Archive for the ‘CHILDREN AT RISK!’ Category

Mark Driscoll Resigns From Mars Hill Church For Social Failures – But Media Silent on Controversial Doctrinal Issues

On October 14, 2014, Mark Driscoll, the senior pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington for the past 18 years, formally resigned from his position after numerous accusations came against him from former members and others. As is the case with most mega-church pastors these days when they do just about anything different than usual, Driscoll’s resignation received widespread attention from both Christian and secular news media. Unsurprisingly, none of these news stories are talking about Driscoll’s unbiblical and faulty doctrinal beliefs but are rather reporting primarily on his moral and social failures, minimizing these failures and emphasizing his apologies.

According to one media source:

Controversial Seattle megachurch founder Mark Driscoll has resigned from Mars Hill Church, stating that he does not wish to continue to be a distraction to the ministry although a six-week review of charges lodged by others within the church cleared him of moral wrongdoing.1

Charges include plagiarism, misuse of church funds, authority abuse against other members, “creating a climate of fear,”2 derogatory remarks made in the past about women, and rude, angry, and unkind behavior toward others who were in submission to him. Driscoll had temporarily stepped down in August for a six-week period while an investigation by Mars Hill board members took place. These events led to his resignation where Driscoll apologized for his past sins.

According to the Christian Post:

Driscoll made headlines earlier this week when he publicly released his resignation letter from Mars Hill, a church he founded in Seattle, Washington, in 1996 and has served as lead pastor since then.

His decision comes shortly after a letter from some Mars Hill Church elders was issued asking Driscoll to step down from leadership. These elders were later fired. . . .

Driscoll grew a small Bible study to a 13,000-member campus with 15 other locations in five states. Mars Hill was recognized as the third fastest growing and 28th largest church in the country by Outreach magazine in 2012.3

CNN stated:

In a statement, Mars Hills’ board of overseers said Driscoll hadn’t committed any acts of “immorality, illegality or heresy” — sins that have felled many a powerful pastor.4

Religious News Service’s report stated:

Driscoll, who came into evangelical prominence as multisite churches and podcasts rose in popularity, found a niche within a largely secular Northwest culture. Though he has been controversial for years for statements on women and sexuality, several tipping points likely led up to Driscoll’s resignation.5

In addition to the reports above, other media outlets that reported on Driscoll’s resignation include: Huffington Post, Washington Post, Christianity Today, Fox News, ABC News, New York Observer, and numerous television stations.

Doctrinal Deficiencies Ignored

But in all of these reports, not one that we are aware of has addressed Driscoll’s serious doctrinal deficiencies. What the media, both Christian and secular, has failed to report is that Driscoll has many beliefs and affinities that are contrary to the Word of God. However, neither Christian leaders nor Christian media seem the least bit concerned about that.

To begin with, one of the most serious doctrinal deficiencies is that Mark Driscoll is a proponent of contemplative spirituality and has been for many years. For example, in an article written by Driscoll, ironically titled “Obedience,” Driscoll tells readers to turn to contemplative advocates Richard Foster and Gary Thomas. Driscoll states: “If you would like to study the spiritual disciplines in greater detail … helpful are Celebration of Discipline, by Richard Foster, and Sacred Pathways, by Gary Thomas.” But these two books that Driscoll has recommended are two of the most damaging books within Christianity today!  In Celebration of Discipline, Foster says that everyone “should enroll in the school of contemplative prayer (p. 13, 1978 ed.), and in Sacred Pathways, Thomas tells readers to repeat a sacred word for 20 minutes in order to hear God. Another article written by Mark Driscoll on the Mars Hill Resurgence site is titled “Spiritual Disciplines: Worship.” For those who do not understand the underlying nature of contemplative prayer (and the spiritual disciplines), read this article, “5 Things You Should Know About Contemplative Prayer.” The roots behind the contemplative prayer movement are panentheism (God in all) and interspirituality (all paths lead to God).

In addition to Driscoll’s contemplative leanings, Driscoll publicly mocks and derides Christians who believe in the biblical account of the end times, who homeschool, who believe in a rapture, and who talk about an antichrist coming on the scene one day.

Below is a clip from Joe Schimmel’s DVD, The Submerging Church: How the emerging church is drawing multitudes away from biblical Christianity. This clip shows  Driscoll’s mockery of Bible-believing Christians.

