First published in 1978, Celebration of Discipline has had a massive influence on today’s Christianity. Unfortunately, the influence has helped to saturate the church with mystical contemplative prayer and the New Age. Most likely, your pastor has a copy of this book sitting on his library shelves. He may even have it sitting on his desk for easy reach and reference. Richard Foster, a Quaker and the founder of an organization called Renovare (meaning renewal), wrote the book and even he may have had no idea the impact this book would have. But 38 years later, it is still being read, and in fact, Christian leaders and organizations continue promoting the book.
Foster said in the book, that we “should all without shame enroll as apprentices in the school of contemplative prayer” (p. 13, 1978 ed.). In other books and writings of Foster’s, he makes it very clear that this “contemplative prayer” is the eastern style mantra meditation to which mystic monk Thomas Merton adhered. In fact, Richard Foster once told Ray Yungen (author of A Time of Departing) that “Thomas Merton tried to awaken God’s people” (at a conference in Salem, OR).
Thomas Merton, who said he was “impregnated with Sufism” (Merton and Sufism, p. 69) and wanted to “become as good a Buddhist” as he could be (David Steindl-Rast, “Recollection of Thomas Merton’s Last Days in the West”), believed that “God’s people” lacked one thing . . . mysticism and this is to what they needed “awakening.” Of Merton, Foster says: “Thomas Merton has perhaps done more than any other twentieth-century figure to make the life of prayer widely known and understood.” (Spiritual Classics, p. 17) And yet, Thomas Merton once told New Age Episcopal priest Matthew Fox that he felt sorry for the hippies in the 60s who were dropping LSD because all they had to do was practice the mystical (contemplative) stream to achieve the same results. (Interview) We couldn’t agree with him more. Both altered states are the same, and neither lead to God.
Listed under “excellent books on spirituality,” in some editions of Celebration of Discipline, Foster says of Tilden Edwards’ book, Spiritual Friend that it helps “clear away the confusion and invites us to see that we do not have to live the spiritual life in isolation.” And yet, Tilden Edwards, founder of the Christian/Buddhist Shalem Institute in Washington, DC, said that contemplative spirituality was the “Western bridge to Far Eastern spirituality”(Spiritual Friend, p. 18). On the Shalem Institute website you can find numerous quotes, references, articles, and recommendations to panentheism, universalism, interspirituality, New Age, and Eastern thought.
In Celebration of Discipline, Richard Foster tells us “we must be willing to go down into the recreating silences, into the inner world of contemplation” (COD, p.13.) He goes on to say that the “masters of meditation beckon us.” Just prior to that remark, he quotes Carl Jung and Thomas Merton.
Celebration of Discipline has helped to pave the way for Thomas Merton’s panentheistic belief system. It has opened the door for other Christian authors, speakers, and pastors to bring contemplative spirituality into the lives of millions of people. The late Henri Nouwen, a popular contemplative who also followed the teachings of Thomas Merton, made a telling statement towards the end of his life:
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 (emphasis added – Sabbatical Journey, p. 51).
Today, countless ministers and ministries are promoting and endorsing Celebration of Discipline. If they really knew what Foster’s “celebration” was all about, we think many of them would race away from the teachings of Thomas Merton and Richard Foster and back to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Note: If your pastor or someone you know has a copy of Celebration of Discipline or quotes Richard Foster, be sure and give him a copy of Ray Yungen’s new booklet A Serious Look at Richard Foster’s “School” of Contemplative Prayer. Also, want to know what Spiritual Formation is (and its dangers), read this: Is Your Church Doing Spiritual Formation? (Important Reasons Why They Shouldn’t
Twenty five years ago Caryl Matrisciana and Roger Oakland came out with their co-authored book The Evolution Conspiracy. The book was published by Harvest House. While the creation/evolution debate was important back then, it is substantially more vital today. The western world’s push to have evolution taught in every public school and secular college has been successful, and unbeknownst to most, the effects of this invasion of evolutionary thinking have completely changed the morality and the spirituality of our present-day society. Thus, Lighthouse Trails is very pleased to announce that we have just gone to press with an updated expanded edition of this important book. This new edition also includes an updated foreword by Dr. John Morris, President Emeritus of the Institute for Creation Research (ICR).
