Archive for the ‘The Emerging Church’ Category
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.
By Roger Oakland Understand the Times International The seeker-friendly model was the brainchild of Peter Drucker. The concept of finding out what a consumer would like in a church has been a very successful way to get people to come to a church. At least for a while! This consumer-friendly model worked as long as sinners were not faced with the message of the cross, hell, and other convicting things the Bible teaches.
However, as everyone knows, trends come and go like waves on the ocean. The seeker-friendly wave will not last forever. This, of course, is predictable. Fallen man has had a spiritual void since the fall of man. Satan is more than happy to fill that void and has always had a deceptive plan to do so. This is why I was not surprised when Pastor Bill Hybels, founder of the Willow Creek church-growth model, announced that their church had repented from their seeker-friendly ways and was now moving towards a method that would transform Christianity by introducing spirituality. Here’s how one Christian reporter explained the transition:
Willow Creek has released the results of a multi-year study on the effectiveness of their programs and philosophy of ministry. The study’s findings are in a new book titled Reveal: Where Are You? co-authored by Cally Parkinson and Greg Hawkins, executive pastor of Willow Creek Community Church. Hybels himself called the findings “earth shaking,” “ground breaking,” and “mind blowing.” And no wonder: it seems that the “experts” were wrong.  Click here to continue reading.
By Jim Fletcher
In the past few years, Lynne Hybels has become an activist for all sorts of causes, including the crisis in Congo, Christian persecution in the Middle East, and the Arab-Israeli conflict. . . .
Since the ‘70s, Lynne Hybels and her husband have been mentored by people sympathetic to the Palestinian Narrative, including Dr. Gilbert Bilezikian. In October 2008 she attended a conference in Amman, Jordan, led by Arab Christians from “Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq and the West Bank.”
Since that time, Lynne Hybels has been very active in promoting the so-called “Palestinian Narrative,” which points to Israel as an occupier of Arabs. The narrative is classic PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) propaganda, but Hybels’ networks allow her the luxury of promoting this worldview—couched in the language of “non-violent resistance”—which is also shared by Millennial influencers such as Donald Miller and Cameron Strang.
(Both Miller and Strang have accused Israel, in print, of virtual war-crimes, including the harvesting of organs from Palestinians, and outright murder of Palestinian women and children by the IDF. To date, Miller in particular offers no documentation for his allegations.) Click here to continue reading.
Be Still and Know That You are Not God!—God is Not “in” Everyone and Everything by Warren B. Smith is our newest Lighthouse Trails Booklet Tract. The Booklet Tract is 16 pages long and sells for $1.95 for single copies. Quantity discounts are as much as 50% off retail. Our Booklet Tracts are designed to give away to others or for your own personal use. Below is the content of the booklet. To order copies of Be Still and Know That You are Not God!—God is Not “in” Everyone and Everything,” click here.
Be Still and Know That You are Not God!—God is Not “in” Everyone and Everything
By Warren B. Smith
Our Spiritual Adversary would have everyone believe that we are all “one” because God is “in” everyone and everything. Using every promotional means possible—including a creative and ingenious perversion of quantum physics—he is attempting to convince the world and the church that while Jesus was Christ, so is everyone. And while Jesus was God, so is everyone else. To underscore this heretical New Age doctrine of God and Christ “in” everyone, he would have us further believe that nothing of any significance happened on the Cross of Calvary. However, the Bible makes it very clear that something extremely wonderful and overwhelmingly significant did happen on the Cross of Calvary. For it was on that Cross that Jesus Christ died to save the world as He defeated sin (1 John 2:2), death (2 Timothy 1:10), and the Devil himself (Hebrews 2:14). As the one and only Christ, He is our Rock (1 Corinthians 10:1-4), He is our Foundation (1 Corinthians 3:11), and in every sense of the word He is the Saviour of the world (1 John 4:14).
Christ Our Savior
The apostle Paul proclaimed that all he needed to know was Christ and Christ crucified:
For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. (1 Corinthians 2:2)
Yet Paul also said we should not be “ignorant” of Satan’s “devices” (2 Corinthians 2:11).
Paul further stated it is “a shame” we have to talk about “the unfruitful works of darkness,” but we must “reprove” them—expose them—by bringing them into the “light”:
And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light. (Ephesians 5:11-13)
At the same time, Paul reminds us that there is a “simplicity” in Christ:
But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. (2 Corinthians 11:3)
Just as there is a “simplicity” in Christ, there is a simplicity in the deception. Satan’s deceptive scenario presents a false “God” and a false “Christ” who are allegedly “in” everyone and everything—thus providing the false foundation of a false one-world religion.
And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. (Matthew 24:4-5)
For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him. (2 Corinthians 11:4)
But what if the true foundations are destroyed by a New Worldview that presents itself as a New Spirituality for a New Age?
If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do? (Psalm 11:3)
For biblical Christians, the true foundations can never be destroyed because we have “a sure foundation”:
Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste. (Isaiah 28:16)
And that foundation is our Rock—Jesus Christ:
For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 3:11)
Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; And did all eat the same spiritual meat; And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. (1 Corinthians 10:1-4)
While many in this world build upon foundations that crumble, we, as believers in Christ, have built upon a foundation that will never falter:
And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will show you to whom he is like: He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. (Luke 6:46-48)
These other foundations bring ruin:
But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great. (Luke 6:49)
“Oneness” is the foundational lie of the New Age/New Spirituality. New Age leader Neale Donald Walsch claims to have had literal “conversations” with “God.” He says God told him that “Oneness”—“God” in everyone and everything—is the “Foundational Truth” of a New Spirituality that can save the world. In regards to this “immanent,” “panentheistic,” and heretical worldview, Walsch writes:
[W]e see God in everyone and everything. Including our divine selves.1
Oneness is the message.2
It is the Foundational Truth of the New Spirituality.3
The following chronologically selected quotes are just some of the many ways this false foundational principle of “Oneness”—God “in” everything—has gradually worked its way into the world—and into the church—over the last sixty to seventy years.
