Archive for the ‘Lectio Divina’ Category
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)
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)
To Lighthouse Trails:
I have been going to a non-denominational church for years, and last year I noticed the term “Spiritual Formation” being used in the website of the Bible camp this church sponsors. I brought it to their attention, only to be met with indifference and the impression that I was somehow “over the top” to even suggest that Spiritual Formation was in fact Roman Catholic mysticism. They say they are doing a “good” Spiritual Formation yet have teachers at this camp who are from all sorts of New Age churches. Most of these teachers are linked with Rick Warren, Beth Moore, and a host of other contemplative teachers. The church I have been going to actually originated at this Bible camp over 50 years ago and was for many years very biblical and evangelistic. Now it’s united with different denominations and a overload of New Age ideas.
So last year, because no one was listening to me, my wife and I left this assembly, and to this day, no one there seems none the wiser about SF having set up roots in this Bible camp. Nor do they care; no one even calls us, though we were dedicated in doing our part in this assembly for years and years.
Other than Lighthouse Trails and few other online ministries, why is it that no one seems to see this danger, and why are they so indifferent about even talking about this deception? Most of the folks in this assembly, I believe are true born-again believers, yet have blinders on.
This Bible camp offers credits to colleges locally, and these colleges also teach Spiritual Formation with the likes of Dallas Willard and Richard Foster. I actually wrote to these colleges and asked them if they teach SF that embraces the “silence,” repetition of words, Lectio Divina etc. etc., and they proudly admitted to teaching such!
So where have all the Christians gone, and why are the majority of them not even willing to understand this RC deception? I just don’t it.
By Ray Yungen
Contemplative advocates propose that there has been something vital and important missing from the church for centuries. The insinuation is that Christians have been lacking something necessary for their spiritual vitality; but that would mean the Holy Spirit has not been fully effective for hundreds of years and only now the secret key has been found that unlocks God’s full power to know Him. These proponents believe that Christianity has been seriously crippled without this extra ingredient. This kind of thinking leads one to believe that traditional, biblical Christianity is merely a philosophy without the contemplative prayer element. Contemplatives are making a distinction between studying and meditating on the Word of God versus experiencing Him, suggesting that we cannot hear Him or really know Him simply by studying His Word or even through normal prayer—we must be contemplative to accomplish this. But the Bible makes it clear that the Word of God is living and active and has always been that way, and it is in filling our minds with it that we come to love Him, not through a mystical practice of stopping the flow of thought (the stillness) that is never once mentioned in the Bible, except in warnings against vain repetitions in the New Testament and divination in the Old Testament.
Thomas Merton (the man who inspired Dallas Willard and Richard Foster) said that he saw various Eastern religions “come together in his life” (as a Christian mystic). On a rational, practical level, Christianity and Eastern religions will not mix; but add the mystical element and they do blend together like adding soap to oil and water. I must clarify what I mean: Mysticism neutralizes doctrinal differences by sacrificing the truth of Scripture for a mystical experience. Mysticism offers a common ground, and supposedly that commonality is divinity in all. But we know from Scripture “there is one God; and there is none other but he” (Mark 12:32).
In a booklet put out by Saddleback Church on spiritual maturity, the following quote by Henri Nouwen is given:
Solitude begins with a time and place for God, and Him alone. If we really believe not only that God exists, but that He is actively present in our lives—healing, teaching, and guiding—we need to set aside a time and space to give Him our undivided attention.1
When we understand what Nouwen really means by “time and space” given to God, we can also see the emptiness and deception of his spirituality. In his biography of Nouwen, God’s Beloved, Michael O’ Laughlin says:
Some new elements began to emerge in Nouwen’s thinking when he discovered Thomas Merton. Merton opened up for Henri an enticing vista of the world of contemplation and a way of seeing not only God but also the world through new eyes. . . . If ever there was a time when Henri Nouwen wished to enter the realm of the spiritual masters or dedicate himself to a higher spiritual path, it was when he fell under the spell of Cistercian monasticism and the writings of Thomas Merton.2
In his book, Thomas Merton: Contemplative Critic, Nouwen talks about these “new eyes” that Merton helped to formulate and said that Merton and his work “had such an impact” on his life and that he was the man who had “inspired” him greatly.3 But when we read Nouwen’s very revealing account, something disturbing is unveiled. Nouwen lays out the path of Merton’s spiritual pilgrimage into contemplative spirituality. Those who have studied Merton from a critical point of view, such as myself, have tried to understand what are the roots behind Merton’s spiritual affinities. Nouwen explains that Merton was influenced by LSD mystic Aldous Huxley who “brought him to a deeper level of knowledge” and “was one of Merton’s favorite novelists.”4 It was through Huxley’s book, Ends and Means, that first brought Merton “into contact with mysticism.”5 Merton states:
He [Huxley] had read widely and deeply and intelligently in all kinds of Christian and Oriental mystical literature, and had come out with the astonishing truth that all this, far from being a mixture of dreams and magic and charlatanism, was very real and very serious.6
This is why, Nouwen revealed, Merton’s mystical journey took him right into the arms of Buddhism:
Merton learned from him [Chuang Tzu—a Taoist] what Suzuki [a Zen master] had said about Zen: “Zen teaches nothing; it merely enables us to wake and become aware.”7
Become aware of what? The Buddha nature. Divinity within all.
That is why Merton said if we knew what was in each one of us, we would bow down and worship one another. Merton’s descent into contemplative led him to the belief that God is in all things and that God is all things. This is made clear by Merton when he said: “True solitude is a participation in the solitariness of God—Who is in all things.8
Nouwen adds: “[Chuang Tzu] awakened and led him [Merton] . . . to the deeper ground of his consciousness.”9
This has been the ploy of Satan since the Garden of Eden when the serpent said to Eve, “ye shall be as gods” (Genesis 3:4). It is this very essence that is the foundation of contemplative prayer.
In Merton’s efforts to become a mystic, he found guidance from a Hindu swami, whom Merton referred to as Dr. Bramachari. Bramachari played a pivotal role in Merton’s future spiritual outlook. Nouwen divulged this when he said:
Thus he [Merton] was more impressed when this Hindu monk pointed him to the Christian mystical tradition. . . . It seems providential indeed that this Hindu monk relativized [sic] Merton’s youthful curiosity for the East and made him sensitive to the richness of Western mysticism.10
Why would a Hindu monk advocate the Christian mystical tradition? The answer is simple: they are one in the same. Even though the repetitive words used may differ (e.g. Christian words: Abba, Father, etc. rather than Hindu words), the end result is the same. And the Hindu monk knew this to be true. Bramachari understood that Merton didn’t need to switch to Hinduism to get the same enlightenment that he himself experienced through the Hindu mystical tradition. In essence, Bramachari backed up what I am trying to get across, that all the world’s mystical traditions basically come from the same source and teach the same precepts . . . and that source is not the God of the Old and New Testaments. That biblical God is not interspiritual!
Evangelical Christianity is now being invited, perhaps even catapulted into seeing God with these new eyes of contemplative prayer. And so the question must be asked, is Thomas Merton’s silence, Henri Nouwen’s space, and Richard Foster’s contemplative prayer the way in which we can know and be close to God? Or is this actually a spiritual belief system that is contrary to the true message that the Bible so absolutely defines—that there is only one way to God and that is through His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, whose sacrifice on the Cross obtained our full salvation? If indeed my concerns for the future actually come to fruition, then we will truly enter a time of departing.
For more about Ray Yungen’s work, visit: www.atimeofdeparting.com.
1.. Henri Nouwen, cited in Saddleback training book, Soul Construction: Solitude Tool (Lake Forest, CA: Saddleback Church, 2003), p. 12.
2. Michael O’ Laughlin, God’s Beloved (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2004), p. 178.
3. Henri J.M. Nouwen, Thomas Merton: Contemplative Critic (San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row Publishers, 1991, Triumph Books Edition), p. 3.
