Lighthouse Trails is 14 years old! Every year during this time, we offer our readers an “Anniversary Sale” of all our products. This year, as in years past, we are offering a 17%-off store-wide sale.
We hope you will enjoy this 3-Day Store-Wide Sale. Use the code 17OFF at step 3 of checkout, and you will get 17% off your entire order on all our products.
Thank you and God bless you.
From the Editors at Lighthouse Trails
By Ray Yungen and the Editors at Lighthouse Trails
In an article released in January 2016 written by New Age leader Deepak Chopra titled, “Will Pope Francis Become a Holy Man for the World?,” Chopra states,
Pope Francis I is poised to be more than a very popular pontiff . . . He could rise to become a symbol of holiness beyond the Catholic Church. . . . for those of us who aren’t Catholic, there’s a universal message voiced personally by the Pope: “No one can be excluded from God’s mercy. The question, then, is how potent this mission will be.
Chopra says that “millions of non-Catholics feel a fresh wind blowing” because of the Pope’s actions and that Pope Francis has “become a spiritual exemplar.”
In the article, Chopra gives some advice to Pope Francis, that he not become another “theological” pope but rather one with a “higher consciousness” and like the “Jesus” who was not theological but rather “enlightened.” Chopra adds:
I hope in a corner of my heart that Francis I can open himself to a kind of Super-ecumenical position, not only allowing that other faiths have validity, but seeing that the Eastern tradition of higher consciousness is in fact universal. . . . we must be realistic. Spiritual experiences occur in consciousness. . . . There is no reason to reject meditation as “not Christian” when the point is that meditation, among other contemplative practices, alters brain function. In so doing, specific regions of the brain are trained to register subtle perceptions. The deeper your perceptions, the more subtle the levels of reality you are comfortable with. At the deepest level, we encounter the entire history of spiritual awakening, which is the opening of the self to the self through expanded awareness. . . . If we are in fact witnessing the career of the most conscious pope in modern times, let him tell us more about consciousness and the spiritual fulfillment it contains.
Pope Francis is well on his way to doing just that. As a Jesuit contemplative priest, he is very much drawn to this mystical higher consciousness. That is why he named Thomas Merton as one of four most meaningful people when he was in the United States last year. As we have often pointed out, Merton found Buddhist enlightenment in contemplative prayer. Merton’s view that God is in every person is summed up in this statement:
During a conference on contemplative prayer, the question was put to Thomas Merton: “How can we best help people to attain union with God?” His answer was very clear: “We must tell them that they are already united with God. Contemplative prayer is nothing other than “coming into consciousness” of what is already there. ( Brennan Manning, The Signature of Jesus (Sisters, OR: Multnomah, 1996, Revised Edition), p. 211.)
Deepak Chopra and many other are hoping that Pope Francis will be that one who will bring the entire world into “superconsciousness” (the realization that man is divine). Remember the Parliament of World Religions this past fall that Lighthouse Trails reported on (see links below). It was a New Age/New Spirituality gathering of emerging church leaders, New Age leaders, Eastern religious leaders, and others who were looking for a “Coming Messiah” as Alice Bailey “prophesied” who could save the world. And who was the figure everyone was talking about at the Parliament with enthusiasm and hope? None other than Pope Francis.
Spring 2016 is almost here, which means parents will be diligently helping their college-age children search for Christian colleges, seminaries, and universities for enrollment for this coming fall. As many of you know, Lighthouse Trails has been researching Christian colleges for 14 years. Three years ago, we published a report called An Epidemic of Apostasy, which revealed that the majority of Christian colleges, seminaries, and universities had begun to incorporate contemplative spirituality (through Spiritual Formation programs) into their schools. The report showed how much of this was happening because accreditation associations were requiring schools to include Spiritual Formation in the lives of their students if they wanted to be accredited.
We are reposting our report below (which is also in booklet format). We include in the report a list of many of the Christian schools that are including Spiritual Formation in the lives of their students. This is not a complete list. Lighthouse Trails is adding new schools to this list as we learn of their contemplative propensities. To see updates to this list, visit: www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/Colleges.htm. We also have a small list of Christian schools that are not promoting Spiritual Formation at: www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/collegesgood.htm.
Before deciding on a Christian school, please check out the school carefully and ask God to give you wisdom and guidance. As we have shown in our report, there is an agenda taking place to incorporate a mystical spirituality into the very heart of Christian education. It can be subtle, but it always deceptive and dangerous.
Note: We first published this report in 2013. In this 2016 update, we have discovered that almost all the links we have provided in our endnote section below have been removed by the institutions we are discussing. We have been able to replace some of them with cache files, but some have gone into obscurity.
