Posts Tagged ‘catholic church’

Kingdom-Now Evangelicals

By Roger Oakland
While I believe Rome leads the way with the bold claim that God chose Peter and the succeeding popes to take the title of “Vicar of Christ” and determine what the sheep should or should not believe, other groups believe they have been called to usher in or even prepare and set up the kingdom of God here on Earth without the presence of the King. Often taking the position that Jesus will not actually physically return to rule and reign for a period of one thousand years, these groups see themselves as chosen by God to be human vessels for this purpose.
Common names for this teaching are: Kingdom Now, Dominion Theology, and Reconstructionism. It is the idea that before Christ can return, the world must be brought together in unity and perfection, and this work will be done by the Christian church. Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven P.E.A.C.E. Plan, Jim Wallis’ social gospel agenda, and Tony Campolo or Brian McLaren’s emergent church are a few of the avenues through which this is being propagated. The goal is to basically eradicate all the world’s ills (e.g., disease, poverty, terrorism, and pollution) and thus, we will have created a “Heaven on Earth” Utopia.

While creating such a world sounds very good, it is not what the Bible says is going to happen. Many Scriptures, in both the Old and New Testaments, describe a very different scenario, such as the following:

Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. (Matthew 24:9-14)
The following list of some of the erroneous teachings in Kingdom-Now theology illustrate how dangerous this belief system is, yet it has tremendously pervaded the church today:
Prophetic Scriptures are denied or fulfilled in 70 AD (as is also the belief of preterism).
The church is the new Israel (replacement theology).
Armageddon is the ongoing battle between the forces of light and darkness.
The Antichrist is a spirit, not an actual person.
We are already in the Tribulation, but at the same time, we are in the Millennium. It doesn’t get any stranger! It’s one or the other.
Rather than following traditional Bible prophecy, they follow “new revelations.”
Modern-day prophets must be obeyed and not judged for their inaccuracy.
They want to restore the Edenic nature even though Eden is where sin began.1
This movement has swept the planet, and those who refuse to join hands are considered “colonial,” “militant fundamentalists,” and “narrow-minded crackpots” who are not willing to catch the “new wave” and get on board with the mighty revival that is moving the world toward unity and peace. Many of the leaders in this movement have no problem whatsoever joining with the pope in Rome and the kingdom-of-Earth plans he has for joining together with other religions, including Islam.
While some discerning Christians can see how this trend plays a role in light of Bible prophecy, there is a huge portion of Christianity that does not. These are those who are reading books by authors who promote emerging church (or “progressive Christianity”) ideas for the postmodern generation that reject the teachings of the Bible and embrace establishing the kingdom of God on Earth right now. They are willing to join hands with other religions by reinventing Christianity into a “broad-way” spirituality where all are saved and part of God’s Kingdom. No longer do they believe in the “narrow road” to eternity. The kingdom of God is for all religions, they say (and even for those who believe in nothing). Unity, peace, connectedness, and oneness is all that matters, while biblical doctrine is being set aside as irrelevant to the “new reformation” at hand. Obviously, such a view leaves little room for the Cross and the biblical Gospel. And Scriptures such as this one are overlooked:
And he [Jesus] went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem. Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are. (Luke 13:22-25; emphasis added)
Unfortunately, while there may be many pastors, like Rick Warren, who still hold to a personal belief in Jesus Christ as their Savior, the time will come when the path they are now taking may cost them dearly. It is my hope that these leaders might wake up to see what they are doing before it is too late. And let us not forget the countless number of people following these shepherds who may never embrace a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ because of the truths being withheld from them for the sake of “peace” and “unity.”
It is also grievous to know that a good number of “Christian” leaders no longer believe (or have never believed) in the Cross as a propitiation for sin but maintain their belief that such a concept is both archaic and barbaric. They hold to the view that Christianity needs to be reinvented for our times. Brian McLaren, who in 2015 represented “Christianity” at the Parliament of the World Religions in Utah, holds to just such a view. In one interview, he said that the idea of God sending His Son to a violent death is “false advertising for God” and he equally rejected the doctrine of Hell as well.2
In addition, McLaren has played a significant role in promoting kingdom-now theology as can be seen in his book The Secret Message of Jesus: Uncovering the Truth That Could Change Everything. McLaren, who was once listed by Time Magazine as one of the top 25 most influential persons associated with evangelical Christianity, has sought to upgrade the Christian faith in order to make it relevant for today. He asks a number of questions at the beginning of his book that imply the church has misrepresented Jesus’ core message and promotes the idea that Christians need to be honest with themselves even if that means altering their faith. In his book, he makes the following statement:
Sadly, for centuries at a time in too many places to count, the Christian religion has downplayed, misconstrued, or forgotten the secret message of Jesus entirely. Instead of being about the kingdom of God coming to earth, the Christian religion has too often been preoccupied with abandoning or escaping the earth and going to heaven . . . We have betrayed the message that the kingdom of God is available for all, beginning with the least and last and the lost—and have instead believed and taught that the kingdom of God is available for the elite, beginning with the correct and the clean and the powerful.3
In McLaren’s 2016 book titled The Great Spiritual Migration: How the World’s Largest Religion is Seeking a Better Way to be Christian, he describes this all-inclusive “kingdom of God” that incorporates “multifaith [i.e., all religions] collaborations.” He states:
This kind of collaboration leads to a fresh understanding of what it means to evangelize. I was taught that it meant converting people to the one true religion, namely, my own [Christianity]. Now I believe evangelism means inviting people into heart-to-heart communion and collaboration with God and neighbors in the great work of healing the earth, of building the beloved community, of seeking first the kingdom of God and God’s justice for all. Members of each tradition bring their unique gifts to the table, ready to share and receive, learn and teach, give and take, in a spirit of generosity and vulnerability. Neither my neighbors nor I are obligated or expected to convert. . . . As we work together for the common good, we are all transformed. Those who haven’t experienced this kind of transforming collaboration simply don’t know what they’re missing. . . . Through multifaith collaborations, I have come to see how the language Paul used about one body with many members (1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12: 4– 5) applies not only to differing gifts among individual Christians but also to differing gifts among religions.4 (emphasis added)
While many evangelicals have now pushed Brian McLaren to the sidelines of evangelical Christianity, others have continued carrying on his message, sometimes in more subtle ways. But as the Bible says, there is nothing new under the sun. Satan’s devices are always in play. His goal is to destroy the message of the Cross, and while he cannot ever actually destroy it, he can cause untold numbers to reject it by offering them substitutes. But we know there is no substitute for the finished work on the Cross by Jesus Christ, who is the only Savior for mankind.
What Does This Tell Us?
There is a common cliché: if it quacks like a duck, walks like a duck, and has feathers like a duck—it is a duck! Efforts are underway to establish the kingdom of God on Earth right now without the King. Is this what Jesus intended would happen, or are we being misled by human beings who are following the thoughts of their own imagination or worse yet the inspiration of Satan?
While the idea that the kingdom of God is being established here on Earth by human leaders has been around for centuries, we should pay special attention when current events reveal that though the world gets worse and worse, we are being told it is getting better and better. When false religions become part of the kingdom, then clearly, this is not God’s kingdom, but rather it is the kingdom that belongs to the god of this world. Jesus made it very clear there are two kingdoms—one of God and one of this world—when he told Pontius Pilate shortly before He was crucified, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). Jesus also said to Pilate in that same conversation “Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.” Ask yourself this, are you hearing the voice of the Good Shepherd, or is it the voice of the god of this world who leads a kingdom that is not of God?
Endnotes:
1. Taken from “Kingdom-Now Theology” (Lighthouse Trails blog, March 6, 2007, http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=3295).
2. Interview by Leif Hansen (The Bleeding Purple Podcast) with Brian McLaren, January 8th, 2006); Part 1: http://web.archive.org/web/20090103090514/http://bleedingpurplepodcast.blogspot.com/2006/01/brian-mclaren-interview-part-i.html; Part II: http://web.archive.org/web/20060127003305/http://bleedingpurplepodcast.blogspot.com).
3. Brian McLaren, The Secret Message of Jesus (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2006), pp. 78-79.
4. Brian McLaren, The Great Spiritual Migration (New York, NY: Convergent Books, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, 2016), Kindle location 2768.
(Roger Oakland is the author of several books, booklets, and is featured in many teaching DVDs and films. His latest book, The Good Shepherd Calls, deals with the apostasy taking place in the church today.)
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Rick Warren and Brian Brodersen Prove: “A Photo Is Worth A Thousand Words”

