I happened to visit Apprising Ministries website today and when I spied a post about Matt Chandler and The Village Church what I read troubled me greatly.
First, Silva pointed out the covenant for membership at the church. Pretty common these days, but I have yet to be convinced that such covenants are Biblical. James 5:12 says, “Above all, my brothers, do not swear–not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your ‘Yes’ be yes, and your ‘No,’ no, or you will be condemned.” Covenanting with a church even with pure motives puts a person under condemnation later when they fall short of their promises — as practically every person will.
I visited The Village Church website for myself to view this covenant document myself.
Silva did not get into the biblical or unbiblical nature of covenants. Rather he went on to examine what The Village Church is requiring of its members and was particularly concerned about the requirement of “spiritual disciplines” which you can see in the second bullet point below:Those words also got my attention. Silva continued: “The issue now becomes what is meant by ‘practice of spiritual disciplines.’ After-all, it could simply mean practicing what’s commonly referred to as the means of God’s grace e.g. in Acts 2:42. It wouldn’t automatically mean that Matt Chandler and his elders are telling their covenant members that they must practice spurious CSM.” (Silva uses CSM as an abbreviation for Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism)
Silva found the answer in the membership section of TVC’s website devoted to Frequently Asked Questions where Dallas Willard’s definition of spiritual disciplines was praised and his and Richard Foster’s books were recommended.
How sad to find that Chandler’s church is not only endorsing books about contemplative spirituality, but actually requiring its members practice “spiritual disciplines. Pastor Gary Gilley lays out the reasons such practices are unbiblical in this article (and exposes Foster’s many theological problems). I pray that Chandler and others in The Village Church would be awakened to the dangers of these mystical practices.
101 of Contemplative Prayer – from Stand Up For the Truth
Richard Foster, A Celebration of Deception – Critical Issues Commentary
Biblical Silence vs. Mystical Silence – Do Not Be Surprised
A Time of Departing – Ray Yungen
I’ve been meaning to add to this post for awhile now because I don’t want readers to misunderstand this critique. I’m not saying that The Village Church is a terrible church. I don’t agree with everything Matt Chandler says or writes (as you can see from my review of The Explicit Gospel), but I can tell from reading his books that he has a heart for the gospel and a love for the Scripture. He also showed great courage to speak truth in a church that routinely hears false teaching from its own pastor at the Code Orange Revival a couple of years ago too.
My specific concern with The Village Church (although it is applicable to many others) is with or without knowing it they have promoted error. I’m convinced many well-meaning Christians who want to love God and be transformed by Jesus Christ are embracing “Spiritual Formation” programs and “spiritual disciplines” teachings because they are unaware of the problem. They sound so good. I mean, who wouldn’t want to grow closer to God?
The problem is these are not biblical methods of discipleship or instructions given in the Bible. We should study the Bible and pray, we should go to church, fellowship, give cheerfully, etc. The teachings of Richard Foster, Dallas Willard and many others have gone far beyond legitimate behaviors prescribed in scripture, by borrowing from medieval monastics who had themselves borrowed practices from eastern religions. I will be writing a much more detailed post about the problems and origins of these practices as soon as I am able. In the meantime, if you’d like to look into this yourself check out the book, Out of Formation by Gary Gilley. In the meantime, I hope that clarifies my concerns for everyone coming across this post.