Archive for May, 2017

Buried in Unmarked Graves

By Roger Oakland

Credit: Bigstockphoto.com

Vast are the burial grounds resulting from man-centered Christianity. When men follow men rather than the Good Shepherd, they seek after wealth, kingdoms, power, and illicit sexual relationships—anything to feed the flesh, which we know is never satisfied. When this happens, it is no longer Christianity but rather another “Christianity,” a dead and harmful religion (which is man’s invention) promoting another Jesus. Religion robs the innocent from true freedom in Jesus. The temples, the cathedrals, the shrines, and the modern day megachurches often testify to the accomplishments of man more than they speak of the wonders of God, who sent His Son to redeem us from our sins.

Further, study the hierarchies that humans construct—the popes, the cardinals, the bishops, and the priests. Or replace the “Holy Catholic Church” with the “Protestant” counterparts, and you find the same thing. While there may be a different configuration, the end results are the same. Followers are abused and misused by the power brokers that control them.

Many are those who have been beaten and hurt. They are buried in unmarked graves without tombstones covered over by time. Those responsible for their demise continue from generation to generation. They are abusive powerful despots who boldly proclaim “how dare you touch God’s anointed” as they bury more and more. They believe their threats have a scriptural basis.

Such is the case for many in a fellowship of pastors I was once involved with. For this reason, two Norwegian brothers (myself being one of them) felt led to warn these men, many of whom got their focus off the Good Shepherd.1 Sadly, they started out right but ended up wrong. As the Bible states, it is not how you start but how you finish that counts.

This group lost their moorings. Many of them were so encapsulated by power, success, and church growth, they did not realize they had become lukewarm and then cold. While the Good Shepherd warns them in His Word, they chose to ignore the warnings. Just like the Bible proclaims, Ichabod (meaning God’s glory departed) became a reality and an era of struggle that should have been laden with victories for Christ ended with the death of this group’s heart-broken founder.2 Isn’t it interesting how history repeats itself? Whatever has happened before can and does happen again.

The Word of God is light. The Word of God shines into the darkness, and the darkness hates the light. Often those in darkness think they are in light and do not see the light when the light shines.

Nevertheless, the God of the Bible always wins. Sometimes the scenario plays out with a very unhappy ending. God is a God of justice, and justice always prevails. The good news for the deceivers is that God is also a God of mercy, and He gives man the opportunity to repent until the day he takes his last breath. God does not desire that any should perish but wants all to come to repentance.

Endnote:

  1. http://www.understandthetimes.org/commentary/c190finalwakeupcall.shtml
  2. You can read about Roger Oakland’s years in the Calvary Chapel churches in his biography Let There Be Light, 2nd ed.

(This is an excerpt from Roger Oakland’s book, The Good Shepherd Calls)

Related Video:

(From Roger Oakland’s emerging church lecture series)

Saddleback Church Statement Appears to Downplay Role of Alleged Molester Ruben Meulenberg

On Friday evening (May 26), Saddleback Church released a statement about the arrest of Ruben Meulenberg, the man who allegedly has been molesting boys at Saddleback. The Saddleback statement called Meulenberg a “student ministry volunteer.” Here is the full statement:

We are shocked and grieved to share that this week a Saddleback member reported that a student ministry volunteer had acted inappropriately with two 14-year-old boys. Of course, our staff quickly reported this accusation to our Orange County Sherriff’s Department. The next day, the volunteer was arrested on suspicion of the offense. The investigation of the accusation is now in the hands of the proper authorities.

We ask you to do two things: first, please pray for the Saddleback families who are involved in this sad matter; second, please pray for the investigators as they determine the facts. As followers of Jesus, we always want the whole truth to come out because Jesus taught us that lies enslave us, but the truth sets us free.

As a part of Saddleback, you know that our church has been built on the service of thousands of volunteers who donate hundreds of thousands of hours of their time. Most of you know that for decades we’ve had extremely high requirements and strict procedures in place for anyone who volunteers in our student and children ministries.

To be considered for volunteering with kids or students, we require fingerprinting, professional background checks, and personal interviews. We also use services that report any illegal activity to us immediately. In this case, the accused volunteer had no record of arrest or criminal charges. Also, our church requires volunteers who work with students or children to complete an annual training regarding appropriate conduct. Our system of safeguards has safely served over 40,000 students and children for 38 years.

