Posts Tagged ‘Berit Kjos’
By Berit Kjos
As our culture increasingly embraces the New Age and mystical practices, meditative music (much different than rock n’ roll), specifically created to provide an atmosphere for meditation is becoming more and more popular, and parents need to be on the alert. The emerging church has introduced “sensory worship” using candles, dimmed lights, and soft repetitive music. This “vintage” Christianity has been introduced into thousands of youth groups across North America. Roger Oakland, author of Faith Undone, explains:
Stimulating images that provide spiritual experiences are an essential element of the emerging church . . . many are bewildered as to why their churches are darkening their sanctuaries and setting up prayer stations with candles, incense, and icons.1
Mark Yaconelli, a leader in the contemplative prayer movement, teaches youth leaders how to bring their young protégés into the “silence.” He states in his book Contemplative Youth Ministry: Practicing the Presence of Jesus:
The environment can be a help or hindrance when leading kids in contemplative prayer. Set a mood that’s conducive to silence. Turn out the lights and light a candle. Go outside under the stars. Play some music that helps youth settle down. Make sure there’s plenty of space. Better yet, ask the youth to set up the room for contemplative prayer. I find that youth are very receptive to contemplative prayer, especially when led by adults who are experienced in prayer and can lead it with a sense of “lightness.”2
In an interview with Christianity Today, contemplative advocate John Michael Talbot compares this contemplative music to New Age music:
There is an aspect of music, of sacred music, that can speak the unspeakable . . . The only other style of music that attempts to go to the deeper place of the silence that is music is New Age music.3
John Michael Talbot says he “began practicing meditation, specifically breath prayer . . . Tai Chi and yoga.”4
While Christian contemplative music specifically for children has not become popular yet within the evangelical church, there is plenty of music designed to help children meditate in New Age, Catholic, and mainstream (Episcopal, Orthodox, etc.) circles. One CD, Children’s Yoga Songs and Meditations plays songs repeating various mantras such as “Om,” “Sa Ta Na Ma” (a form of Kirtin Kriya yoga), and other Hindu and Buddhist chants. On one Christian CD titled Open Our Hearts—Christian Meditation for Children, the description reads:
Each track on this CD is designed to lead the children through a period of meditation from beginning to end. The meditators listen to the music and scripture, join in the song and the mantra and continue repeating this sacred word silently throughout the timed silence which begins after the sounding of three chimes. Similarly, the chimes sound again to signal the end of the meditation.5
Contemplative music certainly doesn’t have the loud blasting sounds of heavy metal, but it is every bit as dangerous, if not more so. Teaching children to meditate leads them to a panentheistic, interspiritual spirituality that has no room for the Cross or the Gospel.
(Berit Kjos is author of How to Protect Your Child From the New Age & Spiritual Deception. This is an excerpt from Chapter 17, “When Popular Music Becomes Obscene & Immoral”)
1. Roger Oakland, Faith Undone (Eureka, MT: Lighthouse Trails Publishing, 2007), p. 65.
2. Yaconelli, Mark (2011-03-22); Contemplative Youth Ministry: Practicing the Presence of Jesus (Youth Specialties) (Kindle Locations 2592-2596). Zondervan/Youth Specialties. Kindle Edition.
3. Douglas LaBlanc, “A Troubadour and His Guitar” (Christianity Today, October 22, 2001, http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2001/octoberweb-only/25.103.html), interviewing John Michael Talbot
4. John Michael Talbot, Come to the Quiet: The Principles of Christian Meditation (New York, NY: Tarcher/Putnam, 2002), p. 8.
To Lighthouse Trails:
My grandsons had been playing a game called Minecraft. It was apparent to me that it was not good and I tried to warn my daughter. I prayed for God’s protection of my grandsons and also that their parents would see its evil. Recently, they have become aware of demonic activity in their home. I will not go into detail, but the whole situation has opened their eyes. The whole family took turns smashing the game in their garage.
I am writing to you, because I want to warn others. From what I understand, this game is very popular nationwide. There are also Minecraft toys and clothing, besides the video game. My family disposed of everything that had to do with Minecraft.
God’s blessing on you and your work.
LT Comment: For parents who do not understand the occultic nature of many of today’s games, books, toys, and videos, please read Berit Kjos’ book How to Protect Your Child From the New Age and Spiritual Deception. It contains numerous chapters that contain the names and descriptions of many names of what’s most popular today as well as alternating chapters full of practical and biblical tips on how to protect your children. Below is one of the practical tips chapters from that book which follows a chapter that discusses toys and games such as Pokemon, Power Rangers, several New Age occult toys and games, Ouija Boards and several others.