Mark Driscoll’s 2008 book, Vintage Jesus, has some noteworthy quotes that further illustrate Driscoll’s faulty beliefs. When that book came out, we contacted the late Chuck Smith (founder of Calvary Chapel) and warned him about Driscoll’s book because some Calvary Chapel pastors were trying to bring Driscoll’s teachings into the Calvary Chapel movement (which has been successfully done in some CC churches).

Calls Christians Little Christs -  (page 120):

“To be a Christian is to be a ‘little Christ.'”—Mark Driscoll

Mocks Homeschooling and Armageddon: -  (page 157):

“Unlike today where Christians have largely fled the cities in favor of homeschooling about the rapture amidst large stacks of canned goods readied for a hunkering down at the unleashing of Armageddon, Christianity has historically been an urban religion. A reading of the history book of early Christianity, Acts, reveals that Christianity began as an urban movement led by Paul, whose itinerant church planting ministry was almost exclusively urban as he moved from city to city and bypassed the rural areas.”—Mark Driscoll

The Rapture is Dumb –  (page 44):

“One of the most astonishing things about Jesus is that as God he actually chose to come into our fallen, sick, twisted, unjust, evil, cruel, painful world and be with us to suffer like us and for us. Meanwhile, we spend most of our time trying to figure out how to avoid the pain and evil of this world while reading dumb books about the rapture just hoping to get out.”—Mark Driscoll

(LT Note: In Vintage Jesus, Driscoll favorably quotes Walter Wink, whom Driscoll refers to as “insightful.” But Wink was a liberal theologian who would fall in the emergent camp because of his anti-biblical beliefs. For instance, in Wink’s 1998 book The Powers That Be, Wink denies a “violent” atonement, which is the emerging way of saying that he rejects the idea that God, the Father would send His Son to a violent death as a substitute for the sins of man. This is the exact same thing that Brian McLaren, Harry Fosdick, and other atonement deniers have said, and Wink is in this same category (see our article “A Slaughterhouse Religion.)” We are not saying that Driscoll is denying the atonement, but his favorable reference to an atonement denier shows a serious lack of discernment, at best.)

In addition, Driscoll has promoted what we term “the new sexuality.” Please refer to our 2009 article “A Pastor Speaks Up: Mark Driscoll and the New ‘Sexual Spirituality’”and this Baptist Press article titled “Driscoll’s vulgarity draws media attention.”  Radio host Ingrid Schleuter (formally of VCY America) documents Driscoll’s “new sexuality” in her article “Sexpert Pastor Mark Driscoll is Told, ‘Enough is Enough.’”

The “fruit” of Mark Driscoll’s teaching can also be seen in one of Mars Hills’ congregants, a young author named Jeff Bethke, who shares Driscoll’s sentiment regarding Christians who believe the Bible about the last days.

Bethke echoes Driscoll’s distain in his book Jesus > Religion: Why He Is So Much Better Than Trying Harder, Doing More, and Being Good Enough (Thomas Nelson, 2013) in a chapter titled “Religion Points to a Dim Future/Jesus Points to a Bright Future.”  Bethke puts down the kind of believers who see a dismal future for earth (according to Scripture) and says things like:

“God actually cares about the earth, but we seem to think it’s going to burn. God actually cares about creating good art, but we seem to think it’s reserved for salvation messages.” (Kindle Locations 2107-2109, Thomas Nelson).

And just to prove that when Bethke says “religion,” he means biblical Christianity, what other religion is there that “points to a dim future” for planet earth and its inhabitants? Biblical Christianity is the only one that says that the world is heading for judgement because of man’s rebellion against God and because of God’s plan to destroy the devil and his minions. Jesus does point to a “bright future,” but the Bible is very clear that this will not come before He returns; rather He promises a blessed eternal life to “whosoever” believeth on Him. The Jesus Christ of the Bible did not promise a bright future for those who reject Him (and even says that the road to destruction is broad – Matthew 7:13); in fact, Scripture says Jesus Himself was a man of sorrows rejected and despised (Isaiah 53:3). He knew what awaited Him, and He knew what was in the heart of man. But across the board, emergents reject such a message of doom and teach that the kingdom of God will be established as humanity realizes its oneness and its divinity (this realization will be accomplished through practicing meditation—enter contemplative prayer in the Christian church to help bring about a great falling away).

