Michael Pearl’s Duplicity

February 1, 2010 (first published February 27, 2008) (David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143, fbns@wayoflife.org; for instructions about subscribing and unsubscribing or changing addresses, see the information paragraph at the end of the article)

In the October 2007 edition of
No Greater Joy, a full two years after I published my article about him, Michael Pearl finally addressed one of my concerns, but in doing so he only proved that he is duplicitous. I was very sad when I read his reply, because it demonstrated a serious level of dishonesty, and I am pretty sure that dishonesty is not a reflection of sinless living!

In an article entitled “A Warning about Michael Pearl’s No Greater Joy Ministry,” first published September 5, 2005, I stated that I had researched Pearl’s ministry because so many people had asked me about it and that after reading two of his books, some issues of his magazine, and looking carefully through his web site, I had a some concerns. One of those pertains to his teaching on sinless Christian living.

Now Pearl finally replies to one of my warnings, but he does so in a duplicitous manner.

First, he was duplicitous in not giving his readers my name and telling them where they could read my report about him. He only identified me as “my accuser.” On the other hand, I gave exact quotes from Pearl’s writings and told my readers where they could check my statements.

Second, he was duplicitous in not telling his readers that I tried to communicate with him personally TWO TIMES and that he refused to answer. I did not ask for a long drawn out reply. I simply asked: “Do the following statements from your magazine truly reflect your doctrine? Do you live sinlessly?” I was trying to make sure that I had not misunderstood the man, but he didn’t have the courtesy to answer me. He could have taken a moment to answer me personally or could have instructed his secretary or someone else to answer me, but he did not. This is a very important fact that he hid from his readers.

Third, he was duplicitous in not telling his readers that I prefaced my report by saying that there is much to praise in Greater Joy Ministries, that they have some excellent practical teaching on the family (I described eight of these in particular), and that “I am sure that the Pearls are genuine salt-of-the-earth people who try to practice what they preach.” Those are not the words of someone who is out to slander a man by taking a cheap shot at him, but that is exactly how Pearl tried to characterize me.

Fourth, he was duplicitous in saying: “I have never said I am sinless.”

In “Living Parallel Lives in the Same Space,” No Greater Joy, Jan.-Feb. 2005, Pearl says: “WE SHOULD AND CAN SIN NO MORE! ... I have been preaching AND LIVING this gospel of sanctification for many years.”

If that is not a statement of sinless living, I don’t know what it is.

Further, in the same article Pearl claims that prisoners that he ministers to “come to me all the time, bubbling over with joy, and tell me that THEY ARE NOW FREE FROM ALL SIN” (p. 21).

If those words don’t mean what they appear to mean, he should admit that he has been sloppy in his published statements and should correct them and thank me for pointing out this matter.

Fifth, he was duplicitous in making the following claim: “I have never used the terms ‘sinless perfection’ or ‘entire sanctification,’ nor have I taught anything that is remotely similar. All one need do is search the web, or a good church history book, to determine the specifics of that heresy in history. The doctrine of sinless perfection is the belief that believers can have a second work of grace whereby the old nature is eradicated, making it impossible for them to sin again. There is nothing in my teaching that is similar in any way.”

I never said that he taught a second work of grace or the eradication of the sin nature, but regardless of what terms he uses, he does teach sinless perfection and I proved this from his own writings. His pretty little smokescreen changes nothing.

Sixth, Pearl was duplicitous in saying: “Either he has not familiarized himself with my teaching, or he has another agenda that provokes him to deliberately slander my Biblical doctrine. What could prompt a man to attack a ministry on such false premises?”

Here he gives his readers the impression that I am either a careless and ignorant man or a wicked one who is simply out to hurt him. But that I have familiarized myself with his teaching is evident from my article in the quotes I gave from his writings, and to speak the truth about a man is NOT slander. There is nothing slanderous or false about my premise.

Seventh, Pearl was duplicitous in saying: “My accuser admits in his diatribe against me that it is the name of the series that led him to conclude that I taught the old Salvation Army doctrine of ‘sinless perfection.’”

I “admit” no such thing. It was his own statements in print that caused me to understand that he teaches a form of sinless perfection, and I quoted those statements. Further, I did not say anything about the Salvation Army doctrine.

Eighth, Pearl was duplicitous in saying: “My teaching on ceasing to sin is exactly what Baptists and other Bible-believing Christians have taught for 1900 years.”

In fact, his teaching is not exactly what Baptists have taught for 1900 years. I have a large private library on Baptist history and Pearl’s statement is simply ridiculous. There has never been “one standard Baptist doctrine” on sanctification, but most Baptists have not taught that the believer can live a sinless life. We agree that Pearl’s teaching is not new and we never said that it is, but it is heretical.

Ninth, Pearl was duplicitous in saying: “If my material is read and understood, the only thing you could accuse me of is helping people to stop sinning. So what is the problem? The women whose husbands have ceased pornography or adultery are not complaining about their husbands listening to the series ‘Sin No More.’ ... It is people who are comfortable with the modern belief and practice that we are all slaves to sin and cannot overcome temptations in this life, who are hasty to draw false conclusions about what I teach, simply based on the title of an audio message.”

This makes it sound as if I am opposed to holy living and do not believe in victory over the flesh, which is a lie. My preaching has helped many of God’s people to have victory in Christ. I do not believe that the believer has to be a slave to sin or that he is unable to overcome temptation, but that is not the same as claiming that he can stop sinning and be free from all sin. Pearl is using the old bait and switch tactic here.

See “Beware of Michael Pearl’s No Greater Joy Ministry” (use the website Search.)