Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Fully Surrendered? Eric and Leslie Ludy

V"We are incurably religious people. Deep within our flesh is this conviction that we have to rehabilitate ourselves by caring enough, trying enough, working hard enough.
Then I found myself writing these words:“In our flesh we are always looking for something we can do to get right with Him rather than trusting what He has done to make us right, so He can get on with doing something right through us.” "
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Critique of the Ministry of Eric and Leslie Ludy

The Presupposition of this Critique:

That Law and Gospel are central to the Christian faith.
The Purpose of this Critique:
To show the underlying theology of the Ludy’s ministry.
To show that their theology is not consistent with the Bible.
To show that their theology is damaging to Christians.

Authentic Beauty and It’s Impact on Christian Girls

From Authentic Beauty, beginning on page 66: “Imagine it is your wedding night... you finally arrive outside the bedroom door of your new home... no sooner do your feet touch the floor than you begin to sense something is wrong. Your husband notices it, too. “What is that smell?” you ask. Piles of garbage are everywhere. A group of your past boyfriends are casually leaning against the wall. ...this is supposed to be your wedding night..and it is quickly turning into the most horrifying experience you could ever have imagined. You glance over at your groom. He is hanging his head mournfully and dejectedly making his way back down the hall.

“Wait! Where are you going?”

“I’m sorry,” he says, shaking his head sadly. “I just can’t be with you tonight ‐ not like this.” ...yet when it comes to intimacy with our Prince, Jesus Christ, so many of us do just that. We pray for more intimacy with Him, ask Him to join us in the innermost part of our being, but we fail to realize there is so much garbage in the way that He can hardly get through the door.”

This disturbing example of shame‐based motivation is one of the key passages in Leslie Ludy’s book Authentic Beauty. It is upon this idea of Jesus not being able to be with us ‐ “not like this” ‐ that she bases the rest of the spiritual sections of her book.

It feels like Leslie Ludy has forgotten one of the key verses pertaining to our salvation: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” ‐Romans 5:8

Let’s look a little deeper. In this story Leslie is painting a picture of a God who walks away in disappointment when our lives are not cleaned up to His specifications. How do we reconcile that with the God who sent His Son to us while we were still sinners? See also Romans 5:6: “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.”

It could be argued that in this story Leslie Ludy is speaking of “continuing” intimacy with
Christ, or sanctification. She is speaking of the “relationship” we have with our “Prince” Jesus. So, after we are saved, as we work through our sanctification with fear and trembling, do we have to fear that God will say “I can’t be with you like this...” ? Should we be concerned that if we don’t clean up enough Jesus won’t be able to “get through the door...” ?
Colossians 2:10 says “In Him you have been made complete.” It’s done. We’re not lacking
anything. And “if anyone sins we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” 1 John 2:1 Christ is our advocate, not a disappointed lover. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says “Therefore if anyone is in Christ he IS a new creation...” and, even better, “their sins and lawless deeds I will remember no more.” Hebrews 10:17

If you haven’t thought through this before it may come as a revelation: We did not need to clean up to receive salvation ‐ neither do we need to clean up to continue to have intimacy, blessings, approval or a relationship with Christ. Even more than that WE CAN’T. It is beyond our ability, beyond our pay grade, beyond everything.

This is one of the most difficult things to accept about Christianity. And this is part of the reason the Ludy’s ministry is so appealing. It appeals to our flesh.

Leslie Ludy continues to spread her own gospel as she shares “practical advice” for “cleaning out your sanctuary.” Cleaning out your inner sanctuary is a process where you go through all kinds of lists that Leslie Ludy has come up with so you can confess, in a specifically prescribed way, your sins in all these areas. Some of these things are not specifically sins. You are told to go through it thoroughly and carefully. The promised result? Intimacy with your “Prince.”

Sanctification by the sheer will of the believer to do the right thing, say the right words, confess the right sins and become the right Christian ‐ the one who will live a “radiant, lily white life.”

Once you become a Christian she believes you need to live as His princess ‐ and here is what she says Jesus has to say about that... (p. 65) “ To live as my princess I must become the center of your very existence. Your innermost being must become a set‐apart place, a sacred sanctuary worthy of my Presence.”
The problem here is that, just as we do not need to clean up to receive salvation, neither do we need to clean up to continue to be saved. Once we become a child of God we ARE set apart, we ARE worthy of His presence. According to Leslie Ludy, if we can’t accomplish her definition of a set apart life, we fail to live as Christ’s Princess. We’re not worthy. That is the weight of her words, the honest, stark truth behind them. The weight of “becoming... worthy of His presence” is a huge, heavy burden to place, as Leslie does here, on the shoulders of adolescent girls. It is a burden Christ never placed on
anyone.

