Author Archive

Letter to the Editor: Concerned About Charles Stanley/In Touch Ministry’s Adult Coloring Exercise

To Lighthouse Trails:

I love your ministry and know that I’m talking to the choir when I say this, but it is mind blowing to me how widespread occultism has become.  That said, I stumbled upon the following FREE offer from Charles Stanley’s In Touch Ministries.  All I can say is “WOW!” https://www.intouchcanada.org/sharedjoy

May God bless and protect you and your ministry.

M.S.

LTRP Note: While some reading this letter to the editor may think that what Charles Stanley’s ministry is presenting here is safe and benign, and while these coloring bookmarks are not the actual mandala drawings that Lighthouse Trails has written about in the past (and published a booklet on by Lois Putnam), one of the key elements in the mandala coloring books  is the hundreds of very small mostly circular coloring spaces. In the picture on the right of the In Touch coloring bookmarks, which was sent to us from our reader, there are hundreds of tiny oval sections to be colored. The purpose of the hundreds of tiny spaces in the mandala coloring books is to help the participate relax and meditate. While In Touch’s instructions (“Color inside the lines, or venture beyond them—whatever helps you reconnect with your creativity!”) do not suggest relaxing and meditating, we find it disconcerting that In Touch’s instructions to reconnect with your creativity coupled with the hundreds of tiny coloring sections is too reminiscent of the New age mandala coloring exercises (suggesting that the purpose of the In Touch coloring exercise goes beyond the scope of just making an attractive bookmark).

Because our society (and the church) is being enticed to meditate at virtually every turn, we urge our readers to carefully consider the activities they and their families are getting involved with. As our reader above stated occultism has become widespread.

As for the coloring activity, are we saying that it is occultic for an adult to color a picture. Of course not. But our adversary (the devil) has many deceptive schemes to woo and seduce, and we believe he can and is using coloring to do this very thing.

We have witnessed In Touch’s interest in contemplative/emerging ideas for a number of years, and this seemingly harmless and innocent coloring activity may be just another fascination with it.

Below are some quotes from a website titled “Creative Development for Women”:

The Benefits of Colouring Mandalas
“The Big Girls Little Colouring Book is a connection to life, a free flowing celebration of creativity and vivid imagination.”
“Colouring mandalas is fun & relaxing! Time spent with the book is “me time”, a welcome break from every day routine. It is a personal playground where you get to play, experiment with new ideas, discover forgotten dreams and become immersed in your imagination. It is a form of meditation that is deeply relaxing and rejuvenating.”

What is a mandala?

“The word is a Sanskrit word that means circle. The circle is at the centre of life, planet earth is circular, the cells in my body are mandalas as are my eyes, ears, nose and mouth.”

“Creating with mandalas returns me to the circle and creates a portal to the deeper self. Mandalas are a medium to connect with my subconscious mind and colouring them reconnects me with my inner wise woman and my inner artist.”

How does this connect to your creative spirit?
“Colouring mandalas together generates a culture of creativity amongst women and inspires us. It is unifying and generates synergy that nourishes the soul.”

Reminder: What Lighthouse Trails Believes About Israel and the Jews

We have been shocked and utterly dismayed at witnessing a growing distain for Israel and the Jews by those within the evangelical camp. Sadly, we have learned that even some who read Lighthouse Trails fall in this category. That has been surprising to us because we have been very vocal about where our sympathies lie since our inception. While not everyone who has crossed our path has been upfront about their own views on Israel and the Jews, Lighthouse Trails has never kept this a secret.

Recently, we heard a sermon online by an evangelical pastor who said that those who hold a special regard for the Jews need to repent. In a day and age when anti-Semitism is growing rapidly and were there are only 14 million Jews left in the world, we were very troubled by this pastor’s comments. He elaborated on how much evil the Jews had done to the world as if they were especially evil and wicked. This is a sign of the times.

As a reminder, here is what we believe about Israel and the Jews:

We believe God made an everlasting covenant with Israel. We do not believe the church replaces Israel (replacement theology). We believe there is biblical prophetic significance with Israel today. While we believe that individual Jews need to hear and accept the Gospel just like every human being does, the Bible is clear that Israel and the Jews are the apple of His eye, and as believers, we have been grafted in.

