Archive for the ‘Spiritual Formation’ Category
Letter to the Editor: Grateful for Warnings about Rick Warren and Concerned about Barnabas Family Ministries in Canada
Dear Friends at Lighthouse Trails,
Thank you so much for your ministry! I could tell you stories that would seem utterly unbelievable to most, but they have happened to me!
My girlfriend and I meet every week for coffee and always choose a book for study when we meet. I have a [relative] who is married to a former pastor of Saddleback Church (Now he pastor’s in [another state] but is still associated with Saddleback). Please pray for her and her husband that God deliver them from falsehood!
After hearing some things about the Daniel Plan and having had reservations previously about Rick Warren, my friend and I decided to read Roger Oakland’s book Faith Undone. Praise God! He specifically led us to that book!!
We read it because we wanted to to better understand what was going on at Saddleback, because I dearly love my [relative]! The Lord prepared my heart that I might become aware of “contemplative teachings” coming into my son’s church via an up and coming young pastor, but that is a long story that I would like to share sometime with you at length.
After having become aware of what my son was being led in to, to make a very long story short, my friend and other’s began to pray that the Lord bring my son and family out of that church. The Lord answered! Several months later, “all of a sudden” (by the grace of God and His answering our prayers), they left and are now attending the church we attend!
Roger Oakland, and the rest of you, “God bless you abundantly for making us acutely aware” of these demonic teachings!! My heart grieves every day by this fall into apostasy the church is taking.
Anyway, I first wanted to thank you from the bottom of my heart before giving you some vital information of which folks need to be aware which is the following:
Many years ago, my husband and I received a flyer for “Barnabas Family Ministries,” a Christian family camp in British Columbia. The flyer was enclosed in a “Focus on the Family” magazine. We decided to go. It is an absolutely gorgeous spot and the fellowship there was wonderful, but I do remember being somewhat disappointed that there seemed to be more focus on having teachers that often promoted so-called Christian physchology than the Word of God.
Anyway, we have continued over the years to receive their flyers. This year I was sorely disappointed and grieved when I read the title for an upcoming spring retreat that was held between February 27-March 1 of this year, titled “Contemplative Prayer”! I have not but will soon be writing them a serious, but loving, letter asking to be taken off their mailing list. If there is anyway you can get this information out, it would be greatly appreciated. May our wonderfully faithful God have mercy upon, and cleanse, His Bride!!! I still have the pamphlet adverstising the camps if you are interested.
Thank you again for all that you do!! The Lord has used you powerfully in my life, and He has faithfully answered many prayers that have been prayed because He warned me through your ministry and others!! May God bless and keep you in His loving care, and may He grant to each one of us a boldness to speak the Truth in love and gentleness always!
Your Sister in Christ
LTRP Note: We would like to note that Barnabas Family Ministries is also hosting a retreat this summer (July 19th-24th 2015), which will be led by Mark and Cheryl Buchanan. According to the Barnabas website, Cheryl is a Spiritual Director (a contemplative mentor) with a Masters in the Art of Spiritual Formation) from Carey Theological College. It is quite apparent that Barnabas Family Ministries has decided to introduce contemplative spirituality into the lives of their retreat attenders. More and more Christian retreat and conference centers are incorporating contemplative prayer (i.e., spiritual formation) into their programs. Here’s one article we wrote about this in 2013: “Sending Your Child or Teen to Camp This Summer? – Be Careful – Many are Promoting Contemplative Spirituality.”
Lighthouse Trails has now added Death of a Guru written by former Hindu Rabi Maharaj with Dave Hunt to our collection of important and needed books for the body of Christ. The book has been in print for many years and is published by Harvest House Publishers (we are glad that HH is still publishing some books that warn about spiritual deception). While Lighthouse Trails editors read Death of a Guru many years ago, it was brought to our attention again when Lighthouse Trails author Warren B. Smith made reference to the book in his own book “Another Jesus” Calling: How False Christs Are Entering the Church Through Contemplative Prayer.
The following description of Death of a Guru shows why this is a necessary book for today’s church in view of the contemplative prayer (i.e., spiritual formation) movement that has swept in:
Rabi R. Maharaj was descended from a long line of Brahmin priests and gurus and trained as a Yogi. He meditated for many hours each day, but disillusionment gradually set in. In Death of a Guru, he vividly and honestly describes Hindu life and customs, tracing his difficult search for meaning and his struggle to choose between Hinduism and Christ. At a time when Eastern mysticism, religion and philosophy fascinate many in the West, Maharaj offers fresh and important insights from the perspective of his own experience. (source)
Here is the section from “Another Jesus” Calling where Warren B. Smith warns about mystical meditation and references Death of a Guru:
Meditation and Contemplation
The New Age/New Spirituality has made great inroads into the church—particularly in the area of meditation and contemplative prayer. Despite grave warnings from many of us who came out of the New Age movement, the church remains extremely vulnerable to deceptive supernatural experiences that appear to come from God.
