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Hundreds of Protestant Scholars and Pastors Sign “Reforming Catholic Confession,” But Can the Church Trust This Document?

Hundreds of Protestant and evangelical scholars, pastors, and theologians have signed a document called “Reforming Catholic Confession”  to mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, which will be commemorated on October 31, 2017. According to Dr. Timothy George, dean of Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Alabama, who co-chaired the Confession’s steering committee, “a significant motivating factor of the Confession’s participants is to call the Church to spiritual renewal.”1 In reviewing the “Reforming Catholic Confession” and the signatories, Lighthouse Trails has observed a few things, which lead us to ask, “Can the church trust the “Reforming Catholic Confession”?

To begin with, the majority of the hundreds of initial signatories either promote the contemplative prayer movement (a movement that has its roots in Catholic mysticism and panentheism and is drawing Protestants in that direction) directly themselves or represent institutions or denominations that do.

This promotion of contemplative spirituality includes the Confession’s co-chair, Dr. Timothy George.  For example, in a 2014 article titled “Not Just For Catholics”  on Beeson Divinity School’s website, written by George, he expresses his admiration for Catholic practices such as the contemplative Lectio Divina. George is also the general editor for a series called the Reformation Commentary on Scripture (published by InterVarsity Press) that boasts of including Catholic writers in its collection of commentaries. While the “Reforming Catholic Confession” claims to be trying to strengthen the Protestant church and its unique mission separated from the Catholic Church, how can we trust a document whose co-chairman does not even understand the serious reasons Christians must be separated from the Roman Catholic Church? We know Timothy George cannot understand this for if he did, he would certainly not, as the general editor, allow the writings of Catholic writers in a commentary series on Scripture. On the Beeson Divinity School website, George is described as  “active in Evangelical–Roman Catholic Church dialogue.”

Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), is another signatory of the “Reforming Catholic Confession.” Anderson was a pioneer of the emerging church movement as described in Roger Oakland’s book Faith Undone, which quotes Anderson saying he is hoping for a paradigm shift within the church:

The only way to cope and be effective during this period of structural change in society is to change some of the ways we view our world and the church. It is what some call a paradigm shift—a new way of looking at something. Such a shift will allow us to view our changing world with new perspective. It is like a map. Old maps from 1950 may have sufficed before the construction of interstate highways and the expansion of major cities, but new maps are needed now. Likewise, we need a paradigm shift for the future.2 (emphasis added)

It was Leith Anderson, Rick Warren, and Bill Hybels who were instrumental in helping Bob Buford (under the inspiration of Peter Drucker) launch the emergent church (then called Terra Nova) around 1998 with a group of young pastors: Doug Pagitt, Dan Kimball, Mark Driscoll, and Brian McLaren. Things have never been the same since, which leads us to ask the question: Is the “Reforming Catholic Confession” (which uses the word “catholic” over 30 times) another step in this emergent paradigm shift that Leith Anderson longed for twenty years ago where “a new way of looking at something [the church]” comes into play? Those who have studied the emergent/emerging church in the scope of Scripture know it is a definite road to Rome with its ecumenical, interspiritual, and mystical elements leading the way.

Other institutions that are represented in the signatures of the “Reforming Catholic Confession” are some of the most blatant contemplative-promoting Christian colleges and universities out there. And when we say contemplative, remember, we mean on a path to Rome: Wheaton College, Fuller Theological Seminary, Biola University, Bethel College, Regent University, Asbury University, Andrews University, Denver University, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. Other schools represented in the document are also contemplative promoting: Dallas Theological Seminary, Liberty University, Moody Bible Institute, Baylor University, Cornerstone University, and Westmont College. We’ve only named a few of the institutions that are represented on the signature list that promote contemplative spirituality (i.e., the emergent church). As we stated, it is the majority of them that do.

Several denominations are also represented in the “Reforming Catholic Confession” such as the Evangelical Free Church of America (and as of more recent years is now an advocate for contemplative spirituality). And don’t think that these signatures representing these groups are insignificant non-influential back-room members. For instance, the man from the Evangelical Free Church of America who signed the document is Rev. Greg Strand whose title is the Executive Director of Theology & Credentialing for the denomination. Not to mention that the president of that denomination, Rev. Kevin Kompelien, also signed the Confession.

