Letter to the Editor: Brian McLaren, Jim Wallis, Marianne Williamson Speaking at “Parliament of the World Religions”
Dear Lighthouse Trails:
I wanted to alert you of the 2015 PARLIAMENT of the World Religions, taking place Oct.15-19 in Salt Lake City, Utah. For the first time in more than 20 years, they are holding this conference in the U.S. The last time it was held in the U.S. was 1993 in Chicago.
(Previous Parliaments were held: 2009 in Australia, 2004 in Spain, 1999 in South Africa, 1993 in Chicago, 1893 in Chicago).
Of note is that this 2015 PARLIAMENT of the World Religions is being held in Salt Lake City, Utah, the Mormon capital of the world!
Here is the website:
Notable speakers include those you have warned your readers about in the past:
1) Marianne Williamson (New Age Leader and Rick Warren supporter)
See link: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?s=marianne+williamson&search=Search
2) Brian McLaren (Emergent/Contemplative/Universalist Author & Speaker, CANA Initiative founder)
See link: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?s=brian+mclaren&search=Search
3) Jim Wallis (Sojourners founder, “social-justice gospel” advocate, “Christian Palestianism”/anti-Israel advocate)
See link: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?s=jim+wallis&search=Search
Other notable speakers include:
-The 14th Dalai Lama (Current head of Tibetan Buddhism, 1989 Nobel Peace Prize winner)
-Swami Suhitananda (Indian Guru)
-Tariq Ramadan–founder of the European Muslim Network, advisor to the European Union
-Michael Bernard Beckwith–“New Thought” (or New Spirituality) Leader and founder of Agape International Spiritual Center
-A Lakota nation tribal leader (Native-American)
-a Mormon author
-a U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom
Satan is putting together this ONE WORLD RELIGION through unbiblical “interreligious” conferences like this one.
Marianne Williamson, Brian McLaren and Jim Wallis are part of this false ecumenical “ONE” global movement. Truth and error are no longer being discussed. It’s all about dialogue and “interconnecting” in relational “ONE-ness.” This global conference, being held in the U.S. after more than 20 years, is an example of these sobering days we are living in…
CONCERNED IN CALIFORNIA
P.S. You may wish to show this video clip below, which is a trailer to the 2009 PARLIAMENT of the World Religions. It is clear to see that a one-world religion will be mystical and occultic in nature:
Many people who land on our blog, our Facebook page, or get our e-newsletter do not know that Lighthouse Trails has much more than those. In 2004, we began the Lighthouse Trails Research Project website (different than our Lighthouse Trails Publishing/Store site). On this research site, you will find hundreds of pages of research and thousands of links as well as the blog, which provides thousands of current news stories, reviews, critiques, and more. Listed below are 10 ways to find information you are looking for from Lighthouse Trails:
1. Lighthouse Trails Research Project “Search Engine”: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/search/search.php (type in words or phrases)
2. From the Lighthouse Blog “Search Engine.” This search engine searches throughout the thousands of articles on the blog: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?s=&search=Search (see search box on right side column)
3. From the Lighthouse Blog Categories List: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog (on right hand column, a list of all the categories covered on our blog with number of entries posted)
4. Lighthouse Trails Research Topical Index: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/researchtopics.htm (alphabetical index to most of our topics)
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6. Two resource links pages: a) LT links: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/links.htm; b) links to other recommended websites: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/links2.htm.
7. Our Author Websites: Lighthouse Trails now represents over 30 North American authors. You can see most of them on this page: http://www.lighthousetrails.com/authorwebsites.htm. Many of them now have publisher-built websites (click on their names to view) where you can find their articles, books, and bio information.
8. Lighthouse Trails Research Journal: http://www.lighthousetrails.com/mm5/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=LTP&Product_Code=LTRJ. This is a low-cost subscription-based 32 page journal delivered right to your home or office 6 times a year. Our readers are telling us they love the journal. A great way to stay informed. Each issue has 8-10 articles plus much more.
