Posts Tagged ‘faith undone’

Lighthouse Trails Booklet Spotlight: The Story Behind Lighthouse Trails

NOTE: Lighthouse Trails released this booklet in 2014. For those who have not read it yet, we are highlighting it this week.

The Story Behind Lighthouse Trails  is our newest Lighthouse Trails Print Booklet Tract. The Booklet Tract is 14 pages long and sells for $1.50 for single copies. Quantity discounts are as much as 50% off retail.  Below is the content of the booklet. To order copies of The Story Behind Lighthouse Trails, click here. 

The-Story-Behind-Lighthouse-TrailsThe Story Behind Lighthouse Trails

by Deborah Dombrowski
and the Editors at Lighthouse Trails

Part One—
“It Was a Dark and Stormy Night.”

Every good mystery starts off with “It was a dark and stormy night.” But this is a different kind of mystery. It’s about a church, a Bride, that was mysteriously kidnapped by a dark, deceitful stranger who came as an angel of light and promised her many great things if she would just follow him. And it’s about a small insignificant publishing company who teamed up with members of the Bride who did not succumb to the angel of light, in an effort to find out what happened to her and how to bring her back to safety.

In the summer of 2000, there was no Lighthouse Trails Publishing. There wasn’t even a glimmer in anyone’s mind about it. Dave and I were nearing the final round of raising a half a dozen kids in a small town in Oregon, one nestled in the Cascade foothills. We had been alerted in 1997 to a thing called Y2K and helped put together a task force in our little town. Not because we thought the world was coming to an end on December 31, 1999. We didn’t. But we were stirred from our every day lives of soccer games, raising kids, going to church, small time campaigning to keep the homosexual agenda out of the schools, helping friends in need, supporting ministries like Focus on the Family—you know, just the regular stuff a good Christian family does. In twenty-five years of being part of the church after getting saved in the ’70s (I in a barn with a Bible and some cows, Dave in army barracks in Germany), there were a lot of things we had never heard about in the pulpits. At first, in the ’70s, we heard a lot about Jesus’ return, and it wasn’t unusual to hear the Gospel preached on Sundays with people going forward in altar calls and getting saved. It was exciting, and there was anticipation in the air that the rapture could happen at any time. But over time, that kind of talk ceased, altar calls died down and were replaced with lots of other things: signs and wonders that were said to all be from God, boycotts and legislation efforts to turn our country into a “Christian”culture, songs that started leaving Jesus and the Cross out, and in many cases drums so loud, you wouldn’t be able to hear the words anyway, or songs about all the great things we could do if we would just unite together.

When Y2K came, it jolted us and reminded us that our time on this earth is very temporal, and the Bible talks about a time where people will become very deceived, not realizing the times in which we live. While we did not believe that the culmination of time would end at the strike of midnight on New Year’s Eve 1999, we did believe God wanted to get our attention. We just weren’t sure what for at the time. 2000 rolled in rather uneventfully, and life continued. However, in 1998 a friend had told us about an author she knew in Salem who wrote about how the New Age was coming into the evangelical church. While we knew something about the New Age, it was a term that was never mentioned in the pulpit of any church we had ever been to, so the remark slipped quietly away for two years.

In the fall of 2000, our then sixteen-year-old daughter was a Young Life intern. Young Life is a national organization that reaches out to young people in public schools with a Christian message. One day in October, she brought home a list of required reading for the year. It contained books by twelve authors, most of whom we nor our daughter had ever heard of. Four of them would soon change our lives forever: Thomas Merton, Richard Foster, Henri Nouwen, and Brennan Manning.

About a week later, a local pastor called because he was trying to get some information about a college his kids wanted to go to. “Deborah, remember you told me a couple years ago about an author around here who wrote about the New Age coming into the church? I wonder if you can find out about that.” After that call, I contacted my old friend who had told me about this author, and she immediately said, “Deborah, it’s time you met Ray Yungen.”

A week later, I sat in a Keizer, Oregon coffee shop, a few minutes early for my appointment with Mr. Yungen. Right on time, in bounded a 6’4” pleasant looking kind of guy carrying in each arm bundles of magazines, newspaper clippings, and books. After plopping down his obviously well-read stacks of materials, he bought me a fifty-cent cup of house coffee then proceeded to talk to me for over an hour. When early in the talk, he mentioned Thomas Merton and Richard Foster, something told me this was a providential meeting. And when a little later he mentioned Brennan Manning and Henri Nouwen, I was beginning to get the picture. This man had been sent to save my daughter from reading books by men who called themselves Christians but who, in reality, were bringing a mystical spirituality under the guise of Christianity. Before I left that meeting with Ray, he handed me a brown envelope. “I’ve written a book about this, but it isn’t published yet. I call it A Time of Departing. I’ve been carrying it around for two years. I wonder if you and your husband would like to read it.” I took the package and left.

It would be an understatement to say that reading that manuscript opened our eyes and changed our lives forever.  And if someone had told us back then that within two years from that day in the coffee shop we would start a publishing company and eventually take on the Christian leaders in North America, we probably would have run the other way. Frankly, at the time, we thought Ray Yungen’s book came just in time to help warn the church so contemplative spirituality would not enter it. We thought that there could be no way that too many Christians would even consider going down the contemplative path. It just seemed so obvious to us how dangerous and anti-biblical it was. We thought that if we could warn some of the more influential leaders (like Rick Warren), they would be so happy to be warned, they would probably go out and write their own books warning about contemplative prayer, and we could just go back to our “normal” lives and leave this kind of thing up to them.