Dr. Timothy George, co-drafter of the ecumenical Manhattan Declaration

Worth pointing out, John Stonestreet of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview is also a signatory of the Confession. Some may remember when Chuck Colson co-authored the Manhattan Declaration in 2009. Lighthouse Trails wrote about this in our article titled “Manhattan Declaration: ‘Perhaps Millions’ Being Led Toward the New Age/New Spirituality.” Here is a statement from the Manhattan Declaration:

We are seeking to build a movement—hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of Catholic, Evangelical and Eastern Orthodox Christians who will stand together.

The connection between the Manhattan Declaration (by the way, Brian McLaren was one of the original signers too) and the “Reforming Catholic Confession” is not just that John Stonestreet is a signer. Timothy George was very involved with the Manhattan Declaration as well. He was one of the four drafters of it!

It stands to reason, based on evidence, that the “Reforming Catholic Confession” is just an extension of the Manhattan Declaration’s goal to “build a movement” of Catholics, Evangelical and Orthodox Christians “who will stand together.” It seems naïve at best, deceiving at worst, to come out with this new document and claim that it is an effort to renew the Christian church, when in fact it has all the earmarks of helping to bring the “lost brethren” back into the fold of the “Mother Church,” whether the drafters or signatories realize it or not.

The “Reforming Catholic Confession” lists several doctrinal characteristics that define Protestantism such as the Trinity, baptism, the virgin birth, the deity of Christ (all of which, incidentally, the Catholic Church would say they believe in too). When it came to the category “the Lord’s Supper,” there was quite a bit of wordage, but the words “do this in remembrance” were not used while the words “the faithful” (the Catholic Church’s name for practicing Catholics) was used twice in that section. This may seem like a moot point to those who may not understand the significant difference between the Catholic Mass with the sacrament of the Eucharist and the Protestant “Lord’s supper” (i.e., communion service), which in Scripture Christians are instructed to “do this in remembrance” of Jesus Christ. We find it troubling that the “Reforming Catholic Confession” presented a vague and obscure description of this practice that has so separated Roman Catholicism from biblical Christianity for so many centuries that those who opposed the idea that Jesus was actually in a wafer were burned at the stake by the Catholic Church (see Foxe’s Book of Martyrs for documentation on papal persecutions).3 In one section of the Confession, it states: “it is particularly to be regretted that the early Protestant Reformers were unable to achieve an altogether common mind, in particular as concerns the doctrine of the Lord’s Supper.” But the Confession, again, is vague and never truly defines the biblical practice of the Lord’s Supper.

We find it  a little unnerving when the Confession states that we should go from reformation to “reforming catholic.” Perhaps the authors of the Confession are not implying that Protestants should now call themselves by that name, but vagueness and the oft used word catholic leaves speculation to the imagination. And when the Confession states, “We believe that what unites us is far greater than what divides us,” it is reminiscent of words Pope Francis said less than 12 months ago. In an article titled “Pope Stresses to Lutherans: What Unites Us Far Greater Than What Divides Us,” the Catholic pope told the ecumenical gathering of 1000 Lutherans:

The apostle Paul tells us that, by virtue of our baptism, we all form the single Body of Christ. The various members, in fact, form one body. Therefore, we belong to each other and when one suffers, all suffer; when one rejoices, we all rejoice. We can continue trustfully on our ecumenical path, because we know that despite the many issues that still separate us, we are already united. What unites us is far greater than what divides us. (emphasis added)

According to the article, Pope Francis said,  “Lutherans and Catholics are on a journey from conflict to communion.” By the indications of the “Reforming Catholic Confession,” Lutherans may not be the only ones heading into communion with the Catholic Church.

Conclusion

If your denomination or the college that your children or grandchildren attend is represented in the list of signatories of the “Reforming Catholic Confession,” perhaps it’s time to reconsider the direction your family may be getting pulled into. Today, we are witnessing apostasy and delusion on a grand scale. To turn a blind eye to doctrines that were formerly of paramount importance and now waning to insignificance may have disastrous results.

