“Are you looking for reliable, Christ-centered information and healing that is safe, affordable and that really does work? Are you sick & tired of being sick & tired? Are you a healer or are you searching for effective healing that is Christ-centered? You have found your tribe.”
So says Tammy Anderson Ward, President of Hope Haven Events, who presents the “Christ-Centered Energy Healing Conferences.” If Christ-centered energy healing sounds like an oxymoron, that’s because it is. And all one needs to do is cruise around on the website to see that the nature of these conferences is blatantly New Age. But we’ll get to that in a little bit. The group is reaching out to a broad audience and is being billed as “the world’s largest Christ-centered energy healing conference;” but what caught the attention of Lighthouse Trails and author Ray Yungen more than anything is that they are reaching out to homeschool kids and parents, a traditionally conservative segment of the population.
It’s understandable that Tammy Anderson Ward is trying to reach homeschool families, she is a homeschool mom who has eight children, and we don’t doubt that she loves her children very much and seems to be a person of good will. But when you hear what these events are promoting, we think you will agree that this should NOT be called “Christ Centered.”
In the video below, Tammy Anderson Ward explains how her family got involved with energy healing.
What is energy healing? For those of you reading this who have been reading material from Lighthouse Trails for some time, you know that energy healing is supernatural in nature and is generally connected with an occultic worldview. In Ray Yungen’s booklet titled The Truth About Energy Healing, he explains how energy healing is tied in with the chakras, which are said to be “energy centers” or “spinning balls of psychic energy.” The chakras are the basis for energy healing. The energy healer places his or her hands on or over (touch is not necessary) the patient, and this energy is transferred from the practitioner to the patient. It is believed by energy healers that the chi energy connects everything together. This may sound like science fiction or something completely surreal, but after years of study and research, Ray Yungen has come to the conclusion that this transferred energy is demonic because of the underlying belief that God is in all things and man is divine. There are many theologians in the church who would agree with his assessment.
Evangelical Christianity has always presented healing in a religious sense (i.e., we pray to God and ask Him to heal with His power, not a power within ourselves that we learn to manipulate and utilize). New Age healing is always presented in a therapeutic context. In other words, it’s something you tap into or learn to do (which explains the need for conferences – you have to go there and learn to do it). Some may be thinking right now that perhaps Tammy Anderson Ward is merely calling her techniques energy healing but does not bring chakras into the picture. A study of speakers she invites to her conferences throws that assumption out the window. On the Christ Centered Energy Healing store site, there is a section selling products from past conferences. Here are some of the titles: Chakras and the Armor of God, Chakras: Know Your Energy Centers, The Spirit of the Chakras, Are Chi and Chakras for Christians? (no doubt, this speaker says yes), and Energy Healing: Dance to Heal Your Chakras. If you feel like you have just been read a list of New Age titles, we hope this news article we are writing will deeply concern you.
This past March, Hope Haven held a “Christ Centered Energy Healing” conference in Mesa, Arizona. Some of the seminars that were offered were: Creating Health: The New Era, Healing Games to Play With Your Children, Crystal Connections: Another of Heaven’s Tools, Group Energy Healing, The Peace & Power of BE-ing Present, and Sailing into the 5th Dimension, Gracefully. By the way, the 5th dimension is referring to the altered state of consciousness reached during deep meditation. Sheena Davis, one of the presenters at March’s conference, taught a workshop called Healing Methods for everyone. The website describes the class:
In the following YouTube video, you can learn more about Reiki (one of the more popular forms of energy healing):
Spiritual Formation Leader, Larry Crabb, Says “The greatest need in modern civilization is the development of communities.”
Larry Crabb’s recent remarks perfectly illustrate the “fruit” of contemplative spirituality – a move away from the Gospel and personal salvation through Jesus Christ and a move toward an emerging, ecumenical all-paths-lead-to-God kind of mentality. Where did Christ or the disciples ever say man’s greatest need in in the development of communities?
The Greatest Need In Modern Civilization | Larry Crabb’s New Way Ministries Blog
“The crisis of care in modern culture, especially in the Western church, will not be resolved by training more therapists….It will be worsened by moralists who never reach deeply into the hearts of people in their efforts to impose their standards of behavior on others, even when those standards are biblical.
