Did Miles J. Stanford Teach EXCHANGE LIFE?

Dan R. Smedra

August 2006

 

A Review of April-June 2006 Bibliotheca Sacra article

A CRITIQUE OF THE EXCHANGED LIFE

by Robert (Bob) A. Pyne and Matthew L. Blackmon

 


One correspondent recently sent me (http://withChrist.org) a copy of, A Critique of the "Exchanged Life" from the April-June edition of Bibliotheca Sacra, the 72 year-old theological journal of Dallas Theological Seminary* (DTS), Dallas, TX.  The lead article is written by Dr. Robert A. Pyne, Professor of Theological Studies at DTS, along with doctoral candidate, Matthew L. Blackmon.  The correspondent had hoped for me to write a formal response and to address the various errors, confusion, and most specifically, the authors' inclusion of Miles Stanford's writings in their critique of the Exchanged Life movement.  For now, my comments will be limited.

The Pyne-Blackmon article is an attempt to document, understand, and refute the crazy-quilt, theological landscape of the Exchanged Life movement.  The authors' critique wrestles largely with the eradicationist and one nature teachings of Charles Solomon, Bill Gillham, Neil Anderson, Steve McVey, Tony Evans, Charles Stanley, Dwight Edwards, Richard Hall, David Needham, John Best, June Hunt, Bob George and their respective publications.  As mentioned above, they unintentionally or intentionally include Christian author Miles Stanford (MJS) into the camp of "Exchanged Life" by referencing The Complete Green Letters and one of his polemic papers, without making critical distinctions.  Many of the "exchanged life" doctrinal teachings/errors and their proponents are reviewed in the Miles Stanford's set of Polemic Papers.

In short, the article is not a survey of the history of identification teaching and teachers.  Rather, it focuses upon the more contemporary errant expressions of this doctrinal emphasis--e.g., The Association of Exchanged Life Ministries.   For example they write, "The language of the Exchanged Life is often traced to J. Hudson Taylor"  but later add, "It is unclear whether Taylor actually advocated the ideas now associated with Exchanged Life theology."  In footnote 20 of 85, they comment, "Though Exchanged Life theology has no "founder," [Charles] Solomon is as likely a candidate as any."  However, had they done more homework, the authors might have discovered that eradication and one naturism errors pre-date Solomon and have roots deep in both Wesleyan/Arminian and Reformed/Covenant traditions.

Pyne and Blackmon list several concerns, but summarize as follows: "...this article has been written because of pastoral concern that those believers will be left ill equipped by a shortsighted approach to spirituality that cannot withstand sustained examination.  The authors are convinced that a perspective other than that of the Exchanged Life is significantly more encouraging, more helpful, and more deeply refreshing."  These authors' understanding of alternative spirituality is LifeSpace--a communal rather than "individualistic" approach to the Christian life.  Dr. Pyne is co-founder of LifeSpace, together with ordained minister Joni Powers,   "LifeSpace promotes a life with God that abandons the box for an unbounded, expansive experience of God’s glory. The LifeSpace community is an organic conversation."  Bob and Joni host both a forum and a blog (caveat emptor), and Dr. Pyne is also associated with the 'progressives' over at Bible.org, see here and here.

Despite Dr. Pyne and Matt Blackmon's desire to encourage "a fruitful and continuing conversation," their poorly researched scholarship and 'broad-brush' approach have done a disservice to the truth and the Body of Christ. The article is clearly oblivious to the historical theological tradition of the doctrine of identification, as well as Miles Stanford's contribution to documenting the experiential side of Pauline identification, including refutations of the eradication and one nature errors mentioned above.  Overlooked are the extensive labors of Miles Stanford to craft clear and concise presentations of the Pauline truths of identification/sanctification.

_______________________

* - Both DTS (1924) and its journal (1934) have moved far, far away, theologically speaking, from the dispensational perspective of its founder, Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer, and Dr. Chafer's link to Pauline Dispensationalism.

 

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