Archive for the ‘Contemplative Denominations’ Category

The Spirituality of Teresa of Avila – A Mystic to Whom Contemplatives Turn

Castles in the Sand by Carolyn A. Greene is a story based on true facts and addresses the fast growing contemplative prayer movement within the evangelical/Protestant church. The story is about a 21st century Christian college girl who is introduced to the writings of a 15th century mystic girl, Teresa of Avila in her Spiritual Formation class.  Teresa of Avila is one of the ancient mystics to whom modern day contemplatives turn. For example, Richard Foster includes her in Devotional Classics, Sanctuary of the Soul, and Longing for God.  We think when you read this chapter of Castles in the Sand, you will see how the spiritual practices of Teresa of Avila line up with the occult but not with biblical Christianity. If you didn’t get a chance to read chapter one  when we posted it, here it is again: (chapter one). Below is an excerpt to chapter two with a link to the entire chapter. Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

Castles in the Sand
Chapter Two
“Another Teresa”

Spain, circa 1533

The pale, shivering girl was vaguely aware of being lifted onto a clean sheet and covered with a dry blanket. When she opened her eyes, a blurry face hovered above her. The girl’s head was pounding, and nausea swept over her in waves. Slowly, she pulled herself upright on the narrow straw mattress. Suddenly, she cried out with alarm as her big brown eyes continued to stare vacantly.

“Run, Rodrigo! He’s found us! Run!”
“Sister Juana, she’s burning up with the malaria,” Teresa heard a young nun say as she was gently laid back down. Someone was dabbing her forehead with a cool, wet cloth. As if from afar, she recognized the voices of the two nuns who stood at the foot of her bed, praying their rosaries.

Her pulse faint, her breath shallow, the feverish girl closed her eyes, as her memory drifted back to her past, beginning with when she was just seven years old . . .

Holding her little brother’s hand, she ran with him as fast as their little legs could carry them, and they made it past the city gate. Suddenly, she felt a large, strong hand grabbing her by the shoulder, abruptly ending their flight. Her uncle had caught up with them.
“Come now, little Teresa, it’s time to go home. Your mother is anxious!” he said gently, as he dragged her and Rodrigo back home to their worried parents.

Safely home and tucked into her bed later that evening, she overheard the family members and servants talk late into the night.

“Whoever heard of a noble family having to send a search party into the streets for two precocious children–because of their vivid imaginations!”

“Who would put these foolish ideas into Teresa’s head?”
“What could possibly have inspired a seven-year-old girl to run away with her little brother, and to Morocco of all places?!”

“And to face certain martyrdom by beheading at the hands of the Moors!” blustered her irate uncle loudly.

“That is what she desired,” sighed another family member. “What do you expect of a child who reads too much?”

As Teresa grew older, only her father understood her love for books and the effect they had on her active imagination. She had inherited her passion for literature from her mother, who had spent many hours of the day in bed reading romance stories. She is so like her mother, her father frequently thought, smiling to himself. He often found Teresa alone on the roof of the villa, reading books rather than watching over her younger sisters and brothers in the courtyard below. How she loved those fascinating stories of saints and martyrs.

Twelve-year-old Teresa was profoundly impacted by her mother’s tragic death. Her passing had left the young girl feeling emotionally raw and empty. Finally, in quiet desperation one evening, Teresa threw herself on the floor before an image of the Virgin Mary and pleaded with her, “Be my new mother.”

Her father kept a watchful eye on his daughter as her extreme devotion to the Mother Mary and her good intentions to live a devoted life eventually gave way to an interest in fashion, perfumes, and hairstyles. Before long, her passion for reading and writing romances was rekindled as her imagination and beauty blossomed. Concerned that Teresa had no mother to guard her virtue, Father sent her away to boarding school at the Augustinian convent. After all, his lovely daughter was attracting the attention of far too many young men.
The first week at the convent was most dreadful for a girl accustomed to the fineries of life. But she soon decided that the harsh conditions served some practical use. At least she was being provided with an education, which was certainly preferable to looking after siblings, she reasoned. Click here to read the rest of chapter 2.

