Tony Evans taught that heaven needs earth’s authorization to intervene in the affairs of earth. There is evidence he is influenced by toxic doctrine similar to Word of Faith teaching, thus that statement isn’t merely a failure to be precise. Like Word of Faith theology, he has taught that you can speak peace to your organs and hormones so your body will function well. Like Word of Faith theology he has taught that you can refuse symptoms of disease and claim your healing, going so far as to say you can command it to depart. Finally, similar to Word of Faith theology he has taught that we’re not waiting on God for a miracle, God waits on us, because the miracle is already done. That was taught in a sermon titled Stop Blocking Your Miracle.
With all of that in view, it’s more believable that his statement about heaven needing earth’s authorization to act is evidence of bad doctrine leaking out, than it is evidence of a man with a Th.D. and Th.M, engaged in the rigors of the writing process, simply failing to be precise enough.
Tony Evans sounds very similar to Word of Faith heretics in his blog titled Holding God Accountable. He asserts that heaven needs earth’s authorization to intervene in the affairs of earth. Later in the this entry, you’ll see it looks like Tony Evans has been influenced by some bad theology that has Word of Faith overtones.
Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass. 1 Thessalonians 5:24
One of the most important things we can do as Christians is to pray according to our covenantal rights. But we often don’t do this because we misunderstand what prayer is.
Let me define prayer by first saying what prayer is not. Prayer is not simply talking to God. Instead, prayer is asserting earthly permission for heavenly interference. Prayer is earth giving heaven authorization to intervene in the affairs of earth as heaven has previously stated it would. That permission is granted based on your legal position and rights. That’s why it is essential to study the Word of God and to know the rights He has granted you through His Word.
If you’re being held in bondage by an illegitimate force in your life, cry out to God. Pray to Him for deliverance by appealing to Him based on your covenantal rights. God has a legal obligation to respond to you because you have a legitimate agreement with Him found in His Word.
Go through the Scriptures and read everything that relates to your stronghold and pray it back to God. When you do that, prayer is no longer just a spiritual exercise or something to check off of your Christian to-do list. Rather, prayer becomes a legal meeting where you and God get together in agreement on the same covenantal arrangement. Prayer becomes an act of holding God accountable, in the right sense of the word, to what He holds Himself accountable to: His Word.
Compare the quote from Evans with a quote from word of faith heretic Myles Munroe.
“Yes. Let me define prayer for you in this show. Prayer is man giving God permission, or license, to interfere in earth’s affairs. In other words, prayer is earthly license for heavenly interference….God can do nothing on earth, nothing has God ever done on earth without a human giving him access….Always looking for a human to give him power of permission. In other words, God has the power, but you got the permission. God got the authority and the power, but you got the license. So even though God can do anything, he can only do what you permit him to do”
Tony Evans again
Instead, prayer is asserting earthly permission for heavenly interference. Prayer is earth giving heaven authorization to intervene in the affairs of earth as heaven has previously stated it would. That permission is granted based on your legal position and rights.
Some may give Evans the benefit of the doubt because he appeals to covenant promises. Actually he calls them covenant rights. Those giving Evans the benefit of the doubt might argue that his language is imprecise. They would argue that Evans is merely saying we can rest on the promises of God, and bring them to God in prayer. Because God promised them, we can trust that God will do them. Some might even point to teachings from the Puritans.
If that is the case, Evans made an incredible gaffe that put him within the rhetorical realm of really bad company. His statements gravely diminish the sovereignty of God. The idea that God needs permission to do anything is unbiblical, and puts man on the throne, instead of putting God on the throne.
Saying to grasp the promises of God, rest in the promises of God, and pray the promises of God to God, based on covenant promises, is vastly different than precisely saying heaven needs earthly permission for heavenly interference. To read it as anything different is to do abuse to the english language.
The Puritans qualified their teaching on these matters with a robust doctrine of God’s sovereignty. A Puritan would never even come close to saying heaven needs earth’s permission for heavenly interference. Even the mere suggestion would cause them to recoil.
Here are some quotes from the book A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for life on these matters. Notice the stark contrast between the Puritan emphasis on God’s sovereignty and the rhetoric of Evans on heaven needing our permission.
We may still pray in faith, but in the faith of submission and not with definite assurance. In this type of faith, we believe we will receive an answer of good tidings, knowing that the good we receive will be determined according to what most glorifies the Lord and is best for us and those for whom we pray. In writing about the wisdom of God in fulfilling His promises in due season, Spurstowe also urged submissive praying.
He said, “It is good in prayer to have the desires winged with affection and to be like an arrow drawn with full strength, but yet there must be a submission exercised unto the holy and wise will of God, that so it may appear that we seek him in a way of begging, and not by way of contest; that we make him not the object only of our duties and ourselves the end, but him to be both the object and the end of every service which we give unto him.”62
Beeke, Joel R.; Jones, Mark. A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life (Kindle Locations 15841-15848). . Kindle Edition.
