Archive for the ‘The Emerging Church’ Category
In an article titled “Christ-Followers in India Flourishing Outside the Church,” the following statement is made regarding the research of Herbert Hoefer, author of Churchless Christianity:
In striking research undertaken in the mid-eighties and published in 1991, Herbert E. Hoefer found that the people of Madras City are far closer to historic Christianity than the populace of any cities in the western Christian world could ever claim to be. Yet these are not Christians, but rather Hindus and Muslims. In their midst is a significant number of true believers in Christ who openly confess to faith in fundamental Biblical doctrines, yet remain outside the institutional church.1
The article expands this idea that one does not need to become a Christian or to change his religious practices; he just needs to add Jesus to his spiritual equation:
However, some might argue that this [the “smothering embrace of Hinduism”] is the danger with the ishta devata strategy I am proposing. It will lead not to an indigenous Christianity but to a Christianized Hinduism. Perhaps more accurately we should say a Christ-ized Hinduism. I would suggest that really both are the same, and therefore we should not worry about it. We do not want to change the culture or the religious genius of India. We simply want to bring Christ and His Gospel into the center of it. 2
Herbert Hoefer’s research is quite interesting. His idea that rather than “changing or rejecting” the Hindu and Muslim culture, missionaries should be “Christ-izing” it.3 He says there are thousands of believers in India whom he refers to as “non-baptized believers.” Reasons for the believers not becoming baptized vary, but usually it is because they will suffer financial or social loss and status. Hoefer admits that these non-baptized believers are not Christians, and usually they do not choose to call themselves that. In many of his examples, these non-baptized believers continue practicing their religious rituals so as not to draw suspicion or ridicule from family and friends. Hoefer explains one story:
[There is] a young man of lower caste who earns his livelihood by playing the drum at Hindu festivals and functions. “All this is what I must do,” he said, “but my faith is in Christ. Outside I am a Hindu, but inside I am a Christian.”4
Another family of the Nayar caste consisted of a wife, her husband and one son. Hoefer describes their situation:
[H]er husband and son have been believers in Christ for eight years. They both had studied in Christian schools and learned of Christ. The husband’s father had a vision of Christ, and one brother also is a non-baptised believer. The husband does not join his wife in coming to Church, but he occasionally joins her for the big public meetings. They do not have family devotions, but worship Jesus along with the Hindu gods in their home. Their approach to the Hindu festivals is to carry them out but to think of God, not Jesus specifically.5
I am not here to judge whether these non-baptized believers are truly born again. That is for the Lord to decide. My concern lies with the way missions is changing and how the Gospel is being presented. To say that someone does not have to leave their pagan religion behind, and in fact they don’t have to even stop calling themselves Hindu or Muslim, is not presenting the teachings of the Bible.
And the apostle Paul, who ended up dying for his faith, exhorted believers to be willing to give up all for the sake of having Christ:
I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ. (Philippians 3:8)
The implications of this new missiology are serious and, what’s more very unbiblical. Mike Oppenheimer of Let Us Reason ministries has done extensive research and analysis on the new missiology. In his article, “A ‘New Evangelism’ for the 21st Century,” Oppenheimer states:
Can a Christian now call himself a Muslim? The word Muslim is made up of two words, Islam and Mu. Muslim does not just mean submission; it means submission to the God Allah; not the Lord Jesus Christ or Yahweh. Can a Muslim be called a Christian and walk with Allah? This seems to make no doctrinal or practical sense, unless they change the names and the meaning. This only brings confusion. Why do this when you can introduce Yahweh as the true God without any baggage and shuffling around in names, nature or descriptions? The answer is that you may not see the same results. This is what this is all about isn’t it, results; pragmatism, the end justifies the means.6
In a book by Oppenheimer and Sandy Simpson titled Idolatry in Their Hearts, they show how widespread this new missiology has become. Listen to some of the comments made by a few new missiology proponents:
New Light embodiment means to be “in connection” and “information” with other faiths…. One can be a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ without denying the flickers of the sacred in followers of Yahweh, or Kali, or Krishna.”7–Leonard Sweet
I happen to know people who are followers of Christ in other religions.8–Rick Warren
I see no contradiction between Buddhism and Christianity…. I intend to become as good a Buddhist as I can.9–Thomas Merton
Allah is not another God … we worship the same God…. The same God! The very same God we worship in Christ is the God the Jews–and the Muslims–worship.10–Peter Kreeft
Oppenheimer and Simpson present page after page of documentation showing this paradigm shift in Christian missions. They ask the question, “Can one be a Hindu or a Muslim and follow Jesus?” They explain why the answer is no:
One cannot be in relationship with Jesus within the confines of a false religion. One must leave his or her religion to follow Jesus, not just add Him on….
This broadens Jesus’ statement of the road being narrow into a wide, all encompassing concept. What is concerning is that these same kinds of statements are also made by those who are New Agers that hold a universal view. Alice Bailey* said, “I would point out that when I use the phrase ‘followers of the Christ’ I refer to all those who love their fellowmen, irrespective of creed or religion.”11
With Rick Warren saying your religion should have no bearing on your spiritual life, Erwin McManus saying he would like to destroy Christianity, and missionary societies telling new converts they can have Jesus without Christianity (or baptism), the results could be devastating and will very likely undo the tireless efforts of many dedicated missionaries around the world. These Bible-believing missionaries have risked their lives and given up comforts and ease to travel around the world sharing the good news that becoming a Christian (having Jesus Christ come into your heart and life) is the way to eternal life. Now, right behind them, come emerging church missionaries who say Christianity is a terrible religion, and Christians are out to lunch–so just become a Christ-follower, and you don’t even have to tell anyone about it. In fact, you can still live like you always have.
