11 March 2012

Moody Church Welcomes Spiritual Formation Expert Larry Crabb

The Moody Church in Chicago is led by senior pastor Erwin Lutzer, who is widely known to be a staunch defender of maintaining a biblical worldview rather than succumbing to the liberal compromises of the day. That is why it is rather curious that Lutzer has chosen to hand his pulpit over to Larry Crabb, a psychologist-turned-spiritual-formation-expert whose efforts and books tend to promote contemplative prayer, mysticism, and elevate subjective experience over and above objective truth.

Crabb was invited to lead the 2012 Leadership Summit that was held at Moody Church on Saturday, March 10. Following this, he will be ushered into Erwin Lutzer's pulpit to preach the Sunday service on March 11.
(Online Source)
(Online Source)
So, just who is Larry Crabb? According to the website of his organization, New Way Ministries

Dr. Larry Crabb is a well-known psychologist, conference and seminar speaker, Bible teacher, popular author, and founder/director of NewWay Ministries. In addition to various other speaking and teaching opportunities, Dr. Crabb offers a weekend conference throughout the country entitled Life on the Narrow Road and a week-long School of Spiritual Direction held in Colorado Springs, CO. He currently is Scholar in Residence at Colorado Christian University in Colorado and serves as Spiritual Director for the American Association of Christian Counselors. Dr. Crabb has authored many books including; Understanding People, The Marriage Builder, Finding God, Connecting, The Safest Place on Earth, The Pressure's Off, Shattered Dreams, and SoulTalk. His latest book, The PAPA Prayer, was released in February 2006. Dr. Crabb and his wife, Rachael, live in the Denver, Colorado area. 
Educational Background 
Ph.D. Clinical Psychology, University of Illinois, 1970 (Minors: Speech Therapy and Philosophy of Science)
M.A. Clinical Psychology, University of Illinois, 1969
B.S. Psychology, Ursinus College, 1965
(Online Source)
Obviously, Crabb's background in psychology is quite extensive. Unfortunately, this has seeped quite extensively into his writing and work. Just one example is found New Way Ministries' course offerings of the School of Spiritual Direction (SSD). Crabb describes the SSD in the following manner:
I call it the Passion/Wisdom Model of Spiritual Direction, and I see it as offering the opportunity for our interior worlds and supernatural reality to meet. This model offers a conceptual understanding of the private and often confusing world beneath the surface of our everyday lives and a rhythmic strategy for following the Spirit into the depths of people’s souls, including our own. That is where God’s Spirit is moving us into the Father’s presence and into the light of the Son so that we can (1) enjoy God, (2) accept ourselves, and (3) engage with others in the energy of Christ. (Online Source)
What we read above is, at best, psycho-babble with a "Christianese" twist. At worst, it's mystical deception. As was mentioned above, Crabb has authored numerous books. The most recent of these, The PAPA Prayer, was briefly reviewed by Pastor Gary Gilley. Of this work, Gilley says,
Most importantly the ideas presented are not in any way drawn from Scripture. Crabb’s experience and imagination is the seed-bed of The PAPA Prayer. What little Scripture Crabb uses is taken out of context or distorted (e.g. pp. 29, 45-51, 111, 116, 119). Probably the most “creative” use of Scripture was tagging on a command by Jesus given to John based on Revelation 1:16-17, “Then the risen Christ placed His right hand on John and spoke. ‘Don’t be afraid. I’m alive and because I’m alive, you’re alive. Advance My kingdom until I return with great power to finish the job’” (p. 118). This last statement is simply not there (maybe Crabb should review Revelation 22:18-19).
The author also introduces his newer devotion to mysticism a number of times (pp. 123, 146, 149). As a matter of fact, in disguised form he promotes all three stages of classic mysticism: purgation, illumination and union (pp. 146-149). Centering and contemplative prayer is also recommended (pp. 9, 22). Even a little visualization in the form of dancing with God (pp. 19, 107, 163) is evident. 
But the heart of the book, and its chief error, is the goal behind the PAPA prayer. The PAPA prayer is a means by which we hear the voice of God—not necessarily audibly, but at least inwardly, “Prayer is more about us hearing God than about His hearing us. We’re the audience” (p. 71). Crabb promises, “PAPA will speak to you [if you follow Crabb’s formula]. He loves a good conversation with His children” (pp. 143-144). This is the carrot that will draw people to the PAPA prayer and is the reoccurring theme throughout (pp. XIV-XVI; 8, 9, 12. 13, 19, 71, 80, 85, 124, 143, 165). But where in Scripture are we taught any such thing? Yes, there were rare occasions in the Word when God spoke to someone while he was praying, but nowhere are we told that this is either the norm or the purpose of prayer. Prayer in the Bible is us speaking to God; it is the Scriptures that speak to us.
Crabb does not find his PAPA prayer in the Bible. It is drawn from experience, mysticism and faulty theology. (Online Source)
As Gilley notes, experience is what dominates Crabb's book. Indeed, experience is at the very heart of the vast majority of deceptions which today plague our churches. When the quest for a warm, welcoming experience is sought through such means as centering or contemplative prayer, then our ravenous enemy has a wide doorway through which to walk.

