Archive for the ‘Road to Rome’ Category

LIGHTHOUSE TRAILS ANNOUNCES NEW BOOK RELEASE – SIMPLE ANSWERS BY RAY YUNGEN

Simple Answers by Ray YungenLighthouse Trails Publishing is pleased to announce the release of Ray Yungen’s new book, Simple Answers: Understanding the Catholic Faith (An Evangelical Primer). Ray Yungen was the pioneering author who helped launch Lighthouse Trails nearly 16 years ago. His cutting-edge book A Time of Departing was released in the fall of 2002, six months after Lighthouse Trails began. Ray finished the rough draft of Simple Answers in the spring of 2016; on October 16th of that year, before the book was ready to be released, Ray passed away from unexpected complications of a cancer treatment.

During the year that Ray wrote Simple Answers, he told the editors at Lighthouse Trails that he believed Simple Answers was one of the most important projects he had ever done. We hope you will agree. We have chosen October 16, 2017 for the release date to commemorate Ray’s passing into glory.


The evangelical church is at a crucial point in its history. There are many voices crying out for a dramatic change in the way evangelicals have traditionally viewed Catholicism; these voices are taking the church in a radically different direction, one that fits in with Bible prophecy.

In 1991, an ex-Catholic pointed out that many Catholics had been leaving the Catholic Church over the previous forty years. The reason for this: Catholics were receiving simple answers from evangelicals regarding salvation.

Today, the need for simple answers has reemerged as we are witnessing a reversal where evangelicals are looking to the Catholic Church for guidance on Christian living and spirituality. Much of this is because the precepts of the Gospel are either minimized or forgotten.

It is not just a fluke or an aberration that the evangelical churches and the Catholic Church are coming into alignment with each other. The Catholic Church is taking a softer view of the evangelical church, and the evangelical church is starting to downplay the traditional and significant differences that have kept it at bay with the Roman Catholic Church.

Simple Answers is a presentation of the facts regarding salvation according to the Gospel in contrast to the teachings of the Catholic Church.


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Book Info:

RELEASE DATE: OCTOBER 16, 2017
Retail: $12.95 | quantity discounts
Softbound | 160 pages
9781942423119

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After November 1, Simple Answers will be available through most major online book outlets and can also be ordered through most walk-in bookstores (not necessarily on the shelves but can be ordered).

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A Story of Death to Life: From Catholicism to Christianity

By Barbara

I was born into a devout Catholic family and culture, knowing only one non-Catholic family until I entered high school. As a baby of just a few weeks old, I was baptized by sprinkling with water. My parents, who simply knew no better just as I did not for so many years, believed that this baptism meant that I was “ born-again.” I went to a Catholic school where I counted an old Franciscan priest as a dear friend. So devout was I that I consistently went to novenas, nine-day prayer vigils to honor Mary. On Saturdays, it was customary to go to weekly confession (now called the sacrament of penance) where I would confess my sins, whether venial (minor) or mortal (punishable by hell), to the priest so he could grant me absolution(cleansing). Normally, he would then have me say penance that my repentance would be deemed valid – possibly say two Our Fathers or 5 Hail Marys or say a rosary. Every Sunday would find me at Mass; every day of the 40 days of Lent period would also find me at Mass even if I had to get up at 5 o’clock to make my first college class. I wore a Miraculous Medal in reverence to Mary and a scapular so that Mary would rescue me from purgatory when I died.

A Catholicism confessional booth

A Catholic confessional booth (bigstockphoto.com)

Yet in spite of all my attempts at holiness, there was a lack of peace within me and an emptiness I could not fill though I tried to appease it with food and alcohol to a certain degree. My prayers to fill my emptiness and to give me peace were often accompanied with sobs as I cried out to a God who seemed always just beyond my grasp, behind a wall (a veil) I could not penetrate. Then one day, in His mercy, the Lord Jesus had a friend invite me to an evangelical prayer breakfast. For the very first time in 35 years, I heard the gospel of salvation, the gospel of eternal life. When the speaker asked those present who wanted to receive Jesus into their hearts to stand, my friend was amazed at how quickly I got up. I sobbed as peace flooded my heart and filled up the emptiness that had been in me all my life. Now, now I was truly born-again:

[Born anew] to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:4-5)

