Archive for the ‘Spiritual Formation’ Category
Dear Lighthouse Trails:
Many years ago when I was teaching an adult Sunday School class, I was so impressed with the importance of a certain book, I had the whole class order that book by Ray Yungen. It was called A Time of Departing.
It was all about how a new movement was entering the church. It went by a variety of names: spiritual formation, contemplative prayer, contemplative spirituality. It included topics like centering prayer, meditation, lectio divina, and visualization. It is a linking of Catholic and Eastern religions and has nothing biblical in it. Both my adult children and their spouses were in the Sunday School class.
Five years passed, and we got a new pastor who began to talk of John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila among others (they are Catholic saints, and the Catholic link to all this is immense). Because we had read Ray Yungen’s book five years earlier, we were aware of the error that was being preached. All of our family were very active in the church – some had been there for over 20 years and held positions of authority – but we had been warned so we took our families, after having warned many others, and left.
Because of housing, our families went to two different Assembly of God churches. One day I saw sign-up sheets on tables in the foyer of one of the churches. One was for Spiritual Formation classes. I hoped it wasn’t what I feared it was. Things had seemed calm for approximately five years.
On Sunday Oct. 9 of this year (2016), the Spiritual Formation Pastor gave a sermon and told of his visits to Catholic monasteries. He then asked everyone to close their eyes, take deep breaths, picture Jesus, look at His face (during this time gentle music began to play), think of a time during the week that made you sad and invite Jesus into your thoughts. This is visualization. It is called an Ignatian exercise after Catholic founder of the Jesuits, St. Ignatius Loyola. It is everything that Ray Yungen described in his book, and the pastor stood there and led all those thousands of people in an exercise totally unbiblical. He then suggested they do this 2-3 times a day whenever they encounter difficult or sad situations.He says he does this every day himself. My granddaughter – who was 13 at the time we left the former church and is 20 now – knew what she was listening to. She had heard us speak of Ray’s book often. She had been educated just as the Lord would have her to be.
How strange that this book has followed us. Yesterday, I was preparing for my Thursday night meeting with the woman I’m discipling. We are studying the 23rd Psalm. The author of the book suggested we read Gal 5. What I found there made me think of what happened at these two churches: Gal 5:9: “A little leaven [or a few false teachers] leavens the whole lump [or misleads the whole church].”
On Sunday Oct. 16, a week after the Spiritual Formation Pastor gave his sermon – the author of the book that tried to warn everyone about this danger, Ray Yungen, died of a complication of a leukemia treatment at the age of 64. There are many of us who mourn his passing and highly respect his life. He has helped keep us from darkness and walking in the light. May God be pleased and say “well done, thou good and faithful servant.”
His concern at the end of his life was not only for his generation and the darkness that had infected us but ensuring that it not touch the next. That was the kind of man Ray was—always longing to expose the darkness. My granddaughter shows that his legacy continues.
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.
Lighthouse Trails Begins Second Booklet-Mailing Project – This Time to 235 Christian College/Seminary Presidents
On the week of May 16, 2016, Lighthouse Trails began a second booklet-mailing project. Whereas our first booklet-mailing project is sending out booklets and short letters to over 130 Christian leaders every 2-3 months, this new project is reaching out to 235 Christian college and seminary presidents (and some deans). After 14 years of research, our journalists and researchers have discovered that over 90% of the Christian schools have, to one degree or another, introduced contemplative spirituality (i.e., Spiritual Formation/emerging spirituality) into their schools. As we stated in an earlier article, we have begun these booklet-mailing projects out of a sense of desperation to warn the body of Christ.
For the first booklet going to these 235 college and seminary presidents, we chose Ray Yungen’s A Serious Look at Richard Foster’s “School” of Contemplative Prayer because it is Foster’s quote, “We should all enroll in the school of contemplative prayer (from his book Celebration of Discipline) that has helped to change the “landscape” of today’s Christianity. Below is the letter that we sent out last week to these college presidents and deans, and below that is the list of the schools to whom we sent a booklet and this letter. We plan to send out a new booklet and letter every 2-3 months to these school leaders.
In fourteen years of careful research, our team of Christian journalists and authors has discovered that over ninety percent of the Christian colleges and seminaries have begun to incorporate contemplative spirituality (also called Spiritual Formation) into the lives of their students. This has largely occurred because of the writings of contemplative advocates such as Richard Foster (author of Celebration of Discipline, first released in 1978).
The enclosed booklet, A Serious Look at Richard Foster’s “School” of Contemplative Prayer, explains why this spiritual outlook is not consistent with what the Bible teaches.
We hope you will read and prayerfully consider the warning this booklet gives.
Sincerely in Christ,
Editors at Lighthouse Trails
Note: This list below is compromised of schools that DO promote contemplative spirituality and ones that DON’T. To see our list of schools that promote contemplative spirituality/Spiritual Formation, click here. Also read our booklet, An Epidemic of Apostasy – How Christian Seminaries Must Incorporate “Spiritual Formation” to Become Accredited
|President Name||School Name|
|Dean Dr. Phil Schubert||Abilene Christian University|
|Mr. John Perch||Alaska Bible College|
|President Dr. Michael Scales||Alliance Theological Seminary|
|President Dr. Alton Beal||Ambassador Baptist College|
|Dr. Joseph Saggio||American Indian College|
|President Dr. Evans P. Whitaker||Anderson University|
|President Dr. John S. Pistole||Anderson University|
|Dr. James Hayes II||Andersonville Baptist Seminary|
|Dr. Curvin Stambaugh – Pastoral Theology||Antietam Bible College and Seminary|
|President Dr. Daniel L. Anderson||Appalachaian Bible College|
|Mrs. Amber Mead||Ashland Theological Seminary|
|President Dr. Kent Ingle||Assemblies of God – Southeastern University|
|Dr. Don Meyer||Assemblies of God – University of Valley Forge|
|President Dr. Mark A. Hausfeld||Assemblies of God Theological Seminary|
|Pastor Matt Grimes||Atlanta Baptist College|
|President Jon R. Wallace||Azusa Pacific University|
|President Brad Smith||Bakke Graduate University|
|President Mark Milioni||Baptist Bible College|
|President Dr. Royce Frazier||Barclay Colege|
|President and Chancellor Dr. Ken Starr||Baylor University|
|Dean Timothy George||Beeson Divinity School – Samson University|
|Provost Dr. Thomas Burns||Belmont University|
|President Dr. Robert Nix||Berean Bible Institute|
|Mr. Carl Warden||Bethany Bible College & Theological Seminary|
|Dr. Jay H. Barnes III||Bethel Seminary|
|Dr. Jay H. Barnes III||Bethel University|
|Dr. James Keiller – religious studies||Beulah Heights University|
|President Dr. Frank A. James III||Biblical Theological Seminary|
|President Barry H. Corey||Biola University|
|President Dr. James M. Harder||Blufton University|
|President Mr. Steve Pettit||Bob Jones University|
|Dr. Charles Faber – Professor of Theology||Boise Bible College|
|President Reverend David Melton||Boston Baptist College|
|Pastor Robert Stapleton – school director||Brown Trail School of Preaching|
|President Dr. Stephen D. Livesay||Bryan College|
|President Dr.Chris Morgan||California Baptist College|
|Mr. Dave Molter||California Christian College|
|Dr. Keith Miller – chair for Theology/Bible||Calvary Bible College and Theological Seminary|
|Mr. Simon Woodstock||Calvary Chapel Bible College|
|President Michael K. LeRoy||Calvin College|
|President Dr. J. Bradley Creed||Campbell University|
|President Dr. Michael Carter||Campbellsville University|
|President Dr. J. Randall O’Brien||Carson-Newman University|
|Dr. Benjamin Jacks – Biblical/Theology dept.||Carver College|
|President Dr. Thomas White||Cedarville University|
|President Matt Morrell||Central Baptist Theological Seminary|
|President Mr. Hal Hoxie||Central Christian College|
|President Dr. David B. Fincher||Central Christian College of the Bible|
|Reverend Richard Bishop||Christian Life College|
|Mr. Wayne Wochsnuth – Academic Dean||Christian Life College|
|President Dr. Matthew Myer Boulton||Christian Theological Seminary|
|Dr. Johnny Pressley – Theology Department||Cincinnati Bible Seminary|
|Dr. Johnny Pressley – Theology Department||Cincinnati Christian University|
|President||College Of The Open Bible and Theological Seminary|
|President Mr. Jerry C. Davis||College Of The Ozarks|
|President Dr. Bill Armstrong||Colorado Chrisrian University|
|President Dr. Eric Odell-Hein||Columbia Evangelical Seminary|
|President Dr. Bill Jones||Columbia International University|
|President Dr. Leanne Van Dyk||Columbia Theological Seminary|
|Dr. Cheryl Washington||Concordia College|
|Mr. Robert Sorensen – Chair of Theology||Concordia University Chicago|
|Dr. Kurt Krueger||Concordia University Irvine|
|President Dr. Patrick T. Ferry||Concordia University Wisconsin|
|President Dr. Sheldon C. Nord||Corban University|
|President||Cornerstone Bible Institute|
|President Dr. Joseph M. Stowell||Cornerstone University|
|President Dr. Mark Dalbey||Covenant Theological Seminary|
|President Dr. Barry K. Creamer||Criswell College|
|President Mike Kilgallin||Crossroads College|
