Written by Toni S. Brown
White Horse Inn has been a consistent supporter of Barbara Duguid and this month Core Christianity interviewed her once again to promote her book Extravagant Grace: God’s Glory Displayed In Our Weakness. Duguid is a popular counselor in the Christian counseling movement and a student of Dr. Tim Keller, who is admittedly her mentor and teacher.
The Duguids lived with the Kellers while her husband attended Westminster Seminary and she claims to have gained a great deal of insight from Dr. Keller, especially on law and grace, an area in which he is most dangerous. Her books are popular among women’s ministries and she regularly speaks to women’s groups all over the country. Her view of grace has been widely criticized in the last decade and rightly categorized as “hypergrace.”
I encountered the book when it was introduced for study in a ladies’ circle in my former church – I protested to no avail, as her “grace” is a perversion of biblical truth and a complete rejection of regeneration as clearly defined in scripture.
Keller’s theology takes center stage in the book but Duguid credits her grievous error to John Newton, repeatedly insisting that her perverted understanding of grace is what Newton believed and taught. Virtually no one is walking around with the teachings of John Newton in their backpacks. Therefore, since the necessary fact-checking needed to analyze her conclusions regarding Newton is not done, she successfully misrepresents him with no worry of being challenged – just like any good ‘Kellerite.’
Pastor Mark Jones makes the case in his review of her book:
Newton as a guide remains safe and reliable. But Duguid ventures too far away from Newton to her own theology – and drastically at times, without always giving proper citations for the ideas she is attributing to Newton (pp. 49-50). The topics that Duguid confronts are the most sensitive theological issues that pastors and counselors deal with on a weekly basis. Thus, good answers to the problems of sin, guilt, discouragement, etc., would be welcomed. Regrettably, this book is filled with too many theological errors for me to commend it as a faithful guide to the problem of sin and grace.
The book was heartily endorsed by disgraced pastor and hypergracer Tullian Tchividjian, fellow hypergracer and ‘Keller protoge,’ Elyse Fitzpatrick, “Christian” psychotherapist David Powlison, and professing reformed professor Michael Horton.
Horton wrote a review for the back cover of Extravagant Grace:
Weaving together the delightful insights of John Newton with her own experience and that of many people she’s counseled over the years, Barb tells the story of God’s unrelenting compassion toward sinners like us with profound wisdom. How amazing is grace? Like Newton, Barb has learned well the answer to that question from the greatest story-teller of all.
Duguid’s “own experience and that of many people she’s counseled over the years” is not a source for validating truth.
Jason Webb’s review of Extravagant Grace succinctly sums up her corruption of God’s grace:
Duguid’s extravagant grace will use our sin to make us prize Christ – her extravagant grace will humble us. But her grace isn’t extravagant enough to free us from the power of sin because of our spiritual union with Christ.
You won’t find grace that says, “In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore, do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.”
You won’t find grace that says, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption of sinful desires.”
That kind of grace is totally missing in “Extravagant Grace”. You won’t see Paul’s cry in Colossians 1:29 “To this end I labor, struggling with all His energy, which so powerfully works in me.” You won’t see Titus 2:11-12, “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.” Her grace leaves a sinner helpless in the hands of sin.
Additionally, a review by Laura at bookishnerd is also worth a mention:
What was perhaps the most unsettling aspect of this book, however, was the nagging feeling that she seemed to sanction a sort of wallowing in our sin. She kept making the point about how we are, as Christians, meant to try and fail. That sometimes we are not going to grow, and that it is ok.- that we need to learn to find contentment despite our inability to overcome certain sinful behaviors.
This kind of language is ubiquitous in the book, and in my mind, this is a monumental misunderstanding (and misrepresentation) of sanctification. Recall in John 8:3-11, when the Pharisees brought the woman caught in adultery to Jesus, and Jesus responds in love and kindness, without condemning her, but he also calls on her to “go and sin no more.” He doesn’t give her an out. He doesn’t sanction her sinfulness. He doesn’t tell her to find contentment in her inability to conquer her sin… He tells her to go and sin no more. This is our commandment too.
Duguid claims that the Church throughout the ages has not been known for its purity and goodness, instead it’s been racked by a constant history of strife, violence, and hypocrisy. She insists that people cannot differentiate a believer from an unbeliever by their behavior.
Clearly, Duguids claims are contrary to what the Apostle John writes:
Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.1 John 3:7-10
In an interview with The Reformed Forum, Duguid recounted a counseling session in which she informed a young woman struggling daily with sexual sin to take baby steps as opposed to a “hard stop.“ Duguid counseled her that she may never overcome the desire and rather than placing unreasonable expectations on herself, she should rest in Christ who overcame all sexual sin on her behalf. She also advised the young woman to “have compassion on herself because God has called her to this particular “path of suffering” due to her problematic childhood. In addition, Duguid heavily promotes and affirms the concept of Gay Christianity.
Michael Horton has been on a theological drift for some time and it appears that this gradual shift continues as is clearly evidenced in his promotion of Barbara Duguid, who has no biblical authority to teach (biblical qualifications) and whose theology will have disastrous repercussions. Be forewarned.
The nature of Christ’s salvation is woefully misrepresented by the present-day evangelist. He announces a Savior from hell rather than a Savior from sin. And that is why so many are fatally deceived, for there are multitudes who wish to escape the Lake of Fire who have no desire to be delivered from their carnality and worldliness.” A.W. Pink (1886-1952)