Christ came to release people from burdens, not place burdens back on them! Now Christian girls hear those same message from the world and instead of hearing a different message from “god” they hear the same song, different verse. If you are pure, you’ll find a man. If you are pure then God will have an intimate relationship with you. If you follow this “formula” which is “God’s plan” then He will bless you. On the surface it appears that the Ludy’s teach clear law and gospel ‐ but they mix in glory theology. Their messages don’t focus you back on the cross ‐ they instead put the focus back on you.

This subtle mix makes their teachings more dangerous than outright heresy because it is more difficult to discern what they are really saying.

Leslie has an audio file on her website that contains some very good Gospel truths about
salvation ‐ that Christ does not hold our sins against us. It sounds as though she is preaching exactly what the Gospel is. She says we do not deserve salvation and yet we have been pardoned. But then she says (speaking of repentance) that “then it [our sin] is no longer a hindrance point in our relationship with Him.”
To God’s eyes, there is no hindrance point. There is nothing. He is King, we are in His Kingdom. He is Father, we are His children. Jesus intercedes for us, and He sees us through the sacrifice of His Son. Jesus died “once for all” ‐ just once for all the past, present and future sins. To believe that when you repent, THEN you are forgiven is to minimalize Christ’s sacrifice and put Him back on the cross every time you sin. Leslie lists off all these things that we do not have to do to be forgiven ‐ or as she says, to “restore intimacy” and yet she then tells Christians that there IS something you have to do ‐ repent of that specific sin! And “in that very instant, it is done, the work is finished, it is nailed to His cross and is no longer a part of who we are.”

Leslie Ludy is telling Christians that the work of forgiveness of their sins was NOT finished when Christ said “it is finished” but it is finished when we repent. When WE lay our sins before Jesus. When WE go through their five step program. When WE take the steps needed to restore intimacy.

Further Proof

I wouldn’t take the word of someone who could only point to one passage ‐ or one book ‐ out of hundreds of pieces of material and I don’t expect you to either. Here are a few excerpts from their books and website to illustrate my point further.
Describing a series of classes at Ellerslie:
“Through this series, students will learn how to find vibrant success in their prayer life, build mighty personal faith, and overcome spiritual weakness in order to be truly ready and able to make a godly impact upon the world.”(http://ellerslie.com/Semester_Training_Overview.html)

Again we see an if/then system with the onus ‐ if ‐ placed upon the believer. Here it manifests in the phrase “in order to be truly ready and able.” Christ makes us truly ready and able to make a godly impact upon the world when we are saved. We do not need to conform to some standard of godliness before we are ready to make an impact. He can use us wherever we are.

Leslie Ludy’s devotional number 5 (http://www.setapartgirl.com/Devotional/Entries/
2010/10/18_answering_the_call.html) states: “He can transform you into a radiant, victorious, worldchanging set‐apart young woman. All you must do is come to him with a heart fully surrendered.”

Once again, the truth that once Christ saves you then you are set apart is completely ignored in favor of making your “set apart” ‐ness dependent on your ability to come to Him with “a heart fully surrendered.”

In a popular video titled The Ellerslie Passion (http://ellerslie.com/The_Ellerslie_Passion.html)
Eric Ludy proves again that he is an amazing speaker ‐ but also promotes their version of “glory theology.” He says “We have massive holes in our life that give the enemy access to do with our life what he sees fit to do. Well, you say “that’s horrible, I’m a Christian!” Yeah! You’re a Christian with breaches! You are not supposed to be a Christian with breaches. One of the key definitions of Christianity can be a man or woman whose walls are repaired, who is made strong so they are useful to God...”(http://
ellerslie.com/Home.html)

So why is this teaching about breaches wrong? For the same reason that it is wrong to
say that our sins are forgiven “the moment” we confess. It divides “christians” into two categories: Those with breaches and those without. Those who are “just saved” and those who have made Christ their Lord. Those who are just “adding a little morality” to their lives and those who have “cleaned out their inner sanctuary” and are “fully surrendered.”

Leslie Ludy’s devotional on putting emotions in their place: http://www.setapartgirl.com/Devotional/
Entries/2010/10/25_putting_emotions_in_their_place.html
“...our emotions and desires certainly can be instruments of God to help direct our lives, but only when they are fully yielded to Him. Most of us never truly die to self – we never really walk through the painful process of laying every hope, dream and wish of our heart upon the altar before our King, or of letting our identity become swallowed up in Him.”

The painful process she refers to here is their Five Steps to Freedom/Cleaning Out Your
Sanctuary process. Even if she wrote this section only to encourage girls to continue to seek what is good (as in: “Test everything, hold on to the good...”) then her wording is problematic and dishonest. The wording of “fully yielding” again puts the burden on the believer, rather than on the Holy Spirit, despite her saying in other places “...we do not have to do this alone...” We still have to DO it and the emphasis is on our doing rather than Christ’s already‐has‐done. Not to mention the fact that NONE of us ever truly die to self! We will always have moments where we choose to walk by the flesh instead of
by the Spirit. And yet, in the eyes of God, our identity IS swallowed up in Him.

