Kristi McLelland is a rising star in the “women’s Bible study” arena and appears to be popular among the same people who are attracted to other women’s teachers such as Beth Moore and Jen Wilkin. McLelland is a speaker, teacher, and professor at Williamson College and received her Masters in Christian Education at Dallas Theological Seminary.
McLelland describes herself as a “biblical culturalist” who teaches the Bible through a “Middle Eastern lens.” While it is certainly useful to understand the historical context of the Scriptures, McLelland advocates for Christians of today to absurdly mimic some of the practices found in these ancient cultures. One example of this is the “tear jars” she sells for women to cry and collect their tears in.
In fact, like Jen Wilkin, Beth Moore, and the vast majority of women’s Bible teachers, much of McLelland’s teachings center around modern feminist teachings and she uses–and manipulates–the Scriptures to try to advance this cause.
McLelland teaches that when she took her first trip to Israel and the Middle East, that she had some kind of mystical experience where she learned that Jesus was “better than she ever knew.” According to McLelland, you can be closer to God by having this same experience.
In the clip below, McLelland explains how she became involved with LifeWay. According to McLelland, some other women who are involved with LifeWay heard her speak and told her that her teachings were “something new” that had never been heard before–first red flag–and that her teachings make Jesus “make Jesus better than anything I ever knew.”
Anyone who claims that their “new” teachings from the Bible make Jesus better is treading dangerous territory.
McLelland also preaches from the pulpit on Sunday mornings to both men and women. This rebellious act denies the authority of Scripture. Anyone who claims that the Scriptures are unclear on women preaching and teaching men are simply in rebellion to God–there is no excuse for that.
McLelland is deep into mysticism and her “teaching the Bible through a Middle Eastern lens” courses can be reduced to nothing more than Middle Eastern mysticism. Referencing Psalm 19, McLelland explains in a podcast that OT Rabbis in Israel would lay down honey on wax paper and tell people to taste it, and then they would tell them that that is what the Word of God tastes like. She then goes on to compare her bible studies to this form of mysticism, stating that “it’s not about the acquisition of knowledge, it’s about posturing ourselves to receive.”
McLelland goes on to teach that by placing ourselves into the “stories” of the Scriptures, we can be better “postured” to “eat the feast God has prepared for us.”
Of course, the Scriptures do not actually teach this method of Bible study, and nowhere in Scripture are we taught or commanded to place ourselves in these passages. These passages are not meant to be “feasts” for us to feed on, but rather point us to Christ and glorify Him, who is the true and living bread and all we need.
McLelland goes on to say that “God’s invitation is for us to work out of our rest, from a place of rest,” and that “the Sabbath has to increase as our work increases.” She says that “our souls are rhythmic and Sabbath is something we tune into.”
“The kingdom of God is coming to the ground. We tap or tune into it. Rest is a form of worship.”
This is far more akin to Hinduism and Kundalini than it is to a truly Biblical understanding of Christianity and faith. We are taught nowhere in Scripture to “tune in” to any kind of “rhythms” of the Sabbath, Christ, the Holy Spirit, or anything else. We are to know God by studying the Scriptures and preaching the good news to the lost world around us.
Of course, McLelland is also caught up in the woke church movement and spends a lot of time advocating for women in the pulpit. McLelland, we can be sure, is headed on the same trajectory as most of LifeWay’s current line-up of unbiblical trash for women’s Bible studies, but she is still new and has a long way to go. For now, it’s best to avoid her.