Op-Ed: There Is a Way That Seems Right To a Man, But Its End Is The Way To Death

In a September 2019 article, Pulpit and Pen documented the decline of Christian Publishing, as a number of eisegetical self-help books that bore the mark of Christian Publishers and Christianese lingo dominated the ECPA (Evangelical Christian Publishers Association) top 10 list. While some of the titles that topped the list in 2019 remain in 2023, the ongoing dominance of false teaching in the realm of Christian publishing reflects the theologically bankrupt state of American Evangelicalism, as pew sitters continue to be attracted to writers of trendy extra-biblical resources and self-help gurus who often contradict or twist scripture.

September 2019 EPCA Bestseller List

1 Girl, Wash Your Face, by Rachel Hollis
2 The 5 Love Languages, by Gary Chapman
3 It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way, by Lisa Terkeurst
4 The Road Back To You, by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile
5 Total Money Makeover, by Dave Ramsey
6 Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young
7 (New) Boss Up! by Lindsay Teague Moreno
8 Boundaries, by Henry Cloud and John Townsend
9 It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way (Study Guide), by Lisa Terkeurst
10 (New) Overcomer, by Chris Fabry

Notably absent from the 2023 list is Rachel Hollis’ Girl, Wash Your Face, a so-called “Christian” self-help book on the list for 15 months, in September 2019. Hollis composed her work with the thesis that “You, and only you, are ultimately responsible for who you become and how happy you are.” The book contains worldly wisdom from the world and for the world, as Summer Jaeger described in her review.

“Hollis isn’t on the bestseller list because her book shares any great insight, wisdom, or truth. It’s because Hollis’s advice is wisdom to the world. It’s the best the world can offer. Here’s some therapy. Here’s a pill. Here’s some pretendy-God-talk. Feel better about yourself.”

Rachel Hollis, teaches a false self-help gospel, a gospel that denies that man’s biggest problem is sin. Instead of denial of self, Hollis preaches that true fulfillment lies within one’s self and one’s ability to overcome obstacles and reach self-actualization, the kind of false teaching that flows from belief in The Law of Attraction, placing man in the seat of the only sovereign God. After years of consuming many by way of pluralistic teaching, Rachel Hollis’ teachings have become virtually indistinguishable from those self-help teachings of the world.

Following Rachel’s ascension to fame, the launch of her Hollis Company empire, and the authorship of a trio of self-help books that were marketed as Christian, Rachel Hollis and her husband Dave became embroiled in a series of scandals that marred the image of her Rise conferences and Hollis Co self-help empire. Investigative journalism uncovered that Dave and Rachel made use of plagiarized quotes, attributing quotations from other self-help gurus and public figures to Rachel.

Dave Hollis left a lucrative career as the chief of theatrical distribution at Disney to support his wife’s empire and work, penning his own self-help books that mirrored the self-actualization narrative of Rachel. Dave’s work was endorsed by Jen Hatmaker.

Personal self-actualization was not enough to keep the Hollis’ together, as they were separated in early 2020 and divorced months later, even as Dave redoubled his efforts to support Rachel’s corporate empire. Dave revealed that it was Rachel who asked for the divorce, after 16 years of marriage and 4 sets of vows.

Despite a successful career at Disney, a 16-year-long marriage to Rachel, and a successful second career as an author in the empire of his former wife, Dave Hollis was found dead in his home on February 12 at the age of 47. According to the coroner, Dave succumbed to the “toxic effects of cocaine, ethanol, and fentanyl.”

Dave’s drug overdose death is tragic for several reasons, the greatest being that he seems to have trusted in a false Gospel that taught dependency on self rather than God. His drug use was a consequence of the Hollis Co ideology that taught that the individual is solely responsible for their own happiness. Instead of teaching that only faith in Christ can lead to joy, the ideology replaced the precious grace of God with self-effort and self-actualization. When those things failed and the fleeting moments of success and happiness were over, Dave turned to drugs to bring him happiness.

The purpose of this reflection on the rise and fall of the Hollis empire is to recognize the false gospel of self-actualization and the deadly eternal effects that it has on its adherents. Millions of Christians have purchased Rachel Hollis’ books and have bought into these lies. We pray for Rachel and her four children as they mourn the loss of Dave. Most of all, we pray that through all of these things, the family will repent of the false gospel of self-actualization and put their faith in Christ alone.

The story of Dave and Rachel Hollis is a cautionary one for all who seek to become the captain of their own lives, seeking fulfillment through self-effort. The writer of Proverbs warned of the deadly consequences of adopting such man-centered philosophies.

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.”

Proverbs 14:12

5 thoughts on “Op-Ed: There Is a Way That Seems Right To a Man, But Its End Is The Way To Death

  1. Such a woeful indictment of Church/ministry leaders who have horribly failed to teach and encourage discernment, and to fully equip believers. Of course, each individual has his/her responsibility as well.

    Humanism/humanistic psychology (e.g. 5 love languages), mysticism/ideology derived from mysticism (e.g. Jesus Calling), and open heretics/non-believers dominate the list of most popular Christian books, and 80 to 90% of the Church sees zero problem. Is it any wonder the world is in such a dark place?

  2. So what is the real problem that was seems like a majority of Christians, not having discernment, or is it that they haven’t been granted the gift of faith by the Lord? Maybe the latter is the real problem since some of the level of discernment typically comes with being regenerated.

    Btw, I wish folks (including preachers) in the reformed community would stop using the phrase, “place or put your faith in Christ alone” like the non-reformed and unbiblical community does. Why is that the case?

    Although it may not be intended, it makes it sound as if we are responsible for our own faith and that it’s not a gift of God (Phil 1:29 & Eph 2:8-9), as we can’t even repent on our own and are dependent on the Lord for it as well.

    1. “Btw, I wish folks (including preachers) in the reformed community would stop using the phrase, “place or put your faith in Christ alone” like the non-reformed and unbiblical community does. Why is that the case?”

      Well it seems obvious, according to your own theology, the Lord has not granted that they should do otherwise.

  3. Check out my books at the website called theoarch. We have a ‘books for sale’ link at the top of the page

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