Thousands flock to Vatican to back pope over abuse

BY Nicole Winfield

Associated Press

VATICAN CITY – More than 100,000 people filled St. Peter’s Square on Sunday in a major show of support for Pope Benedict XVI over the clerical sex abuse scandal.

Benedict said he was comforted by such a “beautiful and spontaneous show of faith and solidarity” and again denounced what he called the “sin” that has infected the church and needs to be purified.

Citing estimates from Vatican police, the Vatican press office said 150,000 people had turned out for the demonstration organized by an association of 68 Italian lay groups.

Despite a drizzling rain, the balloon- and banner-toting faithful from around Italy overflowed from the piazza; banners hung up on Bernini’s colonnade encircling the piazza read “Together with the pope,” and “Don’t be afraid, Jesus won out over evil.”

“We are here to show both to other people and to ourselves our solidarity with the church in this difficult time,” said Simone Pleticos, a 24-year-old student who traveled from Milan for the occasion.

Such large crowds are usually reserved for major holiday Masses and canonizations, not for Benedict’s brief, 10-minute Sunday blessings from his studio window. The crowd interrupted Benedict frequently with applause and shouts of “Benedetto!” and the pontiff himself strayed from his prepared remarks to thank them again and again.

“Thank you for your presence and trust,” he said. “All of Italy is here.”

Benedict didn’t refer explicitly to the scandal, but repeated his recently stated position that the scandal was born of sins within the church, which must be purified.

“The true enemy to fear and to fight against is sin, the spiritual evil that unfortunately sometimes infects even members of the church,” he said.

The Vatican has been mired in scandal amid hundreds of reports in Europe, the United States and elsewhere of priests who raped and molested children while bishops and Vatican officials turned a blind eye. Benedict’s own handling of cases has also come under fire. Click here to continue reading.

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Book Review: Laughter Calls Me

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Episcopal Church ordains 2nd openly gay bishop

(courtesy True Discernment)

By ASSOCIATED PRESS

LONG BEACH, Calif. (AP) — Seven years after the Episcopal Church caused an uproar by consecrating its first openly gay bishop, it has done the same thing again — only this time with a woman.

The Rev. Canon Mary Glasspool, of Baltimore, was ordained and consecrated on Saturday, making her the second openly gay bishop in church history and one of the first two female bishops in the Diocese of Los Angeles’ 114-year history.

The ceremony was at Long Beach Arena before 3,000 people, who burst into applause at the end, church spokesman Bob Williams said.

The Rev. Canon Diane M. Jardine Bruce, of San Clemente, Calif., was also ordained Saturday.

The two women were elected last December to serve as assistant bishops in the diocese’s six-county territory but conservative Episcopalians had urged the church not to ordain Glasspool. The decision to do so highlights a continued Episcopal commitment to accepting same-sex relationships despite enormous pressure from other Anglicans. Click here to continue reading.

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Will the new science “prove” that God is in everything?

In a 2009 article in the San Antonio Express-News, it features Thomas Keating, a Catholic monk who has been instrumental in bringing contemplative spirituality out of the monasteries to the layperson. In the article, Keating conveyed what contemplative mystics have been saying for centuries: mysticism is the common ground among all the world’s religions. This article illustrates why Lighthouse Trails is so concerned about the huge role contemplative spirituality is now playing in evangelical and Protestant churches. We believe that this will ultimately lead to what the Bible calls the mystery of iniquity (i.e., the occult: essentially the belief that man and God are identical). Thomas Merton, another Catholic contemplative monk, put it this way: “The contemplative experience is neither a union of separate identities nor a fusion of them; on the contrary, separate identities disappear in the All Who is God.”1

The San Antonio article titled, “Monk says contemplative prayer like ‘resting in God'” talks about the relationship between science and religion, a topic that is gaining momentum these days:

Science is discovering the oneness of the source of all the material universe as we know it, and by the oneness that appears in all structural forms of life and then the oneness that the spiritual practice of contemplative prayer brings in recognizing our commonality, our common ground with all other human beings and indeed all of nature.

