A book entitled A Divine Revelation of Hell by Mary K. Baxter is said to chronicle Baxter’s forty-night journey through heaven and hell. While being interviewed by Sid Roth on “It’s Supernatural,” a program broadcast by Daystar, Baxter stated that Jesus personally took her through hell for thirty nights and through heaven for ten nights. She also stated that Jesus told her to write about this so people can “know that hell is real and how people can avoid going there.” In other words, Baxter claims that Jesus wanted this book written so people can hear the gospel. Baxter discussed other things that she claimed Jesus showed her. The program encourages people to purchase the book for a “donation” of $18. (Full transcript)

There are grave problems with this book. First, if this is truly a “divine” revelation from God, then it should be included in Scripture. Second, to say that Jesus wanted Baxter to write a book about how to overcome evil and be saved, then that presumes that the Bible does not already contain this message.

Problem One: Revelation is Closed

There are two views regarding revelation: closed vs. open. Before explaining these things, I must first define revelation. Revelation is information that God makes known about himself and his plan that has never before been made known. This differs from illumination, which is to make revelation understood. When most people say they are receiving or presenting a revelation, they actually are referring to illumination; they are using the incorrect term.

Many Christians believe that revelation is closed; some believe it is open. Closed revelation means that God has revealed all he chose to reveal about himself. Scripture and nature contain that revelation; Jesus is the living revelation, but it is through Scripture that we know about Jesus. Open revelation means that there are still things that are not known that God still intends to make known. Those who hold to a closed revelation believe that the Bible is complete and no new books will be added. Open revelation Christians believe that there are books that may be included with Scripture at a later date.

If Baxter is correct, then Scripture, as we have it in the Bible, is incomplete. Also, because her book is claimed to be “divine” revelation, she is equating it with Scripture, which is an open revelation view. However, Scripture addressed this question already. The final book written, the book of Revelation, given to the apostle John, contains this answer. At the end of the book, Jesus tells John:

I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.
Revelation 22:18-19, NASB

This statement was given by Christ at the end of the final revelation given to man. This was done, I believe, intentionally in order to make it known that revelation is closed. If revelation is open, then this statement is nullified. Whether one believes that these verses apply only to the book of Revelation or to the whole of Scripture, if someone receives new revelation then they are adding to or taking away from the book. This is because they are promoting “revelation” that adds to or takes away from what is written in the book of Revelation and Scripture, including the gospel, theology, and prophecy. One must ask why Jesus would condemn anyone who takes away from or adds to the book if revelation is open. If revelation is open, then Jesus’ statement is nullified. However, this statement stands true and closes revelation.

Baxter’s book supposedly gives new revelation about all the issues addressed in Scripture generally and the book of Revelation specifically. However, since revelation is closed, one must reject her book because it is not divine revelation, but either a commentary, heresy, or fiction.

Problem Two: Scripture is Complete

Baxter claims that Jesus wanted her to write this book so people will know how to overcome evil and be saved. In other words, because Jesus wanted people to have the gospel, he needed her to write this book. This presumes that Scripture as found in the Bible does not already address these issues. However, there are many passages that present the gospel message. Many passages deal with overcoming sin, evil, and Satan. Many passages teach about hell. In short, Scripture already teaches what she claims her book is supposed to reveal.

Another implication of her claim is that if the gospel was not known until her book came out, then how did all the millions of people learn the gospel from a Bible that supposedly does not contain the gospel? How did they get saved without her book?

The truth is, Paul made it clear that “all Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17, NASB). In other words, Scripture contains all we need in order to know how to be saved and grow in Christ in order to glorify God. Baxter’s book is not needed.

Conclusion

Christians should avoid Baxter’s book. It is not revelation, as she claims. Based on her claims that the book is not illumination, but new revelation, it violates the teaching in Scripture, demotes Scripture, and is, therefore, heresy.


John L. Rothra

John is an author, speaker, blogger, and aspiring YouTuber. He's also a bassist and a huge Buffalo Bills fan. John holds a PhD in evangelism and has pastored/preached for over a decade.

13 Comments

John Rothra · 20 October 2008 at 11:06 PM

John V.,

Please notice that my difficulty and disagreement is not–emphasize ‘not’–with Mrs. Baxter personally, but with the underlying theology of her book. To disagree on theology is not to attack her or look into her closet, as you say. Instead, it is to say that she advocates a theology, a teaching about God, that I disagree with and find even troubling and dangerous. Her theology raises questions about the inspiration of Scripture, its inerrancy, and its sufficiency.

I know many people personally with whom I disagree theologically. I agree and disagree with many with whom I have no personal relationship. I disagree with Charles Finney that revival can be brought about through methods and formulas, though I never met him. I agree with Martin Luther that Scripture must be preached on the level of understanding of the people, though I’ve never met him. I disagree with a friend from high school, who is an agnostic; I agree with another friend from seminary in salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone. Relationships/knowledge doesn’t affect whether I agree with someone’s theology: the agreement/disagreement is based on the theology espoused.

I’ve never met Mrs. Baxter, but I disagree with her theology. She may be the nicest woman in the world, but I still find her theology concerning and dangerous.

John Veal · 20 October 2008 at 9:52 PM

Look at the fruit that this book has produce. It has not sent one person to hell yet. It is not extra-Biblical, but very scriptual. This book has led many to salvation. For you to insult her character or credibility is wrong. Do you know her? She is a personal friend of mine. I have looked in her eyes as she told me that it’s all true. Even if it was not, the proof is in the results. More people have joined the Kingdom after reading “A Divine Revelation of hell”. That says alot. She has written something that has positively influenced many Christians today. I don’t mean to be harsh, but what have you written or done to promote that gospel besides this article which does nothing to promote salvation. Instead you promote discord and division with negative rants against someone you don’t even know. The book does not seek to replace scripture. It’s goal is to utilize scripture as it’s foundation. Please let’s keep the focus on Jesus, and not Mary K. Baxter. If someone was to peek in your closet, what would they find? I’m sure that there would be something found that could be viewed as negative and written about. Someone could say you were dangerous or divisive. Pray before you write about other Christians. You have no idea of the harm that the written word can cause.

Wayne Stokes · 26 August 2008 at 8:21 AM

Dear Brother John…
I just watched Ms. Baxter last night on TBN. What struck me right away was when it was mentioned that demons are there in hell torturing people. This idea of satan sitting as king over hell and demons doing his bidding is not scriptural. I do not get where this idea came from. satan will be imprisoned and tortured in hell day and night for ever and ever (Revelation 20:10).
What she talked about plays into the old idea of satan with his trusty pitchfork sitting on a throne in hell while demons do his bidding. Satan will not be running hell and his demon horde will not be about tormenting anyone as they will be tormented themselves.
Thank you for your web site.

John Rothra · 31 July 2008 at 10:39 PM

Graham,

Thank you for your question. I will try to explain my problems with Baxter’s book and the consequences of the claims she makes about it.

As I said in the post, my criticism of Baxter’s book is based on the fact that:

1. She is advocating a doctrine that revelation is not closed and, thus, Scripture is inadequate. Paul tells us that Scripture is fully adequate and the book of Revelation shows that all God intends to give us in new revelation is closed. Thus, any person who claims to offer a new revelation—information about the nature of God or his purposes not before known (illumination differs in that it brings understanding to revelation already given)—directly violates Scripture and, therefore, should be questioned.

2. She claims that this book was necessary to show the reality of hell, reality of heaven, and to teach people how to be saved. The only reason this would be true is if there was no source available to the public that already taught these things. Scripture already does this. As a result, her book is not just a commentary on Scripture, but in fact, advocates that Scripture does not teach these things or teaches them inadequately.

John tells us to test the spirits (namely, claims to be spiritual truths) according to the truth; nearly every book of the Bible tells us that Scripture contains that truth. Thus, we must judge everything according to Scripture. When someone contradicts clear teachings of the Bible, then their views must be questioned.

Also, there is a difference between a commentary or book that elaborates and explains a teaching of Scripture and this book by Baxter. The first two are designed to help us understand Scripture. Their purpose is to point to Scripture and not be equal to or in any fashion a replacement for Scripture.

However, Baxter’s claims reveal that her work is not designed to help us understand God’s Word, but is designed to work along side Scripture. I discourage reading such works. I encourage readings works that help make Scripture clear.

Graham Hughes · 31 July 2008 at 10:00 AM

Dear brother in Christ, I do not understand your reasonings for puting down Mary Baxter’s books. Did you read her book(s)? Where does she contradict the scriptures? What would you do if Jesus asked you to write down a vision He gave you? Would you tell Jesus no? Is there nothing new we can learn about an eternal God? I read the living Word of God and learn something new about Him each time, even though His Word is set in our present scripture. After reading her books, I came away with the encouragement to be more dilligent to tell others to avoid Hell and seek Heaven where Jesus is to spend eternity with Him. Your argument makes me think I should never read any book but the Bible even though they might be written by a Christian. Is that so? I PRAY for understanding. In Love I ask.

John Rothra · 4 July 2008 at 7:12 PM

Jess,

A desire not to be involved in something does not cause that thing to cease to exist. Every person is involved in spiritual warfare to one extent or another, the question is not about the involvement, but about (1) what is meant by “spiritual warfare” and (2) the extent of the involvement.

Spiritual warfare can be simplified into three categories: the fantastic “Hollywood” version as seen in television shows and movies, the popular and often ‘showy’ version practiced by some Christians, and the obscure activities that occur every day.

The first is pure fiction, but stems from the other two. What is seen in entertainment is not what spiritual warfare is about.

The second is not as common, but is often seen where ministers or beleivers supposedly ‘take on’ the demons. This can happen, but as I said, is less common. However, many ministers have used this to promote themselves, falling victim to the entertainment trap. Most believers do not experience this, but it can happen.

The third exists and involves everyone. Satan is fighting hard to keep people from coming to God through faith in Christ, generally by finding ways to discredit or hurt the church and the Gospel. There are only two sides and everyone is on one or the other: God’s or Satan’s. Those who have faith in Jesus alone for salvation are on God’s side; everyone else is on Satan’s (meaning, they are not saved). There is no middle ground. Jesus said that, “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son” (John 3:18). In other words, those who believe are saved, those who do not believe are condemned. Notice there is no “and those who simply don’t want to choose are neither saved nor condemned, but merely ride the proverbial fence” phrase in the verse.

Regarding the extent of the involvement, this depends on the person. Some are involved in the second type of warfare and, thus, have a great deal of visible involvement. Those who actively evangelize and disciple others are also very much involved because they are participating in God’s work, though their deep involvement is less visible. Those who do not participate in God’s work are passively involved since the battle continues and Satan enjoys the fact that they choose to not do God’s work as Jesus commanded. Unbelievers are involved since they stand condemned already.

One can choose not to be involved or choose to deny the existence of spiritual warfare, but that does not mean they are not involved or that it does not exist. A person can stand in front of an oncoming train and choose not to believe the train exists or that they are not involved in their impending injury or death, but they will still get hit by the real train and likely die, despite their beliefs.

Jess · 3 July 2008 at 11:35 AM

My mom has these books, so please tell me Suzanne what spiritual warfare? I just dont want to be seeing and experiencing warfare.

suzanne · 28 May 2008 at 1:57 PM

believe me, mary baxter’s book was written by a lying, deceptive spirit as it twists the scripture around and makes it appear that one must earn his salvation. there is evil attached to this book and by bringing it into your home you will open up a door for these lying spirits to enter in. i know because it happened at my house and i have been involved in spiritual warfare since i brought it home. there’s something very evil and wrong about this book!!!!!

rmccarley · 2 April 2008 at 1:12 PM

John,

I’m a bit late coming in to this discussion though I’d like to throw in my two bits. While your conclusion is correct, the path to get there requires a college degree!

All the work explaining the technical/legal aspects could have been cut down or simplified by leading with this powerful line:

Scripture contains all we need in order to know how to be saved and grow in Christ in order to glorify God. Baxter’s book is not needed.

When you speak of scripture and gospel being two different things most of us get confused! 😉

In my life I have found divine inspiration from all sorts of secular and even occult sources. Like this one:

“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” (Aristotle).

Aristotle was not a Christian but his comment here is dead on. Baxter’s book is absolutely not divine. Why? Because the Bible says so. That doesn’t mean it is without merrit or that Mrs. Baxter is being malicious in her writting of the book. Her intentions seem honerable, if misguided.

I can’t help but think of the message of 1 Corinthians, Chapter 7:

7:12 To the rest I say – I, not the Lord 9 – if a brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is happy to live with him, he should not divorce her. 13 And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is happy to live with her, she should not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified because of the wife, and the unbelieving wife because of her husband. Otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy. 15 But if the unbeliever wants a divorce, let it take place. In these circumstances the brother or sister is not bound. God has called you in peace. 16 For how do you know, wife, whether you will bring your husband to salvation? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will bring your wife to salvation?

I know you and Mrs. Baxter are not married, but the philosophy of this message carries on with “love one another” and “turn the other cheek”. By attacking her you force her (and her defenders) to dig in and hold their position. With some love and understanding she may yet get salvation.

MHO

John Rothra · 28 February 2008 at 11:10 PM

There are many Southern Baptist churches in Texas and throughout the country. I’d recommend using the SBC Church Search feature. Many Hispanic/Spanish Baptist churches has Bautista or Iglesia in their name (or both), but like any SBC church, they go by almost any name.

Billiejean Berry · 19 February 2008 at 3:13 PM

Are you or Do you know of a spanish, hispanic, or latino ministry like baptist or such.

John Rothra · 7 February 2008 at 9:34 PM

Dear Y:

I will address each of your concerns individually.

You mentioned “restrict[ing] people from finding more ways to live happily (=go to heaven)”:

You seem to forget that Ms. Baxter is claiming that her work is a divine revelation, equating it with Scripture and teaching that revelation is open. In other words, she is teaching that (1) there are things which Scripture does not reveal to us about God, (2) Scripture does not adequately explain the gospel message and way to be saved, (3) Scripture must be supplemented in order to make it complete, and (4) Scripture lied.

Scripture is full of passages that explain the gospel message (see my list of evangelistic passages for a sampling). Additionally, Christ made it clear that revelation is closed. Also, Paul told us that Scripture is sufficient for all we need. If Ms. Baxter is correct, then Scripture is not sufficient, Paul lied in his letter to Timothy, Jesus is incorrect that revelation is closed, and God’s word does not adequately tell us how to be saved. However, Ms. Baxter is incorrect and teaches theology contrary to Scripture.

People are not restricted from hearing the gospel by not reading this book. Rather, they are restricted from hearing God’s word and God’s written revelation that is “God breathed” when they are turned away from the Bible. As ministers, it is our duty and privilege to teach God’s word. However, some, such as Ms. Baxter, teach that Scripture is incomplete and untrue in one or more parts. Paul told Timothy to “preach the word” referring to Scripture (2 Tim 4:2). He wrote to the Romans that faith comes from hearing the word and hearing comes from preaching the word, again referring to Scripture (Rom 10:17). If we need another book to tell us how to be saved, as Ms. Baxter teaches, then Paul is wrong and, worse, a liar.

You said, “Why claim the book as ‘heresy’ just because the scripture has been written?”

A book or teaching is heresy when it teaches a theology contrary to Scripture. Ms. Baxter does just this. It is our responsibility to both direct people to the truth found in Scripture and to direct people away from false teachings.

You said, “The ancient books were written centuries after Jesus died, anyway.”

This claim is false. They were written between about 15 to 60 years after his death. The fact that they were composed so long before we existed does not discredit them. Rather, the fact that they were written so close to his death and resurrection gives credence to their veracity. Additionally, the Early Church through the church of today accepts them as Scripture and the written revelation of God.

You closed by saying, “I think the effort to get better should be appreciated, not burnt at the stake.”

You seem to be implying that Scripture (1) is incomplete or somehow fails, (2) can be improved upon and (3) must be improved upon. This is a direct contradiction to the Early Church, church fathers, authors of Scripture, reformers such as Luther, Scripture itself, and God. If Scripture is sufficient and inspired by God, then it cannot be improved upon. Rather, the improvement comes in our understanding of Scripture, not in Scripture itself. If Scripture can be or needs to be improved, then Scripture lies. However, Scripture is the inspired, inerrant, and infallible word of God, does not lie, and cannot be improved upon.
I encourage you to follow the advice of Martin Luther who taught us “sola Scriptura” (Scripture alone), meaning we only Scripture is the divine written revelation of God from which we should learrn what God has for us. To treat any other source as equal to Scripture is heresy. The Catholic church placed tradition equal to Scripture; Luther rightly called this heresy. Writing books that teach Scripture is a worthwhile task. However, to equate those books with Scripture, as Ms. Baxter does with hers, is heresy.

Y · 6 February 2008 at 2:43 AM

Sorry to bump in, but what sense does it make to restrict people from finding more ways to live happily (=go to heaven)? Why claim the book as “heresy” just because the scripture has been written? The ancient books were written centuries after Jesus died, anyway.

I think the effort to get better should be appreciated, not burnt at the stake.

Comments are closed.

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