For over two years, I daily read this book called The Bible— devoured would be a more apt expression—and then the Lord led me to take a course on Catholic doctrine from a Catholic institution. Now, I could view Catholic doctrine through the lens of truth. (As the years went on, I read additional Catholic-produced books including the official Catholic Catechism, approximately 800 pages long). How amazed I was to discover what my former church believed! As an example, as a former devout believer in Mary, I had been told according to the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception that Mary herself was born sinless. That would mean she didn’t need a Savior. Yet she herself proclaimed in the Bible that she did

My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. (Luke 1: 46-47)

And there were so many more conflicts. Had I really been led to believe all those years as a Catholic so many things at odds with Scripture? My only excuse? I just didn’t know. And I don’t think my dear Franciscan priest did either. Like myself and all my relatives he simply believed what he had been taught.

No one comes to the Father but by Jesus. All these years Catholics have been told it was through the Catholic Church, by Mary’s intercession, by going to Mass, and by receiving communion that they come to the Father. I trusted what I was taught and was told that the Catholic way was the way to eternal life. Yet, John 14:6 says there is only one way to eternal life. His Name is Jesus.

I rejoice in the fact that before they died, both my parents came to know the truth of eternal life. In fact, it was the very uncertainty of the Roman Catholic Church’s stance on eternal life and the absolute certainty of 1 John 5: 13 on the topic of eternal life (see below) that opened my mother’s eyes.

In reading this and sharing it with others, know that the information in it truly is a story of death to life—mine, yours, and others.

The Bible says, “ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” With all my heart, I want to see those who are Catholic set free. Catholics need to know the truth of real salvation, and we Christians need to know the truth about Catholicism that we may witness to them meaningfully so that they may know the true love of Jesus and have eternal life.

In 1980, New York Cardinal O’Connor said:

(Catholic) Church teaching is that I don’t know, at any given moment, what my eternal future will be. I can hope, pray, do my very best—but I still don’t know. Pope John II doesn’t know absolutely that he will go to heaven, nor does Mother Teresa of Calcutta. (New York Times, February 1, 1980, B4)

In 1992, Cardinal Ratzinger, formerly Pope Benedict XVI, headed the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, which is the watchdog of Catholic orthodoxy, otherwise known as the Holy Office of the Inquisition. In that position, he headed the commission that wrote the official Catechism of the Catholic Church. This Catechism was approved by Pope John Paul 11. In that Catechism, that same uncertainty of salvation and eternal life is stated. (Death of a Pope: Dave Hunt of The Berean Call; http://mmoutreachinc.com/cult_groups/pope.html)

Yet those of us who are born-again know with absolute certainty what eternity holds for us:

And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know [with settled and absolute knowledge] that ye [already] have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. (1 John 5:11-13)

Related Information:

My Journey Out of Catholicism

A Former Nun Speaks Candidly About Pope Francis, Deception, and Mind Control in the Catholic Church

 

“Rick Warren, Calif. Bishop Hail Unity as Model for Evangelicals and Catholics to Follow”

LTRP Note: The following is posted for informational and research purposes and not as an endorsement of the source or the content.

“[Rick] Warren noted that union between the two traditions [Catholic and Protestant] can open the eyes of nonbelievers as well.”

“A Pew Research Center survey, released last month during the 500th anniversary year of the Reformation, showed that Catholics and Protestants today are not as divided on theological issues as they were centuries ago.”

2-second still shot from YouTube video of Bishop Vann and Rick Warren – September 2017; used in accordance with the US Fair Use Act.

By Stoyan Zaimov
The Christian Post

Megachurch pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church and California Roman Catholic Bishop Kevin Vann recently opened up about their years-long friendship and cooperation as a model for evangelicals and Catholics around the world to follow.

Crux Now shared an interview on Thursday, which was conducted by Pia de Solenni, a lay Catholic theologian and chancellor of the Orange County diocese, where Vann explained that his friendship with Warren began five years ago when they met at his installation.

“In the months and years that followed, I discovered the blessing of sharing the concerns of ministry with Rick, talking about our homilies and what we were both studying, and praying together. Our relationship has also been blessed to include Kay, his wife,” Vann explained.

“Also, Rick’s staff at Saddleback and our staff at the Diocese began to get to know each other through various meetings, sharing not only our common love for the Lord, but also our love for the Church, fellowship, and praying together.” Click here to continue reading.