Please pray for everyone involved. We love you.

Kurt Johnston, Student Ministries Pastor & Elder

 Steve Johnson, Executive Pastor & Elder (source)

Lighthouse Trails has since learned that Ruben Meulenberg, at least according to two sources (one by a source very close to Rick Warren and Saddleback), is not merely a volunteer at Saddleback – he is also a staff member. The first source is from an article written by public relations journalist Larry Ross, who states:

The Meulenberg brothers are versed media artists, programmers, consultants and the creators of FPS Control. As experienced professionals in the media industry, their training materials have trained over 20,000 musicians and 40,000 game and app developers globally, including Disney Mobile. Some past clients include ING Bank, Thompson, Pearson Education, RedHat, Logica CMG and Orange. They reside in southern California and serve on staff at Saddleback Church in the technology, communication and marketing ministries. (http://alarryross.com/tornado-twins-develop-unprecedented-video-game-the-game-bible-series/, emphasis added)

Ross has close ties with Rick Warren and Saddleback and has written numerous promotional reports on the Purpose Driven pastor.

The second source is from a Point of View interview done in 2014 where Meulenberg is described as a staff member at Saddleback:

The Tornado Twins’ materials have trained over 20,000 musicians and 40,000 game and app developers globally, including Disney Mobile. Some past clients include ING Bank, Thompson, Pearson Education, RedHat, Logica CMG and Orange.

Born and raised in the Netherlands, the Tornado Twins immigrated to the United States to create meaningful media. They reside in southern California and serve on staff at Saddleback Church in the technology, communication and marketing ministries. (https://pointofview.net/show/wednesday-october-22-2014/, emphasis added)

Ruben and Efraim Muelenberg (photo from YouTube 2 second clip; used in accordance with the US Fair Use Act)

If indeed Ruben Meulenberg is a staff member and one with a significant role in youth ministry at the mega church, then the statement released by Saddleback on May 26th has downplayed or minimized Meulenberg’s role at the church.

In addition to Ruben Meulenberg’s apparent staff position, his father, Abraham Meulenberg, is a pastor at Saddleback in charge of interfaith outreach. He was involved with Rick Warren’s efforts to form alliances with the Muslim community (source). Ruben’s mother, Marieke Meulenberg, is also a staff member at Saddleback, and according to her LinkedIn page, she serves as Project Manager and Volunteer Coordinator for the Office of the Pastor (source).

In various capacities, Ruben Meulenberg appears to have been quite involved at Saddleback. As you can see from this video of a Junior High “Glow Light” event, the Meulenberg brothers have been involved with training and influencing  the youth at Saddleback  (you may find this video disturbing as you watch the Meulenberg brothers, who call themselves the Tornado Twins, lead a large number of Saddleback Junior High kids into a frenzied state). The identical twin men have also introduced video games to Saddleback youth, and in fact, Rick Warren has encouraged and promoted one of their games as you can read in this Christian Post article, “Rick Warren Praises Twins’ Efforts to Create a Bible Video Game That Isn’t ‘Cheesy.”  And according to an Amazon web page, Warren also co-authored a book with Ruben Meulenberg along with some other authors titled Transformed: How God Changes Us. It seems very clear that Ruben Meulenberg has had more than a “volunteer” role at Saddleback, thus making the Saddleback statement misleading.

We hope Rick Warren and his staff will not try to minimize this tragic situation or their role in it in their failure to protect Saddleback kids. And we hope they will be honest with the parents as to what has really taken place. The facts seem to show that Reuben Meulenberg has been an integral part of Saddleback and has, unfortunately, had free unguarded access to the kids who trusted him.

Related Information:

5 Things You Can Do to Protect Your Kids From Sexual Predators

From an Investigative Sergeant—Helping Sexually Abused Children: A Calling, A Ministry, and a Mission

8 Things You Should Know About Boys Who Are Sexually Abused

Are Your Kids Going to Be in Youth Group This Sunday? Food for Thought on How to Protect Your Kids

As Lighthouse Trails has been researching the situation at Saddleback Church over the alleged molestation charges, we came across this YouTube video by a 29-year-old woman. We are posting this for informational and research purposes with the hope it will help parents think about their teens’ youth groups. Something to think about. Parents, let’s protect our kids.

