What Does Mr. Pearl Really Believe?

Michael Pearl has a very interesting article on his website where he responds to Pastor Raley‘s warning against his teachings in his church bulletin.  Now, in this article, Mr. Pearl says that he did not say what Pastor Raley says that he said.  I found that very interesting and so I decided to go through the articles and get to the bottom of this.

I clicked on the links where Pastor Raley cites his quotes and used CTRL F to search for them.  Here are the quotes Mr. Pearl claims that he did not write and my findings.

When a descendant of Adam reaches a level of moral understanding (sometime in his youth) he becomes fully, personally accountable to God and has sin imputed to him, resulting in the peril of eternal damnation.

When man reaches his state of moral accountability, and, by virtue of his personal transgression, becomes blameworthy, his only hope is a work of grace by God alone.”

These quotes are found in Mr. Pearl’s article, What We Believe.

If you put yourselves under my authority, you can learn the secret to getting rid of your sins.”

This was a generalization which I don’t believe that Pastor Raley meant to attribute to Mr. Pearl.

…age of accountability.”

I do not believe that this was meant to be a quote from Mr. Pearl either.  I think Pastor Raley meant these as “scare quotes.”

…a work of grace by God alone

This was found in Mr. Pearl’s article, What We Believe.

In the next 4 paragraphs are quibbling about whether or not he used certain words which he certainly did use in the article, In Defense of Biblical Chastisement.   Michael Pearl says,

The next paragraph attributed to me contains 118 words. The first 50 words are entirely false and certainly do not represent anything I have ever written or said. It contains words I have never employed and concepts I have never endorsed, like “To the child, a righteous parent is a surrogate god.”

It is especially interesting to me how he protests that he never used the words, “Eternal God,” when he certainly did. He says in the article,

I wrote “the higher powers” with “powers” in plural and in all lower case letters. If I had wanted to say “The Eternal God” I would have done so. I ask, why does my critic want me to say something different from what I said? Why did he find it necessary to change my words in order to find fault? His quote is a lie, his criticism slander. Why? To what end?

The quotes are there, exactly as Pastor Raley quoted them, in In Defense of Biblical Chastisement.  I think that Mr. Pearl owes Pastor Raley an apology for accusing him of lying and slander.

He also claims to have not used the word, “give,”  although he uses it 8 times in that same article.

Apparently there was some confusion as Mr. Pearl thought that his book were being referenced and in actually it was his website. It seems a bit odd to me that he forgot to check the website, especially as it will pop up in a Google search of the first quote, but maybe I’m missing something.

In the rest of the article, Pearl argues that what he said is not really what he meant and that he fails to see how anyone could possibly think that he could have meant what we accuse him of meaning.  He further insists that to even suggest that he means such things makes it obvious that we have evil intent.  Ok, he did not actually say those words, I am paraphrasing. Of course, I’m probably misunderstanding him, so I’d better stop putting words in his mouth and quit while I’m ahead. I have proven that did write the quotes which he claims to have not written. I’ll leave the rest of the article for someone else to answer.

Update:  On Dec 10, 2010 Michael added a retraction to the bottom of this article to explain that he did, indeed, write one of those quotes.  He still maintains that he did not write the rest, especially the one which was meant to be a paraphrase.


Matthew Raley’s series about rebellion and the Christian continues. In this entry, he mentions how Michael Pearl’s teachings are designed to break, not soften, a child’s will and why we don’t want that.

Rebellion and Stubbornness

Pro-Spankers’ arguments

Michael Pearl alleges that only those who are anti-spanking oppose his teachings. He has no idea how wrong he is. For your convenience, here is a compilation of arguments and concerns from Christians who approve of spanking:

To Train Up A Child (Book Review) by Tina Jobe

To Train Up A Child: An Examination of the Pearl Method by Rey Reynoso who had done a great job of digging deep and analyzing the Pearls’ teachings using the Bible to refute them.

Is Michael Pearl Responsible For a Girl’s Death?
Pearl Of Too Great a Price and
The Behavior Modification Gospel by Matthew Raley, a pastor who uses Tedd Tripp’s teachings in his church.

Fundamental Baptists warning about No Greater Joy Ministries

Michael Pearl’s Duplicity is the answer to Pearl’s response to his critics in Oct 2007

The Pearls and Your Child’s Heart from Raising Olives.  In case you need proof, she mentions her belief in spanking in the comments of this post.

To Train Up A Child? book review from The Watchman’s Bagpipes.

Michael and Debi Pearl – sample wisdom by Barbara Curtis from Mommy Life

Reflections on TTUAC by Jen at His Grace His Glory who has found much good in the Pearls’ teachings but has some concerns to share.

Michael & Debi Pearl, & Questions of Ministry Credentialing by Pastor Jack from New Covenant Living

Chucklestravels has a few posts about Michael Pearl as well as Debi Pearl.

