20 In Book Reviews

Book Review // Uninvited

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About a year ago, I began reading Lysa Terkeurst’s book The Best Yes. I wasn’t too familiar with Lysa so I did some research and was disappointed to learn that her church permits her to have authority teaching over men, a violation of 1 Timothy 2:12 (please note, however, that women are called to teach women who are younger in the faith as commanded in Titus 2:3). My discouragement grew as I realized that her church also used her book for teaching during regular church services rather than the Bible.

With the release of Lysa’s latest book, Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely, I was curious to see how she would encourage readers to handle rejection Biblically.

Uninvited begins with Lysa telling the story of how she personally experienced rejection from her father as a child and how it impacted her as she became an adult. Uninvited is largely autobiographical with a bit of Bible sprinkled in.

Uninvited does contain some truths presented in its pages including, “He (Jesus) was betrayed, mocked, abandoned, beaten, crucified, and buried. . . His crucifixion on the cross became the defeat of death. His broken body became the resurrection hope for the world,” (pg. 175).

However, the bulk of this book leaves much to be desired when it comes to understanding how to handle rejection the way Jesus did and would. The tone of the book is saturated with feel good, self help advice that appears to be aimed at scratching the itching ears mentioned by Paul in 2 Timothy 4:3. Uninvited seems to encourage Christian women to pull themselves up by their boot straps rather than fix their eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-4) who Isaiah 53:3 tells us, “. . . was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces. . .”

With all this in mind, here are 3 of the red flags I found while reading Uninvited:

  • Lysa claims to receive direct revelation from God – “And that’s when a very clear sentence popped into my head. You aren’t set aside, Lysa. You are set apart. It wasn’t audible. And it wasn’t my own thought. I knew it was a thought assigned by God that I needed to ponder (pg. 102).” Although it is Biblically true that God’s people are set apart, in the sense that He has redeemed them for Himself, Lysa’s thought isn’t from Scripture and therefore, it is inappropriate to assign it authority from God. Direct revelation is a problem that is all too common in Christian literature today, especially that which is aimed at women. This statement violates multiple passages of Scripture that warn against adding to what God has said in His Word (Deuteronomy 4:2, Deuteronomy 12:32, Proverbs 30:6Revelation 22:18). If Lysa’s thought truly was assigned by God, it would have made sense for her to mention where she found it in His Word, but she neglected to do so.

Peter was a disciple of Christ and His close friend, the one upon whom He would build His church. Although Peter physically heard God, he still urged believers to consider Scripture more trustworthy than his experience. This same thinking should be applied anytime someone claims to receive revelation from God apart from Scripture.

  • Lysa uses multiple Bible translations – I’m not sure why this is other than certain translations seem to fit better with what she is saying. God’s Word must be handled with care. It is of utmost importance to know the context of what is being said as well as the author’s intended meaning. To truly understand what Scripture says, it makes the most sense to read translations that are based closely on the original text of God’s Word as written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. The Bible is called God’s Word because it’s about Him. Attempting to mold His Word to fit our own understanding is prideful and blasphemous causing us to lose sight of His holiness.
  • One of the multiple translations Lysa uses is The Voice which is a paraphrase of the Bible using modern language. I had never heard of The Voice prior to reading Uninvited so I decided to research it. I found out that the translation team for The Voice included many pastors (male and female), professors and “Christian” artists, including musicians and writers. The Voice website states, “A new Bible translation that reads like a story with all of the truth and wisdom of God’s word,” however, I must greatly question the authenticity of this “translation” when Biblical commands were ignored in its making, including the addition of female pastors as part of the team. I am NOT saying that women can’t help translate the Bible, although that is something I, personally, have rarely seen. I am saying that as those who are commanded to test everything, we must question the authenticity of a “translation” whose team is composed of individuals who are showing a blatant disregard for God’s Word.

These are 3 of the many red flags I found in Uninvited and therefore I do not recommend it. Lysa is a self proclaimed Bible teacher (pg. 126,) so it is my sincere hope that she will grow in her knowledge and application of God’s Word and I know, based on my claims in this post as well as on this blog, that this must be what I hope for myself as well.

Blogger Michelle Lesley said, “It’s my prayer that Lysa will repent of the areas in which she is acting against Scripture, learn biblical hermeneutics so she can rightly handle God’s word, and have a tremendous – doctrinally sound – impact on the thousands of women who love her so much,” – I share the same heart.

