By Grant Swart
Thank you for forwarding the two links to me. I have read them and I still cannot fault Tim Challies’ original critique of Ann Voskamp’s rubbish, just as I could not do at my first reading of it.
Below are a few points I would like to make, although these do not represent all points which need to be made regarding this unsavoury matter.
1. I have never attached much value to what Tim Challies has written on previous occasions, although I have not read all of his work. I never felt the need to pay attention to his opinions, not because he is a bad author, which he is not, but simply because I have always found his work lacking in substance and based more on human reasoning and not particularly on Scripture. He seems to prefer being the modern man with modernised needs, slightly besotted with technology and the social media and less concerned with the reality of the Truth.
2. On the matter of Ann Voskamp’s book, he was clearly never convinced of his original position regarding her work, which makes it more obvious that it was an attempt at gaining the admiration of his conservative followers and colleagues, to publish that which he did. That is almost the same thing that Ann Voskamp did, the only differences being their original target audiences and the intended effect on them. As the trends in his readership change, he more than likely feels the need to adopt a more ecumenically inclusive approach to accommodate them. As Hollywood increasingly glorifies panentheism, pantheism, mysticism and other forms of false religion, so those who need to rouse sensationalism are urged to keep step in the social media.
3. No one can deliver meaningful commentary on a book without having made an in depth study of it. That much should be clear, and not unrelated to other similar instances. Once that study has been made, Tim Challies’ original approach should be investigated through the lens of Scripture and compared with his latest affected stance. I have not read Ann Voskamp’s book and I doubt I ever will – no need for that. I do, therefore, not claim to be in any position to comment on the content. I have no interest in dissecting rotten material, and there is more to learn from Scripture than any one can cover in one lifetime.
4. Surely, it must be Tim and Ann who are in the best position to comment on the nature of their personal relationship, as others do not have the advantage of firsthand contact. In what Tim has recently written on the matter there are obviously some important omissions, which might have given the issue a completely different colour. Before we can make proper assessments, we need to have access to his colour pallet.
5. Tim Challies made a grave mistake in bringing these alterations in detail to the public’s attention. I fail to see what business others have with it as it cannot provide edification, but rather it simply presents controversial subject matter for bloggers and those who are of inquisitive disposition. On the other hand, Ann Voskamp made an even greater error in publishing the rubbish that she did. Not only was it of unbiblical content, but has proven to be divisive and most “embarrassing” to Christian believers who, for an array of reasons, become associated with it. Her book should have remained in the secular realm, it is not Christian work and based on that alone, we should not grant to it any great importance.
This controversy is far from over and the repercussions seem to be extending outward. As I have mentioned, Tim’s original commentary was rooted in his personal opinion and, although it was admirably correct, it has now provided him with doubts regarding his stance toward falsehoods. As a result, Ann Voskamp has been able to seduce him to close ranks with her. This moves him further from the simplicity of the Truth, and closer to increased confusion. Of course, this is bound to place him in an even deeper predicament in time to come, but as always the world will ignore his error, while believers will continue to ignore his work.
6. Christians should avoid this subject, and others similar, to the best of their ability. To share in it cannot bear fruit and we cannot assist in God’s sovereign work. The Word of God provides sufficiently to distance us from what these two people have offered to their subsequent readers. It now seems that their newest intention is to unite their two very distinct groups of readers.
There are far greater expectations of the believer and with which we have been commissioned than to pay attention to this type of controversy. This nonsense belongs in the tabloids, not in discussions in the church. Lets us compare this matter of secular books posing as truth to the struggles and challenges which face believers in Zimbabwe, Korea, Sudan and even in the streets of America. These precious brothers and sisters are of far greater importance to us, than the overly comfortable lives of Tim Challies and Ann Voskamp.
I would hazard a guess that neither of them have ever gone to bed being unable to sleep due to the pains of hunger or other forms of deprivation gnawing at there beings. Neither of them have ever been too far from basic living necessities, nor have either of them ever been totally separated from God’s Word by forces political, economical or geographical. Yet the audacity shines through to make a spectacle of the Truth and to misuse their advantaged comfortable platforms.
7. The sheep who follow our Lord Jesus, who cannot access Bibles in their own countries, who cannot hear the Truth, who have no pastors, radios, television or internet access, they need to hear His Word, not to read about worldly controversies. Not to read about fancy luncheons or dinners where panentheism and secularism are being strategically wrangled into Christianity. These sheep without warmth or comfort are our responsibility, and not Tim Challies and Ann Voskamp’s meal time plans and pretentious discussions. Tim and Ann have both clearly received Truth and food in excess and they are now engaged in wasting it with much ignorant gusto.
Partaking in meaningless controversies such as this publicizes our ignorance of those who need our effort, prayer, care and time. It provides those who crave sensationalism with a platform from which to condone wasted opportunities in which the Gospel of Grace could have been taken to just one, just one, in need of those precious minutes. People please let this type of egotistical nonsense be!
I pray the Lord Jesus comfort all those who are experiencing hardship and truly suffering for His Truth, and that He enfolds them in His arms this day.
Much love and grace to all.
1Timothy 1:3-7 As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, (4) nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. (5) The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. (6) Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, (7) desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions. (ESV)
Tit 3:8-15 The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people. (9) But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. (10) As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, (11) knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned. (12) When I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, do your best to come to me at Nicopolis, for I have decided to spend the winter there. (13) Do your best to speed Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way; see that they lack nothing. (14) And let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful. (15) All who are with me send greetings to you. Greet those who love us in the faith. Grace be with you all. (ESV)
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