Endnotes:

  1. https://www.christianpost.com/news/over-250-protestant-leaders-sign-reforming-catholic-confession-on-essentials-of-christian-faith-198747/page2.html.
  2. Leith Anderson, A Church for the 21st Century (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 1992), p. 17.
  3. We recommend the edition by Lighthouse Trails as many of the other editions by other publishers have removed Foxe’s writings on papal persecutions.

Other noteworthy organizations represented in the “Reforming Catholic Confession”:

Calvary Chapel Lexington Kentucky

Calvary Chapel Moreno Valley

Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Wycliffe College

Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary

Westminster Seminary

National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference

Hope College

Grace College and Seminary

The Village Church

Harvest Bible Chapel

Institute on Religion and Democracy

Reformed Theological Seminary

Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission

Houghton College

Corban University

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Letter to the Editor: Challenges in Trying To Warn Seniors in My SBC Church – Some Doing Yoga

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Dear Lighthouse Trails:

In reading your latest offering, I am agreeing with every word. I’ve received Lighthouse Trails e-newsletters for years now, but have to speak out today. I’m a senior and love working with seniors. I recently moved to ___________ and soon joined a conservative Southern Baptist church. After a few months here, I offered to help with the seniors group. God led me to start a little newsletter after only 3 months. (I have been aware of aberrant teaching in the “church” for many years now and have all the books Lighthouse Trails offers.) I felt that the time had come to begin offering some teaching since I had found out that at least 2 of the seniors were engaging in Yoga on a regular basis. I tried putting an article on Hinduism in the last newsletter, and it was rejected by the director, on no uncertain terms.

I will pray and seek God’s guidance as to how to use the information I have, but thank you so much for what you wrote in the article, “Sound the Trumpet in the Midst of Apostasy—the Enemy is in the Camp.” It only confirms what I’ve learned all along and how much danger we are in even in a church that’s totally dedicated to preaching about Jesus and His Word.

God bless you as you continue serving the Lord in truth.

Mary

Sneak Preview: Ray Yungen’s Last Book

Simple Answers by Ray YungenAs many of you know, Lighthouse Trails beloved author and co-laborer in Christ, Ray Yungen, passed away on October 16th 2016 at the age of 64 due to complications from a cancer treatment. Ray had just finished the rough draft of his book Simple Answers—Understanding the Catholic Faith: An Evangelical Primer a few months before he went to be with the Lord. After Ray’s passing, we had hoped to finish up the editing of his book by the end of 2016 but were unable to complete the project. We are happy to announce that we have finally finished the editing and endnotes of the book and will be going to press on September 18th. The official release date for the book will be October 16th 2017 to commemorate the day Ray passed from this world and into the arms of the Lord. Below is a sneak preview of the book. You may pre-order a copy now or wait until the book is released in October. Either way, we hope you will get a copy of this book as we believe it is going to be an important book that has the potential to open the eyes of many evangelicals and other Protestants who are on the road to Rome and may not even realize it. We also believe this book is written in such a way, with Ray’s conversational and gracious manner, that many Catholics will be willing to read the book as well.

During the preparation of this book, while Ray was still with us, he told the editors at Lighthouse Trails that he had wanted to write this book for many years and that he felt it was one of his most important works. Interestingly, he also told us he felt somehow that it was to be his final written work.

From Simple Answers by Ray Yungen:

The Introduction:

In 1991, an article written by ex-Catholic Mark Christensen appeared in the Jesuit publication, America, that would be seen as highly unusual for a Catholic magazine. The article was about the consternation of Catholic bishops in the United States on the massive flood of people over the prior forty years leaving the Catholic Church and embracing the evangelical view. They attributed this to the simple answers that the evangelicals had to offer regarding salvation.1

The author was commenting on a meeting that took place by Catholic bishops on how to halt the flow of Catholics into the evangelical churches. What made this article so remarkable was the candid way in which the writer explained why he had left the Catholic Church. The reasons he expressed were basically the traditional Protestant objections to the Roman Catholic faith—not so much in specific doctrinal details but in a general sense. Paraphrasing what he said, he spoke of growing up in a Catholic culture. Throughout his life, being a Catholic was central to his personal identity, and the Church was very much a part of his life. Even after leaving, he maintained a personal resonance with friends and family members still in the Catholic Church.

