Last week, we reported on the L.A. Times article titled “Rev. Robert H. Schuller ousts his son as ‘Hour of Power’ preacher.” On this week’s Hour of Power, Robert Schuller has issued a statement about the new vision for his ministry, one he says will be “ecumenical.” Below are a few excerpts from his statement (hear video):
One of the greatest ministers in our denomination and in the history of the United States was Norman Vincent Peale. In addition, this ministry has impacted the shape and the face of Protestant and even Catholic ministry through the power of the Holy Spirit….
A mission is a place where you ask non-believers to come and find hope and feel love!…
This spirit is the underlining principle that we have taught to over 50,000 pastors who over the years attended the Institute for Successful Church Leadership. These pastors returned home and built upon it and even surpassed what they learned from me. Bill Hybels, Rick Warren, and many other pastors of most of the biggest churches today are a result of applying that principle….
[A]fter much prayer we got a new vision and it is this: We’re going to invite great preachers in America that have never been on television to be guest preachers here. In fact, the greatest sermons ever preached from the Crystal Cathedral here in Garden Grove will be by guest pastors….
And we have to prove to the world that the church of Jesus Christ can be ecumenical! We’re not just one denomination. We are a representation of the beloved Christians, whether they are Pentecostals, whether they are Orthodox, whether they’re Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, or whatever…. We will feature the great preachers from the world, starting with names of men who went to our Institute within the last 40 years. You’ll hear, of course, from Bill Hybels, one of the greatest ministers in the world….
[W]e became a positive witness to the Roman Catholic Church, which at its best is still the mother church of Christianity. Norman Vincent Peale, the greatest positive thinking preacher from a mainline denomination in history preached here often…. Henry Nouwen, top of the letter, Roman Catholic, theologian, phenomenally. Listen to more
For more on Robert Schuller, Rick Warren, and the New Age implications, read Deceived on Purpose by Warren Smith.
Two letters written to Lighthouse Trails recently (similar to many others we receive):
I just looked at your list of colleges and seminaries that are joining with the Emergent church movement. I am shocked and horrified. Moody Bible, Taylor University (my children attended Taylor in the 1990s) and so many more that at one time were considered very sound. Are there any left who are trustworthy? This is all happening so fast, the Lord’s return must be near, very near. I’m sorry to say I believe my own church has bought into this lie from the pit of hell, and no doubt I will be forced to leave soon. So few people see what is happening. Sometimes I wonder if I am the one who is off base but then I look at the Word of God and know that is not the case. Thank you for keeping us informed of this terrible deception. I am praying for you and thanking God for your faithfulness to His Word.
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To Lighthouse Trails:
Lighthouse Trails has been an invaluable resource to me over the past three years. Many of my friends and family have benefited greatly from your website and books. The most recent example is a young woman in my church who read A Time of Departing and has been warning and informing her friend who attends Biola. This friend then informed another friend at Biola who is very concerned and is asking for more information. Another example is a young man from my church who began attending Point Loma University in August. His mother and grandparents were able to warn him and prepare him to stand against the contemplative spirituality at that university thanks to information from Lighthouse Trails. I could give many more examples. The Lord is using your ministry in countless ways to warn and equip his people. I can’t begin to express how thankful I am for your extremely important service to the body of Christ. May He bless you abundantly as you continue to faithfully serve Him!
Los Angeles Times
Marilyn Ferguson, 70, dies; writer’s ‘The Aquarian Conspiracy’ was pivotal in New Age movement
Marilyn Ferguson, whose best-selling book “The Aquarian Conspiracy” helped establish the New Age movement by tying together its disparate threads, has died. She was 70.
Ferguson died Oct. 19 at her home in western Riverside County. She is believed to have died of a heart attack, her son, Eric, told the Los Angeles Times.
“The Aquarian Conspiracy,” published in 1980, was the first comprehensive analysis of the various unconnected efforts – such as scientists investigating biofeedback, midwives running alternative birthing centers and a Christian evangelist promoting meditation – that would coalesce into the New Age movement. Click here to read this entire news article.
The Great Heretical Idea: Oprah and Eckhart Do the New Age Shift by Warren Smith
Lee Strobel’s Son – Founder of Contemplative Ministry – Biola Named as “Partner,” Lee Strobel as “Supporter”
Kyle Strobel, son of prolific Christian author, speaker, and teacher, Lee Strobel, grew up at Willow Creek Church and later studied at Biola’s Talbot School of Theology. Today, he is helping to pave the contemplative way by touting the works and practices of mystics, contemplatives, and emergents. Kyle’s website ministry Metamorpha is called “an online community for Christian spiritual formation,” listing several contemplative practices, including repetitive prayers, lectio divina, and Ignatian exercises. Recommended books on the site list a who’s who of contemplative mysticism proponents such as Dallas Willard, Thomas Merton, Richard Foster, Henri Nouwen, Adele Calhoun, Thomas Kelly, and several others.
