Donald Miller’s prescription for spiritual suicide

I just read a rather stunning admission from Donald Miller. In a short blog post, he says that his learning style is not conducive for learning in traditional worship services. He doesn’t “connect” with God in singing praises or in listening to the preached word. On the contrary, he feels most connected to God when he is working to “build his company.” As a result of all this, he makes this confession:

So, do I attend church? Not often, to be honest. Like I said, it’s not how I learn. But I also believe the church is all around us, not to be confined by a specific tribe. I’m fine with where I’ve landed and finally experiencing some forward momentum in my faith. I worship God every day through my work. It’s a blast.

I don’t know what else to say except that this is profoundly disappointing. Not only that, it’s also dangerous. It’s a recipe for spiritual suicide. I am not denying that people have different learning styles. I am denying that different learning styles in any way trump what God has said to us about His church. The scripture is very clear that the local church is the matrix for Christian discipleship. In short, you cannot be a follower of Jesus and be indifferent about the church.

It is very clear that Miller’s view of the church differs markedly from what we find in scripture. For him, the church is not defined by the preaching of the word and the right administration of the ordinances (e.g., Acts 2:42). Instead, the church is amorphous, “all around us, not to be confined by a specific tribe.” How different this is from the way that the Bible speaks of the church as local bodies of believers “who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 1:2). God is omnipresent, but the church is not. If you are not with a gathered community, you are not at church—despite Miller’s claim that the church is “all around us.”

But more than that, Miller’s aversion to gathering with God’s people goes directly against explicit commands and exemplars in scripture:

“And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” -Hebrews 10:25

“Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” -Ephesians 5:19-20

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.” -Colossians 3:16

The New Testament pattern for gathered worship seems to involve a meeting on the first day of the week—Sunday (e.g., Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2; Rev. 1:10). It involves the people of God coming together to enjoy the apostle’s teaching, fellowship, prayer, and the breaking of bread (Acts 2:42). Gathering with God’s people like this isn’t an optional add-on to following Christ. It is part and parcel of being a disciple. To neglect this is to deny the faith altogether. In fact, John describes apostates as those who stop gathering with God’s people:

“They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, in order that it might be shown that they all are not of us.” -1 John 2:19

In other words, faithfulness to Christ is not defined by personal piety alone. It is defined in part by persevering in and among God’s people in the church. To walk away from the church is to walk away from Christ.

So yes, I find this statement by Donald Miller to be quite stunning. God has given us everything we need for life and godliness, and a big part of that provision is the fellowship of the church (2 Pet. 1:3). No individual is the pillar and foundation of the truth. Only the church carries that distinction (1 Tim. 3:15). Miller would have you think that neglecting the church is but one of many ways to follow Christ, depending on your learning style. Nothing could be further from the truth, and nothing could be more dangerous to your soul.

[Photo Credit: Jerod Harper]

70 Responses to Donald Miller’s prescription for spiritual suicide

  1. Chris Ryan February 3, 2014 at 11:44 pm #

    Yeah, maybe its just me, but I’ve never thought of Sunday service as being abt learning. That’s what Sunday School & Bible Study nights are for IMO. As I’ve always seen it, Sunday service is about worship, not learning. Its abt fellowship and helping your brothers and sisters through intercessory prayer and sharing our witness. So thinking about it in terms of personal learning is a bit self centered. The Creator deserves His worship.

    • Kevin Hash February 5, 2014 at 3:19 pm #

      It doesn’t make sense to pit learning God’s Word against worshipping God. As I sit attentively to hear God’s Word expounded, I’m communicating to God how big He is, how trustworthy He is, how needy I am for Him to speak into my life. That is worship!

      The next time I go out to eat with my wife. If I say, “i don’t want to hear from you, I just want to adore you!” she will not feel loved, she will be ticked off. One of the ways I communicate my value for her is by listening and learning from her what she wants me to know.

      My .02

      • robyn vasile February 5, 2014 at 8:10 pm #

        I agree, I would want to clobber my husband too….

  2. Aaron A. Smith February 4, 2014 at 2:15 am #

    Oops.