The book will be back from press in 3-4 weeks. You may pre-order your copy today and will receive it the first week of May. Below is the Table of Contents, listing chapters and sub-headings, in which you will see how relevant this book is for today. We believe every Christian family should read this book. Don’t send your children or grandchildren into the world without them having a solid understanding of creationism vs. evolution and how the “evolution conspiracy” has affected the world and even the church.
Table of Contents
PART 1—The Hidden Agenda
Chapter 1/Satan’s Most Lethal Weapon 15
Poison at the Roots 18
Calling Evolution’s Hand 20
The Conspiracy Unveiled 21
The Call to Arms 23
Chapter 2/Seducing the Masses 25
Museums for the Masses 26
Silent Brainwashing 28
Media Madness 31
Signs of the Times 32
Indoctrinating the Sightseers 33
Chapter 3/Decades of Dinosaurs 35
Summer Fun 38
Enticing Attractions 39
Dinosaur Movies 40
Death of the Dinosaur 41
Chapter 4/Changing the Value of Human Life 45
Denying God’s Handiwork 46
Christians and the Moral Landslide 48
Absolutely No Absolutes 50
Beyond Human Dignity 51
Death Rites 53
Evolution’s Sacred Cows 56
Chapter 5/Agenda for Delusion 59
The French Connection 60
England’s Quiet Struggle 61
New Ideas About Earth’s Age 63
Evolutionary Sabotage 64
Center Stage 65
Earthshaking Books 68
Making Agnosticism Respectable 69
Theological Complications 69
Darwin’s Bulldog 72
The Church Compromise 73
Spreading Evolution Abroad 74
Evolution and Catholicism 76
Teilhard de Chardin’s “Spiritual Evolution” 76
Evolution’s Legacy 78
PART II—The Case for A Creator
Chapter 6/The Search for Proof 81
Testing the Models 84
Models, Not Theories 86
From Nonlife to Life 87
Hostile Opposition 88
“Inspired Guesses” 88
Spontaneous Generation 89
Complexities of Life 91
Not a Chance! 94
Design Without a Designer 96
Chapter 7/Missing Links 99
The Progression of Life 101
Clues to the Past 102
Missing Links Still Missing 103
What’s a Missing Link? 106
A Whale of a Tale 108
Archaeopteryx: Spreading Its Evolutionary Wings 110
Crossopterygian: Finding the Fountain of Youth 112
Simple Horse Sense 113
Monkey Business 113
Nebraska Man 115
“Lucy”—The Woman Who Shook Man’s Family Tree 115
Back to the Creation Model 118
Chapter 8/God’s Grand Design 121
A Matter of Life and Death 124
Holding Firm to the Faith 126
God’s Vengeful Adversary 128
Parenting in a Deceptive Age 130
PART III—Molding the Modern Mind
Chapter 9/Children at Risk 133
Creeping into the Schools 134
The Scopes Trial 134
Humanism Joins the Evolution Conspiracy 135
Humanism’s Ongoing Battle Against God 137
Evolutionary Advances in the Classroom 138
The Creationism Movement 140
The Threat to Humanism 143
Fanning the Flames 144
Pesky Creationists 145
Chapter10/Onward Evolutionary Soldiers 147
Defending the Evolutionary Faith 150
Mass Mailings 152
Revealing Polls 155
Legal Challenges to Creationism 158
Harassment Toward Creationism 161
One at a Time 163
PART IV—The Global Search for Spirituality
Chapter 11/A Quantum Leap into the New Age 169
Mysticism Goes Mainstream 171
Finding the Higher Self 173
Food for Thought 174
Digging up the Past 175
The Deceptive Promise of Godhood 176
Every Man a God 179
Evolution and Mother Earth 182
Satan’s Final Strategy 185
The Kingdom, Here and Now 188
The Infinite Wisdom of God 190
Chapter 12/Eternity in the Wings 191
Unconquerable God 193
A Love Story 196
Our Beloved Bridegroom 199
Appendix A—The Grand Canyon’s Mysteries 203
In Search of a New World 205
The Meaning of Grand Canyon’s Names 205
Gods and Goddesses in the Grand Canyon 208
Freemasonry at the Grand Canyon 211
Appendix B—An Explosion That Shook the World 215
Appendix C—Darwin Was Right . . . 217
Photo Credits 241
More Resources on Creationism 242
About the Authors 243
Other Resources 244
Click here to pre-order your copy of The Evolution Conspiracy.
Here are 10 things you might find useful about the practical aspects of Lighthouse Trails Publishing & Research Project.
