Saturday, May 4, 2013

Book Review & Discernment- "7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess" by Jen Hatmaker, part 2

In Part 1 of this two-part book review of Jen Hatmaker's "7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess", I wrote that the book's focus on social Gospel and try-harder, works mentality was really just Catholic Mysticism wrapped up in a new age monasticism. That the sweep of these kinds of books began a few years ago with David Platt's "Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream," continued with Year of Living Biblically by AJ Jacobs and A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans. Radical began a craze of anti-consumerism as a spiritual means to 'get closer to God' rather than a focus on the discipline of Godly living and biblical shepherding of our means - whatever means we've been given - via biblical standards.

Hatmaker's book states that she and her family "made seven simple choices to fight back against the modern-day diseases of greed, materialism, and overindulgence." All of this is completely off-kilter, of course, because we are supposed to be doing that anyway, while living completely for Jesus as His witness in sharing the Good News about the real problem modern-day folks have: sin. The worst part of the book I'd mentioned in Part 1 was that the by-product of the Hatmaker's legalistic and artificial methods of addressing their self-identified problem was that it meant they discovered "a greatly increased God." If you really think about that statement, it means that they are teaching that because they recycled, God increased.

However, a more ominous clue as to the incorrect emphasis Hatmaker's book is that she and her family participated in the "seven sacred pauses."

The "seven sacred pauses" are code for the Divine Hours. Divine Hours, AKA Liturgical Hours, AKA breviary, are praying at set times, like the monks used to do. It is Catholic mysticism at its most ancient and its worst.
The Liturgy of the Hours or Divine Office or canonical hours, often referred to as the Breviary, is the official set of daily prayers prescribed by the Catholic Church to be recited by clergy, religious institutes, and laity. It consists primarily of psalms supplemented by hymns and readings. Together with the Mass, it constitutes the official public prayer life of the Church. The Liturgy of the Hours, along with the Eucharist, has formed part of the Church's public worship from the earliest times." (Source wikipedia)
The Catholic's prayers at set times is very similar to the Muslim's 5X daily prayers. In Islam the prayers prayed at set times per day is called the Salah. As this Muslim website explains, "The prayer times are before daybreak, at noon, mid- afternoon, after sundown and at night. We wake up thinking of Allah and we interrupt our daily busyness to worship and remember him."

Below, a comparison of the Seven Sacred Pauses Hatmaker performed in her book and the false Catholic regime's unbiblical Divine Hours. Click to enlarge.

Just as the Catholic rituals of contemplative prayer and labyrinth walking are unbiblical, so is ritualistic, set prayer. Matthew 6:5-8 specifically advises against prayer becoming ritualistic. Matthew 6:9-15 teaches us how to pray according to the way Jesus would have us do. It should be noted that when Jesus taught the disciples (and by extension, us) to pray, He did not say when to pray, He only said "When you pray..." Bible.org, in teaching about the Lord's Prayer, says,

"It is not and was never intended to be a ritual prayer to be formally and liturgically recited. It was a model designed by our Lord to show the nature of prayer and what prayer should consist of by way of content. There is nothing wrong, of course, with reading or reciting it together as we would any passage of Scripture for a certain focus or emphasis or as a reminder of truth. I am convinced, however, it was never meant to be simply recited as a prayer to God in place of personal prayer poured out to God from the heart."

Personal prayer is never meant to be replaced by a man-made schedule with man-made meanings. It easily becomes ritualistic and that is something the Lord spoke specifically against in condemning the Pharisee's prayer and lauding the tax-collector's. (Luke 18:13). However, we all like to feel that we are more deeply connected to God, so prayer labyrinths are re-emerging as a popular activity in emergent churches. So are Spiritual formation disciplines. However labyrinths and other ritualistic prayer practices are not biblical. Got Questions says,

"While prayer labyrinths have been used in Catholic cathedrals for centuries, the past decade has seen resurgence in their popularity, especially within the Emergent Church and among New Age groups and neo-pagans."

So where did all this come from? Back along, conservative Christians discovered Dallas Willard, who was fascinated with the Catholic mystics. His rediscovery sparked an interest in the "spiritual formation disciplines," a series of ritualistic actions designed to form us into higher spiritual beings if performed correctly. In Matthew 11:29-30, Jesus mentions his yoke being easy, a yoke Willard interprets as the practice of spiritual disciplines like solitude, silence, and simple living. You can easily see the rearing-up of Catholic mystical practices based on those monastic notions, in conservative circles in the solitude (ritualistic contemplative prayer) and the current push from people like Hatmaker for "simple living" (monasticism).