Spiritual Formation: A movement that has provided a platform and a channel through which contemplative prayer is entering the church. Find spiritual formation being used, and in nearly every case, you will find contemplative spirituality and its “pioneers” such as Richard Foster, Dallas Willard, and Henri Nouwen. Spiritual Formation is based on “spiritual disciplines” that can be practiced by people of any faith to make them more “Christ-like.” Rebirth through Jesus Christ and regeneration through the Holy Spirit are not essential. Rather it is a works-based “theology” that has strong roots in Roman Catholicism and ancient paganism.1
Contemplative Spirituality: A belief system that uses ancient mystical practices to induce altered states of consciousness (the silence) and is rooted in mysticism and the occult but often wrapped in Christian terminology. The premise of contemplative spirituality is pantheistic (God is all) and panentheistic (God is in all). Common terms used for this movement are “spiritual formation,” “the silence,” “the stillness,” “ancient-wisdom,” “spiritual disciplines,” and many others.2
What do Abilene Christian University, Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, Bethel Seminary, Biola Seminary, Briercrest College and Seminary, Dallas Theological Seminary, Eastern Mennonite Seminary, Fuller Theological Seminary, Moody Theological Seminary & Graduate School, Multnomah Biblical Seminary, Regent College, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and around 240 other seminaries and colleges throughout North America all have in common?3 They are all accredited or in the process of being accredited through the Association of Theological Schools (ATS).4
What do Cincinnati Christian University, Columbia International University, Briercrest College & Seminary, Hope International University, Moody Bible Institute, Prairie Bible College and about 90 other colleges and seminaries throughout North America all have in common? They are all accredited through the Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE).5
What do the two accreditation organizations—Association of Theological Seminaries and Association for Biblical Higher Education—have in common? Both associations require schools that wish to be accredited to include Spiritual Formation within the school’s infrastructure. Just what exactly does that mean for these 350 some seminaries and Bible colleges? Well, it means that if they want to receive and maintain their accreditation, they are going to have to incorporate Spiritual Formation (i.e., contemplative spirituality) into the lives of their students.
This would certainly answer, in large part, a question that Lighthouse Trails has had—how is it that contemplative spirituality has become so widespread so quickly within Christian colleges and seminaries over the past decade?
We were told, when we contacted ATS, that “Each school and tradition approaches this [Spiritual Formation] in a different way.” In other words, how one school defines “Spiritual Formation” may differ from how another school defines it, they say. Yet, both accreditation associations have made it very clear that they are speaking of contemplative spirituality when they are speaking of Spiritual Formation. That’s easy to prove. A look around their websites and in their handbooks shows clear signs of the contemplative emphasis.
Take the “Additional Resources for Seminary Presidents” 18-page handbook, for instance, from ATS.It recommends books by mysticism advocates Jim Collins (Good to Great), Daniel Goleman (author of The Meditative Mind), Peter Drucker, contemplative mystic Henri Nouwen, Buddhist sympathizer Peter Senge (recommending his book The Fifth Discipline (the 5th discipline meaning meditation), contemplative advocate Dorothy Bass, and Catholic nun and Buddhist zen practitioner Rose Mary Dougherty (part of the panentheistic Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation in Washington, DC); and there are numerous other “Spiritual Formation/contemplative” advocates in the list of “Additional Resources for Seminary Presidents.”6
In the ATS Handbook under “Assessing Outcomes in the Master of Divinity Program,” where it talks about assessing students progress, it states:
The Master of Divinity degree program standard requires that students be educated in four areas: (1) Religious Heritage, (2) Cultural Context, (3) Personal and Spiritual Formation, and (4) A Guide for Evaluating Theological Learning Capacity for Ministerial and Public Leadership . . . The MDiv standard requires each school to address the four areas.7
The ATS is determined that Spiritual Formation is integrated through all four of these areas:
However, the standard indicates that achievement and formation in these four areas should be integrated: “Instruction in these areas shall be conducted so as to indicate their interdependence with each other and with other areas of the curriculum, and their significance for the exercise of pastoral leadership.”
Integrated outcomes result from an integrated curriculum and instructional strategies.8
The Spiritual Formation/contemplative focus at the Association for Biblical Higher Education is as troubling as it is at ATS. In the ABHE Programmatic Standards handbook, it states under Curriculum—Essential Elements: “[A]n accredited graduate program is characterized by . . . A learning environment that cultivates critical thinking, theological reflection, spiritual formation, and effective leadership/ministry practice.”9
That might sound vague, but the 2011 ABHE Leadership Development Conference helps clarify ABHE’s view of Spiritual Formation. Session 1 was titled: Student Spiritual Formation—Principles, Processes, Issues, Resources & Assessment.10 This session was presented by Todd Hall of Biola University, a school that has clearly come out on the side of contemplative spirituality. Hall co-authored a book with contemplative advocate Dr. John Coe, who is the director of Biola’s Institute of Spiritual Formation; Hall also teaches Spiritual Formation at the Institute, which turns to the ancient mystics for spiritual understanding.
It is interesting to note the following in the conference literature:
Todd also developed the Spiritual Transformation [a contemplative term] Inventory (STI), a measure of Christian spirituality that is being used in national assessment projects conducted by the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU), Association of Biblical Higher Education (ABHE), and Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI).11
In other words, when it says “a measure of Christian spirituality that is being used” to assess students at Christian schools, it means that assessment is made under the lens of contemplative spirituality. Students are assessed to see if they are properly absorbing their spiritual disciplines ala Spiritual Formation.
