Archive for the ‘Spiritual Deception’ Category

The Silent Church in the Day of Apostasy

By Warren B. Smith
(author of False Christ Coming: Does Anybody Care? )

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Traditional Christian believers frequently mention the analogy of the frog that is so slowly and gradually boiled in a kettle of water that it dies before ever realizing what is going on. Yet many believers fail to realize that the very same thing is happening to them as they tell that story. How else do you explain the rapid rise of the “new gospel” movement with hardly a word of concern within the church about what’s been happening? As “new gospel” advocates continue to publish bestselling books and flock to the airwaves in ever-increasing numbers to advance their cause, there is a strange silence in the church. Does the church have any idea what is going on?

So often we have heard the impassioned refrain, “We can never let what happened in Germany ever happen again.” And with all of the Holocaust memorials, survivor testimonies, and multitudinous books on the subject, we have done a pretty good job of convincing ourselves that we will never make the same mistakes the German people did in allowing someone like Hitler to rise in their midst. We think that Americans would never stand by and allow something like that to happen here in our country. Our democratic processes and old-fashioned common sense would never allow it.

In the introduction to a 1999 publication (Sixth Pressing) of Hitler’s Mein Kampf, Konrad Heiden describes how everything that Hitler was about to do was telegraphed in his early writings:

For years Mein Kampf stood as proof of the blindness and complacency of the world. For in its pages Hitler announced – long before he came to power – a program of blood and terror in a self-revelation of such overwhelming frankness that few among its readers had the courage to believe it. Once again it was demonstrated that there was no more effective method of concealment than the broadest publicity.2
Somehow, Christians don’t seem to grasp Jesus’ warnings about the tremendous deception that characterizes the time of the end. Perhaps deceived into thinking that we can’t be deceived, we don’t take seriously enough His warnings that a Hitler-like antichrist figure will one day rise to rule the world – and that many people calling themselves “Christians” will support this spiritual counterfeit who will actually come in the name of Christ. Our adversary wants us to believe that these warnings are for another people at another time. Yet through Scripture, and in our heart of hearts, the Spirit of God tells us that they are not. As we study the Bible, and as we watch and pray and observe the events all around us, we come to understand that these future times described by Jesus are now suddenly and undeniably upon us.

In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul warns of their vulnerability and susceptibility to false teaching in the name of Jesus. He suggests that if someone approached them with “another gospel,” “another Jesus” and “another spirit” they might very well go along with it (2 Corinthians 11:3-4). Earlier in that same letter Paul had indirectly encouraged the Corinthians not to be ignorant of their adversary’s schemes and devices, lest they be taken advantage of (2 Corinthians 2:11). Paul told the Ephesians that it is a shame that we even have to talk about the things of darkness, but when we expose them they are brought into the light (Ephesians 5:12-13). He also told them that he had not ceased to warn them night and day for three years that men who were “grievous wolves” would “arise” in the Church “speaking perverse things” as they attempted to lead men away from their faith and into the enemy’s camp (Acts 20:29-31). Let us beware of these same warnings today.

And it is, indeed, very disturbing to see many Christian leaders today using many of the same words and expressions commonly used by their “new gospel” counterparts. “New revelation” describing how a great “move of God” is going to take believers “pregnant with destiny” to “a new spiritual level” and into a “new dimension” sounds a lot more like the “new gospel” than the traditional Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Are Christian leaders leading the church ever closer to the cross, or ever closer to the “Planetary Pentecost”? Why is there almost no call for spiritual discernment within the Church (except to warn believers not to be deceived into doubting their appointed Christian leaders)? Why is spiritual experience taking precedence over spiritual discernment? Why are there so few warnings about a counterfeit “new gospel” movement that maligns the person of Jesus Christ and threatens the lives of His followers? Why is “new revelation” in many ministries starting to supersede God’s written Word? Why are Christians only being prepared for blessings and not for persecution? What in the world is going on?

Expecting only revival, will the church be deceived by one who will come in the name of Christ and pretend to be Christ? Caught unawares, will the church mistake the counterfeit Christ’s “Planetary Pentecost” for the great “move of God” they had been told to expect? Are we getting set up for the great delusion described in the Bible? Is there any good reason not at least to consider that possibility?

