Top Five Books of Prophetic Gold – John Boruff

I’m almost finished with Robert Tuttle’s Mysticism in the Wesleyan Tradition (1989); and I believe it has really helped me to sift through the mystical garbage that pollutes a lot of charismatic books. A while back God’s voice told me to “shake the dust off my feet” with regard to an enormous catalog of prophetic ministry books that I had gathered in my study of How to Experience God (which I admit now, probably has some mystical “dross” that needs purifying). Tuttle makes the clear case that John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Church, was not really a mystical theologian, but an ascetic Protestant, who drew his inspiration from Catholic devotional books like Thomas à Kempis’ The Imitation of Christ, Francis de Sales’ Introduction to the Devout Life, Brother Lawrence’s The Practice of the Presence of God, and The Life of Monsieur de Renty. Wesley’s interests were not very charismatic, so Tuttle argues (although he did have charismatic experiences, see Daniel Jennings’ The Supernatural Occurrences of John Wesley); Wesley’s focus was on salvation and holy living. Tuttle puts a nail in Wesley’s mystical coffin when he reveals that Wesley rejected “the mystical means of solitude, darkness, and contemplation” (p. 151). That is, Wesley rejected contemplative prayer–something that Wesley and I will have to strongly part ways on. But this man whom I have never met, and whose theology I so enjoy, has incredibly improved my sense of discernment of mystical subjects. Tuttle advances the case that Wesley went through “sifting” phases with mystical books just like myself (especially in the 1760s and 70s during his friendship with John Fletcher–pp. 138-139)! Something God led me into by experience years ago! Only now I’m finding Wesley went through the same experience; which lasted years. With his and my own combined experience, there’s been a lot of progress in sifting out the “mystical dross” (bad teaching) and preserving the “mystical gold” (good teaching) in a variety of Christian mystics, Catholic mystics, saints, and mystical theologians, and modern Pentecostal and Charismatic writers, for that matter.

At this point in my walk with Jesus, THE TOP FIVE BOOKS OF PROPHETIC GOLD, in my opinion:–that is books on charismatic gifts, prophetic ministry, and hearing the voice of God, visions, and dreams:–which have the least “mystical dross” and the most purified, refined charismatic theology available, with high ethical and Biblical standards, and high experiential and prophetic potential…

1. J. I. Packer’s Keep in Step with the Spirit (1984)
2. Wayne Grudem’s The Gift of Prophecy (1988)
3. Sam Storms’ The Beginner’s Guide to Spiritual Gifts (2002)
4. Henry and Richard Blackaby’s Hearing God’s Voice (2002)

Mystical “Dross” Which I Flatly Reject As Spiritually Harmful.
I Shake the Dust Off My Feet, In JESUS Name,
Against All Which is Ungodly In the…

Heresies Which Appear in These Mystics: Stoicism, Universalism (trinitarian also), Pantheism, Gnosticism, Marianism, Homosexuality (Henri Nouwen), Feminism, Agnosticism (William James), Materialism and Positive Confession (Word of Faith Pentecostals), Deism (Dostoyevsky), New Age ideas, and Psychic ideas.

1. Wesley’s endorsement (although reluctantly critical) of the Quietists (Madame Guyon, Michael Molinos, and François Fénelon); especially their teaching on self-annihilation and self-emptiness (which in my opinion is too similar to stoicism or Buddhist no-self, with the loss of human personality). Although, I admit some of Fénelon’s Letters have holy counsels in them. Thomas Upham in the 1800s holiness movement would amplify this Wesleyan Quietism. STOICISM–my main objection to Guyon, Molinos, Fenelon, and Upham.

2. With Wesley, I choose to reject all the Christian mystics he rejected himself (William Law (UNIVERSALISM), Theologia Germanica (PANTHEISM?), John Tauler (universalist?), Jacob Boehme (GNOSTICISM?), Meister Eckhart (pantheism?), Henry Suso (pantheism?), Jan van Ruysbroeck (pantheist and universalist?), Nicolas Malebranche (?) (Tuttle, pp. 115, 117, 77, 78, 128).

3. The dross I reject in Richard J. Foster is very much. Foster’s teachings are filled with mystical and charismatic gold; but many of the writers he quotes and recommends are mystically impure and drosslike, with New Age influences, universalist influences, or Catholic marianism influences. These dross-like “dusty” mystic authors in his otherwise golden books Celebration of Discipline (1978), Prayer (1992), Streams of Living Water (1998), and Renovaré study guide Connecting with God (2006) by Lynda Graybeal and Julia Roller:–all favorably quote the following mystical teachers I flatly reject as dirty or impure mysticism…
-Thomas Merton (UNIVERSALISM; pluralist)
-Evelyn Underhill (UNIVERSALISM; pluralist)
-Morton Kelsey (UNIVERSALISM; pluralist)
-Madame Guyon (STOICISM)
-Meister Eckhart (PANTHEISM?)
-Bernard of Clairvaux (MARIANISM)
-Agnes Sanford (UNIVERSALISM; pluralist)
-François Fénelon (STOICISM)
-M. Basil Pennington (UNIVERSALISM; centering prayer; pluralist)
-Henri Nouwen (HOMOSEXUALITY)
-C. S. Lewis (TRINITARIAN UNIVERSALISM)
-Gregory of Nyssa (UNIVERSALISM)
Thérèse of Lisieux (MARIANISM)
-Sue Monk Kidd (FEMINISM; PANTHEISM)
-Glenn Clark (UNIVERSALISM; pluralist; Camps Farthest Out)
-Julian of Norwich (UNIVERSALISM; FEMINISM; “CHRIST AS MOTHER”–GODDESS WORSHIP)
-William James (AGNOSTICISM)
-Paul Yonggi Cho (MATERIALISM; POSITIVE CONFESSION)
-Fyodor Dostoyevsky (DEISM)

4. The dross I reject in Dallas Willard‘s Hearing God (1984) is not nearly as bad as in Foster. (And its to Willard’s credit that he never refers to Thomas Merton.)
-William Law (UNIVERSALISM)
-Michael Talbot (NEW AGE; PSYCHICISM)
-Henri Nouwen (HOMOSEXUALITY)
-Evelyn Underhill (UNIVERSALISM; pluralist)
-Madame Guyon (STOICISM)
-Meister Eckhart (PANTHEISM)
-Agnes Sanford (UNIVERSALISM)

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About John Boruff

John Boruff is a Philosophy and Religion graduate from UNC Pembroke. In his free time, he blogs about the Christian life; and has special interests in evangelism and spiritual gifts. He identifies himself as a Reformed Arminian Pentecostal. He’s also a husband and dad. John loves street preaching. His influences are Leonard Ravenhill, David Wilkerson, John Wesley, Charles Finney, etc. John is always in the process of writing; and is posting free e-books on this site for cultivating a deeper Christian life. Among them are his 'How to Experience God' and 'The Gospel of Jesus Christ.' He is currently working on the lives of great prophets in church history—from Catholic saints to Protestant reformers and revivalists. He is also working on a Biblical theology of poverty alleviation.
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