The God “in” Everything Lie Through the Years
(1935) The Two Listeners in God Calling—Two anonymous English women claimed to receive special messages from “The Living Christ” in the 1930s. Their messages were first released in 1935 and were later turned into a best-selling book that is still popular today. Their “Christ” delivered new revelation that included the new “truth” that God is “in” everyone:
Wherever the soul is, I am. Man has rarely understood this. I am actually at the centre of every man’s being.4
I see as no man can see the God in you.5
(1948) Alice Bailey in The Reappearance of the Christ—New Age matriarch Alice Bailey and her spirit guide Djwhal Khul describe how the path to God will be based on an “immanent” God that is “within every form of life”:
. . . a fresh orientation to divinity and to the acceptance of the fact of God Transcendent and of God Immanent within every form of life. These are the foundational truths upon which the world religion of the future will rest.6
(1952) Norman Vincent Peale in The Power of Positive Thinking—In his mega best-selling book, Peale teaches the foundational belief of the New Age/New Spirituality that God is “in” everyone. On page 40, Peale tells his millions of readers:
God is in you.7
(1971) Pierre Teilhard de Chardin in Christianity and Evolution—Teilhard de Chardin, the “Father” of the New Age Movement and frequently quoted by undiscerning Christian leaders, wrote:
I can be saved only by becoming one with the universe.8
What I am proposing to do is to narrow the gap between Pantheism and Christianity by bringing out what one might call the Christian soul of pantheism or the pantheistic aspect of Christianity.9
(1975) The Channeled “Jesus” in A Course in Miracles—Oprah Winfrey stated that the New Age teachings of A Course in Miracles—allegedly new revelation from Jesus Christ—could “change the world.” The Course’s “Jesus” teaches that “God” is in everyone and everything—therefore all is “one”:
The recognition of God is the recognition of yourself.10
The oneness of the Creator and the creation is your wholeness, your sanity and your limitless power.11
(1978) M. Scott Peck in The Road Less Traveled—The late mystical, pre-emergent, best-selling author and professing “Christian” wrote:
If you want to know the closest place to look for grace, it is within yourself. If you desire wisdom greater than your own, you can find it inside you. To put it plainly, our unconscious is God. God within us. We were part of God all the time.12
(1980) Marilyn Ferguson in The Aquarian Conspiracy—The late New Age author wrote that God was within everyone and everything. God was described as the universal “ground of being.” What heretofore had been perceived as heresy—the “immanent” notion of God “in” everything—was presented by Ferguson as new truth. She introduced this as “a great heretical idea”13 that could save mankind:
GOD WITHIN: THE OLDEST SPIRITUAL HERESY—In the emergent spiritual tradition God is not the personage of our Sunday-school mentality. God is experienced as flow, wholeness . . . the ground of being.14
(1980) Maitreya in Messages from Maitreya the Christ—On page 88 in this channeled New Age book, false New Age Christ Maitreya states he is the Christ and is already here on earth waiting for humanity to call him forth. He teaches that “God” is “within” every person:
My friends. God is nearer to you than you can imagine. God is yourself. God is within you and all around you.15
(1980) Benjamin Creme in The Reappearance of the Christ and the Masters of Wisdom—New Age channeler Benjamin Creme—still speaking today on behalf of Maitreya—states on page 88 of his book that the New-World Religion will be based on the proposition that “Christ” is “immanent”—“in man and all creation”:
But eventually a new world religion will be inaugurated which will be a fusion and synthesis of the approach of the East and the approach of the West. The Christ will bring together, not simply Christianity and Buddhism, but the concept of God transcendent—outside of His creation—and also the concept of God immanent in all creation—in man and all creation.16
(1983) Shirley MacLaine in Out on a Limb—Using her celebrity status, MacLaine was one of the first people to bring occult/New Age teachings out of the closet into mainstream society. In her best-selling book Out on a Limb, she and her friend David converse about the idea that everyone is God:
“The simple truth,” he said, “of knowing yourself. And to know yourself is to know God.”
“You mean that is the Big Truth?”
“That’s it. The point, Shirley, is that it is simple.”17
(1987) The Oprah Winfrey Show—On a September 18, 1987 program titled “The New Age Movement,” Winfrey praised New Age minister Eric Butterworth’s book Discover the Power Within You. This New Age book mentions the divinity of man over one hundred times in its pages. On this particular Oprah program about the New Age Movement, Winfrey used Butterworth to present her own New Age belief in the divinity of man. She stated:
One of the most important books I think I’ve read in my life was a book by Eric Butterworth. . . . Discover the Power Within You. And what Eric Butterworth said in that book is that Jesus didn’t come to teach us how divine he was, but came to teach that there is divinity within us.18
(1991) David Spangler in Reimagination of the World—Pioneering New Age leader David Spangler introduced the idea of “God within” as a “universal presence” and as the “ground of all being.” He wrote:
There is nothing new about saying “I am God.” . . . However, in the Judeo-Christian-Moslem world, God is usually not popularly understood as a universal presence, the ground of all being.19
(1991) Leonard Sweet in Quantum Spirituality—Sweet, like other New Age sympathizers in the emergent church, tries to use quantum physics to demonstrate that God is “in” everything. He makes his quantum meaning clear when he introduces the “radical” and heretical “God within” doctrine by stating that God is embodied in the “substance of creation.”