We knew from our own New Age involvement that powerful, seemingly “meant to be” spiritual experiences had often been used to draw us into the New Age and its various spiritual practices, which included meditation and contemplation. And we knew that the same seductive experiences, which had led us into the New Age, continued within our meditations and contemplations. Because our spiritual experiences felt so good, we just assumed that what we were experiencing was coming from God. Our spiritual practices soon became the primary connecting force that gave us “the feeling” we were on the right track. These daily meditations and contemplations served to reinforce our emerging New Age beliefs, and had the effect of leading us deeper and deeper into the teachings of the New Age/New Spirituality.
For most of us in the New Age, meditation was an integral part of daily life. Because it was so relaxing and felt so good, we, like Sarah Young and her readers, had no idea that our meditations and contemplations were opening us up to great deception. Looking back on it now, meditation was the major pipeline through which deceptive spirits impressed upon us their New Age thoughts and teachings. The spiritual “high” that often accompanied our meditations and contemplations even seemed to corroborate the teaching of the New Age that we were all “one” because God was “in” everyone and everything. In fact, in my very first meditation, I experienced a “mysterious sense of oneness” that I perceived to be my “divine connection” to that oneness. One of the daily lessons I contemplated from A Course in Miracles was: “Let me remember I am one with God.”1
Ironically, even biblical meditation can be manipulated into a form of New Age contemplative prayer. One of the clever ploys of our spiritual Adversary has been to repackage eastern/mystical New Age meditation as “Christian” meditation and contemplation. In his powerful book Death of a Guru: A Hindu Comes to Christ, former Hindu Rabrindranath R. Maharaj describes how even seemingly benign and relaxing forms of meditation and contemplation can be used by the spirit world to provide an experience of cosmic oneness:
“Though popularized in the West under many names, the aim of all Eastern meditation is to ‘realize’ one’s essential union with the Universe. It is the doorway to the ‘nothingness’ called nirvana. Generally sold as a ‘relaxation’ technique, meditation really aims at and ultimately leads to the surrender of oneself to mystical cosmic forces.”2
1. A Course in Miracles: Combined Volume (Workbook), op. cit., p. 222.
2. Rabindranath R. Maharaj with Dave Hunt, Death of a Guru: A Hindu Comes to Christ (New York, NY: A. J. Holman Company: Division of J. B. Lippincott Company, 1977), pp. 219-220.
The Walk to Emmaus is a program put on by Upper Room Ministries. Upper Room promotes Spiritual Formation (i.e., contemplative spirituality), and if you want to understand the dynamics of Walk to Emmaus, then understanding the spirituality of Upper Room will help you:
“The Walk to Emmaus is an adaptation of the Roman Catholic Cursillo Movement, which originated in Spain in 1949.” from the Walk to Emmaus website
Walk to Emmaus is widely spread. It is estimated that over half a million persons have experienced a Walk to Emmaus weekend and today the Movement counts more than 300 communities distributed all over the United States as well as all over the world.1
Mantra Meditation is promoted at Upper Room Ministries also:
“Mantra — The word comes from Sanskrit. Its two-syllabus mean: man or mind and tra or deliverance. A mantra is sound vibration that is intended to deliver the mind from distractions and a focus on the material world. A mantra is repeated like a chant and has a spiritual effect associated with the physical vibration. A mantra can be as simple as one syllable ‘OM’ or as more complicated such as, ‘OM SRI RAM JAI RAM JAI JAI RAM’.” From the Upper Room website (now removed)
“The Walk to Emmaus is an adaptation of the Roman Catholic Cursillo Movement, which originated in Spain in 1949.”2
List of places that do Walk to Emmaus
LTRP Note: This past week, a caller to LT asked if we knew anything about the IF: Gathering with emergent Ann Voskamp. At the time, we had not heard of the conference. “Co-incidentally,” this weekend, C.H. Fisher of Truthkeepers, one of the writers Lighthouse Trails turns to, sent us the following article warning about the IF:Gathering. Fisher’s article is an important and timely warning. Many young women will be attending the IF conferences, and those who do will be subtly introduced to the emerging church. As one example, on the home page of IF, there is a favorable reference to emergent figures Tony Campolo and Bono of U2. (*Also see our comment below the article on doubt vs. faith, which is the theme of IF.) And now, C.H. Fisher’s article, exposing IF.
“The salvation message of the emerging church in not found in doctrine but in dialog, not in truth but in discussion. In this sense, always searching but never finding is a trademark of the emerging church, because in the endless dialogue (conversation), the truth is never found.”—Roger Oakland, Faith Undone
“IF:Gathering . . . is it a movement of God?”