|Dr. Joel Wiggins||Crown College|
|President Dr. Mark L. Bailey||Dallas Theological Seminary|
|Dr. Gilbert Parker – Academic Dean||Davis College|
|Pastor Mark Julian||Dayspring Bible College and Seminary|
|Dr. Scott Wenig – professor of Theology||Denver Seminary|
|Dr. William W. Combs – Academic Dean||Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary|
|Dr. Javier A. Vierra – Dean of Pastoral Theology||Drew University|
|Dr. Richard Hays – Dean of Duke Divinity School||Duke Divinity School|
|President Dr. Loren Swartzendruber||Eastern Mennonite Seminary|
|President Dr. Corlis McGee||Eastern Nazarene College|
|President Dr. Robert G. Duffett||Eastern University|
|Mr. Jim Tillotson||Faith Baptist Bible College And Seminary|
|Dr. Mark Baker – Theology Department Head||Fresno Pacific University – Biblical Seminary|
|President Dr. Amy Bragg Carey||Friends University|
|President Dr. Mark Labberton||Fuller Theological Seminary|
|President Dr. Robin Blake||George Fox Evangelical Seminary|
|Dr. Allan Brown – Ministerial Education chair||God’s Bible School and College|
|Mr. Jim Badry – Director of Development||Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary|
|President Dr. D. Michael Lindsay||Gordon College|
|President Dr. Dennis Hollinger||Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary|
|President Dr. James E. Brenneman||Goshen College|
|Professor Steven C. Pittman||Grace Baptist Bible College|
|President Ken B. Kemper||Grace Bible College|
|President Dr. Gil Katip||Grace College and Theological Seminary|
|Chancellor Reverend W. Lyman Phillips||Grace Evangelical College and Seminary|
|President Dr. David M. Barnes||Grace University|
|President Brian Mueller||Grand Canyon University|
|Dr. Michael Witmer||Grand Rapids Theological Seminary of Cornerstone Univ.|
|Chancellor Dr. Ronald L. Tottingham||Great Plains Baptist Divinity School|
|President Dr. Ivan Filby||Greenville College|
|President Joseph A. Pipa, Jr.||Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary|
|Vice-President Dr. Jim Martin||Harding School of Theology|
|President Dr. Bruce D. McLarty||Harding University|
|President Pastor Sam Davivdson||Heartland Baptist Bible College|
|President Dr. Elvin Butts||Heritage Bible College|
|Mr. Bill Bagents||Heritage Christian University|
|Attention: Presidential Search Committee||Hesston College|
|President||His Hill Bible School And Camp|
|President John C. Knapp||Hope College|
|President Dr. Joe Grana||Hope International University|
|President Shirley Mullen||Houghton College|
|Dr. Dave Stubblefield||Hyles-Anderson College|
|Dr. Kevin Newman||Indian Bible College|
|Dr. Paul Loder||Indiana Baptist College|
|Vice-President Dr. Wayne Schmidt||Indiana Wesleyan University|
|Chancellor Dr. Jerry TeTreau||International Baptist College|
|Dr. Robert R. Congdon||Internet Bible Institute – online institute|
|contact Kristin Marshall||Intervarsity Christian Fellowship NW|
|President Don Landis||Jackson Hole Bible College|
|Mr. Aaron Abbott – Director of Student Services||John Brown University|
|President Dr. Gary E. Weedman||Johnson University|
|Dr. Eric Gilchrest||Judson College|
|Dr. Scott Caulley – Bible/Theology Dept.||Kentucky Christian University|
|Reverend Tom Lorimer – Academic Dean||Kentucky Mountain Bible College|
|Dean of the Divinity School||La Sierra University|
|President Dr. Peter W. Teague||Lancaster Bible College|
|President – Dr. Mickey Carter||Landmark Baptist College|
|President Dr. Dale A. Lunsford||Le Toureau University|
|President Dr. Charles “Paul” Conn||Lee University|
|Pastor Matt Grimes||Liberty Baptist College|
|President Jerry Falwell Jr.||Liberty University|
|President Dr. Don Green||Lincoln Christian University|
|President William T. Luckey Jr.||Lindsey Wilson College|
|President L. Randolph Lowry III||Lipscomb University|
|Dr. Dave Keeny – Dean of Biblical Studies||Louisiana Baptist University and Theological Seminary|
|President Dr. James L. Flanagan||Luther Rice Seminary|
|President Dr. David A. King||Malone University|
|President Dan Allender||Mars Hill Graduate School|
|Professor James Pope||Martin Luther College|
|Pastor Aedan O’connell||Maryland Bible College and Seminary|
|President Dr. Cecil Thayer||Massillon Baptist College|
|President Dr. Kim S. Phipps||Messiah College|
|President Dr. Michael Spradlin||Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary|
|President David J. Spittal||MidAmerica Nazarene University|
|Dr. J. Mark Beach – Prof. of Doctrinal Studies||Mid-America Reformed Seminary|
|President Dr. William B. Greer||Milligan College|
|President Dr. R Alton Lacey||Missouri Baptist University|
|President Jim Carlson||Montana Bible College|
|President Dr. Paul J. Maurer||Montreat College|
|President Dr. Paul Nyquist||Moody Bible Institute|
|President Dr. Henry W. Spaulding||Mount Vernon Nazarene University|
|Reverend Dr. Craig Williford||Multinomah University|
|President Richard Milliken||Nebraska Christian College|
|President Robert Ramirez||New Mexico Bible Institute|
|President Dr. Charles S. Kelley Jr.||New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary|
|President Dan Falls||New Tribes Bible Institute|
|President Dr. David L. Parkyn||North Park University|
|President Dr. Deana L. Porterfield||Northeastern Seminary|
|Interim President – Karen Walker Freeburg||Northern Baptist Theological Seminary|
|President Dr. William D. Shell||Northern Seminary|
|President Daniel Patz||Northland International University|
|President Dr. Joel K. Pearsall||Northwest Nazarene University|
|attn. Jennie Victoriano||Northwest University|
|President Gregory E. Christy||Northwestern College|
|President Dr. Michael G. Scales||Nyack College (CMA)|
|attn. Chair of Religion & Theology||Oakwood University|
|President Dr. Mark A. Smith||Ohio Christian University|
|President Dr. David Whitlock||Oklahoma Baptist University|
|President Dr. John deSteiguer||Oklahoma Christian College|
|President Dr. Everett Piper||Oklahoma Wesleyan University|
|President Dr. John Carl Bowling||Olivet Nazarene University|
|President Dr. William M. Wilson||Oral Roberts University|
|President Matt Proctor||Ozark Christian College|
|President Dr. Kent M. Keith||Pacific Rim Christian College|
|Professor Ross Winkle||Pacific Union College|
|Vice-President Vicki Pugh||Palm Beach Atlantic University|
|President Jack Haye||Patrick Henry College|
|Dr. Lonnie Skinner||Patriot University|
|President Dr. Troy A. Shoemaker||Pensacola Christian College|
|President Dr. Andrew K. Benton||Pepperdine University|
|President Dr. Darryl K. DelHousaye||Phoenix Seminary|
|President Dr. Charles Petitt||Piedmont International University|
|President Dr. Bob Brower||Point Loma Nazarene|
|Dr. Frank Damazio||Portland Bible College|
|Chancellor Dr. J. Ligon Duncan III||Reformed Theological Seminary|
|President Christopher Webb||Renovaré Institute|
|President Dr. Deana L. Porterfield||Roberts Wesleyan College|
|President Dr. Daryl Eldridge||Rockbridge Seminary|
|Senior Pastor Byron MacDonald||Rolling Hills Bible Institute|
|President Dr. Andrew Westmoreland||Samford University|
|Dr. Brian Moulton||San Diego Christian College|
|Dean Bryan K. Johnson||Seattle Bible College|
|Office of the Provost – Dr. Jeffrey B. Van Duzer||Seattle Pacific University|
|Dr. George Gunn||Shasta Bible College|
|President Dr. Don Dowless||Shorter University, was Shorter College|
|Dr. Robin Dummer||Simpson University|
|President Dr. Danny Akin||Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary|
|Mr. Paul Roberts||Southeastern Bible College|
|President Jim Marcum||Southeastern Free Will Baptist College|
|President Dr. Kent Ingle||Southeastern University|
|Dr. James Fazio||Southern California Seminary|
|President Dr. Loren Greshum||Southern Nazarene University|
|President Dr. Todd Voss||Southern Wesleyan University|
|President Dr. C. Pat Taylor||Southwest Baptist University|
|President Dr. Brent D. Ellis||Spring Arbor University|
|President James Baker||Tabernacle Baptist Bible College and Seminary|
|Dean – Dr. Clinton E. Arnold||Talbot School of Theology (Biola)|
|President Dr. Lowell Haines||Taylor University|
|President David Hill||Tennessee Bible College|
|President Dr. Harley Knowles||Tennessee Wesleyan College|
|Chancellor Victor Boschini||Texas Christian University|
|President Steve Brown||The Berkshire Institute for Christian Studies|
|President Clarence Sexton||The Crown College of the Bible|
|President Dr. Gregory Alan Thornbury||The King’s College|
|Dr. John MacArthur||The Master’s Seminary|
|President Dr. Keith R. Anderson||The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology|
|President Dr. Robert Myers||Toccoa Falls College|
|President Dr. Dan Boone||Trevecca Nazarene University|
|Dr. Matthew Beamer – Dean of Academics||Trinity Baptist College|
|Dr. Stuart Parsons – Professor of Theology||Trinity College|
|Dr. Edward Martin – apologetics/philosophy||Trinity College of the Bible and Theological Seminary|
|President Dr. David S. Dockery||Trinity International University|
|President Dr. Samuel W. “Dub” Oliver||Union University|
|President Dr. Alan S. Cureton||University of Northwestern|
|President Dr. Michael J. Beals||Vanguard University|
|Reverend Kathy Smith||Vision International University|
|Dr. Mike Sanders||Warner University|
|President Matt Pinson||Welch College|
|Mr. Mike Lester – academic Dean||West Coast Baptist College|
|President Randy Roberts||Western Seminary|
|President Dr. Timothy L. Brown||Western Theological Seminary|
|President Dr. Gayle D. Beebe||Westmont College|
|President Dr. Philip Graham Ryken||Wheaton College Graduate School|
|President Dr. Beck A. Taylor||Whitworth University|
|President Dr. John Jackson||William Jessup University|
|Executive Director Don Lough Jr.||Word of Life Bible Institute|
In March of this year, Lighthouse Trails sent out a letter and a booklet to over 130 Christian leaders. We told our readers about this on February 25th in an article titled “Lighthouse Trails Publishing to Make Contact with Over 100 Christian Leaders to Warn About Jesus Calling.” The booklet we sent was Warren B. Smith’s new booklet 10 Scriptural Reasons Jesus Calling is a Dangerous Book.