Quantum Spirituality bonds us to all creation as well as to other members of the human family. . . . This entails a radical doctrine of embodiment of God in the very substance of creation.20
(1992) Betty Eadie in Embraced by the Light—Mormon/New Age author Betty Eadie’s best-selling book was extremely popular with countless undiscerning Christian readers. In describing a part of her alleged near-death experience, she writes:
I felt God in the plant, in me, his love pouring into us. We were all one.21
(1992) Sue Monk Kidd in The Dance of the Dissident Daughter: A Woman’s Journey from Christian Tradition to the Sacred Feminine—Kidd, a former Southern Baptist Sunday School teacher and now a best-selling New Age mystic, falsely teaches the “immanence” of “God” in everything:
Restoring the feminine symbol of Deity means that divinity will no longer be only heavenly, other, out there, up there, beyond time and space, beyond body and death. It will also be right here, right now, in me, in the earth, in this river and this rock, in excrement and roses alike.22
(1992) New Age Journal Editors in As Above, So Below—In this New Age book written by the editors of the New Age Journal, the authors discuss “transcendence” and “immanence” in regard to “oneness” and the idea of God being “in” everyone:
Thousands of years ago in ancient Egypt, the great master alchemist Hermes Trismegistus, believed to be a contemporary of the Hebrew prophet Abraham, proclaimed this fundamental truth about the universe: “As above, so below: as below, so above.” This maxim implies that the transcendent God beyond the physical universe and the immanent God within ourselves are one. Heaven and Earth, spirit and matter, the invisible and the visible worlds form a unity to which we are intimately linked.23
(1993) Eugene Peterson in The Message—Eugene Peterson not only uses the occult phrase “as above, so below,” but he puts these New Age words in the mouth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Instead of “in earth as it is in heaven,” Peterson has Jesus proclaiming this mystical, magical, New Age phrase right in the middle of the Lord’s Prayer. Also, in his Message “translation” of Ephesians 4:6, after erroneously translating that God is “present in all,” he introduces “Oneness”:
You have one Master, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who rules over all, works through all, and is present in all. Everything you are and think and do is permeated with Oneness.24
(1993) Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen in Chicken Soup for the Soul—On page 69 of the very first Chicken Soup for the Soul book, in his personally penned story titled “The Golden Buddha,” New Age author/leader Jack Canfield writes:
. . . underneath each of us is a “golden Buddha,” a “golden Christ” or “a golden essence,” which is our real self.25
(1994) Catechism of the Catholic Church—The 1994 Catechism is the official source for Roman Catholic doctrine. The following quotes are taken straight from the Catechism:
Let us rejoice then and give thanks that we have become not only Christians, but Christ himself. Do you understand and grasp, brethren, God’s grace toward us? Marvel and rejoice: we have become Christ. (#795)26
For the Son of God became man so that we might become God. (#460)27
The only-begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that he, made man, might make men gods. (#460)28
(1996) Neale Donald Walsch in Conversations with God: Book 1—The New Age “God,” speaking through Walsch, tells everyone:
You are already a God. You simply don’t know it.29
(1997) Henri Nouwen in Here and Now—Henri Nouwen, the late Catholic mystic, is frequently quoted by undiscerning pastors and Christian leaders. In his book, Here and Now, Nouwen writes:
The God who dwells in our inner sanctuary is also the God who dwells in the inner sanctuary of every human being.30
(1999) Leonard Sweet in SoulTsunami—With a front cover endorsement by Rick Warren, New Age sympathizer/church figure Leonard Sweet introduces the New Age concept of “immanence” after suggesting that Christians “learn to speak out of both sides of the mouth”:
To survive in the postmodern culture, one has to learn to speak out of both sides of the mouth . . . Biblical theological is not circular with a fixed center, but elliptical, revolving around the double foci of God’s immanence and God’s transcendence.31
(2002) Rick Warren in The Purpose-Driven Life—On page 88 of The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren quotes Ephesians 4:6 from a New Century Bible translation, which erroneously states that God is “in” everything:
Because God is with you all the time, no place is any closer to God than the place where you are right now. The Bible says, “He rules everything and is everywhere and is in everything.”32
(2003) Robert Schuller in an Hour of Power Sermon—On November 9, 2003, using the same overlapping New Age term of “immanence,” Robert Schuller told his international television audience that God was an “immanent God” because he was “in every single human being”:
The immanence of God means here, in me, around me, in society, in the world, this God here, in the humanities, in the science, in the arts, sociology, in politics—the immanence of God. . . . Yes, God is alive and he is in every single human being.33
(2003) Tom Holliday and Kay Warren in their Saddleback Church Foundations Participants Guide—Invoking the same overlapping concept of “immanence,” the Foundations Participants Guide states:
The fact that God stands above and beyond his creation does not mean he stands outside his creation. He is both transcendent (above and beyond his creation) and immanent (within and throughout his creation).34
(2004) Sarah Young in Jesus Calling—The July 8th message on page 199 that Sarah Young says she received from “Jesus” states that He is “in” everything:
I am above all as well as in all.35
(2006) Rhonda Byrne in The Secret—This New Age author prominently features the occult/New Age phrase “as above, so below” at the front of her book. On page 164, she later defines what she means by the term:
You are God in a physical body.36
(2006) What the Bleep Do We Know!?—This popular New Age movie featured in theaters across the country, tried to use quantum physics to convince people that God is “in” everyone and everything. New Age channeler J.Z. Knight appears in the film and channels an ancient “spirit guide” named Ramtha. This spirit guide proclaims that quantum physics proves that we are all “God.”
