"Experiencing God" by Henry Blackaby:


"Experiencing God"
by Henry and Richard Blackaby:
another example of Heretical teaching

Like most wrong views of divine guidance, the Blackabys' scheme is wrong from the outset because it fails to give proper emphasis to the doctrine of divine Providence.


In the Blackaby system, faith in the goodness and reliability of Providence is replaced by fortune-cookie thoughts generated by one's own imagination--or perhaps by that tainted hot dog you bought from a street vendor.

The Blackaby "system" has been part of Rick Warren's core beliefs, and is explored in the 7-Part Audio program near the bottom of this page.

Finally, on this page, we offer a selection of sermons and audio commentary on How to Find God's Will for Your Life, based on the Bible alone.  There are too many false teachers who would have you believe that God can be discovered by some mystical approach to life.  Our webpage, "Contemplative Prayer Heresy," is one that explores how many Christians and NON-Christians are being led astray.

(This is not a commentary about the Blackabys, but about the view they advocate in this book. It is not about anything else they've ever written or done, nor is it about them as Christians or men.  My thanks to Rev. Phil Johnson, of Grace Community Church, and Chris Rosebrough for their informative guidance about the heresy found in some of the Blackaby teaching).

Book Review: "Experiencing God,"

by Henry Blackaby

Reviewed By Rev. Greg Gilbert, Senior Pastor of Third Avenue Baptist Church, Louisville, Kentucky.

Evangelicals have long been interested in knowing how they can discern God’s leading in ctheir lives.  The question, “What is God’s will for me?” is one that finds itself often on the minds of Christians.  It is a good question to ask, since we as evangelicals believe that God is eminently active in the world and in the lives of His people.  There was a time in history when the truth of a God who is at work in the world was looked on as superstitious nonsense.  Many were not ashamed to say that indeed there was a God, but if so, he must be one who simply set the laws of nature in place, wound the world up, and turned it loose to unwind itself without His guidance.  I, for one, am glad that we do not serve a God like that!  I am glad that when I as a Christian ask the question, “How does God guide me?”, the answer is not returned to me, “He doesn’t.”  I am glad that we serve a God who does intimately involve Himself in every area of our lives, and who is constantly guiding and leading us according to His will and providence.  So I am glad that Henry Blackaby is able to write such a book as Experiencing God and legitimately explore how it is that God reveals His will to us in our everyday lives.  The book grew out of a thirteen week study by the same name, which has been around for several years and which I participated in and even led as an undergraduate in college.  The book has been expanded from thirteen to nineteen chapters, and is not so much a workbook as is the bible study.  The structure of the book is centered on what Blackaby calls the “Seven Realities of Experiencing God.”  They are:

1.    God is always at work around you.

2.    God pursues a continuing love relationship with you that is real and personal.

3.    God invites you to become involved with Him in His work.

4.    God speaks by the Holy Spirit through the Bible,  prayer, circumstances, and the church to reveal Himself, His purposes, and His ways.

5.    God’s invitation for you to work with Him always leads you to a crisis of belief that requires faith and action.

6.    You must make major adjustments in your life to join God in what He is doing.

7.    You come to know God by experience as you obey Him and He accomplishes His work through you. (p.50)

The book opens with four introductory chapters about knowing God’s nature, doing His will, and being a servant.  The rest of the chapters in the book expand on these seven “realities.”

There is much in Experiencing God to commend it.  Blackaby is from a conservative, evangelical tradition and is evidently deeply committed to the authority of the Scriptures.  Again and again throughout the book, Blackaby reminds His readers that they are to be captive to the Word of God and that they are to regulate their relationship to God by its teachings.  He writes on page 6, “The Scriptures will be your source of authority for faith and practice.  You cannot depend on human traditions, your experience, or the experience of others to be accurate authorities on God’s will and ways.  Experience and tradition must always be examined against the teaching of Scripture.”  That sentiment is solidly affirmed throughout the book.  Blackaby is also concerned to make sure that His readers understand that he is not peddling a method or a formula for divining the will of God.  “Knowing God’s voice,” he writes, “comes from an intimate love relationship with God.” (p.138)  A vital love relationship with God is vital to knowing His will. 

Blackaby advises, wisely I think, that “doing something for God” is not the Christian’s primary task.  God desires to have a relationship with His people.  He desires for them to know Him intimately and to be joyful in knowing that they have been saved and that they are His children.  “Sometimes individuals and churches are so busy doing things they think will help God accomplish His purpose that He can’t get their attention long enough to use them as servants to accomplish what He wants. . . A time will come when the doing will be called for, but we cannot skip the relationship.  The relationship with God must come first,” (p.30)  Blackaby’s book also emphasizes that it is always God who takes the initiative in a person’s life.  A human being is incapable of seeking God on his own initiative.  If a person seeks God, it is only because God has first acted in that person’s life.  “God always takes the initiative,” he writes, “to establish a love relationship with you,” p.89.  Therefore, when we see a person being convicted of sin, or showing an interest in the things of God, we can know that God is working in that person’s life.  His teaching is not strictly Reformed, but it does tend further in that direction than many other popular evangelical books.  “God draws us to Himself. . . .  The love that God focuses on your life is an everlasting love.  Because of that love, He has drawn you to Himself.” (p.86)  Of course that is not an unequivocal statement of God’s sovereignty in salvation, but the possibility is certainly there for it to be read in that way, and at any rate, such teaching would probably be a good shove in the right direction for most evangelical Christians.  Much of Blackaby’s book, then, I think could be helpful to growing Christians.

I should raise a few cautionary notes about the book, though, especially regarding its teaching about how Christians are to discern the will of God.  Blackaby’s teaching throughout Experiencing God is heavily tilted toward discerning some particular “assignment” or “task” from God for a person’s life.  His illustrations often begin with words like, “One of our churches believed that God was calling them to . . .” or “Our association was convinced that God wanted us to . . .”(pp. 23, 41)  He writes on page 24, “Whenever God gives you a directive, it is always right.”  What, though, is the nature of such directives?  How does God give them?  Blackaby’s conception of these “tasks” or “directives” seems to be a subjective impression on the mind about God’s will for a particular circumstance.  God communicates directly to the mind of the Christian and tells him, almost audibly it seems, what should be done.  “When God speaks to you in your quiet time, immediately write down what He said,” (p.172).  This belief that God gives direct, subjective impressions to His people is certainly not without merit.  Perhaps most importantly, it underlines the reality that God is imminently present and involved in the world.  He has not left it to run itself, but is determined to be a part of His people’s lives.  There are, though, some cautions that should be raised about such a belief.  First of all, there is little if any way to confirm whether or not it is really God that is suggesting certain ideas to the mind.  Take, for example, Blackaby’s illustrations above that his church or association “believed God wanted us” to do this or that.  How is one to know whether that is truly God speaking?  In the stories Blackaby mentioned, things worked out for the good, but there have been hundreds of times in history when people have claimed the same authority (i.e. that it is a word from God) to do ridiculous or horrible things.  In the Great Awakening of 1740-41, John Davenport, for example, claimed that God wanted him to lead the people of his church in a riot in his city and to burn thousands of books in the town square.  The result was disastrous.  Davenport was discredited, and the Awakening itself was drowned in criticism.  I certainly believe that God is able to speak to His people by direct impression; He does so in the Scriptures.  But I stand with Jonathan Edwards when he writes, “Many godly persons have undoubtedly in this and other ages, exposed themselves to woeful delusions by an aptness to lay too much weight on impulses and impressions,” (in Iain Murray’s Jonathan Edwards, p.241). His advice?  “I would therefore entreat the people of God to be very cautious how they give heed to such things.  I have seem ‘em fail in very many instances; and know by experience that impressions being made with great power, and upon the minds of true saints, . . . are no sure signs of their being revelations from heaven,” (in Edwards’s Distinguishing Marks, p.282 in the Yale edition).

Another danger in Blackaby’s book, I think, is his teaching about looking for a word from the Scriptures about a particular circumstance in one’s life.  Blackaby tells the story of a young couple who were struggling with a possible call to leave their home and minister in upstate New York.  The woman was particularly hesitant to leave her hometown until she awoke one night at 2:30am with an impression that she should read Luke chapter 4.  When she did, she ran across the statement that Jesus left his hometown to “preach the good news of the kingdom of God to other towns.”  According to Blackaby, “She sensed the Holy Spirit saying that she would have to leave the comforts and security of home to go with her husband” to New York, (p.168-9). Reading the Bible like this, to find a “word” from God directed to a particular personal circumstance, obscures the fact that the Bible has a definite meaning in itself.  The meaning of the Bible does not change from person to person and from circumstance to circumstance.  Whatever those words meant thousands of years ago when God first inspired them, they still mean today.  And it is dangerous to take a portion of the Scriptures and apply it directly to our lives without any regard for what that passage means in its context.  Imagine if a person should run across Acts 9:6, “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do,” and decide that God had given him a word that he should rise and walk to the neighboring town and await further instructions.  That would be a completely wrong use of that Scripture, and nothing at all to its real point.  Acts 9:6 was spoken to Paul, and we are no more justified in taking that as a particular command to us than we would be with God’s command to Noah to build an ark.  Yet it is difficult to see much difference in Blackaby’s example of the woman reading Luke 4.  Luke 4 has a definite meaning, and it is unfounded to assume that it is a particular word to this family about moving to New York state.  George Whitefield, the great preacher in the Great Awakening and Edwards’s friend, admitted that even he had fallen into this kind of error.  Prior to the birth of his only son, Whitefield announced that the boy would be a great preacher and that he would be great in the sight of the Lord.  Four months after his birth, though, the child died.  Whitefield recognized his mistake and wrote:  “I misapplied several texts of Scripture.  Upon these grounds, I made no scruple of declaring ‘that I should have a son, and his name was to be John,’” (in Iain Murray’s Jonathan Edwards, p.241-2). Whitefield had taken the angel’s declaration to Zechariah as his own, and had thus fallen into error.  Let that be a caution to us as Christians to always read the Bible in its context.  There is life-changing truth to be gained from understanding the Bible as God meant it to be understood.

What is the alternative, then, to seeking subjective impressions and directives from God?  I would recommend a small book by Jim Elliff called Led by the Spirit.  (Contact them at www.CCWonline.org.)  Elliff gives wonderful and sound advice about how Christians should go about discerning the will of God.  While impressions like those of which Blackaby speaks are not to be ruled out, he writes, we can’t expect them to be normative in the life of a Christian.  In fact, it is interesting to think that perhaps the reason the stories of God’s speaking directly and subjectively to the likes of Moses and Abraham and Paul are written down is precisely because of their unusual nature.  God’s normal way of operating in His people’s lives is to shape them by His Word, to transform their minds by His Holy Spirit, and to sanctify their reason so that they can consider and weigh alternatives and make wise decisions.  None of this, of course, is to say that God cannot or will not give direct and subjective impressions to a Christian; it is simply to say that this does not seem to be His normal way of working.



by Bob DeWaay

Blackaby’s book, co-authored by Claude King, promises readers that they can come to know God by experience and come to know God’s will beyond what is revealed in Scripture, thereby living out a life full of adventure.[1] Blackaby promises his readers that they will, among other things, learn to hear God speaking to them and learn to identify God’s activities.[2] He promises to alleviate their problem of being frustrated with their Christian experience.

Experiencing God does start out with some basic facts about the gospel and has a place for people to check to indicate that they have made a “decision for Jesus.” I am glad he told his readers about such things as sin and repentance but am disappointed in the “make a decision for Jesus” approach. We have addressed that elsewhere.[3] But having checked the appropriate box, the reader is quickly ushered into the realm of subjectivity that permeates Blackaby’s approach from beginning to end. For example, we are urged to evaluate our “present experience with God.”[4]

However, I have known people who are totally deceived and in bondage to false doctrine who are very excited about their experience with God, so such evaluation doesn’t do much good. For example, I once met a pastor who just returned from the Toronto laughing revival and was so very excited because he had seen “God” cause people to bark like dogs and quack like ducks. That is just one example why what one thinks about his own “experience with God” is immaterial. What we need to know are the terms God has laid down for knowing Him and walking faithfully with Him.