1. WEBSITES—We have two main sites: www.lighthousetrails.com, which is the publishing site and store that sells all our products; and www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com, which is where our news blog is located as well as the main research site. The blog has thousands of up to date articles, and the research site has hundreds of archived pages of the research we have done these past 14 year. The store site, the research site, and the blog each have their own search engine you can use to find materials and information.
2. AUTHORS—We have several author websites that we have built for our authors. Many of our authors (we have about 35 now) are in full time ministry, and we hope you will consider supporting them. You can read about each author on his or her author website, and most of those sites have articles that the authors have written in addition to books and booklets they have written.
3. LIBRARIES—Our books are now in hundreds of libraries across the U.S., and if you would like to get some of our titles into your own local library, it’s easy and doesn’t cost you anything. Just call or visit your library, give the librarian the title and/or the ISBN of any title and ask her to bring that title into circulation. Tell your librarian that our books can be ordered through Baker & Taylor, which is the main distributor to U.S. libraries.
4. BOOKSTORES—All of the Lighthouse Trails books and DVDs (the ones we publish ourselves) are carried by national mainstream distributors including Ingram, SpringArbor, Baker & Taylor, and Anchor. This means that virtually ANY bookstore (with the exception of LifeWay which will not carry or order any LT products) in the U.S. can easily order any of our titles. Many times people call us and tell us that their local bookstore has told them they cannot get our books. But actually, they can! Even if a bookstore can’t buy through these distributors for some reason, the bookstore can always buy at wholesale prices directly from us.
5. ONLINE BOOK OUTLETS & MINISTRIES—All of the Lighthouse Trails books and DVDS (the ones we publish ourselves) are available to the general public through numerous online outlets including Amazon, Barnes and Noble, CBD, etc. Ministries such as The Berean Call, Understand the Times, Caryl Productions, Scripture Truth, Faith View Books, and several others each carry a number of our books and booklets as well.
6. NEWSLETTERS & JOURNAL—Lighthouse Trails has both an e-newsletter, (see archives) which is delivered to readers’ e-mail boxes, and this is sent out three times a month. We also have a low-cost subscription-based print journal, which is 32 pages and sent to homes and offices every other month. Many of our readers are getting both the e-newsletter and the journal, while some prefer just one option. We encourage our readers to get the print journal, regardless of whether they get the e-mail because it is great for sharing with others and also very convenient.
7. E-BOOKS & BOOKLETS—Lighthouse Trails books, booklets, and now print journals are also available in both e-pub and PDF formats. Use e-pubs if you have an e-reader, and use PDFs if you don’t and just want to read on your computer or print the document. You can purchase our e-books, e-booklets, and e-journals directly from our website, or you may buy them from Amazon’s Kindle program or Barnes and Noble’s Nook program.
8. SPEAKERS/LECTURERS—A number of our authors are available to speak at your church, conference, radio program, or group: Warren B. Smith, Ray Yungen, Roger Oakland, Chris Lawson, Anita Dittman (in MN only), Carl Teichrib, Cedric Fisher, Greg Reid, Jim Fletcher, John Lanagan, Lynn Lusby Pratt, Mary Danielsen, Mike Oppenheimer, and Sandy Simpson. You may acquaint yourself with these authors by reading their materials. Several of them have LT author websites where you can read articles and get contact information. Visit this page here to see our list. These are wonderful brothers and sisters who are committed to the Lord and His Word and the defending of truth.
9. INTERNATIONAL MISSIONS—In 2010, Lighthouse Trails began supporting the mission work of the Bryce Homes Program, homes for needy Christian families now located in several different countries under the leadership of Understand the Times. Since then, Lighthouse Trails readers have contributed substantially to this Gospel-focused missions effort.
10. TENT INDUSTRY—In 2010, Lighthouse Trails started a small division called The Shepherd’s Garden and created our very own line of organic Bible-verse tea. We now have 6 different blends plus a sampler box. We started this side industry as a way to help keep Lighthouse Trails financially stable. Lighthouse Trails is not a non-profit, and thus, we don’t get the number of donations that a 501 (c) 3 organization would get. The tea is a great way to give us a boost without having it be labor intensive, which would draw us away from the work we do at Lighthouse Trails. In the last 5 years, many many LT readers have purchased the tea and tell us they love how it tastes and love the little KJV verses on a tag on each bag of tea.
