Archive for the ‘Rick Warren’ Category

Letter to the Editor: Heartbroken in Leaving Her Southern Baptist Church Over Deception Issues

purposeTo Lighthouse Trails:

Last December during our Church Council, they (pastor and his wife) announced that we would be studying The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren, and the Sunday School teachers would  be teaching it.  As one of the teachers, I said “No, I will not teach it.  I don’t believe in it.”  One of the women on the Council said, “But we love it.”  I told them I didn’t love it, and I would not teach it.  She is the woman who teaches most of the Women’s Bible studies and had them read  [Don Miller’s] Blue like Jazz.  I read a couple of pages and refused to participate.  Same thing with a Beth Moore study.  She was behind this one also and had talked about “lifeboats” and had a group of the church leaders in her home to meet the man who wrote the book about that concept.

I gave my Sunday School the option of continuing their Bible study or going to the presentation of The Purpose Driven.  I explained my objections to it.  They chose to follow her, and I told them I would return to continue the class when that was over.

When I returned to the class, we began a study of prophecy in the Bible, starting with Genesis.  The Pastor required that I submit my syllabus to his wife for approval.

At that time, I had to leave on a trip for a family matter.  Before we returned from that trip, I checked the local newsletter online and saw the announcement that the pastor had cancelled Prayer Meetings and instituted Cottage meetings to teach Richard Foster’s book on Contemplative Prayer.  I was heartsick.  This was just an ongoing issue with the church.  I got home on Tuesday, and by Saturday I was in the hospital with a bleeding ulcer and getting a blood transfusion.  I felt strongly, and so did my husband, God was telling us to leave our little Southern Baptist church.

When I was discharged, I sent a letter of resignation to the pastor and others who needed to know and resigned all my responsibilities.  I was chairperson for several committees as well as a teacher and worship leader.

We started attending a little Baptist church down the road, and then I found out that the progressives have invaded and pretty much taken over our seminaries and colleges.  The pastor of our new church is an awesome young man and well rooted in the Christian faith.  I have listened carefully and questioned him, and I am impressed.

I am 70 years old and I have been a Christian for about 66 of those years. I was heart broken over my church.  I was disturbed and sad and felt lonely even though my husband was with me on this.  I questioned whether or not I needed to stay and keep fighting this or just leave.  I had given it my best shot and nobody listened.  Several of my class members came to see me while I convalesced but nothing was changing at church.  I definitely felt God telling me to leave and not look back.

You have been there for me also as I struggled with the apostasy in the church.  God bless you and thank you for myself and my husband.

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Olive Tree Radio Interview with Warren Smith: Many Shall Come in My Name

warren-bioJan Markell and Eric Barger host former New Ager Warren Smith for the hour. This movement is now called the “new spirituality” and you would be surprised how even evangelical leaders fit into it. The chief proponent of it is Oprah Winfrey who is now utilizing Rob Bell to further this Satanic agenda.  Why would Rick Warren tap into three men with involvement in this “new spirituality” to be a part of a program at Saddleback Church? Hear from one who attended this outrageous seminar.  We carry Smith’s excellent book, “False Christ Coming: What New Age Leaders Really Have in Store for America, the Church, and the World.” To listen to this important interview, click here.

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Letter to Editor: Rick Warren Speaks in Philadelphia at Catholics’ World Meeting of Families on Sept. 25

 

Dear Lighthouse Trails:

Rick Warren gave the final keynote address of the World Meeting of Families conference on Sept.25th. Rick Warren told the crowd: “Thank you for caring about the family” and quoted Pope Francis as saying that “the family is under threat.” The World Meeting of Families conference is held every 3 years and is the world’s largest Catholic gathering of families.

A photo of rosary beads from the World Meeting of Families store

Warren went on to say that he was inspired as a teen by the late Catholic Bishop Fulton Sheen. That was not surprising given Rick Warren’s past proven propensity to affiliate with and endorse Catholic leaders, as Lighthouse trails has well documented over the past years. See link: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com)/blog/?s=rick+warren+catholic

The most disconcerting fact though is what Cardinal O’Malley said about Rick Warren:

“It’s important that Rick Warren is here . . . this is a witness of unity that’s important in today’s world, as we strive to proclaim the gospel of life: the need to protect every human being from the first moment of conception until natural death, to defend the family as a sanctuary of life, and family as a sacred calling described on the first pages of the Bible. . . . It’s a great consolation to share this stage with a fellow Christian who is truly committed to preaching the Gospel” (emphasis added).