Click here for more information about Castles in the Sand.

Castles In The Sand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Important Information About Calvary Chapel and Alpha

From Understand The Times, International

RE: Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa and the Alpha Course (April 18, 2016)

Cecil Andrews

Recently, Brian Brodersen, senior pastor of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, sent out an endorsement of Nicky Gumbel’s Holy Trinity Brompton Alpha Course program. While Alpha is very well known in North America and around the world, it seems that Brian Brodersen and many other pastors know very little about Alpha.

In order to bring awareness to Brian Brodersen and all other Calvary Chapels and evangelical churches choosing to go this direction, Understand The Times has made the decision to post several links from the web site of Take Heed Ministries based in Northern Ireland. The speaker of the messages and the author of the article that follows is my good friend Cecil Andrews from Northern Ireland.

Please take the time to listen to these two messages and to read one of his articles posted on his web site. His web site is very important. Please click on the link and add it to your favorites.

Christian pastors and leaders should be warning about Alpha, not promoting it. By doing so, these leaders are showing a lack of concern for those who are blindly following them and their man-made programs.

http://www.takeheed.info/

Here are two video links to research:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n6DjxpYR7mk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ll0A00LqKeM

Here is the link to an excellent article:

http://www.takeheed.info/pdf/January-2014/Alpha-attend-or-avoid.pdf

 

Letter to the Editor: Inspired by LT’s Reaching Out to Christian Leaders – Wants to do the Same

Dear Lighthouse Trails:

Wow, so glad to hear about your efforts to reach out to Christian Leaders to warn them about Jesus Calling.  Whether they heed the warnings or not, thank you for doing this!!

While I don’t have any names to add to your list, (you covered most of the major leaders), the idea inspired me, because I’ve been wanting to reach out to pastors to warn them about Contemplative Prayer.

My wife and I left a church a year ago because we started hearing names like Richard Foster, Dallas Willard, Brennan Manning etc. and things have only escalated since we’ve left.

There’s about 40-50 churches in the conference our previous church is in that I’d like to send some tracts to, addressed to the pastors and also send to the bishops in the different conferences until I can afford to send to all churches in every conference.

We have some good friends in the _____ yet, and we’d like to try to reach these pastors (although it might fall on deaf ears) who are following and recommending these contemplative practices. The tracts that I thought I was most interested in sending are:

1.) Serious Look at Richard Foster’s School of Contemplative Prayer

2.) Brennan Manning’s “New Monks” and their Dangerous Contemplative Monasticism

3.) 5 Things You Should Know About Contemplative Prayer – 2015 updated edition

4.) So You Want to Practice “Good” Contemplative Prayer

5.) Is Your Church Doing Spiritual Formation?

Wasn’t sure if you had any recommendations on the one that might be best to send (would love to send the whole bunch to each one, but would have to do that over a period of time since I don’t have that money to spend right now ), I did see the multi-pack, but would be better I think to buy the individual tracts if I’m buying 40 or 50.

Thanks for all the information, materials and resources you provide.  With all that’s coming into the church these days it’s a bit like watching the dam about ready to burst every which way you turn.

Blessings in Christ,

_______________

Dear ___________:

Thank you for your e-mail. We find it very encouraging. Your idea of reaching out to pastors and leaders within your own group is a great idea. The 5 booklets you mentioned above would all be good choices. You might consider starting with Warren Smith’s booklet 10 Scriptural Reasons Why Jesus Calling is a Dangerous Book.  If you do, you are welcome to include the letter we wrote with what you send. Please feel free to copy that letter from our article from February 25th.   In two months, we plan to send out a second booklet to this list of leaders (which now has over 125 names on it). That one will be by Ray Yungen, dealing with contemplative prayer. God willing, we will send out a different booklet every two to three months to these people. As we stated in our 2/25 article, we have a sense of desperation to reach these men and women who are influencing and leading millions of people.