Critical Issues Commentary says Dallas Willard re-interpreted the Christian life. Willard wrote, "Although we call the disciplines “spiritual”—and although they must never be undertaken apart from a constant, inward interaction with God and his gracious Kingdom—they never fail to require specific acts and dispositions of our body as we engage in them. We are finite and limited to our bodies. So the disciplines cannot be carried out except as our body and its parts are surrendered in precise ways and definite actions to God..." Wirse, CIC says that Willard sees Jesus’ “yoke” as an offer to take up a life-style that will make us better people. This is tantamount to substituting works for grace, and making Jesus an ethical teacher whose example can be followed rather than the unique Son of God who alone always does the things that please the Father." (source)

Neo-pagans are finding that some of those "specific actions" Willard promoted require dispensing with 'stuff' and stripping down to simple living, eschewing wealth as others define it, and living more at one with the world. Yet just as Jesus rebuked ritualistic prayers of the Pharisees, Paul rebuked man made ascetic disciplines designed to abuse the body (Colossians 2:20-23).

You can read more in the Critical Issues Commentary on the spiritual disciplines, here.

So why do women eat this stuff up? I don't know. I imagine the language used by such authors appeals to women, language like this-

"You can learn to enter into the spirit of the hour wherever you are. No matter what you are doing, you can pause to touch the grace of the hour."

Really? What does the grace of the hour feel like? How do I enter the spirit of the hour? Will it feel warm? Cold? Is there a door? Hours have a spirit? Who says?

Women like to feel they are warm, enveloped in love, watched over, and thus the romanticization of Jesus began. Jumping on to that notion, books like One Thousand Gifts, The Secret, and this book by Jen Hatmaker pierce the ancient desire of women for a gentle but strong white knight to speak to them in women-language, whispers that only they can covet and take in like perfume. Having an appearance of godliness only makes the book more enticing. Yet underlying the sensitivity of the language of these best selling books, the money side of things is the cold hard reality.

As female buying power increased, false prophets took note. Remember, the motivation for false prophets is money. (Titus 1:10-11 2Peter 2:1-32, Peter 2:14-151, Timothy 6:3-5)

This copy writing tutorial web page says that "Women’s buying power has increased tremendously in recent years. Mothers alone account for $1.3 trillion of sales per year. Romance fiction made $1.37 billion in sales in 2008 and, in fact, had the largest share of the book market (13.5 percent)." That figure is even higher now.

The same copy writing web page advises that if you want your books to sell there are ten key words to use: love, heart, secret, King, Queen, Princess, Prince (or some other honorable title), Temptation and Forbidden, Cloud, Moon, Stars (and other celestial bodies), heaven, paradise, kiss, Magic, Enchanted, Bewitched (and other references to the supernatural), and virgin.

We especially see this trend of romantic words in contemporary lyrics. It is a problem that women are succumbing to these ploys. 2 Timothy 3:6 says that a favorite ploy of satan is to capture weak willed women burdened with sins who then in turn influence the men.

MacArthur explains the 2 Timothy 3:6 women verse,
"The false cults and isms of today are no different than this, they go after weak defenseless women. That's their target audience. Why do you think they go door to door all day long and not at night? Who do you think they're after? Weak women who are vulnerable because they're out from some protection and who are captivated by these people because they promise them deliverance from the burden of sin and guilt and they promise them a system of truth. Those are the kinds of victims they pick on. They come from all kinds of angles. They come at them on the radio during the day. They come at them on the television. They come at them through the printed page. They come at them door to door. The word "weak women" is one word, it's used in contempt here, feeble women, easy prey, literally means little women. But it's the idea that they're just defenseless. Just as Satan's strategy was to deceive Eve, so heretical false teachers have frequently chosen to spread their falsehoods by the same method." [emphasis mine]

"And then in verse 7 it says they probably are the kind of women who have a curiosity about religion. They're attracted to easy solutions that don't really call for a radical change and don't deal with the real issue, the issue of sin before a holy God and salvation in Jesus Christ." 
So you find an attraction by women to a book that advocates turning off the TV and recycling as means for closeness to God rather than repenting and taking up one's cross daily. The former is easier, the latter is harder.