Remember the wording of the Bible: We ARE made new, we HAVE OBTAINED an inheritance,etc. Contrast that with “never truly die to self...” and “painful process...” and “laying every hope...” and “letting our identity...” and, the ever present ‘fully yielded/yielding...”  Verses like “Be Holy, as I am Holy...” are used as inspirations to try harder, do more and make yourselves holier instead of seeing them for what they truly are: reminders that we can not ever be Holy through actions, we are not ever going to make ourselves holier by anything that we do. We do not become “set apart” as we distance ourselves from this world, but instead we are already set apart from the moment we know we have sinned and we believe through faith ‐ which is
itself a gift given through God’s grace.

From the Ellerslie Church statement of faith: “While we do believe that the gifts of the Spirit are in operation today, we believe that the main evidence of a fuller in‐filling of the Holy Spirit is the manifestation of the fruit of the Spirit in a believer's life”
There is no “fuller in‐filling” of the Holy Spirit. When you have the Spirit, you have the Spirit. That is that. You are a new creation, you have been given the Spirit. There is no more Spirit you can get!

Do the Ludys Teach a Formula?

In Authentic Beauty Leslie recommends her “Cleaning the Sanctuary” form that you can find online at http://www.setapartgirl.com/innersanctuary_files/Cleaning‐the‐Sanctuary.pdf Eric Ludy has a similar protocol for guys. On the second page you find this heading: Five Steps to Freedom. On Eric’s “guy version” it says Five Glorious Steps to Freedom.

Often when you are wondering if teachers or a group are performance‐based or formula‐based it’s quite subtle and difficult to tell if they are actually teaching a formula or if they just want toencourage people to live Godly lives.

It’s not very often that it’s as blatant as FIve Steps To Freedom.

Is That Wrong?

It is important to note that there are no Bible passages or verses supporting this Five Step
program. Not in the Bible, and not in their material. The only verse included is “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23 (King James)

This verse isn’t even applicable to this process, because it’s about simple repentance ‐
acknowledging that we can do nothing and it is about GOD doing the searching, the trying, the knowing and the leading.

This passage from the book “The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse” by Dave Johnson and Jeff Vanvonderen shows a much clearer picture of what the repentance described by David should look like: "We cannot save ourselves, Neither can we sanctify ourselves. When we are redeemed, we are given a brand new heart, implanted by the Holy Spirit. (see Ezekiel 37; Hebrews 11) With that new heart comes a new desire to love God, to serve Him, to live holy. But the question still remains: HOW? The answer given all too often is, "try hard, do more, really mean it this time." Interject the language of
brokenness into that approach. "I can't. I can't subdue it, I can't control it, I am powerless." When we come to that terrifying realization ‐ which we will do everything to avoid ‐ we begin to develop a hunger for our only hope: sanctifying grace." (emphasis mine)

The formulas of Eric and Leslie Ludy are only another human attempt to circumvent the needed realization of our complete failure to begin to fulfill the law. It is encouragement ‐ but encouragement to try hard, do more, really mean it this time. That is what our flesh wants to hear. From Rosenius’ Devotional Commentary on Romans: “Lift up your eyes. Overlook the roughness on the surface. ...If you have the persuasion that you cannot be without Christ because of your sin and unworthiness, this is the simple and lasting sign that you are ‘in the Spirit.’ ...Should we presume that where a Dr. devotes his time all is well and happy? No, where the doctor is there is disease and need. Those who are well (as unbelievers presume themselves to be) do not need a Doctor.”
And what does Romans say about those who are “in the spirit?” There is no condemnation!
Rosenius quotes Praetorius who said “We are not to worry about the judgments of the law any more than the infant lying in the cradle playing with its fingers.”

Are the Ludy’s Teachings Spiritually Abusive?

To answer this question we must take into account the fact that the Ludys do not yet have a large “following” like a Pastor would ‐ they lack the “shepherd” aspect. Because of that it is difficult to judge at this time if the traits of Authoritarian and Suppresses Criticism are applicable. If their church and programs at Ellerslie grow it will be easier to watch for these signs in the future. We are going to look at the other three traits. You can find an outline or “profile” of spiritual abuse at this website: http://www.watchman.org/profile/abusepro.htm

Image Conscious:

The Ludy’s absolutely preach an image conscious gospel. With the emphasis on “true beauty,”“authentic beauty,” “true purity,” and constant emphasis on things like “...a young woman who is truly fulfilled, radiant and beautiful is one who has made Jesus Christ her all in all...” and “mediocre standards of the world” you can see that their wording and focus is not on what Christ has done but how we should “make” Jesus our all in all so we can be “fulfilled, radiant and beautiful.” (from Leslie Ludy’s
“my message” section of her website: http://www.setapartgirl.com/set‐apart‐message.html )

Wording from chapters in Authentic Beauty: “Lily White,” “Beautiful Reflection,” “Shaping the Outward Lifestyle,” “Lily Whiteness and Romance,” “Feminine Mystique,” “Confident Sparkle,” “Set‐Apart Life.”
The spiritual abuse profile says “Impossibly high legalistic standards of thought or behavior may be imposed on the members. Their failure to live up to these standards is a constant reminder of inferiority.”

