They’re ravaging the church and devouring the sheep. Yet instead of tracking and expelling these wolves, we’re actually helping—and in some cases—protecting them!
On this episode of The Roys Report, Coleman Luck, author of Day of the Wolf: Unmasking and Confronting Wolves in the Church, explains why. Dazzled by their ability to pack auditoriums and fill church coffers, Christians often mistake spiritual wolves for spiritual leaders. And the consequences are devastating.
Coleman draws on his unique experience of growing up in the church as the son of a Moody Bible Institute professor, and then working in Hollywood—a place teeming with spiritual wolves. Coleman, who was a writer and executive producer for the 1980s TV series, The Equalizer, says wolves in Hollywood are just like wolves in the church. The only difference is that wolves in Hollywood aren’t disguised.
In our discussion, Coleman expertly unpacks why Christians are mistaking wolves for sheep and for shepherds. And he offers criteria for evaluating whether a leader is a shepherd or a wolf.
Coleman also describes how to confront a wolf. But he warns—wolves are dangerous. And if you confront one, don’t expect to escape that confrontation without some wounds from the wolf’s attack.
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JULIE ROYS, COLEMAN LUCK
This transcript has been edited slightly for continuity.
JULIE ROYS 00:04
They’re ravaging the church and devouring the sheep. Yet instead of tracking and expelling these wolves, we’re actually helping and, in some cases, protecting them. Welcome to The Roys Report, a podcast dedicated to reporting the truth and restoring the church. I’m Julie Roys. And joining me today is Coleman Luck, author of Day of the Wolf: Unmasking and Confronting Wolves in the Church. Coleman compares the wolves in the church today to a serial killer who’s carefully disguised as a surgeon. The surgeon makes money from bringing excruciating death to his victims and many are crying out in pain. Yet instead of helping the victims and bringing the surgeon to justice, his staff defends the surgeon and leaves his victims to fend for themselves. Friends, Does this sound familiar? If you’ve been following this podcast at all, you know that these kinds of predators exist in the church. The very place God designed to be a hospital for the sick and the vulnerable, but it’s become a magnet for these predators. And sadly, God’s people are being duped and they’re being hurt. According to Coleman, that’s because we’re doing a miserable job of identifying wolves and confronting them. Coleman learned about spiritual wolves working as a writer and an executive producer for a successful TV series in the 1980s. He says Hollywood is full of spiritual wolves. And the only difference between spiritual wolves in Hollywood and wolves in the church is that the ones in Hollywood aren’t disguised. They’re out in the open, but the ones in the church, they’re much more stealth and that makes them much more dangerous. So, I’m very much looking forward to diving into this topic with Coleman Luck. But before I do, I’d like to thank the sponsors of this podcast, Judson University and Marquardt of Barrington. Judson is a top ranked Christian university providing a caring community and an excellent college experience. Plus, the school offers more than 60 majors, great leadership opportunities and strong financial aid. Judson University is shaping lives that shape the world. For more information just go to Judsonu.edu. Also, if you’re looking for a quality new or used car, I highly recommend my friends at Marquardt of Barrington. Marquardt is a Buick GMC dealership where you can expect honesty, integrity and transparency. That’s because the owners there, Dan and Kurt Marquardt are men of integrity. To check them out, just go to buyacar123.com. Well again, joining me today is Coleman Luck, a former Hollywood writer and executive producer who worked on the TV series, The Equalizer and Gabriel’s Fire. He’s also the author of three novels and two nonfiction books, including Day of the Wolf: Unmasking and Confronting Wolves in the Church. Coleman received part of his education from the Moody Bible Institute where his father, the late Dr. G. Coleman Luck was a professor of Bible and theology. Luck also attended the Simon Greenleaf School of Law where he studied under the famed apologist Dr. Walter Martin. So, Coleman, thank you so much for joining me and welcome.
COLEMAN LUCK 03:05
Thanks for having me on.
JULIE ROYS 03:06
Well, we are going to talk a lot about wolves in the church and how to identify them how to confront them. But first, I’m just really curious, how did the son of a Moody Bible professor end up going to law school, and then working in Hollywood as a writer and executive producer? That is not a career path a lot of people take. How did that happen? How did you end up in Hollywood?
COLEMAN LUCK 03:30
I never intended to go to Hollywood. When I came back from the army, after Vietnam, in the first year I was back, my wife and I were married. And you know, and we had our first child. And I viewed myself having grown up in Wheaton, Illinois and all the rest, I thought, well, I’m going to spend my life in some area of Christian work. Well, that didn’t work out well. And there were several different experiences that just left me with the whole career that I had planned going right down the drain. At that point, I just sort of threw my life at the Lord. You know, he won’t let me do what I want to with it, let’s see what you can do with it sort of thing. At that point, I went back and decided to finish my degree, which I’d never done. I was 30 years old. And I went to Northern Illinois University that was there that I took a history of film course. In this course, I was seeing the great films of the history of the industry. Spread out these there was a wonderful course and constantly there was this question in my mind, where are the Christians? Where are the Christians? Well, I didn’t know what to do. So, I decided to write a script. Totally unprofessional. There was no screenwriting class at that time at the university if you can believe that. So, I finished it. I sent a copy to Pauline Kael, who was probably one of the greatest film critics in the history of the business. She’s passed away now, but she was at the New Yorker magazine. She sent me a note that said, I think you know what you’re doing. I sent a note back to her, a letter saying, thank you so much. Could I use your name getting into grad school? And she said, Yes. And yeah, this was amazing. And I also sent a copy of the script – totally unprofessional, you know, it’s style and form and everything – to Ernest Lehman, who was the president of the Writers Guild. He sent me back a two-page single spaced letter in which he tore my script to shreds.
