BOOK REVIEW FROM BOOKS AND CHOCOLATE
The full title of this book is For Many Shall Come in My Name: How the “Ancient Wisdom” is Drawing Millions of People into Mystical Experiences and Preparing the World For the End of the Age. It’s a long title but sums up the topic.
The new trend within the Christian church is a call to return to the “ancient wisdom”, drawing on the teachings of Catholic mystics from centuries ago and combining them with the techniques of meditation, labrynth walking, centering, mantras, reiki, etc., newly packaged as contemplative prayer and spiritual formation.
But there is nothing new here, as Yungen documents. The “ancient wisdom” permeating the church is the same old “new-age” teachings of paganism, the occult, and Eastern religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism. It just has a more savvy wrapping and is being embraced not only by mainstream Christian denominations but also in the fields of health, business, education, self-help, and arts and entertainment. It is presented as the science of metaphysics or as biblical; not for the open door to the dangerous side of the spiritual realm that it is. Click here to read entire book review.
The Church’s fixation on the death of Jesus as the universal saving act must end, and the place of the cross must be reimagined in Christian faith. Why? Because of the cult of suffering and the vindictive God behind it.–Alan Jones1
As we here at Lighthouse Trails have joined with other believers in exposing the truth about the emerging /contemplative spirituality, we have come to learn that the core of the New Age believes that the teachings of the East and of the West must be fused and blended before the true and universal religion–for which the world waits–could appear on earth. In other words, all religions must come together under the umbrella of metaphysics (mysticism). While the average Christian would agree that this doesn’t line up with Scripture, the Christian church has been overtaken by this very concept, but in a deceitful and often subtle manner. The underlying layers of this dark and anti-Christ theology rejects the very thing that can save a soul–the atonement for sin on the Cross by Jesus Christ. He was a substitute, and He took our place. Without that atonement, we are lost forever.
This weekend, people throughout the world will be celebrating Christ’s resurrection. Even people who don’t believe in the resurrection are celebrating the weekend and wishing Happy Easter to others. But while that seems odd to celebrate a day when you don’t even believe in its reason, what is more odd is that so many Christians are celebrating the resurrection but are throughout the year promoting a spirituality that ultimately denies the atonement. Without the atonement, why bother thinking about the resurrection–it would mean nothing. The two are synonymous.
Some may be saying right now– my pastor doesn’t deny the atonement. Really? Does he ever promote Brennan Manning or Richard Foster? What about the college you attend? Do your professors ever tell you to read Henri Nouwen or Larry Crabb? And what about the women’s Bible studies you attend? Do you ever read books by Keri Wyatt Kent, Jan Johnson, or Ruth Haley Barton? And what about the youth group your teens go to? Do they watch Rob Bell’s Noomas and read books by Dan Kimball and Brian McLaren? And is your church involved with Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life? You see, the spiritual formation movement (of which category all these authors and leaders fall into) has a core of mysticism. And contemplative mysticism, by its very nature, denies the Cross, the atonement, and certainly the resurrection. So to celebrate the resurrection and yet to embrace spiritual formation is a terrible contradiction. Allow us to explain: While it is true that most of the people fore mentioned do not reject the Atonement, by their adhering to and promoting the spirituality that does, they unwittingly reject it also. If this sounds too farfetched, consider this: Jan Johnson (previously mentioned), in her book When the Soul Listens, makes favorable reference to the giants of the contemplative prayer movement (Merton, Nouwen, Pennington, Keating, etc.) in virtually every chapter of her book. It can be factually proven that these individuals to whom she frequently refers believe that God is in everybody and everything. And in the spiritual view of these teachers, the Cross is not the reconciling factor between God and humanity–meditation (i.e., contemplative prayer) is!
The contemplative mind-set of true contemplatives is that God would not send His Son to a violent death on a Cross to bear the sins of others. They say Jesus is their model but cannot say He is their Savior, in the biblical sense.