9. Deception in the Church comprehensive “Search Tool”: http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/search9.htm10. We can’t leave this great search tool out of this list even though it isn’t directly on the LT site. Sandy Simpson of Deception in the Church (now a Lighthouse Trails author) provides a wonderful tool that allows you to search more than 15 of the most trusted discernment sites with one search.
10. Researchers Tools: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/researchresources.htm. Lighthouse Trails has put together a list of helpful off-site tools to help with your research.
In case you still aren’t sure about William Paul Young and his book The Shack—in case you still have some doubts as to whether Young is really of a New Age/New Spirituality persuasion—in case after reading articles at Lighthouse Trails revealing Young’s anti-biblical views on atonement and the Cross—and in case after reading Warren B. Smith’s booklet The Shack and Its New Age Leaven that documents Young’s affinity with New Age thinking, then perhaps his recently posted “Twenty Books Everyone Should Read” list on Young’s blog will convince you that The Shack or any of Young’s writings should not be sitting on the shelves of Christian bookstores and North American pastors’ offices and should never have become a New York Times best-seller having found itself there through primarily Christian readers (not to mention the big plug it received from endorsements by Eugene Peterson [The Message] and Calvary Chapel speaker Gayle Erwin. You can see the entire list of Young’s recommended books by clicking here. Below we are giving you a partial list of the authors whom William P. Young recommends. After looking at this list, you decide for yourself.
1. Andrew Marin’s book Love is an Orientation (foreword by atonement denier Brian McLaren): A treatise on how to fully integrate the practicing homosexual “community” into the Christian church.
2. The Shack Revisited by C Baxter Kruger, a book advertising the “virtues” of The Shack with a Suggestions for Further Study at the back that is a who’s who of emerging authors.
3. Mystic Frederick Buechner’s book The Yellow Leaves
4. Brian D. McLaren’s, Why did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road?: McLaren is one the foremost prolific leaders of the panentheistic, interspiritual emerging church, which is still very much active today, influencing vast numbers of young evangelicals.
5. Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church by emerging church hero N.T. Wright
6. Her Gates will Never be Shut: Hope, Hell, and the New Jerusalem by contemplative proponent Brad Jersak (author of Can You Hear Me?)
7. Jean Vanier’s book Drawn into the Mystery of Jesus through the Gospel of John: Roger Oakland wrote about Jean Vanier in his article “Rick Warren, Jean Vanier, And The New Evangelization.” Oakland’s article states:
Vanier is a contemplative mystic who promotes interspiritual and interfaith beliefs, calling the Hindu Mahatma Gandhi “one of the greatest prophets of our times” and “a man sent by God.” In the book Essential Writings, Vanier talks about “opening doors to other religions” and helping people develop their own faiths be it Hinduism, Christianity, or Islam. The book also describes how Vanier read Thomas Merton and practiced and was influenced by the spiritual exercises of the Jesuit founder and mystic St. Ignatius.
8. Henri Nouwen’s book The Wounded Healer: As we have documented for over 13 years, Henri Nouwen was a Catholic contemplative mystic and interspiritualist.
9. William P. Young recommends reading material by the following three Catholic mystics and panentheists: Thomas Merton, Brennan Manning, and Richard Rohr.
One of the things that most of these authors have in common is their contemplative and interspiritual propensities. Given the fact that William P. Young, in the past, denied the substitutionary atonement, we can see why he is drawn to these authors. But what we can’t understand is how so many professing Christians are drawn to him and The Shack and it’s New Age spirituality.
Letter to the Editor: Ravi Zacharias to Share Platform with New Age Sympathizer Leonard Sweet at Synergize 2016
Dear Lighthouse Trails:
I thought you might want to know that Ravi Zacharias is speaking at the 2016 “SYNERGIZE” Conference in Orlando, FL, sharing the platform with New Age sympathizer Leonard Sweet.
Ravi Zacharias’ scheduled appearance at this January 2016 conference is reminiscent of your posting in Jan.2008 expressing great concern over Ravi Zacharias’ anticipated participation in Robert Schuller’s “Rethink 2009 Conference” at Crystal Cathedral: See link: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=1440.
Now, in 2015, why is Ravi Zacharias speaking alongside Leonard Sweet?