JULIE ROYS 05:39
COLEMAN LUCK 05:41
And I didn’t understand until I got to Hollywood, what an amazing gift he had given me. Because nobody reads scripts like this coming in, you know, from nowhere from nobody.
JULIE ROYS 05:52
That’s what I was gonna say, like, why on earth would a famous critic read your script? Or this guy, the president of the guild? I mean, that’s amazing!
COLEMAN LUCK 06:00
It was and I consider it to be an absolute act of the Lord. Because I mean, here, my wife and I, we weren’t little children anymore. I mean, we had three kids. And you know what? Here I am considering moving my family from we were living at that time in Villa Park outside of Chicago. You know, to move them all the way to California, to try to enter Hollywood?! There was nobody I’d ever heard who tried to do that. And I’ll tell you, when I mentioned that the people in the Midwest there in the Chicago suburbs and Wheaton, they thought I was crazy. And you know, I have to say I kind of thought I was crazy, too. So that was the beginning of it all. And, you know, I didn’t realize then how impossible it is to have a career in Hollywood. I didn’t have a clue. I knew no one who’d ever done it. Thank goodness I didn’t know what I know now. Because it’s monumentally difficult.
JULIE ROYS 06:58
And it’s probably gotten worse from even when you were there.
COLEMAN LUCK 07:02
JULIE ROYS 07:03
It’s just so difficult for a believer to be in that environment. Yet it’s in that environment that you learned so much of what you write in your book, Day of the Wolf, which is, you know, just a really insightful book about spiritual wolves. I thought it was interesting that you said, the only difference between wolves in Hollywood and wolves in the church is that the Hollywood wolves don’t try to hide themselves, like the wolves in the church do. I want to unpack all of that. But I guess I just want to start with how would you define a spiritual wolf?
COLEMAN LUCK 07:37
Well, a spiritual wolf, in my book, I determined that there were two kinds of them. One is the Process Wolf, and the other is a Born Wolf. To me, they operate in very similar ways. But a spiritual wolf is a person who has simply decided that his or her approach to ministry fits the church. That they know that they have a special insight from God. They have no accountability. They are operating on the level of selfishness. They make selfish decisions. And there are people around them constantly who are praising them, stroking them. And if those people stop doing that, then they stop being allowed into the inner circle. They are people who essentially are believing that they are presenting the work of the Lord and preaching and teaching according to what he says and what he what he taught in the Scripture, but in fact, they are using it to advance themselves.
JULIE ROYS 08:37
You mentioned born wolves and process wolves. Can you unpack that a little bit?
COLEMAN LUCK 08:41
Process wolf is to me, one who didn’t start off to be a wolf. This is an individual who started off perhaps in ministry and you know, had the right motives and everything else but because of the constant set of selfish decisions and choices over a period of time and because of success that is common, this person becomes a wolf out of the process. By the time they are full grown as a wolf, they can still repent. I mean, there’s no question about it. I’m not sure how many of them ever do. Some do. The born wolf is another person. Another type and that is my own study shows is a psychopath. I think most people have the idea that psychopaths are serial killers and so forth. That is totally untrue. The majority the vast majority of psychopaths live in this world and you know, and they make their way in it. They simply create chaos wherever they go, but they are extremely charming. And what I what are called high functioning psychopaths can go to the top levels of business, of Hollywood, of the Church, of politics. And because they are the kind of people they are, their minds are disorganized, so they always rise beyond their ultimate point of ability, but you know, and then chaos ensues. But in the process, they destroy people left and right. And these people choose jobs where they can be in positions where vulnerable people are going to be around them. So that means they could be in the police department, they could be even in psychology and psychiatry. They certainly can be in Hollywood, because Hollywood is the ultimate place where vulnerable people come. And that’s one of the unique things about that industry. It draws the vulnerable, and the church does too. Hollywood and the church are very, very similar.
JULIE ROYS 10:37
What’s been so shocking about the past few months has been that there are people that we thought, like take Ravi Zacharias, who had such a position of prominence and was so charming, to find out that his predation goes back decades. And it has happened for so long that, you know, if somebody asked me right now is this a process wolf or born Wolf, I would say a born wolf. And I really am beginning to wonder even about his conversion story, given the way that he behaved. If we know a tree by its fruit, he must have been a born wolf.
COLEMAN LUCK 10:43
Well, you know, the thing is too, I believe very much that wolves in the church, they are preaching, in many cases, God’s word. I mean, they are presenting the truth. And also, many of them have good people who are working for them, godly people who are struggling. And it’s because of you know, of the fact that God’s word is strong and powerful. And also, because there are good people who are trying and working for them. They do bring fruit, but it’s not fruit that’s going to be to their credit. This is going to be fruit that’s strictly to the credit of Jesus. And in the process, of course, they turn around and do what Ravi Zacharias has proven to have done. They destroy it all. And they do a terrible injustice to everyone who follows Jesus.