If you, as a parent, do not know how to spot a sexual predator, it’s time you read Patrick Crough’s incredible book, Seducers Among Our Children. One of the key signs is if a particular person is giving your child more attention than he should be.

Saddleback Church Youth Worker Arrested for Molesting 14-Year-Boys Brings Issue to Surface

A Lighthouse Trails reader has alerted us to a news story in the Los Angeles Times  (see below) about the arrest of a 32-year-old Saddleback Church male youth worker who has been accused of molesting two 14-year-old boys at Saddleback. Some may wonder why we are posting a news story about child sexual abuse. Since the early years of Lighthouse Trails, we have included in our reporting issues on child sexual abuse, in particular, within the church.

Photo: Seducers Among Our Children; Crough

Regarding the fact that this is Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church where the alleged molestation occurred, we need to make some comments. First, we know that child sexual abuse happens in many churches (partly because Christians are generally very trusting people and predators know this is a good place to find unguarded children), and we certainly cannot directly blame Rick Warren or his Purpose Driven movement for what happened. However, there is some indirect blame here, not just with Saddleback but with all seeker-friendly, church-growth churches. In a statement sent out by two of Rick Warren’s pastors on May 26, it said that Saddleback Church “require[s] fingerprinting, professional background checks, and personal interviews,” for all who volunteer to work with “kids and students.” But this is not nearly adequate as many molesters have never been caught or arrested, and predators are not going to admit that is what they are in personal interviews.  Herein lies the problem: The seeker-friendly churches have been guilty of allowing unsaved and/or newly saved or immature Christians to become Sunday school teachers, youth workers, missionaries, Bible study leaders, etc., and this is wrong (and unbiblical). They do this, in part, because they want to make everyone at the church feel welcomed, useful, and comfortable. And in some cases, seeker-friendly churches have a deficit in saved and/or mature believers who can lead and teach so they use what they have (many unsaved or immature Christians).  But they have done this at the expense of those in the congregation who are trusting them to guide and teach them and also to protect their children while in church. Unbelievers especially should never be put in any position of leadership, mentoring, or teaching (or working in any capacity with children or teens). Period. So at least in this respect, Saddleback has created a potentially dangerous environment for children by the very nature of their seeker-friendly, church-growth model in how unbelievers or immature believers are allowed to lead, teach, and help.

Photo: Color of Pain; Reid

Now we want to make one thing clear, sexual abuse of children doesn’t just happen in seeker-friendly churches. For example, it also happens in legalistic churches where an abuse of authority is occurring and people (and kids) are afraid to speak up. It also happens in churches that are neither seeker-friendly nor legalistic in cases where there is just downright naivety and ignorance by the adults. There was a case several years ago in a church in Portland, Oregon where a young man had joined the Sunday School teaching team. He was working in a classroom as an aid with a teacher of children under 7. Often,  he was seen taking a child to go to the bathroom, but no one thought twice about it. A few years into this, it was discovered that he had molested dozens of church children during the bathroom visits. Many of these molested kids grew up with many painful issues.

If you belong to a church, no matter what kind it is, you better make sure your church has implemented a safety plan to protect kids. In this day and age where sexual deviance is at an all-time high in our society, it takes more vigilance than ever to make sure children do not become victims of sexual abuse.

Photo: Color of Pain; Reid

It is heartbreaking to think about who-knows-how-many boys at Saddleback Church have been molested by this 32-year-old male predator. Their lives will never be the same. And no seeker-friendly, purpose-driven, church-growth strategy is going to help them in the long run. They are going to need a true relationship with Jesus Christ and a life sustained by and developed in the Word of God. They are going to need parents and teachers who also have these qualities. Substitutes like spiritual formation, contemplative prayer, celebrate recovery etc. will never take the place for the real thing.

For the two 14-year-old boys at Saddleback who were brave enough to come forward, we say bravo. You did the right thing, and we pray that you will keep your eyes and your heart toward the Lord during this tough time and not allow Satan to use this to destroy your lives.

Finally, we urge parents to do everything you need to do to protect your children from becoming victims of sexual abuse. Two of our authors address this issue in their books, articles, and booklets—Investigative Sergeant Patrick Crough and Gregory Reid.  To read some of the articles and reports we have published on child sexual abuse and how to protect your kids such as Patrick Crough’s article “Protecting Your Child From Sexual Predators – With Prayer & the Word,” see the links below.

