Archive for the ‘Spiritual Formation’ Category
Dear Lighthouse Trails:
In October, I was in Bosnia and Montenegro (ex-Yugoslavie). I saw that the pastors are not good to speak with. So I wondered. I looked on the Internet, and I found out that in 2011, 2012, and 2013, there was a group there to teach about prayer: the College of Prayer with Fred Hartley. I found out that they also teach Spiritual Formation. I warned the pastors, but only one, the Baptist pastor in Bosnia, wrote me back and said he didn’t feel well about these seminars and was asking the Lord. My e-mail came at the right time.
One day in the streets of Sarajevo, Bosnia, I met an American missionary and two Swiss women. They asked me to come to the Sunday service. I felt something was wrong. There was a mission group from Switzerland, and the whole service had to do with contemplation, and they prophesied for each other. I went home with the thought, the whole gospel is now only about giving prophecies. I warned the American missionary, but I think she didn’t like to hear. These people are going now as missionaries everywhere and bringing this deception.
I’m very thankful that you opened our eyes. Everywhere I go, I recommend the book A Time of Departing. I was in 58 countries, and in February, the Lord will be bringing me to Laos and Vietnam. It’s a miracle!
God bless you and your work. In Jesus,
Catherine from Switzerland
Warren B. Smith on Stand Up For the Truth Radio – Regarding Thomas Nelson and Sarah Young: Whitewashing Jesus Calling
By Amy Spreeman
Stand Up For the Truth Radio
This radio Episode with Warren B. Smith and Amy Spreeman
What if you are a major publisher like Thomas Nelson and you suddenly discover that your mega best-selling book Jesus Calling was inspired by a channeled New Age book? And what if you find out that some of the “messages” your author “received” from her “Jesus” weren’t really from Jesus because they contradict what the real Jesus Christ says in the Bible? Do you deal honestly with these problems with your millions of readers? Or, do you protect your multi-million dollar franchise by whitewashing the red flags?
The brand new special 10th anniversary edition of Jesus Calling has undergone a sudden, miraculous “transformation,” without any explanation from the publisher or the author.
Want proof? Warren Smith, a former New Ager who wrote the book, Another Jesus” Calling: How False Christs are Entering the Church through Contemplative Prayer,” has just published a new 16-page tract, Changing “Jesus Calling”—Damage Control for a False Christ. Warren is here with us today, and we’re going to give away 10 of those pamphlets in the next segment.
If you’ve never heard our original interview with Warren about Jesus Calling, you’ll want to take some time and listen to: Which “Jesus” is calling? An interview with Warren Smith. It’s an interview that many of our listeners have shared widely with their loved ones.
Warren spent many years in the New Age practicing the very types of spiritual exercises put forth by Contemplative Prayer proponents. He knows full well that not every experience is from God but in fact can be from familiar, seducing spirits. Warren and his wife Joy have committed their lives to Jesus Christ and to warning others about the false christs that are deceiving masses of people and coming in the name of the true Jesus Christ.
Changing “Jesus Calling”—Damage Control for a False Christ by Warren B. Smith is our newest Lighthouse Trails Print 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 Changing “Jesus Calling”—Damage Control for a False Christ, click here.
By Warren B. Smith
What if you are a major publisher like Thomas Nelson and you suddenly discover that your mega best-selling book Jesus Calling was inspired by a channeled New Age book? And what if you find out that some of the “messages” your author “received” from her “Jesus” weren’t really from Jesus because they contradict what the real Jesus Christ says in the Bible? And what if your best-selling author has introduced a host of other problems in her book that your usually sharp editors had somehow overlooked? What do you do given these issues are already in the pages of ten million previously published books? If you want to be fair to your readers, you deal honestly with these problems as they are brought to your attention. However, if you are more interested in protecting your product rather than in protecting the truth, you do everything in your power to make these problems disappear. One thing is for sure. Sarah Young and Thomas Nelson have made some of their problems suddenly disappear in recent editions of Jesus Calling—most especially in a special 10th anniversary edition of Jesus Calling released on September 30, 2014.
Like the Watergate Tapes
Perhaps taking their cue from the missing eighteen-and-a-half minutes from Richard Nixon’s Watergate tapes, Sarah Young and Thomas Nelson have been systematically deleting controversial material from Jesus Calling. Adding, subtracting, cutting, pasting, and completely eliminating problematic words, sentences, and even whole paragraphs, Young and her editors do not hesitate to put words in the mouth of their “Jesus,” even as they take others away. But like the Watergate tapes, the missing evidence and their in-your-face tactics are doing more to expose their problems than cover them up.
“Another Jesus” Calling
In the fall of 2013, my book “Another Jesus” Calling was published by Lighthouse Trails Publishing. I was not the first person to express concern about Jesus Calling, but not much had been written up to that point. As our concerns were publicized, Sarah Young and Thomas Nelson obviously became aware of our objections. Without a word of explanation to anyone, significant alterations have been made to recent editions of Jesus Calling. With “now you see it, now you don’t” editing, some of their major problems suddenly disappeared from the pages of Jesus Calling. To illustrate the lengths to which Sarah Young and Thomas Nelson have gone to protect their book and their multi-million dollar Jesus Calling industry, I will provide five specific examples—and there are many others—to demonstrate how readers of Jesus Calling are being managed and manipulated. Make no mistake about it—damage control is in full swing at Thomas Nelson, and it is especially evident in their special 10th anniversary edition of Sarah Young’s book.