Related Information:

 Rick Warren’s Dangerous Ecumenical Pathway to Rome And How One Interview Revealed So Much

Hundreds of Protestant Scholars and Pastors Sign “Reforming Catholic Confession,” But Can the Church Trust This Document?

Hundreds of Protestant and evangelical scholars, pastors, and theologians have signed a document called “Reforming Catholic Confession”  to mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, which will be commemorated on October 31, 2017. According to Dr. Timothy George, dean of Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Alabama, who co-chaired the Confession’s steering committee, “a significant motivating factor of the Confession’s participants is to call the Church to spiritual renewal.”1 In reviewing the “Reforming Catholic Confession” and the signatories, Lighthouse Trails has observed a few things, which lead us to ask, “Can the church trust the “Reforming Catholic Confession”?

To begin with, the majority of the hundreds of initial signatories either promote the contemplative prayer movement (a movement that has its roots in Catholic mysticism and panentheism and is drawing Protestants in that direction) directly themselves or represent institutions or denominations that do.

This promotion of contemplative spirituality includes the Confession’s co-chair, Dr. Timothy George.  For example, in a 2014 article titled “Not Just For Catholics”  on Beeson Divinity School’s website, written by George, he expresses his admiration for Catholic practices such as the contemplative Lectio Divina. George is also the general editor for a series called the Reformation Commentary on Scripture (published by InterVarsity Press) that boasts of including Catholic writers in its collection of commentaries. While the “Reforming Catholic Confession” claims to be trying to strengthen the Protestant church and its unique mission separated from the Catholic Church, how can we trust a document whose co-chairman does not even understand the serious reasons Christians must be separated from the Roman Catholic Church? We know Timothy George cannot understand this for if he did, he would certainly not, as the general editor, allow the writings of Catholic writers in a commentary series on Scripture. On the Beeson Divinity School website, George is described as  “active in Evangelical–Roman Catholic Church dialogue.”

Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), is another signatory of the “Reforming Catholic Confession.” Anderson was a pioneer of the emerging church movement as described in Roger Oakland’s book Faith Undone, which quotes Anderson saying he is hoping for a paradigm shift within the church:

The only way to cope and be effective during this period of structural change in society is to change some of the ways we view our world and the church. It is what some call a paradigm shift—a new way of looking at something. Such a shift will allow us to view our changing world with new perspective. It is like a map. Old maps from 1950 may have sufficed before the construction of interstate highways and the expansion of major cities, but new maps are needed now. Likewise, we need a paradigm shift for the future.2 (emphasis added)

It was Leith Anderson, Rick Warren, and Bill Hybels who were instrumental in helping Bob Buford (under the inspiration of Peter Drucker) launch the emergent church (then called Terra Nova) around 1998 with a group of young pastors: Doug Pagitt, Dan Kimball, Mark Driscoll, and Brian McLaren. Things have never been the same since, which leads us to ask the question: Is the “Reforming Catholic Confession” (which uses the word “catholic” over 30 times) another step in this emergent paradigm shift that Leith Anderson longed for twenty years ago where “a new way of looking at something [the church]” comes into play? Those who have studied the emergent/emerging church in the scope of Scripture know it is a definite road to Rome with its ecumenical, interspiritual, and mystical elements leading the way.

Other institutions that are represented in the signatures of the “Reforming Catholic Confession” are some of the most blatant contemplative-promoting Christian colleges and universities out there. And when we say contemplative, remember, we mean on a path to Rome: Wheaton College, Fuller Theological Seminary, Biola University, Bethel College, Regent University, Asbury University, Andrews University, Denver University, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. Other schools represented in the document are also contemplative promoting: Dallas Theological Seminary, Liberty University, Moody Bible Institute, Baylor University, Cornerstone University, and Westmont College. We’ve only named a few of the institutions that are represented on the signature list that promote contemplative spirituality (i.e., the emergent church). As we stated, it is the majority of them that do.

Several denominations are also represented in the “Reforming Catholic Confession” such as the Evangelical Free Church of America (and as of more recent years is now an advocate for contemplative spirituality). And don’t think that these signatures representing these groups are insignificant non-influential back-room members. For instance, the man from the Evangelical Free Church of America who signed the document is Rev. Greg Strand whose title is the Executive Director of Theology & Credentialing for the denomination. Not to mention that the president of that denomination, Rev. Kevin Kompelien, also signed the Confession.

