Posts Tagged ‘Catholicism’
“Spiritual Disciplines Handbook” – Christian Organizations, Seminaries, and Ministry Leaders Incorporate This Mystical Primer into Christian Education
Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun is a primer on contemplative mysticism, bursting with contemplative meditation instruction along with references and quotes by some of the movement’s most prolific mystics on the scene today. It’s a book one might expect to find on the shelves of a Catholic monastery, a New Age bookstore, or in an emerging church coffee house; while it probably is in those types of places, the book has become a common textbook in many spiritual formation classes and has found a growing audience with evangelical pastors, seminary professors, and Christian ministry leaders. In fact, many of those in ministry are eagerly flocking to this book, and in so doing pointing potentially millions of Christians to the book’s message. While we have made mention of this book in several articles over the past decade, we feel it is time to present a more focused critique of Calhoun’s book and her message.
Who is promoting Calhoun’s handbook? First of all, a major advocate of the book for a number of years is Rick Warren. You can find the book on his resource website, where Saddleback gives a hearty recommendation for the book. Willow Creek also recommends the book in their Establishing Life Giving Rhythms class. In a course at Reformed Theological Seminary, the book is being used as “required reading.” (2013 Update: *A professor contacted us from Reformed Theological Seminary to say that Calhoun’s book was “optional required” reading, not “mandated required” reading. Also he told us that the book is no longer being used in that course.) In Olivet Nazarene University’s Spiritual Formation and Personal Development course, the book is listed in the “Suggested Reading” section. In Biola’s online course, Introduction to Spiritual Formation, the book is “Recommended Reading.” Assemblies of God Theological Seminary’s course, Renewing the Spiritual Leader includes Calhoun’s book in a list for required reading. Moody Bible Institute’s Midday Connection radio program had Calhoun as a guest speaker in November 2011, and Midday Connection host Anita Lustrea talks about Calhoun in her own book, What Women Tell Me. Lustrea, tells how she met Calhoun during a course called Growing Your Soul and how Calhoun taught her some of the contemplative “spiritual disciplines” (p. 125). On the Wesleyan denomination’s website, in a Spiritual Formation course, Calhoun’s book is listed in a Bibliography on Spiritual Formation. MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) had Calhoun as one of the speakers at their 2011 MOPS International Convention. On the book’s publisher’s website (InterVarsity Press), you will find an endorsement for the book by the popular pastor Timothy Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian of NYC, who says of Calhoun’s handbook:
I have long profited from Adele Ahlberg Calhoun’s gifts in the field of spiritual development, and I am delighted that she has compiled her experience with spiritual disciplines into book form. I highly recommend it and I look forward to using it as a resource at our church.
These are just a few instances of many more where evangelical Christians or organizations are turning to Calhoun’s Spiritual Disciplines Handbook for spiritual direction (see below this article for more who use the book). Now let us examine this book and see why it is so troubling to know it is being used in so many Christian venues.
As we stated above, Calhoun’s book is permeated with references of and quotes by some of the most prolific contemplative mystics today. But she doesn’t just quote and reference these mystics - in her book, she reveals that these teachers are her “spiritual tutors.” She states:
I would be remiss not to mention the spiritual tutors that I know only through books: Dorothy Bass, Eugene Peterson, Gerald May, M. Basil Pennington, Dallas Willard, Phyllis Tickle, Fredrick Buechner, Richard Foster, Henri Nouwen, Richard Rohr, Jonathan Edwards [not a contemplative], Francis de Sales, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Ignatius Loyola, St. Benedict, Julian of Norwich and many more. Their ideas, voices and examples have shaped my own words and experience of the disciplines. (Acknowledgment’s page)
For those who have spent time on the Lighthouse Trails website or read A Time of Departing and Faith Undone, most of these names above will be familiar to you. You will know that the late Gerald May was the co-founder of the Shalem Institute of Spiritual Formation in Washington DC., and as Ray Yungen points out, May adhered to “Eastern metaphysical views,” which can be seen in many of his writings, including his book The Awakened Heart where he discusses the “cosmic presence” “pervading ourselves and all creation” (ATOD, p. 67). Yungen points out that “there can be no mistaking [May's] theological underpinnings” when May says:
It is revealed in the Hindu greetings jai bhagwan and namaste that reverence the divinity that both resides within and embraces us all. (The Awakened Heart, pp. 179-180)
Gerald May makes it very clear in that statement where he is coming from. This panentheistic, God-in-everybody view, which May embraced is the “fruit” of contemplative spirituality and is why we are so persistent in warning about this spiritual outlook that has entered the Christian church. Think about it, Adele Calhoun sees Gerald May as a spiritual tutor, and now she is presenting the beliefs of these tutors to untold numbers of Christians via her book. Let’s look at another tutor whom she turns to – Basil Pennington. In a book written by Pennington and Thomas Keating (who, by the way, Calhoun also recommends), the two Catholic monks write:
We should not hesitate to take the fruit of the age-old wisdom of the East and “capture” it for Christ. Indeed, those of us who are in ministry should make the necessary effort to acquaint ourselves with as many of these Eastern techniques as possible.
Many Christians who take their prayer life seriously have been greatly helped by Yoga, Zen, TM and similar practices, especially where they have been initiated by reliable teachers and have a solidly developed Christian faith to find inner form and meaning to the resulting experiences. (Finding Grace at the Center, pp. 5-6)
Calhoun would agree with Pennington and Keating on their views of “Eastern techniques.” She talks about these kinds of practices in her book, such as in the chapter she titles “Centering Prayer” where she instructs readers to focus on a “sacred word,” or in the chapter she titles “Breath Prayer,” where she encourages “short repetitive prayer[s],” or in her chapter titled Devotional Reading, where she talks about lectio divina and picking out one word from a passage of Scripture, a word which becomes the focus for meditation, or in her chapter titled “The Labyrinth Prayer,” where one is taught how to walk through a labyrinth while doing contemplative meditation. She also tells readers to “Explore the practice of liturgical prayer through using the book The Divine Hours by Phyllis Tickle, or The Daily Office of the Catholic church” (Kindle Edition, Locations 2861-2862). For those of you who may not know who Phyllis Tickle is, she has been the darling and a favorite mentor of emerging church leaders. It is Tickle who likened atonement-rejector Brian McLaren to another Luther, saying he could be instrumental in bringing about a “new reformation.”
