Posts Tagged ‘Catholicism’

Sneak Preview: Ray Yungen’s Last Book

Simple Answers by Ray YungenAs many of you know, Lighthouse Trails beloved author and co-laborer in Christ, Ray Yungen, passed away on October 16th 2016 at the age of 64 due to complications from a cancer treatment. Ray had just finished the rough draft of his book Simple Answers—Understanding the Catholic Faith: An Evangelical Primer a few months before he went to be with the Lord. After Ray’s passing, we had hoped to finish up the editing of his book by the end of 2016 but were unable to complete the project. We are happy to announce that we have finally finished the editing and endnotes of the book and will be going to press on September 18th. The official release date for the book will be October 16th 2017 to commemorate the day Ray passed from this world and into the arms of the Lord. Below is a sneak preview of the book. You may pre-order a copy now or wait until the book is released in October. Either way, we hope you will get a copy of this book as we believe it is going to be an important book that has the potential to open the eyes of many evangelicals and other Protestants who are on the road to Rome and may not even realize it. We also believe this book is written in such a way, with Ray’s conversational and gracious manner, that many Catholics will be willing to read the book as well.

During the preparation of this book, while Ray was still with us, he told the editors at Lighthouse Trails that he had wanted to write this book for many years and that he felt it was one of his most important works. Interestingly, he also told us he felt somehow that it was to be his final written work.

From Simple Answers by Ray Yungen:

The Introduction:

In 1991, an article written by ex-Catholic Mark Christensen appeared in the Jesuit publication, America, that would be seen as highly unusual for a Catholic magazine. The article was about the consternation of Catholic bishops in the United States on the massive flood of people over the prior forty years leaving the Catholic Church and embracing the evangelical view. They attributed this to the simple answers that the evangelicals had to offer regarding salvation.1

The author was commenting on a meeting that took place by Catholic bishops on how to halt the flow of Catholics into the evangelical churches. What made this article so remarkable was the candid way in which the writer explained why he had left the Catholic Church. The reasons he expressed were basically the traditional Protestant objections to the Roman Catholic faith—not so much in specific doctrinal details but in a general sense. Paraphrasing what he said, he spoke of growing up in a Catholic culture. Throughout his life, being a Catholic was central to his personal identity, and the Church was very much a part of his life. Even after leaving, he maintained a personal resonance with friends and family members still in the Catholic Church.

Despite his feelings toward certain individuals, he explained that he didn’t want to slander the Catholic Church because he had tremendous respect for some of the people in it. But, he said, “what I hear coming from the mouths of ex-Catholics as their number-one reason for leaving the Catholic Church is that they never heard the Gospel. He explained it this way:

“Dearly loved family and friends, that is why I left and why I think most leave the Catholic Church for Evangelicalism. . . . We left because we met Jesus Christ, and He changed our lives. And He changed our lives in a way we never knew in the Catholic Church. . . . Millions of other former Catholics beside myself couldn’t hear this Gospel within the Catholic Church.”2

At the end of the article, he urged the bishops to examine the evidence regarding the charges he made and ask the question why all these once devoted members had to “go elsewhere to find their spiritual food.”

As I said, it was astounding to read this article in a Catholic magazine. There was no Church response trying to refute him. There was no defense. In essence, it was just a plain indictment as to what the Catholic Church does teach regarding salvation. Perhaps because the magazine is a Jesuit publication and the Jesuits are known for being the intellectuals of the Catholic Church, the publishers thought it was intellectually healthy to air opposition. Or maybe they were so sure of themselves that the Catholic Church is the “one true church” that nothing anyone says could dissuade them from this confidence. Perhaps they thought the article could serve as some food for remedial thought in bringing the flock back into the fold. But regardless, the controversy that was brought out is that the evangelicals were luring Catholics away with simple answers to salvation.

In this book, Simple Answers, I will attempt to bring out the spiritual dynamics of these two different systems and how they stack up with each other from a biblical point of view. Of course, there are many books written by Catholic apologists that attempt to show that the Catholic Church is rooted firmly in Scripture. I will use some of these books in the controversy we are going to examine.

The evangelical church is at a crucial point in its history, and many in that camp are at a present-day crossroad that is drawing them to the practices (and ultimately membership) of the Catholic Church. There are many voices crying out for a dramatic change in the way evangelicals have traditionally viewed Catholicism; these voices are taking the church in a radically different direction. But when we discover the simple answers to the questions being asked about salvation and the Christian walk,  it becomes clear that this paradigm shift in the evangelical church is fitting in with Bible prophecy.

Endnotes:

1. Mark Christensen, “Coming to Grips with Losses—The Migration of Catholics into Conservative Protestantism” (America: The Jesuit Review, January 26, 1991), pp. 58-59.
2. Ibid.