Somewhat reminiscent of the cult-like individuals who contend that the holocaust in Germany never happened, Oprah Winfrey’s “Jesus”—the New Age Jesus of A Course in Miracles—would have everyone believe that the crucifixion never happened. As Christians around the world have celebrated Christ’s resurrection this weekend, Oprah’s “Jesus” of A Course in Miracles would have the world believe that “A slain Christ has no meaning.”1
In February 1992, Oprah’s enthusiastic endorsement of Marianne Williamson’s book, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles sent Williamson’s book to the top of the New York Times best-seller list and officially outed the “Jesus of A Course in Miracles—one of the false christs that the real Jesus warned everyone to watch out for. The New Age Course in Miracles was reputedly channeled by “Jesus” through an atheistic woman in New York city in the late 1960s and into the early 70s. Today, A Course in Miracles is commonly referred to as the closest thing to a New Age “Bible.”
Oprah—who describes herself as a Christian—told her worldwide television audience on that February program that the teachings of A Course in Miracles could change the world. She said that Williamson’s book was one of the best books she ever read. She announced that she bought a thousand copies and that everyone in the studio audience would get a copy.
Oprah Winfrey talks of love and forgiveness but her “Jesus” denies the very Cross where love and forgiveness were extended to all mankind. The following are direct quotes from Oprah’s Course in Miracles “Jesus” in his denial of the reason people celebrate Easter—pretty much what you would expect from a false New Age “Christ”:
“This is Palm Sunday, the celebration of victory and the acceptance of the truth. Let us not spend this holy week brooding on the crucifixion of God’s Son, but happily in the celebration of his release. For Easter is the sign of peace, not pain. A slain Christ has no meaning.” (A Course in Miracles (ACIM) Text, p. 425)
“In you the knowledge lies, ready to be unveiled and free from all the terror that kept it hidden. There is no fear in love. The song of Easter is the glad refrain the Son of God was never crucified. Let us lift up our eyes together, not in fear but in faith.” (ACIM Text, p. 428)
“The crucifixion did not establish the atonement; the resurrection did. Many sincere Christians have misunderstood this.” (ACIM Text, p. 36)
“For the undoing of the crucifixion of God’s Son is the work of redemption, in which everyone has a part of equal value.” (ACIM Text, p. 209)
“Sacrifice is a notion totally unknown to God. It arises solely from fear, and frightened people can be vicious.” (ACIM Text, p. 37)
“The journey to the cross should be the last ‘useless journey.'” (ACIM Text, p. 52)
“Do not make the pathetic error of ‘clinging to the old rugged cross.‘” (ACIM Text, p. 52)
“The Atonement is the final lesson he [man] need learn, for it teaches him that, never having sinned, he has no need of salvation.” (ACIM Text, p. 237) (all emphasis added)
Note: It is interesting to note that Oprah Winfrey’s 2016 Super Soul Sunday on March 27th featured an interview with mega-church pastor Joel Osteen, who seemed only too happy to be used by Oprah on Easter Sunday to give her and her New Age Christ some semblance—no matter how thin—of Christian compatibility.2
- A Course in Miracles, p. 423
- See promotional video clip of Super Soul Sunday below.
Oprah Winfrey’s New Age “Christianity” and the Emperor’s New Clothes (Booklet/article)
By Roger Oakland
Understand the Times and Bryce Homes International
Before arriving in Kenya, I had decided to hold all reports until my arrival back home. There has been a change. I have now decided I cannot contain myself for that length of time in order to bring our supporters up to date. For the safety of our Kenyan brothers and sisters who are part of the Bryce Homes Kenya program and for ourselves, I will not be mentioning any names or locations. As you can understand, the world was in turmoil before we arrived. Now current events have catapulted fear to new and higher levels. Life around the world is not, and never will be, the same.
When I say we, this is to let our readers know that I am not alone. With me is a friend and a man from Canada who has a heart for missions. It is exciting for me when I see others I know catch the vision to reach out to widows and orphans. This is what the Bryce Homes Kenya program is all about.
Yesterday was another day in Kenya, but it was more than just another day. I have been travelling here since 2011. The program continues to expand each year as God provides for His family here through His family around the world. Perhaps what people in the western world fail to understand is the fact that more than half the population here in this location are either parentless or have only one parent or grandparent to care for them. Many live with elderly grandmothers who have nothing and already have trouble supporting themselves.