Ravi Zacharias was general editor of Walter Martin’s 2003 revised,updated, and expanded edition of Martin’s classic reference book originally published in 1965: “The Kingdom of the Cults.” In the “General Editor’s Introduction” of that 2003 edition, Ravi Zacharias credits Martin as contributing to his own thinking on the task of apologetics and says he considers it a “distinct honor” to have been asked by Walter Martin’s family to become general editor of the updated edition of Martin’s classic reference book. Ravi Zacharias also says in that General Editor’s Preface (2003): “Of one thing we can be sure: Where we find truth, often in close proximity we also find a way that distorts and faults . . . the power to deceive is enormous.”
How can Ravi Zacharias have written that in 2003 and be willing to speak at a conference with Leonard Sweet?
Over the years, I am so glad Lighthouse Trails has posted many articles alerting readers of Leonard Sweet’s New Age sympathies and propagation of contemplative/mystical and panentheistic heresies. See Lighthouse link:
See also this link to a 2010 article by Ingrid Schlueter (former CrossTalk Radio host): http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=4948.
Is Ravi Zacharias aware that Leonard Sweet thanks occultist David Spangler for his spiritual influence and considers Pierre Teilhard De Chardin one of the greatest thinkers of the 20th century? Warren B. Smith documents Sweet’s “New Light” heroes in Chapter 10 of his book: A “Wonderful” Deception.
Has Ravi Zacharias read Leonard Sweet’s book Quantum Spirituality in which he says on p.125: “Quantum spirituality bonds us to all creation as well as to other members of the human family. . . . This entails a radical doctrine of embodiment of God in the very substance of creation [panentheism]”?
CONCERNED IN CALIFORNIA
To Lighthouse Trails:
I am coordinator of my church’s children & youth ministries, and I am looking for solid, Bible-based children’s and youth curriculum.
I would appreciate any suggestions you may have. I am so skeptical of much of the curriculum out there now especially with so much of the emergent ideas creeping in.
Thank you for any input you can offer.
The publishers on the following list are Christian publishers that have been publishing contemplative and emergent materials for several years: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/publishers.htm.This list includes Zondervan, NavPress, Thomas Nelson (and Tommie Nelson), and InterVarsity. Baker Books and Multnomah publishers are also on the list as they too now publish that type of material. If curriculum is used from any of the publishers in this list, there will most likely be threads of contemplative/emergent ideas woven throughout much of their material.
The list of publishers on this page – http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/publishersgood.htm – do not publish contemplative, emergent material to our knowledge. However, many of them are smaller publishers and may not have study curriculum. We do mention Harvest House and Barbour publishing on this list; however we include them with a cautionary note. Sadly, we removed Moody Publishers from this list some time ago.
As with all things, use discernment and weigh all things against Scripture. As Christians, we must “Test all things” and “Try the spirits” through the screen of Scripture (1 Thessalonians 5:21; 1 John 4:1).
Lighthouse Trails has been tracking Christian colleges, universities, and seminaries for many year now, documenting the steady decline into apostasy as the majority of them have now begun to embrace contemplative spirituality through their Spiritual Formation programs. You can read about this in our booklet/article “An Epidemic of Apostasy – How Christian Seminaries Must Incorporate “Spiritual Formation” to Become Accredited.” That special report we wrote explains how Christian higher-learning institutions are bringing Spiritual Formation into their schools so they can receive accreditation from religious accreditation organizations that are requiring Spiritual Formation. While that isn’t the only reason these Christian schools have succumbed to the dangerous teachings of contemplative spirituality, it certainly has been a main factor. Simply put, without accreditation, these schools won’t get certain benefits and recognition, including money in the form of donations, grants, etc. It also keeps their enrollment down as students typically want to attend schools that are accredited.
Lighthouse Trails has also pointed out on numerous occasions that once a church, school, ministry, or Christian organization begins embracing contemplative spirituality, it’s just a matter of time before that institution begins to change their views on topics such as creation, mysticism, the atonement, salvation through Christ alone, and homosexuality. That’s what getting involved in occultism does to people.