4. Ibid., pp. 19-20.
5. Ibid., p. 20.
7. Ibid., p. 71.
8. Ibid., pp. 46, 71.
9. Ibid., p. 71.
10 . Ibid., p. 29.
Letter to the Editor: Friend’s Church Bringing in “Praying in Color” – A Disguised Vehicle for Contemplative Prayer
LTRP Note: Lighthouse Trails has received many emails over the past few years about the “praying in color,” which has become extremely popular within Christianity. This prompted us to publish a booklet by Lois Putnam on the subject. While coloring is not wrong in itself, the “praying in color” movement is a disguised vehicle for contemplative prayer (not really all that disguised either). Beware, our enemy comes as an angel of light and his ministers as ministers of righteousness.
Dear Lighthouse Trails,
A friend of mine texted me to ask if I had heard of “praying in color.” She included the following website: www.prayingincolor.com. Immediately, I knew that this was not of God. I perused the website and was not surprised that this is rooted and grounded in Hinduism, Catholicism, visualization, and mysticism. Apparently, one of the leaders at my friend’s church is introducing this to the congregation. My friend knew something wasn’t right or biblical about this. The leader explained to the congregation that she had gone to a seminar on “praying in color” and was so taken in by it that she is inviting a “praying in color” coach to do a seminar at her church. This is not the first time that this leader has introduced false teaching to the congregation (i.e. Rick Warren, Purpose Driven Life).
I explained to my friend that this is certainly not in line with the Bible. I can only pray that she and others will take a stand and resist this demonic activity from coming into their church.
Just reading the bios of Sybil MacBeth and her husband, you are immediately aware that they are into mysticism, etc. On the back cover of the 2nd book listed in my e-mail, she has a quote from Phyllis Tickle.
Just a brief sample of what is on the website, it states the following:
1) Welcome to a New Way to Pray in Color?
Why Pray in Color?
2) You want to pray but words escape you. 2) Sitting still and staying focused in prayer are a challenge. 3) Your body wants to be part of your prayer. 4) You want to just hang out with God but don’t know how. 5) Listening to God feels like an impossible task . 6) Your mind wanders and your body complains. 7) You want a visual, concrete way to pray. 8) You Need a new way to pray.ant a visual, concrete way to pray.
3) According to the website, you can pray in color or black and white.
4) In her book Pray and Color: A Color Book and Guide to Prayer, you can read the following: “Try coloring as a bridge to an island of inner quiet and prayer. Since 2007, thousands have enjoyed learning a new prayer practice called Praying in Color from Sybil MacBeth. This new coloring book and guide allows anyone to quiet the mind and pray while creating something visual and inspired. Slowing down isn’t easy in our culture where stimulation and constant virtual connection are the norm. If you find the transition from busyness to stillness difficult, follow Sybil to a slower, more contemplative pace through coloring as prayer and as spiritual practice. Includes an introduction and guide to fourteen types of prayer, along with 32 pages to color.”
5) In another book, Praying in Color: Drawing a New Path to God, you can read the following: “Praying in Color: Drawing a New Path to God by Sybil MacBeth introduces the active, visual prayer practice the author calls “praying in color.” The book provides a little bit of memoir and theology and a lot of how-to. Step-by step instructions in Chapter 3 introduce “praying in color” as a way to do intercessory prayer. Additional chapters explain how the practice can be applied to learning Scripture, keeping Advent and Lent, practicing lectio divina, and praying in other ways.”
Thomas Merton and Tony Jones are listed in endnotes.
You can go to Amazon to peruse a chapter or two: https://www.amazon.com/Praying-Color-Drawing-Active-Prayer/dp/1557255121/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1475095439&sr=1-4&keywords=sybil+macbeth (if you can’t click on link, just copy and paste in your browser.)
—In Chapter 3, she quotes from Mary Eddy Baker . . . talks about a children’s prayer that her mother would pray over her from Baker. In this prayer, Baker starts the prayer off by saying, “Father-Mother God.”
My heart breaks to know that so many professing Christians are deceived and cannot recognize Satan masquerading as an angel of light. Even more devastating, she has a book for children.
I know this is a long email, but I wanted to be able to give you a thorough overview of these books. Hopefully, you can warn other Christians.
For over a decade now, Lighthouse Trails editors have been concerned about the direction that the AWANA children’s club is heading. Today, in this report, we want to first give an overview of our past decade of reporting on AWANA, and then we want to share some new information that should concern every parent and grandparent who has a child or grandchild in AWANA.
It was just over ten years ago, in Feb of 2006, that we posted our first article about AWANA after having contacted them about our concerns. That article talked about connections AWANA had with Willow Creek (for documentation on Willow Creek, see links at the end of this article). In that article, we stated:
Awana Clubs has been a respected and trusted Christian organization for many years. Countless children have been Cubbies and Sparkies and have memorized Scripture through the program.
With so much of the church heading into the contemplative/emergent camp, also known as the spiritual formation movement, what a tragedy it would be to see Awana being sucked into this also. Few things are stable these days … is Awana the next to cave in?
As 2006 moved forward, our concerns heightened as AWANA continued promoting contemplative materials and the Spiritual Formation movement and showed no signs of breaking away from Willow Creek.
In 2007 and 2008, we posted a number of other articles documenting the organization’s move into the “new” emerging spirituality. Two phone calls from us and sending printed materials had no apparent effect. And as one of our articles stated, “Today, we received another email [from AWANA] backing up their insistence that nothing is amiss.”1In one article we wrote in 2007, we explained:
Awana is showing signs that it is becoming a full-blown contemplative organization. First of all, through Awana’s prison project, the organization is incorporating New Age sympathizer Ken Blanchard’s Lead Like Jesus Encounter program. On July 13th, we spoke with Lyndon Azcuna, Awana Cross Cultural Ministries director, who told us he was a Lead Like Jesus facilitator. Azcuna works in the main headquarters office of Awana. He said that the project was using Ken Blanchard’s materials. When we explained to him that Blanchard promoted the New Age and mystical meditation, he said that the program did not have these elements.
However, the Lead Like Jesus Encounter is largely based on Blanchard’s book, Lead Like Jesus, and that book does include contemplative elements. For instance, in the chapter called “The Habits of a Servant Leader” a palms-up, palms-down exercise is described (something Richard Foster has encouraged)(p. 158). The book gives a typical instruction on contemplative:
“Before we send people off for their period of solitude, we have them recite with us Psalm 46:10 in this way: Be still and know that I am God. Be still and know. Be still. Be…. When people return from their time of solitude, they have big smiles on their faces. While many of them found it difficult to quiet their mind, they say it was a powerful experience. The reality is most of us spend little if any time in solitude. Yet if we don’t, how can God have a chance to talk with us?”
For Awana to include Ken Blanchard’s teachings into its organization, shows that the situation is quite serious.
In that same article in 2007, we announced the release of a book, partly authored by two AWANA leades (at that time), called Children’s Perspectives on Spiritual Formation. We stated:
[T]here is something even more disquieting with regard to Awana and their slide into contemplative – a book that is recommended by Awana and also carried by the Awana store: Perspectives on Children’s Spiritual Formation. A description of the book is as follows:
“In childrens ministry, models, methods, and materials abound. How do you decide what direction you want your ministry to children to take? Perspectives on Children’s Spiritual Formation allows you to examine the four prominent points-of-view in the church today. You will then be able to make a more informed decision on the way in which your ministry should take.”