In Blackaby’s theology, the importance of God’s self-revelation through the Scriptures is de-emphasized while personal experience is given priority. He writes, “We come to know God as we experience Him. God reveals Himself through our experience of Him at work in our lives.”[5] I am not disputing that God is at work in our lives if we have truly been converted. But, like other subjectivists, Blackaby de-emphasizes specific revelation (Scripture) and puts unwarranted emphasis on general revelation (what can be observed in the created order). Our personal, spiritual experiences are unreliable. People observing general revelation and interpreting their own spiritual experiences in light of it have created the host of the world’s false religions.

For example, Blackaby writes, “Find out what the Master is doing—then that is what you need to be doing.[6] Here he suggests that by observing what is around us and studying human history we can determine God’s will. He further suggests that God reveals His will by some process in history—that He hasn’t revealed it once for all. But this subjective approach cannot reveal God’s moral law which is His revealed will. Someone’s estimate of “what God is doing” is likely to be based on their own prejudices and inclinations.

Let’s look at another example.

Consider a person who believes the social gospel. If they see a situation where social services are being provided, they will conclude that they are witnessing “what God is doing.” In the previous example of the laughing revival, that pastor was a charismatic. His thinking led him to believe that anything that appears to have a supernatural cause done in the context of a Christian meeting must be “what God is doing.” So he saw people behaving oddly in such a context and joined it so as to participate in God’s activities. Subjective evaluations can lead to falsely attributing things to God that in fact are not from God.

God’s providence unfolding in history is what we actually observe. But providence contains good and evil. We cannot know what God’s revealed will is by observing providence. We can only know His will through inerrant, infallible, special revelation—Scripture. Even our dreams and inner impressions are part of providence and they too are a mixture of good and evil (and indifferent). They do not reveal what God is doing or His will for our lives.

Blackaby fails to distinguish these categories, and thus uses stories of God revealing things to prophets and apostles in the Bible to suggest that these experiences should be normative for us. For example he includes a section about Moses, not to prove that Moses was an authoritative spokesperson for God, but to prove that God expects all of us to gain revelation like Moses did. This is false, and we have shown it to be false in a recent article.[7] In the Moses section of his book Blackaby writes, “His desire is to get us from where we are to where He is working. When God reveals to you where He is working, that becomes His invitation to join Him.”[8]

Such a search for “where God is working” makes no sense. God is working always everywhere as He holds all things together by “the word of His power” (Hebrews 1:3). Blackaby’s concept “where God is working” is vague. Is he talking about geography? God’s revealed will is to preach the gospel to all people everywhere. God works through the gospel to convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgment and to convert those who will be saved. There is no place off-limits, and this great work of God is not limited by geography.

Blackaby’s kind of thinking causes people get on airplanes scurrying to the latest hot “revival.” But how do they know God wants them in Pensacola, for example, chasing a spiritual experience rather than preaching the gospel where they live? The simple answer: they don’t.

Blackaby’s book is filled with claims that we all need personal revelations from God, that these are binding upon us, and that if we do not gain these “words from God” we are going to fail God and live frustrated and empty lives. He claims that we are to obey these words seemingly without question: “When you do what He tells you, no matter how insensible it may seem, God accomplishes what He purposed through you. Not only do you experience God’s power and presence, but so do those who observe what you are doing.”[9] This is simply wrong and is a version of works righteousness.

All that I can possibly know as God’s binding, authoritative will is what God TOLD me (Scripture) not what God “tells” me (subjective ideas that may or may not be from God). It is abusive to bind people to non-authoritative, fallible words (even insensible ones) and tell them that obeying such words is the key to God’s presence in their lives. This, in my opinion, is an attack against the gospel. We have the promise of God’s presence because of what He did for us through the cross, not because we have become mystics following ideas that enter our minds which we decided might be from Him. But Blackaby reiterates, “Obey whatever God tells you to do.”[10] So, on that point I think I’ll choose to follow his advice based on what I know God has told me in the Scriptures. I know God told me not to listen to people who teach false doctrine; I am going to obey that and not listen to Blackaby.

Beyond promoting these personal revelations as laws to be obeyed (as if they were God’s revealed moral law), he further claims they are also infallible: “When we come to God to know what He is about to do where we are, we also come with the assurance that what God indicates He is about to do is certain to come to pass.”[11] This is another problem, because the only things certain to come to pass are those God has predicted in Scripture. Personal revelations that we think might be from God are not certainly from God [we can’t be sure they are] and they will not “certainly come to pass.” Blackaby calls this type of word “revelation”: “When He opens your spiritual eyes to see where He as at work, that revelation is your invitation to join Him.”[12] Subjective impressions are now to be considered revelation? This approach could lead to every imaginable error.

Blackaby makes personal revelations not only binding (they must be obeyed) and infallible (certain), but he also declares that they are necessary for everyone’s spiritual well-being: “If the Christian does not know when God is speaking, he is in trouble at the heart of his Christian life!”[13] Furthermore, he says, “If you have been given a word from God, you must continue in that direction until it comes to pass (even twenty five years like Abraham).” That means that if someone should get one of these “words from God” and if it actually was not from God, he would be obligated to follow whatever foolhardy, insensible path the “word” led him down. Such teaching, in my opinion, is foolish and abusive to the flock.

God physically appeared to Abraham many times as “the angel of the Lord.” Abraham received special revelations. We don’t. We do not have the same certainty that our subjective impressions are “the word of the Lord.” Amazingly, Blackaby sees the problem with his approach but still presses on with it: “If you have not been given a word from God yet you say you have, you stand in judgment as a false prophet . . . [cites Deut. 18:21-22].”[14] EXACTLY! That is the very claim I made in the last issue of CIC.[15] If these personal words from God are taken as binding, and we speak them to ourselves and they are not totally accurate, we have become false prophets to our own selves. Blackaby evidently agrees, yet he pushes on.

The flaws of Blackaby’s subjectivism are rather obvious when you examine his claims objectively. God’s revealed will is not found by subjective experiences, but in Scripture. Looking around in the world hoping to discover “where God is working” is impossible since God is always working everywhere as He providentially brings history along toward His ultimate purposes. We will be fooled by our own prejudices because we think “God working” must look something like whatever our religious inclinations tell us it will look like.

Furthermore, he has elevated fallible words that may or may not be from God to the level of infallible Scripture and elevated every believer to the status of Moses and Abraham as recipients of special revelation. Following his approach is not how we “experience God.” We cannot not know if we are experiencing God in any way other than to come to Him on His own terms, by faith. When we do, we are assured that God is with us no matter what experiences we have.

 End notes:

     Henry T. Blackaby & Claude V. King, Experiencing God (Nashville: Broadman and Holman, 1994). For simplicity, I will refer to Blackaby as the author with no slight intended to King as the co-author.

     Ibid. 4.


     Blackaby 5.

     Ibid. 9.

     Ibid. 48.


     Blackaby 55.

     Ibid. 61.

     Ibid. 63.

     Ibid. 128.

     Ibid. 129.

     Ibid. 132.

     Ibid. 140.


"Experiencing God"
by Henry & Richard Blackaby:

How Mysticism Misleads Christians

A Review:   Experiencing God - Part 1

-Dr. Gary Gilley

(October 1997 - Volume 3, Issue 8) 

A pastor who had read some of my writings encouraged me to read Henry Blackaby’s best selling book, Experiencing God. This pastor apparently either thought that Blackaby’s work would compliment my own, or correct my thinking. Either way, I am afraid that I have proven to be a disappointment to my friend. If he felt that I would appreciate and enjoy Experiencing God I have sadly mis-communicated to my readers. The thrust of this book is so foreign to my views of Scripture that I find it incredible that I could be so misunderstood. If so, I repent and vow to try harder to communicate plainly.

On the other hand, if my pastor friend thinks that I would be persuaded by Blackaby’s brand of "story-theology" he is sadly mistaken. Blackaby’s book and seminars are representative of much that I detest in so-called evangelicalism today. They take a purely mystical approach to Christian living and by necessity undermine and distort the precious Word of God. I write about Blackaby’s work, not only to expose it, but also because it is a clear representation of the state of evangelicalism in America.

Where It All Began

In 1990 a workbook, based upon the teachings of Henry Blackaby, a Southern Baptist pastor and conference speaker, was published. The workbook, Experiencing God, has since sold over two million copies, has been translated into forty languages and it has been reported that sixteen percent of all Southern Baptists have taken a course based on this workbook. By some estimates this translates to about half of all active members of the denomination. Churches from many other denominations, including Roman Catholic churches, have gone through the "Experiencing God" course, according to a spokesman for the S.B.C. Sunday School Board. Furthermore, there are now youth and pre-teen editions of the workbook, as well as videos and a leader’s study guide.

The hard back version of Experiencing God (subtitled Knowing and Doing the Will of God, Life Way Press, Nashville, Tennessee) is an expanded and modified form of the workbook (all of our comments will be based on the hard back edition). It was published in 1994 and already has sold two hundred fifty thousand copies. In addition, thousands have attended Experiencing God Weekends and Experiencing God Weekends for Couples. These weekends are open to usually sponsored by the Southern Baptist Convention, but are open to all denominations. Even the Jesuits at Boston College had scheduled a Spring "Experiencing God Conversation Series." The appeal of Blackaby's ideas is that we can experience a deeper reality of the presence and voice of God. Unfortunately, Blackaby does not derive most of his thoughts from Scripture.

The general teaching of Experiencing God is wrapped around what Blackaby calls the "Seven Realities of Experiencing God." The discerning reading will quickly recognize that the last four of the "Seven Realities" either contradict or at best cannot be supported or proven by Scripture.

The Seven Realities are:

  • God is always at work around you.
  • God pursues a continuing love relationship with you that is real and personal.
  • God invites you to become involved with Him in His work.
  • God speaks by the Holy Spirit through the Bible, prayer, circumstances and the church to reveal Himself, His purposes and His ways.
  • God's invitation for you to work with Him always leads you to a crisis of belief that requires faith and action.
  • You must make major adjustments in your life to join God in what He is doing.
  • You come to know God by experience as you obey Him and He accomplishes His work through you.

General Thoughts

Experiencing God is a book that is full of errors, biblically unsupportable assertions, incredible statements and story-theology (views based upon anecdotal accounts rather than upon Scripture). Some examples:

"If you have trouble hearing God speak, you are in trouble at the very heart of your Christian experience" (p87). What does this mean? Does God speak to all Christians individually? If so, how? What Scripture is used to support this? (By the way, Blackaby uses none.)

After praying to God Blackaby advises, "Reflect on your feelings. . . . How did you feel as you walked and talked with God" (p62). What passage from the Bible tells us to reflect on our feelings in order to evaluate our prayer life?

"Knowing God only comes through experience as He reveals Himself to me through my experiences with Him" (p5). Doesn't the Bible reveal God to us? Are our experiences necessary and more importantly, are they reliable when it comes to experiencing God?

"With God working through His servant, he or she can do anything God can do. Wow! Unlimited potential" (p26). Wow, is right! Kenneth Copeland, Paul Crouch, Benny Hinn and the whole Word of Faith gang of heretics would shout, "Wow!" too. Can believers create? Can they convict of sin? Can they draw men to God? This statement is a gross perversion of Phil. 4:13.

"When God gets ready to do something, He reveals to a person or His people what He is going to do" (p31). This concept is a major emphasis of the book, and a large part of its popularity — but what Scripture supports this? Does God really report to us? Does He reveal to His church what He IS GOING TO DO? If so, tell me, what is He going to do next week? What is the next major movement of God in this world? Or, when will the rapture take place? We can often tell in hindsight what God has done and who He has used, but going forward is a different story.

"You must make major adjustments in your life to join God in what He is doing" (p38). What kind of "adjustments" are we talking about here? Blackaby often uses this word "adjust," but I do not find it in my concordance. I wonder why he is so reluctant to use some good old fashioned biblical words like, "repent," "confess" or "obey." "Adjust" sounds so nice and clean. "Repent" sounds messy and ugly — maybe that is why!? Modern wisdom tells us that we must avoid offending anyone — even if it is with the truth.

What Is The Word of God?

