Saturday, March 03, 2007

Knowing God- Keys to the Deeper Life- Part 3

If you spend much time in evangelical circles these days and listen closely, you will hear about “Contemplative Prayer” as a way of getting closer to God. It’s one of the latest “crazes” to make the rounds through the evangelical church in America. There is much that is very, very wrong and dangerous with contemplative prayer…but what is right is that those who are attempting this have as their motivation a sincere desire to seek and know God more fully. Their motivation is right; their methodology is heretical and New Age.

In Chapter 3 of Keys to the Deeper Life, A.W. Tozer says, “When the apostle (Paul) cries, ‘That I may know him,’ he uses the word know not in its intellectual but in it experiential sense. We must look for the meaning—not to the mind but to the heart. Theological knowledge is knowledge about God. While this is indispensable it is not sufficient. …Christian truth is designed to lead us to God, not to serve as a substitute for God.

Knowing God is the motivation for those seeking to learn Contemplative Prayer, but the flip side is also the problem that pervades much of Evangelical Christianity today. In those churches that have not yet become a watered-down pabulum of mush, good theological doctrine is still preached and taught. But Tozer accurately points out, “theological knowledge is knowledge about God.” We can have all the points of doctrine correct, verses memorized, all of our “i”s dotted and “t”s crossed…and still not know God. This is a very dangerous position in which to find one’s self. As evangelist Paul Washer points out in his sermon to a group of teens (video of this sermon is here), at the judgment people will come to Jesus, call him “Lord, Lord” (the double emphasis means they are serious), and yet Jesus will order them away because He never “knew” them.

To have a “deeper life” we must know God; we must know Christ. Lest anyone get the wrong message here, Tozer also points out that theological knowledge is indispensable for knowing God. This is what is wrong with contemplative prayer; it substitutes a New Age experience for Biblically-based, doctrinally sound experience. If one isn’t grounded in theological knowledge, he can be sucked into a dangerous trap like contemplative prayer.

Do you know God? Do you know Jesus? Is your faith only in your head…or is it also in your heart? Tozer speaks of Paul doing whatever it took to know Christ…enduring suffering, persecution, ridicule (maybe even being called a "radical" or an "extremist"!!)…and yet finding conformity to Christ “cheap at any price.” My prayer is that God would cause that intense desire to well up in all our hearts, now and forevermore.

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