The book offers four different views on how to transform children. One author, Scottie May, a professor at Wheaton, writes the section titled, “Contemplative-Reflective Model.” May gives a hearty promotion of centering prayer, the Jesus prayer, Christ candles, the Catholic Eucharist and an strong endorsement for contemplative spirituality ala Thomas Merton, whom she favorably quotes in the book. Two Awana staff writers respond in the book to May’s contemplative approach and give it a thumbs up with only minor cautions. But overall they believe that contemplative is a valid approach for all Christians, including children. Perspectives on Children’s Spiritual Formation is giving a green light to Awana leaders around the world to practice contemplative prayer.
In 2007, we wrote an article titled “Awana Revisited: Is it or is it not promoting contemplative spirituality?” that examined in more detail the book (Children’s Perspectives on Spiritual Formation) that was still being promoted by AWANA. Here are a couple quotes from that book written by the two AWANA leaders:
Page 82: “In his excellent overview, Streams of Living Water, Richard Foster outlines six different spiritual traditions that present within the Christian faith. They are the contemplative tradition, the holiness tradition, the charismatic tradition, the social justice tradition, the evangelical tradition, and the incarnational tradition. Each of these has played an important part in the larger history of the Christian church…. Each of these traditions has made significant contributions to Christian spirituality and each has weaknesses when isolated from other traditions. (bold added)
P. 83-84: “While we believe that the Contemplative-Reflective Model highlights some significant needs in children’s spiritual formation, we should see it as an addition to the base provided for us in the Scriptures….We share agreement with the Contemplative-Reflective Model in a number of areas … we have much to learn from the Contemplative-Reflective Model. Many of our children’s programs are far from reverential, and the constant barrage of impulses does not seem to help in developing this interior life [this is the mystical contemplative life that Teresa of Avila practiced].” (bold added)
Our response in 2007 to these and other comments from the book was:
If the Awana writers in this book are trying to persuade readers that they do not promote contemplative spirituality, they have done a terrible job in expressing this. On the contrary, they have given minor cautions and major affirmations. They conclude with: “Given this framework, the Contemplative-Reflective Model becomes, at best, an important tool in helping provide a balanced development of the Christian spiritual life” (p. 87). While Carson and Crupper [the two AWANA leaders] point out some of the flaws in the Contemplative-Reflective Model, they make it clear that there is much good in it. Their response to contemplative spirituality leaves one message to readers: contemplative has some problems but if incorporated with other spiritual traditions, it has great value. And it is this attitude that is going to take Awana down a slippery slope of deception, unless they truly come to understand the underlying dangers of contemplative and then make every effort to rid Awana of its influence. (bold added)
In 2012, we contacted the publisher of Children’s Perspectives in Spiritual Formation and learned that the book was still in active print. Sadly, AWANA leadership had decided that the contemplative approach was valid.
In November of 2015, we posted a letter to the editor titled “Concerns By Awana Leader About Awana Linking Hands with the Emerging Church.” The letter from one of our readers who was a former AWANA leader, stated:
Dear Lighthouse Trails:
My family has been involved with the Awana ministry for almost 20 years both as “clubbers” and leaders.
Awana came out with new junior high curriculum. I reviewed one of the books and was not happy. The high school level curriculum too is in the process of being re-written with the help of a man named Josh Griffin. Josh Griffin is the high school pastor for Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church. Griffin is associated with Doug Fields who was a speaker for Youth Specialties, then went on to be a youth pastor for Saddleback before returning back to work for Youth Specialties. Both Fields and Griffin have written books together and share a blog.
In September, Awana sent out an e-mail invitation to the 2015 National Youth Convention put on by Youth Specialties. Awana had a booth there.
A link on the e-mail connects to a promotional video where you see many people including Tony Campolo. Also Mark Matlock, the director of Youth Specialties tells his audience, “Youth ministry reminds the church that teens are not marginalized members of the body, but are co-creators and conspirators in the divine work of the church.”
This is chilling considering that the words co-creators and conspirators are words associated with the New Age.
Speakers of the conference included such emerging church personalities as Doug Fields, Dan Kimball, Tony Campolo, Mike King, Jim Burns, and Alan Hirsch. Josh Griffin was the M.C. for the worship sessions.
The convention also offered spiritual directors for one-on-one sessions.
It is truly sad to see Awana linking hands with the emerging church movement.
This brings us to the present, 2016. On March 9th of this year, a press release came out announcing the retirement of long-time AWANA president Jack Eggar who was being replaced by an interim president and CEO, Valerie Bell. Bell is a member of Willow Creek (and her husband is a Vice President of Willow Creek Association). The fact alone that AWANA has selected someone from Willow Creek to lead AWANA should be enough to show that AWANA has at least in part absorbed the spirituality of Willow Creek, which is the spirituality of the emerging church (and that is NOT guilt by association). But the selection of Valerie Bell has even deeper roots in the “new” spirituality.
While Bell has some disconcerting resource links on her website, the one that stands out the most is Hungry Souls, the website of David and Karen Mains. For a number of years, the Mains have had affinity with New Age concepts and teachings as has been brought out by a number of different discernment ministries (you can do a search on the Internet and see this for yourself). For example, a 2005 article by pastor, researcher, and author Gary Gilley reveals that in a book written by Mains, Lonely No More, Mains “chronicled her journey into Jungian psychology, visualization and the occult.” Gilley stated, “The spiritual path that Karen Mains describes in Lonely No More can easily be found in most occult spiritual transformation books.” That book, Lonely No More remains available today on Amazon as a Kindle book.
In a more recent book of Mains, The God Hunt, in a Further Reading section in the back, a number of contemplative/new spirituality authors are listed including Tilden Edwards (co-founder of the panentheistic Shalem Prayer Institute in Washington, DC), emerging church leader, the late Phyllis Tickle, and contemplatives Esther de Waal and Kathleen Norris.
Furthermore, on Karen Mains’ site in an article titled “The Practice of Silence,” she says, “I became convinced that no deep spiritual growth could occur in my life without the practice of silence that allows us to develop the capacity of holy listening.” This “holy listening” and the “practice of silence,” of course, is contemplative prayer.
There is no question that Bell and Mains share a spiritual affinity. In 2008, they traveled to France together and lead a group in a 10-day “pilgrimage.” Promotional advertising for the trip said:
We will teach you how to “read” great art and then how to use those same viewing exercises to develop a contemplative prayer practice for the soul.
Among various teachings and practices included in the trip was instruction in the contemplative practice, Lectio Divina.
In addition to promoting David and Karen Mains, Valerie Bell shares her own views on contemplative spirituality on her website. On a page with the subtitle Soul Care (another way of saying contemplative), it says:
Valerie has a strong interest in soul-care as a way to find spiritual well-being and relationship with a loving God. Her approach invites people to learn spiritual practices that can sustain them through the most difficult life challenges. Her book, A Well-Tended Soul, describes the nuances of that inner journey and is a core resource to her spiritual formation seminars. (bold added)
There is no question that AWANA is becoming a whole-hearted emerging/contemplative organization, and children in the program will eventually feel the effects. Unfortunately, deception can often be slow and subtle so parents may not realize their AWANA Cubbies and Sparkies are being influenced, a little more week after week through the AWANA curriculum. While we still believe there are AWANA local teachers who love the Lord and are trying to present a biblical view, the handwriting has been on the wall for over a decade, and it’s getting easier to read all the time.
Lighthouse Trails Articles on Willow Creek:
NEW BOOKLET TRACT: D is for Deception—The Language of the “New” Christianity by Kevin Reeves and the Editors at Lighthouse Trails is our newest Lighthouse Trails Booklet Tract. The Booklet Tract is 16 pages long and sells for $1.95 for single copies. Quantity discounts are as much as 50% off retail. Our Booklet Tracts are designed to give away to others or for your own personal use. Below is the content of the booklet. To order copies of D is for Deception—The Language of the “New” Christianity, click here.