One can also see how Calhoun resonates with Pennington and Keating when she favorably says that “three Cistercian monks, Thomas Keating, Basil Pennington and William Meninger, sought to revive this ancient form of meditative prayer.” (Kindle Edition, Locations 2460-2461). By the way, Calhoun recommends (Kindle Edition, Location 2498) Keating’s book, Open Mind, Open Heart, another “textbook” on contemplative and centering prayer. In that book, Keating says this:
Centering prayer is a discipline designed to reduce the obstacles … choose a sacred word [to repeat] … Twenty to thirty minutes is the minimum amount of time necessary for most people to establish interior silence. (pp. 18, 21, 23 as quoted from Faith Undone, p. 81)
The repeating of a word or phrase is how contemplative prayer is practiced. This in turn begins to make the practitioner feel a oneness with God, humanity, creation, and with everything. This oneness is the whole crux of the matter. After awhile, the contemplative meditator begins to take on a different spiritual outlook. It’s what caused Thomas Merton (another mystic you will find in Calhoun’s book) to say “I see no contradiction between Buddhism and Christianity . . . I intend to become as good a Buddhist as I can.” (from David Steindl-Rast, “Recollection of Thomas Merton’s Last Days in the West” (Monastic Studies, 7:10, 1969). Or what caused Henri Nouwen (another Calhoun “tutor”) to say at the end of his life after years of meditating:
Today I personally believe that while Jesus came to open the door to God’s house, all human beings can walk through that door, whether they know about Jesus or not. Today I see it as my call to help every person claim his or her own way to God.(From Sabbatical Journey, Henri Nouwen’s last book page 51, 1998 Hardcover Edition)
In addition to the tutors Adele Calhoun lists in her Acknowledgements page, she also includes other names in the book that are important to point out here: David Steindl-Rast, Marjorie Thompson (author of Soul Feast), Brian C. Taylor, Kathleen Norris (a Catholic contemplative nun), Karen Mains, Tilden Edwards, Ruth Haley Barton, and Esther De Waal. Between her “tutors” and these other names along with the practices and ideas Calhoun espouses in Spiritual Disciplines Handbook, the heart of the contemplative prayer movement is clearly and no doubtedly manifested in her book.
The following quotes by some of the people in Calhoun’s book are the focal point of our concerns. These aren’t minor points we’re dealing with. The essence of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is at risk to those who are being exposed to this. The spirituality that Calhoun and her tutors embrace leads to interspirituality (i.e., all paths lead to God). “Christian mysticism” resonates with Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, and Muslim mysticism, which means it’s not Christian at all; but practitioners become blinded to that – this is how Henri Nouwen came to call these mystical spiritual practices “treasures for the spiritual life of the Christian.” See now for yourself if you come to the same conclusions we have when you read these quotes:
The God he [Merton] knew in prayer was the same experience that Buddhists describe in their enlightenment. – Brian C. Taylor (Setting the Gospel Free, p. 76 -What Taylor means by this book title is getting rid of the biblical Gospel).
These [Christian] contemplatives also recognize their soul mates in other traditions, as did Thomas Merton in his pilgrimage to Buddhist Asia. This is because they have passed beyond the confines of religion as a closed system to an open awareness of God-in-life. Brian C. Taylor, Setting the Gospel Free
The enlightenment you seek in our religions has been present in Christianity from the beginning – from the back cover of Richard Rohr’s book, The Naked Now
[New Ager] Ken Wilber is really the best teacher today . . . to give us an “integral spirituality.” Pick any book of his that fascinates you, and you will know why I, as a Christian, recommend him. – Richard Rohr, The Naked Now, p. 153 (Wilber’s “integral spirituality” include yoga, zen, TM, kabbalah, tantric sex, kundalini, and centering prayer.)
This mystical stream [contemplative prayer] is the Western bridge to Far Eastern spirituality. – Tilden Edwards, Spiritual Friend, p. 18
The practice of contemplative prayer might give a Christian ground for constructive dialogue with a meditating Buddhist. – Marjorie Thompson, Soul Feast, Prologue
Skeptics may say, well these quotes are not in Calhoun’s book. That’s true, but anyone can see that Calhoun is encouraging her readers to turn to these mystics by calling them her tutors, quoting from them extensively, and recommending their books.
If you want to know what the end result of practicing contemplative spirituality is, the following quote by David Steindl Rast (who is in Calhoun’s book) sums it up – drop the Cross of Christ! There’s no need for it once the world religions come together under the common denominator of mystical realms:
Unfortunately, over the course of the centuries, this [Christianity] has come to be presented in almost legal language, as if it were some sort of transaction, a deal with God; there was this gap between us and God, somebody had to make up for it—all that business. We can drop that. The legal metaphor seems to have helped other generations. Fine. Anything that helps is fine. But once it gets in the way, as it does today, we should drop it. – David Steindl-Rast, talking to a Buddhist (Robert Aitken & Steindl Rast, The Ground We Share, p. 45, emphasis added)
We must choose one, dear Christian – contemplative spirituality or the Cross of Jesus Christ - we cannot have them both.
No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. (Matthew 6:24)
Other Instances Where Spiritual Disciplines Handbook is Being Used:
Anaheim Vineyard – Pastoral Staff Recommends list
Eastern Mennonite University – “Highly recommended” list
Northpark Theological University - “Highly recommended” list
Nazarene Theological Seminary – Bibliography used
Trevecca Nazarene University – Formational Resources
Dear Friends in the Lord Jesus Christ:
I have only recently subscribed to your newsletter. A breath of fresh air!
Although raised Roman Catholic, I was saved by the grace of God at age 15, that was almost 40 years ago.
I have been living in Europe for the last 25 years. Here we are geographically closer to Rome and still remember the persecutions of recent and not so recent eras. Conservative Christians (the few there are in postmodern Europe) still see and recognize the dangers of Catholicism, which shows its true face more “honestly” on this side of the pond.