In an article on Metamorpha, specific instruction for Ignatian exercises (named after St. Ignatius of Loyola) is given. In the Metamorpha article, it says that the “imagination is key in Ignatian prayer…. Ignatian meditation involves several key spiritual disciplines: lectio divina, Ignatian contemplation, reminiscence, and the examination of consciousness (notice: not conscience).”1
A video on Metamorpha by Richard Foster titled “What role do the ancient Christians play in life of believers today?” is quite revealing.2 Foster lists several ancient mystics as those we should turn to for spiritual direction. One he named is Jean Pierre de Caussade (from the 1700s), a mystic and the author of Abandonment to Divine Providence.3 Foster also names panentheist Thomas Kelly who Foster quotes in one of his books as saying there is a divine center in every person (see Streams of Living Water). Foster also tells readers to practice meditation exercises such as lectio divina.
There is no question that Kyle Strobel is following the contemplative path. He resonates with numerous mystics whom Lighthouse Trails has critiqued in the past, as well as emergents like Leonard Sweet and Dan Kimball. It is hard to know whether his interest for the mystical began at Willow Creek or Biola – both promote it. But in his book, Metamorpha he gives credit to Biola professor John Coe for helping him come to his present spiritual understanding. Coe is the founder of Biola’s Institute of Spiritual Formation where contemplative prayer is openly promoted.
Some may be wondering why Lighthouse Trails is issuing this statement about Kyle Strobel who is not too well known yet. We do so because his father, Lee Strobel, is one of the most well known Christian figures today, and this connection will bring much attention to Kyle’s ministry, in turn pointing many unsuspecting people toward contemplative spirituality. We believe a warning is necessary and warranted.
One of the mystics Kyle recommends is Thomas Merton. The following three quotes are very indicative of Merton’s spiritual affinities and should not be ignored:
“I’m deeply impregnated with Sufism.” Thomas Merton, The Springs of Contemplation, p. 266
“And I believe that by openness to Buddhism, to Hinduism, and to these great Asian traditions, we stand a wonderful chance of learning more about the potentiality of our own traditions, because they have gone, from the natural point of view, so much deeper into this than we have.” Quote by Merton from the book, Lost Christianity by Jacob Needleman
“Isn’t it a pity that people are going into LSD to have spiritual experiences, when we have a tradition in the Church [contemplative prayer] which no one knows anything about?” Read the Interview in which Matthew Fox quoted Merton.
Earlier this year, Relevant magazine asked Kyle to name ten books he believes “all Christians should read.” 4 Two of them are written by Henri Nouwen (who Kyle calls a “prophet”), one by Brother Lawrence, and one by Thomas a’ Kempis – all three had mystical propensities.
As a final note, on the Metamorpha site, InterVarsity Press is named as a “sponsor” of Metamorpha, Lee Strobel is named as a “supporter,” and Biola’s Institute of Spiritual Formation is named as a “partner.”5
Conversations Journal is also named as a “partner.” Conversations Journal offers articles by some of the most blatant eastern-style mysticism teachers including Brian McLaren, Basil Pennington, and Tilden Edwards, the latter two are known panentheists.6 It was Tilden Edwards who said: “This mystical stream [contemplative prayer] is the Western bridge to Far Eastern spirituality” (Spiritual Friend, p. 18), and Basil Pennington who said:
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. (Finding Grace at the Center , pp. 5-6, Keating/Pennington)
Many will no doubt find The Secret Life of Bees, a new film which opened in theaters this month, to be a heart-warming, endearing movie, but behind the outward storyline lies a New Age theme and a spiritually dangerous sting.
The film is based on former Guideposts contributor Sue Monk Kidd’s best-selling book, The Secret Life of Bees. Monk Kidd, once a conservative Southern Baptist Sunday School teacher, now worships the goddess Sophia (a New Age, mystical concept of “God”). Her new spirituality began to take form when she started reading Thomas Merton. From there she started practicing eastern meditation and eventually moved into the Divine Feminine/goddess-within camp.
The Fox Searchlight film has woven within its seams the representation of the Black Madonna. Most viewers will have no idea what the Black Madonna stands for. Monk Kidd discusses her role:
As I began the novel, I wanted the driving impetus in Lily’s life [the girl in the film/book] to be the search for home and for her mother. But clearly in the back of mind, I knew there was a less tangible, more symbolic search for home and mother that needed to take place: a coming home to herself and the discovery of the mother within. I knew Lily would have to find an undreamed of strength, and that she would do it the same way the powerful black women around her did it – through the empowerment of a divine feminine presence, in this case a Black Mary.1
In Larry DeBruyn’s expose of the best-selling novel, The Shack, he discusses New Age Episcopal priest Matthew Fox’s Black Madonna (much like Monk Kidd’s Madonna):
Fox’s description of the Black Madonna (or the ancient Egyptian goddess Isis as she is alternately understood) included her supposed leading of distressed people to find emotional healing within themselves.