As for the LA Times news story below, let us pray for the boys who have been victimized and also that all victims of this pedophile/homosexual will come forth. The power of sin lies in its secrecy, especially in the case of child molestation. We always thank the Lord when such matters are no longer concealed. That’s when healing can begin for the victims if given the wisdom of the Lord.

Parents who suspect their children have been victims of Ruben Meulenberg are being urged to contact OC Crime Stoppers at (855) TIP-OCCS. (source: ABC News: http://abc7.com/news/oc-youth-mentor-accused-of-lewd-acts-with-2-teen-boys/2041417/. )

By Joseph Serna
Los Angeles Times

Ruben Meulenberg

A youth mentor at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest has been accused of acting inappropriately with two teenage boys while he volunteered there, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department said Friday.

Ruven (Ruben) Meulenberg, 32, was arrested Thursday and booked on suspicion of lewd and lascivious acts on a child and is being held on $100,000 bail, authorities said. Jail records show he is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday in a Santa Ana courtroom.

Detectives were alerted to the situation after a 14-year-old boy told his parents that Meulenberg had molested him, Lt. Lane Lagaret said. The parents told the church’s youth pastor, who called the Sheriff’s Department, Lagaret said.

Another 14-year-old boy turned up during the detectives’ investigation, Lagaret said. Click here to continue reading. (See information below about Ruben (Ruven) Meulenberg.)

Ruben (Ruven) Meulenberg: Has worked for years with his identical twin brother Efraim Meulenberg in video game development. According to KidMin Academy where the brothers are listed as faculty:

Ruben and Efraim Meulenberg have trained 40,000 game developers, 20,000 musicians, thousands of children’s- and youth workers globally, and have been in ministry for 15 years. They’re known for their breakthrough work at Saddleback Church and founded KidsWantAnswers.com, through which they bring cutting edge media and curriculum to churches and families.

Watch this 2015 video (if you can bear it) of the Saddleback Junior High “Glow Party” that was produced by the Meulenberg brothers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oS38vpsqTtc. Witnessing how Saddleback Church is “teaching” their junior high kids to go into a frenzied state as has happened here in this video is distressing. Is it any wonder that things are out of control at Saddleback Church?

“Glow Party” at Saddleback Junior High group, produced by Ruben and Efraim Meulenberg

And this news video story about possibly more victims:

Related Information:

Protecting Your Child From Sexual Predators – With Prayer & the Word

Boy Scouts’ Rulings Put Boys at Risk (and “Letter to the Molester” and “What Being Molested Cost Me”)

5 Things You Can Do to Protect Your Kids From Sexual Predators

Bill Gothard Resigns from Institute in Basic Life Principles Under Allegations of Sexual Abuse (And How to Spot the Signs of a Sexual Predator)

“Tom White, Abuse, VOM, and the Power of the Internet”

Letter to the Editor: Brian Brodersen’s Creation Fest Coming Out of the Contemplative Closet

Dear Lighthouse Trails:

You may recall previous e-mails from me about the state of some Calvary Chapel fellowships here in the UK. It would appear that the majority are maintaining links with Brian Brodersen’s new CCGN including our pastor. I made mention that our pastor is very unhappy with organizations such as yourselves and questions your ability to be truly discerning. He wrote an article criticizing people whom he says have “isolated themselves” and others from the body of Christ by doing something he calls “association fallacy.” He then quotes Proverbs 25:18 “A man who bears false witness against his neighbour is like a war club, or a sword or a sharp arrow.”

The association fallacy occurs when a person is misrepresented because of their relation to some other person. This is a form of false witness, they say. My view is that he is making an excuse for his continued involvement with Brian Brodersen; and to emphasize the point, he is one of the main speakers at this years Creation Fest in Cornwall. He has stated to me that he considers Brodersen a close friend [see LT statement about guilt by association below].

The evidence for Mr Brodersen is increasingly not good and to let you know, Creation Fest, (director Brian Brodersen) is sponsoring an event at Truro Cathedral on May 28th, called “Thy Kingdom Come.”1  This event includes “Taize Reflection” [see Taizé article below],  Lectio Divina, Labyrinth Walking, Prayer Stations, Breath Prayers, Sitting in Silence and Symbolic (ritualistic) body movements, hand signs etc-called “prayer games.” You can also download from the Creation Fest site the “official common worship app” from the Church of England.