JULIE ROYS 11:55
So, let’s talk about some of these I would say born wolves that you encountered in Hollywood, because one of the things that you say is that wolves, whether they’re born wolves, process wolves in the church in Hollywood and government, you know, wherever you encounter them, they essentially have the same essence and the same patterns. And one of them that you discuss in your book is a name that’s familiar to a lot of people, Les Moonves. Les was the chairman and CEO of CBS until 2018. And as many people know, that’s when a bunch of women came forward to say that he sexually assaulted them. He’s now been stripped of his entire position, but also stripped of his $120 million dollar severance package. You encountered Les many, many years ago when you were writing for Gabriel’s Fire. Tell me what you observed in Les Moonves that told you, this is a spiritual wolf.
COLEMAN LUCK 12:53
This was right after The Equalizer ended. And I was contracted in an overall deal, which meant that I was exclusive to Lorimar, which was a subsidiary of Warner Brothers. And Leslie was the president of Lorimar at that time. I first had my first meeting with him, you know, I came in and went to his office, he was on the phone with, I think it was the building and grounds at the studio. And he was screaming at people over the phone, because they had put his name on his parking place they had put as Les Moonves and not Leslie Moonves.
JULIE ROYS 13:34
He didn’t like that.
COLEMAN LUCK 13:35
Oh, he was really angry. My experience with him, I was surrounded with wolves. And that was entirely different than I had experienced for almost four years on The Equalizer. When I was doing The Equalizer, I had the absolute support of Universal Television, of CBS, the star of the series, Edward Woodward, wonderful man. Everything I wrote he loved and everybody else loved it. So, I went from there to suddenly finding myself where the star of the series hated every word I wrote. Didn’t take very long before the wolves were all around me. And you know, and I got thrown out of it out of my own series.
JULIE ROYS 14:16
And this was Gabriel’s Fire?
COLEMAN LUCK 14:18
JULIE ROYS 14:19
And a lot of it had to do with or at least the thing that sort of brought it to a head was your mention of God, right?
COLEMAN LUCK 14:27
Yes, I was doing, basically doing exactly the same kind of writing that I had always done on The Equalizer. The first episode I ever wrote on The Equalizer I talked directly about the love of God. I had an episode in which I had a five-minute monologue that was about a hitman who gets hit himself and goes to hell, you know, and he’s brought back by prayer. So, to me, it was a matter of going forward. I’m just gonna keep doing this. That’s not the way it worked on the new series that I was creating myself. Every time I, you know, wrote anything that mentioned God at all, there were real problems. And I had real confrontations and clashes. Ultimately, it came down to a situation where Leslie Moonves decided to get rid of me. And, you know, at the same time, he wanted me to stay on an overall deal working for him, wanted to fire me from my own series, but he wanted me to stay there. And I refuse to do that. When that happened, that did great damage to my career. Well, the one thing I believe strongly is that if you confront a wolf, or a bunch of wolves, you are going to be wounded.
JULIE ROYS 15:43
What did you learn about wolves and the way that they operate from that situation with Leslie Moonves?
COLEMAN LUCK 15:50
Well, it wasn’t only Leslie, there were several other people.
JULIE ROYS 15:54
That’s one of the things you say is that wolves don’t operate in isolation, they operate in packs, right?
COLEMAN LUCK 16:00
Exactly right. So, you are never, if you’re dealing with a powerful wolf, whether it’s somebody who’s in a pulpit, or it’s in business, or the military or wherever it might be, you are, you are definitely going to be facing not just that person, but all the lesser wolves around him, plus stupid sheep. And in the church, tares. So, you know, all of these surround the wolf in different ways. What about what I learned was, I learned what absolute surrender to the will of God is all about. I learned in a very specific way, what forgiveness is about. You know, I learned, you know, that I believe this all the way along. But on a deeper level than before, that I wasn’t there to serve myself. I was there to serve the king. And, you know, Jesus said specifically that the servant is no better than his master. What they did to me, they’re gonna do to you. I remember saying to a group of little group of Christian friends very early in my career, I said, you know, what I think is going to happen? I think I’m going to see a lot of success. And then all of a sudden, there’s gonna come their tremendous attack, and it’s all going to go away. And you know, and that really, in a way is the story of what happened. And that’s the pattern for those who follow Jesus in dealing with wolves. So, it’s a matter of saying, who do you serve? I’ll never forget driving home after being fired from that series. This was my own series! I created this series. And here I was, I’ve been fired after show five. And Leslie did everything in his power, from that time on through all the years to keep me from working anywhere.
JULIE ROYS 17:44
Wow! They’re vindictive, aren’t they?
COLEMAN LUCK 17:46
You know about that!
JULIE ROYS 17:47
Well, I do! I mean, it’s amazing, like, years after people left Harvest Bible Chapel, James McDonald would hunt them down. I’ve seen careers completely destroyed. And that’s why I appreciate what you’re saying. Because I think a lot of times, people will pick up a book like this, and it’s you know, unmasking and confronting wolves in the church. Hey, this, this is going to be a recipe on how to win, right? And sometimes winning, especially in a spiritual equation is losing. You know, it might mean losing your job, it might mean suffering. But that’s winning. I remember, you’ll like this because you’re a writer, and you’re also so acquainted with drama, and theater but I took one theater course in college at Wheaton College. And I remember the professor, his name was Jim Young, saying that the movies that he loved the most were movies where it had what he called exaltation. So, any movie or story, screenplay, whatever, that had exaltation, which he defined as the main character staying true to their principles to the end. That was victory. You know, a movie I love is Braveheart, where, you know, William Wallace ends up getting eviscerated at the end of the movie, but it’s victorious because he stayed true to his principles to the end. And I think too often as Christians, we forget what victory what success looks like, in a spiritual equation.