To the many who have suffered persecution and martyrdom over the centuries for being Christians and being courageous enough to call themselves that, we now must believe they suffered and died unnecessarily–after all, they did not need to confess Jesus as the only way. And they didn’t need to renounce their pagan religions. We also find that the following words of Jesus do not fit into this emerging church paradigm:
Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 10:32-33)
There is a powerful story in the Book of Acts, in which the apostle Paul had been arrested for preaching the Gospel. He was brought before King Agrippa and given the opportunity to share his testimony of how he became a Christian. He told Agrippa that the Lord had commissioned him to preach the Gospel and:
To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me. (Acts 26:18)
Agrippa continued listening and then said to Paul, “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian (vs. 28).” Paul answered him:
I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds. (vs. 29)
If Paul had been following the emerging mentality, he would have told Agrippa, “No need to become a Christian. You can remain just as you are; keep all your rituals and practices, just say you like Jesus.” In actuality, if Paul had been practicing emerging spirituality, he wouldn’t have been arrested in the first place. He would not have stood out, would not have preached boldly and without reservation, and he would not have called himself a Christian, which eventually became a death sentence for Paul and countless others.
This article is also in booklet form: click here.
*Alice Bailey was an occultist who coined the term New Age.
1. H. L. Richard, “Christ-Followers in India Flourishing Outside the Church,” a review of Churchless Christianity by Herbert Hoefer (Mission Frontiers, March/April 1999, http://www.missionfrontiers.org/1999/0304/articles/04f.htm).
3. Herbert Hoefer, Churchless Christianity (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2001 edition), p. xii.
4. Ibid., p. 17.
5. Ibid., p. 16.
6. Mike Oppenheimer, “A ‘New Evangelism’ for the 21st Century” (Let Us Reason ministries, 2006, http://www.letusreason.org/Curren 33. htm).
7. Leonard Sweet, Quantum Spirituality, op. cit., p. 130.
8. Rick Warren, “Discussion: Religion and Leadership,” with David Gergen and Rick Warren (Aspen Ideas Festival, The Aspen Institute, July 6, 2005, http://www.aspeninstitute.org); for more information: http://www. lighthouse trailsresearch.com/newsletternovember05.htm.
9. David Steindl-Rast, “Recollection of Thomas Merton’s Last Days in the West” (Monastic Studies, 7:10, 1969).
10. Peter Kreeft, Ecumenical Jihad, op. cit., pp. 30, 160.
11. Sandy Simpson and Mike Oppenheimer, Idolatry in Their Hearts (Pearl City, HI: Apologetics Coordination Team, 2007, 1st Edition), p. 358.
In Jesus Calling, “Jesus” mentions a key New Age term: co-creation. Many people do not realize that co-creation is a New Age evolutionary concept that teaches that man as God co-creates with God because man is God also. But man is not God.
Co-creation is a New Age concept that entails the necessity of man recognizing that he is God and then acting as God to co-create a positive future. The means to accomplishing this has been laid out by the New Age “Christ” in top New Age leader Barbara Marx Hubbard’s book The Revelation—which essentially rewrites the Holy Bible’s book of Revelation. The New Age “Christ” has a plan and is promising the world that Armageddon is avoidable and that world peace is possible if everyone collaborates and co-creates with him. He and humanity together can thus save the world. Speaking through Hubbard in The Revelation, the New Age “Christ” uses the terms co-create, co-creation, co-creative, co-creator, and co-creatorship over 100 times. Co-creation is the key to his counterfeit plan of salvation for planet Earth.
Webster’s New World Dictionary’s sole definition of a collaborationist is “a person who cooperates with an enemy invader.”1 And the “Jesus” of Jesus Calling uses the terms collaborate, collaborating, or collaboration at least ten times. For example, he states:
This is a very practical way of collaborating with Me. I, the Creator of the universe, have deigned to co-create with you.2 (emphasis added)
In Jesus Calling, “Jesus” plays into this ultimate New Age collaboration when he talks of humanity collaborating and co-creating with him. Again, co-creation is the key to the spirit world’s counterfeit plan of salvation for planet Earth. Occult/New Age author Neale Donald Walsch has been taking spiritual dictation from his New Age “God” for many years now. “God”—speaking through Walsch—has proclaimed that “The era of the Single Savior” is to be replaced with “co-creation”:
Yet let me make something clear. The era of the Single Savior is over. What is needed now is joint action, combined effort, collective co-creation.3 (emphasis added)
And Hubbard’s New Age “Christ” states:
Here we are, now poised either on the brink of destruction greater than the world has ever seen—a destruction which will cripple planet Earth forever and release only the few to go on—or on the threshold of global co-creation wherein each person on Earth will be attracted to participate in his or her own evolution to godliness.4 (emphasis added)
In “Reimagining” God, Tamara Hartzell underscores the connection between co-creation, meditation, and contemplative prayer by quoting the following from Hubbard’s book The Revelation:
We too shall all be changed. . . . the next stage of evolution, the shift from creature to co-creative human. . . .
We draw from all great avatars and paths, but we know that our challenge is to be the co-creative human ourselves. There is no outside person or power that can do this for us. Each of us chooses the disciplines and practices that are most compatible with our temperament. We become faithful to those practices, whether they be meditation, yoga, prayer, contemplation—whatever inner work works, we do faithfully.5
Hartzell also points out the striking similarities of the dictated messages given to both Young and Hubbard by their Presence:
[I]n Jesus Calling, Young’s “Presence” of “Jesus” that wants to “reprogram your thinking” looks for “an awakened soul” in order “to co-create with you.” Young’s “Presence” that also says, “I am all around you, like a cocoon of Light,” wants you to “[l]earn to tune in to My living Presence by seeking Me in silence,” “[a]ttune yourself to My voice,” and “do not relinquish your attentiveness to Me.” Likewise, in The Revelation, Hubbard’s “Christ presence” that refers to “humanity awakening” as “co-creators with Christ” wants you to: “Create the cocoon of light. Materialize my body of light in your mind’s eye.” And also: “Keep your attention on me at all times. Practice continually tuning in.”6
Speaking through Hubbard in The Revelation, the New Age “Christ” states:
At the moment of cosmic contact, I will appear to you both through inner experience and through external communication in your mass media—the nervous system of the world.