We have the epitome of a great science . . . quantum physics . . . Everyone is God.37
(2006) Elizabeth Gilbert in Eat, Pray, Love—In this best-selling New Age book, Gilbert frequently references the idea that God is “in” everyone:
God dwells within you as yourself, exactly the way you are. . . . To know God, you need only to renounce one thing—your sense of division from God.38
(2007) William Paul Young in The Shack—Like many New Age proponents, author Paul Young uses the term ground of being. In this book that was enthusiastically read by millions of Christians, Young’s “Jesus” uses the phrase to underline his heretical statement that God is “in all things”:
“God” who is the ground of all being, dwells in, around, and through all things.”39
(2011) Glenn Beck in The Seven Wonders That Will Change Your Life—Mormon author and radio personality Glenn Beck openly acknowledges his New Age sympathies in this book. He writes:
If God is everything and everywhere and inside everyone, then I figured He had to be inside me, too.40
I wasn’t here by accident. I was part of God’s plan and I had to respect that plan, or at least not resent it. I had to respect myself, as part of Him.41
My father’s granola-hippie-New Age spirituality (which I actually really agree with) . . .42
Scripture makes it clear that God is not an immanent/quantum/panentheistic force or “ground of all being” that interpenetrates His creation. Scripture exhorts believers to lay up “a good foundation”—the true Jesus Christ—for the challenging days ahead. It also warns us to beware of a false foundation that purports to be scientifically proven—like the quantum/New Age/New Spirituality. God is our creator, but He is not “quantum-ly” embedded in His creation. He is not “in” everyone and everything.
Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. Amen. (1Timothy 6:19-21)
Scriptural References to Show God is Not “in” Man
Thou shalt have none other gods before me. (Deuteronomy 5:7)
Put them in fear, O LORD: that the nations may know themselves to be but men. (Psalm 9:20)
. . . verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity. (Psalm 39:5)
I am the Lord: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another. (Isaiah 42:8)
I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me: That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the LORD, and there is none else. (Isaiah 45:5-6)
Shall a man make gods unto himself, and they are no gods? (Jeremiah 16:20)
Son of man, say unto the prince of Tyrus, Thus saith the Lord God; Because thine heart is lifted up, and thou hast said, I am a God, I sit in the seat of God, in the midst of the seas; yet thou art a man, and not God, though thou set thine heart as the heart of God. (Ezekiel 28:2)
I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger, I will not return to destroy Ephraim: for I am God, and not man; the Holy One in the midst of thee: and I will not enter into the city. (Hosea 11:9)
And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted. (Matthew 23:12)
But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man. (John 2:24-25)
Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things . . . .Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. (Romans 1:21-23, 25)
And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain. Therefore let no man glory in men. (1 Corinthians 3:20-21)
. . . that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another. (1 Corinthians 4:6)
For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. (2 Corinthians 4:5)
It has been rightly said that God is God and we are not. However, tremendous pressure is being continually mounted to convince everyone there is a New Age/New Spirituality/New Worldview that can save the world from its present problems. We are being told that if we accept the new revelation that “we are all one” because “God is in everyone and everything” then world peace can happen. But we know from Scripture that a false Christ—Antichrist—“shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practice” and “by peace shall destroy many” (Daniel 8:25). The Bible warns that what will appear to be a wonderful “peace and safety” will suddenly turn into terrible “destruction” (1 Thessalonians 5:3).
Universal “oneness”—God “in” everyone and everything—is obviously a broad way. The true Christ—Jesus Christ—warns that “broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction” (Matthew 7:13). He also warns that “narrow is the way that leadeth to life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:14). He later states there will come a time when Satan, working through Antichrist, will deceive “the whole world” (Revelation 12:9). Jesus explained that “because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold” (Matthew 24:12).
Describing the coming apostasy, the apostle Paul said that people “received not the love of the truth that they might be saved” and “believed not the truth” (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12). Thus, with “itching ears,” humanity will “turn away their ears from the truth” as they turn toward things like a New Age/New Spirituality that teaches we are all “one” because God is “in” everyone and everything.
God is not impressed with deceptive devices like worldly “oneness” and neither should anyone who reads and believes the Bible. Genesis 11:6 records what the Lord has to say about worldly “oneness”:
Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.
Scripture records that God was so displeased with their contrived “oneness” that He confounded their language and scattered them all over the face of the Earth (Genesis 11:7-8). Contrast this with Galatians 3:26-28 where the apostle Paul says to those who are actual believers, “Ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” He does not say that Christ is “in” everyone. Rather, He says that everyone who believes in Christ is “one” in Christ. In Ephesians 4:6, Paul tells believers at the church in Ephesus and the “faithful in Christ Jesus” that God is in “you all” solely by virtue of their belief. God does not naturally reside in everyone and everything. Thus, there is a big difference between the mistaken notion of universal worldly “oneness” and believers who become “one” in Christ through their belief in the true Jesus Christ.
Acts 17:26 affirms that all of humanity is “one blood” because we come from an original set of parents—Adam and Eve. But “that which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6). That is why Jesus said—“Ye must be born again” (John 3:7). It is only after conversion to the true Jesus Christ that the Holy Spirit is sent to believers. As a result of that commitment and conversion, it can be said that God is now “in” those believers. But those believers are not God. And most certainly, God is not “in” everyone and everything. Years ago, people claiming to be God were considered delusional. The way things are going, it may not be long before those who deny they are God will be the ones who are considered to be delusional.