You may be wondering what kind of response we received from this first mailing. Let us say up front, we are not doing this booklet campaign because we expect to receive a big response. We are doing it because we are compelled to do all we can to warn believers, including leaders and pastors. We also believe that the leaders need to be held responsible for remaining silent on vital issues that are affecting so many people. As for response, we have received three responses. Here they are:
- Koinonia Institute (Chuck Missler): Dear Friends in Christ: Thank you for your taking the time to write to us here at Koinonia House. As much as Chuck would love to reply to all the mail he gets, it is just not physically possible anymore. Chuck is in New Zealand, establishing a new ministry outreach. Thank you for sending Chuck this important book. We will make sure he receive it when he returns back to the United States. May the Lord bless you as you seek His truth. Koinonia House Staff
- Living Proof Ministries: I know Beth will be so encouraged to receive the gift you sent her. Thank you for spurring us on to love and good works! In His grace, LPM Staff
- CBN (Pat Robertson): Click here to view.
In our March article to our readers, we said we hoped to send out a new letter and booklet pack to these leaders every two or three months. Now, we are ready to send out a second letter and two booklets. The booklets we have chosen are Ray Yungen’s 5 Things You Should Know About Contemplative Prayer and Roger Oakland’s Rick Warren’s Dangerous Ecumenical Pathway to Rome. Here below is the cover letter we are including:
Dear Christian Leader:
We are sending you two booklets pertaining to two very vital issues affecting the evangelical Christian church today.
Five Things You Should Know About Contemplative Prayer explains in a concise manner the dangers of the contemplative prayer movement, which is currently being introduced into a large percentage of Christian seminaries and colleges.
Rick Warren’s Dangerous Ecumenical Pathway to Rome is not a character-bashing assault but is rather a carefully documented and biblically sound examination. While the booklet focuses primarily on Rick Warren because he is a major influence in the church today, the situation explained in the booklet is becoming more commonplace than most realize.
We hope you will read and prayerfully consider the messages in these two booklets.
Sincerely in Christ,
The Editors at Lighthouse Trails
Below is the current list of over 130 Christian leaders who will be receiving letters and booklets every two or three months:
NOTE: We are not saying that all of these leaders are in deception. But we do believe they all would benefit from reading the material we are sending.
|Randy||Alcorn||Eternal Perspective Minsitries|
|John||Ankerberg||John Ankerberg Ministries|
|Kay||Arthur||Precept Ministries International|
|Mark||Bailey||Dallas Theological Seminary|
|John and Lisa||Bevere||Messenger International|
|Pastor Tom||Carter||Dinuba First Baptist Church|
|Matt||Chandler||The Village Church|
|Jim||Daly||Focus on the Family|
|Mart||DeHaan||Our Daily Bread|
|Dr. James||Dobson||Family Talk|
|Joni||Eareckson-Tada||Joni and Friends|
|Jack||Eggar||Awana CEO President|
|Dr. Tony||Evans||Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship|
|Pastor Jonathan||Falwell||Thomas Road Baptist Church|
|Jerry||Falwell Jr.||Liberty University|
|Joseph||Farah||World News Daily|
|Dr. Ronnie||Floyd||Southern Baptist President Crosschurch|
|Louie||Giglio||Passion City Church|
|Dr. Jack||Graham||Prestonwood Baptist Church|
|David||Green||Hobby Lobby Stores Inc|
|Pastor John||Hagee||Cornerstone Church|
|Ken||Ham||Answers in Genesis|
|Hank||Hanegraaff||Bible Answer Man|
|Jack||Hayford||The Church on the Way|
|Pastor Skip||Heitzig||The Connection|
|Hugh||Hewitt||The Hugh Hewitt Show|
|Pastor Jack||Hibbs||Real Life With Jack Hibbs|
|Pastor Dave||Hocking||Hope for Today|
|Dr. Michael||Horton||Westminster Seminary|
|Pastor Bill||Hybels||Willow Creek Community Church|
|Pastor Robert||Jeffress||First Baptist Church|
|Pastor David||Jeremiah||Shadow Mountain Community Church|
|Pastor Timothy||Keller||Redeemer Presbyterian Church|
|Pastor R T||Kendall||R T Kendall Ministries|
|Dan||Kimball||Vintage Faith Church|
|Dr Tim||LaHaye||Southern California Seminary|
|Dr. Richard||Land||President-Southern Evangelical Seminary|
|William||Lane Craig||Biola University|
|Pastor Greg||Laurie||Harvest America|
|Nancy||Leigh DeMoss||Revive Our Hearts|
|Mike||LeMay||Stand up for the Truth|
|Hal||Lindsey||Hal Lindsey Ministries|
|Pastor Fred||Luter||Franklin Avenue Baptist Church|
|Dr. Erwin||Lutzer||Moody Church|
|Pastor John||MacArthur||Grace Community Church|
|James||McDonald||Walk in the Word|
|Josh||McDowell||Josh McDowell Ministry|
|Janet||Mefferd||Janet Mefferd Today|
|CEO Santiago “Jimmy”||Mellado||Compassion International|
|Joyce||Meyer||Joyce Meyer Ministries|
|Albert||Mohler||Southern Baptist Theological Seminary|
|Beth||Moore||Living Proof Ministries|
|Elisa||Morgan||Women of Faith|
|Dr Joel||Mullinex||Rejoice in the Lord|
|Pastor Joel||Osteen||Lakewood Church|
|Luis||Palau||Lis Palau Association|
|Tony||Perkins||Family Research Counsel|
|John||Piper||Bethlehem Baptist Church|
|Dennis||Pollock||Spirit of Grace Ministries|
|Dave||Ramsey||The Lampo Group|
|Dave||Reagan||Lamb and Lion Ministries|
|Ron||Rhodes||Ron Rhodes Ministries|
|Pastor Raul||Ries||Calvery Chapel Golden Springs|
|Pat||Robertson||700 Club Christian Broadcasting Network|
|James & Betty||Robison||Life Today|
|Rev. Samuel||Rodrigues||New Season Christian Worship Church|
|Joel||Rosenberg||Trident Media Group agent Scott Miller|
|Dennis||Rydberg||Young Life Service Center|
|Pastor Tim||Savage||Camelback Bible Church|
|Mark||Schoenwald||HarperCollins Christian Publishing|
|Bobby||Schuller||Christ Cathedral Church|
|Jay||Sekulow||American Center for Law and Justice|
|Gary||Smalley||Smalley Relationship Center|
|Larry||Spargimino||Southwest Radio Church Ministries|
|Dr Charles||Stanley||First Baptist Church|
|Cameron||Strang||Relevant Media Group|
|Jimmy||Swaggart||Jimmy Swaggart Ministries|
|Chuck||Swindoll||Insight for Living Ministries|
|Tim||Tebow||Tim Tebow Foundation|
|Jack and Rexella||Van Impe||Jack Van Impe Ministries International|
|Pastor Joe||Van Koevering||Gateway Christian Center|
|Pastor Rick||Warren||Saddleback Church|
|David A.R.||White||Founder Pure Flix Movies|
|Dr George||Wood||Assemblies of God president|
|Dr Rick||Yohn||Men of the Word|
|Dr Ed||Young||The Winning Walk|
|Pastor Michael||Youssef||Leading the Way|
|Board of Director||Bible Study Fellowship|
|Dr. Jim||Garlow||Skyline Wesleyan Church|
|Pastor Ray Johnston||Johnston||Bayside Church|
|Dr. Paul||Nyquist||Moody Bible Institute|
|Priscilla||Shirer||Going Beyond Ministries|
|Dr. Jerry||Nance||Teen Challenge Emerging Leaders College|
|Pastor Jon||Courson||Applegate Christian Fellowship|
|Alex and Stephen||Kendrick||Filmmakers – Sherwood Baptist Church|
|Pastor Bryan||Chappell||Grace Presbyterian Church|
|President Roberta||Combs||Christian Coalition of America|
|Alistair||Begg||Truth for Life|
|Pastor Steve||Berger||Grace Chapel|
|Pat||Boone||Actor – Singer PBGL Inc.|
|Pastor Brian||Broedersen||Calvary Chapel Church – Costa Mesa|
|Susie||Rowan||Bible Study Fellowship|
|Kimm||Carr||CBS Ministry Service Center|
|Chancellor Michael||Farris||Home School Legal Defense Association|
|Dr. Jeff||Myers||Summit Ministries|
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.”
Spring 2016 is almost here, which means parents will be diligently helping their college-age children search for Christian colleges, seminaries, and universities for enrollment for this coming fall. As many of you know, Lighthouse Trails has been researching Christian colleges for 14 years. Three years ago, we published a report called An Epidemic of Apostasy, which revealed that the majority of Christian colleges, seminaries, and universities had begun to incorporate contemplative spirituality (through Spiritual Formation programs) into their schools. The report showed how much of this was happening because accreditation associations were requiring schools to include Spiritual Formation in the lives of their students if they wanted to be accredited.
We are reposting our report below (which is also in booklet format). We include in the report a list of many of the Christian schools that are including Spiritual Formation in the lives of their students. This is not a complete list. Lighthouse Trails is adding new schools to this list as we learn of their contemplative propensities. To see updates to this list, visit: www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/Colleges.htm. We also have a small list of Christian schools that are not promoting Spiritual Formation at: www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/collegesgood.htm.