ABHE’s Council of Reference members list also indicates a contemplative agenda. Members include J.P. Moreland (whom Lighthouse Trails has critiqued for his contemplative advocacy) and contemplative musician Michael Card.12
Students who oppose or resist contemplative spirituality aren’t going to find success in these 350 theological Spiritual Formation-driven schools. According to the ATS Handbook, “direct evidence of students reaching stated goals is needed.”13 In a section titled Quality Assurance Expectations, it explains again that students will be expected to “provide evidence” that they are being transformed into their view of spirituality:
[T]heological schools are required to provide evidence that students in general reach stated learning outcomes. 14
In the summer of 2010, Moody Bible Institute, accredited through ABHE, took part in ABHE’s Assessment and Accountability Project. A report on this project explains in depth the criteria for assessing the outcomes of student success. The four areas are Biblical, Transformational, General/Experiential, and Missional (Transformational, Experiential, and Missional are terms used frequently by contemplative/emerging advocates). The “suggested assessments” include ABHE Spiritual Formation Assessment.15 The report explains that students will need to “demonstrate the knowledge of specific spiritual disciplines.”16
Incidentally, the ABHE Spiritual Formation Assessment is given every year whereas some other programs at ABHE are only assessed every three years. Clearly, ABHE intends to see Spiritual Formation thriving at these accredited member schools. One of the ways they will do this is through the influence of Henri Nouwen. In the Winter 2010 ABHE Journal is an article titled: “Hospitable Teaching, Redemptive Formation, and Learning Mobility: A Spirituality of Teaching Based upon the Writings of Henri J.M. Nouwen” by Neal Windham.17 Nouwen’s idea of hospitality and redemption incorporated mystical practices, universalism, and an interfaith reconciliation.
Anyone who thinks that Moody Bible Institute is not going to succumb to the pressure from ABHE to implement a full Spiritual Formation program at Moody is not looking at the obvious here. Already Moody has a Master of Arts in Spiritual Formation and Discipleship. By the way, the report we mentioned—ABHE’s Assessment and Accountability Project—is on Moody’s website. In the past, Moody has condemned Lighthouse Trails for our efforts to warn them because they were veering toward contemplative/emerging figures.18 What shall they say now? They HAVE incorporated Spiritual Formation (that is, contemplative spirituality). In the spring of 2013, Lighthouse Trails issued a special report titled “Concerns Grow as Moody Presses Forward Down Contemplative Path.”19
One other case in point, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School has been accredited by ATS since the 1970s. It went through an assessment by ATS in 2010 and passed. That is partly because Trinity now has a Spiritual Formation emphasis.20 Some may argue that just because a school uses the term Spiritual Formation doesn’t mean they are going contemplative. But in virtually every case we have ever examined, if a school is using that term, they are using the writings of the contemplative mystics.
As for Trinity, so are they. In their 2012-2013 catalog, they list some recommended authors for incoming seminary students for “excellent background.”21 Among those authors is Henri Nouwen and the mystic monk Brother Lawrence. This means that incoming students are being introduced, before they even get started, to contemplative writers. Trinity also has on this recommended reading list Lesslie Newbigin, a Scottish writer and Bishop who is looked to for insights by emerging church figures because of his sympathetic and embracing views of postmodernism (i.e., emerging). Of Newbigin, emerging church leader Brian McLaren says: “I see my work very much in line with Newbigin’s.”22 Trinity has at least one course, DE 5740, that is called Spiritual Formation. And in a student chapel service in October 2010, contemplative pioneer, the now late Dallas Willard was the guest speaker.23 Willard is aligned with Richard Foster, and both men have had a major influence in bringing contemplative spirituality into the evangelical church.
The future of Christian theological schools is bleak. In many cases, they are the most dangerous places for Christians to be, from a biblical point of view. Already scores of them are implementing contemplative spirituality, via Spiritual Formation programs, into the lives of their students. And remember, these students are the evangelical/Protestant church’s future pastors, youth pastors, Sunday school teachers, professors, missionaries, and leaders. Thanks to ATS and ABHE, there’s little doubt that a growing number of Christian seminaries and colleges will join the ranks of contemplative-promoting schools. Consider the following by some of the people who are recommended on the resource list at ATS. This will illustrate the severity of this epidemic of apostasy.
Henri Nouwen: “Today I personally believe that while Jesus came to open the door to God’s house, all human beings can walk through that door, whether they know about Jesus or not. Today I see it as my call to help every person claim his or her own way to God.”24
Daniel Goleman: “The meditation practices and rules for living of these earliest Christian monks [the Desert Fathers] bear strong similarity to those of their Hindu and Buddhist renunciate brethren several kingdoms to the East . . . the meditative techniques they adopted for finding their God suggest either a borrowing from the East or a spontaneous rediscovery.”25 Note: Goleman’s book advocates Tantric sex, Kundalini, T.M., and other deep occultic meditative practices.
Rose Mary Dougherty: A description of Dougherty from the Shalem Institute: A Zen student for a number of years, Rose Mary was called forth as a dharma holder in the lineage of the White Plum Asanga in 2004, becoming a dharma heir in 2006. As a sensei, she teaches Zen meditation in various settings and assists people in integrating contemplative presence and just action in their lives.26
If you know someone who is attending a seminary or Christian college that is accredited by ATS or ABHE, the quotes above are a representation of what that person may be getting rather than the true Gospel of Jesus Christ.
To order copies of An Epidemic of Apostasy – How Christian Seminaries Must Incorporate “Spiritual Formation” to Become Accredited, click here.