I will just tell you about one anecdote … I happened to be in Lisbon in May 2010 for a professional conference. My daughter and I arrived the day the pope was visiting but my event was not to start until around 7 pm. We had plenty of time and were curious about all the crowds, we got the metro and walked toward the harbor where a large square had been set up for the mass. Of course, there were several on the platform singing soft contemporary-style Christian music and streams of people, young and old, pouring out of the metro and moving toward the square … We saw thousands and thousands of people; lots of banners, t-shirts and sun visors, all with a picture of the pope or similar image. In all the banners, we only saw the word “God” 3 times and the word “Jesus” only 1 time! I think I didn’t see a single Bible verse. I wondered how a mere man could accept such adulation; how could the people be blinded to the fact that they were giving glory to a mere man? There were outdoor advertising banners all over the city… “”My father taught me to love”
“My father taught me to believe” “My father taught me to hope” and more of the same, obviously all referring to the pope, as far as I could tell. I was astonished again that a mere man could be accepting glory for this. I look at this and can’t believe that anything like “Bible-believing Christians” could fall for the deception that Catholics believe the same as the Bible teaches.
LTRP Note: Two weeks ago, we presented Part 1 of this story.
By Roger Oakland
(author of Let There Be Light, director of Understand the Times)
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)
On July 17, 2009, I almost died while at the farm in Eston. Though the circumstances surrounding this incident have not been made public in the past, I believe it is important for me to share what happened. The incident and the weeks and months following changed the course of my life and the ministry at Understand The Times.
This part of my story actually begins in January 2007 while on a flight heading to the Philippine Islands. While the long flight itself from Southern California was just another journey and part of my “1 K” annual flight itinerary, the following day I noticed my body was not the same. I broke out in a “rash” or better described as “hives” from head to toe. I also came down with what seemed a terrible viral illness. From my hotel room, I dialed a friend on my cell phone, “I am very sick,” I said weakly. “I feel so bad, I don’t even know if I will make it out of here alive.”
However, in spite of the way I grew increasingly ill each day, I continued on with my speaking schedule in Manila and Bageo that lasted about ten days. When I arrived back in the USA, Myrna took one look at me and said, “I think you have scabies.” I wasn’t even sure what that was. But when I saw a doctor, he treated me for hives with steroids, and the hives went away. Within a few days of arriving home, we were scheduled for a long anticipated family holiday in Hawaii with my daughter and her family. We had a wonderful time, but on the flight home, I broke out again.
We actually had a second trip planned for shortly after we arrived home from our family trip. While it would seem to have been better to stay home and rest, Myrna and I left for Israel. We no sooner arrived there when I had another major attack. My face became so distorted that I looked like a monster. My skin erupted with scores of itching volcanoes that would not go away no matter what I did.
Once back home in California, a doctor referred me to an allergy specialist. By now, I had been taking steroids for over three weeks. It seemed this was the only way I could sleep. My condition was diagnosed as chronic idiopathic urticaria. The disease name may sound intimidating, but the side effects of the malady are far worse than the name. Chronic essentially means serious and long lasting; idiopathic means the medical profession does not know what you have, when you got it, how you got it, and how to get rid of it; urticaria means a problem related to the skin, which in my case was hives.
Week after week, month after month, the hives kept coming back, and I never knew when they were going to hit. Often they came right in the middle of a conference or other ministry trips. I continued making visits to the doctor who was treating me. After two years of extensive steroid use, weaning down and then off, I started to notice a difference in the way I was dealing with problems. I told my doctor I felt I was breaking down. . . .
[T]here was another factor. I was not only subjected to stress related to travel but also from human opposition to the positions I was taking as I stood for biblical truth. As well, I was now facing a lot of backlash from writing the book Faith Undone. While some Calvary Chapel pastors liked the book, many did not. The book had certainly hit a nerve. It named names, and some of those were names that certain prominent Calvary Chapel pastors were fond of. There were those who wanted me to come to their churches and speak on the topic; and there were those obsessed with trying to harm and even shut down the ministry of Understand The Times through spreading false rumors. Ironically, the book was selling quite well through the publisher to many outside the Calvary Chapel movement. Others could discern what was happening in the church, but many in my own fellowship could not.
It wasn’t just Faith Undone that brought about such opposition but also Another Jesus: the Eucharistic Christ and the New Evangelization, which was re-released in 2007 by the same publisher as Faith Undone. The books were like water between the rocks when it freezes. It breaks the rocks and shatters them.
The biblical position I wrote about in Another Jesus that reveals how Pope John Paul II had implemented an evangelistic program to win the world to the Roman Catholic Jesus was the first book written on the topic. The facts supporting this agenda are overwhelming. The thesis is not based on speculation but on solid documentation and biblical evidence. Further, the scenario is clearly laid out in Scripture by Jesus as one of the end-time signs that indicate His soon return.
Firmly convinced that the Lord had revealed these important things through His Word, I felt I must boldly confront this deceptive plan that fit into Bible prophecy. Three years prior to Faith Undone being released, Hollywood announced the release of Mel Gibson’s The Passion film (discussed in the previous chapter). It did not take me long to see that Gibson was part of the New Evangelization program and that the film was going to be used as propaganda to bring back the “separated brethren” to the Mother of All Churches. Later, I even documented where Gibson admitted that his goal for the film was evangelistic . . . for the Catholic Church.1
In an attempt to warn pastors and others on our UTT mailing list, we began to publish a number of articles explaining what was going on. These articles were met with mixed reviews—a high percentage of the negative response came from several Calvary Chapel pastors. “Pastor Chuck has endorsed the film. What give you the right to think you can challenge something that has been endorsed by Chuck,” a number said.
Even though the opposition against me over the books continued, Paul Smith was able to give away about a thousand copies of Another Jesus at the 2005 Calvary Chapel Pastor’s Conference alluded to in [Let There Be Light]. It was a rather historic time. While my book was handed out the first day of the conference to the pastors warning about the coming Eucharistic Christ, two days later Calvary Chapel pastor Jon Corson performed the communion for Chuck Smith and suggested to the pastors that it was time for Catholics and Protestants to lay down their differences.
