Archive for the ‘The Emerging Church’ Category
By Tamara Hartzell
(Author of Reimagining God and In the Name of Purpose)
“Thinking outside the box”
“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (Psalm 119:105)
“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32)
“I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” (2 Timothy 4:1-4)
“Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.” (1 Timothy 4:16)
The importance of the Word of God simply cannot be overstated. Without it, we do not have the truth, faith, or salvation of God. And without the truth, faith, and salvation of God, we do not have God. Scripture is replete with teachings and warnings that make this perfectly clear. One example of many is 2 John 1:9:
“Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.”
Where do we get the doctrine of Christ in which we are to abide to have God? From the Word of God.
“But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; and that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” (2 Timothy 3:14-16)
“Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.” (1 Peter 1:23-25)
“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17)
It is the faith of God that comes by the Word of God. Not only does the Word of God give us the truth and faith we are to believe in order to have God, but it also gives us the truth and faith we are to obey in order to please and serve God. And yet people in today’s Christianity are no longer willing to accept this faith as is. Rather than simply believe and obey, people want the freedom to “rethink” and “reimagine” God and His Word into a fashion that they are willing to accept and, incredibly, even go so far as to claim that God’s own Word of truth puts God in a “box.” In other words, they want the truth and faith of God set “free” from the Word of God. Thus, they do not see the Word of God as the truth but as merely a “story” with “changeable” and “debatable” “metaphor” that can be interpreted and retold however anyone chooses. This then gives people their desired freedom to “think outside the box” where they can conveniently “reimagine” their own “story” of who they “rethink” God to be.
Naturally, whether or not these stories line up with God’s Word is irrelevant to those who prefer to “think outside the box” of God’s Word. In fact, if they did line up with the Word of God, then it would defeat their purpose of “thinking outside the box.” And since “rethinking” and “reimagining” God and His Word is what people today actually want, they are turning to fables for their faith and “truth.” Fables are not the truth, and the truth is not a fable. This is why God’s Word warns that people are turning away from the truth and unto fables. Nevertheless, more and more people are trying to turn fables into the truth—i.e., “reimaginings” into reality—and are dancing around in circles desperately trying to bring the two together as one in a harmonious relationship. This is, in essence, turning the light off to look for “truth” in the corner of a dark round room.
“The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.” (Psalm 119:130)
“But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!” (Matthew 6:23)
“And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.” (John 3:19-21)
The light of God’s Word is just too bright for today’s light-intolerant eyes. More and more people are seeking relief outside the “box” and are intentionally turning away from the Word of God, away from the truth, away from the faith, trying to “find God” in the darkness. However, in the darkness people can no longer tell the difference between what is true and what is false, even when it is obvious. And as a result, they are blindly bearing with those who present them with “another Jesus,” “another spirit,” and “another gospel” that deceptively affirm their shift from light to darkness, and even lead them astray to another “God.” But they don’t see it that way. Since people imagine that God’s Word of truth is just a manmade “box” from which God and His truth need to be set free, they see it as simply a matter of “finding God” wherever they choose to look. Sadly, this rapidly increasing deception is clearly seen in today’s shifting Christianity.
“For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.” (2 Corinthians 11:4)
“I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.… But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (Galatians 1:6-7, 11-12)
“For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.” (1 Thessalonians 2:13)
Since more and more people in today’s shifting Christianity are rejecting the Word of God as the word of man, and even accepting the word of man as the word of God, one needn’t go far to see the many counterfeits being sold to the eager buyers who see no need to beware. In fact, since people now imagine that outside the “box” of God’s Word is the “genuine” and inside the “box” of God’s Word is the “counterfeit” they will only see a need to beware of God’s Word inside the “box.” Thus, reviling those who believe the genuine is the genuine and the counterfeits are the counterfeit, they are heeding those who believe the counterfeits are the “genuine” and the genuine is the “counterfeit” because the counterfeits are the “genuine” they are willing to accept. But, naturally, those who prefer to “think outside the box” don’t see it that way.
Many people are likewise choosing to see man’s fables as the “truth” about God because man’s fables are a “reimagined” “truth” they are willing to accept. Absurdly, those who seek to justify “reimagining” God and His Word even claim that Jesus taught parables in order to teach truth to the multitudes. This claim in itself “reimagines” God’s Word in order to justify “reimagining” God’s Word. Jesus Himself gave the reason for His parables, which is the opposite of man’s imaginations in more ways than one. He spoke in parables to keep the truth away from those who did not have ears to hear and had already chosen to close their eyes and ears to the truth. Sadly, some things never change.
“And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” (2 Timothy 4:4)
“Who hath ears to hear, let him hear. And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.… For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.” (Matthew 13:9-13, 15-16)
If that isn’t clear enough:
“And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.… Take heed therefore how ye hear: for whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have.” (Luke 8:10, 18)
Those who have chosen to turn their ears away from the truth and unto fables only seem to have the truth. The truth is “Thus saith God,” “Thus saith the Lord,” and “It is written.” This is the settled truth of God, which He has recorded for us in His Word. God’s truth is what it is and never changes despite man’s never-ending vain attempts to “rethink” and “reimagine” God’s Word for God. Truth tells us what is and what is right or wrong. Stories are the opposite. Stories are relativism and allow each person to decide for themselves what they want the meaning to be. This is exactly the freedom desired by those who are shifting from truth to fables. They want the freedom of uncertainty rather than the what is of certainty. Since having ears to hear the truth is necessary to be able to hear the certainty of its meaning, it was to His disciples and not to the multitudes that Jesus told the meaning of His parables:
“If any man have ears to hear, let him hear. And he said unto them, Take heed what ye hear: with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you: and unto you that hear shall more be given.… And with many such parables spake he the word unto them, as they were able to hear it. But without a parable spake he not unto them: and when they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples.” (Mark 4:23-24, 33-34)
Because the Lord Jesus Christ is God, even His parables to the multitudes are “Thus saith God” and “Thus saith the Lord.” And since even the meaning of His parables has been recorded in God’s Word of truth, for us the meaning is not relative as many now think, but rather, “It is written.” On the other hand, man’s imaginative fables are nothing more than “thus imagines man.” Contrary to the popular opinion of those blinded in the darkness, they are not the truth and not the Word of God, and the Lord Jesus Christ and His teachings are not a “style” to emulate. He is the Lord, Whom we are to believe and obey.
“I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.” (Psalm 138:2)
“For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:3-4)
“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32)
“It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him.… From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.” (John 6:63-64, 66-68)
“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14)
Too many people in today’s shifting Christianity are seeking to set the truth of God free from the “box” of God’s Word rather than seeking to be set free themselves by God’s Word of truth. Instead of looking for “truth” in the corner of a dark round room they would be far better served looking for truth in a corner of the “box.” But, sadly, those who are shifting from the light of the narrow way of absolute truth to the darkness of the broad way of relative “truth” are doing so on purpose, albeit blindly, along with their eyes closed and ears covered. They feel “boxed” in by the narrow way, and the broad way gives them the freedom outside the “box” to “rethink” and “reimagine” God and His narrow way into a broader “truth.” With this freedom, people can have a relationship with God however they choose, right?
“He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.” (John 12:48)
(This is an excerpt from Tamara Hartzell’s book, Reimagining God: Turning the light off to look for “truth” in the corner of a dark round room; used with permission.)
According to an article in the Catholic Herald, Pope Francis has proposed six new beatitudes. The article states:
At the Mass, which took place at the conclusion of his ecumenical trip to the country, Pope Francis highlighted the lives of the Swedish saints Elizabeth Hesselblad and Bridget of Vadstena. . . . New situations require new energy and a new commitment, he said, and then offered a new list of Beatitudes for modern Christians.
Four of the “new beatitudes” had to do with forgiving others, caring about the earth, and helping the poor and needy. One of them was ecumenical in nature: — Blessed are those who pray and work for full communion between Christians [meaning Christians and Catholics], and the second resonated with earlier comments Pope Francis has made to indicate that this pope is not only ecumenical, he is also interspiritual (all paths lead to God) and panentheistic (God is in all).
— Blessed are those who see God in every person and strive to make others also discover him.—Francis
LifeWay Resources (SBC) Stops Selling Same-Sex Marriage Promoter Jen Hatmaker . . . But LifeWay Still Not Seeing the Big Picture
According to a Christianity Today article, LifeWay Resources (the Southern Baptist Convention resource arm) has stopped selling products by Jen Hatmaker because of her promotion of same-sex marriage. The CT article stated:
Jen Hatmaker posted a 650-word response on her Facebook page Monday, saying she “wrestled with and through Scripture, not around it” before coming to a decision to affirm same-sex relationships, which recently led to LifeWay Christian Resources pulling her books from its stores.
Hatmaker has been the topic of Lighthouse Trails articles and Cedric Fisher’s booklet called IF it is of God: Answering the Questions About IF: Gathering as she is part of the group of women who head up the women’s movement called IF: Gathering. You can read that booklet by Fisher by clicking here. In Fisher’s booklet, he says this about Jen Hatmaker:
In Jen Hatmaker’s book, Interrupted: When Jesus Wreck Your Comfortable Christianity, she makes it clear that she is influenced by a number of New Age/New Spirituality individuals. She quotes Catholic priest and contemplative activist Richard Rohr and emergent leader Shane Claiborne. On her blog, she promotes the book, The Circle Maker, by Mark Batterson, a book that encourages readers to draw circles around specific things in order to have more answered prayers. Batterson was inspired with this idea by an ancient sage.
In Hatmaker’s book, 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, she reveals that her family takes part in a Roman Catholic ritual with mystical origins, the “Seven Sacred Pauses.” Hatmaker got her inspiration from Seven Sacred Pauses, a book by Macrina Wiederkehr who is a spiritual director in the contemplative prayer movement. In Wiederkehr’s retreats, seekers are guided through experiences of silence, contemplation and lectio divina (a contemplative practice where words and phrases from the Bible are repeated in mantra-like fashion). The “seven sacred pauses” are seven times a day to pause and pray, which Wiederkehr describes as “breathing spells for the soul.”
Consider Hatmaker’s statement concerning the preaching of God’s Word:
“I have spent half my life listening to someone else talk about God. Because of this history, I’ve developed something of an immunity to sermons.”
This is eerily similar to the sentiment of Sue Monk Kidd (author of The Secret Life of Bees), who once, as a conservative Southern Baptist Sunday school teacher, expressed her dissatisfaction (and eventual rejection) of the preaching of God’s Word. That led Monk Kidd down a path away from the Christian faith and straight into the New Age. Today, she worships the goddess Sophia.
This disgruntlement of God’s Word is so prevalent among leaders of the emerging New Spirituality church. If not preaching, then what? Is it emotionally charged conventions and books with flowering, poetic phrases that open up to spit out a toxic drop of heresy? If Hatmaker is immune to preaching, she has rejected God’s method in favor of her own. (source and footnotes)
While LifeWay did the right thing in dropping Hatmaker’s products, they still do not see the big picture as they keep a tight grasp on numerous problematic authors such as Sarah Young (and her cash-cow Jesus Calling books and Bibles), Richard Foster, Dallas Willard, Gary Thomas, Ruth Haley Barton, and many more contemplative, emergent authors.
The fact that LifeWay will remove books by someone promoting same-sex marriage but not remove books by authors who promote a mystical, panentheistic interspiritual prayer shows once again that Christian leaders and ministries just don’t get it. How is it that one is OK and the other is not? After all, they are both going in the same direction, and that is away from the Gospel and away from God’s Word. Where are the overseers of LifeWay and the Southern Baptist Convention? Surely, they are learned men who should be able to figure this out.
By Warren B. Smith
Author of A “Wonderful” Deception
One of the many examples of the New Age implications of The Message [“Bible”] is seen in Eugene Peterson’s paraphrasing of the Lord’s Prayer. Where most translations read “on [or in] earth, as it is in heaven,” Peterson inserts the occult/New Age phrase “as above, so below.” The significance of this mystical occult saying is seen clearly in As Above, So Below, a book published in 1992 by the editors of New Age Journal. Chief editor Ronald S. Miller describes how the occult/magical saying “as above, so below” conveys the “fundamental truth about the universe”—the teaching that “we are all one” because God is “immanent” or “within” everyone and everything. Miller writes:
Thousands of years ago in ancient Egypt, the great master alchemist Hermes Trismegistus, believed to be a contemporary of the Hebrew prophet Abraham, proclaimed this fundamental truth about the universe: “As above, so below; as below, so above.” This maxim implies that the transcendent God beyond the physical universe and the immanent God within ourselves are one. Heaven and Earth, spirit and matter, the invisible and the visible worlds form a unity to which we are intimately linked.1
Miller continues describing the meaning of “as above, so below” by quoting Sufi scholar Reshad Field:
“‘As above, so below’ means that the two worlds are instantaneously seen to be one when we realize our essential unity with God. . . . The One and the many, time and eternity, are all One.”2 (ellipsis in original)
In 2004 when I searched “as above, so below” on the Internet, the first entry listed further defined this “key” New Age term:
This phrase comes from the beginning of The Emerald Tablet and embraces the entire system of traditional and modern magic which was inscribed upon the tablet in cryptic wording by Hermes Trismegistus. The significance of this phrase is that it is believed to hold the key to all mysteries. All systems of magic are claimed to function by this formula. “‘That which is above is the same as that which is below’ . . . The universe is the same as God, God is the same as man.”3
Most of the references, either on websites or in books and magazines containing the phrase “as above, so below” describe the term as having the same occult/mystical/New Age/esoteric/magical sources. One website states:
This ancient phrase, “As above, so below” describes the Oneness of All That Is.4
In Deceived on Purpose, I discuss my concerns over Rick Warren placing such great emphasis on Eugene Peterson’s The Message. When I looked up Ephesians 4:6 in The Message,Peterson’s paraphrase (like the New Century Version) also definitely lends itself to the New Age interpretation that God is present “in” everyone. In The Message, Peterson introduces his readers—with no parenthetical warnings or explanations—to the concept of ‘Oneness’:
You have one Master, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who rules over all, works through all, and is present in all. Everything you are and think and do is permeated with Oneness.5
The “as above, so below” God “in” everything “Oneness” message of Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase The Message sounds strikingly similar to the same “as above, so below” God “in” everything “Oneness” message of the New Age/New Spirituality. Such a teaching is contrary to what the Bible teaches. We are only “one” in Christ Jesus when we repent of our sins and accept Him as our Lord and Savior. Galatians 3:26-28 states:
For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. (emphasis added)
1. Ronald S. Miller and the Editors of New Age Journal, As Above, So Below: Paths to Spiritual Renewal in Daily Life (Los Angeles, CA: Jeremy P. Tarcher, Inc., 1992), p. xi, quoted in Warren B. Smith, Deceived on Purpose, op. cit., p. 32.
3. “As Above, So Below” (http://www.themystica.com/mystica/articles/a/below_above.html).
4. See: http://www.mothermaryspeaks.com/as_above_so_below.htm.
5. Eugene H. Peterson, The Message (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress), Ephesians 4:6.
By Roger Oakland
Understand the Times
The commentary you are about to read has been written with much prayer and thought. I have not written it impulsively or with ill motive but rather believe God has compelled me to testify of things that have gone unspoken of and hidden in secret for too long. For the sake of the body of Christ and the furtherance of the Gospel, the secret things in darkness need to be exposed.