Thomas Merton was probably the most influential and prominent figure in the modern day contemplative prayer movement. In response to a Muslim mystic’s statement that Islam rejected the idea of Christ’s atonement and redemption on the Cross, Merton responded:
Personally, in matters where dogmatic beliefs differ, I think that controversy is of little value because it takes us away from the spiritual realities into the realm of words and ideas … in words there are apt to be infinite complexities and subtleties which are beyond resolution…. But much more important is the sharing of the experience of divine light, … It is here that the area of fruitful dialogue exists between Christianity and Islam. (from A Time of Departing, p. 59).
Is the preaching of the Cross merely words and ideas that take us away from “spiritual realities”? The spiritual reality of what Merton was talking about was the contemplative spirituality that has no place for the Cross. That’s why it didn’t matter to Merton–it was just merely a religious concept. What really mattered to Merton was the “divine light” that one encounters in the contemplative state. This is where contemplative prayer led Merton; and we believe those who follow his path will end up at the same destination.
During this time of the year when so many churches are holding Easter services (in honor of the death and resurrection of Jesus), how many of these same churches are clinging to contemplative spirituality without even realizing what it really stands for.
If Jesus’ going to the Cross and shedding blood was merely an act of service and sacrifice, an example for others to follow, and was not actually a substitutionary payment for the sins of humanity, then why celebrate Easter and the resurrection? It would make no sense. Those churches who cling to contemplative/emergent ideologies and practices should reevaluate this. While they cling to one (contemplative), they deny the other (the atonement) even if they don’t realize it.
by Roger Oakland
Understand the Times
The Bible provides a vast list of characters God has used as the servants He has called to fulfill His plan on planet Earth. Few are more dynamic in the way they fulfilled their calling than Jeremiah, one of the prophets we read about in the Old Testament. Jeremiah’s ministry covered approximately forty years until a few years after Judah ceased to be a state in 586 BC.
As with other prophets that God raised up to speak and warn about the terrible apostasy that impacted Israel, Jeremiah was not popular. In fact, the task of a prophet of God is often characterized by loneliness and despair. No one wants to hear the bad news of the mandate that the prophet has been given to proclaim.
Such is the case today when someone proclaims the Word of God with the anointing of God’s Spirit. Those who do not have a love of the truth (2 Thessalonians 2:10) but rather love the darkness make the most noise. They do not want the light of the Word to expose the carnal and devious plans they promote.
Jeremiah had no choice but to tell the truth. He was called to tell the truth. He knew that it was the truth that would set sinners free. He was also aware that hiding the truth would bring further destruction. Jeremiah had a compassion for those who were deceived, but he also had passion to let the deceived know there were consequences for turning away from God and serving their gods.
He also understood that history had a pattern of repeating itself. He knew what had happened in the past, and he knew what would occur when the Children of Israel refused to hear God and His Word. He could see his colleagues and friends falling into the same trap. On one occasion, his passion is obvious from the words that he spoke:
And the LORD said unto me, A conspiracy is found among the men of Judah, and among the inhabitants of Jerusalem. They are turned back to the iniquities of their forefathers, which refused to hear my words; and they went after other gods to serve them: the house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken my covenant which I made with their fathers. Therefore thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will bring evil upon them, which they shall not be able to escape; and though they shall cry unto me, I will not hearken unto them. Then shall the cities of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem go, and cry unto the gods unto whom they offer incense: but they shall not save them at all in the time of their trouble. Jeremiah 11:9-12
The main reason the Children of Israel were disobedient is that they were rebellious to God and His Word. God had already warned them. They knew what to expect if they chose the gods; but they went after the gods anyway. Further, they had placed their trust in man rather than in God. The writing was on the wall. Judgment was just around the corner. Jeremiah pleaded with his people. The leaders of Israel scoffed at him and attacked him personally. However, the Word of God explains that the gods did not prevent the Lord from judging them. The people were taken into captive in Babylon just as God warned.
