Authors and Books NOT My Favorites

This page contains my own personal notes and opinions, and is not meant to be a discussion board or debate-forum.  You're invited to read on if you like, but if you're easily offended, you may want to click back out of this page.  From this point on, this page is primarily my way of organizing my thoughts and convictions for my family and friends to know where I currently stand, which is subject to change if and when the Lord convicts me to do so, as I continue to study, learn, and grow.  No offense is intended to anyone who enjoys these guys. I have many friends, both laymen and clergy who love a few of these guys, love their books, and think they are "the greatest thing since sliced bread". That's cool with me, as we are entitled to our own opinions.

If you love fluffy feel-good books and authors like Joel Osteen, William P. Young's "The Shack", John Eldredge's "Wild at Heart", Rick Warren's "40 Days of...(fill in the blank), Blackaby's and Wilkinson's shortcuts and formulas to hearing from God and getting blessed by God without diligent study of His Word, etc., this blog may not be for you.  I've found that many (but certainly not all) people who love these guy's books will defend them over the Bible, prefer to read them or do a group study of theirs over the Bible, have never read completely through the Bible, and despise or are ignorant of Systematic Theology and Biblical Doctrine (doctrine just means teaching). If that's you, you may want to turn back now.  You've been warned, and I don't want to have to say "I told you so".  Reading this page may put you at risk of getting your "feelings hurt".
Disclaimer: I am in no way making a judgment as to the hearts, intentions, or salvation of the people mentioned in this blog, nor of their personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Their eternal state can only be determined by the Righteous Judge, Jesus Christ Himself, and that's between them and Him. I believe many of those I mention here such as Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, Phil Yancey, Henry Blackaby, etc. (and others) are born-again believers and followers of Christ, with whom I just disagree, some on major issues, some on minor. But I fear that maybe at least a few of the others could be charlatans, wolves in sheep's clothing, or even well meaning unbelievers still ignorant in their sins, like those in Matthew 7 who cried "Lord, Lord."
Matthew 7:21 (ESV) “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
Rob Bell, Brian MacLaren, Shane Claiborne, etc...(Emerging Church, or Emergent?/Post Modern leaders)- I'm not real clear on just what these guys believe or teach, and I don't think they are either. They seem to think of truth as subjective, and unable to be absolutely known, rather the Objective Truth of Scripture. They also seem to me to put more emphasis on works than on Doctrine. Works are certainly important, and James wrote that faith without works is dead, but without proper Doctrine (teaching), man can work his way straight to hell. Hell will be full of philanthropists who were never regenerated. Truth Matters! John MacArthur's excellent book "Truth Wars"(click to see) addresses this movement, using the book of Jude as his text.

Rick Warren (Saddleback Pastor) and Bill Hybels (Willow Creek Pastor) the Seeker-Sensitive Guru's...(I don't have major disagreements with them that I know of, and don't spend my time reading them, (but I do have some minor problems with them , and just don't care for their Seeker-Sensitive, Pragmatic approach to church growth, to get numbers at any cost). I also have a problem with pastors and churches all over the world stopping their churches normal teaching and preaching to do Warren's "40 days of purpose" right when the pope of protestantism, I mean Rick Warren said to, and even giving up their leadership and weekly inspiration from God in the pulpit to use Warren's pre-fab sermons (or at least his outlines) for the weeks involved. Kind of reminded me of "Rome".

Many local churches in cities near me are doing the same type of thing with Henry Blackaby as they did with Rick Warren's "40 Days...", and Bruce Wilkinson's "Prayer of Jabez" a few years back.  (I heard Wilkinson speak at a local church a few years back, and it was all about himself, and his book, and claimed this prayer of promise was for everyone, even non-believers.  No Gospel message at all.  It was just a lot of talk like buy my books, tapes, study-guides, etc., use my formula to pray this prayer of Jabez, and watch your blessings start pouring in. On a side note, I've been told that having Henry Blackaby for a weekend at a local church is costing in the neighborhood of $100,000 U.S. dollars, with about $50,000 of that being his personal "fee".  Whether these numbers are accurate or not, I can't validate, and is really not my business.