When the article says “the oneness of the source of all the material universe,” it is referring to what some are calling the “new sciences” or the “spiritual sciences.” This new science is hoping to convince society that every cell in the universe is connected to one another and that by practicing contemplative prayer (going into the silence) one will awaken to realize this universal oneness.

It is coincidental that this article came out the same time Lighthouse Trails released A “Wonderful” Deception by Warren Smith. Smith identifies the character of this “new science” in his book. Smith asks what would rationalize Christian leaders to embrace a “new worldview that would mesh Christianity with the New Age/New Spirituality and other religions.” He says the “answer might very well come through the ‘new science’ and the ‘new math’–quantum physics, chaos theory, and fractal theory–the ‘new science’ attempt to scientifically prove that God is not only ‘transcendent’ but also ‘immanent’–that God is ‘in’ everything (AWD, p. 165).

The San Antonio article says that science and religion “have been at one another’s throats but that has begun to shift in the last generation or two.” But it predicts that: “it should shift a lot more as one recognizes that science is speaking a language that is very similar to that of the mystical experiences of all the world religions, and mainly the sense of cosmic oneness and interaction and communication beyond space and time.”

The world’s mystics would resonate with this belief that mysticism is the commonality among all world religions. Even Tony Campolo suggested this in his book Speaking My Mind when he said “a theology of mysticism provides some hope for common ground between Christianity and Islam” (see pp. 149-150). And of course Thomas Merton often spoke of this common ground within all religious traditions. And as for New Agers, this is one of their core “values.” In the New Age book, As Above, So Below, occultist Aldous Huxley is referenced regarding the “Perennial Wisdom” that believes that “the metaphysical (mysticism) unites all things together in all the world’s religions” (pp. 2-3).

There is a reason why practicing mysticism gives this sense of unity within all religious traditions. It is because that place of silence or the mystical altered state is actually a realm of familiar spirits (Leviticus 19:31). The very fact that mysticism unites all religions is proof that mystical practices are not sanctioned by the God of the Bible, who has clearly stated that there is only one path to God (Jesus Christ) and that all the world’s religions will never be united under this true God. Rather, every knee will bow and be brought under submission to the only true God and Savior, Jesus Christ. The gods of this world will never be one or in unity with the true God. When Henri Nouwen, at the end of a life of practicing mysticism said that he believed that Jesus wasn’t the only way to God and that he felt it was his mission to help people find their own way to God, he was expressing the core perception of the mystical view.2 As Warren Smith points out in A “Wonderful” Deception, the rationale for this is stated by Nouwen when he said, “The God who dwells in our inner sanctuary is also the God who dwells in the inner sanctuary of each human being.”

Some people may accuse Lighthouse Trails and those with similar concerns of being narrow and legalistic, but those who look at this rationally and straight on, if they are being honest, would have to see that there is a distinct opposition to these two views (preaching of the Cross versus God in everyone). In Christianity, the message is believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shall be saved. Nouwen’s view is God dwells in everybody’s heart from the moment of birth just because they are human. If that is the case, why believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior? That is why Nouwen (as are other contemplatives today) was so lackadaisical about the Gospel. In other words, it made Nouwen uncomfortable. Of course, it made him uncomfortable–because it rejected what he believed about the human condition!

We believe this “shift” that the San Antonio article is talking about could be the very thing that Scripture warns against when it states: “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.” (I Timothy 4:1) As the world “shifts” toward the common belief that humanity (and all creation) is united through a divine, cosmic, “scientific” energy that the new scientists will say exists in all things, and as much of Christianity heads that way too through the contemplative prayer practices, Bible-believing Christians must continue to warn their loved ones of this very real and fast-moving spiritual deception.

For more information on this topic, read A “Wonderful” Deception by Warren Smith. To understand the contemplative prayer movement (i.e., spiritual formation), read A Time of Departing.

Notes:

1. Brother Patrick Hart-Editor, The Message of Thomas Merton, op. cit., p. 200. (quoted in A Time of Departing, chapter 4)
2. Henri Nouwen, Sabbatical Journey, p. 51.
3. Warren Smith, A “Wonderful” Deception,” 2009, p. 63, citing Henri Nouwen, Here and Now , 1997 edition, p. 22.