Sincerely,

Editors at Lighthouse Trails

Calvary Chapel, Bill Hybels, and Jesuit Mysticism

By Roger Oakland
Understand the Times, International

Recently, I was informed about a conference held this week in Budapest, Hungary where Willow Creek senior pastor Bill Hybels taught leaders. According to comments posted on Phil Metzger’s Facebook page, the event was held at Calvary Chapel Golgota Budapest where Metzger is pastor. He is also the director of Calvary Chapel Bible College Europe (also located in Hungary). On Metzger’s Facebook, Hybels was not only endorsed, he was praised. [3]

Perhaps most who read about this event will not be alarmed. But I was because I see the significance. I know that what Chuck Smith and Calvary Chapel once stood for is not at all what Hybels stands for. Bill Hybels was mentored by Peter Drucker along with Rick Warren to “reshape” Christianity for the 21st century. Hybels, from the famous Willow Creek Church located in South Barrington, Illinois, fathered the “seeker-friendly” movement.

When Hybels and his cohorts discovered that the seeker-friendly model produced spiritually illiterate believers, they said they “repented” [5] from this model of church; but in actuality, they delved right into teachings associated with the emergent church and contemplative mysticism, seeing those as the next “great” step. Interestingly, on Metzger’s Facebook page, someone defending Metzger’s promotion of Hybels said that it was irrelevant to talk about the emerging church because it was no longer an issue. But nothing could be further from the truth. While often called other names now, such as progressive, the ideologies of the emerging church are very much at work today. Click here to read this entire article and for endnotes.

Related Information

A Jesuit Pope? Understanding The Jesuit Agenda and the Evangelical/Protestant Church

What Christian Leaders Need to Know – The Final Outcome of Practicing Contemplative Prayer: Interspirituality

LTRP Note: With more than 90% of the Christian colleges and seminaries now bringing in contemplative spirituality via Spiritual Formation programs, and with Christian leaders such as Rick Warren and Beth Moore endorsing the movement, and with countless pastors giving it a thumbs up to their congregations, isn’t it time professors, pastors, and leaders understand what the final outcome of contemplative prayer is? Isn’t it time they understand that leading Christians and church goers down this path is leading them away from the Cross, not toward it. At Lighthouse Trails, we believe it is beyond time for this understanding to occur.

One candle and Candles on old wooden background

Photo from bigstockphoto.com; used with permission.

By Ray Yungen

The final outcome of contemplative prayer is interspirituality. If you have truly grasped the portrait I have tried to paint in my book and articles, you have begun to see what this term signifies. The focus of my criticism of mystical prayer must be understood in the light of interspirituality.

Just what exactly is interspirituality? The premise behind interspirituality is that divinity (God) is in all things, and the presence of God is in all religions; there is a connecting together of all things, and through mysticism (i.e., meditation) this state of divinity can be recognized. Consequently, this is a premise that is 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.

It is important to understand that interspirituality is a uniting of the world’s religions through the common thread of mysticism. 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.”1 Teasdale, in talking about this universal church also states:

She [the church] also has a responsibility in our age to be a bridge for reconciling the human family . . . the Spirit is inspiring her through the signs of the times to open to Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Sikhs, Jains, Taoists, Confucians, and indigenous peoples. As matrix [a binding substance], the Church would no longer see members of other traditions as outside her life. She would promote the study of these traditions, seek common ground and parallel insights.2 (emphasis mine)

An article in my local newspaper revealed just how well received interspirituality has become in certain circles. One Presbyterian elder who was described as a “Spiritual Director” made it clear when she said:

I also have a strong interest in Buddhism and do a sitting meditation in Portland [Oregon] as often as I can. I considered myself ecumenical not only in the Christian tradition, but with all religions.3 (emphasis mine)

There is a profound and imminent danger taking place within the walls of Christianity. Doctrine has become less important than feeling, and this has led to a mystical paradigm shift. Sound doctrine must be central to this debate because New Ageism has a very idealistic side to it, offering a mystical approach to solve human problems. Everyone would like to have his or her problems solved. Right? That is the practical aspect I wrote about in the last chapter—a seemingly direct route to a happy and fulfilled life. However, one can promote the attributes of God without actually having God.