As concerning as some of the statements that we have mentioned are, the real distress lies in Blackaby's distortion of the Word of God. Many readers of Experiencing God will, at first, believe the above statement to be in error. After all, the volume is peppered with numerous references to the Bible and much of what the author says is supported with scriptural accounts. Blackaby often speaks highly of the Word, proclaiming its importance; so, how can we challenge him with distortion of the Scriptures? We do so along three fronts:

Misuse of the Scriptures

II Timothy 2:15 is clear that if we are to be a people approved of God we must accurately handle the word of truth. Teachers of the Word of God have an awesome responsibility to understand and deliver God’s truth, not their own opinions. On this score Henry Blackaby fails miserably.

To misuse the Bible as Blackaby does, is not uncommon. His errors are not unique, but that fact does not excuse one who claims to speak for God. Keep in mind that Blackaby is attempting to use the following passages as support of his views:

John 14:26 — "The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things." "The Holy Spirit of God will be your personal teacher. . . . He will be at work revealing God, His purposes and His ways to you" (p3). Simply completing the verse clarifies its meaning: "And bring to your remembrance all that I said to you." Jesus was not talking to us but to His apostles. The Holy Spirit would teach them and bring to their remembrance those things that they would share with the church largely through the writing of the New Testament. This verse is not a promise to the average believer directly.

John 14:6 — "I am the way, the truth, and the life." — Blackaby uses this verse to teach that we will know specifically what God wants us to do with our lives. "Who is it that really knows the way for you to fulfill God’s purpose for your life? God is. . . . If you were to do everything that Jesus tells you one day at a time, you always would be right in the center of where God wants you to be. Can you trust God to guide you that way" (p21)? This passage is not in the context of God’s individual will for our lives, but the context of salvation and eternal life.

Hebrews 1:1 — "God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways." Blackaby utilizes this verse with a few others, to prove that God will speak to His people today, outside of the Scriptures. "If anything is clear from a reading of the Bible, this fact is clear: God speaks to His people. . . . God does speak to His people, and you can anticipate that He will be speaking to you also" (p83). Note carefully that Blackaby is not referring to the written Word of God. In using Heb. 1:1 as a proof text, our author does the same as he did with the last verse - he rips it out of context! Reading the very next line, "In these last days has spoken to us in His Son" (Heb. 1:2), shows that Blackaby has totally misused Scripture. Rather than a proof text for God speaking to us apart from Scripture, Hebrews 1:1 and 2 coupled with Hebrews 2:1-4, is a proof text of God’s revelation which was "In His Son" and has now been recorded by the apostles in the Word of God. This passage proves that there is no additional revelation apart from the Bible, not that God is speaking to us today apart from the Bible. Blackaby could not be more wrong.

Luke 4 is used as an example of how to use the Scriptures to find direction from the Lord. Rather than teach his readers to carefully study the Word in its context, using proper hermeneutical principles, Blackaby teaches a mystical approach. A story is told of a lady who awakened one night with Luke 4:24 running through her mind (pp105-106). She got up to read the passage and, "That morning the Lord spoke to Gail through the Bible. She realized that even Jesus had to leave His hometown in order to" ‘preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns’ (v24). She sensed the Holy Spirit saying that she would have to leave the comforts and security of home to go with her husband as they served the Lord together. Later that morning, in an Experiencing God Seminar, she gave her testimony of what God had said." On the basis of God "speaking" to Gail in this way, she and her husband would sell their house and move to another state. This is indeed pure mysticism — it is among the most perverted forms of scriptural distortion!

John 11:4 — "This sickness is not unto death" is used in the same manner (pp119-120). Taken as if it were a personal promise to the Blackaby family, they believed that God had promised them that their daughter would not die of cancer — and she did not. Proof positive that God had spoken, right? What about the thousands over the years who have claimed this same verse only to watch a loved one die? Perhaps it is because of such misuses of Scripture that many professing believers think that God has disappointed — even deceived them. Yet, John 11:4 has nothing to do with Blackaby’s daughter, or anyone else’s. It has to do with Lazarus.

Romans 8:26,27 — Blackaby uses these verses to teach that the Holy Spirit, "Helps us know the will of God as we pray. . . . The Holy Spirit’s task is to get you to ask for it (God’s will)" (pp110-111). Of course the passage teaches no such thing. Rather, it tells us that, "The Spirit Himself intercedes for us." The Holy Spirit is not some mystical Ouija board from God prompting us to ask for just the right things before we can get them (as Blackaby claims). Instead, recognizing our weaknesses, the Holy Spirit prays for us, according to the will of God.

In our next paper we will discuss Blackaby’s neo-orthodox leanings and general mysticism.

Experiencing God - Part 2

(November 1997 - Volume 3, Issue 9) 

In our last paper we began dealing with the widely popular teachings of Henry Blackaby in his best selling book, Experiencing God. While we are in agreement with many things Blackaby teaches we have grave concerns about his approach and use of Scripture. We challenged him with distortion of Scripture along three fronts. Last time we highlighted his general misuse of the Word of God. In this paper we will examine Blackaby’s neo-orthodoxy and highly mystical view of Scripture.


The second front along which we want to challenge Blackaby is that of his neo-orthodox leanings. We need to carefully explain what we mean here. We are not saying that Blackaby is neo-orthodox, he would surely deny this handle and he may know very little about the system. However, this does not mean that he has not been influenced by neo-orthodox teachings. I recently challenged a "biblical" marriage seminar leader by telling him that his teachings were closer in line with those of Dobson and Crabbe than with the Bible. He told me that could not be, because he had never read the works of Dobson or Crabbe. That is a little naive! Many humanists have never read the Humanist Manifesto, but they are humanists. Most people have never read Carl Rogers or Sigmund Freud, yet their ideas permeate our society. Also, a large number of Christians are not familiar with the origins of a great variety of concepts that they accept, often believing them to be biblical.

Neo-orthodoxy is a "Christian" theology which finds its roots in the existential teachings of Soren Kierkegaard and Karl Barth. Barth was a German theologian attempting to move away from liberalism by starting to march toward conservative orthodoxy — he never made it. Along the way he formed his own views which eventually took the name neo-orthodoxy or Barthianism.

There are many teachings stemming from the neo-orthodoxy camp that we do not accuse Mr. Blackaby of holding. Blackaby is not a true Barthian, but his view of Scripture has been influenced by this movement. In fairness, Blackaby is not alone in this — many evangelical leaders have a semi-neo-orthodox view of the Bible.

Barth reacted to the subjectivity of liberalism. Liberals had no authority — no word from God. Barth believed that man needed an authoritative word from God, but he did not turn to the Bible for that word. Instead, Barth taught that Jesus Christ was the Word of God and the Bible is only a witness to that Word. It was Barth's teaching that the Bible is not the Word of God, but it can become the Word of God if and when God speaks to us through it.A very important aspect of this viewpoint is that other things, such as sermons, newspapers, or novels, etc. can also become the Word of God when God speaks to us through it.

In his little book, Neo-orthodoxy, Charles Ryrie writes:

The chief characteristic of the theology of the Reformation was its return to the Bible as the final authority in all matters. The chief characteristic of neo-orthodoxy is its call to the Word of God as the authority, but the Word of God is not synonymous with the Bible, and this is the point of deception" (p56).

John MacArthur explains it this way:

(In neo-orthodoxy) the Bible itself is not objectively the Word of God, but it becomes the Word of God when it speaks to me individually. . . . What the Bible means becomes unimportant. What it means to me is the relevant issue (Reckless Faith, p26).

In other words, one of Neo-orthodoxy's "contributions" to evangelical Christianity is the view that revelation to man from God takes many forms. The Bible is no longer the sole authoritative voice of God in this age, it is just one of them. God not only can, but we should expect Him to, speak to us in visions, dreams, circumstances, hunches, feelings, poems, novels, music, etc.

The neo-orthodox view is widely accepted today among Christians, thanks to the influence of the Charismatic movement. Therefore most readers of Experiencing God are not shocked when they read, "God speaks by the Holy Spirit through the Bible, prayer, circumstances, and the church to reveal Himself, His purposes and His ways. When God speaks to you, you will be able to know He is the One speaking, and you will know clearly what He is saying to you" (p87).

Additionally, not only does revelation come from sources outside the Bible, but even the Bible itself is not the Word of God unless God chooses for it to be. Blackaby puts it this way, in response to the question, "Can’t I get a word from God from the Bible?" (Notice that even Blackaby recognizes that his system confuses people about what is the Word of God.) His reply, "Yes, you can! But only the Holy Spirit of God can reveal to you which truth of Scripture is a word from God in a particular circumstance" (p88). Do you see what has happened? Blackaby is not saying that only the Holy Spirit can open our eyes to biblical truth (the doctrine of illumination), he is saying something entirely different. To Blackaby the Bible is no longer the "Word of God," it becomes the word of God when God uses it to speak to us through our experiences or circumstances. God can also speak to us in a poem, the Wall Street Journal, through our mother-in-law, or through impulses, as well as dreams or visions. Blackaby has thus made the Word of God totally relative and subjective, rather than biblical.

This is pure neo-orthodoxy and is almost identical to the doctrinal teachings of the Charismatic and Vineyard movements. For example, compare what Jack Deere, a leading Vineyard theologian writes:

God can and does give personal words of direction to believers today that cannot be found in the Bible. I do not believe that he gives direction that contradicts the Bible, but direction that cannot be found in the Bible (Vineyard Position Paper #2, p15).

I defy anyone to show me the difference between Deere’s view of revelation (an openly Vineyard teacher) and that of Blackaby’s. There is none - and that is our concern.

In Blackaby’s program this view of revelation becomes intensely practical. He writes, "Your task is to wait until the Master gives you instructions. If you start ‘doing’ before you have a direction from God, more than likely you will be wrong" (p89). This sounds very spiritual, but how does it work? Do we wait for God to speak to us personally and directly before we make a decision? If we don’t hear from God, are we to do nothing? Still, the question always arises, "Once we have accepted the neo-orthodox view of revelation, how do we know if it is God, or the devil, or our own emotions speaking to us???"

Since Blackaby never attempts to deal with this problem, we must turn to someone who shares his same basic view of Scripture. The most honest effort that we could find is that of Wayne Grudem, another Vineyard theologian who is a wholesale believer in extrabiblical revelations of all kinds. He attempts to answer the previous question when he states:

Did the revelation seem like something from the Holy Spirit; did it seem to be similar to other experiences of the Holy Spirit which he had known previously in worship. Beyond this it is difficult to specify much further, except to say that over time a congregation would probably become more adept at making evaluations. . . and become more adept at recognizing a genuine revelation from the Holy Spirit and distinguishing it from their own thoughts (emphasis ours) (The Gift of Prophecy in the New Testament and Today, pp120-121).

Grudem is arguably the most careful and well-respected Charismatic theologian in the country. He teaches Biblical and Systematic Theology at Trinity International University in Deerfield, Illinois (which is affiliated with the Evangelical Free Churches of America). Yet, the best that he can devise in answer to our concern is, "Did it seem like the Holy Spirit" — and, "A congregation would probably" be able to get better at discernment over time. While we are fumbling around trying to decide if something felt like the Holy Spirit (nothing in the Bible helps us here) and hoping that we will get better at all of this discernment stuff, Blackaby tells us that we dare not even make a move until we are certain that we have heard from God. Pity the poor Christian that believes this trash — they are hopelessly tossed about on a sea of subjectivity and mysticism.

At this point, Blackaby, Deere and Grudem would cry foul. They would claim that while they believe that God speaks to His people apart from the Bible today, that these revelations are not on par with Scripture. That is, God speaks today but not with the same authority as He did in His Word. So do not accuse us of adding to Scripture, they would say. Interestingly enough, this brings up another issue. We find in the Bible that God did speak, either orally (including through His prophets) or through the written Word, but in both ways — always, His Word is authoritative. It was nothing less than a word from God — one that must be obeyed and heeded!

Now, Blackaby (and others) are telling us that God is speaking in a third way today, a way never found, described or hinted at in the Bible: God is speaking today, but His Word is not authoritative, and it can be weighed and examined. We are not even certain when He is speaking, and when some think that they are certain that He is speaking they still believe that the revelation may be partly in error.