With the popularity of Lysa’s books and ministry, I am sure that this review will not be well received but I take knowing and applying God’s Word seriously and I urge believers, especially women to do the same.

I received Uninvited compliments of BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.

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20 Comments

  • Reply
    Michelle Lesley
    October 24, 2016 at 6:59 pm

    Excellent review, Lauren (and thanks so much for the link up and quote :0) The point you brought out about using multiple translations and paraphrases is an important one. I’ve seen many teachers and preachers do this because they’ve chosen a certain word, phrase, or idea for their sermon or book and they “translation shop” until they find a Bible version that uses that same word, phrase, or idea rather than simply using the most reliable translation throughout their teaching. This is a form of eisegesis, an unbiblical way of teaching God’s word.

    • Reply
      Lauren DuPrez
      October 24, 2016 at 10:02 pm

      Michelle, I’ve enjoyed reading your blog and I’m humbled that you not only read my review but have been kind enough to leave a comment! It is so hard to find theologically solid books, especially for women. Like you, I believe it is so important to thoroughly examine what is out there and warn my sisters. I completely agree about your thoughts on eisegesis. As a woman, I am tired of being asked what God’s Word means to me – I long to know what it says about HIM! I desperately need to be pointed to the good news of Jesus and the cross because my own heart is quick to forget who Christ is and what He has done for me. Thank you for being faithful to keep the truth of Christ as the foundation for all you do!

  • Reply
    Amanda
    October 24, 2016 at 11:34 pm

    Thank you so much for reviewing this book! Unfortunately, I didn’t think to look at reviews before buying it. Could you suggest a better book that is along the topic of rejection? I struggle greatly with past rejection and had high hopes for this book.

    • Reply
      Lauren DuPrez
      October 25, 2016 at 2:48 pm

      Hi Amanda, thank you for reading my review and for commenting! I don’t typically recommend resources I haven’t read but I believe Shame Interrupted: How God Lifts the Pain of Worthlessness and Rejection by Ed Welch would be a good choice. Ed is a certified Biblical counselor and you can read some of his blog posts on the topic of shame/rejection here. I also recommend this blog post from Desiring God and this post from Revive Our Hearts. I’m praying that your heart will be comforted by God and that these resources will be of true help to you!

  • Reply
    Linda
    January 5, 2017 at 3:53 am

    Thank you for your review – I now have three of Lysa’s books and to be honest, have not been as attentive as I should to what she’s teaching. I appreciate your thoughts, and after reading your review and other articles warning about her teaching, I have to admit I have a dilemma. A dear friend who I’m working through “Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World” has given me this book and wants to study it next. I would rather do something more Scriptural (just in the first chapter of Uninvited I noticed a serious absence of Scripture), but I don’t want to hurt my friend’s feelings. She belongs to a Word of Faith church, also, and I haven’t yet found a good way or time to approach this error. Anyway, any suggestions? Thank you for your time!

    • Reply
      Lauren DuPrez
      January 5, 2017 at 6:06 am

      Hi Linda, thank you for your comment and for reading my review, I’m glad it was helpful to you. Your situation with your friend is a tough spot to be in. I have been in similar situations with with Christian women I know and love and navigating through them wasn’t easy. As believers we are called to speak the truth in love as described in Ephesians 4:15-16 and it seems as though you have the perfect opportunity to live this out with your friend. I would pray and ask the Lord for wisdom before speaking with her. When you do speak with her I would encourage you to make your concerns known by humbly showing her how Scripture is at odds with the books she enjoys reading and teachers she enjoys listening to. These conversations are difficult and in my experience the key for me has been humility and having a heart of unity. I encourage you to be gracious as your friend simply may not know that the resources she relies on are not grounded in Biblical truth – for many years I was unable to discern truth and I am still in the process of learning how to do so. Ultimately the heart of relationships amongst believers is to sharpen one another (Proverbs 27:17) into Christlikeness and if our words are harsh, they stir up anger (Proverbs 15:1) rather than give grace to all who hear (Ephesians 4:29). A gentle answer, indeed, turns away wrath and it seems the most appropriate approach considering we are called to live peaceably with all as far as it depends on us (Romans 12:18). Know that regardless of your friends response, you are showing the ultimate form of love for her by telling her truths that are essential to the health of her soul. She may not appreciate what you have to say but ultimately we are called to obey God rather than man (Acts 5:29) and we can take heart knowing that God is pleased by our obedience and our eternity has already been secured by Jesus. I’m praying that your conversation with your friend will be profitable and for her heart to be soft toward the truths of Scripture. I’m praying also that the Lord will keep you from fearing man as I often do and will give you the boldness to speak the truth in love. Thanks again for reading and commenting, I really appreciate it! In Christ, Lauren

    • Reply
      Jen
      February 2, 2017 at 9:07 pm

      Hi, Linda! If you’re still looking for a different book to study with your friend, you might want to give “Attitudes of a Transformed Heart” by Martha Peace a try. That book is chockful of Scripture, so it sounds more up the alley you’re wanting. 🙂 Praying that you’ll be able to have those hard conversations with your friend and that she’ll receive it well.