Courtesy of Understand the Times

Connect the dots and draw your own conclusions (See related articles under picture)

Related Articles from Lighthouse Trails:

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

Rick Warren’s Dangerous Ecumenical Pathway to Rome And How One Interview Revealed So Much

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Remembering the Children: 46 Claims Filed in 2 months to Catholic Priest Abuse Victims Program

from cover of Seducers Among Our Children

from cover of Seducers Among Our Children

LTRP Note: This news story is another reminder that untold numbers of children have been and continue to be sexually abused (and not just in the Catholic Church) around the world. It’s an epidemic that still remains hushed in many cases today. Let us not forget that the power of sexual abuse lies in its secrecy. May we, as Bible-believing Christians, do our part to protect children. If you have never read Seducers Among Our Children by Investigative Sergeant Patrick Crough, we highly recommend it. Crough, a Lighthouse Trails author, is a devoted believer in Christ and a defender of children. His book is a vital resource in knowing how to protect children from sexual abuse.

And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea. Mark 9:42

By Jennifer Peltz
Associated Press

NEW YORK — It took 30 years for a former student to be ready to report he’d been sexually abused by a respected Roman Catholic priest on high school trips. But it didn’t take long to realize the priest wouldn’t be held accountable in court.

Though the church said investigators found the allegations credible, the accuser couldn’t sue or press criminal charges, mainly because of the passage of time.

Instead, he’s looking to a new compensation process set up by the Archdiocese of New York, potentially the most extensive effort of its kind to date. Some 46 people have filed claims in under two months, and the total could at least triple.

The program lets people take claims, often too old for court, to a noted outside mediator while keeping painful details private.

Yet victims’ advocates are wary, noting that the archdiocese hasn’t given any estimate of the payouts or the total it will spend. Some activists see the program as a church tactic to shield information about the handling of problem priests and counter pressure to let decades-old child sexual abuse cases go to court. Click here to continue reading.

Related:

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

 

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Hillary Clinton Picks Jesuit-Influenced Catholic For Vice President Running Mate

LTRP Note: The following is posted for informational and research purposes and not as an endorsement of the source or the content.

“Kaine’s Catholicism has been strongly influenced by the Jesuits – the order Pope Francis is part of that has long been associated with education and social justice.”—Washington Post

Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., speaks to reporters following a discussion on immigration reform at Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington, Va., on Thursday. (AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

“‘A Pope Francis Catholic’: Now that Tim Kaine is Clinton’s VP pick, will his faith matter?”

By Michelle Boorstein and Julie Zauzmer
Washington Post

Many of the most circulated names for Hillary Clinton’s vice presidential pick are Catholic – a fact that both says a lot about the influence of America’s huge Catholic population, but also reveals, when you look more closely, how far the country has moved away from basic religious tribalism.

Clinton on Friday chose U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), a former missionary who personally opposes abortion and who pleased anti-abortion advocates earlier in his political career by saying he would aim to reduce the number of abortions by promoting adoption and abstinence education.

Yet it’s not clear what impact Kaine’s faith — or that of any Catholic — would have on voters. Click here to continue reading.

Related Reading:

A Jesuit Pope? Understanding The Jesuit Agenda and the Evangelical/Protestant Church

 

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NEW BOOKLET – The Alpha Course— An Evangelical Contradiction

NEW BOOKLET: The Alpha Course— An Evangelical Contradiction by Mary Danielsen and Chris Lawson is our newest Lighthouse Trails Booklet Tract.  The Booklet Tract is 16 pages long and sells for $1.95 for single copies. Quantity discounts are as much as 50% off retail. Our Booklet Tracts are designed to give away to others or for your own personal use. Below is the content of the booklet. To order copies of  The Alpha Course— An Evangelical Contradiction, click here.

BKT-ALPHA-3By Mary Danielsen and Chris Lawson

Let us first open this overview of the Alpha Course with several passages in Scripture that warn us of the wolves that will enter the church looking to pervert the Gospel and introduce falsehood. We must always measure everything by the plumbline of God’s Word because without that, deception awaits.

2 Peter 2:1-2 tells us:

But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.

1 John 4:1 tells us to “try [test] the spirits” to see if they are from God; and 1 Timothy 4:1 says:

Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.

That verse should cause every believer in Christ to be increasingly sober-minded and vigilant.

Now, when Scripture tells us to test all things, this is not a mere take-it -or-leave-it suggestion. We are clearly instructed that this is an absolute needful thing for us to do—and it is needed more today than ever before. It is becoming more and more clear that most churches (and most individual Christians too) are not doing this simple thing because the level of apostasy and heresy in the church today is mind-boggling and growing by the day.

We know this booklet is going to ruffle some feathers by challenging the Alpha Course. But as the late apologist Walter Martin said, “Controversy for its own sake is sin. Controversy for the sake of truth is a divine mandate.” In light of that, we will state our case for the many unbiblical problems with the Alpha Course and leave it to the reader to decide if it is of any value to the church.

Alpha and the Anglican Church
The Alpha Toolkit is offered for $199 which provides churches with all the materials needed to train small group leaders, marketing materials to entice church-goers and non-church-goers alike, workbook-type guides for each participant and the all-important DVD featuring fifteen talks by Nicky Gumbel.

The Alpha Course is presented as an evangelistic course designed to bring an easy-going method of exploring the “big questions” of life from a Christian perspective.1 With such a vague description, Alpha appeals to a wide range of seekers.

Alpha Course was started in 1977 by an Anglican priest named Charles Marnham, serving at Holy Trinity Brompton (HTB) parish in London. It began as a course for church members on the basics of the faith.

Shortly later, John Irvine, a curate at the time at HTB, took it over and developed it into the format it has today. In 1990, Sandy Millar (vicar of HTB at that time) invited HTB reverend Nicky Gumbel to take the helm of the Alpha Course, overseeing further revisions to appeal to the widest audience possible. Gumbel added his own touch to Alpha, helping the program to spread around the world at an exponential rate.

It is important to recognize that Alpha’s creation in the Anglican Church is significant. The Anglican Church dates back to the 16th century when King Henry VIII broke away from the Catholic Church, which would not allow him to get a divorce. Henry decided to use his throne to pass a series of laws to prevent the office of the Pope from having any authority in England. One of these laws, titled “The Act of Supremacy,” declared the King of England to be the head of the newly formed Church of England, giving him virtually the same level of authority in England as the Pope had over the Catholic Church. As a result, the Anglican Church is a curious and ecumenical mix of Catholicism and Protestantism. The 39 articles of Anglican belief developed in the reign of Elizabeth I laid out the Protestant doctrine and practice of the Anglican Church but were deliberately written to be so vague that they were open to various interpretations by Protestants and Catholics alike.2

With 80 million members worldwide today, the Anglican Church (which includes the Episcopal church) is largely in sync with the liberal political, theological, and ecumenical worldviews seen throughout postmodern Protestantism today. So it should not surprise anyone that Anglicanism finds a strong voice in evangelical circles via the Alpha Course by those who value unity over truth, social justice over the true Gospel, and a strong desire to reconnect with our “vintage” faith—marching off to reconcile with Rome at the end of the day.

