Sunday, May 10, 2009

Pastor Bob DeWaay on Donald Whitney and Spiritual Disciplines

Pastor Bob DeWaay has read Donald Whitney's book on Spiritual Disciplines and what he has found alarmed him greatly, resulting in an article detailing his find. After reading it, what it reveals disturbs me too. If in fact Whitney is in a position influencing the New Calvinists, then the New Calvinist movement is in a trajectory towards certain shipwreck. As DeWaay writes:

Thus I am very alarmed about Donald Whitney bringing spiritual disciplines and implied human ability into Reformed theology. If the trend for syncretistic spiritual disciplines and spiritual formation takes over the Reformed versions of evangelical education there will be very few options for young people who want an education grounded in the solas of the Reformation. Scripture alone and grace alone are compromised—if not rejected outright—when spiritual disciplines are adopted.

Mark Driscoll is on the record of practicing "contemplative disciplines", as he mentioned in his Confessions of a Reformission Rev (p. 169). Is there therefore a (so-far underground) current of contemplative spirituality existing in the New Calvinist movement?

In my article on New [Evangelical] Calvinism (now removed), I have mentioned the issue of embracing the material principle of the Reformation without the formal principles of Sola Scriptura. The idea of contemplative spirituality most definitely fall into this category. Will the New Calvinists really follow Scripture and Scripture Alone? The example of Whitney does not seem to show that this is the case.

Spiritual disciplines vs. Means of Grace. This is what we are left to decide upon, as DeWaay shows. Are we willing to follow Scripture and use the means God has given to us for our sanctification and as means to communication with God, or do we desire to be "open source" and bring in other humanistic "disciplines" as long as they do not explicit contradict the Scriptures? Geneva or Rome, Jerusalem or Babylon, let us decide.


Jason said...

Have you read the book? I believe generally support DeWaay, but in this instance, I think he's taking things out of context and throwing a lot of "guilt" by association that's not intended or demonstrated in the book. I am a firm believer in the compatablist understanding of God's Sovereignty and Man's responsibility. That it is 100% a work of God but I sitll give maximum human effort. That being said we work out our salvation in fear and trembling and in doing so, the spiritual life can involve these disciplines, and if you know anyone whom you admire spiritually they will have several of these characteristics in their own life. Also DeWaay leaves out that Whitney also supports his thoughts with scripture where Foster and the like does not. I agree that Foster and WIllard were not good choices, and I think it might have been sloppy on the part of Whitney but what would have been the loving thing to do and the right thing to do, would have been Matthew 18.... if DeWaay had these things against what he thought Whitney was doing he should have taken them to him, himself... if Whitney would reject it, then take a few more people from the body of Christ who agree, if Whitney still would not consider these things, then publish this article... but I encourage you before you cast judgment read the book yourself and see if this is Whitney's intent. I have read it, and don't find these accusations that he's charged with to be credible at all.

1 week ago

PuritanReformed said...


Whitney's book? No. Note that my qualification has the word "if" present. But I do know Driscoll has no problems with the contemplative disciplines and practices them (as I have read his book), which is very troubling.

Secondly, the Mt. 18 thing does not apply since Whitney's book is in the public domain. I would think Pastor DeWaay has reviewed the book in a proper manner, and whether they are credible is to something that must be proved or disproved. If you do not find them credible, fine, but do make sure you know why DeWaay is not right and can disprove his points from Scripture.

I think it is very misleading to confuse the terms "spiritual disciplines" with "means of grace". Whether Whitney does that is debatable; but whether means of grace are spiritual disciplines should not be an issue. Foster can call prayer a spiritual discipline but that does not make it so. I would be very cautious of making these means of grace into disciplines for us to practice, and confuse a spiritual person for one who practices spiritual disciplines.

1 week ago