Someone recently asked me if I had any information on Max Lucado. Since I rebooted my blog, I don’t normally do posts on pastors/teachers, for A) there are plenty of them out there, and B) not every one of them needs a public post. However, I do take requests and I evaluate them carefully.
After running a search on Lucado, I determined that a post on him is appropriate. After all, according to his own website, his books have sold over one hundred million copies worldwide. Furthermore, they span 54 languages. According to episode 1 of Jen Hatmaker’s For The Love Of Faith Icons podcast (which I will comment on later in this article):
He’s been called “America’s Pastor” by Christianity Today, Reader’s Digest called him “best preacher in America.” The New York Times said, “This is one of the most influential leaders in social media.”
It should be obvious that Lucado is rather well-known. Therefore, this is far from a Matthew 18 issue. Public teachings warrant public critiques. After all, it really does not get more public than over one hundred million copies of books sold spanning 54 languages in addition to the various accolades from a number of places. This post offers a biblical critique on Max Lucado.
WHO IS MAX LUCADO?
As shown above, Lucado is obviously an author. However, it is not just because he is an author that I am doing this critique (although the widespread distribution of his books certainly factors into my decision to do a critique). The same website I linked to in the above paragraph shows that Lucado is a “teaching minister” at Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas. That church’s website, as of August 8, 2020, confirms that information. One can easily see that Lucado is both a minister and an author. As a minister, he is subject to stricter judgment (James 3:1). Furthermore, certain things are expected of a minister. In 2 Timothy 4:1-5 (said book being written to young Pastor Timothy), the apostle Paul, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:16-21), gives this exhortation to Timothy (NASB):
4 I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. 5 But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
This charge Paul gives to Timothy is a serious one (verse 1). Paul is giving this charge in the presence of Jesus Christ, the only way by which mankind may be saved (Acts 4:12; Isaiah 43:11; John 14:6). That charge is to preach the Word always, reprove, rebuke and exhort with great patience and teaching (verse 2). The job of a pastor (or minister) is to preach the Word.
This pastor must also exhort in sound doctrine and rebuke those that contradict. In the pastoral epistle of Titus, Paul writes the following in Titus 1:5-16 (NASB):
5 For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you,6 namely, if any man is above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion. 7 For the overseer must be above reproach as God’s steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, 8 but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled,9 holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.
10 For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, 11 who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain. 12 One of themselves, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” 13 This testimony is true. For this reason reprove them severely so that they may be sound in the faith, 14 not paying attention to Jewish myths and commandments of men who turn away from the truth. 15 To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled. 16 They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed.
The same themes of exhortation and reproof shown in the 2 Timothy passage also manifest themselves in the above Titus passage. A minister is to preach the Word, exhort in sound doctrine, refute that which contradicts sound doctrine, and silence the false teachers via a sharp rebuke. Since Lucado is a minister, one would expect him to do that.
In my next section, I look at some sermons by Lucado. Since this will not be an exhaustive review of all his sermons, I want to look at his most recent Easter sermon and his most recent Christmas message. I have heard it said that if time does not allow to listen to about 7-12 regular sermons by a particular preacher, then it suffices to look at the holiday sermons. That is why I am choosing this route.
Lucado did not give the Easter message at Oak Hills Church this year (perhaps due to COVID-19). However, he did give the Easter sermon for 2019. Therefore, I look at that one. The sermon is about 28:22 in length.
After a 90-second graphic presentation and a 45-second prayer, he starts with a story about Kayla Montgomery rather than in a biblical text. He talked about Kayla for about three minutes. He then transitions into talking about how your finish line is drawing near (which is true, for we all will die, per Hebrews 9:27). At about the six minute mark (or in this case 21% through the sermon), he has the biblical text John 14:2-3 (NKJV) on the screen as he explains Jesus is the One who promises to catch you. It is important to note that at this point he has not mentioned sin and the need of a Savior. His goal in the sermon is to look at the resurrection.
The first point of his sermon is the “extravagant preparation” leading up to the resurrection. He then goes to John 19:38-41 (NCV), a text detailing the burial of Christ. He does a decent job of sticking to the biblical text as he explains it. In explaining it, He does refer to John 12:3 (NKJV) and John 12:5 (NCV). You’ll notice that I am showing different translations. Lucado does use different translations throughout this sermon. While giving his sermon, he reads from his binder, which I presume has either his speaking notes or his sermon as a written transcript (I cannot tell).
The second point of his sermon is “the miraculous resurrection.” John 20:1 (NLT) represents the first verse used under this second point. He then goes to Mark 8:31, 9:31 and 10:34, focusing on the fact Jesus would rise on the third day (translation for the verses not shown). At the thirteen minute mark of the sermon, Lucado says there was a smile on the face of Christ as he rose on the third day. No biblical text makes any mention of a smile on Jesus’ face. Lucado then cites 1 Corinthians 15:55 from the NLT. He then turns to John 20:2 from the NKJV. Recall from earlier this paragraph that the first text he referred to under the second point of his sermon was John 20:1 from the NLT. I find it interesting at the least that he switches translations in between consecutive verses from the same book. This is something out of false teacher and blasphemer Rick Warren’s playbook. Anyhow, Lucado proceeds to go to John 20:4-8 (skipping verse 3 for whatever reason). He keys in on the word “believe.” He makes mention of how John uses it 99 times in his Gospel (which supposedly is 3 times as often as Matthew, Mark and Luke combined). Lucado states that when John (referred to in verse 8 as “the other disciple) saw, he believed and trusted in Christ. Lucado, however, does not make mention for what John trusted in Christ for.
Point #3 is titled “Honest Examination.” Lucado goes back to John 20:5 (NKJV) and then jumps to John 20:7 from the NLT. Once again, he is switching translations within a short space. He then gives an illustration of folding bread into a napkin (presumingly as he is trying to exegete the passage). He then transitions into 1 Corinthians 11:24 (a communion passage about taking the bread in remembrance of Him). While He mentions that Christ’s body was pierced and broken, He does not mention why it was pierced and broken.
Point #4 is the “Easter Invitation.” Lucado asks the question, “Who’s gonna catch you when you cross the finish line?” He also makes mention of trusting in Christ to save you. However, he does not state what Christ saves us from. Lucado does not mention sin. He does not mention the need of a Savior. He then cites Romans 6:5 from the NCV. He then talks about George H.W. Bush for the next couple minutes. He continues the “putting your trust in Christ” theme without specifying the reason for doing so. He concludes with a brief prayer.
Aside from Lucado’s sticking to the biblical texts in dispensing information, this sermon was mediocre. There was no mention of sin. There was no mention of any reason why I would need to trust in Jesus Christ (I was just simply told to do it). There was no mention of repentance. There was no mention of the forgiveness of sins. There was no mention of why I need a Savior. All I got was a bunch of factual information. Perhaps that is why Lucado is considered a “teaching minister”; he simply gives information without giving any exhortation to repent and be forgiven. It seemed as if the concepts of the Gospel, sin and repentance were assumed, but that is not good.
Think of it this way; imagine you are a person who has been going through a bunch of medical tests. The latest test is not a good one. In fact, you are told to get your affairs in order and you have a week to live. You are not a Christian. In fact, you’ve lived the life of an unrepentant sinner. You need some Good News, for you will be dead in a week.