Corson even made reference during communion to the idea that the bread or wafer is more than just a remembrance. When he did that, over fifty pastors, many of them former Roman Catholics got up and walked out. Paul Smith, at that time the head of Calvary Chapel Outreach Fellowship, walked with them. While the tape of that meeting is no longer available from Calvary Chapel, one eyewitness said, “The pastors who walked out were standing on the sidewalk outside with some pointing at the building and crying out, ‘Heresy!’”
From June 2005 to July 2009, my life was like a rocky road covered with ice. Another Jesus was the first bridge over troubled waters. I had never estimated how difficult it would be to tell the truth to a church fellowship that I had been part of for over two decades. In August 2007, Faith Undone came off the press . . . all hell broke loose when the book hit the market.
However, while the release of the book caused a great disturbance, it also brought about many opportunities to speak. Perhaps there were too many opportunities and too many invitations. Being on a steady diet of steroids in an attempt to control what had now been diagnosed as an autoimmune disease, caused me to feel hyped up. This fed my feeling of urgency that it was imperative to fulfill all invitations. When I should have been resting, I was traveling. When I should have been healing, I was fighting on the front lines. In a twelve-month period, I visited and lectured in ten different countries as a speaker. My body was breaking down, and I knew it. My allergist doctor told me that time off and some physical labor on the farm in Saskatchewan would do wonders.
Around the middle of April 2009, I flew to Tulsa, Oklahoma and participated in a Bible conference with Dave Hunt and some other men who often spoke together. It did not require a medical professional to know there was something seriously wrong with me. Not only did my facial features show that I was very ill, so did my speeches. I was only going through the motions; while some may not have not seen it, others were probably wondering what was going on.
A few weeks later, I left for my annual long drive up to the farm to help my son Wade and his wife Lisa put in their crop. Before seeding, I had committed myself to speak at two conferences—one in Calgary and another in Saskatoon one week later. I barely remember those two conferences. What I do remember is that I was not who and what I once was.
When the conferences finally ended, I headed to Eston to help Wade and Lisa who had already started seeding. My life was deteriorating quickly. Myrna was not with me. She was back in California doing her full-time job as an industrial nurse. Without her working, there was no ministry. But our family was a farm family, and hard work was no stranger to any of us.
“You need to see a doctor here in Saskatchewan,” Wade prodded me daily.
“I can’t do that now, Wade. Not without Canadian health insurance. It’ll have to wait,” I protested whenever he brought up the subject.
For four weeks, I slept very little. The hives caused me to itch constantly. The only thing that would give me rest was when I took the steroids, and even they seemed to be losing their effect. I was in a trap and could not get out. I was beginning to feel like Job—I had already lost my son, I was losing many long-time friends and ministry support, and I had itching hives all over tormenting my body.
The weeks passed. I refused to go back to California because I was certain that Wade and Lisa could not manage seeding time without me. When I wasn’t working, I isolated myself, not wanting to see anyone. I pulled the curtains so that my house would be dark. I sat in a chair and watched television programs and the odd Blue Jays ball game.
In the middle of all this, a series of unfortunate events happened. First, our webmaster and good friend, Ron Pierotti, who is an integral part of Understand The Times, was diagnosed with a reoccurring brain tumor and told he may only have a month to live. Next, my long time friend Paul Smith called one day and told me he had just been fired from CCOF (Calvary Chapel Outreach Fellowships) at an impromptu meeting that afternoon. He sounded shocked and upset, saying that his own brother, Chuck, sat by and let it happen while one board member made the motion and another seconded it. This news about Paul came at a time when I was already deeply discouraged. Paul was being used by God to warn his brother about the wave of apostasy sweeping through the Calvary Chapel movement, and now he was being eliminated.
Everything solid in my life was crumbling.
And then, as if enough hadn’t happened to completely dishearten me, I received a call from Rob Yardley, a member of UTT’s board at the time and also a member of CCCM’s board. Rob told me that he had met with the Missions pastor at Calvary Costa Mesa, and it was decided that because CCCM was losing tens of thousands of dollars every month due to the bad economy, they were looking for ways to cut their budget. The money that CCCM was paying each month in support of the Myanmar orphans was one of the cuts. The children in Myanmar were going to lose the five hundred dollars a month the church was providing.
After hearing that, and while I didn’t think I could get much lower, I received two e-mails. One came from Sarah Yardley, Rob’s daughter and the overseer for Calvary Distribution. She said that Calvary would no longer be carrying Lighthouse Trails books* because of an article they wrote about Calvary Chapel and their firing of Paul Smith.2
For several days after all this, I drove a tractor helping Wade and Lisa pack or “roll” the legume crops to make the land level, preparing for harvest when the header of the combine needs to shave the ground. I drove the tractor day after day like a robot: I was there in body doing all the right things, but my mind was somewhere else. All I could think about was the death of a vision. Perhaps this is the end for me, I thought. Maybe God took me from the farm to Los Angeles and to the world for a season. Maybe it’s all over.
I tried calling and talking with the men on the Board of UTT in both Canada and the USA. They were either unavailable, not interested, or they told me they never had the vision God had given me in the first place. Doubts began to plague me. Maybe I have never had a vision, I began to reason. Maybe this whole thing is the figment of my imagination. I could not get my mind to stop racing with these thoughts of defeat.
On July 16th, Wade and Lisa left the farm early that morning with my seven-month-old granddaughter Elizabeth to go to Clearwater Lake for a few days. I was alone. I decided to be useful by cutting the grass in my yard, which was located about a quarter mile from our original home where Wade and his family now lived.
The events of the rest of the day and the next several days are merely a shadow in my memory. There are many details I do not recall. But what I do remember is this—I was very, very tired because I had not slept for days. I was also very depressed. Upon returning from cutting grass, I opened the shed door and drove in with our small John Deere garden tractor equipped with a mower attachment. The next thing I remember is waking up on the floor of the shed, my fingers tapping the floor. Then more blackout.