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Letter to the Editor: National Worship Conference & Calvary Chapel Not a Good Mix

To Lighthouse Trails:

I have been reading your posts regarding C.C. Albuquerque and Leonard Sweet.

I thought you might like the following information so that we might all be able to determine the truth regarding this matter.

According to Calvary Chapel Albuquerque’s website on their upcoming events page, Dr. Leonard Sweet will in fact be speaking. If you scroll down to about the 17th event … National Worship Conference … there is an audio promo posted which states that Mr. Sweet will in fact be speaking: http://www.calvaryabq.org/events.asp

I would also like to point out that Leonard Sweet while blatantly New Age, is not the only speaker in question. There are many other people in this upcoming conference who are a part of Saddleback and Willow Creek. Both pastors of both churches, Rick Warren* and Bill Hybels respectively, are graduates of the Robert Schuller School of Church Leadership, and both pastors also endorse contemplative prayer, a ‘Christianized’ brand of Hindu meditation practices. [see “Saddleback IS a contemplative church” and also “No Repentance from Willow Creek – Only a Mystical Paradigm Shift“]

Others, such as Mr. Maher routinely minister in Roman Catholic fellowships (is he a Roman Catholic, or an ex-Roman Catholic and a Christian simply reaching out to these souls?): Matt Maher – is still involved in local church ministry at St. Timothy Catholic Community, as well as helping out with the young adult ministry at All Saints Newman Center on the campus of Arizona State University.

Buddy Owens is Pastor of Spiritual Growth at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California.
Scott Dyer is the Pastor of Worship and Arts at Bent Tree Bible Fellowship, in the northern suburbs of Dallas, TX, where he has served since February of 2004. Prior to coming to Bent Tree, Scott spent 14 years on the staff of Willow Creek Community Church and the Willow Creek Association.

Stan Endicott is Executive Worship Pastor at Mariners Church in Irvine, Calif., a large church known for progressive and culturally compelling approaches to worship, communications and ministry. He also consults with churches around the country and continues to work with established and up-and-coming recording artists in music production. Stan is a mainstay at Arts and Worship conferences at Willow Creek Community Church in Barrington, Ill., and at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., where he also directs the worship choir.

Curt Coffield – Curt is committed to helping others worship. He is the Pastor at Sewickley Valley North Way Christian Community in Pennsylvania. Formerly, Curt served as Worship and Teaching Pastor at Resurrection Life Church in Grandville, Michigan; as Worship Pastor at Shoreline Community Church in Monterey, California; and as Worship Director at Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois. As a member of Integrity Music’s band PK7, Curt led worship for Promise Keeper events in arenas around the country for several years.

Tony Guerrero is currently serving as the Director of Creative Arts at Saddleback Church, where he leads a mostly volunteer group of hundreds of musicians, singers, and performers in a variety of arenas.

Randy Swanson has been involved in Creative Arts ministry for over 30 years. He has a degree in music from UCLA and a JD from Western States University. He was admitted to practice law in California in 1983. As an accomplished trumpet artist he performs in churches and orchestras on a regular basis. He served as the Executive Director for the Robert Schuller Performing Arts Center.

Information above taken from the official web site, posted below
http://www.nationalworshipleaderconference.com/index.cfm?tdc=dsp&page=speakers

I am personally dismayed that CC continues to align themselves with those who are apart of the EMERGENT Church.

Signed by a Lighthouse Trails reader

Related Information:

Calvary Chapel Rejects Contemplative, Emerging, and Purpose Driven

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The Selling of “Islam-Lite”

The following out of house news story is connected with Michael Carl’s (WorldNetDaily) recent article, WorldNetDaily on Mark Driscoll and Rick Warren: Growing trend to meet with Muslims rings alarm bells for some

by Jamie Glazov
Front Page Magazine

Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Michael Carl, a veteran pastor and journalist who has written on terrorism, Islam and the persecuted church for WorldNetDaily.

