Guest Post: Blurring the Lines: If Sola Scriptura is unclear what will come through the gate?


Blurring the Lines

Written by: Nancy A. Almodovar, PhD

If Sola Scriptura is unclear what will come through the gate?

The Apostles Creed drew the first line based upon Scripture which summarized the beliefs which must be held to be called a Christian.

At Nicea the line was drawn to further clarify who was a Christian and who was not in dealing with the Deity of Christ: Jesus is both equally God and Man.

In the days of Athanasius the line was dug even deeper: Jesus is God and Man, co equal, co-eternal, Very God of Very God.

At the Council of Orange that line was placed in permanent ink: This is what you must believe to be a Christian.

In today’s religious world, filled with a mix of enthusiast prophets and their false visions alongside the pseudo-calvinist who prefers to pick and choose what to believe at the schmorgasboard called evangelicalism, there is no longer any line. Gandolf said it best: This far and no farther. How far do those who hold to orthodox Christianity remain silent as the enemy routes the camp and pillages the faithful of their assurance and faith? How long do we permit the blurring of lines?

When the reformation occurred the Lutherans, Dutch, Swiss, French, Hungarian, British and Irish Reformers drew the line in the sand again: This must be believed in order to be a true Christian. Somewhere the guards began to fall asleep. They began to permit those with a history of visions and dreams to help “inspire” them onto a deeper walk with Christ. Slowly the mystical practices of the Romanists like Madam Guyon and Brother Lawrence were taught as ways to holiness and perfection. Then came the decisionalists and their free will which eventually led to a God of their own making who didn’t know the future and was subjected to His creatures. These lines which had marked out the true Church from the false began to be erased. The people clamored for popular preachers and teachers, kings of their own instead of The King of kings. They cried for their stew just like Esau and sold their birthright.

However, some of the old guard stood firm and fast refusing entry into the cities of refuge, the Confessionally reformed churches. So, the deceiver switched tactics. No longer wishing to erase the lines, which always alerted the faithful to defend the walls, they decided to blur them. Why not take on some of the language of the citizens and dress up like them in their books and on their videos. Why not look like them, talk like them, worship in a similar manner with a little more excitement added in. So they took the name of the most famous reformer and clothed themselves in sovereign election, irresistible grace and perseverance and declared themselves citizens of the king but from a far off country. Disarmed the citizens let them in the front gate welcoming them as brothers and sisters of the Reformation but from some long-lost family line. The deception had blurred the lines and they were in.

Over the next few years they spent their time teaching their form of Christianity and placed the Scriptures, formerly the only rule of faith and life, aside for some personal visions and dreams and messages from the King that they could hear in their hearts, for who can judge what is in your heart? After all, only God knows what is there. Slowly, the Book which had guided the citizens of the city of refuge was put away for a more contemplative way of the master. As the pseudo-citizens offered morsels sweet to the taste, some citizens were deceived and ate, forsaking their teachers from the past such as the Heidelberg and Westminster Catechisms. But soon, that which was sweet became bitter. Something was wrong but because they no longer looked to that old dusty book they simply asked for more morsels hoping the sweetness would assuage that bitterness.

Then the time came for these foreigners, now called fellow citizens to exact the fullness of their plan. They began to bring in their pets. But they were not pets they were timber wolves who teeth were set to destroy. They were wolves looking to devour even the elect in the city and tear their assurance to shreds, their teeth sharpened to sink into any defender against them.

But God had not left these citizens. Knowing the attacks would come, there were those who had once lived in the cities outside of the reformed and had been converted, granted citizenship in the City of Light, who were aware of the tactics of the enemy and would know from a single bark whether it was simply a pet or a timber wolf. As the Pseudo-calvinists began to bring in their pets, the Ex-Outsiders recognized the sound, the taste and the smell of that which would attempt to slaughter the citizens. They warned, they fought, they pleaded. No longer would the lines be blurred.

The citizens would be awakened again, their eyes opened to the danger, and the lines redrawn along the ancient paths. God would not have His Bride slaughtered or destroyed. He had promised the very gates of Hell would not prevail and would protect and preserve Her throughout all the ages.