First of all, aren’t we to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Mark 1:1; 1 Cor.9:12)? Where is this “gospel of life” even referred to in the Bible? Yes, God loves families, and yes, of course God cares about every human life and grieves over abortions, and yes, God desires for families to be healthy spiritually; but as biblical Christians, we unify around the Gospel of Jesus Christ and sound doctrine, not the “gospel of life” (whatever that is) or “defending families.” If we unify around the “gospel of life” and “defending families,”  then we can join spiritual hands with Catholics, Mormons, and even an atheist who is against abortion, and for healthy family units . . . even if they don’t believe in the biblical Bospel (see 1 Corinthians 15:1-8). What we are witnessing with Rick Warren and other Christians joining together with Catholics in the name of God under a false gospel is not biblical unity.

See article link:

http://www.christianpost.com/news/evangelical-pastor-rick-warren-speaks-at-catholics-world-meeting-of-families-146225/

In Christ,

Concerned in California

 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. (Galatians 1:6-10)

Related Information:

To get a better idea of what the Catholic Church believes in, visit the the “Spirituality Center” of the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia: click here.

The New Evangelization From Rome Or Finding the True Jesus Christ by Roger Oakland

The Conversion of Protestants to Catholicism Through the Eucharist by Roger Oakland

 

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NEW MOVIE, CAPTIVE: The Stories Behind the Story and Another Plug for The Purpose Driven Movement

LTRP Note: On September 18th, a new movie will hit the theaters, Captive. The film is the story about Ashley Smith, the young woman who was held captive by an escaped murderer and how she convinced him to give himself up. When the incident happened in 2005, it came out in news reports that the woman had read excerpts from The Purpose Driven Life to her captor. Free-lance journalist Paul Proctor wrote three stories about this that year. Because the movie is coming out, we decided to re-post these insightful articles by Paul Proctor (two of the articles are links below the first article). We agree with Proctor, who said while he was “thrilled that Ashley escaped with her life and that no one else was killed,” he was sorry to see the incident turned into a marketing extravaganza for Rick Warren and The Purpose Driven Life. No doubt, the new movie will be another big plug for “America’s Pastor” and his “New” Spirituality-promoting Purpose Driven movement.

By Paul Proctor

March 26, 2005—A friend called me on my cell phone a couple of weeks ago to share some amazing quotes from the Purpose Driven hostage shortly after her story broke and shot to the top of the human-interest charts. Before he could even finish reading the pertinent excerpts from the article he found, we both agreed that those who stood to benefit the most from this “miracle of God” would exploit it to the very limits of believability and in doing so, further legitimize Rick Warren and his Purpose Driven products, now captivating and confusing the spiritually lame, biblically ignorant and ecclesiastically ambitious around the world.

Of course we all know that nothing sells books, tickets, movies, merchandise, programs, popcorn, cotton candy and Kleenex like a life and death drama with a happy ending. That’s why so many victims and perpetrators who come out of obscurity to suddenly find themselves before the TV cameras end up in some carnivalesque corner of the entertainment industry trying to capitalize on their newfound notoriety and turn it into a cash-producing and/or agenda-advancing career.

If history has taught us anything, it is that pop culture products, performances and personalities don’t have to be good, credible, accurate or even real as long as they stimulate and motivate the masses. That’s why the most popular household appliance sold in America today is not the dishwasher or the clothes washer, but the brainwasher; that big screen fantasy machine that talks you through the highs and lows of life each day like an electronic psychiatrist, while you recline on the couch for hours on end.

When you consider that five corporations control today’s mainstream media, it’s much easier to understand how a nation and even the world can be controlled into thinking, speaking and doing whatever the architects of illusion desire.

Things just don’t happen by chance, they happen by design; and the powers-that-be have carefully planned your future and mine from cradle to grave. By way of seduction and suggestion we are steered deeper into a socialized slavery each day while laughing and crying our way through the facts, feelings and fantasies of a perceived reality called “television.” Their slogan may be: “you decide” but rest assured, they’ve already decided FOR YOU what will and won’t be seen on TV and what commentary and captions will accompany the compelling images they provide.

I’d wager to say that very few, if any, Purpose Driven puppets ever really heard or understood what was being taught them in Ashley Smith’s emotionally charged interview as recorded by CNN. Most, I suspect, were just elated to learn that the “People’s Pastor” had finally been validated in secular society by a Purpose Driven “miracle.”

