Dear Lighthouse Trails:
I am from a Hindu background. The word Yoga has developed from the word Yog. Yog means union. So when you do Yoga, you can expect your spirit to be in union with “divine spirit” completely. According to Bishnu Puran, one of the Hindu scripture yoga is “complete union between spirit of god and man.” So when you do Yoga, you are focusing on uniting with some spirit. We know it is not the Spirit of the Lord God.
Yoga was in practice in ancient Hindu times to connect them with gods to get people closure to Nirvana. Hindus have many ways for salvation and Yoga is one of that. It is a doctrine of demons. Christians cannot take part in it as it tries to connect your spirit with some spirit, and you do not know what that spirit is. In Nepal, if you walk to the Hindu temples, you find “holy people,” and they say they got freedom from all the longing of the world because of Yoga. Yoga helped them to be united with their god, and now they are free. They will show you different postures which will be offered as worship to different gods.
As Christians, according to Colossians 2:8, we should not follow the theories made according to the traditions of this world nor based on any spiritual beings.
B. S. D., Nepal
BOOKLET: A Trip to India—to Learn the Truth About Hinduism and Yoga by Caryl Matrisciana
Learn about “Christian Yoga”: Watch Caryl Productions Yoga Uncoiled
Sometimes we think of spiritual formation as formation by the Holy Spirit. Once again. That’s essential. . . . But now I have to say something that may be challenging for you to think about: Spiritual formation is not all by the Holy Spirit. . . . We have to recognize that spiritual formation in us is something that is also done to us by those around us, by ourselves, and by activities which we voluntarily undertake . . .There has to be method.1—Dallas Willard
Aside from the fact that Spiritual Formation incorporates mystical practices into its infrastructure (remove the contemplative aspect and you don’t have “Spiritual Formation” anymore), Spiritual Formation is a works-based substitute for biblical Christianity. Let us explain.
When one becomes born again (“that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Romans 10:9-10), having given his or her life and heart over to Christ as Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ says He will come in and live in that surrendered heart:
Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. (Revelation 3:20)
Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. (John 14:23)
To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: (Colossians 1:27)
[I]f the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. (Romans 8:11; emphasis added)
When God, through Jesus Christ, is living in us, He begins to do a transforming work in our hearts (2 Corinthians 3:18). Not only does He change us, He also communes with us. In other words, we have fellowship with Him, and He promises never to leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).
This life of God in the believer’s heart is not something we need to conjure up through meditative practices. But if a person does not have this relationship with the Lord, he may seek out ways to feel close to God. This is where Spiritual Formation comes into play. Rather than a surrendered life to Christ, the seeking person begins practicing the spiritual disciplines (e.g., prayer, fasting, good works, etc.) with the promise that if he practices these disciplines, he will become more Christ-like.
But merely doing these acts fails to make one feel close to God—something is still missing. And thus, he begins practicing the discipline of silence (or solitude), and now in these altered states of silence, he finally feels connected to God. He now feels complete. What he does not understand is that he has substituted the indwelling of Christ in his heart for a works-based methodology that endangers his spiritual life. Dangerous because these mystical experiences he now engages in appear to be good because they make him feel close to God, but in reality he is being drawn into demonic realms no different than what happens to someone who is practicing transcendental meditation or eastern meditation. Even mystics themselves acknowledge that the contemplative realm is no different than the realm reached by occultists. To understand this more fully, please read Ray Yungen’s book A Time of Departing.
Bottom line, it is not possible to be truly Christ-like without having Christ inside of us because it is He who is able to change our hearts—we cannot do it without Him.
It is interesting to note that virtually every contemplative teacher has a common theme—they feel dry and empty and want to go “deeper” with God or “become more intimate” with God. But if we have Christ living in us, how can we go any deeper than that? How can we become more intimate than that? And if going deeper and becoming intimate were so important, why is it that none of the disciples or Jesus Himself ever told us to do this? As Larry DeBruyn states:
Why are Christians seeking a divine presence that Jesus promised would abundantly flow in them? . . . Why do they need another voice, another visitation, or another vision? Why are some people unthankfully desirous of “something more” than what God has already given to us? Why is it that some Christians, in the depth of their souls, are not seemingly at rest?2
Is There a “Good” Spiritual Formation?