COLEMAN LUCK 19:17
I mean, we’ve probably been programmed by our culture to define success in a certain way. And you know, and that’s one of the curses that has taken control of the church today. Because, I mean, I’ve said, you know, there’s a Hollywood business entertainment model, that model is now in control of the church. And you know, and that defines what success is. And you know, when people believe that’s it, if you if you if you’re not experiencing success all the way along, something must be wrong with you spiritually. These are the lies of Satan.
JULIE ROYS 19:47
Hmm. I want to go back to the idea of how these wolves operate in packs. There’s a story that you tell in your book that I think, is just very illustrative of this fact, because you actually brought a wolf onto the set. Well, at one point, you tell me how that went?
COLEMAN LUCK 20:07
Well, I wrote an episode of The Equalizer in which we needed to have a wolf. Of course, this is being shot in Manhattan. Our studio was there our sound stages and, we’ve got a wolf. And you know, and this wolf had to be, because it was kind of a dream sequence it was, you know, thing that Edward Woodward who was the star of the series, I mean, he was he was, he was McCall, The Equalizer, and this wolf was going to be he was going to see it in his apartment. Now, that may sound simple. When you’re talking about a real wolf, that’s not so simple, you know, and what we did was we went out, and of course, we had, if you’re willing to pay for it, you can find anything in New York City. So, we’ve got we found a wolf and brought the wolf, and a full-grown wolf went down to the set. And there, they had set up a chain link fence all around this particular soundstage. And you know, and this fence went all the way up, I mean, it was probably eight feet tall, and the set was inside. And Edward looked at me and said, you know, I’m the only one who’s going to be in there. All the rest of you are going to be out here. It was true. You know, here we are, where all the camera crew, and everybody is we’re all very carefully protected. But Edward had to go and sit down on his couch in his pretend apartment, you know, and there is this wolf, sitting probably about eight feet away from him. And you know, and it was an uncomfortable moment. But you know, what we discovered about the wolf was that, you know, this poor wolf acted more like a mouse, this wolf was terrified. The lights, the people, you know, everything going on, all it wanted to do was crawl under a table. The hard part was getting it out to set just having it sit up straight and look long enough to get a shot. But you know, that’s where it taught me something about the nature of wolves. If you really bring them into the light, they’re going to be cringing. They can’t stand the light; they can’t stand that kind of exposure. And that, to me, it was a small lesson in dealing with a real wolf, poor creature.
JULIE ROYS 22:33
Well, I say this all the time when I’m talking to sources because I deal with scared sources every day. And they’re afraid to go on the record, they’re afraid to speak up and to actually confront the wolf. And I say, because this has been my experience, that they’re really, really scary again, when they’re in their pack. And when they’re, they’re powerful. And when they’re intimidating everybody around them into silence. But when you punch the bully in the nose, he runs scared. And that’s just been my experience.
COLEMAN LUCK 23:03
That’s exactly right. And the fact that so few people are willing to actually do that. You know, was with Leslie Moonves, I didn’t know the details of what he was doing to women. But he’d been doing it for a long time. You know, I didn’t know I didn’t hear any of these stories, when I was working for him. But you know, I mean, and I had my wife and I had dinner with him and his wife at my agent’s house, you know, so I got to know him somewhat. I didn’t like him. But you know, it was something that really bothered me about him. But I didn’t know about these things. But you know, ultimately, they come out. And I’ll tell you, the METOO movement in Hollywood is long overdue. So, you know, now there’s a lot of people who are very afraid, and they should be because they’ve been doing terrible things. The book itself, I was instigated to write this book, by something that happened to my own daughter. She found herself dealing with a wolf in a huge Christian camping situation where she was one of the senior managers that have been recruited and brought on board and found herself working for an absolutely hideous man. And it was through that process of talking with her on the phone and saying, Okay, this is what you got to do. I mean, I’ve dealt with a lot of wolves. We would talk about it, and then she would go back. And she did confront this man. So, you know, it was it was very difficult, and she left her job over it. And you know, it was painful.
JULIE ROYS 24:32
Yeah. And we’re going to talk about confronting the wolves. But I want to talk before we get there to more about identifying these wolves. In the second part of your book is all about the fruit of wolves. And again, you know a tree by its fruit. But one of the things that you say is that we often can’t identify wolves because we can’t tell the difference, which is sad as Christians, between good and bad fruit. How do we get tricked into thinking that bad fruit is good fruit?