There are a number of low-profile Calvary Chapel pastors starting to ask questions. Chuck Smith, the founder of the movement, seemed to be biblically sound and determined to serve the Lord throughout his many years of ministry. Toward the end of his ministry, it appears there were strange bedfellows planted around him who in earlier years he would have avoided. So what happened? The purpose of this commentary will be to answer that question.
Chuck Smith attributed the growth and the strength of the Calvary Chapel movement to the Holy Spirit and not to man-designed gimmicks or human effort. He never wavered from that position until the day he died. He called Calvary Chapel “His Church.” While there were those who had some questions about strange things going on behind the scenes, the Calvary ship sailed pretty well most of the time.
Those who were situated near the epicenter of this multimillion-dollar big business definitely knew about some major problems that were quietly concealed. A number have pointed out that the Achilles Heel of the Calvary machine was Chuck Smith’s passion for the Moses Model. Ask anyone who ever bucked the system and dared challenge this style of leadership. The exit plan was the door, and they were given the left hand of fellowship without any alternative.
While the motto around Calvary made the claim that agape love was flowing over, many a disillusioned servant of God was buried in an unmarked grave throughout the network of Calvary Chapels. And what happened at Calvary Costa Mesa did not stay at Calvary Costa Mesa. An enormous machine of abuse was born, and many were maimed throughout the growing movement. Pastors cloned the model, and the spirit of heaviness was exported. Thousands were hurt and then shunned as happens in organizations that use cult-like control tactics.
I was introduced to Chuck Smith and Calvary Chapel in June of 1981 when I was part of a seminar team brought to Costa Mesa from Saskatchewan, Canada. This was over one decade after Calvary Chapel was founded and years after the Jesus Movement spread around the world. While I was not familiar with the actual first generation pastors while the movement was launching, later in my life as the Lord opened doors, I came to know many of the players. I also became friends with several members in the Smith family (including Chuck’s brother, Paul, with whom I am still close friends).
In the spring of 1988, I was invited by Chuck Smith to move from Canada to California to join the staff of CCCM. At the time, as I still do, I felt this was the absolute will of God. My family moved from Canada to the USA leaving a small community of less than 1000 people and headed to southern California. We left family, friends, and farm behind and entered a world of mystery. After several months of boot camp, I felt I had missed the will of God. Like Jonah, I ran away back to Canada in the spring of 1989. Later I thought I heard the call of God and returned. Click here to continue reading.
As we reported earlier this week, mega-church pastor (and son of Charles Stanley) says that Christian leaders need to “get the spotlight off the Bible.” Stanley may think he has come up with some unique idea and saying, but he hasn’t. It’s the same ol’ emerging talk that has been going on with emergent figures all along. For instance, Biola University professor J.P. Moreland once said that evangelical Christians are too committed to the Bible.
“In the actual practices of the Evangelical community in North America, there is an over-commitment to Scripture in a way that is false, irrational, and harmful to the cause of Christ,” [Moreland] said. “And it has produced a mean-spiritedness among the over-committed that is a grotesque and often ignorant distortion of discipleship unto the Lord Jesus.” The problem, he said, is “the idea that the Bible is the sole source of knowledge of God, morality, and a host of related important items. Accordingly, the Bible is taken to be the sole authority for faith and practice.(source)
But just like Stanley’s statement isn’t going to upset most Christians and certainly isn’t going to ruffle any Christian leader feathers, Moreland’s absurd comments didn’t ruffle anything up either. In fact, he’s still a major influential voice in evangelical Christianity.