The battle is fierce and each generation must sharpen the line between the true citizen of the Kingdom of Light and those whose father is the father of lies and dwell in the kingdom of darkness. The lines must not be blurred and therefore, each generation must again clear the path so that they may:

“Stand by the roads, and look,

and ask for the ancient paths,

where the good way is; and walk in it,

and find rest for your souls.

But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’

Jeremiah 6:16

Time to dig in and draw the line to the ancient path of God’s Word truly being the sole, unique, and only revelation of His will for our lives. It is time, brothers and sisters, to once again clarify what we believe and where that line is. Time to stand up and say, while defending the line: This far and no farther. I pray, God grant His children the strength and grace to hold the line and that He will give sight to those He wills. His children may take solace that He will send faithful guards who will hold the line and not blur it for His children.

Trust His promise to: establish you and guard you against the evil one. 2 Thessalonians 3:3 (ESV)

When I Look Back


When I look back on the derailing my faith took the year after my son was born (2007) primarily because I became involved in the women’s ministry Bible studies in my former church, I am so so grieved. When I think about the fact that I walked into my denominational “Christian” bookstore, Lifeway Christian Stores, seeking help in order to grow in my walk with Christ and I walked out with New Age meditation, sorcery, and all manner of idolatry disguised as solid Biblical teaching, I am sick!  I am sick knowing that every day across this country millions of women (and men) are being led astray from the truth into a realm of deception weaved by masterful and emotionally driven women; women, who like me, are compassionate toward hurting people and women who likely have a desire to help their fellow man and fellow “sisters in Christ” (I use that term very loosely), but women, nonetheless who are woefully Biblically ignorant and ill qualified to be teaching. 

Just A Spoonful Of Sugar Makes The Poison Go Down

But, then, when I think about the GRACE the PURE GRACE and PURE MERCY of my God who, despite my sinful slip, allowed me to go just far enough to recognize how far I had gone and then yanked me back to His Word! His true and freeing Word!  When I think about THAT, I am overwhelmed with praise, worship, and gratitude to such a gracious God!  And no matter how many friends or loved ones it might cost me to speak this truth, I can not stop.  I must tell my other sisters out there who may be like I was, deceived by emotions and flowery stories  from talented women, but nonetheless still deceived; I must tell them the TRUTH!

Does anyone remember the movie, Nine to Five?  Remember the scene where Lily Tomlin’s character is high and is hallucinating that she is Snow White and is making coffee for her boss? She is singing with birds twirping around her head all the while she is putting Rat Poison in the cup instead of Coffee Creamer!!  THAT IS exactly what we have going on in the visible evangelical “church” today.

The very FIRST women’s study I participated in at my former church was Priscilla Shirer’s “He Speaks to Me” a study that completely turned me inward to listen to a voice inside rather than OUTWARD to look to the ALREADY SPOKEN Word of God.  Ken Silva shared today yet another slipping into apostasy by teachers who have rejected the pure objective Word of God in exchange for a mystical, subjective, inner voice.

PRISCILLA SHIRER EXCITED HER BROTHER PERFORMED AT JOEL OSTEEN’S HERETICAL WORD FAITH CHURCH

By on Nov 26, 2012 in Current Issues, Features

One of the trends I’ve been monitoring here at Apprising Ministries is the increasing syncretism of Word Faith mythology into the mainstream of evangelicalism.

A good example is two-time Elephant Room vet and Seeker Driven prophet-leader Steven Furtick, e.g. Steven Furtick As Televangelist At Lakewood Church Of Joel Osteen.

That’s why I showed you earlier that Joel Osteen Has Influenced Steven Furtick Longer Than You May Know. This most definitely is not something to be proud of at all.

Neither is this tweet from Priscilla Shirer, who promotes Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism and works closely with Beth Moore, another quasi-elder like herself:


(source)

Evans, Jr. had retweeted the following comment concerning his performance at the Word Faith church Joel Osteen:

source)

To learn more and to be better prepared as we continue to watch the decline in Biblical truth by the visible evangelical movement, follow Ken Silva at Apprising Ministries

Sarah Flashing To Interview Christine Pack re: One Thousand Gifts & Mystical Christian Panentheism