Say you come to Oak Hills Church on this Easter of 2019. You’re in need of hope. Did you really get it from this message? Were you confronted with your sin? Were you told that you were headed to hell at breakneck speed if you didn’t repent? If you didn’t receive the free gift that is Jesus Christ’ vicarious substitutionary atonement for your sins on the cross (1 John 1:5-2:2)?
Now granted, I have heard way worse messages on Easter. Lucado’s sermon does not come close to some of the irreverent nonsense I have seen from other churches (more on that a little later). Having stated that, where is the sense of urgency with Lucado on such a high-profile holiday? This is simply something to think about.
CHRISTMAS EVE 2016
On the church website, the most recent Christmas-themed message I could find featuring Lucado was something he did alongside Randy Frazee, the “senior minister” at the church at that time. This is from December 24, 2016. It is a video done from someone’s home the morning of Christmas 2016, so this is technically not a sermon. Frazee makes mention of how the night before, there were 12 services at the San Antonio campus of that church. Frazee does most of the talking early in the video. Max starts talking at about the 1:40 mark of the video. He reads from a little after the beginning of Matthew 1:20 through Matthew 1:21 while not stating as much (or even what translation he is using).
Max does state that God came to save us from our sins, “not bad weather or bad neighbors or bad news.” Unlike the Easter message from above, Lucado does mention sin outside his prayer (I’m sure reading a passage mentioning sin helped). Lucado calls sin an “independent rebellious spirit that all of us have that causes us to turn away from God.” He’s not wrong in stating that given the fact all have inherited Adam’s sin nature (Romans 5:12-21). Lucado also states the reason Jesus came to save us was because He is creating a perfect kingdom. In this kingdom, Max states, “Finally we will do what God has told us to do; we will love the LORD our God and we will love our neighbors.” This is a bit of a confusion of Law and Gospel. Loving God and loving neighbor is a summation of the law (Matthew 22:34-40). The call of the Gospel is to repent and believe the Good News (Mark 1:16; Matthew 3:2; Luke 24:46-48). Neither Lucado nor Frazee mention repentance in this video.
Lucado does elaborate that Jesus died for our sins so we can enter heaven “perfectly forgiven.” Lucado says, “When you give your heart to Christ, He returns the favor and He places His heart in you….He’s a force in you.” That “force” language reeks of the New Age. Lucado says, “You’ll never be sinless but you will sin less.” He asks, “Have you let Him save you?” A lot of Lucado’s language has the viewer doing the verbs more than Jesus Christ. Lucado seems to fail to recognize that people are born dead in trespasses and sins (perhaps reeks of semi-pelagianism). Before I comment further on this Christmas-themed message, it would be well to give a more technical idea of what the Gospel is and why people are powerless to let Jesus save them.
First, as I mentioned earlier, people are born dead in trespasses and sins.
Ephesians 2:1-10 explains:
2 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
The Bible is clear that people are born dead in trespasses and sins (2:1-3). God’s being rich in mercy makes one alive in Christ (2:4). Furthermore, it is by grace through faith that one is saved (2:5-9). It is not based on works (2:9).
If you do not believe what Ephesians 2:1-10 states, I would ask you please look at the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:1-17. Have you ever told a lie? Have you ever stolen something, even if it was small? Have you ever used God’s name in vain? Jesus said that whoever looks upon a woman to lust after her has already committed adultery in the heart (Matthew 5:27-28). Jesus also said that if you ever get angry at someone, you’ve committed murder in the heart (Matthew 5:21-26). Just the mere thoughts of adultery and murder make you guilty of the very acts themselves.
Please understand that it only takes one murder to be a murderer, one lie to be a liar and so forth. David said in Psalm 51:5 that he was conceived in sin. Genesis 6:5 states that every intent of the thoughts of man’s heart is only evil continually. Clearly, man has a sin problem. Romans 3:23 states that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Man is in big trouble with God because of his sin. This is more amplified by the fact that perfection is the standard (Matthew 5:48).
Now, some people try to justify their sin by trying to balance it out with the good deeds that they have done. However, if you were to try that in a court of law, the judge would throw the book at you. A good judge would not accept a bribe. He would cast you off into jail. God likewise will not accept a bribe, for there is no partiality with Him (Deuteronomy 10:17; Ephesians 6:9).
Thankfully, Jesus came to solve the sin problem 2000 years ago (Isaiah 53:1-12). You and I broke the law. Jesus paid the fine (Matthew 26:14-28:20). This means that the judge can do what’s legally right in dismissing your case. He can say, “This person has broken the law, but someone has paid his fine. He’s out of here.” This is good news.
There are two things a person must do. He must repent. This means to turn from his sin (Mark 1:16; Luke 24:36-49; 2 Timothy 2:19-26; Acts 17:30-31). He must also put his trust in the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (Acts 16:31, 17:30-31; Romans 4:1-25, 10:1-17; Galatians 3:1-14; John 6:26-29). These gifts of repentance and faith are granted by God (Ephesians 2:8-9; 2 Timothy 2:22-26). If you repent and put your trust in the Savior Jesus Christ, He will forgive you of your sins and grant you everlasting life (John 6:47). Oh may you know His mercy and grace today if you have never repented and put your trust in Jesus Christ alone for salvation.
Sadly, Lucado and Frazee really miss the mark in this video because they do not confront the viewer with sin. The video is simply warm, fuzzy and fluffy. I appreciate the fact sin and forgiveness is mentioned. Nevertheless, the presentation could have been much more technical.
Back to the video, at about the 7:30 mark, the scene shifts from the home to some outdoors place in Bethlehem (a place Lucado states he visited). Lucado tells a story of some sort for about two minutes before some Christmas music begins to play in the background. It is informational more than anything; Lucado does not read from any biblical text.
At about the 11:30 mark, the scene then shifts back to the aforementioned home. Frazee thanks Lucado for the teaching. He then shifts his attention to the viewer. Frazee then leads the viewer into a quick and vague sinner’s prayer of some sort. While he correctly states that it is God who does the saving, the whole prayer thing is confusing because he says if the viewer prayed the prayer, Frazee basically calls the person saved. The prayer made no mention of repentance or God’s wrath.
In wrapping up (sorta), Frazee does state that Jesus did come to save people from their sins (which is true per such texts as Matthew 1:21, John 1:29 and 1 Timothy 1:15). He then proceeds to instruct the viewer to enter into communion time “to remember the death of Christ, why He came.” He instructs the person to get a piece of bread, get a cup of juice, pause the video, and then resume for “instructions.”
Frazee next instructs the viewer to pass the bread around so each person can take a piece. He then has the viewer pause the video so that those at home (he is clearly talking to an “at home” audience) to reflect on favorite stories of Jesus that have touched the viewer(s).
After the video resumes again, Frazee instructs the people to eat the bread and take a sip from the cup “in remembrance of the blood of Jesus Christ which was shed for you.”
While I have seen way worse, way more irreverent examples of online communion, I am not a fan of how Frazee and Lucado did communion here. The reason for this is because they give zero warnings about taking communion in an unworthy manner. Is it safe to assume that every viewer of this video is saved?
In order to see the seriousness of communion, I show 1 Corinthians 11 in full. While the entire passage does not directly address communion, the context shows how important it is that order be maintained in the church. The apostle Paul is the one writing here under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:16-21). I show the NASB version of the passage:
11 Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.