Before deciding on a Christian school, please check out the school carefully and ask God to give you wisdom and guidance. As we have shown in our report, there is an agenda taking place to incorporate a mystical spirituality into the very heart of Christian education. It can be subtle, but it always deceptive and dangerous.
Note: We first published this report in 2013. In this 2016 update, we have discovered that almost all the links we have provided in our endnote section below have been removed by the institutions we are discussing. We have been able to replace some of them with cache files, but some have gone into obscurity.
Spiritual Formation: A movement that has provided a platform and a channel through which contemplative prayer is entering the church. Find spiritual formation being used, and in nearly every case, you will find contemplative spirituality and its “pioneers” such as Richard Foster, Dallas Willard, and Henri Nouwen. Spiritual Formation is based on “spiritual disciplines” that can be practiced by people of any faith to make them more “Christ-like.” Rebirth through Jesus Christ and regeneration through the Holy Spirit are not essential. Rather it is a works-based “theology” that has strong roots in Roman Catholicism and ancient paganism.1
Contemplative Spirituality: A belief system that uses ancient mystical practices to induce altered states of consciousness (the silence) and is rooted in mysticism and the occult but often wrapped in Christian terminology. The premise of contemplative spirituality is pantheistic (God is all) and panentheistic (God is in all). Common terms used for this movement are “spiritual formation,” “the silence,” “the stillness,” “ancient-wisdom,” “spiritual disciplines,” and many others.2
What do Abilene Christian University, Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, Bethel Seminary, Biola Seminary, Briercrest College and Seminary, Dallas Theological Seminary, Eastern Mennonite Seminary, Fuller Theological Seminary, Moody Theological Seminary & Graduate School, Multnomah Biblical Seminary, Regent College, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and around 240 other seminaries and colleges throughout North America all have in common?3 They are all accredited or in the process of being accredited through the Association of Theological Schools (ATS).4
What do Cincinnati Christian University, Columbia International University, Briercrest College & Seminary, Hope International University, Moody Bible Institute, Prairie Bible College and about 90 other colleges and seminaries throughout North America all have in common? They are all accredited through the Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE).5
What do the two accreditation organizations—Association of Theological Seminaries and Association for Biblical Higher Education—have in common? Both associations require schools that wish to be accredited to include Spiritual Formation within the school’s infrastructure. Just what exactly does that mean for these 350 some seminaries and Bible colleges? Well, it means that if they want to receive and maintain their accreditation, they are going to have to incorporate Spiritual Formation (i.e., contemplative spirituality) into the lives of their students.
This would certainly answer, in large part, a question that Lighthouse Trails has had—how is it that contemplative spirituality has become so widespread so quickly within Christian colleges and seminaries over the past decade?
We were told, when we contacted ATS, that “Each school and tradition approaches this [Spiritual Formation] in a different way.” In other words, how one school defines “Spiritual Formation” may differ from how another school defines it, they say. Yet, both accreditation associations have made it very clear that they are speaking of contemplative spirituality when they are speaking of Spiritual Formation. That’s easy to prove. A look around their websites and in their handbooks shows clear signs of the contemplative emphasis.
Take the “Additional Resources for Seminary Presidents” 18-page handbook, for instance, from ATS.It recommends books by mysticism advocates Jim Collins (Good to Great), Daniel Goleman (author of The Meditative Mind), Peter Drucker, contemplative mystic Henri Nouwen, Buddhist sympathizer Peter Senge (recommending his book The Fifth Discipline (the 5th discipline meaning meditation), contemplative advocate Dorothy Bass, and Catholic nun and Buddhist zen practitioner Rose Mary Dougherty (part of the panentheistic Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation in Washington, DC); and there are numerous other “Spiritual Formation/contemplative” advocates in the list of “Additional Resources for Seminary Presidents.”6
In the ATS Handbook under “Assessing Outcomes in the Master of Divinity Program,” where it talks about assessing students progress, it states:
The Master of Divinity degree program standard requires that students be educated in four areas: (1) Religious Heritage, (2) Cultural Context, (3) Personal and Spiritual Formation, and (4) A Guide for Evaluating Theological Learning Capacity for Ministerial and Public Leadership . . . The MDiv standard requires each school to address the four areas.7
The ATS is determined that Spiritual Formation is integrated through all four of these areas:
However, the standard indicates that achievement and formation in these four areas should be integrated: “Instruction in these areas shall be conducted so as to indicate their interdependence with each other and with other areas of the curriculum, and their significance for the exercise of pastoral leadership.”
Integrated outcomes result from an integrated curriculum and instructional strategies.8
The Spiritual Formation/contemplative focus at the Association for Biblical Higher Education is as troubling as it is at ATS. In the ABHE Programmatic Standards handbook, it states under Curriculum—Essential Elements: “[A]n accredited graduate program is characterized by . . . A learning environment that cultivates critical thinking, theological reflection, spiritual formation, and effective leadership/ministry practice.”9
That might sound vague, but the 2011 ABHE Leadership Development Conference helps clarify ABHE’s view of Spiritual Formation. Session 1 was titled: Student Spiritual Formation—Principles, Processes, Issues, Resources & Assessment.10 This session was presented by Todd Hall of Biola University, a school that has clearly come out on the side of contemplative spirituality. Hall co-authored a book with contemplative advocate Dr. John Coe, who is the director of Biola’s Institute of Spiritual Formation; Hall also teaches Spiritual Formation at the Institute, which turns to the ancient mystics for spiritual understanding.
It is interesting to note the following in the conference literature:
Todd also developed the Spiritual Transformation [a contemplative term] Inventory (STI), a measure of Christian spirituality that is being used in national assessment projects conducted by the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU), Association of Biblical Higher Education (ABHE), and Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI).11
In other words, when it says “a measure of Christian spirituality that is being used” to assess students at Christian schools, it means that assessment is made under the lens of contemplative spirituality. Students are assessed to see if they are properly absorbing their spiritual disciplines ala Spiritual Formation.
ABHE’s Council of Reference members list also indicates a contemplative agenda. Members include J.P. Moreland (whom Lighthouse Trails has critiqued for his contemplative advocacy) and contemplative musician Michael Card.12
Students who oppose or resist contemplative spirituality aren’t going to find success in these 350 theological Spiritual Formation-driven schools. According to the ATS Handbook, “direct evidence of students reaching stated goals is needed.”13 In a section titled Quality Assurance Expectations, it explains again that students will be expected to “provide evidence” that they are being transformed into their view of spirituality:
[T]heological schools are required to provide evidence that students in general reach stated learning outcomes. 14
In the summer of 2010, Moody Bible Institute, accredited through ABHE, took part in ABHE’s Assessment and Accountability Project. A report on this project explains in depth the criteria for assessing the outcomes of student success. The four areas are Biblical, Transformational, General/Experiential, and Missional (Transformational, Experiential, and Missional are terms used frequently by contemplative/emerging advocates). The “suggested assessments” include ABHE Spiritual Formation Assessment.15 The report explains that students will need to “demonstrate the knowledge of specific spiritual disciplines.”16
Incidentally, the ABHE Spiritual Formation Assessment is given every year whereas some other programs at ABHE are only assessed every three years. Clearly, ABHE intends to see Spiritual Formation thriving at these accredited member schools. One of the ways they will do this is through the influence of Henri Nouwen. In the Winter 2010 ABHE Journal is an article titled: “Hospitable Teaching, Redemptive Formation, and Learning Mobility: A Spirituality of Teaching Based upon the Writings of Henri J.M. Nouwen” by Neal Windham.17 Nouwen’s idea of hospitality and redemption incorporated mystical practices, universalism, and an interfaith reconciliation.
Anyone who thinks that Moody Bible Institute is not going to succumb to the pressure from ABHE to implement a full Spiritual Formation program at Moody is not looking at the obvious here. Already Moody has a Master of Arts in Spiritual Formation and Discipleship. By the way, the report we mentioned—ABHE’s Assessment and Accountability Project—is on Moody’s website. In the past, Moody has condemned Lighthouse Trails for our efforts to warn them because they were veering toward contemplative/emerging figures.18 What shall they say now? They HAVE incorporated Spiritual Formation (that is, contemplative spirituality). In the spring of 2013, Lighthouse Trails issued a special report titled “Concerns Grow as Moody Presses Forward Down Contemplative Path.”19
One other case in point, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School has been accredited by ATS since the 1970s. It went through an assessment by ATS in 2010 and passed. That is partly because Trinity now has a Spiritual Formation emphasis.20 Some may argue that just because a school uses the term Spiritual Formation doesn’t mean they are going contemplative. But in virtually every case we have ever examined, if a school is using that term, they are using the writings of the contemplative mystics.
As for Trinity, so are they. In their 2012-2013 catalog, they list some recommended authors for incoming seminary students for “excellent background.”21 Among those authors is Henri Nouwen and the mystic monk Brother Lawrence. This means that incoming students are being introduced, before they even get started, to contemplative writers. Trinity also has on this recommended reading list Lesslie Newbigin, a Scottish writer and Bishop who is looked to for insights by emerging church figures because of his sympathetic and embracing views of postmodernism (i.e., emerging). Of Newbigin, emerging church leader Brian McLaren says: “I see my work very much in line with Newbigin’s.”22 Trinity has at least one course, DE 5740, that is called Spiritual Formation. And in a student chapel service in October 2010, contemplative pioneer, the now late Dallas Willard was the guest speaker.23 Willard is aligned with Richard Foster, and both men have had a major influence in bringing contemplative spirituality into the evangelical church.
The future of Christian theological schools is bleak. In many cases, they are the most dangerous places for Christians to be, from a biblical point of view. Already scores of them are implementing contemplative spirituality, via Spiritual Formation programs, into the lives of their students. And remember, these students are the evangelical/Protestant church’s future pastors, youth pastors, Sunday school teachers, professors, missionaries, and leaders. Thanks to ATS and ABHE, there’s little doubt that a growing number of Christian seminaries and colleges will join the ranks of contemplative-promoting schools. Consider the following by some of the people who are recommended on the resource list at ATS. This will illustrate the severity of this epidemic of apostasy.