(1) Jesus Calling was inspired by a channeled New Age book
Jesus Calling was inspired by the book God Calling.1 In an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network, author Sarah Young said that her journey with Jesus Calling began with the book God Calling. She stated:
My journey began with a devotional book (God Calling) written in the 1930s by two women who practiced waiting in God’s Presence, writing the messages they received as they “listened.” About a year after I started reading this book, I began to wonder if I too could receive messages during my times of communing with God. . . . So I decided to “listen” to God with pen in hand, writing down whatever I sensed He was saying.2 (parenthesis in original)
But Sarah Young and her editors somehow missed the fact that God Calling is a channeled New Age book. God Calling is a collection of channeled messages presented in the form of a daily devotional. The messages were channeled through two English women in the 1930s and could easily have been titled Jesus Calling because it was reputedly dictated by “The Living Christ Himself.”3
The Encyclopedia of New Age Beliefs, published by Harvest House Christian publishers, specifically describes God Calling as a channeled New Age book. In their lengthy chapter on channeling and spiritual dictation, authors/apologists John Weldon and John Ankerberg explain that channeling is a form of New Age “mediumship” and according to the Bible it “is a practice forbidden (Deuteronomy 18:9-12).”4 Under the subheading titled “Impersonations of Christianity,” the authors describe God Calling as a New Age book “replete with denials of biblical teaching”5 as it “subtly encourages psychic development and spiritistic inspiration under the guise of Christ’s personal guidance . . . and often misinterprets Scripture.”6 Yet Sarah Young wrote that it was God Calling that inspired her to receive her own messages from “Jesus.” In her original introduction to Jesus Calling, Young praised God Calling as “a treasure to me”:
During that same year I began reading God Calling, a devotional book written by two anonymous “listeners.” These women practiced waiting quietly in God’s Presence, pencils and paper in hand, recording the messages they received from Him. The messages are written in first person, with “I” designating God. While I was living in Japan, someone had mailed this book to me from the U.S. I had not read it at that time, but I had held onto the book through two international moves. Six or seven years later, this little paperback became a treasure to me. It dove-tailed remarkably well with my longing to live in Jesus’ Presence.7 (bold added)
The Damage Control
In recent editions of Jesus Calling—including the 10th anniversary edition—the preceding paragraph regarding God Calling has been removed from the author’s longstanding introduction. No explanation. No apology. Nothing. Suddenly and completely gone is any mention of God Calling—how it had inspired her to receive her own “messages” from “Jesus” and how it was a “treasure” to her. Her previous praise of God Calling had become problematic as it had drawn obvious New Age comparisons to her own book. It had also become apparent that her original endorsement of God Calling was helping to popularize this New Age book among believers! While Christian leaders have been strangely silent about Jesus Calling, it was the secular media that took Sarah Young and Thomas Nelson to task for changing and deleting problematic material in their best-selling book. Ruth Graham, writing in The Daily Beast, a popular online American news reporting and opinion website formerly associated with Newsweek magazine, wrote an article questioning the changes being made to Sarah Young’s original introduction. Graham wrote:
The latest edition of Jesus Calling includes some important changes. The paragraph about God Calling has been deleted, and references to received “messages” have been changed to the less mystically inflected “writings and devotions.” In a passage in which Young recounts her early attempts to write down what God told her, the new version characterizes this as “focusing on Jesus and His Word, while asking Him to guide my thoughts.” Thomas Nelson refers to the book as “Sarah’s prayer journal,” emphasizing that Young is not claiming to speak for Jesus. A skeptical reader, comparing the two introductions, would see an effort by a publisher to bring an increasingly controversial but lucrative best-seller into line with mainstream evangelical orthodoxy.8
In that same article, Ruth Graham also questioned the explanations offered by Thomas Nelson publicist Katie Powell:
In an email responding to my questions, the book’s publicist at Thomas Nelson, Katie Powell, wrote that the reference to God Calling was never meant as more than “a nod,” and it was deleted because it had “created some confusion.” “The book’s theology has always been sound,” she wrote. “The changes were made to make the introduction easier to understand, especially since Jesus Calling is now being read by such a wide variety of people.” Thomas Nelson did not call attention to the changes, Powell wrote, because the introduction’s “content did not change” between editions. But it’s hard to square that with the similarities between Young’s book and God Calling—right down to the title.9
Graham’s skepticism was right on target. And contrary to the statement by the Thomas Nelson publicist, the content of the introduction has changed in recent editions. The unexplained changes have caused many former supporters of Jesus Calling to stop using the devotional. Christian online newspaper WorldNetDaily (WND) picked up on the controversy and published two articles,“Top Christian Bestseller Accused of Heresy”10 and “Is Hit Book ‘Jesus Calling’ Pushing New Age?”11 Charisma magazine followed up with a similar article that noted the growing controversy. It was titled “Critics Accuse ‘Jesus Calling’ of Mixing Truth With New Age Error.”12
Note: For Sarah Young to not have initially recognized God Calling as a New Age book should raise some serious red flags. For her to praise God Calling as “a treasure to me” should raise those red flags even further. But for Sarah Young and her publisher to remove all references to God Calling without any explanation or apology to her millions of readers is perhaps the reddest flag of all. It is the height of spiritual irresponsibility for Sarah Young to pretend it is no big deal after her original endorsement of God Calling re-ignited the sales of this blatant New Age book, especially when God Calling—thanks to her—now sits alongside Jesus Calling in thousands of bookstores across the country—including countless Christian bookstores.
(2) Sarah Young originally wrote that she “received messages” from “Jesus” Himself
Because of Sarah Young’s stated affection for the channeled “messages” in God Calling, the “messages” she was receiving from “Jesus” were immediately suspect.
The Damage Control
In recent editions of Jesus Calling, all ten references to the words “message” and “messages” have been deleted from her otherwise longstanding introduction. What were originally described as “messages” she “received” from “Jesus” are now being described as “writings” and “devotions” that she “gleaned” in her “quiet moments.”