FP: Michael Carl, welcome to Frontpage Interview.

MC: Glad to have the opportunity to speak with you.

FP: I would like to talk to you today about the “interfaith dialogue” that Christians are engaged in with Muslims. It doesn’t appear that Muslims have exactly the same objectives as Christians. What is happening here exactly?

Carl: The problem is that Christians enter these dialogue sessions with the idea that they’re what the Muslim activists proposing them say are going to be. Christians are of course commanded by Christ to ‘”make disciples of all nations.”‘ So it’s commendable in a way that the Christians involved see the dialogues as an opportunity to evangelize to Muslims. But that’s not the objective the Muslims have in mind. The CAIR sponsored groups that initiate the contacts have a desire to disinformation. They willingly present ‘Islam Lite’ to the unaware Christians in the audience. They speak of faithfulness to Allah, pilgrimages, doing charitable works and Christians just soak it up not knowing that there is a double edge on those Islamic terms and concepts.

FP: What is the “double edge” on the Islamic terms and concepts that you raise?

Carl: I think the ‘double edge’ is the variance between the Islam Lite for the public and the real nature of what’s really being advanced. A good example of this is Muslim writer Yahiya Emerick. Emerick has written, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Understanding Islam. This is his work that presents Islam Lite, the ‘Islam is a religion of peace,’ and all Muslims are not jihadists version. This is the book that presents Islam as, ‘just like Christianity because they go to their mosque, have an Islamic version of ‘Sunday School’ for the kids, etc. Then there’s Yahiya Emerick’s textbook that he wrote for seventh grade students in Islamic schools. In this book, the chap who is an American convert to Islam, tells Muslim students that the Bible is a book of fables and myths, that jihad really means conquering infidels and that all Muslims have a duty to support jihad.  Click here to continue reading.

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Interfaith school for military chaplains dedicated

By Susanne M. Schafer, The Associated Press
USA Today

FORT JACKSON, S.C. — Priests, rabbis, imams and Protestant ministers who serve as U.S. military chaplains came together Thursday to dedicate themselves and the nation’s first joint military school for tending warriors’ souls.”We deploy side-by-side. We minister to all, side-by-side. It is only fitting that we train side-by-side,” said Chaplain Maj. Gen. Cecil Richardson, the Air Force Chief of Chaplains, at the dedication of the new Armed Forces Chaplaincy Center

Congress ordered the military services five years ago to merge their disparate chaplain and chaplain assistant schools. Representatives of the Army, Navy and Air Force said they put aside differences of military culture to build a multi-faith education center.

The site is next to the Army’s Chaplain Center and School, which trains the most chaplains of all service branches. This year, the three services expect to graduate just under 2,800 chaplains and chaplain assistants.

Military chaplains hold their own faith services, but may oversee non-denominational events. If requested, they can offer counseling to any uniformed service members or relatives, as well as civilians and contractors who work for the military. They are trained to help uniformed men and women deal with the trauma of war and issues such as deployments and reunions. Some specialize in such things as marriage, family or anti-suicide counseling. Click here to read this entire article.

Related Articles:

Efforts Underway to Train U.S. Military Chaplains and Personnel in Eastern Mysticism

Men Who Stare at Goats and Toward a Mystical Military

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Interspirituality: The Final Outcome of Contemplative Prayer (Spiritual Formation)

by Ray Yungen

The final outcome of contemplative prayer is interspirituality. . . Just what exactly is interspirituality? The premise behind interspirituality is that divinity (God) is in all things, and the presence of God is in all religions; there is a connecting together of all things, and through mysticism (i.e., meditation) this state of divinity can be recognized. Consequently, this is a premise that is based on and upheld by an experience that occurs during a self-hypnotic trance linking one to an unseen world rather than to the sound doctrine of the Bible.

