Theologically Sound. Culturally Relevant.

Tony Evans

Is Tony Evans A False Teacher?

Category 4

Verdict: Tony Evans teaches a heresy we call Dispy-Pelagianism.

Preface

Part of how this Discernment ministry operates is taking in reader questions about prevalent teachers. Tony Evans held the lead for the most active requests at the start of this research. You can make a request here and see our answered verdicts here.

Priscilla Shirer

The daughter of Tony Evans is a prominent teacher. She is also a Prosperity Gospel preacher.

In the verdict on Priscilla Shirer, Evangelical Dark Web concluded:

Priscilla Shirer has gone Prosperity Gospel, something exposed by Evangelical Dark Web. And therefore this surpasses the threshold of heresy. Her background of being the daughter of a prominent Southern Baptist pastor, Tony Evans and presence in Christian film has sustained her influence among normie Christians who don’t watch Trinity Broadcasting Network. Additionally, eastern mysticism is a massive spiritual issue that can be observed from Priscilla Shirer’s teachings. The promotion of contemplative prayer is mystical additive to Christianity that is not found in Scripture. In addition to promoting mysticism, it is clear that Priscilla Shirer demonstrates a persistent pattern of associating with and promoting false teachers within evangelicalism. For such reasons of lacking discernment, it is inadvisable for Christians to read and use Priscilla Shirer’s material.

The children of a pastor are not necessarily reflective of their parents when they delve into false teaching. So, we cannot make any conclusions about Evans based on his daughter’s heresy. This would set a precedent for other teachers like Charles Stanley, Francis Schaeffer, or John Piper. However, it is in some capacity a reflection and indictment on the discipleship that Tony Evans instilled in his daughter for the first two decades of her life. This calls into question the qualifications of an elders in the church, “a man whose children believe,” since his daughter grew to be publicly wild and disobedient. This would not make him a wolf, however. Isolated, this issue would make Tony Evans a Category 1.

Branch Covidianism

Tony Evans would be added to a long list of pastors who compromised in 2020 to the cult of Branch Covidianism. Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship received between $2-5 million in PPP Loans from the government in 2020.

In 2022, Tony Evans would (still) impose a mask mandate on his church. Mask mandates in, or enforced, by the church are inherently unbiblical. They place a legalistic barrier to worship and affirm the lie that masking stops the spread of an airborne virus. This was part of the works-based salvation of Branch Covidianism, which Tony Evans never stood against in any meaningful way.

The criticisms of Tony Evan’s performance against Branch Covidianism could be lobbed against most pastors in America at this point, but their collective actions were so anti-biblical, Evangelical Dark Web maintains this position equally to those other pastors as well. This moral failing was a reproach on the church, and pastors like Tony Evans share in this.

Is Tony Evans Woke?

Tony Evans has a reputation for being creative on the issue of race. The question of whether he is woke or peddling Critical Race Theory is a debate among people in discernment. In 2020, SBC seminary presidents pretended to denounce Critical Race Theory. In doing so they appealed to Tony Evans who offered some pushback to their use of his words without “proper context.” Tony Evans insisted that he never said that CRT lacked any beneficial insights.

Critical Race Theory offers no beneficial insights because it can neither be used to identify racism, explain racism, nor identify solutions to racism. A theory that sees racism in every situation through Marxist social dynamics is too unreliable to be considered beneficial.

Tony Evans created a school of thought on this issue called Kingdom Race Theology. Evans views Kingdom Race Theology as the biblical alternative to Critical Race Theory. The ultimate flaw in Kingdom Race Theory is it is not a natural reading of Scripture without having previously adopted tenets of Critical Race Theory. Kingdom Race Theory does not offer an adequate criticism of Critical Race Theory.