Sentences in Her Original Introduction
This practice of listening to God has increased my intimacy with Him more than any other spiritual discipline, so I want to share some of the messages I have received. In many parts of the world, Christians seem to be searching for a deeper experience of Jesus’ Presence and Peace. The messages that follow address that felt need.13 (bold added)
Replacement Sentences in Recent Editions
This practice of being still in God’s Presence has increased my intimacy with Him more than any other spiritual discipline, so I want to share some of the writings I have gleaned from these quiet moments. In many parts of the world, Christians seem to be searching for a deeper experience of Jesus’ Presence and Peace. The devotions that follow address that felt need.14 (bold added)
In the example immediately below, observe how “messages” again become “devotions” in the replacement sentence now found in recent editions. Also note how the phrase “with your Bible open” has been added to the original wording to make things appear more biblical.
Sentence in Her Original Introduction
These messages are meant to be read slowly, preferably in a quiet place.15 (bold added)
Replacement Sentence in Recent Editions
The devotions in this book are meant to be read slowly, preferably in a quiet place—with your Bible open.16 (bold added)
Note: In the not yet damage-controlled original introduction to Jesus Calling: 365 Devotions for Kids, Sarah Young makes it abundantly clear that what she calls “devotions” are in fact “messages” she has “received” from her “Jesus.” She writes:
Since then, I have practiced listening a lot. Usually I write His messages in a notebook, but sometimes I just spend time with Him for a while—and write nothing. The devotions in this book are some of the messages I have received.17 (bold added)
Summary: Changing the “messages” she “received” to the “writings” and “devotions” she “gleaned” in her “quiet moments” attempts to counter any suggestion that Sarah Young might be getting deceived by a seducing spirit that is presenting itself as the real Jesus (1 Timothy 4:1, Matthew 24:4-5).
3) Sarah Young’s “Jesus” contradicts the Bible’s true Jesus Christ
In two separate messages, Sarah Young was told by her “Jesus” that the last words he spoke after his resurrection and before ascending into heaven were “I am with you always.” But this statement made by the true Jesus Christ on the Mount of Galilee were not His last words before ascending into heaven. His last words were spoken from the Mount of Olives as recorded in Acts 1:7-9, 12. The two “messages” Sarah Young received from her “Jesus” contradict the words of the true Jesus Christ in the Holy Bible. What her “Jesus” said was totally unbiblical.
The Damage Control
Since this unbiblical contradiction was brought to light in my book “Another Jesus” Calling, Sarah Young and Thomas Nelson have eliminated this obvious contradiction in their 10th anniversary edition. In other words, they had their “Jesus” correct himself. Compare the original January 28th and October 15th statements that have been in Jesus Calling for the last ten years, with the replacement statements now inserted in the new 10th anniversary edition.
January 28th Original Statement
I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS. These were the last words I spoke before ascending into heaven. I continue to proclaim this promise to all who will listen.18 (bold added)
January 28th Replacement Statement
I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS. I spoke these words to My disciples after My resurrection. I continue to proclaim this promise to all who will listen.19 (bold added)
October 15th Original Statement
TRY TO STAY CONSCIOUS OF ME as you go step by step through this day. My Presence with you is both a promise and a protection. My final statement just before I went to heaven was: Surely I am with you always. That promise was for all of My followers, without exception.20 (bold added)
October 15th Replacement Statement
TRY TO STAY CONSCIOUS OF ME as you go step by step through this day. My Presence with you is both a promise and a protection. After My resurrection, I assured My followers: Surely I am with you always. That promise was for all of My followers, without exception.21 (bold added)
Note: One of the 250 “messages” Sarah Young included in her yet-to-be-corrected Jesus Calling Devotional Bible (NKJV) is the original October 15th “message” from Jesus Calling—“My final statement just before I went to heaven was: Surely I am with you always.” Given that this statement is clearly unbiblical, Young’s justification for her messages to be included “alongside the biblical text” falls a little flat. She writes:
Since my writings are rooted in the infallible, unchanging Word of God, having them appear alongside the biblical text would seem to be a natural place for them.22
Jesus Corrects Himself?
Sarah Young might argue that because Jesus never contradicts Himself, she must have heard it wrong. But if that were the case, she had to hear it wrong on two separate occasions because the unbiblical statement is in two different messages. With this in mind, an important question must be asked. Who was Sarah Young listening to when she “received” these two “messages?” Obviously the real Jesus does not contradict himself—much less correct Himself in regards to His own words and actions.
And for those who might argue that there is no longer a problem because this contradiction and other problematic areas have been corrected, several more questions must be asked. What about the ten million readers who have trusted these unbiblical messages over the last ten years? Do you just pretend it never happened? Aren’t they owed some kind of explanation as to how Sarah Young’s “Jesus” could make mistakes of this magnitude. But perhaps most importantly, how can an author and publisher—or anyone for that matter—believe they have the right to put words in and out of the mouth of Jesus Christ like He is some kind of literary device—and most especially when it is for the purpose of damage control?
Regardless of whether Sarah Young has been listening to a deceptive spirit (1Timothy 4:1) or to her own confused thoughts (1 Corinthians 14:33)—or a combination of both—she is deceived and is, in turn, deceiving others (2 Timothy 3:13) whether she realizes it or not. Believers must search the Scriptures to see if the things they are being told are really true (Acts 17:11), and they must test the voices they are listening to “because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).
4) Sarah Young’s “Jesus” stated that Abraham was guilty of “idolatry” and “son-worship”
Sarah Young’s “Jesus” said that Abraham was a man of “undisciplined emotions” and was guilty of “son-worship” and “idolatry.” Many believers have recoiled at these strange, extra-biblical remarks.
The Damage Control
Sarah Young and Thomas Nelson have attempted to make this particular problem disappear by deleting all references to Abraham and Isaac in the August 23rd message in Jesus Calling.” As they eliminate Abraham and Isaac, they are simultaneously cutting, pasting, and inserting Jacob and Joseph in their place. Compare the original August 23rd entry with the one that has replaced it in recent editions.