You will all feel, hear, and see my presence at one instant in time, each in your own way.7 (emphasis added)
This New Age “Christ” further elaborates on this co-creative process by describing the moment of experiencing his presence as the Quantum Instant. He also describes the judgment that will come with it, which will be based on people’s willingness to co-create the future with him. He states:
At the time of the Quantum Instant there will be a judgment of the quick and the dead. That is, there will be an evolutionary selection process based on your qualifications for co-creative power.8 (emphasis added)
Those of you who happen to be alive at the time of the actual Quantum Instant, will be changed while still alive. . . .
Your co-creative system will turn on. It is being prepared now.9 (emphasis added)
There is a definite overlap of terms as the “Jesus” of Jesus Calling uses this same co-creative term to describe how he will transform people’s lives. And Hartzell explains why both Sarah Young’s “Christ” and Barbara Marx Hubbard’s “Christ” contradict Scripture when they talk of man co-creating with God:
It is Jesus Christ of Nazareth—and He alone is Christ—that is one with God. Jesus said, “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30). And it is Jesus Christ of Nazareth, Who alone is Christ, that is the Father’s (“co-”) Creator. God’s Word also tells us: “God, who created all things by Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 3:9). Man is neither one with God nor God’s “co-creator.” Man never has been and never will be a “natural Christ.”10
This is an excerpt from Warren B. Smith’s book, “Another Jesus” Calling.
1. Victoria Neufeldt, Editor in Chief, Webster’s New World Dictionary (New York, NY: Simon & Schuster., Inc 1988, Third College Ed.), p. 273.
2. Sarah Young, Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2004), p. 362.
3. Neale Donald Walsch, The New Revelations: A Conversation with God (New York, NY: Atria Books, 2002), p. 157.
4.arbara Marx Hubbard, The Revelation: A Message of Hope for the New Millennium (Novato, CA: Nataraj Publishing, 1995), p. 174.
5. Ibid., pp. 312-313.
6. Tamara Hartzell, “Reimagining” God: Turning the Light off to Look for “Truth” in the Corner of a Dark Round Room, Volume 2, (North Charleston, SC: CreateSpace, an Amazon company, 2013), pp. 408-409.
7. Barbara Marx Hubbard, The Revelation, op. cit., p. 245.
8. Ibid., p. 111.
9. Ibid., p. 197.
10. Tamara Hartzell, “Reimagining” God, op. cit., p. 406.
LTRP Note: We post this because it is important for people to understand what the deception looks like that young Christians are being saturated with through individuals such as Rob Bell. Bell’s tour, Everything is Spiritual, is panentheistic in nature but disguised in some Christian vernacular.
Bear in mind, Rob Bell isn’t the only one who is bringing this “new” progressive spirituality to young people today. There is a deluge of “hip” “relevant” leaders out there who are changing the way young Christians think, moving them away from biblical Christianity. It’s happening in our churches, in our colleges and seminaries, on the radio, and in para-church organizations.
By L. Sharp
On Aug.10, 2015, Rob Bell made his final stop on his whirlwind 31-city “Everything is Spiritual Tour,” which began in Los Angeles (6/24) and ended in San Francisco (8/10). In 2006, he had done the same tour, but nine years later, his 2015 talk brought people more clearly into the “cosmic One-ness,” that “One Community Personality/Personhood” that Bell claims the universe has been moving forward towards for the past 13 billion years. The main thrust of the 2-hour monologue was not exactly what Bell had advertised on his website: “On the Everything is Spiritual Tour . . . Bell make(s) surprising connections between the universe you’re living in and the life you’re living, showing how science and spirituality are long lost dance partners . . . ”
2-Hour Monologue with Whiteboard
The 2,500-capacity theater was nearly full. Prior to the 8:30 pm start time of Bell’s 2-hour monologue, there were alcoholic drinks served in the rear, and about 30% of the 2,500 were millennials (under 30), but a majority were in their mid-30s to mid-40s. Bell hopped on stage with his usual dramatics and pulled out his black marker (with ensuing oohs and aahs from the audience). It seemed most of the crowd had either seen Bell’s 2007 DVD “Everything is Spiritual” or had been aware of his previous 2006 tour, where his marked-up whiteboard became its own sensation amongst Bell followers.
Bell began by affirming the crowd by telling them: “I’m so glad you came . . . you probably were told you were a heretic because you came, but I’m glad you are here!” He then pulled out his infamous black marker and progressively moved on the whiteboard from left to right: starting from one black point (which he claimed was the “Big Bang” that created the universe 13 billion years ago) to particles, to atoms, to molecules, to cells, to human beings, where he, at the end of the talk and at the far right of the whiteboard, drew a CIRCLE WITH PEOPLE IN IT (Author’s note: this is the “cosmic One-ness”).
Bell then defined his terms. He said:
Atoms are a relationship of energy. You are a relationship of energy interacting with another person who is another complex relationship of energy. We all exchange more than words with each other . . . We are made of the same substance as rocks and stars . . . We are an exotic cocktail living on this planet . . . We live in this universe which is a self-transcending reality . . . For 13 billion years, this universe has been:
1) Increasing in complexity
2) Increasing in depth (layers of community)
3) Increasing in unity
An example of increasing depth (layers of community) is when birds share a “community brain,” that only emerges when birds fly together as flocks. It is called “epi-phenomenon.” Humans are “epi-phenomenon.”
Since the universe has been increasing in unity over billions of years [evolution], this is why we all know deep down that loneliness is not the direction the universe is headed. Racism is the failure to bond with others of the same or like essence. It is not the direction the universe has been going for 13 billion years [Loud applause and cheers ensued after this comment].