It has been said that when a big lie is told often enough and convincingly enough over time, it will eventually be perceived as truth. Because most Christians are not contending for the faith, the big lie that “God is in everyone and everything” is fast becoming the new spiritual norm. Consequently, it is easy to see how evil may soon rule the world—just as the Bible said it would one day. And the way things are going it may be sooner than most people would ever imagine.
So may God have mercy on us all as we race with ever increasing speed toward this inevitable prophesied conclusion. Ironically, in humanity’s effort to avoid this, they actually bring it on with “new truths” that are no truths at all—like God “in” everyone and everything. In the meantime, we rest in our relationship with the Lord, knowing that these things must come to pass at such a time as this.
And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ and shall deceive many. (Matthew 24:3-5)
To order copies of Be Still and Know That You are Not God!—God is Not “in” Everyone and Everything,” click here.
1. Neale Donald Walsch, Happier than God: Turn Ordinary Life into an Extraordinary Experience (Ashland, OR: Emnin Books, 2008), p. 207.
2. Neale Donald Walsch, Tomorrow’s God: Our Greatest Spiritual Challenge (New York, NY: Atria Books, 2004), p. 167.
3. Ibid., p. 167.
4. Two Listeners, Edited by A. J. Russell, God Calling (Grand Rapids, MI: A Spire Book published by Jove Publications Inc., for Fleming H. Revell, 2005), p. 55.
5. Ibid., p. 88.
6. Alice A, Bailey, The Reappearance of the Christ (New York, NY: Lucis Publishing Company, Lucis Press, Ltd., 1948), 1996, p. 150.
7. Norman Vincent Peale, The Power of Positive Thinking (New York, NY, Prentice-Hall, Inc., Sixteenth Printing, 1955), p. 40.
8. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Christianity and Evolution (New York, NY, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc., 1971), p. 128.
9. Ibid., p. 56.
10. A Course in Miracles: Combined Volume (Glen Ellen, California: Foundation for Inner Peace, 1975), (Text), p. 147.
11. Ibid., p. 125.
12. M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth (New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 1978), p. 281.
13. Marilyn Ferguson, The Aquarian Conspiracy: Personal and Social Transformation in the 1970s (Los Angeles, CA: J.P. Tarcher, Inc., 1980), p. 27.
14. Ibid., p. 382.
15. Messages from Maitreya the Christ: One Hundred Forty Messages (Los Angeles, CA: Share International Foundation, 1980), p. 88.
16. Benjamin Creme, The Reappearance of the Christ and the Masters of Wisdom (London, England; The Tara Press, 1980), p. 88.
17. Shirley MacLaine, Out on a Limb (New York, NY: Bantam Books, 1983), p. 317.
18. The Oprah Winfrey Show # W265, “The New Age Movement,” Air Date: September 18, 1987.
19. David Spangler and William Irwin Thompson, Reimagination of the World: A Critique of the New Age, Science, and Popular Culture (Santa Fe, NM: Bear & Company Publishing, 1991), p. 148.
20. Leonard Sweet, Quantum Spirituality: A Postmodern Apologetic (Dayton, OH: Whaleprints for SpiritVenture Ministries, Inc., 1991, 1994), p. 125.
21. Betty J. Eadie, Embraced by the Light (Placerville, CA: Gold Leaf Press, 1992), p. 81.
22. Sue Monk Kidd, The Dance of the Dissident Daughter: A Woman’s Journey from Christian Tradition to the Sacred Feminine (New York, NY: Harper Collins Publishers Inc.,1992), p. 160.
23. Ronald S. Miller and the Editors of New Age Journal, As Above, So Below: Paths to Spiritual Renewal in Daily Life (Los Angeles, CA: Jeremy P. Tarcher Inc., 1992), p. xi.
24. Eugene Peterson, The Message: The New Testament in Contemporary Language (Colorado Springs, Colorado: Nav Press, 1993, 2003), p. 21-22.
25. Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen, Chicken Soup for the Soul: 101 Stories to Open the Heart and Rekindle the Spirit (Deerfield Beach, FL: Health Communications, Inc., 1993), p. 69.
26. Catechism of the Catholic Church (New York, NY: Doubleday, 1995), p. 228.
27. Ibid., p. 129.
29. Neale Donald Walsch, Conversations with God an uncommon dialogue Book 1 (New York: NY: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, Hardcover Edition, 1996), p. 202.
30. Henri Nouwen, Here and Now (New York, NY: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1997 edition), p. 22.
31. Leonard Sweet, SoulTsunami: Sink or Swim in the New Millennium Culture (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1999), p. 28.
32. Rick Warren, The Purpose-Driven Life: What on Earth am I Here For? (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2002), p. 88.
33. Hour of Power, Robert H. Schuller, Program # 1762, “God’s Word: Rebuild, Renew, Restore,” November 9, 2003, (http://www.hourofpower.org/bookletdetail.cfm?ArticleID=2107), p. 5.
34. Tom Holliday and Kay Warren, Foundations Participant’s Guide: 11 Core Truths To Build Your Life On (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2003), p. 46.
35. Sarah Young, Jesus Calling (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2004), p. 199.
36. Rhonda Byrne, The Secret (New York, NY: Atria Books, 2006), p. 164.
37. What the Bleep Do We know!? (20th Century Fox, 2004, http://www.whatthebleep.com) transcribed by author.
38. Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia (New York, NY: Penguin Books, 2006), p. 192.
