January 16, 2021

My Best Imitation of Ken and Carla (and my one gripe about Relevant Magazine)

For those of you who don’t recognize the reference in the title of this post, a little background. Ken and Carla would be the first names of two of the most famous internet watchbloggers who practice (in the case of Ken) or practiced on a previous blog (Carla) the discernment methodology known as “Guilt by Association.”

GBA, as it shall be know, usually involved Tim Keller endorsing a book by someone practicing contemplative prayer, or some reformed Baptist favorite playing Golf with Rick Warren. As practiced by these folks, GBA was ridiculous, but then I’m pretty sure that contemplative prayer is just as good as whatever kind of prayer reformed Baptists endorse, and I happen to think Rick Warren, while annoyingly inarticulate on the Gospel at times, is a Christian.

So I’m not going to attempt to dodge the bullets that will be fired my direction by those who are on the watch for hypocrisy of every kind. I’m stepping up to the line and admitting it: this post will be a form of guilt by association blogging. So get out your party hats and have some apple cider on me.

I subscribe to Relevant Magazine. As magazines go, it’s well done, and it serves several purposes for me as an old guy who doesn’t know much about evangelical youth culture. Someday I should write a review of the magazine, because I do have a few things, good and not so good, to say about it.

In the pages of Relevant there are ads for various conferences happening in the near and far.

Here’s the Creative Church Conference, happening in February at Fellowship Church in Dallas/Ft. Worth. Hosted by church growth messiah Ed Young, this conference features a variety of people from the emerging, church growth and TBN worlds. So at the bottom of the ad is Ed Young, and at the top of the ad is T.D. Jakes.

Ok, Ken and Carla fans, here we go.

T.D. Jakes, among other things, is the mentor for crazy and dangerous people like Paula White, and Jakes himself has managed to avoid giving an actual orthodox answer to the question “Do you believe in the Trinity?” for his entire career. (He’s oneness Pentecostal.) Jakes is a speaker it’s hard not to listen to, but at the end of the day he’s another Prosperity Gospel salesman. You’ll listen to him for days and never hear the Gospel, and he openly lives on the wrong side of the boundary of Trinitarian orthodoxy.

Ed Young- what are you thinking? Probably something like this:

Jakes is a great guy with a vision for helping the African-American community, he’s innovative and we can learn from him. And we can ignore his lack of enthusiasm for Trinitarianism and his enthusiasm for the the Prosperity cancer.

Ed……Ed, Ed, Ed, Ed.

But there’s more. Here’s an ad for a Hillsong conference next summer, and here’s Louie Giglio with the Osteens.

For crying out loud, Louie. Is someone holding your wife and kids hostage?

Louis Giglio is the founder and voice of the Passion Movement. He is- supposedly- deeply influenced by guys like John Piper and Francis Chan. He’s been a dependable voice for the current missions movement that is influencing so many Christian young people.

Louie, sharing a conference stage with Joel Osteen is completely bizarre. You, Louie, will be giving silent endorsement and perceived credibility to a man who is influencing millions of people away from the Biblical Gospel. You know what an enemy to Biblical evangelicalism the Prosperity message is, and your appearance with Osteen will allow thousands to say “Well, Osteen must be OK. Louie is endorsing him.” No matter how good your motives, you do not want to be at any Pulpit where Osteen speaks unless you plan to do a Galatians 2 confrontation.

However you are thinking about this, you’re thinking wrongly. Get out of that conference, and don’t go back to anything sponsored by whoever explained that this was a good idea. If you want to see Australia, take a Passion conference over there.

Good grief, Louie. If you got Piper and Chan in the same room with the Osteens, there’d be some kind of explosion, like matter and anti-matter. I’d actually like to see it. Piper/Chan vs. Joel/Victoria. Wow.

Bad, Louie. Very, very bad. Your name just slipped off my list of dependable people I can recommend to my students. (Ed’s name was never on that list.)

In fact, here’s one for Relevant Magazine’s editors: You guys run all kinds of articles about younger evangelicals who are making financial sacrifices and working for economic justice, then we read your magazine and there are the smiling faces of people like Joyce Meyer and T.D. Jakes in the ads.