2 Now I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold firmly to the traditions, just as I delivered them to you. 3 But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ.4 Every man who has something on his head while praying or prophesying disgraces his head. 5 But every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying disgraces her head, for she is one and the same as the woman whose head is shaved. 6 For if a woman does not cover her head, let her also have her hair cut off; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, let her cover her head. 7 For a man ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. 8 For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man; 9 for indeed man was not created for the woman’s sake, but woman for the man’s sake. 10 Therefore the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. 11 However, in the Lord, neither is woman independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. 12 For as the woman originates from the man, so also the man has his birth through the woman; and all things originate from God. 13 Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him, 15 but if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her? For her hair is given to her for a covering. 16 But if one is inclined to be contentious, we have no other practice, nor have the churches of God.
17 But in giving this instruction, I do not praise you, because you come together not for the better but for the worse. 18 For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that divisions exist among you; and in part I believe it. 19 For there must also be factions among you, so that those who are approved may become evident among you. 20 Therefore when you meet together, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper, 21 for in your eating each one takes his own supper first; and one is hungry and another is drunk. 22 What! Do you not have houses in which to eat and drink? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? In this I will not praise you.
23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 25 In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.
27 Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. 28 But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly. 30 For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep. 31 But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world.
33 So then, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. 34 If anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, so that you will not come together for judgment. The remaining matters I will arrange when I come.
Did you see any warning from Lucado and Frazee about taking communion in an unworthy manner? I did not see such a thing. There was no disclaimer that communion was only for believers. It was perhaps assumed, but that is unacceptable for both individuals. Communion is too serious for there not to be a warning about taking it in an unworthy manner.
After another pause/resume sequence, Frazee instructs the viewer to engage in a family prayer. The people are to pray for neighbors, the poor, the hurting and the church. Frazee has the viewer pause the video once more as the viewers pray. This again is just simply assuming that all who view this are saved. Without faith, it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). I didn’t hear any mention of faith in this video.
After the final pause/resume sequence, Frazee instructs the viewer to sing some songs. Lucado then makes a plug for a sermon he will give the following week (New Year’s Day, which fell on a Sunday in 2017 like Christmas did in 2016). Frazee then bids the viewer farewell.
Overall, this Christmas Eve special was a mixed bag with no urgency whatsoever. It’s not a complete train wreck given Lucado and Frazee’s mentioning how Jesus came to save people from their sins. However, this video could use a lot of cleanup in various ways.
It should be established by now that Max Lucado is rather soft. While he fits the “teaching” part of his title basically to a “t” given his great ability to communicate and teach information, he does not seem to be the guy you would want on your side in a firefight (although I could be wrong). If he can neither call people to repent nor warn of the dangers of taking communion in an unworthy manner in a high-profile season of the year (Easter and Christmas, respectively), how can I expect him to be a staunch defender of the Christian faith?
In this section, I look at how he is not a staunch defender of the faith outside the realm of pastor/teacher. No less than two events prove this point.
- INTERVIEW WITH JEN HATMAKER
Earlier this year, Lucado became the first guest of Jen Hatmaker’s podcast For The Love Of Faith Icons. Conveniently, one can view the written transcript of this episode here. It should be noted that Jen Hatmaker is a heretic whose 2019 Easter “sermon” was a contestant for “Worst Easter Sermon Of The Year” on Pastor Chris Rosebrough’s Fighting For The Faith podcast. The fact she even preached a sermon at all is flagrant disobedience of God’s Word per such texts as 1 Timothy 2:11-3:13 and 1 Corinthians 14:34-38. In that sermon, she calls homosexuals “brothers and sisters” in Christ. This is false per such biblical texts as 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Leviticus 18:22, Leviticus 20:13 and Romans 1:26-27. When she discusses the cross in that sermon, she states, “I think the cross is where Jesus places His story of woundedness right next to ours.” First, that statement is her opinion; the words “I think” should prove that. Second, this opinion of hers is blasphemous; the cross is where Jesus died so that people can be saved from their sins (Matthew 1:21; John 1:29; 1 Timothy 1:15; Matthew 27:35-50; Mark 15:23-37; Luke 23:33-46; John 19:18-30; Romans 6:1-8:39).
Now I don’t have a problem with Lucado’s appearing on the podcast. After all, if he was there to preach the Gospel and call her to repent and be forgiven of her many blasphemies (which still continue to this day), I would be applauding. However, he did not do such a thing. In fact, I wanna highlight a number of sections of the full transcript from Hatmaker’s own website that show some of the bad things Lucado said. Please understand that the website shows the transcript in full; it does not break it up into sections (so these sections of mine are done by me). I also listened to this episode in full to verify the transcript’s authenticity, and this transcript is 99.99% accurate (good enough for me).
The following is an instance in which Lucado calls the Holy Spirit a “her.” What I will do is add context surrounding the quote (about the 8 minute mark of the podcast):
Max: I’m still at the same church, I’ve been at the Oak Hills Church in San Antonio since 1988.
Max: I’ve moved here from Brazil, and then we just stayed here. I think that’s going to be part of our conversation, you know, in terms of longevity, and avoiding cynicism, and keeping faith fresh. Part of that is this church that has put up with me all these years. Right now I’m in a role in the church that we call teaching pastor.
Max: And that means that I’m not in charge of the staff anymore, which is great for me and really great for them.
Max: And I’m learning, I’m learning. My exciting thing these days is a greater love and appreciation for the Holy Spirit. I feel like my heart has been activated to a deeper appreciation for what he does, and how desperately we need him or her, however you want to call the Holy Spirit. So, that’s a nutshell right there.
Jen: That’s great.
Max: My golf game still stinks, and my dog still loves me.
“…how desperately we need him or her, however you want to call the Holy Spirit.” GotQuestions.org states, “There is absolutely no biblical basis for viewing the Holy Spirit as the “female” member of the Trinity.” What Lucado stated here is unbiblical at best and blasphemous at worst.
Here is a second section (10 minute mark):
Max: And so I was praying about this early on, it just really dawned on me that what we need is revival. I mean, not revival in the sense of, “You’ve got to join my church.”
Max: But revival in the sense of a renewed love for Christ, or renewed power to live out our lives. And that led me into a time of prayer in which I needed that in my own life. I was dry, I felt like I was getting bitter, and cynical, and angry. So I began praying for a fresh downpour of the Holy Spirit. And received a real gift, or a visitation of the Spirit in July of 2019, in which I came to . . . okay, what it has done for me, Jen, is remind me that this thing we’re a part of is supernatural. It’s supernatural.
Jen: That’s great.
Max: And I think I’ve been to every possible church growth seminar.
Jen: Sure. I bet you have.
Max: And tried every trick, and pondered every controversy. But you know, when it comes right down to it what infected and empowered the church as recorded in the Book of Acts was just the power of the Holy Spirit.
Jen: Yeah, that was it.
Max: This supernatural downpour. And so I’m praying for that. I really am. I’m praying for some type of supernatural visitation from God upon my heart, and upon all of us. So I think I’m as energized and optimistic as I ever have been. But not because we as a group of ecclesiastical leaders have got it figured out.
Max: In fact, I think we’re kind of at each other’s throats like we’ve never been.
Jen: That’s right.
Max: But that’s a good thing, because when we’re in the storm, Christ shows up walking on the water. And I’m praying that something like that’s going to happen.
Lucado is engaging in some kind of mystic gnosticism with his claim to have received a direct visitation from the Holy Spirit. It’s irreverent subjectivity here. Furthermore, how did Lucado survive this visitation? In the Bible, when people get visitations, they usually freak out and/or lose consciousness (Daniel 8:15-17; Ezekiel 1; Isaiah 6; Revelation 1). Also, what biblical text states Christ shows up walking on the water when we’re in the storm? My Bible tells me when Christ comes back, He will judge the living and the dead (2 Timothy 4:1; Acts 10:34-43).