There are other problems related to culture that also play a factor. When women lose their husbands to AIDS (usually because of promiscuity), they are not only left without a breadwinner, the husband’s family threatens the young widow in an attempt to get her and the children off the family property. Barbaric acts take place according to tribal tradition, and often the government does nothing. We have had to deal with this situation on several occasions; it has become an ongoing process with new widows we take on.
Obviously, a foreigner from the west does not catch on to what is going on at first. Not claiming that I have any expertise in this area, I can tell you when I discover there is a problem, I will do everything with the strength God has given me to intervene for these widows. Click here to continue reading and for more information on the Bryce Homes Program.
Celebrating the Atonement and the Resurrection While Promoting Contemplative – A Profound Contradiction
In 1922, liberal pastor and theologian Harry Emerson Fosdick stated the following words in his sermon titled “Will the Fundamentalists Win?”:
“It is interesting to note where the Fundamentalists are driving in their stakes to mark out the deadline of doctrine around the church, across which no one is to pass except on terms of agreement. They insist that we must all believe in the historicity of certain special miracles, preeminently the virgin birth of our Lord; that we must believe in a special theory of inspiration-that the original documents of the Scripture, which of course we no longer possess, were inerrantly dictated to men a good deal as a man might dictate to a stenographer; that we must believe in a special theory of the Atonement-that the blood of our Lord, shed in a substitutionary death, placates an alienated Deity and makes possible welcome for the returning sinner.”
Fosdick considered the doctrine of a blood atonement a “slaughterhouse religion”1
What this line of thinking is saying is that while Jesus’ going to the Cross should be looked at as an example of perfect servanthood and sacrifice ( the term servant leader is connected to this), the idea that God would send His Son to a violent death on the Cross is barbaric and would never happen. Thus, Fosdick (and those who adhere to this reasoning) rejects Christ as a substitute for our penalty of sin (“the wages of sin is death” – Romans 6:23).
In Roger Oakland’s book, Faith Undone, in the chapter titled “Slaughterhouse Religion” (see extract below), he shows where contemplatives and emerging church leaders hold to the same view. This is easy to understand how they could be like this when one understands the underlying panentheistic nature of contemplative prayer. In other words, contemplative mystics believe that man is divine (i.e., that God/divinity dwells in all creation – all humans in particularly). If man is divine, then he does not need to have anyone make atonement for him. A substitutionary death (taking a sinner’s place) on the Cross would not be necessary and in fact, would be an insult to man’s own divine nature. It would be humiliating. Like contemplative mystic monk Thomas Merton said (quoted by Leonard Sweet in Quantum Spirituality), if we really knew what was in each one of us, we would bow down and worship one another. He and other contemplatives say that man’s biggest problem isn’t a sinful nature; no, it’s that he does not realize he is divine. Do all these pastors and professors who promote contemplative figures realize this is what they are really promoting?
During this time of the year, when most churches are holding Easter services (traditionally in honor of the death and resurrection of Jesus), how many of these same churches are clinging to contemplative/emerging spirituality without even comprehending what it really stands for (and some do realize it). If Jesus’ going to the Cross and shedding blood was merely an act of service and sacrifice, an example for others to follow, and was not actually a substitutionary payment for the sins of humanity, then why celebrate Easter and the resurrection? It would make no sense. Those churches who cling to contemplative/emergent ideologies and practices should consider this. While they cling to one (contemplative), they’re on the road to denying the other (the atonement) . . . even if they don’t realize it.
Below is an extract from Faith Undone on “Slaughterhouse Religion”:
“The Cross is Barbarity & a Slaughterhouse Religion – So Says Emerging Church Leaders”
by Roger Oakland
In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace. (Ephesians 1:7)
For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. (II Corinthians 5:21)
The heart and core of the Christian faith is based upon Jesus Christ’s shed blood at Calvary as the only acceptable substitutionary atonement for mankind’s sins. The Gospel message requires this foundation. The Bible says the wages of sin is death—thus every person alive should receive the penalty of spiritual death because none of us is without sin, since we are born with our sin nature intact. Satan hates the Gospel message. He understands what the Gospel means, and his agenda is to deceive mankind from understanding and believing so they can suffer eternally with him. While Scripture is very clear about the necessity of Christ’s death in order for us to be saved, some believe this would make God a blood-thirsty barbarian. Embedded within the structure of the emerging church is just such a belief.