But, now that the euphoria has subsided somewhat, look again and reconsider carefully what she actually said:

SMITH: “We went to my room. And I asked him if I could read. He said, ‘What do you want to read?’ ‘Well, I have a book in my room.’ So I went and got it. I got my Bible. And I got a book called The Purpose-Driven Life. I turned it to the chapter that I was on that day. It was Chapter 33. And I started to read the first paragraph of it. After I read it, he said, ‘Stop, will you read it again?’ I said, ‘Yeah. I’ll read it again.’ So I read it again to him. It mentioned something about what you thought your purpose in life was. What were you—what talents were you given? What gifts were you given to use? And I asked him what he thought. And he said, ‘I think it was to talk to people and tell them about you.’”

You see, Ashley made a significant choice that day between the Word of God and the words of Warren. Like millions of others who keep Bibles around the house for a second opinion, she chose to read to her captor from Warren’s book instead of God’s Word. And because she made that choice and is still alive today, Ashley is now a hero in the eyes of a nation; and the media has proudly declared hers to be a salvation story and a miracle of deliverance from Almighty God.

I dare say if she had read something Jesus Christ had said, quoting Scripture to Mr. Nichols from her Bible and lived to tell about it, the networks wouldn’t have even allowed her on the air, much less made a big deal out of it. What was the subtle message the architects were teaching us?

Be a hero! – Be Purpose Driven!

No wonder sales of the PDL book spiked! Who wouldn’t want to be a TV hero and a media darling?

When Brian Nichols told Ashley that he thought his purpose was “to talk to people and tell them about you,” I’m sure that made her feel very special; but the absurd implication of that statement seemed to escape most teary-eyed Christians I know; that God had four people shot dead at the courthouse that day in Atlanta just so Nichols could spend the rest of his life telling everyone about Ashley Smith. If it hasn’t registered yet, that’s horizontal worship, aka: idolatry; and THAT, my friends, is what the church growth movement is all about; worshiping one another and our collective achievements in the name of Jesus. That’s why the emphasis is always on relationships rather than righteousness.

SMITH: “But after we began to talk, he said he thought that I was an angel sent from God. And that I was his sister and he was my brother in Christ. And that he was lost and God led him right to me to tell him that he had hurt a lot of people.”

Well, in spite of Brian Nichols’ thoughts and feelings, Ashley is not “an angel sent from God.” She is quite human and has, as Warren admitted on Larry King Live, a less than angelic past. In addition, Mr. Nichols might consider himself to be a “lost brother in Christ,” but I assure you; THERE IS NO SUCH THING. He is either lost OR he is a brother in Christ. He cannot be both simultaneously. Furthermore, a brother in Christ does not gun down innocent people in a court of law, flee for his life, take hostages and threaten to kill them.

SMITH: “I said, ‘Do you believe in miracles? Because if you don’t believe in miracles—you are here for a reason. You’re here in my apartment for some reason. You got out of that courthouse with police everywhere, and you don’t think that’s a miracle? You don’t think you’re supposed to be sitting right here in front of me listening to me tell you, you know, your reason here?’ I said, ‘You know, your miracle could be that you need to—you need to be caught for this,’ Smith continued. ‘You need to go to prison and you need to share the Word of God with them, with all the prisoners there.'”

This is not the Gospel of Christ being shared, friends; this is a frightened woman appealing to a desperate man through his ego, using anything she can think of including God, sympathy, flattery, family, food and friendship to win his trust and just stay alive. Under the circumstances, I don’t fault her for any of this; but let’s just call it what it is. I also don’t fault either of them for their confusion about God, His miracles and His purpose for their lives, considering their obvious lack of biblical knowledge, discernment and understanding.

I do, however, find it absolutely outrageous that a degree-holding, seminary educated, mega-church pastor like Rick Warren would take advantage of this terrible tragedy and the gross ignorance and confusion of those involved and twist it into something he can use to plug his book, his programs, and his upcoming faith-based global socialist P.E.A.C.E. Plan! That is unacceptable behavior, and he ought to be ashamed!

The real travesty that day was this: The Gospel of Christ was not proclaimed, no one repented, and no one was saved; at least not spiritually, which would have been a miracle indeed. According to the reports and interviews I’ve read, Smith and Nichols discussed a lot of heartwarming things in their lives but not Jesus Christ, the cross, His death, burial, resurrection, shed blood or redemptive plan for mankind. From what I can ascertain, their focus was, like Warren’s, on a Purpose Driven Life, not eternal life in Christ.

Nichols did not surrender to Jesus Christ or anyone else for that matter; he was turned in to the authorities by his hostage and taken into custody without incident a short time later.

It just blows my mind that the church today thinks they have a monopoly on kindness and generosity; that displaying such things to strangers somehow MEANS you’re an official “child of God! This is the counterfeit Christianity that the world is just wild about today; the new paradigm for the postmodern church: a religion of relationships, social service, and psychology, offered up in the name of our Homeboy, Jesus.