One of the most common arguments we hear defending Spiritual Formation is that there is a “good” Spiritual Formation done without contemplative prayer. To that we say, we have never yet seen a Spiritual Formation program in a school or a church that doesn’t in some way point people to the contemplative mystics. It might be indirectly, but in every case, if you follow the trail, it will lead you right into the arms of Richard Foster, Dallas Willard, and other contemplative teachers.
Think about this common scenario: A Christian college decides to begin a Spiritual Formation course. The instructor has heard some negative things about Richard Foster, Henri Nouwen, and Brennan Manning, and he figures he will teach the class good Spiritual Formation and leave those teachers completely out. But he’s going to need a textbook. He turns to a respected institution, Dallas Theological Seminary, and finds a book written by Paul Pettit, Professor in Pastoral and Education Ministries. The book is titled Foundations of Spiritual Formation. The instructor who has found this book to use in his own class may never mention Richard Foster or Dallas Willard, but the textbook he is using does. Within the pages of Pettit’s book is Richard Foster, Philip Yancey, N.T. Wright, Dallas Willard, Thomas Aquinas, Lectio Divina, Ayn Rand, Parker Palmer, Eugene Peterson, J.P. Moreland, Klaus Issler, Bruce Dermerst, Jim Burns, Kenneth Boa and Brother Lawrence’s “practicing God’s presence.” You may not have heard of all these names, but they are all associated with the contemplative prayer movement and the emerging church.
Another example of this is Donald Whitney’s book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life. Whitney is Associate Professor of Biblical Spirituality at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. While his book does not promote contemplative mysticism, he says that Richard Foster has “done much good”3 in the area of Christian spirituality.
Our point is that even if there is a sincere attempt to teach Spiritual Formation and stay away from the mystical side, we contend that it cannot be successfully accomplished because it will always lead back to the ones who have brought it to the church in the first place.
Spiritual formation is sweeping quickly throughout Christianity today. It’s no wonder when the majority of Christian leaders have either endorsed the movement or given it a silent pass. For instance, in Chuck Swindoll’s book So You Want to Be Like Christ: 8 Essential Disciplines to Get Your There, Swindoll favorably quotes Richard Foster and Dallas Willard. Swindoll calls Celebration of Discipline a “meaningful work”4 and Willard’s book The Spirit of the Disciplines “excellent work.”5 In chapter three,”Silence and Solitude,” Swindoll talks about “digging for secrets . . . that will deepen our intimacy with God.”6 Quoting the contemplative poster-verse Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God,” Swindoll says the verse is a call to the “discipline of silence.”7 As other contemplative proponents have done, he has taken this verse very much out of context.
Roger Oakland sums it up:
The Spiritual Formation movement . . . teaches people that this is how they can become more intimate with God and truly hear His voice. Even Christian leaders with longstanding reputations of teaching God’s word seem to be succumbing. . . .
We are reconciled to God only through his “death” (the atonement for sin), and we are presented “holy and unblameable and unreproveable” when we belong to Him through rebirth. It has nothing to do with works, rituals, or mystical experiences. It is Christ’s life in the converted believer that transforms him.8
What Christians need is not a method or program or ritual or practice that will supposedly connect them to God. What we need is to be “in Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:30) and Christ in us. And He has promised His Spirit “will guide [us] into all truth” (John 16:13).
In Colossians 1:9, the apostle Paul tells the saints that he was praying for them that they “might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.” He was praying that they would have discernment (“spiritual understanding”). He said that God, the Father, has made us “partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light” (vs 12) and had “delivered us from the power of darkness [i.e., power of deception]” (vs. 13). But what was the key to having this wisdom and spiritual understanding and being delivered from the power of darkness? Paul tells us in that same chapter. He calls it “the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints” (vs. 26). What is that mystery? Verse 27 says: “To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
For those wanting to get involved with the Spiritual Formation movement (i.e., contemplative, spiritual direction), consider the “direction” you will actually be going.
And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel. (Colossians 1:21-23)
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power. (Colossians 2: 8-10)
To order copies of Is Your Church Doing Spiritual Formation? (Important Reasons Why They Shouldn’t), click here.
1. Dallas Willard, “Spiritual Formation: What it is, and How it is Done” (http://www.dwillard.org/articles/artview.asp?artID=58).
2. Larry DeBruyn, “The Practice of His Presence” (http://herescope.blogspot.com/2013/12/the-present-of-his-presence.html).