While Moreland gives examples such as non-charismatics who steer clear of any and all venues such as “impressions, dreams, visions, prophetic words, words of knowledge and wisdom,” there may be more behind his statements than meets the eye. This idea of “bibliolatry” (the idolizing of the Bible) did not originate with Moreland either. Contemplative Brennan Manning (who gets many of his ideas from mystics like Thomas Merton and William Shannon (Silence on Fire), once said this:
I am deeply distressed by what I only can call in our Christian culture the idolatry of the Scriptures. For many Christians, the Bible is not a pointer to God but God himself. In a word—bibliolatry. God cannot be confined within the covers of a leather-bound book. I develop a nasty rash around people who speak as if mere scrutiny of its pages will reveal precisely how God thinks and precisely what God wants.”–Brennan Manning, Signature of Jesus, pp. 188-189
Without checking the further inferences of such statements, some may agree with Manning and Moreland solely on the idea that we should not worship a leather-bound book but rather the One of whom the book is about. But few “over-committed” Bible-believing Christians would argue with that. Christians who believe the Bible is the actual inspired word of God know that the Bible is not God Himself, but it is the Jesus Christ proclaimed in that Bible who is to be worshiped. But they also know that within the pages of the Bible are the holy words, ideas, and truths of God (and, in fact, the words are so inspired by God that it is called a two-edged sword). So for Moreland and Manning to suggest that these types of Christians don’t really worship God but rather pages in a book is a misrepresentation of Bible-believing Christians.
Emergent Scot McKnight is another who uses this term, bibliolatry. In his book A Community Called Atonement, McKnight says, “I begin with the rubble called bibliolatry, the tendency for some Christians to ascribe too much to the Bible” (p. 143).
Emerging spirituality figure Walter Brueggemann uses the term in his book Theology of the Old Testament (p. 574).
There may be a logical reason why these men condemn those who adhere to the Bible too strongly. All have something in common – they all promote contemplative spirituality. And, as we have shown time and again, those who embrace the contemplative spiritual outlook, often shift their focus from the moral (doctrine) to the mystical as Henri Nouwen suggested in his book In the Name of Jesus:
Through the discipline of contemplative prayer, Christian leaders have to learn to listen to the voice of love . . . For Christian leadership to be truly fruitful in the future, a movement from the moral to the mystical is required. (p. 32)
In Moreland’s book, The Lost Virtue of Happiness, he talks about rediscovering important spiritual principles that have been lost. In Faith Undone, Roger Oakland cites this book in explaining the problem of mysticism:
Two of the spiritual disciplines . . . are “Solitude and Silence” (p. 51). The book says that these two disciplines are “absolutely fundamental to the Christian life” (p. 51). . . . Moreland and Issler [co-author] state:
In our experience, Catholic retreat centers [bastions of mysticism] are usually ideal for solitude retreats . . . We also recommend that you bring photos of your loved ones and a picture of Jesus . . . Or gaze at a statue of Jesus. Or let some pleasant thought, feeling, or memory run through your mind over and over again (pp. 54-55)….
Moreland and Issler provide tips for developing a prayer life. Here are some of the recommendations they make:
[W]e recommend that you begin by saying the Jesus Prayer about three hundred times a day (p. 90).
When you first awaken, say the Jesus Prayer twenty to thirty times. As you do, something will begin to happen to you. God will begin to slowly begin to occupy the center of your attention (p. 92).
Repetitive use of the Jesus Prayer while doing more focused things allows God to be on the boundaries of your mind and forms the habit of being gently in contact with him all day long (p. 93).