Despite his feelings toward certain individuals, he explained that he didn’t want to slander the Catholic Church because he had tremendous respect for some of the people in it. But, he said, “what I hear coming from the mouths of ex-Catholics as their number-one reason for leaving the Catholic Church is that they never heard the Gospel. He explained it this way:

“Dearly loved family and friends, that is why I left and why I think most leave the Catholic Church for Evangelicalism. . . . We left because we met Jesus Christ, and He changed our lives. And He changed our lives in a way we never knew in the Catholic Church. . . . Millions of other former Catholics beside myself couldn’t hear this Gospel within the Catholic Church.”2

At the end of the article, he urged the bishops to examine the evidence regarding the charges he made and ask the question why all these once devoted members had to “go elsewhere to find their spiritual food.”

As I said, it was astounding to read this article in a Catholic magazine. There was no Church response trying to refute him. There was no defense. In essence, it was just a plain indictment as to what the Catholic Church does teach regarding salvation. Perhaps because the magazine is a Jesuit publication and the Jesuits are known for being the intellectuals of the Catholic Church, the publishers thought it was intellectually healthy to air opposition. Or maybe they were so sure of themselves that the Catholic Church is the “one true church” that nothing anyone says could dissuade them from this confidence. Perhaps they thought the article could serve as some food for remedial thought in bringing the flock back into the fold. But regardless, the controversy that was brought out is that the evangelicals were luring Catholics away with simple answers to salvation.

In this book, Simple Answers, I will attempt to bring out the spiritual dynamics of these two different systems and how they stack up with each other from a biblical point of view. Of course, there are many books written by Catholic apologists that attempt to show that the Catholic Church is rooted firmly in Scripture. I will use some of these books in the controversy we are going to examine.

The evangelical church is at a crucial point in its history, and many in that camp are at a present-day crossroad that is drawing them to the practices (and ultimately membership) of the Catholic Church. There are many voices crying out for a dramatic change in the way evangelicals have traditionally viewed Catholicism; these voices are taking the church in a radically different direction. But when we discover the simple answers to the questions being asked about salvation and the Christian walk,  it becomes clear that this paradigm shift in the evangelical church is fitting in with Bible prophecy.

Endnotes:

1. Mark Christensen, “Coming to Grips with Losses—The Migration of Catholics into Conservative Protestantism” (America: The Jesuit Review, January 26, 1991), pp. 58-59.
2. Ibid.

ORDER YOUR COPY TODAY

Table of Contents

Introduction
1/A New Openness
2/“The Work of Our Redemption”
3/Mortal Sin vs. Assurance of Salvation
4/Purgatory
5/Our Lady
6/The Papacy
7/Summing Up
8/Learning From Rome
9/Conclusion
Appendix 1: The New Evangelization from Rome or Finding the True Jesus Christ (Roger Oakland)
Appendix 2: My Journey Out of Catholicism (David Dombrowski)
Endnotes
Index

BOOK INFORMATION:
160 pages
ISBN: 978-1-942423-11-9
Retail Price: $12.95 | Quantity discounts available
ORDER YOUR COPY

Letter to the Editor: The Sheepdog Guarding the Sheep

Sheepdog guarding the sheep

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Dear Lighthouse Trails Editors:

I found that the function of the sheepdog is analogous to the call of Christians to exercise discernment.  Those of you who might work on farms are quite familiar with the functions of the sheepdog in guarding the sheep, I presume.  When these animals see danger, they bark to alert the shepherds and the sheep about the wolves coming their way.

In a similar way, I believe that Lighthouse Trails is called to check out what’s going on and alert the rest of us to the dangers of end times apostasy.  Also, I believe that local churches should have individuals that will test everything and sound an alarm to the pastors when necessary, especially when false teaching comes in.  Keep up the good work.

God bless.

Ron D.

Related Information:

Three Vital Questions to Navigating Discernment

A Rose By Any Other Name OR A Deception By Any Other Name – It’s All the Same

Dear Lighthouse Trails:

This is from a circulating email from Prairie [formerly Prairie Bible Institute or PBI in Three Hills Alberta].

It sounds so good, but I suspect it is dangerous.