This is how Wayne Grudem explains it:

There is almost uniform testimony from all sections of the Charismatic movement that prophecy is imperfect and impure, and will contain some elements which are not to be obeyed or trusted. The Anglican Charismatic leaders Dennis and Rita Bennett write, ‘We are not expected to accept every word spoken through the gifts of utterance. . . but we are only to accept what is quickened to us by the Holy Spirit and is in agreement with the Bible. . . one manifestation may be 75% God, but 25% the person’s own thought. We must discern between the two’ (Ibid p110).

How?? Scripture does not tell us!

It remains a mystery to me why people are attracted to this view of the Word of God. Surely it is not an improvement over, "Thus says the Lord." Surely the uncertainty of this system pales in comparison to the certainty of the Scriptures (II Peter 1:19-21).


Mysticism is the idea that spiritual reality is found by looking inward. Mysticism is perfectly suited for religious existentialism; indeed, it is its inevitable consequence. The mystic disdains rational understanding and seeks truth instead through the feelings, the imagination, personal visions, inner voices, private illumination, or other purely subjective means. Objective truth becomes practically superfluous. Mystical experiences are therefore self-authenticating; that is, they are not subject to any form of objective verification (John MacArthur, Reckless Faith, p27).

Banking off this definition of mysticism, we find evangelicalism, in general, and Experiencing God, in particular, to be completely infiltrated with mysticism. Following are some examples of what we mean:

Blackaby’s co-author, Claude King, writing in the preface, sets the tempo for the book with a personal experience:

Two years before, God had spoken to me through His Word that a time would come when I needed to leave my job and when I would need to be free of those job responsibilities to be more fully available to Him. I began to pray and ask Him if this was the time I needed to leave my job and walk by faith. . . . By Labor Day weekend, God had convinced me that I must resign my job and walk with Him by faith as I completed this new project (ppXII-XIII).

((Comment: Claude King makes a job change based upon God speaking to him, and God convincing him. How did God do this? Mainly through inner impressions and feelings, even though he claimed that God spoke to him through the Word and through the counsel of people. This is mysticism, not biblical principles of decision making.))

Still in the introduction, Blackaby assures us that the Holy Spirit will mystically convince us that the teachings of Experiencing God are from God. "When I present what I see as a biblical principle, you can depend on the Holy Spirit to confirm whether that teaching comes from God or not" (p3).

((Comment: I hate to disillusion Mr. Blackaby, but the Holy Spirit confirmed to me that what Blackaby writes is mostly nonsense. How did the Holy Spirit tell me this?

Not through some warm fuzzy and a sense of peace, but through the careful examination of the infallible Word once for all inspired by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit confirms truth in the Scriptures not through feelings.))

Blackaby often makes the following type of statements, "When God reveals His work to you, that is His timing for you to begin to respond to Him" (p35, cp p81,99). "Truth is not discovered; it is revealed. Only God can tell you what He is doing or is wanting to do through your life" (p46). "When God starts to do something in the world, He takes the initiative to come and talk to somebody" (p66, cp. p73). "When He comes to a person, He always reveals Himself and His activity" (p69). "What God speaks, He guarantees will come to pass" (p82). "When God reveals truth to you, by whatever means, that is an encounter with God" (p85, cp. p86 — this type of mysticism is also neo-orthodoxy). "When God speaks to you, you will be able to know He is the one speaking, and you will know clearly what He is saying to you" (p87, cp. p100). "What you do in response to God's revelation (invitation) reveals what you believe about God" (p135 — note the constant use of the word "revelation"). "We forget that when God speaks He always reveals what He is going to do — not what He wants us to do for Him" (p137).

((Comment: Please note that Blackaby is not talking about God speaking to us through the Bible. He is clearly teaching that God speaks, reveals, talks or invites the believer through extra-biblical, mystical means.))

How then are we supposed to hear the voice of God? Blackaby tells us to pray the following prayer: "God, I pray that I will come to such a relationship with You that when you speak, I will hear and respond" (p90). What if you question this mystical approach to God? Then you clearly have a spiritual problem: "Oh, don't let anyone intimidate you about hearing from God. One critical point to understanding and experiencing God is knowing clearly when God is speaking. If the Christian does not know when God is speaking, he is in trouble at the heart of his Christian life" (pp83,94).

Not only do you have a spiritual problem, according to Blackaby, but you also are in direct disobedience to the Word of God, "When He gives you a directive, you are not just to observe it, discuss it, or debate it. You are to obey it" (p158). Mr. Blackaby has now clearly placed these subjective, mystical feelings on par with Scripture. This whole paradigm also comes with its own special blessing, "If you walk in a consistent relationship with God's provision for you — the Holy Spirit and His own presence in your life — then, you should never come to a time that you do not know the will of God" (p170). This unsupportable concept is perhaps the attraction to Blackaby's whole system.

The teachings found within Experiencing God are a dangerous mixture of biblical truth with mysticism, neo-orthodoxy and good old fashioned misuse of Scripture. Blackaby follows and perpetuates a trend that has found great acceptance in many evangelical camps today. It is the trend toward a personal relationship with Christ even at the expense of truth. Whether a teaching agrees with Scripture does not seem to matter, all that many people think is significant is that they feel better and seem closer to God. In the process the sheep are led further away from the true God and the Word of Truth is displaced and belittled!

Experiencing God - Part 3

(August 1998 - Volume 4, Issue 7) 

In a previous Think on These Things (Vol. 3, Issue 8, 9), we warned of certain errant views and teachings of Henry Blackaby and his book Experiencing God. We were recently surprised when David Hunt dismissed these concerns and threw his weight behind Blackaby. This greatly concerns us since on most issues we stand hand-in-hand with Hunt. More importantly, to many people Hunt’s word is law. Therefore, it is highly conceivable that many of Hunt’s 30,000 readers will uncritically read Experiencing God material and/or attend a seminar on the subject, whereby finding themselves taken in with Blackaby’s brand of mysticism and subjectivity. With all of this in mind, we have decided to write a response to Hunt. The following quote is the complete statement as found in The Berean Call, May 1998. Immediately following will be our response to what Hunt has written.

From: The Berean Call, May 1998

Question [composite of many letters]: We are very concerned about a course being taught in our church called Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God. The manual is by Henry Blackaby and Claude King and it seems to be promoting what TBC has referred to as "experience-driven spirituality" (5/95). Some might even call it occultism. What is your opinion of the manual?

Answer [as given by David Hunt]: We have recently reviewed Experiencing God. With more than 2 million copies sold, it has become very popular among Christians. After an initial cursory look, there did seem to be a number of potential problems with some of the statements made by the authors. For example, they write, "I come to know God by experience as I obey Him and He accomplishes His work through me" (p.19); "If you have trouble hearing God speak, you are in trouble at the very heart of your Christian experience" (p.36); "Prayer is two-way fellowship and communication with God. You speak to God and He speaks to you" (p. 87); "With God working through that servant, he or she can do anything God can do. Wow! Unlimited potential!" (p. 17).

Given what is clearly a ravenous appetite for mysticism today, in the world as well as within professing Christianity, those deeply concerned with the biblical health of fellow believers see such statements as highly toxic. Indeed, they are alarming at first glance. However, following a careful reading of the manual, these statements are not as some perceive them to be.

The heart of the manual seems to be a reminder to believers that at the time they received the gospel of salvation, they began "a personal encounter with the living Christ" (p. 212). That reality involves a developing personal relationship with God which will continue for all eternity. Since this is the thrust of the writing, the authors address the elements incorporated in a personal relationship: fellowship, intimacy, communication, love, obedience, service, knowledge, experience, etc. Experiencing God seeks to encourage these elements in every believer’s walk with the Lord, and for that we find the book valuable.

The major problem with the manual, it seems, is not its premise, but the confusion created by its more prominent terms and statements. Not enough care is taken in the wording, especially in view of today’s deceptive spiritual climate. When the authors use the term "experience," such as in "knowing God by experience," they mean, first and foremost, through God’s Word: "Interpret experience by Scripture. Look to see what God says and how He works in the Scriptures. Make your decisions and evaluate your experiences based upon biblical principles. Our experiences cannot be our guide.

Every experience must be controlled and understood by the Scriptures" (p. 13). . . . "The Bible is my guide for faith and practice" (p. 14). In other places in the manual, the term "experience" refers to what we have learned about God’s character throughout our walk with Him, i.e., God working personally and practically in our lives and proving Himself as revealed in His Word.

"Hearing from God," as the authors address that subject, is far removed from the approach taken by today’s contemplative mystics and Christianized mediums. Blackaby and King state emphatically, "God speaks by the Holy Spirit through the Bible, prayer, circumstances, and the church to reveal Himself, His purposes, and His ways" (p. 37). Formulas, seeking signs and wonders, random Bible-verse picking, (fleece) methods, and claiming to have a word from God are all presented with caveats. In the manual, "two-way communication with God," perhaps one of the most occult sounding phrases, is not the continual dialogue with God as promoted and taught by the various "Schools of the Prophets" cropping up all over the country.

Again, the authors, seemingly oblivious to today’s subjective experiential bent in society and the church, have grounded this experience upon God speaking objectively through the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit’s ministry, one’s response in obedience, and God working in and through one’s life (p. 84). There are other seemingly problematic statements in the manual but all are clarified (to some degree) by biblical support. Thus, the authors cannot legitimately be accused of promoting mysticism.

In their encouragements related to one’s communion with God, Blackaby and King underscore the necessity of a growing, intimate love relationship with Jesus Christ as critical in recognizing His voice (according to John 10:4). While such an exhortation is beneficial to every believer, at times the authors give the impression that hearing from God, as Moses (and other prophets) did, could be the rule rather that the exception. Not only does that go beyond the promise of the Word; even the most compelling examples form the authors’ own lives fall far short of the experiences of Moses, "whom the Lord knew face to face" (Dt. 34:10).

Finally, it’s been reported that some Catholic meditative organizations are using the manual for contemplative, experiencing-God weekends. One reason for this is the almost incidental gospel introduced at the beginning of the manual (p. 8). The authors, writing primarily for believers, added an apparently hasty and even vague presentation of the gospel of salvation. This plays into the hands of mystically oriented groups who deny that salvation comes only by grace through faith alone in who Christ is and His finished sacrifice on the cross.

While we regard it crucial that more cautions should have been given, we commend the authors for challenging us to love God with our hearts and expecting God's hand to be evident in blessing our lives and service.

A Response to David Hunt’s Support of Experiencing God

I would like to begin this essay by acknowledging that the Christian world owes many thanks to David Hunt. He is a man who has fearlessly, articulately and convincingly contended for the fundamentals of the faith. Certainly he has strengthened the heart of many a weary believer who has grown tired of the battle for truth. What an encouragement to find men like Hunt who will not back down, even when their views are scorned and mocked, and who spur us on to do the same.

Of course Hunt is not perfect, as he would be the first to admit. He calls himself a Berean, one who searches the Scriptures, not men’s opinions, for truth. He invites other Bereans to challenge him on his views. This, we believe, we must do in light of Hunt’s recent support (The Berean Call, May 1998) of Henry Blackaby and his book, manual and seminars on "Experiencing God."

Hunt, in essence, has made the claim that the critics of Blackaby have simply misunderstood him. That while Blackaby may have been careless and sloppy in many of his statements, he nevertheless is biblical in his teachings. We beg to differ! Even as we are willing to give Blackaby the benefit of the doubt in some statements, we nevertheless believe that he is in error on several weighty issues. We will deal with two such issues below (for a more complete study see Think on These Things, Vol. 3, Issues 8 & 9).

The Issue of Experience and Scripture

We agree with Hunt and Blackaby that at the moment of conversion we begin "a personal encounter with the living Christ." That Blackaby encourages an intimate relationship with Christ is not the problem; the problem is the methodology that he promotes. Hunt recognizes that Blackaby is on thin ice here but says, "The major problem with the manual, it seems, is not its premise, but the confusion created by its more prominent terms and statements. Not enough care is taken in the wording, especially in view of today’s deceptive spiritual climate" (emphasis mine). According to Hunt, Blackaby has a semantics problem, not a doctrinal one. And so, when Blackaby uses the word "experience" (in the context of "knowing God by experience") he does not mean mystical, unbiblical or extrabiblical experiences, he means, we are assured by Hunt, experiences that are "first and foremost, through God’s Word." Hunt then supplies supporting quotes from the Experiencing God manual.

