As if we even need one more reason to distrust the American Family Association (AFA), here is yet another one. In yesterday’s email from the AFA, we find a promotion of the unbiblical, mystic, and panentheistic book, One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp that is being sold in their bookstore. The slippery slope has become even more steep for the AFA, as they visibly continue their high speed descent away from true biblical discernment and towards a very dangerous postmodern mysticism that has enveloped modern evangelicalism.
The AFA was founded in 1977 by Donald E. Wildmon, an ordained United Methodist minister, author, and former radio host. Its mission, according to their website, is to “inform, equip, and activate individuals to strengthen the moral foundations of American culture, and give aid to the church here and abroad in its task of fulfilling the Great Commission.” One would think, then, if they are truly committed to this mission, they would seriously consider the products they are promoting and selling on their website. Maybe they should even read them before they sell them? For surely they would never align themselves with erotic mysticism and anti-Biblical panentheism which Voskamp, in her awkward literary style, threads throughout this entire book. But why are we so surprised? They have been lacking discernment for some time now.
In Brannon’s 2012 book, Religious Trojan Horse, he explains why he no longer endorses the AFA, which includes the undiscerning promotion of NAR false teachers such as Heidi Baker, Cindy Jacobs, Bill Johnson, Rick Joyner, and others. He also warned that the AFA would merge the right with the left, as well. As Brannon said in a previous article,
"Sadly, AFA/AFR is a perfect example of how modern-day evangelicalism has become and will continue to be one of the greatest threats to the true Church by opening the door to those promoting such philosophies as modern-day prophets, a false gospel, cultural Marxism, the new antisemitism, social justice and the LGBTQ agenda within the camp of evangelicalism."
And in an article on our website by Thomas Littleton, entitled, Breaking News: American Family Association & Radio Partners with Cultural Marxist Gospel Coalition & Those Promoting LGBTQ Agenda, we find the AFA is now partnering with The “Cultural Marxist” Gospel Coalition and its questionable leaders in a 90-minute documentary called, The God Who Speaks. Contributors to the documentary include Alistair Begg, Darrell Bock, D. A. Carson, Ligon Duncan, and Al Mohler. Is it not obvious that discernment no longer exists in the AFA? At this point, all bets are off and anything can happen—even the promotion of the dangerous book by Voskamp, 1000 Gifts, which is in their email from yesterday. So just who is Ann Voskamp?
WVW has warned about Ann Voskamp since this book became wildly popular in 2010. Many of our articles, TV shows, and radio shows have been devoted to calling out the heresy found in her writings, so this is surprising, in a way, to find this nine year old book being promoted in a new email blast sent out yesterday. (You can search her name in our Situation Room and find a plethora of articles and radio/TV shows that go into more detail). In fact, Brannon couldn’t even read portions of it on his radio or television programs where she describes her relationship with God in very erotic terms, even talking about making love to God. Clearly she has no concept of the holiness of God, right? Here is one of the tamer quotes from the book that I’m able to mention here:
“God makes love with grace upon grace, every moment a making of His love for us. Couldn’t I make love to God, making every moment love for Him? To know Him the way Adam knew Eve. Spirit skin to spirit skin?” (p 216)
It really doesn’t take a massive amount of discernment to recognize the dangerous teachings in Voskamp’s book. And when you consider its popularity, the gravity of the deception she is spewing is staggering. According to her own website, 1000 Gifts has been on the NY Times Bestseller list for 65+ weeks, has sold over 1 million copies, and has been translated into 22 different languages. This should be more than concerning to all of us! But again, who is this woman, Ann Voskamp?
Voskamp lives with her farmer husband on 600 acres in Canada, along with their 7 children. She is a homeschool mom, and the author of four NT Times Bestsellers. Named by Christianity Today as one of 50 women most shaping culture and the church today, and a partner with Compassion International as a global advocate for needy children, her influence is widespread, which can partly be due to her blog being one of the top 10 Christian blogs on the web.
It’s quite the understatement to say that millions of young, naive Christian women are being swayed by her shaky theology and obvious Catholic-influenced mysticism. Her choice of (awkward) phrasing mimics the terminology of New Age writers, and she blatantly shows her hand by quoting the likes of Henri Nouwen, Brennan Manning, Teresa of Avila, Dallas Willard, Brother Lawrence, and Annie Dillard. Her promotion of experience over doctrine betrays her shallow theology and belief system that unfortunately contrasts what we find in Scripture.
And then there’s the problem of panentheism. The thread of panentheism within her book has been accurately called out in an excellent article by Bob DeWaay posted on our website entitled, Romantic Panentheism: A Review of One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. DeWaay writes:
As an example of her panentheism, Voskamp describes an experience where she finds salvation by gazing at a full moon in a harvested wheat field:
Has His love lured me out here to really save me? I sit up in the wheat stubble, drawn. That He would care to save. Moon face glows. We are head to head. I am bare; He is bare. All Eye sees me (Voskamp: 115).
Her experience is described in salvific terms: "It's dawning, my full moon rising. I was lost but know I am found again" (Voskamp: 118).
She claims an "inner eye" that sees God in a panentheistic way: "If my inner eye has God seeping up through all things, then can't I give thanks for anything? . . . The art of deep seeing makes gratitude possible" (Voskamp: 118).
In Romans 1, "seeing" God through general revelation in a way that makes all humans culpable is true for all, not just special enlightened ones like Voskamp.
DeWaay continues by explaining the difference between pantheism and panentheism, showing where she gets it wrong:
[Quote] Voskamp sees God in everything, and that concept has a name—panentheism. We must distinguish panentheism from pantheism, the belief that God is everything. If we accept that God is in everything, then we accept that God can be discovered and understood through encounters with nature. Voskamp shows that she knows what is wrong with pantheism:
Pantheism, seeing the natural world as divine, is a very different thing than seeing divine God present in all things. I know it here kneeling, the twilight so still: nature is not God but God revealing the weight of Himself, all His glory, through the looking glass of nature. (Voskamp: 110) [end quote]
But she falls into a trap when she replaces it with panentheism. Furthermore, her conclusion that passages like those in Psalm 19 and Romans 1 speak of God in everything is not a valid implication. Why? Because these passages speak of general revelation. Nature, the vehicle for God's expressing general revelation, is fallen and does not reveal "all His glory." Christ does that, and what can be discerned about God through nature is not saving knowledge, but condemning knowledge.
Also interesting to note is that on her website, under her beliefs, she claims to believe in the infallibility of Scripture, but doesn’t mention inerrancy. Coincidence? I will leave that up to you.
Since becoming wildly famous with her first publication, she has gone on to speak at some very concerning conferences, which we have also written and spoken about. These include conferences with Hillsong, ERLC, Moody Bible College, IF, Together 2016, Thrive Women’s Conferences, and with the Justice Conference for multiple years. She has shared the stage with Luis Palau, Francis Chan, Mark Batterson, Sam Rodriguez, and Lysa Terkeurst. Need I go on?
For the American Family Association to promote and sell the books from an experiential panentheistic mystic who writes about making love to God is yet another reason to run away from this undiscerning organization. I believe they are actually promoting perversion within the church while, in past years, they have called for the boycotting of secular companies due to unbiblical morality! Is AFA the worse kind of religious hypocrite? We cannot condemn the world for its perversion with one hand and welcome perversion into the church with the other can we? But again, if you’ve been following the downfall of the American Family Association, you shouldn’t be surprised.
opinion and commentary by contributing writer.
Worldview Weekend Foundation
PO BOX 1690
Collierville, TN, 38027 USA