Nicky Gumbel
Who is this man with the unassuming and friendly name, Nicky Gumbel? His bio alone should cause red flags, but the average North American Christian either knows nothing of his bio, or he or she simply doesn’t care. Again, considering the church today, both cases are probably equally true.

Gumbel is vicar of the largest Anglican church in Britain (a big problem in itself when you realize what the Anglican church stands for, as we have explained above). If you look at the website of Gumbel’s church, Holy Trinity Church Brompton, you will find a typical site that looks similar to many Protestant church sites today. In addition, if you were to do a search on Gumbel’s view of the Bible, you will find much encouragement to read the Bible, and you might presume from what you read that he and his church place a high value on its contents.

The truth is, anyone can say they revere the Bible; anyone can say they read it and want you to read it as well; anyone can present an orthodox “Statement of Faith.” But what needs to be examined is what that person or organization is truly teaching. Anyone can talk the talk, but it takes a lot more than having a good sounding doctrinal statement to walk a genuine walk. The fruit of a self-proclaiming Christian group needs to be looked at.

This does explain, though, how: 1) there can be so many biblical references in the Alpha Course and yet have it be so off the mark, and 2) how they can emphasize the work of the Holy Spirit and still manage to completely misrepresent Him to the Alpha student. Just because there are a multitude of Bible verses used does not mean they are interpreted or applied correctly. The Bible can be and often is misconstrued and taken out of context. At any rate, today the Anglican Church in Britain, under the authority of Prince Charles, is certainly not known for sound doctrine or emphasis on the kind of Christianity that the Scriptures describe, so “fruit inspection” is crucial.

An important development in the historical background of Alpha’s creators is that HTB Church became the center of the “holy laughter” movement for England and Europe in the 1990s. Eleanor Mumford, along with her husband John, carried the Vineyard movement to the UK (with grudging approval from Vineyard founder John Wimber3), visited the Toronto Airport Vineyard Church in Ontario in 1994, and brought back the experiences she had there. Nicky Gumbel attended a meeting in a home in May 1994 where Mumford told of her experiences in Toronto and “invited the Holy Spirit to come.”

The moment she did that, strange things began to happen. One person was thrown across the room and did lie on the floor howling and laughing, “making the most incredible noise.” Another man was lying on the floor “prophesying.” Some appeared to be drunk. Gumbel testified that he had an experience “like massive electricity going through my body.”4 Gumbel got himself together and rushed to a meeting at Holy Trinity Brompton. . . .When he closed that meeting with prayer and said, “Lord, thank you so much for all you are doing, and we pray you’ll send your Spirit,” the same strange phenomenon were again manifested. One of those present lying on the floor with his feet in the air started “laughing like a hyena.”

Nicky Gumbel spends a substantial amount of time relating to Alpha participants in Alpha’s video 3 talk 9, exactly how this occurred:

Ellie Mumford told us a little bit of what she had seen in Toronto . . . It was obvious that Ellie was just dying to pray for all of us. . . . Then she said, “Now we’ll invite the Holy Spirit to come.” And the moment she said that one of the people there was thrown, literally, across the room and was lying on the floor, just howling and laughing—making the most incredible noise. . . . I experienced the power of the Spirit in a way I hadn’t experienced for years, like massive electricity going through my body. One of the guys was prophesying. He was just lying there prophesying.5

From there, others brought the movement to Brownsville Assembly of God in Pensacola, Florida, and the hyper-charismatic church of the ‘90s once again brought shame to the Christian community by laughing, barking, and claiming that gold dust and feathers falling on their assemblies was proof of God’s presence and approval. At some gatherings, taxis were provided for those “too drunk in the spirit” to drive home from services.

If you are saying to yourself that this is old news (1994) and not relevant today, let us caution you that today Alpha is bigger and more influential than ever. According to Alpha’s own site, over 27 million people have now completed Alpha, and its running in 169 countries in 112 languages. Spiritual deception never disappears. Our adversary just regroups it for a different (i.e., bigger) audience because 1) so many proclaiming Christians do not know about context, nor do they really seem to care, and 2) the devil is not going to dismiss a perfectly good deception if he can nab a successive generation with its lies.
So here is our warning: if you believe that Gumbel’s Holy Spirit doctrines are not a problem and his bringing the Brownsville debacle into the church is not important to anyone any longer, then please continue to read. The truth of the matter is that any falsehood we allow, even in small leavenous lumps, leads to greater compromise down the road unless true repentance takes place.

Alpha Doctrines
In an interview with the UK Guardian in 2009, Gumbel makes it clear that while he considers himself a Christian, more specifically he is an Anglican. He explains:

This may sound pernickety but I wouldn’t describe myself as an evangelical. These are labels, which I don’t think are helpful. If I was going to use any label it would be Christian, and if you push me any further I’d say I’m an Anglican—that’s the family of the Church that I belong to.6

Since the Anglican Church has so much in common with the Roman Catholic Church, we have to wonder how evangelicals got the impression that the Alpha Course is compatible with Protestant/evangelical Christianity.

In the following two quotes, we can see Gumbel’s acceptance and promotion of Roman Catholicism and the Catholic papacy:

It was a great honor to be presented to Pope John Paul II, who has done so much to promote evangelism around the world. We have been enormously enriched by our interaction with Catholics in many countries.7

Probably one of the strongest movements of the Holy Spirit is in the Roman Catholic Church, so there’s not a huge theological difference between the official teaching of the Catholic Church and the Anglican Church, for example.8

So we see that the Anglican Church, which has foundations deep in Catholicism, has produced a program that is sweeping the globe, designed to give simple answers to people who want to know the meaning of life. Alpha is designed to be fun and attractive, affirming and enjoyable (i.e., “inoffensive”). But how will this Catholic-influenced agenda point people to the real Jesus Christ, the real Gospel, the real sinful state of humans under the conviction of sin, and their need for a Savior? Will Alpha’s fun, attractive, and affirming program (yours for only ten weeks of classes) lead participants to repenting and surrendering their lives to God in such a manner that will secure their eternal destination (1 John 5:13)?

Alpha is missing the mark on so many levels doctrinally, it is tough to cover it all here. Within its pages, there is no satisfactory explanation as to why Jesus had to die in the first place. Sin is described as doing “wrong things” and yet the doctrine of sin is never fully taught, avoiding even the actual word.

What is never explained is that the biblical concept of “sin” is not just about doing wrong, it is about who we are—the motivations of the heart, our inherent sinful nature, and our separation from God. Alpha does not teach about the full nature of God or His attributes, His righteous anger at sin, or that holy justice required a substitution on our behalf. “Gospel light” hardly describes it fully, and one is left with the impression that Christ died because we mess up sometimes and because the universe brings with it some abstract notion of justice in case stuff happens. Alpha does not bring home the reality or the gravity of our sin, the realization that in us is no good thing, and the truth of how God sees us as lost in our sin until we receive (trust) Christ as our Savior. Thus, we can have no confidence in Alpha that it can truly convert people into a saving faith in Jesus Christ.

The Holy Spirit According to Alpha
Among the fifteen video talks Nicky Gumbel presents throughout the course, of particular interest to discerning Christians are talks number 8, 9, and 10. These talks are shown at Alpha’s distinctive Holy Spirit Weekend discussing who the Holy Spirit is, what He does, and how one might be filled with the Holy Spirit. Manifestations supposedly of God’s Spirit are encouraged during this weekend, even among those who are not yet saved.
Given the background of Alpha’s creators, one can only imagine what experiences might be encouraged. Manifestations such as uncontrollable laughter, lights, shaking, burning, physical heat, gold dust, and shocks have been documented from numerous sources. New Age participants in Reiki therapy and Kundalini Yoga experience the same kinds of manifestations.

