Archive for the ‘Churches in Crisis!’ Category

Fresno, California “Church Calendar” Illustrates Major Paradigm Shift in “Church in America”

Purpose Driven, ecumenism, eastern meditation, the road to Rome, social justice, interspirituality, Chrislam, Oneness, and the New Age. This is the new landscape of church in America.

Click image to enlarge. Courtesy of a Lighthouse Trails Reader – from a February 2017 newspaper

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Letter to the Editor: Bethel’s Attempt to Make “Same Old” Teachings Sound More “Mainstream”

To Lighthouse Trails Editors:

Bill Johnson of Bethel Church; Photo credit: Christianity Today | http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2016/may/cover-story-inside-popular-controversial-bethel-church.html

I wanted to write you about Bethel’s trend of trying to make their teachings sound more “mainstream” evangelical, even though their aberrant teachings are clearly not (as LT has pointed out over the past few years through booklets, blogs, etc.).

Bethel has gotten more sophisticated with their lingo and presentation of some rehashed Latter Rain heresies and “revival” pep-speak, but the calculated supposed “upgrade” that has escalated in the past few years has been an attempt to repackage their same old “kingdom-now,” Christian dominionism,” 7 mountain mandate,” into more palatable, mainstream language.

Why? Probably in an attempt to increase its already huge following (that continues to multiply over the Internet and worldwide: including its affiliated “Jesus Culture” band).

Who are they targeting? Not just young people who may not be familiar enough with God’s Word to discern error and unbiblical teachings, but Bethel is also targeting the unsuspecting, struggling evangelical who may not be familiar with some of the charismatic lingo, and “signs and wonders” and who are being enticed by the “power” and “revival” that Bethel falsely promises at every turn . . .

Here are several items with Pastor Rod Page (pastor of Lewiston Community Church, Lewiston, CA–20 miles from Bethel Church in Redding, CA), speaking about God’s Word, God’s heart, and God’s truth regarding those entangled, unaware that Bethel’s teachings (Kris Valloton, etc.,) are unbiblical and dangerous:

1) Link to 12/6/16 Herescope posting/article: “The Bethel Church Upgrade”: http://herescope.blogspot.com/2016/12/the-bethel-church-upgrade.html

2) Link to TBC Radio program: “Has Bethel Church Been Upgraded?” with Rod Page Part 1: https://www.thebereancall.org/content/has-bethel-church-been-upgraded-rod-page-part-1

3) Link to TBC Radio program: “Has Bethel Church Been Upgraded?” with Rod Page Part 2: https://www.thebereancall.org/content/has-bethel-church-been-upgraded-rod-page-part-2

Sincerely,

Concerned Believer

 

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They Love Error More Than Truth

By Cedric Fisher

Professing Christians are fawning over every heretic, heresy, heretical book, and blasphemous movie. They will race off to conferences with a speaker lineup that reads like a “Who’s Who” in false “ministers of righteousness.” The truth floats on by them, but they eagerly reach out, grab, and gush over every falsehood.  But they will not rejoice over or promote truth. Further, they refuse to invest any time and energy defending anyone who presents truth when they are under attack.

So God sends His messengers to warn them just as He sent prophets to apostate Israel. But will they listen? They will not listen. We are in the last of the last days before this earth is shaken by the consequences of its rebellion. God knows their hearts are hard, their ears are dull, and their eyes refuse to see, but He sends His messengers anyway. Why?

He sends them because God is just, He is merciful, and God is love.  He is not willing that the wicked should perish.  He sends His messengers because He wants people to heed, return to Him, surrender, reject wickedness and accept righteousness, and be spared the consequences of their sinfulness.

But they reject God’s messengers. They call them mean-spirited, hateful, ignorant, self-righteous, and even diabolical, for the sole reason that His messengers pierce their fickle and carnal hearts with anointed truth.

When they speak harsh rebukes to God’s messengers, they are speaking against Him. Condemning God’s messengers is as condemning the message and the One who sent it. It is as rejecting His righteous authority. Click here to continue reading.