ORDER YOUR COPY TODAY

Table of Contents

Introduction
1/A New Openness
2/“The Work of Our Redemption”
3/Mortal Sin vs. Assurance of Salvation
4/Purgatory
5/Our Lady
6/The Papacy
7/Summing Up
8/Learning From Rome
9/Conclusion
Appendix 1: The New Evangelization from Rome or Finding the True Jesus Christ (Roger Oakland)
Appendix 2: My Journey Out of Catholicism (David Dombrowski)
Endnotes
Index

BOOK INFORMATION:
160 pages
ISBN: 978-1-942423-11-9
Retail Price: $12.95 | Quantity discounts available
ORDER YOUR COPY

Taizé Community And How it Affected My life

David Dombrowski

By David Dombrowski
Chief Editor of Lighthouse Trails Publishing

As one of the editors of Chris Lawson’s new book, Taizé—A Community and Worship: An Ecumenical Reconciliation or an Interfaith Delusion?, I was asked if I would write the foreword because I have a very curious history with Taizé in France. No, I have never been there, and what little I knew of it had nearly been forgotten when Chris Lawson’s book came across my desk. And yet, in an indirect way, Taizé has had a major impact on my life.

Before I explain all this, let me use an analogy of what transpired. In some ways, my life as a Christian has been like a battleground, but in my younger years, I was never too anxious to fight. Often, I was one of many who stood on the sidelines and just observed. But I’ve learned that this is not really a safe place to be; and when it comes to Taizé, I got caught in the crossfire.

Yes, I am a casualty to Taizé, but at the time, I did not realize from whence that flaming missile came. After reading this book by Chris, I now understand.

Let me share some memories of what happened. Having been raised Roman Catholic and entering my twenties, I was very familiar with what I would later realize as the bondage of Roman Catholicism—bondage to guilt, bondage to sinful habits and attitudes, but most especially, bondage to a false gospel of salvation (i.e., through participation of sacraments and good works).

When I was drafted into the U.S. Army at twenty years old, I experienced a spiritual crisis, and through meeting a born-again Christian fellow soldier and reading the Bible, I came to understand justification by grace through faith and of being born of God’s Spirit. I surrendered my life to the Lord as He captivated my heart and my life.

After this, I had a burning desire to serve the Lord for the rest of my life—in no matter what capacity God called me to. After my time in the service ended, an opportunity arose for me to join a Christian community composed of a group of Christians who served the Lord together. I wanted this because I felt I could serve the Lord better by working with other Christians rather than trying to serve the Lord alone.

I became an integral part of this community after getting to know the elder (second only to the senior elder) and meeting one of the members who had just returned from spending a year in France at a place called Taizé. He was very excited about his experience; but when he shared with me some of the “insights” he gained at Taizé (notably that doctrine was not important as long as there was unity), I expressed my concern that doctrine should be very important. He seemed offended with this and henceforth always distanced himself from me, but he and the elder I mentioned spent much time together in private discussions.

From Creative Commons; photo taken by Maciej Biłas; used with permission.

Fast-forward six years, for I had been with this Christian community for that length of time. The senior elder (who was also the founder) of the community had just been booted out. The other elder called it “discipline,” but as it turned out, he was never to come back. The elder, who largely headed up the disciplinary action, told the expelled senior elder he could return after he “repented,” but the fact is, our senior elder had nothing to repent of. You see, most of the leadership of the community had secretly conspired that all of us should become Catholic. Since the senior elder would not endorse such a move, they removed him. Eventually, they got rid of me too because I could not in good conscience go back to the Catholic Church.

During this time, a lot of upheaval took place whereby two of the married men were also kicked out of the community; in each case the wife and children stayed behind, the husbands never to see their wives again. The senior pastor (who had been expelled) had a married daughter with children, whom he never saw again; he died with a broken heart because of the estrangement from his daughter and grandchildren. Basically, this community had become a cult that had deceptively transformed itself from a loving Christian ministry into a Roman Catholic cloister.

Not long before I left the community, the elder, who had been conferring with the member who had been to Taizé, confided in me that becoming Catholic had been discussed privately years earlier. But the elder had told him and other members, “it’s not time yet!” As I read and helped edit this book on Taizé, I realized for the first time that Taizé had been perhaps the biggest catalyst in propelling the community I had once so dearly loved into Catholicism. When I learned that tens of thousands of young people go to Taizé every year, I knew we had no choice but to publish this warning.

Related:

Lighthouse Trails Has Gone to Press with Taize Book by Chris Lawson

Guest Post: Albert Mohler Gives Air Time to Author of “The Benedict Option” (A Monastic/Catholic Promoting Book)

LTRP Note: This is another example of a major Christian leader laying aside the integrity of biblical faith and giving credence to the Roman Catholicism and contemplative mysticism for the sake of “unity” and “morality.”