A UK apologetics site, in exposing Alpha, had this to say about “strange manifestations”:

Biblically, the Holy Spirit magnifies Christ—but not Himself —but in Alpha, the Holy Spirit sometimes seems to be doing “his own thing.” Some of those who have been involved with HTB and Alpha claim that they have felt a force, or an unseen power, impelling them to do some very strange and even unChristian things, such as laughing uncontrollably. All responsible Christians, at length, must surely question such things in order to evaluate the fruits of a movement.9

So just how long has this deception been brewing, and at what point did Gumbel appear to be introduced to a specific level of supernatural manifestations? On a particular Alpha video, Gumbel recounts the night that John Wimber (founder of the Vineyard Movement) visited HTB church back in 1982, years before the holy laughter movement. At this meeting, there were many “words of knowledge” (supernatural revelations concerning the situations of various people in the room): “Specific details were given, accurately describing the conditions . . . As the list was responded to, the level of faith in the room was rising.” The following account gives more of what happened on Wimber’s visit:

Gumbel says that he still felt “cynical and hostile” until the following evening when he was prayed for: “So they prayed for the Spirit to come . . . I felt something like 10,000 volts going through my body . . . The American (Wimber) had a fairly limited prayer. He just said “more power” . . . it was the only thing he ever prayed. . . . Now we’ve seen many kinds of these manifestations of the Spirit on the weekends. . . . These manifestations and the physical healings themselves are not the important thing . . . the fruit of the Spirit. . . . these are the things that matter, the fruit that comes from these experiences. So we began to realise that God heals miraculously. . . .

Nicky Gumbel gives no indication here that he or anyone else attending that meeting tested the spirits to ensure that everything came from the Holy Spirit.”10

Author and lecturer Roger Oakland offers some insight:

When Vineyard pastor Randy Clarke came to the Toronto Airport Vineyard in January of 1994, he held several nights of meetings and then lit “the fire.” Randy Clarke had received his “anointing” from the “Holy Spirit Bartender” from South Africa, Rodney-Howard Browne.

For years afterwards, the transferrable anointing spread around the world. “It” was also called “it.” Once someone got “it” they were able to give “it” away. “It” was transported to the UK by Nicky Gumbel from the Holy Trinity Brompton Anglican Church in England.11

Benjamin Creme, the New Age guru who has been preparing the world for decades now to receive “The (new age) Christ” actually expressed his thoughts about the Toronto Blessing some time back. What makes this significant is that for the last few decades and continuing today, Creme has had only one job: promoting the one he calls “The Christ”—Lord Maitreya. Also back in 1982, he took out pricey full-page ads in every major global newspaper announcing in bold headlines that “The Christ is Now Here,” which was quite the jolt to the prophecy student who is versed in what the Scriptures say about a final evil world ruler.

Creme is convinced even today that his “Christ” will communicate telepathically to all citizens of the world simultaneously when his time comes to be revealed. Those practicing mind-altering meditation (such as Yoga or contemplative prayer) are being conditioned to be “vibrationally sympathetic” to receiving such “messages.” (To read more about Benjamin Creme and “Lord Maitreya, read Warren B. Smith’s book False Christ Coming: Does Anybody Care?) The fact that Creme would have anything to say about a signs and wonders movement within the Protestant Church actually says as much about the church as the guru. But when asked about the Toronto Blessing and what he thought of it, he said it was a good thing, and is . . . “the [same] method being used by his [own] spiritual Masters to soften up Christian Fundamentalists to accept the New Age Christ when He appears.”12 Charming . . . and not just a little alarming.

When we look at the background and what influences the “spirit” behind Alpha, there is every indication that this is not the Holy Spirit of the Bible, who does not ask us to do all kinds of weird and crazy things. We are not to seek visions and dreams or other things typical in Alpha-style hyper-charismatic circles. While some might perceive Alpha’s teachings on the Holy Spirit to be biblical, the problem lies in the clear beliefs and practices of the founder and how it is and has spread throughout the churches in practice thanks to Toronto and Brownsville. The kinds of manifestations that Gumbel promotes have nothing to do with the Comforter leading us into all truth and making us more like Jesus. It will more likely lead the participant into altered states of consciousness and occult practices common in New Age and emergent circles.

Alpha Endorsers
So who are the endorsers of the Alpha program? Probably the most influential supporter of Alpha (at least within the evangelical church) is Rick Warren. Warren was the keynote speaker at the 2014 Alpha Global Conference. For the fee of $190, one could catch him at Royal Albert Hall or get a seat at Gumbel’s church in Brompton (HTB)—remember, the site of the birth of the Holy Laughter movement.

The credibility that Warren lends to Alpha cannot be understated because of his highly popular Purpose Driven movement. And if Alpha was previously found mostly in mainline denominations and charismatic churches, Rick Warren’s backing is going to provide a major thrust for the Alpha course to enter evangelical and even conservative Christian denominations.

In addition, Willow Creek Association promotes and presents the Alpha Course, and on Alpha’s main website, there is information about the various churches that teach the Alpha Course.

A 2016 endorsement of the Alpha Course by Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa’s senior pastor, Brian Brodersen, is going to have a significant impact on many Calvary Chapel and other non-denominational mega churches. Brodersen posted this statement on April 14, 2016 on his Facebook to Nicky Gumbel regarding Gumbel’s new ALPHA film series:

What a FANTASTIC introduction to the new ALPHA film series! Good One @ Nicky Gumbel.13

Something that Calvary Chapel leaders—and all Christian church leaders for that matter—should remember is that the reason the Protestant Reformers were burned at the stake during the Protestant Reformation was because they stood against the errors of Roman Catholicism.

Today, things are quite different. We see thousands of Christian leaders of every sort either sympathizing with or outright promoting ecumenism and working with churches and movements that the Roman Catholic Church is absorbing or seeking to absorb into the fold in the future. The Pope’s and the Vatican’s influence is like a magic spell over many Christian leaders these days, and many have forgotten that judgement of the Living God is upon those who twist Scripture and present a false gospel:

I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. (Galatians 1:6-12)

A simple question one should ask of Brian Brodersen and other Christian leaders is: “Which version of Jesus Christ is Nicky Gumbel promoting—the Roman Catholic version of Jesus that is eaten and ingested in the Roman Catholic ritual of the sacrifice of the Mass or the biblical Jesus of Nazareth who was sacrificed only once for all time and is now sitting at the right hand of God in heaven (Hebrews 10:12) and is NOT being mystically turned into a wafer by a priest to be eaten and ingested (John 6:62-63)?

Well, in actuality, Gumbel, if he chooses to, can simply bounce back and forth like a ping-pong ball, playing to each crowd freely whenever the social context calls for it. With Roman Catholics, he can eat the Eucharistic Jesus, and with Protestants he can point to Scripture, and with charismatics, he can promote excesses and holy laughter and just go with the flow however things take shape. This type of convoluted spirituality escalates confusion to its highest form. This is not Christianity, this is diabolical!

Where Does it Lead?
With each passing year, the Alpha Leadership course becomes more blatant in its rejection of sound doctrine in favor of an ecumenical agenda that will merge seamlessly with the coming world spirituality predicted in the Bible. In 2015, the list of speakers at the Alpha Global Conference should concern every Christian who is a lover of truth: Rick Warren, who we mentioned earlier, Father Raniero Cantalamessa (preacher to the Papal household whose writings are recommended reading in the Guide for Alpha participants), word of faith proponent Joyce Meyer, Archbishop Justin Welby, and several others.

