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Today’s edition of The Mailbag is a tad different in format. Usually, I answer one reader’s question in a long form article. Today, I’m addressing various questions from several readers in a “short answer” format.

Just a reminder- I changed my comments/e-mail/messages policy a few months ago, so I’m not responding individually to most e-mails and messages. Here are some helpful hints for getting your questions answered more quickly. Remember, the search bar can be a helpful tool!


Why are witchcraft and magic OK to most Christians in C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia books, but not in secular books such as the Harry Potter books? Should my children be reading the Narnia books?

Obviously, I can’t answer for every individual Christian who finds Narnia OK but Harry Potter objectionable. Many perfectly godly Christians find both objectionable or neither objectionable. But generally, I think it’s the same reason most Christians assume Beth Moore, Andy Stanley, Lysa TerKeurst, Christine Caine, Hillsong, etc., are biblically legit- most Christians aren’t very discerning. They naïvely trust that if a person has gained notoriety as a “Christian” celebrity and his stuff is sold in Christian bookstores, he’s teaching sound biblical doctrine.

I’m not saying that Lewis teaches unbiblical doctrine in the Narnia books (none sticks in my memory, but it’s been at least 8-10 years since I read them) I’m just saying if you put a Narnia book and a Harry Potter book side by side on the table in front of the average Christian she’s going to say, “Narnia- good. Harry Potter- bad.” and that’s going to be the extent of her thought process because she knows Lewis is a famous evangelical and J.K. Rowling is not.

Witchcraft and the occult are not things to be taken lightly. You should also know that there is credible evidence that C.S. Lewis held some very unbiblical beliefs, some of which, if true, would put him outside the camp of Christianity (particularly his rejection of penal substitutionary atonement). With regard to whether or not your children should read the Narnia books, my counsel would be to study what the Bible has to say about witchcraft, the occult, and the things Christians should focus their thoughts on, examine the books for yourself, pray for wisdom, and make what you determine to be the most God-honoring decision for your family. You may wish to get some guidance from your pastor or a mature Christian friend, too.


What are your thoughts on Johanna Michaelsen?

In the last “potpourri” edition of The Mailbag I said I had heard Johanna Michaelsen’s name but didn’t really know anything about her. Since that time a couple more people have asked me about her and I’ve found out a tad more about her (It’s not that there’s no information available, just that I haven’t had time to research her much.).

Johanna is recommended by my friend Amy Spreeman of Berean Research. Amy also serves on Johanna’s ministry advisory board. So it sounds like Johanna is someone worth looking into as a trustworthy resource. However, as Amy and Johanna (assuming she is like-minded) would probably agree, you cannot simply trust someone else’s endorsement. You must do the work of a good Berean and examine everything you take in against Scripture to discover whether it is doctrinally sound. I’m hoping you’ll find Johanna easily passes that test.

Not sure where to start? My article Is She a False Teacher? 7 Steps to Figuring It Out on Your Own may help.


How do you reconcile passages such as Luke 2:22-35 (Simeon awaiting Jesus at the temple) with the principle that God only speaks to us through Scripture?

I would classify it in the same Hebrews 1:1-2 category as God speaking to Moses through the burning bush, or Ezekiel’s vision of the dry bones, or Jeremiah’s prophecy at the potter’s house. God spoke to Simeon in the same Old Testament sense as any of the other Old Testament prophets He spoke to before Jesus came. (In fact, you might even say John the Baptist, who came after Simeon, was the last “Old Testament” prophet.)

It’s a little confusing to us because we read about Simeon in the New Testament after the intertestamental period, and after Jesus had actually been born, but at the time he spoke these words, he was effectively living in “Old Testament times.” (Which is why we also see in this passage that the reason Simeon encountered Jesus is that Mary and Joseph were presenting Him at the temple to “fulfill the law of Moses.”) Jesus had not yet fulfilled His earthly mission of living a sinless life, teaching, preaching and miracles, founding the church, dying on the cross, resurrecting from the grave, and ascending into Heaven. Until those things were accomplished, Simeon, Jesus, and all of the other Jews living at that time were still under the Mosaic (Old Testament) Covenant.

You might find my article Basic Training: The Bible is Sufficient to be helpful.


Do you believe that supernatural healing still occurs today?

Yes. I believe that God can heal miraculously, through doctors and medicine, and through the way He designed the body to heal itself when ill or injured.

What I do not believe in is “faith healing” as it is commonly understood and practiced today. I’ve never encountered a person who teaches and practices faith healing who also adheres to sound biblical doctrine, and I’ve never encountered a person who adheres to sound biblical doctrine who teaches and practices faith healing.

If what you’re really asking is whether I’m a continuationist or a cessationist, I’m a cessationist.


What are your thoughts on Francis Chan?

When Francis Chan first became popular, he had a reputation for being a doctrinally sound Reformed pastor and author. I never read any of his books or followed him closely, but I have godly friends who did.

In 2013 Francis spoke at International House of Prayer’s (IHOP) One Thing conference where he praised Mike Bickle, embraced him as a Christian brother, and tacitly accused discerning Christians who had wisely, and biblically, discouraged him from participating in the conference of dissension and division.

If you are unaware of the theological problems with IHOP, you should know that it (along with Bethel Church in Redding, California) is basically ground zero for the heretical New Apostolic Reformation movement. Chan spoke at One Thing again in 2015, demonstrating a shocking lack of awareness of the unbiblical theology of Catholicism, and called for evangelical unity with Catholics saying, “And I think it’s time for us to get beyond, okay, I’ll sing with them, okay, I’ll worship with them, y’know, okay, I’ll admit that they’re Christians, and go to a biblical stance which says I can’t live without them. I need them. They’re indispensable.”

I don’t know whether or not Chan’s early books and materials were doctrinally sound, but I would definitely not recommend him now. Someone who is a pastor has no excuse for being so undiscerning and ignorant of errant theology.


I am wondering if a Christian believes in speaking in tongues is for today would you recommend that people shouldn’t follow them just as you have recommended people not follow other people for different reasons?

I don’t usually proactively recommend – share their articles, quotes, etc. on social media or the blog, suggest people attend their churches or conferences, read their books, and so forth – continuationists who are otherwise doctrinally sound, but I don’t warn against them either. I just tend to be silent about them.

There are many false teachers I do warn against, and most of them are continuationists, but continuationism is not the central reason I warn against them. When I warn against a teacher, it is because he or she is teaching demonstrably false doctrine and/or walking in unrepentant sin.

My article Is She a False Teacher? 7 Steps to Figuring It Out on Your Own explains the criteria I use when deciding whether or not to recommend a particular teacher.


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

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