The prophet Daniel makes mention of the God of “forces” in conjunction with antichrist (Daniel 11:38). The “God” of the “new gospel” asks [New Ager] Neale Donald Walsch, “What if I am not a ‘man’ at all, but rather, a Force?”3 The “Christ” of A Course in Miracles states that there is an “irresistible Force” within each person.4 Marianne Williamson explains that this “universal force” can be “activated” within each person and has “the power to make all things right.”5 The “new gospel Christ” tells Barbara Marx Hubbard that on the day of “Planetary Pentecost” a “planetary smile” will flash across the face of all mankind; that an “uncontrollable joy” that he describes as the “joy of the force” will “ripple” through the one body of humanity.6 Benjamin Creme describes the event “as a Pentecostal experience for all.”7 The “Christ” of A Course in Miracles tells how the world ends in “peace” and “laughter.”8

Has anyone wondered whether this same “Force” may be counterfeiting the Holy Spirit in churches and may be producing “revivals” and “moves of God” that are not really “revivals” or “moves of God” at all? Is the “God of forces” in the process of preparing the Church for the “Planetary Pentecost”? Should we not be doing a more thorough job of testing the spirits? Have we put our faith and trust in Christian “leaders” rather than in God? Have we all talked ourselves out of the end times? Have we all agreed that persecution is not something we need to be concerned about? Have we prayed to God that we would not be deluded or deceived?

Several years ago in my book, The Light That Was Dark, I wrote the following: “Clearly many who said they were of ‘the faith’ would soon become a part of the deception too, if they weren’t already.”

Were we already witnessing the great “falling away” predicted in the Bible? Was the “mystery of iniquity” talked about in the Scriptures already doing its deceptive work with “all power and signs and lying wonders” . . . ? Would people calling themselves Christians abandon their faith in the Bible and the Bible’s Christ? Would they join an ecumenical movement that in the name of love and God and unity would sacrifice the truth of the Bible and perhaps one day merge with the new age itself?

Jesus warned that such a faith would lead not to life but to ultimate destruction: “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).9

Could it be that the reason the church is so unaware of the “new gospel” movement is because it is being led by that same spirit and heading down that same broad way? Is it happening now, right in front of our very own eyes?

(For more information, read False Christ Coming: Does Anybody Care by Warren B. Smith)

Notes:
1. NBC News “Special Report: America on Alert,” Tom Brokaw hosting Marianne Williamson as guest, September 16, 2001 broadcast transcript (Livingston, New Jersey: Burrelle’s Information Services).
2. Adolph Hitler, Mein Kampf (Sixth Pressing), translated by Ralph Manheim (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.: Mariner Books, 1999), p.xv.
3. Neale Donald Walsch, Conversations with God: Book 3, p. 325.
4. A Course in Miracles: Combined Volume, (Text) p. 479.
5. Marianne Williamson, Healing the Soul of America, p. 13.
6. Barbara Marx Hubbard, The Revelation, p. 243.
7. Benjamin Creme, Maitreya’s Mission: Volume Two (Los Angeles: Share International Foundation, 1993), p. 239.
8. A Course in Miracles: Combined Volume, (Manual for Teachers) p. 37.
9. Warren B.  Smith, The Light That Was Dark, p. 150.

Welcome to Rome!

By Judson Casjens
Guest Commentary

Gallup’s annual Values and Beliefs poll, conducted May 3-7, 2017, found that a “leftward movement in perceptions of what is morally acceptable has been ongoing,” with a shift in 13 of 19 issues over time (since 2001). In another section of the same poll, Gallup found that just 24 percent believe the Bible is the literal word of God—the lowest in Gallup’s 40 years of asking Americans about their biblical beliefs.

On several key social issues Americans responded in the most recent survey that it is morally acceptable to use birth control (91%), get divorced (73%), engage in opposite-sex sexual acts outside marriage (69%), engage in same-sex sexual acts (63%), have a baby outside of marriage (62%), commit physician-assisted suicide (57%), view pornography (36%) and practice polygamy (17%).

