Monday, June 13, 2016

Burroughs' Bible vs. Voskamp's Experience

In my recent post on Ann Voskamp, I looked at the sin of "intimacy with God" promoted in her book One Thousand Gifts.  I'm aware that some people don't agree with my critical assessment, nor do they concur with other negative critiques of her book.  However, let's look at a current statement she made on her blog and Twitter to see how she continues to view the Word of God.

On July 16, 2016, Ann Voskamp will participate in Together2016, an ecumenical gathering of "evangelicals".  I put the term evangelicals in quotes because there will be a large number of Roman Catholics participating in this event.  Historically, evangelicalism is a movement within Protestant Christianity[1], and therefore, does not include Catholics because Protestants separated from Roman Catholics during the Reformation.  Just like Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses, Catholics are not Protestant Christians because they do not hold to orthodox biblical beliefs.  Can there be Christians within these cult denominations?  Yes, but they will come out (2 Cor. 6:17).  Christians are not to have fellowship with unrighteousness or communion with darkness (2 Cor. 6:14).  Therefore, those who unequally yoke themselves with unbelievers, like Together2016, are at best not showing biblical discernment, but at worst they are not showing the marks of a true believer.  But I disgress...

On March 14, 2016, Ann Voskamp blogged[2]:  "We believe. Because we know. He knows our grief. We know His goodness. And the truth is – we don’t need an explanation from God like we need an experience of God."  Regarding Together2016, she tweeted a similar statement on May 11, 2016[3]:  "We don't need an explanation from God like we need an experience of God."

As you can see, Ann Voskamp continues to promote the idea that experience with God is paramount to anything else, including God's Word.  Fundamentally, this is what is wrong with One Thousand Gifts.

Let's see what Jeremiah Burroughs, a Puritan preacher, says in his book Faith.  In his treatise "The Saints' Walk by Faith on Earth and by Sight in Heaven", he looks at 2 Corinthians 5:7, "For we walk by faith, not by sight."  From Chapter 18 he lays out the principles for helping the soul to walk by faith.  Principle #2 states that "[w]e are more to rely upon a word than upon a work of God.  That is a principle that would be a mighty help to faith," (p. 185).  Even during the 1600's, Mr. Burroughs anticipates the objection to his principle.  He writes:  "OBJECTION.  You will say, 'When I read the Word, I have some comfort.  Oh, but when I see how things are working, then I am quite taken off,'" (p. 186).  In today's vernacular, a Christian might say, "When I read the Bible, I don't understand it.  Oh, but when I experience God, then I know He loves me," or "We don't need an explanation from God like we need an experience of God.  When I'm intimate with God and can caress Him, then I make every moment love for Him."

But Pastor Burroughs continues:  "ANSWER.  Lay up this as an everlasting principle: God's Word is more to be rested upon than the works of God, for God puts His Word as an object of faith, but God never makes any single work of His to be an object of our faith," (p. 186).

Unlike the popular personalities in today's "Christian" world, Mr. Burroughs does not promote spiritual experience above the Word of God.  He concludes: "Oh, therefore, rest upon the Word of God rather than on any works of His, for we cannot, nor would God have us understand His works many times.  God loves to be in the dark in His works, but His Word is light; the Scripture says that God's ways are in the dark, but His Word is always called light, therefore that's to be rested upon," (p. 186).

Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Rom. 10:17).  If a Christian is not reading and abiding daily in the Bible, then he is not growing in Christ (John 15).  If he is not growing in Christ, then he will be easily misled by mystics[4] like Ann Voskamp.

***
"How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!  Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way.  Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path," (Psalm 119:103-105).


[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evangelicalism [Warning--There is a Second Commandment violation on this website link.]
[2] http://www.aholyexperience.com/2016/03/when-the-world-everybodys-feeling-a-bit-of-an-unspoken-broken-come-spring-break/ [Warning--There are multiple Second Commandment violations on this website link.]