Past and Contemporary Christian Authors
- BLACKABY -
I finished reading through the book "Experiencing God" by Blackaby and King yesterday morning. It is at the same time a most excellent book and consistently in substantial error. Thought you might be interested in a few observations:
The most excellent parts:
While reading through the book, I found myself saying, "Yes!" and "Yes! Yes!" to much of what was presented. At fairly regular intervals, though, I winced and groaned at the errors that were presented alongside the really "good stuff":
I could say more, but the above gets some of the key points across. Though this book has had great marketing, press and circulation, and even many who claim to have changed lives as a result of it, I would hesitate to recommend it to anyone. That's too bad, because what it claims to do is something the church needs desperately.
In the love of the coming Lamb,
- THIEME -
My wife and I live in Houston, Texas--R. B. Thieme's back yard. About 40 years ago, we attended a Southern Baptist church here in Houston. A friend of the family invited us to the initial summer-night, basic bible doctrine class taught at Berachah Church—the church founded by Colonel Thieme. It was the most marvelous experience of my life up to that point. He taught for about an hour and 45 minutes and unfolded an introduction to dispensationalism as well as the nature and character of God.
Subsequently, we attended there for about five years and I obtained outlines and materials of his teachings from an even earlier period, produced on mimeograph. At one time, I owned hundreds of reel-to-reel tapes of his Dispensationalism series, which, in my opinion, was one of the finest courses I ever had. In truth, I owe my dispensational understanding to Thieme.
At that time, the church and Bob followed L. S. Chafer very closely, but like Chafer, they lacked orientation to the experiential side of identification truth. Bob substituted his concept of "spiritual rebound" (1 John 1:9 confession) for the truth of Romans 6 death to self and consequently strictly treated Romans 6 as positional truth only.
I have watched him over the years develop a peculiar language and nomenclature usually associated with cult figures that give their congregations a sense of "insider" communication. On the third class I attended at Berachah, I approached Bob after the lesson and asked him if he knew anything about Moody Bible Institute and/or Kenneth W. Wuest. His response was, "No. But, I don't recommend anyone else's work anyway. If you want additional study materials, go to our library and pick up the books that we distribute there." The red flags went up then, and stayed up--even though I was impressed by and admired his intellect.
Over the years, Bob Thieme developed the following questionable and unscriptural theories:
From that point there emerged another ‘divine inspiration’--an entire presentation for making spiritual growth analogous to functions of the human body. The lungs became the process of taking in "doctrine" and expiring theological error. This finally evolved into something today Thieme calls the Divine Dynasphere--the spiritual cosmic bubble in which the believer moves, i.e., the sphere of God's will for each individual.
It's a tragic story of a
brilliant mind, missing the Cross to crucify the self-life, isolated on his own
materials, recognizing no peer and feeding on his own misconceptions--the
definition of a cult figure! There is much in his early stuff that was so good,
but sadly the path he has taken does not allow me to recommend anything he has
done. The danger for others is simply too great.
On the ground of peace,
Thanks for your testimony. Your ’60-70s spiritual journey is reminiscent for many of us. I briefly worked with a Berachah-ordained, young lieutenant during the early ‘70s at Tapes for Christ in Garland, Texas. [I believe TFC was the equipment and supplies vendor for Berachah.] The individual’s fierce Arminianism, so-called "super-spirituality", and coarse carnality, left an indelible mark on my memory. At one point, he became so angry at my failure to embrace the Colonel and his tape ministry that he asked to settle the matter with a fistfight. Hmm.....
I believe the Colonel’s GAP theory, combined with his strong emphasis on knowing the original languages of Greek and Hebrew, contributed to the delusion of near infallibility for himself and among his lieutenants. The root error, having spawned this misunderstanding over the subject of illumination, was unfortunately sown by Chafer in his Systematic Theology.
While much of what Chafer wrote was excellent, his erroneous emphasis upon instant "spirituality" and the "yielded" Christian life (documented by Miles), detrimentally affected his view of biblical epistemology—the doctrine of how Christian’s can have certainty in their knowledge.