Southern Evangelical Seminary President and Evangelical leader Dr. Richard Land said the Gallup findings on social issues and faith in the Bible’s validity are certainly linked:

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“There’s been a marked movement left in everything except adultery,” Land said of the surveys. “Cheating on one’s husband or wife still remains taboo. But as more and more people view the Bible as a book of fables, we can see an increasing level of paganism of the United States. The apostle Paul would recognize contemporary America because it looks a lot like ancient Rome and Corinth—except with modern conveniences.”

Land went on to say:

“The precipitous decline in traditional Judeo-Christian morality on these social issues is directly related to the decline in belief in the Bible’s moral authority,” Land said. “Besides the shift left in these crucial social issues, the decrease in the belief in the Bible as the literal, authoritative Word of God is even more alarming. It says something alarming about our culture, when for the first time in 40 years, biblical skepticism has surpassed biblical literalism. We can hope that the half who fall in the middle, believing that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, stay true to that conviction and are even strengthened in their belief of the Bible.”—excerpted from Southern Evangelical Seminary e-mail (5/22/2017) (quoted for informational purposes)

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Where do we go from here? The proverbial snowball is rolling downhill and getting ever larger, and one can discern from reading about various nations, including Israel, in Scripture that the ending is not very pleasant. History demonstrates time and again that at the end is no revival, but rather judgement. While Gallup’s poll above includes evangelicals and non-evangelicals, other polls of evangelicals only don’t appear very encouraging either. For the most part, they merely reflect what is stated above. Land is correct in his assessment of the connection between people’s view of the Bible and moral decline. And if this is true, what we are seeing is only symptomatic and not the genuine cause.

What this means for true believers is that rather than supporting various crusades and rally’s around the country which purport to create a voice on various moral issues, we instead need to focus upon becoming holy in our lives and obedient insofar as the true Gospel is concerned. We can “clean up” the country, even get some laws changed; but then where are we? Using the examples of Jesus and the early Church, where do we find the effort and focus? Let me assure one and all that it was not cleaning up and changing paganism for the purpose of complimenting Christianity, but rather leading holy lives and “striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27) and using every effort in the spread of that very same Gospel . . . period. And the world of that day was not turned upside down by grandiose crusades or “festivals,” but by people like you and I relating to others just like you and I, and so the Gospel spread. We have turned way too much over to the so-called “professionals” and in so doing have diminished our own value, responsibility, and role in the spread of God’s kingdom.

Not at all unlike Israel of old, today’s evangelicalism is ever turning a deaf ear to God’s Words and warnings, the past polls of evangelicals only have shown similar movement away from the Bible as being verbally inspired and therefore as having diminished authority, all of which is playing a large part in the church’s drift away from biblical orthodoxy. In the middle of all this, the ecumenical push for unity is contributing mightily because all this “togetherness” requires the message of the one and only way of salvation not be mentioned, much less pressed; this movement seeks to find spiritual value and even instruction apart from Gospel truth, which by definition means paganism. James asks some rather pointed questions:

Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh. (James 3:11-12)

What on earth are we doing by mixing and blending Truth with error and then calling it love and unity? Of necessity, the true Gospel must be the first casualty in this type of endeavor. The ideas of political correctness and tolerance in true Christianity for the purposes of being non-offensive are unknown in the whole of Scripture; the Gospel message is offensive for it declares that one is an offense to God, under condemnation already, and there is nothing one can do except trust in the provision made by God’s Son Jesus Christ. Something, as but one example, the Catholic Church has declared “anathema” at least three times in Vatican II documents because theirs is a “works-based” system of salvation (sacramental).