The universe has been moving forward for billions of years . . . Jesuit scientist and priest Pierre Teihard De Chardin said: “Progress is the soul of the universe.”
Why has the universe been moving forward? What is at work bringing the whole universe forward? LOVE.
Love is the force, the spirit driving everything. Love is to orient yourself towards another in a way that is self-transcendent . . . it helps you see the world more complexly, more completely . . . new things emerge between you and the one you love, that transcends the two of you . . .
one plus one equals infinity
God is love . . . Jesus didn’t just talk about his death and the cross, etc. When Jesus talked about the Kingdom of God expanding, around you, within you . . . was Jesus talking about the universe moving forward, moved by LOVE?
Is the universe done after 13 billion years, or is the whole thing still moving forward and are there new realities or layers that are yet to unfold? What would that be? The next new layer would emerge if people bonded with other people of like/same substance. Is there something that WE, when we bond properly, causes EMERGENCE, an unfolding of a new layer (of community)? New layers always contain properties of the previous layer . . . So, this new layer will have a personality and a personhood . . .
ARE WE FORMING SOMETHING TOGETHER, WITH A SINGULAR PERSONALITY AND PERSONHOOD?
The first Christians kept talking of Christ as an animating energy, an energy universal, as a personal, cosmic Christ . . . a universal human body . . . Were they talking of us forming a NEW SINGULAR BODY? A NEW HUMANITY?
LOVE is the force that drives everything . . . Love is lining yourself up to the universe’s expansion, openness . . . Become more aware of the moments where you can stay in the groove of LOVE . . . Don’t stay in the constant fear of the EGO . . . If you are afraid people are going to call you a heretic, you will not LOVE . . . You will become dangerous when you don’t let the fact they call you a heretic close you up to LOVE . . .
What is present in you, in embryo, genetic form, that is yet to EMERGE? When you become your true best self, others can then become their true best selves . . . .
Bell’s main point was that “LOVE” (which he defines in New Age terms as: transcending the ego or self, to bond with others of like/same substance (or energy)), has been driving, and is driving the universe’s and humanity’s forward progress. In other words, man has been spiritually evolving, and progressing, and we have to all connect our unique energies (since Bell claims we are all basically atoms of energy put together in a human form), to cause this new “cosmic One-ness” to emerge.
According to Bell, the emergence of this “cosmic One-ness” has yet to be seen, since we haven’t evolved or progressed far enough yet . . . Bell makes this future “cosmic One-ness” sound so noble. Bell said earlier in describing LOVE between two people: One plus one equals infinity . . . When we are alone, we have two eyes. In relationship with one person, we have four eyes . . . We then can see more complexly, more completely, what we couldn’t see alone . . .
Bell’s main point is that humanity must be interconnected . . . Loneliness is not the will of the universe . . . the universe cannot move forward if there are solitary people who do not jump on the bandwagon of this “cosmic One-ness.”
What are the implications for biblical believers who are not convinced of Bell’s “cosmic One-ness”? Clearly, as Bell said, these types of people will hinder the entire universe from moving forward, from progressing. According to Bell, solitary biblical believers, need to let go of their self or ego and become of the same like/same substance or energy of others who are part of this “cosmic One-Ness” that is emerging. The universe is moving in this direction. We cannot be alone . . . we must become part of this “cosmic One-ness.” If we do not “wake up” to our true destiny as part of this emerging new “cosmic One-ness,” then we are hindering the progress of the entire universe. And, we are also hindering others from becoming who they were meant to be, as the universe or “god” intended.
As bible-believing Christians, we must continue to stand on the truth of the Bible that shows us that there is no “cosmic One-ness,” but rather a last-days one-world religion is on the forefront that will be ruled by the Antichrist. We must warn others to not join with this last-days delusion, despite feeling more and more marginalized.
We can stand firmly on the Bible’s truth as our foundation, amidst this pressure to move towards this “Cosmic One-ness.” Rob Bell is just one of the heretical proponents that the Enemy has used to infiltrate, to snare, and to deceive God’s people (especially young people) in these last days of apostasy we are in. We are not alone. God is with us. And God has preserved a remnant in these days that is still standing on God’s Word, committed to His truth.
Rob Bell’s 2015 Everything is Spiritual Presentation:
In case you still aren’t sure about William Paul Young and his book The Shack—in case you still have some doubts as to whether Young is really of a New Age/New Spirituality persuasion—in case after reading articles at Lighthouse Trails revealing Young’s anti-biblical views on atonement and the Cross—and in case after reading Warren B. Smith’s booklet The Shack and Its New Age Leaven that documents Young’s affinity with New Age thinking, then perhaps his recently posted “Twenty Books Everyone Should Read” list on Young’s blog will convince you that The Shack or any of Young’s writings should not be sitting on the shelves of Christian bookstores and North American pastors’ offices and should never have become a New York Times best-seller having found itself there through primarily Christian readers (not to mention the big plug it received from endorsements by Eugene Peterson [The Message] and Calvary Chapel speaker Gayle Erwin. You can see the entire list of Young’s recommended books by clicking here. Below we are giving you a partial list of the authors whom William P. Young recommends. After looking at this list, you decide for yourself.
1. Andrew Marin’s book Love is an Orientation (foreword by atonement denier Brian McLaren): A treatise on how to fully integrate the practicing homosexual “community” into the Christian church.
2. The Shack Revisited by C Baxter Kruger, a book advertising the “virtues” of The Shack with a Suggestions for Further Study at the back that is a who’s who of emerging authors.
3. Mystic Frederick Buechner’s book The Yellow Leaves
4. Brian D. McLaren’s, Why did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road?: McLaren is one the foremost prolific leaders of the panentheistic, interspiritual emerging church, which is still very much active today, influencing vast numbers of young evangelicals.
5. Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church by emerging church hero N.T. Wright
6. Her Gates will Never be Shut: Hope, Hell, and the New Jerusalem by contemplative proponent Brad Jersak (author of Can You Hear Me?)
