The second weekend of the National Association of Nouthetic Counseling Conference (NANC) 2013, in San Antonio, TX, concluded yesterday. Dr. Stuart Scott mentioned the book briefly during one of his sessions! I wanted to thank him in person for doing so, explaining how this book was a topic of conversation with a dear sister earlier that same day!
I shared with him the concerns I conveyed that morning to her, which he confirmed as accurate. Also, Dr. Scott informed me of David Powlison’s chapter-critique from his book, Seeing with New Eyes. Dr. Scott said, “It is basically all about conditional love. I’ll scratch your back and you scratch mine. That is why even pagans love to read it.” It appeals to personal felt-needs, feelings, desires, must-haves, lusts of deceit. It fuels self-centered idolatry, not a servant’s heart.
David Powlison’s Review, Love Speaks Many Languages Fluently, reveals how Chapman’s book teaches a secular model on marriage that is rooted in conditional love ideology. As Dr. Scott referenced, “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine,” says Powlison, is the gist of Chapman’s 5LL. In other words, “I’ll love you if you love me,” or “I’ll meet your needs if you meet mine.” That plays out to the 50%-50% mentality at the end of the day. Or 100%-100% could be deemed correct. After all, that sounds exactly like what the world’s psychologists refer to as a win-win situation, doesn’t it?
However, that is a far cry from the biblical model for God’s design for marriage which is all about sacrificial love, exemplified in Christ, selflessly serving and loving ones spouse, unconditionally. ”I’ll scratch your back even if you don’t scratch mine.” ”I’ll love you, even if you don’t love me in return.” ”I am here to serve you.” This looks like 100%-0%. And because of the hope that is promised to believers, which in Christ and is Christ, we are in a no-lose situation (no matter our circumstances, married or single).
Remember, in the Old Testament, Hosea and his harlot-wife? In this true story, we read the reflective depiction of the perfectly loving and faithful YWHW to His chosen, ever-wavering-from-covenant Israel. In the New Testament, the perfect model of love and obedience is Christ who came to serve not be served. His sacrificial atonement on the cross, the giving of Himself for His bride is God’s perfect love manifested in the Son.
We must understand it is the act of giving oneself, not ones feelings and/or emotions, that is primary in loving. Our giving and serving will be imperfect. We are, after all, still sinners by nature. But, nonetheless, saved by grace, we must strive after Christ! Christ loved me and gave Himself up for me (Gal 2:20). God so loved that He gave His one and only Son (Jn 3:16). He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins (1 Jn 4:10). We must seek to obey to love, serve and be merciful in Christian love without the expectation of a return (Lk 6:32-36).
Drawing nearer to this figure of 100%-0%, living life here in marriage, for regenerated sinners is biblical and speaks volumes of love languages while each spouse is being transformed into the image of their Savior, Christ the Lord, in whom all hope resides. By God’s unending grace, repentance for sin and faith in Christ, in obeying His commands in humble servanthood to please Him with all thankfulness, this is where sanctification happens for the married couple through the indwelling Holy Spirit by the Word (Jn 17:17; Eph 5:22-33; 1 Thess 4:2-8; 1 Thess 5:18).
Though Powlison recognizes some practical, helpful application by Chapman toward thoughtfulness, the argument continues that even pagans do that for the give-to-get conquest. And for us, from this former mindset we must flee!
Beloved, looking to Chapman and his book for advice, and all its spin off versions for children, teens and singles, is not wise. It will send you in the opposite direction of God’s Word, building a house on sand (Mt 7:26-27). As always, be alert and avoid any opposing or conflicting theologies toward God’s Word (Psalm 1:1-6). Refuse to receive vain, empty, ear-tickling philosophies which are assuredly found in psychology models and practices (Col 2:8).
If your marriage needs help, may you be encouraged here to seek biblical counseling through the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors (NANC) or pastors, elders, teachers in like-mindedness honoring the doctrines of the authority and sufficiency of the Scriptures for all matters of life, faith and heart/mind/soul/spirit.
1. The National Association of Nouthetic Counselors (NANC) Conference, San Antonio, TX 2013, Dr. James Allen Fain III.
2. Counseling: How to Counsel Biblically, John MacArthur and The Master’s College Faculty, p. 120. (parenthesis mine)
See Also, False Gospels: The Psychology Movement
Really? Can you imagine the backlash then if they were to remove all the false teaching on their shelves, too?
What this criticism is unraveling are the complaints from the liberal Christian sector, like this, who think they know best and speak for all Christian consumers, including the ones who do not want to be friends with this world (James 4:4) or promote false gospels (Gal 1:6-9).
