It’s amazing what can pass for Christianity these days and rarely does anyone bat an eye. It’s easy for The Gospel Coalition to (rightfully) point out how drastically false and dangerous the prosperity gospel is. It’s easy to pick on Joel Osteen or Steven Furtick. It’s easy for Southern Baptists to label Paula White a heretic and talk about the inconsistencies in the overly-political right-wing branch of Evangelicals that surround the president.
While much of these criticisms are right and necessary, they are easy. But when it’s one of their own, The Gospel Coalition and the social justice wing of Evangelicalism turns a blind eye because they’ve embraced something just as heretical and it’s what binds them together.
Tony Evans, a prominent Evangelical preacher and social justice warrior is a rank heretic. He is a Pelagian who denies original sin and insists that gathering together for worship actually detracts from personal worship.
Now, Evans claims that instead of God being God and having authority over all things, He actually needs our permission to “interfere” in our Earthly realm. In a blog post he titles Holding God Accountable — as if that is a thing — he writes,
Prayer is not simply talking to God. Instead, prayer is asserting earthly permission for heavenly interference. Prayer is earth giving heaven authorization to intervene in the affairs of earth as heaven has previously stated it would. That permission is granted based on your legal position and rights. That’s why it is essential to study the Word of God and to know the rights He has granted you through His Word.
Interestingly, but unsurprisingly, he cites no Scripture to support this. This is, in fact, something Evans just made up. God grants us no “legal position and rights” over ourselves or our lives — in fact, He requires the opposite, surrender (James 4:7).
Let’s just be clear, God does not need permission from anyone for anything. The Scriptures are clear on God’s sovereignty:
Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases. — Psalm 115:3
He goes on, “God has a legal obligation to respond to you because you have a legitimate agreement with Him found in His Word.”
This needs clarity. While it is true that God cannot lie and God has promised to fulfill His covenant, God is not “obligated” to do anything because of any mutual agreement. Nope. This mindset gives man authority over God and is outright heresy. We should do good to heed the words of Paul,
If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. — 2 Corinthians 11:30
Finally, he concludes, “Prayer becomes an act of holding God accountable, in the right sense of the word, to what He holds Himself accountable to: His Word.”
Prayer is not an “act of holding God accountable” to anything — prayer is an act of worship. It’s an act of holding ourselves accountable. It’s an act of submission to the supreme creator and sustainer of all things. To assert such a thing should disqualify any such man as a valid teacher, pastor, or leader of the Christian Church. But since Evans, and his daughter, Priscilla Shirer, are contributors to LifeWay’s Sunday School curriculum, The Gospel Project, it is unlikely that you’re going to hear any prominent Southern Baptist leaders or The Gospel Coalition mention this.
Note: Previously we reported that Tony Evans was a Southern Baptist. However, that was not correct. While Evans associates with Southern Baptists on multiple levels, including preaching at Southern Baptist Conventions and his direct quotes appearing in LifeWay’s Sunday School curriculum, his church is not formally affiliated with the denomination.