3. Donald Whitney, “Doctrine and Devotion: A Reunion Devoutly to be Desired” (http://web.archive.org/web/20080828052145/http://biblicalspirituality.org/devotion.html).
4. Chuck Swindoll, So You Want to Be Like Christ: 8 Essential Disciplines to Get You There (Nashville, TN:W Publishing Group, a div. of Thomas Nelson, 2005), p. 15.
5. Ibid., p. 13.
6. Ibid., p. 55.
8. Roger Oakland, Faith Undone, op. cit., pp. 91-92.
This has been an extract from our booklet Is Your Church Doing Spiritual Formation? (Important Reasons Why They Shouldn’t). To order this booklet, click here.
By Heather Clark
Christian News Network
DES MOINES, Iowa — A legal challenge that had been filed against the Iowa Human Rights Commission over its interpretation of local laws pertaining to gender identity has been dropped after a federal judge noted that churches are not generally considered places of public accommodation by the courts.
“This lawsuit was necessary to ensure that the state won’t try to enforce the law against churches, and we’re pleased that Iowa churches now have the reassurance and clarity that they need,” said Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) Legal Counsel Christiana Holcomb in a statement.
U.S. District Judge Stephanie Rose responded to motions from both sides of the case on Oct. 14, denying the Commission’s motion to dismiss the suit, while also denying the Fort Des Moines Church of Christ’s (FDMCC) request for an injunction. Click here to continue reading.
Dear Lighthouse Trails:
I would like to say a few things to each and everyone of you at Lighthouse Trails to include all the authors, your speakers, ect. My husband and I have been reading your articles, buying your books, to include videos for around 6 years and we can’t begin to tell you how much we appreciate and thank you for all that you’re doing for giving out all the warnings concerning the apostasy that’s going on in so very many churches. One of your books—The Light That Was Dark by Warren B. Smith, was a book we passed on to a dear friend of ours that she said opened her eyes because she was in the New Age movement/occult, and she didn’t realize it—but of course, the Holy Spirit did the convicting.
There’s so many other books we ordered and read that were real eye-openers to us. Out of India by Caryl Matrisciana was another excellent book that we passed on to someone else. I could write 15-20 pages and say much more.
God Bless each of you for all articles, books, and DVDs, for all that you do for the Lord. You sound out all the warnings constantly!
If only many pastors would do the same, because, so many pastors as well as Christians are spiritually blinded. My prayer is that all their eyes are opened before it’s too late. We don’t know when our Lord is coming but all the signs are here today that His coming could be at any moment. And Oh, how I can’t wait to see HIM!
God Bless You All,
PS. My dear friend repented of the New Age/occult that she was in and she is now in Heaven with the Lord. Glory to God!
Letter to the Editor from an Assemblies of God Pastor: How God Sent Ray Yungen Who “Radically Altered the Path of Our Ministry”
LTRP Note: We are posting this, not just as a tribute to Ray but even more so to help Christian pastors and leaders consider taking a closer look at how they are operating their ministries and churches and ask themselves if they are truly preaching “Christ crucified” or are they following after programs made by men.
Dear Lighthouse Trails:
I don’t remember the exact date, but sometime in early 2011, we were watching “Frances and Friends” on TV over the Son Life Broadcasting network. We weren’t fans of the Jimmy Swaggart Ministries and taking the time to watch one of their programs was not something that was planned on our part. But, God had a plan. Anyhow, as we tuned in to that program, the guest speaker being interviewed by Frances Swaggart over the telephone was Warren Smith. We had never heard of this man but what caught our attention was his comments about Rick Warren and the “Purpose Drive Church” ministry model. In as much as we pastor an Assemblies of God church, and, at that time, were avid disciples or Rick Warren, I stopped to listen to what Warren was saying about Rick Warren. Rick Warren was (and still is) promoted heavily by the Assemblies of God as the “new” ministry model to follow. But what Warren Smith had to say about the Purpose Driven Church and the Purpose Drive Life stopped me dead in my tracks. When that program was over, my wife and I sat there stunned. We had been following Rick Warren’s ministry for approximately 13 years and never had any inclination that it was NOT what we should be doing in our ministry.