1. From the www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com website.
8. Ibid, (A.126.96.36.199), p. 8.
9. http://web.archive.org/web/20120417114212/http://www.abhe-sln.org/opac/programmatic_standards.pdf, p. 9.
10. http://www.abhe.org/images/11.CSDO_Program.pdf. (link removed)
11. Ibid., p. 3. (link removed)
13. ATS Handbook (http://web.archive.org/web/20130415015005/http://www.ats.edu/Accrediting/Pages/HandbookofAccreditation.aspx), p. 9, Section 8.
14.http://web.archive.org/web/20130513124327/http://www.ats.edu/Accrediting/Documents/Handbook/HandbookSection8.pdf, p. 46.
15. http://www.academia.edu/609666/Association_for_Biblical_Higher_Educations_Assessment_and_Accountability_Project_for_Summer_2010, p. 7.
16. Ibid., p. 17.
21. http://divinity.tiu.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2013/05/TEDS12-13catalog.pdf, p. 188.
24. Henri Nouwen, Sabbatical Journey (New York, NY: Crossroad Publishing, 1998), p. 51.
25. Daniel Goleman, The Meditative Mind (Los Angeles, CA: Tarcher/Putnam Inc., 1988), p.53.
To order copies of An Epidemic of Apostasy – How Christian Seminaries Must Incorporate “Spiritual Formation” to Become Accredited, click here.
Christian Schools That Are Promoting Spiritual Formation and Contemplative Spirituality
Note: Lighthouse Trails has done research on every one of the schools below.
Abilene Christian University—Abilene, TX
ACTS Seminaries of Trinity Western University—British Columbia, CA
Alberta Bible College–Calgary, Alberta, CA
Ambrose University—Calgary, Alberta, CA
American Christian College & Seminary—Oklahoma City, OK
Anderson University—Anderson, IN
Anderson University—Anderson, SC
Ashland Theological Seminary—Ashland, OH
Assemblies of God Theological Seminary—Springfield, MO
Azusa Pacific University, Haggard School of Theology—Azusa, CA
Baptist Theological Seminary of Southern Africa—Johannesburg, ZA
Barclay College—Haviland, KS
Baylor University—Waco, TX
Beeson Divinity School—Birmingham, AL
Belmont University—Nashville, TN
Bethel Seminary—San Diego, CA St. Paul, MN, East Coast campus
Bethel University—St. Paul, MN
Biblical Theological Seminary—Hatfield, PA
Biola University—La Mirada, CA
Briercrest Bible College— Caronport, Saskatchewan, CA
Bryan College—Dayton, TN
California Baptist University—Riverside, CA
Calvin College—Grand Rapids, MI
Campbell University—Buies Creek, NC
Campbellsville University—Campbellsville, KY
Canadian Mennonite University—Winnipeg, Manitoba, CA
Carey Institute—Vancouver, British Columbia, CA
Cedarville University—Cedarville, OH
Christian Theological Seminary—Indianapolis, IN
Christian University (GlobalNet); ministry of RBC Ministries (online)
Cincinnati Bible Seminary—Cincinnati, OH
Corban University—Salem, OR
Colorado Christian University—Lakewood, CO
Columbia Theological Seminary (Presbyterian)—Decatur, GA
Cornerstone University—Grand Rapids, MI
Dallas Theological Seminary—Dallas, TX
Drew University—Madison, NJ
Duke Divinity School (Duke University)—Durham, NC
Eastern Mennonite Seminary—Harrisonburg, VA
Eastern University—St. Davids, PA
Emmanuel Bible College—Kitchner, Ontario, CA
Emmanuel School of Religion—Johnson City, TN
Fresno Pacific University—Fresno, CA
Fuller Theological Seminary—Pasadena, CA
George Fox University Seminary—Newberg, OR
Gordon College—Wenham, MA
Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary—South Hamilton, MA
Grace Theological Seminary—Winona Lake, IN
Grand Canyon College—Phoenix, AZ
Greenville College—Greenville, IL
Harding School of Theology—Nashville, TN
Harding University—Searcy, AR
Hope College—Holland, MI
Hope International University—Fullerton, CA
Houghton College—Houghton, NY
Indiana Wesleyan University—Marion, IN
John Brown University—Siloam Springs, AR
John Wesley College—Pretoria, ZA
Lancaster Bible College—Lancaster, PA
LeTourneau University—Longview, TX
Liberty University—Lynchburg, VA
Lincoln Christian University—Lincoln, IL
Lipscomb University—Nashville, TN
Luther Rice Seminary/University—Lithonia, GA
Malone College—Canton, OH
Mars Hill Graduate School—Bothell, WA
Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary—Fresno, CA
Messiah College (Brethren in Christ Church)—Mechanicsburg, PA
MidAmerica Nazarene University—Olathe, KS
Milligan College—Milligan College, TN
Montreat College—Montreat, NC
Moody Bible Institute—Chicago, IL
Mount Vernon Nazarene—Mt. Vernon, OH
Multnomah University—Portland, OR
Nebraska Christian College—Papillion, NE
New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary—New Orleans, LA
Northern Baptist Theological Seminary, Lombard, Chicago, Rockford, IL
Northeastern Seminary—Rochester, NY
Northern Seminary—Lombard, IL
Northpark University & Northpark Theological Seminary—Chicago, IL
Northwest Nazarene University—Nampa, ID
Northwestern College—Orange City, IA
Northwestern College (University of Northwestern)—St. Paul, MN
Nyack College—Nyack, NY
Oklahoma Christian University—Oklahoma City, OK
Oklahoma Wesleyan University—Bartlesville, OK
Olivet Nazarene University—Bourbonnais, IL
Oral Roberts University—Tulsa, OK
Pacific Rim Christian College—Honolulu, HI
Palm Beach Atlantic University—Palm Beach, FL
Pepperdine University—Malibu, CA
Phoenix Seminary—Phoenix, AZ
Prairie College of the Bible—Three Hills, Alberta, CA
Providence College and Seminary—Otterburne, Manitoba, CA
Reformed Theological Seminary—Several locations in U.S.