Henri Nouwen: “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.”24
Daniel Goleman: “The meditation practices and rules for living of these earliest Christian monks [the Desert Fathers] bear strong similarity to those of their Hindu and Buddhist renunciate brethren several kingdoms to the East . . . the meditative techniques they adopted for finding their God suggest either a borrowing from the East or a spontaneous rediscovery.”25 Note: Goleman’s book advocates Tantric sex, Kundalini, T.M., and other deep occultic meditative practices.
Rose Mary Dougherty: A description of Dougherty from the Shalem Institute: A Zen student for a number of years, Rose Mary was called forth as a dharma holder in the lineage of the White Plum Asanga in 2004, becoming a dharma heir in 2006. As a sensei, she teaches Zen meditation in various settings and assists people in integrating contemplative presence and just action in their lives.26
If you know someone who is attending a seminary or Christian college that is accredited by ATS or ABHE, the quotes above are a representation of what that person may be getting rather than the true Gospel of Jesus Christ.
To order copies of An Epidemic of Apostasy – How Christian Seminaries Must Incorporate “Spiritual Formation” to Become Accredited, click here.
1. From the www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com website.
8. Ibid, (A.220.127.116.11), p. 8.
9. http://web.archive.org/web/20120417114212/http://www.abhe-sln.org/opac/programmatic_standards.pdf, p. 9.
10. http://www.abhe.org/images/11.CSDO_Program.pdf. (link removed)
11. Ibid., p. 3. (link removed)
13. ATS Handbook (http://web.archive.org/web/20130415015005/http://www.ats.edu/Accrediting/Pages/HandbookofAccreditation.aspx), p. 9, Section 8.
14.http://web.archive.org/web/20130513124327/http://www.ats.edu/Accrediting/Documents/Handbook/HandbookSection8.pdf, p. 46.
15. http://www.academia.edu/609666/Association_for_Biblical_Higher_Educations_Assessment_and_Accountability_Project_for_Summer_2010, p. 7.
16. Ibid., p. 17.
21. http://divinity.tiu.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2013/05/TEDS12-13catalog.pdf, p. 188.
24. Henri Nouwen, Sabbatical Journey (New York, NY: Crossroad Publishing, 1998), p. 51.
25. Daniel Goleman, The Meditative Mind (Los Angeles, CA: Tarcher/Putnam Inc., 1988), p.53.
To order copies of An Epidemic of Apostasy – How Christian Seminaries Must Incorporate “Spiritual Formation” to Become Accredited, click here.
Christian Schools That Are Promoting Spiritual Formation and Contemplative Spirituality
Note: Lighthouse Trails has done research on every one of the schools below.
Abilene Christian University—Abilene, TX
ACTS Seminaries of Trinity Western University—British Columbia, CA
Alberta Bible College–Calgary, Alberta, CA
Ambrose University—Calgary, Alberta, CA
American Christian College & Seminary—Oklahoma City, OK
Anderson University—Anderson, IN
Anderson University—Anderson, SC
Ashland Theological Seminary—Ashland, OH
Assemblies of God Theological Seminary—Springfield, MO
Azusa Pacific University, Haggard School of Theology—Azusa, CA
Baptist Theological Seminary of Southern Africa—Johannesburg, ZA
Barclay College—Haviland, KS
Baylor University—Waco, TX
Beeson Divinity School—Birmingham, AL
Belmont University—Nashville, TN
Bethel Seminary—San Diego, CA St. Paul, MN, East Coast campus
Bethel University—St. Paul, MN
Biblical Theological Seminary—Hatfield, PA
Biola University—La Mirada, CA
Briercrest Bible College— Caronport, Saskatchewan, CA
Bryan College—Dayton, TN
California Baptist University—Riverside, CA
Calvin College—Grand Rapids, MI
Campbell University—Buies Creek, NC
Campbellsville University—Campbellsville, KY
Canadian Mennonite University—Winnipeg, Manitoba, CA
Carey Institute—Vancouver, British Columbia, CA
Cedarville University—Cedarville, OH
Christian Theological Seminary—Indianapolis, IN
Christian University (GlobalNet); ministry of RBC Ministries (online)
Cincinnati Bible Seminary—Cincinnati, OH
Corban University—Salem, OR
Colorado Christian University—Lakewood, CO
Columbia Theological Seminary (Presbyterian)—Decatur, GA
Cornerstone University—Grand Rapids, MI
Dallas Theological Seminary—Dallas, TX
Drew University—Madison, NJ
Duke Divinity School (Duke University)—Durham, NC
Eastern Mennonite Seminary—Harrisonburg, VA
Eastern University—St. Davids, PA
Emmanuel Bible College—Kitchner, Ontario, CA
Emmanuel School of Religion—Johnson City, TN
Fresno Pacific University—Fresno, CA
Fuller Theological Seminary—Pasadena, CA
George Fox University Seminary—Newberg, OR
Gordon College—Wenham, MA
Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary—South Hamilton, MA
Grace Theological Seminary—Winona Lake, IN
Grand Canyon College—Phoenix, AZ
Greenville College—Greenville, IL
Harding School of Theology—Nashville, TN
Harding University—Searcy, AR
Hope College—Holland, MI
Hope International University—Fullerton, CA
Houghton College—Houghton, NY
Indiana Wesleyan University—Marion, IN
John Brown University—Siloam Springs, AR
John Wesley College—Pretoria, ZA
Lancaster Bible College—Lancaster, PA
LeTourneau University—Longview, TX
Liberty University—Lynchburg, VA
Lincoln Christian University—Lincoln, IL
Lipscomb University—Nashville, TN
Luther Rice Seminary/University—Lithonia, GA
Malone College—Canton, OH
Mars Hill Graduate School—Bothell, WA
Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary—Fresno, CA
Messiah College (Brethren in Christ Church)—Mechanicsburg, PA
MidAmerica Nazarene University—Olathe, KS
Milligan College—Milligan College, TN
Montreat College—Montreat, NC
Moody Bible Institute—Chicago, IL
Mount Vernon Nazarene—Mt. Vernon, OH
Multnomah University—Portland, OR
Nebraska Christian College—Papillion, NE
New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary—New Orleans, LA
Northern Baptist Theological Seminary, Lombard, Chicago, Rockford, IL
Northeastern Seminary—Rochester, NY
Northern Seminary—Lombard, IL
Northpark University & Northpark Theological Seminary—Chicago, IL
Northwest Nazarene University—Nampa, ID
Northwestern College—Orange City, IA
Northwestern College (University of Northwestern)—St. Paul, MN
Nyack College—Nyack, NY
Oklahoma Christian University—Oklahoma City, OK
Oklahoma Wesleyan University—Bartlesville, OK
Olivet Nazarene University—Bourbonnais, IL
Oral Roberts University—Tulsa, OK
Pacific Rim Christian College—Honolulu, HI
Palm Beach Atlantic University—Palm Beach, FL
Pepperdine University—Malibu, CA
Phoenix Seminary—Phoenix, AZ
Prairie College of the Bible—Three Hills, Alberta, CA
Providence College and Seminary—Otterburne, Manitoba, CA
Reformed Theological Seminary—Several locations in U.S.
Regent College—Vancouver, British Columbia, CA
Rockbridge Seminary—Springfield, MO
Rocky Mountain College—Calgary, Alberta, CA
Rolling Hills Bible Institute—Rolling Hills Estates, CA
Samford University—Birmingham, AL
Shorter College—Rome, GA
Simpson University—Redding, CA
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary—Wake Forest, NC
Southeastern University—Lakeland, Fl
Southwest Baptist University—Bolivar, MO
Spring Arbor University—Spring Arbor Township, MI
Talbot Seminary (Biola)—La Mirada, CA
Taylor Seminary/Taylor College—Edmonton, Alberta, CA
Taylor University—Upland, IN
Toccoa Falls College—Toccoa Falls, GA
Trevecca Nazarene University—Nashville, TN
Trinity International University—Deerfield, IL
Trinity Western University—Langley, British Columbia, CA
Tyndale University College & Seminary—Toronto, Ontario, CA
Vanguard University—Costa Mesa, CA
Western Seminary—Portland, OR; Sacramento, San Jose, CA
Western Theological Seminary—Holland, MI
Westmont College—Santa Barbara, CA
Wheaton College Graduate School, Wheaton, IL
Whitworth University—Spokane, WA
William Carey Institute —Vancouver, British Columbia, CA
* This is not a complete list. Lighthouse Trails is adding new schools to this list as we learn of their contemplative propensities. To see updates to this list, visit: www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/Colleges.htm. We also have a small list of Christian schools that are not promoting Spiritual Formation at: www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/collegesgood.htm.
An Epidemic of Apostasy – How Christian Seminaries Must Incorporate “Spiritual Formation” to Become Accredited, click here.
NEW BOOKLET TRACT: D is for Deception—The Language of the “New” Christianity by Kevin Reeves and the Editors at Lighthouse Trails is our newest Lighthouse Trails Booklet Tract. The Booklet Tract is 16 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 D is for Deception—The Language of the “New” Christianity, click here.
By Kevin Reeves
and the Editors at Lighthouse Trails
A number of years ago, a book written by emerging-church leaders Brian McLaren and Leonard Sweet was released. The book was called A is for Abductive: the language of the emerging church. Going through the alphabet, the authors identified many terms they hoped would be picked up by the younger generation, thus creating a unique emerging spiritual atmosphere. They called it a “primer with a mission.”1 That mission that McLaren, Sweet, and other like-minded change agents embrace has been successful in bringing in a new kind of “Christianity,” which is not biblical Christianity but rather a “New” Christianity now permeating the halls of Christian colleges, seminaries, evangelical churches, small groups, ministries, and organizations. We have compiled in this booklet common terms and their basic meanings to help uncover the true meaning behind some of the deceptive language of the “New” Christianity (i.e., the New Spirituality).