We reject and detest every form of anti-Semitism (which we are shockingly seeing growing strongly within the evangelical church today). We have published two books by living Holocaust survivors and carry numerous other materials about the Holocaust, finding it to be one of the most atrocious acts every committed against humanity and particularly against the Jews. We believe Satan hates the Jews and Christians with a special vengeance.

We have posted numerous articles in the past several years that illustrate our concern for and interest in Israel and the Jewish people. In 2011, we began carrying Tony Pearce’s book, The Messiah Factor, which we find to be one of the best books we have read regarding Israel and the Jews. Below are a couple extracts from that book. We have also posted some articles by Pastor Bill Randles and Mike Oppenheimer, both who have written extensively about Israel. Below are some of those articles as well as others we have posted. Hopefully, these articles will clearly show our views regarding Israel and the Jewish people.

We realize there are Christians who will not agree with us, and to you we say, there are many websites that will side with you, but Lighthouse Trails is not one of them.

 

Israel in comparison to Arab countries: Israel – Red; Arab Countries: Green

SOME OF OUR COVERAGE OF ISRAEL AND THE JEWISH PEOPLE:

LT Statement on Luther and His Later Views Toward the Jews by Lighthouse Trails

Hitler’s Plan to Replace Christianity with a “New” Christianity  by Tony Pearce

Who Really Killed Jesus? (A word to those who hate the Jews)  by Tony Pearce

Israel/Flotilla Coverage You May Not Hear in the Mass Media – “Israel Should Go Home to Germany!”

Balaam, On Being Paid to Curse Israel  by Bill Randles

New York Times: America’s Policy Towards Israel Officially Shifts from The Berean Call

The Anti-Israel Revelation

Holocaust Remembrance Day 2012 – Resistance in the Midst of Travesty

Why the Heathen Rage in a World Gone Amiss  by Bill Randles

Obama and the Mourning of Israel Video with Bill Randles

Media misleading on Jews evicting Arabs from Jerusalem  by WND

Interesting Times? . . . Actually it is the End Times  by Bill Randles

Israel and Prophetic Proof  by The Berean Call

A Right and Left Hook to the Bible  by Mike Oppenheimer

“Former senior White House correspondent renews venom [against Israel and the Jews] at Arab conference” by WND

Vatican synod calls for end to Israel’s ‘occupation’ – “no longer a chosen people.” by Jerusalem Post

 

U.N. Human Rights Council Retaining Its Bias Against Israel

Obama Defends “Robust Support” For Israel – Administrative Record Proves Differently  by CSN News

UN Textbooks for Palestinian Children ‘Explosively Anti-Semitic, Anti-American and Anti-Israeli’  by CSN News

It’s Official: Obama Administration Promotes Islamist Regimes; Insists They are Moderate

Letter to the Editor: Former New Age Follower Shares Vital Information With Her Pastors and Church Leaders

Dear Lighthouse Trails:

Several years ago, I learned that our church was planning to do a labyrinth walk.  A pattern had been set up in one of the rooms, and stations were placed along the path at which to perform rituals and meditate. From my experience in the New Age prior to becoming a Christian, I knew this was something Christians should not be doing.  I found information on the Internet about the background and purpose of the labyrinth, which I presented to our pastor.

Some years later, I came across Warren Smith’s book, Deceived on Purpose: The New Age Implications of the Purpose-Driven Life.  It caught my attention, as our church was studying, The Purpose-Driven Life. As I read the book, I could see that quotations used were by New Age or non-Christian people.  Also, the statement that “God is in everything and everyone” is not true.

At the same that I was made aware of this book, I was hearing about contemplative prayer being practiced. This was done by sitting in silence for up to half an hour in order to hear from God, perhaps chanting a word over and over in order to make your mind go blank.  I had done this when I was in New Age in order to develop ESP (extrasensory perception ).  It was called “transcendental meditation,” and, I found out, would attract demons. I made a presentation to the elder board, along with another lady, to inform them of the error in contemplative practices.