By C. H. Fisher
There is a relatively new fad in woman’s conferences call IF:Gathering. IF:Gathering was founded by Jennie Allen, one of the [Emergent] leaders and a contributor to the emergent Nines Conference. The new Emergent leaders view themselves as spiritual directors ordained by God to create a new Christianity. Thus, when I read that Allen and her associates (including contemplative heretic, Ann Voskamp,) are involved in a new conference, I wanted to know what they are up to. I read an article in Christianity Today about IF:Gathering that hints about their purpose. Christianity Today declared that the IF:Gathering for the first time has what CT calls a “vague premise.” That premise is, “If God is real, then what?” ( Christianity Today, “If a Brand-New Christian Women’s Conference Goes Viral, Then What?” February, 2014) More about that question later.
CT also describes some of the activities of the event. “In between sessions, the mostly-young crowd discussed with each other their own sense of calling as well as hindrances such as fear and comparison.” (CT, Ibid) That’s the kind of stuff you see in a convention of young professionals attempting to take the business world by storm. It is amazingly dissimilar to individuals with a biblical calling.
I confess that I didn’t watch any of the conferences, and do not intend to. There isn’t enough time to watch or read everything that is inundating Christianity. It is an overwhelming deluge. However, CT told me everything I need to know to advise every true Christian to avoid them.
“IF focused distinctly on spiritual formation, with both inspirational and practical takeaways. Based on the directive in Hebrews 12 to ‘throw off everything that hinders’ and ‘run with perseverance the race marked out for us,’ dozens of speakers encouraged women to chase their calling.” (CT, Ibid)
Spiritual Formation is the vehicle used by the Emergent Movement to subtly inseminate Christianity with New Age heresy, especially Contemplative spirituality. Spiritual Formation is active with beguiling, religious demon spirits. It is extremely dangerous. I have witnessed a number of Christian leaders apostatize after submitting their souls to Spiritual Formation. I am certain that God did not send a hoard of authors and bloggers armed with demonic heresy to change Christianity. They are sent to persuade Christian women to throw off everything that hinders the works of darkness, especially truth, and to enter a new path that heads straight into apostasy. Click here to continue reading.
*LTRP Note: Catholic mystic Thomas Merton believed that the doctrine of redemption and atonement through Christ was “of little value.” This also reflects the view of the emerging church that tolerance is more virtuous than faith, and that faith can actually be unvirtuous. As illustrated in the movie, Doubt, doubt and uncertainty unites. The priest in Doubt does a homily on doubt, and the fundamentalist in the movie (Meryl Streep) sees that as dangerous but in the end, she herself doubts. The point of the film is that uncertainty is good. Father Flynn from the movie is a Thomas Merton type priest in the sense that firm conviction is not necessarily a good thing. This is consistent with the emerging church. Emergent leader Tony Jones says in his book, The New Christians, that uncertainty (including uncertainty of Scripture) is better than certainty.
By L. Putnam
What tool does Christian and Missionary Alliance Theological Seminary dean suggest as a great tech tool to help pastors deal with pressures in today’s church? The very unsettling “Unseminary” podcast: “Ron Walborn Provides Help to Leaders Dealing with the Pressures of Today’s Church”–an interview between Pastor Rich Birch and Dean Ronald Walborn– gives the dean’s thoughts in his own words. http://www.unseminary.com/ronwalborn/
Note: As you listen, or read note the interview highlights as listed at the site; also note the “Lightning Round Highlights” where Birch asks Walborn’s personal recommendations on various topics. Also pay careful attention to Ron’s full length answers to the Lightning Round questions which can be heard on “the audio only” at the very end of the program.
History of ATS:
The dean starts off the podcast interview with Birch by detailing a little of the past history of the seminary. He then follows this with an overview of the three year “Master of Divinity Program” with its heavy emphasis on spiritual formation. Walborn says, “In every year they have to do spiritual formation.” The first year is an initiation into spiritual formation where they are quickly gotten into counseling, if needed. The second year there is more formation, and required counseling. The third year ends with “the capstone course.” Besides, emphasizes Walborn, during the entire three years there is constant mentoring from spiritual directors.
Ron’s Personal Spiritual Formation Series:
Ron goes on to describe his very own podcast series — updated materials from part of the original series Ron did at Delta Lake Conference which in 2005-2007 when he introduced the spiritual discipline of “centering prayer” to unsuspecting campers at Delta Lake Camp. And just as he did at Delta, Ron is still strongly advocating the use of the book of former Roman Catholic priest, and contemplative Henri Nouwen.
Lightning Round Highlights:
* Helpful Tech Tools: Rich asks Ron for his personal recommendation of a tech tool that might help a pastor better lead. Ron answer begins this way, “I’m good friends with a guy named Bill Johnson from out in northern California. We used to fish together when I was out in Redding (Ron pastored at CMA Risen King Community Church, Redding.) pastoring. As often as I can I listen to Bill. I don’t always agree one hundred percent with him, but he feeds my soul, he feeds my spirit. And so when I walk, and when I exercise I listen to Bethel.” Birch replies, “Very cool!” Click here to continue reading.
To see a list of Christian colleges that are promoting Spiritual Formation (contemplative spirituality), click here. As of this writing all CMA and all Nazarene colleges and universities in the U.S. are promoting SF.
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