But is this the case? Is Blackaby routing us back to the Word, grounding our experiences in Scriptures? Sometimes! But far too often he is taking his reader in another direction — that of the sovereignty of subjective experiences (what at least some of us would term mysticism). We rest our case on two pieces of evidence:

Specific Statements

In the book, which I assume contains a more in-depth understanding of Blackaby’s views than the manual, from which Hunt takes his quotes, Blackaby says (all emphases mine): "Knowing God only comes through experience as he reveals Himself to me through my experiences with Him" (p. 5). "If you have trouble hearing God speak, you are in trouble at the very heart of your Christian experience" (p. 87). Apparently Hunt assumes that this means hearing God through Scripture, a faulty assumption, as the next quote proves: "When God gets ready to do something, He reveals to a person or His people what He is going to do" (p. 31). Just how could God reveal to a person (in Scripture) a specific task that He is going to perform today? Blackaby’s book and manual are absolutely riddled with such quotes — and this holds the key to its popularity. If Experiencing God was a book about how to know God through the study, meditation, and memorization of the Bible it would probably not be a best seller, there are plenty of such books. This is a book on how to "feel God" and how to feel His leading. You can feel God, according to Blackaby, when "He speaks to you in the Bible, prayer, circumstances, and the church" (fourth of Seven Realities upon which the book is based). We might be wise to ask at this point, "What does God feel like?" How do we know that a subjective experience is the presence of God, or some other of many possibilities? We don’t know, and with good reason; the Bible never tells us what an experience with God feels like.

Specific Examples

I have found in my twenty-five years of preaching and teaching that many will loudly agree with general statements, but quickly backpedal when specifics or names are attached. Along with Hunt, I can say amen to many of Blackaby’s statements referring to God speaking to us through His Word. But is that what Blackaby is really teaching, as Hunt thinks? General statements can be taken either way, but Blackaby’s examples reveal his true meaning. Here are two of many:

  • A story is told of a lady who awakened one night with Luke 4:24 running through her mind (pp. 105-106). She got up to read the passage, and "that morning the Lord spoke to Gail through the Bible. She realized that even Jesus had to leave His hometown in order to ‘preach the good news of the Kingdom of God to the other towns’" (v.24). She believed that the Holy Spirit was telling her to go with her husband to a different part of the country and begin a new ministry. On the basis of this mystical experience by the Word of God, she "obeys." If this is "interpreting experience by the Word of God" as Hunt believes, he takes a different approach to the Word than I can live with. This is pure subjectivity that needs to be identified as such. Nowhere in Scripture are we taught to rip a verse out of context, apply it to our personal life, then declare that God has spoken to us. If nothing else this is poor hermeneutics.
  • In many ways the most concerning, and potentially damaging thing that Blackaby does is misuse the Bible. Far too often he fails to examine carefully the grammatical, contextual meaning of the Scriptures he employs. The result is ignoring the meaning of a passage and twisting the Word to mean what he wants it to say. A case in point is Romans 8:26, 27 which is interpreted in a novel way to teach us that the Holy Spirit, "helps us know the will of God as we pray. . . The Holy Spirit’s task is to get you to ask for it" (pp. 110-111). Of course this passage teaches no such thing; rather it speaks of the Holy Spirit praying for us according to the will of God. That this is not just a sloppy use of Scripture is evident when a story is given in the manual (p.89) detailing how Blackaby hid a bike in the garage for his son’s birthday present, and then convinced his boy that what he wanted was a bike. In Blackaby’s application, God has in "His garage" things He wants to give us. When the holy Spirit convinces us that we want these things, and ask for them, God gives them. The Holy Spirit is said to do all of this through subjective impressions and feelings, not through proper study and application of Scripture. This is a serious error that will teach the followers of Experiencing God to spiritualize and misapply the very Word of God.

Story after story is used in Blackaby’s works, showing what he truly means by "experiencing God." It is not a matter of unfortunate "terms and statements" (as Hunt seems to believe), it is a matter of the integrity of the Word of God.

The Issue of God Speaking Today

Hunt proclaims, "Hearing from God," as the authors (Blackaby and Claude King) address that subject, is far removed from the approach taken by today’s contemplative mystics and Christianized mediums." Yes, it is. We are not accusing Blackaby of being in a class with David Seamands, Karen Mains, or Richard Foster, but that does not mean that he is correct in his teaching concerning God speaking today. At issue is not whether the Bible is the Word of God — Blackaby, Hunt, Seamands, Mains, Foster, myself, and most of my readers would wholeheartedly agree with that. At issue is the subject of revelation. More to the point, is God speaking today, directly, infallibly, and independently of the Scriptures? Does He reveal Himself, His will, His truth, apart from the Bible? Without question Blackaby believes He does. Without question Hunt believes He does. Without question, under the sway of Charismatic influence, most Christians today believe He does. Without question I do not believe that Scripture supports such a thesis.

Concerning Blackaby, note the following quotes revealing his view of revelation, i.e. that God directly tells us (or at least confirms) what to do apart from Scripture: "When I present what I see as a biblical principle, you can depend on the Holy Spirit to confirm whether that teaching comes form God or not (p. 3). "Two years before, God had spoken to me through His Word that a time would come when I would need to leave my job" (Claude King, p. XII). King speaks, not of a carefully analyzed passage of Scripture from which he derived principles, but from a subjective experience he had while misusing Scripture. "When God reveals His work to you, that is His timing for you to begin to respond to Him" (p. 35). "When God reveals to you what He is doing, that is when you need to respond. He speaks when He is about to accomplish His purposes" (p. 81). "God reveals His purposes so you will know what He plans to do. If you are to join Him, you need to know what God is about to do. . . God speaks with a purpose in mind" (p. 99). "When God starts to do something in the world, He takes the initiative to come and talk to somebody" (p. 66). "When God speaks to you, you will be able to know He is the one speaking, and you will know clearly what He is saying to you" (p. 87). On and on we could go. It is obvious that Blackaby is not referring to Scripture alone when he writes of God speaking to us. God speaks to us in many ways and forms, apart from Scripture, we are told, but we are not told how we know it is God speaking and not Satan or our own emotions. Blackaby does not answer this, for indeed he cannot. Scripture gives no criteria by which to resolve that issue.

As for Hunt, it seems to be a little known fact that he is not a cessationist — at least in practice, (one who believes not only that the canon of Scripture is closed, and that tongues are not for this dispensation, but also that new revelation from God is no longer being given). His roots are in Pentecostalism, from which he has never totally broken. His closest ties are with Chuck Smith and the Calvary Chapels, a moderately charismatic denomination. He still believes in tongues, and apparently retains the Pentecostal/charismatic view of revelation (although he would deny the latter charge vehemently). So my initial shock at Hunt’s position on Experiencing God was an overreaction. Hunt is supportive of Blackaby because their view of revelation is the same. Hunt is a moderate charismatic, Blackaby a mystical Baptist (some call it Bapticostal).

The point is that both men hold an open view of revelation — God is still speaking today — not contrary to, but definitely apart from, the Scriptures. Such a position will lead to errors of doctrine and practice, but most importantly, it is unbiblical.

The Scriptures claim to be the Word of God (II Timothy 3:16,17; II Peter 1:20,21). They are inspired, once for all, by the Holy Spirit enabling prophets and apostles, while using their own personalities, to write God’s words as He intended (Hebrews 1:1,2; 2:3,4; Acts 5:12; II Corinthians 12:12). With the closure of Scripture, direct, infallible, authoritative revelation from God has ceased for this age (Revelation 22:18,19; Ephesians 2:20; 3:5; Jude 3,4; II Peter 3:2). It is instructive to note that at the time Paul wrote his pastor friend Timothy about how to lead the church of God, he did not encourage Timothy to focus on new revelations, impressions, feelings or hunches. Rather, he continually turned him to the Word of God and the doctrines contained within (II Timothy 2:2 - 14,15; 3:15-17; 4:2-4). May we do the same.

Mysticism in the Church –

The Contemplatives –

Henry & Richard Blackaby

There is an alarming promotion of the mystic contemplatives from Christian ministries lately. One would be wise to avoid Henry Blackaby, Henri Nouwen, Richard Foster, Thomas Keating, Brennan Manning, Thomas Merton, etc.  I would recommend reading “A Time of Departing” by Ray Yungen to protect your spiritual life from deception. On the surface these teachings from these men may sound lovely but they are misleading you.

50 Questionable Teachings From “Experiencing God”

Courses are admitted into evangelical churches, oftentimes without any sort of objective theological review. For "Experiencing God," I have reviewed the materials from a Biblical viewpoint and noted any teachings that conflict with Scripture, as well as any teaching techniques that are questionable. I found 50 such teachings or techniques in Experiencing God that fall into one of the following categories:


            Debatable: There are subtle Biblical arguments against a point, but I am not adamant that Blackaby’s point is incorrect; I am simply saying the point is debatable.

            Fallacious: Using an argumentative logical fallacy to support a view.

            Inaccurate: The usage of Scripture is not completely accurate.

            Inarticulate: A carelessly applied word that can be interpreted very badly.

            Inconsistent: A teachers’s life choices are inconsistent with what he teaches.

            Misapplication: A misapplication of Scripture to a situation.

            Misinterpretation: A false impression of the Scripture is given due to poor exegesis.

            Self-contradictory: One teaching conflicts with another.

            Unbiblical: Directly contradicts Bible teaching.


These teachings have to be addressed in the order they appear in the book because Blackaby builds upon false premises throughout Experiencing God. You will find that some of the early teachings that I document seem quite minor, but they build into major doctrinal faults as they grow on the potter’s wheel of Henry Blackaby.


            Class: Unbiblical. Introduction to Unit 1, page 7. Henry Blackaby teaches that we should “operate our budgets on prayer,” budget for more than we have and hope the money will come in. This is counter to Luke 14:28, “For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?” The question is not whether he can get the money. The question is whether he has it now. Jesus’ words apply to counting the cost of discipleship, not church funding; however, it is plain that Jesus thought that the logic of having the resources at hand before building a tower was a given.

            Class: Misapplication. Unit 1, page 11. Jesus’ statement, “I am the Way” from John 14:6 is applied to ministry decisions. A quotation is given in the margin that only refers to the statement, ” I am the way, the truth, and the life:”, and the inaccurate translation quoted substitutes an unwarranted period instead of the colon from this KJV quotation. No indication is given that this is a partial quotation or a sentence fragment. John 14:6 actually reads, “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” The text has nothing to do with “daily guidance” or ministry decisions, but Blackaby uproots the words from their context to make an application never intended by Christ or the Bible writers.

            Class: Unbiblical/inarticulate. Unit 1, page 17. “With God working through that servant, he or she can do anything God can do. Wow! Unlimited potential!” This is the first dangerous false teaching in Experiencing God. It is not true; for instance, I know of no Christian who can create a baby in the womb. Psalm 139:13 says, “For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb.” This is also the first teaching of Satan to Eve, that she could be just like God.

            Class: Fallacious. Unit 1, page 18. King (the man who writes the exercises in Experiencing God) poses the question, “When we finish a task and feel frustrated that lasting spiritual fruit is not visible, could the reason be that we are attempting very little that only God can do?” This is what is called a complex question. To answer the question, we have to first agree that Blackaby’s principle that “we can do anything God can do” (from point #3) is correct. The question is worded so that you have to accept Blackaby’s principle in order to answer either positive or negative. This is a cultic teaching technique used by the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

            Class: Unbiblical. Unit 1, page 18. Blackaby’s statement “you come to know God by experience as you obey Him and He accomplishes His work through you” is inarticulate in the extreme and suggests a works salvation. At the most, the text should say, “You come to know God better by experience as you obey Him and He accomplishes His work through you.” The initial coming to know God is only by repentance and faith. This teaching itself is the first sign of mysticism in Experiencing God.

            Class: Self-contradictory. Unit 1, page 24. “Whenever God gets ready to do something, He always reveals to a person or His people what He is going to do” is self-contradictory with “Many times, as with Abram, God called people just to follow Him… He is more likely to call you to follow one day at a time than He is to spell out all the details before you begin to obey Him.” (Unit 1, page 11.) The teaching also implies that God is not in something if what is happening has not been previously revealed to anyone, which is patently ridiculous.