After that, the next thing I remember was Saturday morning the 19th of July 2009. I was curled up in my favorite chair in our living room; I had no idea how I got from the shed floor to my chair. But later, piecing things together, I must have fallen from the tractor, been knocked unconscious, came to, and crawled inside to the living room and into the chair. Now here it was Saturday morning, three days after my fall. Wade had returned from his trip. He was talking to me but getting nowhere. “Dad, I’m going to call Mom,” he finally told me walking toward the phone. Myrna was still in southern California.
“You better get him right over to the doctor in town,” she told Wade with concern in her voice. As soon as Wade hung up, he called the local doctor. The nurse told Wade to bring me in for a check right away.
I had known this doctor for most of my life. His father was also a doctor who had treated my grandmother. When he asked me how I got in the condition I was in, I told him I had chronic idiopathic urticaria and that I had been taking steroids. He then instructed Wade to go to my place and bring him all the medications I was taking.
From Eston, I was transported to Saskatoon to the University Hospital, but upon arrival, we discovered there was no room there, so I was shuttled to City Hospital. The next morning, doctors determined that I had a pneumothorax (collapsed lung) and thus was transported to St. Paul’s Hospital for surgery. All of this happened within twenty-four hours.
Before the surgery took place, my vision became extremely blurred, almost to the point of blindness. After the surgery, this condition continued. The rest of my hospital experience in Saskatoon, Canada may become the subject for a book in the future regarding the pros and cons of socialized health insurance. For now, let me say, I was in the hospital for two weeks before they found out I had a hemorrhage in my brain, and this was the reason I could not see.
Before this diagnosis, at least one doctor treating me suggested that perhaps I was just depressed. But it would take a pretty heavy dose of depression to actually cause someone to lose his eyesight.
As soon as Myrna heard the diagnosis of the brain bleed, she left her job immediately in California, taking an emergency leave of absence, and came to Canada. When she learned that the hospital could not do an MRI for at least a month, she had me discharged, packed me in a car, and headed for California. She was afraid to fly and was advised against it in light of the brain injury. Because of Myrna’s quick response and insistence that I receive proper care right away, my life was saved.
Over the next several months, many things took place for me to get on the road to recovery. When we first got back, a doctor, who was a new ministry friend of ours, advocated for me and got me in to see one of the best brain specialists in southern California. Looking back, this was another step in God’s intervention of what Satan had meant for my destruction.
For one year, I was forced to take a sabbatical. I rarely saw anyone except for the odd occasion when Rob Yardley would show up. The rumors were spreading that I was either dead or that I would never be back in ministry again. While I’m sure there were those pleased with such news, God had other plans.
One afternoon, several months after my fall, and when I was beginning to get out a bit, I went into a Calvary Chapel bookstore and asked the clerk, out of curiosity, if she carried the book, Faith Undone.
“Yes, we do have a copy of that book.”
“Oh great,” I answered. “What do you know about the author, anyway?” I was curious what the word on the “street” was.
“Well, I think he died recently. That’s what I heard.” My eyebrows rose with interest.
“Oh, I don’t think that is true,” I told her. “In fact, I’m certain of it.”
“Really?” the young clerk asked, looking puzzled.
“Yes, you see I am the author.”
I have to admit I was amused at the stunned look on the girl’s face. As I walked out of the store, a purchased copy of Faith Undone under my arm, I smiled to myself and to the Lord. “I’m still here Lord. You protected me and must have kept me alive for a reason.”
What took place in my life those difficult few years has some similarities to the “Joseph” in the book of Genesis. His brothers, who should have been his friends, were instrumental in his near demise. But God took the thing that Satan had meant for evil and brought good out of it for Joseph and his family. Evil plots against those who belong to the Lord do not hinder God who is in charge of all things. He turns human manipulation around and in Joseph’s case made Joseph victorious.
The Bible tells us that our redemption draws near and that we are to look up in anticipation for that blessed hope of His appearing. None of us know the hour, but God’s Word tells us if we are watching the signs and the seasons, we can be aware of the times. I believe Jesus is coming soon, and Satan wants to keep the darkness protected. However, God’s Word is light. God hates darkness and will always expose it, even if those protecting the darkness are well-known and respected spiritual leaders.
Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD shall be a light unto me. (Micah 7:8)
(Taken from the 21st chapter of Let There Be Light, 2011, Lighthouse Trails, by Roger Oakland – links added by Lighthouse Trails editors for this online version.)
*LTPC note: While Calvary Distribution did drop all Lighthouse Trails books, some Calvary Chapel church bookstores still carry our books but must purchase them from other outlets.
NOTE: The following debate took place in May, between fellow defender of the faith, Cecil Andrews of Take Heed Ministries in Northern Ireland and Catholic priest, Keith McMillian. The debate is hosted by another contender, Doug Harris of ReachOut Trust in the UK.
By Roger Oakland
While I am sometimes accused of being a “Catholic-basher,” this is not my desire, nor my intention. I have a number of Roman Catholic acquaintances, and I care for them very much. I also have a number of Evangelical and Protestant acquaintances, and I care about them equally as well. However, in both cases, if a true understanding of the Gospel according to the Scriptures is not present in their lives, then their views will not be biblical—it won’t matter what they call themselves. For the record, my desire is to follow Jesus Christ and His Word and no man, no matter who he is. Likewise, I desire my acquaintances to do the same. It is love, not hate, that motivates me to share the Gospel with them, for there is only one Gospel that truly saves.
Here is the view I promote. Saving faith hinges entirely on a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, not on an affiliation with a church body. To be born again is to die to the old life of living for self and sin and to be reborn of the Spirit of God when one acknowledges his inability to save himself but rather trusts in Christ alone and His death on the Cross to purchase our salvation.
Many Catholics do not realize that official Catholic teaching does not recognize the biblical Gospel of salvation by grace alone but adds to it the appendage of our merit and participation in the sacraments. By the same token, many Protestants do not realize the biblical faith that martyrs (the disciples, the reformers, etc.) lived and died for. Our hope of an eternal home in Heaven rests in Christ and Christ alone and is offered to all, who in child-like faith, receive Him.