That “reminder of inferiority” and the feeling of “If I am a good enough Christian I should be able to do and attain all that the Ludys say I should” is one of the things I have seen figuring prominently in the words, lives and attitudes of girls who subscribe to the Ludy’s teachings. I could hardly find a page in Authentic Beauty that didn’t concern outward appearance. It is often amended with phrases like “His lily‐white princess” and a token reference to the Holy Spirit who “make(s) an ongoing passionate relationship possible” but it always is followed or preceded by “if you then clean up and clean out your sanctuary...” or “you must surrender [your] entire life to him.”

Perfectionistic:

From the spiritual abuse profile:
“A most natural assumption is that a person does not get something for nothing. Apart from the express declarations of salvation by grace through faith God has given in the scriptures, it would be natural to think that one must earn salvation, or at least work to keep it. Thus, in abusive religions all blessings come through performance of spiritual requirements. Failure is strongly condemned so there is only one alternative, perfection. So long as he thinks he is succeeding in his observation of the rules, the follower typically exhibits pride, elitism, and arrogance. However, when reality and failure eventually set in, the result is the person experiences spiritual burnout, or even shipwreck of his faith. Those who fail in their
efforts are labeled as apostates, weak, or some other such term so that they can be discarded by the system.”

The quotes already cited ‐ especially the section from Authentic Beauty where Leslie says God is like a bridegroom who leaves you when you are sinful ‐ shows the perfectionistic tendencies inherent in the Ludy’s ministry. A quick perusal of their website will reveal many, many more anecdotes that push people toward “perfection” that they say we must attain. It’s difficult to see that is their agenda because there are places where they say that it is by Christ’s strength that we attain this new “level” of the gospel. They say that the Spirit “helps” us, but they don’t say we can do nothing. Eric Ludy’s sermon, The Costly Gospel, is introduced in this way: “If the power of the Gospel is to
be fully realized in the life of a believer, then that believer must first be emptied. The principle of the Gospel is always "first death, then life." “ Eric just said something very, very true ‐ the Gospel (and since he capitalized it we can be assured that he is speaking of salvation) is always first death then life! Death in our sins until Christ saves us. But what Eric does not acknowledge is that at the moment of salvation the Gospel IS fully realized! There is nothing more to be done! Even if Eric Ludy is not saying that there are “stages” of salvation, if he is not saying that you can attain a “better” christianity or be “more
christian” or have your christianity “fully realized” in your life, then his wording is, at the very least, dishonest and manipulative, written in such a way as to get others to desire this “full realization” in their own lives that he has found. Human nature is to want the best and to BE the best ‐ to have this “full realization” of the Gospel in their lives.

This perfectionistic attitude is absolutely contrary to the words of our Savior when he spoke of being the least, a servant of all. When you make being “set apart” something that you attain instead of something that you ARE in Christ, then you foster arrogance and pride. You foster self‐righteousness and those who are self‐righteous can’t help but project perfectionistic standards on others. It’s even worse when, like with the Ludys, your self‐righteousness is portrayed as being a sold‐out, awesome, set apart and holier Christian. Self‐righteousness with God’s stamp of approval.

Unbalanced:

“Abusive religions must distinguish themselves from all other religions so they can claim to be distinctive and therefore special to God. This is usually done by majoring on minor issues such as prophecy, carrying biblical law to extremes, or using strange methods of biblical interpretation. The imbalanced spiritual hobby‐horse thus produced represents unique knowledge or practices which seem to validate the group's claim to special status with God.”
We have to ask ‐ do the Ludy’s push the idea of themselves and/or their followers having a special status? Let’s look again at the words of Leslie Ludy in her “My Message” page on her website:
“In every generation, there are a few...”

Their whole ministry is built on the idea that “a few” Christians will hear them and “give God the pen” to write their story. A “few” special Christians will discover that they can follow this formula and live in “absolute abandonment” to Jesus. While the Ludys are not a cult of Christianity, per se, they definitely do encourage their followers to think of themselves as special. Not because they have been washed by the blood, but because they have “cleaned out their inner sanctuary” and therefore have this level of intimacy with God that your “average” Christian does not.

When talking about her book “The Lost Art of True Beauty” (more “special” language) Leslie says: “In today’s sex‐obsessed society, pop‐culture’s idea of feminine beauty seems to be all about looking like the hottest models, movie stars, or pop‐singers. But the end results are often tragic ‐ overwhelming insecurity, eating disorders, and sexual promiscuity. “

The results of living that life from outward pressure or from feeling like they need to do more,try harder, also ends in tragic results. You have girls trying to live up to “God’s standard of Beauty” which holds even more pressure and even more promise than the pop‐culture’s ideal. When Christian girls read books like this they trade one outward pressure for another.