            Class: Debatable. Unit 2, page 28. “You never find God asking persons to dream up what they want to do for Him.” This point is debatable Scripturally. For example, Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Surely, thinking about what service you could offer God would be included in that definition.

            Class: Unbiblical. Unit 2, page 31. “Suppose He wants to do it through you. He comes to you and talks to you. But you are so self-centered, and you respond, ‘I don’t think I am trained. I don’t think I am able to do it. And I …’ Do you see what happens? The focus is on self.”I disagree with Blackaby’s point. Jesus’ teaching on discipleship requires self-evaluation. Quoting again from Luke 14:26-30, “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.”In Isaiah 6:5-7 we read, “Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts. Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged.” Isaiah’s concern was not invalid. In His case one of the seraphims dealt with Isaiah’s problem. In our modern times, it could be a person who feels they aren’t trained should go get some training.

            Class: Unbiblical. Unit 2, page 37. “They may ask, ‘Can’t I get a word from God from the Bible?’ Yes you can! But only the Holy Spirit of God can reveal to you which truth of Scripture is a word from God in a particular circumstance.” This view of Scripture conflicts with 2Timothy 3:16, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” All Scripture is always profitable. There is no point at time at which any word of Scripture becomes untrue or unprofitable.

            Class: Inconsistent. Unit 2, page 37. “You also need to be very careful about claiming you have a word from God. Claiming to have a word from God is serious business.” I agree with Blackaby here, yet Blackaby is a member of Promise Keepers which is inconsistent with his stated position. Promise Keepers’ leader, Bill McCartney, constantly claims he has a word from God in his speeches, such as his statement that “God told him” that every church should send Promise Keepers $1000, reported by the Denver Post.

            Class: Unbiblical/self-contradictory. Unit 2, page 38. “He speaks to His servant when He is ready to move. Otherwise He wouldn’t speak to you.” Blackaby makes it sound as if God only speaks to give high-pressure assignments and never speaks to simply address the concern of one of His children. Blackaby elsewhere claims that God speaks to us through the Bible, prayer, circumstances, and the church. Answered prayer, therefore, is God speaking to us. John 14:14 says, “If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.” Therefore God does speak to us for things that are our concerns, not necessarily His work.

            Class: Unbiblical. Unit 3, page 48. “You, too, can so order your life under God’s direction that you come to know Him, love Him only, and become like Christ.” It is not at all God’s desire that we love Him only. “For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another” (1 John 3:11). “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death” (1 John 3:14). “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love” (1 John 4:7-8).

            Class: Self-contradictory. Unit 3, page 53. “They seem to think that God is far off and unconcerned about their day to day living. That is not the God we see in the Scriptures.” This is a true statement. It contradicts his statement “He speaks to His servant when He is ready to move. Otherwise He wouldn’t speak to you.” On the one hand, he says God wouldn’t even speak to us if He didn’t want us to do something, and on the other hand, he says God is concerned about our day to day living.

            Class: Inarticulate. Unit 3, page 55. “He invites you to relate to Him, so He can accomplish His work through you.” Is this really God’s motive? That would be like getting married so that the wife could do the housework or so that the husband could be the breadwinner. God’s reason for relating to us is simply that we personally will not perish; working with Him is a gift He gives some people. “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (1Peter 3:9).

            Class: Unbiblical. Unit 3, page 55. “His whole plan for the advance of the Kingdom depends His working in real and practical ways through His relationship to His people.” No, it doesn’t. God is pretty powerless if He needs people to accomplish His tasks. For instance, in Revelation we read, “And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people” (Revelation 14:6). God is in no way dependent upon man.

            Class: Unbiblical. Unit 4, page 57. “You will find that the call to relationship is also a call to be on mission with Him.” False. A good example is the woman caught in adultery. In parting, Jesus says to her, “When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more” (John 8:10-11). There are people that were in relationship to Jesus but were called to no kind of ministry at all. Jesus asked nothing of them but simply to keep holy lives themselves. In John 5:14, the man that Jesus cured at the well was simply told, “Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.” There is more than one example of this being the case, where Jesus made no call to mission of certain people for reasons known only to Him.

            Class: Misinterpretation. Unit 4, page 65. Blackaby insists, “Jesus watched to see where the Father was at work.” The verses that Blackaby derives this teaching from have absolutely nothing to say about “watching” and had nothing whatsoever to do with “where.” John 5:19 says, “The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.” Not a word about “watching.” “Seeing,” yes. But “watching” makes Jesus someone less than God and smacks of Arian heresy. “Where” has nothing whatsoever to do with what Jesus said and is simply an unbiblical addition to what was actually said. I will not make additional examples everywhere that Blackaby applies this particular misinterpretation of the Bible (there are a great number), but only say that while it may be true of us, it is blasphemous to say of Jesus. In reality, though, Blackaby’s interpretation is not even true of us. I may see God working anywhere in the world, but that does not make it necessarily God’s will that I go there and “join Him.”

            Class: Unbiblical. Unit 5, page 73. “Could Moses logically prove to someone else that he had heard from God? No, all Moses could do was testify to his encounter with God.” This is utterly unbiblical, and it is designed to give Blackaby authority for claiming that God “speaks to him” all the time without any evidence.In Exodus 4:1-8, God gives Moses a few means to prove that God had spoken to him. It says, “And Moses answered and said, But, behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, The LORD hath not appeared unto thee. And the LORD said unto him, What is that in thine hand? And he said, A rod. And he said, Cast it on the ground. And he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from before it. And the LORD said unto Moses, Put forth thine hand, and take it by the tail. And he put forth his hand, and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand: That they may believe that the LORD God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath appeared unto thee. And the LORD said furthermore unto him, Put now thine hand into thy bosom. And he put his hand into his bosom: and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous as snow. And he said, Put thine hand into thy bosom again. And he put his hand into his bosom again; and plucked it out of his bosom, and, behold, it was turned again as his other flesh. And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe thee, neither hearken to the voice of the first sign, that they will believe the voice of the latter sign.”

            Class: Debatable. Unit 5, page 75. “If you start ‘doing’ before you have a direction from God, more than likely you will be wrong.” The apostles operated full-time on only one direction: “Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Luke 24:46b-47). We already have that direction from God. What Blackaby is talking about here is an old Pietist teaching that John Wesley called “quietism.” John Wesley did not live by that principle, taking the divine commission at face value, and won a lot more converts than the Pietists ever did. There is a “general” thing to be doing all the time, in addition to the specific things that God gives more leading on.

            Class: Self-contradictory. Unit 5, page 75. “God is more interested in a love relationship with you than He is in what you can do for Him.” I agree with this point. It contradicts Blackaby’s other point, “You will find that the call to relationship is also a call to be on mission with Him.”

            Class: Unbiblical. Unit 6, page 96. “Jesus always was looking for where the Father was at work, and joined Him.” We have already demonstrated that the concepts of “looking” and “where” are not part of the Scripture passage that Blackaby bases this teaching on; the Scriptures simply say that what Jesus does what He sees God doing, in other words, He does the same things God is doing. Doing the same things God is doing have nothing to do with watching to see where God is working and joining Him; it is simply a way of life wherever you are. The trouble is, sometimes an erroneous principle is established in Blackaby’s courses and then accepted as a given forever after.

            Class: Unbiblical. Unit 6, page 100. “You never know the truth of a situation until you have heard from Jesus.” This would seem to contradict Paul’s teaching from 1Corinthians 5:12-13, “For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.” That means that, based on the knowledge we have already received from Christ through the Bible, we are already qualified to judge matters within the church; and it is those who are outside the church that God judges. This is another example of Blackaby trying to twist Jesus’ statement “I am the Way”, meaning, the way to God and salvation, to specific situations within a church.

            Class: Inconsistent. Unit 6, page 104. “Way back in my teen years I began to sense a deep burden for communities all across Canada that did not have an evangelical church.” I agree with Blackaby here that it the witness of non-evangelical churches is terrible, they don’t even preach the gospel. But Blackaby in real life is an ecumenist (see points #45 and #46), which is to view all types of churches as being equal; so it should not matter to him whether they were evangelical, liberal or Catholic. If it does matter, he certainly should not be an ecumenist.

            Class: Unbiblical. Unit 7, page 108. In the introduction, Blackaby reiterates his teaching that budgets should be set far higher than you can manage and God will pull through. He gives his example, that the church budget was normally $74,000, they budgeted for $164,000, and they actually received $172,000. Blackaby closes by saying, “God taught our church a lesson in faith that radically changed us all.” But my question is, does God teach a lesson about faith that causes one to disregard the principle underlying the plainly stated word of Jesus in Luke 14:27-33? That sounds more like a departure from the faith to me.

            Class: Unbiblical. Unit 7, page 109. “When God invites you to join Him in His work, He has a God-sized assignment for you. You will realize that you cannot do it on your own. If God doesn’t help you, you will fail.” Wasn’t one of Jesus’ teachings, “For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not” (Matthew 25:42-43). These are all things we can easily do for people, they are God’s work, and He has commanded us to be involved with Him in these things. There are certainly things that cannot be achieved without God’s help, but to claim that everything that can be done without God’s help are not ministries is wrong to the point of being heretical.

            Class: Inconsistent. Unit 7, page 110. “If we looked at all of the circumstances, would we have proceeded? No. But, what you believe about God will determine what you do. When God tells you what He wants to do through you, you will face a crisis of belief. What you do shows what you believe.” This goes directly against Blackaby’s other statement, from Unit 2, page 37, “God speaks by the Holy Spirit through the Bible, prayer, circumstances and the church to reveal Himself, His purposes, and His ways.” This statement from Unit 2, page 37 is the entire tenor of the course.

            Class: Inconsistent. Unit 7, page 111. The statement “Encounters with God are God-sized” is directly contradictory with this true statement from Unit 5, page 78, “You cannot understand the Word of God unless the Spirit of God teaches you. When you come to the word of God, the Author Himself is present to instruct you. You never discover truth; truth is revealed. When the Holy Spirit reveals truth to you, He is not leading you to an encounter with God. That is an encounter with God.” God encounters us in some small things like understanding small spiritual truths. It does not always have to be a huge production to be an encounter with God.

            Class: Unbiblical. Unit 7, page 113. “When God lets you know what He wants to do through you, it will be something only God can do.” To reiterate my earlier point on this, from Matthew 25:42-43 and many other places in Scripture, we learn of things we can easily do for people that God commands us to do. I am sure that getting money together to bail out the church in Jerusalem was not presented by Paul as being something only God could do, for instance. This teaching of Blackaby’s denigrates any good work that God has called us to that isn’t impossible for man.

            Class: Unbiblical. Unit 7, page 116. “I have come to the point in my life that, if the assignment I sense God is giving me is something that I know I can handle, I know it is probably not from God.” It makes me wonder if we’re reading the same Bible. When God told Joseph to move his family to Egypt to escape Herod, was God giving Joseph a task that Joseph could not do? It is fortunate that Joseph did not have the same theology as Henry Blackaby or Christ would have died as an infant!

            Class: Unbiblical. Unit 7, page 116. “When God’s people and the world see something happen that only God can do, they come to know God.” This is signs and wonders theology straight out of the charismatic movement. Paul wrote in 1Corinthians 1:21, “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” Not by signs and wonders, but by preaching, the world comes to know God. And no one at all comes to know God unless they repent. The question is given on page 118, “How will the world come to know God?” and the required answer is, “By seeing God work.” False. Everyone who comes to know God comes by repentance and faith. This false teaching of Blackaby’s is reiterated dozens of times throughout Unit 7.

            Class: Fallacious. Unit 7, page 119. Henry Blackaby openly proclaims his belief that God manipulated the national economy of Canada on behalf of his single church by forcing the Canadian dollar to hit rock bottom for a time so that funding coming from Texas would yield more Canadian dollars than it would have. This fallacy is called causal reductionism. It seems quite unlikely to me that God Himself manipulated the economy, putting who knows how many families in jeopardy as the parents lost their jobs.