This third section features Lucado’s definition of a Jesus follower (14:58 mark):
Max: To be a Jesus follower is to be in love as you are, as you state so clearly. It’s just the most fascinating, wonderful being to ever walk the planet.
Max: Who lived a life that’s a model for a life that we can live, who died a death, I believe, for the redemption of humanity. Who defeated death so that we can be assured that our death is defeated, too.
Max: And is preparing us for a kingdom in which this earth will be replenished, and our purpose will be reestablished. It’s just the most wonderful story.
Notice that Max basically just says Jesus is an example. Furthermore, what biblical text states that to be a Jesus follower is to “be in love as you are”? This is gooey language that suggests Jesus is my bearded girlfriend or something, and that is gross. Lucado does state Jesus defeated death so we can be assured our death is defeated too. However, this is vague. Where is trusting saving faith in Jesus Christ? Where is repentance? Where is the need of a Savior? What exactly is “our death” and why does it need to be defeated? Where is God’s wrath?
As a spoiler alert, the word “repent” is nowhere in this transcript. Lucado does get to the Gospel via reading 1 Corinthians 15 (more on that later), but it is obvious Lucado is treating Hatmaker like a sister in Christ. In fact, Lucado even calls Hatmaker a sister in the following section (#4; 21 minute mark):
Max: I think this is such an important topic.
Jen: Me too.
Max: And so thank you so much for bringing it up.
I think from the big picture, Jen, we don’t have the option.
Okay, so let’s talk about believers and then we’ll talk about relationship with unbelievers.
Max: With believers, I didn’t pick you. You know? You didn’t pick me.
Max: God picked us both.
Jen: That’s good.
Max: And so the question is not, “Are we going to get along?” The question is, “How are we going to get along?”
It’s like my relationship in my family. I’m one of four siblings, I’m the baby in the family. My older brother has already passed over into heaven. But he and I did not get along that well. Boy, you couldn’t be more different than my brother and I were. Yet I did not, when it came to sitting down at the table, I did not get a vote.
Jen: That’s right.
Max: My parents created him. We come from the same DNA. And so biblically speaking, we’re never told to create unity—we’re just told to maintain unity.
Jen: Great point.
Max: And so you and I, when it comes to the table, whether literally the Lord’s table, or figuratively the community table, you’re my sister, and I’m your brother. And that is stated. That’s grounded. You may be an Episcopalian, I may be a wild-eyed charismatic. I don’t know.
Max: But if you and I both call God our god, and Jesus our savior-brother, the Holy Spirit our power, the Father our strength. If we agree on those big rocks, then we got to figure out a way to be together. And so I think that’s step number one, it’s not an option.
What’s up with calling Jesus a “savior-brother”? Is he not aware that even the demons believe Jesus is God (James 2:19)? Is he not aware of Hatmaker’s heresies? Also, I noticed that he is calling the Holy Spirit “our power.” Earlier in the interview, he referred to the Holy Spirit as a “her.” Which is it, Max?
Lucado states that God picked her as a believer. Hatmaker, however, is a follower of Richard Rohr, a Franciscan priest, mystic and deconstructionist who was refuted often in the second American Gospel movie. According to the film, Rohr teaches little-god theology (which is heresy) and has stated that people are “human and divine at the same time.” Isaiah 44:6-8, Isaiah 41:4, Isaiah 43:10-11, Isaiah 48:12, Revelation 1:8, and Deuteronomy 32:39 refutes the “little gods” heresy. Rohr is basically a heretic, and yet Hatmaker “leans on him and his teachings.” This interview, if it was not heading in a bad direction already, is in that direction now. Lucado is bordering on blasphemy if he is not there already.
The dialogue continues with this fifth section (23 minute mark):
Max: So then I think step number two is we’ve got to keep talking. I think you and I share a deep concern. I’ve heard on your program our tendency to silo, to silo.
Max: I’ve often used the word “cluster.”
Max: We cluster, we cluster. And we like it. We’re birds of a feather, you know?
Max: And the downside of living in a country with great religious freedom, it’s hard to state that there would be a downside, but there is a downside.
Max: And that is all these churches pop up. So we go to the people who are just like us, and we assume that is it. We’ve got a corner and we’ve cracked the code on a certain teaching or philosophy. I really think that the division of the church, that division has really been the tool of the devil through the ages.
Jen: Yeah, right.
Max: And our inability to work together to communicate, to love one another, to model this for others . . . well, we’re paying a price for it.
Jen: That’s right.
Max: But it’s not too late, it’s not too late. And if we can come together and realize that what is at core is the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ and then let everything else be of secondary importance, and learn the beauty of disagreeing agreeably.
Jen: That’s good.
Max: Then a wonderful movement can break out. But as long as we’re picking at each other, as long as we’re doubling up our fists, as long as we’re speaking about one another in a way that does not honor God.
Max: Well, no wonder nobody wants to . . . I mean, who wants to join a table where everybody’s squabbling?
Max: So this is a big deal.
Jen: I agree.
Max: In fact if I could just add real quickly?
Max: When it comes to unbelievers, we can be respectful. We do not have the right to be arrogant and to point a finger. Of all the people who should not be arrogant it is those of us who believe we are saved by grace.
Jen: Right. Right.
Max: We believed that if it weren’t for God’s grace we would have spun out of control by now.
Jen: Totally, doesn’t even make sense.
Max: So we of all people should be humble, walking humbly through the world and not casting stones. And so I think we could just do a little bit better.
Jen: I agree.
Max: But I’m hopeful that we will.
At this point, Lucado is just speaking in the abstract. He mentioned the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. However, what was the purpose of all that? He mentioned being saved by grace. What are people saved from?
I have a goal in showing these decently-sized sections of the full transcript; I want you to get the idea about what Lucado is doing here and what he is not doing here. He is not calling Jen to repent and be forgiven. He blasphemed the Holy Spirit by referring to it as a “her” or “whatever you want to call it.” He speaks in the abstract about some of Christianity’s main things (being saved by grace; Christ’s death, burial and resurrection, etc.). He is basically not fulfilling the Titus 1 exhortation to refute those that contradict sound doctrine (or even the 2 Timothy 4 exhortations to reprove, rebuke and exhort). This is a bad interview at this point to say the least.
Here is section #6 (27:25 mark):
Max: I’m working on it.
Two days ago I went to downtown San Antonio to have lunch with a pastor of a downtown church that is caught up in the controversy over whether or not to have gay marriages.
Jen: Oh, yeah.
Max: And so they’ve landed on the side of yes, they will. They will have gay marriages. It is an old church. And they have about 200 active members.
Max: But listen to this, they feed about 800 homeless people a week.
Max: About 800 homeless people a week. Now, I didn’t go online to see what is said about this church in social media, I would imagine it’s not always positive because of the stance they’ve taken on gay marriage. Well, I was with him and meeting their staff, and walking through their building. That topic never came up. I was just fascinated and humbled at their ability to care for the homeless and the poor.
Jen: That’s great.
Max: And we connected right there. We connected right there. And there’s fellowship there, there’s fellowship.
Max: Does that make sense?