August 23rd “Message” in the Original Edition
ENTRUST YOUR LOVED ONES TO ME; release them into My protective care. They are much safer with Me than in your clinging hands. If you let a loved one become an idol in your heart, you endanger that one—as well as yourself. Remember the extreme measures I used with Abraham and Isaac. I took Isaac to the very point of death to free Abraham from son-worship. Both Abraham and Isaac suffered terribly because of the father’s undisciplined emotions. I detest idolatry, even in the form of parental love.23 (bold added and signifies material that was deleted)
August 23rd Replacement Message
ENTRUST YOUR LOVED ONES TO ME; release them into My protective care. They are much safer with Me than in your clinging hands. If you let a loved one become an idol in your heart, you endanger that one—as well as yourself. Joseph and his father, Jacob, suffered terribly because Jacob loved Joseph more than any of his other sons and treated him with special favor. So Joseph’s brothers hated him and plotted against him. Ultimately, I used that situation for good, but both father and son had to endure years of suffering and separation from one another.
I detest idolatry, even in the form of parental love, so beware of making a beloved child your idol.24 (bold added and signifies material that was added)
Note: Sarah Young and her editors obviously made a determination that substituting a toned down Jacob and Joseph entry would be more plausible than the original Abraham and Isaac message. However, the obvious cut-and-paste damage control has resulted in bringing more attention rather than less to their extra-biblical problem.
(5) “Jesus” complains about the night of his birth
Creating considerable controversy and confusion, the “Jesus” of Jesus Calling said he was born “under appalling conditions” in a “filthy stable” and that the night of his birth “was a dark night” for him. To many readers, this did not sound like the voice of their Savior—it sounded like the voice of a stranger (John 10:5) and that Satan—not Jesus—would be the one describing the night of Jesus’ birth as “that dark night for Me.”
The Damage Control
Compare the original December 25th message with the one that has replaced it in the 10th anniversary edition of Jesus Calling. Notice how the controversial statement—“That was a dark night for Me”—was deleted and quietly replaced by the less controversial statement—“There was nothing glorious about that setting.”
December 25th Sentence in the Original Edition
Try to imagine what I gave up when I came into your world as a baby. I set aside My Glory, so that I could identify with mankind. I accepted the limitations of infancy under the most appalling conditions—a filthy stable. That was a dark night for Me, even though angels lit up the sky proclaiming “Glory!” to awe-struck shepherds.25 (bold added to highlight what was deleted))
December 25th Replacement Sentence
Try to imagine what I gave up when I came into your world as a baby. I set aside My Glory, so that I could identify with mankind. I accepted the limitations of infancy under the most appalling conditions—a filthy stable. There was nothing glorious about that setting, though angels lit up the sky proclaiming, “Glory!” to awe-struck shepherds.26 (bold added to highlight what was added)
Jesus Corrects Himself Again?
The complaints made by Sarah Young’s “Jesus” don’t square with Scripture inspired by the true Jesus Christ. The Bible tells us “to be content” in whatever circumstances we find ourselves (Philippians 4:11). Obviously succumbing to the mounting criticism regarding the “dark night for Me” remark, Sarah Young’s “Jesus” corrects himself—again—with no apology or explanation.
Intrigued by the channeled messages of God Calling, Sarah Young was apparently not satisfied with the sufficiency of God’s Word. In her original introduction, Young stated: “I knew that God communicated with me through the Bible, but I yearned for more.”27 While this statement—along with many others—has been deleted in recent editions, it is clear the author of Jesus Calling “yearned for more,” and more is what she got. As a result, she received “messages” from a “Jesus” that has proven himself to be one of the false Christs that the real Jesus Christ warned us to watch out for (Matthew 24:4-5, 23-24). Wanting a word from God more than the Word of God, Sarah Young ended up getting deceived. “Deceiving, and being deceived” (2 Timothy 3:13), she has taken millions of Jesus Calling readers along with her.
The Bible describes those who love and respect the power and authority of God’s Word as those who tremble at God’s Word (Isaiah 66:2). The Bible also describes those who do not tremble at God’s Word but rather use and manipulate God’s Word for their own selfish purposes (2 Corinthians 4:2).
There is no nice way to say it. Jesus Calling is a gross affront to our true Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And the self-serving effort by Sarah Young and her publisher to cover up some of the many problems found in Jesus Calling is a gross affront to the body of Christ. It is one thing for Sarah Young to be deceived, it is quite another for her to be the author of deception herself.
The five examples provided in this booklet typify the unprincipled damage control that the author and her publisher have undertaken to preserve their multi-million dollar Jesus Calling industry—all at the expense of people who have put their trust in Sarah Young and her “Jesus.” To those who would argue that there is a lot of truth in Jesus Calling and that the book has comforted many people, former Moody Memorial Church pastor Dr. Harry Ironside warned that “truth mixed with error is equivalent to all error, except that it is more innocent looking and, therefore, more dangerous”:
Error is like leaven, of which we read, “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” Truth mixed with error is equivalent to all error, except that it is more innocent looking and, therefore, more dangerous. God hates such a mixture! Any error, or truth-and-error mixture, calls for definite exposure and repudiation. To condone such is to be unfaithful to God and His Word and treacherous to imperiled souls for whom Christ died.28
Jesus warned that great deception would characterize the time of the end and that the deception would come in His name. I am absolutely convinced that the “Jesus” of Jesus Calling is not the true Christ. Rather he is one of the false Christs that the real Jesus warned us to watch out for.
And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. (Matthew 24:3-5)
1. Two Listeners; Edited by A.J. Russell, God Calling (Grand Rapids, MI: A Spire Book published by Jove Publications Inc., for Fleming H. Revell, 2005), p. 5.
2. Q&A with Sarah Young, Author Profile, The Christian Broadcasting Network (http://www.cbn.com/entertainment/books/JesusCallingQA.aspx).