Is There A Place For “Christian Living” Encouragement?
Absolutely!

I can say a resounding YES to the idea that we should encourage one another in the way we
should now live. Christians need to hear that:
They are called to Holy Living
They are unable ‐ even with the Holy Spirit ‐ to accomplish the Holy life.
Any “accomplishments” they make are completely the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives.
They WILL fail.
No matter what they will never achieve a higher standard of being a better Christian.
God sees them as having already attained the standard. Completely. Perfectly. All due to
Christ’s sacrifice for us.
So then, out of gratitude we do not “try harder” or attempt to become “set apart” and attempt to “clean out our inner sanctuary” but we just respond with gratitude and admit we can’t clean it out ‐ but God has.
We see in Romans 14:1‐2 that we are to “Accept Him whose faith is weak, without passing
judgment on disputable matters. One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables.”
According to the ideas behind the Ludy’s teachings (and often according to their exact words) the people who have “fully surrendered” are those who are stronger in their faith, those who are more spiritually mature. And spiritually mature means, to them, those who have given up worldly things ‐ beauty magazines, boyfriends, short shorts, etc. And yet here in Romans it describes the stronger faith as the one who has more freedom in Christ ‐ the one who isn’t burdened with “disputable matters.”

According to this verse, not only will the youth at (convention) be learning from those whose theology undermines the foundation of the Christian faith, but those whose faith is weak! We should be accepting of them ‐ not of their message, but of them ‐ as a weaker brother and sister in Christ. Not bringing them to share their weakness and spread it among our youth in the guise of spiritual maturity!

Things that you do, sacrifices you make, yielding and following formulas can make you feel like you are doing something more for Christ or like you are becoming His Lily White Princess. But it can’t strengthen your faith. It also isn’t an accurate measurement for how strong your faith is because if you are doing Christian things out of duty, obligation, desire to have a sanctuary worthy of intimacy with God or whatever Ludy phrase you wish to use, then guess what? It isn’t really faith. Or strength.

As has been mentioned before, the strength and the faith lies in saying I Can’t Do It and
developing that hunger for sanctifying grace that comes from the Spirit.

Conclusion:

Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by keeping the law? Of course not, for the Holy Spirit came upon you only after you believed the message you heard about Christ. Have you lost your senses? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort? (Gal. 3:2,3)

This diluted version of glory theology, this teaching that undermines Christ’s sacrifice and
pressures and elevates human effort and will is causing me to ask “have you lost your senses?” :) Not in a judgmental way ‐ in a sympathetic way. I grew up with theology much stricter than that of the Ludys and I thoroughly understand how appealing it is and how, sometimes, it is impossible to find the bad in the midst of the christian‐ese.

Romans 12:2 says “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” This verse could, on the surface, support the theology of the Ludys. But investigation of the original language shows that being conformed is something that shows an outward pressure ‐ good or bad ‐ a pressure to change. Even if the pressure is “Biblical” if it is pressure it is “being conformed.” It is “trying to become perfect by your own human effort.”

Transformed has an entirely different meaning. It is the meaning of metamorphosis. Being
changed from within, as a caterpillar changes into a butterfly. This is a process completely alien to the caterpillar who rests in it’s cocoon. This change is being done to it, not being initiated by the caterpillar.

This is true sanctification.

Colossians 2:6 says: “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus, so walk in Him.”
How, then, have we received Christ? By His power. By His initiation. By His strength. By His sacrifice. By nothing of our own merit.

So walk in Him.

19 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this... I have been wondering about the teachings of eric and leslie for awhile now, a couple of my roommates are really into their stuff and one has applied to their Ellerslie program in the summer and is probably going there. It has been heartwrenching to see specifically 2 of them become increasingly legalistic and withdrawn in the past few months while daily soaking up the teachings of the ludys. I have no idea how to approach them about it other then prayer... they call it "radical" living and I recognize that under the mask of radical living it is legalism to the core.

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  2. Thank you so much for this post. It helped me identify what exactly felt so "off" about the Ludy's.

    I hope you don't mind, I referenced & linked your post in a tumblr post of mine: http://cuppboard.tumblr.com/post/3953001375/i-read-your-comment-on-my-post-with-the-quote-from

    Just let me know if you'd rather I not post the link or if you feel uncomfortable with the post!

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  3. I have read Authentic Beauty many times as well as many other books by the Ludys. And I have to say... I think you're understanding their writings in a wrong way! Leslie was not teaching a works based method for how to have a relationship with Christ, she was encouraging Christian girls who struggle with worldliness to put a relationship with Him above the distractions and allure of this world! And in their books, they always bring it back to Christ. His saving grace and not our own power. We are to pray for sanctification... we are justified once through the blood of Jesus, and we are sanctified a little more every day through the power of the Holy Spirit. Eric and Leslie are advocates for Holiness. Their core faith is nothing but Jesus, and now they want to see young men and women have an even deeper relationship with Him by shifting their priorities to what really matters.

