Lukewarmness can excite no ardor, originate no activity, produce no effect: it benumbs whatever it touches. If we enquire what were the sources of the energy, and the springs of the activity, of the most successful ministers of Christ, we shall find that they lay in the ardor of their devotion. They were men of prayer and of faith. They dwelt upon the mount of communion with God, and came down from it like Moses to the people, radiant with the glory on which they had themselves been intently gazing. They stationed themselves where they could look at things unseen and eternal, and came with the stupendous visions fresh in their view, and preached under the impression of what they had just seen and heard.
-John Angell James, An Earnest Ministry: The Want of the Times
The members of this blog have in recent times discussed at length the peril of pseudo-Christians who live their pseudo-lives without ever experiencing the crisis, the fire, the dark night of the soul that the mystics and divines talked about in times past. They rely too much on their handbooks and place their faith upon their B.Sc.(Hons). To them, it is sufficient to have a mental assent to the 'objective' truths or doctrines of the Christian faith. Anyone who suggest anything resembling an experiential appropriation of truth are considered 'relativists' who are amoral and hypocritical. Is the goal of the Christian life 'objectivism'? Should it not rather be a vibrant, lively and vital discipleship filled with strength in times of need, sinking when trying to walk on water, stumbling into pits and losing all hopes? Should it not rather be the comedy of climbing trees to catch a glimpse of the Gentle Teacher or weeping tears in penitent repentance at His feet?
A.W. Tozer warned time and again about the extremes of both closet-studies and brainless devotion. The former is best exemplified by men who write posts such as this (who cannot even differentiate between Bible-taught and Spirit-taught doctrines) or this (who is deathly afraid of the assaults on predictable-objectivity). The latter is the error of the "No Creed But Christ" cult of the wafer-brained majority who are packing up the Evangelical Churches with their Hillsongs and fads.
Do we need doctrine in the churches? Sure we do. But not in the sort of way that the SIN fundamentalists believe. The SIN fundamentalists entertain this fantasy that they're all pretty ok as long as they think 'correct' thoughts and read 'safe' books in the comforts of their studies. Everything originate from their studies and their handbooks. They boast about the multitude of their books but anyone reading their pseudo-meditations will immediately sense the total lack of unction, of spirit, of life, of fire in them. There is only an interminable lukewarmness. They respect hierarchy and the social order (hence they elevate their B.Sc.(Hons)). In place of dirt-and-grime morality of the Teacher who was a 'friend of sinners and publicans', they put in place social-respectability and a well-stocked library.
We do not need more of these self-appointed 'temple police' of the blogosphere with their anathemas while they themselves know nothing of life. We do not need more people using Christian handbooks as artillery against other people who are going through the fires of life, wallowing in despair, struggling to believe, etc. Men like that are heaping burning coals upon themselves. What should've been gifts to be shared have become trophies to be boasted of. Their continuous reading of Christian books have made them a stench, a bigoted odor and a curse to their own selves. They create mind-prisons and ghettos to keep themselves in - and making the ghettos narrower with each new meta-definitions and sub-categories of non-thoughts. These are the ones who pride themselves on their slavish adherence to textualism (disguised as faithfulness to revealed or objective truth) and forever defending the Bible (to further the textual agenda and to give license to their elitism). The Bible is not an end in itself:
Sound Bible exposition is an imperative must in the Church of the Living God. Without it no church can be a New Testament church in any strict meaning of that term. But exposition may be carried on in such a way as to leave the hearers devoid of any true spiritual nourishment whatsoever. For it is not mere words that nourish the soul, but God Himself, and unless and until the hearers find God in personal experience they are not the better for having heard the truth. The Bible is not an end in itself, but a means to bring men to an intimate and satisfying knowledge of God, that they may enter into Him, that they may delight in His Presence, may taste and know the inner sweetness of the very God Himself in the core and center of their hearts.
-A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God
Dear brethren, do your utmost best to avoid the perils of the dead library. Check your attitudes. Search your hearts. Are you preaching, teaching and writing from what you have studied or from what you have seen? God is not a concept to be appropriated through earnest study. Within that context, God will forever remain unknown (although the conceited student continues boasting about his "knowledge of God"). God is a Person who can only be known within a relational manner - within a living, loving, forgiving, disciplining relationship by which while we cannot comprehend Him conceptually, we can yet cry out to Him as "Our Father". Beware the snare of much reading. Beware the snare of academic elitism. Nothing kills the Christian devotion quicker and more subtly than the blind earnestness of the elitist reader.