Jeremiah was a true prophet. He could not keep quiet. He had to speak. He was called by God and appointed to be a prophet to the nations (Jeremiah 1:5). While he was not always enthusiastic about what God had called him to do, his calling commanded him to speak with boldness and not to be afraid of those whom he was directed to warn (Jeremiah 1: 7-8).
Further, Jeremiah did not have to lay awake at night to think up what he was going to tell the leaders of Israel (Jeremiah 1:9). His message was not candy-coated. It was harsh. It was a message of warning. He was a warrior and a watchman (chapters 1-45). He warned that sin would be judged and that leaders and the organizations who were sinning would be exposed.
They and their sin were exposed. Sin will be judged whether it is covered up or not. The same is true of the past, the present, and the future.
Jeremiah’s message was not all negative. There was a positive side as well. He was called to build and to plant. When one plants then one has enlisted in the field of agriculture. This means that seeds are put in the soil with the faith that there will be a crop and therefore a harvest. While most Bible expositors are good at pointing out that Jeremiah was good at exposing sin and error, not many actually see him as an evangelist. Jeremiah proclaimed the truth of the Gospel – he was a witness to the nations as well (Jeremiah chapters 46 – 52).
Warrior, Watchman and Witness
The Jeremiah calling is still in place today. God is speaking to his people to be warriors for the truth. This does not mean to attack the unbelievers and the apostate deceivers with a sword. What this means is that we should be warriors who use the Word as the sword.
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Hebrews 4:12
While there are those who claim they do use the Word as they teach the Word, it is obvious that this is not always true. Sometimes they use the Word of God in a way that advances their own false beliefs in order to gain power and control.
A warrior is one who is willing to lay down his or her life for the truth. This is what Jesus did. Few are willing to lay down their lives today and risk their lives to take a stand, whatever the cost. Few are willing to pick up their cross and follow Him. But Jesus told His disciples:
If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. Matthew 16:24
Certainly, this does not mean that such a person who chooses to follow Christ at all costs is perfect. All have fallen short of the glory of God. There is only One who gave His life so that we can have eternal life. Only One who is worthy. We must always be looking to Him and Him alone. A watchman is someone who is always prepared to be on the wall looking towards the horizon to see if danger is coming. Sometimes there are those who are supposed to be watching who instead have grown weary or old and have fallen asleep. Others have been sidetracked by the cares of the world or the attraction of money, power, and possessions. They no longer see spiritual danger. This is very tragic indeed. Often when this happens, God will simply raise up other watchmen.
A witness is someone who will share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Jeremiah laid the foundation for the Gospel by pointing the people of his day to the Word of God, which is the truth. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is based on the truth, which is the Word God; therefore, Jeremiah was a true witness for the Lord.
So, where do you stand? Are you willing to be a Jeremiah? Are you willing to do what God is calling you to do or just sit by the wayside and do nothing?
We are living at a time in history when we may be near the end of history. Isn’t it time to stand up and take a stand for the truth?
Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. Jude 1:3
From Understand the Times with Roger Oakland
Used with permission from UTT
To listen to UTT’s radio lectures, click here.
Related articles by Roger Oakland:
LTRP Note: In conjunction with this MSNBC article below, please see links below to other articles we have posted.
By Alex Johnson Reporter for MSNBC.com
It’s purely a coincidence, but U.S. Catholics and Protestants alike are being introduced this Easter season to separate “official” updated translations of the Christian Bible, which arrive in the year the magisterial King James Version celebrates its 400th birthday.
But with millions of dollars in publishing revenue and the trust of millions of churchgoers hanging in the balance, the new versions aren’t being met with universal acceptance.
While the changes may seem small, they are resounding throughout Christianity, whose many denominations formed or broke off from others over clashing interpretations of God’s word.
The two new translations touch on some of the most sensitive issues behind those differences, particularly on the inequality of women in society and on the divinity of Mary and — by extension — the birth of Jesus. Click here to continue.