S. ____

Email Our Reader Received from Prairie:

What’s NEW for our upcoming year
New Student Orientation begins tomorrow! This time of year campus is filled with a joyful buzz. As we begin the 2017/2018 school year, we have a lot to be thankful for and want to share what is new at Prairie.

LAUNCHING NEW CHRISTIAN FORMATION PROGRAM
Centered on keeping company with Jesus and being reshaped by his Spirit, students in the Christian Formation program will become more deeply rooted in the Scriptures and the process of discipleship. We will celebrate the launch of this program on September 15, 2017.

Online: http://prairie.edu/Bible-College/Christian-Formation

Comments by Lighthouse Trails:

Lighthouse Trails has researched and reported on Prairie Bible Institute a number of times over the past several years (e.g. our article: “COLLEGE ALERT: Letters to Lighthouse Trails Prove Prairie Bible Institute (Alberta) Has Gone Emergent”) And even though school leadership has, at times, insisted they were not contemplative or emergent, every time we have observed them, we have come to the same conclusion – that’s exactly what they are.

“Christian Formation” is just another term for Spiritual Formation or Spirituality. It is rooted in contemplative spirituality. In Prairie’s description for the Christian Formation program, it says students will: “Engage with Christians of the past that have thought deeply about Christian growth and formation” (emphasis added). Which Christians of the past? (Or the present?)

We can gain some insight into who PBI is turning to for spiritual guidance by looking at PBI’s current textbook list for 2017. These may or may not be books being used in PBI’s Christian Formation program, but they are books being used in the school. One thing we’ve learned over the years, when  a school is immersed in contemplative spirituality, it isn’t just in the Spiritual Formation program; rather, it is integrated throughout the school.

We would consider all of these authors as part of the emergent church and/or outside the scope of biblical Christianity.

This Day: Collected and New Sabbath Poems by Wendell Berry

The Transforming Friendship by James Houston and Dallas Willard

Lifesigns : Intimacy, Fecundity, and Ecstasy in Christian Perspective by Henri Nouwen

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek – Annie Dillard

The Secret : What Great Leaders Know and Do by Ken Blanchard

The Pastor: A Memoir by Eugene Peterson

Communicating for a Change: Seven Keys to Irresistible Communication by Andy Stanley

Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas (references about a dozen times a tantric sex author)

Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster

Taking Your Soul to Work (foreword by Eugene Peterson)

Being Well When We are Ill: Wholeness And Hope In Spite Of Infirmity (Living Well) by Marva Dawn

The Core Realities of Youth Ministry by Mike Yaconelli

Youth Ministry 3.0: A Manifesto of Where We’ve Been, Where We Are and Where We Need to Go by Mark Oestreicher (Marko – former Youth Specialties president)

If you are not familiar with these names, you can do a search on our research site and find information.

 

 

Sound the Trumpet in the Midst of Apostasy – The Enemy is in the Camp

By David Dombrowski
Lighthouse Trails Editor

Over the past decade and a half, we have watched with a mixture of surprise and sadness at how an apostate church has materialized before our eyes. It all began for us here at Lighthouse Trails when we met Ray Yungen in 2000. Though we were not publishers back then, he shared with us his manuscript for  A Time of Departing, which spoke of a coming apostasy in the form of mystical practices and “spiritual disciplines.” Stirred by the content of that book, we agreed to help him find a publisher. But, at the time, we never imagined how relevant and prophetic that book would be nor how quickly this apostasy would flourish in the mainstream churches. Today, it is even difficult to find a church that has not been compromised by some form of eastern-style mystical practice or emerging church philosophy. Now e-mails and letters pour into our office telling how readers who either just discovered us or were at one time skeptical of our warnings are now shocked to see that these things have entered their churches.

How did all this happen, and how did it happen so quickly? We think this can partly be explained by what we discovered years ago. After meeting with Ray, we felt compelled to help him find a publisher for his book, but after contacting a number of Christian publishing houses, we soon learned that they were only looking for books that could sell well—and that meant books considered non-controversial and by well-known authors. At that point, we prayerfully decided to start our own publishing house. But just the lack of interest that we saw in the publishers was indicative of what was to happen in the church.