We had a lot of misconceived thoughts in those days, and we had no idea what was about to happen.

Part 2
“A Hot Topic” That Just Wouldn’t Go Away”

After reading the unpublished manuscript, A Time of Departing by Ray Yungen (our new-found brother in the faith) in the fall of 2000, the first thing that seemed reasonable to do was to meet with the Young Life Director of Training for Oregon. I was concerned about my own daughter’s involvement with Young Life but also was thinking about all the thousands of Young Life leaders and interns who might be introduced to contemplative spirituality through Young Life’s recommended reading list.

I called the Young Life office in Portland and made an appointment. During the week or so interim before the meeting, I began researching contemplative spirituality on the Internet. The only problem was, there was virtually nothing opposing it or critiquing it. But there was plenty supporting it. Finally, I found an article by a John Caddock (from Oregon). His article was written in 1997 and was titled “What is Contemplative Spirituality, and Why is it So Dangerous?.” It was actually a review of Brennan Manning’s book, The Signature of Jesus. That was one of the books Ray had discussed in his manuscript. John Caddock’s article and one other one were the only things on the Internet refuting this mystical prayer that was being called Christian. Essentially, the contemplative issue was not being challenged. Little did we know at the time, it had been simmering in the background within the evangelical church for at least two decades by then and was about to explode wide open.

The day before Ray and I were to meet with the Young Life Director, I stumbled upon Peter Marshall Jr.’s name on the Internet and saw where he was promoting Henri Nouwen. I didn’t know a lot about Marshall Jr., but I had loved the movie of his father Peter Marshall, A Man Called Peter, a Scottish minister who eventually became U.S. Senate Chaplain back in the ’50s.  When I saw the endorsement of Nouwen by Peter Marshall Jr., I e-mailed his office with my concerns and got a rather scathing reply back. In my naivety at the time, I couldn’t believe the e-mail was really from him. So on the morning I was to leave for my appointment with Ray and the Young Life Director, I called the Peter Marshall office. Lo and behold, Peter Marshall, Jr. answered the phone. He acknowledged that it was indeed he who had written the e-mail, and he told me that anyone who would say anything bad about Henri Nouwen or Brennan Manning was committing “Satanic slander.” Marshall expressed strong anger about my having questioned the two contemplative men. I was very taken back by the angry response to what I had thought was an amiable and mild challenge on my part. When Marshall was finished reprimanding me, we said good-bye and hung up. I never had another chance to talk to Peter Marshall Jr., and he died in 2010 at the age of seventy.

When I arrived at the coffee shop in Portland later that morning, Ray was standing in the foyer waiting for me. As I approached him, I said, “You’ll never believe who I just talked to.” I will never forget Ray’s reaction as I shared what had happened. His eyes filled with tears, and he said, “Peter Marshall is a conservative Christian. I am shocked that he would have such a view.” I knew then that Ray Yungen was a brother who did not hate these people but rather had a genuine desire to help people. And as for Marshall’s angry reaction, I later came to find out that an angry reaction was a common denominator from those who promote contemplative spirituality when challenged by someone about it. The list of those I would someday talk to either by phone, e-mail, or letter began with Marshall but would later include: Philip Yancey, Dan Kimball, Shane Claiborne, Rick Warren, Ken Blanchard, David Jeremiah, Gary Thomas, Keri Wyatt Kent, Richard Foster (indirectly), personnel from Focus on the Family, Beth Moore’s top assistant as well as Charles Stanley’s close assistant, and many others.

From the fall of 2000, when we met Ray, until the end of 2001, we tried to find a publisher who would publish A Time of Departing. We put together a proposal and sent it out to several Christian publishers.

As one rejection letter after the next came in, we grew more and more skeptical that we would find a publisher for A Time of Departing. In the mean time, Ray read in an article somewhere that the top forty Christian publishers would only publish books written by authors who had “significant national platforms.” We knew this left Ray out. He was unknown.

As for Ray’s writing background, he had written For Many Shall Come in My Name (1st edition) in the early nineties, which was published by a small publishing company that eventually went out of business. The book was an exposé on the New Age movement in our society. Several thousand copies of the book had sold, and Ray did a national tour that included interviews with places like Southwest Radio Church, but when Ray’s publisher went under, he was left without any representation.

Then, in 1994, a few years after Ray wrote For Many Shall Come in My Name, he was asked by a Salem (Oregon) Missionary Alliance youth pastor to research a man named Richard Foster who would be coming to the pastor’s church soon. Ray had not heard about Foster prior to that time, so before the seminar took place, he read Celebration of Discipline. Ray had been studying the Catholic monk and panentheist Thomas Merton for some time, and as he read Foster, he felt there was a connection between him and Merton. Ray attended the seminar, and afterwards went to the front where Foster was standing and talking to people. Ray describes the brief conversation he had with Foster that evening:

After the seminar ended . . . I approached Foster and politely asked him, “What do you think of the current Catholic contemplative prayer movement?” He appeared visibly uncomfortable with the question, and at first seemed evasive and vague.