3. Two Listeners; Edited by A.J. Russell, God Calling, op. cit., p. 5.
4. John Ankerberg & John Weldon, Encyclopedia of New Age Beliefs (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 1996), p. 80.
5. Ibid., p. 103.
6. Ibid., p. 104.
7. Sarah Young, Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence (Nashville, TN; Thomas Nelson, 2004), p. Xl, (12 13 14 15 16 RRD 52 51 50 49 48).
8. Ruth Graham, “The Strange Saga of ‘Jesus Calling,’ The Evangelical Bestseller You’ve Never Heard Of” (Daily Beast, 02/23/14). (http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/02/23/the-strange-saga-of-jesus-calling-the-evangelical-bestseller-you-ve-never-heard-of.html).
10. Jim Fletcher, “Top Christian Bestseller Accused of Heresy” (WorldNetDaily, http://www.wnd.com/2014/05/top-christian-bestseller-accused-of-heresy).
11. Jim Fletcher, “Is Hit Book ‘Jesus Calling’ Pushing New Age?” (WorldNetDaily (http://www.wnd.com/2014/06/is-hit-book-jesus-calling-pushing-new-age).
12. Gina Meeks, “Critics Accuse ‘Jesus Calling’ of Mixing Truth With New Age Error” (Charisma News, http://www.charismanews.com/culture/43855-critics-accuse-jesus-calling-of-mixing-truth-with-error).
13. Sarah Young, Jesus Calling, op. cit., p. Xlll.
14. Sarah Young, Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence, 10th Anniversary Edition (Nashville, TN; Thomas Nelson Inc, 2004, 2011, 2014), p. xviii, (14 15 16 17 18 DSC 5 4 3 2 1).
15. Sarah Young, Jesus Calling, op. cit., p. XlV.
16. Sarah Young, Jesus Calling, 10th Anniversary Edition, op. cit., p. xix.
17. Sarah Young, Adapted by Tama Fortner, Edited by Kris Bearss, Jesus Calling for Kids: 365 Devotions for Kids (Nashville, TN; Tommy Nelson, 2010), pp. vii-viii, (13 14 15 16 17 RRD 5 4 3 2 1).
18. Sarah Young, Jesus Calling, op. cit., p. 29.
19. Sarah Young, Jesus Calling, 10th Anniversary Edition, op. cit., p. 29.
20. Sarah Young, Jesus Calling, op. cit., p. 302.
21. Sarah Young, Jesus Calling, 10th Anniversary Edition, op. cit., p. 302.
22. Sarah Young, Jesus Calling Devotional Bible (Nashville, TN; Thomas Nelson, 2011), p. vi, (11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18—RRD—8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1).
23. Sarah Young, Jesus Calling, op. cit., p. 246.
24. Sarah Young, Jesus Calling 10th Anniversary Edition, op. cit., p. 246.
25. Sarah Young, Jesus Calling, op. cit., p. 376.
26. Sarah Young, Jesus Calling, 10th Anniversary Edition, op. cit., p. 376.
27. Sarah Young, Jesus Calling, op. cit., p. Xll.
28. Dr. Harry Ironside, “Exposing Error: Is it Worthwhile?” (TBC Extra, April 2008, posted on The Berean Call website, http://www.thebereancall.org/content/tbc-extra-30).
Mark Driscoll Resigns From Mars Hill Church For Social Failures – But Media Silent on Controversial Doctrinal Issues
On October 14, 2014, Mark Driscoll, the senior pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington for the past 18 years, formally resigned from his position after numerous accusations came against him from former members and others. As is the case with most mega-church pastors these days when they do just about anything different than usual, Driscoll’s resignation received widespread attention from both Christian and secular news media. Unsurprisingly, none of these news stories are talking about Driscoll’s unbiblical and faulty doctrinal beliefs but are rather reporting primarily on his moral and social failures, minimizing these failures and emphasizing his apologies.
According to one media source:
Controversial Seattle megachurch founder Mark Driscoll has resigned from Mars Hill Church, stating that he does not wish to continue to be a distraction to the ministry although a six-week review of charges lodged by others within the church cleared him of moral wrongdoing.1
Charges include plagiarism, misuse of church funds, authority abuse against other members, “creating a climate of fear,”2 derogatory remarks made in the past about women, and rude, angry, and unkind behavior toward others who were in submission to him. Driscoll had temporarily stepped down in August for a six-week period while an investigation by Mars Hill board members took place. These events led to his resignation where Driscoll apologized for his past sins.
According to the Christian Post:
Driscoll made headlines earlier this week when he publicly released his resignation letter from Mars Hill, a church he founded in Seattle, Washington, in 1996 and has served as lead pastor since then.
His decision comes shortly after a letter from some Mars Hill Church elders was issued asking Driscoll to step down from leadership. These elders were later fired. . . .
Driscoll grew a small Bible study to a 13,000-member campus with 15 other locations in five states. Mars Hill was recognized as the third fastest growing and 28th largest church in the country by Outreach magazine in 2012.3
In a statement, Mars Hills’ board of overseers said Driscoll hadn’t committed any acts of “immorality, illegality or heresy” — sins that have felled many a powerful pastor.4
Religious News Service’s report stated:
Driscoll, who came into evangelical prominence as multisite churches and podcasts rose in popularity, found a niche within a largely secular Northwest culture. Though he has been controversial for years for statements on women and sexuality, several tipping points likely led up to Driscoll’s resignation.5
In addition to the reports above, other media outlets that reported on Driscoll’s resignation include: Huffington Post, Washington Post, Christianity Today, Fox News, ABC News, New York Observer, and numerous television stations.
Doctrinal Deficiencies Ignored
But in all of these reports, not one that we are aware of has addressed Driscoll’s serious doctrinal deficiencies. What the media, both Christian and secular, has failed to report is that Driscoll has many beliefs and affinities that are contrary to the Word of God. However, neither Christian leaders nor Christian media seem the least bit concerned about that.