Related articles by LT:
by John Lanagan
My Word Like Fire Ministries
In January, Lighthouse Trails revealed that Rick Warren had recruited three doctors, all Eastern/new age meditation proponents, to help create his Daniel Plan diet.
Warren enthusiastically introduced the three men to the Saddleback Church congregation, and to thousands of Christians around the country. This was tantamount to a recommendation of the books, DVDs, and other products by Dr. Mark Hyman, Dr. Daniel Amen, and Dr. Mehmet Oz–some of which include and promote anti-biblical meditation practices. Whatever Rick Warren’s motivation, this also potentially exposed many in the Body of Christ to Reiki.
In the ensuing days, as the controversy mounted, Rick Warren took a stance against Eastern/new age meditation, despite the fact that it was his decision to select these men to guide the Daniel Plan in the first place. In a strange sort of defense, Warren actually attempted to portray the bloggers concerned about this as people who were themselves against biblical meditation!
Even after all this, anti-biblical meditation is still included in the Daniel Plan. So is hypnosis. In the Daniel Plan “Brain Type Action Plans,” those with the (supposedly) ”Anxious” Brain (Type 5) are recommended these options:
Meditation: (go to the Relaxation Room for meditation sessions) Hypnosis: (go to the Relaxation Room for hypnosis sessions)http://www.saddleback.com/thedanielplan/healthyhabits/braintype/(these links removed by Saddleback) (Click here for links and to read the rest of this article.)
On April 14th, OneNewsNow, an affiliate of American Family Association, released a small article titled “‘Mysticism’ infecting Nazarene beliefs.” The article brought attention to Manny Silva of Stand for Truth Ministries. Silva has been active in trying to warn Nazarenes about the infiltration of contemplative/emerging spirituality into the Nazarene denomination. While Lighthouse Trails is glad to see that OneNewsNowhas picked up on this vital situation, the short article barely touches the tip of the iceberg. It is disheartening to see how the Christian media has barely given any attention at all on how the panentheistic, mystical contemplative prayer movement (i.e., spiritual formation) has adversely affected almost every denomination within evangelical Protestant Christianity. Below is the lead paragraph to the OneNewsNow article and then some links to Lighthouse Trails articles of the past that fill in some of the gaps on what is happening in the Nazarene denomination with regard to contemplative/emerging spirituality:
‘Mysticism’ infecting Nazarene beliefs
Russ Jones – OneNewsNow
A ministry based in Massachusetts is voicing its concern about the so-called [LT does not understand why some of the media calls the emerging church “so-called] “emergent church” movement’s growing influence on the Nazarene denomination.
The InterMountain Christian News reports that roughly 10,000 Nazarenes in the United States and Canada have left the denomination over the past four years. Manny Silva, director of Stand for Truth Ministries, says research shows that unbiblical ideology is rampant throughout the denomination.
“There is mysticism coming into the denomination — a lot of mystical practices, including the use of pagan prayer labyrinths. There is the teaching of open theism and process theology in the university,” Silva reports. “The underlying problem that is going on in the Church of Nazarene, most of us believe, is the denial that the holy scriptures are the inherent, infallible Word of God.” Click here to read more.
Lighthouse Trails Research on the Nazarene Church’s slip into contemplative/emerging:
Nazarene Universities Welcome Brian McLaren – Feb 2008
Students Fight for Homosexual Rights on Christian Campuses . . . And Emerging Church Leaders Must Share Blame
LTRP Note: The New York Times article below, stating how more and more students attending Christian colleges are “coming out of the closet” and trying to get their Christian schools to accept and embrace the homosexual lifestyle, has come as no surprise to Lighthouse Trails. And we believe much of this occurrence can be attributed to contemplative emerging spirituality leaders and teachers. In Roger Oakland’s book, Faith Undone, Oakland addresses the “new” sexuality coming into the church through the emerging church. We have posted that section of Faith Undone below the New York Times article. Basically, through the contemplative/emerging spirituality the practice and acceptance of homosexuality has gained immense ground within Christian youth circles. As we have stated for nine years, if your kids are attending youth groups or colleges that are promoting spiritual formation (i.e., contemplative), not only could they be exposed to mysticism, panentheism, and universalism, they could also be exposed to the view that homosexuality is normal and even good. This New York Times article is indicative of a runaway Christian church that is filled with confused leaders, teachers, authors, and pastors who do not have the courage or spiritual gumption to stand for the truth.