He then replied, “Well, I don’t know, some good, some bad (mentioning Matthew Fox as an example of the bad).” In defense, he said, “My critics don’t understand there is this tradition within Christianity that goes back centuries.” He then said something that has echoed in my mind ever since that day. He emphatically stated, “Well, Thomas Merton tried to awaken God’s people!” I realized then Foster had waded deep into Merton’s belief system.1

Ray began to study Richard Foster in depth after that, and in early 1999, he finished the manuscript of A Time of Departing, with Richard Foster and Thomas Merton as key figures in his critique.  Nearly two years later, we met Ray.

While we were seeking a publisher for A Time of Departing and getting a growing stack of rejection letters, Ron, the Salem youth pastor who had invited Ray to the Richard Foster seminar, was at a church conference and found himself sharing a dining table with John Armstrong, a pastor, author, and an adjunct professor at Wheaton College Graduate School. Ron happened to have a copy of Ray’s manuscript with him, and after striking up a conversation, asked Armstrong if he would take the manuscript with him and read it. Armstrong agreed.

Within a couple weeks, Armstrong contacted Ron and said that A Time of Departing was fantastic. He said if Ray would remove chapter six (“Could This Really Be the End of the Age?”), he could probably get Harvest House to publish the book. At first, we were excited, but after prayer and deliberation, Ray, Dave, and I decided that removing that chapter would seriously diminish the message of the book. It is in that chapter that Ray talks about occultist Alice Bailey (who coined the term New Age) and her prediction that the Age of Aquarius (a supposed age of enlightenment for man when he realizes his divinity) would come through the Christian church by mystical practices and signs and wonders. Chapter six also talks about what the Bible refers to as Mystery Babylon (Revelation 17:5) where seducing spirits will deceive the whole world into embracing a new system of spirituality (a one-world religion). Quoting from that chapter, Ray stated:

[I]nstead of opposing Christianity, the occult would capture and blend itself with Christianity and then use it as its primary  vehicle for spreading and instilling New Age consciousness!2

No, we knew that chapter had to stay. Sadly, and ironically, John Armstrong has, in more recent years, come out as an advocate for the emerging church.

One day, after we turned down John Armstrong’s offer to help publish A Time of Departing and after we were beginning to think we would never find a publisher for this vitally important book, a little light came on, so to speak, and I said to Dave, “Why don’t we start our own publishing company and publish the book ourselves?”  We prayed that God would open the door if that’s what He wanted us to do, and after talking to Ray, we mutually agreed that this was how we could get the book published.

We knew nothing about publishing. I was a small-time free-lance writer and had written my own biography, and Dave had a degree in English from Portland State University. But that hardly prepared us to start a publishing company. I bought a bunch of books from Amazon, one of which was called How to Publish a Book and Sell a Million Copies. It seemed only logical that if we were going to publish a book, selling a million copies would certainly get our message out. However, when I read that book, one of the things it advised was, Don’t write anything “controversial” if you are interested in “large sales.” It was then I knew that Lighthouse Trails would never be a big publishing company that sold millions of books. We started off controversial, and over a decade later, we are still considered controversial. Sadly, “controversial” is increasingly coming to mean “something devoted to the biblical Gospel.”

In March of 2002, we opened a business bank account with one hundred dollars and officially started Lighthouse Trails Publishing (later to become an LLC). Our motto would be “bringing light to areas of darkness.” Six months later, we released the first edition of  A Time of Departing.

Right about the same time as A Time of Departing was being released, another book, by a large Christian publishing house, was also being released. While we were picking up the first printing of our new release from a small printer in Washington state, unbeknownst to us at the time, Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life was being released as well and would soon be a New York Times best seller, eventually reaching sales of over 35 million copies. It would turn into a rabbit versus a turtle race to get our messages out, but because we believed that contemplative spirituality would draw people away from the Gospel rather than to it, we felt our efforts were necessary and that God would get our warning out as He saw fit.

In the spring of 2003, we sent a copy of A Time of Departing to Rick Warren thinking we should warn this now-popular pastor of the contemplative prayer movement. He wrote back a personal note on a card saying:

Just a note to say thanks for the copy of A Time of Departing by Ray Yungen. It definitely will be a useful addition to my personal library and resource in my studies. I agree this is a hot topic.

Sincerely, Rick Warren

When we received Rick Warren’s reply, we felt a sense of relief that he seemed to have appreciated our warning. But that was before a lot of things happened:

It was before we read Deceived on Purpose: The New Age Implications of the Purpose Driven Life by Warren B. Smith.

It was before we learned that Rick Warren had been promoting Richard Foster, Dallas Willard, and the spiritual formation (i.e., contemplative spirituality) movement as far back as the early nineties in his first book, The Purpose Driven Church.3

It was before we read George Mair’s book, A Life With Purpose: Reverend Rick Warren—the most inspiring pastor of our time which identified Rick Warren’s plans to use New Age sympathizer Ken Blanchard for his global P.E.A.C.E. Plan in training leaders around the world.4

It was before George Mair was advised by an acquaintance at the Attorney General’s office in California to file a hate crime against Rick Warren for his assault against Mair for his book (but Mair called me, and I advised him against filing).5 Ironically, when Mair wrote his book, it was meant to be a testament of praise to Rick Warren as “America’s Pastor” not realizing that at the same time New Age connections had been unveiled.