I'm not saying that every woman who loved Hatmaker's book, or The Secret, or Jesus Calling, One Thousand Gifts, or Seven Sacred Pauses are weak-willed. But rather, these books are the ploy of satan that match the verse in 2 Timothy where he will come after the women. And this is one way- slyly romance them. Thanks to Beth Moore and her spiritual daughters, we have a plethora of books and devotionals that use the exact methods we were warned about to get at the women, just as satan did in the Garden with Eve.

"For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths." (2 Tim 4:2-4)

"7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess" is not recommended.

As a final PS, I put the call out to men: in general, today's female Christian book market is a mine field of falsity and sly enticement. Most of it is bad. Only a little is good. Just in this one blog entry I noted the dangers of the following best selling books--

--One Thousand Gifts ( #14 in Amazon.com Christian Living Books)
--Jesus Calling ( #4 Amazon.com Christian Living Books)
--The Secret ( #16 Amazon.com Books > Religion & Spirituality )
--7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess (released 4 months ago,  #24 in Books > Christian Books & Bibles > Theology) THEOLOGY???!!!
--A Year of biblical Womanhood (#18 in Religious Studies > Theology)
--Beth Moore (The sales of her book about Esther alone were credited as part of what made a "strong" quarter for Lifeway Christian Stores during the height of the Great Recession- source)

These women make a lot of money for their publishers and women are buying their stuff in droves. Men, I'd recommend monitoring your wife or daughter or girlfriend's book consumption vigilantly.

Part 1 of Book Review, 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess

13 comments :

  1. Great job and review! The 'seven sacred pauses' is a huge red flag that discerning Christians should pick up on easily. The problem is our weak theology (or lack there of) preached from pulpits in seeker-driven churches these days. I critique everything my wife brings home from Lifeway. She gets frustrated with me sometimes when I don't approve of a book she wants, but I have to remind her that is my role as her husband. She mentioned buying a Beth Moore devotional and I immediately said no. She bought Mark Driscoll's 'Real Marriage' book without consulting me and I told her not to read it due to the sensuality and Mark's approval of sodomy inside marriage. Shame.

    Brad
    Birmingham, AL

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    1. Brad, Thank you for reading, and thank you even more for being a Godly husband looking out for the spiritual health of your wife!

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  2. When I was born from above, coming out of the Catholic religion, I read some of the books about mystics and their experiences. Then I started to realize that I was looking for an experience to validate what had happened to me. I was walking by feelings not by facts, the facts of the Word of God. As I read some of these books I started to see that they were nothing more than the way back to Catholicism.
    That was over 25 years ago, and all I can say, is that people need to read and study the Scriptures and leave this other stuff alone. The Word, and understanding it, will keep you busy for this life as we wait for our Lord to come for us. If they don't, they make themselves open to every falsehood that comes along. I think that people are still trying to "do" something. They can't accept the fact that Jesus has done it all. It is a pride factor. It gives them some sense of being acceptable before God. It is idolatry.
    Thanks for this article, Elizabeth.

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    1. Anonymous, you're welcome. I think you hit the nail on the head. It is a pride issue. People want to feel that they are doing something tangible and pride comes in when they want others to SEE that tangible something they are doing for the Lord. We see the extension of that to its utmost darkness n the Pharisees who stood on street corners praying and babbling like the pagans do, and seeking the best seats at the banquets.

      You said, "It gives them some sense of being acceptable before God. It is idolatry." Perfect summation!

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  3. To finish that thought: I think that unless the Scriptures are taught properly, more people are going to be led astray. We have churches full of the Scripturally illiterate.
    Thanks again, Elizabeth,

    Pam

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  4. Hi Elizabeth,

    This mysticism is bizarre, this post went over my head (in that I didn't know any of the information about the so-called "divine hours", etc), but the point was not lost - it has NO place in the church, and yet has crept in unawares and is tares in the field of wheat.