By Cathy Mickel
(Author of Spiritual Junk Food: The Dumbing Down of Christian Youth)

Albert Mohler

Where is the wisdom in Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, giving air time to Rod Dreher, the author of The Benedict Option (a book highlighting the way of Saint Benedict, Catholic “saint” and founder of the monastic Benedictine order)? (Other evangelical leaders who support the book are Matt Chandler; https://twitter.com/villagechurchtx/status/839994280101961729,  Russell Moore; http://www.russellmoore.com/2017/03/10/signposts-conversation-rod-dreher/,  and John Piper; https://twitter.com/JohnPiper/status/839647675364622336 )

In the interview, Mohler says, “[T]he book is very important. I want to commend it to every thinking Christian. We ought to read this book and we ought also to read far beyond the title.” (http://www.albertmohler.com/2017/02/13/benedict-option-conversation-rod-dreher)

The following are a few quotes from what the author of The Benedict Option said to Albert Mohler in the interview.

[T]he West owes an incalculable debt to those Benedictine monks.

So this is nothing new. We’re just rediscovering an old tradition, things that our ancestors knew. And look, I think that whether we’re evangelical, Catholic, or Orthodox, we need to go back to the early church to see how our ancestors did it, see what they did, see how they embodied the faith and culture and practices [contemplative prayer].

. . . time for Christians to take seriously the times we’re in, to read the signs of the times and to respond in a responsible way, in a clear way, in a patient way. And I use Saint Benedict of Nursia [considered the “father of western monasticism”], the 6th century saint, who was a Christian who lived through the fall of the Roman Empire; he was born four years after the Empire officially fell. And he went down to Rome to get his education and saw it was completely corrupt, it was falling apart. He went out to the woods to pray; he lived in cave for three years, and asked God to show him what to do with his life. He ended up coming out and founding a monastic order. That monastic order he founded ended up over the next few centuries spreading like wildfire throughout Western Europe. And what they did was prepare the way for civilization to return to Western Europe. They tendered within those monasteries the Scriptures, the prayers, the liturgies, and the old ways of doing things. So they became a sort of ark that traveled over the dark sea of time until it found dry land, and there was light after the darkness.” [see John Caddock’s article Brennan Manning’s “New Monks” & Their Dangerous Contemplative Monasticism”]

One of the stories I tell in the book is about going to the Benedictine monastery in Norcia, a small town in the mountains of central Italy, that was where say Benedict was born. He was a son of the Roman governor. Well, there’s still a monastery there today. Napoleon closed it down in 1810, but in the year 2000 some American monks went there and reopened it. And they wanted to sing the traditional Latin mass, and it’s become a real oasis of Christian peace and beauty. Well, it’s the sort of place where you go there up in the mountains, and you really envy these men, their peace, where they can worship and meet visitors.

[I]n my own case, my life is shaped around liturgy that’s been in our church for 1500 years. My life is shaped around the chanting of Psalms and on all kinds of sensual ways that embody the faith. Of course you can have smells and bells and go straight to hell, that doesn’t change you and lead to greater conversion. But for me as an Orthodox Christian and me as a Catholic, the faith had more traction and it drew me in closer and closer. (emphasis added)

Here is Amazon’s description of Benedict Option:

In a radical new vision for the future of Christianity, NYT bestselling author and conservative columnist Rod Dreher calls on American Christians to prepare for the coming Dark Age by embracing an ancient Christian way of life [contemplative prayer] . . .

In The Benedict Option, Dreher calls on traditional Christians to learn from the example of St. Benedict of Nursia, a sixth-century monk who turned from the chaos and decadence of the collapsing Roman Empire, and found a new way to live out the faith in community. For five difficult centuries, Benedict’s monks kept the faith alive through the Dark Ages, and prepared the way for the rebirth of civilization. What do ordinary 21st century Christians — Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox — have to learn from the teaching and example of this great spiritual father? That they must read the signs of the times, abandon hope for a political solution to our civilization’s problems, and turn their attention to creating resilient spiritual centers that can survive the coming storm. Whatever their Christian tradition, they must draw on the secrets of Benedictine wisdom to build up the local church, create countercultural schools based on the classical tradition, rebuild family life, thicken communal bonds, and develop survival strategies for doctors, teachers, and others on the front lines of persecution. . . .

Added section from Lighthouse Trails editors—Here are a few quotes from the book, The Benedict Option:

Imagine that you are at a Catholic mass in a dreary 1970s-era suburban church that looks like a converted Pizza Hut. The next Sunday you are at a high Catholic mass in New York City, at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The Scripture reading is the same in both places, and Jesus is just as present in the Eucharist at Our Lady of Pizza Hut as at St. Patrick’s. Chances are, though, that you had to work harder to conjure a sense of the true holiness of the mass in the suburban church than in the cathedral—though theologically speaking, the “information” conveyed in Word and Sacrament in both places was the same. This is the difference liturgy can make. (Dreher, Rod. The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation, pp. 106-107, Penguin Publishing Group; emphasis added)

I told the priest how, in response to a personal crisis, my own orthodox priest back in Louisiana had assigned me a strict daily prayer rule, praying the Jesus Prayer (“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner”) for about an hour each day. It was dull and difficult at first, but I did it out of obedience. Every day, for a seemingly endless hour, silent prayer. In time, though, the hour seemed much shorter, and I discovered that the peace I had conspicuously lacked in my soul came forth. (The Benedict Option, p. 59)