It was before Rick Warren wrote his damage-control “midnight e-mail” to me in the spring of 2005, an e-mail that was filled with inaccuracies to cover up the truth, but yet he had his chief apologist at the time post it all over the Internet within hours of sending it to me.6

It was before Saddleback sent out e-mails to an undisclosed number of people saying that Lighthouse Trails and Ray Yungen were “sitting on a pile of money” (and we just wanted to know where it was because we could really have used that pile of money to pay the bills that month).

It was before Saddleback accused Lighthouse Trails of “publishing lies” and inferring that we had broken into their website server and “federal agents” were on the case.7

It was back when we thought there was no way the majority of Christian leaders could be right in the middle of helping to bring in a mystical spirituality that would take millions into the arms of outright apostasy.

Needless to say, by the time we went to press with the second edition of A Time of Departing in the spring of 2006, the book now had an entire chapter devoted to Rick Warren and his contemplative prayer propensities. And it had a chapter devoted to something everyone was calling “the emerging church.” Vicious and unscrupulous efforts were already underway to stop Lighthouse Trails. Had it been just our own strength and wisdom to keep us going, we never could have continued. But, in spite of our own human frailties and weaknesses, and in spite of efforts to stop us, God showed mercy and justice and kept Lighthouse Trails afloat. And while there’s no question that contemplative spirituality has skyrocketed exponentially throughout the world, thanks largely to big name advocates of the movement, tens of thousands of people have now read A Time of Departing as well as our 2007 book on the emerging church, Faith Undone by Roger Oakland; and we believe these books have made a difference in helping to defend the Gospel message of Jesus Christ and identifying the mystical spirituality that is working to blind the eyes of millions.

There’s much more to our story, and you can read about most of the episodes on our site. When we first began, we wondered if there were other Christians who saw what Ray, Dave, and I saw. Surely, we can’t be the only ones, we thought. We are so happy to report that we aren’t by a long shot. Through the thousands of e-mails, letters, and phone calls from readers, customers, and newsletter subscribers, we have learned that God has faithfully shown many believers what is happening in today’s church and world. We are privileged and humbled to have a small part in this work. As we have said many times before, Lighthouse Trails exists as a service to the body of Christ, for the sake of the Gospel, and we pray and hope, to the glory of God.

But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. (1Thessalonians 5:1-6)

To order copies of The Story Behind Lighthouse Trails, click here. 

Endnotes:
1. Ray Yungen, A Time of Departing (Eureka, MT: Lighthouse Trails Publishing, 2nd ed., 2006), pp. 76-77.
2. Ibid., p. 123.
3. Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Church (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1995), pp. 126-127.
4. http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/PressReleasekenblanchard.htm.
5. Read our article “Rick Warren Biographer, George Mair, Passes Away at 83 – The Rest of the Story” for this full story: .
6. http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/furtherinformation.htm.
7. In December of 2005 a woman sent us an e-mail she had received from Rick Warren’s personal e-mail address, which stated:

The website you refer to [Lighthouse Trails] below is well-known for publishing lies, which can easily be proven false…. The Bible says “Satan is the father of lies”, so those who intentionally spread them are doing Satan’s work for him. That is evil. We suggest you avoid listening to evil people who have a habit of lying about ministers of the Gospel. Study the Scriptures every day and flee from those who make their reputation by lying.

We contacted Saddleback about the e-mail, and we received the following reply, suggesting that the e-mail had been written by a computer hacker: “We are sorry that this public mailbox has been shut down due to vandalism and stolen identity. Federal enforcement officers are tracking down the source in either Africa or the Pacific Northwest.” At first, we thought this was a joke because we (who live in the Pacific Northwest) had recently issued a press release about an evangelist in Africa who had been opposing Purpose Driven. Hearing that Federal officers had narrowed down an investigation to either our location or the evangelist’s location seemed preposterous. We contacted Saddleback by phone requesting the names of these Federal agents because of the threatening nature of the “anonymous” email. A few days later a Saddleback staff member called and told us that Federal agents were doing an investigation on their web server being broken into and that Saddleback (and the agents) suspected Lighthouse Trails. We again asked for the names of the Federal agents as well as the Saddleback communications director that was handling the case. However, we were told they would not give us any names. We have not heard anything from Saddleback since.

To order copies of The Story Behind Lighthouse Trails, click here. 

Faith Undone Back From 12th Printing!—Continues Powerful Warning

Faith Undone by Roger Oakland is back from press in its 12th printing.   The book was released in 2007, and we believe it is still the most powerful and truthful book about the emerging church that has overtaken much of the Christian church. Below is a chapter by chapter synopsis of this book. If you have not read Faith Undone yet, we urge you to do so. And make sure your high school and college age children have read it. After you read this synopsis, you will understand why we say this. Some leaders of the emerging spirituality have tried to convince others that this movement is dead. But this emerging spirituality is anything but dead.

Faith Undone is available as a print book, an e-book, a PDF book, is in Spanish (La Fe Desachada), and is available in Kindle and Nook (as are all LT books and most booklets).

faithundonelargeFaith Undone  by Roger Oakland- Chapter by Chapter Synopsis:

1/A New Kind of Church
Leaders of the emerging church say drastic changes must take place because the church can no longer be effective with old ways and an old church. We need a new kind of Christianity if we are going to make a difference in people’s lives and the world around us. But just what is this new kind of Christianity?

