Opinion – Diamonds in the rough: Christians can gain wisdom even when faced with controversial teaching

Editor’s Note: This piece reflects the writer’s personal opinions and experiences. 

As I walked out of Convocation, Wednesday, Feb. 13, I felt encouraged and excited to speak with some of my hallmates on the sermon delivered by Pastor Jentezen Franklin. Instead, as the day progressed, I found myself increasingly blindsided as the campus around me focused on Franklin’s preaching that displayed his beliefs in the “prosperity gospel” and contemplated whether he was teaching that to us.

This all culminated at Campus Community, Liberty’s weekly worship service and Bible study, when Franklin spoke again, and those around me based their discussions entirely around whether Franklin’s teachings dipped into heretical territory.

While I appreciate the community around me being willing to call out questionable teaching, I am also conflicted as it seems nobody stopped to consider the solid things Franklin shared. As Christians who will experience bad teaching many times throughout our lives, we must be able to discern good knowledge that applies to our walks with Christ even when it is surrounded by shaky theology.

On Wednesday night at Campus Community, Franklin spoke a message that contained out-of-context verses and apparent misinterpretations of Scripture that many focused on, but in all of that, they missed some good teaching I found applicable in my own life. Franklin explained that good things are achieved all the time with the strength of man, but nothing eternally good is ever done separately from God – wisdom that I needed to hear. 

There is almost always something positive to draw from lessons using God’s word if we are willing to look for it. When we ignore any positive aspects and solely criticize a sermon, we are ignoring practical biblical wisdom. 

“The discerning heart seeks knowledge, but the mouth of a fool feeds on folly,” the book of Proverbs says (Proverbs 15:14 NIV).

When Jesus attended the Festival of Tabernacles (in John 7), onlookers questioned him, as they were unsure how he seemed to know so much despite lacking education. Jesus simply retorts that his teaching comes directly from God and that God will help listeners to determine whether his statements are true:

“Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own,” (John 7:17 NIV).

If we are following God as instructed, we should look to achieve this level of discernment with everything we hear. With Franklin, it seems as though many Liberty students’ discernment began and ended at pointing out everything that he did wrong.

My purpose here is not to defend Franklin’s theology or argue against the problems people had with his sermons. Instead, I warn against tuning out messages that you disagree with and especially against speaking on the character of Franklin. It is not for us to speak on the intent behind a teacher’s message. 

The only people who possess the ability to discern Franklin’s intention are God and Franklin himself, so we should focus on other aspects of his time with us instead of conjecture.

“For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him?” (1 Corinthians 2:11 NIV) 

Craft is the assistant news editor. Follow him on Twitter.


  • I just watched this sermon on Liberty’s Convo on WSET 13. I didn’t see a ‘prosperity gospel’ sermon, but one with a ‘don’t give up’, ‘don’t always go where the grass is greener’ message. Nothing prosperity preaching about that. I thought it was excellent. In fact I want my daughter in Tennessee to see it bc she feels called to a difficult place in the Nashville music scene. She has been there almost 10 years and is very discouraged. this seemed like
    An excellent message for her.

  • This article is a fine example of not defending the truth. It’s typical of the new “tolerate” mentality and it’s the result of watered down preaching and systematic reduction in critical thinking.
    If a leader in the church (all qualifications are listed in scripture) regularly twists and mangles scripture, which Franklin does (there are countless opportunities to investigate and verify this) then that “so called leader” should be reproved, rebuked and removed if he does not repent.

    Just because your radar didn’t pick up on the prosperity message a little diligence on your part with research would have put the issue to rest.

    I’m not calling JF Satan so don’t misunderstand, but only a naive and immature Christian would ignore the scripture that says “And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.”

    I’m pretty sure Ted Bundy did some pretty good things in his life too….your argument is messed up.

    • I totally agree with Craig Gleason. 05/27/2020, He tweeted ” I love Joel Osteen and what he’s doing around the world for Christ. I had a great time preaching at Lakewood”. “Birds of a feather flock together”. He’s word of faith/ prosperity preacher.

    • Thank you !

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