You may or may not be following a recent occurrence concerning a review posted by Mr. Tim Challies regarding Ann VosKamp’s wildly popular, One Thousand Gifts.  After Mr. Challies posted his review, which I was grateful to have him express some of the same concerns I and many others have with the book as well as all the other books circulating in Christian circles these days that are promoting clearly anti-Christian views of panentheism and mysticism, Mr. Challies, wrote another article expressing his regret over his tone in the review and asking Ms. Voskamp for forgiveness.  I certainly appreciate his sensitivity to the issue and desire to be gracious as he reviews various books, however, I am concerned that it has now sent a confusing message regarding the very serious issues promoted by Ms. VosKamp and the very serious dangers they present to the sheep of Jesus Christ.   Cathy Blackerby Matthews of Sola Sisters blog, wrote a timely open letter to Mr. Challies, regarding her desire to also meet with him for dinner and help him understand just how vital it is that we sound the alarm about the dangers of the ideas and teachings being circulated in books such as Ms. VosKamp’s.

Sara Flashing, director of The Center for Women of Faith in Culture, will interview Ms. Christine Pack also of the Sola Sisters blog, this afternoon this afternoon May 30, 2012,  at 2:00pm central/3:00pm eastern here.  I encourage you to tune in and listen as Ms. Pack discusses these events an her concerns for the church at large with regard to mysticism and panentheism.

Thoughts From My Reformed Self: Links to Review of The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard


Okay,
The final computer-generated Yoda as seen in t...
Since I really messed up that intro post let’s just start again.  Here are the links to all the review articles my friend, Cindy, has written thus far on Dallas Willard’s Divine Conspiracy.  Enjoy. 🙂

“The Divine Conspiracy” by Dallas Willard: A Chapter by Chapter Review — Introduction

What Happens When Philosophy Professors Write Theology Books

“The Divine Conspiracy” – Review Part 2 – When All Else Fails, Redefine Your Terms

“The Divine Conspiracy” by Dallas Willard — Review of Chapter 2: Gospels of Sin Management

A Primer on Pagan Theology as Preface to the Review of Chapter 3 of Dallas Willard’s “The Divine Conspiracy”

Panentheism meets Neo-Platonism With a Dash of Yoda – Part 2 of Chapter 3 Review: “The Divine Conspiracy” by Dallas Willard

And the rest to be continued this summer….stay tuned.

Guest Post: “The Divine Conspiracy” by Dallas Willard: A Chapter by Chapter Review — Introduction


And her other links are here and here and here and here.  She has not completed the series and plans for it to be a summer project. So I will keep you posted. You know what…I’m going to do another post with all her links and titles, but at least for now this gets you started.
I have written much about Richard Foster and Contemplative prayer as that was my primary exposure to this topic and to Spiritual Formaiton.  However, Dallas Willard, a ministers in the SBC has had as much influence on the modern evangelical departure for Biblical Christianity as Foster has had.  I ran across a sister writing on Foster and asked her permission to share an excerpt of her article here and then direct you to further read her commentary on Dallas Willard’s, The Divine Conspiracy.  Below is the first installment and I encourage you to follow the links to the rest of her review.

Several years ago, a friend of mine, who also happened to teach my Sunday school class, urged me to read The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard. He was excited about the fresh view that Willard provided towards the Bible. Years later, I no longer attend the same church as this friend, but still remain in contact with him, as well as other friends from that church who share many of his views. When we have theological debates by email or Facebook, the final point on their part often still seems to be, “You would understand better if you just read The Divine Conspiracy.

So Okay, I’m going to read it.

Considering the size of this particular volume by Willard, it seemed best to record my thoughts in installments. I’ve already read the introduction and already have more to say than I dare put in one post. For the sake of my readers, I will try to be relatively brief, but the introduction is full of his thesis for the entire book, so it is probably the most important “chapter” to examine closely.

Dr. Willard begins by lamenting the shallowness of the Church in America. He complains that the Church as a whole doesn’t seem to be taking Jesus seriously in regards to his command to “make disciples of all nations” and “teach them all I have commanded.” I actually agree with Willard on this point I suppose, and judging from the rest of the introduction, this could possibly be our only point of common ground. But I agree that the average person who confesses Christ has little root to his faith and has been indoctrinated by the World far more than by the Christian faith. But as Willard expands on what he sees as problematic in the Church, we begin to part ways as Dr. Willard departs constantly from God’s Word as the basis for his analysis and his solution.