What we find so prevalent in evangelicalism today is a refusal to even hear and consider when God’s Word is compared to some movement, error, or teaching. When Israel’s “religion” had changed within due to the admission of pagan practices and beliefs, even to the point of worshipping foreign goddesses, Yahweh sent the prophet Isaiah along with others, but what God said to Isaiah regarding His purposes and Israel’s response needs to be given very careful consideration:

And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed. Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate. (Isaiah 6:9-11)

In a similar discussion with His disciples in which their relationship with the world was discussed, Jesus uttered these thought-provoking words:

 If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin. He that hateth me hateth my Father also. If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father. But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause. (John 15:22-25)

We have become so focused upon “results” that we have forgotten that irrespective of another’s response, witness and testimony has been faithfully given, and that even rejection serves God’s purposes. That was Isaiah’s ministry and that is a very sobering thought. So to all out there attempting to be faithful, don’t be discouraged due to little or negative response, even from evangelicals; in many ways, this is our calling.

What Your Church Needs to Know Before Doing a Priscilla Shirer Study

The repetition [of a word or phrase] can in fact be soothing and very freeing, helping us, as Nouwen says, “to empty out our crowded interior life and create the quiet space where we can dwell with God.”—Jan Johnson, When the Soul Listens, p. 93

Years ago, I got a chance to meet Jan Johnson. . . . I was encouraged and redirected in so many ways. As a young woman trying to navigate the ins and outs of my relationship with the Lord, Ms. Jan spoke wisdom into my life that was extremely pivotal in my life—personally and in ministry.—Priscilla Shirer (emphasis added; http://www.goingbeyond.com/blog/wisbits; quoted in 2010 and still up on Shirer’s website)

Priscilla Shirer

This week, our office received a call from a woman who was concerned that her church is going to be doing a study using material by Priscilla Shirer. Our caller wanted to get some information she can show her pastor as to why her church should not be doing a Priscilla Shirer study. Because Priscilla Shirer is a contemplative proponent, we concur with our caller’s concerns. In John Lanagan’s booklet,  Beth Moore & Priscilla Shirer – Their History of Contemplative Prayer,Lanagan shows how both Moore and Shirer have been advocates of contemplative spirituality for quite some time. In that booklet, and this is what we want to focus on in this article, Lanagan discusses a woman named Jan Johnson. Because Priscilla Shirer embraces and has gleaned spiritually from Johnson, we need to take a closer look at what Johnson believes.

We first heard about Jan Johnson in Ray Yungen’s book A Time of Departing where Yungen explains:

Spiritual director Jan Johnson, in her book When the Soul Listens: Finding Rest and Direction in Contemplative Prayer, is a perfect example of an evangelical Christian who endorses and promotes this practice [contemplative prayer]. She leaves no doubt about what this type of prayer entails:

“Contemplative prayer, in its simplest form, is a prayer in which you still your thoughts and emotions and focus on God Himself. This puts you in a better state to be aware of God’s presence, and it makes you better able to hear God’s voice, correcting, guiding, and directing you.” [emphasis added]

Johnson’s explanation of the initial stages of contemplative prayer leaves no doubt that “stilling” your thoughts means only one thing; she explains:

“In the beginning, it is usual to feel nothing but a cloud of unknowing. . . . If you’re a person who has relied on yourself a great deal to know what’s going on, this unknowing will be unnerving. [emphasis added] (Ray Yungen, A Time of Departing, 2nd ed., p. 82.)

When Johnson talks about stilling the mind in order to experience God’s presence and hear His voice, she is referring to something that is universal with mystics—putting the mind into a neutral, altered state where one is not aware of the distractions around him. This inner stillness cannot only be achieved through some type of meditative practice (see Johnson’s quote at top of this article), which in the case of “Christian” mystics is contemplative prayer. For those of you unfamiliar with contemplative jargon, the “cloud of unknowing” is taken from a small book of the same name, written by an anonymous monk several hundred years ago. The book is a primer on contemplative prayer and in 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. (The Cloud of Unknowing)

This is describing a mantra-style practice, no different than that used in eastern meditation. It is interesting that Jan Johnson says the effect of this type of prayer is “unnerving.” Webster’s Dictionary defines unnerving as “inspiring fear.” This reminds us of another contemplative teacher, Richard Foster, who suggested that people pray prayers of protection before practicing contemplative prayer in order to avoid an evil encounter. But where in Scripture is prayer to God described as inspiring fear or something that needs prayers of protection first? Nowhere. That’s not how God’s Word defines prayer.