Regent College—Vancouver, British Columbia, CA
Rockbridge Seminary—Springfield, MO
Rocky Mountain College—Calgary, Alberta, CA
Rolling Hills Bible Institute—Rolling Hills Estates, CA
Samford University—Birmingham, AL
Shorter College—Rome, GA
Simpson University—Redding, CA
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary—Wake Forest, NC
Southeastern University—Lakeland, Fl
Southwest Baptist University—Bolivar, MO
Spring Arbor University—Spring Arbor Township, MI
Talbot Seminary (Biola)—La Mirada, CA
Taylor Seminary/Taylor College—Edmonton, Alberta, CA
Taylor University—Upland, IN
Toccoa Falls College—Toccoa Falls, GA
Trevecca Nazarene University—Nashville, TN
Trinity International University—Deerfield, IL
Trinity Western University—Langley, British Columbia, CA
Tyndale University College & Seminary—Toronto, Ontario, CA
Vanguard University—Costa Mesa, CA
Western Seminary—Portland, OR; Sacramento, San Jose, CA
Western Theological Seminary—Holland, MI
Westmont College—Santa Barbara, CA
Wheaton College Graduate School, Wheaton, IL
Whitworth University—Spokane, WA
William Carey Institute —Vancouver, British Columbia, CA
* This is not a complete list. Lighthouse Trails is adding new schools to this list as we learn of their contemplative propensities. To see updates to this list, visit: www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/Colleges.htm. We also have a small list of Christian schools that are not promoting Spiritual Formation at: www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/collegesgood.htm.
An Epidemic of Apostasy – How Christian Seminaries Must Incorporate “Spiritual Formation” to Become Accredited, click here.
Dear Lighthouse Trails:
Wow, so glad to hear about your efforts to reach out to Christian Leaders to warn them about Jesus Calling. Whether they heed the warnings or not, thank you for doing this!!
While I don’t have any names to add to your list, (you covered most of the major leaders), the idea inspired me, because I’ve been wanting to reach out to pastors to warn them about Contemplative Prayer.
My wife and I left a church a year ago because we started hearing names like Richard Foster, Dallas Willard, Brennan Manning etc. and things have only escalated since we’ve left.
There’s about 40-50 churches in the conference our previous church is in that I’d like to send some tracts to, addressed to the pastors and also send to the bishops in the different conferences until I can afford to send to all churches in every conference.
We have some good friends in the _____ yet, and we’d like to try to reach these pastors (although it might fall on deaf ears) who are following and recommending these contemplative practices. The tracts that I thought I was most interested in sending are:
1.) Serious Look at Richard Foster’s School of Contemplative Prayer
2.) Brennan Manning’s “New Monks” and their Dangerous Contemplative Monasticism
3.) 5 Things You Should Know About Contemplative Prayer – 2015 updated edition
4.) So You Want to Practice “Good” Contemplative Prayer
5.) Is Your Church Doing Spiritual Formation?
Wasn’t sure if you had any recommendations on the one that might be best to send (would love to send the whole bunch to each one, but would have to do that over a period of time since I don’t have that money to spend right now ), I did see the multi-pack, but would be better I think to buy the individual tracts if I’m buying 40 or 50.
Thanks for all the information, materials and resources you provide. With all that’s coming into the church these days it’s a bit like watching the dam about ready to burst every which way you turn.
Blessings in Christ,
Thank you for your e-mail. We find it very encouraging. Your idea of reaching out to pastors and leaders within your own group is a great idea. The 5 booklets you mentioned above would all be good choices. You might consider starting with Warren Smith’s booklet 10 Scriptural Reasons Why Jesus Calling is a Dangerous Book. If you do, you are welcome to include the letter we wrote with what you send. Please feel free to copy that letter from our article from February 25th. In two months, we plan to send out a second booklet to this list of leaders (which now has over 125 names on it). That one will be by Ray Yungen, dealing with contemplative prayer. God willing, we will send out a different booklet every two to three months to these people. As we stated in our 2/25 article, we have a sense of desperation to reach these men and women who are influencing and leading millions of people.