What Does That Mean?
Therefore my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge: and their honourable men are famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst. (Isaiah 5:13)
A great deal of confusion resides in today’s church. In the West, particularly, discernment among Christians is at an alarmingly low ebb. Even genuine believers in Christ have been led astray from the primacy of the Bible and swept up into an ecumenical, interspiritual environment which marks so much of our current Christian practice. Formerly solid Christian fellowships have been torn loose from scriptural moorings and now float on an endless sea of experiential religion. Anecdotal preaching has replaced time-honored biblical exposition; feelings take priority over the Scriptures; pulpit charisma rules congregations steeped in modern culture.
For Christians who understand the times in which we live and who are committed to defending the faith and warning others of spiritual deception, much of the difficulty in doing so resides in the fact that the terminology used by New Christianity/New Spirituality leaders and authors is either completely new to the biblical Christian or the terms are the same but definitions have changed.
Ignorance of the schemes of the devil is no virtue. It is incumbent upon us to “[s]tudy to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15), and in being properly equipped, to speak truth to the erring Christian and help him return to the real “ancient paths” (Jeremiah 18:15) that God laid out from the foundation of the world.
Each of the definitions of the following terms are short and in no way fully explain the complexities often involved. But we hope this glossary will help you to better understand the nature of the enemy’s deceptive plans to distinguish scriptural truth and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Language of the New Spirituality
Absence of Thought: The mental state sought after by those practicing contemplative prayer or meditation. By repeating a word or phrase or concentrating on the breath or an object, the mind goes into an altered state of consciousness and all thought becomes absent.
Alchemy: One of the terms used in the popular book, Jesus Calling, it is an ancient mystical art of the occult. Webster’s definition uses the words mystical and syncretist religion and astrology to describe alchemy.
Alignment: Spiritually speaking, bringing one’s will into conformity with the vision and goals of a religious organization or church.2
Alpha: It is the goal of meditators to reach the alpha state where the mind is in a kind of neutral trance or hypnotic slumber.
Altered State of Consciousness: A meditative or drug-induced non-ordinary state of mind. In a religious context, a state where the seeker is drawn out of his normal thinking processes into “self-realization” or contact with what he considers the divine or divine wisdom.
Ancient Disciplines (see also Spiritual Disciplines): This is not talking about ancient as in Bible days but rather is referring to Desert Fathers (monks and hermits) who drew from pagan religions and began practicing an eastern-style meditation.
Ancient Future: see Vintage Faith
Ancient Wisdom: The supposed laws of the universe that, when mastered, enable one to control one’s own reality. Another word for metaphysics or occultism.
Aquarius/Aquarian Age: Sign of the Zodiac represented by the water carrier or the Earth Age associated with this astrological sign. The term New Age refers to the coming Aquarian age, which is in the process of replacing the Pisces Age. According to astrologers, every 2,000 years constitutes an age. New Agers predict this Aquarian age will be a time of utopia, when man will come into a fuller knowledge of his supposed inherent divinity.
As Above, So Below: This term is seen as the key to unlocking all occultic practice as described in the New Age book, As Above, So Below. Signifies that God is “in” everything and man is divine. Used in Eugene Peterson’s book The Message “Bible” in the Lord’s Prayer. (Warren B. Smith explains this term in further detail in Deceived on Purpose).
At-one-ment (replaces atonement): This term has nothing to do with the atonement of Jesus Christ on the Cross; rather it is the concept that every human being and all creation is at one with each other. We are all connected together because “God” is flowing through everything and everyone.
Automatic Writing: When one enters an altered state of consciousness through a meditative practice, he or she acts as a conduit for supernatural entities or spirit guides (actually demons or familiar spirits), allowing those entities to “dictate,” via pen and paper. The act of writing down what those entities communicate.
Awakening: New Spirituality proponents say man is waking up to the realization that he is God, that divinity is within him. Thomas Merton spoke of man realizing what is already there (“God”). New Spirituality leader Leonard Sweet put this on the cover of his book Nudge— Awakening Each Other to the God Who’s Already There. Richard Foster told researcher Ray Yungen once that Thomas Merton “tried to awaken God’s people” (meaning through mysticism).
Be Still: Taken from Psalm 46:10—“Be Still and Know That I Am God.” Those promoting contemplative prayer use this phrase as part of their meditative exercises, claiming that the verse is a mandate in Scripture to practice the “silence,” when in fact, the Scripture, when taken in context, means to trust in the Lord. It has nothing to do with going into a meditative state by shutting down thought processes.
Breath Prayer: Practice consisting of picking a single word or short phrase and repeating it in conjunction with the breath. Rick Warren encourages the use of breath prayers in his highly popular book, The Purpose Driven Life.
Catalyst: Taking pastors and leaders to a “new level” (i.e., leaving the old ways and moving into “new” innovative methods and ideas). Emphasizing that everything must change and must change quickly and dramatically.
Centering/Centering Prayer: Another term for meditation (going deep within your center). A type of meditation being promoted in many mainline churches under the guise of biblical prayer, but which is actually Buddhist or Hindu in origin. Larry Crabb tells readers in his book, The Papa Prayer, that he has been greatly benefited from centering prayer. Sadly, Christian leaders such as Erwin Lutzer, James Kennedy and Jerry Falwell endorsed Crabb’s book.
Chakras: Believed by New Agers to be seven energy centers in man, aligned along the spine, which open up during the kundalini effect in meditation.
Channeling (see also Automatic Writing): Altered state of consciousness whereby the channeler opens himself up to inhabitation by spirits, often the supposed spirits of the dead or “ancient masters” who convey hidden mysteries. Acting as a medium.
Christ-Consciousness: Taught by New Agers to be the state of awareness, reached in meditation, in which one realizes one’s own divinity and oneness with God, thereby becoming a “christ” or enlightened being.
Christ Follower: While there is nothing inadvertently wrong with this term, New Christianity/New Spirituality proponents have captured the term to say a “Christian” is a dogmatic, preachy, uncaring, irrelevant person whereas a Christ follower doesn’t preach or carry around a Bible (which they say makes unbelievers/unchurched uncomfortable) but rather becomes integrated into the culture, absorbing the culture. Whereas a Christian is set apart, the Christ follower focuses on relationships, community, and social justice, they say. It is the idea that you can go for Jesus, but you don’t have to identify yourself as a Christian or part of the Christian church (for more on the term Christ follower, see http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=4810).
Christian Formation: See Spiritual Formation
“Christian” Yoga: Some claim that Yoga can be neutralized by performing a Christian rendition of it. But even Hindu yogis say there is no such thing as “Christian” yoga because the exercises cannot be separated from the religious aspects. Yoga is the heartbeat of Hinduism.
Civility: Basically, no one is to challenge or question another’s beliefs. All are valid.
Cloud of Unknowing: An ancient primer on contemplative prayer written by an anonymous monk. It instructs: “Take just a little word, of one syllable rather than of two . . . With this word you are to strike down every kind of thought under the cloud of forgetting.”
Co-Creator/Co-Creation: According to New Spirituality/emerging church advocates, man is a co-creator with God because man is equal, in abilities and nature, to God.
Colonialism: A derogatory term used by New Spirituality advocates to describe those who are still clinging to the “old time religion,” which is seen as outdated, archaic, irrelevant, and unsuccessful.
Common Ground: Using the dialectic process, an agreement among people that “ameliorates the extremes,” thus effectually dispensing with tolerance for diversity.3 In practice, it is arriving at agreement through compromise. A one-world religion will be achieved through this means.
Contemplative Prayer: Going beyond thought by the use of repeated prayer words or phrases. Similar to centering prayer in that it encourages a clearing of the mind of conscious thought in order to create a spiritual receptivity to God or the divine.
Contextual Theology: The belief that the Bible, in and of itself, is not free-standing—other factors (culture, ethnicity, history) must be taken into consideration, and with those factors, the message of the Bible must be adjusted to fit.
Convergent: A coming together or unifying of ideas. The boundaries that distinguish different beliefs are eradicated.
Conversation (or Conversation Journey): New Christianity followers reject the idea that truth is unchangeable or that we can have certainty in knowing truth; thus, we have “conversations” that are always seeking answers but never finding. To be certain of anything is arrogant, they say. This ongoing conversation journey is inclusive of all beliefs and ideas; nothing is rejected.
Cosmic Christ: All world religions will eventually be bound together by the “Cosmic Christ” principle, which is another term for the higher self; thus, the Cosmic Christ is the “Christ” within every human being. The Catholic Church now has in its Catechism the concept that we are all Christs.
Creative Visualization: Imaging in the mind, during meditation especially, a desired object or occurrence, then expecting its physical fulfillment. In simple terms, it is a practice that supposedly creates one’s own reality. Though pagan in origin, this practice has its “Christian” counterpart in various aspects of the charismatic/Pentecostal church, most notably in Word of Faith, in which faith proclamations are enjoined with visualizing the desired result.
Critical Mass: While a scientific term, when speaking of populations of people it is referring to “an explosion in global consciousness capable of ‘touching’ or transforming all of humankind.”4 The idea is that when a certain critical number of people all share the same awareness, then change can come to all people’s thinking because of the critical mass (as in an atomic explosion). A critical mass does not have to be a majority if it is a powerful enough mass, but unity is essential and so is meditation.
Cultural Architect: An emerging church/progressive Christianity term for pastor or leader with the idea that these cultural architects differ from their pastor counterparts in that they are in touch with the culture and are relevant.