I'm sure Blackaby is a good Christian man who loves the Lord, and I'm sure his books contain much helpful information.  But I have a problem with Christians looking to him like some sort of "Moses" who supposedly hears directly from God in a more personal way than you or I, and people come from all over to sit as his feet to learn how they can hear from God his way. On page 83 of his book "Experiencing God, Blackaby writes:
"God speaks through a variety of means. In the present God primarily speaks by the Holy Spirit through the Bible, prayer, circumstances, and the church."
He seems to put circumstances, prayer, and the church on the same level with Scripture.  The Reformer's Doctrine of "Sola Scriptura" seems to have no place in his theology (nor in John Eldredge's, and many others on this blog).  I know Blackaby believes and teaches Scripture is God's word, but he claims God gives extra-Biblical revelation and speaks in other ways.  My problem with this is that any other way we think God is speaking to us besides Scripture is subjective, subject to human error and mis-interpretation, and cannot be depended upon.  What we may think is a "feeling from God", could be that large pizza we ate last night.  We can easily mis-read what we think is the voice of God. Scripture is the only Objective Truth and the only reliable Revelation.  As the Scripture says, we have a "more sure Word of Prophecy".
II Peter 1:19 (ESV) And we have something more sure, the prophetic Word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts,
And in case you think I'm being unfair toward those I disagree with, I see and am disturbed by the same trend today with an over-emphasis on those I consider great men of God like John Piper, Francis Chan, David Platt, Matt Chandler, etc., and yes, even my favorite, John MacArthur.  I have to be careful of doing this myself.  All these are men I read, listen to, like, and agree on most things with. I just hate to see us follow fallible men to that extreme, instead of Christ, and use men's books over the Bible. Their books are great "supplements to, but not substitues for" the Word of God. (see my blog "Bring Out The Book" for more on this subject)

John Eldredge (Wild at Heart) and Philip Yancey (The Jesus I Never Knew) (both men's books contain some helpful concepts and useful information, I think Yancey is much better than Eldredge, by the way, but both seem to speak of a smaller, or lesser god who is at the mercy of man, the god of open theism in their writings, although they deny it when asked if they are "Open Theists"). Seems to me like their views of God and man are the opposite of John the Baptist's, who said - "He must increase but I must decrease". Their views seem more akin to- "Man (I) must increase, but God must decrease". To his credit, Eldredge correctly points out that in a society of effeminate men, we need to be masculine, and set examples of masculinity. I'm with him on that. Men need to be men, and we need to teach our boys to be men. But where does his definition of a "man" come from? My problem is that John Eldredge's "authority" seems to be Hollywood Movies full of lost sinners who have no relationship at all with Jesus Christ, committing fornication, getting drunk, stealing, cheating, murdering, using profanity, violence, sex, etc., as well as Fairy Tales about "knights killing the dragon and princesses waiting to be rescued" rather than the Holy Bible. Doesn't Scripture speak about that?
2 Peter 1:16 ...For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty...
1 Timothy 1:4 ...nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship...

(Myths is translated as fables, stories, tales, etc. depending on the version you're reading. I'm not at all against fiction, movies, etc. for entertainment purposes. I enjoy them. But that is NOT where we should be getting our theology, doctrine, or even our definition for what a "real man or woman" should be in our day. I am constantly reminding my children that we are to separate our theology from fictional movies we watch or books we read. When we leave the theater as a family on the way home, I'll often go over the things in the movie that were at odds with Scripture, and explain that to my children. My family and I went to see "MegaMind 3D" Saturday and enjoyed it, but later we talked about the points in the movie that differed from our beliefs, and from Scriptural teaching.  From time to time, we'll pause the DVD at home during family movie nights to talk about things that do not line up with our Biblical worldview.
Eldredge rarely, if ever, looks to "spiritual men and women", such as found in Scripture, or to great Preachers, Evangelists, Christian laymen, Puritans, etc. of the past. When he does use Scripture, he often takes it out of context, and totally misses (or twists) the application of the passage he uses. The first time I saw him on TV, the Holy Spirit bore witness within me that something wasn't right about this guy. In his view, to be a man you have to use his formula, do the mid-life crisis thing, buy yourself a Harley, black leather pants and jacket, and the whole 9 yards, leave your family behind and go hiking for weeks in the wilderness, just you, or you and "the guys", and eat the liver of a grizzly bear...Never mind your family at home who needs you there, to be a "Godly man" in your home. Never mind leading your family daily Bible Study/Prayer times each evening. (How can you do that if you're always off in the wilderness or off riding to Sturgis WITHOUT YOUR FAMILY or whatever) Well, I had better stop, because I could go on and on for pages about this guy. I may need to write a whole blog on him one day, but not today.

Clark Pinnock, John Sanders, Greg Boyd, etc... (outright proponents in favor of Open Theism) I've written more than I should have about this in the past, so for more details, see my blog entitled: Is Open Theism "Beyond the Bounds of Orthodox Christianity"?