Dr. Timothy George, co-drafter of the ecumenical Manhattan Declaration

Worth pointing out, John Stonestreet of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview is also a signatory of the Confession. Some may remember when Chuck Colson co-authored the Manhattan Declaration in 2009. Lighthouse Trails wrote about this in our article titled “Manhattan Declaration: ‘Perhaps Millions’ Being Led Toward the New Age/New Spirituality.” Here is a statement from the Manhattan Declaration:

We are seeking to build a movement—hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of Catholic, Evangelical and Eastern Orthodox Christians who will stand together.

The connection between the Manhattan Declaration (by the way, Brian McLaren was one of the original signers too) and the “Reforming Catholic Confession” is not just that John Stonestreet is a signer. Timothy George was very involved with the Manhattan Declaration as well. He was one of the four drafters of it!

It stands to reason, based on evidence, that the “Reforming Catholic Confession” is just an extension of the Manhattan Declaration’s goal to “build a movement” of Catholics, Evangelical and Orthodox Christians “who will stand together.” It seems naïve at best, deceiving at worst, to come out with this new document and claim that it is an effort to renew the Christian church, when in fact it has all the earmarks of helping to bring the “lost brethren” back into the fold of the “Mother Church,” whether the drafters or signatories realize it or not.

The “Reforming Catholic Confession” lists several doctrinal characteristics that define Protestantism such as the Trinity, baptism, the virgin birth, the deity of Christ (all of which, incidentally, the Catholic Church would say they believe in too). When it came to the category “the Lord’s Supper,” there was quite a bit of wordage, but the words “do this in remembrance” were not used while the words “the faithful” (the Catholic Church’s name for practicing Catholics) was used twice in that section. This may seem like a moot point to those who may not understand the significant difference between the Catholic Mass with the sacrament of the Eucharist and the Protestant “Lord’s supper” (i.e., communion service), which in Scripture Christians are instructed to “do this in remembrance” of Jesus Christ. We find it troubling that the “Reforming Catholic Confession” presented a vague and obscure description of this practice that has so separated Roman Catholicism from biblical Christianity for so many centuries that those who opposed the idea that Jesus was actually in a wafer were burned at the stake by the Catholic Church (see Foxe’s Book of Martyrs for documentation on papal persecutions).3 In one section of the Confession, it states: “it is particularly to be regretted that the early Protestant Reformers were unable to achieve an altogether common mind, in particular as concerns the doctrine of the Lord’s Supper.” But the Confession, again, is vague and never truly defines the biblical practice of the Lord’s Supper.

We find it  a little unnerving when the Confession states that we should go from reformation to “reforming catholic.” Perhaps the authors of the Confession are not implying that Protestants should now call themselves by that name, but vagueness and the oft used word catholic leaves speculation to the imagination. And when the Confession states, “We believe that what unites us is far greater than what divides us,” it is reminiscent of words Pope Francis said less than 12 months ago. In an article titled “Pope Stresses to Lutherans: What Unites Us Far Greater Than What Divides Us,” the Catholic pope told the ecumenical gathering of 1000 Lutherans:

The apostle Paul tells us that, by virtue of our baptism, we all form the single Body of Christ. The various members, in fact, form one body. Therefore, we belong to each other and when one suffers, all suffer; when one rejoices, we all rejoice. We can continue trustfully on our ecumenical path, because we know that despite the many issues that still separate us, we are already united. What unites us is far greater than what divides us. (emphasis added)

According to the article, Pope Francis said,  “Lutherans and Catholics are on a journey from conflict to communion.” By the indications of the “Reforming Catholic Confession,” Lutherans may not be the only ones heading into communion with the Catholic Church.

Conclusion

If your denomination or the college that your children or grandchildren attend is represented in the list of signatories of the “Reforming Catholic Confession,” perhaps it’s time to reconsider the direction your family may be getting pulled into. Today, we are witnessing apostasy and delusion on a grand scale. To turn a blind eye to doctrines that were formerly of paramount importance and now waning to insignificance may have disastrous results.

