Archive for the ‘Concerns for Calvary Chapel’ Category
On January 7th, Lighthouse Trails posted a letter to the editor titled: “Main Calvary Chapel Bookstore Just Added Rick Warren’s Daniel Plan Book.” Today, we received e-mails from various Lighthouse Trails readers stating that they were told by the Calvary Chapel store that it decided to remove Rick Warren’s Daniel Plan book after receiving a number of phone calls and complaints over the last two days. As of this writing, the link we had posted to the store where the book was made available is no longer available (see here), and it appears that The Daniel Plan is no longer for sale. The Daniel Plan, a dieting plan offered by Rick Warren and Saddleback church, is a creation of three doctors who advocate as part of good health New Age/eastern-style meditation.
To Lighthouse Trails:
Well now that Chuck [Smith] has passed away . . . I just noticed that the main Calvary Chapel bookstore has just recently listed Warrens Daniel Plan and Journal for sale. (Click here.)
LTRP note: This is troublesome that the main Calvary Chapel bookstore has added The Daniel Plan. This will send out a message to Calvary Chapel pastors and congregants that Rick Warren’s message is acceptable, when in fact, the Daniel Plan was created using three doctors who are all advocates of eastern-style meditation. The reason we believe the reader above said “now that Chuck has passed away” is because in 2006, Chuck Smith made a public announcement rejecting the Purpose Driven Movement.
Please refer to our recent article, Rick Warren’s New Book, The Daniel Plan, Receives Media Blitz—But Book Does Double-Speak on Eastern-Style Meditation” regarding the Daniel Plan book. Also check out some of our articles on The Daniel Plan’s three meditation-promoting doctors:
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.
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!
About two weeks ago, I received my monthly copy of IN TOUCH magazine. Lately the magazine has seemed “off” to me, but when I read the article on L’arche — even knowing nothing about them at that time — I literally said out loud (to no one as I was home alone) “Are you kidding me??” . . .
I had decided to write to Dr. Stanley when I received the monthly Lighthouse Trails [e-newsletter] and was shocked and amazed to see you had written about this very story in IT! So thank you for confirming to me what the Spirit of God had already revealed. I am so thankful for your site. I have not “liked” Rick Warren for years but never knew why until I came upon Lighthouse Trails when looking for information on Calvary Chapel which I still attend here on the east coast. (So far, contemplative has not reached the CC’s I know of in the lower New York area.)
The world grows darker day-by day — we desperately need Watchmen on the Wall! Stay strong and stand firm in the Truth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Grace and peace to you,
By Patrick Goodenough
(CNSNews.com) – After shunning the U.N.’s flagship human rights body for the past 17 months and defying it over a scheduled review of its rights record, Israel backed down on Sunday and agreed to take part, after coming under pressure from Western governments worried about the precedent its boycott was setting.
Israel stopped cooperating with the Human Rights Council (HRC) in May 2012, after claiming grossly unfair treatment for years at the hands of the Geneva-based body. Of all the resolutions ever passed by the council condemning a specific country, more than one-third have applied to Israel alone. Israel is one of 193 member-states.
As part of its non-cooperation stance, Israel last January became the first country to refuse to take part in the “universal periodic review” (UPR), an exercise every member-state is expected to undergo once every four years. Click here to continue reading.
NEW BOOKLET TRACT – ISRAEL: REPLACING WHAT GOD HAS NOT by Mike Oppenheimer
“Propaganda Wins” on Israel by Jim Fletcher
Consider the Troubles of Israel – Psalm 9 by Bill Randles
- See more at:
I enjoy listening to You Tube videos from conferences with several of discernment ministers that you promote and have gleaned excellent info from many of your publications as well. I have seen what appear to be some connections with Calvary Chapel, but am wondering if you could tell me what the nature of that relationship is. I believe I read somewhere that Roger Oakland was a former Calvary pastor. Are several of your writers former Calvary people? Can you disclose which ones?
It seems that many discernment conferences are still held at Calvary Chapels, but I understand from reading some of your articles that Calvary is a mixed bag in so much as Chuck Smith was apparently good friends with Rick Warren . . .
I’m wondering how one searches out trustworthy and discerning pastors that actually have biblical apologetics on their radar screens. Should I be looking harder at Calvary?
I can sniff out a lot of stuff on various websites as I’m familiar with their icons and buzzwords, but wondering if someone would know which Calvary Chapels are non-emergent, non-PD, non NAR, etc.