This kind of Christianity doesn’t even need a Divine Savior or the Word of God, and is replacing both at church with what amounts to religious volunteerism—a politically correct value system and service organization comprised of smiley-faced worker bees that embrace no real doctrine, theology or belief beyond a luv for fellow man.

For a kind word and a drink, you can get THAT at any bar in town! One of the most loyal, unpretentious, unselfish people I know in this life is an atheist. He would give you or me the shirt off his back and do almost anything for anyone, yet he claims no God exists. When is the dumbed-down church of horizontal worship and service going to wake up from this Purpose Driven delusion and realize that our good deeds and human relationships mean nothing without a knowledge of, belief in, and obedience to, the Word of God?

Larry King mentioned during his interview the other night with Warren that a copy of The Purpose Driven Life was found in the back seat of [wife-murderer] Scott Peterson’s car. They concluded that, in light of the outcome, he must not have read it. Here we have support from the LIBERAL media and its premier talk show host, an agnostic! That right there ought to tell you something’s askew! How do we know Scott Peterson DIDN’T read it? Maybe the absence of tears and remorse the media and their expert psychologists condemned him for was really Scott gracefully accepting his newfound purpose in life on death row? That killing his wife and unborn son is what made it all possible. Same logic.

Anyway, call the Purpose Driven hostage outcome anything you want; but it was not a miracle. It was only reported as such because the book she chose to read from that day is published by a subsidiary of one of those big five corporations I mentioned earlier. They have a vested interest in Warren’s success and none in Jesus Christ’s.

I am thrilled that Ashley escaped with her life and that no one else was killed, including Mr. Nichols; but don’t let the media hype this into something it was not. If I’ve learned anything about the “wide gate and the broad way,” it’s that the crowd is ALWAYS wrong.

I wish only the best for Ms. Smith and her little girl and sincerely hope that Brian Nichols confesses, repents, and surrenders to the One who works REAL miracles and doesn’t end up a Purpose Driven hostage himself.

Used with permission from Paul Proctor.

The other articles Paul Proctor wrote about the Purpose Driven hostage story:

Voices

A Story of Two Redemptions?

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Pope Francis, Rick Warren, and That 2014 Catholic Interview No One Thought Important? Reminder of Its Revealing Facts About “America’s Pastor”

warren-arroyo

Rick Warren and Raymond Arroyo

In May of 2014, Roger Oakland wrote a five-part series addressing Rick Warren’s television interview with Catholic TV host Raymond Arroyo. The facts that Roger uncovered should have sent shock waves throughout the evangelical church . . . but they didn’t. In fact, leaders and most pastors in the Christian church didn’t seem to care at all. And now, Rick Warren will be joining Pope Francis (at the Papacy’s invitation) when the Catholic pope comes to the United States this month. Warren is scheduled to be a keynote speaker at one of the events. For discerning Christians who do care about what is happening to the church, including the current ecumenical move to bring the “lost brethren” back to the Mother Church (and ultimately form a unified global religious body as the Bible states will happen), we’d like to bring to your attention these five articles by Roger Oakland and ask that you pray that many eyes will be opened to what is happening. And much of this taking place within evangelicalism, if not most of it, can be attributed to the actions of leaders such as Rick Warren, Beth Moore, the late Chuck Colson, and many others, who have escalated this dangerous ecumenism that is changing the face of mainstream Christianity today.

Here are the links to those five articles from the special 2014 series written by Roger Oakland of Understand The Times, with some brief notes on each. There are also links to the actual interview between Warren and Arroyo.

1. Part 1 of Special Coverage: Rick Warren’s Ecumenical Pathway to Rome Continues

a. Rick talks about the expansion of his ministry abroad, the Vatican delegation that recently came to Orange County to study his church’s style of evangelization, and which television channel he finds himself watching most often and the show that draws him.

b. Rick Warren starts the Purpose Driven Catholics program in 2005

c. Rick Warren admits he is in favor of the Roman Catholic New Evangelization program (set up to win the “lost brethren” back to the Mother Church).

2. Rick Warren, Roman Catholic Mystics and Pope Francis

a. There is no room for doubt: Warren’s march towards ecumenical unity with Rome is becoming clearer and bolder as time passes.

b.  His own words confirm that Roman Catholic mystics and their writings have been a strong influence on him personally and his ministry.

c.  The authors and the books mentioned by Warren are more than revealing. They clearly show where his theology is founded.

(See part 1 and 2 of the interview between Rick Warren and Raymond Arroyo, click here.)