Editors at Lighthouse Trails
Lighthouse Trails Publishing to Make Contact with Over 100 Christian Leaders to Warn About Jesus Calling
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. (Isaiah 119:105)
For nearly 14 years, Lighthouse Trails has been trying to warn Christian leaders and the body of Christ of the spiritual deception that has entered the church. While thousands of Christians have responded favorably to the work we do, and we believe our material and the material of our authors has influenced, either directly or indirectly, tens of thousands of believers, the sad reality is tens of millions (if not hundreds of millions) of proclaiming Christians throughout the world are following leaders who will not warn them about spiritual deception, even when it is warned about in the Bible. In an ongoing effort to warn the church, Lighthouse Trails has put together a spreadsheet with the names of over 100 Christian leaders. We have now collected mailing addresses to all these names. While we have given away thousands of copies of books, booklets, and DVDs to leaders, professors, missionaries, pastors, and church members since 2002, we have never had a list with names and addresses so that we could send materials to a large number of leaders all at once. Now that we have this database, we are going to begin sending these 100+ leaders booklets on a regular basis with the hope of stirring them to discerning action.
While we realize our efforts in this mailing project to leaders may end up being futile, we are motivated by a sense of desperation as we witness the snowballing effect taking place in the church with regard to Christians becoming seriously deceived and deluded.
Because most Christian leaders are not even talking about Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling, the first booklet we are sending out to these leaders is Warren B. Smith’s new booklet, 10 Scriptural Reasons Why Jesus Calling is a Dangerous Book.
The following is a cover letter we will be including with the booklet. Below that, we have listed the 100+ leaders who will be getting this booklet and subsequent ones. As the Lord provides and leads, we will send out a new booklet to these men and women every two or three months. Please take a look at the names we have listed below, and if you know of a leader whom we have not listed and feel we should, please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will take your suggestion into serious consideration. Please include that person’s organization name and mailing address so we can include him or her on the list. Keep in mind, the names we have chosen are primarily considered influential leaders of the evangelical church.
We hope our efforts will encourage you to continue the good fight for the contending of the faith. For those who may be feeling dismayed at the struggle in their own efforts to contend for the faith, please read “The Unacknowledged War and the Wearing Down of the Saints” by Cedric Fisher.
OUR LETTER TO CHRISTIAN LEADERS
Dear Christian Leader:
Sarah Young’s perennial best-selling book, Jesus Calling, has sold over 15 million copies since it was first published in 2004. It continues to be enthusiastically read around the world and is available in over 20 different editions in English alone. With the book more popular than ever, there are entire Sarah Young’ sections in Christian bookstores that feature Jesus Calling and other related products. Sadly, most Christian leaders are either unaware of the book’s serious problems or are just choosing to stay away from the growing controversy surrounding Jesus Calling. Whatever the case, few, if any, warnings are being issued by those in Christian leadership.
In case you happened to be unaware of the problems involving Jesus Calling, we have enclosed our recently published Lighthouse Trails booklet titled 10 Scriptural Reasons Why Jesus Calling is a Dangerous Book. Hopefully, it will help you to understand why Sarah Young’s book is such a threat to the spiritual well-being of today’s church.
Sincerely in Christ,
The Editors at Lighthouse Trails Publishing
The List of Leaders We Are Reaching Out To
(Not all of the names below are those in deception. This list has a variety of persuasions within the evangelical camp. We are compelled to send each of these people specific information on various important issues that are basically not being addressed in the church today.)
|First Name||Last Name||Organization|
|Randy||Alcorn||Eternal Perspective Ministries|
|John||Ankerberg||John Ankerberg Ministries|
|Kay||Arthur||Precept Ministries International|
|Mark||Bailey||Dallas Theological Seminary|
|Alistair||Begg||Truth for Life|
|John and Lisa||Bevere||Messenger International|
|Pat||Boone||Actor and Activist|
|Brian||Broedersen||Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa|
|Kirk||Cameron||c/o Liberty University|
|Pastor Tom||Carter||Dinuba First Baptist Church|
|Matt||Chandler||The Village Church|
|Bryan||Chappell||Grace Presbyterian Church|
|Roberta||Combs||Christian Coalition of America|
|Jim||Daly||Focus on the Family|
|Mart||DeHaan||Our Daily Bread|
|Dr. James||Dobson||Family Talk|
|Joni||Eareckson-Tada||Joni and Friends|
|Jack||Eggar||Awana CEO President|
|Dr. Tony||Evans||Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship|