Jan Johnson

In Jan Johnson’s book, Invitation to the Jesus Life: Experiments in Christlikeness, Johnson shows her resonance with a number of contemplative figures with quotes by and references to them.  One particular name that jumps out is New Age sympathizer Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. Read a few quotes by Chardin and then ask yourself, why would a Christian author (Johnson) be drawn to someone with these views:

What I am proposing to do is to narrow that gap between pantheism and Christianity by bringing out what one might call the Christian soul of pantheism or the pantheist aspect of Christianity.—Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Christianity and Evolution, p. 56

Now I realize that, on the model of the incarnate God whom Christianity reveals to me, I can be saved only by becoming one with the universe. Thereby, too, my deepest ‘pantheist’ aspirations are satisfied.—Chardin, Christianity and Evolution, p. 128.

I believe that the Messiah whom we await, whom we all without any doubt await, is the universal Christ; that is to say, the Christ of evolution.—Chardin, Christianity and Evolution, p. 95.

Johnson’s 2016 book Meeting God in Scripture: A Hands-On Guide to Lectio Divina leads readers in lectio divina meditations. Lectio Divina is used today as a gateway practice into contemplative mystical prayer. In her book, Johnson provides a section titled  “Relax and Refocus (silencio)”  which is instruction to readers on how to get rid of mental distractions when trying to practice lectio divina:

Each exercise begins with brief guidance to slow down, quiet your inner self and let go of distracting thoughts. . . . focusing on God. A way to interrupt this [mental] traffic is to focus on being present in the moment by breathing in and out deeply— even overbreathing. It also helps to relax our body parts one by one: bending the neck, letting the arms go limp, relaxing the legs and ankles. Loosen each part from the inside out. This doesn’t mean you’re setting aside your mind— you’re redirecting your mind away from the busyness that often consumes you. Being present in the moment prepares you to wait on the still, small voice of God. If you are distracted, you may want to try the palms up, palms down method. Rest your hands in your lap, placing your hands palms down as a symbol of turning over any concerns you have. If a nagging thought arises, turn your hands palms up as a “symbol of your desire to receive from the Lord.” [Foster] If you become distracted at any time during meditation, repeat the exercise. (Meeting God in Scripture, Kindle version, Kindle location 102)

To back up her teaching on practicing contemplative meditation and finding that inner stillness of the mind, Johnson turns to several contemplative teachers in Meeting God in Scripture. Sadly, God and Scripture are not the only things readers are going to meet when they read this book by Johnson. They will also meet Richard Foster, Dallas Willard, Henri Nouwen, and David Benner. Other books Johnson has written have the same caliber.  A few of those titles are:  Spiritual Disciplines Companion: Bible Studies and Practices to Transform Your Soul, Enjoying the Presence of God: Discovering Intimacy with God in the Daily Rhythms of Life, Abundant Simplicity: Discovering the Unhurried Rhythms of Grace, and Renovation of the Heart in Daily Practice: Experiments in Spiritual Transformation (Willard and Johnson). She has written several others books which carry the same message: you’ve got to have the inner mental silence to really know God (something Beth Moore has said too—in the Be Still DVD).

We could give several more examples of Johnson’s embracing contemplative spirituality. You won’t find much that she has written that doesn’t include this element. In one article on her website titled “What Is Solitude & Why Do I Need It? or . . . Turn Up the Quiet,” she quotes panentheist Thomas Merton from his book New Seeds of Contemplation. Why does Jan Johnson keep referring to contemplative mystics in her writings? There can only be one answer to that question—because she resonates with them.

Conclusion

As noted at the beginning of this article, Priscilla Shirer “was encouraged and redirected in so many ways” when she met Jan Johnson. She added that Johnson “spoke wisdom into [Priscilla’s] life that was extremely pivotal in [her] life—personally and in ministry.” Shirer said these words in 2010 and has left them up on her website to this day. Obviously, she still feels this way about Johnson. In Shirer’s popular book 2006/2012 Discerning the Voice of God, she favorably quotes Jan Johnson twice from When the Soul Listens. Shirer also quotes contemplatives Joyce Huggett and Phil Yancey in Discerning the Voice of God. Shirer clearly has been influenced by Jan Johnson as she admits herself.