Chafer correctly acknowledged the natural man’s spiritual blindness inherited from the First Adam and the necessity of the sovereign "illuminating power of the Holy Spirit" for the unbeliever. He clearly expressed his moderate Calvinism when he wrote:
However, illumination for believers was reversed and made conditional--with the onus back upon the child of God. God’s sovereignty was subtly made secondary to man’s volition—a negative "deeper life conference" trend at the time. For Chafer, carnality was said to hinder God’s ability to enlighten and thus the "carnal man" suffered a "restricted spiritual understanding" of his own doing. In typical fashion, carnality was deemed to thwart God’s will.
By contrast, Miles Stanford consistently emphasized the sovereign work of the Holy Spirit as the basis for spiritual growth.
Under His sovereignty, "unspiritual living" brings "conviction" and knowledge of self, which is all part of the "normal illuminating work" of the Holy Spirit.
Of course Chafer’s answer to his self-imposed dilemma was "spirituality" obtained via "yieldedness". But as Miles Stanford pointed out,
By directly linking the Holy Spirit’s ministry of illumination with his erroneous concept of spirituality, Chafer laid the groundwork for the various Thieme errors. Logically, instant spirituality implied instant discernment and knowledge of all truth, and from there it was all down hill. If brother Chafer could have seen the future outcomes, I believe he would have altered his theology.
In the mid 70's, Joe L. Wall did his Th.D. dissertation which was later published as the book entitled Bob Thieme's Teachings on Christian Living. I wonder what ever happen to Mr. Wall? (See footnote below).
By His sovereign grace and mercy,
You are absolutely right. Thieme took two circles, I'm sure you remember all this-labeled the top one "eternal" and the bottom one "temporal," and inserted into each circle the assets given to the Believer by God for each category of life. This created a separation between those things that we enjoy for eternity, regardless of our conditional fellowship with God in life, and those things we enjoy here as long as we remain "in fellowship" with Christ. Now, "in fellowship" primarily referred to the believer maintaining his relationship with the Holy Spirit by means of exercising the privileges of 1 John 1:9, confession of known sins. That put the Holy Spirit in control of the Old Sin Nature and allowed spiritual control of the believer's GAP. This was a very mechanical approach towards being a "spiritual man" and it sidesteps completely the "reckoning" of ourselves to be dead to sin that is essential to progress.
Miles did see this hole in Chafer's presentation and the end of leaving the Cross out of growth. Unfortunately, the whole of Berachah and Thieme's materials rests on this faulty foundation.
When you dig deep enough, the fatal flaw is the belief that the Pastor is one without peer in the local congregation. That pyramid of leadership is egregiously damaging to any assembly. It leaves the Body of Christ in that location subject to the ego of the proclaimed leader and robs him of any ministry of the Spirit through the collective wisdom and maturity of those around him. I am reminded of Darby's paper on the very idea of "clergy", being the sin against the Holy Spirit in this age. If you don't have a copy, I'll dig it out and scan it in.
Thanks for your patience.
In His Matchless Care, beat to beat,
I recently read your discussion regarding Bob Thieme. I found it very "confirming".
I grew up in a Bible Church in [location], Texas and in later years ended up going to Bob Thieme's church. I started attending in 1991 and left that church and ministry in 1997. Subsequently, I began to understand the fallacies of that ministry starting in May 2000.
At first, I found the Thieme materials to be very educational and helpful, but then fell into the 'traps' of that ministry. These include:
These are but a few of the pitfalls.
In the final analysis, I found myself using God's 'principles' (as articulated by Thieme) to advance my own agenda.
Finally, God got my attention and made me realize through death of self, (being crucified with Christ), that God desired for me to yield totally to His will and allow Him to use the life He gave me to advance His agenda--His ultimate glory.
Oh my!!! What a difference that has made.
Sadly, I have "friends" that are still under the Thieme ministry, though Bob has taken ill and is not teaching anymore.