I’m also wondering if you would consider yourselves to be mainly in the continuist or cessationist camp or either? I discern the many issues in the charismatic/Pentecostal camp, AoG etc., but would consider myself a Bible-believing continuist.
Thank you for writing. In answer to your questions:
We at Lighthouse Trails are not connected to Calvary Chapel, but Roger Oakland was a Calvary Chapel teacher and evangelist/missionary for several years. He is no longer affiliated with the group. Chris Lawson, one of our other authors, was a Calvary Chapel pastor and missionary for several years. He too is no longer part of CC. Some of our authors do speak at times at Calvary Chapel churches, ones which seem to have a good understanding of the times in which we live from a biblical perspective. As with the other denominations we critique and challenge, we believe there are some Calvary Chapel churches that are not giving in to the contemplative/emerging agenda.
While we do not know whether Chuck Smith was “good friends” with Rick Warren or not, and we do know that Smith showed seeming support for Warren in the last few years of his life in at least two occasions (1, 2), we hope that his earlier rejection (see links below) of The Purpose Driven Movement, the emerging church, and contemplative spirituality will remain in people’s minds and will be seen as a good reason to stay away from these extra/anti-biblical spiritual outlooks.
As far as finding pastors and churches that are staying on the biblical course, please read our recent article titled, “How Can I Find a Good Bible-Believing Church?” This article gives some suggested questions to ask a potential church before attending and also a list of signs to watch out for. As for Calvary Chapel, or any other church for that matter, it must be looked at on a case by case (church by church) basis.
In answer to your question about our views on the Holy Spirit, we do not put a label on ourselves. We seek to live by the things we are told in Scripture. Here are a few verses to illustrate our views:
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 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. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. 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
But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. John 14:26
I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. John 15:5
Some of our other doctrinal beliefs can be found here.
Early this morning Chuck Smith, the founder of the Calvary Chapel movement, passed away. He was 86 years old and had been diagnosed with cancer in 2011. Below is a news story from WorldNetDaily, which talks about Chuck Smith’s life and influence in the church. Between 2006 and 2007, Chuck spoke with Lighthouse Trails editors a number of times, sharing with us his support for our warning against contemplative spirituality, Purpose Driven, and the emerging church (see links below). He found the writings of Roger Oakland, Ray Yungen, and Warren B. Smith to be highly informative and revealing. In more than one e-mail to Lighthouse Trails editors, Chuck said he was grateful for the “important” and “needed” work at LT. He is the only Christian leader we know of who bravely pulled one of his own books from the market because he learned that it had, unbeknownst to him, been tainted by an editor with New Age promoting quotes. We’ve witnessed no other figure within Christianity who did something like this with such humility and sincerity. While Chuck said little about our warnings in the last few years of his life, he never publically recanted his support for them. We know that many will grieve over the passing of this highly influential Christian leader. It is our prayer that the man or men who will fill his shoes will walk in the kind of discernment that Chuck Smith showed the church in 2006 and 2007. We know there are some Calvary Chapel churches today that have carried on this discernment in warning the church about spiritual deception.
“Chuck Smith, 86, Dies After Cancer Battle”
Renowned California pastor founded Calvary Chapel movement.
By G. Jeffrey MacDonald (WorldNetDaily)
Diagnosed in 2011, Smith continued to preach and oversee administration at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa (California), where he’d been pastor since 1965. In 2012, he established a 21-member leadership council to oversee the Calvary Church Association, a fellowship of some 1,600 like-minded congregations in the United States and abroad.
Smith was known for expository preaching as he worked his way through the entire Bible, unpacking texts from Genesis through Revelation and offering commentary along the way.
Yet it was his openness to new cultural styles, including laid-back music and funky fashions of California’s early surfer scene, that helped him reach young idealists and inspire a trend toward seeker-sensitive congregations.
“He led a movement that translated traditional conservative Bible-based Christianity to a large segment of the baby boom generation’s counterculture,” says Brad Christerson, a Biola University sociologist who studies charismatic churches in California. “His impact can be seen in every church service that has electric guitar-driven worship, hip casually-dressed pastors, and 40-minute sermons consisting of verse-by-verse Bible expositions peppered with pop-culture references and counterculture slang.”
Born to a Bible-quoting mother and a salesman father who became a zealous convert in midlife, Smith grew up in Southern California, where he witnessed to the Gospel from a young age.
After Bible college training and a stint as a traveling evangelist, he sought a niche in Pentecostalism by pastoring several Church of the Foursquare Gospel congregations. But he confesses in Chuck Smith: A Memoir of Grace: “I just never succeeded” in that denominational environment. Click here to continue reading.