We’ll close with this: On Priscilla Shirer’s website, where she talks about meeting Jan Johnson, she also includes an article by Johnson who is quoting panentheist Catholic priest Richard Rohr (founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation) from his book Everything Belongs (meaning everything and everyone is part of God). Rohr’s spirituality would be in the same camp as someone like Episcopalian panentheist Matthew Fox (author of The Coming of the Cosmic Christ). Rohr wrote the foreword to a book called How Big is Your God? by Jesuit priest (from India) Paul Coutinho. In Coutinho’s book, he describes an interspiritual community where people of all religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, and Christianity) worship the same God. For Rohr to write the foreword to such a book, he would have to agree with Coutinho’s views. On Rohr’s website, he has an article titled “Cosmic Christ.” One need not look too far into Rohr’s teachings and website to see he is indeed promoting the same Cosmic Christ as Matthew Fox – this is the “christ” whose being they say lives in every human—this, of course, would nullify the need for atonement by a savior. Lighthouse Trails has written numerous times about Rohr as he is aggressively pushing his panentheistic mystical spirituality into the evangelical church. If everything you have read in this article has not persuaded you to steer clear of Shirer’s studies, then this should do it, hands down. The fact that she keeps the post about Rohr on her website should alarm all Bible-believing Christians and illustrates the spiritual affinity Priscilla Shirer is drawn to.

Before your church does a Priscilla Shirer study, please keep in mind the things you have read in this article. Contemplative prayer has roots in panentheism  (God is in all) and interspirituality (all paths lead to God) as you can read in Ray Yungen’s article “The Final Outcome of Practicing Contemplative Prayer: Interspirituality.” Do you really want your church influenced in any way by a spirituality that is so against the Cross? Are we saying Priscilla Shirer is necessarily against the Cross? No, but for someone who wrote a book on how to discern the voice of God, she sure isn’t showing any discernment in the voices that she herself is listening to and being persuaded by.

Buried in Unmarked Graves

By Roger Oakland

Credit: Bigstockphoto.com

Vast are the burial grounds resulting from man-centered Christianity. When men follow men rather than the Good Shepherd, they seek after wealth, kingdoms, power, and illicit sexual relationships—anything to feed the flesh, which we know is never satisfied. When this happens, it is no longer Christianity but rather another “Christianity,” a dead and harmful religion (which is man’s invention) promoting another Jesus. Religion robs the innocent from true freedom in Jesus. The temples, the cathedrals, the shrines, and the modern day megachurches often testify to the accomplishments of man more than they speak of the wonders of God, who sent His Son to redeem us from our sins.

Further, study the hierarchies that humans construct—the popes, the cardinals, the bishops, and the priests. Or replace the “Holy Catholic Church” with the “Protestant” counterparts, and you find the same thing. While there may be a different configuration, the end results are the same. Followers are abused and misused by the power brokers that control them.

Many are those who have been beaten and hurt. They are buried in unmarked graves without tombstones covered over by time. Those responsible for their demise continue from generation to generation. They are abusive powerful despots who boldly proclaim “how dare you touch God’s anointed” as they bury more and more. They believe their threats have a scriptural basis.

Such is the case for many in a fellowship of pastors I was once involved with. For this reason, two Norwegian brothers (myself being one of them) felt led to warn these men, many of whom got their focus off the Good Shepherd.1 Sadly, they started out right but ended up wrong. As the Bible states, it is not how you start but how you finish that counts.

This group lost their moorings. Many of them were so encapsulated by power, success, and church growth, they did not realize they had become lukewarm and then cold. While the Good Shepherd warns them in His Word, they chose to ignore the warnings. Just like the Bible proclaims, Ichabod (meaning God’s glory departed) became a reality and an era of struggle that should have been laden with victories for Christ ended with the death of this group’s heart-broken founder.2 Isn’t it interesting how history repeats itself? Whatever has happened before can and does happen again.