New York Times
“Even on Religious Campuses, Students Fight for Gay Identity”
WACO, Tex. — Battles for acceptance by gay and lesbian students have erupted in the places that expect it the least: the scores of Bible colleges and evangelical Christian universities that, in their founding beliefs, see homosexuality as a sin.
Decades after the gay rights movement swept the country’s secular schools, more gays and lesbians at Christian colleges are starting to come out of the closet, demanding a right to proclaim their identities and form campus clubs, and rejecting suggestions to seek help in suppressing homosexual desires.
Many of the newly assertive students grew up as Christians and developed a sense of their sexual identities only after starting college, and after years of inner torment. They spring from a new generation of evangelical youths that, over all, holds far less harsh views of homosexuality than its elders. Click here to continue reading.
“Sexuality in the New Reformation”
by Roger Oakland, from Faith Undone
It may seem out of place to include a section on sexuality in this chapter on the postmodern reformation. However, one aspect of the topic cannot be ignored, and it has become an earmark in the emerging church—that aspect is related to homosexuality.
In this section, I am merely going to present certain statements made by those in the emerging church for the purpose of showing you this paradigm shift in attitude toward sexuality. How you interpret these statements is up to you, but it is my prayer you will look at them through the eyes of Scripture. One thing is for sure, after reading this section, I think you will agree that emerging spirituality is attempting to redefine how Christians view and think about sexuality. I begin first with the Word of God:
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Romans 12:1-2)
One example of this new reformation mindset on sexuality can be found in Dan Kimball’s book, They Like Jesus but Not the Church. Kimball devotes an entire chapter (called “The Church is Homophobic”) to homosexuality and says that Christians need to reinterpret what we thought the Bible says about homosexuality. He states:
Because this is such a huge issue in our culture, and because all of the tension and discussion on this issue is over what the Bible says about it, we can no longer just regurgitate what we have been taught about homosexuality.… We cannot do that any longer … We must approach the Bible with humility, prayer, and sensitivity, taking into consideration the original meaning of Greek and Hebrew words and looking into the historical contexts in which passages were written.… we can no longer with integrity merely quote a few isolated verses and say “case closed.”1
Quite honestly, and some people might get mad at me for saying this, I sometimes wish this [homosexuality] weren’t a sin issue, because I have met gay people who are the most kind, loving, solid, and supportive people I have ever met. As I talk to them and hear their stories and get to know them, I come to understand that their sexual orientation isn’t something they can just turn off. Homosexual attraction is not something people simply choose to have, as is quite often erroneously taught from many pulpits.2
Kimball does not stand alone within the ranks of the emerging church in his permissive, accepting view of homosexuality. Someone else in this camp is Jay Bakker, son of Jim Bakker of the former PTL Club. In an interview with Radarmagazine, Bakker says, “I felt like God spoke to my heart and said ‘[homosexuality] is not a sin’”3 (brackets in original). On Bakker’s website, he upholds this view.4 And in a December 15th, 2006, interview with Larry King, the following conversation took place:
KING: Would you say that you’re part of the liberal sect of Christianity?
JAY BAKKER: Well, I definitely say I’m a little bit more liberal than probably most, yes.
KING: You, for example, in your church would you marry gays?
JAY BAKKER: If the laws passed, yes.
KING: You favor there being a law, though?