            Class: Misapplication. Unit 9, page 146. Blackaby takes a Scripture, 1John 2:3-6, “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.” Then, Blackaby writes, “Each ‘new’ command of Jesus will require a new knowledge and understanding of Him.”But the Scripture cannot possibly be interpreted as discussing “new commands.” We are to walk even as He “walked”, past tense. And as for commandments of Jesus, I know of only two, “Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:35-40).John speaks of keeping commandments from the Bible as a sign of obedience and love for God. Blackaby extends this out to some “new” commandments he thinks Jesus is giving, which is indicative of a belief in “progressive revelation.” Not much wonder Blackaby so heartily supports Roman Catholicism.

            Class: Unbiblical. Unit 9, page 153. “When God purposes to do something through you, the assignment will have God-sized dimensions. This is because God wants to reveal Himself to you and those around you. If you can do the work in your own strength, people will not come to know God. However, if God works through you to do what only He can do, you and those around you will come to know Him.” This is utterly unbiblical. According to the Bible, “it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (1Corinthians 1:21b). This notion that people will not be saved unless God moves mountains for them comes from Blackaby’s charismatic influence through Promise Keepers.

            Class: Unbiblical. Unit 9, page 160. “Some people go to much trouble studying Satan’s ways so they can identify when something appears to be a deception of Satan. I don’t do that. I have determined not to focus on Satan. He is defeated … The only way Satan can affect God’s work through me is when I believe Satan and disbelieve God.” This is the most unbiblical possible counsel from Blackaby, and it demonstrates why he is so easily deceived by Promise Keepers and the ecumenical movement. He refuses to be on guard against the devil’s work.1Peter 5:8 warns, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.”Ephesians 6:11 warns, “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”1Timothy 4:1 says, “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.”


            Blackaby refuses to consider the possibility of being deceived by the devil in any of his teachings, which is nothing more than spiritual pride.


            (By the way, the simple way of knowing the devil’s work is it is based on perversion, which is the denial of important differences. For instance, sexual perverts deny the differences between genders and generations. The devil used this strategy in the garden of Eden, telling Eve she could be like God, denying the essential difference between God and mankind. Wherever there is a denial of differences, such as in the ecumenical movement, one may be positive that the devil is at work.)



            Class: Unbiblical. Unit 9, page 160. The question is asked, rhetorically, “Does God plan your life for eternity and then turn you loose to work out His plan?” Blackaby’s answer is no, but let’s be careful about that, Henry! Paul writes, “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12-13).

            Class: Unbiblical. Unit 10, page 162. In the introduction, Blackaby writes of a salvation experience involving a number of different members of his local church. Unfortunately, the story is spoiled by the last line, “Who won Doug to the Lord? The body did!” Far from it, Henry. John 6:44 says, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.” Who really won Doug to the Lord? God did. He may have used people, but let’s remember to give God the glory.

            Class: Unbiblical. Unit 10, page 1. “Church members need to be taught how to walk with God. They need to know how to hear Him speaking. They need to be able to identify things only God can do.” The problem is, nothing in the New Testament supports Blackaby’s assumptions. The human part of the divine commission was not to do something only God could do. It was to preach the message of repentance and remission of sins to all nations (Luke 24:47), to baptize and make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20). These are things that man can do. God needs to help for the effort to be successful, but man can do everything Christ commanded. (Note that Christ didn’t command anyone to “save people”; that’s God’s part of the work.) What people need is to obey the command already given, not “watch and wait” for new commands that come out of the heads of dreamers.

            Class: Inconsistent. Unit 10, page 164. “Individuals often think that a work for God can be done with whatever means are necessary. They don’t hesitate to violate God’s written will in order to accomplish something they think is His will.” I agree with Blackaby’s statement here, but if he were to apply it in his own life, would he be an ecumenist, while many verses forbid even giving a greeting to a person who preaches a different doctrine? Such verses include Galatians 1:8-10; Romans 16:17-18; 1Timothy 1:3; 4:16; 6:3-5; 2Timothy 4:1-4; Titus 1:9; Hebrews 13:9; and 2John 8-11.

            Class: Unbiblical. Unit 10, page 168. Blackaby is speaking about “corporately” knowing the will of God when he writes, “When God speaks to a person about the church, the person should share with the body what he or she senses God is saying. As each member shares what he senses God is saying, the whole body goes to God in prayer to discern His will for the body. In His timing God confirms to the body what He is saying. Individual opinions are not that important. The will of God is very important. No single method can be given for discerning God’s will as a body.”This is not the truth. If it were actually practiced in the first church, the Corinthian church would never have expelled the man who was sleeping with his father’s wife. Paul was the one who disagreed; his “one opinion” was quite important because it was based on Scriptural teaching. Paul wrote in 1Corinthians 5:1-2, “It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.” The sad fact is, most people in churches reject much of what Scripture teaches. One opinion is much more important than that of the majority, if Scripture backs up that one opinion.

            Class: Fallacious/Unbiblical. Unit 10, page 169. Blackaby is discussing how he would not proceed with plans without a major consensus from the church body. Then he writes, “People often ask, ‘Did you always wait until you got a 100 percent vote?’ No, I knew that we might have one or more that were so out of fellowship with the Lord that they could not hear his voice. Another might be purposefully disobedient…. I did not get angry or disappointed with those who did not agree with the rest of the body. Their disagreement indicated that they might have a fellowship problem with the Lord.”This is utter cultism. The argument is first based on an argumentative fallacy called ad hominem. Rather than consider the validity of a minority view, Blackaby prefers to question their fellowship with God. His approach becomes unbiblical in light of 1Corinthians 5 (see point #39). In that situation, Blackaby would have to label Paul either “out of fellowship with the Lord” or “purposefully disobedient” because he disagreed with the majority opinion to have a fornicator in the church. This one paragraph from Experiencing God should put any cult researcher into a state of alert.

            Class: Unbiblical. Unit 10, page 170. “If the people walk with God, then I can trust God to guide them… If the people do not walk in right fellowship with God, then I depend on God to guide me in helping them become what He wants them to be.” Both of these statements are false teachings and I will deal with them one at a time. In Galatians 2:11 Paul writes, “But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.” Did Peter not walk with God? Of course Peter did. That does not prevent someone from making mistakes. When Blackaby’s entire phrasing is taken into account, however, it reveals his view that when people agree with Blackaby, they are walking with God, and when they do not agree with Blackaby, they are not walking with God. This is an incredible degree of arrogance, and it strongly suggests that Blackaby desires a “personality cult” to spring up around him.

            Class: Misapplication. Unit 11, page 184. “You cannot be in relationship with Jesus and not be on mission. Jesus said, ‘As the Father has sent me, I am sending you’ (John 20:21).” In actual fact, there were many people in Scripture who were saved but were not “on mission.” God does not necessarily call a person into mission. Everyone supports mission, but not everyone is on mission. In Matthew’s account of the deliverance of the Divine Commission, we read in Matthew 28:16, “Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.” Jesus took His eleven disciples to a mountain away from everyone else to give them the commission to reach the world. Not everyone is called to be a missionary, and it does not mean that Jesus doesn’t love them. People who have bought in to Blackaby’s teachings become very judgmental of what they call “pew-sitters,” people without whose heartfelt financial support, ministry would be utterly impossible.

            Class: Misinterpretation/inaccurate/misapplication. Unit 11, page 188. On the parable of the wheat and the tares, Blackaby writes, “Using this parable, Jesus teaches that some lost and evil people are mixed with true believers in churches.” Blackaby is blatantly contradicting one key part of Jesus’ own explanation of the parable. Jesus does not say that field is the church. Jesus says, “The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one” (Matthew 13:38). The “true church” is not populated with any unbelievers. Acts 2:47 says, “And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” Man’s “churches” contain all kinds of unbelievers, but the true assembly of God contains absolutely none.

            Class: Unbiblical. Unit 11, page 198. “Can God-like Koinonia [fellowship] exist between churches of different denominations as they co-operate to achieve greater Kingdom purposes? Yes! However, humans left to their own ways cannot achieve those kinds of relationships. Only God through His Holy Spirit can create and sustain Koinonia between His people. He wants to be King, Ruler, and Sovereign over all His kingdom. When He is allowed to rule, man-made barriers will fall.”If God is to be allowed to rule, wouldn’t everyone have to be in agreement with the things He teaches? Blackaby co-operates with many different doctrines and versions of the gospel, including the works-salvation of Roman Catholicism, and the baptismal regeneration of the Anglican communion and the Church of Christ, in addition to those churches that preach justification by faith. From a moral standpoint, Blackaby co-operates with denominations that reject the Bible’s teachings on homosexuality and fornication. How can one co-operate with such things if God is ruling over him? If God’s rule is accepted, then those who oppose His teaching must be rejected.I have a lot of verses to support this.Galatians 1:8-10, “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.”;


            Romans 16:17-18, “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple”;


            1Timothy 1:3, “As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine”;


            1Timothy 4:16, “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee”;


            1Timothy 6:3-5, “If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself”;


            2Timothy 4:1-4, “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables”;


            Titus 1:9, “Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers”;


            Hebrews 13:9, “Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein”;


            2John 8-11, “Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.”


            Many denominations allow their traditions to outweigh Scripture. If Jesus really rules our lives, we will avoid working with such denominations.


            Jesus spoke these things about the Pharisees, whose tradition outweighed Scripture:


            Matthew 16:6, 11-12, “Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees… How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees? Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees”;


            Matthew 23:2-3, “Saying The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not”;


            Matthew 23:13-15, “But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.”


            I will dispense with quoting parallel accounts from the other gospels. Quite a bit of Scripture that Henry Blackaby teaches you to ignore, isn’t it?


            Class: Unbiblical. Unit 11, page 198. “I am not suggesting that doctrinal differences ought to be compromised, but we can act like brothers and sisters who love each other.” This is a direct refusal to obey God on Henry Blackaby’s part. 2John 8-11, Romans 16:17-18 and 1Timothy 6:3-5 absolutely forbid any kind of fellowship with purveyors of false doctrine. People are not your “brothers and sisters” if they believe in salvation by anything other than faith in Christ or oppose God’s teachings in the Bible.

            Class: Unbiblical. Unit 12, page 203. “You sin against God when you: 1) Miss the mark of His purposes for you, 2) Rebel against Him, refuse to follow Him, 3) Commit acts of evil, wickedness, or immorality.” Point 1) is not Biblical doctrine. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Sin causes the coming short; but coming short is not in itself a sin. Sin defined Biblically is this: “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law” (1John 3:4). Without transgression of the Law, there is no sin.

            Class: Debatable. Unit 12, page 210. “Agencies of a denomination, for instance, have a place in doing God’s will that indvidual churches cannot accomplish alone.” Blackaby is speaking of agencies such as the SBC’s “North American Mission Board.” The problem with this teaching is that there were no such agencies in the Bible, and yet individual churches accomplished the work. With this teaching, Blackaby denigrates the work of independent churches and nondenominational churches. Were Jesus and the apostles negligent in setting up a first century church that had no denominational agencies? I think not.

            Class: Misapplication. Unit 12, page 213. “In Jesus’ commission to His church He said, ‘Go and make disciples of all nations…teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you’ (Matt. 28:19-20).” This is a relatively minor fault, but it is a common evangelical teaching that is false. This command was definitely not given to the church but exclusively to the eleven remaining apostles, who were even sent to a mountain away from everyone else to receive this command. Matthew 28:16 records, “Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.” Not everyone is gifted or called to be an evangelist, and it is unbiblical (see 1Corinthians 12) to suggest that they are.

            Class: Unbiblical. Unit 12, page 213. “Learning to follow Christ is a life-long process. You do not learn to follow Him all by yourself.” Blackaby here is recommending fellowship with a local church, but he goes overboard on the necessity of a church. He writes, “No one can become the kind of complete believer he ought to be outside the functioning body of a New Testament church.” But what Scripture actually says is, “And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2Timothy 3:15). I know a person who was too sick to attend a church, ministering through a web site from his home for years. He recently made a new translation of the New Testament from Greek at home. A church is very helpful, and if at all possible we should be “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25). But the sort of claims Blackaby is making are unwarranted. A person can be fully functional as a Christian outside of any local assembly, if such a situation presents itself.

            Class: Debatable. Unit 12, page 214. “Apart from the body, a gift or ministry is out of context.” Well, the Great Awakening in England was an example of an “out of context” ministry, then. John Wesley was not permitted to speak in his Anglican church so he simply proceeded to minister on his own and through his Methodist societies, which he did not view as a church. Since it was the greatest revival England ever saw, I guess we needn’t worry too greatly about “out-of-context” ministry.