Quote from chapter 1: A common technique to changing society (or the church) is to repeat an assertion over and over as fact; once people have heard a statement enough times, they come to believe it is true without questioning. They even parrot the statement in their own conversations, eager to appear in the know. Oh how we need to answer every assertion with, “Says who?” This book examines the underlying spiritual substance of the emerging church movement as Scripture tells us to do: “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (I Thessalonians 5:21).

2/The Birth of the Emerging Church

Contrary to what many believe, the current emerging church movement was not initiated by a group of disillusioned young people. In reality, the movement was largely the inspiration of a successful business guru whose ideas on an emerging church were catapulted into existence by other successful businessmen, and thus it became the influential religious force it is today. Backed by multi-million dollar corporations and entities, its very core has been influenced dramatically by those with mystical affinities.

Quote from chapter 2: While this chapter will lay out the origins of the emerging church, I do not wish to give the impression that this is merely a human endeavor. A distinct spiritual component to it implies a guiding force from the supernatural realm. This movement is very complex, and all of the underlying factors that played a role in its inception cannot be explained completely by just a short synopsis like this chapter. But my intent is that I can describe the framework in which this movement sprang and was able to gain the momentum it now enjoys.

3/A “New” Faith for the 21st Century
The Word of God is under attack. According to emerging church leaders, the Bible is not so much for truth and doctrine as it is for hopes, ideas, and participation. In other words, don’t use the Bible as a means of theology or absolute truth and standards by which to live; rather than the Bible molding the Christian’s life, let the Christian’s life mold the Bible.

Quote from chapter 3: In An Emergent Manifesto of Hope, [Will] Sampson writes:

A rallying cry of the Protestant Reformation was sola scriptura, Scripture alone. And while this doctrine may have arisen as a necessary corrective to abuses of church leadership in the Reformation period, it is in full effect today. Preachers speak of the Bible as an instruction book or as the only data necessary for spiritual living. But this diminishes some critical elements of theological knowledge. … Sola scriptura also tends to downplay the role of God’s Spirit in shaping the direction of the church.

Sampson says that people who fall into this category “do not take into account the subjectivity of human interpreters.” In other words, those men who penned Scripture may not have been that inspired after all. It could have been more a case of their point of view based on their own life experiences.

4/Riding the Emerging Church Wave
How far is this new kind of church willing to go to reach its objective? Emerging church proponents say there is a new wave taking place and we have to hop on. The wave is a Vintage Christianity, which in reality is an experience-based religion. Experiences must be implemented in order to attract both Christians and non-Christians alike; we must appeal to this postmodern generation with its hunger for experience, rituals, and mysticism.

Quote from chapter 4:The Bible says that “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God [i.e., an intellectual or cognitive approach]” (Romans 10:17). Not so in the emerging church. Faith comes by seeing images, touching icons, smelling incense, and hearing chants and liturgical recitations; then the “word” follows. Leonard Sweet calls it “EPIC culture: Experiential, Participatory, Image-Driven, Connected.” Post-moderns require such stimulation to experience God. Images of Jesus hanging on the cross are very common. So are icons of Mary and baby Jesus.

5/Ancient-Future Worship
The emerging church embraces multi-sensory worship. Leaders of the emerging church say the ideas and beliefs of the early church fathers (100 AD to 600AD) are important and these teachings from the past will bring spiritual transformation and success to churches in the 21st century.

Quote from chapter 5: Stimulating images that provide spiritual experiences are an essential element of the emerging church. While many are bewildered why their churches are darkening their sanctuaries and setting up prayer stations with candles, incense and icons, the promoters of the emerging church movement say they know exactly what they are doing. Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Fellowship explains:

Everything in the service needs to preach-architecture, lighting, songs, prayers, fellowship, the smell-it all preaches. All five senses must be engaged to experience God.

Often, Christians who have been attending church all their lives find the changes their pastors are implementing disconcerting. They see the trend away from Bible teaching to multi-sensory stimulation.

6/When West Meets East
Contemplative spirituality (i.e., mysticism) is to the emerging church what the wind is to a sail boat. Without it, there is no momentum, and it is woven into the very fabric of the emerging church. In order to understand why this is so important, we must first understand the dynamics of contemplative spirituality.

Quote from chapter 6:Contemplative spirituality* is a vital element of the emerging church. One proponent defines it like this:

To help the mind become quiet, we can follow our breathing. Or we can repeat silently a chosen prayer phrase or a word.

That may sound beneficial at first glance, to quiet ourselves in the midst of a busy and hectic world. What Christian doesn’t want to be find rest and peace?

7/Monks, Mystics, and the Ancient Wisdom
The emerging church is embracing contemplative spirituality and what is called the ancient wisdom. While appearing to be Christian because of the altered terminology, in actuality, it is occult based and New Age.