COLEMAN LUCK 25:02
I think it has to do with that model at this point in history, the entertainment model that is taken control of the church. We have the idea that if we see a lot of people who are responding to a wolf, they’ll refuse to believe it’s a wolf. You know, we see a lot of bodies sitting in chairs, there’s success that’s taking place, you know, you, you see people theoretically coming to the Lord, you know, and a lot of things going on, we have this definition of fruit. And that is just not what it’s about. You know, we don’t understand where fruit comes from. And so, we don’t understand that when we see it. There are two things that to me were so important in understanding whether you’re dealing with a wolf or not, and the most important one was humility. Is this person who is in leadership. This is where fruit comes from, comes from humility. Where does humility come from? Well, I’ll tell you it comes because most of all, you love Jesus. And I think, too, that this definition of fruit comes down to are people within a group of a Christian group being led to love Jesus more? Or are they being led to something else? And that I think is, you know, as a clear mission of being led to love Jesus more is what discipleship is about. And I think we’re seeing very little real discipleship in the church. You know, we’re seeing very little preaching and teaching that focuses on repentance. All of that comes out of loving Jesus. And so, what we see in America today, in my opinion, is a church that has left its first love. And that is an absolutely horrible thing.
JULIE ROYS 26:51
So, when we talk about fruit, we’re not talking about fruit as in how big your ministry is getting. We’re not talking about fruit as in even, you know, the thing I’m encountering right now. So, I’ve been writing some stories about John MacArthur and Ravi was called the greatest apologist of our era. He’s been called the greatest expositor of our era. And because of that, it’s like how can you possibly say something negative about the ministry? How can you possibly report these things? But if we go to character, when we look at fruit as character, well, then that changes things. I mean, it’s just amazing to me, how many Christians are willing to overlook character flaws, glaring arrogance glaring bullying. I mean, not the fruit of the Spirit at all. You know, not gentleness, self-control any of these things, but they’re willing to overlook it, because they say, well, we have this fruit. I’ve never seen people define that fruit as the character qualities of the leader, which is sad.
COLEMAN LUCK 27:53
To me, it’s more than just sad. I think it’s absolutely lethal. And it has brought us to the place where the church has the evangelical church has lost its ministry in this country. And you know, what leaders have done is to, to communicate to people that power is what is important. That’s what I call in the imperial pastorate. You know, this power that’s important that of course, it must come from God, because this person is so good at preaching and teaching. And it has nothing to do with character at all, and character grows worse and worse. You know, there gets to be this fortress mentality that takes place, you know, in these huge ministries, where the pastor or the leader is truly surrounded with those who are going to protect him or her at all costs. And that is deadly. And that’s what you’re experiencing with John MacArthur.
JULIE ROYS 28:47
One of the things that’s interesting, too, that you write. And I think this is true, that the key to playing a good villain in Hollywood is for the actor to believe he’s a good guy. And I’m amazed at how many of the wolves that I’ve exposed, really think they’re good guys.
COLEMAN LUCK 29:07
Yes. I tell young writers, you know, if you’re writing an antagonist, you have to understand that the antagonist thinks he is the hero of the story. Now, I view that as the who’s the ultimate antagonist? Satan. I think Satan is filled with self-pity. And he views himself as the real hero, a misunderstood hero of the whole thing. And you know, and those who are his followers, his servants are going to have that same mentality. You know, they think that they are the heroes of the story. And the key to me is self-pity. They just feel as though they are misunderstood. You know, and when you’re writing those, those characters, if you’re going to write a good one, you have to write an antagonist who in his mind, is the hero of the story. Now, how can that be so? I mean, obviously, the antagonist is believing lies, and is completely misunderstood reality. All of that is true. And as a writer, of course, you see that on a larger level as you’re writing, but you still for that moment, you put yourself into that place of being that antagonist. So, you know, that’s where it is.
JULIE ROYS 30:18
Coleman, in your book, you describe this interaction with a Bulgarian pastor who seemed to be very charming. And so often that is the case that these wolves are incredibly charming. And you teamed up with this guy, to go to Bulgaria to provide relief after the fall of the communist regime. What happened that led to a confrontation with this pastor, and how did he respond?
COLEMAN LUCK 30:40
How this all came about, my wife, Carol and I were attending a Sunday school class at the Hollywood Presbyterian Church. That was our church. And this man and his wife were in the class. And we met him. He was Bulgarian. I’ll tell you, this was a man who, when he prayed, you just heard the Lord in the room. He was warm. He was wonderful. And he talked about the needs of the Bulgarian people. I mean, there were, there was a situation where the country was just devastated after the communists had given up control. We were working with a close friend of ours, who was in ministry, helping people around the world. And he went with us to Bulgaria. And he had a great system of distributing the things that he shipped. And he shipped stuff all over the world to different ministries. And he began working with this individual, this man, apart from me. He was doing things you know, trying to help. And I got the report back that some weird stuff was going on. This man, the Bulgarian fake pastor, was arranging to use stuff that was being shipped over there for his own ends. He was taking it for his own purposes. My friend was reporting this to me. I went out to his house, and I had a direct confrontation with him. I said, what are you doing? You know what’s going on here? He got extremely angry. And this is the first time I’d ever seen this. You know, I looked at this. And I said, no way this is going to go on this guy is obviously a fraud. But I haven’t seen it until then. Probably 20 years later, we happen to be at a church in Los Angeles, and his daughter came up to us. She had been on the trip with us. And she said that her father had left her mother and run off with his secretary. Just this disaster had taken place. Now here I am. I’m a person who theoretically understands and can spot wolves. This guy – I didn’t see it. I didn’t see it. You know, which really brought me up short. I can’t tell you how warm and wonderful this man was until he wasn’t.