7. Jean Vanier’s book Drawn into the Mystery of Jesus through the Gospel of John: Roger Oakland wrote about Jean Vanier in his article “Rick Warren, Jean Vanier, And The New Evangelization.” Oakland’s article states:
Vanier is a contemplative mystic who promotes interspiritual and interfaith beliefs, calling the Hindu Mahatma Gandhi “one of the greatest prophets of our times” and “a man sent by God.” In the book Essential Writings, Vanier talks about “opening doors to other religions” and helping people develop their own faiths be it Hinduism, Christianity, or Islam. The book also describes how Vanier read Thomas Merton and practiced and was influenced by the spiritual exercises of the Jesuit founder and mystic St. Ignatius.
8. Henri Nouwen’s book The Wounded Healer: As we have documented for over 13 years, Henri Nouwen was a Catholic contemplative mystic and interspiritualist.
9. William P. Young recommends reading material by the following three Catholic mystics and panentheists: Thomas Merton, Brennan Manning, and Richard Rohr.
One of the things that most of these authors have in common is their contemplative and interspiritual propensities. Given the fact that William P. Young, in the past, denied the substitutionary atonement, we can see why he is drawn to these authors. But what we can’t understand is how so many professing Christians are drawn to him and The Shack and it’s New Age spirituality.
By Ray Yungen
Two authors from Great Britain portray a stunningly clear picture of New Age spirituality. They explain:
[T]he keynote of it appears to be a movement for synthesis derived from an understanding of the underlying unity behind all things and the sense of oneness that this brings.
This oneness of all life is the crux of the New Age movement.17
Catholic monk M. Basil Pennington defined the contemplative spiritual worldview in his book Thomas Merton My Brother. He related:
The Spirit enlightened him [Merton] in the true synthesis [unity] of all and in the harmony of that huge chorus of living beings. In the midst of it he lived out a vision of a new world, where all divisions have fallen away and the divine goodness is perceived and enjoyed as present in all and through all.18
The first viewpoint describes God as the oneness of all existence. In Merton’s new world, God is perceived as being present “in all and through all.” It certainly appears that the same spirit enlightened both parties. The only difference was Merton’s revelation worked in a Christian context just as occultist Alice Bailey predicted. Unfortunately, this context is now commonplace in Catholic circles, becoming so in mainline Protestant churches, and being eagerly explored and embraced by an ever-increasing number of evangelical Christians.
Evangelical leaders now debate whether such spiritual truths as resting in God are the same as contemplative silence. Based on these presented documentations, I believe contemplative prayer has no place in true Christianity. Scripture clearly teaches that with salvation comes an automatic guidance system—the Holy Spirit. Lewis Sperry Chafer, in his outstanding book Grace: The Glorious Theme, spells out this truth with crystal-clear clarity:
It is stated in Romans 5:5 that “the Spirit is given to us.” This is true of every person who is saved. The Spirit is the birth-right in the new life. By Him alone can the character and service that belongs to the normal daily life of the Christian be realized. The Spirit is the “All-Sufficient One.” Every victory in the new life is gained by His strength, and every reward in glory will be won only as a result of His enabling power.19
Show me a Scripture in the Bible in which the Holy Spirit is activated or accessed by contemplative prayer. If such a verse exists, wouldn’t it be the keynote verse in defense of contemplative prayer?
I want to emphasize what I believe cuts through all the emotional appeal that has attracted so many to teachers like Richard Foster and Brennan Manning and really boils the issue down to its clearest state.
In his book Streams of Living Water, Richard Foster emanates his hoped-for vision of an “all inclusive community” that he feels God is forming today. He sees this as “a great, new gathering of the people of God.”20
On the surface, this might sound noble and sanctifying, but a deeper examination will expose elements that line up more with Alice Bailey’s vision than with Jesus Christ’s. Foster prophesies:
I see a Catholic monk from the hills of Kentucky standing alongside a Baptist evangelist from the streets of Los Angeles and together offering up a sacrifice of praise. I see a people.21
The only place in “the hills of Kentucky” where Catholic monks live is the Gethsemane Abbey, a Trappist monastery. This also, coincidentally, was the home base of Thomas Merton.
Let me explain this significant connection. In the summer of 1996, Buddhist and Catholic monks met together to dialogue in what was billed the “Gethsemane Encounter.”22 David Steindl-Rast, a Zen-Buddhist trained monk and close friend of Thomas Merton, facilitated this event.
During the encounter, presentations on Zen meditation and practice from the Theravedan Buddhist tradition were offered.23 One of the speakers discussed the “correlation of the Christian contemplative life with the lives of our Buddhist sisters and brothers.”24
For these monks and the Baptist evangelist to be “a people,” as Richard Foster says, someone has to change. Either the monks have to abandon their Buddhist convictions and align with the Baptists, or the Baptists have to become contemplative style Baptists and embrace the monks’ beliefs. That is the dilemma in Foster’s “great gathering of God.”
Mystic David Steidl-Rast once asked Thomas Merton what role Buddhism played in his going deeper into the spiritual life. Merton replied quite frankly: “I think I couldn’t understand Christian teaching the way I do if it were not in the light of Buddhism.”25
Did Merton mean that in order to understand what Christianity really is, you have to change your consciousness? I believe that is exactly what he meant. Once he personally did that through contemplative prayer, Buddhism provided him with the explanation of what he experienced. But again the catalyst was changing his consciousness. This is what I am warning Christians about. Contemplative prayer is presenting a way to God identical with all the world’s mystical traditions. Christians are haplessly lulled into it by the emphasis on seeking the Kingdom of God and greater piety, yet the apostle Paul described the church’s end-times apostasy in the context of a mystical seduction. If this practice doesn’t fit that description, I don’t know what does.