I sent an e-mail to Warren Smith that day (or the next) telling him how very much we had appreciated his courage and his willingness to come on national TV and denounce the Purpose Driven Church model. What we learned that day through Warren was shocking, but we felt the peace of God as to what we were learning. In that e-mail I mentioned to Warren that we were now re-examining our promoting the PDC model. Bro. Warren called me on the phone the day after he received my e-mail which was quite a shock to me that he would take the time to do that. But Warren asked me if I would permit him to put me in contact with a man he considered a mentor and who lived in Salem, Oregon which is about 3 hours away. He said that his name was Ray Yungen. I said that would be fine, and he gave me Ray’s phone number.
Still reeling from what I had just learned from Warren about Rick Warren, I decided not to call Ray. But not making that phone call to Ray right away kept nagging at me. I truly believe that this “nagging feeling” was actually the Holy Spirit exhorting me to call him. So, after about two weeks of putting it off, I relented and called Ray. When Ray answered his phone and I told him my name, he said immediately, “Well, it’s about time. I didn’t think you were going to call.” After a few moments of talking to Ray, he asked if he could come to our town and visit with me and share some information he believed would be very helpful to our ministry.
Well, Ray arrived, and he, my wife, and myself sat down, and Ray began to talk about such things as contemplative spirituality, the New Age movement in the church, soaking prayer, centering prayer, and all manner of related things that were taking place in the church world and being endorsed by noted leaders in Christianity. These were things we had never heard about from anyone at anytime. After listening to Ray for 5 ½ hours, my wife and I looked at each other with stunned amazement at what this man had just told us. He talked to us quietly and supported his claims thoroughly. I looked at Ray and said, “Ray, listening to everything you just said is a little bit like trying to get a drink of water out of fire hydrant.” Following that conversation, we walked back to my church office with Ray still talking, and when he walked into my office, he immediately perused my library. He asked my permission to take a closer look, and he began to pull out select books that I had. One by one, Ray pointed out individuals who were involved in what he had just discussed with my wife and I. People like, Tony Campolo, Richard Foster, Leonard Sweet, Joyce Meyer, and, of course, Rick Warren and others.
One item Ray spent some time looking at was something called “We Build People” which was a “discipleship” program put together by the General Council of the Assemblies of God under the direction of Rick Warren and his staff from Saddleback. The AG had asked Mr. Warren to come back to the Springfield, MO offices and help them develop this program but with a Pentecostal slant. The end result was “We Build People.” Ray pointed out that this program was endorsed by people like Richard Foster, et al.
With all of the above being said, my wife and I know that the Lord used Warren Smith to put us in contact with this wonderfully quiet, gentle, and godly man by the name of Ray Yungen who was guided by the Holy Spirit to completely and radically alter the path of our ministry and begin to preach Christ and Him crucified. Over the few years that we have known Ray, we have been continually fed through his research and his writings which have been a continual source of comfort and enlightenment.
If anyone asks me if I could name two people who have impacted life and ministry in a dramatic way, there is no doubt as to who those two would be – Ray Yungen and Warren Smith. Thank the Lord for their faithfulness.
Our hearts are deeply saddened with the passing of Ray, and we will be forever grateful for his ministry which, in our case, was life changing. Our ministry will never be the same. We look forward to the day when we will see him once again and rejoice with Him in the presence of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
In His Service,
Larry and Carol
InterVarsity Comes Under Heat for Trying to Make a Stand Against Same-Sex Marriage – But Straddling the Fence is Hard to Do
InterVarsity Christian Fellowship has come under public heat because it recently announced they were giving an ultimatum to employees who saw nothing wrong with same-sex (homosexual) marriage. In a Charisma magazine article (we are not endorsing Charisma), the author states:
InterVarsity Christian Fellowship is one of the leading campus ministries, and its publishing arm, InterVarsity Press, is one of the top Christian publishers. But this fine ministry is learning the hard way that, when it comes to homosexuality, you cannot straddle the fence.1
The reason the Charisma writer says “straddle the fence” is because InterVarsity Press has been publishing emergent, contemplative, New Age/New Spirituality authors for a long time, and mixing truth with error has finally caught up with them. The Charisma article reveals more:
As Jonathan Merritt reports on the Religion News Service, “40 authors in InterVarsity’s publishing house stable including Shane Claiborne, David Dark, Christena Cleveland, Ian Morgan Cron, and Chris Heuertz are calling on IVCF head Tom Lin to immediately replace the policy with one that makes space for opposing views. The letter indicates that the signers ‘do not all share the same theological or political views’ but ‘are united in our concern for the dignity and care of our fellow Christians whose jobs are threatened by your policy.'”