One should note that the Alpha Course is so “user-friendly” and spiritually generic that Roman Catholic leaders accommodate it, embrace it, utilize it, and promote it. It is the unchanged standard Alpha Course. Alpha is compatible with Catholic teaching, but it does not present wholly Catholic issues. It assumes that follow-up teachings will be offered to Catholics and those wishing to become Catholic. And, of course, as we said earlier in this booklet, Nicky Gumbel has met with at least two popes in order to cultivate an Alpha Course that is geared entirely for a Roman Catholic context. Alpha for Catholics is utilized on a global scale.

In fact, the introduction page for the Roman Catholic Alpha Course promotes it this way:

Answering the Call for the New Evangelization
Alpha is a tool for the New Evangelization that is being used by thousands of Catholic parishes in over 70 countries around the world. Alpha creates an environment and opportunity for an encounter with Jesus. As Pope Francis likes to say, it’s a chance for “Jesus to find them.”14

Alpha is without a doubt a great experience of new evangelization.15—Archbishop Rino Fisichella, President, the Pontifical Council for Promotion of the New Evangelization

Would a biblically sound, Gospel-focused program be so accepted and embraced by the Roman Catholic Church? No, because it would be incompatible with the Catholic view of salvation. Alpha markets itself as helping people find truth and find God. If Alpha originally intended to be coy about its true colors, Gumbel removed all doubt at the 2015 Global Conference by revealing its cooperation with Rome:

Ultimately, unity is not doctrinal, it’s relational . . . unity doesn’t mean we’re not interested in the truth! The only way to get truth is through unity!16

But Christian history has proven already that unity is often embraced at the cost of truth, and those who stood alone (like the martyrs) were the ones who made a difference. Truth can bring unity, but unity for its own sake does not lead to truth. That is why Jesus promoted truth and did not commit Himself to the crowds.

Gumbel also expressed the following at the conference:

Unity is not an option—Jesus is still praying for our unity—so that the world will be one.

Unity doesn’t mean we have to agree on everything—disagreement is healthy.

I used to think if some part of the church is different from me, they must be wrong. Now I think, ‘wow, they’re different from me, I must have so much to learn from them!

I have come to love the Catholic Church—If God has given them the same Spirit, who are we to oppose God?

The same Spirit lives in the Catholics, and the Orthodox, and the Pentecostals and the Protestants, even the Anglicans have the same Holy Spirit living within them. That’s what makes us one!

We live in a divided world that demands a united church.

Root of all problems in the world is division. Paul gives us the answer to this—it’s in relationships!17

No, Mr. Gumbel, the root of all problems in the world isn’t division. Jesus said He came to cause division—division between truth and error. The root of all problems in the world is sin, which separates man from God. And the only way to get truth is through the Word of God. Subjective and experiential Christianity is guaranteed to leave one walking in step with the apostates on the broad road to destruction.

The Bottom Line
The church today, using unnatural (and unbiblical) growth methods and programs, has grown into an unnatural institution, with perverse and unsound doctrines, combining paganism with Christianity and compromising any bits and tidbits of truth. The Bible indicates that true church growth comes from “the washing of water by the word” (see Ephesians 5:26-27). Only as we cleanse ourselves of false doctrine while washing in the pure doctrine of God’s Word can we experience the natural growth that God intended.

The Alpha Course fits perfectly into today’s emergent “progressive” culture with its experiential mysticism and its ecumenical merging of all faiths, starting with Rome. We won’t be surprised next to see Alpha for Muslims. It is also a front for Toronto-blessing-style hyper-charismania and Latter Day Prophet lying signs and wonders antics. Even if people find some truth in it, there is enough poison to render it harmful to the body as a whole. Even if a solid church can find a way to present it with their own solid teaching, why bother? If we need so many books to explain the Bible, how are we any different from the various cults today?

The bottom line with Alpha is this: Can Christians who love the Word and their Bibles be comfortable with, or even need, a program that is—

Written from the Church of England/Anglican perspective?

Written and taught by a man who brought us holy laughter and the Brownsville Revival?

Teaches Catholics the same course as Protestants and urges them to stay in the church they are in?

Is ecumenical to the core?

Promotes an incomplete theology of the Cross and atonement?

Promotes New Age/hyper-charismatic manifestations claiming they are of the Holy Spirit?

Teaches Kingdom Now Theology/Dominionism?

If you or your church are using the Alpha Course, or are considering using it, please prayerfully consider what you have read in this booklet.

To order copies of  The Alpha Course— An Evangelical Contradiction, click here.

Endnotes:
1. http://alpha.org.
2. http://www.gotquestions.org/Anglicans.html.
3. Alpha Course’s Gumbel Invites Vineyard UK Founder Eleanor Mumford & Furtick, Hybels to Leadership Conference http://www.donotbesurprised.com/2013/02/alpha-courses-gumbel-invites-vineyard.html.
4. http://www.inplainsite.org/html/the_alpha_course.html.
5. Ibid.
6. “Nicky Gumbel Interview Transcript” (The Guardian, August 28, 2009, http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/belief/2009/aug/28/religion-christianity-alpha-gumbel-transcript).
7. Roger Oakland, “Alpha and the Pope, http://www.understandthetimes.org/commentary/c25.shtml, quoting Nicky Gumbel from “Alpha News,” March-June 2004, p. 7.
8. “Nicky Gumbel Interview Transcript,” op. cit.
9. http://www.ukapologetics.net/08/ALPHA.htm.
10. Sandy Simpson, “The Dangers of the Alpha Course” (http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/alpha.html; quoting from Session 12 White Alpha training manual ppS8-62/Video V Talk 13).
11. Roger Oakland, “Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa and Alpha,” http://www.understandthetimes.org/commentary/c183ccandalpha.shtml.
12. Nick Needham, “The Toronto Blessing,” http://orthodoxinfo.com/inquirers/toronto.aspx.
13. From Brian Brodersen’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/PastorBrianBrodersen/posts/822581941179918.
14. Alpha For Catholics, http://us.alphausa.org/Groups/1000042056/Alpha_Catholic_Context.aspx.
15. http://alphausa.org/catholic.
16. Nicky Gumbel, “A Vision for a United Church,” at the 2015 Alpha Leadership Conference; https://lc17.alpha.org/2015-talks.
17. These quotes are taken from a Letter to the Editor: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=17458.

To order copies of  The Alpha Course— An Evangelical Contradiction, click here.

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NEW BOOKLET: Pope Francis and the Thomas Merton Connection

Pope Francis and the Thomas Merton Connection by Ray Yungen is our newest Lighthouse Trails Booklet Tract. The Booklet Tract is 14 pages long and sells for $1.95 for single copies. Quantity discounts are as much as 50% off retail. Our Booklet Tracts are designed to give away to others or for your own personal use.  Below is the content of the booklet. To order copies of Pope Francis and the Thomas Merton Connection, click here.

 

After writing this booklet at my publisher’s headquarters in Montana, I learned that the Parliament of the World Religions was taking place in Salt Lake City, Utah that same week. I decided to head down there, and with a media pass, was able to enter the conference. What I experienced at the conference has confirmed to me that Pope Francis is without question an ardent interspiritualist on the same page as Thomas Merton.—Ray Yungen

Pope Francis and the Thomas Merton Connection

rp_ry-mer.jpgBy Ray Yungen

In 2013, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina was elected Pope Francis the First. This new pope immediately began causing ripples in the Catholic Church with his statements on certain issues. He also caused many to take notice of his unpapal lifestyle such as living in a guesthouse with twelve others rather than living in the papal apartments like previous popes. He projects a down-to-earth image that denotes compassion and trust. He has been called the people’s pope, someone who is your friend, someone you can trust. But there are certain things about Pope Francis’ coming on the scene that are being ignored by the media and most people.

The first of these are the unusual circumstances that surrounded his election to the papacy. Pope Benedict resigned from his position as Pope. He is the first Catholic pope to do this since the 1400s. Popes do not resign but rather continue to be popes until they die. There was no obvious reason for Pope Benedict to resign. There was no scandal, nor no immediate health issue. (Two years into Pope Francis’ reign, Benedict is still alive.)

