Examining Michael and Debi Pearl


Philippians 2:21 For all seek their own,
not the things which are Jesus Christ's.

This is a demonstration of the principles set forth in the article "Experts - Lifesavers from a sinking ship" If you have not read that article, you may wish to do so. It is not necessary, however, as this article also stands alone.


A word of introduction

Proverbs 15:4 A wholesome tongue is a tree of life:
but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit.

The Pearls remind me of one of my Grandpa Van Nattan's favorite jokes - A farmer had property next to a home for the mentally infirm. One day as he was hauling a load of manure by the place, there was an inmate standing inside the fence watching him. He called out to the farmer and said, "Hey, Mr. Farmer, what are you doing?" The farmer told him, "I'm taking this manure to put on my strawberries." The inmate replied, "You ought to come in here! We get cream and sugar on ours!"

So it is with the Pearls. Theirs is such a mixture of useful and highly questionable information, even possible heresy, that it reminds me of strawberries with manure on them.

I am not happy to write this article. I realize that in doing so we are drawing new battle lines as it were. But, due to some of the things we have found in reading the Pearls' material, it seemed needful. Some people will doubtless be shocked and furious that we would deal with the Pearls thus. Remember no preacher, teacher, or "expert" is above examination. God said the Bereans were more noble because they examined His Apostles in light of scripture! If God would have His own apostles examined in light of His word, then surely we should examine teachers like the Pearls.

Acts 17:10 And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. 12 Therefore many of them believed...

If you do not examine with scripture what is on this journal, you are not as noble as the Bereans!

So, let's examine the Pearls.

I have changed the order of questions #1 and #2 since some people may not immediately recognize the Pearls' name and need an explanation of who they are. I also apologize that some of the dates are missing or not correct on the quotes. I failed to get some of the dates, and others I only realized later were not correct on their web page (at the time I took the quotes), so I didn't get the right ones.  (Someone was apparently using a template to make up multiple pages and forgot to change the date at the top on some of the posts.)

Question #2 - Who are they?

Are they saved? What church do they fellowship with? What is their background? How did they come to this position that they have attained as experts?

First of all, let me say that there is a lot on the Pearls' web site, and though I have read quite a bit, I do not have time to read all of it. (There is even more now, 2011.)  I'm sure I have overlooked some things, especially in relation to their family history.

Michael and Debi Pearl are most famous for their book To Train Up A Child. They seem to enjoy a lot of popularity among a wide variety of people and groups because of this book. They also publish a free newsletter called "No Greater Joy" (NGJ) which is compiled into books that can be purchased from them. Their web site is NoGreaterJoy.org which apparently contains much of their writing on family life and homeschooling and offers their books for sale. (They have since added a blog.)  Their books, tapes and child training methods have brought them to fame and the much revered position of "experts." Their oldest married daughter writes articles for them under the name Rebekah Anast. Sometimes her husband also writes, along with appearances of other family members and friends.

On their web site we are told that when Michael Pearl is questioned as to his qualifications to be an expert on child raising he points to his five kids. While it is commendable that he is not resting upon his education as his qualification for his chosen "ministry," there is no scripture to prove that a man with "good" kids is qualified to be a child raising/family life expert, nor a "Christian sex therapist." If he "ruleth well his own house" and his children are in "subjection with all gravity" he is qualified to be a bishop (pastor) or a deacon according to 1 Timothy 3, but there is no mention of an expert on child rearing, etc. in the passage. (By the way, it seems self-serving that the Pearls use their five children to prove they are worthy to tell the rest of us poor peons how to raise children. To me it sounds too much like, "Look at my kids! I did a great job at this, so you should listen to me!" Proverbs 20:6 Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find? Besides that, how do we know his kids are all so "great"?)

Michael Pearl is the pastor or leading elder of The Church at Cane Creek. He and his wife also occasionally speak at conferences, and do seminars (at the original time of this writing). They homeschooled their children, starting in the early years before it was popular. Mr. Pearl was a carpenter by trade working from a shop at home. Mr. Pearl also has a prison ministry.

I have never heard or read their testimonies of salvation, and I could not find them on their web site at the time of this writing. They may be there, but I did not find them. All I found was that they were both raised in Christian homes and were pointed to God by their parents. There was little there about their background either, except for what can be gleaned from articles. They apparently moved from a more suburban type environment to the woods to really "rough it" and live closer to the earth.

Considering different pictures of them that I have seen, their attitude, Rebekah's music, Shoshana's wedding (NGJ, summer, 2004) and some of their living habits, they seem to have hippy tendencies. I have a friend who's parents were hippies before they were saved. She was given some the Pearls' materials to read. Curiously enough, her opinion of the Pearls, made independently of mine, was that they were some kind of "Jesus People." They rejoice in a "back to nature" type mentality which is in keeping with their hippy image. Mike Pearl also seems to enjoy "the man of the mountain" image (including his "biker beard", as Rebekah calls it) which some of the men who associate with him appear to be imitating. These observations may not seem of much importance, but they will come in again later.

I have heard that the Pearls live among or near an Amish (pronounced - AH-mish) community, and they use the Amish, usually as good examples, in their writings.  There have been things that made me think they were actually part of that community at one time, but I haven't documented that.

This is more or less just background material.

Question #1 - Do they use the Bible? Do they believe the Bible?

I apologize that this section is so long. Along with the discussion of their strange obsession with sexual matters, this section is perhaps the most important. The reason for this is twofold. First, their exaltation of their own ideas and teachings so highly over the word of God is horrifying (Ps. 119:63). Secondly, this will hopefully help you to stop and think, to ask questions, to prayerfully compare the teachings of the experts and their spirit with the word of God. 1John 4:1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

Question #3 - What is the emphasis of their ministry or work?

Question #4 - What do they teach?

Question #5 - Are they making a profit from their expertise?

Question #6 - With whom do they associate? Who do they recommend or use as good examples?

Question #7 - What kind of music do they use or produce?

Question #8 - Is Jesus Christ exalted?

Links to Other Articles On the Web
Disclaimer on versions other than the KJV
and possibly some content.

A critique of Debi Pearl's Created to Be His Help Meet
Be sure to read all four parts.  The last was especially interesting.
Debi Pearl Revisited by the same author as above.
NOTE: I have not read any other items on this page.
Please use discretion and examine all with the word of God.

A Warning about Michael Pearl’s No Greater Joy Ministry
By David Cloud
Also Michael Pearl's Duplicity - this is Brother Cloud's
answer to Michael Pearl's accusations against the first article
and is very revealing about Pearl.  Highly recommended reading.

graphics by mary van nattan

circa 2005
update 2010