I say, “Yay to the Lord,” for Lifeway’s decision! ”It’s a good start! Now, let’s keep it comin’! There’s a lot more work to be done! ”
Christian bookstores, including Lifeway, are businesses filled with an inkling of inventory of sound teaching but loaded with idolatrous, blasphemous, counterfeit false gospels. You will find emergent, ecumenical, seeker-sensitive, liberal, humanistic, socialistic, prosperity, motivational, mystic, pagan, signs and wonders, new prophets with new revelation, AND MORE, in the forms of books, memorabilia, and yes, movies! But! I love to visit my local Christian bookstore and exercise the discernment the Lord is providing to me through His Word and Holy Spirit. So thankful that I no longer find myself in a sea of unknown when I walk in. Plus, I like to pick up a nice framed picture or trinket for the house, from time to time.
I have seen the DVD and was very disappointed after hearing what “a great, new Christian movie” The Blind Side, with Sandra Bullock, was when it was first released. This from fellow believers. Then seeing its weak, watered-down, warm and fuzzy, you-can-be-a-success-in-life teaching about the gospel faith was a bummer, not to mention the blaspheming. If our family buys a DVD, like this one and there is blaspheming in it, in the garbage it goes with kids understanding why!
These kind of movies are packaged as a ‘Christian’ story. And when a Christian bookstore sells it, well, there ya go! Credibility and agreement of ‘Christian’ in an instant! These shows remind me of false teachers with their charismatic, show-business personalities and misguided Christian vocabulary and ideology promoting false teaching. Because that is what these kind of movies do. Made by either secular or Christian film producers, it doesn’t matter! They just add fuel to the false teaching fire as they are made to pander to as large an audience as possible, just like wolves in sheep’s clothing do.
The True Gospel was no where to be found in this movie. Misplaced Christian terminology is not Christianity, but is in fact down right dangerous! Be as discerning of movies that claim Christianity as much as of pastors, teachers, books, blogs, seminars, conferences, contemporary Christian music artists, Christian DJ’s, etc.
It seems as though our family has seen a run of new Christian movies that are selling this bill of goods that the gospel promises success, health and wealth and every other kind of personal agenda. It makes my skin crawl when I hear people misuse the verse, Phil 4:13, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” as a motivational, postive-thinking, “I-can-have-all-my-dreams-come-true,” kind of Disney deception.
That is not the exegetical meaning of Paul’s message to the Philippians. Paul’s context is about suffering and withstanding all things, by God’s grace and strength in saving faith for the gospel. This would be true for all believers who are persevered for every good work for the gospel to the glory of the Lord (Eph 2:10). Paul did not write this to inspire us to win a football game, master other athletic goals, or whatever desire one has to achieve or accomplish for their own status, reputation, bank account, etc. It certainly is not at all what the Bible is about, but what this movie teaches. Le’t be careful to accurately handle the truth of God’s Word (2 Tim 2:15). Let’s not incorrectly attribute strength in Christ to God-given natural, human abilities. Now, if being a star athlete has something to do with a true believer’s work for the gospel, for every good work prepared for them, then yes.
I don’t know for sure, but it’s worth a consideration since the movie is based on a true life story. It may have been somewhat edited for Hollywood, as is almost always the case for box office interest, and so forth, by the money making entertainment industry of the world. So much so that it may have actually done the true story an injustice, tampering with the heart of the story of the Lord’s will in this family’s life. Hopefully, the True Gospel is living in this family’s life. However, I did not get that impression from the movie.
I do know that Christians want their entertainment. Just put it to the Phil 4:8-9 test to see if it passes for partaking. Or, if your a parent like I am, to examine whether it is suitable for including your children without putting them into a shark’s tank. To make sure we’re not setting them before a foolish, parental example to catch-learn from us what is or is not condoned. This would be the case if submitting to the authority, sufficiency and supremacy of Scripture were absent.
The Philippians 4:8-9 Guide:
“(8) Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. (9) The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”
Now, the many other false teaching authors in Christian bookstores, including Lifeway, is a whole ‘nother topic and the more weightier issue for the church than fussing over this store’s decision about removing this movie. I think it is good that a Christian bookstore did remove it if they tether the right doctrine to why they did it! This lays the ground work for being faithfully consistent in potentially following through with the rest of the junk in there, leaving only the sound doctrine teaching. But will that ever happen? Not as long as the roaming lion of lies is unleashed and the love of money exists. Not as long as that is present and the Lord wants us to grow in all discernment in this time. And He does.
Keep on being a good Berean (Acts 17:11); growing in love, real knowledge and all discernment so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ (Phil 1:9-10); testing everything, holding onto that which is good and abstaining from every form of evil (1 Thess 5:21-22)… including movies you find in your local Christian bookstore.
Dr. Gary Gilley’s Review
One reviewer at Amazon wrote, “[It] is neck and neck with The Shack…Grace Is For Sinners helped me see and show love & grace in a such a new way. I don’t have the glasses of judgement on anymore. I don’t have the glasses of religiosity on anymore. I don’t have the glasses of self-condemnation on anymore. I’m looking out of a new pair of glasses that shows that Jesus loves me & you no matter our past, present, or future sins.” -YIKES!!!