  3. RD Evans February 4, 2014 at 9:16 am #

    One of the commenters at his site says it very well:
    “I think the problem Don is having is that he thinks worshipping with the Body of Christ is about learning. It isn’t, but I understand why he would think that. I mean, you might learn something in church. But that’s not the point. The point is to present your soul as a living sacrifice, to give God the honor that he deserves, and to receive grace in Word and Sacrament. So, if his “traditional” church (by which I assume he means the Protestant tradition of the past hundred or two years) is all about singing songs and then hearing a sermon for the sake of learning, then I wouldn’t go either.”

    • Pastor Luke February 11, 2014 at 12:46 pm #

      But not going to one church because they miss the point is quite different from not going to any church at all. Scripture wants us connected with other believers.

      • RD Evans February 11, 2014 at 2:36 pm #

        I think the point is that going for the wrong reason (missing the right reasons) may cause the individual to stop going at all. The cause of his leaving may have been that incorrect assumption of why to go. Eventually, he lost interest.

  4. Keith Marriner February 4, 2014 at 9:23 am #

    My thoughts (almost) exactly Chris. Miller does come off self centered. Gathering to worship the God of the universe isn’t about us; it’s all about him. By excusing himself, Miller also doesn’t allow God to use him to minister to a local body of believers. He may find he gets little out of church personally (to reiterate, this isn’t what church is for), but that doesn’t mean he can’t minister to others so that they might be grow as disciples of Christ.

    • buddyglass February 4, 2014 at 9:59 am #

      I’m not Don Miller, but I suspect he’d agree with you on church not being “about us”. At least, not per se. God does want us to learn more about him. We probably agree on that. Miller seems to think weekly expository preaching is one of the means through which God chooses to teach believers about himself. However, he regards himself as having been created in such a way that weekly expository preaching is not a great teaching tool for him specifically. So rather than simply “not learn about God” he tries to do it in other ways. Misguided, maybe, but I’m not sure I’d characterize it as selfish.

      With respect to serving the body of believers, I further suspect that Miller views his teaching and writing as the ways in which he serves. Its not so much “I don’t need to serve the Body” as it is “Here’s how I serve, which may be different from how you serve.”

      The crux of “church” is believers living in community with other believers and coming together to worship corporately in ways that are unmistakably “worship” (though, not always “singing”). That’s about as strictly as I care to define “doing church”. If Miller does those things then I’m not so concerned if he’s not in a pew every Sunday morning.

      • David Powell February 4, 2014 at 11:36 am #

        Very, very, very important that we make the distinction of local vs. universal church. Miller can write to the church universal and do some good in that way. But if that happens only to the exclusion of his involvement in and service toward a local body of believers, he is misunderstanding church and Christianity in general.

        If he has an issue with the preaching of the Word, he probably has an issue with the authority of the Word. The question is not whether we *like* the preaching of the Word; it’s whether we submit to the authority of God through His Word. If Miller feels like he’s got a strong enough grasp on the Scripture that he doesn’t need to be taught, he’s got some deeper, more serious issues than simply missing a Sunday here or there.

      • robyn vasile February 5, 2014 at 9:13 pm #

        I’m sorry but your explanation seems to imply that this man wants to live in a bubble. If his worship is between him and God alone, and the only way he serves the church is by sending out his teachings and his writings, where does he leave room to be blessed and taught by others? Or did I miss that this man is physically disabled? if what you say is true, how can a person be so self centered as to believe they do not need fellowship, guidance, or celebration of worship with other Christians?
        I will grant you that I can worship God anytime, anyplace, any day of the week, by myself, or with others. God wants us to worship Him all the time! However God provide a tabernacle for his people and a temple as places for them to go to learn and worship Him. Paul and the apostles established churches, places to worship, all over the Middle East and Mediterranean through the leading of the Holy Spirit, and obedience to the Lord. by his example and through the command of the Lord through him as inspired in Scripture we are told to assemble as believers If he is assembling with believers at other times for the purpose of worship, prayer, instruction, and fellowship, and seeking to meet needs as instructed in scripture (widows and orphans etc) then I don’t see an issue and quite frankly I don’t think the problem would have been raised here. It seems the more I understand this issue the more I feel that Mr. Miller (and others like him) needs to read his Bible, pray, and then burst his “selfie” bubble and break free of his prideful behavior.

