Archive for the ‘Concerns for Calvary Chapel’ Category
By Roger Oakland
Understand the Times, International
Taking a stand from a biblical perspective with regard to purpose-driven-emerging Christianity is not very popular these days. Those working towards establishing the kingdom and “getting closer to Jesus” through contemplative practices rooted in eastern mysticism are very outspoken. If you are not in favor of what they are promoting, you are labeled a hater and against everything.
One pastor wrote me a letter and asked the following question: “Before you went public with your book Faith Undone did you contact everyone you wrote about in the book personally and discuss the issues? If not, shame on you and don’t write me back.”
Of course, I was shamed into writing him back. I recognize that I should always be open for correction. But “shame” is a pretty harsh term coming from one of the “brethren.” Incidentally, this man was insinuating that I was violating Matthew 18 by writing about public figures in my book. But Matthew 18 is not about challenging leaders who are deceiving millions of people.
One pastor I tried to contact sent his bulldog after me who attacked me personally with slander. He didn’t even address the facts. Should I be ashamed of myself for quoting someone who said what he said in a public forum? Does this really make me a “counter-cult-kook” as he said? Click here to continue reading.
Will Rick Warren Play a Role In Persuading Some Calvary Chapel Pastors To Follow His Lead Toward Ecumenical Evangelicalism?
By Roger Oakland
Understand the Times, International
On November 17-19, 2014, an interreligious conference was hosted at the Vatican to discuss the sanctity of marriage under the definition that marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman. Beside numerous representatives of the Roman Catholic Church, the conference was attended and addressed by members of the Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, Jewish, and Mormon faiths. Also, well-known Christian evangelical leaders from the United States—Pastor Rick Warren and Russel Moore—played a major role and were in attendance.
Warren’s comments documented by the proceeding video clip are clear and require no explanation.
The purpose of posting Rick Warren’s video statement is to appeal to Calvary Chapel pastors who have been persuaded by the new leadership at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa that Warren’s ecumenical direction is the “new” and enlightened pathway that Calvary Chapels of the future must choose in order to become relevant for the postmodern era that has reformed sound biblical teaching over the past decade. This is also an appeal to all evangelical pastors who have brought the Purpose Driven movement into their churches.
Further, this proclamation by Rick Warren is very similar to some of the ideas being presented by the “New Calvary Movement” promoted by Brian Brodersen and his cohorts. (Listen to a portion of Brodersen’s September 7, 2014 message titled “Unity in the Spirit”).
Click here to continue reading.
Letter to the Editor: Please Update Note on Calvary Chapel’s Earlier Statement on Emerging and Purpose Driven
Dear Lighthouse Trails:
First of all, thank you for the continue steadfastness and faithfulness to God’s Word while being under a lot of pressure to conform in these the last of the last days. I have been blessed time and time again by the articles, as well as the other resources available through Lighthouse Trails.
This morning I read the article-http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/resistersdieorleave.htm. It was such an encouragement since I have recently gone through this at a local Christian school. Regardless, the Lord has used it for my good and I’m sure His glory. Anyway, at the end of the article it mentions in a special note the Calvary boycott of Purpose Driven and emergent focused materials as resources.
The question I have is would it possible, since that is no longer the case, to edit the special note section or add an addendum to it. I chose to post the article on FB this morning, but was hesitant because of the note at the end. Sadly, as you know better than most, many Calvarys have recently openly begun aligning themselves with Rick Warren’s and other emergent leaders’ message and materials. I’ll be adding a comment under my FB explaining the change since 2006, however in an attempt to be as current and clear as possible, I wonder if editing the note in the article might be wise.
Again, thanks for your time and continued stand on the Word. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” Ephesians 6:12-13
In Christ alone,
Richard (not real name)
Thank you for your note. We decided your advise was good so have added an updated note just under the 2006 (which we now dated).
Our Note (from 2006): Recently the Calvary Chapel movement (founded by Chuck Smith, Sr.) made a bold declaration when they decided to reject the emerging and contemplative prayer movements and to discontinue their support and use of all Purpose Driven materials. Many applaud this bold and sacrificial action. See our Special Report.