The greatest need in modern civilization is the development of communities—true communities where the heart of God is home, where the humble and wise learn to shepherd those on the path behind them, where trusting strugglers lock arms with others as together they journey on.” – Dr. Larry Crabb, Connecting, Introduction pg xvi-xvii
Quotes by Larry Crabb:
I’ve practiced centering prayer. I’ve contemplatively prayed. I’ve prayed liturgically . . . I’ve benefited from each, and I still do. In ways you’ll see, elements of each style are still with me.—Larry Crabb in The Papa Prayer, p.9
I’m glad that as a conservative evangelical who still believes in biblical inerrancy and penal substitution, I’ve gotten over my Catholic phobia, and I’ve been studying contemplative prayer, practicing lectio divina, valuing monastic retreats, and worshipping through ancient liturgy. I appreciate Bernard of Clairvaux’s provocative insights. I’m drawn to Brother Lawrence’s profoundly simple ways to practice God’s presence. I’m intrigued and enticed by Julian of Norwich’s mysterious appearings of Jesus.—Larry Crabb, Real Church, p. 41
Quote by Roger Oakland:
This togetherness/community mindset is the same message that [occultist] Alice Bailey referred to as “right human relations” and the same one the emerging church hopes to convey to the people of the world. A personal, individual relationship with Christ is considered self-centered,6 because it doesn’t focus on the global, common good. Communal spirituality is seen as the only path to the world’s survival. Listen to today’s new reformation thinkers:
“The church is only an anticipation of the full, promised community of the whole world … the church itself is not a goal of God’s creation.”—Walter Brueggemann, An Emergent Manifesto of Hope, p. 311.
“The Church, in all its expressions—Catholic, Evangelical, Pentecostal, Protestant and many others—has 2.3 billion followers.… Let’s use the grassroots network that is already on the ground. It’s time to lay aside our prejudices and work together”—Rick Warren, “The Power of Parishioners” (Forbes magazine, May 7, 2007, http://www.forbes.com).
“We are emerging into a new era of Christian faith as a “living color” global community. … It is immediately clear that this kind of emergence must lead to a convergence … a kind of relationship that has never before existed.”—Brian McLaren, An Emergent Manifesto of Hope, p. 149.
Unfortunately, the “global community” so often spoken of in the emerging church camp is disguised language for a world-wide religious body that incorporates all belief systems. As [New Age leader] Neale Donald Walsch said, it’s a “global movement … which makes no one else wrong for the way in which they are doing it.” (from Faith Undone)
Quote by Lighthouse Trails and Ray Yungen:
Perhaps one of the most sure-tell indicators of where Larry Crabb’s spiritual sympathies lie . . . can be found in a book Crabb wrote the foreword to. The book, Sacred Companions (written by David Benner), heartily recommends a plethora of contemplative mystics: Thomas Keating, Henri Nouwen, Basil Pennington, Richard Foster, John of the Cross, Gerald May, John Main, Thomas Merton, Richard Rohr, Alan Jones and several others. Many of these are panentheistic (God is in all), universalist (all are saved), and interspiritual (all paths lead to God). Ray Yungen talked about Benner’s book in the first edition of A Time of Departing. Yungen stated: “[C]ontemplative prayer stands on the threshold of exploding worldwide. Dr. Larry Crabb . . . has written the foreword to a book [Spiritual Companions] that expounds on the future of spiritual direction in the evangelical church. . . . It is safe to assume then that we are looking at a contemplative approach. With that in mind, Dr. Crabb predicted [in Sacred Companions]: ‘The spiritual climate is ripe. Jesus seekers across the world are being prepared to abandon the old way of the written code for the new way of the Spirit.’” (ATOD, 1st ed., p. 137)
A Christianity Today article, “Got Your Spiritual Director Yet?,” confirmed two things, one that spiritual direction is contemplative, and two that it is on its way to becoming an integral part of evangelical Christianity. The article explains that popular Christian author Larry Crabb changed his views and went from psychology thinking to “spiritual direction.”
PRAYER REQUEST: Many of you know retired pastor Larry DeBruyn as he has written countless articles over the years warning about spiritual deception in the church, and Lighthouse Trails has posted many of these articles. This week, we learned that Larry has just been diagnosed with Stage 3 Multiple Myeloma and is in serious condition.