There you have 50 false teachings from Experiencing God. I eliminated six more points that I thought were too minor to bring up in addition to these. Even at 50 points, though, it constitutes one false teaching in every four pages of Experiencing God.


If there is a lesson to be learned or a recommendation to be made, it is this. Do not trust the Southern Baptist Convention’s materials to be doctrinally pure, even if you are a Southern Baptist. Instead, follow the Scriptural advice given in Hebrews 5:14, “But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” We are to be discerning both of things we think are good and those things we think are evil.


Courses with this sort of content should not be given to people who do not have a great deal of Scripture knowledge with which to discern what teachings are true and which are false. Other LifeWay courses, like T.W. Hunt’s Mind of Christ for instance, contain solid Bible teaching without all the charismatic psychobabble of Blackabyism. I reviewed T.W. Hunt’s Mind of Christ again, to verify what I have said about him here. The teachings are virtually flawless in his excellent course. (Interestingly, Claude V. King wrote the exercises for Mind of Christ, the same man who did Blackaby’s exercises. Yet the course is devoid of mysticism.) The difference between the two courses is night and day, and I can recommend Mind of Christ without any reservations.


But the best and safest antidote for ignorance about God is to simply read the Bible itself without having to be concerned about any of man’s errors. I would recommend keeping away even from study Bibles, as they tend to have false teachings in the notes, and from dynamic equivalency versions that contain man’s interpretations instead of the literal Word of God. Allow God to teach you His Word Himself. God’s Holy Spirit is more than patient enough to be your teacher if you will turn to Him.



50 Questionable Teachings from Experiencing God is Copyright © 2000 by Compass Distributors. Copyright is to protect content only. Permission is granted to freely distribute.

Christian Mysticism in Evangelicalism
a Research Paper by Ken Hornok

Unbiblical Teachings on Prayer and Experiencing God

How Mysticism Misleads Christians

By Bob DeWaay

"Experiencing God" by Henry and Richard Blackaby:  How Mysticism Misleads Christians
by Southern Baptist Pastor, Rev. Ken Silva
An in-depth examination
"Experiencing God"
by Henry and Richard Blackaby,
by Rev. Chris Rosebrough

(This is an excellent review, because it looks in detail at the Workbook used in the "Experiencing God" course. Rev. Rosebrough follows the course as it is taught in one church.  I remember this course when it was all the rage in SBC churches in the 1990s):

False Prophets and Lying Wonders

Deuteronomy 18:20-22; 2 Timothy 3;16-17; Hebrews 1:1-2; Jude 3; Jude 8-13; Revelation 22:18-19

(Copyright 2016, Grace to You, used with permission)

(Individual Heretics are highlighted in Blue).


by John MacArthur


Have you noticed that no matter how many times charismatic televangelists make outlandish false prophecies, they never lack for followers, and they don't stop claiming the Lord has spoken directly to them?


Benny Hinn, for example, made a series of celebrated prophetic utterances in December of 1989, none of which came true. He confidently told his congregation at the Orlando Christian Center that God had revealed to him Fidel Castro would die sometime in the 1990s; the homosexual community in America would be destroyed by fire before 1995; and a major earthquake would cause havoc on the east coast before the year 2000. He was wrong on all counts, of course.


That did not deter Hinn, who simply kept making bold new false prophecies. At the beginning of the new millennium, he announced to his television audience that a prophetess had informed him Jesus would soon appear physically in some of Hinn's healing meetings. Hinn said he was convinced the prophecy was authentic, and on his April 2, 2000, broadcast, he amplified it with a prophecy of his own: "Now hear this, I am prophesying this! Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is about to appear physically in some churches, and some meetings, and to many of His people, for one reason: to tell you He is about to show up! To wake up! Jesus is coming saints!"


Hinn's failed prophesies are more outlandish but nearly as memorable as the notorious claims Oral Roberts began making about three decades ago. In 1977 Roberts said he saw a vision of a 900-foot-tall Jesus, who instructed him to build the City of Faith, a 60-story hospital in south Tulsa. Roberts said God told him He would use the center to unite medical technology with faith healing, which would revolutionize health care and enable doctors to find a cure for cancer.


The building, completed in the early 1980s, was a colossal white elephant from the very start. When the City of Faith opened for business, all but two stories of the massive structure were completely vacant.


By January of 1987 the project was saddled with unmanageable debt, and Roberts announced that the Lord had said unless Roberts raised eight million dollars to pay the debt by March 1, he would die. Apparently not willing to test the death-threat prophecy, donors dutifully gave Roberts the needed funds in time (with the help of $1.3 million donated at the last hour by a Florida dog-track owner).


But within two years, Roberts was forced to close the medical center anyway and sell the building in order to eliminate still-mounting debt. More than 80 percent of the building had never been occupied. The promised cure for cancer never materialized, either.


A list of similar failed charismatic prophesies could fill several volumes. And yet, amazingly, the "prophets" who make such fantastic claims now appear to have more influence than ever—even among mainstream evangelicals. And the idea that God routinely speaks directly to His people has found more widespread acceptance today than at any time in the history of the church.


The charismatic movement began barely a hundred years ago, and its influence on evangelicalism can hardly be overstated. Its chief legacy has been an unprecedented interest in extrabiblical revelation. Millions influenced by charismatic doctrine are convinced that God speaks to them directly all the time. Indeed, many seem to believe direct revelation is the main means through which God communicates with His people. "The Lord told me ... " has become a favorite cliche of experience-driven evangelicals.


Not all who believe God speaks to them make prophetic pronouncements as outlandish as those broadcast by charismatic televangelists, of course. But they still believe God gives them extrabiblical messages—either through an audible voice, a vision, a voice in their heads, or simply an internal impression. In most cases, their "prophecies" are comparatively trivial. But the difference between them and Benny Hinn's predictions is a difference only of scale, not of substance.


The notion that God is giving extrabiblical messages to Christians today has received support from some surprising sources. Wayne Grudem, popular author and professor of theology and biblical studies at Phoenix Seminary believes God regularly gives Christians prophetic messages by simply bringing spontaneous thoughts to mind. Such impressions should be reported as prophecy, he says.[1]


Similar ideas have found sweeping acceptance even among non-charismatic Christians. Southern Baptists have eagerly devoured Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby and Claude King, which suggests that the main way the Holy Spirit leads believers is by speaking to them directly. According to Blackaby, when God gives an individual a message that pertains to the church, it should be shared with the whole body.[2] As a result, extrabiblical "words from the Lord" are now commonplace even in some Southern Baptist circles.


Why do so many modern Christians seek revelation from God through means other than Scripture? Certainly not because it is a reliable way to discover truth. All sides admit that modern prophecies are often completely erroneous. In fact, the failure rate is astonishingly high. In my book Charismatic Chaos I quoted one leading "prophet" who was thrilled because he believed that two-thirds of his prophecies were accurate. "Well that's better than it's ever been up to now, you know. That's the highest level it's ever been."[3]


In other words, modern prophecy is not a much more reliable way to discern truth than a Magic Eight-Ball or Tarot cards. And, I would add, it is equally superstitious. There is no warrant anywhere in Scripture for Christians to listen for fresh revelation from God beyond what He has already given us in His written Word. In fact, Scripture unsparingly condemns all who speak even one word falsely or presumptuously in the Lord's name (Deuteronomy 18:20-22). But such warnings are simply ignored these days by those who claim to have heard afresh from God.


And not surprisingly, wherever there is a preoccupation with "fresh" prophecy, there is invariably a corresponding neglect of the Scriptures. After all, why be concerned with an ancient Book if the Living God communicates directly with us on a daily basis? These fresh words of "revelation" naturally seem more relevant and more urgent than the familiar words of the Bible. Is it any wonder that they draw people away from Scripture?


That is precisely why modern evangelicalism's infatuation with extrabiblical revelation is so dangerous. It is a return to medieval superstition and a departure from our fundamental conviction that the Bible is our sole, supreme, and sufficient authority for all of life. In other words, it represents a wholesale abandonment of the principle of sola Scriptura.


The absolute sufficiency of Scripture is summed up well in this section from the Westminster Confession of Faith:


    The whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man's salvation, faith, and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men (1.6, emphasis added).


Historic Protestantism is grounded in the conviction that the canon is closed. No "new" revelation is necessary, because Scripture is complete and absolutely sufficient.


Scripture itself is clear that the day of God's speaking directly to His people through various prophetic words and visions is past. The truth God has revealed in Christ including the complete New Testament canon is His final word (Hebrews 1:1-2; cf. Jude 3; Revelation 22:18-19).


Scripture—the written Word of God—is perfectly sufficient, containing all the revelation we need. Notice 2 Timothy 3:16-17. Paul tells Timothy:


From childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.


That passage makes two very important statements that pertain to the issue we are looking at. First, "All Scripture is inspired by God." Scripture speaks with the authority of God Himself. It is certain; it is reliable; it is true. Jesus Himself prayed in John 17:17: "Your word is truth." Psalm 119:160 says, "The entirety of Your word is truth."


Those statements all set Scripture above every human opinion, every speculation, and every emotional sensation. Scripture alone stands as definitive truth. It speaks with an authority that transcends every other voice.


Second, The passage teaches that Scripture is utterly sufficient, "able to make you wise for salvation ... [and able to make you] complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." What clearer affirmation of the absolute sufficiency of Scripture could anyone ask for? Are extrabiblical messages from God necessary to equip us to glorify Him? Certainly not.


Those who seek fresh messages from God have in effect scorned the absolute certainty and absolute sufficiency of the written Word of God. And they have set in its place their own fallen and fallible imaginations.


If the church does not return to the principle of sola Scriptura, the only revival we will see is a revival of the superstition and darkness that characterized medieval religion.


Does this mean God has stopped speaking? Certainly not, but He speaks today through His Word.


Does the Spirit of God move our hearts and impress us with specific duties or callings? Certainly, but He works through the Word of God to do that. Such experi­ences are in no sense prophetic or authoritative. They are not revelation, but the effect of illumination, when the Holy Spirit applies the Word to our hearts and opens our spiritual eyes to its truth. We must guard carefully against allowing our experience and our own subjective thoughts and imaginations to eclipse the authority and the certainty of the more sure Word.


[1]. The Gift of Prophecy in the New Testa­ment and Today (Wheaton: Crossway, 1988).


[2]. (Nashville, TN: LifeWay, 1990), 168.


[3]. Charismatic Chaos (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992), 67.

The Southern Baptist Connection.....................................

It was in 1990, a workbook based upon the teachings of Henry Blackaby (with co-author Claude King), a Southern Baptist pastor and conference speaker, was published. The workbook, Experiencing God, has since sold over two million copies, been translated into 40 languages, and has been taken as a 13-week course by approximately 16% of all Southern Baptists (SBC). By some estimates, this translates to about half of all active members of the SBC denomination. But, according to a spokesman for the SBC Sunday School Board, churches from many other denominations have also gone through the "Experiencing God" course, including Roman Catholic churches. Furthermore, there are now youth and pre-teen editions of the workbook, as well as videos and a leader study guide.

The hardback version of Experiencing God (subtitled Knowing and Doing the Will of God, LifeWay Press, Nashville, Tennessee) is an expanded and modified form of the workbook. It was published in 1994 and already has sold 250,000 copies. In addition, thousands have attended "Experiencing God Weekends" and "Experiencing God Weekends for Couples." These weekends are usually sponsored by the SBC, but are open to all denominations. Even the Jesuits at Boston College had scheduled a 1997 Spring "Experiencing God" Conversation Series.

Blackaby's book and seminars are everything that should be detested in so-called evangelicalism today. They take a purely mystical approach to Christian living, and by necessity, undermine and distort the precious Word of God. This brief examination of Blackaby's work is for the purpose of not only exposing it (many outside of Blackaby's Southern Baptist Convention have never heard of Blackaby), but also because it is a clear representation of the sorry state of evangelicalism in America.

"Setting the Record Straight

on the Work of the Holy Spirit"

by Dr. John MacArthur

"God's Will is not Secret"
by Dr. John MacArthur