Televangelist Paula White has hit back at critics who have accused her of being a false teacher and promoting the "Prosperity Gospel", reaffirming a belief in the Trinity, divinity of Jesus Christ, and inerrancy of the Bible.
White, spiritual adviser to President-elect Donald Trump and Senior Pastor of New Destiny Christian Center in Apopka, Florida, has come under increasing media scrutiny in recent weeks - particularly after it was announced she would speak at Trump's inauguration ceremony later this month.
Over the past few weeks, she's been the subject of a number of unflattering articles with headlines like "Evangelicals should be deeply troubled by Donald Trump's attempt to mainstream heresy" (Washington Post) and "Shady Pastor to Pray with Trump at Inauguration" (Daily Beast). She's also been criticized for her beliefs by a number of evangelical leaders, including Southern Baptist leader Russell Moore, who once tweeted, "Paula White is a charlatan and recognized as a heretic by every orthodox Christian, of whatever tribe."
Now, the evangelist is hitting back.
"I have read a great deal of false information being reported about me, my theology and my past," White said in a statement shared with The Gospel Herald. "I have been called a heretic, an apostate, an adulterer, a charlatan, and an addict. It has been falsely reported that I once filed for bankruptcy and - my personal favorite - that I deny the Trinity!"
White said that while she has hesitated to address such "patently false accusations about my personal life and my beliefs so as to not dignify them with a response," she was eventually compelled to set the record straight since such comments "pose a potential distraction to an otherwise celebratory and historic time in our country."
First, White said she has "always believed" in - and has preached on - the exclusivity and divinity of Jesus Christ, his saving grace and substitutionary atonement made available to all by his death on the cross.
"I believe and have always believed that he was buried and on the third day rose again," she explained. "I believe and have always believed in the Holy Trinity. I believe and have always believed in the virgin birth, and the second coming."
The evangelist also said she does not promote the "Prosperity Gospel" - a belief that God provides rewards, including personal happiness, financial wealth and physical health, for believers who have sufficient faith.
"I also reject any theology that doesn't affirm or acknowledge the entirety of scriptural teaching about God's presence and blessing in suffering as much as in times of prosperity," she said. "In fact, I have preached and written as much on the lessons we must learn in times of trial in our lives as I have in times of abundance. Many of those sermons are themselves lessons I've learned in the difficult seasons of my own life."
White, who has come under fire for her two divorces, acknowledged that her life and decisions haven't always been perfect, but are nowhere near as scandalous as what has been conveyed in recent days.
"Nevertheless, I am now a fifty year old grandmother who has learned from the good and the bad in my life," she wrote. "I thank God that he has plenty of grace for us all, and that he knows that neither my faith, my life, nor my theology originates or is inspired by any other book than the Bible - which I believe is inerrant and God's truth. God also knows that I have poured my life in love and service to others."
The evangelist also said she wanted to extend a "hand of friendship and fellowship to all" - even those who have made false accusations against her.
She explained: "Jesus taught us to 'bless those who curse you and pray for those who insult you.' This is what I have chosen to do, and I have done so genuinely from the bottom of my heart."
The televangelist concluded: "I - for one - am willing to work with all those who find inspiration in the life and teachings of Jesus and a common cause in the wellbeing of our great America."