How to respond: Shail Linne vs. Paula White Ministries

I wouldn’t say that I’m late to the Christian Reformed hip-hop scene, because I don’t know if I qualify as actually having arrived at the scene. However I do appreciate this genre, and I have enjoyed some stuff by “Propaganda” and “Beautiful Eulogy.” Strangely enough, Reformed rappers have really started to rise to the top of the overall Christian Hip-Hop scene. Some will rap about life, Reformed theology, and one named Shai Linne has actually made a good bit of noise with his song “Fal$e Teacher$.” This song points the finger at health and wealth preachers, calling their names out one-by-one and labeling them “False Teacher.”

Now I’m not super familiar with every name on the list, but I certainly would agree with his take on the teachers I know. These “preachers” preach a prosperity gospel equating the atonement of Jesus with guaranteeing riches and health in this life. The lack of health/wealth comes from lack of faith.

Of course if my name had been called out in such a song, I might be moved to offer a response. Such was the case with the son of prosperity preacher Paula White. If interested, you can read that here.

And then Shai Linne responded back here. I would recommend reading this because in it you will see a good example of how to respond to critics. Regardless of whether you agree with Shai on this matter, I think this dialog gives us all a solid blue-print for HOW to respond. I’ll highlight several things I found helpful.

It’s not a race.

Shai had tweeted three days earlier that prayer and guidance would precede his reply. He wrote the response while traveling on Clear Sight Music’s Black Out Circuit Tour which has been on the road since April 5. The unedited letter is below.

I’ve found with most people (including myself), we run to our own defense as if it were a race. The early bird does not catch the worm. Time is needed to respond, listen, digest, absorb, pray (James 1:19). I can’t tell you how many times I wish I would have applied this! But I’m thankful for the examples of others and hope we all can learn as much as possible from them. Three days is usually enough time to calm down, absorb, pray, and learn.

Begin with affirmation

Before I directly address the substance of your open letter, I first want to commend you for a few things that encouraged me as I read it…..

I was encouraged to hear of your mother praying for your salvation, as well as teaching you the faith. Again, I can relate. I myself am the result of a praying mother. In fact, I once told my mom that I would never become a Christian. Even as I entered adulthood while continuing in rebellion against God, she never stopped praying for me. I am eternally grateful to her for crying out to God on my behalf when I was dead in my sins! So I was glad to hear you mention what you did about your mother. It’s a good model for other mothers to emulate.

If Paul commended the Corinthians before getting into some of their issues, there is not only biblical precedence but also opportunity to do the same thing with our critics today. Shai does a good job of celebrating their common ground, which he no doubt found much easier than the issues going on at Corinth.

Deal with what the person has actually said

I want to address a few of the false teachings themselves. I went straight to the Paula White Ministries website and your Youtube page so I could hear what you have released as representative of Paula White’s teaching. There are many things I could speak on, but I’ll highlight three here.

It is easy to deal with implications of what others have actually and by-pass what he/she has actually said. That takes time. It is also easier to deal with what you have heard others say about a teacher/critic/enemy than dealing with what he/she has actually said. Perhaps what I appreciated most about Linne’s response was his diligence in documentation. Look how specific he gets! He’s shown love by taking the time to really understand and articulate his opponent’s viewpoint. He’s articulating a view point that his opponent can say, “Yes that is my position.” Or the opponent can say, “That is what I said, but you’ve misunderstood what I meant by what I said.” Either way, there is something concrete you can discuss without talking past each other. This would have taken a lot of time, but time is what it takes to properly deal with criticism or false teaching.

Paula White did a series called 8 Promises of the Atonement, that at the time of my writing this, is currently featured on your ministry website. In it, she states that physical healing and financial abundance in this life are provided for in the atonement of Christ. See the following video at the 25:00 mark where Paula White teaches “salvation includes healing.” She says it again at 28:30. But then she goes even further. If you keep listening, she talks about commanding her body not to be sick because of the blood of Christ. She ends this section by boldly declaring around 29:40:
“You are not going to die of sickness. When you go, it’s going to be because of your appointed time of old age and full of life”

Invitation to further dialog

And those who follow her must be warned. And just so you know, I have your email address and will gladly take this conversation offline with you if you’d like.

Some internet dialog is a waste of time. The opponent is probably not going to change his/her views and you will not be changing yours. But the invitation to further dialog is a way to show love and just may open the doors for real change down the road. Paula White’s son may be never be convinced of the heresy of the prosperity gospel. Yet he has had the opportunity to explore why Shai Linne believes she is a false teacher. And he has the opportunity to further explore should he choose.

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