Quotes about Illuminism
As long as a person has a notion that he is guided by immediate direction from heaven, it makes him incorrigible and impregnable in all his misconduct.
For my part, I had rather enjoy the sweet influences of the Spirit. I had rather show Christ’s spiritual divine beauty, infinite grace, and dying love. I had rather draw forth the holy exercises of faith, divine love, sweet complacence, and humble joy in God. I had rather experience all this for one quarter of an hour than to have prophetical visions and revelations the whole year.
Wisdom is a process of cognition, not a bombshell out of the sky. In our non-thinking day it is quite popular to short-cut the painful process of reasoning for a blank waiting on some inner voice. It seems highly spiritual to do so and carries with it a magical authority. (“I got this from God at four o’clock in the morning!”) In this way the most spiritually unkempt believer or the novice has equal voice with the wisest Christian veteran.
Thoughtful, biblically-induced attraction toward certain holy desires, with patient waiting before God in prayer, is no less the work of the Spirit than the most dramatic “immediate impulse” others may claim. This is the normal biblical pathway to wisdom. The man who makes the wise decision, yet always remains open to God’s further intervention in whatever way God pleases, is demonstrating normative spiritual guidance.
The illuminist seeks guidance from God by getting a series of impressions, which he believes come as God directly impacts his spirit. The illuminist is often wary of the mind and using his or her reason. Certainly we need to be cautious lest we fall into the error of blindly trusting bare unaided reason. The illuminist, though, often goes so far as to reject any hope that reason can be useful. “This doesn’t come from me,” he will say, “it comes from God.”
Except in rare cases, the experience of direct interventions of God’s guidance in the lives of various Bible characters was not indicative of normal discipleship and they are likely recorded precisely because of their unusual nature. Due to the compressed makeup of the Bible it appears to its reader that God is speaking directly more often than He actually does.
You begin by quieting your heart with a simple reading of the text. Then you meditate, perhaps on a single word or phrase from the text, and in so doing intentionally avoid what might be considered an “analytical” approach. In essence, the goal here is to wait for the Spirit’s illumination so that you will arrive at meaning. You wait for Jesus to come calling. Once the word is given, you go on to pray. After all, prayer is dialogue with God. God speaks through his Word and the person speaks through prayer. Eventually, this prayer becomes contemplative prayer, and it gives to us the ability to comprehend deeper theological truths. It sounds wonderfully pious… [However] it substitutes intuition for investigation. It prefers mood and emotion to methodical and reasoned inquiry. It equates your spirit to the Holy Spirit.
Preoccupied with mystical encounters and emotional ecstasies, [many] seek ongoing revelation from heaven – meaning that, for them, the Bible alone is simply not enough. [With them], biblical revelation must be supplemented with personal “words from God,” supposed impressions from the Holy Spirit, and other subjective religious experiences. That kind of thinking is an outright rejection of the authority and sufficiency of Scripture (2 Tim. 3:16–17). It is a recipe for far-reaching theological disaster.
Faith has nothing to do with feelings or with impressions, with improbabilities or with outward experiences. If we desire to couple such things with faith, then we are no longer resting on the Word of God, because faith needs nothing of the kind. Faith rests on the naked Word of God. When we take Him at His Word, the heart is at peace.
Impressions, hunches, intuition, signs, and new revelation become the focus of the Christian instead of moment-by-moment dependence upon Scripture. Soon, even the lines of Christian fellowship are determined by “common experiences” rather than biblical truth. It is a fine line, but what a great deception. Again, Satan is willing to give ground, to gain a greater advantage.
The excessive preeminence given to the Holy Spirit in their devotions and their preoccupation with gifts, ecstasies, and “prophecies” has tended to neglect of the Scriptures. Why be tied to a Book out of the past when one can communicate every day with the living God? But this is exactly the danger point. Apart from the constant control of the written revelation, we soon find ourselves engulfed in subjectivity; and the believer, even if he has the best intentions, can sink rapidly into deviations, illuminism or exaltation. Let each remind himself of the prohibition of taking anything away from Scripture or adding anything to it (Deut. 4:2; Rev. 22:18–19). Almost every heresy and sect has originated in a supposed revelation or a new experience on the part of its founder, something outside the strictly biblical framework.
Paul says the church is “built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets” (Eph. 2:20). I conclude that all we need to know for salvation and sanctification has been given to us through the teaching of the apostles and prophets, and that this teaching is now found in the Scriptures. Now that God has spoken in the last days through His Son (Heb. 1:2), we don’t need further words from Him to explain what Jesus Christ has accomplished in His ministry, death, and resurrection. Instead, we are “to contend for the faith that was delivered to the saints once for all” through the apostles and prophets (Jude 3).
Claims to special divine revelations are not so much a sign of super-spirituality as they are of evangelical or pietistic megalomania. The days of prophets and apostles, genuine agents of revelation, are past. Such claims today are spurious and exceedingly dangerous. To cloak one’s desires, hunches, or opinions in such claims is to make use of a godless form of persuasion. What does one say to the person who claims, “The Lord told me to do this?” To use such devices is to place oneself above criticism by bathing one’s opinions in divine sanction.
Take care never to impute the vain imaginings of your fancy to Him [the Holy Spirit]. I have seen the Spirit of God shamefully dishonored by persons – I hope they were insane – who have said that they have had this and that revealed to them. There has not for some years passed over my head a single week in which I have not been pestered with the revelations of hypocrites or maniacs. Semi-lunatics are very fond of coming with messages from the Lord to me, and it may spare them some trouble if I tell them once for all that I will have none of their stupid messages… Never dream that events are revealed to you by heaven, or you may come to be like those idiots who dare impute their blatant follies to the Holy Ghost. If you feel your tongue itch to talk nonsense, trace it to the devil, not to the Spirit of God. Whatever is to be revealed by the Spirit to any of us is in the Word of God already – He adds nothing to the Bible, and never will. Let persons who have revelations of this, that, and the other, go to bed and wake up in their senses. I only wish they would follow the advice and no longer insult the Holy Ghost by laying their nonsense at His door.