I’m tempted to assume what you’re thinking…
“Brianna still can’t let the past go.”
If my assumption is close, you need not to worry.
Truthfully, I don’t know if my time at Valor will ever come full circle. But it has been 3 years since I left the WOF/NAR system of theology, which is definitely NOT biblical, and 2 and half years since I started this exposé on Valor Christian College and Rod Parsley.
For a while, though I can’t give you an exact timeframe, I’ve been thinking about making this post.
In the world of YouTube and other spaces on the internet, there is a lot of talk of HERESY and since the beginning of the church there have been various definitions of what HERESY is. Technically speaking, it is any belief that goes against the traditional set of beliefs in a systema.
Jesus didn’t come to replace the law but He fulfilled itb, as the ultimate sacrifice once and for all, which revealed in a fuller texture what God’s grace truly is. Jesus did something different that looked new, but all He really did was pull back the veil. Jesus revealed the message God prepared for us from eternity, which is the way to be connected to the Father through the Holy Spirit.
When I first came out of the Word of Faith, I was desperate to not get duped again. I wanted to practically throw the baby out with the bath water and there is one system of theology out there that makes it very easy to categorize everything “Of God” and “Not of God”, and that system is known as Calvinism or Reformed Theology.
St. Augustine, John Calvin’s muse, influenced much of John Calvin’s theology. St. Augustine happened to be brilliant at calling those who rivaled him heretics. John Calvin and Martin Luther followed suit, in the early church father’s steps, and were haste to call anyone a heretic who dared to disagree with themc.
The history of the church is an ugly one in my opinion when it comes to defining what is heresy and what is not.
In the beginning of my “detangling”d from spiritually and mentally and emotionally dangerous doctrine, I was very quick to call EVERYTHING heresy that didn’t fit in a pretty, relaxing bubble because I was so scared of going back to days of deceit and ruin.
But I have some friends and acquaintances from my Valor days, where John McArthur might be quick to say they may have never been saved because they were deceived or because they bear no fruit, but I can’t say that. And I know when one is close to a person or a situation, it is hard to see things without bias.
However, I care deeply about the souls of my friends and acquaintances and people know I’m never shy to share a peace of my mind when it comes to pursuing Jesus.
Kenneth E Hagin, a heretic (please never pick up book by him to learn from theologically), used to say that everyone is slightly in error and we can learn from all people, from all faiths, from all walks of life. That is dangerous thinking.
The only way we should be concerned with growing in Christ is through reading the Word and growing in our understanding of scripture. But we must remember that the Holy Spirit dwells in us and convicts the world of truth, and that means He can lead us to the truth in a sea of lies.
We have to find that balance between the Word and the Spirit. We should apply things to our life from the spiritual perspective God wants us to have, which means anything we believe spiritually will not contradict scripture. Any practical application we have for our life, we can find in the wisdom written in scripture. As Melissa Doughterye says, reading our Bible is a spiritual experience. I think for too long the Bible has been viewed as a scholarly pursuit, but it’s more than that. It is a direct resource to understanding our God, our Maker.
I think a bunch of scripture knowledge does us little good if we can’t apply the truths we glean from it. In our daily lives, we are tempted by our own desiresf and the enemy, and we are also tested by God on days, when these temptations and testings happen our actions reveal what and/or who we trust most.
For biblically illiterate Christians, when they follow these false teachers like Rod Parsley, and they get sucked in by the heretical worship music, it shows they seek to be close to God because they can sense the chasm between them and God.
I was like that. I hardly knew what scripture said beyond what my Grandma said or a preacher on Sunday. But since I was little, all I desired was to be close to Jesus like my Grandma was. I wanted to be confident of my salvation. I wanted to please the Lord with choices I made with my life. I wanted to see my lost loved ones saved. I wanted to win souls for Jesus myself. But I had no idea who I was in Christ, and because I couldn’t strongly identify with Him, I felt so distant from Him.
Word of Faith Heresy and the New Apostolic Reformation Movement offer a false hope that they have secret knowledge that will not only bring you closer to God but help you understand who you are. And once you stop questioning the wiggy things and trust the false system that WOF/NAR feed you, believing the lies become your idol because you desire the promises the heresy offers. At least, that was the case for me.
There were three things I believed for, while I was in my WOF/NAR delusion:
- I would become famous in Hollywood to lift up the name of Jesus.
- I would write worship music to usher in a new era in Christianity.
- I would meet my future husband (super soon).
I literally believed God spoke to me prophetically these things would come to pass. I believed Valor and World Harvest Church was the training ground for me to receive the three promises listed above. And why did I believe them? I think that is a post for another time.
It was funny, while at Valor, these three prophetic utterances from God changed to the following instead:
- Serve Ashton Parsley until she releases me from her ministry.