It was not long after that my husband and I left that church and found one that was not doing The Purpose-Driven Life or contemplative prayer.

A few years later, we returned to that former church, which, by then, had a new pastor who was preaching directly from the Word.  As there was still some material being used promoting contemplative prayer, I used some information I had received from The Berean Call (stating that the study of psychology could lead to the  practice of contemplative prayer) to present to the pastor.  As that was exactly what had happened to me, I shared my experience with  him.  Through our Women’s leader, who is aware of the deception, I have been able to give out booklets from Lighthouse Trails, which she shares with the staff and ladies of the congregation.

Although I have not always known the result of sharing this information, I believe it has made the pastors more aware of the deception that is occurring in evangelical churches today.

Lynda

Letter to the Editor: “Christian” Homosexual Singer Vicky Beeching Thanks Contemplative Spirituality For Helping Her “Come Out”

Dear Lighthouse Friends,

Vicky Beeching (source: http://www.diva250awards.com/campaigner.html)

When I searched your blog, I did not find information on “Vicky Beeching.”  She is apparently a big figure in Christian pop music.  So you might want to put her on your blog list.

I did not know about Vicky Beeching until yesterday: claiming to be an evangelical Christian, she revises Scripture to justify her homosexuality.  (The current Archbishop of Canterbury for the Anglican Church of England, Justin Welby has given her an award for her praise/worship music. http://www.christianpost.com/news/christian-lesbian-rock-star-vicky-beeching-given-award-by-archbishop-of-canterbury-187689/)

But here is the major point I want to make: she connects justification for biblical revision with contemplative spirituality.

This 2015 video address to the Gay Christian Network (GCN) is to the point about contemplative spirituality:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3zlZLYZxyg4

Unless you want to listen to Beeching’s entire talk, you can fast forward to minute 52: here she quotes Rob Bell, then less than a minute and a half later–WOW–she brings contemplative spirituality to the discussion for justification of homosexuality.

And one of her songs–“Breath of God” certainly resonates with contemplative practices.

Regards,

Linda

** LTRP Note: In this video clip of this popular “Christian” singer, she says that it was through practicing contemplative prayer that she gained the courage to reveal that she was homosexual. This makes sense because once a person begins meditating, their spiritual outlook begins to change, away from biblical truths and toward universalism, panentheism, evolution, and yes, even homosexuality. Also if you listen to Beeching’s talk, starting at the 52 minute mark, you will hear her talk about the importance of “doubt.” This is a key in understanding the emergent church, of which Beeching is obviously a part. Emergents, such as Rob Bell, Tony Jones, Doug Pagitt, Dan Kimball, Brian McLaren, teach that it is wrong to be certain about anything (including the Bible and the biblical Gospel). You can see this played out very clearly in the movie Doubt with Meryl Streep). Beeching, and these others, are part of a movement to completely undermine and destroy true Christianity (which is the faith defined in the Bible). Sadly, millions, of young people searching for truth will be led into the arms of these emergents and will ultimately reject the Jesus Christ of the Bible. If you are a grandparent or parent, are you doing EVERYTHING you can do to protect the young people in your lives? The consequences for being apathetic are eternal.

Related Booklet/Article:

6 Questions Every Gay Person Should Ask

 

Discernment Ministries Not Needed? Would the Apostle Paul Agree?

By the Editors at Lighthouse Trails

This week, someone sent us an online article, written by a pastor who said that the church does not need discernment ministries  anymore. While the pastor’s comments that such ministries are making great money by doing this kind of work were erroneous, it was the pastor’s rationale and conclusions about discernment ministries as a whole that were most troubling. His rationale was that discernment ministries should not be criticizing and challenging leaders and teachers within the church (but rather outside the church; e.g cults, Mormonism); his conclusion was the church does not need discernment ministries and people should stop listening to them. He lumped all discernment ministries together, suggesting that they are all jealous of each other and spend a lot of time fighting amongst themselves. (By this reasoning—that discernment ministries are invalidated because of fighting and jealousy—then there also should be no marriages, families, churches, organizations, or virtually any human institution because institutions are made up of sinful humans who do at times fight and struggle between each other.) He suggested that many of these discernment people will end up dying early anyway because of the high level of stress involved. Needless to say, we found such an article very sad because we knew there would be people who would read it and would be persuaded by the pastor’s words.