For the monks, prayer is not simply words they speak. Each monk spends several hours daily doing lectio divina, a Benedictine method of Scripture study that involves reading a Scripture passage, meditating on it, praying about it, and finally contemplating its meaning for the soul. (The Benedict Option, pp. 58-59)

The Reformation broke the religious unity [with Rome] of Europe. In Protestant lands, it birthed an unresolvable crisis in religious authority, which over the coming centuries would cause unending schisms. The Benedict Option, p. 45, emphasis added)

If you don’t control your own attention, there are plenty of people eager to do it for you. The first step in regaining cognitive control is creating a space of silence in which you can think. During a deep spiritual crisis in my own life, the toxic tide of chronic anxiety did not began to recede from my mind until my priest ordered me to take up a daily rule of contemplative prayer. Stilling my mind for an hour of prayer was incredibly difficult, but it eventually opened up a beachhead in which the Holy Spirit could work to calm the stormy waters within.  (The Benedict Option, pp. 227-228, emphasis added)

In a 2017 Christianity Today article titled, “The Benedict Option’s Vision for a Christian Village” by Rod Dreher, author of The Benedict Option, Dreher says the following. Our deciphering is in brackets:

I have written The Benedict Option to wake up the church, and to encourage it to act to strengthen itself [unify by removing the barriers between Protestantism and Catholicism], while there is still time. If we want to survive, we have to return to the roots of our faith [not biblical roots, monastic roots of the desert fathers and other mystics], both in thought and in deed. We are going to have to learn habits of the heart [contemplative prayer practices – Nouwen called it moving from the moral (doctrine) to the mystical] forgotten by believers in the West [that’s what Merton taught]. We are going to have to change our lives, and our approach to life, in radical ways. In short, we are going to have to be the church, without compromise, no matter what it costs [the cost is going to be the death of biblical truth]. (source)

These remarks by Dreher are reminiscent of the contemplative pioneer and disciple of Thomas Merton, Richard Foster, when he said: “I see a Catholic monk from the hills of Kentucky standing alongside a Baptist evangelist from the streets of Los Angeles and together offering up a sacrifice of praise. I see a people.” (Richard Foster, Streams of Living Water, San Francisco, CA: Harper, 1998, p. 273) We need not look very far to know how such an ecumenical unifying will take place. The contemplative prayer movement is the vehicle, and it is in our midst waiting for the unaware and undiscerning to hop on for the ride.

One can only wonder, will there be any Christian leaders left standing when the battle is over?  Remember the words of Jesus when He said,

[W]hen the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth? (Luke 18:8)

 

 

Francis becomes 1st pope to visit an Anglican church in Rome

AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia

LTRP Note: The following is posted for informational and research purposes.

By FRANCES D’EMILIO
Associated Press

ROME (AP) — Pope Francis on Sunday became the first Catholic pontiff to visit an Anglican parish in Rome, using the historic occasion to press for greater closeness after centuries of mistrust, prejudices and hostility between the two churches.

Francis and the Anglican bishop in Europe, Robert Innes, prayed side-by-side in the All Saints Church not far from the Spanish Steps.

Innes welcomed Francis by praising the Roman Catholic leader for his solidarity with refugees and migrants.

Anglicans split from Catholicism in 1534, after England’s King Henry VIII was denied a marriage annulment.

Both churches are working to develop friendly bonds despite obstacles that include deep differences on such issues as ordaining women and allowing openly gay bishops. Click here to continue reading.

The New Missiology – Doing Missions Without the Gospel

LTRJ Note: The following is the content of  Roger Oakland’s booklet,  The New Missiology – Doing Missions Without the Gospel. We are reposting this important article because Lighthouse Trails has many new readers who may not have seen this.

By Roger Oakland

Emergent Missiology

I must add, though, that I don’t believe making disciples must equal making adherents to the Christian religion. It may be advisable in many (not all!) circumstances to help people become followers of Jesus and remain within their Buddhist, Hindu, or Jewish contexts.1—Brian McLaren

Emerging “progressive Christianity” is changing the way evangelical/Protestant missions is being conducted. The idea is that you can go for Jesus, but you don’t have to identify yourself as a Christian or part of the Christian church. This concept spills over into some missionary societies too, where they teach people from other religions they can keep their religion, just add Jesus to the equation. They don’t have to embrace the term Christian. At the 2005 United Nations Interfaith Prayer Breakfast, Rick Warren made the following comments to 100 delegates who represented various different religions:

I’m not talking about a religion this morning. You may be Catholic or Protestant or Buddhist or Baptist or Muslim or Mormon or Jewish or you may have no religion at all. I’m not interested in your religious background. Because God did not create the universe for us to have religion.2

While he did go on afterwards and say he believed that Jesus was God, the implication was that your religion doesn’t matter to God, and being Buddhist, Mormon, or whatever will not interfere with having Jesus in your life. Donald Miller, author of the popular Blue Like Jazz, puts it this way:

For me, the beginning of sharing my faith with people began by throwing out Christianity and embracing Christian spirituality, a nonpolitical mysterious system that can be experienced but not explained.3