I pray that the eyes of their hearts be opened so that they can escape the fleshy limitations that can arise in ministries founded on false ideas. I honestly think it is a well-meaning ministry but sadly misses the mark and bears little or no [genuine] fruit.
I will dispense with any formal "Welcome," and get to the meat of your protest letter.
Given your long years under the influence of Bob Thieme's teachings, please understand that this response represents both a first and last communique. In my opinion, your 'frame of mind' represents a major obstacle to any meaningful dialogue.
For example you write, "If a pastor teacher knowingly teaches false Doctrines or incorrect interpretations, then God will see to it that he is disciplined according to His standards." Your statement has absolutely no biblical precedent, and is radically at odds with the American liberties of free speech, freedom of religion, and freedom to critique others' ideas. Your statement is a non sequitur. Nowhere do we or the individual who wrote suggest that Christian leaders "knowingly" or consciously teach error. All leaders teach what they believe to be true, based on their interpretation (hermeneutics) and limited understanding. The evangelical Church universal has the responsibility for policing its leaders. This was the presupposition behind much of the Apostle Paul's teaching. Please read: Biblical Love: In Relation To Doctrinal Error And Those Who Hold It - http://withChrist.org/statement.htm
I realize that Col. Thieme taught, and his followers believe, that : a high IQ + sound hermeneutic + knowledge of the original languages + yieldedness to God = a form of infallibility for interpreting the Bible. In my opinion, this explains the insufferable dogmatism, intolerance, and belligerence often found among his lieutenants and foot soldiers. His theory of knowledge infuses followers with a sense of the same infallibility. Side note: I do believe epistemological certainty (veracity, assurance, etc.) is available via the sovereignty of God the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. However, it is not formulaic, neither does it rule out believers being wrong. This is my opinion based on my 40-year walk with the Lord.
Perhaps you're unaware, but the overwhelming number of born-again Christians since Pentecost, both scholars and laymen, do not believe the Thieme formula. For the record, Mr. Thieme did not originate this error; rather, he carried Dr. Chafer's errors (in the realms of illumination [ST: Vol. 1, page 113] and spirituality [http://withchrist.org/MJS/chaferDr.htm]) to their logical conclusions.
You write, "I find it very offensive..." and I'm "...very offended by it." Sadly, with this mantra, you reflect the postmodern, "political-correctness" spirit of the age. In the pursuit of truth, mature believers cannot afford becoming "offended" by the fact that other believers see things differently. As the talk-radio host, Dennis Prager, often reminds his audience, "Clarity, not agreement" should always be our near-term goal. Further, discernment is a key component of the self-correcting mechanism that Christ has placed in His earthly Body.
Can you imagine the members (or member) of the churches at Rome, Corinth, Galatia, Ephesus, Colosse, etc. writing to Paul, complaining about being "offended" by the contents of his epistles and requesting that he cease publication and circulation? My point is NOT that the contents of our websites are on par with canonical Scripture; rather, your emotional umbrage is irrelevant and your effort to silence others reflects the "spirit" of this postmodern age--"political correctness."
Some further clarification is in order. The particular 'first-hand account' you reference was written by a correspondent, who spent nearly 7 years in Berachah Church under Thieme's ministry. The opinions expressed are his/hers. Our website's main critique (written by Miles J. Stanford nearly forty years ago) is found at http://withChrist.org/MJS/thieme.htm. My decision to publish the correspondence is based on my own personal encounters with Mr. Theime's writings, together with numerous encounters with tapers(1) throughout my own 40-year experience as a born-again Christian.
You state, "The statement that his teaching bears little or no fruit is very much against God's teachings, for who can say that a man who has taught so many for so long would not bear fruit unless they are God Himself? How could a person make that determination?" It appears you failed to read the comment carefully. The writer did not say "little or no fruit." The author said, "...little or no [genuine] fruit." The author questions the nature or essence, not the existence of fruit. Contrary to your statement, 1 Cor. 3:12-15 lays the based for evaluating "fruit." The author's "determination" is based on 1) Scripture, 2) their acquired understanding of Bob Thieme's errors in the realm of spirituality, and 3) their subsequent understanding of the Apostle Paul's teaching regarding sanctification.