Moreland and Issler try to present what they consider a scriptural case that repetitive prayers are OK with God. But they never do it! They say the Jesus Prayer is derived from Luke 18:38 where the blind man cries out, “Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me,”(p.90) but nowhere in that section of the Bible (or any other section for that matter) does it instruct people to repeat a rendition of Luke 18:38 over and over. (from Faith Undone, pp. 117-119)
To be sure, the worship of leather and paper would be unscriptural and idolatrous, but we have never known or heard of a single case where a Christian advocates or practices Bible worship in that sense. As far as that goes, we have known countless Christians who respect (revere) the Bible as being the inspired Word of God; now if that were a point deserving criticism and condemnation, then we would necessarily need to place the apostle Paul under such scrutiny for having said, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16). Was Paul a Bible worshiper? We know he was not. We also know that he never instructed anyone to repeat words or phrases from the Bible over and over for the purpose of achieving a “silence” (i.e., a mind-altering state). Such a practice is not taught anywhere in Scripture; hence, we propose that it is just such a practice that is a misuse of Scripture. Is it mere coincidence that in almost every case where someone uses the “bibliolatry” argument, that person also promotes contemplative prayer, a practice that cannot be supported through Scripture? And by downplaying scriptural authority, cannot the contemplative viewpoint be easier to promote within Christianity?
One last case in point about “bibliolatry” comes from Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa, Idaho (NNU) where Dr. Jay McDaniel was invited to speak. McDaniel is a self-proclaimed “Christian” Buddhist sympathizer. When asked by a student at the lecture whether he believed that Jesus was “the way, the truth, and the life,” McDaniel stated that if Jesus had meant to say that He himself was the way, the truth, and the life, it would have been egocentric and arrogant of Jesus – He only meant to point people in the right direction – letting go of ego and grasping love. McDaniel stated also that Buddhist mindfulness (eastern meditation) is just as truth filled as doctrine and theology. He said there was an overemphasis in the church on doctrine calling it bibliolatry (idol worship of the Bible). (source) (click here to watch video of McDaniel lecture)
There is an attack on the Word of God. That’s no new thing–secular humanists, New Agers, and philosophers have attacked the Bible for centuries. But this attack of which we speak comes from within the ranks of Christianity out of the halls of highly respected universities, off the presses of successful Christian publishers, and out of the mouths of really popular Christian leaders.
What can we make of this idea of “bibliolatry”? The following statement offers some valid insight regarding this idea that Christians put too much emphasis on the Bible:
Today some are saying that the Bible is a lesser revelation than the Son and to make to much of it is to worship the Bible (bibliolatry). But if we do not make much of the Bible, then we cannot know much of the Son, for our only source of information about the Son (and hence about the Father) is through the Bible. Furthermore, if the Bible is not to be trusted, then again, we cannot know truth about the Son . . . if the Bible is not completely true, we end up with either misinformation or subjective evaluation. Jesus Himself asserted that the Bible revealed Him (Luke 24:27, 44-45, John 5:39).. (A Survey of Bible Doctrine,Charles Ryrie, p. 17)
In summary, we find it rather odd that in a time in history when many churches are hardly even opening the Bible that Bible-believing Christians would be accused of focusing too much on the Bible (what is it about the Bible these guys don’t like?). Our continual plea to all Christians is to be diligent in their study of the Scriptures and to be as the Bereans who “searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11). We should also note that Jesus never corrected people for studying the Scriptures but rather for their lack of understanding them. Paul nailed it on the head when he said, “Study to show thyself approved unto God . . . rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). Could this accusation of “bibliolatry” be nothing more than a smoke screen to further the contemplative agenda, which ultimately leads right to a one-world global religion that will declare all is God and God is in all.
By Jim Fletcher
Used with permission.
(Jim Fletcher is a writer, researcher, speaker and director of Prophecy Matters (prophecymatters.com). He writes online for WorldNetDaily; Beliefnet; American Family Association; the Jerusalem Post; and Rapture Ready. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Almost 20 years ago, Andy Stanley—the son of Southern Baptist legend Charles Stanley—emerged as a new generation pastor, a man of rare gifts when it comes to communicating. He eschewed jackets and ties and the more formal trappings of traditional church.
In about 2000, he was instrumental in helping develop a leadership entity known as Catalyst.
