John Gray is a conman and we should just admit it

Hear the audio at Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

Introduction
I promise that my intention here isn’t to turn this blog into a discernment blog, since my last post addressed the former Satanist’s supposed conversion, which has really just turned into a grade-A gong show. It’s John Gray’s turn now.

I will admit to being biased in writing this, as Gray pastors Relentless Church in my hometown of Greenville, South Carolina, so when I see theological weeds growing in my backyard, I’m prone to immediately grab the Roundup and go to town.

Mind you, I’m not about to disparage the fact that the man had a saddle pulmonary embolism that threatened his life and required a hospital stay. That was a legitimately serious, life-threatening situation that I wish upon no one. What I will take umbrage with, however, is the claims Gray has made since being released from the hospital.

Pearly gates turned matte silver
Gray said a lot of things in his 95-minute comeback sermon, and while it’s entirely possible to get lost in the weeds of secondary and tertiary issues, and I take major exception to how he handled Scripture, I want to hone in on a particular claim he made, which is that he went to heaven. Just after he correlates his own experience to that of Paul in 2 Corinthians 12, he spins a fantastic tale. I’ll quote at length and edit for grammatical clarity and brevity while retaining the context.

“I saw an arena and the outside of the arena was matte silver… The door may have been a thousand feet high. With my left arm I tried to open the door but it opened on its own.. Inside of this arena everything in the arena was made of light. There [were] no shadows; I saw no faces; I heard no sound. I saw the form of people but not their faces. Where their face[s] [were], was light.

“I was getting ready to walk in. I was right there. The floor was all light. I was about to step in and go around the corner, and something pulled me back [and] closed the door, which means, ‘Not yet…’

“I believe what I saw is what is described in Hebrews, ‘Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses.’ I believe that I caught a glimpse of the gathering place of the witnesses who observe the affairs of men while the plan of God unfolds out of eternity into time. And I caught a glimpse of this arena and then I was pulled back…

“But the sadness of not raising my children or loving my wife properly was motivation and I said, ‘God, let me live to finish my course… I want to walk my daughter down the aisle. I want to get my son ready so he can be a mighty man of God… I want to love my wife like Christ loved the church.’”

Gray, according to his claim here, actually one-upped Paul. Paul “heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter” (2 Cor. 12:4), but Gray is totally free to talk about what he allegedly saw and heard. Let’s even ignore Proverbs 30:4 and John 3:13 regarding those who ascend and descend from heaven, and let us for the sake of argument ignore Colossians 2:18 and the admonishment against going on about visions. Let’s assume that Gray really experienced what he claims. Did you catch his response? Let’s look at it again.

“But the sadness of not raising my children or loving my wife properly was motivation and I said, ‘God, let me live to finish my course… I want to walk my daughter down the aisle. I want to get my son ready so he can be a mighty man of God… I want to love my wife like Christ loved the church.’”

A terrifying prospect
For one, Gray apparently doesn’t trust God in his sovereignty to work out those details. For two, Jesus had something to say about this.

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.”

– Luke 14:26-27

Gray did not relish an eternity with the triune God enough to depart his own family. He did not count all things as garbage for the sake of knowing Christ (Phil. 3:8). There is apparently not fullness of joy in Yahweh’s presence, because he’d be too sad about not being with his family (Ps. 16:11). He even apparently counseled God on his decision (Is. 40:13, Rom. 11:34).

At best, this can be seen as God saying, “You really don’t want eternity with me starting now? Go ahead.” A Romans 1:24 style of handing over doesn’t always mean someone is handed over to the rankest of sins; it’s ultimately about anything else taking priority over glorifying God and enjoying him forever.

And this is what Word of Faith/prosperity gospel proponents miss (Listen to his offering every week for proof of that). They use Christian language without having biblical, orthodox definitions, and they miss the boat entirely. Sure, he’ll use the terms glory and grace and sin and even Jesus, but when he fleshes it out, it’s hollow at best and narcissistic at worst.

0/10 on the surprise scale
Of course, this should come as a surprise to no one. Gray is, after all, Joel Osteen’s former associate pastor, and he took over Relentless from prosperity hack Ron Carpenter, with whom Gray has had some legal wranglings over building leases. Sexual misconduct allegations also follow Gray like a lost puppy, and he was on the receiving end of another one in June. Can someone please read 1 Timothy 3:7 already?

So, for the record, we have a guy who has a track record of misconduct, who butchers the Scriptures and hangs out with those who do the same, while also suing those who claim to be his spiritual brethren.

Can we just call John Gray a conman and be done with it?

I don’t feel bad about it
No, I don’t feel bad about calling Gray a conman, because he consistently shows himself to be one. And, no, I don’t feel bad about calling him out by name, because it’s biblical. One cannot read the Bible and not find the places where false teachers are called out by name. 

But even beyond that, we’re commanded to “watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them” (Rom. 16:17). And how else are we supposed to avoid the wolf without calling it a wolf? “One if by land; two if by sea” only works if we know that we’re talking about a potential invasion specifically by the British from the east, not an Indian attack from the west. The Canadians had already been ruled out and sent their apologies.

So if Paul Revere hadn’t warned the colonial militia about that specific enemy using their specific tactics, the militia’s blood would have been on his own hands.

This is an eternally bigger deal. So, no, I don’t feel bad about it. Protect the Church. Tell your people to avoid John Gray, because he’s a conman who preaches heresy.

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