  • Reply
    Kimberly Osment
    January 12, 2017 at 4:33 pm

    Sitting in a full room of women arrived for first day of Uninvited.
    I had never heard of Lysa.

    THANK YOU for objective review.
    I’ll be grateful to be the voice of truth.
    Thanks for heads up.

  • Reply
    Kirstin
    February 4, 2017 at 6:16 pm

    Hi Lauren,

    I searched for reviews of Uninvited, which I’m still reading, and found your blog.

    Would you explain 1 Timothy 2:12? For instance, a famous, beloved Christian woman who has spent most of her life in a wheelchair spoke at the weekend services at my church about the meaning of suffering from a biblical perspective. Men were present. Was that teaching permissible, impermissible, a gray area?

    Thank you. : )

    • Reply
      Lauren DuPrez
      February 4, 2017 at 7:51 pm

      Hi Kirstin,
      Thank you so much for taking the time to read my review and leave a comment. In 1 Timothy 2:12, Paul is giving Timothy instruction on how the church should function when the members are gathered together for regular worship. Since a Sunday service is regular worship at most churches, it would seem that having a woman preach during that time violates the instruction set forth in Scripture.

      This doesn’t necessarily mean that women can never speak/teach in the church but there are Biblically appropriate contexts for when and how this should occur. We see in Titus 2 that older women are called to instruct younger women. This is a discipleship relationship that can occur in many ways but I have typically seen it played out through Bible studies, small groups and naturally occurring friendships within the church. I have been blessed to have many women in my church, who are older in the faith, take me under their wing in a sense, and show me what it looks like to imitate them as they imitate Christ in the various roles that they occupy (i.e. Believer, wife, mom, friend, ministry leader, employee). This wasn’t necessarily a formal time of study but it has benefitted me greatly to learn from older, Godly women.

      We also see in Scripture that women can hold the position of deacon, as Phoebe was a deaconess (Romans 16:1). The English word for deacon comes from the Greek word diakonon which means servant. Thus the role of a deacon is a non-teaching role and Biblically, it is permissible for a woman to serve the church in ways that don’t require her to hold teaching authority over men.

      It sounds like the woman you may be referring to is Joni Eareckson Tada, who I know has been interviewed during regular teaching times and has also shared on suffering Biblically at various conferences. I had the privilege of listening to the recording of her session from John MacArthur’s Strange Fire conference and was greatly encouraged by her love for Jesus. In these cases, she isn’t teaching over men, and as far as I know doesn’t have a regular teaching ministry where she is in authority over men so it seems to be a gray area that should always be approached with wisdom.

      Paul’s warning applies to regular teaching ministry in the church and his caution is especially applicable today with the rise of female pastors. The way Lysa Terkeurst’s church functions in allowing her to have regular teaching authority over men is unbiblical not only in violation of 1 Timothy 2:12 but also in that their authority during regular service times is her book and not Scripture.

      Thanks again for your comment, it challenged me to dig a bit deeper to see what the Bible has to say about this issue. Feel free to reach out should you have further questions. I am not an expert by any means, but I do enjoy studying the Bible and hope that through this blog I can encourage women to do the same.

      In Christ,
      Lauren

      • Reply
        Kirstin
        February 4, 2017 at 9:25 pm

        I appreciate your eloquent response. I was writing about Joni, and if it seemed that I was questioning her actions, I didn’t want to use her name and have this pop up in Internet searches. (Not that I understand how that works . . .)

        I share your pet peeve about using multiple translations. The Purpose Driven Life always comes to mind as the worst example.