You may recall articles Lighthouse Trails has written about Shane Claiborne and Ian Morgan Cron. Both very emergent, to say the least. Just to give you a little sampling of the beliefs of authors InterVarsity has been publishing, read this quote by Ian Morgan Cron:
I grew up a Roman Catholic and later became an Anglican priest (it was the closest I could get to being a Catholic priest without having to “swim the Tiber”) so there’s definitely a weird brew of influences floating around the community. I’m presently studying spiritual direction and contemplative spirituality at the Shalem Institute and beginning next year in a doctoral program at Fordham University (The Jesuit University of New York) so the voices of Merton, Rahner, Ignatius, St Francis, Teresa of Avila, Evelyn Underhill and other contemplatives find their way into our ministries and preaching as well. (source)
If you have been reading Lighthouse Trails for any amount of time, you will probably be familiar with the interspiritual Shalem Institute and that list of names mentioned above by Morgan Cron. That quote by him was said in an online interview as you can read about in a Lighthouse Trails 2013 article where we discussed our concerns about Ian Morgan Cron speaking at a Nazarene university. We stated in that article:
Lest one think that the Nazarenes stand alone in embracing Cron, just take a look at Cron’s speaking schedule. Places he will be speaking (or has spoken) at include: World Vision, Willow Creek, Denver Seminary, Family Fest with the Gaithers, the Dove Awards, Renovare, C3 Conference with Philip Yancey, the Calvinist Crossroads Community Church in MD, Texas Christian University, Catalyst Conference with Andy Stanley, and Worship Leaders Conference with James McDonald and Saddleback pastor Buddy Owens.
Ian Morgan Cron is a New Age/New Spirituality “Christian” as his writings clearly prove. Shane Claiborne, mentored by socialist liberal evangelical Tony Campolo, is in the same camp. A few other InterVarsity New Spirituality (contemplative, interspiritual, ecumenical, and emergent) authors are Dan Allender (a favorite for Moody Radio), Fil Anderson (Running on Empty), Lynne Babb, Ruth Haley Barton, Richard Foster’s colleague (part of Renovare) Gayle Beebe, Buddhist-sympathizer & Catholic Peter Kreeft, Calvin Miller (who admires Virgin-birth and Son of God denier Marcus Borg), Kenneth Boa, Gregory Boyd, and a name just as disconcerting as Ian Morgan Cron, Adele Ahlberg Calhoun (promotes all kinds of mystical practices and people in her book Spiritual Disciplines Handbook), and Julie Cameron (author of The Artist’s Way discussed in A Time of Departing by Ray Yungen because of her mystical propensities). Frankly, this list would have to go on for several more paragraphs just to name all the InterVarsity authors who fall in a similar category as Ian Morgan Cron.
No wonder so many within the ranks of the InterVarsity author-machine are speaking against their homosexual ultimatum. (For the purposes of this article, remember the connection there is between emergent/contemplative thinking and a laxed view on homosexuality.) The Trojan horse has entered Christian publishing, and the enemy is now within the walls. Maybe it’s time that InterVarsity wakes up, repents, and starts seeking after biblical integrity in what they are publishing and promoting. It’s a little ludicrous for them to think they can spend years publishing liberal, socialistic, New Age, mystical contemplative authors and then scratch their heads in wonder when these same authors challenge them for trying to be biblical when it comes to issues such as homosexuality. As we’ve said so many times before, straddling the fence is not an easy thing to do, and in today’s mixed up immoral society—a society which is going after Christians who try to stand for what is right—straddling the fence for Christians is almost impossible to maintain. Hopefully, InterVarsity Press will figure this out before they lose altogether under the pressure. It will be interesting to see what their next move is. One thing is for sure, they won’t be alone. Countless Christian publishers, ministries, churches, and leaders are straddling the same fence, and their day of reckoning is coming too.
Bible society debates exhibit ban for InterVarsity Press
Lighthouse Trails editors have put together a video tribute of our author Ray Yungen, who passed away on October 16th. We hope you enjoy watching this 8 minute presentation. The music featured is by Trevor Baker, Buck Storm, and James Sundquist (all used with permission – thank you guys!).