    • DLE February 6, 2014 at 10:49 am #

      In truth, the way we Americans worship on Sunday is very much about us and is more self-centered than we care to admit. The white suburbanite goes to his “worship as rock concert” church with the pastor in a bowling shirt, the rural dweller goes to his nondescript Baptist church with the worship led from a synthesized organ and everyone sings songs written in the 19th century, while the black, Southern churchgoer goes to his church where the pastor delivers a rhyming sermon and people dance in the aisles. Church in America is as much about our personal styles as it is about worshiping God. To claim otherwise is to lie to ourselves.

  5. Mark Mountan February 4, 2014 at 9:49 am #

    I understand the author’s point, and it’s valid. However, his response illustrates exactly what those outside the church hate about those inside the church. Namely, at the hearing of someone’s transparency we immediately identify the problem and throw a barrage of Scripture bombs at them. You may as well be throwing F bombs, as it has the same net effect of pushing away rather than drawing in. I find this to be a very non-Gospel, ungracious response. That’s ironic, given the Gospel-centric mission of this site. Rather than enumerating all the reasons Donald Miller is wrong with Scripture proofs, how about a thoughtful discussion around the common heart-motivators behind such views and how we can respond to in a loving way that points people deeper into the Gospel? Secondly, the “spiritual suicide” metaphor is tasteless in a day and age when so many young people in the church are daily contemplating actual suicide. The author’s point stands that not participating in corporate Worship and not engaging the community of believers is to unplug oneself from the Gospel, which is the power source that propels our daily living. But the cavalier use of “spiritual suicide” unintentionally minimizes what is a deeply troubling and serious issue in the church (teenage self-harm and suicide).

    • Daryl Little February 4, 2014 at 11:04 am #

      “Spiritual suicide” is only tasteless and cavalier if you believe that a) it’s not as deadly as a bottle of pills and b) it doesn’t matter as much as a teen (or anyone else) deciding that life isn’t worth living anymore.

      What Miller is advocating is at least as deadly as any suicide plan. It is eternally deadly and causes more harm, long term, than cutting oneself.

      He’s cutting himself off from life.

      Further, with his writing and blogging he’s put himself forward as a teacher of believers so the response to something like this needs to be sharp and to the point. Nothing F-bombish about bringing Scripture to bear on a teacher’s public error. Particularly a teacher with his spotty track record.

    • Christopher Brannen February 4, 2014 at 12:20 pm #

      You are incorrect. I am sorry, but you are. If they’re offended by us going to scripture to correct error when that is exactly what they need it is only further proof that is what they need the most! If they are in rebellion, the word calls them back. The word has power that I don’t possess if I don’t use it.

      The other comment sufficiently covered the “spiritual suicide” part of your post. I pray you recognize that calling out error is necessary and that it is necessary to do it publicly when the error has been made publicly. Don’t be lilly livered, Christianity is not for the cowardly, but for those who take courage in Christ.

    • Josh Brown February 4, 2014 at 5:51 pm #

      Yes. It is terribly unlike the gospel to point people to what the Bible teaches upon a matter and express concern for their eternal well-being when they disregard biblical instruction. If we would just leave off rebuking, correcting, and exhorting people from the Scriptures, we could get to the really gracious task of discussing what might be motivating Miller way down in his heart to chart his own course in defiance of the Word of Christ. To go and point out the errors of influential men, who by their admitted example encourage others to disobey the Word and endanger both their own souls and the souls those they influence, is to only push folks away from the kingdom. This much is clear from the example of Christ and the apostles, right?

