Posted in blackaby, experiencing God, false prophets, henry blackaby, mysticism

Blackaby’s Experiencing God: if we’re to find out where God is at work and join Him there, then where is God NOT working?

I was a baby Christian when the church to which I belonged at the time fell under the hoopla regarding Henry Blackaby’s “Experiencing God” study (published in 1990). Even though the study had been produced and circulating for about many years already, it had taken a bit of a while to get to our small church in rural Georgia.

I remember the promises that were made by the people promoting the book/workbook/study. “It will change lives.” “It will transform the entire church”. “There is nothing like it.”

I like to study and I went along with the flow and participated in it with a small group. Perhaps I am a natural skeptic, but from the outset I was leery of anything that promised life change that was not the Bible. As the study concluded, I decided that it was not for me, there were parts I didn’t understand and it made no change in me at all. The parts I didn’t understand were not because the material was complicated or overly theological or in another language. Even the most difficult or demanding of material I’ve studied in the Bible eventually becomes clear through hard work, proper study, and prayer. The Spirit makes it clear.

All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all (2 Pet. 3:16); yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation, are so clearly propounded, and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them (Ps. 119:105, 130). (Westminster Confession of Faith 1.7)

Experiencing the Experiencing God study caused confusion in me, not clarity. It’s what always happens when something I’m studying goes away from the Bible. The Bible is always clear to me. When things are not based on the truths found in the bible, they are cloudy, unclear, murky, opaque. This is how, through discernment, I know what is edifying and what is not.

It’s been 9 years since I took the Experiencing God study. I have learned quite a lot since then, by the Grace of Jesus and the edifying work of the Holy Spirit. I know that Mr Blackaby and co-author Claude King will have a lot to answer for when they stand before Jesus. Mr Blackaby opened the door to mysticism, (aberrant orthodoxy) and he opened the door to an experiential method of getting to know God and living it. (aberrant orthopraxy). The credentials that he had, of being part of the North American Mission Board, the International Mission Board and LifeWay, opened the door to allowing and encouraging both extremely poor orthodoxy and poor orthopraxy in the most conservative denominations of the faith.

John MacArthur commented on this remarkable and rapid insinuation of the EG study’s main precepts into even conservative sections of the faith in his essay False Prophets and Lying Wonders,

Similar ideas [that God gives extra-biblical persona, revelation] have found sweeping acceptance even among non-charismatic Christians. Southern Baptists have eagerly devoured Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby and Claude King, which suggests that the main way the Holy Spirit leads believers is by speaking to them directly. According to Blackaby, when God gives an individual a message that pertains to the church, it should be shared with the whole body. As a result, extrabiblical “words from the Lord” are now commonplace even in some Southern Baptist circles.

I’m saddened that the Experiencing God study is not only still used, but is still a best seller. According to Amazon.com, Experiencing God is ranked #42 in Books > Christian Books & Bibles > Education > Adult. That is amazing for a religious book/study published in 1990, twenty-five years ago. Many people have reviewed the study and tested it against the Bible. I won’t go into lots of parsing today. I have just a few questions about the book/study.

First, here are a few links to reviewers that have examined the Experiencing God study and why it comes up short when tested against God’s word.

The main point of Experiencing God has been touted again and again as this:

“Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God” has a simple -– but challenging -– message: Find out where God is at work and join Him there. (source)

Here is my first question. Where is God NOT working?

Anyone? Anyone?

Yet the Bible says,

But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.” (John 5:17)

The answer of course its that God is working everywhere.

If one digs beyond the motto of the study, there are 7 main points that the study brings up. None are bad on the surface. As a matter of fact, some are good. The trouble with this study is that it combines so much biblical truth with some lies that it makes it past the gate of all but the most discerning. Mixing biblical truth with doses of lies makes for a dense evangelical fog.

Here are the study’s 7 main points, which King and Blackaby call “7 realities”:

So, as number 1 says if God is always at work around us, why does the study always urge us to “Find out where God is at work and join Him there”. Why do we have to ‘find out’? Why do we have to go there to join Him? If I stay here, and don’t go there, am I in a dead zone, a spot where God is not working? Worse, do we obey God by using our visual senses to make a determination as to what God is doing in a particular place? What about the missionary who worked for years and had not one convert? Was God not working there? What happens when we ‘find out’ where God is working because it is a happenin’, exciting church, and then it plateaus, and we scoot off to another happenin’, exciting place, as Rick Warren says, surfing the experience? Have we not covenanted with the people we worship alongside? Do we just abandon them because we see a better prospect somewhere else?

Or is the seed that was planted and then watered by another dead in the ground … or was it simply waiting on God’s timing to grow it? (1 Corinthians 3:6). Do we wander off into where we “see God is working and join him there? Or there? Or how about over there?

Anyway, you can see the inconsistencies in the 7-point bullet list generated by Blackaby and King. Number 7 is particularly troublesome.