“Protecting Your Child From Harmful Toys & Games”
By Berit Kjos
When eight-year-old Joshua’s parents found out what he wanted for Christmas, they felt put on the spot. Joshua only had eyes for the newest rage—Nintendo—along with its most popular game, Super Mario Brothers II. Anything else was “boring.”
Joshua’s folks had heard disturbing stories about Nintendo addiction—or whatever you call that intense focus that tolerates no interruption. So they didn’t relish battling that obsession at bedtime—or any time. A rather pricey toy, Nintendo promised to zap a sizable hole in their budget, and the local stores had already sold out of their holiday allotment of SMB II.
Last year it was simple for Mom and Dad. Joshua just wanted more figures and accessories for his Masters of the Universe toys. The cost was tolerable, and they provided a year’s worth of imaginative play. Of course, the gruesomeness of some of the figures caused them uneasiness.
Heidi’s parents faced a similar dilemma. Their six-year-old daughter asked for Barbie’s Dream House—fully furnished, of course. “They fit together,” she explained, “and everybody has them.”
Barbie’s long-time popularity fails to endear her to Heidi’s concerned parents. They often wonder if the doll’s curvy figure and flashy clothes might encourage values and sophistication inconsistent with their hopes for Heidi. What kinds of aspirations are built by these symbols of self-centered materialism and the body image issues they instill in young girls at an early age?
If Barbie were the only messenger of image-based hedonistic self-interest, a few more accessories would hardly matter. But pagan decadence beckons children everywhere. “Just throw off all restraints,” it shouts, “and let human nature lead the way. Follow your feelings.”
It’s tough to teach restraint to children who are begging for gratification. Schools and the media have often declared parents the “bad guys.” We, as parents, keenly and distinctly feel the confusing values gap and flinch at the thought of being a killjoy once again. Yet we must. God has told us, the parents, to train our children to follow His way, and we can’t turn back now. Also, He promises to enable us. Fortified with truth, let’s make sure our children have toys that enhance their progress toward God’s kind of maturity.
Step One: Develop a Sensitivity to Evil
A young mother driving a carload of children—including two from her church—posed this question: “Who is the master of the universe?”
“He-Man!” shouted a chorus of voices. The mother grieved as the youngsters praised their idol. Her heart sank further when one boy pulled an ugly figure from his pocket and waved it in the air. “And this is Hordak,” he shouted. “He’s bad! He fights He-Man!”
Current delight in false gods and demonic creatures may have begun with winsome magicians such as Papa Smurf and Rainbow Brite. As people welcomed these nonthreatening (in appearance) harbingers of occult forces, they unknowingly opened the door to the grotesque and disturbing realms of the dark occult as well.
At first, we parents closed our eyes to this trend—we didn’t want to overreact. Even within the church community, talk about Satan and his dark realm has often been regarded as too negative or heavy-handed. Since we failed to resist, we gradually adapted and then accepted these practices. Now it’s time to retrench, take our positions, and fight to regain our discernment and freedom.
How do we do this?
Continue to read and apply Scriptures.
Share your own observations. Spark awareness in a young child with comments such as, “That monster looks gross!” or “That creature reminds me of a snake,” along with “Did you know that in the Bible, serpents always represent Satan and evil?”
To express your feelings to a young child, comment, “Who would want that evil-looking figure? I don’t even like to look at him. Let’s find something that makes us feel happy inside.”
Model wise decision-making. Tell your child why you wouldn’t want to buy certain things.
When a child wants something questionable, ask questions that are prayerfully adapted to your child’s age, such as:
What does the toy (or game) teach you (about power, about magic, about God, about yourself)? Discuss both the obvious and the subtle with your child.
Have you seen movies, cartoons, or comic books that made this toy (game) part of a story? What did the story tell you about it? Does the toy (game) remind you of someone who uses magic or supernatural power? Did someone pretend to be God?
What does it teach about violence or immorality and their consequences?
Does the toy have any symbols or characteristics that associate it with either the light or dark side of New Age occultism?
Whatever is lovely, gracious, and good originates with God. Satan cannot produce anything new. All he can offer is counterfeits or clever distortions of God’s gifts.
Step Two: Encourage Your Child To Choose the Good
Develop a mindset that seeks the best, not just the “OK.” You have identified and rejected the worst toys. But the rest are not necessarily good either. Discuss these questions to help your child learn to choose only the best. Phrase the questions according to your child’s age level.
1. Does it present a true picture of life? In a time when even adults base their lives on counterfeit dreams and false illusions, our children need to learn to tell what is flight of fancy and what is real.
