Sunday, September 25, 2016

Who is Calling?

I read some starting information about one of the big bestsellers in the Christian publishing world, something with the name "Jesus" and the word "calling" in it. It's something like #57 on Amazon.

Sigh.

Double sigh.

The Church has overcome great persecution, the Middle Ages, the Black Death, and so much more.  I hope we can endure this book. But the whole thing, like The Shack, is disturbing and concerning.

Let me first say that I hope there isn't, and I don't believe there is, any envy of someone's publishing success that I have not achieved.  It's really about something deeper, three things in particular.

First, the gullibility of the church today.  Why buy a book based on supposed messages a middle-aged woman got from God?  How is this different from Ellen G. White or Joseph Smith? In addition, there is no understanding of how we got our Bible in the first place, that they were not tablets found in a cave or delivered to the apostles by automatic writing

Second, the failure of the church to read the Bible for itself, to study it despite all the available tools.  I am amazed by people who have sat in church for decades and can't find books in the Bible.  Who haven't memorized more than a random verse.  Who don't know the difference between the Old Testament and the New Testament. 

Third, the dishonesty of the publishing industry.

But the fourth one takes a whole different angle, because I hear it from people other than those who might be taken in by false teaching about the origin of revelation.  It is the desire for "more."  More than what the Bible teaches and offers, more than what one's pastor can preach, more than the closeness of prayer, more than the comfort of the fellowship, more than the challenge of service.  It is rarely the more of intellectual stimulation, since that is fairly easy found in the historical writings of the church (can't get much better than Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Edwards, Lewis).  I believe it is an emotional stimulation or gratification that is desired, and that leads many to mysticism.

Centering prayer, tongues, deep knowing, contemplative practices, use of icons, to name a few.  I can't say that these are all bad, but they do seem to have three accompanying issues that are troublesome:
1.  where they come from (whether historically or contemporarily)
2.  why they are pursued (boredom?  narcissism?  desire to be accepted by another group?)
3.  where they might take one next, as into Eastern religion.
This link sort of says it all http://www.spiritualityandpractice.com/book-reviews/view/20095/the-big-book-of-christian-mysticism

This is not to say I wouldn't read about this for informational purposes, because I am innately curious about these things, but there is something in my nature that would make me stop short of practicing them. Maybe it's laziness.  Maybe it's a tendency to distrust trendiness of all kinds (especially when money is involved).  Maybe it's a conservative bent and unwillingness to change.  Maybe it's natural cynicism.  Maybe it's emotional shallowness that doesn't need something deeper.  Maybe it's contentment with the relationships I have. Maybe it's a belief that we are here for service and love more than emotional self-satisfaction. 

But I tend to think it's an adherence to the Word and to the belief that the Word--made flesh and made verbal--is sufficient. 

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