    • Robyn Vasile February 6, 2014 at 1:54 am #

      Mark, in this case, you have an influencial man who is making a bold statement that is clearly not scriptural. Can imagine the damage he has already done to people who are already on the fence about going to church? So many excuses people make about not going to church, when they avoid the true reason: pride. They are too good to go to church. They don’t need God. They don’t need others. They don’t need salvation. They can do it all themselves, thank you. Everyone else is subpar. The Bible says that pride precedes destruction. There has never been a documented case where pride (selfish ambition) led to true love, true respect, true success, fullness of joy, or lasting satisfaction. When people like Miller make these revelations and proclamations that are clearly not supported by scripture, he needs to be willing to take the responsibility for the thousands of people who follow his path away from obedience to the Lord’s instruction. He may personally be able to sustain an appropriate spiritual relationship with God without “church”, but the vast majority of his followers won’t.
      I was unable to attend church for a time. As a strong Christian, I thought I would be able to sustain by watching tv sermons and chatting online with Christian friends. I had very little personal contact with Christians outside of family for two years. I can attest to what it does to a person. I feverishly read my Bible and prayed. I wrote songs, I shared in chat rooms. It was not the same. I needed to be with my Christian brothers and sisters in church. By God’s grace He brought me through it because He knew my heart. I cannot imagine boldly declaring that I would ever leave the church on purpose. I too, have plenty to say and could write blogs and articles by the dozens to share, but God have mercy on me if I ever thought I was too good to accept rebuke from others and refuse to go to church because “that’s not my learning style”.

    • Pastor Luke February 11, 2014 at 12:44 pm #

      I think we’re missing something here. The Bible does call Christians to “speak the truth in love” even if the truth speaks against someone else’s false claims or incorrect understandings. It’s not anti gospel to lovingly show someone the opportunity they have to change their understanding and align their thinking more closely to God’s Word. However, that love part is crucial. The way in which we speak the truth can have profound effects on how the Gospel is perceived by the recipient.

      In the case of non believers for example, extreme care is warranted because they may not even understand what sin really is or why a savior is so needed. Correcting unbelievers would almost be a backward way to lovingly speak truth. For Don Miller however, things are different.

      Don is a believer and even writes books about Jesus and the faith. He’s supposed to be one of the leaders, an expert. He’s supposed to know better! No he’s not perfect and yes, he still needs the truth in love too, but as a Jesus follower, Miller should already be prepared for other brothers and sisters to hold him accountable to the truth and, in fact, he should hope for it. Believers should want people to hold them accountable when they get off track because it’s that truth and accountability that brings re alignment. And we should all want to be aligned with Jesus’ Word.

      So, Mark, I’d like to suggest that such correction is centered in the Gospel and is nothing like an F Bomb.

  6. Karen Zacharias (@karenzach) February 4, 2014 at 10:10 am #

    Don Miller feels intimacy with God when he’s building his company. He’s not the first to muddle the waters of Capitalism with Christianity. This sort of muddled thinking is commonplace today. I do what feels good and what benefits me financially, emotionally and that equates to spirituality & today’s version of “intimacy” with God. And Miller’s statement that He’s okay with where he’s at, is just one more way of saying: How this may affect you does not matter in the least to me.

  7. wmcdouglas February 4, 2014 at 10:43 am #

    Thanks to Denny Burke for this excellent article. He could have said more but has exercised charity. He could have talked about the disturbing trend among those who seem to see themselves not as mere followers of the Savior but as the hip, cool members of the entourage. “I know church is OK for most of you but I write books — I am on the NY Times list and all men speak well of me. Sitting with ordinary people singing the same tired hymns and saying those old creeds just does not do it for me. Or for Jon Stewart or the other important people who really matter.” The Bible does not indicate that Jesus is looking for celebrities to endorse him and bring his brand up to date but for disciples who will walk in humble obedience as he manifests through us an aroma of life and death. The commands and promises of the NT are not “you” singular but “you” plural and are to be claimed and followed as part of the company of the church.

  8. Brett Cody February 4, 2014 at 11:02 am #

    I have found that a good litmus test is to ask: “How many Great Commission disciples have come out of the ‘church’ you worship at?” None from Don Miller’s ‘church’.

    • buddyglass February 4, 2014 at 11:09 am #

      You can say that confidently? How?

      • Brett Cody February 4, 2014 at 2:46 pm #

        Don Miller’s ‘church’ can not administer the ordinance of baptism, which is the beginning of discipleship.

        • buddyglass February 4, 2014 at 11:47 pm #

          Doesn’t seem like we can know much about Miller’s church from reading this blog post. For all we know he meets regularly with other believers in someone’s home for a time of prayer and worship. In other words, a church. Could such a community not baptize?

          • Brett Cody February 5, 2014 at 10:20 am #

            Miller doesn’t attend church. At least not often.
            Based on what he said:
            “So, do I attend church? Not often, to be honest.” “But I also believe the church is all around us, not to be confined by a specific tribe.”