UPDATED NOTE ( 2014): Unfortunately, over the past 8 years since the above “Special Note” was posted, there have been many Calvary Chapel churches that have not heeded the 2006 warnings by the now-late Chuck Smith, Sr. but have rather accepted, promoted, and even embraced emerging/contemplative and/or Purpose Driven beliefs.
LTRP Note: Lighthouse Trails has posted other articles in the past (see links below) about the “Christian” band called Gungor in connection with its contemplative/emerging beliefs and the appearances at some Calvary Chapel churches (including Greg Laurie’s Harvest Crusade). For those who would like more information on the biblical account of creation, please watch Roger Oakland’s lecture series, Searching for the Truth on Origins.1 Also, Larry DeBruyn’s article “The Music and the Mystical” is very insightful regarding the “Christian” music being presented in many evangelical settings today.
By Heather Clark
Christian News Network
A Baptist church has canceled an upcoming concert with the worship band Gungor after learning that it no longer accepts the Genesis account of creation as literal, according to a new blog post from lead singer Michael Gungor.
As previously reported, Gungor and his wife Lisa, who in 2006 formed a congregation called “Bloom” in Denver, are known for their the Dove Award-winning and Grammy nominated worship music, such as Beautiful Things, Say So and Dry Bones. In 2013, they won an award from the Independent Music Awards for their live performance album A Creation Liturgy.
But in 2012, Michael Gungor, the son of pastor and author Ed Gungor, revealed in a blog post entitled A Worshiping Evolutionist? that he had concluded that the Genesis account is only figurative.
“I guess I’ll have to come out of the closet and admit… I don’t believe in a literal six-day creation,” he wrote. “Genesis is a poem if I’ve ever seen one.”
Earlier this year, Gungor revealed his thoughts even further, explaining in a blog post entitled What Do We Believe? that he “has no more ability to believe” in Genesis as being literal. Click here to continue reading.
The Titanic was one of the greatest ships that has ever sailed the seas. When built it was considered unsinkable. Today, when the name Titanic is mentioned, we think of one thing – the boat that was, is no more. It’s at the bottom of the sea. What a legacy!
The name “Titanic” has become synonymous with the idea that a disaster can be avoided. You see, the sinking of the Titanic provides an analogy of what can happen to human aspirations when humbled by circumstances. A great ship that was deemed to be unsinkable – sank because it hit an iceberg. The disaster did not have to happen if proper precautions had been taken.
The Process of Sinking the Titanic
In the case of the Titanic, human pride and accomplishment came to a tragic end in a moment. The Titanic was on its maiden voyage. The captain was sailing in dangerous waters. Although he had been warned to be careful, the boat was thought to be invincible. But of course we know now, this was not the case.
Nature and its forces intervened to show mankind is subservient. Of course, the Titanic provides an excellent spiritual lesson for those who study the Bible. Great things, great countries, and great leaders can come to and end when a sovereign God pulls the plug.
The history of Christianity shows that the sinking of the Titanic can help us to understand what often happens to denominations and organizations. There comes a time when an organization that was sailing successfully, hits an iceberg and then takes on water.
In the case of the Titanic, the circumstances that brought about the sinking of the ship could have been avoided. Perhaps the captain got a bit too confident. Or maybe the crew was giving him faulty information.
Maybe some of the crew wanted the captain to make a mistake. Maybe some of the crew wanted to be captain when the captain retired or died. Whatever the case, the dangerous waters could have been avoided. If only a watchman would have sounded the alarm. Of course the captain would have had to listen and act accordingly.
But as we know, if there was a watchman who warned the captain, the captain did not listen. The mighty ship hit an iceberg that knocked a hole in the wall of the ship. Some felt the bump but there were those who did not. Soon the boat began to take on water. Then the boat began to list. At first the party continued until it became apparent there was a serious problem.