Why is Relevant taking ads from Prosperity Gospel preachers or conferences hyping their message and methods? These people are taking millions and millions of dollars to enrich themselves. They are destroying entire evangelical movements in Africa. Do you really need their ad revenue? Do you really want to tell your audience that these people represent the teachings of Jesus?

Cameron Strang: Your dad’s magazine has taken heat for years for denouncing Word-Faith crooks in the editorial pages, and then advertising for them in the pages of the magazine. Are you headed down the same road? Economic justice in the articles, prosperity Gospel cancer in ads? I love and respect you brother, but this is a glaring problem in a great magazine.

OK, my imitation of the discernment bloggers is over. You’re welcome to start throwing the tomatoes. Thanks for your time.


  1. iMonk,

    I subscribed to Relevant a little over a year ago because it looked interesting and was cheap. I’ve found it to be a maddening mix of intelligent, thought provoking writing and hip, flavor of the day non-discerning inanity. The first issue I received they did a write-up about a prayer event in large stadiums called “The Call” that was a brainchild of Lou Engle. The International House of Prayer and Mike Bickle figured prominently in the article. It largely focused on the enthusiasm and prayer focus of the attendees, but there was not one mention of any controversy surrounding either of the major organizers (Lou Engle is one of the brainwashers in Jesus Camp that you mentioned earlier and Mike Bickle is another of the infamous Kansas City Prophets). I’ve also spotted multiple ads for conferences featuring these two. Living in the Kansas City area and being familiar with current and former IHOP members, the unquestioning affirmation given to these two has left me wary of the magazine ever since. I still read it because I know there are a lot of freelance articles that are worthwhile, but I take anything coming from the editors with a huge grain of salt.

  2. My take on what you are describing is that Cameron Strang- the owner/editor- knows a lot of these people because his dad owns Charisma Mag and Strang publishing. So if you listen to the Relevant podcast you’ll pick up that Cameron knows a lot of people personally whom he is aware are controversial, etc. but they have been close to his family, so he errs on the accepting side.

    That’s fine, but as an editorial policy it is doesn’t mix well with the other content of the mag. Having John Piper and Lou Engle in the mag together is superficially OK, but go to any depth at all and it becomes a problem. And the prosperity disease is the biggest example.

    I love and appreciate Relevant. I want it to do well, but this is an issue that needs to be raised in a positive, but honest way by those of us who appreciate Relevant.

  3. Ky boy but not now says

    “I subscribed to Relevant a little over a year ago because it looked interesting and was cheap. I’ve found it to be a maddening mix of intelligent, thought provoking writing and hip, flavor of the day non-discerning inanity.”

    This is true of almost any magazine except the very very very large ones. You have to fill pages on a regular basis. There is a clock ticking. Fill it or miss publishing the issue. It creates all kinds of pressure to put SOMETHING on the page. TV and Radio have similar issues.

    This is one reason I think that it’s almost impossible to publish or go on the air with a theology based theme. Very few people have the ability to feed the monster. And the monster never goes away.

    iMonk can publish 3 topics in a day or go away for a week. A regularly published magazine can’t do that.

  4. Ky boy but not now says


    “You have just greatly reduced your chances of pastoring a mega-church, but you will be able to sleep at night.”

    I’m more and more convinced that a church with a regular attendance of over 1000 or so is something very few pastors can handle well. Once you get to that size the business if running the church can very easily get in the way of what should be the purpose of the church. Think about a monthly power bill of $10,000 or even $100,000? What kind of pressure is that?

    And on top of that a senior pastor who can guide such a church without letting his ego grow too much is a rare paster.

  5. Makes me miss Cornerstone magazine, that used to be put out by Jesus People USA (out of Chicago) all the more. It was intelligent, challenging, informative, entertaining, and edifying. (And I don’t believe for a minute that they would’ve carried a Joel Osteen ad.)

    They didn’t always get the issues out exactly on time, but that was cool. Knowing all the stuff they were involved in (ministry-wise) made the publication irregularities understandable — and the quality of the magazine made the wait well worth it.


    Now I need to go listen to Resurection Band’s “Lament” album, to perk me up.

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