Endnotes:

  1. https://www.christianpost.com/news/over-250-protestant-leaders-sign-reforming-catholic-confession-on-essentials-of-christian-faith-198747/page2.html.
  2. Leith Anderson, A Church for the 21st Century (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 1992), p. 17.
  3. We recommend the edition by Lighthouse Trails as many of the other editions by other publishers have removed Foxe’s writings on papal persecutions.

Other noteworthy organizations represented in the “Reforming Catholic Confession”:

Calvary Chapel Lexington Kentucky

Calvary Chapel Moreno Valley

Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Wycliffe College

Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary

Westminster Seminary

National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference

Hope College

Grace College and Seminary

The Village Church

Harvest Bible Chapel

Institute on Religion and Democracy

Reformed Theological Seminary

Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission

Houghton College

Corban University

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Sneak Preview: Ray Yungen’s Last Book

Simple Answers by Ray YungenAs many of you know, Lighthouse Trails beloved author and co-laborer in Christ, Ray Yungen, passed away on October 16th 2016 at the age of 64 due to complications from a cancer treatment. Ray had just finished the rough draft of his book Simple Answers—Understanding the Catholic Faith: An Evangelical Primer a few months before he went to be with the Lord. After Ray’s passing, we had hoped to finish up the editing of his book by the end of 2016 but were unable to complete the project. We are happy to announce that we have finally finished the editing and endnotes of the book and will be going to press on September 18th. The official release date for the book will be October 16th 2017 to commemorate the day Ray passed from this world and into the arms of the Lord. Below is a sneak preview of the book. You may pre-order a copy now or wait until the book is released in October. Either way, we hope you will get a copy of this book as we believe it is going to be an important book that has the potential to open the eyes of many evangelicals and other Protestants who are on the road to Rome and may not even realize it. We also believe this book is written in such a way, with Ray’s conversational and gracious manner, that many Catholics will be willing to read the book as well.

During the preparation of this book, while Ray was still with us, he told the editors at Lighthouse Trails that he had wanted to write this book for many years and that he felt it was one of his most important works. Interestingly, he also told us he felt somehow that it was to be his final written work.

From Simple Answers by Ray Yungen:

The Introduction:

In 1991, an article written by ex-Catholic Mark Christensen appeared in the Jesuit publication, America, that would be seen as highly unusual for a Catholic magazine. The article was about the consternation of Catholic bishops in the United States on the massive flood of people over the prior forty years leaving the Catholic Church and embracing the evangelical view. They attributed this to the simple answers that the evangelicals had to offer regarding salvation.1

The author was commenting on a meeting that took place by Catholic bishops on how to halt the flow of Catholics into the evangelical churches. What made this article so remarkable was the candid way in which the writer explained why he had left the Catholic Church. The reasons he expressed were basically the traditional Protestant objections to the Roman Catholic faith—not so much in specific doctrinal details but in a general sense. Paraphrasing what he said, he spoke of growing up in a Catholic culture. Throughout his life, being a Catholic was central to his personal identity, and the Church was very much a part of his life. Even after leaving, he maintained a personal resonance with friends and family members still in the Catholic Church.

Despite his feelings toward certain individuals, he explained that he didn’t want to slander the Catholic Church because he had tremendous respect for some of the people in it. But, he said, “what I hear coming from the mouths of ex-Catholics as their number-one reason for leaving the Catholic Church is that they never heard the Gospel. He explained it this way:

“Dearly loved family and friends, that is why I left and why I think most leave the Catholic Church for Evangelicalism. . . . We left because we met Jesus Christ, and He changed our lives. And He changed our lives in a way we never knew in the Catholic Church. . . . Millions of other former Catholics beside myself couldn’t hear this Gospel within the Catholic Church.”2

At the end of the article, he urged the bishops to examine the evidence regarding the charges he made and ask the question why all these once devoted members had to “go elsewhere to find their spiritual food.”

As I said, it was astounding to read this article in a Catholic magazine. There was no Church response trying to refute him. There was no defense. In essence, it was just a plain indictment as to what the Catholic Church does teach regarding salvation. Perhaps because the magazine is a Jesuit publication and the Jesuits are known for being the intellectuals of the Catholic Church, the publishers thought it was intellectually healthy to air opposition. Or maybe they were so sure of themselves that the Catholic Church is the “one true church” that nothing anyone says could dissuade them from this confidence. Perhaps they thought the article could serve as some food for remedial thought in bringing the flock back into the fold. But regardless, the controversy that was brought out is that the evangelicals were luring Catholics away with simple answers to salvation.