Jen: Oh, 100%. I mean, if anything has ever been clear in scripture as we like to say that everything is, it’s that our part of our faith community’s responsibility is to care deeply for the poor and for the marginalized, and hurting in our communities. Yes, of course there’s fellowship around that.
Max: Well, so I left thinking, “Okay. I don’t know, there’s probably a lot of things that our churches where we’re different.”
Max: And yet for us to dismiss, blanketly dismiss large portions of our church family—again, getting back to point A, and that is we don’t get a choice. We worship the same God and we would come to the same table.
Jen: That’s right. Yeah.
Max: We might practice our faith slightly differently on some things. And we’re still all working it through, by the way. We’re still working it through.
Jen: Absolutely, absolutely.
Max: But we’ve got to applaud what the different aspects. When somebody’s really living out their faith, we need to make a big deal about that, rather than point out the areas in which we’re different. And I think if we can start doing that, if we can start doing that, we might be again getting around the table and talking through some of these things in a way that would be healthier for other people.
Now, feeding homeless people is absolutely a good work that Christians do. Caring for the poor, the marginalized and the hurting is also a good work. It’s basically the same as loving neighbor. However, loving neighbor (alongside loving God with everything you got, really) is a summation of the law (Matthew 22:34-40). I’m sure there are pagans that feed the homeless. I’m sure there are pagans that have lended a helping hand to someone poor, hurting and marginalized. However, pagans cannot please God, for they do not have faith (Hebrews 11:6; Romans 8:7-8). In fact, in the parable of the sheep and the goats, works are not even brought up until after the separation takes place. Matthew 25:31-46 explains (NASB):
31 “But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; 33 and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; 36 naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink?38 And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 39 When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’40 The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’
41 “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; 43 I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’44 Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’ 45 Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46 These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
You will notice in verses 31-33 that the separation of the sheep and the goats takes place. After that, works (or lack thereof) are brought into account. It is interesting that the righteous ones ask the LORD when they saw Him hungry and thirsty (verse 37).
I bring up the Matthew passage because Lucado focuses on the 800 homeless people that are being fed by the “church” that is affirming gay marriage. If that “church” has no faith (and that would be a fair question to ask given its compromise on the Word of God as it pertains to such passages as 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Leviticus 18:22, Leviticus 20:13 and Romans 1:26-27), then it does not matter how many homeless people they feed (see again Hebrews 11:6 and Romans 8:7-8). The separation takes place before any works are brought into account. Despite that, Lucado is keying in on works (or the law). Where is the Gospel? Where is repentance and the forgiveness of sins? Where is Lucado’s calling that “church” to repent of its endorsing something the Bible clearly calls sin? Lucado once again shows his failure to meet the qualifications of Titus 1 and 2 Timothy 4 as it pertains to refuting those who contradict sound doctrine.
This next section shows Lucado’s reading 1 Corinthians 15 (31 minute mark):
Max: And I believe we’ve got to keep that list a tight and as brief as possible.
Jen: Yeah, that’s great.
Max: What happened to me, the super short version is I was a mess when I came to Christ. I know some people say that, but I really was. You would not have wanted your daughter to go out with me, I was not a good man. When I was 20 years old, I came to faith. I decided that I wanted to become a missionary, and to get into Brazil as a missionary, you had to have a seminary degree, so I went and got a seminary degree.
Max: And in the midst of that seminary degree, I had a wonderful professor of New Testament. And the day that really this all crystallized for me was the day that he lead us into an exercise in which he put a target up on the . . . Back then we used blackboards, I know we don’t anymore. But with chalk he drew like an archer would use shooting at a target. And he began asking us, “What are the big issues of the Christian faith?”
Well, you get a bunch of seminarians talking about that—
Max: You know, it’s going to be fun. So, people were throwing up everything from the end times to charismatic movement, to authority of the Bible, to role of women in the church. Just a variety of things.
Max: And so he made a list and then he said, “Okay, now place which one of these goes on the bullseye. Which one of these is the core, which one of these are the most important? Or which of these are absolutely essential for fellowship and moving forward in faith?” Now there’s a good question, there’s a good question.
Max: Well, we all kind of placed them around. But you know what? None of them made it to the center. None of them made it to the center. He said, “Okay, so what goes on the center?”
And as we’re in this interview I just opened my Bible to the passage he had us open ours to. And that’s 1 Corinthians 15. And this is the Apostle Paul, he said, “I passed onto you what was most important in what had also been passed onto me. Christ died for our sins, just as the scripture said. He was buried, he was raised from the dead on the third day just as the scriptures said. He was seen by Peter, and then by the 12, and then more than 500 of the followers at one time. Most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Then he was seen by James and later by the Apostles.”
So, I think if the Apostle Paul had been in that class, he would have written, “Death, burial, and resurrection.” And placed it right there in core.
Max: And that has simplified my faith, Jen, for so many years. Because it has enabled me to have legitimate . . . have differences.
Max: With people with whom I have great respect.
Max: And land in two different spots on very difficult issues. But still find ample room for fellowship, and love, and respect.
Max: I think what we tend to do is we each create our own list of essentials, and that list gets longer, and longer, and longer, and longer.
Jen: That’s right.
Max: And gets so long that we look up and we say, “Nobody shares my list.”
Max: Right? When it should be the opposite, I think . I think. I can find fellowship with Richard Rohr , right?
Jen: Yeah, I agree. Yeah, of course.
Max: Even though we come from two entirely different worlds.
At the beginning of this section, we get what appears to be Lucado’s testimony. He says he was a mess when he came to Christ. Lucado said he came to faith. He then went to become a missionary. Why did he need to come to faith? Why did he need to get a seminary degree? Why am I hearing more about what Max is doing than what Jesus Christ did for Max? At best, his testimony assumes the basics of the Gospel (faith, sin, repentance, etc.). At worst, it seems he went from immorality to morality rather than to the cross. Max does end up reading 1 Corinthians 15:3-5 (he does not specify the verses, but those are the verses). However, in basically the same train of thought, Lucado, with Hatmaker’s blessing, believes he can find fellowship with the heretic Richard Rohr. At this point, if Lucado is finding fellowship with Rohr, he is outside the Christian camp, for Rohr is anything but a Christian.
Because I have already debunked much of the parts of this interview at length, I will only show one more section for analysis. There is ample evidence by now that shows Lucado is not a defender of the faith. This section simply offers more evidence.
Max: I can, I can. And can I do so by being a bit honest about the moment I met Christ, if I can?
Jen: Please do.
Max: It was really the stormiest season of my life. I was young, I was 12 years of age. I was just old enough to know baseball, and football, and bike riding. I remember I had a crush on a girl, and I had a bottle of English Leather cologne. You know, it’s just in that 12, 13-year age group. And I was old enough to learn a few things, but I was not old enough to process what came my way when I was 12. And that was to be sexually molested at the hands of an adult man.
He came into my world under the guise of a mentor. He had befriended several families in our small town. I grew up in a little town in West Texas, a little map dot of a town. He was very friendly, he was charming, he was generous. What no one knew is that he had an eye out for young boys.
Max: And he’d have us over for burgers, and take us on drives in his truck. He took us hunting and fishing, he taught us jokes, and answered all our questions about girls. He owned the kind of magazines that my dad didn’t allow. But then he would do and made us do things that I don’t think is appropriate for me to repeat, but I’ll never forget.
Jen: Sure, of course.
Max: One weekend camp out he took us way out in the country in this pickup truck. And among the pack of tents and sleeping bags were a few bottles of whiskey. And he drank his way through the weekend, and he worked his way through the tents of each boy.