            “Meeting regularly with other believers” would mean often and also a specific tribe. It is pretty clear from Miller that he doesn’t attend church or have a specific tribe. Discipleship cannot exist without the consistency of ‘often’ and ‘a specific tribe’. Especially since disciple-making is defined by Christ as baptizing and teaching all that He commanded.

            • buddyglass February 5, 2014 at 5:38 pm #

              Being the emergent guy he is, though, I wonder whether when he says “church” he means a denominational body that meets in a dedicated building and has “professional” clergy? If he does have a community of believers that he meets with to pray and worship he may not call it “church”. Even though it is.

  9. Tracy Dykes February 4, 2014 at 11:05 am #

    Disappointing, yes. But not surprising for anyone who read Blue Like Jazz. I stopped expecting both orthodoxy and orthopraxy from Miller a long time ago.

    As for Mark’s complaint that we should not answer someone’s “transparency” with “a barrage of Scripture bombs”, it is true that we should always check our words and attitude carefully, and engage others with patience and grace. However, Miller’s comment does not strike me as a transparent confession, as if this is a struggle and he is contrite. Rather, he admits to being fine with it, and that he believes this is propelling him forward in his faith. Second, how is one supposed to answer error if not with the truth of God’s word? What have we got if you take the Bible out of our hands? This attitude seems to reflect a low view of Scripture. We minister from the Word because we believe there is power in it, and the Spirit will honor and use it in others’ lives.

  10. Ian Shaw February 4, 2014 at 11:13 am #

    I guess I wouldn’t step out on a limb and say his premise is wrong. Perhaps his consequent may be misplaced, but he has the right to voice his premise. Though if he uses work to worship God, I would only politely ask him about how his walk is: Is he involved in a small/life group for growth/accountability? How is he growing in his walk?

    In terms of worship, we are called to a form of “corporate” worship with others. I’d be lying if I didn’t at time find some traditional/contemporary music uncreative artistically and appealing to the lowest denominator. That being said, I would be hard pressed to find a worship band growling and stomping Demon Hunter or Living Sacrifice on the platform (someday….maybe…probably not)

    I wonder what kinds of messages he is listening to if he claims he doesn’t learn anything on Sundays. I guess I have been fortunate enough in my current church to be challenged and learn quite a bit (not just application but also translation/context/interpretation) from the messages on sunday morning.

    I would like to think that Miller didn’t mean it this way, but he should be cautious making statements about “the church is all around us” and “I can worship God through my work”. Cautious as worshiping God through work, sounds like “meriting” something and church all around us might be considered ambigious and pantheistic in nature, so I would be careful making statements without context. Don’t want to drink the recent kool-aid from Rob Bell’s recent relevation about the quasi-intentional, anarcho-syndicalist commune and experience God while washing the dishes.

  11. Curt Day February 4, 2014 at 11:24 am #

    Perhaps Miller’s approach is due more to the failures of the churches he has or does attend than with Burk correctly said here. In that case, there are problems to address and not just one. The first problem would be the churches that are not acting as churches and the second is how we should be approaching church regardless.

    • David Powell February 4, 2014 at 11:33 am #

      If he’s a Christian, he is just as much a part of the church and bears just as much of the responsibility for the failures of the “church.” The church is not some outside, impersonal institution. The church is people, the Body of Christ, made up of the members of His Body. Your church is horrible? Alright, bear some responsibility, grow up, and work for its edification.

    • Andrew Orlovsky February 4, 2014 at 1:29 pm #

      Curt,

      I know from your other posts that you do not like Republicans and I’m sure Don Miller shares your view. But I am sure that no matter where you live, you can find a church where the pastor and most of the congregation share your views. ts no excuse to just stop going all together. Especially, since I am sure Miller lives in a big city where those churches are common. I am from Central PA and despite the fact the my county went about 70% for Romney, but it seems there are “social justice” churches all over the place.

  12. James Harold Thomas February 4, 2014 at 12:35 pm #

    “I’ve studied psychology and education reform long enough to know a traditional lecture isn’t for everybody.”

    Yep, there it is.