Even in such prayers for absolute promises, however, we must pray in submission to God’s will and wisdom. Praying for things absolutely promised does not mean prescribing to God when or how He must keep His promise. We must trust Him with the circumstances of time, means, and measure, for He has reserved these things in His own power.64
Spurstowe said, God has in his Word recorded [the promises], as so many discoveries of his immutable counsel and purpose, that thereby faith might have a sure ground to rely upon him in all exigencies, and to expect a relief from him, but the season and time of performance, God has reserved to himself, as best knowing not only what to give, but when to give; so that, believers, though they may plead to God his promise, must yet be careful not to confine and limit him to times which they judge fittest; but wholly to resign themselves to his wise disposal, to whom every creature looks, and receive their meat in due season (Ps. 145:15).65
Beeke, Joel R.; Jones, Mark. A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life (Kindle Locations 15860-15868). . Kindle Edition.
Tony Evans missed the robust nuance of God’s sovereignty in this matter. He appeals to rights, not promises, and precisely puts man in the position of giving God permission to act.
Psalm 115:3 But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased.
An interpretation of Evans may assert he’s just appealing to covenant promises and our need to bring them to God in prayer. That assertion believes Evans didn’t intend to sound like a word of faith heretic, but was imprecise in his writing, and sounded similar to one accidentally.
Evans is an educated man, and it should be assumed he meant to say what he said. He sounded very precise. What he posted probably went through the rigors of the writing process. He has earned a Th.M. and a Th.D. He isn’t a bumbling social media theologian spewing off whatever pops into his head.
Given all of that, I think we have to assume he meant to say what he said. It comes close to abusing the english language to think he just wasn’t precise enough, and wasn’t communicating what he intended to communicate, given his robust education, the rigors of the writing process, and the like.
His view of God’s sovereignty and the place of man leaked out into his blog. What’s inside a person’s head leaks out into their writing. Someone with a robust doctrine of God’s sovereignty wouldn’t leak out the sentences he leaked out. Certainly not someone engaged in the rigors of the writing process who holds two very advanced degrees, and has proven he knows how to communicate what he intends to communicate.
There are other concerns about Tony Evans that make what he said above, look like he may actually have influence from Word of Faith teaching. Here are some quotes from his book Prayer for Victories in Spiritual Warfare.
“I speak peace into the organs and hormones that my body needs to function well.”
“I remove the curse of this illness and command it to depart in the name of Jesus Christ, my Lord. Satan, you may not have my body or any part of it. I refuse your symptoms of disease and claim bodily healing for the sake of my Lord and the ministry He’s given me.”
Speaking peace to organs, and refusing symptoms of illness are teachings much like you would find in the Word of Faith camp. This may indicate that his quote about heaven needing permission from earth was more than an imprecise statement. It looks like he has been influenced by bad theology.
Look below at part of his sermon titled Stop Blocking Your Miracle. It conveys the same idea that word of faithers teach, the idea that God is waiting on us to grab the miracle.
He says, “Thank you, Father, that you have already heard me,” which means whatever he’s getting ready to talk about, he has previously discussed. “God, you and I discussed this earlier.” Stay with me now.
We kinda get a hint of that discussion back in chapter 11, verse 2, “And the sisters sent word to Jesus, saying, ‘Lord, behold, he whom you love is sick.'” Lazarus. “But when Jesus heard this, he said, ‘This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so the Son of God may be glorified by it.'” So, let’s look at what happened here. “I thank you, Father, that you’ve already heard and we’ve already talked about this.”
In other words, “When they sent word to me about the need of a miracle, you and me, Daddy, had a meeting, and in our meeting, when we discussed this, we agreed that when we saw faith, we were gonna do a supernatural work. You and I have already had this meeting. But even though you and I have had the meeting in the spiritual realm, they’re not gonna see what we agreed on in the physical realm until the bridge of faith is built so that my intercession for them becomes you bringing to pass what has already been agreed on.”
So, why is that important for you to know? That your supernatural miracle, whatever is in God’s will to do, has already been agreed on in the spiritual realm. That means you do not have to beg God to do something that is in his will to do.
It’s not you waiting on God, if he’s agreed to it. It’s him waiting on you to move the stone so he can let you see what was already previously agreed on. It’s called the intercession of the Son and of the Holy Spirit bringing into the physical realm what has previously been agreed on in the spiritual realm once faith has been exercised, even if it has to overrule logic and correct logic.
. . .
Again, Tony Evans has been influenced by some toxic theology, and it’s not likely his teaching on heaven needing earth’s permission is some kind of ooopsie-daisy. Rather it’s the product of his actual theology.
People should be aware of toxic teachings like those that are part of his ministry. Other aspects of his ministry may be solid. Rather than going to him for those helpful aspects, it is probably better to find that elsewhere so you’re not exposed to those types of toxic teachings.