The second is the number of books about Pope Francis that have been released since he came on the scene. Previous popes had perhaps one or two books about them or by them. But books by or about Pope Francis are extremely prolific. You see them everywhere. Many of these books use descriptions such as revolution and hope.

The cover story in Christianity Today’s December 2014 issue proclaims: “Why Everyone is Flocking to Francis.” CT has its own idea of why “everyone” is drawn to the Pope. But if I am correct in my conclusions about contemplative spirituality and its outcome, then what is happening here is an occurrence that will affect the lives of millions of people, both Catholic and non-Catholic.

In his speech to the U.S. Congress on September 24th, 2015, Pope Francis praised four Americans he admired.1 One in particular stood out from the perspective of the spiritual future of the world—the Catholic monk, Thomas Merton. If you have been reading Lighthouse Trails literature for any length of time, you will know this reference by the pope is quite sobering and very significant. It is this situation that this booklet will be discussing.

Who is Thomas Merton? (1915-1968)

What Martin Luther King was to the civil rights movement and what Henry Ford was to the automobile, Thomas Merton is to contemplative prayer. Although this prayer movement existed centuries before he came along, Merton, a Trappist monk of the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky, took it out of its monastic setting and made it available to, and popular with, the masses. I personally have been researching Thomas Merton and the contemplative prayer movement for over 20 years, and for me, hands down, Thomas Merton has influenced the Christian mystical movement more than any person of recent decades.

Merton penned one of the most classic descriptions of contemplative spirituality I have ever come across. He explained:

It is a glorious destiny to be a member of the human race . . . now I realize what we all are. . . . If only they [people] could all see themselves as they really are . . . I suppose the big problem would be that we would fall down and worship each other. . . . At the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusions, a point of pure truth. . . . This little point . . . is the pure glory of God in us. It is in everybody. 2 (emphasis mine)

This panentheistic (i.e., God in everyone) view is similar to the occultic definition of the higher self.

In order to understand Merton’s connection to mystical occultism, we need first to understand a sect of the Muslim world—the Sufis, who are the mystics of Islam. They chant the name of Allah as a mantra, go into meditative trances, and experience God in everything. A prominent Catholic audiotape company promotes a series of cassettes Merton did on Sufism. It explains:

Merton loved and shared a deep spiritual kinship with the Sufis, the spiritual teachers and mystics of Islam. Here he shares their profound spirituality.3

To further show Merton’s “spiritual kinship” with Sufism, in a letter to a Sufi Master, Merton disclosed, “My prayer tends very much to what you call fana.”4 So what is fana? The Dictionary of Mysticism and the Occult defines it as “the act of merging with the Divine Oneness”5 (meaning all is one and all is God).

Merton saw the Sufi concept of fana as being a catalyst for Muslim unity with Christianity despite the obvious doctrinal differences. In a dialogue with a Sufi leader, Merton asked about the Muslim concept of salvation. The master wrote back stating:

Islam inculcates individual responsibility for one’s actions and does not subscribe to the doctrine of atonement or the theory of redemption.6 (emphasis added)

To Merton, of course, this meant little because he believed that fana and contemplation were the same thing. He responded:

Personally, in matters where dogmatic beliefs [the atonement]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.7 (emphasis mine)

Merton himself underlined that point when he told a group of contemplative women:

I’m deeply impregnated with Sufism.8

And he elaborated elsewhere:

Asia, Zen, Islam, etc., all these things come together in my life. It would be madness for me to attempt to create a monastic life for myself by excluding all these. I would be less a monk.9 (emphasis mine)

When we evaluate Merton’s mystical worldview, it clearly resonates with what technically would be considered traditional New Age thought. This is an inescapable fact!

Merton’s mystical experiences ultimately made him a kindred spirit and co-mystic with those in Eastern religions because his insights were identical to their insights. At an interfaith conference in Thailand, he stated:

I believe that by openness to Buddhism, to Hinduism, and to these great Asian [mystical] traditions, we stand a wonderful chance of learning more about the potentiality of our own Christian traditions.10

Please understand that contemplative prayer alone was the catalyst for such theological views. One of Merton’s biographers made this very clear when he explained:

If one wants to understand Merton’s going to the East it is important to understand that it was his rootedness in his own faith tradition [Catholicism] that gave him the spiritual equipment [contemplative prayer] he needed to grasp the way of wisdom that is proper to the East.11

This was the ripe fruit of the Desert Fathers, the ancient monks who borrowed mystical methods from Eastern religion, which altered their understanding of God. This is what one gets from contemplative prayer. There is no other way to put it. It does not take being a scholar to see the logic in this.

Contemplative Prayer and The Expansion of the Catholic Church
The most obvious integration of this movement can be found in Roman Catholicism. Michael Leach, former president of the Catholic Book Publishers Association, made this incredibly candid assertion:

[M]any people also believe that the spiritual principles underlying the New Age movement will soon be incorporated—or rather reincorporated—into the mainstream of Catholic belief. In fact, it’s happening in the United States right now.12

Incorporating it is! And it is assimilating primarily through the contemplative prayer movement.

Contemplative leader Basil Pennington, openly acknowledging its growing size, said, “We are part of an immensely large community … ‘We are Legion.’”13 Backing him up, a major Catholic resource company stated, “Contemplative prayer has once again become commonplace in the Christian community.”14

William Shannon (a mysticism proponent and a sympathetic biographer of Thomas Merton) went so far as to say “contemplative spirituality has now widely replaced old-style Catholicism.”15 This is not to say the Mass or any of the sacraments have been abandoned, but the underlying spiritual ideology of many in the Catholic church is now contemplative in its orientation.

One of my personal experiences with the saturation of mysticism in the Catholic church was in a phone conversation I had with the head nun at a local retreat center who told me the same message Shannon conveys. She made it clear The Cloud of Unknowing (an ancient primer on contemplative prayer) is now the basis for nearly all Catholic spirituality, and contemplative prayer is now becoming widespread all over the world.

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. Speaking of a meeting between the late Pope Paul VI and members of the Catholic Trappist Monastic Order in the 1970s, Thomas Keating, disclosed the following:

The Pontiff declared that unless the Church rediscovered the contemplative tradition, renewal couldn’t take place. He specifically called upon the monastics, because they lived the contemplative life, to help the laity and those in other religious orders bring that dimension into their lives as well.16

Just look at the official catechism of the Catholic church to see contemplative prayer officially endorsed and promoted to the faithful by the powers that be. The catechism firmly states: “Contemplative prayer is hearing the word of God … Contemplative prayer is silence.”17

The Merton Paradigm
A 2013 article from the UK news source The Telegraph states:

[Pope] Francis is a Jesuit and his long, arduous formation as a priest was founded on the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius.18

The Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU) reaffirmed the pope’s “Ignatian spirituality,” stating that:

All Jesuits share the experience of a rigorous spiritual formation process marked by a transformative experience with the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits. To think that the leader of the Catholic Church is one who follows in the tradition of Ignatius, whose life has been devoted to finding God in all things, and who is committed to the service of faith and the promotion of justice, fills me with great hope. This is a great day for the Jesuits and the worldwide Church.19

Harvey D. Egan, S.J., Professor Emeritus of Systematic and Mystical Theology at Boston College explains the following about St. Ignatius of Loyola:

Ignatius of Loyola . . . is one of the Christian tradition’s profoundest mystics and perhaps its greatest mystagogue [one who teaches mystical doctrines].20

Today, the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius incorporate contemplative prayer practices. Considering that Ignatian spirituality compliments much of Thomas Merton’s spiritual outlook, it is not surprising that a Jesuit pope would say the following words to the U.S. Congress:

[Thomas Merton] remains a source of spiritual inspiration and a guide for many people. . . . Merton was above all a man of prayer, a thinker who challenged the certitudes of his time and opened new horizons for souls and for the Church.21 (emphasis added)

The problem is that Merton did indeed open new horizons, but not in a good way. The horizons he opened were to “spiritual realities” that were at odds with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Rather, it reflected an interspiritual perception and even beyond that into the realm of the occult. In the book The Aquarian Conspiracy, the following information shows just how far Merton had crossed the line into realms that were spiritually dangerous.