Many in the emerging church movement would vehemently object if someone told them that emerging church leaders don’t like the Cross. They would jump up and say, “Yes, they do. I’ve heard them talk about Jesus and His going to the Cross. They say they love the Cross.”
Some emerging church leaders do say they love the Cross, but an underlying theme is gaining momentum among them. It says Jesus’ going to the Cross was an example of sacrifice and servanthood that we should follow; but the idea that God would send His Son to a violent death for the sins of mankind—well, that is not who God is. A loving God would never do that! Such a violent act would make Christianity a “slaughterhouse religion.”1 Liberal theologian and pastor of the Riverside Church in New York City, the late Harry Emerson Fosdick (1878-1969), believed that the doctrine of the atonement, where “Jesus suffered as a substitute for us” because of our sins, is a “precivilized barbarity.”2
In his book, The Modern Use of the Bible, Fosdick says that Jesus’ going to the Cross should be seen as an example of a life of service and sacrifice and not compared with “old animal sacrifices” and “made ‘a pious fraud’ played by God upon the devil.”3 In Fosdick’s book Dear Mr. Brown, he states:
Too many theories of the atonement assume that by one single high priestly act of self-sacrifice Christ saved the world.4
Fosdick ends that statement with a pronounced—“No!” He insists, “These legalistic theories of the atonement are in my judgment a theological disgrace.”5
Fosdick considered the idea that God would actually send His Son to die on a Cross to take our place to be the basis for a violent and bloody religion. He rejected the biblical message of an atonement and substitutionary sacrifice.
Fosdick was the pastor of Riverside Church of New York City from 1925 to 1946. While he has been long gone, his ideologies have remained intact and have drifted right into the emerging church. In October 2006, Riverside Church held the 5th Fosdick Convocation in honor of their former pastor. Two of the emerging church’s most influential teachers were there as speakers in honor of Fosdick—Brian McLaren and Tony Campolo.6 As I will show you, McLaren resonates with Fosdick’s view of the Cross.
False Advertising for God
In an interview, Brian McLaren questioned the idea of God sending His Son to a violent death, calling it “false advertising for God”:
[O]ne of the huge problems is the traditional understanding of hell. Because if the cross is in line with Jesus’ teaching then—I won’t say, the only, and I certainly won’t say even the primary—but a primary meaning of the cross is that the kingdom of God doesn’t come like the kingdoms of this world, by inflicting violence and coercing people. But that the kingdom of God comes through suffering and willing, voluntary sacrifice. But in an ironic way, the doctrine of hell basically says, no, that’s not really true. That in the end, God gets His way through coercion and violence and intimidation and domination, just like every other kingdom does. The cross isn’t the center then. The cross is almost a distraction and false advertising for God. (emphasis added)7
What an extraordinary example of faith under attack and the consequences of thinking outside of the box. If McLaren is right, all those who have ever lived and believed in Christ’s atonement have been misled and wrong. McLaren has taken the freedom to reconstruct what faith means by distorting the Scriptures, or worse yet, saying the very opposite of what the inspired Word of God says. This is blasphemy! McLaren also states:
And I heard one well-known Christian leader, who—I won’t mention his name, just to protect his reputation. ‘Cause some people would use this against him. But I heard him say it like this: The traditional understanding says that God asks of us something that God is incapable of Himself. God asks us to forgive people. But God is incapable of forgiving. God can’t forgive unless He punishes somebody in place of the person He was going to forgive. God doesn’t say things to you—Forgive your wife, and then go kick the dog to vent your anger. God asks you to actually forgive. And there’s a certain sense that, a common understanding of the atonement presents a God who is incapable of forgiving. Unless He kicks somebody else.8
That God Does Not Exist
This idea of rejecting God’s judgment placed on Jesus Christ instead of us is not exclusive with Fosdick or McLaren. In fact, such rejection is integrated into the teachings of many others. In 1991, William Shannon (biographer of Catholic monk and mystic Thomas Merton) said:
This is a typical patriarchal notion of God. He is the God of Noah who sees people deep in sin, repents that He made them and resolves to destroy them. He is the God of the desert who sends snakes to bite His people because they murmured against Him. He is the God of David who practically decimates a people … He is the God who exacts the last drop of blood from His Son, so that His just anger, evoked by sin, may be appeased. This God whose moods alternate between graciousness and fierce anger … This God does not exist.12
So in other words, according to Fosdick, McLaren, and Shannon, Jesus should be seen as a model of sacrifice to follow in our own lives, but to view God the Father as a judge against sin is not a proper view of God. Those who reject the atonement realize the greatest threat to their heretical views is those who take the Scriptures literally and seriously. Fosdick explains:
