UPDATE: One of the watchbloggers has finally gone after Luther and the LCMS Lutherans. I can’t think of a more deserving group of people. Thankfully, someone is courageous enough to expose Luther for the false teacher that he was.
Our story begins with the following quote from Dr. John Piper:
THE INDISPENSABLE STRATEGY OF BIBLE MEMORIZATION How shall we use the Word of God to fight for joy? The first answer I have given is to read it with plan and regularity. The next answer I give is to memorize verses and paragraphs and chapters and even whole books of the Bible. The older you get, the harder it is. I am fifty-eight as I write this, and I still invest significant time in memorizing Scripture, but it is much harder now than it used to be. It takes far more repetition to make the words stick to this aging brain. But I would not give it up any more than a miser would give up his stash of gold. I feel the same way Dallas Willard does when he says: Bible memorization is absolutely fundamental to spiritual formation. If I had to choose between all the disciplines of the spiritual life, I would choose Bible memorization, because it is a fundamental way of filling our mind with what it needs. This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth. That’s where you need it! How does it get in your mouth? Memorization. [Piper's Footnote here: Dallas Willard, "Spiritual Formation in Christ for the Whole Life and the Whole Person", in Vocatio 12 (Spring 2001)]
The excitement is because Dallas Willard, philosophy professor, Southern Baptist and well-respected writer on spiritual disciplines, is liked by people such as Brian Mclaren and Richard Foster, who are rubbing shoulders with people involved in “contemplative spirituality,” which is sponsored by the Roman Catholic Church’s End Times False Prophet Division, and all comes down, eventually to New Age Witchcraft, right here in River City.
If that last bit bothered you, then please don’t read the real thing at your local reformed Baptist Discernment Watchblog. My personal therapist, Frank Turk, has a common sense reply to this nonsense at his blog, but I think we need to chew on this cud a bit more before we move on to more nourishing topics.
1. It’s completely possible to express your reservations about someone without engaging in character assassination. Note the following examples:
John Piper quotes Dallas Willard, a good man, who is less than dependably reformed and sometimes is cited by those we would disagree with strongly. Piper’s point about scripture memory is, however, well taken.
John Piper has now embraced Dallas Willard, who is a leader of the emergent church, loved by hell-bound Catholics and often read by people who are cultists. Piper can no longer be read with confidence. He needs to answer for this quotation. Those of us who are orthodox want an answer.
More examples are available upon request.
2. If we begin assassinating the dependability of our pastors and teachers with this method, we are going to have same major problems in reformed circles. I’ll borrow Frank Turk’s reputation for a spin around this track:
Frank Turk, in his discussion on grace, has quoted both Augustine and Martin Luther. Both Luther and Augustine are in error on the Lord’s Supper and Baptism. Both, in fact, teach the error of infant baptism in direct violation of the clear teaching of the Bible. Augustine is a “saint” in the Roman Catholic Church and is cited by the pope and many Catholic teachers. Luther rejected the canon of the New Testament and believed in the perpetual virginity of Mary. Teachers with ties to the Catholic Church can lead unsuspecting minds into reading other Roman Catholic books. I believe that Frank Turk should be considered undependable until he can answer for using these infant baptizers as references.
3. As Frank points out, the Bible itself has Paul citing Cretan poets, and I am pretty sure that a chunk of Proverbs may have come, wholesale, from Egypt. I’ll bet smarter people could amplify this tendency to occasionally reference the less than orthodox in the cause of communicating truth.
Any good researcher and aware reader knows that a citation is not an endorsement of the entirety of a source’s work or worldview. The “discernment” bloggers are, in fact, conspiracy theorists looking for ways to connect dots into the picture of a new age/Roman Catholic/End Times Apostasy scenario. There are plenty of ways to express reservations or questions about a source without engaging in character assassination.
This is the same kind of logic that eventually bans Huck Finn from the local library and fires the pastor for quoting a Charles Wesley hymn.
My favorite theologian is Robert Capon. I DO NOT recommend him wholeheartedly to anyone. That continues with everyone I love to write about: Merton, Wright, Luther and so on. It goes for musicians, authors, poets, teachers. Is there something in fundamentalism that just resists the idea of critical engagement, and must have perfect authority figures? Sadly, I believe so.
Good luck finding those absolutely dependable human beings.
UPDATE: Adam O has a good post on the same topic, but with better links