I am not certain when I first realized that the Roman Catholic Church, particularly the Jesuits, were the root force behind the coming one-world religion. If I were pressed to come up with an original time, it would be difficult. Coming to this realization was more of a process for me. The Bible foretells the coming of the Harlot. G.S. McLean always instilled in me that the harlot was apostate Christianity. This I still believe is the proper definition.
Through writing New Wine and the Babylonian Vine, I could see that the final one-world religion will be a mix of all religions for the cause of peace. This will include a revival of ancient Babylonianism that will be rooted in the worship of creation, based on Darwinian evolution that is rooted in Hinduism and Buddhism. . . .
[I]t became increasingly apparent to me the role that the Roman Catholic “Mary” and the Roman Catholic “Jesus” will play in the final delusion to prepare the world for the Antichrist. . . . .
It was about 2000, the year before Bryce [my son] died, that I came across Pope John Paul’s agenda to promote the “New Evangelization.” This is an organized agenda to point the “faithful” and the “separated brethren” to realize that Jesus Christ is truly present in the Eucharist. This program, coupled with so-called apparitions from a woman claiming to be “Mary” the mother of Jesus, seems to be the impetus behind the coming one-world religion for peace that would be headquartered in Rome. . . .
I had already come to the conclusion that there is a Jesuit plan to bring the separated brethren back to the “Mother of all Churches” in other ways, particularly their “dove” (signs and wonders) plan.
Following my miraculous come-back to ministry after Bryce died, I not only finished New Wine and the Babylonian Vine but started writing the outline and then the book Another Jesus: The Eucharistic Christ and the New Evangelization to continue the warning during 2004. While I was writing this book, Mel Gibson suddenly became a Calvary Chapel-proclaimed saint with his Passion of the Christ. Chuck Smith viewed a portion of the film before it was released and endorsed the film. The Calvary Chapel movement jumped on the bandwagon. As would be expected, they followed “Pastor Chuck’s” leading. There were few voices against the movie. Understand The Times was one of those voices who dared speak up.
While I don’t intend to name the pastors who called me to task over my position on The Passion, let me say there were many who wanted me to keep silent. Support for the ministry of UTT dwindled. There are pastors who even part ways to this day over my stand. Mel Gibson’s Hollywood film with the Eucharistic Jesus and the evangelism that it contained became a sacred cow for Calvary Chapel. If someone spoke against it, he came under zealous attack, as if speaking against Mel Gibson’s movie was speaking against Jesus Christ Himself.
Nevertheless, the book was completed. Jim Tetlow helped me by writing an appendix, which explains that a wafer is a wafer and not literally Jesus’ flesh under the “appearance of bread” and that the Roman Catholic view of transubstantiation is not scriptural.
The book also warns about the coming lying signs and wonders that will occur associated with false appearances of the Eucharistic Jesus that are already underway. Coupled together with further lying signs and wonders, there will be appearances of an apparitional woman claiming to be “Mary” the mother of Jesus. We predicted that lying signs and wonders would impress Muslims because they have a special love for Mary—there is an entire chapter on Mary in the Koran. Most people don’t realize that.
In June of 2005, Paul Smith recommended that Another Jesus: The Eucharistic Christ and the New Evangelization be given out to the Calvary pastors at the annual senior pastors conference at Murrieta. As UTT did with New Wine and the Babylonian Vine, the books were donated through Calvary Distribution and handed out. In the back of the book is a commentary called “Passion Evangelism” that exposes Mel Gibson’s plan to win the world to the Eucharistic Christ.
By many accounts, the conference was deemed to be a watershed. A panel discussion one afternoon about Calvary basics ended up in a free-for-all. Greg Laurie led the way with Bob Coy in stand-up comedy. Things got serious when Greg Laurie chastised pastors for not participating in Harvest Crusades just because of his desire to be linked with Purpose Driven globalist pastor, Rick Warren. The only pastor who seemed to be in favor of studying the Bible instead of someone’s book was Mike Macintosh.
Many pastors left the meeting with a heavy heart. Mine was so heavy I decided to pack up my book table one afternoon and stay at my hotel. Later that evening while at the hotel, my cell phone started to ring. The messages were all the same sentiment: “You cannot believe what just happened!” one pastor from South Carolina cried out.
“This is heresy!” said another in an excited voice.
“What has happened to Calvary? Have we been seduced by the Jesuits?” asked another who called me. All this commotion was because Calvary Chapel pastor Jon Corson, who was to perform the communion service at the end of the meeting, turned it into a Eucharistic-style service.
After the conference, I wrote a letter from my heart to Chuck Smith. I expressed my deep love for him and for Calvary Chapel but also told him of my strong concerns. Here is some of what I said in that letter:
It is with a heavy heart that I must communicate to you that over the past several years, because of many firsthand encounters and experiences in various places with numerous Calvary Chapel pastors, that I have observed a change in the Calvary Chapel movement that deeply concerns me. Perhaps some of my concerns have filtered back to you through others. Until writing this letter, I have not formally contacted you with these concerns. I regret now that I have waited so long. After leaving the Pastors Conference in Murrieta this past week, I laid awake several nights contemplating what I should do or say. This letter is the result.
I explained to Chuck that while I knew there were Calvary Chapel churches that were staying true to God’s Word, there were many that were being influenced by another gospel. I gave him six points where serious error could be found. I want to list them here because every Christian denomination is being affected in these areas to one degree or another:
Ecumenical and unbiblical teachings are being endorsed for the cause of unity and church growth. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is being disguised to make it less offensive and more acceptable.
Churches that once taught the Bible faithfully verse by verse preparing the flock for the imminent return of Jesus Christ, now are looking for ways to make their services more seeker-friendly and are less concerned about the prophetic signs we are living in the last days.
Pastors and churches that once believed church growth was dependent on feeding the sheep and equipping the saved to share the Gospel, now promote humanistic means to draw in the masses based on a consumer style of evangelism focused on “finding out what people want” to “get them in the door.”
Churches once led by pastors committed to biblical truth, now are employing experts who use worldly principles borrowed from secular corporations with material goals for success. Rather than following Jesus and His Word, pastors and church leaders are looking to successful men and their methods so they can become part of a movement that is based on principles foreign to the Scriptures.