To begin with, one of the most serious doctrinal deficiencies is that Mark Driscoll is a proponent of contemplative spirituality and has been for many years. For example, in an article written by Driscoll, ironically titled “Obedience,” Driscoll tells readers to turn to contemplative advocates Richard Foster and Gary Thomas. Driscoll states: “If you would like to study the spiritual disciplines in greater detail … helpful are Celebration of Discipline, by Richard Foster, and Sacred Pathways, by Gary Thomas.” But these two books that Driscoll has recommended are two of the most damaging books within Christianity today! In Celebration of Discipline, Foster says that everyone “should enroll in the school of contemplative prayer (p. 13, 1978 ed.), and in Sacred Pathways, Thomas tells readers to repeat a sacred word for 20 minutes in order to hear God. Another article written by Mark Driscoll on the Mars Hill Resurgence site is titled “Spiritual Disciplines: Worship.” For those who do not understand the underlying nature of contemplative prayer (and the spiritual disciplines), read this article, “5 Things You Should Know About Contemplative Prayer.” The roots behind the contemplative prayer movement are panentheism (God in all) and interspirituality (all paths lead to God).
In addition to Driscoll’s contemplative leanings, Driscoll publicly mocks and derides Christians who believe in the biblical account of the end times, who homeschool, who believe in a rapture, and who talk about an antichrist coming on the scene one day.
Below is a clip from Joe Schimmel’s DVD, The Submerging Church: How the emerging church is drawing multitudes away from biblical Christianity. This clip shows Driscoll’s mockery of Bible-believing Christians.
Mark Driscoll’s 2008 book, Vintage Jesus, has some noteworthy quotes that further illustrate Driscoll’s faulty beliefs. When that book came out, we contacted the late Chuck Smith (founder of Calvary Chapel) and warned him about Driscoll’s book because some Calvary Chapel pastors were trying to bring Driscoll’s teachings into the Calvary Chapel movement (which has been successfully done in some CC churches).
Calls Christians Little Christs - (page 120):
“To be a Christian is to be a ‘little Christ.'”—Mark Driscoll
Mocks Homeschooling and Armageddon: - (page 157):
“Unlike today where Christians have largely fled the cities in favor of homeschooling about the rapture amidst large stacks of canned goods readied for a hunkering down at the unleashing of Armageddon, Christianity has historically been an urban religion. A reading of the history book of early Christianity, Acts, reveals that Christianity began as an urban movement led by Paul, whose itinerant church planting ministry was almost exclusively urban as he moved from city to city and bypassed the rural areas.”—Mark Driscoll
The Rapture is Dumb – (page 44):
“One of the most astonishing things about Jesus is that as God he actually chose to come into our fallen, sick, twisted, unjust, evil, cruel, painful world and be with us to suffer like us and for us. Meanwhile, we spend most of our time trying to figure out how to avoid the pain and evil of this world while reading dumb books about the rapture just hoping to get out.”—Mark Driscoll
(LT Note: In Vintage Jesus, Driscoll favorably quotes Walter Wink, whom Driscoll refers to as “insightful.” But Wink was a liberal theologian who would fall in the emergent camp because of his anti-biblical beliefs. For instance, in Wink’s 1998 book The Powers That Be, Wink denies a “violent” atonement, which is the emerging way of saying that he rejects the idea that God, the Father would send His Son to a violent death as a substitute for the sins of man. This is the exact same thing that Brian McLaren, Harry Fosdick, and other atonement deniers have said, and Wink is in this same category (see our article “A Slaughterhouse Religion.)” We are not saying that Driscoll is denying the atonement, but his favorable reference to an atonement denier shows a serious lack of discernment, at best.)
In addition, Driscoll has promoted what we term “the new sexuality.” Please refer to our 2009 article “A Pastor Speaks Up: Mark Driscoll and the New ‘Sexual Spirituality’”and this Baptist Press article titled “Driscoll’s vulgarity draws media attention.” Radio host Ingrid Schleuter (formally of VCY America) documents Driscoll’s “new sexuality” in her article “Sexpert Pastor Mark Driscoll is Told, ‘Enough is Enough.’”
The “fruit” of Mark Driscoll’s teaching can also be seen in one of Mars Hills’ congregants, a young author named Jeff Bethke, who shares Driscoll’s sentiment regarding Christians who believe the Bible about the last days.
Bethke echoes Driscoll’s distain in his book Jesus > Religion: Why He Is So Much Better Than Trying Harder, Doing More, and Being Good Enough (Thomas Nelson, 2013) in a chapter titled “Religion Points to a Dim Future/Jesus Points to a Bright Future.” Bethke puts down the kind of believers who see a dismal future for earth (according to Scripture) and says things like:
“God actually cares about the earth, but we seem to think it’s going to burn. God actually cares about creating good art, but we seem to think it’s reserved for salvation messages.” (Kindle Locations 2107-2109, Thomas Nelson).
And just to prove that when Bethke says “religion,” he means biblical Christianity, what other religion is there that “points to a dim future” for planet earth and its inhabitants? Biblical Christianity is the only one that says that the world is heading for judgement because of man’s rebellion against God and because of God’s plan to destroy the devil and his minions. Jesus does point to a “bright future,” but the Bible is very clear that this will not come before He returns; rather He promises a blessed eternal life to “whosoever” believeth on Him. The Jesus Christ of the Bible did not promise a bright future for those who reject Him (and even says that the road to destruction is broad – Matthew 7:13); in fact, Scripture says Jesus Himself was a man of sorrows rejected and despised (Isaiah 53:3). He knew what awaited Him, and He knew what was in the heart of man. But across the board, emergents reject such a message of doom and teach that the kingdom of God will be established as humanity realizes its oneness and its divinity (this realization will be accomplished through practicing meditation—enter contemplative prayer in the Christian church to help bring about a great falling away).