Whether we realize it or not, there is tremendous spiritual warfare taking place in our world today. In numerous instances, we are hearing stories of young people going to Christian colleges only to have their spiritual lives shipwrecked. They may have been safer in secular colleges. At the same time, we know of countless numbers of Christians who have no church to go to because the ones that are available have abandoned the simplicity of the Gospel for a universal emerging “spirituality.” These believers are now witnessing the apostasy and are looking to ministries like ours for encouragement and help. In many cases, the only encouragement we can offer these people is to assure them that they are not alone in what they see.

As singer/songwriter Trevor Baker sings in his song The Lonely Road, committed Christians may have to endure much loneliness or isolation in the future for lack of genuine fellowship.

Please remember that while Jesus said we cannot know the day or the hour of His return, He also instructed us to observe the seasons. In saying this, Jesus was sharing a principle that is both profound and very simple:

 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; when his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. (Matthew 24: 32-33)

In other words, Jesus was saying that various things must occur before He returns, and when they do occur, we can know that His coming is near. Today, the stage is being set for the fulfillment of these events described in Matthew 24, and in fact, things are moving at a highly accelerated rate. While the church has slept, tares have been sown into God’s wheat field (Matthew 13:25). The apostasy that we see in the church today is the result of Satan sowing these “tares” in the church.

As we have watched events unfold in the apostate church in recent years, it has been very sobering to see how nearly identical its intents and actions are to that of the New Age movement in moving toward a one-world global order. As you are reading this, religious leaders are shaking hands with political figures in bringing about a more highly evolved society. Alice Bailey, who had much to do with the development of the New Age movement, with all its occult practices and mysticism, predicted that this movement rather than having to move around the church would move through it. In fact, she saw the church as helping to propel the world into this higher level of consciousness.1 Sadly, we are hearing almost daily of highly respected Christian leaders with large followings who are now embracing the writings of mystics and contemplative authors. Perhaps they do not realize that the contemplative prayer and mysticism they are now passing on to their followers is no different than the occult practices of Alice Bailey with a new twist. And as long as the name of “Jesus” is used, everything is O.K., they think.

Looking again at the fig tree, we can see that more fruit is developing and getting heavier. Also, as Rick Warren points out (and promotes), we will see a blending of religious, political, and economic forces as future events unfold. Unity will be a key to the future and will be an increasing theme as the world awaits the Antichrist. Considering that we are even now moving toward a one-world order, let us look at our fig tree whose fruit is already there and beginning to get ripe; the events we already see, only to increase, are:

The unifying of the world’s religious thought where eastern-style mystical practice to include yoga, contemplative prayer, and healing practices like Reiki are joining east with west.

The Purpose Driven P.E.A.C.E. Plan where political, economic, and religious forces are being brought together to form a unified effort.

Plans for a global currency paving the way to the use of the “mark.”

The accelerating significance of the United Nations leading toward a confederation of nations.

Increasing interest in the world finding a Christ figure who can solve the world’s economic and political problems and unite the world in peace.

Increasing moral decay throughout the world to include abortion, violence, pandemic divorce, the dissolution of the family unit, homosexuality, and pedophilia.

Increasing hatred toward born-again believers.

The growth of a spirit of Anti-Semitism throughout the world including in much of the organized Christian church today.

Increased natural disasters to include earthquakes, weather phenomena, and possible volcanic activity.

Intensifying of wars and rumors of war and man-made disasters.

Increased skepticism about the Lord’s return to include an abandonment of biblical prophecy.

The appearance of false christs culminating in the appearance of the Antichrist. As a result of mystical practices, to include contemplative prayer, people are already being conditioned to seeing themselves as having a “divine center” where the “Christ” or “I am” resides. Man has become divine.

An increasing curiosity and dependence on signs and wonders rather than the Word of God. Of special significance today are Mary apparitions and Eucharistic wonders, which point people to another Jesus of another gospel. Signs and wonders will be seen in the future as the final proof of truth holding sway over many people. This will make it possible for the Antichrist to lead the whole world in a grand delusion as he will be a master at performing signs and wonders.

Let us pause to look at our fig tree again; I see a couple more figs developing there. One of them is called “the bridgers” and the other is called “the silencers.” Unfortunately, both of these figs are growing on the same branch—and the branch has a name on it – it says, “the church.” This is odd because these two figs look putrefied, yet they are growing on a branch that looks very healthy.