When church leaders promoting strategies to establish the Kingdom of God here on earth by humanistic methods are challenged by concerned believers warning about the dangers, the leaders label these believers as divisive. Contending for the faith is no longer considered biblical. A person taking a position for biblical truth is now accused of being critical of what others believe.
Bible-believing pastors who once taught the Bible are now looking for ways to attract people to their congregations by providing extra-biblical experiences [e.g. contemplative] and an atmosphere that includes candles, icons, incense, and the introduction of Roman Catholic sacraments. When concerned observers suggest this appears to be leading to a partnership with Roman Catholicism, they are considered to be negative opponents of the “new thing” God is doing to reach our generation.
I told Chuck that it was apparent to some that we are at another crossroads in church history, a fork in the road. I asked him if pastors were going to stand up and make their voices known if they have concerns about the direction current trends are leading. I reminded him, “While some say, don’t be negative—just be known for what you believe, not what you are against—the Old Testament prophets were outspoken when followers of God strayed away from the truths of God and never allowed the sheep to feel comfortable in their sin.”
Before coming to the 2005 Murrieta Conference, I had spoken at another conference in Tempe, Arizona called “Upon This Rock.” The theme of the conference was examining the claims of the Roman Catholic faith to see if they are biblically sound, and what role they play in the establishment of apostasy and the one-world religion that the Bible calls the Harlot.
This was the first time I had spoken publicly on “The Emerging Church.” By now, it had become apparent to me that the emerging church, an attempt to reach the postmodern generation by the present-day church, was another deceptive “road to Rome.”
During this conference in Phoenix, I gave actual examples of how Calvary Chapel was being drawn into the darkness from what once had been a position of light. While there were a few voices that were warning about this, they were in the wilderness and felt very much alone. They were also considered to be the crackpots, the ones causing division—and the ones who needed to be “marked” and disfellowshiped.
By now, I had enough ministry under my belt to know when the writing is on the wall. The writing in this case was very clear. I had stepped over the line. Consistent with my nature and my calling, I was not able to sit down and keep silent. My resistance was met with nasty e-mails, phone messages, and innuendos coming from people and places that I will refrain from mentioning.
For me, this was like adding fuel to a burning fire. It seemed the Lord was impressing upon me to start putting together an outline for a book. By the fall, I received an invitation to speak at a well-known conference in Dallas, Texas where I was asked to share the evidence that Bible-believing Christianity was under attack by apostates masquerading as brothers and sisters in Christ.
The outline for that presentation would become the outline for a book that I would call Faith Undone: the emerging church—a new reformation or an end time deception. . . . I completed the book, and in August of 2007, a small grassroots publishing house called Lighthouse Trails Publishing released the book.
Immediately, a firestorm was created. A copy of the book had been given to Chuck Smith; he in turn read several pages of the book from the pulpit on a Wednesday night study, but did not mention the source. Whether or not he was trying to protect me from the “wolves” in Calvary Chapel, I suppose I will never know. One of my friends, who is a pastor in Minnesota, heard Chuck’s message and announced on the Calvary pastors’ private web forum that Faith Undone should be read and discussed because Chuck Smith had quoted from it. This caused quite a stir on that forum. Of course, those for the emerging church were not for me. One responded that he had read the footnotes of Faith Undone, and that was all he needed to know that Roger Oakland was a heretic. . . .
Over the next few months, it became apparent that my days at “Big Calvary” were numbered. And why not? I had written several letters to Chuck Smith and Paul Smith (whom I had become close friends with). Paul told me that whenever he delivered some of these letters, Chuck would either say “Roger is too negative,” or he would just roll his eyes. I wondered if this was because of pressure he was receiving from members of his own family involved with the Peter Drucker agenda to influence Calvary Chapel. Whatever the case, apparently Chuck did not want to intervene and take sides. . . .
My efforts to counter the counter reformation by Rome led me to discover that my own fellowship of churches was not only being influenced by the very thing I was trying to expose and warn against, but some within the movement were working to discredit and harm me and the ministry of Understand The Times because I was trying to expose the error. This is an example of how Satan can lead astray Christian organizations once used by God without those in charge seeming to be aware. If they were aware, surely they would have done something about it. . . .
Satan certainly is clever in his tactics. He hates the light.
(Excerpt from Let There Be Light by Roger Oakland, from chapter 20)
Update: To read a statement that VOM posted two days after the April 25th letter from VOM president, Jim Dau wrote, click here.
As many of you know, Voice of the Martyrs long-time Executive Director, Tom White is suspected of committing suicide last month. On Wednesday, April 25th, 2012, Voice of the Martyrs president, Jim Dau, issued a statement titled: “Heartfelt Letter from VOM’s President on Tom White.” The letter expressed deep sorrow for the untimely suicide death of Tom White. The letter did mention that White took his life after allegations came forth that White “had inappropriate contact with a young girl.” While the letter said that White loved his wife and children and that personnel at VOM were heartbroken, virtually nothing was noted in the letter to express the deep sorrow that should be felt for the alleged 10- year-old victim. When a child is molested, it is a scar he or she will live with the rest of his or her life.
While we can understand that VOM staff and leaders are most likely in a state of shock and despair over Tom White’s apparent suicide and the circumstances surrounding his death, they need to understand that they are being watched right now by millions around the world to see how they will handle this tragic situation. God forbid that they would try to white wash and minimize what Tom White allegedly did. When you have organizations such as the American Psychological Assocation stating that sexual contact with children is OK as long as the child is consenting, and when you have a fallen society, such as America, that says homosexuality is normal and abortion is acceptable, and when you have a society that is filled with pornography from grocery stores to the Internet, Christian believers cannot fall into such a demoralizing evil trap that by its very nature denies God.
Even referring to White’s alleged child abuse as “inappropriate contact with” somehow minimizes such a crime. Using the word “with” can give the impression that there is some sort of mutual agreement. Rather than stating “inappropriate contact with,” it would be better to state “immoral contact against” the girl. We don’t mean to sound picky, but VOM should choose their words very carefully right now, for the sake of their ministry, for the sake of child abuse victims everywhere, and yes, for the sake of the Gospel.
