July 27, 2011

Michael Durham's "History of the Modern Gospel" -- good, BUT...

NOTE 3-14-2016

I have since come to realize that there are definitely problems with soft antinomianism going on in the church today. I wrote the original post here while still not seeing that problem. There certainly is a problem with hammering the law too heavily as well. But that isn't what I'm seeing in my circles at the moment.

Original post follows:

I loved the History of the Modern Gospel series that Jason told me was promoted a while back on Wretched Radio. I really didn't have much problem with it at all.  Nothing that sticks out in my mind anyway.

But... I listened to some other things of his on his youtube channel, and I came away thinking that Michael Durham's idea of sanctification really concerns me.

There's a hint of pietism in some of the things he says, where I get the impression that he might be one of those who believes real Christians don't struggle with sin. Oh yeah, maybe the 'respectable' ones... but nothing REALLY bad... My guess is that he's one of the guys who thinks the Romans 7 wretch is Paul talking about BEFORE he was converted, which makes no sense grammatically.  I don't know this for sure as I have not heard him speak on that particular passage.

Here are a couple of observations but this is not a comprehensive list by any means.  While listening through this series I grew continually more and more uneasy by the things he was saying.  I thought if I had been someone suffering from depression and going to his church he would have only compounded my inexplicable sense of hopelessness.

In the first one of this "Real Truth Matters conference 2009" series of his here:

From about 52 minutes in he leads into it.

at 53:30 he says "God just needs you to open your heart to all of him"

at 54:30 he says "how much power of God do you have in your life - how much power do you have to pray?"

Then he went on next where he spoke about a pastor who said he had a hard time with his prayer life and suddenly that changed and prayer became a joy. One day this unnamed pastor suddenly said to Michael Durham "You know, you're the only one I can really tell this to - but I believe God spoke to me the other day" And Durham was thrilled about this. Literally. He went on "Because we're Baptists we have been told that the canon is closed. So we think that means God suddenly got silent. But no, my God is alive!"

The implication to me is that "God is still speaking" in inner impressions or voices in our heads or whatever, essentially mysticism-lite. The United Church of Christ would be happy with this (see their long running campaign signified by a giant 'comma' "God is still speaking."

I am also wondering if maybe this pastor referred to by Durham has been partaking in a little 'silence' if you know what I mean, but we will probably never know. I pray not.

At the end of #3 in the series he says "a true convert will never consider obedience to Christ a burden or infringement -- NEVER. it is a true joy."


Wow. Define burden? So, saying no to our flesh is easy and joyful? We never despair if we are true converts? We never ask "why are you cast down o my soul?" I just do NOT see this in scripture. We KNOW by faith that it is good for us to obey, but do we never feel it is a burden, do we never suffer and complain? If we do, does that mean we aren't saved??

Here are the videos in the series. I also was catching whiffs of Piper's controversial "Desiring God / Christian Hedonist" idea in much of what he said (especially considering what he said in #3 there focusing on having joy - obviously joy is good but... if you make it our DUTY or an evidence of salvation, then what's to give us assurance when we don't have it?)

2009 Real Truth Matters Conference 01 - What's Wrong With American Christianity?

2009 Real Truth Matters Conference 02 - The Essential Elements of the Gospel

2009 Real Truth Matters Conference 03 - What is True Conversion?

2009 Real Truth Matters Conference - Message for Youth