By Kevin Reeves
and the Editors at Lighthouse Trails
A number of years ago, a book written by emerging-church leaders Brian McLaren and Leonard Sweet was released. The book was called A is for Abductive: the language of the emerging church. Going through the alphabet, the authors identified many terms they hoped would be picked up by the younger generation, thus creating a unique emerging spiritual atmosphere. They called it a “primer with a mission.”1 That mission that McLaren, Sweet, and other like-minded change agents embrace has been successful in bringing in a new kind of “Christianity,” which is not biblical Christianity but rather a “New” Christianity now permeating the halls of Christian colleges, seminaries, evangelical churches, small groups, ministries, and organizations. We have compiled in this booklet common terms and their basic meanings to help uncover the true meaning behind some of the deceptive language of the “New” Christianity (i.e., the New Spirituality).
What Does That Mean?
Therefore my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge: and their honourable men are famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst. (Isaiah 5:13)
A great deal of confusion resides in today’s church. In the West, particularly, discernment among Christians is at an alarmingly low ebb. Even genuine believers in Christ have been led astray from the primacy of the Bible and swept up into an ecumenical, interspiritual environment which marks so much of our current Christian practice. Formerly solid Christian fellowships have been torn loose from scriptural moorings and now float on an endless sea of experiential religion. Anecdotal preaching has replaced time-honored biblical exposition; feelings take priority over the Scriptures; pulpit charisma rules congregations steeped in modern culture.
For Christians who understand the times in which we live and who are committed to defending the faith and warning others of spiritual deception, much of the difficulty in doing so resides in the fact that the terminology used by New Christianity/New Spirituality leaders and authors is either completely new to the biblical Christian or the terms are the same but definitions have changed.
Ignorance of the schemes of the devil is no virtue. It is incumbent upon us to “[s]tudy to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15), and in being properly equipped, to speak truth to the erring Christian and help him return to the real “ancient paths” (Jeremiah 18:15) that God laid out from the foundation of the world.
Each of the definitions of the following terms are short and in no way fully explain the complexities often involved. But we hope this glossary will help you to better understand the nature of the enemy’s deceptive plans to distinguish scriptural truth and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Language of the New Spirituality
Absence of Thought: The mental state sought after by those practicing contemplative prayer or meditation. By repeating a word or phrase or concentrating on the breath or an object, the mind goes into an altered state of consciousness and all thought becomes absent.
Alchemy: One of the terms used in the popular book, Jesus Calling, it is an ancient mystical art of the occult. Webster’s definition uses the words mystical and syncretist religion and astrology to describe alchemy.
Alignment: Spiritually speaking, bringing one’s will into conformity with the vision and goals of a religious organization or church.2
Alpha: It is the goal of meditators to reach the alpha state where the mind is in a kind of neutral trance or hypnotic slumber.
Altered State of Consciousness: A meditative or drug-induced non-ordinary state of mind. In a religious context, a state where the seeker is drawn out of his normal thinking processes into “self-realization” or contact with what he considers the divine or divine wisdom.
Ancient Disciplines (see also Spiritual Disciplines): This is not talking about ancient as in Bible days but rather is referring to Desert Fathers (monks and hermits) who drew from pagan religions and began practicing an eastern-style meditation.
Ancient Future: see Vintage Faith
Ancient Wisdom: The supposed laws of the universe that, when mastered, enable one to control one’s own reality. Another word for metaphysics or occultism.
Aquarius/Aquarian Age: Sign of the Zodiac represented by the water carrier or the Earth Age associated with this astrological sign. The term New Age refers to the coming Aquarian age, which is in the process of replacing the Pisces Age. According to astrologers, every 2,000 years constitutes an age. New Agers predict this Aquarian age will be a time of utopia, when man will come into a fuller knowledge of his supposed inherent divinity.
As Above, So Below: This term is seen as the key to unlocking all occultic practice as described in the New Age book, As Above, So Below. Signifies that God is “in” everything and man is divine. Used in Eugene Peterson’s book The Message “Bible” in the Lord’s Prayer. (Warren B. Smith explains this term in further detail in Deceived on Purpose).
At-one-ment (replaces atonement): This term has nothing to do with the atonement of Jesus Christ on the Cross; rather it is the concept that every human being and all creation is at one with each other. We are all connected together because “God” is flowing through everything and everyone.
Automatic Writing: When one enters an altered state of consciousness through a meditative practice, he or she acts as a conduit for supernatural entities or spirit guides (actually demons or familiar spirits), allowing those entities to “dictate,” via pen and paper. The act of writing down what those entities communicate.
Awakening: New Spirituality proponents say man is waking up to the realization that he is God, that divinity is within him. Thomas Merton spoke of man realizing what is already there (“God”). New Spirituality leader Leonard Sweet put this on the cover of his book Nudge— Awakening Each Other to the God Who’s Already There. Richard Foster told researcher Ray Yungen once that Thomas Merton “tried to awaken God’s people” (meaning through mysticism).
Be Still: Taken from Psalm 46:10—“Be Still and Know That I Am God.” Those promoting contemplative prayer use this phrase as part of their meditative exercises, claiming that the verse is a mandate in Scripture to practice the “silence,” when in fact, the Scripture, when taken in context, means to trust in the Lord. It has nothing to do with going into a meditative state by shutting down thought processes.
Breath Prayer: Practice consisting of picking a single word or short phrase and repeating it in conjunction with the breath. Rick Warren encourages the use of breath prayers in his highly popular book, The Purpose Driven Life.
Catalyst: Taking pastors and leaders to a “new level” (i.e., leaving the old ways and moving into “new” innovative methods and ideas). Emphasizing that everything must change and must change quickly and dramatically.
Centering/Centering Prayer: Another term for meditation (going deep within your center). A type of meditation being promoted in many mainline churches under the guise of biblical prayer, but which is actually Buddhist or Hindu in origin. Larry Crabb tells readers in his book, The Papa Prayer, that he has been greatly benefited from centering prayer. Sadly, Christian leaders such as Erwin Lutzer, James Kennedy and Jerry Falwell endorsed Crabb’s book.
Chakras: Believed by New Agers to be seven energy centers in man, aligned along the spine, which open up during the kundalini effect in meditation.
Channeling (see also Automatic Writing): Altered state of consciousness whereby the channeler opens himself up to inhabitation by spirits, often the supposed spirits of the dead or “ancient masters” who convey hidden mysteries. Acting as a medium.
Christ-Consciousness: Taught by New Agers to be the state of awareness, reached in meditation, in which one realizes one’s own divinity and oneness with God, thereby becoming a “christ” or enlightened being.
Christ Follower: While there is nothing inadvertently wrong with this term, New Christianity/New Spirituality proponents have captured the term to say a “Christian” is a dogmatic, preachy, uncaring, irrelevant person whereas a Christ follower doesn’t preach or carry around a Bible (which they say makes unbelievers/unchurched uncomfortable) but rather becomes integrated into the culture, absorbing the culture. Whereas a Christian is set apart, the Christ follower focuses on relationships, community, and social justice, they say. It is the idea that you can go for Jesus, but you don’t have to identify yourself as a Christian or part of the Christian church (for more on the term Christ follower, see http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=4810).
Christian Formation: See Spiritual Formation
“Christian” Yoga: Some claim that Yoga can be neutralized by performing a Christian rendition of it. But even Hindu yogis say there is no such thing as “Christian” yoga because the exercises cannot be separated from the religious aspects. Yoga is the heartbeat of Hinduism.
Civility: Basically, no one is to challenge or question another’s beliefs. All are valid.
Cloud of Unknowing: An ancient primer on contemplative prayer written by an anonymous monk. It instructs: “Take just a little word, of one syllable rather than of two . . . With this word you are to strike down every kind of thought under the cloud of forgetting.”
Co-Creator/Co-Creation: According to New Spirituality/emerging church advocates, man is a co-creator with God because man is equal, in abilities and nature, to God.