The Word of God is light. The Word of God shines into the darkness, and the darkness hates the light. Often those in darkness think they are in light and do not see the light when the light shines.

Nevertheless, the God of the Bible always wins. Sometimes the scenario plays out with a very unhappy ending. God is a God of justice, and justice always prevails. The good news for the deceivers is that God is also a God of mercy, and He gives man the opportunity to repent until the day he takes his last breath. God does not desire that any should perish but wants all to come to repentance.

Endnote:

  1. http://www.understandthetimes.org/commentary/c190finalwakeupcall.shtml.
  2. You can read about Roger Oakland’s years in the Calvary Chapel churches in his biography Let There Be Light, 2nd ed.

(This is an excerpt from Roger Oakland’s book, The Good Shepherd Calls)

Related Video:

(From Roger Oakland’s emerging church lecture series)

“Shack” Theology: Where Is the Devil?

By Warren B. Smith

I wonder you should ask me whether it is essential to keep the patient in ignorance of your own existence. That question, at least for the present phase of the struggle, has been answered for us by the High Command. Our policy, for the moment, is to conceal ourselves.1 – C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

The Shack’s author, William P. Young, quotes C.S. Lewis favorably and frequently in his books, but The Screwtape Letters by Lewis is not one of the books from which he has quoted. I bring up Lewis, not as an endorsement, but to point out a discrepancy. The Screwtape Letters is a novel that presents some of the many ways Christians can be effectively seduced and deceived by Satan and his demons—a subject that is completely ignored in The Shack and in Young’s other books. The discrepancy is that Young  chooses quotes from authors like Lewis to serve his own personal and theological agenda while conveniently ignoring writings by the same author that actually contradict his agenda. The Screwtape Letters is a perfect example.

The Screwtape Letters consist of a series of letters sent by a senior seducing spirit named Screwtape to his young understudy Wormwood. In the letters, Screwtape teaches Wormwood how to subtly undermine and eventually destroy the faith of his Christian “patient.” In the quote cited above, Screwtape tells Wormwood to conceal himself in such a way that the designated individual remains unaware of his spiritual presence. And this is exactly what we find in The Shack. The Devil and his deceptive spirits are never mentioned—not even once. It’s no wonder Young avoids The Screwtape Letters when he quotes C.S. Lewis. Acknowledgement of a real Devil and seducing spirits plays no part in The Shack and its supposed expression of  Christian theology.

Young has a witty but innocuous C.S. Lewis quote at the beginning of The Shack’s main chapter on relationships.2 But where The Screwtape Letters serves to expose and warn about the ways Satan thwarts and undermines a believer’s relationship with God, Young’s novel—and in particular this chapter on relationships—says absolutely nothing in this regard. Given The Shack’s emphasis on the importance of  “relationship,” it seems odd that no mention is ever made in Young’s novel about a believer’s uninvited yet inevitable “relationship” with his Spiritual Adversary—Satan the Devil. There is no acknowledgment, no warning, no advice, no anything in The Shack concerning the Devil, his seducing spirits, and their many wiles.

Contrarily, the Bible tells believers to put on the full armor of God, so they can stand fast against the wiles of the Devil and powers of darkness that are very real (Ephesians 6:11-13). We are admonished to be “sober” and “vigilant” because our Spiritual Adversary is walking around like “a roaring lion” and “seeking whom he may devour”—whether that be in a shack or anywhere else (1 Peter 5:8-9). We are told to resist the Devil and his temptations with the Word of God—not with human wisdom and “relationship” (Matthew 4:1-11).