Apart from Kingdom Race Theology, Tony Evans sounds just about as woke as other pastors, just with a softer edge. Tony Evans argues that if you are not anti-racist, you are complicit in racism in a video on systemic racism.[1] Tony Evans opposes the Dallas Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel, stating that the drafters do not understand the “full counsel of God.”[2]

Dispy-Pelagianism

https://youtu.be/Dfh7qBvd4cU

One of the most common label applied to Tony Evans by online discernment ministries is Pelagian. Pelagianism is the belief that Adam’s sin did not affect future generations of humanity, a rejection of the doctrine of Original Sin/Guilt.[3] By the textbook definition of Pelagianism, Tony Evans is not Pelagian. He has a similar but distinct heretical view we will call Dispy-Pelagianism.

In the build up to the publishing of his book, Totally Saved Tony Evans claims that the work of Jesus Christ on the cross atones for the Original Sin in all people, and therefore people are condemned for their actual sin that they choose to commit. In a book tour interview at the National Religious Broadcasters Convention (presumably in early 2003 prior to the book’s release), Evan’s says the following:[4]

Well, here is the thesis. This is where there will probably be a theological skirmish over this one. But I believe that Jesus Christ in his death covered original sin. But the thing that the death of Christ did was cover and overrule original sin so that no man is condemned because they are born in Adam, but men are condemned because they consciously reject salvation. Therefore, since an infant cannot consciously reject salvation and since original sin was covered, infants go to heaven. People who have mental deficiencies so that they cannot understand, they would go to heaven. And then I have the big controversial one and that is people who are in foreign lands.

Glenn Plumber the interview pushes back suggesting that Evan’s thesis causes a lack of need for missions.

Well, if you could take that as a thesis but you can’t. The reason why you can’t is this: the Bible says in Romans 1 that men suppress the truth. Now you cannot suppress what you don’t have. It’s like holding a beach ball under water. It wants to come up but you are forcing it down. When a person rejects the revelation of God in nature or in conscience, they are condemning themselves because something wants to come up that they keep forcing down. That is not the scenario I’m painting. I’m painting a scenario where a person wants to know the true God and desires to know the true God. That gives God three options: 1) God can send him a missionary, the traditional way; 2) God can give him a direct revelation of Himself like he did Paul on the Damascus Road; or 3) and here it is, God can transdispensationalize him. That is, relate to him out of another dispensation because dispensations are based on information given. So that all throughout the Bible all people had to do was believe what God had revealed and they were saved. If a person believes somebody is up there that created this, somebody created me, I don’t know who he is but I want to know him. If that person were to have a heart attack at that moment, God could not condemn him and be just because God says, “He who seeks shall find.” Since God makes that promise, if God doesn’t give him the Gospel or give him a direct revelation, then he has to judge him out of another dispensation.

Tony Evans posits three ways a person can be saved, but ways two and three have theological problems. Saul heard the preaching of the Word prior to the road to Damascus. That’s why he was persecuting Christians. While God transformed Saul, this event still followed the preaching of God’s word and presenting the gospel. Evans suggests that a person could receive this revelation if they are seeking God, which Saul was not. Transdispensationalism will be covered below.

I’m right and they’re wrong. You cannot argue. See, people are trying to solve this problem in a lot of ways. The reform theologians come up with election as a solution to their problem. But that creates an unjust God who holds people responsible for that which they cannot be responsible for, and all the double talk in the world doesn’t change that. You’ve got the Arminian side and what they do is they whittle away the sovereignty of God. You’ve got to have a God who is sovereign, who legitimately offers salvation to all since he paid the price for all, who legitimately gives everybody an opportunity or a solution. That is the only way God can be just. I have read all the literature, I believe all the literature, and nobody was addressing this problem. They were just dismissing it under some generic non-understandable sovereignty of God. And I said, “no this cannot work that way.” So, I went back and did my research and here I am with you.

Tony Evan turns dispensationalism into s soteriology, rejecting both Calvinism and Arminianism. He is also creating a problem that does not exist and that is the possibility of an unjust God. It would be just if God decides to save no one. The fact that he decides to save some is an act of love and mercy. It’’s not fair that some people have better access to hearing the gospel than others, yet this in no way undermines the justice of a God who is required to save nobody. But if God is obliged to give all access to the gospel, then shouldn’t God then save everybody? What Tony Evans articulates is not Pelagian, it may in fact be worse. Tony Evans is calling God unjust and manipulating the Gospel and salvation to create a just God in his own mind.