Colonialism: A derogatory term used by New Spirituality advocates to describe those who are still clinging to the “old time religion,” which is seen as outdated, archaic, irrelevant, and unsuccessful.
Common Ground: Using the dialectic process, an agreement among people that “ameliorates the extremes,” thus effectually dispensing with tolerance for diversity.3 In practice, it is arriving at agreement through compromise. A one-world religion will be achieved through this means.
Contemplative Prayer: Going beyond thought by the use of repeated prayer words or phrases. Similar to centering prayer in that it encourages a clearing of the mind of conscious thought in order to create a spiritual receptivity to God or the divine.
Contextual Theology: The belief that the Bible, in and of itself, is not free-standing—other factors (culture, ethnicity, history) must be taken into consideration, and with those factors, the message of the Bible must be adjusted to fit.
Convergent: A coming together or unifying of ideas. The boundaries that distinguish different beliefs are eradicated.
Conversation (or Conversation Journey): New Christianity followers reject the idea that truth is unchangeable or that we can have certainty in knowing truth; thus, we have “conversations” that are always seeking answers but never finding. To be certain of anything is arrogant, they say. This ongoing conversation journey is inclusive of all beliefs and ideas; nothing is rejected.
Cosmic Christ: All world religions will eventually be bound together by the “Cosmic Christ” principle, which is another term for the higher self; thus, the Cosmic Christ is the “Christ” within every human being. The Catholic Church now has in its Catechism the concept that we are all Christs.
Creative Visualization: Imaging in the mind, during meditation especially, a desired object or occurrence, then expecting its physical fulfillment. In simple terms, it is a practice that supposedly creates one’s own reality. Though pagan in origin, this practice has its “Christian” counterpart in various aspects of the charismatic/Pentecostal church, most notably in Word of Faith, in which faith proclamations are enjoined with visualizing the desired result.
Critical Mass: While a scientific term, when speaking of populations of people it is referring to “an explosion in global consciousness capable of ‘touching’ or transforming all of humankind.”4 The idea is that when a certain critical number of people all share the same awareness, then change can come to all people’s thinking because of the critical mass (as in an atomic explosion). A critical mass does not have to be a majority if it is a powerful enough mass, but unity is essential and so is meditation.
Cultural Architect: An emerging church/progressive Christianity term for pastor or leader with the idea that these cultural architects differ from their pastor counterparts in that they are in touch with the culture and are relevant.
Daniel Plan: Saddleback Church’s fifty-two week spiritual and physical health and wellness program. For the program, Warren enlisted the assistance of three physicians with New Age/holistic medicine beliefs and teachings (Dr. Mehmet Oz, Dr. Daniel Amen, and Dr. Mark Hymen).
Dark Night of the Soul: Term coined by John of the Cross, describing a time of intense inner crisis in which the seeker feels far from God. It is highly typical of contemplatives to use this idea of spiritual dryness or emptiness to convince followers they need something more in their relationship with God. Contemplatives insist that the “old ways” don’t work anymore.
De-Construction: Undoing the old traditional Christianity. In A is for Abductive, McLaren says it is “disassembling anything that has acquired a pat and patent set of meanings [i.e., doctrine] for the purpose of reassembling in new ways [i.e., emerging/New Spirituality]” (p. 95).
Desert Fathers: A group of ancient Christian monks living in wilderness areas of the Middle East who practiced contemplative prayer, borrowing meditation techniques from Hindu and Buddhist sources. You will often find references to the Desert Fathers in contemplative-promoting books.
Dominionism: The belief that God’s people will rise up as overcomers and put Satan and his minions under their (not Christ’s) feet. According to Dominionists, Christ cannot return until this is accomplished. The rapture is discounted as a myth, with the declaration that Christ will return, not for His people, but rather already in them (no physical return). The overcomers will then present to Christ a faultless world where He will then rule.
Ecstasy: The hoped-for outcome of contemplative prayer or meditation wherein the seeker is carried out of himself into a oneness with the Divine. People say they experience an ecstasy compared to nothing they have ever known before. They feel a sense of unity with all of life and are convinced of their own immortality. Such experiences keep them returning for more. One is not going to believe he or she is God if one doesn’t feel like God.
Ecumenism: The merging of the various Christian denominations and doctrinal persuasions resulting in a dilution of biblical faith.
Emergent: The term emergent was first used by the group (Brian McLaren, Tony Jones, Dan Kimball, Mark Driscoll, etc.) originally called Young Leaders Network. When they left Leadership Network to go on their own, they became Emergent. Today the terms emergent and emerging are often used interchangeably.
Emerging Church: Postmodern congregations that follow a loose set of doctrines promoting a redefinition of Christianity and incorporating into their fellowships some or all of the following: Roman Catholic mysticism and contemplative prayer, eastern meditation techniques, pagan religious practices such as walking the labyrinth, Lectio Divina, mantra, etc. Highly ecumenical. The focus is on social justice and cultural relevancy rather than the Gospel and the Word of God. Emphasis is on a social gospel as opposed to a personal Gospel.
Eucharist: The small wafer administered during the Communion portion of the Catholic Mass. When consecrated by the priest, the wafer supposedly becomes the literal body of Christ. Some emerging and evangelical churches are turning their communion services into modifications of the Catholic Eucharistic mass.
Fractal: Directly related to what are being called the “new sciences” of “Chaos Theory” and “Fractal Theory.” Linked with the occult phrase “as above, so below.” Mentioned in William Paul Young’s book, The Shack.
Fresh: New Spirituality advocates say we need to see God in new “fresh” ways. Rick Warren says this in The Purpose Driven Life. Occultist Alice Bailey says the path to God will be based on “a fresh orientation to divinity and to the acceptance of the fact of God Transcendent and of God Immanent within every form of life.”5
Fusion: A common term within New Spirituality to describe a fusing together of ideas, beliefs, and people.
Global P.E.A.C.E. Plan: Initiative originating with Saddleback Church’s pastor Rick Warren, where social justice “deeds” take precedence over doctrine and beliefs.
God’s Dream: A crossover term used by both the New Age and the church and oftentimes connotes desire for world peace. When people of all faiths move past “doctrinal idiosyncrasies” and “transcend divisive dogmas,” they can attain “God’s Dream” for world peace.
Ground of All Being: New Ager Marilyn Ferguson wrote that God is within everyone and everything. God is described as the universal “ground of all being.”
Higher Self: Supposed God-self within each human being. New Agers seek to connect, through meditation, with their higher self. Also called the Christ-Self or True-Self. Brennan Manning helped to bring this term into the evangelical church.
Holy Laughter: Considered by proponents to be a sign of “revival,” holy laughter is uncontrollable laughter, often spontaneous and mass-manifested, erupting in response to “the anointing” or the supposed manifest presence of God.
Ignatius Exercises: Meditative exercises named after Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Catholic Jesuit Order.
Immanence: The New Age belief that God is in everyone.
Incarnational: A term used to describe an emerging “progressive” kind of evangelism that focuses on the needs of people but downplays the importance of sharing the Gospel message (as that can offend).
Individualism: New Spirituality advocates resent individualism, saying that is the old way of viewing things. Now we must be collective, unified. Individual relationships with Jesus Christ are to be replaced with communities in which social justice is the focus.
Interspirituality: The premise that divinity (God) is in all things, and the presence of God is in all religions; a connecting together of all things, and through mysticism (i.e., meditation), this state of divinity can be recognized. Consequently, a premise based on and upheld by an experience that occurs during a self-hypnotic trance linking one to an unseen world rather than to the sound doctrine of the Bible. Wayne Teasdale, a lay monk who coined the term interspirituality, says that interspirituality is “the spiritual common ground which exists among the world’s religions.”
Jesus Prayer: A popular version of this prayer, often used in contemplative meditation, is “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner,” often abbreviated to “Jesus.”
