For Christmas this year, my family received a variety of The Story Bible-type books, aimed at the different ages of our family members.  These books are authored by Max Lucado and Randy Frazee. 


I don’t like being disappointed with Christmas gifts so I usually have low expectations –plus when I am pleasantly surprised, it seems even greater!  But these books went beyond being a disappointment for me.  The only book I really wanted for Christmas this year was a puritan’s commentary on the book of Song of Solomon.  Instead, I found Lucado.


The best way I can describe reading Max Lucado is like trying to eat a 3 inch perch.  There is a tremendous amount of energy, caution and inspection in order to find even the smallest nutritious bite in such a small fish.  With Lucado, a tremendous amount of energy, caution and discernment is needed to pick out all of the bones and scales of his near-heretical beliefs.  And then, what you are left with is the smallest particle of nourishment.  Simply put, He is not worth it.


Just like eating chocolate will give you a burst  of energy , but then leave you hungering for something more, something substantial, something filling, something healthy, so too reading Lucado will give emotional energy to your faith in a quick burst, but that energy, passion and emotion will quickly fade away and in its place a hunger will remain.  Too often, people will go back to the same food source that left them hungry and malnourished in the first place.  So Lucado is worth the time and effort need to glean anything of value.


The primary reason why Lucado will only ever be good fiction writer (from an academic standpoint), and not a good biblical writer is because he does not have a good view of the Bible.  He does not stand on the doctrine of Sola Scriptura, even though he would probably say otherwise.  This is most clear when you see that many, if not most, of the OT stories he reduces to a moral purposes instead of a redemptive purpose.


Let me give you two examples.


The story of David and Goliath.  Lucado summarizes the story, “God helped David be brave. You can ask God to help you be brave too.”  This summary contains absolutely nothing redemptive.  Therefore, he has complete missed the purpose of it.


David was acting like a king is supposed to act.  A king is to defend his people.  A king is to give his life for His people.  Saul failed, but David didn’t.  David was offended by the Goliath’s defiance toward God and threats towards God’s people.  Therefore, David acted to honor God and defend God’s people.


The issue is that we need a king like David to rule over us.  We need a king to defend the glory of God in us and to defeat the evil that is in us.  We, on our own, are helpless, pitiful, and weak.  We cannot save ourselves from the goliaths in our lives.


Another example of Lucado’s poor treatment of Scripture is how he handles Isaiah 6.  Once again, the redemptive element is completely missed.  He makes zero mention of the Isaiah’s sin and the sacrifice upon the altar. 


In fact, Lucado teaches the exact opposite of what this story teaches.  Lucado says, “God wanted Isaiah to tell the people to stop doing bad things and to do what is right.”  Lucado then summarizes this section.  “God doesn’t give up on his people.  God won’t give up on you.”  Lucado’s message from Isaiah 6 is “Try harder,” and I find this greatly offensive.


The redemptive purpose and the most important part of Isaiah 6 is the sacrifice upon the altar.  If you remember, Isaiah entered into the very throne room of God and was terrified because the Seraphim were praising God as “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty.”  And in the presence of a Holy God, Isaiah cried out, “Woe is me.  For I am a man of unclean lips and I live among a people of unclean lips.”  Isaiah is identifying himself a sinner deserving of damnation just like the rest of Israel!  And the only reason he could remain in God’s presence, let alone speak to God, is because the sacrifice on the altar was applied to Him.


Now, we know from Hebrews 10:19-21 that Christ has opened up heaven by his own blood being poured out upon the altar.  Therefore, it was nothing less than the blood of Christ that spared Isaiah and enabled him to commune with God.


Don’t tell me to try harder.  Tell me that God made the perfect atoning sacrifice for my sin!  Tell me that I am able to enter into God’s presence because of the death of Christ.  Tell me that I can serve God because I have been covered by the blood of Jesus.  But don’t tell me to try to be good, because that is something I can never do apart from the atoning work of Christ.  The only way I can be good before God is if the perfect sacrifice is applied to me by the grace of God.


So Lucado’s treatment of Isaiah 6 not only makes a mess of the content of that chapter, but His treatment is actually an attack on the very gospel of hope that sinners desperately need.


Is everything that Lucado says wrong?  Of course not.  A blind squirrel finds a nut from time to time.  A dead clock is right twice a day.  (To Lucado’s credit, there appears to be a significant change on his views of eternal security, even though it is still defective.) But, Lucado repeatedly fails to see the redemptive purpose of God’s word.  So my issue with Lucado is why would I want to rely on such a defective handling of the Word of God which is the only infallible authority for faith and practice?  He robs me of the very grace I need by twisting God’s redemptive acts in moral stories.


I know these are strong words.  I know that this seems like I am going overboard against a guy that “only has a different theological position” than I do.  But if only you the reader could see the damage that his views have done to the precious life-giving gospel of Jesus Christ, then you would understand that this isn’t just a theological issue.  This is a heaven and hell issue.  This is a life and death issue.


So I can’t have Lucado in my house where my children might pick him up at some point and come to believe that what he is espousing is the truth, when it is nothing more than another deception.  There is too much at stake.

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