Quote from chapter 7: Tony Campolo, professor emeritus of sociology of Eastern University in St. David’s, Pennsylvania, is founder of the Evangelical Association for the Promotion of Education. His own testimony is an example of someone who has not only embraced mysticism, it is the avenue through which he considers himself born again. Campolo states:

In my case intimacy with Christ had developed gradually over the years, primarily through what Catholics call “centering prayer.” Each morning, as soon as I wake up, I take time-sometimes as much as a half hour-to center myself on Jesus. I say his name over and over again to drive back the 101 things that begin to clutter my mind the minute I open my eyes. Jesus is my mantra, as some would say.

8/The Second Coming of the Eucharistic Christ
The Roman Catholic Church has a plan to establish the Kingdom of God here on Earth and win the world to the Roman Catholic Jesus-the Eucharistic Christ. It is believed the “triumph of the Eucharist” will be accomplished when the world (including the separated brethren) come under the rule and reign of Rome and the Eucharistic Jesus. The presence of “Christ” in the Eucharist is the second coming, Roman Catholic style. The emerging church is a bridge to Rome.

Quote from chapter 8: To those who traditionally haven’t had much ritual in their lives (i.e., Protestants), the ambiance of the [Catholic] Mass would have great appeal because of it’s religious novelty-thus the interest in the Eucharist [Catholic communion service where the elements are transformed into the actual body and blood of Jesus] by those who promote contemplative spirituality. And for many Catholics, the Mass (where the Eucharist is presented), in and of itself, is not a mystical experience. However if the contemplative dimension is added, one actually can enter the mystical realm. On the surface this phenomenon seems complex, but once we begin to understand mysticism, it all makes sense. Within the contemplative prayer realm, the meditator is actually getting in touch with a spiritual power or force. Combining the tradition of the Eucharist, which appeals to many who are raised in the Catholic Church, with the relatively recent explosion of contemplative practice, the Catholic Church sees this as a way to recover its robust state it had in previous decades.

9/The Kingdom of God on Earth
The Bible says that Jesus Christ will establish His kingdom when He returns to Earth. But today a theology called Kingdom Now or Dominionism is permeating the walls of Christianity, and the emerging church movement is taking this heretical belief full speed into the next generation. With the idea that the church can establish the Kingdom of God before Christ returns and essentially turn our world into a Christian world, this belief system has literally changed the way countless Christians view the world and go about their Christian living. What most of them don’t realize is this Kingdom of God on Earth mindset is an all out effort by Satan to merge the religions of the world and thus negate the gospel message.

Quote from chapter 9: Most people, with any common sense and compassion, would like to see a planet without poverty, disease, and illiteracy. I thank God for all the organizations that are working to help the suffering, the sick, and the poor. Jesus made it very clear that we are to care for and reach out to those in need. However, working to bring about utopia on Earth through global and religious unity is futile. My saying that might make some people angry, and they may accuse me of being fatalistic. But nowhere in Scripture is the notion supported that there will be a kingdom without tears, pain, poverty, and suffering until Jesus Christ physically returns and establishes it Himself.

There is another question that needs to be considered: Can the kingdom of God be established by those who don’t know the King? In other words, can people of all religions and faiths who don’t know Jesus as King and Lord be members of His kingdom?

Rick Warren believes that God has shown him not only the boundaries (or lack of them) of this coming global kingdom, but also the strategy to bring it about. Before Warren came up with the plan, he says he asked Jesus to show him how to reach the world.

10/The Undoing of Faith
The fruit of the emerging church includes: changes in views on sexuality, the desire by emerging leaders to stop identifying with Christianity, eradicating the gap between good and evil (the very goal of Satan’s religion, the New Age), and developing a new missiology which says keep your own religion, just add Jesus. This truly is the undoing of Christian faith.

Quote from chapter 10: It should be apparent what is occurring as the emerging church evangelization program unfolds. Walls that once separated biblical Christianity from pagan religious belief systems are being demolished. Instead of proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ that saves sinners from hell, a new kind of gospel is being preached, and its preachers are wearing interspiritual robes of deception. Jesus proclaimed it is a narrow pathway that leads to heaven, and He is the only door through which to enter-but now the supposed pathway to God has been broadened to permit open access for the sake of establishing the kingdom.

11/A Slaughterhouse Religion?
If someone said that emerging church leaders don’t like the Cross, many would cry out, “Yes, they do. I’ve heard them talk about Jesus and the Cross.” But while this may be true, there is an underlying theme building momentum in the emerging church that says, “Jesus going to the Cross was an example of sacrifice and service that we should follow. But the idea that God would send His Son to a violent death for the sins of mankind-well that is not who God is. He would never do that!” This mindset negates the very atonement on which biblical Christianity rests.

Quote from chapter 11: In [Harry Emerson] Fosdick’s book, Dear Mr. Brown, he states:

Too many theories of the atonement assume that by one single high priestly act of self-sacrifice Christ saved the world.

Fosdick ends that statement with a pronounced-“No!” He insists, “These legalistic theories of the atonement are in my judgement a theological disgrace.”

12/A New Reformation?
Faith Undone shows that the nature of the emerging church’s new reformation is anything but new, and when it comes to pass could bear violence and persecution on those who defend the Bible as the true and literal Word of God. This is a heavy chapter that will zero in on what this new emerging reformation will look like.

