Monday, 3 December 2012

Romanticising the Heretics...

I marvel at how so-called Calvinists and those who profess to uphold the doctrines of grace in salvation are so inclined to romanticise certain Arminian or semi-Pelagian preachers.  I can only think this is done to come across as loving and pragmatic.  But, you can love someone who is in error without recommending the things they preach.  You can love someone by pointing out their errors and calling others to reflect on such matters and to pray for that confused individual.  But why do many Calvinists go all gooey at the thought of preachers like Leonard Ravenhill, Charles Finney or John Wesley?

Paul Washer, for instance, said this: ‘I would take a Leonard Ravenhill any day over 20 dead Calvinists’.
I can understand the desire to have zealous preaching, particularly on the subject of sin, to bring others to repentance, but to favour someone who is in error over preachers who were not, simply because the others are dead (and Ravenhill was still alive at the time), seems to be missing the point somewhat.

Paul Washer isn’t alone.  I have seen Lane’s vlog giving major kudos to Leonard Ravenhill also.  When I questioned the choice of Ravenhill, I was told by one of their followers that I was making an idol out of theology.
I do not personally consider the commands in the New Testament to ensure that we remain unleavened from false doctrines etc. to be idolatry.  I do not think the concern I have for Ravenhill strongly recommending heretics like Charles Finney and John Wesley is unfounded paranoia; the doctrines espoused by these men are and have been extremely damaging.  Keith Green, the famous pianist, was apparently very confused with the matter of justification by faith alone and the legalistic Pelagianism he had apparently learned from Finney; Ravenhill strongly encouraged Green to follow the teachings of Finney and directly caused this grievance.  Shouldn't we learn from this?

I am not saying that Ravenhill is not in the presence of the Lord now.  I am not saying that the man was not zealous and constant in prayer.  I am not saying that he did not have a sincere, spiritual care for lost souls.  I am not saying I despise or reject Leonard Ravenhill at all.  But, whilst I would have had him round for a cup of tea, this does not mean that I think the doctrines the man taught should be elevated to our pulpits and certainly not to be broadcast to the public in a youtube video.

‘If we had more sleepless nights in prayer, there would be far fewer souls to have a sleepless eternal night in hell.’
- Ravenhill, L. (1983) Revival God's Way, p. 52

If you profess to believe in God’s sovereignty in the salvation of men for His own glory and you see nothing shamefully wrong in the words above, I fear for you.

The romanticising of Amyraldians, Arminians and Pelagians of any colour must stop!  These doctrines are man-exalting and welcoming them with loving arms is to show no loving protection to the body of Christ.  In contrast to Paul Washer, I would rather have 1 liberated and spiritually awakened Calvinist than 1000 zealous preachers of false doctrines.

1 comment:

  1. The cautionary words of this article regarding the rampant promotion of Ravenhill, Wesley, and Finney by so-called "sovereign grace ministers" are well reasoned. The way Washer and others laud Ravenhill while disregarding his hostility toward the doctrines of grace and his insistence upon promoting a "gospel" that is far removed from "the grace of Christ" (Galatians 1:6) reveals a lack of discernment where core doctrines of the Christian faith are concerned, IMO. This same instability is found in the Founders Movement's recent articles on the legacy of Billy Graham.

    In the final mix we should recognize that there is such a thing as a zeal that is not according to knowledge (Romans 10:2). While we may admire their dedication to what they believe, those of us who believe that eternal salvation is the result of sovereign, monergistic grace should avoid giving any appearance that we are in agreement with their doctrine. The matter is serious enough that I would recommend we not reference them in our teachings at all, unless it is in the spirit of correcting their gross errors (James 5:19-20).

    God bless,
    TETH (