Larry will be undergoing various treatments, including some very powerful nutritional I.V. treatments, his wife told us today. Please pray for Larry. We know each of our lives, as believers in Christ, is in God’s hands. We also know that we are told to pray for one another, and the Bible says that God is compassionate and merciful and hears our prayers. Some of you may remember praying for Larry about ten years ago when he almost died of a severe heart attack while on a ministry trip in Budapest, Hungary. Lighthouse Trails readers prayed for Larry during that time, and God restored Larry to health and service.
Please remember also to pray for Caryl Matrisiciana, another Lighthouse Trails author and co-worker in ministry, who has been fighting cancer for over a year now. We know that God can raise both of these defenders of the faith up should He choose. And we know both Larry and Caryl have put their trust and their lives in Him wholeheartedly. Our own prayer is that God would allow these two courageous believers more time to serve Him in a day and age when few voices are actively warning and writing publicly about the coming apostasy.
On a practical level, for those who would like to help either Larry or Caryl financially with the burden of their health treatments (especially the natural health ones not covered by insurance), you may reach out to Caryl by going to her website at www.caryltv.com; and for Larry, you can mail checks to Lighthouse Trails (in Larry’s name), and we will forward them (see mailing address below).
Thank you for your prayers.
You can read some of Larry’s articles on his website www.guardinghisflock.com.
IMPORTANT NOTE: New Shopping Cart Platform for Lighthouse Trails And Instructions on Changes to Logging In
Dear Lighthouse Trails reader,
For over 13 years, Lighthouse Trails has used an online-store shopping-cart platform called Miva Merchant. It worked very well for us and was quite affordable. However, over the years, Miva began increasing their prices more and more. Then about a month ago, while we were making plans to renew our yearly license with them (which was $995/year per store), we learned that their new price for non-hosted companies had gone up to $19,995.00 per year. We had received no notice of this substantial hike in fees. Needless to say, this was a shock to us and clearly out of our financial reach. Miva told us they wanted us to move over to a hosted plan, but that would be $9,000 a year. We realized then that we had to find a new shopping cart platform for both www.lighthousetrails.com and www.theshepherdsgarden.com, and we only had a few weeks before our license expired. We knew it would be a huge undertaking to find a good replacement, redesign two entire stores, and do a successful migration. We won’t pretend this didn’t put a tremendous burden upon us. We do all our own web work and have little outside web development help.
For the last three weeks, our small onsite crew has been working steadily to make this transition. We found an open-source company called Prestashop (open source means we don’t have to pay an annual fee anymore) that has an excellent reputation; we began learning how to operate the new platform and redesigned our two stores. This past Saturday, just two days before our Miva license would run out, we migrated our two stores over to the new platform. We worked with our dedicated server manager from Admin on Demand (an incredibly great company if you are looking for web hosting, dedicated server management, and high security) who did the actual migration and also with Chase’s Paymentech and Authorize.net to set up the credit-card gateway and processor for the new platform.
Today, May 2nd, the Lighthouse Trails store is in full operation (although we are still working on several aspects for overall improvement and ease for our customers). Both Chase and Authorize.net have tested the site, which has proven to be functioning properly and fully secure for credit card transactions.
Once you get familiar with the new store layout, we think you are going to find it much easier and more convenient to use.
IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT LOGGING IN: With all that said, if you are a registered customer of Lighthouse Trails store, there are some changes to how you login to the new store. You will no longer use a special login name to log in but rather will use your e-mail address. And, unfortunately, because of the secure nature of passwords, we were unable to successfully migrate over your passwords. What you will need to do is go to the login page here: https://www.lighthousetrails.com/login?back=my-account. Then, just enter your e-mail address (the one you got this e-mail with) and click where it says “Forgot Your Password.” You will then get an e-mail with instructions on how to reset your password. If you have any problems, call us at 866-876-3910, and we can assist you. Once you login to the new account, you will also be able to change your e-mail address and any other information you need to change.
If you are reading this and have never created an account at the Lighthouse Trails store, if you so desire, you may easily do so with the same link.
Keep in mind, the store account is NOT the same as the Lighthouse Trails Research e-newsletter that we e-mail out 3x a month.
Thank you for your continued interest in Lighthouse Trails.
The Editors at Lighthouse Trails
P.O. Box 908
Eureka, MT 59917
To Lighthouse Trails:
Thank you for all that you do. I would love it if you would write an article on what we can do and how we should do it to let people know what is happening in the church today. One of my questions is why are they not seeing what we are seeing? Are they not true believers? What’s the big picture here? Do you think that all these movements will eventually merge? Are we just alarmists? I have friends who are involved in either Bethel Redding or contemplative prayer. Very few seem interested or believe me when I tell them that this stuff is not biblical. Most won’t check into it, or if they do, they either don’t agree with what they read or think the website is too harsh or unloving (some websites do seem unkind in the way that they come across).