  13. Larry Geiger February 4, 2014 at 12:42 pm #

    “not to be confined by a specific tribe.” I think that is exactly what God wants us to do. To be confined by a specific tribe. The Christian Tribe.

  14. Ken Temple February 4, 2014 at 1:10 pm #

    As time goes on, we are seeing the real roots of the top leaders of the “Emerging Church” / “Emergent Church” movement come out as to their real worldview behind their beginning books/films, etc.

    Brian McLaren
    Rob Bell
    Donald Miller

    They started off just claiming that are “just asking questions”, etc. and later come out with their liberalism and lack of faith in the Lord of the Scriptures.

    • Andrew Orlovsky February 4, 2014 at 1:21 pm #

      I was under the impression that Miller was not nearly as theologically liberal as McLaren and Bell. I believe that he attended Mark Driscoll’s church for a while and Driscoll has cited him as an example of someone who is culturally liberal but theologically solid in his talks on the emergent church. Has his views changed significantly?

      But, I do think he is completely wrong on the whole “I don’t need church thing”. It seems many young Christian couples tend to divorce not too long after declaring that church is unncessary.

      • RD Evans February 4, 2014 at 1:43 pm #

        I may be wrong but I think he just visited Driscoll’s church, and referred to Driscoll as “the cussing pastor”. Miller attended Imago Dei in Portland, which is pastored by Rick McKinley.

  15. James Harold Thomas February 4, 2014 at 2:38 pm #

    Denny, I don’t know if it’s you, me or Miller, but when I click your first link it takes me to a “buy cheap drugs online” site.

    • Denny Burk February 4, 2014 at 2:51 pm #

      I just checked it, and the link is correct on my side.

  16. James Harold Thomas February 4, 2014 at 3:51 pm #

    I wonder what he’d say to someone who said “I just don’t connect with God through serving the poor or ‘social justice’. Works for some but not for me, so I don’t do it.”

  17. robyn vasile February 4, 2014 at 7:52 pm #

    “Church” is biblically defined as a gathering of believers in the Lord for the purpose of worship, prayer, and growth. At any time in history, people have met for “church” in dusty rooms, in confinement, and out in God’s open creation. Four walls does not define a church, only a church building. Miller is correct in that he can worship God anywhere; where he falls short is in the blessing of including others. One person does not make a church.

  18. Nathan Cesal February 4, 2014 at 8:32 pm #

    This topic is one that hits close to home for me.  I know what church is supposed to be.  A place to Go with others to proclaim the Gospel.  A place to Grow in maturity in spirituality.  A place to Glorify God and worship Him.  The way we do church needs to be conducive for all walks of life to do these things and thrive.  Unfortunately, church tends to lean toward the academically inclined.   It is typically practiced by dividing the church into distinct groups along lifestyle classes.  Plus, not everyone is allowed to be open and honest about themselves and their life trajectory.

     

     

    • robyn vasile February 4, 2014 at 9:24 pm #

      I agree Nathan that true godly church bodies should meet the various “life stages” of spiritual growth. When we desire the sincere milk of the Word, eventually we crave more solid food so that we should never be left hungry. It is nice that church bodies are willing to provide that need. I’m not sure why grouping according to need is wrong, we have already seen that when we put school children together that are in two vastly different learning curves, neither benefit. In fact, they tend to drag each other down in frustration. The fledgling can’t keep up and the veteran holds back in frustration to try not to offend. I assume your church offers classes in different levels and lets attenders choose their own learning level? If attenders don’t feel comfortable sharing, maybe a smaller class or a midweek life study in someone’s home would be more suitable. We have a Bible study on Friday nights with dinner beforehand, and I look forward to it every week! Those who don’t want to share don’t, those who do want to share, do, but we all fellowship, pray, sing, worship, and study together. Church.

  19. Neil Braithwaite February 4, 2014 at 9:21 pm #

    Some unintended consequences of corporate church. “Church Cannibalism: The consequence of being out of God’s will” http://honorgodsword.com/

  20. James Harold Thomas February 4, 2014 at 11:59 pm #

    Miller’s post kind of reminds me of this: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/trevinwax/2013/09/16/dad-i-think-i-know-all-the-bible-stories-now/

  21. Alastair Roberts February 5, 2014 at 10:10 am #

    Even granting everything that Miller says about different styles of learning for the sake of argument, it doesn’t follow that ‘kinaesthetic learners’ have nothing to learn from sermons.

