Seeing Is Believing by Gregory A. Boyd

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Boyd is best known as a leading proponent of the heresy known as open theism. One would think that holding such a perverted view of God would greatly truncate the influence of a Christian leader, but such does not seem to be the case with Boyd. His star seems to be rising due to his communication skills and ability to tap into the heart of his confused audience.

Seeing Is Believing is another giant step away from biblical truth, this time into the New Age mysticism. Boyd’s thesis is that “It’s not what we believe intellectually that impacts us; it’s what we experience as real” (p. 12). Experience is the key word, used literally hundreds of times in this small volume (it is used 57 times in the 8 page introduction alone). How does one go about experiencing Jesus? Using 2 Corinthians 3:17-4:6 as his main text, Boyd tells us that imagination, when guided by the Holy Spirit and submitted to the authority of Scripture, is our main receptor to the spiritual world (p. 196). The problem is that our Western mindset rejects imagination as make believe (pp. 72, 86, 95, 127-128, 134, 205). So it is necessary to reject this worldview and adopt an Eastern, mystical understanding. When this happens we begin to use our imagination to discover the real Jesus.

But is this biblically defensible? Boyd attempts to show in chapter six that both Scriptures and church history back his view. Scripturally he attempts to link the visions, dreams and appearances of God and angels in the Bible with imaginative prayer. Here he falls flat on his face, failing miserably to prove that objective visions in the Bible are the same as imaginative experiences today. The former is objective actions by God who communicates to man. The latter is subjective make believe. This does not deter Boyd in the least who, after congratulating himself on providing a biblical base, marches off to prove his point through church history. What he offers is Roman Catholic mystics such as Ignatius, founder of the Jesuits (pp. 79, 97, 108ff, 193, 204), St. Teresa of Avila (pp. 91, 108-109) and Benedictine and Dominican monks (pp. 90-91). He also sprinkles in some modern day New Agers such as Agnes Sanford, Scott Peck and Morton Kelsey (pp. 48ff, 79, 94). And for good measure he adds Richard Foster and David Seamands, two modern Christian mystics (pp. 93-94, 111, 131). What Boyd does not do is prove imaginative prayer (or cataphatic spirituality – pp. 93-94) from either Scripture or truly biblically-based Christian leaders. His techniques are drawn almost directly from Ignatius.

The most disturbing part of Boyd’s imaginative prayer methodology is that it evolves into New Age visualization. Boyd does not deny this; his caveat is that his program should not be condemned through guilt by association (pp. 117-135). By visualization what we mean is that at some point in this process the image imagined (the spirit-guide in New Age mysticism) actually comes alive and begins to act independently of the person. At that point contact has been made with the spirit world in ways clearly condemned by Scripture. This in no way seems to bother Boyd. As a matter of fact such contact is his goal. Only in this manner can a person grow in his knowledge of Christ and/or have his memories healed (p. 114).

Seeing Is Believing is chock-full of psychological garbage as well as misinterpreted and out-of-context Scripture. But these problems do not begin to compare with his erroneous teachings concerning experiencing Jesus through imaginative prayer.

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