3. Rick Warren, Religious Liberty, and Catholics and Evangelicals Together

a. Rick Warren may have a plan laid away for the future of promoting a “religious liberty movement” that will be the equivalent of the “civil liberties movement” of the past.

b. It is possible that a so-called “religious liberty” movement championed by America’s Pastor, who is willing to go to jail for standing up for the religious rights of all religions,  could be a stepping-stone to something else. Especially when it is so obvious this would be another important way to join evangelicals and Catholics together, a common trend of our day.

c. Warren could be a major spokesperson for persuading evangelicals to join together with Roman Catholics.

(See part 3 of the interview between Rick Warren and Raymond Arroyo, click here.)

4. Rick Warren, Jean Vanier, And The New Evangelization

a. If Rick Warren and his followers represent the direction many former “Protestants” are headed, it is only a matter of time for the coming One World Ecumenical Religion to be established. The Jesuit plan to bring the “separated brethren Home to Rome” will have been accomplished.

b. Warren admits that he has a “spiritual director” at the retreat center at Saddleback who was trained by the Catholic contemplative figure Jean Vanier.

c.  Vanier is a contemplative mystic who promotes interspiritual and interfaith beliefs, calling the Hindu Mahatma Gandhi “one of the greatest prophets of our times”[3] and “a man sent by God.”[4] In the book Essential Writings, Vanier talks about “opening doors to other religions” and helping people develop their own faiths be it Hinduism, Christianity, or Islam.[5]  The book also describes how Vanier read Thomas Merton and practiced and was influenced by the spiritual exercises of the Jesuit founder and mystic St. Ignatius.

(See part 4 of the interview between Rick Warren and Raymond Arroyo, click here.)

5. Rick Warren and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy – “One of my favorite shows”

a. When a Christian leader publically makes statements or endorsements by saying or doing things that contradict the Bible, the leader needs to be addressed in a public manner so those who have been influenced can be put back on track.

b. Warren’s main reason for watching the Roman Catholic Eternal Word Television Network is to gain a knowledge and understanding of Christian history, then there is no question he is getting a biased one-sided view.

c. In Warren’s own words: “One of my favorite shows, which you repeat often is the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, which I love. And when I’ve had a very stressful day, I’ll come home, I’ve got it taped and Kay and I will both, we’ll listen. We’ll put it on and just sit back, relax and worship. And in the time of reflection, meditation and quietness I find myself renewed and restored. So thank you for continuing to play the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.”

d. “The Chaplet of the Divine Mercy is . . .  based on the visions of Jesus reported by Saint Mary Faustina Kowalska (1905-1938), known as ‘the Apostle of Mercy.’ . . . Faustina stated that she received the prayer through visions and conversations with Jesus, who made specific promises regarding the recitation of the prayers. . . .  the chaplet is often said as a rosary-based prayer with the same set of rosary beads used for reciting the Holy Rosary or the Chaplet of Holy Wounds, in the Roman Catholic Church.  . . .  The chaplet may also be said without beads, usually by counting prayers on the fingertips, and may be accompanied by the veneration of the Divine Mercy image.”

(See part 5 of the interview between Rick Warren and Raymond Arroyo, click here.)

 

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Pope Francis U.S. Visit 2015 Schedule and Dates: Pontiff Invites Rick Warren To Speak at Philadelphia Conference on Family

LTRP Note: Posted for informational and research purposes.

Courtesy Understand the Times

By Leah Marieann Klett
The Gospel Herald Ministries

Rick Warren, senior pastor of Saddleback Church, has announced he will be speaking in Philadelphia later this month at the World Meeting of Families event to commence Pope Francis’ highly anticipated visit to the United States. Warren announced his plans to attend the event during the Sunday morning worship service at the Lake Forest, CA church.

“Next month, Pope Francis is coming to America for a world gathering on families,” he told the congregation.”I’m not a Catholic, and we have many differences with Catholics. But they love the Lord and we have much in common with that – we believe in the Bible, and the Trinity, and in Jesus and the resurrection.” “There are probably going to be a million people in Philadelphia at this final event with Pope Francis, and he’s asked me to be the final speaker,” the Purpose Driven Life author continued amid cheering and applause. Click here to continue reading.

Related Information:

Rick Warren, Jean Vanier, And The New Evangelization

RICK WARREN AND THE CHAPLET OF DIVINE MERCY – “One of my favorite shows”

TV Preachers [Copeland, Robison] Glowingly Describe Meeting with Pope to Tear Down ‘Walls of Division’

 

 

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Letter to the Editor: What About Jeff Bethke’s Book Jesus > Religion? – A Book With An Agenda!