I have been admonished by a number a people that I am wrong, just want to be right, question why I am worrying about what others do, or am too extreme or pharisaical (by some believers that are far more mature and Bible literate than I am). I have been told to stop looking on the Internet because that is unreliable and have been laughed at for doing so. My former pastor even told me to stop.
My Christian friends are constantly posting on Facebook about Bethel, contemplative prayer, or blatant New Age stuff as well as Joyce Meyer, Joel Osteen, and Hillsong. Very few seem to be concerned about all the strange manifestations and theology coming out of Bethel or that contemplative prayer is not something most of us ever heard about or practiced until a few years ago, yet they are OK with it.
I just read Exodus 32 (golden calf) the other day. I was struck by the similarity between what happened then and is happening now. The people were tired of waiting for Moses to come back (Jesus to return) and made their own god. Did they think they were worshiping the God who brought them out of Egypt? Aaron had let them get out of control and so were made a laughing stock to their enemies. Do you think this could be an illustration of what is happening, or am I off base here?
Even two of our Christian radio stations are not safe anymore. Much of the music is Bethel Music , Hillsong, or like-minded groups. The Fish radio station has John Tesh, who is actually promoting eastern meditation. K-Love has Francis Anfuso from the Rock of Roseville (A Bethel-linked local church) doing daily short messages on hundreds of K-Love stations nationwide (though the messages that I have heard do seem to be biblical).
We left a church we loved two years ago when they started to embrace Bethel teachings about healings. The seemingly biblical church we are at now plays Bethel music and I believe is going to be teaching contemplative prayer soon. The pastor is preaching about silence and solitude and mentioned a quote from Henri Nouwen last week as well as spiritual formation. Several church’s we had visited it appears are now teaching contemplative prayer in classes and retreats. It would be wonderful if Roger Oakland and Warren Smith will be able to have a conference here someday, it is very needed.
NEW BOOKLET TRACT: Dear Pastor and Christian Leader: Have You Grown Careless About the Gospel? by David Dombrowski is our newest Lighthouse Trails Booklet Tract. The Booklet Tract is 10 pages long and sells for $1.95 for single copies. Quantity discounts are as much as 50% off retail. Our Booklet Tracts are designed to give away to others or for your own personal use. Below is the content of the booklet. To order copies of Dear Pastor and Christian Leader: Have You Grown Careless About the Gospel?, click here.
Dear Pastor and Christian Leader: Have You Grown Careless About the Gospel?
From the onset of Lighthouse Trails in 2002, we have always endeavored to be connected with the body of believers scattered throughout the world who are very concerned, as we are, with the state of the church today. Many of our readers have told us they feel very alone and even ostracized in witnessing the apostasy in the churches today prior to their finding our website and realizing there were other Christians who saw what they did.
We know firsthand how it feels to be labeled troublemakers for having legitimate concerns about what is happening in the church today. We too have felt disillusioned as we have witnessed a gradual departure in the churches from the Word of God. Pulpits throughout the land, many of which formerly proclaimed the biblical Gospel of God’s saving grace through the sacrifice on the Cross now espouse an assortment of pseudo-gospel, pop-psychology, seeker-friendly, Purpose-Driven, emerging, progressive, New Age, mystical/contemplative spirituality that may be chicken soup for the soul but what God calls an abomination (Deuteronomy 18:10-12). It is no wonder that God, in referring to the lukewarm, warns that He is ready to “spew thee” out of His mouth” (Revelation 3:16). How much better it would have been if churches and their pastors had stuck with John 3:16!
Out of this frog’s slow-cooking kettle, some emerged only to witness that a great many were staying in the pot. Many discerning believers now find they have become watchmen for the Lord, compelled by God to sound out a clear warning of the impending doom of the church. In fact, it appears that God is presently calling out believers from various denominations to stand up and be counted among those who refuse to comply with the compromised experience-driven Christianity of today. Yes, God is calling out His own.
If you love Jesus Christ and His Word and if you really want to serve Him, now is the time to be fully surrendered to the Lord without reservation. Whatever the cost. We are invited to the wedding feast, ready to meet our Savior, with wicks trimmed and lamps burning. Now is the time to make ready.