|Pastor Jonathan||Falwell||Thomas Road Baptist Church|
|Joseph||Farah||World News Daily|
|Dr. Ronnie||Floyd||Southern Baptist President Crosschurch|
|Jim||Garlow||Skyline Church (La Mesa, CA)|
|Louie||Giglio||Passion City Church|
|Dr. Jack||Graham||Prestonwood Baptist Church|
|David||Green||Hobby Lobby Stores Inc|
|Pastor John||Hagee||Cornerstone Church|
|Ken||Ham||Answers in Genesis|
|Hank||Hanegraaff||Bible Answer Man|
|Jack||Hayford||The Church on the Way|
|Pastor Skip||Heitzig||The Connection|
|Hugh||Hewitt||The Hugh Hewitt Show|
|Pastor Jack||Hibbs||Real Life With Jack Hibbs|
|Pastor Dave||Hocking||Hope for Today|
|Dr. Michael||Horton||Westminster Seminary|
|Pastor Bill||Hybels||Willow Creek Community Church|
|Pastor Robert||Jeffress||First Baptist Church|
|Pastor David||Jeremiah||Shadow Mountain Community Church|
|Pastor Timothy||Keller||Redeemer Presbyterian Church|
|Pastor R T||Kendall||R T Kendall Ministries|
|The||Kendrick Brothers||Film makers|
|Dan||Kimball||Vintage Faith Church|
|Dr Tim||LaHaye||Southern California Seminary|
|Dr. Richard||Land||President-Southern Evangelical Seminary|
|William||Lane Craig||Biola University|
|Pastor Greg||Laurie||Harvest America|
|Nancy||Leigh DeMoss||Revive Our Hearts|
|Mike||LeMay||Stand up for the Truth|
|Hal||Lindsey||Hal Lindsey Ministries|
|Pastor Fred||Luter||Franklin Avenue Baptist Church|
|Dr. Erwin||Lutzer||Moody Church|
|Pastor John||MacArthur||Grace Community Church|
|Mike||Macintosh||Horizon Christian Fellowship (Calvary Chapel)|
|James||McDonald||Walk in the Word|
|Josh||McDowell||Josh McDowell Ministry|
|Janet||Mefferd||Janet Mefferd Today|
|CEO Santiago “Jimmy”||Mellado||Compassion International|
|Eric||Metaxas||The Eric Metaxas Show|
|Joyce||Meyer||Joyce Meyer Ministries|
|Albert||Mohler||Southern Baptist Theological Seminary|
|Beth||Moore||Living Proof Ministries|
|Elisa||Morgan||Women of Faith|
|Dr Joel||Mullinex||Rejoice in the Lord|
|Pastor Joel||Osteen||Lakewood Church|
|Luis||Palau||Luis Palau Association|
|Tony||Perkins||Family Research Counsel|
|John||Piper||Bethlehem Baptist Church|
|Dennis||Pollock||Spirit of Grace Ministries|
|Dave||Ramsey||The Lampo Group|
|Dave||Reagan||Lamb and Lion Ministries|
|Ron||Rhodes||Ron Rhodes Ministries|
|Pastor Raul||Ries||Calvary Chapel Golden Springs|
|Pat||Robertson||700 Club Christian Broadcasting Network|
|James & Betty||Robison||LIFE Outreach International: LIFE TODAY|
|Rev. Samuel||Rodrigues||New Season Christian Worship Church|
|Joel||Rosenberg||Trident Media Group|
|Dennis||Rydberg||Young Life Service Center|
|Pastor Tim||Savage||Camelback Bible Church|
|Mark||Schoenwald||HarperCollins Christian Publishing|
|Bobby||Schuller||Crystal Cathedral Church|
|Jay||Sekulow||American Center for Law and Justice|
|Gary||Smalley||Smalley Relationship Center|
|Larry||Spargimino||Southwest Radio Church Ministries|
|Dr Charles||Stanley||First Baptist Church|
|Cameron||Strang||Relevant Media Group|
|Jimmy||Swaggart||Jimmy Swaggart Ministries|
|Chuck||Swindoll||Insight for Living Ministries|
|Tim||Tebow||Tim Tebow Foundation|
|Jack and Rexella||Van Impe||Jack Van Impe Ministries International|
|Pastor Joe||Van Koevering||Gateway Christian Center|
|Pastor Rick||Warren||Saddleback Church|
|David A.R.||White||Founder Pure Flix Movies|
|Dr George||Wood||Assemblies of God president|
|Dr Rick||Yohn||Men of the Word|
|Dr Ed||Young||The Winning Walk|
|Pastor Michael||Youssef||Leading the Way|
|Board of Director||Bible Study Fellowship|
|Kimm||Carr||Community Bible Study|
|Michael||Farris||Home School Legal Defense Association|
|Dr. Jeff||Meyers||Summit Ministries|
|Dr. Jerry||Nance||Teen Challenge global president|
To Lighthouse Trails:
What is “The Voice” translation of the Bible and what do you think of it?
Our answer (from a 2007 LT article):
According to an article in Christian Today, “New Bible Project for Young Generation Launched”, Thomas Nelson’s 2006 “Bible” project called The Voice is going full speed ahead. The project, announced by TN last spring, is a “re-telling of the Bible that consists of creative voices from historians to poets, storytellers to songwriters,” and is for young people who are “searching for new ways to explore the Bible, or who are seeking to read it for the first time.” The project will be a combination of books, music CDs, artwork and an interactive website. With the largest Christian publisher backing the project, there is little doubt that The Voice will reach countless young people and have a significant impact in many lives.
Unfortunately, the project turns out to be an emerging church creation, thus the foundation of it is marred from the beginning. Because mysticism, New Age ideology, and a return to Rome, are the building blocks of the emerging church, The Voice is going to be a spiritually dangerous conduit for adherents. Some of the emergent leaders involved in the project are Chris Seay (project founder), Brian McLaren, Lauren Winner, Leonard Sweet, and Blue Like Jazz author, Donald Miller. In last year’s press release by Thomas Nelson, Erwin McManus was also listed.
This month’s new release (the third book in the project) is called The Voice of Matthew, written by emergent/contemplative Lauren Winner (Girl Meets God and Mudhouse Sabbath).