Not to mention the most personal experience of God of all. When we repent and believe, He sends the Spirit to dwell IN US. This is the most personal, intimate, wondrous experience on can have with God, His very self dwelling in us making our body His temple. What a poor substitute Blackaby offers, the temporal and fleeting experience of human experience to determine how to know God.

While some things that last are edifying (the Bible, The Valley of Vision, Pilgrim’s Progress), other things that seem like they are lasting (Experiencing God) are not edifying, and indeed, their popularity bespeaks this warning:

Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets. (Luke 6:26).

Posted in blackaby, books, hybels, reading, spurgeon

(Updated) A pile of books, oldies and I hope goodies!

Update at bottom

A year ago, our pastor resigned/was fired for having discovered that he’d spent years in serial plagiarism. The deacons and staff were cleaning out his office this week (because it looks like God may just now have sent the man He wishes us to have lead us) and there was a stack of books left over on the old pastor’s shelves. The staff put them on the bench with a “free” sign. One of the men saved aside a book for me. I was bowled over with delight. Here it is:

This book was published in 1892 just after Charles Haddon Spurgeon, AKA “The Prince of Preachers” had died in Menton France.

I’ve read about 50 pages so far and it is charming, well-written, and of course, glowing (being in the height of grief over the loss of the word’s foremost preacher at the time).

Other books that were set aside for me include some I’m very much looking forward to reading, such as–

W. Eugene Sallee: Christ’s Ambassador, a biography written by Sallee’s wife. They both were missionaries in China in the very early 1900s. I have high hopes for this book- it should prove very interesting. I hope I’m not let down… It is the book I’ll read next.

Life and Sayings of Sam P. Jones: A Minister of the Gospel, a famous Georgia preacher of some note who preached in the late 1800s. Wikipedia says Jones “was one of the most celebrated revivalists of his day, at the close of the 19th century. Famous for his wry wit and masterful story-telling, he is credited as a principal influence on Will Rogers.

Home of the Bible: What I Saw and Heard in Palestine (1895), by Marion Harland, AKA Virginia Terhune, a prolific American writer. She lived from 1830 to 1922, and was still writing at age 90 even though she had gone blind. This book was her travelogue, having made an expedition to determine for herself to see what God was doing in the original Christian lands with the peoples there.

Up Among the Ice-floes (1890) by James MacDonald Oxley. I always love me a good old Arctic expedition book.

I also received biblical non-fiction and reference books-

The Second Coming of Christ by Len Broughton, (1902)

Jewish Tales by Leopold Von Sacher Masoch (1894)

The Revelation: Verse by verse study by Oliver B. Green (1963)

Exposition of Ecclesiastes by H. C. Leupold (1952)

Arnold’s Practical Sunday School Lesson Commentary (1926)

The Church of God at Corinth: verse by verse commentary on 1 & 2 by Corinthians John R. Rice (1973)

These three came together in a little case: they seem kind of elementary but will be useful as a quick guide, and also of course to give away to someone who needs something a little elementary when the time comes to give it away!

  • Who’s Who in the Bible by Dietrich Gruen (2011)
  • Bible Almanac Anna Trimiew
  • Bible Facts: People, Places, Events David M Howard Jr.

The Discipling Pastor beat me to the commentaries but I’m thrilled he got some good ones. He offered to let me see what he got, already tucked away in the back of his car, but I declined because I knew it would lead to the sin of me coveting!!

I was just saying to myself, “Self, you’ve given away a good many books lately, I wish I had some more. The shelves are looking mighty thin.” So thank you Lord, for your provision. I’m delighted to have been graciously re-stocked, and just in time for school ending next week. I will actually have time and energy to read. Read. Read. Read. Read. Read. Read….

Sometimes there are simple things that tell the story. For example, the old pastor had books like the life of Spurgeon and other solid books from AW Pink, John R. Rice, and the like, but also alongside those old venerable standards were Purpose Driven stuff from Rick Warren, Max Lucado, Bill Hybels, and Henry Blackaby on ‘how to hear God’s voice’. The solid and practical and expositional had over time, been relegated to the back of his book shelf and at the forefront were books illustrating his heart and his penchant for the mystical, emotional, purpose driven leaven that eventually clouded his judgment and polluted his heart. It was shortly after that his massive sin was uncovered: serial lies from the pulpit in the holy name of Christ. And his bookshelf was a graphic display of his sad decline into apostasy.

If a bookshelf told your story, what story would it tell?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A couple of days after this essay was published, Pastor John MacArthur tweeted out a link to a three minute chat called “The Christian Bokshelf”. In it, Pastor MacArthur mentions the kinds of books he likes to read (Commentaries, theology, biogrpahies, with occasional other historical books thrown in, like The Athenian Navy, Salt, and the Great Influenza).

He goes on to explain what publisher to look for (“Banner of Truth) and urges CHristians to buy books and fill their bookshelves with solid kinds of books like these. Enjoy

//player.vimeo.com/video/93187462
Truth for Today | The Christian Library from Grace Community Church on Vimeo.