JAY BAKKER: Yes, I do.5
Brian McLaren expressed his views (or lack of them) over the subject and stated:
Most of the emerging leaders I know share my agony over this question [on homosexuality].… Frankly, many of us don’t know what we should think about homosexuality. We’ve heard all sides but no position has yet won our confidence so that we can say “it seems good to the Holy Spirit and us.” … Perhaps we need a five-year moratorium on making pronouncements.6
One pastor who runs a ministry that helps homosexuals leave the lifestyle, can help us see the extent of these changing attitudes toward homosexuality. He explains:
They call themselves new-evangelicals. Philip Yancey devoted a whole chapter to homosexuality in his book What’s So Amazing About Grace? He thinks we need to extend grace to people who can’t change their homosexuality.… Tony Campolo thinks people who can’t change their homosexuality should live in celibate homosexual partnerships. His wife thinks gays should just get married to each other. Lewis Smedes agrees with Richard Foster. They all seem to agree there are some gay people who cannot change their homosexuality, are not able to live celibately and therefore exceptions should be made for them.7
The pastor, an ex-homosexual, disputes those in the church who publicly embrace homosexuality, and he believes there is an answer to these postmodern views. He states:
Since when are Richard Foster, Philip Yancey, Tony Campolo and Lewis Smedes experts on the changeability of homosexuality? … I have lived this issue for most of my 42 years. For seventeen years I’ve helped hundreds, maybe thousands, of people come out of homosexuality. I’ve never seen two healings alike. And I’ve never seen someone who by the grace of God could not be healed. Now that’s what’s so amazing about grace! It empowers us to live a moral and transformed life in Christ.8
In 2004, Philip Yancey (author and editor for Christianity Today) accepted an interview with Candace Chellew-Hodge for Whosoever, “an online magazine for Gay, Lesbian, Bi-Sexual, and Transgendered Christians.” When Chellew-Hodge asked Yancey about his views on gays and lesbians in the church, Yancey answered:
When it gets to particular matters of policy, like ordaining gay and lesbian ministers, I’m confused, like a lot of people. There are a few—not many, but a few—passages of Scripture that give me pause. Frankly, I don’t know the answer to those questions.9
My question to Yancey and other proclaiming Christian leaders is why don’t you know the answer? The Bible is clear on this matter. We may not always understand but part of being a Christian is accepting God’s Word and trusting that it is truly just that. Yancey may not be an emergent leader, but his beliefs certainly fit with emerging spirituality. The following statement he makes shows he shares a similar disregard for biblical doctrine:
Perhaps our day calls for a new kind of ecumenical movement: not of doctrine, nor even of religious unity, but one that builds on what Jews, Christians, and Muslims hold in common.… Indeed, Jews, Christians, and Muslims have much in common.10
(from chapter 12, “New Reformation,” of Faith Undone by Roger Oakland)
1. Dan Kimball, They Like Jesus but Not the Church, p. 137.
32Ibid., p. 138.
3. Interview with Jay Bakker, “Empire of the Son” (Radar, http://radaronline.com/features/2006/12/empire_of_the _son _par t_ iii.php).
4. Bakker’s website: http://www.revolutionnyc.com/links.htm.
5. Interview by Larry King with Jay Bakker; see transcript: http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0612/15/lkl.01.html.
6. Brian McLaren, “Leader’s Insight: No Cowardly Flip-Flop: How should pastors respond to “the Homosexual Question”?(Christianity Today, January 23, 2006, http://www.christianitytoday.com/leadersnewsletter/2006/cln60123.html).
7. Mario Bergner, “Conversations with Jason about Homosexuality” (Redeemed Lives News, Spring/Summer 2001, http://www.redeemedlives.org).
9. Interview by Candace Chellew-Hodge with Philip Yancey, “Amazed by Grace” (Whosoever online magazine, http://www.whosoever.org/v8i6/yancey.shtml).
10. Philip Yancey, “Hope for Abraham’s Sons” (Christianity Today, November 1, 2004).