Jen: I’m sorry.
Max: And he told us not to tell our parents because that would imply that we were to blame for his behavior. And he was keeping us from trouble, he said, by keeping a secret. He was a scoundrel, he was a scoundrel.
Jen: Sure, yeah. Predator.
Max: Well, that weekend, Jen, I came home on a Sunday afternoon just feeling filthy. Just filthy. And had no clue what to do with it.
Jen: Of course.
Max: Of course, I’d missed that church that morning. My parents were very active in the church, and on that Sunday we’d had a communion service. So if I ever needed a communion service, I needed on that day. And so I staged my own little Eucharist. I waited until my mom and dad had gone to bed, and I went into the kitchen. I couldn’t find any crackers in the fridge but I found some potatoes from the Sunday lunch. I couldn’t find any juice, so I used milk. And I placed the potatoes on a saucer, and I poured the milk into a glass. And right there in the kitchen I celebrated the crucifixion of Christ and the redemption of my soul.
Max: I don’t know if you can imagine this image of a pajama-clad, red-headed, freckle-faced boy standing near the kitchen sink and breaking the potato and sipping the milk. But I want to tell you something: Jesus met me, right there. He did. And don’t ask me how I know he met me, but I just know he did. And it was very personal, and it was very supernatural. And that moment has meant more and more to me the older I have gotten. Because I have realized that Jesus can come into the deepest, darkest moments of life. and brought healing.
Max: Now, Jen, this story is meaningful to me because Jesus healed me right then at that very moment. I didn’t have any lingering effects. That man, by the way, was chased out of our town. I don’t know what ever happened to him. But Jesus healed me. He healed me.
Max: And so when I think about Jesus, I think about a Jesus who can do that for people, who can do that. And I have a feeling that some of the listeners today are in those type of dark moments.
Jen: That’s right.
Max: In a marriage, or in a job, or just in college, or hurt, or brokenhearted, or angry. And I just . . . Oh, how I desire for people to sense that not a religion, not some type of fabricated emotional . . . I mean, look at that kid. He’s breaking bread with potatoes and milk, for crying out loud.
Jen: Yes, yes.
Max: But it the best prayer I could offer. It was the best prayer I could offer. And so I believe that Jesus hears us in those moments. And that’s the Jesus that I love.
Jen: Yes, me too.
Max: That’s the Jesus that I love. And I know that we’ve messed up the communication of him. But he’s bigger than our mess ups. And that’s my desire, is that people would have that kind of healing in their lives. So thanks for letting me share that story.
Jen: Thank you so much for sharing that with us. I’m telling you what, Jesus is the reason I am still so committed to the game. I’m telling you, I just can’t get away from that guy.
Jen: And for all the reasons that you just said. You know, I think back to what you spoke about a minute ago about sort of the cornerstones, death, burial, resurrection. And what keeps me coming back to Jesus is his . . . And then again, something else you said earlier. The supernatural way in which he sees through death, burial, and resurrection in our lives. Things die and they’re in the grave, even. And we think, “There’s no life left in this. There’s no way for this to come back, to breathe air again. This will just stay six feet under.”
And yet, in him, miraculously over things as common as potatoes and a glass of milk, life returns.
Jen: He can bring us back to life, and he brings forth resurrection in really dead and dark places. And it’s just real. I mean, honestly if it wasn’t real, I’d have walked away a long time ago because there’s got to be easier work to do. I’ve got to be good at something else.
Max: Oh, I know. I know.
Now, I want to commend Max for being open about such a dark story. I cannot imagine for a millisecond how that must have affected him (and perhaps still affects him to this day). Considering Hatmaker’s podcast is rather popular, this admission by Lucado was not exactly done on a private forum. I appreciate his honesty and his being open about such a dark time.
Now, I reviewed Lucado’s Christmas message earlier in this article, and I noted the lack of reverence for the Communion time. Perhaps it was rooted in his childhood experience (although I could be wrong). You will notice in this story of healing that Max tells that there is no forgiveness of sins mentioned (and sins care called “mess-ups” in this section). There is no repentance. There is no mention of a need of a Savior. Instead, you’re just getting victimhood and subjectivity. You also see a narcissistic and irreverent description of resurrection by Hatmaker (which eerily reminded me of her awful Easter “sermon” from 2019). It should be clear by now that this interview is just a mess.
Later on in the interview, Lucado does tell the story about the thief on the cross without referring to any particular biblical text verbatim. These tellings of Scripture (in addition to his reading a few verses from 1 Corinthians 15 earlier) prevent this interview from being a complete disaster. However, given his vagueness on the Gospel outside of the biblical texts, his referring to the Holy Spirit as a “she”, his not calling Jen Hatmaker to repent and be forgiven of her heresies, his irreverent claim to a visitation from the Holy Spirit, his own omission of repentance and the forgiveness of sins as it pertains to how he came to Christ and his belief he can find fellowship with the heretic Richard Rohr, one can conclude Lucado absolutely botched this interview. Furthermore, he proved he is not a staunch defender of the faith, for he is incapable of refuting those who contradict sound biblical doctrine. Moreover, one would have to wonder what camp he is actually in if he thinks he can find fellowship with such heretics as Hatmaker and Rohr. After all, we are commanded not to partake in the unfruitful deeds of darkness; we instead expose them (Ephesians 5:11). Lucado, however, has proven himself incapable of exposing deeds of darkness. He is instead trying to find ways to find fellowship with them. That is not biblical.
On Sunday, August 9, 2020, Lucado spoke at a prayer event in San Antonio, Texas. The best video I could find was at the 18:27 mark of this video here. Before I comment on the video, I mentioned earlier I had no problem with him being on Hatmaker’s podcast (he just badly blew his opportunity). I also have no problem with him speaking at a prayer event. I’ve heard the phrase, “If I had an opportunity to preach the Gospel in hell, I’m going.” I don’t have a problem with a person with the title of pastor (or in Lucado’s case, “teaching minister”) speaking at a conference, podcast, debate, etc.. He just has to make the most of the opportunity. According to this article, about 3,000 people “of all faiths” attended this in-person and an additional 23,000 watched online. Lucado had a prime opportunity to preach the Gospel, call people to repent and be forgiven, and perhaps give one hope that his aforementioned botching of high-profile messages and podcast episodes was a thing of the past.
The hyperlink I showed for the “Lucado And Racism” title focuses on his begging for forgiveness for his “racism.” Beginning at about the 10:30 mark of this episode of the podcast Conversations That Matter (my citing this source is not an endorsement), the host begins talking about Lucado (specifically highlighting the white supremacy thing). However, I want to focus on all Lucado had to say to see all that happened. Perhaps that analysis will put things into better perspective. I won’t pay much attention to anything else happening at the event.
At the aforementioned 18:27 mark of the referenced video, the video abruptly cuts from worship to Lucado’s giving a prayer (not the one that put him in the news; we’ll get there though). He does beg for mercy upon the gathering (he eventually gets to the reason why). He makes mention of only boasting in the cross of Jesus Christ (but once again he provides no reason). Sappy music plays throughout this entire event. He said this event is a calling to “pray”, “go to battle” and “go to war” against the devil and principalities. At about the 22 minute mark, he tells his audience that the world is going to be different because they prayed. That’s not exactly biblical, for God is not at our beck and call to do anything. Our words do not create reality. We are not little Christs. Finally, it has been over a week since the prayer and things really have not changed much.