You may remember a number of years ago a radio interview between LT editor Deborah Dombrowski and radio host Ingrid Schlueter. The title of this broadcast was“Beware The Bridgers: Orthodoxy Is More Than A Doctrinal Statement.”    This program talked about the emergence of what one might call a welcoming committee within the church where things God considers foul and unclean are invited in. Oddly enough, it is not the dissenters in the church who are doing this, as would have been the case fifteen or so years ago, but our pastors and Christian leaders—many of whom have had very large followings and been respected as being both conservative and of sound doctrine. But the problem is that these leaders are now gleaning from the writings of New Age, occultic, or mystical authors and quoting them to their followers, oftentimes with a word of recommendation if not persuasion to buy these writings and read them in their entirety. We won’t take time here to discuss God’s view on these things, but if you are curious, you might want to pause to look at Deuteronomy 18:9-14. The question is, why are pastors and respected Christian leaders promoting mystics and occultists? And we use the word “promoting” because this is more than the occasional slip of quoting someone for their clever or witty anecdote. These leaders are both bringing the nail and driving it in. However, in many cases these leaders are obscure as to whether they practice these things themselves; they seem content enough in bringing their followers to the bait, then leaving their followers to fend for themselves. Ingrid Schlueter coined the term “the bridgers” because these leaders in their obscurity seem quite innocent, yet due to their positions of respect and large followings, they are wittingly or unwittingly pulling large numbers of otherwise conservative followers into  a trap that these followers would  not have ventured to on their own accord. In other words, these bridgers are introducing the more conservative flock to what the Bible calls an abomination.

Then there is the other fig called “the silencers” that we looked at a moment ago, and it is getting larger. It too looks putrefied though it is on a healthy looking branch labeled “the church.” This fig represents those in the church who regard themselves as having a special corner, and almost elitist attitude, on discernment. While they proclaim their humility, they also pride themselves as having the educational credentials and biblical know-how to steer the church on a straight course. They speak of the embarrassment other ministries are to the body of Christ who are not deemed worthy to hold the compass. A case in point was brought to our attention when two men stood before an audience and proceeded to praise each other as the purveyors of sound wisdom, discernment, and biblical scholarship. Then, in turn they engaged in a joint attack of verbally punching down those they deemed unworthy of discerning the things of God. This ganged venture began when one of them made reference to “housewives and home-school moms” who have no business interfering in things they know nothing about. One referred to such women as “discernment divas” saying that their “greatest ability for [discernment] is not some rational understanding of doctrinal truths but an ability to use a really sharp tongue.”  Both men on the stage maintained that such things belong to men of wisdom, like themselves. By the way, the one who said this is said to be the “right-hand man” to one of the most popular and looked up to Christian figures today.

After the program, however, this same man, in realizing that he had put his foot in his mouth–figuratively speaking—proceeded to try to remedy the matter lest there be an influx of home-schooling moms and irate husbands knocking at the door. He attempted to remedy the matter by pointing out that he did not mean all home-schooling moms but two in particular—namely Ingrid Schlueter of Crosstalk and Lighthouse Trails Publishing’s Deborah Dombrowski.2 Hoping to put out the spot fires he started, he referred to these women as discernment divas, then proceeded to provide his own derogatory definition of the term.

We must not forget the seriousness or the ramifications of what can happen when someone who is endeavoring to help the Body of Christ is knocked down, verbally or otherwise. Again, we are in a spiritual battle—very real, with its own victories and consequences.

The fact is that the darkness hates the light, and when you bring light where there is darkness it means exposure. We live in a corrupt world where not even the organized church is willing to have the light shine in the dark corners.

But we at Lighthouse Trails were founded on the principle that there is a growing body of believers who have heard God’s heart cry to repentance. It is our belief that repentance is meant to be a part of the Christian life, and as we become aware of our imperfections we endure rather than resist God’s refining process in our lives. When John wrote his letters to the seven churches, he did it with this in mind, but history tells us not all seven of them heeded his letters.

Here at Lighthouse Trails, we have endeavored to blow the trumpet over the years, sounding the call to repentance and to a return to the sound doctrine of the Bible. But many have become annoyed with the repeated blasts of the trumpet. All we can say to this is that the time is short, and we remember the words of Jesus when he said, “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work” (John 9:4). We will continue to sound the trumpet for as long as we can while doors of opportunity are still open.