  • Reply
    Melody
    February 17, 2017 at 3:24 am

    What a tremendous relief it was to find this post. After years of leading worship at “Women’s Retreats” which seem to be more of a cheerleader session for self worth, I was beyond discouraged to find out that this years retreat for our church was based on this book. After prayer, study, a little “why me” self pity, and bringing it up to the pastor and his wife, the retreat planning is on hold until the pastor can review this book for himself. I would love to ask for prayers for wisdom for our pastor (and myself) as he discerns the truth about this book and hopefully points the planning team in a solid scriptural direction.
    I would love to live nearby and go out to coffee and talk theology and not be discouraged and feeling like a fanatic for wanting scriptural truth. Period end of story truth. It is so easy to feel isolated when it seems the truth is being so pushed in the rear as desire for acceptance, being “better”, cleaner, more presentable, and feeling happy with oneself take precedence. I am glad to read that other women are also striving for this truth. Sola scriptura, sister 🙂

    • Reply
      Lauren DuPrez
      February 19, 2017 at 2:39 am

      Melody, thank you for reading my review and taking the time to leave a comment! I am so encouraged by what you wrote and it is sweet to see the Lord using this little blog in ways bigger than I could have imagined. I will absolutely be praying for your pastor to have wisdom as he leads and for him to rightly handle the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15). I will be praying for you too as you have the opportunity to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15), which is often easier said than done. I recently attended a Biblical counseling seminar hosted by my church in which the speaker was Dr. John Street and he emphasized the importance of pastors reading books for Christian women because the number of unreliable options is rapidly increasing. Also, this past week, one of the ladies discipling me told me that it’s not always about what the authors say, but rather what they are not saying – I found this to be true with Uninvited, especially with the lack of Scripture and total lack of the Gospel. I think the biggest thing I’ve learned by reading books that aren’t very solid is that women desperately need to know God’s Word. It is my hope that this blog can be used to encourage women to grow in their knowledge of the Bible and to study it for themselves. Too often, I find that we are quick to rely on resources with “Christian” labels to help us grow Spiritually and forsake prioritizing the sufficiency of Scripture above all else. Thanks again for reading and commenting and please know that I am praying for you and your pastor as you navigate what would best help the women in your church grow in their love of our dear Savior.

      • Reply
        Melody
        March 6, 2017 at 2:52 pm

        Well, they decided to go with the book and the theme is “Live Loved”. I am so discouraged by this as after finishing the whole book I feel like she just butchered the scripture. How she wrote about Pharoah (who was actually advised by Joseph as a way of God showing His power to Eygypt) hoarding food out of fear and how ungodly his fear was, how she conjectured that David’s reaction to Nabal was because of his deeply rooted feeling of rejection seeded by Father, etc. was just hard to even read. If someone is so poor at understanding scripture ( especially scripture like she chose that needs nothing read into it), how can she be trusted for the rest of the advice in the book?
        I don’t know what to do with this now. I am on staff at the church. I am leading worship at the retreat. Yet I feel that Lysa Terkeurst is a woman that teaches some dangerous non biblical practices (like contemplative prayer) and I do not agree with a lot of her scripture interpretation. I have been assured that the retreat uses the book only sparingly, yet to me even this is too much. When asked what my problem is with the book and retreat theme, i have been met with a lot of response of “You are taking this too far or too seriously or reading into it too much”.
        I have yet to bring my concerns strait to the women and I am unsure of what to do. I feel like the whole theme of “live loved” goes well with the theme throughout the book of ONLY internal development and feeling better about yourself as a christian, and of not calling sin what it is. I noticed sin (other than in only ONE place) is referred to in petty manners that demean its seriousness.
        This reviewer from the Gospel Coalition exactly quantified what I thought of Uninvited, though the review is from Unglued. Apparently her writing and thoughts are the same book to book, which is to be expected.

        ” So when Lysa gets angry at an airline employee, responds harshly to a friend, or is impatient with her children, she is primarily distressed over damaged relationships or her own feelings of failure and regret rather than her sin against a holy God. Thus, Unglued is more self-referential than God-centered, making its counsel inevitably flawed.

        The book’s deficient view of sin flows from an inadequate understanding of God’s character. “Unglued” is the first of many euphemisms for what the Bible calls sin. While biblical language is employed at times, its definitions are inadequate, and the repeated use of cute and sometimes clever descriptions of our negative emotions enhance their vividness but obscure their seriousness. Judgmental and self-pitying thoughts are relabeled “negative inside chatter,” while the jealous woman is recast as “the empty woman” (131, 141). Lysa’s categories of “exploders” and “stuffers” help me think about how I tend to react, but not about the seriousness of the anger, bitterness, or pride that fuels these reactions. And again, the accent is often on how these emotions are difficult for the one who is emotional—not first and foremost on their sin against God and others. ”

        Advice here would be welcomed from anyone who studies scripture.