In 1967, Barbara Marx Hubbard, a futurist moved by Teilhard’s vision evolving human consciousness, invited a thousand people from around the world . . . to form “a human front” to those who shared a belief in the possibility of transcendent consciousness. Hundreds responded, including . . . Thomas Merton.22

Even though Marx Hubbard was an outright occultist, Merton still was on board with her. There didn’t seem to be any hesitancy on his part to embrace what she referred to as transcendent consciousness. In a nutshell, transcendent consciousness is the very essence of the teaching of all the world’s mystical traditions that God is in all that exists. But consider the implications of such a belief: If God were in everything, including all people, as Merton and Hubbard believed, then there would be no need for Jesus to die for the sins of the world to reconcile man to God because man would already be divine.

The account that best illustrates what outcome this could have for Christianity is the story of Sue Monk Kidd who was a Southern Baptist Sunday school teacher in a small town in South Carolina. She would have been seen as an average Christian wife and mother. She gives a revealing description of her spiritual transformation in her book God’s Joyful Surprise: Finding Yourself Loved sharing how she suffered a deep hollowness and spiritual hunger for many years even though she was very active in her church. She sums up her feelings:

Maybe we sense we’re disconnected from God somehow. He becomes superfluous to the business at hand. He lives on the periphery so long we begin to think that is where He belongs. Anything else seems unsophisticated or fanatical.23

Ironically, a Sunday school co-worker handed her a book by Thomas Merton, telling her she needed to read it. Once Monk Kidd read it, her life changed dramatically.

In her third book, The Dance of the Dissident Daughter, not too many years after she wrote her first two books (which by the way were widely accepted in Christian circles, including a back cover endorsement by Moody Monthly magazine), there had been a dramatic change in her spiritual life as you can see in this narrative she wrote:

The minister was preaching. He was holding up a Bible.  It was open, perched atop his raised hand as if a blackbird had landed there. He was saying that the Bible was the sole and ultimate authority of the Christian’s life. The sole and ultimate authority.

I remember a feeling rising up from a place about two inches below my navel. It was a passionate, determined feeling, and it spread out from the core of me like a current so that my skin vibrated with it. If feelings could be translated into English, this feeling would have roughly been the word no!

It was the purest inner knowing I had experienced, and it was shouting in me no, no, no! The ultimate authority of my life is not the Bible; it is not confined between the covers of a book. It is not something written by men and frozen in time. It is not from a source outside myself. My ultimate authority is the divine voice in my own soul. Period.24

Now Sue Monk Kidd worships the “Goddess Sophia” rather than Jesus Christ:

We also need Goddess consciousness to reveal earth’s holiness. . . . Matter becomes inspirited; it breathes divinity. Earth becomes alive and sacred. . . . Goddess offers us the holiness of everything.25

During his speech to the US Congress, Pope Francis said that Thomas Merton sowed peace in the “contemplative style.” But actually, Merton did something far different than sow peace; he sowed the actual belief systems of other religions as these two quotes below illustrate:

The God [Merton] knew in prayer was the same experience that Buddhists describe in their enlightenment.26

In other words, Merton found Buddhist enlightenment in contemplative prayer. Merton’s view that God is in every person is summed up in this statement:

During a conference on contemplative prayer, the question was put to Thomas Merton: “How can we best help people to attain union with God?” His answer was very clear: “We must tell them that they are already united with God. Contemplative prayer is nothing other than ‘coming into consciousness’ of what is already there.”27

Even influential Catholic leaders recognize this and refer to Merton as being a “lapsed monk” who “went ‘wandering in the East, seeking consolation, apparently, of non-Christian, Eastern spirituality.’”28

These new horizons by Thomas Merton that Pope Francis has found to be exemplar are going to lead to an even greater slide into interspirituality within Catholicism and even evangelical Christianity. In essence, those who are flocking to Pope Francis, as Christianity Today stated, are inadvertently flocking to Thomas Merton.

After writing this booklet at my publisher’s headquarters in Montana, I learned that the Parliament of the World Religions was taking place in Salt Lake City, Utah that same week. I decided to head down there, and with a media pass, was able to enter the conference. What I experienced at the conference has confirmed to me that Pope Francis is without question an ardent interspiritualist and on the same page as Thomas Merton. In one document I read (a letter written to all the conference participants by Archbishop Carlo Maria Bigano Vatican Ambassador to the U.S.), the Archbishop stated:

United to all of you in a bond of spiritual communion and in hope of increasing unity among all people of faith, the Holy Father offers his blessing and prayers as a pledge of strength and God.29 (emphasis added)

“Spiritual communion” is not referring to human kindness and respect to all people. This “spiritual communion” is where doctrines and beliefs are set aside, and a unity is established just as Thomas Merton suggested to the Sufi master (see page 5).

At the conference, I heard terms (in connection with the Pope, the Catholic Church, and all the world’s religions) such as “oneness,” “dialogue of fraternity,” and “he [Pope Francis] is a buddha” (said by a Buddhist monk); and the general consensus was that anyone who was not in favor of such a unity was spiritually wayward.

When Thomas Merton told the Sufi master that doctrine takes us away from the “spiritual realities” (a mystical state of oneness), he said “much more important is the sharing of the experience of divine light.” In other words, beliefs must be set aside, and in their place is a unity that can be reached through mysticism. All of the world’s major religions have a practice that offers this mystical state.

Just as Merton saw “fana” (Islamic mystical state) as one of the paths to spiritual unity, Pope Francis sees the various religions as one family. He is bringing Thomas Merton’s ideas of unity to the table of global unity among all humanity. Thomas Merton’s “contemplative style” (that Pope Francis referenced to Congress) saw no contradiction between Christianity and Buddhism; and Merton said he wanted to be the best Buddhist he could possibly be.30 When Pope Francis praised Thomas Merton (knowing full well the implications of this), he gave a green light for everyone to embrace interspirituality. And where there is interspirituality, there is no place for the Cross of Jesus Christ.

To order copies of Pope Francis and the Thomas Merton Connection, click here.