Eventually concern turned into panic. There was a mad scramble for the lifeboats. As the boat went into its final dive, many had to jump off in desperation. Some were saved but many were not. The ship went down to the bottom of the Atlantic. The greatest ship that had ever been built did not make it to America. How tragic! How sad!
The Process of Sinking a Denomination
Now, think for a moment. Could a Christian denomination go the way of the Titanic? Could the process of sinking be avoided? Is it possible that the captain could foresee the inevitable but do nothing to prevent it?
Over the years of history, many denominations and movements that were once sailing “smoothly” went down just like the Titanic. Apparently, given time, this is what happens, and it just cannot be avoided.
Why is this so? The answer is simple. Christians are humans and human behavior can be predicted.
It is at this point in the analogy that I want to point out a difference. The similarity of using the captain of a ship in comparison with the leader of a denomination may not be appropriate. Denominations, while they may have a moderator or a president, also have others who are striving for position.
The Roman Catholic Church would be a good example. The pope is the top guy. However, next in line are the cardinals. Following this are the bishops, the priests, and finally the people.
There comes a time when the pope gets old and weak. Common sense says there must be a new pope in the making. The new pope is always chosen from the cardinals. While I have never been in a meeting where the next pope was about to be chosen, I am sure there is a lot of political lobbying.
Of course, in order to take over as pope, it is advantageous to be well known. Most cardinals start out as ordinary sheep. First they have to become a priest. A bishop is the next step up the ladder before taking over as cardinal. Cardinals wear different hats and different robes and are noticeably different looking than a bishop. You can pick a cardinal out in a crowd. Besides they always get to speak at the important conferences.
You see, denominations that have hierarchies like the Roman Catholic system are looking for trouble. Without knowing it, there is a tendency to get one’s eyes off Jesus and on to a human system. Rather than focusing on being a servant and reaching people, there is a possibility to seek after success for the cause of developing personal kingdoms.
When denominations take on the essence of secular corporations, the Spirit of God departs. When this happens, it is very difficult to recover. Further, the love that once was abundant in this fellowship goes south.
The cardinals in the organization who are seeking after position put the pope between them and Jesus. Sometimes, the cardinals are better known than the pope. They can even veto the pope and do their own thing if they choose.
This pattern that develops is also quite contagious. The pope model of leadership actually gets cloned and passed down. Churches within the denomination play a game similar to follow the leader. Staff members and assistant pastors at these churches follow the law of the corporation. This means one hundred percent loyalty to man is required. When one is not one hundred percent loyal, you are shown the door. Too bad if you were attempting to serve Jesus!
When carnal people are driven to be loyal to a man rather than to Jesus, there is a potential to even perform illegal acts. However, while this is happening, those who are being loyal don’t realize that anything is wrong. They are still God’s men. They are just doing what they believe to be right.
At first, the common people can’t see there is a problem. However, there are signs indicating that something is wrong. Some begin to warn others. When they warn, they are told they are traitors. They are told if they don’t like what they see they should find another boat. However, they don’t want to find another boat. They liked the boat the way it was before it became a submarine.
Eventually, the secular media reports there are problems that should have been addressed. Dirty laundry is placed in public view. Why didn’t someone wash these dirty clothes before?
Finally, the passengers start to panic. “Why didn’t the captain tell us sooner?” they shout as they scramble to save themselves from drowning. The only option they have is to get off the ship and find a lifeboat.
Learning from the Titanic
All is not lost. There is good news even though a movement or a denomination sinks.
Christian history reveals there is always a remnant that survives when the ship goes down. There are many sincere Bible-believing pastors who want to do what is right. They love God’s Word. They know that its not about property, possession and power. They want to feed the sheep and reach the lost. Isn’t that the way the denomination started in the first place?
God is sovereign, you see. Jesus said, “Upon this rock, I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” While Satan has his plan, God has the right plan. All those who trust in Jesus alone will spend eternity with Him.
This is what keeps me going!
We are in the last days. Many churches that once were giving their all to be biblical are now gone off track. The Scriptures state we should not be surprised. Satan is out to take down every Christian organization that once stood for truth.