39. William P. Young, The Shack: Where Tragedy Confronts Eternity (Newbury Park, CA: Windblown Media, 2007), p. 112.
40. Glenn Beck and Dr. Keith Ablow, The Seven Wonders That Will Change Your Life (New York, NY: Threshold Editions-Mercury Radio Arts, A division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 2011) p. 58.
42. Ibid., p. 24.
To order copies of Be Still and Know That You are Not God!—God is Not “in” Everyone and Everything,” click here.
Big Noisy God—Dispelling the Rumor that God Can Be Found “Only in the Silence” by Lynn Lusby Pratt is our newest Lighthouse Trails Booklet Tract. The Booklet Tract is 12 pages long and sells for $1.95 for single copies. Quantity discounts are as much as 50% off retail. Our Booklet Tracts are designed to give away to others or for your own personal use. Below is the content of the booklet. To order copies of Big Noisy God—Dispelling the Rumor that God Can Be Found “Only in the Silence,” click here.
Have you heard the rumor going around—that God can be found “only in the silence”? Don’t buy it.
Please understand. I love quiet. I drive for hours with the radio off, sit in the porch swing and listen to the birds, and lie on Gram’s quilt in the dark to watch the stars. I insist on quiet for Bible and prayer time. (Well, OK, sometimes ya gotta have Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir as background!)
I agree that our lives are too frantic. It’s good to slow down. But statements like these trouble me:
The believer must first achieve a state of silence . . . and then God works in the believer’s heart.1
In order to experience the power of God, we must experience the presence of God. In order to experience the presence of God, we need to make a habit of spending time in silence.2
It is necessary to go beyond words or images and to seek God deep within the silence which resides within us.3
We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. . . . We need silence to be able to touch souls.4
Are those people serious? Does the Lord vacate the premises when it’s noisy and then return when things quiet down?
Isn’t God present, active, when the grandchildren squeal, “Thank you, God, for ICE CREAM!” Don’t tell me that the Lord can’t be found in the middle of our noisy routines like preparing a holiday dinner, repairing the car, working on the assembly line, or shouting for the fourth time, “Wesley! Come down out of that tree this instant!” And He’s present whether we’re inside a deafening tornado or enjoying fireworks or sobbing in the emergency room or cheering the home team.
Of course He is.
Psalm 139:7-10 says that no matter where we go, God is there.
The Lord says, “Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? . . . Do I not fill heaven and earth?” (Jeremiah 23:24).
Jesus gave His followers assurance of His constant presence: “The Spirit of truth . . . [dwells] with you, and shall be in you” (John 14:17).
But we’re being told that when you make “a time for your mind and your heart to be still,” then “God can meet you and fill you with His presence.”5 No, He’s present and accessible always—and in the ways He’s set in place: we hear from Him through His Word, which His Spirit teaches us (1 Corinthians 2:13), and speak with Him in normal prayer.
Yes, normal prayer. That “silence” the contemplatives refer to isn’t normal porch-swing silence but is the altered state of consciousness reached through mantra meditation, which, supposedly, mystically achieves a communion with God not attainable through prayer and reading the Word. If you hadn’t picked up on that before, do an hour of research.6 Then come back and read the quotes in this article from that perspective; you’ll see that’s what is meant.
The mystics would have us believe that regular prayer is inferior. Perhaps we’re in a precarious position and in danger of losing our connection? Or at least it seems we must outsmart and unlock the cosmic portal—as if in some video game—to transcend/force our way into a spiritual realm. But aren’t believers in Christ in a “spiritual realm” all the time? I mean, if it helps you to look at it that way, Scripture says that believers “are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit” (Romans 8:9). The only prerequisite for being “in the Spirit” (the spiritual realm) is “if . . . the Spirit of God dwell in you” (vs. 9). And the Bible says that this happens when we are born again.
Where in Scripture do we find that God can’t be known, doesn’t act, and may not even be present except in this place called “the silence”? Why, God has done some of His best work with the volume turned up.
Remember the 1 Kings 18, 19 account of Elijah and the prophets of Baal? Hundreds of chanting false prophets, Elijah’s taunting, louder shouting, Elijah praying out loud—with words, the fire from Heaven . . . I’m thinking everybody “experienced God” that day!
And then when Elijah was in a cave after that event, there was wind, earthquake . . . and yes, the still, small voice about which the contemplatives make so much fuss. But that was one tiny moment in a long, cacophonous drama. God was never out of reach. Elijah didn’t need to “be put into a kind of suspended animation before [a] deep work of God upon the soul [could] occur.”7
In Judges 7, Gideon’s soldiers all blew their trumpets on cue and smashed their clay jars, and did God say, “Pipe down! How do you expect to practice my presence in all this racket?” Uh . . . no. The Lord caused the enemy soldiers to turn on each other. He was right there, and everybody knew it.
It had been a while since I’d read 2 Chronicles 5–7, the dedication of the temple. Talk about rowdy! The ark of the covenant was being brought in. In celebration, there were cymbals, harps, lyres, 120 trumpets, other instruments, singers . . . Then there’s King Solomon’s long, out-loud prayer of dedication—with lots of different words, not the Jesus Prayer or some other prescribed ritual repeated for twenty minutes8 to “enter into the great silence of God.”9 If Solomon was ignorant of the secret of true communication with God, how come fire came down and consumed the sacrifice and the glory of the Lord filled the place? The Lord said outright that He had heard the king’s prayer (2 Chronicles 7:12).