Dear Lighthouse Trails:

I was wondering if you have any info on Bethke’s latest book, Jesus > Religion, or know of anyone who has done a review on it? All I need to know is that Mark Driscoll endorsed it but I have a friend who will want more info… J.C.

Our Comment: The book has been out for a while, and yes, we do have a book review on it. This is one book that sure does have an agenda! Here is the book review we wrote in 2013 on Jesus > Religion.

“Anti-Religion Jeff Bethke Hits the News Again – New Book, Same Message: “Imagine No Religion” (From 2013 by LT Editors)

 Not only are there political quests being achieved through the indoctrination of these young people, but these young followers are becoming convinced that a socialistic religion-killing society is the only solution for man.

Jeff Bethke, the 24-year-old man who did the anti-religion YouTube video in 2012, is back in the news again. This time, he has a book about his subject matter. His video, Why I Hate Religion, went viral and to date over 26 million people have viewed it. That video is partially responsible for our writing the Booklet Tract They Hate Christianity But Love (Another) Jesus – How Conservative Christians Are Being Manipulated and Ridiculed, Especially During Election Years (yes, Bethke’s video came out not too long before the nation voted for Obama). You can read our full booklet tract by clicking here, and we hope you do. It may give you a different perspective than what seems to meet the eye. Kind of like when George Barna and Frank Viola came out with their book Pagan Christianity, and untold numbers thought their book was fantastic, when in reality, it was more of a smoke screen to what was REALLY happening in Christianity today (see our article, “Pagan Christianity by Viola and Barna – A Perfect Example of ‘Missing the Point.’” They said a big pagan problem with Christians was that they sat in pews, went to Sunday School, and listened to sermons. But sadly, no mention of the REAL problems happening in the church today (contemplative spirituality, for example).

Here is a portion of our They Hate Christianity But Love (Another) Jesus that gives some background information on Jeff Bethke:

In January of 2012, another election year, a young man, Jefferson (Jeff) Bethke, who attends contemplative advocate Mark Driscoll’s church, Mars Hill in Washington state, posted a video on YouTube called “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus.” Within hours, the video had over 100,000 hits. Soon it reached over 14 million hits, according to the Washington Post, one of the major media that has spotlighted the Bethke video (hits as of May 2013 are over 25 million).

The Bethke video is a poem Bethke wrote and recites in a rap-like fashion his thoughts and beliefs about the pitfalls of what he calls “religion” but what is indicated to be Christianity. While we are not saying at this time that Bethke is an emerging figure, and while some of the lyrics in his poem are true statements, it is interesting that emerging spirituality figures seem to be resonating with Bethke’s message. They are looking for anything that will give them ammunition against traditional biblical Christianity. They have found some in Bethke’s poem. Like so many in the emerging camp say, Bethke’s poem suggests that Christians don’t take care of the poor and needy. While believers in Christ have been caring for the needy for centuries, emerging figures use this ploy to win conservative Christians (through guilt) over to a liberal social justice “gospel.” Emerging church journalist Jim Wallis (founder of Sojourners) is one who picked up on Bethke’s video. In an article on Wallis’ blog, it states:

“Bethke’s work challenges his listeners to second guess their preconceived notions about what it means to be a Christian. He challenges us to turn away from the superficial trappings of “religion,” and instead lead a missional life in Christ.”

Back when we wrote that article, we went pretty easy on Bethke, almost giving him the benefit of the doubt. But Bethke’s new book, Jesus > Religion: Why He Is So Much Better Than Trying Harder, Doing More, and Being Good Enough (Thomas Nelson, 2013) presents Bethke’s views more clearly. For one, he has a  recommended reading list at the back of the book that contains a number of contemplative and emerging advocates such as Mark Driscoll, Brennan Manning, John Piper, Timothy Keller, Brother Lawrence, and John Ortberg. Also on the list are emerging “progressives” like Andy Stanley and N.T. Wright (a figure touted by the emerging church extensively). On a website, Bethke is quoted as saying that Wright is one of his “heroes.”