Are you going to let him take you down?
This is a time to get serious about truth. Pastors of churches that proclaim the truth will be like lighthouses that shine bright into the darkness in the future. The darker that it gets, the brighter their lights will shine.
If you know a church, a fellowship, or a movement that is like the Titanic, PRAY. Pray the captain will warn the people that which is underway. Let the light of God’s Word shine into darkness and reveal Satan’s plans.
Pray that the things that have been hidden in darkness will be brought into the light. God cannot use an organization that allows darkness to exist alongside it. In these days, judgment must begin in the house of the Lord. God is a righteous God. He hates darkness. God would not be God if this were not the case.
I am excited what God is going to do. Aren’t you?
Remember – the Titanic!
Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it. Matthew 7: 24-27
LTRP Note: As many of you know, Roger Oakland, of Understand the Times, International, and Chris Lawson, of Spiritual Research Network, are former Calvary Chapel pastors/teachers, who both left the movement when their warnings about the infiltration of serious false teachings fell on deaf ears for several years and when they felt they could no longer, in good conscience, remain associated with the movement. Last week, Lighthouse Trails was informed of another Calvary Chapel pastor, Steve Shively of Refuge Church in Atascadero, California, who has made the decision (along with his church elders) to disaffiliate from the Calvary Chapel movement. The following letter was sent to the Calvary Chapel Association on June 29th, 2014. We are posting it with permission:
Dear Lighthouse Trails:
Can you recommend how to find a biblical teaching church that is not on the contemplative/emergent/Acts 29 path? My husband and I are feeling so unsettled about how these movement seem to be creeping in to all the churches in our area including the one that we are members at. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
Lisa (from Illinois)
Our Comment (from our article “How Do I Find a Good Bible-Believing Church?”):
We have often been asked, “How do I find a good Bible-believing church?” There are many believers who are struggling to find one in their own communities. We usually recommend they make phone calls to potential churches and ask a few concise questions such as:
“Do you have a Spiritual Formation program at your church?” or “Has your church implemented aspects of the Purpose Driven Movement anytime in the past 10 years?.”
Since thousands of churches would answer yes to both or at least one of these questions, they are worthwhile to ask, and it would certainly narrow down the scope of one’s search. Here are a few other questions that could be asked:
1. Is the pastor using The Message “Bible” in his sermons and studies? Because this paraphrase is very often used by pastors and teachers who promote contemplative spirituality or emerging spirituality (as the language in The Message helps support these false teachings), it is another indicator that a church is going in the wrong direction.
2. Is the church affiliated in any way with the Willow Creek Association? Oftentimes, a church has not implemented the Purpose Driven Movement but is, rather, hooked up with Willow Creek. This is as problematic as Purpose Driven. See our article on our website titled, “No Repentance from Willow Creek—Only a Mystical Paradigm Shift.”
3. Ask a potential church if it would mind mailing you a few recent Sunday programs. When you get them, look for some of the key terms used within the contemplative/emerging camp: missional, servant leader, soul-care, spiritual formation, transformation, transitioning, silence, organic, authentic, reinvent, spiritual disciplines, Christ follower (the term Christian isn’t typically liked too well by contemplatives and emergent) Christian formation (or Christian spirituality) (a term often meaning the same as Spiritual Formation). Just using these terms alone doesn’t suddenly make a church contemplative or emerging, but it does show that at least one person in leadership at that church is reading books of that persuasion, and eventually that person’s influence will affect that church adversely.
In addition to those three questions, be sure and visit a church’s website as there you may be able to find the answers to these questions without making the phone call. When on a website, see if there is more talk about “culture” and relevancy than about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You can check out the doctrinal and mission statements but be on guard—a church can have a solid-sounding doctrinal statement and be actually going in an entirely different direction. Listen to our CD Beware the Bridgers for some information on that. And by the way, remember who some of the more popular ”bridgers” are, closing the gap between “rightly dividing the Word” and spiritual deception in millions of people’s lives: Beth Moore, Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, John Piper, etc.—those who claim to be orthodox biblical Christians but who promote contemplative spirituality and emerging figures.