There is one thing true in what this pastor stated, and that is that there can be quite a bit of stress involved with discernment. But, again, his rationale is faulty. It would suggest that since being discerning (or having a discernment ministry) is stressful, it must be wrong. But if we look at the lives of the apostles, the Old Testament prophets, and many martyrs who have lost their lives over the last 2000 years for standing for truth, no doubt, their lives were stressed and difficult. To speak the truth is not easy, and to speak the truth within the church is downright tough. Few knew this more than the apostle Paul:

Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. (2 Corinthians 11: 25-27)

Even though Paul determined to put his trust in the Lord and serve Him only, what he went through sounds pretty stressful. Why was he willing to go through those sufferings and persecutions? Because he had full

The Martyrdom of Paul (Illustration by Joseph Martin Kronheim, public domain)

confidence that he was called to warn and to preach for the edifying and exhorting of the body of Christ:

[I]f ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;  who now rejoice in my sufferings for you . . . warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily. (Colossians 1: 23-24, 28-29; emphasis added)

At Lighthouse Trails, we by no means claim to be of the caliber of the apostle Paul. Nor do we want to be looked upon as such. We are just one part of the body of Christ, working diligently in a work we believe God has called us to do. We do not claim to be anything special, but we do claim that God in His wisdom has a place in the body for such a ministry as ours (Paul addressed this in 1 Corinthians 12; vs 21:  And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you”).

We know there are some who name themselves among “discernment ministries” who are guilty of not exhibiting the fruits of the Spirit when writing and reporting. They are at times vitriolic, unkind, practice mean name calling, and go after a figure’s personal effect rather than staying focused on the teachings, doctrines, beliefs, and promotions. It has been a criteria of Lighthouse Trails from our beginning that any author or writer we publish is allowing the fruits of the Spirit (e.g., love, gentleness, goodness, meekness, etc., Galatians 5:22-23) to be prevalent in his or her work.

Scripture says that as the days on this Earth grow darker and darker, spiritually speaking, more and more proclaiming Christians will turn away from the truth of God’s Word and the Gospel of Jesus Christ (e.g., “some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils,” 1 Timothy 4:1). Lighthouse Trails and the authors we represent are determined to continue in the work in which we have been called in spite of the fact that we are often falsely accused, unjustly discredited, and misjudged. Whether the Lord takes us home early or allows us to live long lives, it is our prayer that we will endure faithfully until the end. Perhaps, in time, people will stop listening to discernment ministries all together. If and when that day comes, we pray there will be enough pastors and churches who are speaking the truth and warning “night and day.” In the following passage by Paul, we can see that his heart was for the building up of the body of Christ, no matter the cost to him. May we all, as believers in Jesus Christ, whether “discernment ministry,” pastor, or neither, strive to have this same attitude:

 But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children: so being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us. For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God.  Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe: as ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children, that ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory. (1 Thessalonians 2:7-12, emphasis added)

CONCLUSION

The following is a list of discernment ministries that Lighthouse Trails has come to know and look to over the past fifteen years; they are ones that meet the biblical criteria described above. Though these particular ministries may not agree with each other on every aspect, we have seen no greed, worldly ambition, jealousy, mean spiritedness, or dishonesty in these ministries. While they, like Lighthouse Trails, do not claim to be perfect or infallible, they always point readers back to the Word of God and uphold the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Is there a need for discernment ministries in today’s church? We believe the answer to that question is a resounding “yes.” And we believe the apostle Paul would agree.