In the midst of all this, Stanley the Younger was in a feud of sorts with Stanley the Elder over the latter’s separation from his wife (Andy’s mother).
Over time, the son’s church eclipsed the father’s church in terms of attendees, and today Andy Stanley is one-third of what I call the Evangelical Trifecta: Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, and Stanley. Quite interestingly, Warren is based on the west coast; Hybels holds down the Midwest from Chicago, and Stanley is entrenched on the east coast. In more ways than one, they blanket the country and absolutely control the evangelical narrative. Their books and methologies totally dominate evangelicalism and their church growth techniques are now American dogma.
In recent years, Andy Stanley has made waves with his brand of what I’d call Progressive Evangelicalism. His prayers at Obama’s inaugurations,1 and his willingness to allow Michelle Obama to speak at his North Point Church are part of a troubling trend. He also has absolutely helped mainstream homosexuality within the evangelical church.
Stanley, who comes across as a winsome, easy-going fellow, is really a major change agent. His podcasts, messages, and books are absorbed by many tens of thousands of U.S. pastors.
I will tell you clearly that I believe he is described in the book of Jude. Men like Stanley have crept in unawares.
In our time.
What does this have to do with Israel?
Stanley’s rise, and that of his fellow change agents, coincides with a sharp downturn of support for Israel in the churches. It’s one element in an overall larger story, but the bottom line is this: Stanley’s watering-down of Christianity runs parallel to the rise of the so-called Christian Palestinianists. While Stanley himself rarely speaks of Israel, many of his friends and associations are anti-Israel.
Often, people answer me by saying: “But Charles Stanley supports Israel!”
He does so far as I know, but you do see that’s irrelevant in the context of what Andy Stanley is doing . . . don’t you?
Overall, Andy Stanley wants to fundamentally change what the Evangelical Church is. He, like Warren and Hybels, wants conformity and group-think. He wants you to think as he thinks.
And he thinks in dangerous ways.
Late last month, the Southern Baptist Convention’s “Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission” (ERLC) hosted another self-serving conference in Nashville, titled “Onward” (shockingly, the same title as that of the ERLC chief’s new book; it’s about the marketing, stupid). Stanley was invited to speak.
Boy, did he.
While ERLC President Russell Moore looked on grinning, Andy Stanley said the following:
“I would ask preachers and pastors and student pastors in their communications to get the spotlight off the Bible and back on the resurrection.”
Get the spotlight off the Bible!
Welcome to the Age of Apostasy.
Did you hear what he said? Andy Stanley speaks blasphemy and nonsense . . . and no national leader says a word.
Just for a moment, think about the illogical nature of Stanley’s statement: how do we know about the resurrection? Through Scripture.
Does anybody call him on this nonsense? No. He grows stronger.
Several years ago, Stanley gave an interview in which he openly said that as a college freshman, he embraced his professor’s contention that Genesis 1-11 is a fairy tale.
You need to understand this one bit of information undergirds everything he does. It is foundational to his thinking and “ministry.”
He is arrogant and powerful.
When you have famous national evangelicals with this kind of worldview, you will see a downturn in support for Israel. Stanley has made several outrageous statements about the Bible in the past three years; in short, he wants people to get their focus off the Bible. Can you imagine such?
Andy Stanley’s so-called ministry is an outrage. Would that he was held accountable. But he won’t be.
This is a key reason (though largely unknown by the rank-and-file) why Israel has fallen out of favor. If you relegate the Bible to myth, why pay attention? Why would Israel’s historical claims to the land be more valid than anyone else’s?
Stanley is helping destroy the American Church. In my opinion, he will be a major reason the American Church morphs into the State Church before too many more years pass.
And remember: my views of Stanley aren’t the story here. The story is the unconscionable violence he is willingly doing to Scripture and to the evangelical community.
BOOK REVIEW ON ANDY STANLEY’S BOOK, DEEP AND WIDE by Gary Gilley