2. How long would the interest last? Fad toys are fun for the moment, but they whet the appetite for every “in” thing, so that decision-making centers on the question, “What will make me feel happy right now?” Determine not to buy that lie. Unfortunately, many quality toy companies have been bought up or squeezed out by giants who can pay the high price for television promotion. The range of major toy lines is narrowing to those that look glamorous on the screen.
3. Will this toy be used for playing alone or with others? A child needs a healthy balance of solitary and social play. Good toys will help her interact both with her imaginary world and with the real world, harmonizing the two. That may require some interaction with you. Perhaps you could agree together to find toys that will help you, the parent, participate in your young child’s imaginary world.
4. Does it build godly character? Many toys, hobbies, and games do. Review the biblical principles suggested for evaluating movies and television programs.
Step Three: Train Your Child to Follow God, Not Peers
We want our children to feel good about themselves, be liked by their peers, and not miss out on the fun. But as we realize what their friends choose, we wonder how our children will respond to the peer pressure. How can we prepare them to make wise choices?
Counter peer pressure. Children naturally compare us to the parents of peers, challenging us to match their “generosity.” That hurts, since we want them to feel our love for them. We see what they don’t realize: that getting the toys they want will not make them feel secure in our love. It’s more likely to increase their craving and stir discontent. Also, it teaches them to equate love with material things. If your child is old enough, explain this process to him.
Discuss whether “showing off” might be their motive for wanting a toy. Feeding that feeling produces bondage and increased insecurity. Children as well as adults crave superior luxury items, and toy manufacturers are quick to comply.
Be a trendsetter. Have an abundant supply of ideas and tools to help your child and his friends use their imaginations and develop their own play: dress-up clothes (thrift stores are a good resource), fabrics for making puppets, scrap wood for outdoor structures, a refrigerator carton for making a playhouse, etc.
Look to the Bible for guidelines and authority. God understands our desires to follow the crowd; He feels our struggle to be “in” the world but not “of it” (John 17:16-18). According to age readiness, review Romans 12:1-2 together and then discuss 3 John 11 and Jude 18-20.
Self-denial seems out of place in a nation consumed with self-indulgence and self-fulfillment. But God commanded it, and Jesus demonstrated it. Dare we refuse to acknowledge it? According to the age of your child, discuss Jesus’ words in Matthew 16:24 and then allow the Holy Spirit to direct your application.
Don’t get me wrong. Far more than earthly parents, God wants His children to be happy and have a good time. But He doesn’t want cream puffs to satisfy our hunger and turn us away from the meat of truth. Self-discipline produces the kind of maturity that brings genuine happiness forever, not merely a pleasant moment today.
Our Heavenly Father, who models parenting better than any of us, doesn’t major on the superficial. He knows better than to give us all the things we want. For just as most children will choose pop over milk, and chips over carrots, so do we, as adults, often choose that which cannot satisfy. God does not want vain deceits, as He calls them (Colossians 2:8), to mold our appetites, satisfy our hunger, and replace the very best.
It’s hard to teach restraint to children who are begging for gratification. Wanting to please rather than overreact, we flinch at the thought of having to continually censor our children’s wants, preferences, and desires. Parental authority simply doesn’t fit the fast-spreading new views of social equality taught through the media and the schools. Yet, we must obey God. He has told us to raise our children to choose His way, and we must rise to the occasion, fight the good fight, and not shrink back.
After hearing God’s warning and praying for His wisdom, nine-year-old Alan Brannan decided to throw away all his Pokémon cards. “My friend did the same,” said his mother. “Her twelve-year-old son had been having nightmares. But after a discussion with his parents about the game and its symbols, he was convicted to burn his cards and return his Game Boy game. That night, he slept well for the first time in a month.”
“It seemed to us that these cards had some sort of power,” continued DiAnna Brannan. “Another nine-year-boy had stolen money from his mother’s purse ($7.00) to buy more cards.” When questioned, he confessed and said he had heard the devil urging him to do it. The family quickly gathered in prayer, then saw God’s answer. Both the boy and his little sister burned their cards, warned their friends, and discovered the joy and freedom that only comes from following their Shepherd.
Training Kids to Love Good More Than Evil
Don’t play games with the occult! Ouija Boards have always invited oppression, but they are far more likely to invoke unwanted “spirits” today. So it is with the new generation of occult games and DVDs as well.
I became aware of this change back in the nineties when a Canadian psychologist called me. He had read my book Under the Spell of Mother Earth and wanted to share some observations with me. In past years, he said, many women would come to scenic Alberta to do a Native American “Spirit Quest” in search of their personal “animal spirit.” Few succeeded. But times have changed, and the “spirits” that now answer the summons are numerous as well as oppressive. Treating the scary symptoms as “multiple personality disorders” is no help at all.