Glenn Plummer reminds Tony Evans that this view would be called heresy, specifically by Dallas Theological Seminary, the alma mater of Evans. Tony Evans expressed his indifference to their views in no uncertain terms.

Glenn Plummer:  Well then, what that says is that the Hindus, who are doing the best they can with the information they have, having never — I’m talking about the Hindus who have never heard of Jesus, never heard of the Savior, never heard of salvation in Christ, the only begotten Son of God, then there is salvation for them is what you are saying.

Tony Evans: If –but we’ve got to put in this proviso – if they are not suppressing the truth in all righteousness. See that is the proviso.

Glenn Plummer:  What does that mean?

Tony Evans:  That means that there is a revelation of God.

Glenn Plummer: I mean you are out here. I am just listening. I’m shocked at this.

Tony Evans: I understand. It is a revelation of God that they are responding to.  God can’t skip that. God can’t do it. He can only skip it if you suppress it. That’s what the text says.  So if they are not suppressing it –

While Tony Evans does provide some sort of avenue for Hindus to be saved, he does not say that of Islam because Islam believes Jesus was a prophet but not a savior. This is more errant than Pelagianism. However, since Pelagius was teaching in the same “dispensation” as Tony Evans, their views while slightly distinct are functionally the same in practice.

Transdispensationalism

Buried in the appendix of a 2006 book titled Totally Saved, Tony Evans argues that God loves man so much that he would transport unreached people to a different dispensation so that they may be saved, apart from the saving work of Christ.

Now there’s a third way God can deal in grace with those who can’t believe because they have never heard the gospel. He can apply another dispensation and its criteria to them. A dispensation is simply an economy or an administration of God, a way in which He deals with people based on the information he has given them. For instance, people in the Old Testament were saved without hearing the name of Jesus, because Jesus hadn’t come to earth yet. But they were saved because they believed in the revelation of God. The Bible says Abraham believed God and was accounted as righteous, or saved, for believing in God’s promise of a son and a seed (Genesis 15:6). This was long before the Mosaic sacrificial system was ever begun. Abraham believed without hearing about Jesus, but I am not saying that people can be saved apart from Jesus. Never. Nobody can get saved without Jesus, because He is the Savior of all men, as we read in 1 Timothy 4:10. Everybody is saved through Christ, even those who lived before Jesus came, because in the mind and heart of God, Jesus was already sacrificed to pay for sin before the world was ever created (see Revelation 13:8). So a person can be saved without knowing Jesus’ name, but not without Jesus’ provision for sin. In the case of a person who never hears the gospel and never knows the name of Jesus, but who responds to the light he has, God treats that person like an Old Testament saint, if you will. That is, if the person trusts in what God has revealed, God deals with that person based on the knowledge he has, not the information he never received. I call this transdispensationalism. By this I mean if a person is sincerely seeking God and desiring to know Him, and is responding to the truth he knows, if there is no missionary or direct manifestation of God, then God judges that person based on his faith in the light he has received. And as in the case of Abraham, God will retroactively count this person as righteous by applying the death of Christ from the dispensation of grace.[5]

This is heresy for a number of reasons. The most important is that Christ work on the cross is the one sacrifice for all who are saved. The Old Testament does not teach a works-based salvation and furthermore points to Christ being the savior of humanity. This is a typical seminary answer, yet Tony Evans argues against this conventional wisdom by equating an Old Testament believer with a “good person” in today’s modern world. He takes the flawed premises of dispensations and articulates a view in which God changes up the dispensations on an individual case-by-case basis. The word “light” is used as the determinative factor and not faith.

The story of this excerpt is that it did not make it to the republishing of the book. There is no known clarification as to whether this decision by Moody Publishers was because Evans had a change of heart or because of the backlash this portion received.[6] John MacArthur condemned transdispensationalism in a sermon once.[7]

Transdispensationalism is an instance in which Tony Evans engaged in heretical teaching, but this teaching has not been his consistent message. This, nonetheless, is a concern.