At the 23:40 mark, Lucado reads from Joel 2 but he does not specify the verses (he reads verses 12-19). After reading the text, he states “we” will be offering prayers of gratitude, intercession and repentance (he says the actual word). This is the first time I have ever heard him use the word “repentance” (it helped that he read a passage that was a call to repentance). He said the purpose of the event is basically for “spiritual warfare.” At about the 27:11 mark, the following graphic appears on the video screen:
I have a problem here; why does anyone need to hear what Jesus is impressing on my heart? Or on the hearts of those at the event? The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked above all things (Jeremiah 17:9). Moreover, out of it comes all kinds of filth (see Matthew 15:19-20). Are the people at the event that are receiving these texts checking these (what I call) “heart impressions” against the Word of God for the sake of biblical fidelity (Acts 17:11; 1 Thessalonians 5:21; 1 John 4:1)? This is problematic and we have not even addressed Lucado’s alleged white supremacy yet.
After about three minutes of prayer (led by a lady who gives quite a few Gospel nuggets in the prayer), Lucado comes back to the stage. He has a kid read some Scriptures. Music, prayer and other things follow. He does not come back to speak substantially again until about the 1:05:00 mark of the video when he states, “We’ve got some serious work to do.” He then proceeds to read 2 Corinthians 7:14 out of context (he does not mention the text per se). He states, “We are longing for revival, a fresh anointing across our city, thousands upon thousand upon tens of thousdans who are unsaved, who have rejected Christ, we are longing for their hearts to be softened.” Anyone who has played “Prophecy Bingo” on the Fighting For The Faith program could have gotten three words on a bingo card within the first ten words of that statement (assuming the card had those words). He says the revival cannot come…
…unless the church first repents. If my people, God says, if my people, who are called by My Name. Revival begins when the church repents, and our heavenly Father has used this pandemic to bring to the forefront the most ancient sin of humanity and certainly of our nation, and that is the sin of racism.
Lucado refers back to this 2 Chronicles 7:14 verse a bit in the above quote. The problem with this is that the verse is out of context. It is best to read this verse within the context of 2 Chronicles 7:11-22 (NASB):
11 Thus Solomon finished the house of the Lord and the king’s palace, and successfully completed all that he had planned on doing in the house of the Lord and in his palace.12 Then the Lord appeared to Solomon at night and said to him, “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice. 13 If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, 14 and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 15 Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to the prayer offered in this place. 16 For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that My name may be there forever, and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually.17 As for you, if you walk before Me as your father David walked, even to do according to all that I have commanded you, and will keep My statutes and My ordinances, 18 then I will establish your royal throne as I covenanted with your father David, saying, ‘You shall not lack a man to be ruler in Israel.’
19 “But if you turn away and forsake My statutes and My commandments which I have set before you, and go and serve other gods and worship them, 20 then I will uproot you from My land which I have given you, and this house which I have consecrated for My name I will cast out of My sight and I will make it a proverb and a byword among all peoples. 21 As for this house, which was exalted, everyone who passes by it will be astonished and say, ‘Why has the Lord done thus to this land and to this house?’ 22 And they will say, ‘Because they forsook the Lord, the God of their fathers who brought them from the land of Egypt, and they adopted other gods and worshiped them and served them; therefore He has brought all this adversity on them.’”
It should be clear that this passage above is a historical narrative. It is not a prescriptive text. Lucado’s narcissistic interpretation of the passage makes his monologue prior to the prayer not helpful.
He then gets on his knees and leads all in attendance in a prayer. I look at all the words in his prayer to see all he said for context. This prayer basically concludes his speaking for the day sans about 15 seconds at about the 1:44:00 mark.
Below is the prayer. Lucado took no breaks in the prayer; one can easily group the sections below into one big paragraph. In my opinion, in order to best analyze the prayer, one should divide it into sections. Therefore, I divided it into three sections that made the most sense to me. You can really divide it however you want. My division is completely subjective but the transcript is accurate (closed caption on YouTube helps).
Heavenly Father, You have made from one blood every nation of men and women to dwell on the face of the earth. That is in Your Scripture. We are all of one blood. We are one people. Created by you. We are your idea and You have no bad ideas. We are all of one blood. No person is born better than another. Ever. You love all people. You do not play favorites. You never, ever called people of one skin color to oppress another. That is a sin. You told us to love our neighbor, not suppress our neighbor. We are all of one blood. There is no black blood. There is no brown blood. There is no asian blood. There is no white blood. There is only one blood. We are all of one blood. And when you died, Lord Jesus, you shed your precious and holy blood so that people of all nations can be saved. This was and is your plan. Red and yellow. Black and white. They are precious in your sight. Yet, they have not been precious in ours. And for that sin oh LORD we repent. And we are sorry. We are sorry. I am sorry. I Max Lucado am sorry. I am sorry that I have been silent. I am sorry that my head has been buried in the sand. My brothers and sisters are hurting and I am sorry. I have made them to feel less than. I did not help. I did not hear. I did not see. I did not understand. And I am sorry. Forgive me, oh LORD.
Now it is true that God made from one blood every nation of men (Acts 17:26). It is also true that God does not play favorites (Acts 10:34; Romans 2:11; Ephesians 6:9). What is not true is Lucado’s statement about God’s loving all people. If God loves all people (perhaps if God loves people just as they are), why did Jesus have to die on the cross? If God loves all people, why does Psalm 5:5 state that God hates all workers of iniquity? If God loves all people, why does the wrath of God remain on those who don’t believe in Jesus Christ (John 3:16-36)? If God loves all people, why did He hate Esau (Romans 9:13; Malachi 1:3)? I appreciate Lucado’s personal repentance in this particular section (especially if he has viewed people of other colors as not precious), but why is he also stating “we are sorry” as it pertains to racism? What specific events warrant this? This first section is a mixed bag.
Forgive us, oh LORD. Our ancestors were wrong. They were wrong. When they bought and sold human beings, that was wrong. When they claimed superiority over slaves, over blacks, that was wrong. When they refused to share water fountains, restaurants and city busses with your children, your chosen precious children, that was a sin, and we are so very sorry. We are sorry for the pain of that day. We are sorry for the pain of this day. We are so sorry for the racism that lingers. and plus precious LORD, for those occasions that Your church, Your pastors, have broken Your heart by favoring one skin color over another oh LORD God have mercy on our souls. Have mercy upon us. How dare we. How dare we. How dare we. Have mercy on us. How that must nauseate You oh LORD. We are so very sorry. When blacks were refused access to the church or told to create their own church or told to sit in the balcony, and Heavenly Father as I’m confessing that I say I’m sorry to my brown brothers and my brown sisters, for Father the word “wetback” has found its way on my lips too, and of that I am so very sorry. Would You please oh LORD bring a new day? Would You? Our politicians can’t fix this. We shouldn’t expect them to. Policies can’t change this. We can’t expect it to. This is a heart issue. This is a pride issue. Have mercy upon us. Please bring a supernatural interruption to the sin of racism.
Ezekiel 18:20 states, “The person who sins will die. The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son’s iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself” (see also 2 Kings 14:6; Deuteronomy 24:16; Jeremiah 31:30). Therefore, the majority of this second section is absolute nonsense. If Lucado himself is guilty of calling someone a “wetback”, then by all means he should repent and be forgiven (1 John 1:9). However, to include the ancestors in all this is simply not biblical. He is correct that racism is both a heart and pride issue. Like the first section, this second section is a mixed bag but it is worst than the first.