Couple all that with the recent Supreme Court ruling stating same-sex marriage must be recognized throughout America, you have the perfect recipe for the absolute falling away of the majority of Christian colleges.
Quick to jump on the band wagon for accepting the homosexual lifestyle is Baylor University, (the largest Baptist university in the world). According to a July 8th 2015 Time magazine article titled “This University Has Dropped Its Ban on ‘Homosexual Acts,’” Baylor “dropped a prohibition on ‘homosexual acts’ from its sexual conduct policy”this past May.
But Baylor is not the only one. A Christianity Today article, dated July 8th 2015, titled “Hope College and Belmont to Offer Benefits to Same-Sex Spouses” explains how Belmont University (in TN) and Hope College (MI) are “extending benefits to same-sex spouses of employees after last month’s Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.” By the way, you can be sure Christianity Today isn’t too upset about these changes—they’ve been promoting the emerging church and contemplative spirituality for a long time.
Wheaton College has already headed down this path showing acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle, and many others will follow suit. And remember, those colleges are training the next generation of pastors and church leaders so the affects will undoubtedly be remarkable.
It appears it is too late to stop the tide of what is happening to Christian colleges. But at Lighthouse Trails, we will continue to send out a warning to parents and grandparents to keep their kids out of these schools and try to find ones that are in a fast-diminishing group of biblically based colleges. At the very least, we hope parents and grandparents will make sure their college-age kids and grandkids are well equipped to live in a world that rejects Christ and in a church that ignores spiritual deception.
Dear Lighthouse Trails:
I was wondering if you have any info on Bethke’s latest book, Jesus > Religion, or know of anyone who has done a review on it? All I need to know is that Mark Driscoll endorsed it but I have a friend who will want more info… J.C.
Our Comment: The book has been out for a while, and yes, we do have a book review on it. This is one book that sure does have an agenda! Here is the book review we wrote in 2013 on Jesus > Religion.
“Anti-Religion Jeff Bethke Hits the News Again – New Book, Same Message: “Imagine No Religion” (From 2013 by LT Editors)
Not only are there political quests being achieved through the indoctrination of these young people, but these young followers are becoming convinced that a socialistic religion-killing society is the only solution for man.
Jeff Bethke, the 24-year-old man who did the anti-religion YouTube video in 2012, is back in the news again. This time, he has a book about his subject matter. His video, Why I Hate Religion, went viral and to date over 26 million people have viewed it. That video is partially responsible for our writing the Booklet Tract They Hate Christianity But Love (Another) Jesus – How Conservative Christians Are Being Manipulated and Ridiculed, Especially During Election Years (yes, Bethke’s video came out not too long before the nation voted for Obama). You can read our full booklet tract by clicking here, and we hope you do. It may give you a different perspective than what seems to meet the eye. Kind of like when George Barna and Frank Viola came out with their book Pagan Christianity, and untold numbers thought their book was fantastic, when in reality, it was more of a smoke screen to what was REALLY happening in Christianity today (see our article, “Pagan Christianity by Viola and Barna – A Perfect Example of ‘Missing the Point.’” They said a big pagan problem with Christians was that they sat in pews, went to Sunday School, and listened to sermons. But sadly, no mention of the REAL problems happening in the church today (contemplative spirituality, for example).
Here is a portion of our They Hate Christianity But Love (Another) Jesus that gives some background information on Jeff Bethke:
In January of 2012, another election year, a young man, Jefferson (Jeff) Bethke, who attends contemplative advocate Mark Driscoll’s church, Mars Hill in Washington state, posted a video on YouTube called “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus.” Within hours, the video had over 100,000 hits. Soon it reached over 14 million hits, according to the Washington Post, one of the major media that has spotlighted the Bethke video (hits as of May 2013 are over 25 million).