Kingdom Now: A teaching that Christians should be walking consistently in supernatural power and establishing Christ’s kingdom on earth. Much overlap exists between Kingdom Now, Dominionism, and Latter Rain theology.
Kingdom of God: New Spirituality believes the kingdom of God can be brought to earth through humanity becoming one. When they use this term, they don’t mean it in the sense the Bible uses it but rather it is a kingdom based on the unity of all mankind and man realizing his divinity. There is no Cross in this kingdom.
Kundalini: Powerful energy associated with the chakras and brought on through meditation. Hindu in origin, kundalini manifestations include uncontrollable shaking, writhing, convulsions, trance states, a sensation of fire or electricity on or in the body, swooning, etc.
Labyrinth: An ancient pattern, often constructed of rocks or cement, wherein a circular pathway leads to a central point. Originating in Greek mythology, labyrinths are gaining a strong following among practitioners of contemplative prayer and are becoming a visible part of church landscaping and architecture. Seekers of any faith are encouraged to walk the labyrinth’s pathways and pray for an individual experience with God. Read Carl Teichrib’s booklet The Labyrinth Journey for a complete explanation.
Lectio Divina: Means “sacred reading.” This contemplative prayer practice is gaining popularity within the evangelical/Protestant camp. It often involves taking a single word or small phrase from Scripture and repeating the words over and over in order to “hear from God.” Basically, Scripture is being misused as a tool for meditation.
Making History: Another way of saying things must change.
Mantra: Word or words repeated either silently or out loud in order to induce an altered state of consciousness. A way to turn off thoughts and enter the “silence.”
Maturity: A term used by all contemplatives, such as Richard Foster and Rick Warren, to describe the outcome of someone who is a regular practitioner of contemplative prayer. The traditional view of God, they say, is somewhat immature or childish, and the contemplative view of God is mature. In other words, the mystical view of God will give true maturity as opposed to a more juvenile or childish view of God.
Meditation: The meditation most of us are familiar with involves a deep, continuous thinking about something. But New Age meditation does just the opposite. It involves ridding oneself of all thoughts in order to still the mind by putting it in the equivalent of pause or neutral. A comparison would be that of turning a fast-moving stream into a still pond. When meditation is employed by damming the free flow of thinking, it holds back active thought and causes a shift in consciousness. This condition is not to be confused with daydreaming, where the mind dwells on a subject. New Age meditation works as a holding mechanism until the mind becomes thoughtless, empty, and silent.
Meditation and Contemplation (Biblical): A normal thinking process of reflecting on the things of God and biblical precepts.
Metaphysical: Beyond the physical realm or pertaining to the supernatural.
Mindfulness: A Buddhist term from bapasana. It’s the practice of meditation. Gives the classic Buddhist spiritual enlightenment. Now it is being used in virtually every area of human endeavor: stress reduction, education, medicine, post-traumatic stress, and stress in the workplace.
Missional (also Missional Church): Replacing the term missions; it strives to improve society through social justice. De-emphasizes evangelism to the lost. Emphasizes being relevant and connected to the culture.
Mysticism: A direct experience with the supernatural realm.
Namaste: A greeting that occurs at the end of each Yoga session—meaning the god in me greets the god in you.
New Age: In a religious context, an all-encompassing spirituality, sourced in ancient pagan practices that defies specific “doctrinal” definitions. It is geared toward New Age religion, which can incorporate teachings and practices from virtually any other religion or non-religion such as Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, Wicca, astrology, alchemy, veganism, homeopathic medicine, tarot cards, crystal gazing, etc.
New Apostolic Reformation (NAR): Teaches that there are apostles and prophets today in the church who are equal to or greater than the apostles and prophets who wrote the Bible and that to come into the fullness of Christ, the church needs to submit to them. Teachings include varying degrees of Latter Rain, Five-Fold Ministry, Dominion, and Kingdom Now theologies.6
New Reformation: The emerging church says there is a “new” reformation every 500 years, and we are due for one now. Whereas the last reformation was a breaking away from the Roman Catholic Church, this one will be a uniting of all belief systems. The late emerging church leader Phyllis Tickle said once that Brian McLaren is the next Luther.7
New Thought: Movement that tries to merge classic occult concepts with Christian terminology. Two examples are Christian Science and Unity church.
Non-dualism: Ray Yungen says Satan is trying to eradicate the gap between good and evil. In the New Spirituality, there is no “dualism” (good and bad, right and wrong, etc.).
Nonphysical Guides: Spirit guides or as the Bible refers, familiar spirits and demons.
Occult: Means “hidden” and refers to spiritual practices utilized to contact the supernatural realm. The practice of metaphysics throughout history.
Oneness: God is in everyone and everything.
Oneness Blessing: An effort to bring the Oneness Blessing to millions of people around the world with the hope of changing people’s consciousness and thus the state of the planet. This Oneness experience takes place when a Oneness Blessing giver places his or her hands on a person’s head (although it can also be bestowed through eye contact or even simple intention), and a sense of awakening into oneness is imparted.8
Organic Church: Often called a house church or simple church movement; different from “going to church.” The organic church sees itself as new, vibrant, and unique, not like the “outdated” traditional church.
Palms Down, Palms Up: A contemplative exercise wherein with eyes closed, one puts his palms up to receive from God and his palms downward to get rid of the bad within him.
Panentheism: God is in all things. God is both personal and is also in all of creation. It is a universal view that believes God is in all people and that someday all of God’s creation will be saved and be one with him. There is a physical dimension but God is true essence and real identity.
Pantheism: God is all things. The universe and all life are connected in a sum. This sum is the total reality of God. Thus, man, animals, plants, and all physical matter are seen as equal. The assumption is “all is one,” therefore, all is deity.
Paradigm Shift: See Shift
Postmodernism: A fluid term indicating a worldview in direct opposition to the morals, logic, and societal expression of the modern world from the Enlightenment through the beginning of the Twentieth Century. Truth is viewed as a social construct and is not objective or absolute. In the emerging church, it is marked by a disdain for both solid biblical exegesis and rational theological discourse, and an embracing of individual experience, desires, or thought processes over objective truth. In the emerging mind, one is always seeking but never finding. Doubt is heralded whereas certainty is considered arrogant.
Practicing the Presence of God: Taken from the ancient monk Brother Lawrence’s book by the same name, today the phrase is used in conjunction with practicing contemplative prayer. God’s presence is no longer based on a personal relationship with Jesus Christ for the born-again believer but focuses on “practicing” God’s presence through meditative exercises such as Lectio Divina or centering prayer.
Prayer of the Heart: Another term for contemplative prayer. A move from doctrine to the mystical. Henri Nouwen stated: “The quiet repetition of a single word can help us to descend with the mind into the heart.”9
Prayer Path: See Labyrinth
Progressive: A term used to replace the term emerging or emergent, meaning a type of advanced Christian who has shed the old stale ways of traditional biblical Christianity.
Quantum Spirituality: When man overcomes his physical boundaries and limitations and becomes a fully realized being, awakened to the consciousness that he is God (also Quantum Leap).
Red-letter Christians: A term promoted by Tony Campolo and other “progressive” emerging figures who say they follow the red letters of Jesus in the Bible. They focus primarily on Christ’s words of love and forgiveness but disregard His words about judgment, sin, and evil.
Reiki: Spiritual energy channeled by one attuned to the Reiki power. Literally, translated god energy.
Replacement Theology: The belief that the Christian church has replaced Israel, and Israel no longer has any significance from a biblically prophetic point of view. God’s promise of an eternal covenant with Israel was not eternal after all, according to this view. See Mike Oppenheimer’s booklet Israel: Replacing What God Has Not.
Re-words (re-jesus, re-imagine, re-think, re-form, re-invent, re-imagine): Words used to suggest that traditional historical Christianity is outdated and must be re-created.
