One of the more disturbing waves to roll over the landscape of Christendom is the willingness to embrace “doctrine” from something other than the Word of God.
The historical principle under attack is the belief of Sola Scriptura. Sola Scriptura is the understanding that the Bible alone is the sole agent which is able to communicate all that we need to know regarding the message of God, the character of God, the nature of God and plans for God regarding the reconciliation of His fallen creation to Himself; this however does not negate the Spirit’s involvement in our understanding (1 Corinthians 2:10-14). One of the tenets of this belief is that of “the sufficiency of Scripture.” This means that the Word of God, in and of itself, is sufficient to communicate all that we need about a particular subject, and indeed does confer all that we need to know in regards to salvation. We do not need to seek additional resources of information.
When we feel the need to search outside the bounds of God-given revelation we are seeking new revelation; what we are communicating is that we are not content with the information we have been given, but feel the compulsion to gather additional material from outside sources, however inconsistent those accounts may be with each other. And we justify those actions by asserting the most sincere of desires “to know more” about God. This is tantamount to wanting to have our ears “tickled” (2 Timothy 4:3).
When we seek “theology” from “The Shack,” from a very “For Real” Heaven, or from “90 Minutes in Heaven,” or any other mystical new revelation about God or the after-life, what we are saying is that God intentionally withheld crucial information from His Word only to reveal it to us through another agent at a later point in time.
I am not saying that it is wrong to read extra-biblical material, or that it is wrong to study books about the Bible. In fact, it is often beneficial to study materials which will help us to better understand those revelations already given of God. I am not saying that greater understanding, or insight of existing revelation is wrong, actually, that is, merely understanding that which God already revealed.
Now, what is wrong is to be pressing the issue when God has clearly decided not to reveal those areas to us, at least not yet in this life. Somehow we are communicating that God owes us, and we are going to circumvent His Biblical revelation and discover more on our own. “And, I am going to find out…”
At best these “works of fiction” are nothing more than insignificant drivel; at worst they are blasphemous heresies, which intentionally or inadvertently erode the sufficiency of the Word of God, and yet they distort, delude, or lead people away from the truth of God’s Word. Still, these authors purport to have had these experiences happen personally to them. Yet, isn’t it interesting that if God were truly allowing them to have these experiences, that they are so inconsistent with each other? Let’s be honest—there are a lot of delusions out there being “spun” as godly revelation when, in fact, it is produced from darkened hearts of the flesh.
And maybe it is just me, but isn’t it strange that these “new revelations” seem only to be generated by those who have experienced massive life trauma, drugs, or “near-death” experiences? That should communicate something to us. Are we to believe that God can only deliver these jaunts to heaven and glimpses of Himself through such conditions?
We would do well to embrace the counsel of Paul in Second Timothy 4:3-4 which says, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.” Let’s not look for “truths” that aren’t there.
Let me leave you with this: can you imagine the deacon Steven gazing into heaven? Or the Apostle Paul going into the third heaven? Or John in the book of Revelation receiving these visions of Heaven, and putting them into book form to sell for profit? Isn’t it peculiar that so many seem to contend they have these new revelations directly from God and yet, rather than being willing to issue these free-of-charge for the benefit of mankind, they instead choose to sell them for profit to the undiscerning masses? And if the book sells, “whaddayaknow?”—they miraculously have another “revelation” as a sequel.
Make no mistake about it: theology is not entertainment! Our minds are influenced by what we put into them—Let’s be more careful this year. Ask yourself if the material you read is worthy of a true disciples’ investment of time, and if it stands the test of being in line with Scripture; true doctrine!
[The Shepherd’s Echo is a previously published TheShepherdsPen]