Daniel Plan: Saddleback Church’s fifty-two week spiritual and physical health and wellness program. For the program, Warren enlisted the assistance of three physicians with New Age/holistic medicine beliefs and teachings (Dr. Mehmet Oz, Dr. Daniel Amen, and Dr. Mark Hymen).
Dark Night of the Soul: Term coined by John of the Cross, describing a time of intense inner crisis in which the seeker feels far from God. It is highly typical of contemplatives to use this idea of spiritual dryness or emptiness to convince followers they need something more in their relationship with God. Contemplatives insist that the “old ways” don’t work anymore.
De-Construction: Undoing the old traditional Christianity. In A is for Abductive, McLaren says it is “disassembling anything that has acquired a pat and patent set of meanings [i.e., doctrine] for the purpose of reassembling in new ways [i.e., emerging/New Spirituality]” (p. 95).
Desert Fathers: A group of ancient Christian monks living in wilderness areas of the Middle East who practiced contemplative prayer, borrowing meditation techniques from Hindu and Buddhist sources. You will often find references to the Desert Fathers in contemplative-promoting books.
Dominionism: The belief that God’s people will rise up as overcomers and put Satan and his minions under their (not Christ’s) feet. According to Dominionists, Christ cannot return until this is accomplished. The rapture is discounted as a myth, with the declaration that Christ will return, not for His people, but rather already in them (no physical return). The overcomers will then present to Christ a faultless world where He will then rule.
Ecstasy: The hoped-for outcome of contemplative prayer or meditation wherein the seeker is carried out of himself into a oneness with the Divine. People say they experience an ecstasy compared to nothing they have ever known before. They feel a sense of unity with all of life and are convinced of their own immortality. Such experiences keep them returning for more. One is not going to believe he or she is God if one doesn’t feel like God.
Ecumenism: The merging of the various Christian denominations and doctrinal persuasions resulting in a dilution of biblical faith.
Emergent: The term emergent was first used by the group (Brian McLaren, Tony Jones, Dan Kimball, Mark Driscoll, etc.) originally called Young Leaders Network. When they left Leadership Network to go on their own, they became Emergent. Today the terms emergent and emerging are often used interchangeably.
Emerging Church: Postmodern congregations that follow a loose set of doctrines promoting a redefinition of Christianity and incorporating into their fellowships some or all of the following: Roman Catholic mysticism and contemplative prayer, eastern meditation techniques, pagan religious practices such as walking the labyrinth, Lectio Divina, mantra, etc. Highly ecumenical. The focus is on social justice and cultural relevancy rather than the Gospel and the Word of God. Emphasis is on a social gospel as opposed to a personal Gospel.
Eucharist: The small wafer administered during the Communion portion of the Catholic Mass. When consecrated by the priest, the wafer supposedly becomes the literal body of Christ. Some emerging and evangelical churches are turning their communion services into modifications of the Catholic Eucharistic mass.
Fractal: Directly related to what are being called the “new sciences” of “Chaos Theory” and “Fractal Theory.” Linked with the occult phrase “as above, so below.” Mentioned in William Paul Young’s book, The Shack.
Fresh: New Spirituality advocates say we need to see God in new “fresh” ways. Rick Warren says this in The Purpose Driven Life. Occultist Alice Bailey says the path to God will be based on “a fresh orientation to divinity and to the acceptance of the fact of God Transcendent and of God Immanent within every form of life.”5
Fusion: A common term within New Spirituality to describe a fusing together of ideas, beliefs, and people.
Global P.E.A.C.E. Plan: Initiative originating with Saddleback Church’s pastor Rick Warren, where social justice “deeds” take precedence over doctrine and beliefs.
God’s Dream: A crossover term used by both the New Age and the church and oftentimes connotes desire for world peace. When people of all faiths move past “doctrinal idiosyncrasies” and “transcend divisive dogmas,” they can attain “God’s Dream” for world peace.
Ground of All Being: New Ager Marilyn Ferguson wrote that God is within everyone and everything. God is described as the universal “ground of all being.”
Higher Self: Supposed God-self within each human being. New Agers seek to connect, through meditation, with their higher self. Also called the Christ-Self or True-Self. Brennan Manning helped to bring this term into the evangelical church.
Holy Laughter: Considered by proponents to be a sign of “revival,” holy laughter is uncontrollable laughter, often spontaneous and mass-manifested, erupting in response to “the anointing” or the supposed manifest presence of God.
Ignatius Exercises: Meditative exercises named after Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Catholic Jesuit Order.
Immanence: The New Age belief that God is in everyone.
Incarnational: A term used to describe an emerging “progressive” kind of evangelism that focuses on the needs of people but downplays the importance of sharing the Gospel message (as that can offend).
Individualism: New Spirituality advocates resent individualism, saying that is the old way of viewing things. Now we must be collective, unified. Individual relationships with Jesus Christ are to be replaced with communities in which social justice is the focus.
Interspirituality: The premise that divinity (God) is in all things, and the presence of God is in all religions; a connecting together of all things, and through mysticism (i.e., meditation), this state of divinity can be recognized. Consequently, a premise based on and upheld by an experience that occurs during a self-hypnotic trance linking one to an unseen world rather than to the sound doctrine of the Bible. Wayne Teasdale, a lay monk who coined the term interspirituality, says that interspirituality is “the spiritual common ground which exists among the world’s religions.”
Jesus Prayer: A popular version of this prayer, often used in contemplative meditation, is “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner,” often abbreviated to “Jesus.”
Kingdom Now: A teaching that Christians should be walking consistently in supernatural power and establishing Christ’s kingdom on earth. Much overlap exists between Kingdom Now, Dominionism, and Latter Rain theology.
Kingdom of God: New Spirituality believes the kingdom of God can be brought to earth through humanity becoming one. When they use this term, they don’t mean it in the sense the Bible uses it but rather it is a kingdom based on the unity of all mankind and man realizing his divinity. There is no Cross in this kingdom.
Kundalini: Powerful energy associated with the chakras and brought on through meditation. Hindu in origin, kundalini manifestations include uncontrollable shaking, writhing, convulsions, trance states, a sensation of fire or electricity on or in the body, swooning, etc.
Labyrinth: An ancient pattern, often constructed of rocks or cement, wherein a circular pathway leads to a central point. Originating in Greek mythology, labyrinths are gaining a strong following among practitioners of contemplative prayer and are becoming a visible part of church landscaping and architecture. Seekers of any faith are encouraged to walk the labyrinth’s pathways and pray for an individual experience with God. Read Carl Teichrib’s booklet The Labyrinth Journey for a complete explanation.
Lectio Divina: Means “sacred reading.” This contemplative prayer practice is gaining popularity within the evangelical/Protestant camp. It often involves taking a single word or small phrase from Scripture and repeating the words over and over in order to “hear from God.” Basically, Scripture is being misused as a tool for meditation.
Making History: Another way of saying things must change.
Mantra: Word or words repeated either silently or out loud in order to induce an altered state of consciousness. A way to turn off thoughts and enter the “silence.”
Maturity: A term used by all contemplatives, such as Richard Foster and Rick Warren, to describe the outcome of someone who is a regular practitioner of contemplative prayer. The traditional view of God, they say, is somewhat immature or childish, and the contemplative view of God is mature. In other words, the mystical view of God will give true maturity as opposed to a more juvenile or childish view of God.
Meditation: The meditation most of us are familiar with involves a deep, continuous thinking about something. But New Age meditation does just the opposite. It involves ridding oneself of all thoughts in order to still the mind by putting it in the equivalent of pause or neutral. A comparison would be that of turning a fast-moving stream into a still pond. When meditation is employed by damming the free flow of thinking, it holds back active thought and causes a shift in consciousness. This condition is not to be confused with daydreaming, where the mind dwells on a subject. New Age meditation works as a holding mechanism until the mind becomes thoughtless, empty, and silent.
Meditation and Contemplation (Biblical): A normal thinking process of reflecting on the things of God and biblical precepts.
Metaphysical: Beyond the physical realm or pertaining to the supernatural.
Mindfulness: A Buddhist term from bapasana. It’s the practice of meditation. Gives the classic Buddhist spiritual enlightenment. Now it is being used in virtually every area of human endeavor: stress reduction, education, medicine, post-traumatic stress, and stress in the workplace.
Missional (also Missional Church): Replacing the term missions; it strives to improve society through social justice. De-emphasizes evangelism to the lost. Emphasizes being relevant and connected to the culture.
Mysticism: A direct experience with the supernatural realm.
Namaste: A greeting that occurs at the end of each Yoga session—meaning the god in me greets the god in you.
New Age: In a religious context, an all-encompassing spirituality, sourced in ancient pagan practices that defies specific “doctrinal” definitions. It is geared toward New Age religion, which can incorporate teachings and practices from virtually any other religion or non-religion such as Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, Wicca, astrology, alchemy, veganism, homeopathic medicine, tarot cards, crystal gazing, etc.
New Apostolic Reformation (NAR): Teaches that there are apostles and prophets today in the church who are equal to or greater than the apostles and prophets who wrote the Bible and that to come into the fullness of Christ, the church needs to submit to them. Teachings include varying degrees of Latter Rain, Five-Fold Ministry, Dominion, and Kingdom Now theologies.6
New Reformation: The emerging church says there is a “new” reformation every 500 years, and we are due for one now. Whereas the last reformation was a breaking away from the Roman Catholic Church, this one will be a uniting of all belief systems. The late emerging church leader Phyllis Tickle said once that Brian McLaren is the next Luther.7
New Thought: Movement that tries to merge classic occult concepts with Christian terminology. Two examples are Christian Science and Unity church.
Non-dualism: Ray Yungen says Satan is trying to eradicate the gap between good and evil. In the New Spirituality, there is no “dualism” (good and bad, right and wrong, etc.).
Nonphysical Guides: Spirit guides or as the Bible refers, familiar spirits and demons.
Occult: Means “hidden” and refers to spiritual practices utilized to contact the supernatural realm. The practice of metaphysics throughout history.