Trusted Discernment Research Ministries

The Berean Call

Deception in the Church
Sandy Simpson

Forcing Change
Carl Teichrib

Guarding the Flock Ministries

Herescope Blog

Kjos Ministries
Berit Kjos

Learn to Discern Granny

Let Us Reason Ministries
Mike Oppenheimer

Lighthouse Trails Research Project

ReachOut Trust

Spiritual Research Network

Understand the Times,
Roger Oakland

Saddleback Youth Worker Ruben Meulenberg Charged With 5 Felony Counts – Saddleback Remaining Tight Lipped on Staff Issue

Ruben Meulenberg mug shot

The following is an update from two recent Lighthouse Trails articles: Saddleback Church Youth Worker Arrested for Molesting 14-Year-Boys Brings Issue to Surface”  and “Saddleback Church Statement Appears to Downplay Role of Alleged Molester Ruben Meulenberg.”

Ruben Meulenberg, the youth worker at Saddleback Church who was arrested for allegedly molesting two 14-year-old boys at Saddleback, has been charged with 5 felonies related to the molestation of the boys. At least one of the boys was 13 when the abuse began.

The following public information on the case has been released by the Orange County District Attorney’s office:

Case # 17HF0707

Date: May 30, 2017

YOUTH MINISTRY MENTOR CHARGED WITH COMMITTING LEWD ACTS ON TWO JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL BOYS

SANTA ANA, Calif. – A youth ministry mentor was charged today with committing lewd acts on two junior high school boys.

Defendant Charges Court Date
Ruven Meulenberg, 32, Lake Forest
  • Three felony counts of lewd acts on a child
  • Two felony counts of lewd acts on a child under age 14

Sentencing enhancement

  • Multiple victims
Continued arraignment

  • June 9, 2017, 10:00 a.m.
  • Department CJ-1, Central Jail, Santa Ana
  • Bail: $1 million

Circumstances of the Case

* At the time of the crime, Meulenberg is accused of being a volunteer youth mentor at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest in a position of trust with access to children.

* Between May 2016 and May 2017, Meulenberg is accused of committing lewd acts on 13-year-old boys John Doe 1 and John Doe 2, both on and off church property.

* Between May 18, 2017, and May 22, 2017, the defendant is again accused of sexually molesting the victims, who were then 14 years old.

* On May 24, 2017, a Saddleback Church representative reported suspected inappropriate conduct to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department (OCSD), who investigated this case.

* Meulenberg was arrested by OCSD on Thursday, May 25, 2017.

Prosecutor: Deputy District Attorney Courtney Thom, Sexual Assault Unit

After Lighthouse Trails released its May 29th article questioning whether Saddleback was downplaying the role in which Ruben Meulenberg had at Saddleback, the Christian Post ( which calls itself “the nation’s most comprehensive Christian news website“) wrote an article titled “Was Saddleback Church Youth Mentor Who Was Charged With Molesting Boys a Volunteer?” in which they referenced the Lighthouse Trails article questioning Saddleback’s recent statement on Meulenberg being just a a volunteer. Interestingly, the Christian Post article revealed that as of yet Saddleback has not answered the question as to whether Ruben Meulenberg was on staff at Saddleback. While it may be true that he was a youth volunteer, certain indicators, as we pointed out in our previous article, suggest that Meulenberg may also have been on staff (see Appendix below), a claim that Saddleback has not yet denied or admitted.

The Christian Post article said that Rick Warren has not yet made a public statement about the case. According to the Christian Post’s website search engine, the online paper has featured Saddleback Church and/or Rick Warren in over one thousand articles since 2004, and most, if not all, praise and promote the work of the Purpose Driven pastor and his church.

While in the bigger picture of Ruben Meulenberg and his victims, it may not matter at all whether he was truly on staff at Saddleback or not; but if Saddleback Church is refusing to admit that he has been paid for any of his services, either as a contractor or a staff member, this should certainly raise questions as to how much can the mega-church be trusted to protect the children under its care. If facts about abuse at Saddleback are being kept in the dark, this will not produce the kind of environment where healing can take place for victims or where parents can feel secure about their children’s safety.

Appendix:

LinkedIn has the following information about Ruben Meulenberg:

Ruben Meulenberg

Saddleback Church | TornadoTwins | Age of Edge (game development)

Age of Edge, Corp

Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences

Orange County, California Area

Media producer operating in 5 areas: videogames, film, books, music & curriculum.