People who promote a presumably godly form of spirituality can indeed come against the truth of Christ. Then how can you be assured what you believe and practice is of God?

The Christian message has been clear from the beginning—God has sent a Savior. If man only had to practice some kind of mystical prayer to gain access to God then the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ was a fruitless, hollow endeavor.

Sound Christian doctrine comes from the understanding that mankind is sinful, fallen, and separated from God. Man needs a saving work by God! A teaching like panentheism (God is in everybody) cannot be reconciled to the finished work of Christ. How could Jesus be our Savior then? New Age constituents will say He is a model for Christ consciousness, but the Bible teaches He is the Savior of mankind. Therefore, panentheism cannot be a true doctrine.

The problem is that many well-intentioned people embrace the teachings of panentheism because it sounds so good. It appears less bigoted on God’s part. No one is left out—all are connected to God. There is a great appeal in this message. Nevertheless, the Bible does not teach a universal salvation for man. In contrast, Jesus said:

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)

Christ’s message is the polar opposite of these universalist teachings. Many people (even Christians) today think only a few really bad people will be sent to hell. But in Matthew, the words of Jesus make it clear that this just is not so.

While God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for the sins of the world, He did not say all would be saved. His words are clear that many would reject the salvation He provided. But those who are saved have been given the “ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18) making an appeal to those who are perishing (2 Corinthians 4:3). The Christian message is not samadhi, Zen, kundalini, or the contemplative silence. It is the power of the Cross!

For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:18)

Yes, perishing, and not just unaware of their true self.

In an opinion poll, the startling results describe how Americans actually view God. Spirituality and Health magazine hired a reputable pollster organization to gauge the spiritual beliefs of the American public. This national poll revealed that 84 percent of those questioned believed God to be “everywhere and in everything” rather than “someone somewhere.”4 This means panentheism is now the more popular view of God. If true, then a high percentage of evangelical Christians in America already lean towards a panentheistic view of God. Perhaps many of these Christians are fuzzy about the true nature of God.

How could this mystical revolution have come about? How could this perspective have become so widespread? The answer is that over the last thirty or forty years a number of authors have struck a deep chord with millions of readers and seekers within Christendom. These writers have presented and promoted the contemplative view to the extent that many now see it as the only way to “go deeper” in the Christian life. They are the ones who prompt men and women to plunge into contemplative practice. It is their message that leads people to experience the “lights” and the “inner adviser!”

Endnotes:

1.  Wayne Teasdale, “Mysticism as the Crossing of Ultimate Boundaries: A Theological Reflection” (The Golden String newsletter, http://clarusbooks.com/Teasdale.html, accessed 10/2009).
2. Wayne Teasdale, A Monk in the World (Novato, CA: New World Library, 2002), p. 64.
3. Jan Alsever quoted in Statesman Journal, January 27th, 1996, Religion Section.
4. Katherine Kurs, “Are You Religious or Are You Spiritual?” (Spirituality & Health Magazine, Spring 2001), p. 28.

Letter to the Editor: General Superintendent, Jo Anne Lyon, Leading Wesleyan Church Down Contemplative/Emergent Road

Jo Anne Lyon (used in accordance with US Fair Use Act from PBS)

Dear Lighthouse Trails:

The Wesleyan church is being lead by Jo Anne Lyon, who has yoked the denomination with false teachers.  I had been in a church that was taken over by the Wesleyan denomination.  I later transferred my membership away from it.  She has spoken in our church and she all but tripped over herself in bowing down in name dropping being in meetings with Rick Warren and Bono.  She also was giving credit to the teachings of Richard Foster.  She also has signed many documents with the usual suspects and their names on it – Rick Warren, Bill and Lynn Hybels, Tony Campolo, Jim Wallis, Ron Sider, and the like.  She has equated being pro-environment/climate change with being pro-life.  She is pushing the social gospel and spiritual formation.

