Examining Michael and Debi Pearl

Question # 4 What do they teach?

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Secret Doctrines - special dispensations of wisdom allegedly given to the Pearls as if no one else knew them for 2000 years.

1Corinthains 1:19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. 20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. 22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: 23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; 24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: 27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: 29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.
[Emphasis added.]

One of the greatest temptations of mankind seems to be that they can have a "divine secret" which no one else is privy to unless they receive it from the special source.  There are many, many false religions, -isms and cults based upon this.  Remember - Satan beguiled Eve with the temptation of "inside information".  Genesis 3:5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.  "Special knowledge" is enticing to the basic makeup of mankind.

To the discredit of the Corinthian Christians Paul wrote the following:

2Corinthians 11:3 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. 4 For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.

They were "bearing with" false teachers, apparently thinking they were getting a special dispensation of truth.

When anyone is alleged to have a special knowledge, ability in opening the scriptures, or a new interpretation that has not been revealed before - BEWARE. What follows may be anything from mother goose to heresy! This includes everyone from John MacArthur to Peter Ruckman, Mark Driscol to Jack Hyles, and even the "wise and wonderful" Pearls.

Here is an example of a tape set that the Pearls sell.  This description was taken from their web site some years ago and it may have been altered since then.  Please keep in mind that I have not listened to these tapes but am primarily discussing their method of advertising their wares here.  My comments are in green.

Security of the Believer - Michael teaches on the controversial subject of Security of the believer. This is new material. Don’t jump to conclusions. This is not old fare rehashed; you will

John 10:28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. Side Note: God is greater than all - including you - and no man is able to pluck a believer out of His hand. You are included in "no man"...that means none, not any - including you. You are not greater than God.
be surprised at what you hear. [Editorial: Notice the secret doctrine element - this is new, not the same as anything you've been taught before. This is also a sales tactic.] The Church has been divided, both sides holding to a portion of Scripture while explaining away the other Scripture. [Editorial: Implying that those who believe soundly in the security of the believer are "explaining away" scripture which "contradict" their position?] Can one believe all the Scripture on both sides of the issue? Absolutely. [Editorial: They claim to provide "something new" which appears to blend "both sides" of the issue. The implication is that if you believe in the security of the believer in the way it's been taught for many, many years, you are not believing all the scripture.  You allegedly need Michael Pearl's new and improved teaching to clear this up for you, even though you probably didn't know you were confused.]

Here is a letter that was printed in their newsletter "No Greater Joy." I apologize that I did not get the date. Emphasis has been added in bold.  While this letter is an example of some of the other areas where the Pearls are off, I'm using it here primarily to show the "special knowledge" principle.

The letter is on the left in the order it appeared with my editorial comments in green on the right. I have tried to make this somewhat brief. Hopefully I haven't abbreviated too much.  (Emphasis has been added.)