Chris Seay, the founder of The Voice, is pastor of Ecclesia Church in Houston, Texas. A mission statement on the website illustrates the theology of the emerging church:
We believe that the Gospel impacts every area of a person’s life and culture. We reject unfounded categories that divide the world into uniquely sacred or purely secular. God is redeeming all of creation through Jesus.
We believe that the church exists for the world and not for herself – she is to introduce and usher in the Kingdom of God into every part of this world.
Saying that all of creation (e.g., all humanity) is redeemed is in direct opposition of the teachings of Jesus who said “strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:14). And the belief that the church will usher in the Kingdom of God as opposed to Jesus Christ ushering it in with his literal return to the earth is indicative of the contemplative/emerging mindset. (It is also classic dominionism.)
The contemplative affinities of the contributors of The Voice will assure that mysticism will be an integral part of this project. This new version of the Bible has the potential to lead thousands, and possibly millions, of young people away from the words of Jesus Christ who said:
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. (John 10: 1-4)
We contend that The Voice is not the voice of the Good Shepherd, nor is it the Word of God that says:
He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” (I John 5:12-13)
To understand more about the emerging church and the new missiology, read Roger Oakland’s book Faith Undone.
To Lighthouse Trails:
Our Pastor has started a series based on a book “The Gift of Being Yourself: The Sacred Call to Self Discovery” by David G. Benner. What can you tell me about this book and the author? What our pastor has read from this book is very strange because in the first few pages there is no mention of the Bible. Can you help me because I think this book is a farce.
David Benner is one of the major heavy weights in contemplative spirituality. First of all, this particular book of his is promoted and endorsed by some of the most prolific contemplative mystics out there today, including the Catholic interspiritualist priest Richard Rohr (a modern day Thomas Merton) and Adele Ahlberg Calhoun (Handbook on Spiritual Disciplines). In addition to the endorsements, the foreword is written by Basil Pennington. Ray Yungen discusses Pennington in his book A Time of Departing. Yungen explains:
In the book Finding Grace at the Center, written by Thomas Keating and Basil Pennington (both Catholic monks), the following advice is given: “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 …” Thomas Keating and Basil Pennington have taken their Christianity and blended it with Eastern mysticism through a contemplative method they call centering prayer … Keating and Pennington have both authored a number of influential books on contemplative prayer thus advancing this movement greatly. Pennington essentially wrote a treatise on the subject called Centering Prayer while Keating has written the popular and influential classic, Open Mind, Open Heart, and both are major evangelists for contemplative prayer. (p. 64)
The following two quotes by Pennington show his panentheistic beliefs (God is in all):
It is my sense, from having meditated with persons from many different [non-Christian] traditions, that in the silence we experience a deep unity. When we go beyond the portals of the rational mind into the experience, there is only one God to be experienced. ( Centered Living, p. 192)
The Spirit enlightened him [Merton] in the true synthesis [unity] of all and in the harmony of that huge chorus of living beings. In the midst of it he lived out a vision of a new world, where all divisions have fallen away and the divine goodness is perceived and enjoyed as present in all and through all. (Thomas Merton, My Brother, pp. 199-200.)
Regarding the specific book by Benner of which you inquired, it is loaded with quotes by, references to, and ideas from numerous contemplative mystics including Thomas Merton, Dallas Willard, Gary Moon, Richard Rohr, Thomas Keating, and of course, Basil Pennington. And throughout the book, Benner recommends contemplative meditation, enneagrams (a meditation tool), visualization, and other means to help the reader become a contemplative mystic. The fact is, the very essence of this book shares the same vision and emphasis that most contemplative books do. It is important to understand what the contemplative means by “self-discovery,” or finding your true self. To the contemplative, we each have a false self and a true self. This true self can only be reached or attained to through going into the meditative silence, whereupon, they say, we find that true self which is the divinity within all human beings. The core of contemplative spirituality is panentheism (God in all) and the fruit is interspirituality (all paths lead to God). In The Gift of Being Yourself, Benner’s focus is on helping readers find their “true self,” their divinity within (not dependent on being born again and having Jesus Christ living in you).
Benner has devoted his writing career to spreading the contemplative prayer message such as his book Open to God: Lectio Divina and Life as Prayer, in which teaches readers the contemplative practice lectio divina. You can read our article/booklet on this subject: LECTIO DIVINA-What it is, What it is not, and Should Christians Practice it?
Isn’t it something that The Gift of Being Yourself: The Sacred Call to Self Discovery is published by InterVarsity Press! While they have certainly published many contemplative books, this one truly shows how strongly they believe in this panentheistic, interspiritual spirituality. And it reminds us once again that the Christian church is in very big trouble, and yet virtually no Christian leader is warning about it. On the contrary. Rick Warren himself has promoted many contemplatives over the years including Henri Nouwen, Richard Foster, Gary Thomas, Adele Ahlberg Calhoun, and several others.
We would encourage you to see if your pastor would read a copy of A Time of Departing. However, we fear that he, like so many other pastors today, may be well down the contemplative road. If he, himself, is practicing contemplative meditation, then he is being drawn in by seducing spirits (familiar spirits); and to convince someone to step away and denounce those euphoric mind-altering experiences is as hard as convincing a drug addict to give up heroin. That’s why the Catholic priest Thomas Merton likened an LSD trip to the contemplative experience. Both entice their victims to think they are reaching God when in fact they are falling into spiritual darkness.