Today the Black Madonna is returning. She is coming, not going, and she is calling us to something new (and very ancient as well)….The Black Madonna calls us to our Divinity which is also our Creativity. First, our Divinity. Because she is a goddess, the Black Madonna resides in all beings. She is the divine presence inside of creation. She calls us inside, into the “kingdom/queendom of God” where we can co-create with Divinity and feel the rush of Divinity’s holy breath or spirit.
In Monk Kidd’s book The Dance of the Dissident Daughter, she elaborates on the theme of the goddess dwelling in everything when she states:
Deity means that divinity will no longer be only heavenly … It will also be right here, right now, in me, in the earth, in this river, in excrement and roses alike.(p. 160)
In her book, When the Heart Waits, Monk Kidd’s spirituality is spelled out clearly when she explains:
There’s a bulb of truth buried in the human soul [everyone] that’s only God … the soul is more than something to win or save. It’s the seat and repository of the inner Divine, the God-image, the truest part of us. (pp. 47-48)
The cast of the Bees movie was on Oprah earlier this month, and, as always when Oprah promotes a movie or a book, millions of women will be drawn to this story because of that promotion. But before ladies buy those theater tickets with the hopes of spending a girl’s night out with daughters, mothers, sisters, and friends, they should keep in mind that they will be exposing themselves and their loved ones to a subtle but dangerous spiritual message and a sting that could have far-reaching effects.
See A Time of Departing for more on Sue Monk Kidd.
The managing editor of Biola University’s magazine has posted a statement, admitting that Biola is indeed introducing students to contemplative spirituality in their chapel services. The following are a few quotes from his statement:
“Last week, a long-running smear campaign against “spiritual formation” at Biola University kicked it up a notch. An organization called Lighthouse Trails [has]unleash[ed] a torrent of criticism and insults about Biola, claiming that Biola is drifting from its strong biblical roots and embracing ‘apostate Roman Catholic mystical spiritual formation’”
“You’ll be shocked when you find out just what it is that these people are up in arms about… Contemplative prayer! That’s right, they are worried about Biola possibly being apostate because in chapel we dare to introduce students to ancient methods of contemplative, meditative prayer. We dare to engage the students in Lectio Divina, an ancient method inherited from the Desert Fathers of deeply reading and meditating upon a scripture. It’s not new-agey or mystical; it’s simple, quiet, and meaningful. The bible takes center stage. What is wrong with that?”
“[To Lighthouse Trails ... P]eople like Richard Foster (who they label “neo-Gnostic”), Henri Nouwen, and Dallas Willard (who, for the record, gave a very philosophical and helpful lecture at Biola’s Torrey Conference last Wednesday), represent an unbiblical mysticism that masquerades as ‘spiritual formation.”
“It baffles me that ‘spiritual formation,’ which to me looks like a positive, healthy thing from every angle, is being so aggressively criticized. Even more baffled that Biola is being singled out and smeared for their commitment to it.” Click here to read more.
First, in response to the statment that Lighthouse Trails has released “a torrent of criticism and insults,” against Biola, this simply is not true. We make every attempt to present the facts in a straight-forward and non-vitriolic manner; and while these are difficult things to say, they must be said.
Secondly, it seems very apparent that this young man truly believes there is nothing wrong with contemplative spirituality. This is the failure of Biola’s administration, faculty, and leadership, who have allowed such a belief system to take root in their school.
Finally, we want to assure Biola that we have not “singled” them out. Contemplative spirituality is epidemic throughout a majority of Christian colleges and seminaries today – Biola is certainly not the only one. To see others going in this direction, please see our list.
The following conferences will be taking place during the next 12 months. Each of these conferences has at least one contemplative- and/or emerging church-promoting speaker. The number of these contemplative conferences is increasing rapidly. Please warn your loved ones about these events.
Note: Contemplative speakers are in bold. For information on these contemplative/emerging-proponents, go to our research site and use the search engine.
October 2008: Lead Like Jesus Revolution with Ken Blanchard, John Ortberg, George Barna, Nancy Ortberg, and Miles McPherson
October 2008: Group Life Conference with Mark Batterson, John Burke, and Miles McPherson
October – November 2008: National Youth Workers Convention with numerous contemplative/emerging speakers such as Duffy Robbins, Jim Burns, Maggie Robbins, Mark Oestreicher, Phyllis Tickle, Shane Claiborne, and Tony Campolo
November 2008: Lead Now Simulcast with Erwin McManus, Margaret Feinberg
December 2008: Reimagine Conference with Leonard Sweet and Sally Morgenthaler
February 2009: Focus on Marriage with Beth Moore, Gary Thomas, and Gary Smalley
February 2009: National Pastors Convention with Brian McLaren, Shane Claiborne, Bill Hybels, J.P. Moreland, Larry Osborne, Leighton Ford, Rob Bell, Ruth Haley Barton, Scot McKnight, and more.
June and July 2009: DCLA 09 with Shane Claiborne, Duffy Robbins, Frances Chan
For more “Conference Alerts,” click here (scroll down page).