Larry Crabb has authored another book which ought to be of concern to the Christian. In his book, SoulTalk, Crabb explains that, while in the hospital awaiting surgery, he was privileged to discover a sort of secret language of the Holy Spirit, a language that Crabb calls "SoulTalk." He writes,
I believe God kept me alive so I could speak about it, so together we could start dancing with God. Then we'll learn SoulTalk, and we'll speak with power into people's lives, especially the people we love most. (Online Source)
Dancing with God? Where is the Scripture that speaks to this? Where is the verse that speaks about "SoulTalk?" Check your Bible if you like, but you will not find these references.

Throughout this book, Crabb speaks about "catching the vision" of the Spirit. He speaks of looking into one's own soul, and then into the soul's of others so as to communicate "with power." Yet, is not God the only One who can see into the mind, heart and very soul of any man?

It is not the duty of men, not even redeemed men, to learn to speak some secret, even gnostic, language. It is not the job of redeemed men to search within themselves in their efforts to learn to communicate this imaginary, "supernatural" language. The duty of redeemed men, rather, is to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ and Him crucified for our sins. The Bible does not speak of "SoulTalk," but it does talk of souls. And it tells us what will happen to those souls who die without Christ.

While we ought to be concerned that Erwin Lutzer has decided to welcome such a spiritual formation proponent as Larry Crabb into his pulpit, we ought not be surprised. After all, Lutzer himself has endorsed The PAPA Prayer.
(Online Source)
We pray the congregation of Moody Church will be listening with great discernment as Larry Crabb stands and teaches from that once great pulpit.
And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. (1 Corinthians 2:1-5)


  1. Lutzer is serving as a bridge to mysticism for Moody Church with this invite and pulpit surrender to the extra-biblical Mr. Crabb.

    It must be the season for all the mystics and mystic empowerers to take off their doctrinal masks and expose themselves as friends of mysticism.

    I always had my reservations going back as far as 20 years ago regarding Lutzer , and this based upon his pragmatism and friendly affiliations with a host of plainly antichrist pretenders.

    It must be the season for all mystics and their buddies to link arms and hearts for all to see.


  2. Rather telling but not surprising... Sad too. Even Lutzer using this emergent lingo of "Journey" is troubling... Has anyone wondered about Lutzer's complete silence about MacDonald going berserk? I also wonder if there is a connection between dispensationlism embraced by most of these folks who also embrace this Gnostic mysticism bug.

    1. Desp- I'm with Erin's assessment. Your premises is in error, opening your thesis up to a myriad of logical fallacies. Before you wrongly associate dispensationalism as going hand in hand with mysticism (which it does not, never has), perhaps you ought to take stock of how many reformers/covenant theologists/amill's are also into mysticism (there's quite a number in that camp, too, friend). And likewise in fairness, there are many reformers/covenant theologists/amill's who also loudly decry mysticism.

      Eschatological beliefs and willingness to embrace mysticism aren't related. The whole contemplative nonsense is infiltrating every camp. What is related: a lack of discernment and a willingness to embrace mysticism. To that end, Christians of all eschatological beliefs can unfortunately have a lack of discernment.


  3. I don't think it's fair to link a dispensational view with the mysticism. There are plenty of solid Bible teachers who embrace a dispensational view yet decry these mystical elements coming into the churches.

    1. Ebenz, I am aware of the teachers who are solid and who have dispensational eschatology like John MacArthur. On another hand as you know exceptions would not nullify any thesis, including this one. That is something that would have to be researched more thoroughly and at this point it is a thesis and a question only for which I do not have any substance. At least not yet.

  4. I have always enjoyed Erwin Lutzer. I'm quite surprised at this and taken aback really. I'm glad for this exposure to protect us from slipping in with our favorite teachers and Pastors. I haven't listened to Lutzer lately but have enjoyed his "Songs in the Nite" on my radio etc...

    I've never heard of Mr Crabb until now. I DON'T like Psychology it is another gospel

    As Someone once said “Psychology-one doesn’t need to be saved from one’s own sins as much as from the sins of others.” backwards

    By God's mercy and his grace he has granted me ears to hear subliminal messages and ferret them out that are not biblical as I listen to "Christian Radio Stations". One Christian radio station I listen to is more and more becoming an amalgamation of Catholicism, psychology, mysticism, and just a smattering of Christianity. ~hah I get to do the selection though and primarily listen to who I KNOW is sound biblically like MacArthur.

    anyways, I'm thankful for the keen ears you watchmen and women have to give us a heads up. There are just too many Christians who do not and they will fall for all this


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