While Mark Driscoll has resigned because of social and moral failures, there is absolute silence coming from Christian leaders, Christian media, and secular media on the real heart of Driscoll’s problems—his beliefs. Perhaps nothing illustrates the nature of Driscoll’s beliefs more than his recent comments about the 2014 Hollywood movie, Noah. A Lighthouse Trails article titled “Mark Driscoll’s Distorted View on Noah and Salvation . . . (And How Some People Have a Very Strange Idea as to the Meaning of God’s Salvation),” shows Driscoll’s very distorted view of salvation (the Gospel). In Driscoll’s so-called defense of the biblical account of Noah, he says that the Noah account was an example of God’s grace and that it had nothing to do with Noah’s righteousness or even Noah’s faith in God. And in fact, in a sermon by Mark Driscoll (see video clip below), he says that Noah was “bad all of the time.” This is a commonly believed and twisted view of God and salvation that says God loves and chooses some and hates and rejects others based on nothing more than God’s own personal whim rather than on one’s faith or trust in God (“without faith it is impossible to please [God]“—Hebrews 11:6). Could it be that Driscoll’s view of salvation and of a God who does not love all of mankind is at least in part the reason for his social and moral failures (e.g., anger, abuse, ridicule, and mockery)? In actuality, the story of Noah is about God saving the one man on the earth who had faith in God.
Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God. (Genesis 6:9)
Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he. (Genesis 6:22)
And the Lord said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation. (Genesis 7:1)
By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith. (Hebrews 11:7)
You can click here to read a short piece by Dr. Harry Ironside on Noah that will help dispel the confusion that Mark Driscoll has brought.
The accusations of plagiarism, misuse of church funds to manipulate one of his books to get on the New York Times best-seller list, authority abuse, and crude and demeaning talk about women certainly is enough reason for Driscoll to resign from the pulpit; however his beliefs and “doctrines” are being completely ignored, and it is our guess that in time (and probably not too much of it) Driscoll will resurface with a new ministry or a “restoration” to his old ministry, and this contemplative, emerging pastor will not have changed at all in the areas most important. He has publicly apologized for getting angry and being mean to people, and that’s all people seem to care about. And why not? Many of today’s Christian leaders share Driscoll’s contemplative, emerging propensities. They’ll be the last ones to speak up.
In short, the saddest thing of all is the lack of discernment and integrity of the church at large to stem the tide of apostasy that has already flooded our midst.
This past summer, a Lighthouse Trails reader sent us this e-mail letter she received from Renovare (Richard Foster’s contemplative outreach organization). Our reader is on the Renovare mailing list as she has grave concerns about friends who are involved with contemplative spirituality, and she monitors this group. The letter reveals the tight connection that YWAM (Youth With a Mission) has with the contemplative prayer movement.
I want to offer a short vignette of how the ministry of Renovaré continues to ripple around the world. For the past 20 years I have taught a class called “Foundations of Christian Spirituality” at Eastern University. Assigned readings from the class are Dallas Willard’s The Spirit of the Disciplines, Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline, Devotional Classics, edited by Richard Foster and Jim Smith, and The Life You’ve Always Wanted: Spiritual Disciplines for Ordinary People, written by John Ortberg. As you know, all these books are written by authors deeply committed to the vision and outreach of Renovaré.
“Foundations” is basically a Renovaré course on the basics of spiritual formation. For the past ten years the class has continued to grow in attendance, growing to around 200 students. How encouraging! Students long to learn how to live ever more wisely and fully as “Christ’s apprentices,” as Dallas would put it. Even more encouraging, five years ago a generous donor had “Foundations” filmed by Gorilla Films, well-known for its films of the gorilla population of Rwanda.The class is now available on-line to people world-wide.
More recently, I was with a group of YWAM (Youth with a Ministry) leaders in Burtingny, Switzerland, gifted people who are earning an MA in Spiritual Formation from the University of the Nations. I was surprised and pleased to learn that these leaders of discipleship training ministries around the world had been watching the filmed version of “Foundations.” Not only so, but they shared with me that this course—with Renovaré at its core—was presently being viewed by “thousands” of people in China, India, Scandinavia, and Brazil. In fact, two of these students—very courageous women—are showing clips of “Foundations” in small villages in India. Renovaré’s effect through the power of the Holy Spirit is profound and widespread.
Grace and peace,
Renovaré Board Member
LTRP NOTE: If you are not familiar with the teachings of Richard Foster or the contemplative prayer (i.e, Spiritual Formation) movement, please read some of our research material. Do not underestimate the overwhelming impact that Richard Foster and Renovare have and are having on Christians across the globe. Because of the dangerous anti-biblical roots of the contemplative prayer movement, this should cause great concern to Bible-believing Christians. And remember, if you have a loved one in a Christian college or seminary, most likely he or she is being introduced to the Spiritual Formation movement. We estimate (after 12 years of research) that over 90% of these schools have now begun to integrate Spiritual Formation into their schools.
By Ray Yungen
Contemplative advocates propose that there has been something vital and important missing from the church for centuries. The insinuation is that Christians have been lacking something necessary for their spiritual vitality; but that would mean the Holy Spirit has not been fully effective for hundreds of years and only now the secret key has been found that unlocks God’s full power to know Him. These proponents believe that Christianity has been seriously crippled without this extra ingredient. This kind of thinking leads one to believe that traditional, biblical Christianity is merely a philosophy without the contemplative prayer element. Contemplatives are making a distinction between studying and meditating on the Word of God versus experiencing Him, suggesting that we cannot hear Him or really know Him simply by studying His Word or even through normal prayer—we must be contemplative to accomplish this. But the Bible makes it clear that the Word of God is living and active, and has always been that way, and it is in filling our minds with it that we come to love Him, not through a mystical practice of stopping the flow of thought (the stillness) that is never once mentioned in the Bible, except in warnings against vain repetitions.