Popular occultism is spreading fast, and the “spirit world” has become increasingly more accessible. But few families are equipped to resist it. Contemporary churches offer little or no help. Most simply ignore the danger or endorse the “fun.” To avoid offense, the word evil is dropped from their vocabulary.
The primary victims of this blindness end up being our children. Unless we teach them to recognize and resist these dangers, many will come to embrace the darkness.
Those who love and follow God will be repelled by occult myths. And those who love today’s popular occultism will run from God’s unchanging truths and wise and loving boundaries. For if we are filled with His Spirit and follow His way, we will—by His life in us—“abhor that which is evil: and cleave to that which is good” (Romans 12:9).
The world cringes when it hears these truths because its fiction and fantasies are too enticing. That’s why people find all kinds of arguments to justify their misdirected love.
To prepare your child for daily battles against tempting spiritual counterfeits, consider these three other outlines of vital truths:
The Armor of God—These six truths expose and counter today’s most popular deceptions. Even more important, they show us the way to an intimate relationship with God.
The Lord’s Prayer—These truths parallel the ones in the armor of God and serve the same purposes.
The Beatitudes—Jesus’ message, recorded in Matthew 5, show us a standard for holiness that is far higher than we can achieve, but it comes with the promise that—by His life in us—He will make us all He intends us to be. It ends with the reminder that those who follow Jesus will also share in His suffering. Therefore, our children need to be prepared for persecution. Uncompromising faith and God’s unchanging truths have become intolerable in today’s postmodern age.
Popular occultism is spreading fast, and the “spirit world” has become increasingly more accessible. But few families are equipped to resist it.
This has been an excerpt from How to Protect Your Child From the New Age and Spiritual Deception by Berit Kjos.
By Heather Clark
Christian News Network
Homeschooling is growing at a record rate in North Carolina, according to reports.
Over 10,000 more students are being homeschooled than just two years ago, with enrollment figures surpassing that of private schools. The News & Observer reports that the North Carolina Division of Non-Public Education estimates that there are 98,172 homeschooled students in North Carolina, compared to 95,768 students enrolled in private schools.
While the majority of students attend public school—1.5 million—there is still a marked departure from the system, as there were just 2,300 homeschooled students in the state 25 years ago.
“If you’re dissatisfied with public education, you really have two routes,” Kevin McClain, president of North Carolinians for Home Education, told the outlet. “You can send your child to a private school, which is really expensive, or you can homeschool. The economy means that, for many people, you homeschool.” Click here to continue reading.
Editor’s Note: Lighthouse Trails bears no animosity toward Catholics. We have a genuine love and concern for them. However, we are obliged to speak up about the teachings of the Catholic Church, especially as we witness the “emerging” of Protestantism and Catholicism, which is taking place via Christian leaders today.
Anyone who has studied contemplative spirituality from a critical and biblical point of view for any length of time knows that those who practice contemplative prayer eventually begin to have propensities toward Catholicism. That makes sense given that the mystical prayer practice came out of the Roman Catholic monasteries (via Thomas Merton, Basil Pennington, Thomas Keating, etc) and dates back as far as the ancient Catholic desert fathers. And it is a fact that the Catholic church is using contemplative prayer to “bring back the lost brethren to the Mother church.” In one article written by Ray Yungen titled “Contemplative Spirituality – the Source of the Catholic Church’s Expansion,” Yungen states:
I had always been confused as to the real nature of this advance in the Catholic church. Was this just the work of a few mavericks and renegades, or did the church hierarchy sanction this practice? My concerns were affirmed when I read in an interview that the mystical prayer movement not only had the approval of the highest echelons of Catholicism but also was, in fact, the source of its expansion.
If it is indeed true that practicing contemplative prayer can turn one’s eyes toward Romish thoughts and beliefs, then it would make sense that Bible-believing Christians would be greatly concerned about popular evangelical leaders who are promoting contemplative spirituality. One of those leaders (in fact the most popular Bible study leader in America according to a Christianity Today article), Beth Moore, has been a contemplative advocate for some time as we document in our 2008 article “Why We Say Beth Moore is a Contemplative Advocate.” And it isn’t just Lighthouse Trails who is saying that Beth Moore is connected to contemplative prayer. In fact, in 2010, Christianity Today came out with a cover story about Beth Moore and identified her as part of the contemplative prayer movement. So this point is really beyond debate. Moore’s own ministry has even admitted that they see nothing wrong with contemplative spirituality ala Richard Foster as we showed in our 2008 article (see link above).