In Erwin McManus’ book The Barbarian Way, he refers to “Barbarians” in a positive light and says that this is how Christ-followers should be:

They [Barbarians] see Christianity as a world religion, in many ways no different from any other religious system. Whether Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, or Christianity, they’re not about religion; they’re about advancing the revolution Jesus started two thousand years ago.4

A May/June 2000 issue of Watchman’s Trumpet magazine explains what this new missiology really entails:

Several international missions organizations, including Youth With a Mission (YWAM), are testing a new approach to missionary work in areas where Christianity is unwelcome. [A] Charisma News Service report said some missionaries are now making converts but are allowing them to “hold on to many of their traditional religious beliefs and practices” so as to refrain from offending others within their culture.5

The Charisma article in which Watchman’s Trumpet reports elaborates:

“Messianic Muslims” who continue to read the Koran, visit the mosque and say their daily prayers but accept Christ as their Savior, are the products of the strategy, which is being tried in several countries, according to Youth With a Mission (YWAM), one of the organizations involved.6

The Charisma story reports that a YWAM staff newsletter notes the new converts’ lifestyle changes (or lack thereof):

They [the new converts] continued a life of following the Islamic requirements, including mosque attendance, fasting and Koranic reading, besides getting together as a fellowship of Muslims who acknowledge Christ as the source of God’s mercy for them.7

When one of the largest missionary societies (YWAM) becomes a proponent of the new missiology, telling converts they can remain in their own religious traditions, the disastrous results should be quite sobering for any discerning Christian.

Keep Your Religion, Just Add Jesus

In an article titled “Christ-Followers in India Flourishing Outside the Church,” the following statement is made regarding the research of new missiology advocate, Herbert Hoefer, who wrote Churchless Christianity:

In striking research undertaken in the mid-eighties and published in 1991, Herbert E. Hoefer found that the people of Madras City are far closer to historic Christianity than the populace of any cities in the western Christian world could ever claim to be. Yet these are not Christians, but rather Hindus and Muslims. In their midst is a significant number of true believers in Christ who openly confess to faith in fundamental Biblical doctrines, yet remain outside the institutional church.8

The article further expands this idea that one does not need to become a Christian or to change his religious practices; one just needs to add Jesus to his spiritual equation:

However, some might argue that this [the “smothering embrace of Hinduism”] is the danger with the ishta devata strategy I am proposing. It will lead not to an indigenous Christianity but to a Christianized Hinduism. Perhaps more accurately we should say a Christ-ized Hinduism. I would suggest that really both are the same, and therefore we should not worry about it. We do not want to change the culture or the religious genius of India. We simply want to bring Christ and His Gospel into the center of it. 9

In his book, Herbert Hoefer’s research is quite revealing to his idea that rather than “changing or rejecting” the Hindu and Muslim culture, missionaries should be “Christ-izing” it.10 He says there are thousands of believers in India whom he refers to as “non-baptized believers.” Reasons for the believers not becoming baptized vary, but usually it is because they will suffer financial or social loss and status. Hoefer admits that these non-baptized believers are not Christians, and usually they do not choose to call themselves that. In many of his examples, these non-baptized believers continue practicing their religious rituals so as not to draw suspicion or ridicule from family and friends. Hoefer explains one story:

[There is] a young man of lower caste who earns his livelihood by playing the drum at Hindu festivals and functions. “All this is what I must do,” he said, “but my faith is in Christ. Outside I am a Hindu, but inside I am a Christian.”11

Another family of the Nayar caste consisted of a wife, her husband and one son. Hoefer describes their situation:

[H]er husband and son have been believers in Christ for eight years. They both had studied in Christian schools and learned of Christ. The husband’s father had a vision of Christ, and one brother also is a non-baptised believer. The husband does not join his wife in coming to Church, but he occasionally joins her for the big public meetings. They do not have family devotions, but worship Jesus along with the Hindu gods in their home. Their approach to the Hindu festivals is to carry them out but to think of God, not Jesus specifically.12

I am not here to judge whether these non-baptized believers are truly born again. That is for the Lord to decide. My concern lies with the way missions is changing and how the Gospel is being presented. To say that someone does not have to leave their pagan religion behind, and in fact they don’t have to even stop calling themselves Hindu or Muslim, is not presenting the teachings of the Bible.