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  4. Thank you for this blog post.

    I have followed the Ludy's for a few years now and attended Ellerslie for a semester. God used their ministry to grow me in many ways. God used their book "When God Writes Your Love Story" to get my eyes off guys and on Christ when I was 14. My semester at Ellerslie served as a launching pad to great spiritual growth. I will be forever grateful to that time in my life

    Your post was thought provoking. However, I find it interesting that it was at Ellerslie that I finally realized my inability to depend upon myself for sanctification, greater service to God, etc. It was through Ellerslie and Eric Ludy that I came to fully depend upon Christ as my salvation.

    However, I have become concerned as of late. A friend of mine who attended Ellerslie is showing signs of legalism. She is so frustrated at her inability to "measure up" to the standard of "victorious Christianity." Her depression is increasing as she tries so hard to "be better." I think that Eric is legitimately frustrated at the current churches lack of a call to holy living. "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness." But I think that is because modern evangelism efforts tend to focus on coming to Christ to improve you life rather than to be forgiven of your sins. When the typical suffering and trials promised in scripture come, the modern (false) convert falls away or makes provision for his flesh. Thus showing that he didn't have an accurate understanding of the gospel in the first place. (I agree with Ray Comfort on this point www.livingwaters.com "Hells best kept secret" and "true and false conversion."

    This is my main bone of contention with this ministry. It seems to me that the Ludy's and Ellerslie seem to confuse the beginning work of the gospel (regeneration, justification) with the work of the Holy Spirit and the believer after conversion to sanctify.

    . . .

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  5. They assume that if you are a Christian and have an accurate understanding of the gospel, you should be a full, mature, fruit bearing believer. Their ministry is great for the mature Christian. I have been a Christian for 12+ years and have been studying the word faithfully for about 8 years. The effect of Ellerslie on me was different from my dear friend who has only been a Christian for a few years. The thing this friend needed the most was to hear the grace of God preached and to begin an earnest study of scripture and doctrine.

    This assumption is simply not realistic. For someone who has a history of living in sin and darkness, sanctification is no easy road. Yes, God's grace can cover sickness, mental disorders, sin, anxiety, depression, and sinful patterns of living. But to assume that 10 weeks of prayer and Bible study will make you a mature believer without any issues is naive was best. A young believer immersed in this teaching will become judgmental of those who are "not Ellerslie" and disillusioned at their lack of "progress."

    We do need reform when it comes to the doctrine of sanctification. I grew up in a church that didn't care if you looked, spoke, acted and pursued the same interests as the world. They turned the grace of God into an excuse for licentiousness. But the reform that Eric Ludy is proposing is not what we need.

    The Ludy's doctrine is gained mostly through inspirational reading material, biographies, and many "Keswick" authors. I learned how to truly pray at Ellerslie, I learned the importance of fasting and the seriousness of allowing sin into my life. But I did not learn how to interpret scripture, important doctrines, or how the history of the church flows together. We must seek the Lord in prayer, but prayer and Bible reading without a strong understanding of doctrine and hermeneutics can leave you open to false doctrine.

    A note on Keswick teaching. The main tenet of the Keswick convention was to "let go and let God." This teaching can cause a couple of problems. The first you mentioned above. Those who have "fully surrendered" can become prideful and gain a sense of superiority. It can also lead to depression and disillusionment when followers realize that God leaves some issues in out life to refine and grow us.

    I pray that the Lord will continue to use Ellerslie to raise up young people who are passionate to serve Christ with their all. I pray that the damaging effects of missing and slightly twisted doctrine will be minimized. And finally, I pray that the Lord, in His manifest love, mercy, and grace, will bring correction o the wrong patterns f thinking and believing at Ellerslie. I realize that at this point in time I believe wrongly about things, how do I know? Because I have believed wrongly in the past. Do I want to believe wrong things? of course not! But I am human and so dependent upon studying, meditating upon, and applying the Word of God. I pray that the Lord will grant Eric Ludy the insight into scripture and the humility to correct this wrong thinking and interpretation of scripture.

    Finally, my whole experience with Ellerslie has shown me that I MUST study scripture for myself. It has motivated me to attend Bible college and eventually seminary so that I might disciple immature christians according to the Word of God.

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    1. I was Ellerslie Gamma semester - graduated April 17, 2010 from basic training. Nearly 2 years have passed since my time there and I find myself still struggling. I stumbled upon this blog post attempting to find a start to writing a paper to help myself work through what happened while at Ellerlie.

      I struggle with my Ellerslie experience because I've found it so hard to separate the biblical from Eric Ludy's perspective. My first two weeks experiencing his teaching were amazing - I wish I could have gone home prior to the rest of it. In those two weeks, they covered the basics of building a strong Christian faith - I still hold tight to the truths I learned. After that, I began to experience panic attacks. I still struggle with them. Eric Ludy preached on wonderful biblical principles...problem was, he preached *his* interpretation and application as equal to the biblical principles. I remember sitting through a Sunday sermon and by the end of it thinking..."he used 2 Scriptures the entire sermon. Two. That's it?" This sermon was about keeping your car and your room clean and making sure that even your pen drawers were organized.