    Good point that these books are snares for women. I PRAISE THE LORD JESUS CHRIST that the books you mentioned do not interest me, and never have. I buy very few books, and my husband and I are on the same page - our list of acceptable authors is small (like Brad above, Driscoll and Moore are on our "NO" list), and we both scrutinize everything we hear through the written word. The gift of discernment, which I believe both my husband and I have - as do you Elizabeth, it's obvious - is a BLESSED gift to possess, but (haha) not always to share - it's not often well received by others when you point out error. But when you encounter those who appreciate the necessity of that gift, there's great joy in the Spirit.

    So these posts have brought me great joy, I rejoice that you have pulled back the curtain on yet another of the old serpents tactics, and have take the time to warn your brothers and sisters, especially your vulnerable sisters who are being inundated with this deception. Well done, and Christ gets the glory and honor for giving you the heart for His work.

    YSIC
    carolyn

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  5. Elizabeth, I'm just curious what your thoughts are on the series of books by Stormie Omartian - "The Power of a Praying ...Church, Wife, etc."

    My church has one of her books on its monthly reading list for women but I don't know too much about her or her beliefs.

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    1. Hi Kevin,

      I am not familiar with Mrs Omartian. Here is a link to a lengthy Christianity Today article about her, her background, etc. which includes quotes and interviews.http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2004/july/13.42.html

      I found extended previews of pages of her books on google books, if you care to search and scan representative pages to see what she is writing about. Let me know what you think, if you delve deeper...

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  6. This is very interesting. I find it fascinating that both the saved and the unsaved young people (20's-30's) in our country are reacting against the relative wealth of our nation. They have been made to feel guilty, and they also are rightly concerned about excess (in some cases). But what do they turn to? Christianity as it is supposed to be lived out according to scripture? No, they have turned to legalism. I have several unsaved family members in that age group and they are the most legalistic group you can imagine. They dislike "Organized religion" but they have unwittingly created their own religion that would make even a Pharisee proud. they have lists and lists of rules they live by: food do's and don'ts, self made quotas for exercise,extreme exercise, huge stress on body image , clothing do's and don'ts, animal rights concerns, giving to the poor and making sure others know about it, etc. The saddest of all is having to pretend that your life is AMAZING, you are getting better every day, and you are estatically happy whether or not you really are, because sadness and truth are not allowed. Of course it is very demoralizing and stressful to be under such a burden. It is sad that the last couple of generations of parents who thought they were giving their children freedom to choose their religion didn't realize that they would turn, not to freedom, but to slavery to man-made rules.

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  7. I've spent over an hour trying to find any negative mention of this book. I agree with you. I am surprised no one else see's this. This study, the book and her words disturb me - especially when I heard her say "I will never again separate my theology from my ecology" What! kind of nonsense is that? Seems borderline new age. My group seems lost in wordly topics as we gather weekly and the use of scripture is almost null. I read the first chapter, and although she has a good sense of humor, her entire month of fasting foods was about foods- and not growing closer to the Lord. I heard her workbook was good, but something isn't right with this teaching.
    Fasting should lead us closer to the Lord, a time of prayer and meditation on scripture - not discussing all the foods we missed, our recipes, how they tasted and discussing how difficult it was for us. Jen also said - she's heard it all- growing up in the church and another sermon can't teach her a thing. Not a good attitude to have.... I also have grown up in the church and when I truly chose to search for the Lord, not only did I find Him, but I understood the depths of His teachings - It would take hundreds of thousands of years of study to understand or partially know the depths, the widths of His love and His Word.

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    1. Hi Anonymous,

      Thank you so much for searching for the truth about the book! The Spirit was prompting you. He is so faithful to lead us to truth, isn't he!

      What you said at the end was beautiful. I feel the same way. The depths of His word can never be fully plumbed...because He IS the word and He is infinite! I feel sad for those who get to the point where they feel the bible has nothing more to teach.

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  8. I am overwhelmed by what has been written about this book and how women are being targeted and misslead. Jen's book was given to me by a friend who wants to use it as a Bible Study. I did not feel good about it when she was explaining to me. That is why I am reading your review and sent this review to her. I am thankful to God, when you ask Him for truth He will show it to you. I appreciate everything you have written and about the other books and Beth Moore.

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  9. I had never heard of this Jen hatmaker person before. I recently saw one of her blogposts quoted on FB and I've been trying to find someone with a sensible review of her and her "theology" this is the only one I can find. Thank you so much for being willing to write this. I was beginning to wonder if I was the one losing my mind!

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