It was just this Christmas that I told a good friend of mine that Ann Voskamp had written a new book!
I was excited, because not only do I love her beautiful poetic writing style, but I also have been inspired to be more thankful in the little things.
And then I discovered that there is more to what she writes than meets the eye. I was so disappointed, to say the least. It is easy, though, to ignore the warning signs and continue on like as if I don’t know anything.
However, I will not place a person above the truth of God’s Word and I have found, in the last few weeks, the error mixed into her writings. I’m not going to write a review of her first book, One Thousand Gifts, but I want instead to do what I have been saying is of utmost importance: look into who she endorses and follows. This is what defines for the reader what an individual believes.
If you were to go to her site, A Holy Experience, you will find a recommended reading list. Who is on this list? There are some good authors, including Edith Schaeffer, Elisabeth Elliot, and others. But, there are some authors which no Christian should have anything to do with. Here is a list of the ones who aggressively promote something very dangerous: contemplative spirituality.
- Brennan Manning
- Philip Yancey
- Richard Foster
- Eugene Peterson
- Father Daniel Homan
Brennan Manning was a former Catholic priest who was highly influenced by Thomas Keating and Basil Pennington in contemplative prayer. In fact, Manning displayed his low view of God’s Word in his book, Signature of Jesus, where he said,
I am deeply distressed by what I only can call in our Christian culture the idolatry of the Scriptures. For many Christians, the Bible is not a pointer to God but God himself. In a word-bibliolatry. God cannot be confined within the covers of a leather-bound book. I develop a nasty rash around people who speak as if mere scrutiny of its pages will reveal precisely how God thinks and precisely what God wants (pp. 188-89). (Online Source)
Why would he be distressed about this? The Word of God is sharper than any two-edged sword. (Heb. 4:12) “In The Signature of Jesus Manning rarely cites Scripture. Why should he, when the truly important knowledge of God comes from his experience of centering down and not from the Bible? Remember ‘God cannot be confined within the covers of a leather-bound book.’ While Manning would acknowledge that some elementary truths of God can be found by reading the Bible, intimate knowledge of God only comes through centering prayer.” (Online Source)
If you think this is just coming from critics, read what one of his avid followers, Melissa Hatfield, has to say:
Abba, I belong to You.
Brennan Manning prayed this centering pray each morning and each night for many years. He taught it to others. You breath in as you say “Abba” and you breath out as you say “I belong to You.” You repeat it as you center yourself and think about God, our Abba, our Daddy, and the truth that you are His beloved child. (Online Source)
Ann Voskamp has his book, Ragamuffin Grace, on her reading list. Manning favorably quotes Alan Jones in this book. Who is Alan Jones, you ask? This is what Alan Jones has to say about the crucifixion:
The Church’s fixation on the death of Jesus as the universal saving act must end, and the place of the cross must be reimagined in Christian faith. Why? Because of the cult of suffering and the vindictive God behind it” (p. 132). (Online Source)
Hmm. I want nothing to do with Brennan Manning. But just in case it may still seem that he loves the Jesus of the Bible, read what he had to say in his book, Above All:
“[T]he god who exacts the last drop of blood from his Son so that his just anger, evoked by sin, may be appeased, is not the God revealed by and in Jesus Christ. And if he is not the God of Jesus, he does not exist (p. 58).” (Online Source)
Yancey is the editor of Christianity Today. He said that “Brennan Manning [is] my spiritual director in the school of grace.” (Online Source) What else could be said? A lot, in fact.
Philip Yancey is of the opinion that we really can’t take a definitive stand against homosexuals and lesbians being ordained into the ministry. Here’s what he has to say:
I’ve attended a few gay and lesbian churches, and it saddens me that the evangelical church by and large finds no place for homosexuals. I’ve met wonderful, committed Christians who attend Metropolitan Community Churches, and I wish that the larger church had the benefit of their faith. At the same time, I think it’s unhealthy to have an entire denomination formed around this one particular issue—those people need exposure to and inclusion in the wider Body of Christ.