Quote from chapter 12: Most likely, you have heard the term new reformation, or as some refer to it, postmodern reformation. Rick Warren talks about it, emerging church leaders discuss it, and New Agers for a long time have been saying, “We need a new reformation.” Referring often to the reformation that took place in the 16th century, these current reformation advocates believe that something as radically different as the early reformation must happen again. In fact, they believe that the church (and the world) will not survive without it. Statements like “We’ll do whatever it takes,” or “reinvent or die” often leave the lips of the new reformation evangelists. The passion and zeal to bring about the new reformation equals that of the early reformers.

13/Or An End-Time Deception
The Bible says that in the last days Satan will deceive the whole world with doctrines of demons and seducing spirits. The question must be asked, is the emerging church spirituality part of this great falling away? And just what are the earmarks of a church that has become part of this end-time deception?

Quote from chapter 13: There is no question about it, the world is in serious chaos, with poverty, sickness, and disease inflicting millions and millions of people. Suffering seems to be at an all time high level. Understandably, the world is looking for answers. Many religious leaders (including New Agers) believe we need a new reformation. Neale Donald Walsch, a prominent leader in the New Age, is one of those who has new reformation on his mind. He states:

We are suggesting that people become modern day Martin LutherՉ۪s and take the five steps to peace and tack them up on church house doors, as Martin Luther did with his 95 theses in 1517 in Wittenburg, Germany, which started of course, the first Reformation. Our intention is to stimulate the second great Reformation of world religion. That is our intention, our goal and our purpose. We intend to, in fact, inspire the second great Reformation of world religion.

Comments like the one above are quite interesting because Walsch is not a Christian, but he speaks of a religious reformation that he is hoping to witness. But Walsch’s reformation does not include Jesus Christ. On his website Group of 1000, a statement explains what Walsch calls “the new spirituality”:

The New Spirituality is a global movement to create the space for humanity to experience its natural impulse toward the divine in a way which makes no one else wrong for the way in which they are doing it.

I realize that most Christians would probably laugh incredulously if someone told them they were heading toward the spirituality of Neale Donald Walsch. Most of them would see themselves as orthodox and biblically-based and certainly not as New Agers going toward some kind of new reformation that says everyone is God. But as I have tried to convey in this book, I believe the emerging church is the bridge between Christianity and this “new spirituality.” And the question that every Christian must ask themselves is, is this a bridge on which I am willing to walk and eventually cross?

For more information about Faith Undone, CLICK HERE

‘Pope’ Francis Claims Devil Keeping Evangelicals, Roman Catholics Divided: ‘They Are One’

LTRP Note: Please see the video below, which is an 8-minute talk Pope Francis recently gave regarding this matter. While listening to him talk, it was hard not to think of the martyrs described in Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, many of whom died at the hands of Roman papacy because they would not accept Catholic doctrine of the Eucharist. Is this where we are heading again? As Roger Oakland often says, history repeats itself. See our article “If Rick Warren is Right, Why Did These Martyrs Even Die At the Hands of the Roman Catholic Church?”

By Heather Clark
Christian News Network

ROME — In a recorded video statement released on Saturday, the Roman Catholic Pontiff known as Francis asserted that evangelicals and Catholics are one, and that it is the devil who has divided the two groups.

“Division is the work of the ‘Father of Lies,’ ‘the Father of Discord,’ who does everything possible to keep us divided,” he said.

The eight-minute video was for the “Celebration of Christian Unity” event organized by John 17 Ministries out of Phoenix, Ariz., which seeks to unite Christians and Catholics.

“I feel like saying something that may sound controversial, or even heretical, perhaps,” Francis stated. “But there is someone who ‘knows’ that despite our differences we are one.” Click here to continue reading.

DISCERNMENT OR CRITICISM?

By Roger Oakland
Understand the Times, International

Taking a stand from a biblical perspective with regard to purpose-driven-emerging Christianity is not very popular these days. Those working towards establishing the kingdom and “getting closer to Jesus” through contemplative practices rooted in eastern mysticism are very outspoken. If you are not in favor of what they are promoting, you are labeled a hater and against everything.

One pastor wrote me a letter and asked the following question: “Before you went public with your book Faith Undone did you contact everyone you wrote about in the book personally and discuss the issues? If not, shame on you and don’t write me back.”

Of course, I was shamed into writing him back. I recognize that I should always be open for correction. But “shame” is a pretty harsh term coming from one of the “brethren.” Incidentally, this man was insinuating that I was violating Matthew 18 by writing about public figures in my book. But Matthew 18 is not about challenging leaders who are deceiving millions of people.

One pastor I tried to contact sent his bulldog after me who attacked me personally with slander. He didn’t even address the facts. Should I be ashamed of myself for quoting someone who said what he said in a public forum? Does this really make me a “counter-cult-kook” as he said? Click here to continue reading.

 

Letter to the Editor: Our Church Is Using Renovare and VantagePoint3 – Is That Emergent?

To Lighthouse Trails:

Just wondering if you all have any research on The (Emergent) Journey? It’s the name of a 3-phase course being taught in a number of churches by a group called Vantage Point3. Seems tied strongly with Emergent/Contemplative. My church is teaching this . . . right on the heels of introducing Renovare’s “Apprentice” series.

Thank you!

OUR ANSWER:

You can be sure that your church has headed into the contemplative/emergent camp. First of all, Renovare (Richard Foster’s organization) is the pioneering organization to bring contemplative spirituality into the evangelical/Protestant church. Foster’s book, Celebration of Discipline (published in 1978) set the course.

