Posted by: Yvonne | December 21, 2009

Donald Miller–“a guide without a map”

From Gary Gilley’s book review of Donald Miller’s Blue Like Jazz, we read,

 “What is disturbing about Miller is his lack of biblical understanding (he admits that he has never read the Bible through, reads the Bible most often out of duty and is usually bored, and goes long stretches of time without scriptural input (pp. 80, 175). His spiritual turning points inevitably come through movies, secular literature, lectures, encounters with people, or God “speaking” to him and others (pp. 48, 85, 136, 230)—but virtually never from the Word.”

Gilley continues,

“…he lavishes praises on freeloading, pot-smoking, homosexual “hippies” who love unconditionally as they steal food from the rich and give to the poor (themselves and him) (chapter 18). Miller makes it abundantly clear that he loves to smoke and drink and finds it somehow amusing and authentic that his pastor is a prolific curser. It is the hippies, drug addicts and Unitarians who have taught him love, not the Bible or evangelical Christians. And he makes it all sound so attractive. The biblically-oriented life is dull, full of rules and judgmental people. Jazz-spirituality is where it’s at. Just do your own thing. Never mind the directives of Scripture, just as long as we all love Jesus—that’s all that matters.”



Why would any Christian ministry invite this guy to speak at their conference  or workshop?  What biblical truth could they possibly glean from someone who admittedly is bored when reading Scripture?


Read Gary Gilley’s entire book review here.



  1. Your last paragraph exactly sums up my sentiments.

  2. Interesting how you quote from a review, rather than from the actualy book.

  3. Donald Miller was a main speaker for CCO/Jubilee in 2008.

  4. And your wild mis-characterization of him, based on this exceptionally out of context, nearly dishonest summary, is so bogus it would be laughable for anyone who has read his body of work or heard him at Jubilee 08. It would be laughable, that is, if character assassination wasn’t a sin before our Holy God of truth.

    One need not approve of all of his books or all of his writing to sense a deep sense of injustice about your simplistic, sensationalistic, summary.

  5. I don’t have the time to read every book that comes down the pike and I rely on well-respected reviewers a lot. Gary Gilley is a well-respected apologist and his reviews of the books I HAVE read are always right on target.

    I have read many, many reviews of Donald Miller’s works by good Christian apologists and all seem to say the same thing – he is definitely not orthodox in his teachings and should not be a speaker at any Christian gathering. Bryon, you are not being objective about him. Miller is bad news and discerning Christians should avoid him.

  6. What about the people who actually come to Christ through Donald Miller? And do you limit God to speaking through the Bible? No one is ignoring scriptural truth. What is happening here is that we are learning of hurts and unbelief CAUSED BY CHRISTIANS that God has been able to heal through unlikely sources. If you believe that God is unable to reveal His truth through whatever source He chooses, whether it is “homosexual hippies” or even through your blog, your God is operating within your own limitations of your human understanding, and not very impressive or powerful or omniscient at all. What if we could learn TRUTH from the Scripture, then see it evidenced in life? Would that not confirm the existence of that truth? What if we all stopped browbeating each other over doctrinal issues, and started to encourage one another to further pursue God and His truth? What good does it do to further the disunity of the body? Are we not perpetuating the division that Satan himself seeks to create among believers? If the concern here is for truth, why is there no patience for dialogue about the issue? Defamation and damnation rule here, and it reeks of self-importance and smug self-satisfaction. If I am wrong, please correct me, but I have yet to encounter a loving, honest and patient response to any of the “apostasy” of which you speak. Please, if these poor targets of your condemnation are so blatantly wrong, don’t stop at pointing fingers and labeling. Let’s actually read some substantive Scriptural basis for your beliefs grounded in love and concern for the lost, not in promoting your own agenda.

  7. Well Jake, Judy’s comments are automatically posted.

    I have to say that I believe you have misrepresented Judy and, I may be wrong, but I don’t think she is guilty of the actions you claim.

    Just because you were able to find the Lord listenting to false teachers, that doesn’t mean false teachers should be encouraged. God can use anything to get your attention. He got my attention through a stint in the Mormon church, but would you recommend Mormon theology as teaching we shoule listen to? Would you say Mormonism shouldn’t be exposed for what it is?

    Donald Miller has false teachings that should be exposed so as to warn Christians from getting lost in such deception.

    I have a regular ministry in the midst of college students and while I teach the true gospel, I also tell them what is false, and that there are people like Miller and McLaren and Bell who misrepresent true Christianity. I do not want ANYONE reading stuff from these people.

    I do know you have certainly misrepresented Judy in your last paragraph – I have never read anything by her that would suggest she is attempting to create her own salvation as you described. Your tirade is common with people who do not like their favorite false teachers exposed for what they are. Every apologetics minsistry is accused of the same things you just accused Judy of. I wonder how you would address Paul’s exposing of false teachers?

    I would suggest you might be suffering from “deception by investment” – you have invested yourself in these people’s teachings and this causes you to remain deceived rather than admitting someone you follow is a false teacher.

  8. “nearly dishonest summary” – not sure I understand what that means. Almost false? If not false, then that would be true?

    If someone loves the Lord, shouldn’t they love his Word? If someone is living the truth of scripture, wouldn’t their life reflect THAT truth? Wouldn’t it be CLEAR that they are leading using the Word of God and not their own understanding?

    Scripture to ponder…
    Col. 3:16
    Heb 5:11-14
    2 Cor 11:13-15
    2 John 9-11
    As for me, I will not WELCOME a “teacher” into my house who is not teaching from the Word of God.

  9. Glenn,
    It’s these sort of comments “I don’t have time to read every book that comes down the pike and I rely on trusted reviewers” that make me crazy.

    First, for the record, I’m not a fan of Bell or McClaren. I’m not what you deem as “emergent” either, being ordained in a very orthodox presbyterian denomination. I’m with you on exposing false teachers. For example, I think John McArthur makes serious doctrinal errors as a dispensationlist theologian. His statements are misleading and unbiblical in a number of different areas. But, I doubt MacArthur cares about what I think, as he expects criticism. People who are in the public eye should be ready for public criticism. That’s just the way it is.

    Having said that, it is WRONG and a SIN to do what you just stated. Relying on reviewers representations of someone’s writing is basically the same thing as relying on gossip for your information. I’m not saying people can’t review books. I’m not even saying that people shouldn’t critique them. I think they should. But, funny enough, the key to giving good, valid criticism involves actually reading the work you are attempting to “expose”.

    I’m fine with you “not reading everything that comes down the pike”. No one has time for that sort of thing. What I’m not fine is anyone (including myself) slamming a book they haven’t read.

    As for Donald Miller, I don’t think he has ever claimed to be a theologian or pastor, unlike Bell or McClaren. I would argue that Miller is more orthdox then the two of them. But, that’s not even really his goal. He is a self confessional writer in the vein of St. Augustine. He is open about his doubts and his sins while being confident that God will take care of them both.

    • So Jonathon, as a campus minister with CCO what are your thoughts on Chris Seay being a speaker at this year’s Jubilee?

  10. To liken book reviews and relying on them as being akin to gossip is just plain ludicrous. For the record, I don’t rely on any ONE review any more than I rely on any one commentary. Are commentaries akin to gossip?

    Reviews done by trusted, objective reviewers are indeed valid for knowing what the main teachings of books are. The more thorough the review, the more knowledge is imparted.

    Donald Miller has been reviewed by many, many trusted apologists and theologians I have read. They all come to the same conclusions and point out the same errors.

    But I guess they are all gossips and are all sinning in your mind.

    You know, I don’t have to read pornography to be able to judge it by reviews.

  11. Comments are closed.


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