- Become a millionaire to donate 1 Million Dollars to the Valor Music Ministry Program
- Become the Creative Director of World Harvest Church and make Valor a Performing Arts Powerhouse amongst private Christian Colleges.
I didn’t forget about the first set of three that I definitely believed God spoke to me (at the time). I just believed they were on pause because Rod Parsley taught that you won’t get blessed with your anointing for your calling until you serve a Man (or Woman) of God under their anointing. And this isn’t uncommon for WOF/NAR heretical leaders to teach on some level. I was convinced, I wouldn’t get the first three promises from God unless the second set of three came to pass.
So I kept working in areas for work study I loathed. I joined dorm leadership attempting to impress the one that claimed to have “Ms. Ashton’s Ear”, and I think that person knew my aim was to get close to Ms. Ashton. I believed the hogwash more and more.
If you have read the other essays or have watched the videos in this series, you know how close I came to walking away from God because of the Christianity Rod Parsley teaches. It isn’t humanly possible to do, and it is an emotional roller coaster sustained by seductive worship music, intoxicating “prophecy”, and catchy preaching.
You may be thinking it isn’t humanly possible to follow Christ either, and you’re right.
The type of Christianity Rod Parsley presents leads to disappointment and despair that epic “flows in the Spirit” produce such an addictive high, you put up with the low moments to be brought to such great heights again.
Truth be told, I was trained to deal with the environment Rod Parsley produces through the Assemblies of God and the Faith Christian Fellowship denominations. The pastors weren’t really like Rod Parsley. They were more consistent in preaching from the Word than RP, but they participated in practices nothing short of divination during worship services at times. They were more into growing their church than shepherding people. In fact, their associate pastors and youth pastors were responsible for shepherding people (this is more true of the FCF pastor than the AOG one). These were sincere men who really loved Jesus. In truth, I wouldn’t be shocked if I see them in heaven because I think they believe in the biblical Jesus.
And all this leads me to the point of this post: Paul made it clear in the Word, God inspired him to write, we should aim for standard Christ set for usg. And if we are truly going to do that, then we first should pursue Jesus by reading the Word and listen to solid teachers in the faith that teach from the Word. Paul was well versed in the Torah but also the philosophies of his dayh. He was able to compare the truth to the lies of his age and that’s what teachers of the Word do. The ones that revere God will make sure they do their best to teach you God’s Word not the Word according to them. Yes, their sermons will be filled with their opinions, but if you like their preaching, how they talk and how they think resonates with you, then they’re a gift from God to grow in your connection to the Lord.
That’s why, you have to practice discernment consistently, and do Berean check-ups frequently.
If other Christians are saying a pastor you like said something weird, don’t tune them out, listen. Before you’re quick to defend the preacher, literally search the scriptures on the topic they preached about. Use google if you must! And read what the Bible has to say, and then pray about it. And be set on believing what God says is true. Don’t look for peace to be your guide alone. Let your mind, your heart, and your gut agree with what scripture attests to. And don’t settle for any of three being torn with each other or in disagreement with the Word. And be open to correction and if a leader corrects you according to scripture (not bad doctrinal beliefs), then choose humility and receive it.
Alisa Childersi not too long ago had a guest author on her podcast to talk about a book (Childers’ book club read) and she made the comment the book helped her realize we are not spirit beings in a body as if the flesh is some evil wicked thing (that’s gnosticism folks). We are both body and spirit and God designed both aspects of us to be onej. That is why there are spiritual implications behind the practical things we do, and why the physical things we do, and the things we say, impact us spiritually. We are meant to be both spirit and body, and Christ redeemed us so we don’t have to fear our flesh, we just have to get our flesh under submission to Christ so that we can effectively walk in the Spirit, which is simply obediently living in relationship with God. It’s our participation in living our faith that builds our intimacy with Christ.
And there are times the path to truth can be a lonely journey, but if what you believe can be backed by a true interpretation of scripture and it leaves you with a clean conscience, most likely you’re good. God loves us so much He wants us closer to Him and not further from Him. He will guide you back to the truth when you get a little off, or He will let us wander if we keep disregarding warnings in scripture.
It’s odd, Rod Parsley would often preach and tell a bunch of stories hardly quoting scripture, and then tell people a catchy phrase is true because the Bible attests that it is true. Yet, he rarely showed where in scripture he got his catchy phrase that he commanded the crowd to repeat numerous times through his sermon. I wonder if he knows people won’t actually read the Bible, that they will settle for listening to Him preach instead.
On the one hand, I should mention, there were plenty at Valor and World Harvest Church that frequently read their Bible. The ones that did, from what I noticed either listened to a lot of heretical worship music OR they didn’t trust the leaders very much and we’re ready to leave Valor by the time they graduated.
