Margaret Feinberg’s Organic God

Who is Margaret Feinberg?  Charisma magazine claims she’s one of the 30 voices who will lead the Church in the next decade.  According to Wikipedia, Feinberg has written over two dozen books and Bible studies including the critically acclaimed “The Organic God.”  The liberal media promotes Feinberg and her books: CNN, MSNBC, Chicago Tribune, L.A.Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, USA Today, Salon.com, to name a few.  April 15-16 she will headline a Georgia Baptist Convention event in Jekyll Island.  So even if you haven’t heard of her, she’s big.  Apparently many women have been buying her books and recommending them to family and friends. But is her teaching biblical?  “Umm.  No,” says Bud Ahlheim.  In fact, he has some serious concerns about this writer which he lays out in…

“Margaret Feinberg: ‘Bible Teacher’ sans Bible?”  

Margaret FeinbergOne of my favorite verses from Scripture, one that reveals a truth of fundamental importance for me as a believer, is John 8:31.  Jesus, speaking to the believing Jews in His audience, said, “If you abide in my word, truly you are my disciples.”

The greatest desire of my life, and hopefully yours, is to be His disciple.  I abhor the casual Christianity proclaimed from so many pulpits.  I have great disdain for any teaching that takes focus away from “my word” and dares suggest other modes, other practices, regardless how “Christianized,” that are extra-biblical.  If we desire to be His disciple, we will be in His Word.

The problem with modern motivational preaching is that it offers little more than a theistically-salved form of positive thinking by adding Jesus to your life.  Having done just a little bit of “abiding in my word”, you’ll discover that this notion is as far from the authentic discipleship that Jesus taught as was Judas from winning the “disciple most likely to succeed” award.  You don’t add Jesus to your life; He IS your life.  “I am the way, the truth, and the LIFE” isn’t just a pithy phrase of helpful encouragement; it is veracity with a capital “V”.

But, these days, pithy phrases and flowery, emotion-inducing prose take preeminence in our pulpits, from our leaders, and from presumed “Bible teachers.”  Margaret Feinberg occupies this latter category, a self-applied label highlighted in a tagline on her website.  That Feinberg wields well-turned phrases is uncontested.  However, that they yield much worthwhile truth remains, at best, a spurious assumption.

In doing research for her book, Scouting The Divine: My Search for God In Wine, Wool, and Wild Honey (see how oozingly warm and fuzzy she can be?), Feinberg describes her process of seeking Biblical illumination through a decidedly unbliblical hermeneutic.

(FYI, Feinberg’s book is endorsed by Ed Stetzer, Executive Director of the SBC’s LifeWay Research.  That alone should warn you away from it.  These days, if the SBC endorses something, it should cause discernment alarms to go off  for you.)

“Scripture is written in an agragrian context, but I’m a total city girl.  Harvest, pruning, and livestock are things I see in movies and are especially difficult to grasp when I can’t even keep my living room plant alive.

A few years ago, I decided to do something about it.

I traveled to Oregon and spent time with a shepherdess to learn more about sheep and leadership.  Southern Colorado to spend time with a beekeeper and explore the world of hives and honey.  Nebraska to visit a farm and learn about harvesting, and California to learn about viticulture and fruitfulness from a grape-grower.

Along the way, I asked how each person interpreted passages of Scripture in light of their work.  Their answers illuminated the Bible in a whole new light and resulted in the book … ”

(She proceeds to provide a link so you can not only buy her book, but also a 6 session DVD “Bible” study based on it.)

Now, there’s much that is worrisome from Feinberg’s comments, but let’s just hit the highlights.

For the believer – and I mean the authentic believer – there is this wonderful, doctrinal truth about Scripture.  It’s called the perspicuity of Scripture, and, paradoxically, the word “perspicuity” means clarity.  The Bible – for the believer – is clear.   We do not require special knowledge (you may recall the heresy of Gnosticism; it yet remains today, my friends.) to understand Scripture.  We do not need special training, or seminary degrees, or a solid grasp of hermeneutical techniques.

Well, why not?  You already know this (hopefully).  We have the Holy Spirit.  Upon our regeneration, one of the great assurances we have of our miraculous re-birth, is not only a new craving for God’s Word, but also the unique reality that, now, we actually understand it.  Like the resurrected Lord walking aside those two disciples on the Emmaus road, the Holy Spirit illuminates the Scriptures.  Those two disciples, you may recall, commented that “he opened the Scriptures to us.”  Same thing for us today.

That Feinberg needed the aid of a shepherd, or a beekeeper, or a winemaker, whom she says “illuminated the Bible in a whole new light”, suggests a pragmatic hermeneutic that is unnecessary for Biblical understanding nor condoned by the Word itself.  Her technique implies that what we need to know from Holy Scripture can’t merely be learned by the Holy Spirit’s illumination alone;  we must go outside Scripture to understand the truth of Scripture.

Umm. NO.  Continue reading

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