatics or Critic sites are enmeshed in it. Of course the Right will sell their land and keep 98% like A&S did
    Ha ha ha

    #2 Theological hairsplitting (not real contending for the faith)
    1Tim 6:20
    O Timothy! Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge— by professing it some have strayed concerning the faith. Grace be with you. Amen.

    Paul talked (briefly in a few places) about the hierarchies of demons in the heavenly places. My advice: stay away from such matters. It promotes pride and quarrels – and worse gnosticism. All aberrant and destructive practices against geniune saving faith in Yehoshua HaMaschiach. He was Paul’s focus and life work**
    The true Gospel is plain and simple for all of a humble heart to receive, believe in and live by. Children of God we are called. Convert and become like children. No airs, no ranks, no titles, no complexes.

    #3 what I like about this site. You don’t assume to know it all. You allow a 1000 flowers to bloom. But let all things be done in the fear of God in love.
    ” …but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ…” Eph 4:15

    That scoring mechanism. I can’t comment on it fully as I have not yet read your motive and rationale for numerical assessment of others…so another time.
    Shalom aleichem.

    **Statistics from Paul’s Epistles
    Jesus 206
    Christ 385
    Lord 251

    satan 10
    devil 5

  11. 1-He offers workshops on the Enneagram. He got into the Enneagram by reading Richard Rohr’s book in 2012, and currently sells Rohr’s book on his website.

    2-Teaches polytheism, with ‘good and bad gods under one God’. Bases his reasoning on Psalm 82 – favourite psalm of the Mormons. In his book ‘God Has a Name’, he states that a better way to think about monotheism is to see Zeus, Shivaor the Wiccan as real spiritual beings and that Jesus is not the only way to God (p. 105) !!!

    3-Wrote a song for Jeremy Camp with a Third Wave mentality about emptying your mind.

    4-Speaker of the New Wine programme, associated to many false prophets/teachers.

    5-Strong proponent of contemplative prayer, including the Catholic monk Ignatius’s Spiritual Exercises. Highest appreciation for problematic teachers Dallas Willard, John Ortberg and Peter Scazzero, all also included in his book store.

    6-He stated in interviews and on Twitter that his spiritual director is a JESUIT PRIEST !!!

    7-Endorses false teachers Greg Boyd and Christine Caine.

    8-He regularly quotes in his books Eugene Peterson, Richard Foster and Richard Rohr, and even positively quotes pope Paul II.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: