A pastor who faced intense controversy after the Presidential Inaugural Committee recently announced her participation in Donald Trump’s Jan. 20, inaugural festivities is hitting back at critics who have openly questioned her beliefs about the trinity, among other doctrinal stances.
Paula White, pastor of New Destiny Christian Center in Apopka, Florida, said in a statement issued to Faithwire that she has seen “a great deal of false information being reported” about her theology and her past, and proceeded to defend herself against many of the personal and theological claims.
“I have been called a heretic, an apostate, an adulterer, a charlatan, and an addict,” she said. “It has been falsely reported that I once filed for bankruptcy and — my personal favorite — that I deny the trinity!”
While White said she was hesitant to address these “patently false accusations,” she believes the commentary about her beliefs and past has created a distraction from Trump’s upcoming inauguration, so she said she decided to speak out in an effort to “set the record straight.” From there, White broke down her theological beliefs in detail.
“First of all, I believe and have always believed in the exclusivity and divinity of Jesus Christ, his saving grace and substitutionary atonement made available to all by his death on the cross,” she said. “I believe and have always believed that he was buried and on the third day rose again. I believe and have always believed in the holy trinity. I believe and have always believed in the virgin birth, and the second coming.”
White wasn’t done there, though. She continued, “I also reject any theology that doesn’t affirm or acknowledge the entirety of scriptural teaching about God’s presence and blessing in suffering as much as in times of prosperity.”
In the end, the pastor said her life decisions have certainly not been perfect, but that reality is nothing like what’s been said about her in media of late. Despite White’s frustration, though, she said she wants to “extend a hand of friendship” to everyone, including those “who have made false accusations” against her.
White did not name anyone in particular, though conservative commentator Erick Erickson has been among those who have vocally criticized White in recent days, penning a recent op-ed titled, “An Actual Trinity-Denying Heretic Will Pray at Trump’s Inauguration.”
“Paula White is a trinity denying heretic. She rejects the Council of Nicaea’s creed that every Christian accepts,” Erickson wrote. “To reject the orthodoxy of the Nicene Creed is to reject Christianity itself.”
This critique, which can be read here, stems from a video in which White appears to be agreeing with the claim that “Jesus is not the only begotten son of God.” Watch it below:
Erickson isn’t alone in his critiques, though, as theologian Michael Horton of Westminster Seminary California in Escondido, California, published an op-ed on Tuesday that also took aim at White and her purported embrace of the so-called “prosperity gospel.”
“The prosperity gospel — the idea that God dispenses material wealth and health based on what we ‘decree’ — is not just fluff,” he said. “It’s also not just another branch of Pentecostalism, a tradition that emphasizes the continuation of the gifts of healing, prophecy and tongues. It’s another religion.”
Horton had plenty more to say as well. Here’s another snapshot:
Like her mentor, T. D. Jakes, White adheres closely to the Word of Faith teachings. Besides throwing out doctrines like the Trinity and confusing ourselves with God, the movement teaches that Jesus went to the cross not to bring forgiveness of our sins but to get us out of financial debt, not to reconcile us to God but to give us the power to claim our prosperity, not to remove the curse of death, injustice and bondage to ourselves but to give us our best life now. White says emphatically that Jesus is “not the only begotten Son of God,” just the first. We’re all divine and have the power to speak worlds into existence.
It’s clear there’s a deep divide when it comes to White and her theology, though she is just one of the faith leaders expected to take part in Trump’s Jan. 20, inauguration.
White will join the Rev. Dr. Samuel Rodriguez, head of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, Catholic Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Rev. Franklin Graham, head of Samaritan’s Purse and The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Bishop Wayne T. Jackson of Great Faith Ministries International and Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center
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