Thursday, September 1, 2011

Gospel Contemplation: The Mask of Christian Mysticism

This is a brief post with a critical link to Paul's Passing Thoughts and with much appreciation to his blog. For some time we have been hearing, in Evangelical Christianity, the musing of Gospel Contemplation (GC) and its supposed prescription for spirituality and all ills human. It is incumbent upon those of you drinking at such a trough to consider just what is in your water.

In his article, Piper, Carson, Keller: The Only Cure For Pornography is Gospel Contemplation, Paul Dohse approaches this conversation with the following response:

In the following video, Piper, Carson, and Keller teach that the key to overcoming pornography is contemplation on the gospel. If we come to grips with how horrible our sin is and what Christ had to do about it, and what He did do about it, we will realize how much Christ loves us on the one hand, and learn to loath the sin on the other. Keller also mentions that realizing how much Christ loves us (because of the cross) will lead to us not hating ourselves which he notes as a major contributor to sin. Of course, the Bible states the opposite: a primarily source of sin comes from loving ourselves more than we love others.

Furthermore, the biblical prescription for learning to hate sin is not contemplation on the gospel, but rather investment. We learn to hate something by not investing in it, but instead investing in something else. People unwittingly learn to hate their spouses in this way. Lack of investment verses other things and a dwelling on their negative aspects only which is not truthful thinking to begin with.

Yes, after Piper advocates spiritual contemplation and Keller adds to the error by adding self esteem psycho-babble, Carson mentions accountability, but be not deceived and listen carefully—he is saying that accountability is only a temporary stopgap until gospel contemplation kicks in. In other words, practical measures as instructed by Scripture are not curative, only gospel contemplation is. In the end, they all agree that accountability lingers close to legalism, and the absolute necessity that those holding one accountable are also gospel centered.

The following video clarifies the fact that there is a line in the sand. The church cannot continue to pretend that both philosophies will help Christians—that’s not true. Also, New Calvinists cannot continue to call the biblical prescription “legalism” unfettered and without contention. How Christians live is at stake.

Just as enjoyable and edifying was a contribution at Paul's Passing Thoughts by guest writer and wife of Paul Dohse, Susan Dohse, in her Provoked by Her Husband essay. In it she succinctly tackles the fundamental error of this Gospel Contemplation dialogue (Italics mine):
Recently, Paul has provoked me to move from the foot of the cross to a greater joy and reveling; that being, doing the work that God calls me to do each day.  Jesus taught his disciples how to have a servant’s heart by taking up the basin and towel.  He warned his followers that there would be a yoke to carry, a harvest to glean, a going, a teaching, a discipling that must be continued until He comes again. This cannot be accomplished if I stay at the foot of the cross contemplating my precious Savior’s death, burial, and resurrection.  Jesus said to take up the cross and follow Him.

This cuts to the misapprehension (sincere and filled with a lot of seemingly heavy spiritual language, though it may be) of Gospel Contemplationism. Susan Dohse's observation despoils the indulgent and misguided posturing inherent to the GC construct. With gratitude to the Dohses I encourage you to think long and hard about this trend in Evangelicalism, particularly in the Neo-Reformed and Neo-Calvinist corners.

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