It never would have occurred to me that anything was missing from that kind of prayer if today’s promoters of “the silence” hadn’t given me the idea. They say that silence is “the only thing broad enough and deep enough to hold all of the contradictions and paradoxes of Full Reality and our own reality, too. 99.9% of the known universe is silent, and it is in this space that the force fields of life and compassion dwell and expand. We can live there too!”10
That hardly seems to describe a personal relationship between God and His children. Remember, when we are told in Scripture that our primary responsibility is to love God (Matthew 22:37), “we are being told to relate to God in a personal way. Since interpersonal relationships are implemented and carried on by communication, it is indicative of God’s personhood that He speaks, and that our communion with Him is in the form of words (e.g., Scripture, meditation,* praise, prayer) rather than the contemplation of an idol or mindless mysticism.”11 (* Pages 8-9 explain the Bible’s use of the word meditation.)
At Jericho, Joshua’s people didn’t get into the lotus position and measure their breathing to “find the silence within, thereby finding God.”12 They simply obeyed the commands God had already given them and marched around the city. There were trumpets and shouting, walls collapsing.
God worked in all kinds of noisy storms in the Bible. God spoke to Job out of the storm (38:1; 40:6). No hint that Job had trouble getting the message. In Mark 4, Jesus was present in the storm. There was conversation with His disciples during it, and he gave orders to it. Acts 27 is the account of Paul’s shipwreck. Did Paul just wring his hands during the turbulence till he could drop anchor in the calm to get back in touch with God? Was God not present and active amid the storm? Of course He was! An angel even found his way to Paul during the storm—and spoke.
What about Mark 9:14-28? Jesus came upon a disturbance in which people were arguing about a demon-possessed boy. The evil spirit manifested. Jesus wasn’t impeded in any way by this noise. In fact, He added to it. He commanded the evil spirit to come out, and the spirit “cried” out. Some versions say the spirit “screamed” or “shrieked.” My guess is, some of the bystanders shrieked too!
Then there is the story in John 11 of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. It says Jesus “groaned in the spirit, and was troubled” (vs. 33) when He saw Mary, Martha, and the others weeping for Lazarus. That wouldn’t exactly fit the “contemplative way” where one can’t get into the presence of God without removing all thoughts and distractions (which is done by repeating a “sacred” word or phrase over and over). Surely, if such a practice was sanctioned by God, this would have been the perfect opportunity for Jesus to go into the silence, with a good friend having died. Rather, He prayed (with words) to the Father, then “cried with a loud voice” (vs. 43), ordering Lazarus to come out of the tomb.
Jesus’ final moments are recorded in Matthew 27:50, 51. He “cried . . . with a loud voice.” There was an earthquake, and the temple veil was ripped. That’s noisy. And God was there. But what are we to make of a statement like this: “In the silence is a dynamic presence. And that’s God, and we become attuned to that.”13 Hmm. Does that mean that if only the crucifixion had been more serene, maybe God could have done something truly “dynamic”?
The book of Revelation is just dripping with decibels. In Revelation 8:5-7 alone, we hear thunder and lightning, earthquake, hail, and trumpet.
At this point, critics are no doubt saying, “Wait, we’re confusing apples and oranges. How God behaves in certain events is not the same thing as how we must access Him in prayer [they mean, reach ‘the silence’] or how God behaves during such prayer.” I would counter that they’re creating the problem: trying to separate prayer from our normal lives as if it were some elusive thing, as if we have to be initiated into the upper echelons of Christianity’s elite before we can do it right. Remember, the torn temple veil is evidence that all believers have perpetual access to God—through Jesus’ blood, not through a tedious (dare we say silly?) man-made formula (see Hebrews 10:19-22). True prayer, the opportunity to talk to God, is easy. That’s how He designed it.
I offer from the book of Acts a couple of noisy events that included prayer. In Acts 4:24, the believers together “lifted up their voice to God.” And after “they had prayed, the place was shaken” (vs. 31). In Acts 16, Paul and Silas caused a fracas at the marketplace and were beaten, then imprisoned. Next, we have praying and singing in prison, followed by an earthquake, shouting, shaking . . . God acted and released the prisoners. In these events, I’m not seeing any trial and error employed while the participants realigned their spiritual technologies (or possibly the planets) in order to make contact with God.
But we’re being led to believe that real knowledge of God comes through a Christianized mantra meditation that takes us into “the silence.” Incongruously, this is also described as an “unknowing” (or odder still, “darkness”). But we don’t need a knock-off brand of meditation that involves an ethereal floating off into “the void, the emptiness, the nothingness.”14 All we need is biblical meditation. If we look up every concordance entry for meditate/meditation, we see that it simply means pondering (considering) with our minds the Lord’s perfect Word and His mighty works.
HIS PERFECT WORD
“Every word of God is pure” (or flawless, perfect; Proverbs 30:5). Psalm 1:2 speaks of the person whose “delight is in the law of the LORD” and who meditates on that law “day and night.” David loved God’s Word, and it was his “meditation all the day.” David didn’t unlock cosmic wisdom based on his rank as an ascended master; God’s commands made him wiser than his enemies (Psalm 119:97-98). Since “all scripture is given by inspiration of God,” Paul could say that it is “the holy scriptures” that make us wise (2 Timothy 3:15-16). When we are truly meditating on God and His Word, our minds are engaged. We gain knowledge of God because He reveals Himself to us. He gives us understanding (1 John 5:20). As we hear and apply His Word, the evidence that we know Him is seen when we obey His commandments (1 John 2:3-6; 3:24). Further evidence of our relationship is that when we call, He hears; the very short Psalm 34 says it four times (see also John 9:31 and many other passages)!