While Mark Driscoll has resigned because of social and moral failures, there is absolute silence coming from Christian leaders, Christian media, and secular media on the real heart of Driscoll’s problems—his beliefs. Perhaps nothing illustrates the  nature of Driscoll’s beliefs more than his recent comments about the 2014 Hollywood movie, Noah. A Lighthouse Trails article titled “Mark Driscoll’s Distorted View on Noah and Salvation . . . (And How Some People Have a Very Strange Idea as to the Meaning of God’s Salvation),”   shows Driscoll’s very distorted view of salvation (the Gospel). In Driscoll’s so-called defense of the biblical account of Noah, he says that the Noah account was an example of God’s grace and that it had nothing to do with Noah’s righteousness or even Noah’s faith in God. And in fact, in a sermon by Mark Driscoll (see video clip below), he says that Noah was “bad all of the time.” This is a commonly believed and twisted view of God and salvation that says God loves and chooses some and hates and rejects others based on nothing more than God’s own personal whim rather than on one’s  faith or trust in God (“without faith it is impossible to please [God]“—Hebrews 11:6). Could it be that Driscoll’s view of salvation and of a God who does not love all of mankind is at least in part the reason for his social and moral failures (e.g., anger, abuse, ridicule, and mockery)? In actuality, the story of Noah is about God saving the one man on the earth who had faith in God.

Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God. (Genesis 6:9)

Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he. (Genesis 6:22)

And the Lord said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation. (Genesis 7:1)

By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith. (Hebrews 11:7)

You can click here to read a short piece by Dr. Harry Ironside on Noah that will help dispel the confusion that Mark Driscoll has brought.

The accusations of plagiarism, misuse of church funds to manipulate one of his books to get on the New York Times best-seller list, authority abuse, and crude and demeaning talk about women certainly is enough reason for Driscoll to resign from the pulpit; however his beliefs and “doctrines” are being completely ignored, and it is our guess that in time (and probably not too much of it) Driscoll will resurface with a new ministry or a “restoration” to his old ministry, and this contemplative, emerging pastor will not have changed at all in the areas most important. He has publicly apologized for getting angry and being mean to people, and that’s all people seem to care about. And why not? Many of today’s Christian leaders share Driscoll’s contemplative, emerging propensities. They’ll be the last ones to speak up.

In short, the saddest thing of all is the lack of discernment and integrity of the church at large to stem the tide of apostasy that has already flooded our midst.

 

Report: Nigeria Reaches Deal With Boko Haram Islamists to Release Kidnapped School Girls

“They want to ‘Islamitize’ Nigeria. That is why they are targeting Christians,” stated Habila Adamu, who was shot in the head after he likewise refused to deny Christ, but miraculously survived. “They wanted me to deny Jesus. We are sinners! We are condemned criminals. We are supposed to die! But He took all these burdens! He paid for our debt! He died for us! Why can I not submit to Jesus? That is what I did. I stood for him!”

By Heather Clark
Christian News Network

Nigeria Kidnapping pdABUJA, Nigeria – The Nigerian government has reached a deal with the Muslim terrorist group Boko Haram to release over 200 school girls that have been held captive for over six months, reports state.

As previously reported, members of Boko Haram stormed an all-girls secondary school in Chibok, Borno State in April, kidnapping 276 students while they were taking their final exams. Over 50 girls later escaped, but more than 200 have remained missing.

“They … started shouting, ‘Allahu Akhbar,’” one of the abducted teens told the Associated Press about the day she and others were taken captive. “And we knew.”

The teen stated that a number of girls escaped by jumping out of one of the vehicles carrying the students.

 “We ran and ran, so fast,” she explained. “That is how I saved myself. I had no time to be scared; I was just running.”

“I abducted your girls. I will sell them in the market, by Allah,” the group’s leader, Abubaker Shekau, stated in a video released in May. “There is a market for selling humans. Allah says I should sell. He commands me to sell. I will sell women. … They are his property and I will carry out his instructions.” Click here to continue reading.

A Public Letter From Renovare Reveals Troubling Connection with YWAM

This past summer, a Lighthouse Trails reader sent us this e-mail letter she received from Renovare (Richard Foster’s contemplative outreach organization). Our reader is on the Renovare mailing list as she has grave concerns about friends who are involved with contemplative spirituality, and she monitors this group. The letter reveals the tight connection that YWAM (Youth With a Mission) has with the contemplative prayer movement.