Some will say that it is better for Christians to be silent and just let God take care of things. But it is through silence that the church in America has lost so much ground. Rather than helping the process, silence accelerates the work of the enemy. It was through silence that a man called Hitler was able to come to power and murder millions of innocent people.

Keep praying and do what you can to help sound the trumpet. The enemy forces are advancing; in fact, they are within our ranks.

I set watchmen over you, saying, Hearken to the sound of the trumpet. But they said, We will not hearken. (Jeremiah 6:17)

Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. (Hebrews 3:12)

Notes:
1. See A Time of Departing for more information on Alice Bailey’s “revitalization” of the churches.
2. Though Deborah Dombrowski’s name was not mentioned, it was inferred by saying Lighthouse Trails Publishing

KIDS AT RISK: Letter to the Editor: AWANA Continuing Down the Emergent Road

Dear Lighthouse Trails:

A while back I alerted you to the fact that Awana was joining forces with Josh Griffin who was the youth pastor for Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church. Josh Griffin is also associated with Youth Specialties, an organization that promotes occult [contemplative] practices to youth.

Awana - Kids at Risk

bigstockphoto

Unfortunately, Awana is continuing down the emergent road. Here are some examples:

1. On February 22, 2017, Steve Kozak, the executive director of Awana YM, (Youth Ministries) wrote a blog post encouraging youth leaders to promote Lent. Lent is very popular among those in the emerging church. Wikipedia says “The purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer through prayer, doing penance, mortifying the flesh, repentance of sins, and self-denial.”(1) Kozak in his blog said, “Teach your students to go without, so that they can experience an overflowing of Christ.”(2) Nowhere in the Bible is the practice of Lent mentioned.

2. On April 6, 2017, Awana YM held a youth leaders round table event at Bill Hybels’ Willow Creek Community Church. Participants were Josh Griffin, Sean McDowell, Dr. Larry Acosta, Elizabeth Bjorling Prest, Steve Kozak, (Director of Awana Youth Ministries) and Ryan Guard, (Director of Student Impact at Willow Creek Community Church.)(3)

3. Awana is promoting several books that they feel youth group leaders should be reading. The following books are a compilation from two different blog posts. I am not familiar with all the authors, but I know many of these authors to be troubling.

The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen [recommended by Sean McDowell]
The Celtic Way of Evangelism by George G. Hunter
The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard
Bloom Where You’re Planted by H.B. London
Purpose Driven Youth Ministry by Doug Fields with a forward by Rick Warren, published by Youth Specialties/Zondervan
Your First Two Years In Youth Ministry By Doug Fields, published by Youth Specialties/Zondervan
Sustainable Youth Ministry by Mark Devries
Sticky Faith by Kara E. Powell, (Who spoke at the Youth Specialties National Convention) and co-authored by Chap Clark
Growing Young by Kara E. Powell, Jake Mulder and Brad Griffin
Leading With a Limp by Dan Allender
St. Augustine’s City of God (St. Augustine is very popular in the Emerging Church Movement)
Christian Origins of the Question of God (4 Volumes by N.T. Wright
The Holy Wild by Mark Buchanan(4)

Sincerely, L.F.

Footnotes:
1. Lent- Wikipedia: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lent
2. Awana YM Lent: More Than Giving Up by Steve Kozak, February 22,2017 https://awanaym.org/blog/lent-more-than-giving-up
3. Awana YM
https://awanaym.org/events/youth-leaders-round-table-4-6-2017
4. Awana YM
(1)Books Youth Leaders Should Be Reading
April 7,2017; https://awanaym.org/blog/5-books-youth-leaders-should-be-reading

(2)Must Have Books For Every Youth Leader by Steve Kozak July 20,1017
https://awanaym.org/blog/6-must-have-books-for-every-youth-leader

Related Information:

Letter to the Editor: AWANA Now Teaching Children to Hear the Voice of God

A History of AWANA’s Contemplative Track Record and the Implications of Their New CEO

Revisting Awana’s Move Toward Contemplative – And Another Look at “Perspectives on Children’s Spiritual Formation


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