In this book, Simple Answers, I will attempt to bring out the spiritual dynamics of these two different systems and how they stack up with each other from a biblical point of view. Of course, there are many books written by Catholic apologists that attempt to show that the Catholic Church is rooted firmly in Scripture. I will use some of these books in the controversy we are going to examine.

The evangelical church is at a crucial point in its history, and many in that camp are at a present-day crossroad that is drawing them to the practices (and ultimately membership) of the Catholic Church. There are many voices crying out for a dramatic change in the way evangelicals have traditionally viewed Catholicism; these voices are taking the church in a radically different direction. But when we discover the simple answers to the questions being asked about salvation and the Christian walk,  it becomes clear that this paradigm shift in the evangelical church is fitting in with Bible prophecy.

Endnotes:

1. Mark Christensen, “Coming to Grips with Losses—The Migration of Catholics into Conservative Protestantism” (America: The Jesuit Review, January 26, 1991), pp. 58-59.
2. Ibid.

ORDER YOUR COPY TODAY

Table of Contents

Introduction
1/A New Openness
2/“The Work of Our Redemption”
3/Mortal Sin vs. Assurance of Salvation
4/Purgatory
5/Our Lady
6/The Papacy
7/Summing Up
8/Learning From Rome
9/Conclusion
Appendix 1: The New Evangelization from Rome or Finding the True Jesus Christ (Roger Oakland)
Appendix 2: My Journey Out of Catholicism (David Dombrowski)
Endnotes
Index

BOOK INFORMATION:
160 pages
ISBN: 978-1-942423-11-9
Retail Price: $12.95 | Quantity discounts available
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“Reformed Church Body Signs Declaration on Justification to ‘Overcome Divisions’ With Catholic Church”

Courtesy and Comments by Roger Oakland
Comment from UTT: The move towards an ecumenical unity with Rome by denominations that were once part of the Reformation is now almost been accomplished. For a Protestant leader to say that there is no difference between what the Roman Catholic Church teaches about salvation and what the Bible teaches is totally absurd. Certainly this is a clear sign of the great falling away that the Bible warns about.

Pope Francis leads his Wednesday general audience at Paul VI auditorium hall in Vatican City February 8, 2017. (Reuters/Tony Gentile)

Reformed Church Body Signs Declaration on Justification to ‘Overcome Divisions’ With Catholic Church”

By Michael Gryboski
Christian Post

A worldwide coalition of Reformed churches representing approximately 80 million Christians has signed onto an ecumenical statement with the Roman Catholic Church to “overcome divisions” from the time of the Protestant Reformation.

The World Communion of Reformed Churches signed a “Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification” with Catholic, Lutheran, and Methodist leaders last week at a church in Wittenberg, Germany. According to a WCRC press release, “The declaration stated that mutual condemnations pronounced by the two sides during the Reformation do not apply to their current teaching on justification.” Click here to continue reading.

Related Information:

Evangelicals and Catholics Together and the Rejection of End-Time, Bible-Believing Christians

Chuck Colson Continues Work in Bringing Evangelicals and Catholics Together

Manhattan Declaration: “Perhaps Millions” Being Led Toward the New Age/New Spirituality

Dallas Theological Seminary Not Contemplative? – New Evidence Shows Otherwise

Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS) has always maintained that while they teach Spiritual Formation, they only teach the “good” kind and that they are not a school that promotes contemplative spirituality. Lighthouse Trails has always challenged these suppositions. In fact, it wasn’t that long ago when Lighthouse Trails editors had some correspondence with two different DTS faculty members (one a dean) who insisted that DTS was not promoting contemplative spirituality and that Lighthouse Trails should not include their name in our Contemplative College list or in our booklet An Epidemic of Apostasy – How Christian Seminaries Must Incorporate “Spiritual Formation” to Become Accredited” that names several evangelical seminaries (including DTS) that promote contemplative spirituality.