Companies founded:
– TheGameBible.com: in-house project, turning the Bible into a full videogame (www.TheGameBible.com).
– TornadoTwins.com: became the world’s largest game development youtube channel in 3 months.
– FPSControl.com: tool to help midsize game studios create multi-platform games
– GamePrefabs.com: game development store [sold to Unity Tech; world’s #1 game tech corp]
– more

Projects:
– Feature film: wrote, directed and co-produced Saddleback Kids’ first feature film with production staff & volunteers. Used by 700+ churches and given out to 3000 children at Saddleback Lake Forest.
– Curriculum: co-founded fastest growing children’s church curriculum organization in Holland. Trained Saddleback Church’s children’s production staff to use this format.
– Music: founded world’s largest youtube channel on dubstep development (reached in 2 weeks), reached most-votes in Newsboys remix competition, created dance album for Saddleback Church, scored Triumph motorcycle commercial (engine sounds as bass).
– Game Development: developed YouVersion’s Kid-Bible-App prototype in under two weeks. Co-organized web’s largest gamedevelopment competition with cgsociety.org, trained thousands of game developers worldwide (including Disney’s “where’s my water” app developers), developing “The Game Bible” (see above).
Writing: Oversaw writing of 3 years worth of narrative video series for Saddleback Church Childrens’. Wrote “The Unplugged”, a book to help software developers create quickly and on as low a budget as possible.
– Marketing: helped triple attendance count on the annual online conference “The Twelve”, resulting in 10,000+ attendees. Redesigned Saddleback Kids’ summer outreach program, helping it rise from 4% new visitors in previous years to over 30% new visitors.


Appendix 2:

YouTube Comment from Lighthouse Trails author Gregory Reid regarding Saddleback and youth groups:

I had an associate that went to Saddleback to look for cool church ideas and loved the idea that the sign over the youth building said, “No adults allowed.” I was mortified. Creating an isolated youth subculture is deadly and creates a breeding ground for predators. I wrote a book called The Color of Pain that includes a checklist for identifying pedophiles, I think it’s a crucial book in this vulnerable time for youth. When I was a youth pastor I did extreme vetting on every single volunteer or person who showed interest in our youth ministry, even the older college volunteers, and I watched them like hawks. Had to remove two adults who were predators looking for a kill. (source)

Gregory Reid is a child sexual abuse survivor. He wrote about his childhood in his book Nobody’s Angel. His later book, The Color of Pain (published by LT) is a tribute to men who were sexually abused as boys.

What Your Church Needs to Know Before Doing a Priscilla Shirer Study

The repetition [of a word or phrase] can in fact be soothing and very freeing, helping us, as Nouwen says, “to empty out our crowded interior life and create the quiet space where we can dwell with God.”—Jan Johnson, When the Soul Listens, p. 93

Years ago, I got a chance to meet Jan Johnson. . . . I was encouraged and redirected in so many ways. As a young woman trying to navigate the ins and outs of my relationship with the Lord, Ms. Jan spoke wisdom into my life that was extremely pivotal in my life—personally and in ministry.—Priscilla Shirer (emphasis added; http://www.goingbeyond.com/blog/wisbits; quoted in 2010 and still up on Shirer’s website)

Priscilla Shirer

This week, our office received a call from a woman who was concerned that her church is going to be doing a study using material by Priscilla Shirer. Our caller wanted to get some information she can show her pastor as to why her church should not be doing a Priscilla Shirer study. Because Priscilla Shirer is a contemplative proponent, we concur with our caller’s concerns. In John Lanagan’s booklet,  Beth Moore & Priscilla Shirer – Their History of Contemplative Prayer,Lanagan shows how both Moore and Shirer have been advocates of contemplative spirituality for quite some time. In that booklet, and this is what we want to focus on in this article, Lanagan discusses a woman named Jan Johnson. Because Priscilla Shirer embraces and has gleaned spiritually from Johnson, we need to take a closer look at what Johnson believes.