JULIE ROYS 32:55
And that’s what’s just so damaging, I think to people spiritually. Because when you have someone like you said, when he would pray like, I mean, Wow! It was it was amazing. You felt like you could feel the spirit there. And then it makes you question, Was that the Spirit? Do I not have discernment? I don’t know how many people have come up to me after like, what happened at Willow Creek. What happened at Harvest. And have said, I don’t trust my own ability to discern anything. And then they begin to question their faith because they’re like, Did I discern that right? Because clearly, I can’t tell the difference between right and wrong. I mean, speak to that person right now. Because I know there’s people listening, who are in that situation.
COLEMAN LUCK 33:40
Absolutely. You know, I mean, to me, we underestimate the power of Satan to look beautiful. I am convinced that Satan absolutely can look like the most beautiful being that ever was. And he can give that same look to those who truly are his servants. And you know, they can look and feel like the most wonderful follower of Jesus you’ve ever seen, to deal with someone like that. And it’s devastating when you understand what happens with Hybels or all these various leaders, McDonald and all the rest. But you know, once you’ve got to do is to say that this should point you toward Jesus. You know, maybe you’ve been looking in the wrong direction for you know, for leadership. He will guide you to where you should go, but you know, start really developing your relationship with Jesus and understand about him and love him more. Commit your life to him. Stop looking at the wolf. Stop looking at the mistakes you have made. You know, but started looking at the Lord, and in the process of that, you’ll stand back and maybe you aren’t quite as trusting as you would be. I’ll tell you something, I’m not very trusting at all. And then test it. Test the people. Find out this person that you want to follow, is this a person who really, really expresses humility, forgiveness, mercy? Is that what’s being expressed? If you don’t see that, then that’s a very important measurement that you’re dealing with a wolf.
JULIE ROYS 35:14
I think we’ve all been deceived by somebody. And isn’t it true? I mean, the wheat and the tares grow together, you don’t know to the harvest time, which is which.
COLEMAN LUCK 35:21
That’s exactly right. And we, how many messages have you heard about tears in the church? I can’t remember one. You know, maybe it was one back there someplace. But Jesus was very clear about it. Now, we’re not supposed to look around and try to find them. But we have to know they’re there.
JULIE ROYS 35:36
Well, I want to get to confronting the wolves, which is the last section of your book. And I should mention, I mean, we’re, we’re scratching the surface of your book. This is a 350-page book. And it’s just dense. There’s, there’s so much in it. And because of your generosity, we are offering this book to anybody who gives a gift of any amount to The Roys Report. So, if you’re listening, you’re like, man, I would love to read that and hear more of this, just go to JulieRoys.com/Donate. And a gift of any amount, we’ll send you Coleman Luck’s book. But Coleman, confronting a wolf, we’ve talked a little bit about this, you’re gonna get hurt, there’s going to be scars. But we need to do it. I mean, you draw the analogy with David and Goliath. You just got to go out there against the giant. And I think even just by definition, I mean, wolves use power and control over people. So almost in every situation that I’ve been in, I’m usually talking to sources who feel very disempowered and vulnerable. And they’re going up against somebody who’s very powerful and has a lot of friends. You tell a story, though about and I think it’s instructive of what it’s like to confront a wolf. And you’ve referenced that you used to be a soldier, you went to Vietnam, and you were ordered at one point to do something that you had a conscience against doing. And you stood up to a wolf, tell me about that situation.
COLEMAN LUCK 37:11
You know, I was 22. In fact, I wasn’t even 22, I was still 21. I was a second lieutenant. And I had just gotten to Vietnam. And you know, when you first got over there, you were frightened. This was in November of ’67, and the war was really building up. And I finally got the orders that came in for me to join a particular Battalion, Infantry Division in the Mekong Delta. And this I was told this Battalion, this infantry battalion would be going out the next morning to back up the Fourth Division in the Central Highlands, and they were in a lot of bad stuff going on. So here I am. I’m a Second Lieutenant, going in, I’m as green as grass 21 years old. And you know, I’m getting ready to join a battalion that could be in combat tomorrow. And what you have to do when you’re a young officer, you go to the battalion area, and you go to report to the battalion commander, who was the lieutenant colonel. And you know, when I got up to the battalion area, they dropped me off, it was late. And you know, and I was talking with the battalion commander, and all of the officers of the battalion, are in the Officers Club, which was really nothing but a big, huge tent with a bar built into it. And you know, and so I went over there. Everybody’s there. I walked in, and I realized that a lot of these guys are drunk. And the battalion commander is drunk. You look around and you think, what have I gotten myself into? This is a battalion that’s getting ready to go out, and this is what’s happening? Well, I reported, you know, you salute you report to the battalion commander. And he said, you know, he basically said, well, you get this man a beer. Well at the time. You know, I didn’t drink anything at all. I grew up in Wheaton. I, you know, was a teetotaling family. And, you know, and beyond that, I’d seen a lot of guys drunk in the army. And it was ugly. So, I didn’t drink at all. So, I said to him, Thank you, sir. I’ll just take a coke. He turned and looked at me and he said, No, Lieutenant, you’ll have a beer. Now here I stand, I’m at attention. I said to him, Thank you, sir. I’ll just have a coke. He said, No, you will have a beer. And he got closer and closer. Now I’m in front of all the other officers of the battalion whom I do not know. And these are men I’m going to be serving with. And he said to me, No, you’ll have a beer , and I said, Thank you, sir. I’ll have a coke. He began then to berate me. I mean, he tore me apart because I was a second lieutenant. As the guy’s drunk, Second Lieutenant, I was married, and I didn’t drink. Those are the three huge sins of my life. And this went on for 30 minutes. It was unbelievable. But by a certain point, I’ll tell you something, I would have drunk battery acid before I drank one of his beers. This was absolutely amazing to me. And that was one of the first experiences that I’d ever had, was a wolf like that. He finally gave up, just gave up. Several weeks later, the chaplain came and said to me, you know, I really admire the stand you took with him. Well, that’s nice, thank you, but you never said a word to support me when I was standing up there, you know. So, you know, you stand alone. And I’ll tell you, that was a great preparation for Hollywood. As I’ve said many times, you know, the army was a great preparation. It taught me how to fight, and it taught me how to deal with idiots, you know, and that was one of those idiots it was, this is a wolf idiot. And to stand up to him was what I had to do. And I was respectful every step of the way. But you know, that was the way it was. And the Lord took me into those situations. He was preparing me for things that were yet to come. It wasn’t fun.