The Bethke video is a poem Bethke wrote and recites in a rap-like fashion his thoughts and beliefs about the pitfalls of what he calls “religion” but what is indicated to be Christianity. While we are not saying at this time that Bethke is an emerging figure, and while some of the lyrics in his poem are true statements, it is interesting that emerging spirituality figures seem to be resonating with Bethke’s message. They are looking for anything that will give them ammunition against traditional biblical Christianity. They have found some in Bethke’s poem. Like so many in the emerging camp say, Bethke’s poem suggests that Christians don’t take care of the poor and needy. While believers in Christ have been caring for the needy for centuries, emerging figures use this ploy to win conservative Christians (through guilt) over to a liberal social justice “gospel.” Emerging church journalist Jim Wallis (founder of Sojourners) is one who picked up on Bethke’s video. In an article on Wallis’ blog, it states:
“Bethke’s work challenges his listeners to second guess their preconceived notions about what it means to be a Christian. He challenges us to turn away from the superficial trappings of “religion,” and instead lead a missional life in Christ.”
Back when we wrote that article, we went pretty easy on Bethke, almost giving him the benefit of the doubt. But Bethke’s new book, Jesus > Religion: Why He Is So Much Better Than Trying Harder, Doing More, and Being Good Enough (Thomas Nelson, 2013) presents Bethke’s views more clearly. For one, he has a recommended reading list at the back of the book that contains a number of contemplative and emerging advocates such as Mark Driscoll, Brennan Manning, John Piper, Timothy Keller, Brother Lawrence, and John Ortberg. Also on the list are emerging “progressives” like Andy Stanley and N.T. Wright (a figure touted by the emerging church extensively). On a website, Bethke is quoted as saying that Wright is one of his “heroes.”
Interestingly, one of the books Bethke recommends is Beth Moore’s When Godly People Do Ungodly Things. That book is Moore’s declarative statement promoting Brennan Manning, saying that his contribution to “our generation of believers may be a gift without parallel” (p. 72) and that his book Ragamuffin Gospel is “one of the most remarkable books” (p. 290) she has ever read (Bethke obviously thinks so too – Ragamuffin Gospel is one of his recommended books too). But in the back of Ragamuffin Gospel, Manning makes reference to panentheist mystic Basil Pennington saying that Pennington’s methods will provide us with “a way of praying that leads to a deep living relationship with God.” However, Pennington’s methods of prayer draw from Eastern religions as you can see by this statement by Pennington:
We should not hesitate to take the fruit of the age-old wisdom of the East and “capture” it for Christ. Indeed, those of us who are in ministry should make the necessary effort to acquaint ourselves with as many of these Eastern techniques as possible. Many Christians who take their prayer life seriously have been greatly helped by Yoga, Zen, TM and similar practices. (from A Time of Departing, 2nd ed., p.64)
Manning also cites Carl Jung in Ragamuffin Gospel as well as interspiritualists and contemplatives, Anthony De Mello, Marcus Borg (who denies the virgin birth and deity of Christ), Morton Kelsey, Gerald May, Henri Nouwen, Alan Jones (who calls the atonement vile), Eugene Peterson, and Sue Monk Kidd (who says God is in everything, even human waste and believes in the goddess who offers us the “holiness of everything”). All of these names in Ragamuffin Gospel. It is more than safe to assume that both Moore and Bethke have read (and resonate with) Ragamuffin Gospel. And we know from years of research that Manning was trying to set up the church to become what Karl Rahner “prophesied”: “The Christian of the future will be a mystic or he or she will not exist at all.”
We were surprised to see the name Bede Griffith in Bethke’s new book in the endnote section (p. 208). He didn’t necessarily reference him favorably (or unfavorably, for that matter) but the fact that someone like Griffith would be benignly mentioned in a “Jesus” loving book is hard to ignore. The Catholic monk and mystic Bede Griffith, like Thomas Merton, “explored ways in which Eastern religions could deepen his prayer.” (Credence Cassettes, Winter/Lent 1985 Catalog, p. 14, cited in ATOD) Griffith also saw the “growing importance of Eastern religions . . . bringing the church to a new vitality.”(Ibid.) Griffith’s autobiography, The Golden String, expresses his belief that God (the golden string) flows through all things (panentheism).