Dear __________,

I want to offer a short vignette of how the ministry of Renovaré continues to ripple around the world. For the past 20 years I have taught a class called “Foundations of Christian Spirituality” at Eastern University. Assigned readings from the class are Dallas Willard’s The Spirit of the Disciplines, Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline, Devotional Classics, edited by Richard Foster and Jim Smith, and The Life You’ve Always Wanted: Spiritual Disciplines for Ordinary People, written by John Ortberg. As you know, all these books are written by authors deeply committed to the vision and outreach of Renovaré.

“Foundations” is basically a Renovaré course on the basics of spiritual formation.  For the past ten years the class has continued to grow in attendance, growing to around 200 students. How encouraging! Students long to learn how to live ever more wisely and fully as “Christ’s apprentices,” as Dallas would put it. Even more encouraging, five years ago a generous donor had “Foundations” filmed by Gorilla Films, well-known for its films of the gorilla population of Rwanda.The class is now available on-line to people world-wide.

More recently, I was with a group of YWAM (Youth with a Ministry) leaders in Burtingny, Switzerland, gifted people who are earning an MA in Spiritual Formation from the University of the Nations. I was surprised and pleased to learn that these leaders of discipleship training ministries around the world had been watching the filmed version of “Foundations.” Not only so, but they shared with me that this course—with Renovaré at its core—was presently being viewed by “thousands” of people in China, India, Scandinavia, and Brazil.  In fact, two of these students—very courageous women—are showing clips of “Foundations” in small villages in India. Renovaré’s effect through the power of the Holy Spirit is profound and widespread.

Grace and peace,
Chris Hall
Renovaré Board Member

 LTRP NOTE: If you are not familiar with the teachings of Richard Foster or the contemplative prayer (i.e, Spiritual Formation) movement, please read some of our research material. Do not underestimate the overwhelming impact that Richard Foster and Renovare have and are having on Christians across the globe. Because of the dangerous anti-biblical roots of the contemplative prayer movement, this should cause great concern to Bible-believing Christians. And remember, if you have a loved one in a Christian college or seminary, most likely he or she is being introduced to the Spiritual Formation movement.  We estimate (after 12 years of research) that over 90% of these schools have now begun to integrate Spiritual Formation into their schools.

Contemplative Music for Children?

grunge-music-smallBy Berit Kjos

As our culture increasingly embraces the New Age and mystical practices, meditative music (much different than rock n’ roll), specifically created to provide an atmosphere for meditation is becoming more and more popular, and parents need to be on the alert. The emerging church has introduced “sensory worship” using candles, dimmed lights, and soft repetitive music. This “vintage” Christianity has been introduced into thousands of youth groups across North America. Roger Oakland, author of Faith Undone, explains:

Stimulating images that provide spiritual experiences are an essential element of the emerging church . . . many are bewildered as to why their churches are darkening their sanctuaries and setting up prayer stations with candles, incense, and icons.1

Mark Yaconelli, a leader in the contemplative prayer movement, teaches youth leaders how to bring their young protégés into the “silence.” He states in his book Contemplative Youth Ministry: Practicing the Presence of Jesus:

The environment can be a help or hindrance when leading kids in contemplative prayer. Set a mood that’s conducive to silence. Turn out the lights and light a candle. Go outside under the stars. Play some music that helps youth settle down. Make sure there’s plenty of space. Better yet, ask the youth to set up the room for contemplative prayer. I find that youth are very receptive to contemplative prayer, especially when led by adults who are experienced in prayer and can lead it with a sense of “lightness.”2

In an interview with Christianity Today, contemplative advocate John Michael Talbot compares this contemplative music to New Age music:

There is an aspect of music, of sacred music, that can speak the unspeakable . . . The only other style of music that attempts to go to the deeper place of the silence that is music is New Age music.3

John Michael Talbot says he “began practicing meditation, specifically breath prayer . . . Tai Chi and yoga.”4

While Christian contemplative music specifically for children has not become popular yet within the evangelical church, there is plenty of music designed to help children meditate in New Age, Catholic, and mainstream (Episcopal, Orthodox, etc.) circles. One CD, Children’s Yoga Songs and Meditations plays songs repeating various mantras such as “Om,” “Sa Ta Na Ma” (a form of Kirtin Kriya yoga), and other Hindu and Buddhist chants. On one Christian CD titled Open Our Hearts—Christian Meditation for Children, the description reads:

Each track on this CD is designed to lead the children through a period of meditation from beginning to end. The meditators listen to the music and scripture, join in the song and the mantra and continue repeating this sacred word silently throughout the timed silence which begins after the sounding of three chimes. Similarly, the chimes sound again to signal the end of the meditation.5

Contemplative music certainly doesn’t have the loud blasting sounds of heavy metal, but it is every bit as dangerous, if not more so. Teaching children to meditate leads them to a panentheistic, interspiritual spirituality that has no room for the Cross or the Gospel.