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An Appendix on the Al Mohler Situation: “The Contemplative Christian (The Christian of the Future?)”

LTRP Note: In view of our recent post on Albert Mohler who promoted the book The Benedictine Option (a book that encourages contemplative prayer practices), we are posting this article by Ray Yungen from his book A Time of Departing so readers who are unfamiliar with the contemplative prayer movement can gain better understanding.

By Ray Yungen

Within the evangelical world, contemplative prayer is increasingly being promoted and accepted. As a result, it is losing its esoteric aspect and is now seen by many as the wave of the future. One can’t help but notice the positive exposure it is getting in the Christian media these days. In Today’s Christian Woman, a popular and trusted Christian magazine, feature titles make the appeal to draw closer to God. The author of one such article says, “Like a growing number of evangelicals, I’ve turned to spiritual direction because I want to know God better.”1 But without exception, every person she cites is a dedicated contemplative, one being Ruth Haley Barton, author of Invitation to Solitude and Silence. Barton was trained at the Shalem Institute (founded by panentheist Tilden Edwards); and in fact, that organization was featured in the article as a resource for the reader. However, considering the content of many statements on the Shalem Institute website, how could Shalem even be listed as a resource for Christians? Listen to a few:

In Christianity and other traditions that understand God to be present everywhere, contemplation includes a reverence for the Divine Mystery, “finding God in all things,” or “being open to God’s presence, however it may appear.”2

[Thomas] Merton taught that there is only one way to develop this radical language of prayer: in silence.3

The rhythm of the group includes . . . chanting, two periods of sitting in silence separated by walking meditation, and a time for optional sharing.4

In another magazine article, Ruth Haley Barton, who incidentally is the former Associate Director of Spiritual Formation at Willow Creek Community Church, echoes Southern Baptist-turned-goddess worshiper Sue Monk Kidd in many ways, including the general malaise or condition of the human soul. Barton recounts:

A few years ago, I began to recognize an inner chaos in my soul . . . No matter how much I prayed, read the Bible, and listened to good teaching, I could not calm the internal roar created by questions with no answers.5

Ruth Haley Barton

The following scenario Barton relates could be the wave of the future for the evangelical church if this movement continues to unfold in the manner it already has:

I sought out a spiritual director, someone well versed in the ways of the soul . . . eventually this wise woman said to me . . . “What you need is stillness and silence so that the sediment can settle and the water can become clear.” . . . I decided to accept this invitation to move beyond my addiction to words.6

By “addiction to words,” she means normal ways of praying. She still uses words, but only three of them, “Here I am.” This is nothing other than the Cloud of Unknowing or the prayer of the heart.
Like Richard Foster, Barton argues that God cannot be reached adequately, if at all, without the silence. In referring to 1 Kings 19 when Elijah was hiding in a cave, Barton encourages:

God loves us enough to wait for us to come openly to Him. Elijah’s experience shows that God doesn’t scream to get our attention. Instead, we learn that our willingness to listen in silence opens up a quiet space in which we can hear His voice, a voice that longs to speak and offer us guidance for our next step.7

What Barton fails to mention here is that Elijah was a valiant defender of the belief in the one, unique God—Yahweh (as seen in his encounter with the 450 prophets of Baal), and he never went into an altered state of silence in his personal encounter with God.

Barton is no longer teaching at Willow Creek. She left there to start the Transforming Center and now teaches pastors and other Christian leaders spiritual formation. Hers is just one of many avenues through which contemplative prayer is creating a new kind of Christian, possibly the Christian of the future.