And the apostle Paul, who ended up dying for his faith, exhorted believers to be willing to give up all for the sake of having Christ:

I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ. (Philippians 3:8)

The implications of this new missiology are serious and, what’s more very unbiblical. Mike Oppenheimer of Let Us Reason ministries has done extensive research and analysis on the new missiology. In his article, “A ‘New Evangelism’ for the 21st Century,” Oppenheimer states:

Can a Christian now call himself a Muslim? The word Muslim is made up of two words, Islam and Mu. Muslim does not just mean submission; it means submission to the God Allah; not the Lord Jesus Christ or Yahweh. Can a Muslim be called a Christian and walk with Allah? This seems to make no doctrinal or practical sense, unless they change the names and the meaning. This only brings confusion. Why do this when you can introduce Yahweh as the true God without any baggage and shuffling around in names, nature or descriptions? The answer is that you may not see the same results. This is what this is all about isn’t it, results; pragmatism, the end justifies the means.13

In a book by Oppenheimer and Sandy Simpson titled Idolatry in Their Hearts, they show how widespread this new missiology has become. Listen to some of the comments made by a few new missiology proponents:

New Light embodiment means to be “in connection” and “information” with other faiths…. One can be a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ without denying the flickers of the sacred in followers of Yahweh, or Kali, or Krishna.”14—Leonard Sweet

I happen to know people who are followers of Christ in other religions.15—Rick Warren

I see no contradiction between Buddhism and Christianity. . . . I intend to become as good a Buddhist as I can.16—Thomas Merton

Allah is not another God . . . we worship the same God…. The same God! The very same God we worship in Christ is the God the Jews—and the Muslims—worship.17—Catholic convert Peter Kreeft

Oppenheimer and Simpson present page after page of documentation showing this paradigm shift in Christian missions. They ask the question, “Can one be a Hindu or a Muslim and follow Jesus?” They explain why the answer is no:

One cannot be in relationship with Jesus within the confines of a false religion. One must leave his or her religion to follow Jesus, not just add Him on . . .

This broadens Jesus’ statement of the road being narrow into a wide, all encompassing concept. What is concerning is that these same kinds of statements are also made by those who are New Agers that hold a universal view. Alice Bailey [an occultist] said, “I would point out that when I use the phrase ‘followers of the Christ’ I refer to all those who love their fellowmen, irrespective of creed or religion.”18

With Rick Warren saying your religion should have no bearing on your spiritual life, Erwin McManus saying he would like to destroy Christianity, and missionary societies telling new converts they can have Jesus without Christianity (or baptism), the results could be devastating and will very likely undo the tireless efforts of many dedicated missionaries around the world. These Bible-believing missionaries have risked their lives and given up comforts and ease to travel around the world sharing the good news that becoming a Christian (receiving, by faith, Jesus Christ into your heart and life as Lord and Savior) is the way to eternal life. Now, right behind them, come emerging church missionaries who say Christianity is a terrible religion, and Christians are out to lunch–so just become a Christ-follower, and you don’t even have to tell anyone about it. In fact, you can still live like you always have.

To the many who have suffered persecution and martyrdom over the centuries for being Christians and being courageous enough to call themselves that, we now must believe they suffered and died unnecessarily-—after all, they did not need to confess Jesus as the only way. And they didn’t need to renounce their pagan religions. We also find that the following words of Jesus do not fit into this emerging church paradigm:

Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 10:32-33)

There is a powerful story in the Book of Acts, in which the apostle Paul had been arrested for preaching the Gospel. He was brought before King Agrippa and given the opportunity to share his testimony of how he became a Christian. He told Agrippa that the Lord had commissioned him to preach the Gospel and:

To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me. (Acts 26:18)

Agrippa continued listening and then said to Paul, “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian (vs. 28).” Paul answered him:

I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds. (vs. 29)

If Paul had been following the emerging mentality, he would have told Agrippa, “No need to become a Christian. You can remain just as you are; keep all your rituals and practices, just say you like Jesus.” In actuality, if Paul had been practicing emerging spirituality, he wouldn’t have been arrested in the first place. He would not have stood out, would not have preached boldly and without reservation, and he would not have called himself a Christian, which eventually became a death sentence for Paul and countless others.

Bridging the Gap between Good and Evil The serpent’s temptation of Eve in the Garden of Eden, that we can be like God, remains with mankind to this very day. Satan’s plan is to lessen or eliminate (he hopes) the gap between himself and God. The following explanation by Ray Yungen puts it well:

It is important to understand that Satan is not simply trying to draw people to the dark side of a good versus evil conflict. Actually, he is trying to eradicate the gap between himself and God, between good and evil, altogether. When we understand this approach it helps us see why Thomas Merton said everyone is already united with God or why Jack Canfield said he felt God flowing through all things. All means all—nothing left out. Such reasoning implies that God has given His glory to all of creation; since Satan is part of creation, then he too shares in this glory, and thus is “like the Most High.”19

When those in the emerging church try to persuade people that we need to bridge the gap between Christians (or Christ-followers as they put it) and non-Christians, they aren’t really talking about reaching out to the unsaved in order to share the Gospel with them. They are talking about coming to a consensus, a common ground. Emerging church author and teacher Leonard Sweet explains:

The key to navigating postmodernity’s choppy, crazy waters is not to seek some balance or “safe middle ground,” but to ride the waves and bridge the opposites, especially where they converge in reconciliation and illumination.20

It takes a little thinking to figure out what Sweet is saying by this statement, but when he talks about bridging the opposites, he’s referring to a chasm that exists between good and evil. This tension between the two is called dualism, and at the heart of occultism is the effort to eradicate it. If that gap could truly be closed, then Satan and God would be equal. The Bible clearly states this will never happen, but it also says that it is Satan’s desire:

How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit. (Isaiah 14:12-15)

This misguided effort to unite all things, to give people the option of maintaining their own religious practices, suggesting they do not have to call themselves Christians is a spiritually slippery slope and an undoing of the Christian faith.