Endnotes:
1. Pope Francis’ speech to the U.S. Congress in September 2015: http://time.com/4048176/pope-francis-us-visit-congress-transcript.
2. Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander (Garden City, NY: Doubleday Publishers, 1989), pp. 157-158.
3. Credence Cassettes magazine, Winter/Lent, 1998, p. 24.
4. M. Basil Pennington, Thomas Merton, My Brother (Hyde Park, NY: New City Press, 1996), p. 115, citing from The Hidden Ground of Love), pp. 63-64.
5. Nevill Drury, The Dictionary of Mysticism and the Occult (San        Francisco, CA: Harper & Row, 1985), p. 85.
6. Rob Baker and Gray Henry, Editors, Merton and Sufism (Louisville, KY: Fons Vitae, 1999), p. 109.
7. Ibid., p. 110.
8. Ibid., p. 69.
9. Ibid., p. 41.
10. William Shannon, Silent Lamp, The Thomas Merton Story (New York, NY: Crossroad Publishing Company, 1992), p. 276.
11. Ibid., p. 281.
12. Michael Leach (America, May 2, 1992), p. 384.
13. M. Basil Pennington, Centered Living: The Way of Centering Prayer (New York, NY: Doubleday Publishing, Image Book edition, September 1988), p. 10.
14. Sheed & Ward Catalog, Winter/Lent, 1978, p. 12.
15. William Shannon, Seeds of Peace (New York, NY: Crossroad Publishing, 1996), p. 25.
16. Anne A. Simpson, “Resting in God” (Common Boundary magazine, Sept./Oct. 1997, http://www.livingrosaries.org/interview.htm), p. 25.
17. Catechism of the Catholic Church (Urbi et Orbi Communications, 1994), p. 652.
18. Charles More, “A New Pope, a New Primate and a New Life for Christianity” (The Telegraph, March 15, 2013, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/9932996/A-new-Pope-a-new-Primate-anda-new-life-for-Christianity.html).
19. From the AJCU website stated by John Hurley, JD (president Canisius College), “Statements on Pope Francis’ Election from Presidents of AJCU and Jesuit Institutions” (March 14, 2013 http://web.archive.org/web/20150325025014/http://www.ajcunet.edu/news-detail?TN=NEWS-20130314084452).
20. Harvey D. Egan, Soundings in the Christian Mystical Tradition (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2010), p. 227.
21. Pope Francis’ speech to the U.S. Congress in September 2015: http://time.com/4048176/pope-francis-us-visit-congress-transcript.
22. Marilyn Ferguson, The Aquarian Conspiracy (Los Angeles, CA: J.P. Archer, 1980),  p. 57.
23. Sue Monk Kidd, God’s Joyful Surprise (San Francisco, CA: Harper, 1987), p. 56.
24. Sue Monk Kidd, The Dance of the Dissident Daughter (San Francisco, CA: HarperCollins, 1996), p. 76.
25. Ibid., pp. 162-163.
26. Brian C. Taylor, Setting the Gospel Free (New York, NY: Continuum Publishing, 1996), p. 76.
27. Brennan Manning, The Signature of Jesus (Sisters, OR: Multnomah, 1996, Revised Edition), p. 211.
28. Deborah Halter, “Whose Orthodoxy Is It? (National Catholic Reporter, March 11, 2005, http://natcath.org/NCR_Online/archives2/2005a/031105/031105a.php).
29. Can be read at: https://cadeioparliament.files.wordpress.com/2015/10/message-to-pwr.pdf.
30. David Steindl-Rast, “Recollection of Thomas Merton’s Last Days in the West” (Monastic Studies, 7:10, 1969).

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Pope Francis, Rick Warren, and That 2014 Catholic Interview No One Thought Important? Reminder of Its Revealing Facts About “America’s Pastor”

warren-arroyo

Rick Warren and Raymond Arroyo

In May of 2014, Roger Oakland wrote a five-part series addressing Rick Warren’s television interview with Catholic TV host Raymond Arroyo. The facts that Roger uncovered should have sent shock waves throughout the evangelical church . . . but they didn’t. In fact, leaders and most pastors in the Christian church didn’t seem to care at all. And now, Rick Warren will be joining Pope Francis (at the Papacy’s invitation) when the Catholic pope comes to the United States this month. Warren is scheduled to be a keynote speaker at one of the events. For discerning Christians who do care about what is happening to the church, including the current ecumenical move to bring the “lost brethren” back to the Mother Church (and ultimately form a unified global religious body as the Bible states will happen), we’d like to bring to your attention these five articles by Roger Oakland and ask that you pray that many eyes will be opened to what is happening. And much of this taking place within evangelicalism, if not most of it, can be attributed to the actions of leaders such as Rick Warren, Beth Moore, the late Chuck Colson, and many others, who have escalated this dangerous ecumenism that is changing the face of mainstream Christianity today.

Here are the links to those five articles from the special 2014 series written by Roger Oakland of Understand The Times, with some brief notes on each. There are also links to the actual interview between Warren and Arroyo.

1. Part 1 of Special Coverage: Rick Warren’s Ecumenical Pathway to Rome Continues

a. Rick talks about the expansion of his ministry abroad, the Vatican delegation that recently came to Orange County to study his church’s style of evangelization, and which television channel he finds himself watching most often and the show that draws him.

b. Rick Warren starts the Purpose Driven Catholics program in 2005

c. Rick Warren admits he is in favor of the Roman Catholic New Evangelization program (set up to win the “lost brethren” back to the Mother Church).

2. Rick Warren, Roman Catholic Mystics and Pope Francis

a. There is no room for doubt: Warren’s march towards ecumenical unity with Rome is becoming clearer and bolder as time passes.

b.  His own words confirm that Roman Catholic mystics and their writings have been a strong influence on him personally and his ministry.

c.  The authors and the books mentioned by Warren are more than revealing. They clearly show where his theology is founded.

(See part 1 and 2 of the interview between Rick Warren and Raymond Arroyo, click here.)

3. Rick Warren, Religious Liberty, and Catholics and Evangelicals Together

a. Rick Warren may have a plan laid away for the future of promoting a “religious liberty movement” that will be the equivalent of the “civil liberties movement” of the past.

b. It is possible that a so-called “religious liberty” movement championed by America’s Pastor, who is willing to go to jail for standing up for the religious rights of all religions,  could be a stepping-stone to something else. Especially when it is so obvious this would be another important way to join evangelicals and Catholics together, a common trend of our day.

c. Warren could be a major spokesperson for persuading evangelicals to join together with Roman Catholics.

(See part 3 of the interview between Rick Warren and Raymond Arroyo, click here.)

4. Rick Warren, Jean Vanier, And The New Evangelization

a. If Rick Warren and his followers represent the direction many former “Protestants” are headed, it is only a matter of time for the coming One World Ecumenical Religion to be established. The Jesuit plan to bring the “separated brethren Home to Rome” will have been accomplished.

b. Warren admits that he has a “spiritual director” at the retreat center at Saddleback who was trained by the Catholic contemplative figure Jean Vanier.

c.  Vanier is a contemplative mystic who promotes interspiritual and interfaith beliefs, calling the Hindu Mahatma Gandhi “one of the greatest prophets of our times”[3] and “a man sent by God.”[4] In the book Essential Writings, Vanier talks about “opening doors to other religions” and helping people develop their own faiths be it Hinduism, Christianity, or Islam.[5]  The book also describes how Vanier read Thomas Merton and practiced and was influenced by the spiritual exercises of the Jesuit founder and mystic St. Ignatius.

(See part 4 of the interview between Rick Warren and Raymond Arroyo, click here.)

5. Rick Warren and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy – “One of my favorite shows”

a. When a Christian leader publically makes statements or endorsements by saying or doing things that contradict the Bible, the leader needs to be addressed in a public manner so those who have been influenced can be put back on track.

b. Warren’s main reason for watching the Roman Catholic Eternal Word Television Network is to gain a knowledge and understanding of Christian history, then there is no question he is getting a biased one-sided view.

c. In Warren’s own words: “One of my favorite shows, which you repeat often is the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, which I love. And when I’ve had a very stressful day, I’ll come home, I’ve got it taped and Kay and I will both, we’ll listen. We’ll put it on and just sit back, relax and worship. And in the time of reflection, meditation and quietness I find myself renewed and restored. So thank you for continuing to play the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.”

d. “The Chaplet of the Divine Mercy is . . .  based on the visions of Jesus reported by Saint Mary Faustina Kowalska (1905-1938), known as ‘the Apostle of Mercy.’ . . . Faustina stated that she received the prayer through visions and conversations with Jesus, who made specific promises regarding the recitation of the prayers. . . .  the chaplet is often said as a rosary-based prayer with the same set of rosary beads used for reciting the Holy Rosary or the Chaplet of Holy Wounds, in the Roman Catholic Church.  . . .  The chaplet may also be said without beads, usually by counting prayers on the fingertips, and may be accompanied by the veneration of the Divine Mercy image.”

(See part 5 of the interview between Rick Warren and Raymond Arroyo, click here.)

 

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