People who are familiar with author Ann Voskamp know that she is a quasi-charismatic, melodramatic writer, who writes in a tedious, semi-poetic style of that you either love or hate. Her grammatical style of placing adjectives after the noun (postpositive adjectives), or using uncommon words for rhythm that the ordinary people would have to look up to understand can be either exhausting or entertaining — depending on one’s preference. However, there is no doubt that many women have fallen victim to her impressionistic linguistic style and have been captivated by her “insights” into her “Holy Experience,” or what she proclaims to be a life-transforming experience from God. But are the experiences she writes about Biblical?
Voskamp thinks about God in a dangerous way as she, like many Christian women authors, speaks of God’s love for them erotically. She romanticizes her relationship with Christ. This heresy is called theoerocism, sometimes called theoeroticism. It’s thinking of God’s love in terms of the Greek word eros rather than agape. In other words, she thinks of Christ as a lover — not just a savior. In an excerpt from her book, 1000 Gifts, she speaks of a time when she seems to be depressed about certain situations in her life that aren’t going the way she expects. She and a high-school friend decide to take a walk, and she notices a chalk writing on the sidewalk that says “Hey Beautiful, you are loved!” She then says in the excerpt:
And she laughs loud and we’re carried and hey, who needs Ryan Gosling and his “Hey Girl” meme when you’ve got God with His “Hey Beautiful” promise?
She ultimately interprets this to be a sign from God, that in his grace, he is communicating to her that he thinks of her as beautiful, and he loves her. Compare this with a recent story about “prophetic deliverance minister” who, after a bout with drugs in a psych ward, swears that Jesus crawled in bed with her and began playing with her hair. Now, every sane Christian in the world would call that story crazy, yet, for some reason, Voskamp gets a pass.
Not only is she eroticizing God’s love by comparing God to a male actor — and immoral sex figure — she’s also teaching bad theology from her experience. She claims that through her new revelation from God, she now sees God in a new light — that through this “epiphany,” she now understands God’s grace and His timing.
But how does she know that this is a sign from God?
She saw a defacement on the sidewalk, and because, in her mind, she is seeing something that she wants to see, and hearing what she wants to hear — erotic affirmation –, she is attributing it to God. Outside of Scripture, we have no way of hearing directly from God, and the Bible is very clear that by attributing things to God that he did not say, you run the risk of blaspheming the Holy Spirit (Matthew 12:31-32). And this is exactly what Ann Voskamp is doing. She is claiming that God has revealed himself to her through this writing on the sidewalk, through personal experience, one that involves no Scripture whatsoever.
This is part of the larger problem, particularly with these charismatic women Bible study teachers that are running rampant within evangelicalism. These women, such as Voskamp, Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, etc., tend to write and speak in ways that are emotionally captivating to women and draw them into the experience. While so much of it seems to be benign on the surface, at a deeper level, it’s very dangerous and borderline blasphemous. Essentially what Voskamp is saying is that Jesus sacrificial death on the cross wasn’t enough for God to express his love and grace to us, and that Scripture alone isn’t enough for him to communicate it. She needed to hear it from a source outside of Scripture, and then she was able to praise God, and “experience” his grace.
Consider another excerpt from the same book in the last chapter, The Joy of Intimacy, she writes “I fly to Paris and discover how to make love to God.” There is not one place in Scripture that speaks of God’s love for us that way. It’s gross. Stop it!
Yet, evangelicals like John Piper and Matt Chandler are quick to praise charismatic evangelicals like Voskamp, Moore, Shirer and Christine Caine as though they are God’s greatest blessing to the Church since the Reformation.
— Matt Chandler (@MattChandler74) August 13, 2014
I’ll end with a quote from John MacArthur at his Strange Fire conference:
Why don’t evangelical leaders speak against this movement? Why is there such silence? Look When somebody attacks the person of Christ the Evangelical world rises up and says “no, no, no!” . . . the Holy Spirit has been under massive assault for decades and decades, and Ive been asking the question ‘where are the people rising up in protest against the abuse and the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit?‘ The only thing I can suggest is that they have been literally backed up into a corner by intimidation that they need to be loving and accepting and tolerant and not divisive in the body of Christ, thats been the mantra. . .