Nearly on a daily basis now, we witness our very earth in what seems like birth pangs— be it nuclear threat, terrorism, hurricanes, earthquakes, or tornadoes—or violence, wars and rumors of war—while most people seem almost oblivious to what is happening (or may see something is amiss but do not turn to Scripture and Bible prophecy to understand the meaning). Again, God is sounding out a warning to make ready.
Even now, while the reality of the Antichrist and a one-world global religion is looming closer and closer all the time, preachers and teachers are sitting at their desks inking out sermons that discredit Bible prophecy.
LIVING INSIDE A BUBBLE
If you are a pastor, or a church leader, remember that you have a great responsibility. When we first began Lighthouse Trails Publishing, we contacted our pastor at that time, trying to encourage him to warn his congregation of the apostasy that was beginning to creep into the church back then. His reply was that he lives inside a bubble and consequently sees no need to warn his congregation about anything as long as he keeps expounding the Word to them. Our reply to him was “you may be in a bubble, but your congregation is not.” The question is this: if it is not the pastor’s job to warn his congregation of impending spiritual danger, whose job is it? In the Old Testament, the prophets referred to individuals with this kind of responsibility as watchmen or shepherds. The prophet Zechariah, for example, has much to say about the responsibilities of a shepherd in chapters 10 and 11. In referring to the spiritual condition of his day, he said:
For the idols have spoken vanity, and the diviners have seen a lie, and have told false dreams; they comfort in vain: therefore they went their way as a flock, they were troubled, because there was no shepherd. (Zechariah 10:2)
Nothing could speak more succinctly of the condition of the church today. We never dreamed in all our years as Christians that there would ever be such blatant heresy as we see in the organized Christian church today. Years ago, we would never have imagined that anyone would be given the green light to stand in front of a congregation and deny the atonement of Jesus Christ. Yet this is exactly what is happening in the emerging/progressive/contemplative “church” as well as in some of our Bible colleges and seminaries. Many have fallen from a great height, and we should be mourning as God surely must be mourning.
If you are a pastor who feels it is not your calling to warn your congregation, let us remind you that the closest New Testament equivalent to the Old Testament watchmen or shepherds is the position of a pastor. There is a time for speaking uplifting encouraging words of peace and comfort—but when ravenous wolves are about, is it not wiser to “reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Timothy 4:2)?
WHAT IS THE TEST?
Sometimes we are asked, what is the criteria for deciding whether or not a doctrine or practice is biblical or validates criticism? Over the years, a number of pastors, elders, and youth pastors have contacted us and told us we have no business in doing what we are doing. We have often thought after hearing this that what we would like to say in reply is, “If you pastors were doing it, people like us wouldn’t have to.” It has not been a pleasant task, but the church needs to be warned of the impending danger. If you have read our books, then you understand what we are talking about.
But getting back to the question, what is the test for deciding if a particular teaching or practice validates criticism? There is but one test that we have used consistently from the inception of Lighthouse Trails. The Book of Proverbs says: “A false balance is abomination to the Lord: but a just weight is his delight (Proverbs 11:1).
And again from Proverbs: “Divers weights are an abomination unto the Lord; and a false balance is not good (Proverbs 20:23).
It is interesting that Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, placed such emphasis on accurate scales. It is even more amazing that God would call false scales an abomination—amazing only until we realize that God is speaking of the spiritual—not just physical scales here.
So what we are looking for is a spiritual balancing scale—something that will reappear throughout the Bible—through the Old and New Testaments. There is such a scale, a consistent theme, which John refers to in his first epistle:
Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. (1 John 4:1-3)
Some Bible commentators have believed that John was referring here to a particular sect who denied that Jesus Christ actually came in a human body. If that is all John meant, then this passage is of little relevance to us today, because you will scarcely find anyone who does not believe that Jesus as a historical figure was a man who walked the earth. But the name Jesus Christ in this passage is not a historical term; it is a name loaded with meaning —referring to Jesus as the Messiah, God come in the flesh, our Savior and Redeemer, who atoned for our sins. If we look at the context of 1 John 4, we can verify that this is what John is talking about because in it he says, “And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world” (1 John 4:14). In other words, John is saying here, I am referring to the Jesus I wrote about in my gospel— the Word made flesh who in the beginning was with God and was God (see John chapter 1).