Even if it were a man in the pulpit spewing this stuff, I would say it is unbiblical.  Thought I would let you know to keep your eye on things.

https://www.wesleyan.org/sftour

Here is just one of the stops coming up:

GO + MAKE | The Wesleyan Church

The Spiritual Formation Department Tour: GO + MAKE is coming to the Chesapeake District on Saturday, November 7, 2015. The event will be hosted by Calvary Wesleyan Church in Harrington, Delaware. https://www.wesleyan.org/3490/go-make

Saturday, November 7th is the date set for GO + MAKE a one-day, holistic, all-church discipleship training event for local church leaders plus a Generous Church Training event for lead pastors and spouses. Both events will be hosted by Calvary Wesleyan Church in Harrington, Delaware for the Chesapeake District and will run from 9:00 am to 3:30 pm. Don’t miss this day of training and learning. These events are a great opportunity for you and your church congregants to be challenged and energized by our denominational leaders.

Presenters include:

Rev. Jeremy Summers, Director of Spiritual Formation, previous to his current appointment, he served three Wesleyan churches in Indiana and Illinois. He has also studied at Indiana Wesleyan University, Asbury Theological Seminary, and currently at Fuller Theological Seminary. Jeremy is also the author of Awakening Grace: Spiritual Practices to Transform Your Soul, the Merge Discipleship Series, and The Way Forward.

Rev. Scott Simmons, Director of Youth Ministries for the Wesleyan denomination, has served in youth ministry for over 18 years. He is an ordained minister in The Wesleyan Church and a graduate of Bethany Bible College and Indiana Wesleyan University. Scott is committed to the Wesleyan youth movement, being involved with youth camps, student and adult leadership development and the Wesleyan youth conventions.

Rev. Kathy George, Director of Children’s Ministries for the Wesleyan denomination, has been a children’s ministry director for 28 years. She served at First Wesleyan Church in Chilllicothe, Ohio for 9 years, and is currently in her 19th year at Cypress Wesleyan in Columbus, Ohio. During her time at Cypress, she has seen the children’s ministry grow from 200 to over 1,000 participants. She loves sharing her passion for Children’s Ministries through her position in The Wesleyan Church.

The Generous Church Training for lead pastors and their spouses will be presented by The Generous Church Organization. Andy Stanley, Senior Pastor, North Point Community Church, Alpharetta, Georgia say of this event, “The Generous Church team are partners to churches striving to create cultures of generosity by reaching every steward. Creating culture starts with the leaders, and the team brings the vision, strategies, and tools to equip church leaders for this important yet challenging task.”

Back Up Research and Documentation from Lighthouse Trails:

  1. Dr. Jo Anne Lyon’s book The Ultimate Blessing: My Journey to Discovering God’s Presence is laden with quotes by and references to contemplative and or emergent figures such as Henri Nouwen, Richard Foster, Soren Kiekergaard, and Jurgen Moltmann.
  2.  The Wesleyan Church website offers a book series on Lectio Divina (see LT article on What is Lectio Divina?)
  3.  The “Consistent Life” Document (“An International Network for Peace, Justice, and Life”) is signed by several contemplative/emergent/New Spirituality figures including: Wendell Berry, Shane Claiborne, Richard Foster, Richard Rohr, Brian McLaren, Jim Wallis, Ron Sider, Jean Vanier (trained Rick Warren’s spiritual director),and New Age teacher Wayne Teasdale.
  4.  (2006) Wesleyan Goes Deeper into Contemplative
  5. List of 50 Top Contemplative-Promoting Organizations Adds 8 Runner Ups

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

purposeTo Lighthouse Trails:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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