JULIE ROYS 41:16
I love that you tell that story, though, because, and I love that you say in small things. So, I mean, that wasn’t, I mean, it was a big thing at the time. And I can imagine the pressure and everything. But, you know, I’ve said this to my kids, when they have crises where they have to take a stand, I’ll say to them, okay, if you’re faithful in this little thing, that builds a muscle, when you stand up to people.
COLEMAN LUCK 41:44
JULIE ROYS 41:45
And that muscle needs to be exercised regularly. Because when you get to that big thing, you know, for me, it was blowing the whistle at the Moody Bible Institute. That was that was the watershed moment for me.
COLEMAN LUCK 41:59
JULIE ROYS 42:00
That was the moment when I’m like, boy, you cross this bridge, there’s no coming back. You have burned this bridge. And this bridge actually is connected to a whole entire network of bridges, which will be burned. And I got that. But I also knew what in my conscience God was telling me to do. But I just feel like sometimes we think, well, this one doesn’t matter, I’ll cave on this. It’s not that big of a deal. And we cave and we cave, and we cave. And then when the big thing comes, we cave. And so, I think that’s important to just emphasize that you need to take those stands. And it may be over something as simple that maybe isn’t necessarily a sin, drinking a beer, but that was your conscience not to drink a beer that that’s what God you felt like God told you to do in that moment. And so, you stood for it. And I just, I love that story. And I love that that played out throughout your life. And at the close of your book. I love the way you end your book, too, because it’s a letter to young leaders, and you warn them of several things. And I’m sure there’s some young and some old leaders listening now. And I think we can all benefit from hearing them. But what warnings do you have for leaders in the church to avoid being a wolf or getting caught up with a wolf?
COLEMAN LUCK 43:20
One of the major points that I made in that letter was beware of the inner ring. The inner ring is, this is where the wolves live. And you know, and you may be invited to join the inner ring, the inner circle. And you may find yourself there. And that’s where you’re going to find the confrontation. Or you will bend because you want to stay in the inner ring. But beware of the inner ring. And especially beware of those people who if you’re a younger person who volunteer to disciple you. If you’re a younger person, you know, somebody who’s volunteering to disciple you, I’d be very careful and very cautious about that. They’re going to try to tempt you into the inner ring. And once you’re in the inner ring, you will have a lot of reasons, your own security and your own success, which you want to continue, to remain in the inner ring. That’s where the compromises will take place.
JULIE ROYS 44:19
As you’re saying that I’m thinking of even the young lady that I interviewed from Hillsong. And she said one of the reasons she stayed with Hillsong New York City for so long was she was in that inner ring with the privileges and it’s hard. The temptations are really difficult. Coleman, again, thank you so much that we still could talk about and again, I highly recommend your book Day of the Wolf. And because of your generosity, we are able to give away that book to anyone who gives a gift of any amount to The Roys Report. Coleman thank you so much for writing this book and for the stance that you’re taking and for your wisdom. I just appreciate you taking the time and sharing that with us.
COLEMAN LUCK 45:03
Well, thank you so much, Julie and blessings on your ministry. You are truly on the front line. And the Lord is with you.
JULIE ROYS 45:11
Thank you. I appreciate you saying that. And thanks so much for listening to The Roys Report, a podcast dedicated to reporting the truth and restoring the church. I’m Julie Roys. If you’d like to find me online, just go to Julieroys.com. Also, please subscribe to The Roys Report on Apple podcasts or Google podcasts. That way you’ll never miss an episode. And while you’re at it, I’d really appreciate it if you’d help us spread the word about the podcast by leaving a review. And then if you would share the podcast on social media so more people can hear about it. We’d appreciate that as well. Again, thanks so much for joining me today. Hope you have a great day and God bless.
17 thoughts on “Wolves In The Church”
“For Satan himself can transform himself to appear as an Angel of Light.”
Never mind the Spiritual angle, that Rabbi from Tarsus was describing how successful psychopaths are masters of self-camouflage. “Able to Deceive the very Elect” if you want to stay Biblical.