This is the balancing scale we have been looking for. Just as all human history and our blessed hope hinges on what Jesus did on the Cross, so too we can weigh a doctrine or practice by whether or not it agrees with the fact that we are justified by faith alone through the atoning, redemptive work of Christ on the Cross. The question then is, does a particular doctrine or teaching agree with the Gospel the apostles all preached?
With this discerning tool in hand, if you stop to measure all of the world’s religions and systems, you will find that all of these are opposed to the Gospel. The natural man will not acknowledge the need for a Savior, consequently all of the world’s belief systems (except biblical Christianity) are works based—believing it is possible to earn our way into Heaven or to become “Christ-like” through mysticism and “spiritual disciplines.” But the Gospel says it is not possible. John knew all too well the contrariness of the natural man and the world’s belief systems. That is why in the same chapter of his epistle, he offers another test:
[H]e that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error. (1 John 4:6)
In other words, John is saying that when the world rejects you for sharing the Gospel, it is because the Spirit of truth is not in them.
Whichever way you look at it, the Gospel is the fulcrum of our balance in discerning truth from error. When Lighthouse Trails Publishing began, this became, and has always been, our standard of truth and also the deciding factor as to whether something is significant enough to bring to the attention of our readers. We are careful not to get involved in issues in the church where the Gospel is not attacked or compromised; but when it is, we are compelled to speak up—because as believers in Christ, we are called to defend the Gospel; and is that not the calling of pastors and Christian leaders especially?
The Gospel is the most precious thing on God’s heart, and it is worthy of our defense and protection. Wouldn’t you, as a Christian leader, like to be remembered as a man (or woman) after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13: 14)? If so, then defend the Gospel.
A CREEPING EFFECT
The church of today is very much astir. Everywhere we turn, embellishments are being added to Christianity as if to improve it. The old ways do not seem to satisfy anymore. A great influx of new teachings and practices have exchanged the God of old as depicted in the pages of the Bible with a deity much more palatable to the post-modern mind.
Brennan Manning illustrates this when he states in one of his books “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.”1 This “progressive” contemplative/emerging church has gone so far as to place in pulpits men who blaspheme God and who deny the atonement. But let us step back for a moment to see how emerging thought has developed. Such a statement did not come out of the blue, but as Ray Yungen suggests, a “creeping” effect made it all possible.2
Over the years, Christian leaders and pastors have stopped defending the faith and have exchanged the Word of God for things that outwardly appear very spiritual and promise a “quantum leap” into a “new spirituality.” Though we have always witnessed those who deny Christ’s substitutionary death on the Cross, most of this kind of thought and teaching has been kept out of the evangelical/Protestant church. But as the walls of biblical truth were gradually torn down, it is no longer unusual to hear this kind of teaching in Christian colleges and seminaries. Much of what we see today began with men who pioneered the way to apostasy, then as a domino effect these ideas caught on and accelerated to the unbiblical thoughts and teachings we are witnessing in so many Christian circles today.
You may be saying to yourself right now—”I’ve never heard a pastor or Christian leader deny the atonement.” Let’s remember that Satan is the father of deception, and it is his goal to make deception look very much like the real thing. For example, a term often used in describing Jesus in many Christian circles today is “servant leader.” Sounds innocent enough, right? But when Jesus is referred to as the perfect “servant leader,” what this means is that Jesus was the perfect role model or example of someone who knew how to lay down his life for others. This is true, of course—He continually laid down His life for others; however, the emerging progressive church takes it a step further by saying that it is wrong to say that Jesus’ death on the Cross was actually a substitute for sin—yes, he was an example of being a servant as seen in his going to the Cross, but that is all. That is what Brennan Manning was referring to when he said that God would not require blood from His son to pay for the sins of others.
What is interesting about Manning’s quote on the previous page, taken from his 2003 book, Above All, is that it is nearly a word for word rendering of several lines from New Age sympathizer and mystic William Shannon’s 1995 book Silence on Fire.3 This book is the biography of Thomas Merton who possibly had more to do than anyone else in giving mysticism (namely contemplative prayer) that initial push whereby it has now avalanched into the mainline evangelical/Protestant churches. But it all began as a creeping or rippling effect with the initial momentum almost imperceptibly slow.