The ones that read their Bible yet listened to a lot of heretical worship didn’t understand scripture free from the lens of WOF/NAR teaching. Often worship sessions and time with the “spirit” brought more clarity and special revelation, where students would seek after being in God’s presence over reading His Word. For many of them, I think it was a familiar spirit, or a demon, that shared “special revelation” because how they interpreted the Word was NOT what the Bible actually meant. I also think it could have been their imagination trained under the hivemind of the WOF/NAR doctrines too.
Then the ones who read the Bible a lot and distrusted the authority at Valor were mostly quiet. Staying in their own lane, biding their time. I think they knew something was off, yet they still believed WOF/NAR doctrine was true, so they never spoke out about the leadership at Valor being unethical out of fear of dishonoring God for speaking out against one of God’s anointed ones. As if doing so would put a curse upon their life and God wouldn’t release them to fulfill their calling or something to that extent.
Word of Faith and New Apostolic Reformation doctrine is so seductive because they aim to abolish suffering in this life and tap into the “struggle-free” existence that awaits us in eternity after this life. If you’re poor, Jesus wants you wealthy. If you’re sick, Jesus wants you healed. If you’re going through hardship, Jesus wants to constantly give you green pastures to lie down in.
And the wild part is that when poverty, illness, and obstacles flood the life of a believer in the WOF/NAR, all of it is seen as the plot of Satan to destroy the believer. There is a second element that makes these doctrines alluring. That is the relevancy of SELF.
Anyone with low self-esteem or a wretched view of themselves is susceptible to these heresies. Because in these doctrines everyone is SO SPECIAL God’s Kingdom cannot grow without each member walking in their calling and using the anointing God gave them. It is a twisting of the truth.
God decided that we would participate in spreading the Gospel. He does call us to service once we are saved, but whether we choose to serve Him or we don’t, God will still accomplish what He wants to do. God is no respecter of persons. Yes, God blesses those who are obedient (oddly enough Rod Parsley sort of teaches this, see Part 2, how he twists this truth though), but our obedience is just proof that we trust Him and evidence to the world that we not only believe in Jesus Christ but our faith in Him is so confident we allow Him to lead our lives.
I personally think Word of Faith and New Apostolic Reformation heresies actually teach people to doubt God and slowly reshapes biblical faith into idolatry of SELF. These heresies are yeast of the New Age (and this notion is another essay all together); they should not be practiced.
Now, I’ll comment that there were people I knew from Valor, and people I still sort of know, through social media, that have testimonies that make it seem like WOF/NAR heresies are true and not lies. Testimonies about how they were believing for something for their business and it happened, or they got a check in the mail, or someone bought them a car or the list goes on. I think there are three reasons why the testimonies came about:
- The testifier is a hard worker and they have a good network that opens doors for them.
- The testifier is valuable to a powerful person in WOF/NAR circles, or their church, and the powerful person does something outrageously nice for the testifier to give them a reason to testify. This is conveniently done around big events at the church where moving testimonies are needed to encourage people to give financial offerings. For example, at Valor, many students miraculously got part of their tuition or all of their tuition for the semester paid for right in time to testify at the Resurrection Seed service on Easter. Only Valor students who did work-study or worked with the Parsleys, or were on the worship team, or students who were connected to the Parsleys or the Parsleys’ inner circle got these miraculous breakthroughs.
- The testifier was actually blessed by God.
I’m as surprised as you for point number three on the list above, but I know I was blessed at times at Valor and it was strictly God because no one could have known what I needed because I didn’t tell anyone. I wouldn’t even pray about it to God because I didn’t want to “lack faith”. Yet, God knew what I needed to make it through.
WOF/NAR heresies are ugly because they turn believers into narcissistic ones and keep believers stuck in spiritual immaturity. WOF/NAR heresies allow leaders to build cult followers. And when the followers of these WOF/NAR leaders think they are working hard to expand God’s kingdom, they’re really just expanding the heretical leaders’ egos and financial assets.
Or worse, these false doctrines can make one choose to follow Jesus for the wrong reasons and they turn out to never be saved to begin with. Now, even in solid churches people can attend and be unsaved and it isn’t necessarily a direct result of bad theology, but it is all likelier due to heresy in the WOF/NAR realm.
Paul wrote in scripture, faith comes by hearingk, which means someone comes to faith in Christ humbly because they received the message of Jesus Christ through the Gospel. There is no other way. And though I believe God can use anyone, and do anything to bring someone to faith in Him, I think we ought to be careful in our personal walk with Him. That means we should exercise our faith in a healthy way and the only verifiable proof we have to ensure we are practicing our faith righteously, is through the Bible. And of course, we will forever learn from scripture until we die or get raptured alive, but that’s where the Holy Spirit dwelling in us does His part. When there doesn’t seem to be a clear answer in scripture, the Holy Spirit leads us to a person to talk to, or a sermon to listen to, or we have an experience that makes scripture come alive to us or suddenly we re-read the passage and we get it, when we didn’t get it before.