Sacred Space: Either a physical spot where one goes to engage in a mystical practice or the actual silence (state of being) during the mystical experience.
Scripture Engagement: When used, often includes Lectio Divina. Biblegateway.com, a popular online Bible resource, is promoting Lectio Divina through “Scriptural Engagement.”
Seeker-friendly: When a church puts more emphasis on making unbelievers comfortable in church and less emphasis on discipling believers. Regular members are often encouraged to leave their Bibles at home so “seekers” are not made to feel uncomfortable.
Self-centered: In the eyes of the New Age/New Spirituality teachers, anyone who is not focused on bringing about global unity and world peace through interspirituality is self-centered. “Self-centered” people do not believe that all humans are connected to each other with a god-energy in each person. To say that God is separate from man is “self-centered.” Rick Warren uses this term numerous times in his book The Purpose Driven Life in the context of unity and peace.
Self-realization: Full contact with the higher self, resulting in knowing oneself to be God. The “enlightenment” that occurs, often during meditation, wherein the practitioner becomes aware of his divinity or his connection with the divine.
Servant Leadership: Today, there is much talk about teaching people to become good leaders. In reality, what is happening is people are being taught to be “good” followers who do not exercise discernment. The term (and the concept) is used to further encourage people to accept the teachings of the New Age/New Spirituality.
Shift: The idea that the church needs a radically different view of approaching and experiencing God.
Silence, the: Absence of normal thought. Common in Hindu, Buddhist, and Christian contemplative practice and is supposedly a state, often reached through meditation, where the practitioner can be in touch with his higher self, the universe, or the divine.
Slaughterhouse Religion: The belief that a loving God would never send his son to a violent “slaughterhouse” death for the sake of others. It rejects the view of substitutionary atonement (see Faith Undone for an entire chapter on this).
Soaking or Soaking Prayer: A method commonly seen in charismatic revival meetings. The participant receives the particular anointing present, normally through the laying on of hands, and “soaks” in the supposed presence of God. Manifestations associated with soaking prayer can include slain in the spirit, uncontrollable shaking or laughter, being encompassed by a sense of heaviness, spontaneous visions, altered states of consciousness, etc.
Social Justice (and Social Gospel): Shifts the emphasis from repentance and faith in Jesus Christ to more earthly endeavors like environment, empowerment, employment, entitlements, equality, and esteem-building programs promoted by global elites to benefit or punish selected people groups as needed for its “sustainable development”—an agenda more in keeping with that of a community organizer than a follower of Christ.10
Soul Care: Another term for “spiritual direction” with the purpose of finding the divinity that is within each person through contemplative meditation.
Source: An overlapping word used in both the New Age and the church as a substitute for God.
Spiritual Disciplines: The supposed disciplines used in Spiritual Formation for the purpose of becoming more christ-like. Can include fasting, prayer, good deeds, and always includes the “discipline” of contemplative prayer (e.g., solitude and silence). The Desert Fathers practiced extensively self-denial and disciplines, which as Paul indicates in Colossians 2:20-23 only provide “a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility.”
Spiritual Director: One who promotes or mentors people in the spiritual disciplines. Often ministering in Christian retreat centers or employed by Christian colleges.
Spiritual Formation: A movement that has provided a platform and a channel through which contemplative prayer has entered the church. Find spiritual formation being used, and in nearly every case you will find contemplative spirituality being promoted. In fact, contemplative spirituality is the heartbeat of the spiritual formation movement. In spiritual formation, it is believed that if you practice certain disciplines, you will become more christ-like.
Superconsciousness: Basically, the New Age concept of how one connects with God. The word conscious means awareness and super mean larger or greater. This realm that exists is not known by the ordinary five senses, so when one gets in touch with it, he is achieving ultimate awareness. This is also the realm of familiar spirits. This term is used in the third Harry Potter book in conjunction with meditation and the inner eye (from the chakras).
Synergy: Working together in unity to bring about the spiritual evolution of man.
Taize: Taize is an ecumenical interspiritual community in France. Taize worship is a prayer service consisting of meditative singing and periods of silence in order to reach a contemplative state.
Tantra (aka: tantric sex): Tantra is the name of the ancient Hindu sacred texts that contain certain rituals and secrets. Some deal with taking the energies brought forth in meditation through the chakras and combining them with love-making to enhance sexual experiences.
Thin Places: This term originated with Celtic spirituality (i.e., contemplative) and is in line with panentheism. Thin places imply that God is in all things, and the gap between God, evil, man, and the universe thins out and ultimately disappears in meditation.
Transformational: From the contemplative point of view, one experiences transformation from practicing the contemplative silence. This transformation is actually a change in consciousness brought on by entering altered states through meditation. Focus becomes interspiritual and universalistic.
Tribal: Used to explain that everyone is in a different tribe (religious belief system), and all tribes are legitimate; we need to embrace each other’s tribes.
True Self: Deceptively used by both the New Age and by many in the church to define your “inner divinity,” your “divine self,” which they say can be reached through meditation.
Ultimate Reality: Buddhist concept of God. Spiritual presence in all things.
Universalism: The belief that all humanity has or will ultimately have a positive connection and relationship with God. A universalist belief system, or universalism, states that every human being will be reunited with God, whether they believe in Jesus Christ or not. Universalist belief also embraces the idea that every human being has divinity or God within them.
Vintage Faith or Vintage Christianity: A spirituality that goes back to former practices, but not as far back as the apostles’ and Jesus’ teachings in the Bible. They say we need only look back to Catholicism and early century monks and mystics.
To order copies of D is for Deception—The Language of the “New” Christianity, click here.
1. http://www.brianmclaren.net/emc/archives/0310243564_samptxt.pdf, p. 17.
5. Alice Bailey, The Reappearance of the Christ, p. 150.
6. Sandy Simpson, the New Apostolic Reformation, November 2011: http://www.echozoe.com/archives/2494.
8. Caryl Matrisciana, “The Oneness Blessing—Pathway to Global Awakening”: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=201.
9. Henri Nouwen, The Way of the Heart (San Francisco, CA: Harper, 1991), p. 81.
10. Paul Proctor, “Social Justice Is Not Christian Charity, http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=4193.
Editor’s Note: We want to thank Lighthouse Trails authors Warren B. Smith, Ray Yungen, and Roger Oakland for their permission to use definitions on some terms from their books for the purpose of this glossary.
For more information on the “New” Christianity/New Spirituality, we encourage you to read Faith Undone, A Time of Departing, A “Wonderful” Deception, “Another Jesus” Calling and other Lighthouse Trails books and booklets. Visit www.lighthousetrails.com.
To order copies of D is for Deception—The Language of the “New” Christianity, click here.
Two Letters to the Editor About Cedarville University Lead to New Research That Causes Continued Concern
Lighthouse Trails has been following Cedarville University since 2006 when we wrote an article titled “Cedarville University – Heading Down the Contemplative Road?” Since then, Lighthouse Trails has written several others articles having watched this Christian school head down the contemplative/emerging path. In 2013, Cedarville University got a new president, and we wrote an article titled “Will Cedarville University Turn Around With New President? – Challenge May be Big.” In that article, we stated:
Cedarville University has been dancing with the devil and his contemplative/emergent beliefs for quite some time. The question is, will the new president, Thomas White, be able to turn things around? That, of course, will depend on whether he even wants to turn things around, and that won’t happen if he doesn’t understand the true nature behind the contemplative prayer movement and the emerging church. If he doesn’t know that a panentheistic mystical paradigm shift is happening to the Christian church right now (as Ray Yungen has so meticulously shown in his research), we fear he may allow Cedarville to continue down its present course.
In the fall of 2015, Lighthouse Trails received two letters regarding Cedarville University. The first letter was from a concerned parent who was looking for a Christian college for her daughter. The letter gives us reason to remain concerned about Cedarville University.