My leader wishes to meet up with me again as I have been vocal in our local church about a growing number of issues of which he is not happy. Calvaries in the UK have a leadership style in that “what the leader says goes, and you either have to agree or get out.” I have been accused of being divisive and undermining the church!

I guess you already have a lot of the details regarding Brian Brodersen, but he is clearly a man that should  be avoided in my view. I am convinced that, in fact, my leader is himself unable to discern what is going on the church today. I would be interested in your thoughts. Keep up the good work. It is a pity I don’t live in the States close to say Chris Quintana’s fellowship.

God bless

________________

Related Information:

“Reconciliation” — A “Theological Theme” at Taizé
(100,000 young people visit Taizé, France every year. Chris Lawson unveils the dangerous truth about Taizé in his new book.)

BOOKLET: How to Know if You Are Being Spiritually Abused or Deceived—A Spiritual Abuse Questionnaire

Rick Warren and Brian Brodersen Prove: “A Photo Is Worth A Thousand Words”

Brian Brodersen and Greg Laurie’s “Bigger Picture of Christianity”

For several screenshots of Creation Fest’s website, click here.

Guilt by Association: While Lighthouse Trails has been accused at times of practicing “guilt by association,” our critics fail to understand that there is something called guilt by promotion, which is a very valid form of argument. If someone is promoting another person (quoting or referencing him or her in his books or talks, etc.), then he is guilty of “guilt by promotion,” not just by association. But even guilt by association has its validity. We are told in Scripture not to be associated with those who are unruly or who teach false doctrines* (e.g. 1 Timothy 6:3-6): otherwise it gives credence to that false teaching. This idea of “association fallacy” is, we believe, an effort by some to free themselves to hang out with whom they wish without being challenged for it. But this is not the way a Christian leader or pastor should behave. We believe that if a leader or pastor is associating himself with a false teacher, it is because he resonates with that teacher. An exception to this would be if the leader or pastor is ignorant of what the teacher believes or teaches, but even then, once he himself has become aware, he is responsible and can no longer claim “I didn’t know.”

*See Warren B. Smith’s new booklet/article on Sound Doctrine.

 

Letter to the Editor: Obama and World Leaders Ringing in Reformation Summer 2017 in Germany

To Lighthouse Trails:

Obama, Chancellor [of Germany] Angela Merkel, and Melinda Gates [Bill Gates’ wife]  all attended and spoke at the Protestant assembly in Germany, Kirchentag, which rings in the beginning of Reformation Summer 2017. The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, the Grand Imam of Cairo’s Al-Azhar Mosque Sheik Ahmed el-Tayyib, two additional Imams, a number of rabbis, and a Jewish author spoke as well. Reformation Summer 2017, which Kirchentag is ringing in, is a celebration and commemoration of the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation in Germany and Europe, and it is ecumenical. (https://r2017.org/en) German Protestant Kirchentag is an ecumenical and interfaith event, despite its name.

Article: “Obama and Makgoba to visit Germany for 500th Reformation anniversary”
“On 25 May the former U.S. President and Chancellor Angela Merkel will engage in a conversation on the topic of “Being Involved in Democracy: Taking on Responsibility Locally and Globally”. Kirchentag President Christina Aus der Au and Bishop Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, EKD Council chair, will moderate the discussion at the Brandenburg Gate. The event is being jointly sponsored and planned by the Kirchentag and the Obama Foundation.

Heinrich Bedford-Strohm invited President Obama in May 2016 to visit Germany for the Reformation anniversary. Bedford-Strohm: “President Barack Obama’s attending the Kirchentag in Berlin, which will ring in the Reformation Summer, underlines the international character of our 500th anniversary celebrations. The churches form a global civil society network of over two billion Christians. Together, as people of faith, we live from the firm hope for a better world. Anyone who is pious also has to be politically minded. I am looking forward to enthusiastic debates during the Reformation Summer 2017.”