Samir Selmanovic was raised in a European Muslim home, then served as a Seventh Day Adventist pastor in the US. Today, he participates in developing the new missiology and the emerging church through his role in Faith House Manhattan, an interfaith community of Muslims, Jews, Christians, humanists, and atheists. Selmanovic has some interesting and alarming views on Christianity. He states:

The emerging church movement has come to believe that the ultimate context of the spiritual aspirations of a follower of Jesus Christ is not Christianity but rather the kingdom of God . . . to believe that God is limited to it [Christianity] would be an attempt to manage God. If one holds that Christ is confined to Christianity, one has chosen a god that is not sovereign. Soren Kierkegaard argued that the moment one decides to become a Christian, one is liable to idolatry.21

On Selmanovic’s website, Faith House project, he presents an interfaith vision that will:

. . . seek to bring progressive Jews, Christians, Muslims, and spiritual seekers of no faith to become an interfaith community for the good of the world. We have one world and one God.22

While Selmanovic says he includes Christians in this interspiritual dream for the world, he makes it clear that while they might be included, they are in no way beholders of an exclusive truth. He states:

Is our religion [Christianity] the only one that understands the true meaning of life? Or does God place his truth in others too? Well, God decides, and not us. The gospel is not our gospel, but the gospel of the kingdom of God, and what belongs to the kingdom of God cannot be hijacked by Christianity.23

While it is true that God is the One who decides where He is going to place truth, He has already made that decision. And the answer to that is found in the Bible. When Selmanovic asks if Christianity is the only religion that understands the true meaning of life, the answer is yes. How can a Buddhist or a Hindu or a Muslim fully understand truth when their religions omit a Savior who died for their sins?

Though world religions may share some moral precepts (don’t lie, steal, etc), the core essence of Christianity (redemption) is radically different from all of them. Interspirituality may sound noble on the surface, but in actuality, Selmanovic and the other emerging church leaders are facilitating occultist Alice Bailey’s rejuvenation of the churches. In her rejuvenation, everyone remains diverse (staying in their own religion), yet united in perspective, with no one religion claiming a unique corner on the truth. In other words all religions lead to the same destination and emanate from the same source. And of course, Bailey believed that a “Coming One”24 whom she called Christ would appear on the scene in order to lead united humanity into an era of global peace. However, you can be sure that if such a scenario were to take place as Bailey predicted, there would be no room for those who cling to biblical truth.

As is the case with so many emergent leaders, Selmanovic’s confusing language dances obscurely around his theology, whether he realizes it or not. Sadly, for those who are lost and who are trying to find the way, the emerging church movement offers confusion in place of clarity. It blurs, if not obliterates, the walls of distinction between good and evil, truth and falsehood, leaving people to stumble along a broken path, hoping to find light. In sharp contrast, Jesus commanded believers to stand out as beacon lights in this dark world, bearing the Word of God to a lost and dying generation. In such times as these, in which we live, let us not be quickly deceived, but let us heed the words that give life and true peace:

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. (Matthew 5:14-15)