        • Reply
          Melody
          March 6, 2017 at 2:54 pm

          I would like to add the the women planning the retreat are wonderful women who I know only want to minister the hearts of the women going to the retreat, I just think they are a little off the mark here.

        • Reply
          Lauren DuPrez
          March 11, 2017 at 5:44 am

          Melody, I’m so sorry to hear that! I totally agree with you about her misunderstanding and misuse of Scripture. When I read the book, I made notes for my review and I did have one about Pharaoh but decided to only post 3 of my top concerns because my review was growing lengthy. I am sad that you’ve been told you are taking Scripture too seriously, I personally don’t think it’s possible to take it too seriously. I will continue to pray for you sister, this is a weighty issue. I know you work for the church but will pray for the Lord to give you wisdom as to whether you should continue to do so or find a church that encourages teaching and learning the Word in an accurate manner. If you do find yourself wanting to check out other churches in your area, I have two church search websites listed on my Resources page and it looks like there are some solid Bible teaching churches in your area. I will be praying for the Lord to use you in the time you are with your church to point women to who God is according to Scripture. I also totally agree with you about the whole, “Live Loved” garbage. It would be helpful if “Live Loved” referred to women living as loved children of God focusing on what He has done for us through Christ, rather than encouraging women to feel good about themselves on the basis of their own merit. I asked my husband about your situation and he said you should just move to Southern California so we can be friends 🙂 Praying that you will trust our faithful God who gives wisdom to all generously and without reproach (James 1:5). I apologize for my delayed response, it has been a busy week! In Christ, Lauren

  • Reply
    Kirstin
    March 16, 2017 at 12:46 am

    I agree with Melody about Lysa TerKeurst’s handling of Scripture, especially concerning Jesse and David.

    I just read Wait and See, which was written by another Proverbs 31 speaker, Wendy Pope. Wait and See has the same problems that Lauren identified in Uninvited (except for use of The Voice). It’s probably best to avoid books by the Proverbs 31 team.

    • Reply
      Lauren DuPrez
      March 23, 2017 at 3:51 am

      I agree with you Kirstin! In my review, I linked to an article by Michelle Lesley called Leaving Lysa in which Michelle addresses further concerns with Lysa and begins with noting that Lysa is the president of Proverbs 31 Ministries. This probably has to do with the lack of solid resources produced by Proverbs 31 Ministries. A solid ministry I recommend for women is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth. I really enjoy listening to the MP3s of the radio show which cover a variety of topics that apply to women. I’ve also been reading Nancy’s latest book Adorned which discusses how women can adorn the Gospel through Godly behavior – it’s SO good!

  • Reply
    Helen
    March 17, 2017 at 1:14 pm

    I’m so glad to know that I’m not the only one having issues with this book. This is the first book I’ve read by Lysa and I started off loving it! Until…. she started pulling out “scripture” that was not there. At all. When she tells the story of David and Abigail she says that Nabal’s rejection of him “opened up an old wound”. That’s a fine theory but there is zero evidence in the Bible that David felt “the red hot sting of rejection” when Jesse didn’t consider him when Samuel came to choose a king. In that culture it would have been unheard of that the youngest would be chosen above the older brothers. It wasn’t a personal matter, it was the way of the culture. And even IF David did feel hurt by it, we never read about it in scripture so why spend two chapters building a case around it?! I can’t get myself to read the book further or to be open to her message. I want truth not fluff. I’m hoping this is just an error on her part and that she has the best intentions… I think we need to always use discernment and not simply accept everything as truth simply because it comes from someone with a big name.

    • Reply
      Lauren DuPrez
      March 23, 2017 at 3:41 am

      Hi Helen,
      Thanks for reading my review and taking the time to leave a comment! I totally agree with you! While reading the book I made notes for my review and had one about Pharaoh but left it out because my review was growing lengthy. In her case for these individual’s responses to their circumstances, she is adding to Scripture which is a violation of Scripture. By creating her own theories as to what these people were experiencing, she also completely left out their responsibility for their own sin and the hope that sinners have in Jesus. I’m with you on wanting truth instead of fluff and I find it disheartening that a majority of “Christian” literature aimed at women is the latter. It’s time for women to know God’s Word and take it seriously and books like Uninvited are not helpful in that endeavor. Thanks again for taking the time to comment, it’s encouraging to know that there are other women who share my passion for truth! 🙂

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