My husband would readily agree with me that we are now FREE in Christ due to your way of teaching Romans, Galatians, and Ephesians. Editorial: They could not get this from the Holy Spirit? How odd when the Bible says, 1John 2:27 But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.
The strongholds are GONE! One night of tears of repentance over self-inflicted laws and unacknowledged sin, and victory was mine. My husband is free of the defeated life he lived as a “normal” man, struggling in the flesh. Joy is the pervasive character in our home. Child training is not an issue any more because Mom and Dad are falling in love with each other and the children. The short version is that God brought Romans 2:1 to me with a new meaning. Editorial: With Mike Pearl's all important help, of course.  See above and below.
(Please note the "fact" that in one night of tears, victory was hers.  Her husband is no longer struggling with the flesh.  The strongholds are gone. I find this very telling in light of the Pearl's teaching that Christians "can stop sinning".  It sounds remarkably like the old time method of "praying through", but also the implication is complete victory over sin.  Have I misinterpreted this?  Some would say so.  It sounds very much like sinlessness to me.)
I saw my “weakness” for what it was – sin! NO different than what men do when gazing upon a woman and dreaming about her. By the time we got to Romans 3, I was ready to see me for who I was – a sinner ready to repent toward God. I thank God for the rest of Romans to proceed to show the way to a truly victorious life. We thank God that He inspired Paul to write his letter to the Romans and then gave you the gift to open it up to us so many centuries later. Editorial: The implication here could be taken that no one in between could get it quite right, or at least that no one around now can. It gives the impression that Michael Pearl has a special dispensation of understanding on Romans that has never before been opened. And, remember Mr. Pearl chose to print this letter! 
1Corinthains 4:7 For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?
Never before have I wanted so much to shout the gospel from the housetops as I do now that I truly understand that we are not only saved from the past sins, but from the power of sin while living here below. Alleluia! I cannot help but share our testimony with brethren but they look at us with quizzical eyes, not understanding the complete gospel themselves. Editorial: When anyone starts talking about a "fuller gospel", understanding "the complete gospel", "the second blessing" and so forth, as if there were some great mystery that is only available to the initiates, watch out! Remember the verses above. It was not to the Corinthians credit that they were bearing with those that were teaching these things. In other words, it is weak and foolish people that think they need "something more" than the simple gospel of Jesus Christ.
The knowing ones just smile and nod. Editorial: Who are the "knowing ones"? Hmmm. When we begin to get a "them" and "us" attitude about our special knowledge something is seriously wrong.  And, frankly, the expression "knowing ones" creeps me out a bit.  It reminds me of the "initiated", the "illuminated ones". 
1Corinthians 4:6 And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another.
Thank you, too, for writing the book Holy Sex.  Showers of blessing, grace abounds. Editorial: More later on this, but suffice to say that "grace abounding" has nothing to do with a married couple's sex life. Go read Roman 5:15 & 20.
I am free to give all of me to my husband. Submission is the key to a truly blessed life. God's ways work!!! Editorial: It sounds more like Michael Pearl's ways to me.  And, I'm just wondering about a woman who wants to let a man know that his teaching on sex "blessed" her so much, AND about a man who wants to print her praise of himself in this context.  Doesn't this seem just a bit rich to you?  Frankly, I don't want to know about other Christian couples' sexual raptures, thank you very much!

End quote.

The fact that the Pearls printed this letter in their magazine (NGJ) shows that they liked it.  It is self-exaltation in a round about manner.  In other words, Michael Pearl agrees with this letter!  He's as much as saying, "See how great people think our teachings are?" He also thinks that his teachings are special and apparently better than anyone else's, otherwise he wouldn't have pritned this.

2Peter 3:15 And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; 16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. 17 Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.

Whenever someone starts getting new and better interpretations of Paul's writings, please refer to this passage. It will save you a lot of trouble and sorrow, and probably a lot of money!

The Pearls' "special knowledge" spreads far beyond their teaching that "you can stop sinning".  It also covers a good deal of their child training methods and teaching on marriage, which they tend to put across as "the best".  They present their methods in most cases as capable of only good results if followed "correctly".  (The "correct" use of their methods is difficult to discern apparently, but that will be addressed in another section.)

In an item called "Great Expectations", by Michael Pearl, January 2002, we read the following:

"Many times we have tried to state concepts, only to discover from your letters, or the experience of those around us, that we have failed to communicate. So we state the same concept again in another way. If you have read To Train Up a Child and followed it up with the three volumes of No Greater Joy, you are aware of concepts that we have repeated–some of them, six or eight different ways. [sic]

This past month Deb and I were reflecting on why this family or that family consistently fails to achieve satisfactory results. It is not difficult for certain families; why is it so hard for them? Some families are handicapped by their lack of temperance and stability. They are angry, selfish, petty, disconnected, intemperate, or bitter. Their problem is not a failure to apply proper technique; theirs is a failure of character. This is not the case with all parents. We see some families that are normal, Christian, stable, even cheerful, and yet their children are untrained in so many areas. Why?

The answer: great expectations or the lack thereof. They do not expect a higher level for either themselves or their children. They have accepted the mediocrity as normal. Until parents have their expectations raised, all our instructions are useless, and any effort they exert will be half-hearted."

End Quote. [Emphasis added.]