We first heard about Jan Johnson in Ray Yungen’s book A Time of Departing where Yungen explains:

Spiritual director Jan Johnson, in her book When the Soul Listens: Finding Rest and Direction in Contemplative Prayer, is a perfect example of an evangelical Christian who endorses and promotes this practice [contemplative prayer]. She leaves no doubt about what this type of prayer entails:

“Contemplative prayer, in its simplest form, is a prayer in which you still your thoughts and emotions and focus on God Himself. This puts you in a better state to be aware of God’s presence, and it makes you better able to hear God’s voice, correcting, guiding, and directing you.” [emphasis added]

Johnson’s explanation of the initial stages of contemplative prayer leaves no doubt that “stilling” your thoughts means only one thing; she explains:

“In the beginning, it is usual to feel nothing but a cloud of unknowing. . . . If you’re a person who has relied on yourself a great deal to know what’s going on, this unknowing will be unnerving. [emphasis added] (Ray Yungen, A Time of Departing, 2nd ed., p. 82.)

When Johnson talks about stilling the mind in order to experience God’s presence and hear His voice, she is referring to something that is universal with mystics—putting the mind into a neutral, altered state where one is not aware of the distractions around him. This inner stillness can only be achieved through some type of meditative practice (see Johnson’s quote at top of this article), which in the case of “Christian” mystics is contemplative prayer. For those of you unfamiliar with contemplative jargon, the “cloud of unknowing” is taken from a small book of the same name, written by an anonymous monk several hundred years ago. The book is a primer on contemplative prayer and in it instructs:

Take just a little word, of one syllable rather than of two . . .  With this word you are to strike down every kind of thought under the cloud of forgetting. (The Cloud of Unknowing)

This is describing a mantra-style practice, no different than that used in eastern meditation. It is interesting that Jan Johnson says the effect of this type of prayer is “unnerving.” Webster’s Dictionary defines unnerving as “inspiring fear.” This reminds us of another contemplative teacher, Richard Foster, who suggested that people pray prayers of protection before practicing contemplative prayer in order to avoid an evil encounter. But where in Scripture is prayer to God described as inspiring fear or something that needs prayers of protection first? Nowhere. That’s not how God’s Word defines prayer.

Jan Johnson

In Jan Johnson’s book, Invitation to the Jesus Life: Experiments in Christlikeness, Johnson shows her resonance with a number of contemplative figures with quotes by and references to them.  One particular name that jumps out is New Age sympathizer Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. Read a few quotes by Chardin and then ask yourself, why would a Christian author (Johnson) be drawn to someone with these views:

What I am proposing to do is to narrow that gap between pantheism and Christianity by bringing out what one might call the Christian soul of pantheism or the pantheist aspect of Christianity.—Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Christianity and Evolution, p. 56

Now I realize that, on the model of the incarnate God whom Christianity reveals to me, I can be saved only by becoming one with the universe. Thereby, too, my deepest ‘pantheist’ aspirations are satisfied.—Chardin, Christianity and Evolution, p. 128.

I believe that the Messiah whom we await, whom we all without any doubt await, is the universal Christ; that is to say, the Christ of evolution.—Chardin, Christianity and Evolution, p. 95.

Johnson’s 2016 book Meeting God in Scripture: A Hands-On Guide to Lectio Divina leads readers in lectio divina meditations. Lectio Divina is used today as a gateway practice into contemplative mystical prayer. In her book, Johnson provides a section titled  “Relax and Refocus (silencio)”  which is instruction to readers on how to get rid of mental distractions when trying to practice lectio divina:

Each exercise begins with brief guidance to slow down, quiet your inner self and let go of distracting thoughts. . . . focusing on God. A way to interrupt this [mental] traffic is to focus on being present in the moment by breathing in and out deeply— even overbreathing. It also helps to relax our body parts one by one: bending the neck, letting the arms go limp, relaxing the legs and ankles. Loosen each part from the inside out. This doesn’t mean you’re setting aside your mind— you’re redirecting your mind away from the busyness that often consumes you. Being present in the moment prepares you to wait on the still, small voice of God. If you are distracted, you may want to try the palms up, palms down method. Rest your hands in your lap, placing your hands palms down as a symbol of turning over any concerns you have. If a nagging thought arises, turn your hands palms up as a “symbol of your desire to receive from the Lord.” [Foster] If you become distracted at any time during meditation, repeat the exercise. (Meeting God in Scripture, Kindle version, Kindle location 102)

