Sunday, November 01, 2009

Blips on the Blogosphere 22

One writer and theologian I have turned to consistently for his reliable counsel concerning biblical spirituality is Pastor Bob DeWaay. Pastor DeWaay has been alerting readers for some time now about American evangelicalism's love affair with New Age spirituality, and how Eastern spirituality has been making inroads into the American church because of the church's biblical illiteracy, its lackadaisical attitude towards doctrine and its drifting away from the principles the great Reformers fought so hard to make known.

One article that caught my attention and I have re-read several times was especially interesting in the DeWaay strongly, but in a non-combative tone, confronts what he views as serious errors in the teachings on biblical spirituality of well-known writer and Reformed professor Don Whitney. Being familiar with Mr. Whitney's writings and his status in the reformed community, I was at first surprised to see such a critique.

But having read Pastor DeWaay's strong arguments, I am persuaded that he makes a solid case for his position that only spiritual practices God has expressly ordained in His word (the "means of grace", such as prayer, the Word and the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's Supper), are to be enjoined. DeWaay writes,
Since Scripture alone reveals how we come to God and grow in God, then Scripture alone must reveal sanctifying practices... so Whitney is out of bounds to tell us we must do certain things that are not in the Bible if we want to achieve godliness on no other grounds than he said so.

Writing with evident passion Mr. DeWaay begins the article by stressing that he does think Dr. Whitney gets the gospel right. However, he thinks that Whitney is getting into serious error by enjoining God's people to spiritual practices not specifically commanded in Scripture. Thus Whitney's teaching on spiritual practices becomes akin to erroneous Roman Catholic teaching about grace coming by works, rather than the Reformed principle that says the grace God gives is what enables His people to do works. This is very alarming, says DeWaay, as "Scripture alone and grace alone are compromised— if not rejected outright— when spiritual disciplines are adopted."

I think DeWaay's warning to the Church is very timely and needs to be heeded. I highly recommend the article, which is titled, "Donald Whitney and Spiritual Disciplines--Spirituality Without Boundaries."

Other articles along these lines that DeWaay has written include his latest commentary, "Oprah Winfrey Promotes Pantheist Eckhart Tolle- How Biblically Illiterate America is Being Deceived" and also "Contemporary Christian Divination- The False Claims and Practices of Christian Mystics".


Recently, "An Evening of Eschatology" discussion moderated by John Piper took place at Bethlehem College and Seminary in Minneapolis. Billed as "The Meaning of the Millennium", the event was a discussion of various millennial views among John Piper, pastor of Bethel Baptist Church and popular author), Jim Hamilton (professor of New Testament at Southern Seminary in Louisville), Sam Storms (pastor of Bridgeway Church in Oklahoma City), and Doug Wilson (pastor of Christ Church, Moscow, Idaho).

The various views discussed were:

Premillennialism (represented by Jim Hamilton-- and shared by Piper): The return of Christ happens before (pre-) the thousand-year reign of Christ, which is a reign of the risen Christ on the earth.

Amillennialism (represented by Sam Storms): The return of Christ happens after the thousand-year reign, a reign that occurs in heaven, in the intermediate state, and not upon the earth. Those who have died in faith and entered into the presence of Christ share his rule and reign during the current church age in which we now live.

Postmillennialism (represented by Doug Wilson): The return of Christ happens after (post-) the thousand-year reign, which corresponds to the Christian age, and the reign of Christ from heaven leads the church to triumph by and through the gospel to such an extent that the Great Commission will be successfully fulfilled, and the Christian faith will pervade all the cultures of all the nations of men. All Christ's enemies will be subdued in this way, with the exception of death, which he will destroy by his coming.

At the Desiring God website, one can listen, watch or download the discussion for free.

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