Were you to talk to that fundamentalist preacher, he doubtless would insist that you must believe in the “substitutionary” theory of atonement—namely, that Jesus suffered as a substitute for us the punishment due us for our sins. But can you imagine a modern courtroom in a civilized country where an innocent man would be deliberately punished for another man’s crime? … [S]ubstitutionary atonement … came a long way down in history in many a penal system. But now it is a precivilized barbarity; no secular court would tolerate the idea for a moment; only in certain belated theologies is it retained as an explanation of our Lord’s death … Christ’s sacrificial life and death are too sacred to be so misrepresented.13
This is another perfect example of how the emerging church turns doctrine it doesn’t understand into a mockery against Scripture and God’s plan of salvation. God’s ways are not our ways and to expect them to line up with our own human reasoning is ludicrous:
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9)
Former Catholic priest Brennan Manning has been a major influence in emerging spirituality. In his 2003 book Above All (foreword by singer Michael W. Smith)he quotes William Shannon almost word for word, regarding the atonement:
[T]he god whose moods alternate between graciousness and fierce anger … the god who exacts the last drop of blood from his Son so that his just anger, evoked by sin, may be appeased, is not the God revealed by and in Jesus Christ. And if he is not the God of Jesus, he does not exist.14
Dying for the Sins of the World
Marcus Borg [was] Distinguished Professor in Religion and Culture and Hundere Endowed Chair in Religious Studies at Oregon State University. He is a lecturer and the author of several books, some of which are Jesus and Buddha, The God We Never Knew, and Reading the Bible Again for the First Time: Taking the Bible Seriously But not Literally. While most would not consider him an emerging church leader, his thinking has greatly influenced the movement and its leaders. Brian McLaren says he has “high regard”15 for Borg; the two of them participated in a summer seminar series at an interspiritual center in Portland, Oregon, in 2006.16 Rob Bell references and praises him in Bell’s popular book Velvet Elvis.17 Walter Brueggemann, a professor at Columbia Theological Seminary and one of the contributors for Richard Foster’s Renovare Spiritual Formation Study Bible, considers Borg an essential part of the emerging spirituality. Brueggemann states:
Marcus Borg is a key force in the emerging “new paradigm” of Christian faith.18
Borg explains in his book The God We Never Knew that his views on God, the Bible, and Christianity were transformed while he was in seminary:
I let go of the notion that the Bible is a divine product. I learned that it is a human cultural product, the product of two ancient communities, biblical Israel and early Christianity. As such, it contained their understandings and affirmations, not statements coming directly or somewhat directly from God.… I realized that whatever “divine revelation” and the “inspiration of the Bible” meant (if they meant anything), they did not mean that the Bible was a divine product with divine authority.19
This attitude would certainly explain how Borg could say:
Jesus almost certainly was not born of a virgin, did not think of himself as the Son of God, and did not see his purpose as dying for the sins of the world.20
If what Borg is saying is true, then we would have to throw out John 3:16 which says God so loved the world He gave His only Son, and we would have to dismiss the theme of a blood offering that is prevalent throughout all of Scripture. In the Old Testament, it is clear:
For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul. (Leviticus 17:11)
But Borg rejects this emphasis:
To think that the central meaning of Easter [resurrection] depends upon something spectacular happening to Jesus’ corpse misses the point of the Easter message and risks trivializing the story. To link Easter primarily to our hope for an afterlife, as if our post-death existence depends upon God having transformed the corpse of Jesus, is to reduce the story to a politically-domesticated yearning for our survival beyond death.21
What is behind this mindset? Listen to one New Ager describe what underlies this line of thought:
Jesus was an historical person, a human becoming Christ, the Christos, is an eternal transpersonal condition of being. Jesus did not say that this higher state of consciousness realized in him was his alone for all time. Nor did he call us to worship him. Rather, he called us to follow him, to follow in his steps, to learn from him, from his example.22
Harry Fosdick would resonate with this. When he says, “Christ’s sacrificial life and death are too sacred to be so misrepresented,” he means that Christ is an example to be followed, not an innocent sacrifice for our guilt and thus worthy of praise and worship. Satan wants desperately to be worshiped and adored as God. He hates all that Jesus’ death stands for. Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, purchased with His own blood the lives of those written in the Book of Life.