It is important to understand that interspirituality is a uniting of the world’s religions through the common thread of mysticism. Wayne Teasdale, a lay monk who coined the term interspirituality, says that interspirituality is “the spiritual common ground which exists among the world’s religions.”1 Teasdale, in talking about this universal church also states:

She [the church] also has a responsibility in our age to be a bridge for reconciling the human family . . . the Spirit is inspiring her through the signs of the times to open to Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Sikhs, Jains, Taoists, Confucians, and indigenous peoples. As matrix [a binding substance], the Church would no longer see members of other traditions as outside her life. She would promote the study of these traditions, seek common ground and parallel insights.2

An article in my local newspaper revealed just how well received interspirituality has become in certain circles. One Presbyterian elder who was described as a “Spiritual Director” made it clear when she said:

I also have a strong interest in Buddhism and do a sitting meditation in Portland [Oregon] as often as I can. I considered myself ecumenical not only in the Christian tradition, but with all religions. 3

Sound doctrine must be central to this debate because New Ageism has a very idealistic side to it, offering a mystical approach to solve human problems. Everyone would like to have his or her problems solved. Right? That is the practical aspect I wrote about in the last chapter—a seemingly direct route to a happy and fulfilled life. However, one can promote the attributes of God without actually having God.

People who promote a presumably godly form of spirituality can indeed come against the truth of Christ. Then how can you be assured what you believe and practice is of God?

The Christian message has been clear from the beginning—God has sent a Savior. If man only had to practice some kind of mystical prayer to gain access to God then the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ was a fruitless, hollow endeavor.

Sound Christian doctrine comes from the understanding that mankind is sinful, fallen, and separated from God. Man needs a saving work by God! A teaching like panentheism (God is in everybody) cannot be reconciled to the finished work of Christ. How could Jesus be our Savior then? New Age constituents will say He is a model for Christ consciousness, but the Bible teaches He is the Savior of mankind. Therefore, panentheism cannot be a true doctrine.

The problem is that many well-intentioned people embrace the teachings of panentheism because it sounds so good. It appears less bigoted on God’s part. No one is left out—all are connected to God. There is a great appeal in this message. Nevertheless, the Bible does not teach a universal salvation for man. In contrast, Jesus said:

Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (Matthew 7:13-14)

Christ’s message is the polar opposite of these universalist teachings. Many people (even Christians) today think only a few really bad people will be sent to hell. But in Matthew, the words of Jesus make it clear that this just is not so.

While God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for the sins of the world, He did not say all would be saved. His words are clear that many would reject the salvation He provided. But those who are saved have been given the “ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18) making an appeal to those who are perishing (2 Corinthians 4:3). The Christian message is not samadhi, Zen, kundalini, or the contemplative silence. It is the power of the Cross!

For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:18)

Yes, perishing, and not just unaware of their true self.

In an opinion poll, the startling results describe how Americans actually view God. Spirituality and Health magazine hired a reputable pollster organization to gauge the spiritual beliefs of the American public. This national poll revealed that 84 percent of those questioned believed God to be “everywhere and in everything” rather than “someone somewhere.”4 This means panentheism is now the more popular view of God. If true, then a high percentage of evangelical Christians in America already lean towards a panentheistic view of God. Perhaps many of these Christians are fuzzy about the true nature of God.

How could this mystical revolution have come about? How could this perspective have become so widespread? The answer is that over the last thirty or forty years a number of authors have struck a deep chord with millions of readers and seekers within Christianity at large. These writers have presented and promoted the contemplative view to the extent that many now see it as the only way to “go deeper” in the Christian life. They are the ones who prompt men and women to plunge into contemplative practice.

And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works. (II Corinthians 11:14, 15)

(from A Time of Departing, 2nd edition, pp. 50-53)

Notes:

1.  Wayne Teasdale, “Mysticism as the Crossing of Ultimate Boundaries: A Theological Reflection” (The Golden String newsletter, http://clarusbooks.com/Teasdale.html, accessed 10/2009).
2. Wayne Teasdale, A Monk in the World (Novato, CA: New World Library, 2002), p. 64.
3. Jan Alsever quoted in Statesman Journal, January 27th, 1996, Religion Section.
4. Katherine Kurs, “Are You Religious or Are You Spiritual?” (Spirituality & Health Magazine, Spring 2001), p. 28.

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