  22. Johnny T. Helms February 5, 2014 at 10:45 am #

    Donald Miller is a leader in the emergent church. I’m not surprised by his statement.

  23. kyle vitasek February 6, 2014 at 12:36 am #

    Denny, it seems that when you say ‘church’ it is a loaded term. I, Donald Miller, and many others I know can certainly follow Jesus and be indifferent to Joel Osteen’s Church, or your church, or what have you.

    The scripture you cite about the deleterious effects of ‘not meeting together’ does not necessarily mean ‘church as we do it today’. So again, I think you’re off in responding so vehemently.

    I, maybe like you, have a deep love and great respect for God’s church (which is all of those whom he has chosen) and seek to be a member where I am. Yet as Donald mentions in his follow-up post, so much of how we do institutionalized church is reflective of culture, and sometimes in ways that detract from us meeting with God, I sometimes struggle to find a church where I don’t have to claw and scratch to ‘be involved’ and ‘be in the spirit’ when I worship.

    I’ve actually walked out of church services a few times b/c there was false gospel being preached, and/or the worship/prayer was all about self, and cultivating feelings of worship, and not truly about giving honor and glory to God.

    I am STUNNED by your lack of empathy towards a man who has helped bring more folks near to God through his work.

    God bless you, and I hope that at some point you might see how ‘artsy types’ like Don may not be able to ‘do’ church the way you think is right, yet nonetheless Don ‘is’ church God’s way, and because of this lack of comfort w/things the way they are, folks like Don often serve as prophets to us, helping us move into the next phase of building God’s kingdom here on earth.

    Kyle Vitasek

    • David Powell February 6, 2014 at 12:04 pm #

      One recommendation: Less Donald Miller, more Bible.

  24. DLE February 6, 2014 at 10:58 am #

    The recipe for spiritual suicide always seems to be concocted by the OTHER guy and never by the one accusing him of such. We can talk about what is normative for church functioning and accuse the other guy of not following that, but I wonder if Denny’s church keeps a common purse and ensures no one lacks for anything. Does it meet together every day in each other’s homes for meals and fellowship? Does it observe communion as a whole meal. Is it real wine in that cup? Does the church weigh the prophetic revelations shared by those acknowledged as prophets? Is the proper order of tongues and interpretation of tongues observed? Do women cover their heads when they prophesy?

    You see, it’s very easy to claim someone else is doing it wrong and far less easy to acknowledged WE might not be doing it right either. Frankly, what the Church needs a whole lot more of is brave leaders who think WE might not be doing it right (and then doing something to fix it from within), with less concern about what the other guy is doing.

    • Dennis Laing February 7, 2014 at 11:28 am #

      I am amazed at how many pastors are surprised by Miller’s view. I’m guessing they aren’t worrying too much about the wide open back doors that have been sucking out the hurting and wounded for years and now that someone who has “Christian Celebrity Status” or is perceived to be in their camp has pointed out the reasons, they will attack the messenger. (as per the many incredulous responses to Don’s posts).

      I hoped that the discussion here in will not meld into the typical unproductive and prideful diatribe many pastors have relied on for years – marginalize and move on. There’s a lot of truth to what Miller says. Please don’t miss it in your hopes to discredit him. After all, our churches have produced him and have tried to latch on to his fame and celebrity for years. Maybe he has something to teach us about ourselves and how we do church.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Morning Mashup 02/04 | Theology Matters - February 4, 2014

    […] Donald Miller’s Prescription for Spiritual Suicide – I benefit greatly from Denny Burk’s frequent commentaries on multiple blog posts, articles, worldviews, etc. This is no exception. Errant views of the church can sound attractive, but “prescriptions” like the one Donald Miller provides is unhelpful, unbiblical, and dangerous for the soul. […]

  2. Selected News Stories from Around the World* — Tuesday, February 4 | The BibleMesh Blog - February 4, 2014

    […] Donald Miller’s Prescription for Spiritual Suicide (Denny Burk) […]

  3. Today in Blogworld 02.04.14 - Borrowed Light - February 4, 2014

    […] Donald Miller and Spiritual Suicide […]