Interestingly, one of the books Bethke recommends is Beth Moore’s When Godly People Do Ungodly Things. That book is Moore’s declarative statement promoting Brennan Manning, saying that his contribution to “our generation of believers may be a gift without parallel” (p. 72) and that  his book Ragamuffin Gospel is “one of the most remarkable books” (p. 290) she has ever read (Bethke obviously thinks so too – Ragamuffin Gospel is one of his recommended books too). But in the back of Ragamuffin Gospel, Manning makes reference to panentheist mystic Basil Pennington saying that Pennington’s methods will provide us with “a way of praying that leads to a deep living relationship with God.” However, Pennington’s methods of prayer draw from Eastern religions as you can see by this statement by Pennington:

We should not hesitate to take the fruit of the age-old wisdom of the East and “capture” it for Christ. Indeed, those of us who are in ministry should make the necessary effort to acquaint ourselves with as many of these Eastern techniques as possible. Many Christians who take their prayer life seriously have been greatly helped by Yoga, Zen, TM and similar practices. (from A Time of Departing, 2nd ed., p.64)

Manning also cites Carl Jung in Ragamuffin Gospel as well as interspiritualists and contemplatives, Anthony De Mello, Marcus Borg (who denies the virgin birth and deity of Christ), Morton Kelsey, Gerald May, Henri Nouwen, Alan Jones (who calls the atonement vile), Eugene Peterson, and Sue Monk Kidd (who says God is in everything, even human waste and believes in the goddess who offers us the “holiness of everything”). All of these names in Ragamuffin Gospel. It is more than safe to assume that both Moore and Bethke have read (and resonate with) Ragamuffin Gospel. And we know from years of research that Manning was trying to set up the church to become what Karl Rahner “prophesied”: “The Christian of the future will be a mystic or he or she will not exist at all.”

Bede Griffith

We were surprised to see the name Bede Griffith in Bethke’s new book in the endnote section (p. 208). He didn’t necessarily reference him favorably (or unfavorably, for that matter) but the fact that someone like Griffith would be benignly mentioned in a “Jesus” loving book is hard to ignore. The Catholic monk and mystic Bede Griffith, like Thomas Merton, “explored ways in which Eastern religions could deepen his prayer.” (Credence Cassettes, Winter/Lent 1985 Catalog, p. 14, cited in ATOD) Griffith also saw the “growing importance of Eastern religions . . . bringing the church to a new vitality.”(Ibid.) Griffith’s autobiography, The Golden String, expresses his belief that God (the golden string) flows through all things (panentheism).

In reading Bethke’s book, one can see that Mark Driscoll may have rubbed off on him. And one of Bethke’s recommended books is Driscoll’s Vintage Jesus. We wrote a little about that book a number of years ago; we even 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 it in to CC; in Vintage Jesus, Driscoll calls homeschooling “dumb,” mocks the rapture and Armageddon, and says Christians are “little Christs.” Bethke echoes Driscoll’s distain, like in his chapter titled “Religion Points to a Dim Future/Jesus Points to a Bright Future.”  He 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. And they will accomplish this through meditation. In Brennan Manning’s book The Signature of Jesus, he said that “the first step in faith is to stop thinking about God at the time of prayer” (p. 212).  Then the next step, he says, is to choose a sacred word and “repeat the sacred word [or phrase] inwardly, slowly, and often” (p. 218).

Bethke’s book goes after the usual suspects. For instance, he belittles street preachers sharing the Gospel in  his chapter called “Fundies, Fakes, and Other So-Called Christians.” He says:

Whenever I walk by the street preachers, I laugh under my breath, picturing just how uncomfortable they are going to be in heaven when everyone else is partying it up. (p. 43)

Many of those street preachers are the ones responsible for untold numbers ending up in heaven and “partying it up.” It is faithful preachers and evangelists of the Gospel who have tirelessly cried out repent and be saved that will be the reason why some make it to heaven. But it is very typical for emergents to mock and condemn such evangelistic efforts. And if they are reading Ragamuffin Gospel, it’s no wonder they have  a strong aversion to evangelism and a call to repentance. For example, in Ragamuffin Gospel, Manning says that God understands a woman having to become a prostitute in order to support her two- year old son, and He will not condemn her. So, in other words, it really doesn’t matter what we do, as long as we have a good reason for doing it. A relaxed view of sin and a harsh view of evangelism go hand in hand in the emerging church.

And like just about every other emergent-type book, Bethke’s gives a good scolding to Christians who reject our present society’s embracing of homosexuality. He says he believes homosexuality is not God’s perfect plan for man, but can’t we all just have meaningful conversations and get along with each other and stop talking about homosexuality? (pp. 63-69) He actually compares the apostle Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” to being “gay” (p. 69)!