Christina Aus der Au is also delighted about the two prominent participants in the Kirchentag. “The United States is strongly marked by the Reformation and its historical impact. At the same time, the Protestant churches and communities there have developed in their own way. President Obama and Chancellor Merkel have said that their dedication as politicians is also an expression of their Christian faith. The Kirchentag movement lives from people who work for justice and solidarity on the basis of their faith. It will be really interesting to hear what the two of them say to us Christians in Europe.” https://www.kirchentag.de/english/programme/obama_and_makgoba.html

Article: “The Kirchentag church festival – the highpoint of the Reformation anniversary year”
“From 24 to 28 May 2017, under the banner ‘You see me’, you are encouraged to open your eyes to your fellow man and look more deeply into everyday life.”
“The Kirchentag is not just for Protestants, of course. People of all faiths and nationalities are very much welcome to attend and to play their part, and wherever possible the festival programme has been made barrier-free.”

“Take the opportunity to discuss topics like peace, tolerance and diversity with your fellow man.
https://www.germany.travel/en/news/the-kirchentag-church-festival-the-highpoint-of-the-reformation-anniversary-year-229825.html

Article: “Obama in Berlin for landmark church assembly”
“Former US President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke in front of tens of thousands of people before the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin on Thursday to discuss God, faith and the state of the world.”

“Former US president warned of succumbing to nationalism and a closed world – an apparent reference to US President Donald Trump.”

“In this new world we live in, we can’t isolate ourselves, we can’t hide behind a wall,” he said before the gate that once separated East and West Berlin.”

“Those attending include Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba, Grand Imam of Cairo’s Al-Azhar Mosque Sheik Ahmed el-Tayyib, philanthropist Melinda Gates, German singer and songwriter Max Giesinger, German climate change researcher Ottmar Edenhofer, UN envoy Staffan de Mistura and Israeli author Amos Oz.”  http://www.dw.com/en/obama-in-berlin-for-landmark-church-assembly/a-38961665

Theme of Kirchentag: “You See Me”
“The 36th German Protestant Kirchentag in Berlin and Wittenberg has the theme “You see me” from Genesis chapter 16, verse 13.” “General secretary Ellen Ueberschär points out: “Seeing starts relationships, not only with God but also in the co-existence of all humans. Being looked at by God is the foundation of man’s dignity as a creation of God. The story of Hagar that the topic stems from is referenced both in the New Testament and in the Hadiths, the collection of Muhammad’s sayings. ‘You see me’ is a sentence that expresses recognition, appreciation and attention beyond its biblical context.”

“I wish for a Kirchentag full of awareness: aware of people without regard, in a city where rich and poor are far apart; aware also of those who don’t believe in God or believe differently, here in Germany’s East and in a city full of cultural and ideological contrast; aware and alert for a church that changes because it needs to change.”

– Under full list of topics, here are some listed:
“New start towards the future common good
Ecumenical service on Ascension Day
Spiritual Centre
Centre on the Church of the Future
Centre Barrier free Kirchentag
Theme day on Reforming the ecumenical movement – thinking Reformation ecumenically
Theme day on What is mission? Having faith in a pluralist world
Long night of the religions during the Kirchentag
Centre on Jews and Christians
Centre on Muslims and Christians
Theme day: Interreligious-theological women’s base faculty
Panel series on Peace
Panel series on Sustainable development goals – Germany, a developing country
Panel series on Consequences of climate change (in Potsdam)
Centre for Reformation and Transformation – Ecumenical Perspectives (English-speaking)”
https://www.kirchentag.de/english/programme/theme_topics.html

Programme for Kirchentag Webpage:
“Bible studies or large concerts, Taizé worship or socio-political panel discussions – the events are as varied as its visitors.”
https://www.kirchentag.de/english/programme/programme_book.html