I don't feel an obligation to defend what the correspondent wrote in its entirety. However, I will make a comment or two regarding #1. Col. Bob Thieme failed to understand the historical significance of the theological distinction between human volition and so-called free will. Read: http://withChrist.org/freedom.htm; http://withChrist.org/volition.htm; and http://withChrist.org/MJS/armcalpaul.htm. Consequently, nearly all his followers fail to understand the issues as well.
Sorry, your request for removal of the letter is denied. Your opinion that the author's opinions are inaccurate is duly noted. With your permission, I will consider publishing your letter (without your email address), together with my response, on our Comments Boards. Is that acceptable to you?
(1) The term, "tapers", refers to those ardent followers who feed upon Bob Thieme's teachings and sermons via tape recordings distributed by a ministry of Berachah Church.
By His sovereign love, grace, and mercy,
Dan R. Smedra
- HOWELLS/GRUBB -
Thank you once again for being available to listen to my comments and questions. I read Norman Grubb's biography on Rees Howells about a year ago and thought this to be an extraordinary life used by God. However lately I have thought about a number of things that seem to be a bit strange. Thought I might mention them.
The book begins with explaining the experiences that Howells goes through before and after his "baptism" of the Holy Spirit. His eagerness for 'holiness' and the presence of the Lord grows considerable after he claims to having received the "Gift"--i.e. charismatic 'baptism of the Holy Ghost'. The book then continues to expound on his ministry especially amongst the homeless and drunkards. As his life progresses, Howells begins to see that God is raising him up to be an "intercessor". It is at this point he mentions "the gained position of intercession", a phrase that seems to dominate the rest of the book. Howells explains that in order to intercede for any particular individual, a place of abiding in Christ has to be reached. This position he equates directly with obedience--i.e. obedience = abiding. When it came to intercession, he would be lead to either give up something in his life or live a certain way (e.g. in a cave - don't be surprised!), in order for him to "abide" and thus make himself pleasing and acceptable for God to answer his prayer.
Although he was ready to go deeper with God, Mr. Howells confessed that there was some fear as he entered this time of "abiding". The obedience already had been so costly, that he was afraid of what might come now in gaining this new position . pg. 77,78
Throughout the book stories of miracles and God's movings are given as evidence of Rees Howells position as a powerful intercessor. However one is left doubting whether this man had any grasp of the grace which is found in Christ via the Apostle Paul.
The initial conditions of abiding were: 1) Fasting-two meals a day 2) Living in the attitude of prayer - which meant being hatless, 3) Giving up all outward work at the mission, and not going to one service, 4) The three hours each evening to be spent on his knees, two in reading the Word, and the last one in waiting before God. He knew there were to be other places of abiding, but they were not yet given. pg. 118
After my discoveries, I felt saddened, even guilty to think that such 'Great Men of God' have lived under these misguided perceptions. However I now realize that the siren call of Arminism does tend to shout out condemnation to those that would question the doctrine of 'Leaders'--so-called. By contrast, I would rather have the truth of the Word speak to me concerning what is good and acceptable.
Thank-you once again,
Thanks for the information. As I mentioned before I am concerned about the one-nature teaching that is permeating the Body of Christ. Here is a paper I prepared for some of the members of our church. Thought you might like to see it.
THE DANGERS OF ONE-NATURE TEACHING
ONE-NATURE TEACHING IS NOT A MATTER OF SEMANTICS.
What are the dangers of believing we have only one-nature or that we do not possess a sin nature? Someone asked, "What are the results of thinking this way?"
The problem is how to account for sin in the life of the believer, who says he has but one-nature. “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8).
