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.

Enduring Sound Doctrine

The pastor of Calvary Baptist Church of Temecula says in a post called, Enduring Sound Doctrine:

One writer who started out with some fairly sound material on raising children but has moved subtly away from sound doctrine is Michael Pearl.  I have recently removed all of his material from my personal library and from the church library because of the misguided nature of what he’s lately been teaching.  After some research, I found a number of serious errors in his teachings.

Personally, I do not believe that Mr. Pearl’s doctrine has changed much over the years.  It’s just that the more he writes, the more his doctrine is exposed.

Here are two quotes from his first book, To Train Up A Child, which I feel show some rather questionable doctrine:

The guilt burdened soul cries out for the lashes and nails of justice. Your child cannot yet understand that the Creator has been lashed and nailed in his place. Only the rod of correction can preserve his soul until the day of moral dawning.

The parent holds in his hand (in the form of a little switch) the power to absolve the child of guilt, cleanse his soul, instruct his spirit, strengthen his resolve, and give him a fresh start through a confidence that all indebtedness is paid.

Of course, there are many other quotes from that book which show some very questionable child raising advice. For more analysis of the Pearls’ doctrine, please see these posts as well as the Parenting in the Name of God series.

Created to be his Help Meet – A Review (sort of).

Created to be his Help Meet – A Review (sort of) is an exposé of Created To Be His Help Meet. He does a very good job of responding to the problematic parts of this book with Biblical corrections.

Unstringing the Pearls: A Critical Pastoral Assessment

Unstringing the Pearls: A Critical Pastoral Assessment is a warning from a pastor to his church, updated from a 2006 email. Since this pastor recommends Tripp, this is obviously another argument from someone who promotes spanking and will be tagged appropriately.

Fundamental Baptist Warns Against NGJ

David Cloud of Fundamental Baptist Information Service has updated his Warning Against No Great Joy Ministries. While he agrees with a lot of what the Pearls teach, he has some serious reservations:

1 ) Exalting the family over the church.
2 ) Sinless Perfection
3 ) Michael Pearl’s duplicitous dealings with the author
4 ) The teaching that Jesus became a sinner (!)

He then includes some testimonies of people who have written to him in response to his previous writings. That is where you will find some discussion of Rebekah Pearl and her dreams.