Living Close To God
By Gene Edwards
Published: October 4, 2011
When was the last time you came across a book whose premise held great promise, but whose approach left you cold… A book that captured your interest at the start, but caused you to struggle midway, and left you concerned, disappointed, and unsatisfied by book’s end?
I recently read such a book: Living Close To God by Gene Edwards.
Living Close To God initially caught my eye because of its noble goal – to help you develop “a spiritual life that takes you deeper than daily devotions”. I found the book interesting at the start because I thought Edward’s story of how he was “spiritually handicapped” would resonate with a lot of people. In Part 1, Edwards describes how he is not spiritual by nature – he is more doer than devout. He also discusses the challenges that hinder modern Christians from developing an active spiritual life.
So far, so good.
The problem lies in the remainder of the book, where Edwards shares how he deepened his spiritual life, and encourages you to do the same. Because of his credentials – the book jacket describes the author as “one of the most influential Christian authors of our time” and “the dean of the home-church movement” – I expected to find an insightful book steeped in biblical truth. This was not the case.
To the casual reader, Edwards’s writings may appear authentic as he quotes a lot of Scripture and shares all sorts of personal revelation he says came from the Lord. If you dig deeply, however, and compare Edward’s teachings with the Bible, you will find many discrepancies. Much of what Edwards shares simply does not align with the Word of God. Instead, Edward’s book is filled with confusing, esoteric, syncretistic interpretations of Scripture that sound, at times, like mystical mumbo jumbo.
Here’s a sample of some of the doctrines you will find in Edward’s book:
- The main thing Jesus talks about in Scripture is food (Chapter 8).
- Breath and Breathing are the most frequently mentioned topics in the New Testament (Chapter 9).
- Singing to the Lord is the first instinct of a new convert to Christ (Chapter 11).
- You can locate your spirit geographically (Chapter 12).
These ideas – and Edward’s interpretation of them – are not grounded in biblical truth. Rather, they stem from the mystical teachings of Madame Guyon and Miguel de Molinos – two mystics who were condemned as heretics centuries ago by the Catholic church. As a Christian leader, Edwards should be warning his readers against those who teach false doctrine. Instead, Edwards holds these heretics in high esteem, and encourages other Christians to follow them (Postscript).
As anyone who has ever been spiritually deceived will tell you – the most important thing to consider when evaluating a Christian book isn’t how well the book is written or how credentialed the author may appear to be. The most important question to ask is: Do the ideas contained within the book align with – or conflict with – the spiritual truths contained in Scripture?
In 1 John 4:1, God gives us a principle to keep us from being spiritually deceived. It’s called “test the spirits” and it goes like this:
Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
I wish that I could recommend this book, but I cannot – when put to the 1 John 4:1 test, it fails. Living Close To God does not accurately reflect the fundamental tenets of the Christian faith or align with the truths presented in the Bible. I strongly encourage you to research this author before purchasing this book.
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book from the Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group for review. I did not receive any form of monetary compensation and was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed are entirely my own.