Child Discipline or Child Abuse? by Virginia Knowles

The Parenting In The Name of God series from Scitia Scienda who tells me that when he “corrects NGJ’s theology and parenting advice, he does so from a very solid positive experience of being “traditionally” parented by Christian conservatives who did believe in spanking, who have attended KJV-only and other fundamentalist/independent churches, who homeschooled their kids.”

For more, please check out my tag.


Pastor Matthew Raley looks at “rebellion versus God-led character formation” in The R-Word.

(A big thank you to C.L. Dyck for the link and the wording for this post.)

The Schatz Story part 2

If you are not familiar with the Schatz Story or want more info, please look here.

News Stories

Note:  Many old news stories which have been removed by their papers can be found here and here.

Couple plead not guilty to killing their 7-year old daugher from the Paradise Post March 18, 2010 Summerized by Religion News Blog

Paradise couple plead not guilty to killing their 7 year old daughter KHSL TV Channel 12 March 19, 2010

Investigating: Why’s Behind Child Abuse KHSL’s News Investigation of Child Abuse video on TulipGirl’s Blog


Lydia’s Birthday, Autopsy Released by TulipGirl

Pleading “Not Guilty” to Murder, Torture, Cruelty by TulipGirl

Michael & Debi Pearl, & Questions of Ministry Credentialing by Pastor Jack from New Covenant Living

A Community’s Agony Over the Schatzes by Pastor Matthew Raley from Tritone Life

Love Never Fails blog asks us to consider if Attachment Disorder could have had anything to do with Lydia Schatz’ death.

A warning for Canadian parents from Desperately Seeking Suzin:  Pearl’s teachings are against the law.

Earlier reactions here.

In Depth Analysis of Pearl’s Teachings


To Train Up A Child: An Examination of the Pearl Method by Rey Reynoso who had done a great job of digging deep and analyzing the Pearls’ teachings using the Bible to refute them.

Parenting in the Name of God: Introduction from Scita > Scienda  Note:  This is the 1st in a series.

Lydia The Child The Pearls Laugh At! from Emotional Abuse and Your Faith

Is Michael Pearl Responsible For a Girl’s Death? Matthew Raley, a pastor who uses Tedd Tripp’s teachings in his church, speaks out against Pearl’s teachings.

so does Michael Pearl bear any responsibility for the death of Lydia Schatz? by Thatmom

When Parenting Kills – What Can We Do? By Katiekind

Spanking in Anger isn’t the Problem Water Lilly explains why we can’t just assume that the Schatzs were out of control.

In which I talk about the terrible event I mentioned 2 weeks ago By Paul M, who knows the Schatzs, analyzes the Pearls’ teachings and explains how wrong they are.

Hold ‘em Down, Defeat Totally By TulipGirl, who explains exactly how the Pearls teachings caused this death

No Greater Joy Children Takes a look at everything taught by the No Greater Joy Ministries from the perspective of love, respect, and not hurting our children

The brokenhearted Sinner By Aaron

Pearl Of Too Great a Price Matthew Raley, a pastor who uses Tedd Tripp’s teachings in his church, speaks out against Pearl’s teachings.

The Pearls, abuse and a false gospel From Roscommon Acres

How many children must die before Mike & Debi Pearl are held accountable? By Elizabeth Esther

The World’s Most Dangerous People From Just Another Clay Pot

Senseless Deception By Spunky

Child Discipline or Child Abuse? by Virginia Knowles

child abuse in the name of Jesus by Thatmom

update on the Lydia Schatz case and why it is not about spanking by Thatmom

I write this with a heavy heart by Jennie Hall

No Greater Joy Ministries “Biblical” Parenting Couple Beats Child to Death from Peaceful Parenting

Hermeneutics, Life, and Death by Randy Greenwald, Pastor, Hope Presbyterian Church, Bradenton, Florida.

The Behavior Modification Gospel Matthew Raley, a pastor who uses Tedd Tripp’s teachings in his church, speaks out against Pearl’s teachings.

A Time To Weep . . . for Lydia Schatz and Sean Paddock from A Time To Laugh

Debra has a lot of very good, thought provoking posts about the Pearls’ teachings at Debra’s Random Thoughts.  See especially:

Rebekah Pearl Part One–Her Childhood
Rebekah Pearl’s Young Adult Years
Rebekah Pearl Anast Part Three-Life After Marriage


Whose Heart Failure? from Now… Through a Glass Darkly. Also see its followup
Stand With an Open Heart–What Frog and Toad Can Teach Us about What Lydia Schatz Might Have Said

ThatMom asks us to consider the question, are they true or false teachers?

“Pearls” of Wisdom? by Woman Uncensored includes numerous quotes from NGJ site

More arguments can be found here.