To back up her teaching on practicing contemplative meditation and finding that inner stillness of the mind, Johnson turns to several contemplative teachers in Meeting God in Scripture. Sadly, God and Scripture are not the only things readers are going to meet when they read this book by Johnson. They will also meet Richard Foster, Dallas Willard, Henri Nouwen, and David Benner. Other books Johnson has written have the same caliber.  A few of those titles are:  Spiritual Disciplines Companion: Bible Studies and Practices to Transform Your Soul, Enjoying the Presence of God: Discovering Intimacy with God in the Daily Rhythms of Life, Abundant Simplicity: Discovering the Unhurried Rhythms of Grace, and Renovation of the Heart in Daily Practice: Experiments in Spiritual Transformation (Willard and Johnson). She has written several others books which carry the same message: you’ve got to have the inner mental silence to really know God (something Beth Moore has said too—in the Be Still DVD).

We could give several more examples of Johnson’s embracing contemplative spirituality. You won’t find much that she has written that doesn’t include this element. In one article on her website titled “What Is Solitude & Why Do I Need It? or . . . Turn Up the Quiet,” she quotes panentheist Thomas Merton from his book New Seeds of Contemplation. Why does Jan Johnson keep referring to contemplative mystics in her writings? There can only be one answer to that question—because she resonates with them.

Conclusion

As noted at the beginning of this article, Priscilla Shirer “was encouraged and redirected in so many ways” when she met Jan Johnson. She added that Johnson “spoke wisdom into [Priscilla’s] life that was extremely pivotal in [her] life—personally and in ministry.” Shirer said these words in 2010 and has left them up on her website to this day. Obviously, she still feels this way about Johnson. In Shirer’s popular book 2006/2012 Discerning the Voice of God, she favorably quotes Jan Johnson twice from When the Soul Listens. Shirer also quotes contemplatives Joyce Huggett and Phil Yancey in Discerning the Voice of God. Shirer clearly has been influenced by Jan Johnson as she admits herself.

We’ll close with this: On Priscilla Shirer’s website, where she talks about meeting Jan Johnson, she also includes an article by Johnson who is quoting panentheist Catholic priest Richard Rohr (founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation) from his book Everything Belongs (meaning everything and everyone is part of God). Rohr’s spirituality would be in the same camp as someone like Episcopalian panentheist Matthew Fox (author of The Coming of the Cosmic Christ). Rohr wrote the foreword to a book called How Big is Your God? by Jesuit priest (from India) Paul Coutinho. In Coutinho’s book, he describes an interspiritual community where people of all religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, and Christianity) worship the same God. For Rohr to write the foreword to such a book, he would have to agree with Coutinho’s views. On Rohr’s website, he has an article titled “Cosmic Christ.” One need not look too far into Rohr’s teachings and website to see he is indeed promoting the same Cosmic Christ as Matthew Fox – this is the “christ” whose being they say lives in every human—this, of course, would nullify the need for atonement by a savior. Lighthouse Trails has written numerous times about Rohr as he is aggressively pushing his panentheistic mystical spirituality into the evangelical church. If everything you have read in this article has not persuaded you to steer clear of Shirer’s studies, then this should do it, hands down. The fact that she keeps the post about Rohr on her website should alarm all Bible-believing Christians and illustrates the spiritual affinity Priscilla Shirer is drawn to.

Before your church does a Priscilla Shirer study, please keep in mind the things you have read in this article. Contemplative prayer has roots in panentheism  (God is in all) and interspirituality (all paths lead to God) as you can read in Ray Yungen’s article “The Final Outcome of Practicing Contemplative Prayer: Interspirituality.” Do you really want your church influenced in any way by a spirituality that is so against the Cross? Are we saying Priscilla Shirer is necessarily against the Cross? No, but for someone who wrote a book on how to discern the voice of God, she sure isn’t showing any discernment in the voices that she herself is listening to and being persuaded by.


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