Endnotes:
1. Agnieszka Tennant, “Drawing Closer to God”(Today’s Christian Woman, September/October 2004, Vol. 26, No. 5), p. 14. Published by Christianity Today International, Carol Stream, Illinois.
2. Shalem Institute, “What Does Contemplative Mean?” (Shalem Institute About Shalem page, http://web.archive.org/web/20050204190729/http://shalem.org/about.html#contemplative).
3. Ann Kline, “A New Language of Prayer” (Shalem Institute newsletter, Vol. 29, No. 1, Winter 2005, http://web.archive.org/web/20060930230219/http://www.shalem.org/publication/newsletter/archives/2005/2005_winter/article_04).
4. Shalem Institute website, General Events, “Radical Prayer: A Simple Loving Presence Group” (http://www.shalem.org/programs/generalprograms/groupsevents_folder; no longer online—on file at LT).
5. Ruth Haley Barton, “Beyond Words, Issue #113, September/October, 1999, http://web.archive.org/web/20060628075740/http://www.navpress.com/EPubs/DisplayArticle/1/1.113.13.html), p. 35.
6. Ibid.
7. Ibid., pp. 37-38.

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Guest Post: Albert Mohler Gives Air Time to Author of “The Benedict Option” (A Monastic/Catholic Promoting Book)

LTRP Note: This is another example of a major Christian leader laying aside the integrity of biblical faith and giving credence to the Roman Catholicism and contemplative mysticism for the sake of “unity” and “morality.”

By Cathy Mickel
(Author of Spiritual Junk Food: The Dumbing Down of Christian Youth)

Albert Mohler

Where is the wisdom in Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, giving air time to Rod Dreher, the author of The Benedict Option (a book highlighting the way of Saint Benedict, Catholic “saint” and founder of the monastic Benedictine order)? (Other evangelical leaders who support the book are Matt Chandler; https://twitter.com/villagechurchtx/status/839994280101961729,  Russell Moore; http://www.russellmoore.com/2017/03/10/signposts-conversation-rod-dreher/,  and John Piper; https://twitter.com/JohnPiper/status/839647675364622336 )

In the interview, Mohler says, “[T]he book is very important. I want to commend it to every thinking Christian. We ought to read this book and we ought also to read far beyond the title.” (http://www.albertmohler.com/2017/02/13/benedict-option-conversation-rod-dreher)

The following are a few quotes from what the author of The Benedict Option said to Albert Mohler in the interview.

[T]he West owes an incalculable debt to those Benedictine monks.

So this is nothing new. We’re just rediscovering an old tradition, things that our ancestors knew. And look, I think that whether we’re evangelical, Catholic, or Orthodox, we need to go back to the early church to see how our ancestors did it, see what they did, see how they embodied the faith and culture and practices [contemplative prayer].

. . . time for Christians to take seriously the times we’re in, to read the signs of the times and to respond in a responsible way, in a clear way, in a patient way. And I use Saint Benedict of Nursia [considered the “father of western monasticism”], the 6th century saint, who was a Christian who lived through the fall of the Roman Empire; he was born four years after the Empire officially fell. And he went down to Rome to get his education and saw it was completely corrupt, it was falling apart. He went out to the woods to pray; he lived in cave for three years, and asked God to show him what to do with his life. He ended up coming out and founding a monastic order. That monastic order he founded ended up over the next few centuries spreading like wildfire throughout Western Europe. And what they did was prepare the way for civilization to return to Western Europe. They tendered within those monasteries the Scriptures, the prayers, the liturgies, and the old ways of doing things. So they became a sort of ark that traveled over the dark sea of time until it found dry land, and there was light after the darkness.” [see John Caddock’s article Brennan Manning’s “New Monks” & Their Dangerous Contemplative Monasticism”]

One of the stories I tell in the book is about going to the Benedictine monastery in Norcia, a small town in the mountains of central Italy, that was where say Benedict was born. He was a son of the Roman governor. Well, there’s still a monastery there today. Napoleon closed it down in 1810, but in the year 2000 some American monks went there and reopened it. And they wanted to sing the traditional Latin mass, and it’s become a real oasis of Christian peace and beauty. Well, it’s the sort of place where you go there up in the mountains, and you really envy these men, their peace, where they can worship and meet visitors.