In reading Bethke’s book, one can see that Mark Driscoll may have rubbed off on him. And one of Bethke’s recommended books is Driscoll’s Vintage Jesus. We wrote a little about that book a number of years ago; we even contacted the late Chuck Smith (founder of Calvary Chapel) and warned him about Driscoll’s book because some Calvary Chapel pastors were trying to bring it in to CC; in Vintage Jesus, Driscoll calls homeschooling “dumb,” mocks the rapture and Armageddon, and says Christians are “little Christs.” Bethke echoes Driscoll’s distain, like in his chapter titled “Religion Points to a Dim Future/Jesus Points to a Bright Future.” He puts down the kind of believers who see a dismal future for earth (according to Scripture) and says things like:
“God actually cares about the earth, but we seem to think it’s going to burn. God actually cares about creating good art, but we seem to think it’s reserved for salvation messages.” (Kindle Locations 2107-2109, Thomas Nelson).
And just to prove that when Bethke says “religion,” he means biblical Christianity, what other religion is there that “points to a dim future” for planet earth and its inhabitants? Biblical Christianity is the only one that says that the world is heading for judgement because of man’s rebellion against God and because of God’s plan to destroy the devil and his minions. Jesus does point to a “bright future,” but the Bible is very clear that this will not come before He returns; rather He promises a blessed eternal life to “whosoever” believeth on Him. The Jesus Christ of the Bible did not promise a bright future for those who reject Him (and even says that the road to destruction is broad – Matthew 7:13); in fact, Scripture says Jesus Himself was a man of sorrows rejected and despised (Isaiah 53:3). He knew what awaited Him, and He knew what was in the heart of man. But across the board, emergents reject such a message of doom and teach that the kingdom of God will be established as humanity realizes its oneness and its divinity. And they will accomplish this through meditation. In Brennan Manning’s book The Signature of Jesus, he said that “the first step in faith is to stop thinking about God at the time of prayer” (p. 212). Then the next step, he says, is to choose a sacred word and “repeat the sacred word [or phrase] inwardly, slowly, and often” (p. 218).
Bethke’s book goes after the usual suspects. For instance, he belittles street preachers sharing the Gospel in his chapter called “Fundies, Fakes, and Other So-Called Christians.” He says:
Whenever I walk by the street preachers, I laugh under my breath, picturing just how uncomfortable they are going to be in heaven when everyone else is partying it up. (p. 43)
Many of those street preachers are the ones responsible for untold numbers ending up in heaven and “partying it up.” It is faithful preachers and evangelists of the Gospel who have tirelessly cried out repent and be saved that will be the reason why some make it to heaven. But it is very typical for emergents to mock and condemn such evangelistic efforts. And if they are reading Ragamuffin Gospel, it’s no wonder they have a strong aversion to evangelism and a call to repentance. For example, in Ragamuffin Gospel, Manning says that God understands a woman having to become a prostitute in order to support her two- year old son, and He will not condemn her. So, in other words, it really doesn’t matter what we do, as long as we have a good reason for doing it. A relaxed view of sin and a harsh view of evangelism go hand in hand in the emerging church.
And like just about every other emergent-type book, Bethke’s gives a good scolding to Christians who reject our present society’s embracing of homosexuality. He says he believes homosexuality is not God’s perfect plan for man, but can’t we all just have meaningful conversations and get along with each other and stop talking about homosexuality? (pp. 63-69) He actually compares the apostle Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” to being “gay” (p. 69)!