Over the last couple of decades, countless pastors and religious leaders across North America have pulled out for their evening reading books written by mystics like Henri Nouwen, hoping to glean something to carry them to the next level of spirituality. Unfortunately, that quantum leap ends in the web of apostasy. As you may know, Henri Nouwen (also a great admirer of Thomas Merton) wrote in a provocative intellectual style that has intrigued many pastors, but what happened when these pastors stumbled upon these words?:
Today I personally believe that while Jesus came to open the door to God’s house, all human beings can walk through that door, whether they know about Jesus or not. Today I see it as my call to help every person claim his or her own way to God.4
Nouwen said these words toward the end of his life after spending years involved with mysticism. And yet, pastors, leaders, and professors are enamored with Nouwen. And on goes that seemingly subtle creeping in of deception slowly but surely.
IT’S NOT TOO LATE
Pastors of North America, it’s not too late, but the North American church is on borrowed time. We have become weak and spoiled, and it is time to change course, return to a no-compromise faith, the kind many of us had when we first became Christians. To straddle the fence, as has been the case for way too long, has cost the church dearly and could mean a steady erosion of biblical faith and a fall into the mire of full-blown apostasy.
While the mystics and emergents attempt to strip Jesus of who He is and what He came for, we should never forget that in Him we have a priceless treasure. Isaiah said of Him, “his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). Most importantly, Jesus came to redeem us from our sins:
In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace. (Ephesians 1:7)
When Jesus spoke of the kingdom of heaven, he used a number of illustrations, one of which should have special significance in our churches today:
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. (Matthew 13:44)
While the emerging, purpose-driven, seeker-friendly, contemplative “progressives” of today are casting accurate biblical doctrine on the dung heap more than ever, we should be holding on to it as something truly sacred, for it is biblical doctrine that defines our faith and gives to us living water. Hebrews 4:12 tells us:
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
No wonder the devil wants to undermine and get rid of the Word of God; and he is attempting to do it through many who call themselves Christians.
Contending for the faith may cost us everything we have, but it is worth it, a jewel far above any price. This life will soon be over, but eternity will last a very long time. Shouldn’t we be putting our treasures in heaven no matter what it may cost us now?
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it. (Matthew 13:45-46)
CARELESS ABOUT THE GOSPEL?
You may recall that in the Old Testament the Israelites took great pains in transporting the Ark of the Covenant. According to the instructions given by God to Moses (Exodus 25:13-15), the Ark was to be carried by staves (poles) on the shoulders of the children of the Levites (1 Chronicles 15:15). However, in 1 Chronicles 13:7-10, contrary to Moses’ specific instructions, they put the Ark on a cart to be pulled by oxen. But the unexpected happened. When “Uzza put forth his hand to hold the ark; for the oxen stumbled . . . the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzza, and he smote him” (1 Chronicles 13:9-10). The Levites, who were the “pastors” of that day, were careless about following Moses’ instructions; and it ended up costing a life. The Ark of the Covenant was a type and foreshadowing of the Gospel. It was sprinkled with blood to symbolize Christ’s death on the Cross. Today, similar to back then, so many pastors and Christian leaders have become careless about the Gospel. If you are one who has grown careless with the Gospel, isn’t it time to make some changes and return to following the instructions of the Lord?
To order copies of Dear Pastor and Christian Leader: Have You Grown Careless About the Gospel?, click here.
1. Brennan Manning, Above All, pp. 58-59 as quoted from Roger Oakland in Faith Undone, p. 195. (2003)
2. Ray Yungen, A Time of Departing (Eureka, MT: Lighthouse Trails Publishing, 2nd ed. 2006), p. 94.
3. William Shannon, Silence on Fire (New York, NY: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1995 edition), pp. 109-110.
4. Henri Nouwen, Sabbatical Journey (New York, NY: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1998 Hardcover edition), p. 51.
To order copies of Dear Pastor and Christian Leader: Have You Grown Careless About the Gospel?, click here.
Other Booklets by David Dombrowski
Setting Aside the Power of the Gospel for a Powerless Substitute
The Peace of God versus the P.E.A.C.E. of Man
Preparing for Perilous Times and Finding God’s Peace in the Midst of Them
My Journey Out of Catholicism
For a complete list of the Lighthouse Trails booklets, books, and DVDs, visit our website at www.lighthousetrails.com. For articles, research material, and news stories, visit www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com. You may also write or e-mail to request a catalog (see contact information at front of this booklet.)
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