We are not trying to say that the work Tom White participated in for many years at VOM to help persecuted people should be negated. But please, VOM, do not try to make this less than it is. Take this opportunity to humbly apologize to the body of Christ, to the little girl and her family, and to God.
Voice of the Martyrs has, as have most mainstream Christian organizations, been promoting contemplative spirituality and showing signs of being sympathetic toward Catholicism. Wouldn’t this tragedy be a perfect time to get right with God, and in so doing, point the world to the One Who came to save whosoever shall believe on Him?
Perhaps, Jim Dau left out feelings of remorse for the little girl in order to protect VOM financially or legally. But if VOM thinks they will help their organization maintain its integrity and financial strength by writing letters like the one Jim Dau wrote, they are terribly mistaken. Donors will flee by the droves. Humility, repentance, restitution (to the girl and other possible victims), biblical integrity, honesty – these are the qualities that their donors and supporters will be looking for.
Letter to Tom White of Voice of the Martyrs (September 2011 by a LT reader on ecumenism)
Resources on Child Abuse from Lighthouse Trails:
Video clip from The Kinsey Syndrome
By Roger Oakland
My journey to writing Another Jesus began in the late 1990s when the word Eucharist(1) caught my attention from a number of sources. Not familiar with this term, I decided to do further research. I discovered that the Catholic Church’s doctrine of the Eucharist was based on the concept of transubstantiation, a belief that the Catholic priest has the power to turn a wafer of bread into the actual body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus. Further, I learned that this basic belief was the very foundation of the Catholic faith.
But another aspect of the Eucharist became apparent. I came across a number of testimonies by individuals who had encountered what they described as a Eucharistic experience. This life-changing event, they claimed, had been influential in their conversion to the Catholic Church.
Thus, I was very interested when I came across a press release from the Vatican regarding statements Pope John Paul II made about the significance of the Eucharist. He called for the Eucharist to be the center of the missionary vision for the Catholic Church.
In his homily, presented at the 47th International Eucharistic Congress in June 2000, John Paul II spoke of the Eucharist as the source and focus of the Catholic Church’s missionary task. He explained:
The Congress puts the Eucharist at the center of the Great Jubilee of the Incarnation and expresses all its spiritual, ecclesial and missionary depth. It is from the Eucharist, in fact, that the Church and every believer draw the indispensable strength to proclaim and bear witness before all to the Gospel of salvation. The celebration of the Eucharist, the sacrament of the Lord’s Passover, is in itself a missionary event, which plants the fertile seed of new life in the world.2
Further elaborating on what he described as the missionary aspect of the Eucharist, he stated:
The Eucharist is a “missionary” sacrament not only because the grace of missions flows from it, but also because it contains in itself the principle and eternal source of salvation for all.3
This call to a missionary vision centered on the Eucharist concerned me greatly. The head of the Catholic Church was calling upon Catholics to become missions-oriented by focusing their attention on the importance of the Eucharist. The significance of this is further reflected in the following statement:
This reflection on the meaning and missionary content of the Eucharist cannot fail to mention those outstanding “missionaries” and witnesses to the faith and love of Christ who are the martyrs. The relics of the martyrs, preserved since antiquity … are a clear sign of the power flowing from Christ’s sacrifice. This spiritual energy spurs all who are nourished by the Body of the Lord to offer their lives for him and for their brothers and sisters by giving themselves without reserve and, if necessary, even by shedding their blood.4
Finally, in an effort to encourage Catholics to promote Eucharistic evangelization, the pope challenged his followers by stating:
May the International Eucharistic Congress, through the intercession of Mary, Mother of the Christ offered in sacrifice for us, help to make believers more conscious of the missionary responsibility that stems from their participation in the Eucharist. The “Body given” and the “Blood poured out” are the highest criterion they must always use in giving themselves for the world’s salvation.5
After reading these statements by the pope, it became very clear to me that the Catholic evangelization program would have serious spiritual ramifications. . . .
During the late 1990s, while evangelical Protestants and Catholics were making progress joining hands and disregarding differences (Chuck Colson’s “Evangelicals & Catholics Together”16), I discovered strong evidence of an underlying Catholic agenda to entice all those who were not Catholic to become Catholic.
The pope’s declaration at the Eucharistic Congress in June of 2000 and the Knights of Columbus booklet promoting the Eucharist as the heart of what Catholics mean by evangelization, reminded me of a statement made by Catholic priest Tom Forest in 1990. I had come across this quote while doing research for my book, New Wine and the Babylonian Vine. Forest speaking to an exclusively Catholic group, explained:
Our job is to make people as richly and as fully Christian as we can make them by bringing them into the Catholic Church. So evangelization is never fully successful, it’s only partial, until the convert is made a member of Christ’s body by being led into the [Catholic] church.
No, you don’t just invite someone to become a Christian. You invite them to become Catholics … Why would this be so important? First of all, there are seven sacraments, and the Catholic Church has all seven. On our altars we have the body of Christ; we drink the blood of Christ. Jesus is alive on our altars … We become one with Christ in the Eucharist…
As Catholics we have Mary, and that Mom of ours, Queen of Paradise, is praying for us till she sees us in glory. As Catholics we have the papacy, a history of popes from Peter to John Paul II … we have the rock upon which Christ did build His Church. Now as Catholics—now I love this one—we have purgatory. Thank God! I’m one of those people who would never get to the Beatific Vision without it. It’s the only way to go.…
So as Catholics … our job is to use the remaining decade evangelizing everyone we can in the Catholic Church, into the body of Christ and into the third millennium of Catholic history. 6
A clear picture was being painted—a missionary vision focusing on the Eucharist was a topic of extreme significance. (from chapter 2 of Another Jesus)
1. The Eucharist is known by several names including the Blessed Sacrament or Communion Host.
2. L’Osservatore Romano, “Holy Father’s Homily for Corpus Christi: The Living Father Comes Down from Heaven—Eucharist Spurs Christians to mission” (June 28, 2000), emphasis in the original.
6. “Roman Catholic Doubletalk at Indianapolis ‘90,” Foundation, July-August 1990, excerpts from talk by Fr. Tom Forest to the Roman Catholic Saturday morning training session.