The Bible says, “without the shedding of blood is no remission” (Hebrews 9:22), and also, “He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself” (Hebrews 9:26). Are we to reject these Scriptures and other ones as well that speak of the atonement because it doesn’t sound logical? Scripture tells us that the carnal mind is at enmity with God. We need to recognize that the Bible is God’s revelation of Himself to man. It is our final authority, and we must adhere to the truth of its teachings.
Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.… And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. (I John 4:10, 14)
In 2011, Roger Oakland introduced Lighthouse Trails to Trevor Baker and his music, and we’ve been listening to him ever since. Trevor sings about many of the things Lighthouse Trails writes about, and it doesn’t take too long listening to Trevor to know he’s a man after God’s own heart. We asked Trevor if he could write a little something to our readers to tell them about himself. Here is what he had to say:
Twenty years ago, when the Lord first began giving me songs, I remember the struggle that went on within my heart. Lord, why am I always writing about the ugly side of religion and how people should run from the many spiritual gurus, both new and old, that seem to be untouchable and unquestionable kings and queens of the day?
These rulers of the people speak partial truths to keep the money flowing in to prop up their man-made ministries where “self ” rules the day and Christianity is a business and an ego maker rather than what Jesus intended.
Jesus upset the tables of the money changers in the temple and then prayed, “I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes” (Matthew 11:25).
So I have realized through the years that warning people about the big dogs that rule the religious landscape has left me with few friends. The thing I can’t escape though is the unmistakable peace I sense when God gives me a song and the tears I see in concerts of those rejected by the social religiosity of the day—misfits that have never been welcome throughout history.
My message is simple, go to the garden alone and walk and talk with Jesus, as the old hymn put it. A broken and contrite spirit He will not leave in distress in a church age that has lost its bearings. Jesus said we can come to him and cast our burdens on Him, and He will direct our steps through the religious mine fields and give us rest.
Most today, it seems, would rather line up to hear all of the religious superstars instead of going to the garden alone to receive real nourishment from the Lord. This, I believe, is one of the biggest contributing factors to the bankrupt society we see today.
While Lighthouse Trails does carry most of Trevor’s music CDs and DVDs, those who cannot afford these materials should visit Trevor’s website where you can get his CDs on a donation basis. Visit www.trevorbaker.ca where you can also listen to 30-second clips of all his songs. Trevor lives in Saskatchewan, Canada with his wife Jennifer. They have two grown daughters and two granddaughters. Trevor travels extensively around North America singing at churches and conferences. You can contact him through his website if you would like him to sing at your church or group. See video below to watch Trevor in concert from five years ago.
Listen to 30 second song clips from the CD, It’s All In Place (see lyrics to title song below).
It’s All In Place
© Trevor Baker 2010
If we didn’t see it coming we do now
It was quiet for some time
But now it’s loud
Like a train you faintly heard
So far away
The picture’s getting clearer
The house of God
Where steeples used to ring
Has morphed into
A strange peculiar thing
The Lord said all these things
Would come to pass
But who knew it would happen
Quite this fast
Friends we knew
Who were so strong before
Now stand in line
At each new open door
Not questioning the outcome
Or the source
They can’t be deterred from heading
Down this course
The feelings this drums up
Can’t be described
Some days all you want to do is hide
I’ve been through my Bible
With a fine toothed comb
And all the signs are sayin’
Soon we’re goin’ home
We’re going home
The signs are all in place
It’s moving quickly now
It’s picking up the pace
We’re going home
It’s time to grab your coat
The chances of the days extending
They say that where there’s smoke
There’s always fire
You can tell the end
By what has happened prior
The Bible’s clear
On how things will unfold
And all these things
Have clearly been foretold
If the days were not cut short
None would be saved
And there’s little said
About the free and brave
The proud have all been given
Only the broken and the humble
Hear His voice
And they’re going home
The signs are all in place
It’s moving quickly now
It’s picking up the pace
They’re going home
The ark’s about to float
Fulfilling every word
That Jesus spoke
It’s countless all the names
That will be scratched
All because they lived
With strings attached
But we’re going home
The signs are all in place
It’s moving quickly now
It’s picking up the pace
We’re going home
It’s time to grab your coat
The chances of the days extending