[I]n my own case, my life is shaped around liturgy that’s been in our church for 1500 years. My life is shaped around the chanting of Psalms and on all kinds of sensual ways that embody the faith. Of course you can have smells and bells and go straight to hell, that doesn’t change you and lead to greater conversion. But for me as an Orthodox Christian and me as a Catholic, the faith had more traction and it drew me in closer and closer. (emphasis added)

Here is Amazon’s description of Benedict Option:

In a radical new vision for the future of Christianity, NYT bestselling author and conservative columnist Rod Dreher calls on American Christians to prepare for the coming Dark Age by embracing an ancient Christian way of life [contemplative prayer] . . .

In The Benedict Option, Dreher calls on traditional Christians to learn from the example of St. Benedict of Nursia, a sixth-century monk who turned from the chaos and decadence of the collapsing Roman Empire, and found a new way to live out the faith in community. For five difficult centuries, Benedict’s monks kept the faith alive through the Dark Ages, and prepared the way for the rebirth of civilization. What do ordinary 21st century Christians — Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox — have to learn from the teaching and example of this great spiritual father? That they must read the signs of the times, abandon hope for a political solution to our civilization’s problems, and turn their attention to creating resilient spiritual centers that can survive the coming storm. Whatever their Christian tradition, they must draw on the secrets of Benedictine wisdom to build up the local church, create countercultural schools based on the classical tradition, rebuild family life, thicken communal bonds, and develop survival strategies for doctors, teachers, and others on the front lines of persecution. . . .

Added section from Lighthouse Trails editors—Here are a few quotes from the book, The Benedict Option:

Imagine that you are at a Catholic mass in a dreary 1970s-era suburban church that looks like a converted Pizza Hut. The next Sunday you are at a high Catholic mass in New York City, at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The Scripture reading is the same in both places, and Jesus is just as present in the Eucharist at Our Lady of Pizza Hut as at St. Patrick’s. Chances are, though, that you had to work harder to conjure a sense of the true holiness of the mass in the suburban church than in the cathedral—though theologically speaking, the “information” conveyed in Word and Sacrament in both places was the same. This is the difference liturgy can make. (Dreher, Rod. The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation, pp. 106-107, Penguin Publishing Group; emphasis added)

I told the priest how, in response to a personal crisis, my own orthodox priest back in Louisiana had assigned me a strict daily prayer rule, praying the Jesus Prayer (“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner”) for about an hour each day. It was dull and difficult at first, but I did it out of obedience. Every day, for a seemingly endless hour, silent prayer. In time, though, the hour seemed much shorter, and I discovered that the peace I had conspicuously lacked in my soul came forth. (The Benedict Option, p. 59)

For the monks, prayer is not simply words they speak. Each monk spends several hours daily doing lectio divina, a Benedictine method of Scripture study that involves reading a Scripture passage, meditating on it, praying about it, and finally contemplating its meaning for the soul. (The Benedict Option, pp. 58-59)

The Reformation broke the religious unity [with Rome] of Europe. In Protestant lands, it birthed an unresolvable crisis in religious authority, which over the coming centuries would cause unending schisms. The Benedict Option, p. 45, emphasis added)

If you don’t control your own attention, there are plenty of people eager to do it for you. The first step in regaining cognitive control is creating a space of silence in which you can think. During a deep spiritual crisis in my own life, the toxic tide of chronic anxiety did not began to recede from my mind until my priest ordered me to take up a daily rule of contemplative prayer. Stilling my mind for an hour of prayer was incredibly difficult, but it eventually opened up a beachhead in which the Holy Spirit could work to calm the stormy waters within.  (The Benedict Option, pp. 227-228, emphasis added)

In a 2017 Christianity Today article titled, “The Benedict Option’s Vision for a Christian Village” by Rod Dreher, author of The Benedict Option, Dreher says the following. Our deciphering is in brackets:

I have written The Benedict Option to wake up the church, and to encourage it to act to strengthen itself [unify by removing the barriers between Protestantism and Catholicism], while there is still time. If we want to survive, we have to return to the roots of our faith [not biblical roots, monastic roots of the desert fathers and other mystics], both in thought and in deed. We are going to have to learn habits of the heart [contemplative prayer practices – Nouwen called it moving from the moral (doctrine) to the mystical] forgotten by believers in the West [that’s what Merton taught]. We are going to have to change our lives, and our approach to life, in radical ways. In short, we are going to have to be the church, without compromise, no matter what it costs [the cost is going to be the death of biblical truth]. (source)

These remarks by Dreher are reminiscent of the contemplative pioneer and disciple of Thomas Merton, Richard Foster, when he said: “I see a Catholic monk from the hills of Kentucky standing alongside a Baptist evangelist from the streets of Los Angeles and together offering up a sacrifice of praise. I see a people.” (Richard Foster, Streams of Living Water, San Francisco, CA: Harper, 1998, p. 273) We need not look very far to know how such an ecumenical unifying will take place. The contemplative prayer movement is the vehicle, and it is in our midst waiting for the unaware and undiscerning to hop on for the ride.

One can only wonder, will there be any Christian leaders left standing when the battle is over?  Remember the words of Jesus when He said,

[W]hen the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth? (Luke 18:8)

 

 

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Fourth Letter to Christian Leaders Goes Out – A Warning About “The Shack”

Lighthouse Trails has now sent out its 4th letter since early 2016 to over 130 prominent Christian leaders. Along with the letter, we included a copy of the booklet we publish, The Shack and Its New Age Leaven plus a news brief we released recently. Both the booklet and the news brief are written by former New Age follower Warren B. Smith. Here is the letter we wrote to the leaders introducing the material:

Dear Christian Leader:

Please find enclosed one of our booklets titled The Shack and Its New Age Leaven by Lighthouse Trails author Warren B. Smith along with a short news brief we released on March 9th. As you probably know, The Shack movie came out this month, which no doubt will bring renewed interest in the book, The Shack. When you read this booklet and the news brief, we hope you will understand our sense of urgency given that many Christian leaders and pastors are now endorsing The Shack. In William Paul Young’s newest book, Lies We Believe About God, he once again openly rejects biblical tenets of the Christian faith.

We hope you will read and prayerfully consider the content of both the booklet and the news brief.

Sincerely in Christ,

The Editors at
Lighthouse Trails Publishing, Inc.

The letters and booklets were mailed out from our office in Montana on March 13th. You can read the news brief we included by clicking here. And here is the link to the content of the booklet we sent.

Since we began sending out letters and booklets to Christian leaders in early 2016, we have received the following responses:

Short letters of thanks from the ministry offices of: Chuck Missler, Nancy DeMoss, Tony Evans, James Dobson, Pat Robertson, and Beth Moore

Notes of thanks personally signed by Tim Tebow, Kay Arthur, George Wood (Assemblies of God General Superintendent)

A letter of thanks via e-mail from Ben Kinchlow’s ministry manager (Kinchlow is the founder of Americans for Israel and former 700 Club host)

An e-email from the office of Chuck Swindoll telling us to stop sending booklets (we have since removed his name from our list).

It is our hope and prayer that many of the leaders on our list will take a few moments to read the material we sent out on The Shack.

If you would like us to add the name of a leader to our Christian leaders list, please send the name and mailing address to us at: editors@lighthousetrails.com. Because of time restraints, we will not be able to add a name without an address. Plus, because we cannot send out these letters and booklets to every pastor in the country, we ask that you only submit names of pastors and/or church leaders who have written at least one book (you can check Amazon) thus moving him or her into a place of influence throughout the church at large.

