Monday, March 28, 2016

Criticism of The Unseen Realm - Satan & Hell

I reviewed Michael Heiser's The Unseen Realm HERE

While I tried to be fair with the main premise of the book in my review, I found many secondary issues which I couldn't ignore. I was familiar with some of these prior to reading The Unseen Realm. But having looked further into what Heiser believes and teaches in a number of key areas (e.g. Genesis) gives me concern because of his popularity among the younger generation.

Heiser comes across as the chic scholar to go to. He's influenced people like Peter Goodgame. One example is his view of Satan. Take this article from Brazen Church The Real, Biblical Satan is Not At All What You Think. Then read Peter Goodgame's short essay towards the end of the comments section.

It has become fashionable to rethink Satan, hell, Penal Substitution etc (See the Brazen Church articles). Goodgame once told me that: "There are so many views out there that humility is the key so that we do not deceive ourselves." While the context was eschatology, his meaning has a broader application.

Humility is not what I'm seeing from these revisionists. At least one observer has called these people "pseudo-theologians." Frankly, I agree. Neither do I see consistency. Brazen Church features a polemic against the rapture with one objection being that it wasn't taught until the 1800's. William C. Watson's recent book debunks that argument. Yet their About page contains these observations:
We’re a community of Jesus-followers who, at some point or other, realized we had been lied to about God.
It probably wasn’t an intentional lie, but the reality is that when people embrace something as “true”, they tend to filter out information that disagrees with their belief and then impart that belief to those around them.
In our pursuit of God, as we studied Scripture, investigated the teachings of early Church fathers, compared notes on modern theologians, and analyzed Church history, we discovered that man’s view of God has never stopped changing. You might even say it is constantly evolving.
So church history doesn't always matter!

Back to Heiser's book...

The Unseen Realm is plugged by the likes of Tremper Longman and Darrel Bock, among others. Some sort of caveat should have been issued regarding Heiser's other views, unless they agree with them. Tremper Longman likely does. But that isn't the way the review system operates. Unfortunately, the book doesn't just stand alone on its subject - it draws readers into other areas. And I think that's a problem.

Dominic Bnonn Tennant has written criticisms of Heiser's book. So far his review is incomplete but hopefully one day he'll return to it. What he's written is worth a look:

Constructive criticism of The Unseen Realm #1: filters and mosaics

Constructive criticism of The Unseen Realm #2: who is ha’satan?

Constructive criticism of The Unseen Realm #3: perfection and freedom

This is worth a look as well - response to Brazen Church (several parts):

What is hell, and is it biblical?  

Note especially the final installment where Tennant exposes the reliance on mystic syncretist Julie Ferwerda.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post. I see some of the readers of my blog are fans of Dr. Michael Heiser. But I've never read his books and seen a few clips of videos of him that was thoughtful. Thanks for the warning and also the resources!

Alf Cengia said...

Thanks for the comment, SlimJim.

Dr Heiser has a flock of young followers. In fact I think he has been cultivating the crowd. I see this time and time again. I have no major problem with the main premise of his book "The Unseen Real." I do believe there is some sort of "Divine Council." But he makes too much of it. I hope more people eventually take him on as I believe he's dangerous.

Heiser comes with a lot of baggage. He questions Adam and Eve and the global flood. I've tried to find references where he cites so-called scientific evidence against a single Adam and where he engages the responses of organizations such as Creation Ministries International. Don't hold your breath.

Heiser knows his stuff but his evidences are sketchy. He's just selling his product to his fans. I know that sounds harsh but that's how I see it.