With that said, we know that Beth Moore has been influenced strongly by Catholic contemplative mystic the late Brennan Manning as she admits in her book When Godly People Do Ungodly Things. Moore has also been a regular guest on James and Betty Robison’s show for a number of years now. The Robison’s have made statements in that show their comradeship to the Catholic church. For instance, in a May 2014 article written by James Robison on his website titled “Pope Francis on Life Today,” Robison states:
I believe in the importance of unity among those who know Christ, who profess to be “Christians.” . . . I believe there is an important spiritual awakening beginning in the hearts of those truly committed to Christ in the Protestant and Catholic communities. Is it possible that Pope Francis may prove to be an answer not only to the prayers of Catholics, but also those known as Protestants?
In that article by Robison, he made a reference to the recently deceased Anglican recruiter for the Catholic church, Tony Palmer. Robison stated: “One of his [the Pope] very best friends, Bishop Tony Palmer, whom we have supported in mission outreaches for years, shares the message that Pope Francis asked him to deliver to evangelicals and protestant believers” (emphasis added). In an article titled, “Protestants Who Don’t Unite With Catholics are Guilty of “Spiritual Racism” by Lighthouse Trails author, John Lanagan, Lanagan stated that Tony Palmer “claims he has been “consecrated” by Pope Francis to be a bridge for further unity among Protestants and Catholics.” Lanagan posted a video (see below) of Palmer wherein Palmer stated, “[t]he protest of Luther is over. And therefore now we are all living in a post-Protestant era…” (8:00 in video) and “The Protestants who disagree are suffering from “spiritual racism.” (8:40) Palmer, who claimed Pope Francis was his mentor, died a few weeks ago in a motorcycle accident.
“Spiritual awakening” is becoming a “mantra” within evangelical Christianity. Terms like One, Awaken, Awake, Great Awakening, Spiritual Awakening, are being broadcasted throughout Christianity today. While it is a good thing to desire true repentance and revival, how can leaders who embrace a mystical spirituality and who don’t understand spiritual deception (and are even participating in spiritual deception) help bring about true revival?
Beth Moore spoke at Robison’s Awake Now Conference in February of 2014, and she expressed her belief that God showed her there was a great spiritual awakening coming. Interestingly, Moore warned that audience of over 4000 people about those who would question this great awakening and “downpour”:
But we must be prepared in advance for scoffers. I will say that again. We must be prepared in advance for scoffers. And here’s the thing. The unbelieving world scoffing is not going to bother us that much. We’re used to them thinking that we are idiots. Can we just own that one? We’re used to it. Of course, they think that. We’ve got that one down. That’s not what’s going to bother us so much. What’s going to bother us, and I believe God is saying, “Get prepared for it so you know in advance it is coming” so when it does happen you’re not all disturbed and all rocked by it because it is going to come from some in our own Christian realm — our own brothers and sisters. We’re going to have people that are honestly going to want to debate and argue with us about awakening and downpours. What do you want here? They’re going to say, that’s not the way it should look. You know what, dude? I’m just asking you, are you thirsty?
Are you hungry? I can’t think of the way to the semantics to get it like you want it. But I will say to you, I’m just thirsty and I’m hungry. But there will be scoffers and they will be the far bigger threat, the one within our own brothers and sisters, our own family of God — far, far more demoralizing. And yes, it will come from bullies, and yes, it will come from the mean-spirited.
By saying these things, Beth Moore is setting the stage to marginalize discerning Christians who would question this great “spiritual awakening.” This is typical of a hyper-charismatic/Word of Faith mentality that teaches it is wrong to question a supposed move of God. It is also similar to New Age teachings that call “scoffers” a cancer that must be eliminated or Rick Warren’s teachings on how to deal with “resisters.” In other words, no one should dare challenge the leaders of this coming spiritual awakening.
An important question to ask is, does Beth Moore have the same propensities as James Robison when it comes to unity with the Catholic church to help bring about a great awakening? We believe the answer to that is “Yes!” We believe that partly because of her contemplative affinities; but also, take a look at this video clip of Moore where she identifies the Catholic Church as part of the community of Christian churches. As you watch this video, keep in mind how contemplatives become more and more ecumenical and interspiritual the longer they are engaged in contemplative spirituality.