My first question is, where in the New Testament (or Old Testament) to do we find a clearly defined "ideally trained child"?  Personally, I don't find it.  There is some teaching on child raising, and there are a lot of good teachings and commands about the behavior of the church that would translate well into family life, but the Pearls don't do too well in giving us that (as demonstrated elsewhere).  The standard of what is a "well trained child" is based upon their opinion and what they teach.  While we all tend to have our own opinion of other people's children and whether they are "well trained" or not, I feel that it is unfair to assume that our method must be the best and that others have failed if they don't measure up to our estimation.  Unless we have concrete scriptural reasons for what we do or think on any given point it is best to leave it between the parents and the Lord.

Having said that, I can't help wondering if the people whom Pearls have judged as "failures" at applying their techniques would agree with them.  What if, by some strange chance, those people happened to feel content with their kids the way they are?  "Oh well, they didn't expect enough!  They need to adjust their thinking into line with Michael Pearl."  Says, who?  Michael and Debi Pearl, of course.

I would like the reader to notice particularly that the Pearls method did not fail according to the Pearls.  According to them the fault is with the practitioner - the parents in this case.  Some are "wicked" and some "didn't expect enough", but the fault is always with the parents who did not enter into the secret properly.  After all, they have communicated "the truth" to us so many different ways, the fault couldn't possibly be with them or their methods.

When any expert or teacher of "great spiritual truths" comes up with something - be it a method or teaching - which cannot fail if properly applied, but it is not securely supported by scripture (in context) BEWARE!  No man can come up with a perfect, foolproof method for raising kids, getting victory over sin, getting to heaven, earning a  living, saving money, having a happy marriage, etc., etc., etc.  Only GOD knows these secrets.  And, He has told them to us in His word.

2Peter 1:2 Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, 3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: 4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

Look at that!  Look at it.  God's divine power has given us all things -- All Things --- ALL THINGS --- that pertain unto Life AND Godliness!  And, you will find these things in the exceeding great and precious promises that He has given us!  That's your Bible!  Not the Pearl's books!  Not any other expert's books, or radio broadcasts, or teaching, or newsletter, or blog, or website, or DVD, etc.!  I cannot emphasize this enough!  If you are English speaking and have a King James Bible you have ALL you NEED to live godly in Christ Jesus!  You DO NOT need Michael and Debi Pearl to teach you how to live, love, raise children, escape sin, or anything else.  God's hand is not shortened for you.  He can and will meet your need right where you are and He can do it with His word alone if you will let Him.

1Corinthians 1:4 I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; 5 That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; 6 Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: 7 So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:

When Paul wrote this to the Corinthians they had several ugly sins going on in their assembly.  Yet here he makes it clear, under inspiration of the Holy Ghost, that they were enriched through Jesus Christ with all utterance and all wisdom!  If God so enriched this bunch, I think we can trust Him to enrich us as well.
I know a lady personally who did this and God proved Himself abundantly able.  She became a mother at a very young age and she felt very inadequate at times.  When she didn't know what to do with her two boys and was at a loss, she would go and pray and read her Bible, and God was faithful to direct her and her husband and give them wisdom.  I know one of her sons quite well and can honestly say that I'm blessed to name him among my friends.  He is a blessing and an encouragement and an inspiration to others, though he is hardly "perfect" by the Pearls' standards.  But, her method can't be copyrighted and sold in a book or on DVD.  It was too simple.  (Remember the simplicity that is in Christ?)

This is not to say that good Bible based teaching in the fellowship of the saints isn't necessary and right.  It is.  But, when you stand before God Almighty and it comes down to just you and Him and the revelation HE gave you; He isn't going to be interested in what Michael or Debi Pearl said.  He isn't going to be interested in what any man or woman told you.  He's going to be interested in what you did with His Word - both living and written (John 1:1-3).  Did you believe on Him?  Did you obey it? Did you go to Him and it for salvation, wisdom and help?  Or did you run madly after the traditions of man (Mark 7:9 & 13), the ear scratchers (1 Tim. 4:3), and the creeps (2 Tim. 3:6)?

Romans 14:11 For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. 12 So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.  You are going to give account of yourself to God, not to Michael Pearl, not to Debi Pearl, not to any other expert. 

Psalm 25:14 The secret of the LORD is with them that fear him;
and he will shew them his covenant. 15 Mine eyes are ever
toward the LORD; for he shall pluck my feet out of the net.

graphics by mary stephens

Updated 2012