Saturday, July 14, 2012


One of the latest issues of the Critical Issues Commentary (by Bob Dewaay) carries the title "Romantic Panentheism: A Review of One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp". 1.One Thousand Gifts is a popular devotional book with a primarily female audience and is reminiscent of the secular book Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach, which was made popular on the Oprah Winfrey Show about five years ago, and which I purchased for myself in a effort calm the storms in my busy life. It appears that Voskamp is a Christianized form of Breathnach's book, and DeWaay has done an excellent job of describing it in his book review, which I recommend reading in its entirety.

Prior to 2006 I became (temporarily) enamored with the concepts in Breathnach's book, which later led me to be involved in christian mysticism, aka contemplative spirituality, when I was required to take a seminary course called "Spiritual Formation". The similarities between the principles of Breathnach's book and Voskamp's , and other "Christian" mystics are startling. The principles in Simple Abundance are gratitude, simplicity, order, harmony, beauty and joy. 2 The similarities between their styles and their practices is also startling, so much so that I easily made the transition from secular mysticism to "Christian" mysticism and was happy to find an outlet that I thought was more in line with my Christian faith. Little did I know, it would gradually lead me away from the solid foundation of my faith in God's Word into a spiritual realm that had no biblical basis whatsoever, although Scripture is cleverly and dishonestly used to justify the practices and principles of the Contemplative Spirituality movement.

The latest issue of the MB Herald (July 2012) also carries an example of Romantic Panentheism in the article For the love of trembling trees3. by Jan Woltmann. Just as Voskamp has fallen into the error of leading her readers into Romantic Panentheism but would likely be horrified to think that her work resembles pagan earth worship, Jan Woltmann obviously does not understand that she has made the serious theological error of promoting God's immanence (accessibility) at the expense of His transcendence (His existence outside of and above His creation), and that she does not make a clear distinction between general revelation and special revelation, bringing much confusion to the reader who does not understand the dangers of the underlying beliefs of this movement. She merely hints that redemption is available, but that it is accessible through the beauty of nature rather than through the Word of God (Living and Written), which has been given to us as God's final word to mankind and contains the historical account of the death and resurrection of His Son, and its purpose. Her flowery and sensuous language is an attempt to enter into an intimate relationship with God through His general revelation (creation), and she fails dismally to point to the living Christ who is presently seated at the right hand of the Father, having paid for our redemption with His blood. Somehow the cross, in its full meaning, takes a back seat to all the glories of God's creation. Sadly, the full redemptive revelation of Jesus Christ is lost in Woltmann's article at the expense of her romantic, sensual style and her desire for a mystical union with God. 

I strongly advise you to read Bob Dewaay's article, as linked above, so as to understand the spiritual implications of the return to Romantic Panentheism (with its strong connection to Celtic Spirituality, also becoming popular in Christian circles) with its errors. If Woltmann hasn't already fully fallen into Romantic Panentheism she is, at the very least, well on her way.

Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; and having an high priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water, let us hold fast to the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) and let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be though worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?  Hebrews 10:19-29