The one-nature advocate’s explanation of sin in the life of the believer is that it stems not from the old man and Adamic nature (sin nature) but rather from:
"It is not possible for the source of sin (the old man) to be eradicated, while retaining sin itself. Effect must have a cause! If you have sin, you have its source - the Adamic old man. Paul exhorts the believer to “put off . . . the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts” (Eph. 4:22). He does not tell the believer to put off what is not in residence or does not exist."
If eradication of the sin-nature were accomplished, there would be no physical death. Death is the result of the sin-nature (Rom. 5:12-21). Parents without a sin-nature would generate unfallen children. The sin-nature is no more subject to eradication than is the world, the flesh or the devil.
DEATH IN SCRIPTURE DOES NOT MEAN ERADICATION, ELIMINATION OR ANNIHILATION, BUT SEPARATION.
I believe the error of one-nature teaching is caused by the error of confounding position and condition. Instead of reckoning the indwelling Adamic life to be judicially, positionally dead, it is instead considered to be actually crucified, and therefore eliminated. To the one-nature advocate Romans 6:1-10 speaks to his condition rather than his position.
The believer has died to sin while being alive in Christ. “Reckon yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:11). At the Cross Jesus broke the power of sin over the believer.
“The New Testament teaches that the flesh, the old man, is judicially dead in virtue of the Cross. but it nowhere says it will become actually dead by standing on that fact. What is does say is, that when counting (reckoning) on that fact the flesh, the old man, will lose its governing power over me. In Romans 6 we find that through Christ’s death unto sin, sin will not have dominion over you - the thought of bondage, ruling, governing, dominating, reigning. There is no such view presented in the Word as the annihilation of the old man, or the exclusion of its presence, but the loss of its governing power. In the death of the Cross the old man was crucified. It is not annihilated, but it has lost its throne. We will feel it there, but we are reigning in life - His life. It is a greater testimony to the power of the Father to let the old life be in us and give us dominion over it, than to remove it to begin with. We want to get clear that the Father does not mean to improve the old man on the one hand, nor eradicate it on the other. The fact that it does not improve does not mean that we are not growing. And the fact that it is still within does not mean that we are not growing in Christ, who is our Life.” Norman Douty.
ONE - NATURE TEACHERS:
These are some of the popular writers who teach we only have one-nature:
BEWARE OF THEIR TEACHING!!
A Christian must know he has two natures so he can know the source of his propensity to sin and be able to take the necessary steps to (correct it) be spiritual. If eradication of the sin-nature were accomplished, there would be no physical death. Physical death is the result of that nature (Romans 5:12-21).
Parents without a sin-nature would generate unfallen children.
The sin-nature is no more subject to eradication than is the world, the flesh or the devil.
“Reckon,” “yield,” “let not,” “put off,” “mortify,” “abide,” would have no meaning if the sin-nature had been eradicated.
Even in the new sphere of "in Christ" the old, sinful nature remains in us.
Were this not so there would be no point what ever in Paul’s exhortation to “put off the old man” and to walk worthily of our calling. If the old man were eradicated, and we possessed only the new nature we could do nothing but walk righteously and in holiness, for that is the only way “the new man” can walk.
Paul’s whole argument in “put off the old man” and “put on the new man” is based on the presence of these two natures within the Christian and the necessity of a choice being made as to which is to have the mastery of the life.
New believers are being waylaid by "Christian self-help" books written by people who have had no theological training. It has happened to my family four times now!
I had extensive e-mail correspondence with Gillham who has had no theological training. He could not answer my pointing out his departure from the Greek NT. He finally copped out saying that we were getting nowhere. Indeed! He had no answers, except his "folksy" view of the Bible.
I'm interested in knowing if there is anyone reviewing these self-help books with your trained theological eye. I'd like to see a group of believers who can spot heresy and alert others of us who want to know the name of the latest self-help book spreading heresy. Your website could be a great base for something like this.
I'm moved by 1 Corinthians 11:19. The identification of heresies help us separate the wheat and tares. I'd like to hear from others on this.
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