One example of how DTS is promoting contemplative spirituality is through their textbook Foundations of Spiritual Formation written by Paul Pettit.  While instructors at DTS who use this book may or may not ever mention Richard Foster or Dallas Willard, the textbook by Pettit does. Within the pages of Pettit’s book is Richard Foster, Philip Yancey, N.T. Wright, Dallas Willard, Thomas Aquinas, Ayn Rand, Parker Palmer, Eugene Peterson, J.P. Moreland, Klaus Issler, Bruce Dermerst, Jim Burns, Kenneth Boa and Brother Lawrence’s “practicing God’s presence,” plus the practice of Lectio Divina. These are some of the heavy weights in the contemplative prayer movement. Paul Pettit teaches in DTS’s Spiritual Formation department. One course that uses Pettit’s book at DTS is Mentored Spiritual Formation. If DTS isn’t promoting the contemplative prayer movement, why use a textbook that includes teachers and writers who do?

There is more to this Spiritual Formation saga at Dallas Theological Seminary. Take a look at this page for the DTS Doctor of Ministry (DMIN) Spiritual Formation Cohort.  Scroll to the bottom of the page and see the names of the two faculty members for this program. One of them is Gail Seidel (you can view her professional credentials here and here.) Last month (June 2017), she wrote a blog article titled “Soul Noticing 101,” in which she  shows an obvious affinity for contemplative spirituality. She speaks, as all the contemplatives do, of Christians who feel depleted, tired, and neglected (which is how they convince people they need to do contemplative prayer).

Seidel quotes enthusiastically from several contemplatives in the article. One quote is by Cindy Caliguire. Lighthouse Trails wrote about Caliguire in 2009 because of her advocacy for contemplative prayer. The following is an excerpt from that article:

With all these contemplative connections, it’s no surprise that Soul Care founder Mindy Caliguire’s teaching sessions are also based on contemplative spirituality and the spiritual disciplines. This is clearly evident if one listens on-line to her sessions. Caliguire is a good speaker, and she does quote and reference the Bible, but for those who understand and recognize contemplative spirituality, it becomes obvious in listening to her that Caliguire is in that camp.

In Practicing Silent Prayer [a 2009 workshop at Willow Creek], Caliguire teaches about mantras, silence, and finding a quiet place undistracted. She also mentions that this kind of prayer is “difficult to do. In Practicing Solitude Part 1, she teaches on how to prepare an undistracted quiet place or retreat, and explains what things to bring to connect with God. Oddly, she recommends bringing an alternative Bible translation that is less familiar to you, a journal, and The Way of the Heart by Henry Nouwen. The following is from Nouwen’s book: “The quiet repetition of a single word can help us to descend with the mind into the heart … This way of simple prayer … opens us to God’s active presence” (p. 81).

DTS Magazine – low-resolution shot used in accordance with the US Fair Use Act for critical review

This “repetition of a single word” is intended to put the practitioner in an altered state of consciousness. Gail Seidel goes on to quote Dallas Willard from his book Renovation of the Heart (remember, Willard and Richard Foster are the two main pioneers in bringing contemplative spirituality into the church and were inspired to do so by Catholic mystic Thomas Merton). After quoting Willard, Seidel quotes psychotherapist and meditation advocate Thomas Moore from his book Care of the Soul. The book is actually endorsed inside the cover by New Age author Larry Dossey, and in a section at the back of Moore’s book for further recommended reading, he includes Carl Jung! According to the New Age website Spirituality & Practice, Moore is “a leading lecturer in the fields of archetypal psychology, mythology, and imagination” and a columnist for Spirituality & Health magazine. How can a faculty member at DTS be promoting such a book unless she is resonating with the author? She never gives any indication that she disagrees with any of these quoted figures; on the contrary.

After quoting Willard, Caliguire, and Moore, Gail Seidel continues on her contemplative-author escapade by quoting “spiritual director” Alice Fryling from her book Seeking God Together: An Introduction to Group Spiritual Direction. This book is a who’s who of contemplative, New Age, panentheistic mystics: Thomas Merton, Gerald May, Shalem Institute found Tilden Edwards, not to mention Henri Nouwen, Richard, Foster, and David Benner (all of whom you can read about in Ray Yungen’s A Time of Departing).

It cannot be ignored that one of two Spiritual Formation faculty members at Dallas Theological Seminary is so taken with so many hard-core contemplative prayer advocates. Dating back to 2010, in Seidel’s DTS Soul Care Lead Lab, she is recommending books by David Benner, Richard Foster, Ruth Haley Barton, Mindy Caliguire, Leighton Ford, Fil Anderson, Thomas Moore, and Dallas Willard (all contemplative teachers).

