LifeWay, the publishing arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, is no stranger to compromise, false teachings, and even rank heresy over the years. After all, they’ve sold materials ranking from “gay Christianity” proponents like Matthew Vines to anti-Trinitarian heretics like T.D. Jakes and have published materials from the likes of experiential hyper-charismatics like Priscilla Shirer.
LifeWay has also been a prime outlet for Christianized Marxism, known as the “woke church” movement, and regularly publishes, promotes, and sells materials by the proponents of this movement.
LifeWay has been criticized for years for its heresy-peddling for cash. One of its longest-standing heretics is Henry Blackaby, who authors and sells his Experiencing God series of books and Bible studies. Now, LifeWay is releasing a new Study Bible based on Blackaby’s heresies.
The crux of Blackaby’s heresy is the denial of the sufficiency of Scripture and the promotion of extra-biblical revelation. Blackaby teaches that in order to know God’s specific will for your life, you can’t just read the Bible, you have to listen to God speak to you in a multitude of ways including “impressions,” churches, and even using the Bible as a sort of lottery machine where you can open to a random passage, read it, and be informed by the Holy Spirit that this passage is telling you, in particular, to do something.
For example, Greg Gilbert writes (long before 9Marks went apostate):
Another danger in Blackaby’s book, I think, is his teaching about looking for a word from the Scriptures about a particular circumstance in one’s life. Blackaby tells the story of a young couple who were struggling with a possible call to leave their home and minister in upstate New York. The woman was particularly hesitant to leave her hometown until she awoke one night at 2:30am with an impression that she should read Luke chapter 4. When she did, she ran across the statement that Jesus left his hometown to “preach the good news of the kingdom of God to other towns.” According to Blackaby, “She sensed the Holy Spirit saying that she would have to leave the comforts and security of home to go with her husband” to New York, (p.168-9). Reading the Bible like this, to find a “word” from God directed to a particular personal circumstance, obscures the fact that the Bible has a definite meaning in itself. The meaning of the Bible does not change from person to person and from circumstance to circumstance. Whatever those words meant thousands of years ago when God first inspired them, they still mean today.
Southern Baptists have long had an infatuation with this heretic. In 2010, John MacArthur wrote in an article at GTY:
The notion that God is giving extrabiblical messages to Christians today has received support from some surprising sources. Wayne Grudem, popular author and professor of theology and biblical studies at Phoenix Seminary believes God regularly gives Christians prophetic messages by simply bringing spontaneous thoughts to mind. Such impressions should be reported as prophecy, he says.
Similar ideas have found sweeping acceptance even among non-charismatic Christians. Southern Baptists have eagerly devoured Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby and Claude King, which suggests that the main way the Holy Spirit leads believers is by speaking to them directly. According to Blackaby, when God gives an individual a message that pertains to the church, it should be shared with the whole body. As a result, extrabiblical “words from the Lord” are now commonplace even in some Southern Baptist circles.
Below is a sample of what you’re going to find in LifeWay’s new “Experiencing God” CSB Study Bible:
G3’s Josh Buice commented on the promotion of this new edition:
The work by Henry Blackaby known as “Experiencing God” was a gateway to the modern “God told me” language that is so common within our evangelical culture today. We must be honest, that method of discerning the will of God assaults the sufficiency of Scripture and it has a charismatic foundation.
A quote from the original “Experiencing God” study guide:
“When God speaks to you in your quiet time, immediately write down what He said.”
Why does LifeWay continue to promote heretical materials? Does the Southern Baptist Convention want to be seen as a theologically compromised denomination? It has been heading in that direction for a long time, but it seems like one of the easiest things to clean is the resource department known as LifeWay.