The Clarity of Scripture and Willard’s Lack Thereof

Under the section of his introduction called “My Assumptions about the Bible”, Willard begins by describing what most theologians would call the “perspicuity of scripture”. Perspicuity is the state of being transparently clear and easily understandable. What is ironic is that the passage where he describes this belief is not, in itself, perspicuous. I found myself giggling at the irony. In the section describing Scripture’s clarity and how it was written for the common man, Willard’s verbiage and logic took a serpentine route across two or three pages, taking several paragraphs to say what I could have said in one very short paragraph. It quickly became clear to me why this book was so long.

I also noticed that Willard frequently forms sentences which were technically grammatical but devoid of any clear meaning. For instance, Willard describes what he saw as the view of Jesus from the first-century perspective:

Jesus himself was thought of as someone to admire and respect, someone you thought highly of and considered to be a person of great ability. Worship of him included this – not, as today, ruled it out.

What does this sentence mean? I think I read it three or four times and was still scratching my head. It seems that perhaps his particular definitions for the descriptive phrases “thought highly of” and “person of great ability”, are much different than what might be their most forthright interpretation, using the basic dictionary definitions of the words they contain. But despite the mental hurdles thrown in my path, several messages came through quite clearly from between the lines. For instance, I found significant meaning from one little phrase in the aforementioned quote. Willard uses the phrase “not as today… “.

Willard the Reformer?

What is Professor Willard saying when he says “not as today”? These three words expose the heart of Willard’s teaching and his attitudes towards what most would consider orthodox Christianity. He constantly implies that we need to go all the way back to the first century to find proper discipleship and worship of Jesus. He did not follow this phrase with any qualifier, such as “in liberal churches” or “in most mainstream denominations”. He gave no qualifier to imply that, at this point in history, there was anyone out there “getting it right”.

This is not the first time I’ve heard Dr. Willard display this attitude. I have heard him say that the Church has been getting the “gospel wrong” for a very long time. In fact, he mentions in his introduction of The Divine Conspiracy some of the same troubling opinions on this subject I heard him use in a recorded interview, though he is less direct in written form. (Here is a link to a page that has a recording of that interview, with commentary by Chris Rosebrough of Pirate Christian Radio. The part of the program with the interview begins 37 minutes in.)

Willard repeatedly laments, throughout the introduction, that believers today do not see Jesus’ teachings as having any connection to “real life” or having “practical” value. He claims that we are unfaithful to the teachings of Jesus if we arrange our beliefs and life according to a long-range view of things, with our focus fixing on what follows our departure from this world. Here is passage where he says this, though in words again less direct than in his recorded interview (I am really not sure if I would have caught on to what Willard was trying to say, at times, if I had not recently heard this interview.):

The early message [of Jesus] was, accordingly, not experienced as something its hearers had to believe or do because otherwise something bad – something with no essential connection with real life – would happen to them.


Let me first state that there is enough in Richard Foster’s teaching on contemplative prayer to rightly assert his teachings are false and against the Word of God so as I continue to write additional reasons for why I reject him as a legitimate teacher of biblical truths, understand that these are just additional red flags in his teaching that support the assertion that he is a false teacher.

In this post I wish to make a case that his endorsement of spiritual direction and spiritual directors is directly contrary to the Scriptures which teach us that Christ is our only mediator.

Paul in his letter to Timothy clearly states,

1First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the manChrist Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.” -1 Timothy 2:1-6

The writer of Hebrews tells us,

14how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify ourconscience from dead works to serve the living God. 15Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.16For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established.  Hebrews 9:14-16

23and to the assemblyof the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.  Hebrews 12:23-24

Now, let’s examine what exactly spiritual direction is and why it violates this principle of Christ being our mediator and high priest. According to Renovare’s definition of Spiritual Direction, (I posted the entire definition as found here on Renovare’s site because I think it is important for you to get a real sense of just what it is that Spiritual Direction claims).

Spiritual direction provides an “address” on the house of your life so that you can be “addressed” by God in prayer.  When this happens, your life begins to be transformed in ways you hadn’t planned or counted on, for God works in wonderful and surprising ways.
~ Henri Nouwen, Spiritual Direction: Wisdom for the Long Walk of Faith

While the phrase “spiritual direction” may sound a bit lofty, it is simply a relationship through which one person assists another in attending to the presence and call of God in all of life.  Though not always called by this name, spiritual direction has been a vital ministry in many streams of the Church for hundreds of years.