(Berit Kjos is author of How to Protect Your Child From the New Age & Spiritual Deception. This is an excerpt from Chapter 17, “When Popular Music Becomes Obscene & Immoral”)

Endnotes:

1. Roger Oakland, Faith Undone (Eureka, MT: Lighthouse Trails Publishing, 2007), p. 65.
2. Yaconelli, Mark (2011-03-22); Contemplative Youth Ministry: Practicing the Presence of Jesus (Youth Specialties) (Kindle Locations 2592-2596). Zondervan/Youth Specialties. Kindle Edition.
3. Douglas LaBlanc, “A Troubadour and His Guitar” (Christianity Today, October 22, 2001, http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2001/octoberweb-only/25.103.html), interviewing John Michael Talbot
4. John Michael Talbot, Come to the Quiet: The Principles of Christian Meditation (New York, NY: Tarcher/Putnam, 2002), p. 8.
5. http://www.contemplative-life.org/audio-for-teaching-children-to-meditate/open-our-hearts-christian-meditation-for-children-9-10.html.

Contemplative Spiritual Formation in Mennonite Sunday School Curriculum

By Menno-Lite Blog

The September issue of the Mennonite Brethren Herald[1] is promoting a long awaited new curriculum for children from age 3 to grade 8. Shine has been in the works for three years, and is now available and coming to Sunday School classrooms in a Mennonite church near you.

The new Sunday school curriculum Shine: Living in God’s Light for fall quarter 2014 is now available from MennoMedia and Brethren Press, the publishing houses of the Church of the Brethren, Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church USA.

New Anabaptist curriculum Shines
http://mbherald.com/new-anabaptist-curriculum-shines/

The article explains the importance of one of the aspects of this curriculum – the spiritual formation of children:

Why is spiritual formation for children important, and why do you call it that now instead of “Sunday school”?
Sunday school indicates a school model based on acquiring information. We certainly want children to become biblically literate, but we hope for something much deeper. Spiritual formation happens in vibrant communities of God’s Spirit. One of the things we try to convey is that children’s natural language of prayer is thanksgiving. They need to experience joy and hope. Children also need to know that God walks with us in difficult times. God’s love transforms our lives, so we can show God’s love and call others to follow the Prince of Peace.[2]

To find out what this spiritual formation for children looks like, a link provided to the Shine resource website[3], explains further what will be taught. Click here to continue reading.

German Government Returns Custody of Homeschooled Children to Their Parents

By Heather Clark
Christian News Network

Wunderlich wsDARMSTADT, Germany – Over a year after German police raided their home and seized their children, the parents of four homeschoolers have regained legal custody of their children, but remain concerned about the criminal ramifications surrounding the right to homeschool.

As previously reported, approximately 20 social workers, police officers and special agents swarmed the home of Dirk and Petra Wunderlich last August and forcefully removed all their children. A family court judge had signed an order that day authorizing officials to immediately seize the Wunderlich’s children for failing to cooperate “with the authorities to send the children to [public] school.”

“I looked through a window and saw many people, police, and special agents, all armed,” Dirk outlined. “They told me they wanted to come in to speak with me. I tried to ask questions, but within seconds, three police officers brought a battering ram and were about to break the door in, so I opened it.”

In September, following a court hearing about the matter, the Wunderlich children were returned to their parents after Dirk and Petra agreed to send them to a state school. However, even after the children began attending school, they were still considered to be in the custody of the government. Click here to continue reading.

Obama Attempts to Shift Birth-Control Mandate to Insurers

Provided by Christian News Network

medical-pillsThe Obama administration on Friday announced new measures meant to accommodate religious nonprofits and some private employers who don’t want to pay for birth control under ObamaCare, on the heels of Supreme Court rulings that weakened the law’s so-called contraceptive mandate.

The changes had been expected, particularly after the Supreme Court ruled in June that the government can’t force companies like Hobby Lobby Inc. to pay for birth control, as originally required under the Affordable Care Act. Days later, the high court also sided with religious nonprofits such as Wheaton College, an evangelical school, which argued that an existing accommodation required them to sign a form that violated their beliefs.

In response, the administration is making two changes. Click here to continue reading.


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