I have came across some book by Dr. Jim Wilder who presents himself to be a neurotheologian and leads Life Model Works. It is a mixture of humanism, psychology and bad theology. I have read both the Other Side of the Church and Renovated: God, Dallas Willlard, and the Church that transforms. Both of them are full of bad theology and psychology. What Wilder is teaching is a social gospel that we can do the faith without encounter. He must be regarded for what he is: a false teacher.
One of the core beliefs that he presents is that “we are shaped not by what we believe but who we love.” While this sounds acceptable, the inability to develop sound doctrine is a dangerous road. This type of thinking can lead to deception and even lead people into the flames of hell.
My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins. (James 5:19-20)
In this article, I am going to give examples from Renovated: God, Dallas Willard and the Church that transforms of false doctrine. 2 Timothy 4:3-4 tells that there is coming a time that we will not embrace sound teaching but be lead by myths and theories. We are there. Dr. Jim Wilder is an example. Theology matters.
Some were concerned that people claimed to be hearing from God. Was this some form of “private revelation,” demonic deception, or at best, a psychological delusion? As a counseling center, we had no shortage of demonic manifestations or delusional people who thought they were speaking for God. When those hearing voices told others, the outcome was predictable. We observed a lack of peace, an absence of healing, and the production of distress in others. (p. 4-5)
At a strong point, it is clear that there is a disregard for the prophetic ministry and that people hearing the Holy Spirit are “delusional.” Let me be clear, this is false teaching and anti-biblical. Paul told me very directly to not treat prophecy with contempt but to test it. (1 Thessalonians 5:19-20) Hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit is critical for living the faith. Romans 8:14 tells that the test of faith is being led by the Spirit. You can not be led by the Spirit and not hear His voice.
To believe that people who hear the voice of the Spirit do not have rest (peace), do not see miracles, or cause distress is crazy. I will just say it. People who want in the prophetic rest in the knowledge of the Spirit. I personally do not know of any prophet that does not also have a healing ministry. In fact, prophecy releases the ministry of Jesus in our midst. (Revelation 19:10)
To even suggest that hearing the Holy Spirit is demonic is heretical. Almost every page of scripture tells us to hear the Spirit. The enemy does not lead us into deeper levels of intimacy with the Lord. It is by the Spirit of God. (1 Corinthians 2:10-16)
I have to acknowledge that the way many people present holiness is a very pinched view of life. It’s very starved, because they have not encouraged to turn themselves loose…and all that is good for them… (p.16)
This is humanism at best. Without holiness, no one will see the Lord. (Hebrews 12:14) We are never called to be happy as believers but we are called to be holy. (1 Peter 1:16) Any teaching that does not encouraged deeper levels of surrender to the Lord must be rejected and therefore, the teachings of Dr. Jim Wilder must be cast off. Oddly, it is impossible to live in holiness without the voice of God that he believes is demonic. I am not sure how that works.
1 Corinthians 10:23 tells us that not everything is good for us. Just because something looks good does not mean that it is. This is why the voice of the Spirit is so critical. In Acts 8, we see an example of this. Philip was in the seeing great revival in Samaria which is good then, an angel calls us away from the amazing miracle work to go lead one man to Jesus. Doing good things does not make it the holy thing.
Dallas Willard is central to this discussion and he had some serious theological challenges to put it lightly. He did not believe in the move of the Spirit and actually spoke against the touch of the Spirit happening in the mid 1990’s. He worshipped at the altar of “spiritual formation” and in the throne room of Revelation 4.
For character development, the brain needs joyful and loving attachment both with a greater mind and with a people. Had the disciplines and Jesus all seen the event the same way, all of them would have been peaceful. (p. 45)
Now, we are starting to look at the real problem with the teachings of Dr. Jim Wilder. He marries the spiritual with the emotional. The line between the soul and the spirit get blurred quickly. Someone can be saved and not be emotionally together. It happens all the time when I minister. People come repent of their sins, turn from wickedness and receive the finished work of the Cross only to still have “sins that beset them.” (Hebrews 12:2) Your emotions have nothing to do with your salvation. Nothing.
According to Romans 14:17, the Kingdom of God is…joy in the Holy Spirit. The word is χαρά. It means for the Father to lean towards you and release favor (or Kindness) on you. This can only come from the Holy Spirit. As the Kingdom is joy (or experiencing kindness) in the Holy Spirit. Simply put, character development happens in your intimacy with the Spirit; not relational with others. To present that kindness is release through horizonal relationships has no biblical basis in Acts or anywhere in the New Testament. It only came from encountering the Holy Spirit.
Being at peace only come from the Lord and can not be received through community. As Peter and John point out in Acts 3, you can only give what you have. The only person who truly has peace is Jesus so He is the only one really at peace. εἰρήνη means to be at rest in all things. No one is truly at rest in all things in this fallen state we are living in today since the fall of man!
Dr. Jim Wilder’s Soteriology
This is where things get heretical. When I was in Bible College, I majored in Evangelism (as well as Theology) and at the core of evangelism is the gospel. I can smile at many things but the teaching of a false gospel is not one of them. I reserve the title heretic to only people who try and re-shape the gospel. (Acts 20:29) Dr. Jim Wilder is one of those people.
To think that someone with a seminary degree from Fuller would even suggest that community is part of the gospel is unthinkable. There is no basis for this in the apostolic witness of Acts. While community was a response to revival (Acts 2:42-47); it was never needed to be born again. This is downright dangerous. Psychology is doing serious damage to the gospel witness and teaching like his are creating deception among the faithful.
On page 75, he quotes Dallas Willard as saying, “I tend to see the will, the spirit and the heart as one basic component of the human being.” Theology 101 makes a difference the spirit and the will. (Using heart as a basis according to Jeremiah 17:9)
In short, the gospel of Dr. Jim Wilder is humanistic and based on our abilities to have “community,” not completely on the encounter of the Spirit in our lives. No transformation comes apart from the baptism of the Spirit poured out in our lives. It is fire of Pentecost that burns away the things that the Spirit purifies. All character formation is done in the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. The gospel is not about your character; it is about your need for a Savior, Lord, and King.
Understanding the gospel
The gospel was always tied to the work of the Spirit. In fact, Jesus said that the Holy Spirit was coming to convict us of sin. (John 16:8) The message of the gospel must always remain pure. It is the repentance of past sin, the turning from wickedness (current sin) and receiving the finished work of the Cross. Anything that adds to that message must be accursed, even if an angel were to preach it.
The bottom line is simply this: you can not have the work of the Spirit without the supernatural. Miracles, signs and wonders are the hallmark of the gospel; not relational community. This is spoken about my Mark, Luke and John. The operation of spiritual gifts is what draws men to the gospel; not potlucks.
It is sad that people like Dr. Jim Wilder get it twisted. Many false gospels are out there right now in the church. We are in a time of great deception. I seriously hope that men like him repent of trying to deceive even the elect.