Evangelical leaders are praying for a great spiritual awakening, and many, such as Moore, are predicting that it is coming. But as we asked when we wrote our analysis of Jonathan Cahn’s The Harbinger, what will such an awakening or revival look like? In our article, we stated the following:
We were trying to picture what America’s repentance might look like. We got a taste of it right after 9/11 when we witnessed a rallying call to an ecumenical interfaith patriotism; and as a result, America remained proud but there was no true repentance. So, given the state of the nation today, here is a list of what we can envision our national repentance might look like:
A Purpose Driven 40 Days of Repentance
or . . .
The Jonah Plan: Repent in 40 Days — with invitations for New Age speakers to come and instruct the church on how to repent.
A National Day of Mourning over our “Sins” as a Nation — where Buddhist monks, Muslims, Evangelicals, and Catholics will flock together to ask God for forgiveness for not being more united to the universal God.
A World-Wide Contemplative-Prayer Repentance Day — where all the major Christian leaders now promoting contemplative prayer will rally together with New Agers and Buddhists alike to meditate world-wide on that day, in “vibrationally sympathetic harmony,” in order to experience true “Oneness” with mankind, creation, and the god in all.
And we add to that list of pseudo-revivals a Beth Moore/James Robison kind of spiritual awakening that will include Pope Francis and the Catholic Church.
If this supposed coming awakening lines up with those who will be leading it, (e.g., Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, Beth Moore, Bill Johnson, Kenneth Copeland, Ruth Haley Barton, etc.), then it will be an ecumenical, mystical move toward unity with not just the Roman Catholic church but with all faiths, and in order to bring about this kind of awakening, millions of people will have to go along with it.
While Beth Moore and other Christian leaders are closing the gap between Christianity and Catholicism, we should remember the saints who went before us and who paid with their blood when they stood faithfully for the Gospel and would not bend to the demands of the papacy (see Foxe’s story of Mrs. Prest as an example).
Note: So many Christians do not understand what the Catholic church teaches. Even many Catholics do not understand. If you have not read Roger Oakland’s book Another Jesus: the eucharistic christ and the new evangelization, it is imperative to understand why biblical Christianity is not equivalent to Roman Catholicism. To help make sure that all of our readers have a copy of this vital book, for the next few days, our bookstore will offer it for 75% off retail. This will make it $3.23 instead of $12.95 (plus shipping). Use this code: AJ-75 to get that discount (will expire 8/18).
New Spirituality for an Awakening Planet? by Berit Kjos
By Berit Kjos
(author of How to Protect Your Child From the New Age and Spiritual Deception)
The Spiritual Formation movement is widely promoted at colleges and seminaries as the latest and the greatest way to become a spiritual leader. It teaches people that this is how they can become more intimate with God and truly hear His voice. Even Christian leaders with longstanding reputations of teaching God’s word seem to be succumbing.1—Roger Oakland
Spiritual Formation has become a widely used term that was introduced to the evangelical church in the 1970s, primarily through a Thomas Merton disciple named Richard Foster and his longstanding, best-selling book, Celebration of Discipline. Today, there are few venues in the church that have not been influenced by the Merton/Foster model of Spiritual Formation.
While at first glance, the Spiritual Formation movement seems profitable and spiritual at best, harmless and benign at worst, that is only because it has been disguised with Christian language and out-of-context Scriptures all the while making grandiose claims that through Spiritual Formation, you can really know God.
In a nutshell, Spiritual Formation teaches that in order for someone to have an intimate relationship with God, he or she needs to practice certain “spiritual disciplines” that will help one to become more Christ-like. Sounds good so far, right?
What many people don’t really know, however, is that the driving force behind the Spiritual Formation movement is a mystical prayer technique called contemplative or centering prayer. The Spiritual Formation leaders, such as Richard Foster, Henri Nouwen, and Brennan Manning, have told their followers for years that we must get rid of distractions in our minds or else we cannot hear the voice of God.
In order to reach a state of silence or stillness (where the mind is basically put into neutral), a word or phrase is repeated (or the breath is focused on) and a meditative (altered) state can then be achieved. But while contemplative advocates insist that this is not the same thing as Eastern-style meditation because their intent is different (they repeat Jesus Jesus, not om om), the results are the same as practicing Transcendental Meditation (TM) and demonic realms are experienced in this silence. One meditation writer explains:
The meditation of advanced occultists is identical with the prayer of advanced mystics; it is no accident that both traditions use the same word for the highest reaches of their respective activities: contemplation [samadhi in yoga].2
That’s a little background of the Spiritual Formation (i.e., contemplative prayer) movement. Although the dangers of this mystical spirituality should be obvious to most Christians, it appears this is not the case, and children have not been exempt from the impact. Evangelical youth groups, children’s organizations, Sunday School curriculum, books, and so forth are introducing contemplative spirituality (i.e., Spiritual Formation) to children.