This brings us to the 2017 summer issue of DTS Magazine (see cover to the right) that one of our readers brought to our attention recently. There are a number of innuendos and hints (including the cover) of contemplative spirituality in this issue. But we will focus on one particular article written by Brandon Geilla titled “Patterns of Prayer: Ancient and Modern Tools for Reading Scripture and Communing with God,” which states:

Ancient words like liturgy can seem scary for modern, nondenominational evangelicals. Liturgy and words like lectionary, or guides like the Book of Common Prayer, often bring up feelings of empty ritual. Are they hollowed out forms of true Christian faith from which we broke away during the Reformation? We often believe so and we make subconscious vows to never return to dead habits.

Yet, this year—the 500th since the Reformation—looking back to more traditional roots of our Christian practice can prove fruitful for our spiritual growth. In the last several years, in fact, many articles have explored why millennials are returning to mainline, traditional denominations because of their formal liturgy. (emphasis added)

What the millennials are “returning” to is a mystical form of prayer developed by the Desert Fathers and other monastics. Geilla’s article elaborates on the “lectionary,” stating, “Within a more structured worship environment, people hear the Scriptures as part of a more multisensory, whole-body experience” (emphasis added). The article insinuates that DTS founder Lewis Sperry Chafer would approve of this “multisensory” kind of Christianity and stretches Chafer’s apparent willingness to work with those of other denominations into a willingness to embrace these liturgical sensory experiences as well. By the way, we believe the practices being recommended in this article have the potential to be like gateway drugs to full-blown contemplative prayer (in a similar way as lectio divina is used in the contemplative prayer movement). In fact, this article is a gateway article. For example, it quotes (and recommends) a man named Drew Dickens and a group he is part of called Abide. Dickens heads the spiritual formation department at Abide. The Abide website promotes meditation calling it  “Christian meditation.” But by the descriptions (such as it relieves stress), they are talking about something much different than meditating (pondering or thinking about) on Scripture. Abide links to a particular website to make their point that mediation is beneficial (when the world says meditation, it is not talking about reading Scripture and pondering on it – it’s talking about mantra-like meditation). Just take a look at some of the books on that site (that Abide recommends to view), and you will see clearly what Abide means by “meditation.” For an example of one of Abide’s mediation exercises, click here (but please use caution). The monotone woman’s voice is an earmark of New Age meditation exercises. In addition, she instructs the listener to breath in slowly and breath out slowly. For those who are familiar with New Age meditation, you will recognize the similarity.

The article by Brandon Geilla in DTS Magazine would never appear in a magazine that understood the dangers of contemplative prayer. Interestingly, Geilla favorably references Bishop Ray Sutton in his article, who was mentioned in a Lighthouse Trails article where we stated:

Bishop Ray Sutton of The Gathering is Dean of the Province and Ecumenical Affairs of the Anglican Church in North America and is involved in a number of ecumenical (road to Rome) activities. Sutton also advocates for the Catholic transubstantiation of the communion elements (a re-crucifixion of Christ) (click here and here for some more information on Sutton).

We know our critics, including those at DTS who defend the school no matter what, will say we are using guilt by association in our article to implicate DTS, but what it is guilty of is guilt by promotion and guilt by proxy. There’s a big difference! We do not believe these are isolated incidents at DTS. And it has not just started. Like others who have gone down the contemplative/emergent path, DTS started off slowly years ago building momentum over the years. At the very least, DTS needs to come clean and admit what they are doing for the sake of unsuspecting students who will later become pastors and teachers of today’s Christian church and will have been greatly influenced in a manner that does not align with the biblical Gospel.

What’s really troubling about Dallas Theological Seminary is that they deny they are promoting contemplative spirituality. Yet, one of two faculty members for their Spiritual Formation Cohort is gleaning heavily from outright contemplative mystics. At least with some schools, they admit that is what they are doing – it’s out in the open. But not so with DTS. Their hands are in the cookie jar, but they are denying it. What would their older Christian donors do if they knew the school has willfully entered a spirituality that negates the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

Related Articles:

Is Your Church Doing Spiritual Formation? (Important Reasons Why It Shouldn’t)”

5 Things You Should Know About Contemplative Prayer”


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