The Ministry 127 blog operated by Lancaster Baptist Church (home of West Coast Baptist College) recommends a number of unsound authors, including John Maxwell and Donald Whitney. This is a very disturbing and dangerous practice. The reviewer of Whitney’s Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health is Cary Schmidt, who at the time was the Associate Pastor at Lancaster. He writes, “Every page was intensely scriptural, very articulate, and powerfully inspiring regarding the healthy Christian life.” What Schmidt fails to say is that Donald Whitney, a New Evangelical Southern Baptist Calvinist, is a bridge to some extremely dangerous things. Whitney has some sound and helpful things to say, like any prominent New Evangelical, but the truth is mixed with error and he has no proper boundaries, having rejected “separatism.”
By this glaring omission and by recommending Whitney so highly, Schmidt and Lancaster Baptist are helping people to cross the bridges that Whitney has built. Lancaster is doing the same thing with literature that they are doing with music. They are messing around with the wrong stuff. It is the same “soft separatism” that destroyed Highland Park Baptist Church which we describe in the free eBook Biblical Separatism and Its Collapse.
FIRST, WHITNEY IS A BRIDGE TO CONTEMPLATIVE MYSTICISM, and these are the most spiritually treacherous waters that exist. What Whitney touches on lightly in Ten Questions, he covers in some detail in Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life. Though Whitney emphasizes the supremacy and authority of Scripture, he recommends unscriptural mystical practices and favorably and repeatedly quotes radical mystics Richard Foster and Dallas Willard. Whitney praises Foster for his “great contribution” (Spiritual Disciplines, p. 22) and recommends the practices of “the medieval mystics” (p. 65), referring to the Catholic monks who invented contemplative mysticism in their benighted monasteries.
It is unconscionable that Whitney doesn’t warn his readers that these mystics were committed to Rome’s damnable sacramental gospel and venerated Mary. Whitney promotes the practices of silence, journaling, and spiritual direction, and the “silence” recommended by Whitney is not merely to get alone with God and His Word in a quiet place. It is maintaining silence “inwardly so that God’s voice can be heard more clearly” and “does not always require words [or] sounds” (p. 184). This is blind and dangerous mysticism. To be alone with God in a quiet place and to meditate on His Word is NOT the same as sitting in silence and trying to hear God’s voice internally. One is scriptural and profitable; the other is mystical and dangerous.
SECOND, WHITNEY IS A BRIDGE TO REFORMED THEOLOGY with its error pertaining to God’s election and its Augustinian allegoricalism and replacement theology which confuses Israel with the church. Whitney continually quotes the “Puritans” and recommends meditating on their writings as a devotional practice (“Do You Thirst for God?” 2001, p. 9), which is a recipe for being captured by the heresy of Reformed theology--something that is happening to many students in IFB Bible colleges. Whitney recommends John Piper in the most enthusiastic manner.
THIRD, WHITNEY IS A BRIDGE TO THE VERY DANGEROUS WORLD OF NEW EVANGELICALISM. He quotes from New Evangelical writers continually and in the most favorable manner, such as William Barclay, Elisabeth Elliot, Philip Yancey, and Jerry Bridges. He even cites Billy Graham, the Prince of New Evangelicalism, as an example of true godliness and the wise practice of spiritual disciplines (Spiritual Disciplines, p. 191). In some ways, “conservative evangelicals” like Donald Whitney and Ed Stetzer are more dangerous than the Richard Fosters and Dallas Willards and Rick Warrens, because they are bridges to the treacherous spiritual waters represented by the latter names. IFBaptists who are careless about separating from such things as “conservative” evangelicals and contemporary music are building bridges to the bridge-builders. (For more about contemplative prayer see the reports listed in the Articles Database at the Way of Life web site, www.wayoflife.org.)
(Friday Church News Notes, December 28, 2012, www.wayoflife.org, firstname.lastname@example.org, 866-295-4143)