To order copies of The New Missiology –  Doing Missions Without the Gospel, click here.
Notes:
1. Brian McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2004), p. 293.
2. Rick Warren at the 2005 United Nations Prayer Breakfast, September 2005. For more information about the prayer breakfast, see “Rick Warren Speaks about Purpose at United Nations” by Rhonda Tse (Christian Post, September 14, 2005, http://www.christianpost.com/article/20050914/21340_ Rick_ Warren_Speaks_about_ Purpose_at_ United_ Nations.htm); quote is from transcript of Warren’s talk that was provided to Lighthouse Trails Publishing.
3. Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz (Nashville, TN: Zondervan, 2003), p. 115.
4. Erwin McManus, The Barbarian Way (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2005), p. 6.
5. “Youth with a Mission Experiments with New, Unscriptural Missions Strategy” (Foundation, Watchman’s Trumpet, May-June 2000, http://web.archive.org/web/20090310180435/http://www.feasite.org/WTrumpet/fbcwt004.htm#Youth With), p. 39.
6. Andy Butcher, “Radical Missionary Approach Produces ‘Messianic Muslims’ Retaining Islamic Identity” (Charisma News Service, March 24, 2000, http://web.archive.org/web/20010818051517/www.charismanews.com/news.cgi?a=285&t=news.html).
7. Ibid., quoting from a report in “The International YWAMer,” YWAM’s staff newsletter.
8. H. L. Richard, “Christ-Followers in India Flourishing Outside the Church,” a review of Churchless Christianity by Herbert Hoefer (Mission Frontiers, March/April 1999, http://web.archive.org/web/20001002151833/http://www.missionfrontiers.org/1999/0304/articles/04f.htm).
9. Ibid.
10. Herbert Hoefer, Churchless Christianity (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2001 edition), p. xii.
11. Ibid., p. 17.
12. Ibid., p. 16.
13. Mike Oppenheimer, “A ‘New Evangelism’ for the 21st Century” (Let Us Reason ministries, 2006, http://www.letusreason.org/curren33.htm).
14. Leonard Sweet, Quantum Spirituality: A Postmodern Apologetic (Dayton, OH: Whaleprints, First Edition, 1991 p. 130.
15. Rick Warren, “Discussion: Religion and Leadership,” with David Gergen and Rick Warren (Aspen Ideas Festival, The Aspen Institute, July 6, 2005, http://www.aspeninstitute.org); for more information: http://www. lighthousetrailsresearch.com/newsletternovember05.htm.
16. David Steindl-Rast, “Recollection of Thomas Merton’s Last Days in the West” (Monastic Studies, 7:10, 1969).
17. Peter Kreeft, Ecumenical Jihad (San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 1996), pp. 30, 160.
18. Sandy Simpson and Mike Oppenheimer, Idolatry in Their Hearts (Pearl City, HI: Apologetics Coordination Team, 2007, 1st Edition), p. 358.
19. Ray Yungen, A Time of Departing (Eureka, MT: Lighthouse Trails, 2006, 2nd ed.), p. 108.
20. Leonard Sweet, Soul Tsunami (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing, 1999), p. 163.
21. Doug Pagitt and Tony Jones, An Emergent Manifesto of Hope (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group, 2007), Samir Selmanovic section, “The Sweet Problem of Inclusiveness,” pp. 192-193.
22. From Faith House Project website: http://samirselmanovic.typepad.com/faith_house/2.WhatisFaithHouseProject.pdf.
23. Doug Pagitt and Tony Jones, An Emergent Manifesto of Hope, op. cit., p. 194.
24. Alice Bailey: a term she used in her writings; see page 188 of Reappearance of the Christ for example. (Albany, NY: Fort

Pew Forum Study: One-in-Five U.S. Adults Were Raised in Interfaith Homes

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LTRP Note: The Pew Research Center is a liberal secular think tank. We sometimes post the results of their studies as they can show the direction that Americans are going, spiritually. In this particular study, it states that over one fourth of millennials are raised in homes where more than one religion is represented. No wonder this younger generation is so confused, and more evidence of the coming one-world, interspiritual religion.

(2 Corinthians 6:14) “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness.”

“One-in-Five U.S. Adults Were Raised in Interfaith Homes”
Pew Research Center

Roughly one-in-five U.S. adults were raised with a mixed religious background, according to a new Pew Research Center study. This includes about one-in-ten who say they were raised by two people, both of whom were religiously affiliated but with different religions, such as a Protestant mother and a Catholic father, or a Jewish mother and a Protestant stepfather. An additional 12% say they were raised by one person who was religiously affiliated (e.g., with Protestantism, Catholicism, Judaism or another religion) and another person who was religiously unaffiliated (atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular”). . . .

[T]he number of Americans raised in interfaith homes appears to be growing. Fully one-quarter of young adults in the Millennial generation (27%) say they were raised in a religiously mixed family. Click here to continue reading.

Letter to the Editor from a Former Young Life Leader: “My biblical background was considered a liability instead of a blessing.”

LTRP Note: Please also refer to the two articles below this letter to the editor.

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Dear Editor,

I read with great interest the history of how Lighthouse Trails came into being. As you unfolded the story, it was so evident of how the Holy Spirit had been working behind the scenes to put all of the pieces in place. Truly a confirmation of the importance of this ministry and how it has become a lighthouse to pilgrims/travelers who are striving to maintain their footing in such a turbulent sea of compromise.

I especially took notice of your experience with Young Life as my own was not too different. Having joined the staff after high school with the purpose of working with teens, I soon began to notice the compromises creeping in and no one else seemed to be concerned. It all came to a head when I took a stand and insisted I attend a retreat they had planned with the local [Catholic] Abbey before permitting my Campaigners to go. That, in itself, caused a major problem. After attending and taking my stand, it was apparent that my biblical background was considered a liability instead of a blessing. Over many days of discussion, I finally had to offer my resignation as I felt I could not agree with the ecumenical direction Young Life was taking by aligning itself with a Catholic fellowship.

That was many years ago, and it is sad to realize how so much compromising was happening then long before the flood of what is taking place today. Satan has been busy, and the standing for the truth has turned into a determent rather than a badge of honor.

Thank you for your persistence in seeking out the truth back then and following the Holy Spirit’s direction to establish Lighthouse Trails Publishing. It has provided such a needed and trusted resource to those of us who desire to stand upon the Word of God. Your ministry is shared with many others and prayed for daily.

In His Soon Coming Name.

C ________

Related Material:

Letter to the Editor From a Former Young Life Leader: Watered-Down Gospel, Contemplative Authors, & Emergent Leanings

Young Life’s History of Embracing Contemplative Authors Continues

 

 


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