As for “Wolves”, the ones he describes are not Wolves. They are feral junkyard dogs. Wolves have more class than that.
As for the wolf on the set of The Equalizer, look at it from his angle. Alone (except maybe for his handler), unfamlilar place, sensory overload of sight and sound, no reassuring scents except his handler — think an Introvert thrown into a loud wild party; what would you have done? I sure would have hid. And said wolf may have had a timid or retiring personality to begin with.
The Equalizer with Edward Woodward was a great show. Stewart Copeland of The Police (one of the all-time great drummer/percussionists from one of the best Power Trio groups ever) fame wrote and did the music for that show.
Wolves live a different life away from the pulpit. That’s how you recognize them. How does your pastor behave socially Mondays to Saturdays?
Julie, Another excellent podcast, thank you! The only thing that would have made it better, is if it were a 2 part interview. 45 minutes just wasn’t enough…
This is excellent. Thank you!
Great insights for Christians and non-Christians alike, given the prevalence of wolves, sociopaths, and narcissists throughout society.
Dear Mr. Luck, thank you for your generosity regarding this month’s book gift. Thank you for following God’s call to Hollywood all those years ago. And thank you for respectfully and perseveringly standing up to that commanding officer way back in Vietnam.
Thank you. The journey has been long.
FWIW, I really did enjoy The Equalizer when it was on the air. I appreciate the work you did on that show as well as writing this book on wolves in the church.
Did you interact with Stewart Copeland much during the show’s run and what are your experience working with him?
What did you think of both the Denzel Washington movie remakes and the new TV reboot versions of The Equalizer’?
I never met Stewart. Our show was spread half way around the world. The production unit including post production was in New York City. The writing staff was in LA. Our offices were at Universal. That’s where I spent most of my time. Dailies would be sent to us while we were working on scripts. I went to NYC as often as I could, especially when one of my scripts was in production. Stewart was in England. Our paths just never crossed. On his album, The Equalizer and Other Cliffhangers, he does have a cut entitled Screaming Lord Cole and the Commanches. I like to think…
Regarding the Denzel Washington flicks, hated them. He did in just a few hours what we tried not to do in four years, turn the character into nothing but a violent vigilante. Regarding the new EQ, I haven’t seen it. One of the creators told me that they were trying hard to continue the kind of show we did. I wish them all the best.
Thanks for the information and the feedback.
Do you think one of creators of the reboot TV series may ask you to contribute via writing a story or other means for this new series?
No, those doing the new series will not ask me or any of the other writers of the original EQ to be involved.
Awesome interview. I too wish it were longer.
This is a fabulous episode. I have been a licensed marriage and family therapist for 20 years, so have been exposed to a lot of wolves directly and indirectly through listening to the back stories hundreds of people’s lives. Many of my clients have been in ministry, pastors and pastors wives, children of pastors etc. The number one thing that Coleman says, that authentic Christians need to be more discerning about is: Do you see humility in your leaders (both personally and professionally) aka, how does he treat his family? How does he treat you when you make an appointment? Do you feel heard or just charmed, and dismissed? Do you see the fruits of the spirit which tend to be the more gentle virtues ( Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Gentleness, Faithfulness, and Self Control) or are you enamored with the charisma, power, and arrogance? That is often Satan appearing as an angel of light? This kind of discernment can not come from your own intellect, but comes because you spend adequate time with Jesus, and that you can recognize Him in a person. Don’t doubt yourself and trust your intuition. Take time to investigate before committing to that ministry or person.
Thank You for the book Coleman, and the Roy’s Report Podcast.
Blessings to you in Jesus Christ our Lord, April
Thank you Coleman for the advise on “Beware of the Inner Circle”. You are exactly right. This happened to me by simply joining a Meetup hiking group in 2015. If I had only hiked with the hiking group, I could enjoy the activity today. But in 2016 I innocently joined the inner circle for dinner with “so called friends”, float trips, and other fun events. For four years I kept thinking, something is not quite right here. These are activities, not true friendships. And then in 2019 & 2020 the remarks, the comments, the gossip behind my back, the lack of care or understanding, the constant “checking” on me began. It was revealed to me that I got entangled in a nest of covert narcissists and their flying monkeys! After extension study about covert narcissism, and then affirmation after affirmation about leaving the toxic group, I walked away. 2020 was the year that the masks fell off, and I was liberated once and for all from these kinds of people. Wolves in sheep’s clothing and their agents are everywhere! Coleman you are right, people need to be really tested before we give them our confidence! At 64 years old I am finally not so trusting. I learned valuable lessons for life within the last year and I am so grateful to Jesus for revealing this life-long pattern to me! I am going to read your book. Great interview. Thank you, V
So sorry for your experience. Of one thing I am certain, whatever is done to hurt one of Jesus’ true disciples is done to Him. The Day of Reckoning is not far off.
I go to a mega church Calvary chapel
I have brought to their attention of Beth Moore because many wimen in my fellowship buy her books and teachings
They have supported Ravi Zacharias and are silent and complicit with Beth Moore
I spoke to 5 leaders their and told that just preaching truth is their method of bringing people out of deception
I found that to be a serious issue because I can’t bring in leadership authority to help Bring light to the truth of Beth Moore deceptions
What are your views of this situation with leadership
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