Association With False Teachers

Association with false teachers is distinct from being yoked to false teachers. The latter is indicative of being a false teacher while the former is evidence, although not determinative. Tony Evans does have some associations with false teachers, predominantly black false teachers. In 2013, Evans wrote one of the forwards to Eric Mason’s book, Manhood Restored: How the Gospel Makes Men Whole along with Matt Chandler.[8] In 2013, it is conceivable that Eric Mason was not the same race hustler that he is today, and Matt Chandler was similarly a rising giant in Big Eva.

What is a reflection of the associations of Tony Evans are the resources promoted by the bookstore of his church which promotes false teacher, Mike Todd’s book Relationship Goals.

This is not an exhaustive compilation, and it ultimately pales in comparison to his own daughter.

Conclusion

Tony Evans is a bit of an enigma, and this is largely due to his stature in Big Eva and his prominence as a leading black preacher in the country. As Voddie Baucham has largely fallen out of Big Eva, Tony Evans is perhaps the best of the worst in the category of Big Eva black preachers, and this comes with additional pressures that Evans has to navigate. When most prominent black pastors want to go woke, Tony Evans does not want to go full woke with them. He’s mindful of the concerns of his audience and wants to meet them where they are at. Unfortunately, this leads to compromising teachings such as Kingdom Race Theology.

Unfortunately, it also leads to him propping up his theologically loose daughter who might be seen as the fruit of two decades of his discipleship. Tony Evans is mindful of his audience and caters to them to some degree even unto compromise like he did over Covid.

The rest of the major criticism of Tony Evans are largely reflected of his theology rather than him compromising with his environment. Tony Evans is not Reformed. And being a prominent pastor, he is asked a lot of hard questions. So, when he’s wrestling with these hard questions, he conjures nonsense like transdispensationalism and Dispy-Pelagianism. These are both heretical views that spring from him feeling smarter than his predecessors. Tony Evan through Dispy-Palagianism particulates a second gospel in which natural revelation is a pathway to salvation. This is worse than Pelagianism, but he combines Pelagian view of Original Sin with the Dispensational view of Scripture to create this new soteriology. Glenn Plummer attempted to provide correction for Evans’ views and Tony Evans has come under fire from names as big as John MacArthur. Nevertheless, Totally Saved became a series of books.

Before delving deep into the longstanding label of Pelagian discernment ministries apply to Tony Evans, Evangelical Dark Web would have had him at the high end of Category 2 or the low end of Category 3. Tony Evans is a Category 4 which is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

[1] https://youtu.be/p7Rq78jFiJg

[2] https://youtu.be/Xv0yMEICnrU 15-minute mark

[3] https://www.gotquestions.org/Pelagianism.html

[4] https://nickvoss.wordpress.com/2012/04/07/tony-evans-pelagian/

[5] https://provocationsandpantings.blogspot.com/2006/11/tony-evans-on-transdispensationalism.html

[6] https://www.rmni.org/african-american-missions/global-missions-issues/transdispensationalism-and-dr-tony-evans.html

[7] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mh2ESOFrDIg

[8] https://www.amazon.com/Manhood-Restored-Gospel-Makes-Whole/dp/1433679949

Support the Evangelical Dark Web

It's not about the money. It's about supporting the mission in contending for the faith against false doctrines. Consider becoming a member of the Evangelical Dark Web. If you aren't willing, comfortable, or able to, that's cool. And if you still like our content, at least subscribe to the newsletter below.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
Pinterest

One Response

  1. It seems like he thinks everyone deserves to be saved, when in fact the opposite is true. And man what a word salad! He really contorts himself to, like you said, make God into what he thinks He should be. Now what little I’ve seen of him on TV I thought he came across as anti-woke but it appears that’s not the case, and I didn’t know that was his daughter. She really sounded off the mark. Thanks that was a really thorough job.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: