Ed Smith's Reaction to Critics

What Has Been the Experience of Critics When They Have Approached Ed Smith Seeking to Correct or Question Him About Different Aspects of this Ministry?

The reality is, only one critic has ever contacted this ministry to genuinely discuss any concerns they may have had 
before they went to print or before posting their opinions on the Internet.  Only the Christian Research Institute (CRI)  has taken the time to talk with us about their concerns.  The dialogue resulted in a warm and favorable discussion.  The attitude and respect that CRI approached this ministry with was appreciated and welcome. 

What follows was part of a report made by CRI following their extended dialogue with Ed Smith.

CRI Report by
Elliot Miller; Chief Editor CRI Journal

"When I first heard about TPM from other Christian writers and ministries I thought, "This is the worst of all possible worlds: pop psychology excesses, extrabiblical revelation, subjectivism, anti-intellectualism, Christian perfectionism, antinomianism (teaching against good works), the guided imagery and creative visualization used by many inner healing ministries, deliverance ministry and other spiritual warfare excesses, recovered memory therapy, and satanic ritual abuse hysteria." We could have interacted just enough with TPM materials to confirm that the expected buzz words (e.g., "Moving from logic to experience") were there and gone on to publish yet another scathing critique of TPM. We instead sought to evaluate TPM based on a contextual understanding of its primary sources, and as a result a significantly different picture emerged, although several of our initial concerns remained to varying degrees.

We next sent our initial evaluation to Smith for his comments and he immediately opened the doors wide for critique and dialogue, inviting us to send a representative to Alathia to observe a training seminar and TPM sessions firsthand. When I took him up on his offer in May of 2003 he also gave me many hours from his busy schedule for unrestricted questioning and discussion. Our dialogue has continued through (to date) 212 emails and a two-hour-long telephone conversation. He asked me to critique his revision of the basic TPM training manual (350 pages) and I responded with an extensive, entirely candid, and often blunt critique. He has shown me numerous rewritten sections of the manual that incorporate my suggestions to an extent that has far exceeded my most optimistic expectations. With the intimate familiarity I now have with TPM I go back to the other Christian critiques to find the same errors repeated again and again: TPM believes in extrabiblical revelation; promotes mysticism; engages in directive therapy, guided visualization, and recovered memory therapy; is obsessed with delivering Christians from demons; and so forth.

None of the critiques published since 2002 note Smith's changes on spiritual warfare and deliverance. (One staunch critic recently left me a message warning that Smith has never changed his position on anything!) Perhaps all of the critiques raise valid concerns, some are more carefully researched and thoughtfully written than others, but, in our view, none of them do their subject justice. Why? Ed Smith reports that no one who has critiqued TPM has initiated direct contact and dialogue with him besides CRI. No one who believes he is an erring brother in Christ leading others astray has attempted to win him over to sound doctrine.  No one has gone to the source to make sure he or she understood him correctly. We did so and found him to be very approachable, reasonable, honest, open to correction, and reliable in following through with his commitments; in short, we found him to be a man of integrity.

As a result of our initiating contact with TPM, we understand it much more accurately, we have had an influence on it for the good, and Smith has been rewarded for not succumbing to the common fear of controversial leaders that everybody is "out to get them." He opened up to evaluation by a discernment ministry and it did not end in disaster but rather in growth for him, his ministry, and his relationship with the larger body of Christ. This hopefully will provide an example both for other discernment ministries and other controversial leaders.

As a veteran researcher and editor of discernment and apologetics materials I understand that people involved in such ministry receive requests from their constituents and supporters for information on literally hundreds of groups and teachings. The pressure to reduce the number of steps necessary to produce those resources can be great, but if yielding to that pressure typically produces inaccuracies such as I have found in the case of TPM, then something is drastically amiss. At CRI we are currently in dialogue with four different groups, and that dialogue has caused us to pull or withhold publication of our materials on some of those groups until the dialogue reaches a conclusion.  Some people have been waiting for this very document on TPM for nearly four years. This is inconvenient, but we see no other option for responsible discernment ministry. The criticisms we publish can be very damaging to a teacher or group; we must do everything we can to make sure they are valid and necessary.  If discernment ministry is always about publishing criticisms of other ministries and never about helping those ministries follow Scripture more faithfully, then it cannot be biblically valid ministry (2 Tim. 2:24–26). Most ministries that we contact admittedly either are not open to dialogue or try to use the dialogue for mere public perception purposes and to postpone the publication of our critiques indefinitely. If, however, even 1 ministry out of 20 responds to our initiative as Ed Smith has responded, then the effort expended on dialogue with all 20 will have been more than worthwhile."