HIS MIGHTY WORKS
We are to “remember the days of old” and meditate on God’s works (Psalm 143:5). That’s what the troubled writer of Psalm 77 did. In his despair, a solution hits him: he will recall the great things the Lord has done. He names a few in this passage, but I picture him falling peacefully asleep as he remembers a list that never ends. Meditating on God’s mighty works reminds of us who He is, of His love and power. And that will make us praise Him to Him; any number of Scriptures picture God’s children addressing Him as great, marvelous, worthy of praise, etc.
A ripple-effect purpose of thinking deeply about God’s works is to have them in mind to pass along to our children—showing “the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and His strength, and His wonderful works” (Psalm 78:4; Psalm 145:4, 5 says we “declare” His works).
As we continually give attention to His perfect Word and praise His mighty works, we come to know Him (not unknow Him) better and better. And as we go about our living, just doing our best to follow Him, He provides and acts.
So enough of this notion that the Lord holds Himself at bay until we reach mystic enlightenment and realize that “God’s first language is silence.”15 The Lord is not absent or diminished until we release His energy in some “sacred space” by saying a “sacred word” and going into the “sacred silence.” The Lord is not limited in any way—nor is He programmable or capable of being manipulated or conjured either. Shame on us for such implications! Let’s be more careful about swallowing the latest spiritual fad without thinking it through and measuring it against Scripture.
Almighty God, the creator of the universe, speaks to us as we read His Word when we sit in porch-swing silence. He listens when we talk to Him in prayer. That’s amazing! He also is present and intervenes in our noisy lives, in spite of or along with the noise. No problem. And sometimes . . . sometimes He’s been known to cause the noise Himself as He thunders and shakes the earth (Psalm 18:7, 13), blasts a trumpet (Exodus 19:16), drops fire from Heaven (1 Kings 18:38), sends messengers who sound like mighty waters and a great army (Ezekiel 1:24) . . .
He’s a big noisy God.
To order copies of Big Noisy God—Dispelling the Rumor that God Can Be Found “Only in the Silence,” click here.
1. Tony Jones, The Sacred Way (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2004), pp. 71–72.
2. Steve May, “Silence and Solitude,” Crash Course on Psalms (Cincinnati: Standard Publishing, 2009), p. 74.
3. John Callanan, God in All Things: The Spiritual Exercises of Anthony de Mello (New York: Doubleday, 1993), p. 16.
4. Mother Teresa, www.brainyquote.com.
5. Henry Cloud, CNN, “Being Still: Helpful Hints with Dr. Henry Cloud.”
6. For a list of quotes promoting “the silence” by New Age mystics (such as Wayne Teasdale and Wayne Dyer), evangelical Christians (such as Beth Moore and Dallas Willard), and Catholic contemplatives (such as Henri Nouwen), go to: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/thesilence.htm.
7. Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1988 revised edition), p. 103.
8. https://gravitycenter.com/practice/breath-prayer/; http://www.orthodoxprayer.org/Jesus%20Prayer.html, and others.
9. Brennan Manning, The Signature of Jesus (Sisters, OR: Multnomah, 1996 revised edition), p. 215.
10. I originally saw this in the program description of Richard Rohr’s spot on the Dalai Lama event in Louisville, KY, May 2013: http://actorstheatre.org/shows/festival-of-faiths-2012-2013. It appears on various other sites too. Rohr is described on his own site as “a globally recognized ecumenical teacher bearing witness to the universal awakening within Christian mysticism”: http://www.cac.org/richard-rohr.
11. Jack Cottrell, What the Bible Says About God the Creator (Joplin, MO: College Press, 1983), p. 237.
12. John Callanan, God in All Things: The Spiritual Exercises of Anthony de Mello, op. cit., p. 4.
13. Interspiritualist Wayne Teasdale, Michael Tobias, “A Parliament of Souls in Search of a Global Spirituality” (KQED Inc., San Francisco, CA, 1995), p. 148.
14. The more complete quote is: “When one enters the deeper layers of contemplative prayer one sooner or later experiences the void, the emptiness, the nothingness . . . the profound mystical silence . . . an absence of thought.” Thomas Merton biographer William Johnston, Letters to Contemplatives (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1992), p. 13.
15. Thomas Keating, Intimacy with God (New York: Crossroad, 1994), p. 153.
Lynn Lusby Pratt has been researching mysticism and related subjects for a number of years. She is an editor, the director of Say Yes To Japan, and the author of Devotions by Dead People and Debt Free College—We Did It! She is also the author of the Lighthouse Trails Booklet Tract: So You Want to Practice “Good” Contemplative Prayer . . . What’s Wrong With That?
To order copies of Big Noisy God—Dispelling the Rumor that God Can Be Found “Only in the Silence,” click here.
Emerging Church Leader Tony Campolo Comes Out of Closet in Support of ‘Full Acceptance’ of Homosexuality in Church
By Heather Clark
Christian News Network
PHILADELPHIA — False teacher Tony Campolo announced on Monday that he has decided to endorse and speak out for the inclusion of open homosexuals in the Body of Christ.
“It has taken countless hours of prayer, study, conversation and emotional turmoil to bring me to the place where I am finally ready to call for the full acceptance of Christian gay couples into the Church,” he wrote in a statement posted to his website.
As previously reported, Campolo serves as one of the leaders at Mount Carmel Baptist Church in West Philadelphia, which is part of the National Baptist Convention USA and American Baptist Churches USA. In the 1990s, he served as a spiritual adviser to then-President Bill Clinton, including during the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
Campolo’s wife, Peggy, is a homosexual activist and believes that the Church should be accepting of same-sex “marriage.” He explained on Monday that his wife is one of the reasons why he has decided to endorse acceptance of homosexuals in Christianity. Click here to continue reading.