      I could continue on and on about the good and the bad and the way my 9 weeks at Ellerslie helped shape who I am now, but I'll stop here. That being said, I'd like it if you emailed me as I'd like to learn more about your experience. I've talked with some students from my semester and they seem to be in the same boat - it'd be nice to "interview" someone from a different semester. Anyway, thanks for the insight given in your posts!

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  6. I finally got time to drop by. I understand it is a difficult thing to both benefit from yet be concerned about a particular ministry. There will always be those who are decidedly sycophantic in their allegiance to a ministry or Teachers/Leaders and any critique is diabolical. But what you have stated is biblical, not diabolical. Eric and Leslie Ludy are idealistic to a fault and Eric's theological inadequacy can become a dangerous property of his ministry if he does not bring himself to a more vetted place. Thank you for your courage in speaking your mind with conviction.

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  7. I saw a lot of inaccuracies in this piece, but I'll try to address them with points:

    1. Making personal effort to keep from sinning (sanctified state) DOES become a responsibility for christians at a point in our walk. If it wasn't, the apostles would not have had to charge the churches (through the epistles) to "be ye holy" (1 Peter 1:15), etc.

    2. Yes, our 'garbage' CAN keep God out of our lives! (Isaiah 59:1-2)

    3. You say 'Once we become a child of God we ARE set apart, we ARE worthy of His presence'. That's the ideal, but if you are observant you'll notice that doesn't apply much in present day Christians. So, quite obviously, Leslie Ludy has to make that distinction for clarity purposes.

    4. Your quote "Their messages don’t focus you back on the cross ‐ they instead put the focus back on you." I'll forever wonder at how you arrived at that conclusion - their messages are ALWAYS centred around surrender! You sure you got the right Ludy couple?

    5. "To believe that when you repent, THEN you are forgiven is to minimalize Christ’s sacrifice and put Him back on the cross every time you sin." Ermmm...I'm trying to read this statement of yours in different ways so as to fully understand you, but every way I read it it just screams WRONG! We HAVE to repent for forgiveness! That was the first message Jesus Christ preached, that was what John the Baptist preached, that was what Jesus sent out his disciples in twos to preach! If it was not important it WOULD NOT have been preached!

    6. These days it is really easy to mix up legalistic, performance-based ministries with ministries that are about living a true, undiluted Christian life. I guess you could also argue that the churches Apostle Paul set up in Galatia, Corinth, Ephesus and Phillipi were legalistic and performance-based because his letters to them were filled with so many rules, and do's and donts!

    7. "Christians need to hear that:...They are unable ‐ even with the Holy Spirit ‐ to accomplish the Holy life." Ermmm...what kind of doctrine is that!?! There is an injunction in the bible 'be ye holy'. I don't think God would put that in there if it could not be accomplished. We cannot judge, and put limitations, on the work of the Holy Spirit based on our perception or experience.

    In summary the Ludys are human - I don't presume to make them out as perfect. But this theological position from which you critique their ministry, the sit-back-christianity, "God-has-done-all-the-work-why-lift-a-finger" mentality is equally dangerous to the body of Christ. We cannot afford to get rattled and scream 'Legalist!' and 'Spiritually abusive!' every time someone tells us to lift a finger and work out our salvation process without checking out the spirit behind their message. The little experience I've had with that ministry led me in paths so far away from what you described in your post. Maybe you should take a closer look at them again. God bless.

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    1. 1. Yes, you are right about being set apart, this is an important doctrine most "churches" and u believers these days do not heed to. Revelation first few chapters shows this importance.

      2. Yes, our garbage can keep God our of our lives, but as believers it's not because HE walks out on us, but we do that to HIM.

      3. True. I think because we "forget" that we are.

      4. True!!

      5. Hmm...not sure. It seems like saying that we have to love God before he loves us, which is not true!

      6. yes.

      7. What??? I can't believe someone said that!! If we are unable, even with an all-powerful God, to live a holy life--what hope is there?! what point of Salvation?!

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  8. wunwi... I think you are advocating a form of semi-Pelagianism with your emphasis on man's work, rather than what God has done. Just as Pelagius found, and of which Pelagianism was condemned for, it is possible to prooftext ones own desires from the scriptures. This is something we need to be on guard against, namely our pride to push God and His works out of the picture and replace them with our own. Beyond the bit about it being a guaranteed failure, taken to an extreme, such is a denial of Christ... I'll take sit back Christianity any day over Christianity without Christ. Besides, the Holy Spirit will act, even on the most laid back Christian. There is no danger to the body of Christ by keeping God's works in their proper place.

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  9. Thanks Ron. Semi-pelagianism was definitely one of my concerns while writing this.