You don’t have to change your consciousness to grab “aholt” of God (as Brennan Manning insists). All you need is to be born-again. What Steidl-Rast and the other Gethsemane monks should have been telling Buddhists is, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
In his book, Ruthless Trust, Brennan Manning mentions that once Baptist Sunday school teacher, now New Ager, Sue Monk Kidd eventually came under the mentorship of Dr. Beatrice Bruteau who authored the book What We Can Learn From the East. Since that title is self-explanatory, it’s easy to understand why Dr. Bruteau would write the preface to a book like The Mystic Heart by mystic Wayne Teasdale. In the preface, she touts that a universal spirituality based on mysticism is going to save the world.
It seems that all these people want a better world. They do not seem like sinister conspirators like those out of a James Bond film. Yet, it is their niceness that rejects the reality of the fundamental separation between Man and God. It is their sense of compassion that feeds their universalism. It is idealism that makes Manning so attractive and causes him to say that Dr. Bruteau is a “trustworthy guide to contemplative consciousness.”26
The irony of this is that Manning is completely correct in his statement—Dr. Bruteau is a reliable guide to contemplative awareness. She has founded two organizations, the Schola Contemplationis (school for contemplation) and the very Christian-sounding Fellowship of the Holy Trinity. With the latter, she is promoted as “a well-known author and lecturer on contemplative life and prayer.”27 Both of these organizations incorporate Hindu and Buddhist approaches to spirituality. This should come as no surprise because Bruteau also has studied with the Ramakrishna order, which is named after the famous Hindu swami Sri Ramakrishna.
The Ramakrishna order is dedicated to promoting the vision of Sri Ramakrishna. He was known for his view that all the world’s religions were valid revelations from God if you understood them on the mystical level. He was an early proponent of interspirituality. According to the book, Wounded Prophet, Henri Nouwen even viewed him in a favorable light and esteemed him as an important spiritual figure.
Sue Monk Kidd became enamored with contemplative spirituality while attending a Southern Baptist church. We could possibly dismiss that and say she was just an untaught member of the laity who was spiritually lacking in discernment. Maybe her spiritual dryness was a result of her not being grounded firmly enough in the faith. But what about the leaders and pastors whom so many look up to and who are considered trusted individuals in the church? Surely they are able to discern what is spiritually unsound. It seems safe to make this assumption. Right? Unfortunately, this is no longer the case.
Dear Lighthouse Trails:
I was wondering if you have any info on Bethke’s latest book, Jesus > Religion, or know of anyone who has done a review on it? All I need to know is that Mark Driscoll endorsed it but I have a friend who will want more info… J.C.
Our Comment: The book has been out for a while, and yes, we do have a book review on it. This is one book that sure does have an agenda! Here is the book review we wrote in 2013 on Jesus > Religion.
“Anti-Religion Jeff Bethke Hits the News Again – New Book, Same Message: “Imagine No Religion” (From 2013 by LT Editors)
Not only are there political quests being achieved through the indoctrination of these young people, but these young followers are becoming convinced that a socialistic religion-killing society is the only solution for man.
Jeff Bethke, the 24-year-old man who did the anti-religion YouTube video in 2012, is back in the news again. This time, he has a book about his subject matter. His video, Why I Hate Religion, went viral and to date over 26 million people have viewed it. That video is partially responsible for our writing the Booklet Tract They Hate Christianity But Love (Another) Jesus – How Conservative Christians Are Being Manipulated and Ridiculed, Especially During Election Years (yes, Bethke’s video came out not too long before the nation voted for Obama). You can read our full booklet tract by clicking here, and we hope you do. It may give you a different perspective than what seems to meet the eye. Kind of like when George Barna and Frank Viola came out with their book Pagan Christianity, and untold numbers thought their book was fantastic, when in reality, it was more of a smoke screen to what was REALLY happening in Christianity today (see our article, “Pagan Christianity by Viola and Barna – A Perfect Example of ‘Missing the Point.’” They said a big pagan problem with Christians was that they sat in pews, went to Sunday School, and listened to sermons. But sadly, no mention of the REAL problems happening in the church today (contemplative spirituality, for example).
Here is a portion of our They Hate Christianity But Love (Another) Jesus that gives some background information on Jeff Bethke:
In January of 2012, another election year, a young man, Jefferson (Jeff) Bethke, who attends contemplative advocate Mark Driscoll’s church, Mars Hill in Washington state, posted a video on YouTube called “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus.” Within hours, the video had over 100,000 hits. Soon it reached over 14 million hits, according to the Washington Post, one of the major media that has spotlighted the Bethke video (hits as of May 2013 are over 25 million).
The Bethke video is a poem Bethke wrote and recites in a rap-like fashion his thoughts and beliefs about the pitfalls of what he calls “religion” but what is indicated to be Christianity. While we are not saying at this time that Bethke is an emerging figure, and while some of the lyrics in his poem are true statements, it is interesting that emerging spirituality figures seem to be resonating with Bethke’s message. They are looking for anything that will give them ammunition against traditional biblical Christianity. They have found some in Bethke’s poem. Like so many in the emerging camp say, Bethke’s poem suggests that Christians don’t take care of the poor and needy. While believers in Christ have been caring for the needy for centuries, emerging figures use this ploy to win conservative Christians (through guilt) over to a liberal social justice “gospel.” Emerging church journalist Jim Wallis (founder of Sojourners) is one who picked up on Bethke’s video. In an article on Wallis’ blog, it states:
“Bethke’s work challenges his listeners to second guess their preconceived notions about what it means to be a Christian. He challenges us to turn away from the superficial trappings of “religion,” and instead lead a missional life in Christ.”