We wish we could send booklets to every Christian pastor in North America. However, here is an idea given to us from one of our readers for anyone who feels compelled to reach the pastors in his or her denomination and/or state: Last month, a woman contacted us from Mississippi who learned that we were sending out booklets to Christian leaders and pastors. She said she was burdened for Southern Baptist pastors in her state and asked us to put together a mailing of two booklets and a letter and mail it to every Southern Baptist pastor in Mississippi.  Our reader paid for the list (which we purchased for her), the booklets, the postage, and our labor. At her request, we sent each pastor a copy of 10 Scriptural Reasons Jesus Calling is a Dangerous Book by Warren B. Smith and 5 Things You Should Know About Contemplative Prayer by Ray Yungen. If you have a group you would like us to reach in this manner, please contact our office.

If you would like to view and/or print a list of the Christian leaders we are currently sending booklets and short letters to 3-4 times a year, click here. Perhaps you would like to pray for these men and women who, in total, influence millions and millions of people throughout the world. Incidentally, just because a name is on this list does not necessarily mean that leader is in deception. We have included a wide assortment of names in this list. There are many pastors and Christian leaders who may not be part of the deception but, for various reasons, are not aware of what is happening in the church today.

 

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Coming into “Alignment”

LTRP Note: Kevin Reeves is the author of The Other Side of the River, which is an account of his years as an elder in a Latter Rain, “River” church.

By Kevin Reeves 

Back in about the early ’90s, my former church went through a series of divine healing videos put out by Charles and Francis Hunter, or “The Happy Hunters.” At the end of each video, we put the teachings to the test—not the scriptural test for truth, mind you, but the “practical application” of what we had just learned. By laying on of hands, usually administered by Jason (our pastor) but sometimes by others in the group, we often felt things—sometimes a sense like an electric current running through the body, sometimes “drunkenness” (I experienced this one time where I literally could not speak without slurring my words), and sometimes in a very strange manipulation of the limbs. This was particularly powerful. Once (and I was not the only one so affected), according to the command on the video, I stretched out my arms and brought my hands together in order to see if my back was out of alignment. Well, according to the Hunters’ criteria it was, and when I asked for God to heal me, right there in that room with about fifteen other people, my back seemed to move of its own accord, my outstretched arms and shoulders slowly rotating as if there was another person inside me doing the motions. There appeared to be a definite power at work unlike any I had ever felt before. I was thrilled. Even elder Smalley was impressed, pointing at me and exclaiming with a huge smile, “Look at Kevin!”

This manipulation went on for about ten minutes, when it gradually subsided and left altogether. We had seen many people on this video manifest in this way, so it was only natural that we should experience the same thing. Incidentally, I never did feel any lasting change in my back.

It wasn’t my spine that needed aligning—it was my heart. And that needed to be aligned using the plumb line of God’s Word. Although we could not find its precedent in Scripture, the experience was powerful,stimulating, and sometimes seemed to work. Even unbelievers who were occasionally brought to meetings testified of the power that coursed through their bodies and moved their limbs of its own accord. At least one, however, left our meeting hurting with worse pain than when he arrived.

Was it of God? What do you think? Its absence from the ministries of Jesus and the apostles should sound warning bells loud and clear. This was a formula prayer, the same thing Jesus had in fact warned against in Matthew 6:7.

“Do this, and this will happen.” How many times I heard that kind of spiritual reasoning in our congregation eludes me. But God simply doesn’t act that way. Jesus healed differently for different people, based on heart attitude, not a specific agenda, method, or ritual. One of the main points of the video, which fell right into line with our own doctrine, was that Christians should not be suffering under sickness. Well, if we believe that, then we will have a very hard time explaining away the sickness of sincere believers like Timothy (I Timothy 5:23), Epaphroditus (Philippians 2:25-27), and Trophimus (II Timothy 4:20). In congregations today that follow these doctrines of men, the many who suffer sickness, sometimes chronically, are placed in the position of being healed or being condemned for their lack of faith, either by church leadership, the congregation, or their own feelings. They believe they have failed God. Or worse, that God has failed them.

Other Articles by Kevin Reeves:

Slain in the Spirit: Is it a Biblical Practice? by Kevin Reeves

C is For Catholicism—An Evangelical Primer on Catholic Terminology

D is for Deception—The Language of the “New” Christianity

 

 

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