Oneness: God is in everyone and everything.
Oneness Blessing: An effort to bring the Oneness Blessing to millions of people around the world with the hope of changing people’s consciousness and thus the state of the planet. This Oneness experience takes place when a Oneness Blessing giver places his or her hands on a person’s head (although it can also be bestowed through eye contact or even simple intention), and a sense of awakening into oneness is imparted.8
Organic Church: Often called a house church or simple church movement; different from “going to church.” The organic church sees itself as new, vibrant, and unique, not like the “outdated” traditional church.
Palms Down, Palms Up: A contemplative exercise wherein with eyes closed, one puts his palms up to receive from God and his palms downward to get rid of the bad within him.
Panentheism: God is in all things. God is both personal and is also in all of creation. It is a universal view that believes God is in all people and that someday all of God’s creation will be saved and be one with him. There is a physical dimension but God is true essence and real identity.
Pantheism: God is all things. The universe and all life are connected in a sum. This sum is the total reality of God. Thus, man, animals, plants, and all physical matter are seen as equal. The assumption is “all is one,” therefore, all is deity.
Paradigm Shift: See Shift
Postmodernism: A fluid term indicating a worldview in direct opposition to the morals, logic, and societal expression of the modern world from the Enlightenment through the beginning of the Twentieth Century. Truth is viewed as a social construct and is not objective or absolute. In the emerging church, it is marked by a disdain for both solid biblical exegesis and rational theological discourse, and an embracing of individual experience, desires, or thought processes over objective truth. In the emerging mind, one is always seeking but never finding. Doubt is heralded whereas certainty is considered arrogant.
Practicing the Presence of God: Taken from the ancient monk Brother Lawrence’s book by the same name, today the phrase is used in conjunction with practicing contemplative prayer. God’s presence is no longer based on a personal relationship with Jesus Christ for the born-again believer but focuses on “practicing” God’s presence through meditative exercises such as Lectio Divina or centering prayer.
Prayer of the Heart: Another term for contemplative prayer. A move from doctrine to the mystical. Henri Nouwen stated: “The quiet repetition of a single word can help us to descend with the mind into the heart.”9
Prayer Path: See Labyrinth
Progressive: A term used to replace the term emerging or emergent, meaning a type of advanced Christian who has shed the old stale ways of traditional biblical Christianity.
Quantum Spirituality: When man overcomes his physical boundaries and limitations and becomes a fully realized being, awakened to the consciousness that he is God (also Quantum Leap).
Red-letter Christians: A term promoted by Tony Campolo and other “progressive” emerging figures who say they follow the red letters of Jesus in the Bible. They focus primarily on Christ’s words of love and forgiveness but disregard His words about judgment, sin, and evil.
Reiki: Spiritual energy channeled by one attuned to the Reiki power. Literally, translated god energy.
Replacement Theology: The belief that the Christian church has replaced Israel, and Israel no longer has any significance from a biblically prophetic point of view. God’s promise of an eternal covenant with Israel was not eternal after all, according to this view. See Mike Oppenheimer’s booklet Israel: Replacing What God Has Not.
Re-words (re-jesus, re-imagine, re-think, re-form, re-invent, re-imagine): Words used to suggest that traditional historical Christianity is outdated and must be re-created.
Sacred Space: Either a physical spot where one goes to engage in a mystical practice or the actual silence (state of being) during the mystical experience.
Scripture Engagement: When used, often includes Lectio Divina. Biblegateway.com, a popular online Bible resource, is promoting Lectio Divina through “Scriptural Engagement.”
Seeker-friendly: When a church puts more emphasis on making unbelievers comfortable in church and less emphasis on discipling believers. Regular members are often encouraged to leave their Bibles at home so “seekers” are not made to feel uncomfortable.
Self-centered: In the eyes of the New Age/New Spirituality teachers, anyone who is not focused on bringing about global unity and world peace through interspirituality is self-centered. “Self-centered” people do not believe that all humans are connected to each other with a god-energy in each person. To say that God is separate from man is “self-centered.” Rick Warren uses this term numerous times in his book The Purpose Driven Life in the context of unity and peace.
Self-realization: Full contact with the higher self, resulting in knowing oneself to be God. The “enlightenment” that occurs, often during meditation, wherein the practitioner becomes aware of his divinity or his connection with the divine.
Servant Leadership: Today, there is much talk about teaching people to become good leaders. In reality, what is happening is people are being taught to be “good” followers who do not exercise discernment. The term (and the concept) is used to further encourage people to accept the teachings of the New Age/New Spirituality.
Shift: The idea that the church needs a radically different view of approaching and experiencing God.
Silence, the: Absence of normal thought. Common in Hindu, Buddhist, and Christian contemplative practice and is supposedly a state, often reached through meditation, where the practitioner can be in touch with his higher self, the universe, or the divine.
Slaughterhouse Religion: The belief that a loving God would never send his son to a violent “slaughterhouse” death for the sake of others. It rejects the view of substitutionary atonement (see Faith Undone for an entire chapter on this).
Soaking or Soaking Prayer: A method commonly seen in charismatic revival meetings. The participant receives the particular anointing present, normally through the laying on of hands, and “soaks” in the supposed presence of God. Manifestations associated with soaking prayer can include slain in the spirit, uncontrollable shaking or laughter, being encompassed by a sense of heaviness, spontaneous visions, altered states of consciousness, etc.
Social Justice (and Social Gospel): Shifts the emphasis from repentance and faith in Jesus Christ to more earthly endeavors like environment, empowerment, employment, entitlements, equality, and esteem-building programs promoted by global elites to benefit or punish selected people groups as needed for its “sustainable development”—an agenda more in keeping with that of a community organizer than a follower of Christ.10
Soul Care: Another term for “spiritual direction” with the purpose of finding the divinity that is within each person through contemplative meditation.
Source: An overlapping word used in both the New Age and the church as a substitute for God.
Spiritual Disciplines: The supposed disciplines used in Spiritual Formation for the purpose of becoming more christ-like. Can include fasting, prayer, good deeds, and always includes the “discipline” of contemplative prayer (e.g., solitude and silence). The Desert Fathers practiced extensively self-denial and disciplines, which as Paul indicates in Colossians 2:20-23 only provide “a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility.”
Spiritual Director: One who promotes or mentors people in the spiritual disciplines. Often ministering in Christian retreat centers or employed by Christian colleges.
Spiritual Formation: A movement that has provided a platform and a channel through which contemplative prayer has entered the church. Find spiritual formation being used, and in nearly every case you will find contemplative spirituality being promoted. In fact, contemplative spirituality is the heartbeat of the spiritual formation movement. In spiritual formation, it is believed that if you practice certain disciplines, you will become more christ-like.
Superconsciousness: Basically, the New Age concept of how one connects with God. The word conscious means awareness and super mean larger or greater. This realm that exists is not known by the ordinary five senses, so when one gets in touch with it, he is achieving ultimate awareness. This is also the realm of familiar spirits. This term is used in the third Harry Potter book in conjunction with meditation and the inner eye (from the chakras).
Synergy: Working together in unity to bring about the spiritual evolution of man.
Taize: Taize is an ecumenical interspiritual community in France. Taize worship is a prayer service consisting of meditative singing and periods of silence in order to reach a contemplative state.
Tantra (aka: tantric sex): Tantra is the name of the ancient Hindu sacred texts that contain certain rituals and secrets. Some deal with taking the energies brought forth in meditation through the chakras and combining them with love-making to enhance sexual experiences.
Thin Places: This term originated with Celtic spirituality (i.e., contemplative) and is in line with panentheism. Thin places imply that God is in all things, and the gap between God, evil, man, and the universe thins out and ultimately disappears in meditation.
Transformational: From the contemplative point of view, one experiences transformation from practicing the contemplative silence. This transformation is actually a change in consciousness brought on by entering altered states through meditation. Focus becomes interspiritual and universalistic.
Tribal: Used to explain that everyone is in a different tribe (religious belief system), and all tribes are legitimate; we need to embrace each other’s tribes.
True Self: Deceptively used by both the New Age and by many in the church to define your “inner divinity,” your “divine self,” which they say can be reached through meditation.
Ultimate Reality: Buddhist concept of God. Spiritual presence in all things.
Universalism: The belief that all humanity has or will ultimately have a positive connection and relationship with God. A universalist belief system, or universalism, states that every human being will be reunited with God, whether they believe in Jesus Christ or not. Universalist belief also embraces the idea that every human being has divinity or God within them.
Vintage Faith or Vintage Christianity: A spirituality that goes back to former practices, but not as far back as the apostles’ and Jesus’ teachings in the Bible. They say we need only look back to Catholicism and early century monks and mystics.
To order copies of D is for Deception—The Language of the “New” Christianity, click here.
1. http://www.brianmclaren.net/emc/archives/0310243564_samptxt.pdf, p. 17.
5. Alice Bailey, The Reappearance of the Christ, p. 150.
6. Sandy Simpson, the New Apostolic Reformation, November 2011: http://www.echozoe.com/archives/2494.
8. Caryl Matrisciana, “The Oneness Blessing—Pathway to Global Awakening”: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=201.
9. Henri Nouwen, The Way of the Heart (San Francisco, CA: Harper, 1991), p. 81.
10. Paul Proctor, “Social Justice Is Not Christian Charity, http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=4193.
Editor’s Note: We want to thank Lighthouse Trails authors Warren B. Smith, Ray Yungen, and Roger Oakland for their permission to use definitions on some terms from their books for the purpose of this glossary.
For more information on the “New” Christianity/New Spirituality, we encourage you to read Faith Undone, A Time of Departing, A “Wonderful” Deception, “Another Jesus” Calling and other Lighthouse Trails books and booklets. Visit www.lighthousetrails.com.
To order copies of D is for Deception—The Language of the “New” Christianity, click here.