Also, once your search for a new church has narrowed down to a few churches, a weekday visit to those churches’ bookstores would be important. Look for books by Richard Foster, Gary Thomas, Henri Nouwen, Brennan Manning, and other authors discussed and critiqued on the LT website. Chris Lawson from Spiritual Research Network has an extensive “Master List” of authors who fall within the contemplative, emerging, hyper-charismatic, River, New Age, “Christian” homosexual, etc. camps. It’s an excellent resource.
When all this has been done to find a Bible-believing church, if there are any in your community that have passed the contemplative/emerging/Purpose Driven test, maybe it’s safe to take your family for a Sunday visit. Are many of the people walking in carrying Bibles? Seeker-friendly and church-growth churches discourage that because it might “offend” unbelievers (or as they say unchurched) coming to church. Does the pastor at some point in his sermon talk about the Cross (the atonement) and salvation (and mention of hell)? These are subjects that many churches avoid because of the “offensiveness” of that message. Better to offer an espresso drink and a little rock n roll music during the service and a psychology-based, feel good message that appeals to the carnal senses (sensual) rather than build up the spiritual man.
Once you have found a church that seems to be sound, you should not stop being discerning. That must be ongoing. That might seem like a ”paranoid” or overly concerned attitude to have, but if we remember the many verses in Scripture that talk about spiritual deception (right from the Garden of Eden all the way to the Book of Revelation), we will realize it is the responsibility of the Christian to be discerning and watchful. And the Bible frequently talks about the latter days before Christ’s return where deception will run more rampant than ever before. Roger Oakland gives a list of signs to look for to see if a church is becoming or has become contemplative/emerging. As you begin to attend a new church, this list may be helpful to you and your family:
Scripture is no longer the ultimate authority as the basis for the Christian faith.
The centrality of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is being replaced by humanistic methods promoting church growth and a social gospel.
More and more emphasis is being placed on building the kingdom of God now and less and less on the warnings of Scripture about the imminent return of Jesus Christ and a coming judgment in the future.
The teaching that Jesus Christ will rule and reign in a literal millennial period is considered unbiblical and heretical.
The teaching that the church has taken the place of Israel and Israel has no prophetic significance is often embraced.
The teaching that the Book of Revelation does not refer to the future, but instead has been already fulfilled in the past.
An experiential mystical form of Christianity begins to be promoted as a method to reach the postmodern generation.
Ideas are promoted teaching that Christianity needs to be reinvented in order to provide meaning for this generation.
The pastor may implement an idea called “ancient-future” or “vintage Christianity” claiming that in order to take the church forward, we need to go back in church history and find out what experiences were effective to get people to embrace Christianity.
While the authority of the Word of God is undermined, images and sensual experiences are promoted as the key to experiencing and knowing God.
These experiences include icons, candles, incense, liturgy, labyrinths, prayer stations, contemplative prayer, experiencing the sacraments, particularly the sacrament of the Eucharist.
There seems to be a strong emphasis on ecumenism indicating that a bridge is being established that leads in the direction of unity with the Roman Catholic Church.
Some evangelical Protestant leaders are saying that the Reformation went too far. They are reexamining the claims of the “church fathers” saying that communion is more than a symbol and that Jesus actually becomes present in the wafer at communion.
There will be a growing trend towards an ecumenical unity for the cause of world peace—claiming the validity of other religions and that there are many ways to God.
Members of churches who question or resist the new changes that the pastor is implementing are reprimanded and usually asked to leave.
Roger has these signs listed in his Booklet Tract How to Know When the Emerging Church Shows Signs of Emerging into Your Church. May God bless you in your search. It may seem like an insurmountable task, but we know there are still good churches out there because we often hear from pastors who are staying the course and are aware of the times in which we live. May God lead you to find one of these churches.
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural [carnal] man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. . . . For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:12-16)