"The Shack" (William Paul Young) ( I've found that most people who really love this book will defend it more than they would ever defend the Bible) I was alarmed when people we know personally (mostly women, and a few men, usually with painful pasts and lacking in discernment from the Holy Spirit) were saying this was the best book they had ever read, and were more fired up about this than they ever were about the Bible. They said this book changed their whole view of the Trinity (sadly to a totally unBiblical view). I heard story after story from people telling me they were staying up all night because they couldn't put it down. They were buying it in bulk and giving it as Christmas presents, and encouraging Sunday School classes and everyone on their email lists to buy it and even using it as group study material at church. (I had never heard them get anywhere near as excited about the Bible, by the way.) I went to Books-A-Million, sat for hours reading it to see what all the hype was, and it was an intriguing storyline, and made you "feel good", but was full of bad, wrong, blasphemous views of everything about the Father, Son, Holy Spirit, the Atonement, Sin, Hell, etc.. I was grieved in my spirit, and apalled at the heresy in Young's theology. Albert Mohler said , "it's deeply troubling" and it "includes undiluted heresy". I realize that it's fiction, and normally should not be critiqued as a theological work, but Young has indicated in post-book interviews and speeches that he wants to change people's views of God, and he has succeeded by leading many women (and men) astray, as Paul warned Timothy would occur.   
2 Timothy 3:5 (ESV) having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. 6 For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, 7  always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the Truth.  
Don't get me wrong, I love and enjoy good fiction, but don't get my theology from fiction. As opposed to William Paul Young, C.S.Lewis clearly stated his fiction was not intended to be taken as such...If you're interested in more on the subject, may I suggest you read Tim Challie's "The Shack" article, Albert Mohler's article, Mark Driscoll's sermon clip, Jan Markell's article, etc. for more details.

And of course, many go without saying, such as "Word-of- Faith", and "Health Wealth and Prosperity" preachers like: Joel Osteen (who really doesn't deserve to be called a preacher, should be called a "motivational speaker", and is ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I've seen Joel refuse to agree with the interviewer that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life and no man comes to the Father but by Him twice, on Larry King and The View), Benny Hinn (and his "close friend" Paula White (whom, by-the-way, were photographed hand-in-hand in Rome together recently, Paula recently divorced, and Benny in the middle of a divorce following 4 years of separation from his wife--and still both in top spots in ministry...go figure...), Jesse Duplantis, Creflo Dollar, Richard Roberts, Kenneth Copeland, Paul & Jan Crouch, Rod Parsley, other "sensational" type books like "90 Minutes in Heaven" by Don Piper, and this list could go on and on and on, etc...

Did the Apostle Paul name names? You bet he did, just read his epistles. Did the prophets name names? They certainly did. Did Jesus? Of course he did. So what's wrong with us today naming those with whom we disagree?

This blog is not in any way an all-inclusive listing of books and authors with which I have disagreements.  Only a few are mentioned, partly because friends or fellow church members have recommended them, and I've read some of them, and read about others, and have been alarmed by what I read.  It may be periodically updated as I see the need. 

1 comment:

  1. As I continue to think, read, and study about prayer, and men of prayer, both today and yesteryear, I keep coming across and reading about a man-made, man-invented type of prayer which I believe is unscriptural that seems to have started with ancient desert monks. This type of prayer, and the men who promote it, past and present, deeply troubles me. The discernment of the Holy Spirit continues to bear witness with my spirit that it is not of God, though I believe many well-intentioned men (and women) haven fallen into its trap. It goes by many names such Contemplative Spirituality, Centering Prayer, Mysticism, Meditative Prayer, (not the Scriptural kind of meditation), Contemplative Prayer, Listening Prayer, The Prayer of Silence, etc...with other related phrases associated with it such as Spiritual Formation, Spiritual Direction, Spiritual Directors, etc, along with numerous phrases borrowed from pop-psychology, such as false self, true self, as well as borrowing from other "spiritual disciplines" (or cults) such as buddhism, hinduism, transcendental meditation, etc...


    2 Corinthians 11:13 (ESV)

    For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.

    I've not mentioned names of those promoting/teaching/practicing this type of prayer in this short blog, but that's not outside the bounds of Scripture. Moses called names, Nehemiah mentions a couple of names, Jesus and Paul certainly did also...The problem is, the more I look into it, the more I realize just how ubiquitous this practice has become amongst preachers/teachers of our day, including some I've linked to on this blog...I'm still praying and seeking the Lord's will in what I should do with the discernment, knowledge, and information I've learned about this practice. I'm warning my family and friends to beware, but not presently sure of my role beyond that.

    I found this related article by Al Mohler helpful.