Cover Image: Misled


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This book pairs well with David Platt’s book that released in February, “Don’t Hold Back”! It is a good reminder to be vigilant of the commands God has given us, not just in our culture, but even in the church.
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“Misled” is a good book for those who want to understand the differing, and often times heretical, practices of some Protestant denominations. Written in a straightforward and easy to read manner, Parr carefully examines such movements such as the Prosperity Gospel, Progressivism, and other departures from true Christianity. He addresses modern day prophecy, whether someone can lose his salvation, and whether or not the sign gifts are still in effect today. I differed with him in just a couple of small areas, and even then understood as he described his own thoughts on those matters. I would have no problem recommending this book to someone questioning the different movements; indeed, the book is written from the viewpoint of such a person.
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The subtitle of Misled rightly describes what you will find in this book: A presentation of things that distort the Gospel of Christ, how they affect people, and how biblical truth compares.

As someone who used to be stuck in false teaching myself, I first found myself interested in this book because I wanted to see if it could be a helpful resource for others, especially concerning things like positive confession, the prosperity gospel, and progressive Christianity. Misled is an excellent asset in this endeavor. The book simply and succinctly explains these false teachings and how believers can be affected by them.

That said, I think one should be more careful in how they present views on certain topics that have a range of different biblical positions. For example, with Calvinism—as the author leans—versus Arminian views, it probably isn’t best to say that one or the other is “misled” in a book that is talking about “lies that distort the Gospel” (as the book’s title and subtitle express) on a topic like eternal security when there are Scripture passages that can be interpreted to support with the other position as well. Perhaps it could have been presented differently, perhaps not included at all; it’s hard to say. If I share this book, it will have to be with that caveat in mind.

As the author writes,

“Above and beyond anything else I could pray for you as we conclude our journey together is that this book has taught you the importance of having discernment. . . We all need to be more like the believers of the Berean church of whom it was said, ‘The people here were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, since they received the word with eagerness and examined the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so’ (Acts 17:11).”

I received a gifted copy of this book from the publisher and I am reviewing this book voluntarily. All opinions are my own.
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So many people who are new to faith, young, or finding their own faith aside from their families are searching for a church home. It's very easy to be caught in the lights, the welcoming community, the worship - it's hard to discern the truth. Allen Parr does a phenomenal job of creating real life instances of the different ways that churches can lead you down the wrong path. The character, Jarren, is experiencing different things as he moves from church to church trying to find the ONE church that will teach him the truth. I've seen how churches/pastors/congregants can distort the truth to fit their narrative. The best thing about this book isn't how Parr introduces these ways that lead people astray, but he backs up everything he says with Scripture. He is showing what the Bible, the truth, says about these specific topics. This is a book that I will recommend to so many who question the teachings of "famous" churches, and even small churches that do things that just don't sit right with them. Thank you for speaking truth and focusing it on the ONE.
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A lot of what we see in the world of "Christianity" today is not truly Christian - it is not formed in the image or example or reality of Christ. Allen Parr accurately picks up on this, and he does fairly well at picking some of the most prevalent corruptions to address. It is important to get persons thinking about these things, and that's precisely what this book does - it gets you thinking. It's a conversation starter, without any real "nail-in-the-coffin" information in it, so in that sense, it creates more questions than answers. I think with these topics being so important, it would have been helpful to be more authoritative about some things. 

I agree with the author of the foreword, who said that they would have addressed some of these topics differently or that they don't necessarily agree with the angles that Parr took. That's extremely accurate. Some of the corrections he offers seem to go too far in the other direction without sufficient evidence to back up exactly how he got there. In a lot of places, it feels like the argument is, "But I think differently, and here's what I think, which is right." 

There are a couple of places where he just gets either sloppy or lazy. For example, where he does a good job in early chapters of highlighting and discussing what some groups actually think, which are the things he is trying to create a conversation around, there is a point in a later chapter where he lays out his angle and then says something about how other groups have used other Scriptures to support a different conclusion, then immediately backs away and says he doesn't have space for that. In the context of the chapter, that is EXACTLY what he needed to devote space to. You can't just say that the Scriptures you've used are the accurate ones and the Scriptures others use are not so much without discussing WHY that is; you're asking me, as a reader, to just take your word for it. Sorry, I'm not going to. You have to show me why I should. That whole section was very out of character with the rest of the book; it was weird. 

It's worth the read as a conversation starter. My hope is that it would drive the reader back to the Bible for themselves to start thinking more deeply about some of these false messages.
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I've encountered many of the lies included in this book, some personally, some vicariously and I appreciate the way that Allen Parr parses the truth from the Word of God and brings these false teachings to light.  I appreciate his teachings on YouTube and find that this book only adds to his position as a teacher of God's word.  