For instance, in a book titled, Perspectives on Children’s Spiritual Formation, Greg Carlson and John Crupper (executive leaders of the Awana’s children organization at the time the book was written) praise Richard Foster’s contemplative-promoting book Streams of Living Water. Carlson and Crupper also say that the contemplative “tradition” is an important contribution to Christians:
In his excellent overview, Streams of Living Water, Richard Foster outlines six different spiritual traditions that are present within the Christian faith. They are the contemplative tradition, the holiness tradition, the charismatic tradition, the social justice tradition, the evangelical tradition, and the incarnational tradition. Each of these has played an important part in the larger history of the Christian church. . . . Each of these traditions has made significant contributions to Christian spirituality and each has weaknesses when isolated from other traditions.3
When Carlson and Crupper say “weaknesses,” they mean they don’t have a problem with contemplative as long as it is used in conjunction with other spiritual practices or “traditions.” They say that each of these models can learn from the other.4 Clearly, this gives the green light on contemplative. Carlson and Crupper add:
[W]e would see many of the techniques [from the Contemplative-Model] of teaching as valuable tools for learning . . . the ideas of repetition and routine . . . are important; and we affirm them.5
Perspectives on Children’s Spiritual Formation identifies some of these “techniques” and “tools” as lectio divina, centering prayer, labyrinths, the Jesus Prayer, and breath prayers, all of which are part of contemplative spirituality.
Incidentally, in one section of the book, it favorably references the Catholic mystic Thomas Merton, who once said that he “intend[ed] to become as good a Buddhist”6 as he could and that he “was impregnated with Sufism.”7 Merton never hid his admiration for Eastern-style meditation or his panentheistic beliefs (that God was in all humanity). For Awana leadership to co-author a book that speaks highly of Thomas Merton shows little discernment or understanding.
Even though Carlson and Crupper are no longer in executive leadership roles with Awana, the book is still on the market today. Plus, Awana is referred to several times in the book so someone reading it would believe that Awana itself has given an OK to contemplative.
While it is troubling to see this kind of pass on contemplative spirituality by Awana leadership, calling it a “significant contribution” that has “played an important part” in the church, I believe there are many local Awana leaders who are not compromising their teachings and are staying true to God’s Word. Perhaps they will be the ones to help Awana stay on the right path.
One Christian group that has pushed contemplative spirituality onto children is NavPress. In one issue of their PrayKids! publication, an article titled, “Contemplative Prayer” states:
Contemplative prayer is a form of meditative prayer that focuses on communing with God. Although sometimes confused with its Eastern (and non-Christian) counterpart, true Christian meditation has been practiced since Bible times.
This issue of PrayKids! helps kids learn to slow down their fast-paced lives long enough to experience a meaningful relational encounter with their Heavenly Father.8
In one feature article in Pray!, “Empowering Kids to Pray,” Brad Jersak is referenced in relation to kids and prayer. Jersak’s book, Stricken by God (endorsed by emergent church figure Brian McLaren) is a compilation of essays by various authors including Eastern-style meditation proponents Richard Rohr and Marcus Borg. Borg rejects basic foundational tenets of Christian doctrine (such as the virgin birth of Christ and the atonement),9 and Rohr is a panentheistic Catholic priest who embraces interspirituality and mysticism.
Considering that NavPress, the publishing arm of the Navigators, has a publication for children specifically to teach children contemplative prayer illustrates how integrated the New Spirituality has become within Christianity. Children in the church are being targeted. This is tragic—church is supposed to be one of the safest places for our children.
And it doesn’t get better as they get older. Unaware parents who are anticipating their children attending “good” Christian colleges when they are old enough may be very surprised and rudely awakened to find that Spiritual Formation has now entered almost every accredited Christian college, seminary, and university. My publisher, Lighthouse Trails, has been following this trend for over 12 years now and has discovered that some of the top accreditation associations for Christian schools are requiring Spiritual Formation programs to be implemented in schools now before they can be accredited!10 Students in Christian colleges are now being required to study the works of Henri Nouwen and Richard Foster and to take practicum courses in contemplative and centering prayer where they may be required to practice contemplative prayer for a passing grade.
Pray for discernment and guidance, and use the ideas on how to protect your children from spiritual deception that I have laid out in my book to make sure your child is equipped and “armored” to face what is now so prevalent in evangelical/Protestant Christianity.
1. Roger Oakland, Faith Undone (Eureka, MT: Lighthouse Trails Publishing, 2007), p. 91.
2. Richard Kirby, The Mission of Mysticism (London, UK: SPCK, 1979), p. 7.
3. Michael Anthony, Perspectives on Children’s Spiritual Formation (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2006), p. 82, quoting Carlson and Crupper.