PDF File of Complete Programme:
Some of the topics from this programme are:
Ecumenical Opening Service
The Long Road to Women’s Ordination
Feminists in All Religions
Unite! Strategies against Fundamentalism
Climate Impact and Poverty
Reformation anniversary as “Christusfest?”
In Search of a Christology that is Not Anti-Jewish
One World?
Ecumenical Voices on the Third Reformation
Incense of Music
Interreligious work for peace
Strategies for peace and prophetic witness
Messy church in the United States
Liturgy goes Carribean
The Peacemakers: Texts by Mahatma Ghandi, Mother Theresa, the Dalai Lama, et al.
Tolerance and Peaceful Co-existence
A Safe Europe in a Better World
Taking greater responsibility for peace
Hate Speech
Religious Freedom or Hate Speech – Worldwide Challenges for LBGT+
Climate Change calls for a New Theology
Orthodox Vespers in Ecumenical Communion
Do we need different churches?
Christianity and Korean Confucianism
Seventy years of partition plan, 50 years of occupation: Israel and Palestine – the irresolvable conflict?
I have learned to speak to God
(De)radicalisation through religion
Queer and religious?!: Jewish, Christian, and Muslim positions
Transhuman revolution: The self-invention of the immortal human
Sustainable Development and the churches in South Africa
Meissen unites: Celebrating the Eucharist interdenominationally
Feidman plays the Beatles
https://www.kirchentag.de/fileadmin/dateien/zzz_NEUER_BAUM/English/DEKT36_International_Programme.pdf

Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby (Senior Bishop and Principal Leader of the Church of England) tweets about Obama at Kirchentag:
“Grateful to spend time with @BarackObama, Chancellor #Merkel and Christian leaders at #Kirchentag in Berlin today. #dekt17”


AND
“Thank you @BarackObama and Chancellor #Merkel for sending these messages to the people of #Manchester when we met in Berlin today.”

Molly

Letter to the Editor: Concerns About Meditation/Visualization Language in Kyle Idleman’s Not a Fan “Bible Study”

Dear Lighthouse Trails:

I am a member of a Baptist church affiliated with the SBC. My Sunday School class recently began the Not a Fan video Bible study, being supplemented by the Not a Fan journal  [this link is to a sample of the journal] by Kyle Idleman. I was familiar with the book of the same title and the concept (are you a fan or a follower?) but knew little else. I went into the study with an open mind, but quickly called into question the manner in which the author was prompting the reading to “consider” his concepts. By day 2 of the journal, it became clear to me that I would not be continuing. My spirit was utterly grieved by the exercises! I am hopeful that Lighthouse Trails will review this journal and prayerfully consider it. I feel it is dangerous teaching that is delving into contemplative prayer.

Below are some examples I extrapolated from the first 91 pages of the 192 page journal.

Day 1, Noon Reminder:

Try taking five minutes for meditation. Close your eyes and in your mind picture Jesus. Watch Him turn, look at you and hear Him say, “If you would come after me, you must deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow me.” Hear Him say these words again and again. Become aware of your reaction to His invitation.

Note: [from the journal] Some of the suggestions, like this one, may sound a bit inane or even non-traditional. We encourage you to try each exercise with an open mind. Give it 100%.

I was immediately adverse to the idea of “imagining” and “awareness.”  It jarred me, but I decided to simply skip past that section and continue on. Fast forward to the “noon reminder” on day 2:

Try repeating this phrase aloud ten times, “Lord Jesus, come interfere in my life.” (Again, this is one of the suggestions that may sound childish or impractical, but what do you have to lose in trying it?)

Matthew 6:7 comes to mind: “And in praying use not vain repetitions, as the Gentiles do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.”

Here are some other observations I made as I looked deeper into the journal. First, there is a purposeful “convincing” being done to get the reader to participate in these exercises. The 2 examples I gave are just two of MANY. Idleman excuses these exercises as possibly “childish,” “silly,” “crazy,” and “impractical” but encourages the reader to give them a try anyway. When studying the Word of God, these are not words that come to mind or describe what our attitude or experience should be when doing so.

Within the first 91 pages, I have highlighted the word “imagine” countless times. A lot of prompting to visualize is used. There are also several times where it is suggested to repeat words and phrases. The words “meditate” and “meditation” are used frequently as well. The reader is encouraged to focus on their own thoughts, imagine, “picture the destination” (pg. 74), “picture the place you want to end up.” (pg. 74), “pictures Jesus” (pg. 85), “review your day in your mind’s eye” (pg. 50). The author then prompts the reader to jot down thoughts after completing the exercises.
On page 90 it says, “Sit, be still and take in your surroundings. Use your senses to observe everything going on around you.”

The first reference to prayer doesn’t even appear until page 24 and it says this: “Imagine saying your evening prayers to the person you are most likely to put ahead of Jesus.” There is a lot more on visualizations, meditation and being self-aware than there is on prayer!

I am continuing my research on this but am hoping your staff will take a look as well and let me know if my reservations are founded.

Thank You,
J.B.


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