Young’s easy dismissal of the Devil implies that our Spiritual Adversary is not someone we have to contend with in our lives and relationships. Young goes so far as to teach that “evil and darkness” don’t even exist. Young puts these words in the mouth of his “Holy Spirit” character “Sarayu”:

Both evil and darkness can only be understood in relation to Light and Good; they do not have any actual existence.3

But this is what the universal New Age Christ teaches—that “evil does not exist.” This false universal Christ states:

Innocence is wisdom because it is unaware of evil, and evil does not exist.4

With darkness having no existence of its own, it’s no wonder that Young’s presentation of evil and darkness agrees with the teachings of the New Age rather than the teachings of the Bible. His expressed disbelief in the existence of independent evil goes right along with his self-confessed universalist leanings.5

 Hidden in Plain Sight

The Shack’s Papa “God” cites a number of inhibiting factors concerning “relationship” in what Papa calls “all the limiting influences in your life that actively work against your freedom.”6 These limiting influences are also referred to as “that confluence of multifaceted inhibitors.”7 But again, Young fails to make any mention of the Devil as one of these influences or inhibitors. For a man who likes to quote C.S. Lewis, Young might want to read or reread The Screwtape Letters. It would seem that Wormwood-like seducing spirits have effectively convinced Young they have no existence. As a consequence of this spiritual deception, Young has defined the Devil right out of existence—out of The Shack, out of his “Christian” theology, and out of the Bible. Sadly, most Shack readers become so emotionally caught up in Young’s novel, they never notice that the Devil is completely absent from his Shack story and Shack theology.

So where is the Devil in Young’s novel? Be sure of this—the Devil’s presence completely overshadows and thoroughly permeates the pages of The Shack. Cloaked in humor, clouded in human wisdom, concealed in flattery, tucked away in mockery and sarcasm, and hidden in half-truths and lies, the Devil thoroughly inhabits the many conversations that ultimately produce Young’s universal, New Age-flavored Shack theology. The Devil may appear to be absent from The Shack, but for those who have the eyes to see, the Devil is the unspoken force that inspires Young and purposely and cunningly drives his novel. As they say, the Devil is in the details. The Devil is not absent from The Shack, he is just hidden in plain sight.

For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. (2 Peter 1:16)

Lest Satan should get an advantage of us:  for we are not ignorant of his devices. (2 Corinthians 2:11)

Endnotes

  1. C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters (New York, NY: Macmillan Company, 1960), p. 39.
  2. William P. Young, The Shack: Where Tragedy Confronts Eternity ( Los Angeles, CA: Windblown Media, 2007), p. 104.
  3. Ibid., p. 136.
  4. A Course in Miracles: Combined Volume (Glen Ellen, CA: Foundation for Inner Peace, 1975) (Text) p. 38.
  5. Wm. Paul Young, Lies We Believe About God (New York, NY: Atria Books, 2017), pp. 118-119. (Young states that he believes in universal salvation.)
  6. William P. Young, The Shack, op., cit., p. 95.
  7. Ibid.

Related Information:

BOOKLET – The Shack and Its New Age Leaven by Warren B. Smith

The Shack’s Universal Papa

“The Shack,” TBN, and the New Age

 

World in Crisis: ‘Community Beyond Belief’ Follows Church Model Without Religion

LTRP Note: One of our readers sent us this article today. We have posted it for informational and research purposes only and not as an endorsement.

By Katherine Burgess
The Wichita Eagle

People at Wichita Oasis start showing up at around 10 on Sunday morning, drinking coffee and chatting before the music begins.

Once children are safely in the large playroom – complete with a chalk wall, a tent and plenty of toys – the adults and youths find their seats, ready for music and announcements.

But when the music starts, the songs aren’t about Jesus. And when the speaker begins, he or she doesn’t read a Bible verse.

Although Oasis follows a Sunday morning structure similar to many Christian churches, it calls itself a “community beyond belief,” focused on atheists, humanists and agnostics.

“When you move, it’s so nice to just be able to go to a church of your denomination, make friends there, network there,” said Alexandra Simmons, president of Wichita Oasis and a humanist. “I love being able to provide that for people. Just to have a nonreligious place to get together.” Click here to continue reading.

Rick Warren and Brian Brodersen Prove: “A Photo Is Worth A Thousand Words”

Courtesy of Understand the Times

Connect the dots and draw your own conclusions (See related articles under picture)

Related Articles from Lighthouse Trails:

Brian Brodersen and Greg Laurie’s “Bigger Picture of Christianity”

Rick Warren’s Dangerous Ecumenical Pathway to Rome And How One Interview Revealed So Much


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