Allen does what few people try to do--expose lies, but at the same time, he exposes the truth behind the lies.  He's not afraid to name names on either side of the table.  What I got most from this book is how God must be grieved by our willingness to be deceived.  I feel bad for the poor fictional character who 
set up each chapter by going from pillar to post among the false teachers.  To hit all seven of them breaks all the odds.  
This book is not to be missed.  Five Stars

Nelson Publishing provided the copy I read for this review.  All opinions expressed are solely my own.
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I have a list of Bible teachers I tune in to listen to on YouTube. Allen Parr is on that list. With well over a million subscribers, he hosts The BEAT (Biblical Encouragement And Truth) where he provides succinct lessons in scripture on what God has to say about some of the problems Christian face today. He wants to help people become students of the Bible, so they will become equipped to discern truth from lies. He has answered many questions Christians have about their salvation, the end times, and how to hear from God. Allen doesn’t shy away from talking about what God has to say about some of the serious issues within our culture.

Allen reveals seven major ways false teachers have corrupted the Gospel message in “Misled: 7 Lies That Distort the Gospel (and How You can Discern the Truth).” He created a fictional character, Jarren, who is a new Christian looking for a church to attend. In each chapter, Allen progresses from the not-so-bad to deadly lies some professing Christians claim are true of God and His Word. I’ve tried to condense the main message about each of the ways people have been duped by deceivers. Allen uses more scriptures than I have listed here. He demonstrates how to defend against lies with truth found in the Bible. Here are the 7 lies he worked through:

Speaking in Tongues
False teachers tell Christians they aren’t saved if they can’t speak in tongues, Allen said. They claim it proves the Holy Spirit is within us, and if we can’t speak in tongues then we’re not Christians. Some even tell Christians they have to wait for the Spirit in the same way as the early church, but Paul tells us it happens when we are saved. (Read Ephesians 1:1-14) He said when we “believed in him, [we] were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” (Eph. 1:13-14)

Health and Wealth/Prosperity Theology/Word of Faith Movement
Many televangelists have promoted this second false teaching. They have amassed wealth and large congregations. They call it “sowing seeds” when they assure their audiences that God will either multiple the money that is sent to them or provide them with healing for their illnesses. Our relationship with God becomes transactional at that point, Allen said. God doesn’t serve us by making us well and prosperous if we send money to a ministry, no matter how much these men and women claim that is true. Allen pointed out several flaws in this chapter, but the one that stood out for me: Jesus warned that we’ll experience suffering and persecution. Health, wealth, and happiness in the here and now are not promised. Just look at Paul’s experience. How many times was he jailed? Beaten? Did that mean Paul didn’t have enough faith? Did he not “sow” enough seeds?

Speaking Things Into Existence
Allen has discussed a few of our worship songs today that talks about Christians having God’s power to manifesting things into existence through our words. Christians are afraid to say anything negative. They believe their words have the same power as God’s when He created the world. But Allen said we cannot create like God. He created out of nothing. We can use paints, wood, butter and flour, in other words, created things to make something new. We can’t speak things into existence. We are not God, nor are we “little gods.” We are made righteous by Jesus Christ’s blood. We are coheirs with Christ, and we are children of God when we accept Christ. But God’s power is not our own. False teachers would have us believe we can “manifest” healing or wealth on our own, but they seek to steal God’s glory. Many end up placing their faith in a person then and not God. These false teachers ultimately want the glory for themselves.

Prophets and Prophecies
Allen introduced two words that spell check hated: cessationists vs. continuationists. As the word implies, the first group believe that “certain miraculous spiritual gifts, such as divine healing, speaking in tongues, and prophecy ceased when the apostles died, and the canon of the Scripture was completed.” (Source for this quote.) The apostle Paul predicted these special gifts would cease in verses 8-10 of the love passage, 1 Corinthians 13.

The second group, continuationists, believe that the Holy Spirit still gives Christians miraculous spiritual gifts and prophetic words to speak over God’s people. Allen said spiritual gifts should edify the church and point to the power of Jesus Christ as the apostles did in their day. But many use these so-called gifts to want to appear more spiritual than other Christians. False teachers lie about having these special healing powers to dupe them into sending in money in exchange for healing they can’t give. The fraudulent faith healer actually handpicks people with unverifiable illnesses to heal them. Allen cracked a joke here: a friend tells Jarren they need to show up early so they can find front-row seats. God does His best healing there.