Back when we wrote that article, we went pretty easy on Bethke, almost giving him the benefit of the doubt. But Bethke’s new book, Jesus > Religion: Why He Is So Much Better Than Trying Harder, Doing More, and Being Good Enough (Thomas Nelson, 2013) presents Bethke’s views more clearly. For one, he has a recommended reading list at the back of the book that contains a number of contemplative and emerging advocates such as Mark Driscoll, Brennan Manning, John Piper, Timothy Keller, Brother Lawrence, and John Ortberg. Also on the list are emerging “progressives” like Andy Stanley and N.T. Wright (a figure touted by the emerging church extensively). On a website, Bethke is quoted as saying that Wright is one of his “heroes.”
Interestingly, one of the books Bethke recommends is Beth Moore’s When Godly People Do Ungodly Things. That book is Moore’s declarative statement promoting Brennan Manning, saying that his contribution to “our generation of believers may be a gift without parallel” (p. 72) and that his book Ragamuffin Gospel is “one of the most remarkable books” (p. 290) she has ever read (Bethke obviously thinks so too – Ragamuffin Gospel is one of his recommended books too). But in the back of Ragamuffin Gospel, Manning makes reference to panentheist mystic Basil Pennington saying that Pennington’s methods will provide us with “a way of praying that leads to a deep living relationship with God.” However, Pennington’s methods of prayer draw from Eastern religions as you can see by this statement by Pennington:
We should not hesitate to take the fruit of the age-old wisdom of the East and “capture” it for Christ. Indeed, those of us who are in ministry should make the necessary effort to acquaint ourselves with as many of these Eastern techniques as possible. Many Christians who take their prayer life seriously have been greatly helped by Yoga, Zen, TM and similar practices. (from A Time of Departing, 2nd ed., p.64)
Manning also cites Carl Jung in Ragamuffin Gospel as well as interspiritualists and contemplatives, Anthony De Mello, Marcus Borg (who denies the virgin birth and deity of Christ), Morton Kelsey, Gerald May, Henri Nouwen, Alan Jones (who calls the atonement vile), Eugene Peterson, and Sue Monk Kidd (who says God is in everything, even human waste and believes in the goddess who offers us the “holiness of everything”). All of these names in Ragamuffin Gospel. It is more than safe to assume that both Moore and Bethke have read (and resonate with) Ragamuffin Gospel. And we know from years of research that Manning was trying to set up the church to become what Karl Rahner “prophesied”: “The Christian of the future will be a mystic or he or she will not exist at all.”
We were surprised to see the name Bede Griffith in Bethke’s new book in the endnote section (p. 208). He didn’t necessarily reference him favorably (or unfavorably, for that matter) but the fact that someone like Griffith would be benignly mentioned in a “Jesus” loving book is hard to ignore. The Catholic monk and mystic Bede Griffith, like Thomas Merton, “explored ways in which Eastern religions could deepen his prayer.” (Credence Cassettes, Winter/Lent 1985 Catalog, p. 14, cited in ATOD) Griffith also saw the “growing importance of Eastern religions . . . bringing the church to a new vitality.”(Ibid.) Griffith’s autobiography, The Golden String, expresses his belief that God (the golden string) flows through all things (panentheism).
In reading Bethke’s book, one can see that Mark Driscoll may have rubbed off on him. And one of Bethke’s recommended books is Driscoll’s Vintage Jesus. We wrote a little about that book a number of years ago; we even contacted the late Chuck Smith (founder of Calvary Chapel) and warned him about Driscoll’s book because some Calvary Chapel pastors were trying to bring it in to CC; in Vintage Jesus, Driscoll calls homeschooling “dumb,” mocks the rapture and Armageddon, and says Christians are “little Christs.” Bethke echoes Driscoll’s distain, like in his chapter titled “Religion Points to a Dim Future/Jesus Points to a Bright Future.” He puts down the kind of believers who see a dismal future for earth (according to Scripture) and says things like:
“God actually cares about the earth, but we seem to think it’s going to burn. God actually cares about creating good art, but we seem to think it’s reserved for salvation messages.” (Kindle Locations 2107-2109, Thomas Nelson).
And just to prove that when Bethke says “religion,” he means biblical Christianity, what other religion is there that “points to a dim future” for planet earth and its inhabitants? Biblical Christianity is the only one that says that the world is heading for judgement because of man’s rebellion against God and because of God’s plan to destroy the devil and his minions. Jesus does point to a “bright future,” but the Bible is very clear that this will not come before He returns; rather He promises a blessed eternal life to “whosoever” believeth on Him. The Jesus Christ of the Bible did not promise a bright future for those who reject Him (and even says that the road to destruction is broad – Matthew 7:13); in fact, Scripture says Jesus Himself was a man of sorrows rejected and despised (Isaiah 53:3). He knew what awaited Him, and He knew what was in the heart of man. But across the board, emergents reject such a message of doom and teach that the kingdom of God will be established as humanity realizes its oneness and its divinity. And they will accomplish this through meditation. In Brennan Manning’s book The Signature of Jesus, he said that “the first step in faith is to stop thinking about God at the time of prayer” (p. 212). Then the next step, he says, is to choose a sacred word and “repeat the sacred word [or phrase] inwardly, slowly, and often” (p. 218).
Bethke’s book goes after the usual suspects. For instance, he belittles street preachers sharing the Gospel in his chapter called “Fundies, Fakes, and Other So-Called Christians.” He says:
Whenever I walk by the street preachers, I laugh under my breath, picturing just how uncomfortable they are going to be in heaven when everyone else is partying it up. (p. 43)
Many of those street preachers are the ones responsible for untold numbers ending up in heaven and “partying it up.” It is faithful preachers and evangelists of the Gospel who have tirelessly cried out repent and be saved that will be the reason why some make it to heaven. But it is very typical for emergents to mock and condemn such evangelistic efforts. And if they are reading Ragamuffin Gospel, it’s no wonder they have a strong aversion to evangelism and a call to repentance. For example, in Ragamuffin Gospel, Manning says that God understands a woman having to become a prostitute in order to support her two- year old son, and He will not condemn her. So, in other words, it really doesn’t matter what we do, as long as we have a good reason for doing it. A relaxed view of sin and a harsh view of evangelism go hand in hand in the emerging church.