Bethke’s book reminds us somewhat of Mike Erre’s book Death by Church or Dan Kimball’s book, They Like Jesus But Not the Church in the scorning way it portrays conservative Bible-believing Christians and in the way it twists and manipulates Scriptures and biblical ideas, equating them with sinister and evil actions. Like this quote from Bethke:

When people come to us in the midst of their pain, how dare we flippantly quote some Bible verses as if that alone would help? How dare we think we can just send them some balloons? How dare we overspiritualize or be like the mom who told her daughter the rape was her fault? (p. 125)

What he just did there was equate sharing Bible verses with a hurting person to a mom telling her daughter it was her fault she got raped. This constant barrage of attack against biblical Christianity never seems to relent. Remember when Brennan Manning and J.P. Moreland1 used the term “bibliolatry” to say that Christians who put too much focus on the Bible are committing idolatry. And remember when Rick Warren twisted Scripture to tell his readers (in The Purpose Driven Life) that those who think too much about Bible prophecy and the Lord’s return were “not fit for the kingdom of God.”2  We could give example after example of this attack on believers in Christian faith by those who profess to be Christian from one side of their mouth but seek to destroy it from the other side. Erwin McManus is another example: He said that it was his “goal to destroy Christianity”:

My goal is to destroy Christianity as a world religion and be a recatalyst for the movement of Jesus Christ. . . . Some people are upset with me because it sounds like I’m anti-Christian. I think they might be right.3

And on and on it goes. Christians who adhere to biblical beliefs are being beat down and made to look like there is something really wrong with them and they better get with the program.

It’s interesting that in Bethke’s new book, he quotes Rob Bell talking about “the cross” (p. 125).  Interesting because Rob Bell doesn’t believe in the biblical atonement through the Cross. He believes that everyone is going to be saved regardless of their acceptance or rejection of the Cross. So it seems like a strange choice from Bethke; his book just came out this year – surely he has heard of Rob Bell’s beliefs on hell and salvation.

1968: Maharishi Mahesh Yogi with some of his famous followers (left to right) John Lennon, Paul McCartney, the Maharishi, George Harrison, Mia Farrow and Donovan. Photo:THE HINDU ARCHIVES

The “new” Christianity that is being propagated by Bethke, Bell, and countless other voices is not going away. Rather, it is helping to bring about strong delusion and a great falling away. Millions of young people, both Christian and non-Christian, are listening to these voices and following the beat of this drum. They are throwing out the faith of their youth and exchanging it for a “new” spirituality that will produce within them a mindset that rejects the message of the Cross. Not only are there political quests being achieved through the indoctrination of these young people, but these young followers are becoming convinced that a socialistic religion-killing society is the only solution for man. (Remember, Karl Marx said, “religion is the opiate of the masses” and John Lennon of  The Beatles said, imagine no religion).  And, tragically, the masses will continue to race down a broad road to deception through the multitude of false teachers.

Let us remember that before Jesus departed to heaven He commissioned His followers to proclaim the Gospel. The proclamation of the Cross is God’s hope for mankind.The Word of God has been likened to a blacksmith’s anvil; though many a hammer may be broken over the years pounding on that anvil, the anvil will hold its strength and integrity. It is ironic that emergents find comfort in attacking the Gospel and Bible-believing Christians. They say they love Jesus instead. What makes this so very ironic is that the apostle John is referred to in Scripture as “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 21:20). Perhaps it would do emergents good to listen to some of the things John had to say – as it seems like his  first epistle was written especially for them. Addressing the idea of loving Jesus (or God) but hating Christianity, John had this to say:

If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also. (1 John 4: 20-21)

Now, if we look at the context of the chapter from which these verses were taken, it becomes evident that John is writing about solid doctrinal Christianity. And he is saying that when we hate and reject these things, and the people who adhere to them, we are hating and rejecting God. When they say they love Jesus but hate the church (i.e., Christianity), they aren’t talking about hating buildings; they are talking about hating people. As for the teaching of the Cross, John makes it exceptionally clear in this epistle that “he is the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 2:2):

In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:9-10)

When we talk about love, we should really be talking about the Cross as this was and is God’s ultimate expression of His love toward us that makes it possible to spend eternity with Him when we receive this gift of love, by faith.

As we look into John’s life more carefully, it becomes apparent that he was not like an emergent at all. While the emergent figures of today seek to be hip and popular and mimic what each other has to say, John stood for the truth regardless of what the masses were saying or wanted to hear. Foxe’s Book of Martyrs records that even though he was the only apostle to escape a violent death, he was cast into a cauldron of boiling oil. And though he escaped miraculously, he was afterward banished to the Isle of Patmos (p. 27, LT edition).

If you are a young person reading this, remember that popularity in the world’s eyes is not a sign of being in God’s favor but is rather an indicator that something may be wrong (see 1 John 4: 5-6). Nor does partying with friends, even if they call themselves lovers of Jesus, offer assurance of eternal life. No, it is through the Cross alone that the offer of eternal life has been extended. And that is the truth!

 

 

 

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