Spiritual direction is for anyone yearning for God.  Sometimes this desire appears as a sense of longing for something greater or a sense of discontent with the status quo.  For others this pining is more focused, rising from a clear understanding that a sense of God’s presence is missing from particular parts of life.

Of course, an underlying assumption and basis for spiritual direction is that God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—is actively drawing us into the Eternal Presence.  God is the one, true “director,” working constantly, actively, powerfully in the very midst of our ordinary, everyday routines and life circumstances.  A spiritual direction relationship is one way to help us pay attention to this Divine work.  It interrupts our typical routine long enough to help us notice God’s wooing of us and become more deeply aware of God’s presence with us.The spiritual direction relationship includes a director and directee, with the director often being called a “spiritual director.”  While different directors have different approaches to their practice, typically she takes an active/passive role, simply creating the environment for the direction to take place.  The director intentions to do more listening than talking, asking leading and, sometimes, probing questions as needed and appropriate.  Times of silence are apropos and welcomed.  There is very little actual direction given as this is commonly understood.  Rather, the spiritual director convenes a conversation during which a direction will be determined by the directee and director together, co-laboring with God.  Both directee and director explore together what God might be doing in the areas being discussed.

While the lines may be blurry at times depending on the style of the spiritual director or present circumstances, spiritual direction is different from pastoral counseling.  People usually enter a counseling relationship because something is wrong with life.  Counseling tends to be crisis-oriented or problem-driven.  Solving particular problems or handling specific crises is not the goal of spiritual direction.  The spiritual direction relationship takes the long view.  It looks for how God is working, calling, prodding, and inviting us to new ways of being with Jesus in the midst of our circumstances.  It focuses on building an intimate relationship with God over a lifetime, through all the problems, crises, joys, and blessings.

What else is that but a description of a man or woman attempting to act as the Holy Spirit in another’s life?  Notice it does not say that they come alongside and help you with Biblical understanding or counseling. There is no indication that they are there to help you understand and learn what God has already said in his revealed and closed cannon of Scripture with regard to His will for your life.  It is very clear that their purpose is to guide you into some sort of mystical prayer experience and to somehow interpret for you what it is that God is doing and saying in your life.  I think the most blasphemous assertion is that this person is “co-laboring with God” to help in the direction of your soul as well as the assertion that “Spiritual Direction is for anyone yearning for God”. Notice again, there is no mention of the necessity for this “anyone” to be a regenerated believer in Jesus Christ, no need for being born again, sealed with the Spirit, or regenerated in order to enter into the presence of God.  Again, I stand by my previous articles when I say that Foster does not believe it is necessary for a person to be born by the Spirit into the Kingdom of God, rather he endorses a works based philosophy whereby anyone can enter into a relationship with God via the many extra biblical means that he promotes.

D.A. Carson has written an excellent article explaining some real concnerns with the confusing terminology that is “Spiritual Disciplines”. I highly recommend you give it a read as it really hits on a lot of the concerns I have been writing about with regard to Richard Foster.


http://thegospelcoalition.org/themelios/article/spiritual_disciplines

 

 

 

 

Contemplative Prayer by Gary Gilley


Spiritual formation seeks to lure evangelicals into ancient Catholic and Orthodox contemplative practices in order to draw closer to God, experience His presence, and hear His voice apart from Scripture. In order to embrace this mystical form of spirituality, contemplatives are willing to compromise at virtually every turn. Central doctrines such as sola fide and sola Scriptura are shrugged off as secondary. Methods never found in the Bible as the true means of spiritual growth and of knowing God, are emphasized. And complete heretics such as Thomas Merton are seen as reliable spiritual guides to spirituality. The contemplatives have sold out to Catholic mysticism and abandoned the clear teaching of Scripture. Sadly, in the process many undiscerning evangelicals will follow suit.      Gary Gilley

Gary Gilley of Southern View Chapel is spending the entire year of 2012 reviewing the Spiritual Formation movement. I strongly encourage everyone to read his articles as well as several great book reviews of those involved in this movement. He has recently reviewed contemplative prayer. I also recommend his article on the wildly popular Ann VosKamp book, One Thousand Gifts.