When it gets to particular matters of policy, like ordaining gay and lesbian ministers, I’m confused, like a lot of people. There are a few—not many, but a few—passages of Scripture that bring me up short. Frankly, I don’t know the answer to those questions. I’m a freelancer, not an official church representative, and I have the luxury of saying simply, “Here’s what I think, but I really don’t know,” rather than trying to set church policy. (Online Source)
He was also a keynote speaker at the Gay Christian Network Conference in 2011. (Online Source) There is something to be said of a person who believes in contemplative prayer and is an endorser of the homosexual lifestyle.
Foster is also a contemplative prayer promoter. But even Foster admits that contemplative prayer takes a person far deeper into the spiritual realm than they may realize:
He admits that in contemplative prayer “we are entering deeply into the spiritual realm” and that sometimes it is not the realm of God even though it is “supernatural.” He admits there are spiritual beings and that a prayer of protection should be said beforehand something to the effect of “All dark and evil spirits must now leave.”
So why even go there? Why not just pray the way the Bible taught and the way Jesus actually did? He didn’t go somewhere to be quiet and not say anything to the Father. He went to a quiet place to talk to the Father. Why should I read a book on prayer that this man wrote, not knowing where this “prayer” might take me? Dangerous stuff.
Peterson is definitely on the contemplative prayer bandwagon. You can read what he has to say about “prayer” in this interview. He is also the one who wrote The Message. You heard me right. He wrote it. There’s no way on God’s green earth that this is a translation.
Read what he has to say about studying the Bible:
One of the Devil’s finest pieces of work is getting people to spend three nights a week in Bible studies…Well, why do people spend so much time studying the Bible? How much do you need to know? We invest all this time in understanding the text which has a separate life of it’s own and we think we’re being more pious and spiritual when we’re doing it. But it’s all to be lived. It was given to us so we could live it. But most Christians know far more of the Bible than they’re living. They should be studying it less, not more. You just need enough to pay attention to God. (Online Source)
The only part of that statement I agree with is that people are not living what they’re studying. But, the key is to study less and “pay more attention to God?” Like the British would say, “This is rubbish!”
But it doesn’t end there. See what he had to say about “translating” the Apostle Paul’s writings when he was approached about doing this “translation”:
Maybe I could do Paul, because Paul is easy in a sense because he gets tangled up and you can untangle him. (Online Source)
Let’s take a look at which part of Scripture needed “untangling”. Romans 1:26-27 says,
For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.
I wonder what it says in The Message?
Worse followed. Refusing to know God, they soon didn’t know how to be human either—women didn’t know how to be women, men didn’t know how to be men. Sexually confused, they abused and defiled one another, women with women, men with men—all lust, no love. And then they paid for it, oh, how they paid for it—emptied of God and love, godless and loveless wretches.
Do you see how he implies that if it’s for love then it’s okay? But if this abominable behavior is for lust, then it’s wrong. What an incredible twisting of God’s Word!
Let’s just say, even after having viewed all the facts presented here, that Ann doesn’t realize what she’s reading and endorsing. I think in a way, it’s true. But, I also believe she doesn’t really want to know the truth.
In this post, she describes how she doesn’t even know what mysticism means, but then equates it with the mysteries of the Bible. So she’s jumping to conclusions without doing thorough research.
When it comes to “endorsing” people, she looks primarily to John Piper and he states that it’s fine to quote from Catholics and others. He says it doesn’t mean you endorse them! (Online Source) Well, maybe not, but Catholicism is a false religion and I don’t see why a Christian would want to be reading after them. And the ancient monks and nuns followed by the people I have highlighted in this post which are on the A Holy Experience site were involved in very dangerous mysticism (aka contemplative spirituality).
However, when you have books on your recommended reading list, you are endorsing those authors and one of those authors happened to be a Benedictine monk/Roman Catholic priest.
I don’t say these things to be unkind. My heart hurts for her due to the things she’s been through. More important, though, than giving sympathy for her life’s circumstances, I need to pray that the Lord will show Ann how incredibly clever and deceptive Satan is. It is the spiritual part of our lives where the most damage is done.
But, in the mean time, I can no longer endorse Ann Voskamp. Too much is lurking in the shadows.