As for prophets and prophecies, Allen said Old Testament prophets spoke for God who called His people to repentance and restoration. They warned people about God’s plans for them if they continued in their sin. These prophets were often reviled and tortured by their own people. Old Testament prophets knew that speaking for God is serious business. They would lose their lives if they lied and said something came from the Almighty when it came from their own hearts.

In the new testament, Allen said the prophets often spoke about the fulfillment of Old Testament promises to God’s people. He said pastors and teachers of scripture today do the same. They too need to ensure what they say is verified in scripture. Too many pick and choose what fits their narrative or what makes people comfortable. Allen said not to believe anyone who claims to have the authority to speak for God about the future of the whole Church outside of what scriptures tell us. The Bible is a closed canon.

Now, Allen does believe Christians can speak a prophetic word of encouragement over the lives of people of faith. But he wants us to test whatever “God told them” against scripture. Don’t accept everything spoken over your life as coming from God. If a prophetic word doesn’t come to pass, we will know that it doesn’t come from God. Just as in Old Testament times, God will hold false teachers accountable for saying they speak for Him when they speak only from their own hearts and minds.

Progressive Christians
I think this next group believes they’ve made “progress” when it comes to Christian beliefs by not believing in sound doctrine. They have a low view of Jesus Christ, Allen said. They think we should follow Him as a role model, but His death on the cross wasn’t necessary. (I know. How does that make them Christians then?) Their moto is:

“God loves you just the way you are. You don’t have to change a thing.”

Progressive Christianity has become wildly popular because they don’t tell people about their need for repentance and salvation through Jesus Christ. Their beliefs won’t result in transformation. You will remain dead in your sins. 1. The Gospel changes you, Allen said. Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners when He died on the cross and paid our penalty. He defeated sin and death. He’s not an ordinary man. 2. Most churches say, “Come as you are,” Allen said, but if God calls you to Him, He isn’t going to leave you the way you are. If He calls you, He wants to give your soul a makeover.

You Can Lose Your Salvation
This is one I wrestled with when I was a teenager. Despite having been saved, I would have this thought: “How can I truly be saved if I’m still sinning? I remember telling a friend’s mama, about my deepest fears. I knew that Jesus Christ had defeated sin and death once and for all. I think younger me felt like I needed to do something extra. I don’t remember Mrs. Mullinax’s exact words, but I remember their impact: Did I think His death on the cross for me that day wasn’t enough? Did I want Christ to die again on that cross? No. It was a powerful lesson.

Jarren had been wrestling with sexual sin, and he had confessed it to someone. That person told him if he continued in “willful sin” he may not be saved anymore. Allen pointed out that all sin is “willful sin.” On our own, we are incapable of living perfect lives like Jesus. Even the apostle Paul noted that he too continued to sin despite his conversion. Allen said we are not immune to sin’s pull this side of Heaven after accepting Christ. We will not be happy to continue in sin though. God doesn’t want our worship motivated by fear, Allen said. He wants us to have deep assurance of our salvation. I will try to link to where he talks about each one, but Allen covered this topic in a video on YouTube titled, "7 Reasons Why a Christian Cannot Lose Their Salvation." They are

Pillar #1 Perseverance – “Those who are truly born again will be empowered by the Spirit to continue to believe until the day they die. We don’t persevere in our own strength. We do so because the Holy Spirit empowers us to do so.” (Phil. 2:12-13).

Pillar #2 Preservation – God started this work of salvation, not us, and He will complete it. (Phil. 1:6). Allen said it doesn’t say “only if” we don’t sin again. We can’t change God’s mind once we have placed our genuine faith in Jesus. (Jude 24). God won’t take us out of Jesus’ hand. God gave us to Jesus. (John 10:28-29) Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:38-39).

Pillar #3 Predestination – God predestined believers to be conformed in the image of His Son. God knew beforehand what would happen because He is omniscient. (Romans 8:29-30) Allen said God does all the work, not us. Our part is recognizing our need for a Savior, saying “Yes” to Jesus, and giving our lives to Him. That’s it. God is the pursuer who is calling us to Him. (2 Tim 1:9) He chose us before He created the world. (Eph 1:4); He knew every sin, every decision we would make, Allen said, and still He chose us.

Pillar #4 Propitiation – Jesus’ blood shed on the cross for sinners appeased God’s wrath. His sacrifice covered all of our sins once and for all, not just some sins. We are saved by grace through faith, not from works. (Ephesians 2:8-9) Here, Allen mentioned author Beau Lee’s formula: Jesus + Nothing = Salvation.