  4. Donald Miller doesn’t need to go to church | The Hipster Conservative - February 4, 2014

    […] But maybe we shouldn’t let Don off the hook so easily. Bible professor Denny Burk writes: […]

  5. Donald Miller’s Lopsided Theology of Work | Acton PowerBlog - February 4, 2014

    […] to tilt toward a pseudo-spiritual humanism. Without submission to the Word — which includes, as Denny Burk so helpfully outlines, going to church — we’ll ride our bulldozers into divides and constraints that are essential […]

  6. Church Matters and Spiritual Suicide « Growing Godly Generations - February 4, 2014

    […] Post from Denny Burk, accessed here: http://www.dennyburk.com/a-response-to-donald-millers-prescription-for-spiritual-suicide/ […]

  7. A follow-up to Donald Miller’s follow-up: Leaving the church means leaving Christ. | Denny Burk - February 5, 2014

    […] Miller has written a lengthy follow-up to his original post explaining why he has left the church (to which I responded yesterday). In this second posting, he doubles down on his original position that Christians need not involve […]

  8. EEK-clesiology… | My Journey - February 5, 2014

    […] The reason I titled the post “EEK”-clesiology, is due to a recent social media firestorm over a certain blog post by Donald Miller.  Miller is the author of most famously, Blue Like Jazz, which was a book that spoke resoundingly to the multitude of Generation-X church goers.  Miller posted recently about his personal views and practices re: the local church here, and here.  I don’t intend to dissect or analyze Miller’s position, or thoughts, but it has been interesting to read some of the rebuttals to Miller’s position, such as one found here. […]

  9. Around the Web | Intersections - February 6, 2014

    […] Denny Burk “Donald Miller’s Prescription for Spiritual Suicide“ […]

  10. an yet ANOTHER internet controversy!: going to church | Defeating the Dragons - February 6, 2014

    […] leaped out to me because of my religious background. It’s encapsulated pretty well in “Donald Miller’s Prescription for Spiritual Suicide” by Denny […]

  11. and yet ANOTHER internet controversy!: going to church | Defeating the Dragons - February 6, 2014

    […] leaped out to me because of my religious background. It’s encapsulated pretty well in “Donald Miller’s Prescription for Spiritual Suicide” by Denny […]

  12. Donald Miller and the Anti-Church | Cerulean Sanctum - February 7, 2014

    […] Denny Burk had one of the most brutal rebuttals: “Donald Miller’s prescription for spiritual suicide.” […]

  13. A Few Things to Think and Talk About | Coram Deo - February 9, 2014

    […] compatible with his “learning style.” Denny Burk gives a strong but correct response here. If you go to the homepage of Denny’s blog, you’ll find a second post on the subject. […]

  14. Leaving the Church Means Leaving Christ - February 10, 2014

    […] Miller has written a lengthy follow-up to his original post explaining why he has left the church (to which I responded yesterday). In this second posting, he doubles down on his original position that Christians need not involve […]

  15. I Worship God by Singing. You Should, Too. | A disciple's study - February 10, 2014

    […] read some thoughtful responses to Don’s post from Mike Cosper, Denny Burk (Part 1and Part 2), and Jonathan Leeman. Among other things, they helpfully address the formative […]

  16. I Worship God by Singing. You Should, Too. | Do You Really Believe? - February 10, 2014

    […] read some thoughtful responses to Don’s post from Mike Cosper, Denny Burk (Part 1 and Part 2), and Jonathan Leeman. Among other things, they helpfully address the formative practice […]

  17. Six good reasons people are leaving church | FreeAtLast [#StopSpiritualAbuse] - March 7, 2014

    […] Burk called Miller’s low church attendance “spiritual suicide.” As I’ve worked with those in spiritual abuse recovery, Burk’s criticism sounds […]

  18. Episode #2: The Olympics, Civil Discourse and the Need for the Church | Living Outside The Boat - March 12, 2014

    […] Donald Miller’s Prescription For Spiritual Suicide by Denny Burke […]

  19. The Daily Roundup: 4 February 2014 | - April 8, 2014

    […] Donald Miller’s Prescription for Spiritual Suicide – Denny Burk responds to Donald Miller’s recent post on church attendance. […]

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