Thursday, February 3, 2011

Dr. Peter Jones: 2010 Christless Christianity Conference

     Things are certainly getting strange in the visible church but I'm afraid that we haven't seen the tip of the iceberg!  From my perspective, in this video Dr. Jones of Westminster Seminary California is describing the inevitable outcome of putting "spiritual experience" before doctrine and allowing a post-modern, God-hating culture to increasingly dictate what happens in the visible church.  What may be called "progressive Christianity" or "evolutionary Christianity" is in-your-face when you consider the 2 main ingredients of this movement are experiential spirituality accompanied by social justice.  Beyond that, anything goes . . . except fidelity to the Word of God and the gospel of course.
     My take on what Dr. Jones presented might have been to label what he said "extreme," "paranoid," "conspiracy-theory hype," etc. even 7 years ago but I am not as naive today.  This focus on experiential spirituality has infiltrated the seminaries of our land as I know first-hand.  Boy was I shocked when in a Talbot School of Theology (conservative evangelical) "spiritual formation" class as the instructor handed out an article on "Lectio Divina" and "contemplative prayer" (I also learned a great deal about theology and ministry there and a mentor is still a theology professor at Talbot, but I can't say I was a fan of some of the spiritual formation material).  We could tell that even the instructor did not buy into that part of the spiritual formation curriculum and when several students objected to participating, we were graciously spared from doing "Lectio Divina!"  As I bumped into other seminarians on campus I realized they were not as fortunate.  Worse yet, I learned some were adopting these "contemplative/centering" prayer strategies into their devotional time and planned to integrate them into their local churches!?
     In our local community in Central Oregon, several churches and their leadership place far more emphasis on spiritual experiences than Scripture.  One of the pastors has "been given vision from the Lord" and they are in the process of "redefining their ministry" (which will certainly mean going seeker-senstive/purpose driven/quasi-emergent).  Another is preoccupied with "prophetic dreams" and "risky visions" that are supposed to guide the church?  Yet another of our local churches began praying to the 3 persons of The Shack in leiu of the Father, Son, and Spirit in their small groups!!??
     Bottom line: we need to be grounded in the Word of God as His ordinary means of revelation.  May the Reformation cry of Sola Scriptura grip God's people once again!

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