“Co-incidentally,” Lighthouse Trails received a second letter from another person shortly after receiving the one below. In the second letter, we were challenged to remove Cedarville from our contemplative colleges list.
That second letter prompted us to contact Cedarville University, which led to a phone conversation with an academic dean at Cedarville. We shared our concerns that Cedarville students may still be getting contemplative teachings at the school. The dean allowed us to share documentation, in particular regarding a book being used in Cedarville’s Spiritual Formation course titled Grasping God’s Word, in which lectio divina is taught. The dean was gracious to us in his responses and agreed to allow us to send him some materials including Ray Yungen’s book on contemplative prayer, A Time of Departing. While we have not heard back from the dean, we are hopeful that the information we shared with him will bear much fruit in the future of Cedarville University.
Letter to the Editor #1 –
Dear Lighthouse Trails:
As we were doing our due diligence in searching for a college, my daughter and I were sitting in on a class [in April of 2014] at Cedarville University. I was so thankful to be there that day as the professor was teaching on Lectio Divina [from the book Grasping God’s Word]. I did confront the professor after the class was over and wasn’t surprised when he became very defensive. I was saddened to see Grace College on the ‘bad’ list. We have looked at the example given and other resources identified and am constantly checking for other things that are being taught or happening on campus.
Being aware of the contemplative movement, we have been very proactive in teaching our daughter to also be aware and to test everything. It is a battle, and I see many fall deep into it. I have directed many of my friends to your site in regards to the contemplative movement and also in searching for “christian” colleges for their kids. Sadly when they do come back to me they come back with a defense of why “meditation” is good and why the college they are choosing is a good place. This leads me to believe their own churches are either not teaching against or are teaching for the contemplative movement. Fortunately for me, my church has made us aware and are teaching against it.
Thank you again for keeping us aware. It is overwhelming for me sometimes to follow all the links you provide, but I am thankful for them and persevere to be informed.
After doing some research, Lighthouse Trails learned that the textbook being used that day in April 2014 to teach lectio divina is a book titled Grasping God’s Word by J. Scott Duvall and J. Daniel Hays (see pages 231-234). The book also favorably references a number of contemplative mystics. For instance, on footnote #10 of chapter 12, it states:
For more on prayer, see Richard J. Foster, Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home; Henri J. M. Nouwen, The Only Necessary Thing: Living a Prayerful Life; and Philip Yancey, Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference?
Such recommendations in a book being used in the Spiritual Formation course at Cedarville University is sad news, to be sure.
To further substantiate our reader’s concerns that contemplative spirituality is being promoted at Cedarville, the following courses at Cedarville are using textbooks by contemplative/emerging authors:
- Biblical Leadership (6210): John Maxwell
- Personal Evangelism (2400): Timothy Keller (contemplative advocate)
- Discipleship (3410): James Wilhoit and Dallas Willard (Spiritual Formation book)
- Orient to Bible Ministries (1000): Scot McKnight (emergent)
- Grasping God’s Word being used in some of the Spiritual Formation courses at Cedarville
Letter to the Editor #2:
Dear Lighthouse Trails:
After having a daughter graduate from Cedarville University, I was really disturbed when I received their alumni magazine and it was filled with articles on spiritual formation and contemplative prayer. I received it when Dr. Brown was president of the university. He has moved on partly because of the heat he received for allowing this unbiblical trash to enter the university. Dr. White is now the president and this trash has been removed. Please, for the integrity of your research organization, will you call and verify this information and write about it in your newsletter. Cedarville University is one of the few universities that holds to a seven-day creation and has received negative attention for their out-spoken position against same-sex marriage. People do change and so do institutions. If you are going to name names it is up to you to update and verify your research. Cedarville University deserves a second look and for their name to be taken off the list of universities that teach contemplative teachings.
Thank you for your consideration, R.C.
Of course, if a school that has been going in that direction stops and no longer promotes the Spiritual Formation paradigm, we would be overjoyed. A few things we need to point out:
We see that they still offer at least one Spiritual Formation course in their Bible minor program. One of the professors who teaches it is Dan Estes. https://www.cedarville.edu/Academics/Biblical-and-Theological-Studies/Faculty-Staff/Estes-Daniel.aspx. After receiving your letter, we did speak with Dr. Estes regarding the Spiritual Formation course at Cedarville. He e-mailed us a copy of the syllabus to assure us that he is not using any contemplative promoting books. He did say that there are several other professors who also teach Spiritual Formation at Cedarville, and he couldn’t be sure what they are using to teach the class. He told us we would need to talk to one of the deans of theology who won’t be available until after Thanksgiving. While we cannot say that this course is promoting contemplative spirituality since we haven’t seen all the syllabi or spoken with all the professors, we maintain that when that term is used, it will always directly or indirectly point to the writings of the mystics. After all, the term itself comes from the writings of Catholic mystics and was brought into the evangelical church largely through the contemplative pioneer, Richard Foster, who at one time observed:
“When I first began writing in the field in the late 70s and early 80s the term “Spiritual Formation” was hardly known, except for highly specialized references in relation to the Catholic orders. Today it is a rare person who has not heard the term. Seminary courses in Spiritual Formation proliferate like baby rabbits. Huge numbers are seeking to become certified as Spiritual Directors to answer the cry of multiplied thousands for spiritual direction” (http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=16176).
Something we are wondering, if the old president of Cedarville (Dr. Brown) left partly because of the heat he was taking for promoting contemplative/emerging, then why wasn’t there a statement made by the new president saying they were not going to go in that direction anymore. And what happened to the professors who were pushing for this? One of the staff who was promoting contemplative in Cedarville’s magazine The Torch, Kim Ahlgrim, is still on staff (http://www.cedarville.edu/Offices/Academic-Enrichment/Staff.aspx). Were they able to convince her that she was going in the wrong direction, or is she possibly teaching this to students on the side? This is a question that is worthy of being answered by Cedarville.
In our current updating research on Cedarville, we found that they still have on their website the 2011 issue of their publication Torch titled Tuning Out the Noise. This issue is an infomercial for contemplative prayer. If the school is now against contemplative, why leave this issue posted for students and others to access? Kind of like leaving the poison on the counter. You can read our 2013 article for more information about that issue.
On one webpage of Cedarville’s site, they are announcing that they received a 2015 award from the very contemplative/emergent magazine Worship Leader Magazine. While we can’t say that just because they received this award from the magazine that Cedarville is endorsing the magazine or inadvertently contemplative/emerging. However, we struggle understanding why they would post the magazine’s name and recognition if they are now against the contemplative prayer/emerging church movement. And on the Cedarville website, they state:
“Worship Leader [Magazine] is a subscription-only magazine for worship leaders and organizations around the country. It is highly respected as the premier worship magazine in America. A typical issue includes recommendations about the newest worship music, Christian books, movies and articles about how to be a great leader and worshipper of God.”
No warning by Cedarville here; almost an invitation to subscribe to Worship Leader Magazine. But if students do subscribe to the magazine, they are going to get hearty helpings of contemplative/emerging spirituality. In October of this year, on the Worship Leader website, they have an article that recommends the contemplative practice of lectio divina. The article states: “We could do a lectio divina reading of the biblical text, or use any one of several other Ancient/Future ways of engaging with it; anticipating that the God behind the story will be encountered as we do that.”
We would truly like to take Cedarville University off the Lighthouse Trails Contemplative Colleges list. But before that can happen, the concerns above need to be addressed and corrected. We also would like to know if the teachers who were formerly pro-contemplative have had a change of heart. Sadly, when even just one or two professors at a Christian college adhere to this spirituality, it can affect the entire school. Lighthouse Trails does not post the names of contemplative promoting colleges to be spiteful or mean. We do it because we genuinely care about students, especially the young ones, who are being led down a very spiritually dangerous road.