Thomas Merton said that he saw various Eastern religions “come together in his life” (as a Christian mystic). On a rational, practical level Christianity and Eastern religions will not mix; but add the mystical element and they do blend together like adding soap to oil and water. I must clarify what I mean: Mysticism neutralizes doctrinal differences by sacrificing the truth of Scripture for a mystical experience. Mysticism offers a common ground, and supposedly that commonality is divinity in all. But we know from Scripture “there is one God; and there is none other but he” (Mark 12:32).
In a booklet put out by Saddleback Church on spiritual maturity, the following quote by Henri Nouwen is listed:
Solitude begins with a time and place for God, and Him alone. If we really believe not only that God exists, but that He is actively present in our lives—healing, teaching, and guiding—we need to set aside a time and space to give Him our undivided attention.1 (emphasis mine)
When we understand what Nouwen really means by “time and space” given to God we can also see the emptiness and deception of his spirituality. In his biography of Nouwen, God’s Beloved, Michael O’ Laughlin says:
Some new elements began to emerge in Nouwen’s thinking when he discovered Thomas Merton. Merton opened up for Henri an enticing vista of the world of contemplation and a way of seeing not only God but also the world through new eyes. . . . If ever there was a time when Henri Nouwen wished to enter the realm of the spiritual masters or dedicate himself to a higher spiritual path, it was when he fell under the spell of Cistercian monasticism and the writings of Thomas Merton.2 (emphasis mine)
In his book, Thomas Merton: Contemplative Critic, Nouwen talks about these “new eyes” that Merton helped to formulate and said that Merton and his work “had such an impact” on his life and that he was the man who had “inspired” him greatly.3 But when we read Nouwen’s very revealing account, something disturbing is unveiled. Nouwen lays out the path of Merton’s spiritual pilgrimage into contemplative spirituality. Those who have studied Merton from a critical point of view, such as myself, have tried to understand what are the roots behind Merton’s spiritual affinities. Nouwen explains that Merton was influenced by LSD mystic Aldous Huxley who “brought him to a deeper level of knowledge” and “was one of Merton’s favorite novelists.”4 It was through Huxley’s book, Ends and Means, that first brought Merton “into contact with mysticism.”5 Merton states:
He [Huxley] had read widely and deeply and intelligently in all kinds of Christian and Oriental mystical literature, and had come out with the astonishing truth that all this, far from being a mixture of dreams and magic and charlatanism, was very real and very serious.6 (emphasis mine)
This is why, Nouwen revealed, Merton’s mystical journey took him right into the arms of Buddhism:
Merton learned from him [Chuang Tzu—a Taoist] what Suzuki [a Zen master] had said about Zen: “Zen teaches nothing; it merely enables us to wake and become aware.”7
Become aware of what? The Buddha nature. Divinity within all.That is why Merton said if we knew what was in each one of us, we would bow down and worship one another. Merton’s descent into contemplative led him to the belief that God is in all things and that God is all things. This is made clear by Merton when he said:
True solitude is a participation in the solitariness of God—Who is in all things.8
[Chuang Tzu] awakened and led him [Merton] . . . to the deeper ground of his consciousness.9
This has been the ploy of Satan since the Garden of Eden when the serpent said to Eve, “ye shall be as gods” (Genesis 3:4). It is this very essence that is the foundation of contemplative prayer.
In Merton’s efforts to become a mystic, he found guidance from a Hindu swami, whom Merton referred to as Dr. Bramachari. Bramachari played a pivotal role in Merton’s future spiritual outlook. Nouwen divulged this when he said:
Thus he [Merton] was more impressed when this Hindu monk pointed him to the Christian mystical tradition. . . . It seems providential indeed that this Hindu monk relativized [sic] Merton’s youthful curiosity for the East and made him sensitive to the richness of Western mysticism.10
Why would a Hindu monk advocate the Christian mystical tradition? The answer is simple: they are one in the same. Even though the repetitive words used may differ (e.g. Christian words: Abba, Father, etc. rather than Hindu words), the end result is the same. And the Hindu monk knew this to be true. Bramachari understood that Merton didn’t need to switch to Hinduism to get the same enlightenment that he himself experienced through the Hindu mystical tradition. In essence, Bramachari backed up what I am trying to get across in A Time of Departing, that all the world’s mystical traditions basically come from the same source and teach the same precepts . . . and that source is not the God of the Old and New Testaments. The biblical God is not interspiritual!
Evangelical Christianity is now being invited, perhaps even catapulted into seeing God with these new eyes of contemplative prayer. And so the question must be asked, is Thomas Merton’s silence, Henri Nouwen’s space, and Richard Foster’s contemplative prayer the way in which we can know and be close to God? Or is this actually a spiritual belief system that is contrary to the true message that the Bible so absolutely defines—that there is only one way to God and that is through His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, whose sacrifice on the Cross obtained our full salvation? In my book, A Time of Departing, I endeavored to answer these questions with extensive evidence and documentation showing the dangers of contemplative prayer.
If indeed my concerns for the future actually come to fruition, then we will truly enter a time of departing. My prayer is that you will not turn away from the faith to follow a different gospel and a different Jesus but will rather stay the course and finish the race, so that after having done all you can, you will stand.
Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. (Ephesians 6:13).
1. Henri Nouwen, cited in Saddleback training book, Soul Construction: SolitudeTool (Lake Forest, CA: Saddleback Church, 2003), p. 12.
2. Michael O’ Laughlin, God’s Beloved (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2004), p. 178.
3. Henri J.M. Nouwen, Thomas Merton: Contemplative Critic (San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row Publishers, 1991, Triumph Books Edition), p. 3.
4. Ibid., pp. 19-20.
5. Ibid., p. 20.
7. Ibid., p. 71.
8. Ibid., pp. 46, 71.
9. Ibid., p. 71.
10 . Ibid., p. 29.