It gets worse.
We ask you to do a miraculous work. To change our hearts one toward each other. That our children would inherit a new day and that new day would begin right now, and you have made this promise, so we’re standing on it. If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and I will heal their land. Heal this land O LORD. We declare that systems of oppression are wrong. We declare that the mindset that places one race over another is wrong. We declare that you can do what policies and politicians cannot. You can in a moment break walls of bias and prejudice. You can bring a miraculous day, and we declare and stand against the forces of evil and the principalities of racism. You have no place here. In the name of Jesus Christ you must leave. You must leave. You must leave. You must leave. You are not welcome here. We are beneath the cross of Christ. We are covered in the blood of Christ, and we bow before the throne of Christ. And we welcome a new day, a new day, that begins right now, right here.
The “prayer” ceases to be a prayer in this third section, for Lucado goes from asking for stuff to declaring stuff. His naricgetical handling of 2 Chronicles 7:14 manifests itself again, for that passage is a historical narrative written to a particular people (Solomon and the people of Israel, as shown earlier) at a particular time. The Bible is not about us. It is about Jesus Christ (John 5:39-45). It is about who He is and what He has done (John 20:31).
It is important to understand that declarations are not prayer. Prayers are humble requests (see Psalm 71, Psalm 13, Psalm 55, Psalm 17:1, Psalm 39:12, Psalm 54:2, Psalm 61:1, Exodus 32:3-34:10; Daniel 9:1-20). Lucado was humbly asking for stuff in the first two sections. Then, almost on a dime, the prayer turned into declarations and commands. When one declares and commands (or decrees and declares), the word “no” is not an option. For an example of a humble request, I look at Matthew 15:21-30 (NASB):
The Syrophoenician Woman
21 Jesus went away from there, and withdrew into the district of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And a Canaanite woman from that region came out and began to cry out, saying, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is cruelly demon-possessed.” 23 But He did not answer her a word. And His disciples came and implored Him, saying, “Send her away, because she keeps shouting at us.”24 But He answered and said, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25 But she came and began to bow down before Him, saying, “Lord, help me!” 26 And He answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 27 But she said, “Yes, Lord; but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” 28 Then Jesus said to her, “O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed at once.
Notice that the woman engaged in humble requests. At first, Jesus didn’t answer her a Word despite her humility. She actually prayed back Jesus’ words to Him in verse 27. You might be asking, “But didn’t Lucado try and pray back 2 Chronicles 7:14 back to God?” One, he misused Scripture. Two, if you saw what happened earlier in the event before the long prayer that put him in the news, the declarations actually started in the beginning when he stated the world would be different because they prayed. That is far from humble. In fact, it is arrogant. Christians are not little deities that decree and declare; they are unworthy servants doing what Christ commanded them to do because of their new nature (Luke 17:5-10; see also Matthew 25:31-46). Lucado would have done well to follow the models of prayer that Jesus gave in both Matthew 6:5-13 and Luke 11:1-4. Those models are so good I shall look at them now. I start with Matthew 6:5-13 (NASB):
5 “When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 6 But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.
7 “And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. 8 So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.
9 “Pray, then, in this way:
‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
10 ‘Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
11 ‘Give us this day our daily bread.
12 ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’]
One could argue that Lucado violated verse 7 in the above prayer, for he did engage in a lot of repetition with the declaration of saying racism “must leave.”
Here is the Luke passage. It is Luke 11:1-4 (NASB):
It happened that while Jesus was praying in a certain place, after He had finished, one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John also taught his disciples.” 2 And He said to them, “When you pray, say:
‘Father, hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
3 ‘Give us each day our daily bread.
4 ‘And forgive us our sins,
For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.’”
Jesus, speaking to His disciples, basically green-lights the above prayer. God’s name is to be hallowed. A Christians asks for daily bread. A Christian asks for forgiveness. A Christian asks not to be led unto temptation. If Lucado had cut out the “ancestor” language, the declarations and the misuse of Scripture, it would have been far less problematic.
Overall, this event was a mixed bag at best and absolutely awful and arrogant at worst. Lucado absolutely blew an opportunity to, in humility, call 3,000 people in-person “of all faiths” to repentance and the forgiveness of sins in Jesus’ name. Instead, he misused Scripture, engaged in arrogant decrees/declarations and promoted an unbiblical repentance. After all, people die for their own sins, not the sins of its ancestors. This prayer event was not a prayer event; it was a Bible-ish mess.
In concluding this section on the miscellaneous events, one has to ask an important question; is Max Lucado a staunch defender of the faith? That answer has to be an emphatic no. First, he does not refute that which contradicts sound doctrine (see Titus 1 and 2 Timothy 4). Second, he misses prime opportunities to proclaim repentance and the forgiveness of sins in Jesus’ name. Third, at an event with 3,000 people “of all faiths” (23,000 more watching online), how does he not proclaim a message that cuts to the quick (see Acts 2)? Finally, why is he partaking with those (Rohr and Hatmaker) who partake in the unfruitful deeds of darkness? He should be exposing them instead (Ephesians 5:11). Sadly, he is not. The fact Lucado has been at his San Antonio church since 1988 (see the transcript of the Hatmaker interview) despite the things I mentioned just blows my mind, and that is not a good thing.
LIMITATIONS TO THIS POST
I have yet to review any books by Lucado. Furthermore, I didn’t review any non-holiday sermons of his. I chose to go the “holiday” route instead of the “7-12” message route. Therefore, it is possible he could be much more orthodox in his books/non-holiday messages than he is in his podcast interviews, special messages, event leadings and holiday sermons. However, even a broken clock is right twice a day.
There are some things to like about Max Lucado: he clings to Scripture in his high-profile messages (rather than tell about himself), he does a fair job in dispensing information as a teacher, he is transparent and he seems very kind (perhaps too kind). However, there are some major causes for concern: he has zero discernment, he has no urgency in his messages, he blows opportunities on big stages (think podcasts, the prayer event and even the “holiday” sermons/specials), and he is a mixed bag when he does dispense decent information. For that reason, I would mark and avoid Max Lucado (Romans 16:17). I think he should get out of the pulpit, for he incurs a stricter judgment as it stands (James 3:1). I appreciate that he has repented for his own sins on a big stage. However, he would do better to get off the big stage, lay low, clean up his theology and have a higher sense of urgency in his Gospel witness. He also needs to re-think who to find fellowship with, for if he continues to try and find fellowship with those who are clearly not of the Christian faith (think Richard Rohr), I cannot help but wonder what camp he actually represents. Pray for Max Lucado. Pray he repents and receives forgiveness for his not fulfilling his pastoral duties, for Jesus Christ has even bled and died for those sins.
I hope you found this helpful. Again, please pray for Max Lucado.
NOTE: I emailed this post to Max Lucado. I also asked him some questions. I tweeted this post and I tagged him in it.
His assistant emailed me back. She said he is on sabbatical.
Again, this post was done at the request of another. I don’t do these posts regularly (otherwise these posts would be all I would do, for there are a PLETHORA of teachers/pastors out there). I do believe it is biblical to compare what people are saying in the Name of God to the Word of God (Acts 17:11; 1 Thessalonians 5:21; 1 John 4:1). Above all, pray for those I critique. Pray for me as well. If you disagree with anything I have written, please make your case biblically. If I am wrong, I will repent and I will hope you forgive me.
Thank you again and God bless.