Pillar #5 Permanence – Jesus said we’ve passed from death into life when we accept Him. (John 5:24) We gain eternal life, not temporary life eternal. It’s immediate, not conditional in nature. (John 3:16) Either salvation is eternal, or it’s not, Allen said, if eternal, it’s not temporary.

Pillar #6 – Promises – God does not renege on His promises. God gave us the Holy Spirit when we accepted Christ. The Spirit is a deposit, not unlike a down payment for a new home, Allen said. We were sealed by that promise on the day of salvation. (Ephesians 1:13). If God were to remove the Holy Spirit, He would break that contract with us, and God doesn’t break His promises.

Pillar #7: Prayers – Jesus as our high priest sits at the Father’s right hand and makes intercession for us. (Hebrews 7:25); He constantly intercedes for us. He understands our weaknesses, our circumstances, and our temptations. (Hebrews 4:14-15).

Pillar #8 Pictures – The first is a picture of adoption – we are adopted into God’s family when we are saved. (Ephesians 1:5); The second picture is of slavery – we were slaves that God ransomed, Allen said. The third picture is of the criminal – we are forgiven of our sin, guilt, and freed of punishment. Our debt is cancelled. (Colossians 2:14) We are a new creation, (2 Cor. 5:17) that God is molding to look like His Son Jesus.

Grace may be free, but isn’t cheap
False teachers twist the truth in a way that what they say sounds correct. Jesus’ death on the cross ended sin’s curse on us once and for all. That’s true. This has led some to say we no longer have to confess our sins to God! Christ’s sacrifice for us covered past, present, and future sins, so why would we need to, they say. But the scriptures tell a different story. Christians still need to confess sins. Look at Jesus’ model prayer. (Matthew 6:5-15) If it’s not necessary to confess our sins, why did Jesus say anything about asking God to forgive us of our trespasses? Allen gave one of the best ways Jesus illustrated this idea of confession while washing His disciples’ feet. Peter asked Jesus why He would wash his feet, and Jesus said unless He does, Peter would have no part in Him. Peter tells Jesus to wash his hands and head, but Jesus tells him, "The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean."

Christians who have received God’s saving grace are made clean, Allen said, but we still need to clean up any sin in our life that deposits on our heart, like the dirt on the disciples’ feet. The Holy Spirit convict us when we do wrong, so we will want to confess our sins. This is one way to tell if you are a genuine Christian, Allen said, because you care that you have sinned against God.

Allen showed how important it is to read and study scripture. Trust me when I say the more time you spend camped out in studying scriptures, the more the Holy Spirit has to work with to bring to mind those passages later. And He does! I hope Allen creates a study guide to go along with this book.
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Allen Parr delivers with this book.  Great resource for new christians and those who've been in the faith for a while.
I'd definitely recommend this book.
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Misled is a book that anyone who has experienced confusion based on false teachings they have encountered in their church. Many people have felt disillusioned when they didn't receive the promised healing or planted their"seed" money but never saw the return. Many false gospels and teachings are out there and Misled tackles them one by one in a Biblical way. This would also be a great book for those who are speaking with people who are hesitant to go to church again because of being previously misled and disappointed in their past church experiences.

I enjoyed the author's approach of using a fictional character going to various churches to illustrate false teachings within some churches. Parr is very fair and Biblical as he points out the error in these teachings. So many people don't understand the true Gospel and Parr really lays it out in a clear and understandable way.
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I was once told that the definition of a genius is someone who can take something complicated and  explain it simply so that anyone can understand.  Few in the modern church fit this definition better than Allen Parr.  I have listened to many messages of his over the years, so when I saw this book up for review, I was excited to give it a read.  I was not disappointed.

The fictional portions really let you visualize what he is trying to highlight along with helping you to empathize with the "victims" (for lack of a better word) of the false teachings in this book.  If that were all, it would still be a good book.  Coupled with the scriptural references and analysis backed by years of study, it makes it a must read for anyone with a desire to grow spiritually while  avoiding the pitfalls of false doctrine.

Once released, I would love to have my small group purchase copies of this book for a study on these false teachings.  Better yet, it would be amazing if a guided small group study were made as a companion to this book. The applications are limitless, and the potential for spiritual growth is as vast as heavens.
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This is a book I feel any Christian could really benefit from and I feel like a lot of us need it. Especially in a today’s climate where many are too afraid at the possibility of offending, even if it means following Jesus. 

I really appreciated how much Parr referenced the Bible throughout this book, giving context to all he was saying. Having a relationship with Jesus and confidently knowing the Word is so vital for being able to have a strong ability to discern. This book was a great stepping point at learning how to look toward the Word for answers.

Thank you so much to Nelson Books and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this in advance!
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