4. Ibid., p. 83.
5. Ibid., p. 85.
6. David Steindl-Rast, “Recollection of Thomas Merton’s Last Days in the West” (Monastic Studies, 7:10, 1969).
7. Rob Baker and Gray Henry, Editors, Merton and Sufism (Louisville, KY: Fons Vitae, 1999), p. 69.
8. “Contemplative Prayer” (PrayKids, NavPress, issue #25).
9. Marcus Borg, The God We Never Knew (New York, NY: HarperCollins, First HarperCollins Paperback Edition, 1998), p. 25.
10. “An Epidemic of Apostasy—Christian Seminaries Must Incorporate ‘Spiritual Formation’ to Become Accredited” (Lighthouse Trails Special Report, November 2011, http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=7733).
By Berit Kjos
On a cold drizzly day in early 1998 [long before the NSA raised fear of a rising Police State], I took a sobering tour through the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC. A picture of a Gestapo officer brought back memories of the Nazi soldiers that guarded our neighborhood in Norway during World War II. Young as I was (I was born in Oslo shortly before Hitler’s invasion of Norway), I will never forget the piercing air raids, the thundering war planes, our hiding place in the basement, and the sounds of exploding bombs and fires around us.
My young father was a leader in “Hjemme Fronten” (the Home Front) — an underground army of loyal Norwegians who would risk death than submit to Nazi tyranny. Caught helping other brave soldiers escape into neutral Sweden, he endured hunger, torment, and the threat of death in Oslo’s main Nazi concentration camp before his release at the end of the war.
The Norwegian people didn’t known such tyranny until the Nazi warships sailed up the Oslofjord on April 9, 1940. Overnight, Hitler’s fascism replaced liberty and trusted friends became foes. Resistance to the new ideology would be costly. But for most Norwegians, the choice was clear. Unlike Hitler’s masses, we hadn’t been weakened by years of ceaseless propaganda, slogans, service, and celebrations dedicated to the triumph of National Socialism.
Decades later, Andy and I visited the Holocaust museum in Auschwitz, Poland. Our journey through dark memories of WW2 began in the section dedicated to Nazi propaganda. Pausing by each display, I was startled by words that could so easily describe America today. The quotes brought stark reminders that, apart from God, human nature doesn’t change with time. Nor do the aims of the spiritual mastermind behind the scenes who has always sought ways to stir hatred toward God’s people. One tactic was simply to provide nice-sounding alternatives to biblical faith and service.
“Individuals were urged to sacrifice themselves for a greater ‘People’s Community,'” announced one of the displays. Such slogans must have sounded good to the masses, for few saw the cruel manipulation behind the noble words.
I thought of President Clinton’s calls for “sacrifice”, “service, “unity”, “common values”, “civil society,” and “safe” communities. How many people today see the ominous meanings behind such noble words? Click here to continue reading.
by Berit Kjos
“These [World War II soldiers] came here to storm these beaches for one purpose only… to preserve freedom.” Former General Eisenhower remembering D-Day.
“We’re at the beginning of a long process of breaking down the walls of national sovereignty.” Assistant Secretary of State William Benton, 1946.
“The future society will be a totally new civilization which will synthesize the experience of Socialism and Capitalism [the Third Way]…” Mikhail Gorbachev, 1996.
“The Third Way agenda, to which Bill and Hillary Clinton have made a fundamental contribution, is the new agenda of our time.”
“If we are not governed by God, then we will be ruled by tyrants.” William Penn
What does the word “freedom” mean in the context of today’s corrupt culture? Amoral license? Liberty to follow feelings rather than facts? A ban on Christian expressions of faith? Mandatory “tolerance” for homosexual lifestyles?
To conform young minds to the vision of global solidarity, pluralism must replace God’s unchanging Truth. So seventh grade World History text books promote Islam and demean Christianity. Social Studies are used to “normalize homosexuality.” And propaganda for “social justice” seems more acceptable than loyalty to our sovereign God — even in churches!  As God warned us long ago,
“…when you have eaten and are full, and have built beautiful houses and dwell in them… when your heart is lifted up and you forget the Lord your God. … Then it shall be, if you by any means forget the Lord your God, and follow other gods… you shall surely perish.” Deuteronomy 8:12-14, 17-19
But few heed such warnings in these times of cultural “Christianity.” No wonder we are losing the God-given freedom that helped make America a strong and moral nation.
Roots of Oppression
Back in 1994, Thomas Sowell made an interesting observation. Click here to continue reading.