    Wunmi, some of your concerns come from just a different doctrinal standing. I am coming at this from a confessional lutheran point of view. For answers to many of your issues, I suggest trying the Book of Conchord. It's a compilation of historical theological documents and would answer many of your points. Definitely worth a read.

    Maybe I should do a post on objective truth and subjective truth. Also might clear some things up. It's a fine distinction, but a very important one.

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  10. I think your blog here has done a great job exposing the very things I have observed by the ppl who I know who have gone to Ellerslie. They are exactly what you describe and now they are encouraging more ppl to attend. The funny thing is that no one has the funds to go yet they seem to find money for this and when they come back...they end up very depressed and all they can think about is "going back" to Ellerslie. They look at employment as something carnal;....that the only way to be spiritual is to be at Ellerslie. So it seems pretty clear that this is a cult and there is no doubt that the legalistic teaching is a perversion of the Gospel....let him be accursed (Galations)

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  11. Oh man... I followed your link from over at Pedestrian Christian... yeah... I just read the first paragraph and that would be enough to make me throw away the book. It sounds positively AWFUL.


    I'm saddened that our denomination had them come and give a dating talk to our youth at their conference. I watched a video of his (I can't remember what it was about... Valiant Christianity or something) and I thought the same thing you did. HORRIBLE HORRIBLE stuff. LOADS of Moralism, guilt, fear, so little about forgiveness.

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  13. I regret to say that this couple is making the same mistake that the Roman Catholic Humanist, Erasmus, did in the 16th century. Ugh! There is nothing new under the sun.

    http://www.pastormattrichard.com/2012/04/i-am-sorry-but-we-dont-have-free-will.html

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  14. Well now.....

    1. We do need to have a clear view of our sin and brokeness before God to change...
    but--
    We need to see ourselves has He sees us. Which means, he wants us to see our potential
    in Christ and the good in our hearts, too!

    2. It's great that she interviews people whose lives were lived at abandon for God, like Missionaries, musicians, nurses, teachers, etc.
    but--
    What about GODLY INTELLECTUALS OR ATHLETES? What about the passionate SCIENTISTS, surfers, runners, artists, journalists, prophets, etc...A SCIENTIST IS JUST AS IMPORTANT AS A MISSIONARY!!

    3. It's great they teach us to live our lives for Christ, do missions for him...but working thru past abuse, health issues, mental disorders takes time!! It's not always all at once!!

    4. The analogy to Jesus being like the groom who leaves his bride because of her past garbage IS SO WRONG!! Our past garbage is all the more reason Christ is committed to us, because only HE can wash away our sins. And he loves us enough to stay. I got a story. The first few months of my marriage I had a lot of issue from my past. Sins unconfessed, pain from bad controlling relationships, etc. I was a very bitter person and for a long time I turned that on my partner, criticising and demeaning him, saying hurtful things. But many times, though he got hurt and sometimes had to work to forgive made his mistakes too, many times instead of leaving (like I partly hoped he would) he jut said "I love you, you're a wonderful wife." I hope he never stops that. That' what made me want to change, Christ-like love. Instead of walking out becaue of it (like Leslie's proverbial groom) he tried to help me out of it. Now I don't know what he will do in the future, but I hope he stays and gives me that love, not that I deserve it ( and he said he didn't deserve mine) but because that's what I NEED to change!!

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  15. Dear 'Oleander Honey', I just wanted to share how amazingly your blog post worked in mine and my husband's lives to bring us into an awareness of God's amazing grace! Yours was the very first article that started to make us question everything we had believed about the gospel for so long (the mixture of law and grace we had been settling for), and was particularly poignant because Leslie Ludy's site and books were resources that I, as a teenager and young woman, had soaked up like a sponge! The pretty language of wanting to be 'pure for my Prince', 'white as snow', 'radiant' in my set-apartness had left me on a hamster wheel of always trying to do more to become as set apart as she described, and failing of course! OH THE JOY and FREEDOM of coming to know that I was ALREADY holy and blameless and pure and lily white, because of what Christ accomplished on my behalf! Now I can not read her posts without vehemently wanting to reveal this truth to her readers (and having no way to! Although I suppose I could blog about it too on my site!) and also wanting to gag, haha. So thankyou - thankyou for taking the time to post your thoughts and insight into this destructive ministry, I hope they come to a knowledge of the truth of His goodness and sufficiency themselves, how much more free would they feel :-) God's blessing you!! xx Jemma

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  16. "I was blind, but now I see!" I praise God for the ministry of Eric and Leslie Ludy and the Ellerslie Mission Society in Windsor, Colorado.

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  17. A thousand and one thank yous, Rachel!

    The Ludys and Jim & Elisabeth Elliot's teachings and "cult of personality" deceived me for years...MISERABLE years, because I DID want to be pleasing and pure to God...and this sort of errant theology will bring untold miseries to a tender conscience!!What relief, freedom and TRUE holiness the gospel of Jesus Christ and grace brings!!Thank you sis! :-)

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