Bethke’s book reminds us somewhat of Mike Erre’s book Death by Church or Dan Kimball’s book, They Like Jesus But Not the Church in the scorning way it portrays conservative Bible-believing Christians and in the way it twists and manipulates Scriptures and biblical ideas, equating them with sinister and evil actions. Like this quote from Bethke:
When people come to us in the midst of their pain, how dare we flippantly quote some Bible verses as if that alone would help? How dare we think we can just send them some balloons? How dare we overspiritualize or be like the mom who told her daughter the rape was her fault? (p. 125)
What he just did there was equate sharing Bible verses with a hurting person to a mom telling her daughter it was her fault she got raped. This constant barrage of attack against biblical Christianity never seems to relent. Remember when Brennan Manning and J.P. Moreland1 used the term “bibliolatry” to say that Christians who put too much focus on the Bible are committing idolatry. And remember when Rick Warren twisted Scripture to tell his readers (in The Purpose Driven Life) that those who think too much about Bible prophecy and the Lord’s return were “not fit for the kingdom of God.”2 We could give example after example of this attack on believers in Christian faith by those who profess to be Christian from one side of their mouth but seek to destroy it from the other side. Erwin McManus is another example: He said that it was his “goal to destroy Christianity”:
My goal is to destroy Christianity as a world religion and be a recatalyst for the movement of Jesus Christ. . . . Some people are upset with me because it sounds like I’m anti-Christian. I think they might be right.3
And on and on it goes. Christians who adhere to biblical beliefs are being beat down and made to look like there is something really wrong with them and they better get with the program.
It’s interesting that in Bethke’s new book, he quotes Rob Bell talking about “the cross” (p. 125). Interesting because Rob Bell doesn’t believe in the biblical atonement through the Cross. He believes that everyone is going to be saved regardless of their acceptance or rejection of the Cross. So it seems like a strange choice from Bethke; his book just came out this year – surely he has heard of Rob Bell’s beliefs on hell and salvation.
The “new” Christianity that is being propagated by Bethke, Bell, and countless other voices is not going away. Rather, it is helping to bring about strong delusion and a great falling away. Millions of young people, both Christian and non-Christian, are listening to these voices and following the beat of this drum. They are throwing out the faith of their youth and exchanging it for a “new” spirituality that will produce within them a mindset that rejects the message of the Cross. Not only are there political quests being achieved through the indoctrination of these young people, but these young followers are becoming convinced that a socialistic religion-killing society is the only solution for man. (Remember, Karl Marx said, “religion is the opiate of the masses” and John Lennon of The Beatles said, imagine no religion). And, tragically, the masses will continue to race down a broad road to deception through the multitude of false teachers.
Let us remember that before Jesus departed to heaven He commissioned His followers to proclaim the Gospel. The proclamation of the Cross is God’s hope for mankind.The Word of God has been likened to a blacksmith’s anvil; though many a hammer may be broken over the years pounding on that anvil, the anvil will hold its strength and integrity. It is ironic that emergents find comfort in attacking the Gospel and Bible-believing Christians. They say they love Jesus instead. What makes this so very ironic is that the apostle John is referred to in Scripture as “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 21:20). Perhaps it would do emergents good to listen to some of the things John had to say – as it seems like his first epistle was written especially for them. Addressing the idea of loving Jesus (or God) but hating Christianity, John had this to say:
If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also. (1 John 4: 20-21)
Now, if we look at the context of the chapter from which these verses were taken, it becomes evident that John is writing about solid doctrinal Christianity. And he is saying that when we hate and reject these things, and the people who adhere to them, we are hating and rejecting God. When they say they love Jesus but hate the church (i.e., Christianity), they aren’t talking about hating buildings; they are talking about hating people. As for the teaching of the Cross, John makes it exceptionally clear in this epistle that “he is the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 2:2):
In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:9-10)
When we talk about love, we should really be talking about the Cross as this was and is God’s ultimate expression of His love toward us that makes it possible to spend eternity with Him when we receive this gift of love, by faith.
As we look into John’s life more carefully, it becomes apparent that he was not like an emergent at all. While the emergent figures of today seek to be hip and popular and mimic what each other has to say, John stood for the truth regardless of what the masses were saying or wanted to hear. Foxe’s Book of Martyrs records that even though he was the only apostle to escape a violent death, he was cast into a cauldron of boiling oil. And though he escaped miraculously, he was afterward banished to the Isle of Patmos (p. 27, LT edition).
If you are a young person reading this, remember that popularity in the world’s eyes is not a sign of being in God’s favor but is rather an indicator that something may be wrong (see 1 John 4: 5-6). Nor does partying with friends, even if they call themselves lovers of Jesus, offer assurance of eternal life. No, it is through the Cross alone that the offer of eternal life has been extended. And that is the truth!