And like just about every other emergent-type book, Bethke’s gives a good scolding to Christians who reject our present society’s embracing of homosexuality. He says he believes homosexuality is not God’s perfect plan for man, but can’t we all just have meaningful conversations and get along with each other and stop talking about homosexuality? (pp. 63-69) He actually compares the apostle Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” to being “gay” (p. 69)!
Bethke’s book reminds us somewhat of Mike Erre’s book Death by Church or Dan Kimball’s book, They Like Jesus But Not the Church in the scorning way it portrays conservative Bible-believing Christians and in the way it twists and manipulates Scriptures and biblical ideas, equating them with sinister and evil actions. Like this quote from Bethke:
When people come to us in the midst of their pain, how dare we flippantly quote some Bible verses as if that alone would help? How dare we think we can just send them some balloons? How dare we overspiritualize or be like the mom who told her daughter the rape was her fault? (p. 125)
What he just did there was equate sharing Bible verses with a hurting person to a mom telling her daughter it was her fault she got raped. This constant barrage of attack against biblical Christianity never seems to relent. Remember when Brennan Manning and J.P. Moreland1 used the term “bibliolatry” to say that Christians who put too much focus on the Bible are committing idolatry. And remember when Rick Warren twisted Scripture to tell his readers (in The Purpose Driven Life) that those who think too much about Bible prophecy and the Lord’s return were “not fit for the kingdom of God.”2 We could give example after example of this attack on believers in Christian faith by those who profess to be Christian from one side of their mouth but seek to destroy it from the other side. Erwin McManus is another example: He said that it was his “goal to destroy Christianity”:
My goal is to destroy Christianity as a world religion and be a recatalyst for the movement of Jesus Christ. . . . Some people are upset with me because it sounds like I’m anti-Christian. I think they might be right.3
And on and on it goes. Christians who adhere to biblical beliefs are being beat down and made to look like there is something really wrong with them and they better get with the program.
It’s interesting that in Bethke’s new book, he quotes Rob Bell talking about “the cross” (p. 125). Interesting because Rob Bell doesn’t believe in the biblical atonement through the Cross. He believes that everyone is going to be saved regardless of their acceptance or rejection of the Cross. So it seems like a strange choice from Bethke; his book just came out this year – surely he has heard of Rob Bell’s beliefs on hell and salvation.
The “new” Christianity that is being propagated by Bethke, Bell, and countless other voices is not going away. Rather, it is helping to bring about strong delusion and a great falling away. Millions of young people, both Christian and non-Christian, are listening to these voices and following the beat of this drum. They are throwing out the faith of their youth and exchanging it for a “new” spirituality that will produce within them a mindset that rejects the message of the Cross. Not only are there political quests being achieved through the indoctrination of these young people, but these young followers are becoming convinced that a socialistic religion-killing society is the only solution for man. (Remember, Karl Marx said, “religion is the opiate of the masses” and John Lennon of The Beatles said, imagine no religion). And, tragically, the masses will continue to race down a broad road to deception through the multitude of false teachers.
Let us remember that before Jesus departed to heaven He commissioned His followers to proclaim the Gospel. The proclamation of the Cross is God’s hope for mankind.The Word of God has been likened to a blacksmith’s anvil; though many a hammer may be broken over the years pounding on that anvil, the anvil will hold its strength and integrity. It is ironic that emergents find comfort in attacking the Gospel and Bible-believing Christians. They say they love Jesus instead. What makes this so very ironic is that the apostle John is referred to in Scripture as “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 21:20). Perhaps it would do emergents good to listen to some of the things John had to say – as it seems like his first epistle was written especially for them. Addressing the idea of loving Jesus (or God) but hating Christianity, John had this to say:
If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also. (1 John 4: 20-21)
Now, if we look at the context of the chapter from which these verses were taken, it becomes evident that John is writing about solid doctrinal Christianity. And he is saying that when we hate and reject these things, and the people who adhere to them, we are hating and rejecting God. When they say they love Jesus but hate the church (i.e., Christianity), they aren’t talking about hating buildings; they are talking about hating people. As for the teaching of the Cross, John makes it exceptionally clear in this epistle that “he is the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 2:2):
In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:9-10)
When we talk about love, we should really be talking about the Cross as this was and is God’s ultimate expression of His love toward us that makes it possible to spend eternity with Him when we receive this gift of love, by faith.
As we look into John’s life more carefully, it becomes apparent that he was not like an emergent at all. While the emergent figures of today seek to be hip and popular and mimic what each other has to say, John stood for the truth regardless of what the masses were saying or wanted to hear. Foxe’s Book of Martyrs records that even though he was the only apostle to escape a violent death, he was cast into a cauldron of boiling oil. And though he escaped miraculously, he was afterward banished to the Isle of Patmos (p. 27, LT edition).
If you are a young person reading this, remember that popularity in the world’s eyes is not a sign of being in God’s favor but is rather an indicator that something may be wrong (see 1 John 4: 5-6). Nor does partying with friends, even if they call themselves lovers of Jesus, offer assurance of eternal life. No, it is through the Cross alone that the offer of eternal life has been extended. And that is the truth!
YouTube has removed a trailer for an upcoming movie, and the filmmaker is charging it’s “because of our religion.”
The trailer promotes Christian apologist Ray Comfort’s film “Audacity,” which challenges the belief that homosexuality is unchangeable.
According to Comfort’s Facebook page, YouTube explained in a message: “This video has been removed as a violation of YouTube’s policy against spam, scams, and commercially deceptive content.”
Comfort has invited the public to view the trailer on the movie’s website and “see if it’s spam, a scam or has commercially deceptive content.”
The trailer is also available here:
The trailer already had collected more than 130,000 views in less than three weeks. Click here to continue.