However, we are constantly either being tempted by our selfish desires or the enemy or God chooses to use our circumstances to test us. Every time we resist temptation, or pass a test from God, we affirm to ourselves and to the world that we trust Jesus over everything else. And even when we give into temptation or fail the test from God, it isn’t meant to condemn us, it is simply gives a diagnosis on what is preventing us from maturing in Christ. Revealing what sin or what issue is halting our sanctification in Christ and it is an opportunity and invitation to grow deeper with God.
Before Valor, I took such pride in the fact that I was single and I was living my life for Jesus. I enjoyed boasting about the personal sacrifices I was making to keep my pious lifestyle. To an extent, I thought I was spiritually better than believers I knew who did not save themselves for marriage. I thought I was special to God because I belonged to Him only. I never confessed my single-hood was a choice stemmed from fear and my ongoing struggle with same-sex attraction and gender dysphoria. The fear part was not wanting to be like the women in my family and having children with bad men that were just going to leave or not be very reliable. I feared having a very toxic relationship with a man. At the same time, I had crushes on ladies and I hated being a woman and I envied men.
Even in 2012, when God delivered me from same-sex attraction and gender dysphoria, I feared ever marrying a man though I really wanted to (still do) birth children one day, because I didn’t think I could ever trust a man to take care of me. My standards for myself and for my friends in Christ were always so high, that how could a man ever meet my standards.
Valor did something strange while I was in the midst of that heresy. It revealed my pride and the entire experience was shattering and forced me into humility years after leaving that place. I still stand by the fact, God never led me there, because there is no way God would support leadership that violates everything He stands forl. I stand by the fact, God does turn things for good for those who love Him. And God has turned the brutal ugliness of Valor to my good and I thank Him for that.
The whole reason why I was humbled though was the work Christ was doing in me. I think the work could have been done anywhere, through anything, because God can do anything, through anyone. I think we need to be less self-centered where we think our entire lives are meticulously orchestrated by God. Yes, He loves us, but his love doesn’t have to micromanage us.
As I mentioned earlier in this post, we need to pursue the mark Christ has set for us. I started this series to help my fellow Valor Alums see the error with Rod Parsley and help us cope with the spiritual abuse we endured there. I now complete this series to remind my fellow Valor Alums to pursue Jesus in reverence to God. To show them, the way of Christ is simple. To say to them, we don’t need fancy displays of faith, we just need authentic that doesn’t line up with feelings but with scripture.
I pray frequently Valor Alums get away from bad theology and grow in Christ. And there isn’t necessarily a better denomination over the other for that. This isn’t to say all charismatics are heretics (however, the history of charismatics reveals an ugly truth many leaders were charlatans). As followers of Christ, we should think biblically not doctrinally. Not all doctrines interpret scripture correctly. Many doctrines aren’t even in the Bible. And though we should think biblically, which will lead to biblical actions, we should remember to walk in the Spirit, which sometimes requires actions that tap into that intangible part of us, the Holy Spirit within us.
Trusting man and fearing man, got be deceived to begin with, but trusting the Lord and fearing God alone, got me out of darkness and into the light. As John’s Gospel attests to, there is no darkness that can extinguish the lightm.
These are the Confessions of Valor Alumna,
a. definition of heresy according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, click here to read.
b. Matthew 5:17-20, click here to read (courtesy of Bible Gateway/ESV).
c. Dr. Leighton Flowers interviews a guest that talks about Pelagius (who Augustine convinced everyone he was a heretic; no I don’t agree with Pelagianism but this interview isn’t about Pelagianism, it is about what Pelagius actually believed according to his own writings), click here to watch.
d. detangling is an alternative to deconstruction; rather than to seek God through the New Age and Humanism, one departs heretical and demonic doctrines in the church to have a more biblically rooted theological perspective. Click here to hear Jinger Vuolo taking about her “detangling” from heresy with Allie Beth Stuckey.
e. Melissa Doughtery, check out her YouTube by clicking here.
f. James 1:14, click here to read, courtesy of Bible Hub.
g. Phillipians 3:14, click here to read, courtesy of BibleGateway/KJV.
h. Link to a pdf about “Paul and the Philosophers”, courtesy of Baylor University, click here to read.
i. Alisa Childers, check her out on YouTube by clicking here.
j. The video where I heard we are both body and spirit, click here to watch.
k. Romans 10:17, click here to read, courtesy BibleGateway/NKJV.
l. Proverbs 17:15, click here to read, is an example of what Valor can be guilty of and how God views such a thing according to His word, courtesy of BibleGateway/NKJV.
m. John 1:5 NLT
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