I have a confession to make that I hope doesn’t shock anyone too badly. (Deep breath.) I am a John Eldredge fan. I didn’t used to think used to think that this was something for a Christian to be ashamed of, but have become aware recently that some think differently. In fact, some go as far as to call him a heretic. I have to wonder if they long for the old days when you could just brand your opponent a heretic and have him burned at the stake. Things were so much simpler then.
You can find a couple of critical reviews on John’s books here: http://www.challies.com/general-news/john-eldredge
But, if you don’t want to read all that, I’ll include some quotes from Challies here:
“Eldredge is likely the most popular proponent of the heresy known as open theism.”
But that’s not really what I want to talk about here. Eldredge has said he isn’t an open theist, and I have no reason to believer otherwise and wouldn’t be overly concerned about it either way.
There have been some very strong statements made by those who claim that John is spreading open theism, but the statement that caught my eye was that Eldredge talks about God speaking to him. My initial reaction was basically: “So? God speaks to every Christian.” Followed by, “Seriously? I know you’re Reformed, but really? You believe God only speaks though scripture? Have you read your Bible lately?” I know, I know, the post is six years old. Maybe by this time Tim Challies has heard from God personally.
A few more quotes from this review: “Though he does acknowledge Scripture to be the first and foremost means of God’s revelation to us, and though he looks often to Scripture, he still insists that all Christians should expect to hear God speak to them personally. Nowhere does he interact with thoughtful objections to such communication. He essentially takes it as a given that God will offer fresh revelation today.”
You mean there are Christians who don’t? I’m flabbergasted, to be honest. What about the Holy Spirit? How would we even get saved, or grow spiritually if he didn’t speak to us personally? What about people who receive revelations from God through dreams and visions? Is he really saying that is all bunk?
To get an idea of how bizarre I find this type of thinking, imagine going to church next Sunday and hearing your pastor saying: “You know what? Quit talking to God and expecting a response. Don’t ask him about your job, your finances, your marriage, or your kids. Just read your Bible, that’s all you need. He’s really not interested in the details of your pitiful little life.”
“Eldredge does suggest a process that goes something like this: Ask simple questions; remain in a posture of quiet surrender; sit quietly before God and repeat the question; try one answer and then the other in your heart and gauge how you feel about each. Carrying over from his previous books is the assumption that the human heart is inherently good and trustworthy. We can listen to our hearts and allow it to discern for us what is good and bad, right and wrong. Though God may speak in an audible voice, primarily we “hear” him in our hearts.”
Sounds like good advice. Although Challies should have made clear that John is talking about the redeemed heart, not the human heart. No? Maybe some of my reformed brothers can help me out here. Is this really what your theology teaches? That God is limited to speaking only through the Bible? After all that talk about how sovereign he is?
“And so it goes. As a glimpse into the life of John Eldredge this book may have some appeal. But as a guide to hearing from God, it has little value. What the author teaches is fraught with peril. Feeling that we need to hear direct and fresh revelation from God in every matter is a prescription for paralysis. Though such a discussion is beyond the scope of this short review, it is far better and far more consistent with Scripture to see that there is no such thing as the center of God’s will.”
Ok, I tried to let that last part sink in, but all I got was a sinking feeling that some people actually believe this. Paul should not have asked God where to go next in his ministry, James was wrong about us saying we should do this or that only if it’s God’s will. On that other hand, why am I surprised? If everything is pre-destined, then everything is God’s will, even my sin. If that were the case, praying for God’s will would be useless. If it is God’s will for me to kill my neighbor tomorrow and take his stuff, that’ s what will happen. Maybe Tim Challies is only being a consistent Calvinist. It still blows my mind that anyone could come to this conclusion while reading the same Bible I read. The one that encourages us to:
” pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” Ephesians 6:18
On all occasions with all kinds of requests. Even in the small details of life. Stop and listen for God’s voice. Boy, I wish I did that more often. But, Tim seems to be encouraging us to do the opposite:
“God gives us the Bible to guide us to what He expressly commands and forbids. Beyond those black and white commands, He gives us great freedom to live our lives. He does not expect or demand that we will stop to demand answers from a “still small voice” for every situation we face. Instead, we fill our minds with Scripture, we study His commands, and we live life in the freedom He offers.”
Don’t pray for guidance. Why doesn’t he just come our and say it outright? I bet even Tim prays over the big questions. But, how often are the little questions really big ones? How often does the ripple affect of not asking and making the wrong move affect every aspect of life?
Am I reading this wrong? What do you think? Does God speak to us daily through little and big miracles? Through impressions on our hearts? Or only through scripture? I’ve had dreams that I believe were straight from God. I’ve had God tell me to do something and a few times, I even obeyed. I think there is some on the fringe theology here that all Christians should object to, and it’s not coming from Eldredge.