As for VantagePoint3, this is a major venue for bringing contemplative/emergent beliefs into the church. The Emergent Journey is VantagePoint3’s venue for doing this. Just as one example, VantagePoint3’s educational design overseer, Rob Loane, uses Henri Nouwen in the Emergent Journey (see here) to help people find their “true identity.” However, we know that Henri Nouwen was a panentheist and a contemplative mystic who believed there were many paths to God.

Lighthouse Trails has written articles on both Richard Foster and VantagePoint3. Below are links to two of those articles.

If you can get your pastor and elders to read A Time of Departing and Faith Undone, perhaps they will come to realize the grave error they have made in going down this path.

Related Links:

The Quantum Christ: Entering the World AND the Church Through Popular New Age & Christian Leaders (an article by Warren B. Smith that talks about VantagePoint3)

Celebration of Discipline – 35 Years of Influence! – Does Your Pastor Have a Copy?

A list of participating churches in VantagePoint3

 

 

 

Shamanism or Cutting-Edge Christianity?

By David Dombrowski
Editor at Lighthouse Trails Publishing & Research

I find it rather interesting how God has orchestrated things in life, which demonstrate His great love and ongoing mercy to ordinary people like myself. But, more specifically, I am thinking right now about how years ago I happened to come across a copy of a nearly forgotten book at the university library while working on a project. I still find it amazing that this secular humanistic library even had a copy of Stories from Indian Wigwams and Northern Campfires – a book written by a missionary to the Canadian Native peoples of the 1800s sharing not only his life among them but the amazing stories they would tell him as they would warm themselves before a fire. This book is a treasure of the long-forgotten heritage of the Cree and Saulteaux tribes and how their lives were wonderfully transformed through the proclamation of the Gospel.

Though I first read that book over thirty years ago as a young university student, in 2010, God put it in our hearts here at Lighthouse Trails to publish this nearly forgotten book; then, when we were preparing to release it for publication, Nanci Des Gerlaise, a Canadian Cree, contacted us about a book she had written titled Muddy Waters. The great surprise was that Nanci, whom we then sent a review copy of the Wigwam manuscript, recognized in it the name Mask-e-pe-toon as being the name of the best friend of her great, great grandfather. Nanci then agreed to write the forward to that book. We also agreed to publish Muddy Waters, which we are happy to announce is our newest release. Then more recently, we have added a new video (not our own) titled I’ll Never Go Back!: The Testimony of Chief Shoefoot. In this video, Chief Shoefoot shares his own story of what life has been like for him both before and after he received the Gospel, hence his words “I’ll never go back” became the title of the video. Chief Shoefoot is a member of the native people known as the Yanomamo. The Yanomamo reside in a northern region of South America bordering Venezuela and Brazil. Hearing that Chief Shoefoot is part of a Yanomamo tribe especially caught my interest because I remembered studying these people in an anthropology class back in 1972.

Anthropologists have been studying the Yanomamo for many years now, and the typical reaction by many anthropologists to missionary outreaches to these people is that they would have been better off if they had been left alone. Granted various missionary efforts were probably not conducted as they should have been, the fact remains that Jesus commissioned the Gospel to be shared with the whole world. What makes this video unique is that it is the testimony of an actual member of the Yanomamo tribe sharing his viewpoint and his side of the story, and his conclusion is an emphatic yes to having received the Gospel. Contrary to what these anthropologists are saying, Chief Shoefoot makes it clear that his life has been forever changed for the better.

Today, even much of the mission field has been marred by the mentality that we should be less intrusive about sharing the Gospel (see New Missiology). Now don’t get me wrong; it’s true that there may be many non-spiritual aspects of a culture that don’t need to be changed, but the Gospel is very intrusive in calling all people everywhere to repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus came as Savior to the whole world, and people from all tribes and nations are offered one way to God. But today organizations, like YWAM, have been taking a more politically correct approach in assuming that every culture already has within their religious traditions an acceptable pathway to God, and our only duty is to encourage them in what they already believe and are already doing with little more than perhaps an occasional reference to the Jesus Christ of the Bible. The sad truth and reality is that, although many peoples and cultures may believe in some type of supreme being and do have a sense of right and wrong, the Gospel is unique in that it is God’s revealed Word and offer of salvation based on grace through faith alone as opposed to a gospel of good works based on a belief in the innate goodness of mankind and God’s willingness to accept any and all man-made plans of salvation.

The truth is that God has declared in his Word that all are sinners and in need of a Savior. So while it may be true that God has not called us to impose European customs on the indigenous peoples of the world, the Gospel is God’s “culture” for all mankind in that it calls all people to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. All I can say is that I personally am so glad that God “imposed” Himself on me when I received Christ as my Savior; and in both Muddy Waters and in the I’ll Never Go Back video, you will witness the powerful and convincing testimony of two people – a medicine man’s daughter (in the book) and a former shaman or witchdoctor (in the video). Their stories are evidence that knowing Jesus Christ as Savior is more precious than anything the world has to offer and does require us to forsake those things that are displeasing to Him. You will learn from both Nanci Des Gerlaise and Chief Shoefoot that Native Spirituality is occultic and needs to be forsaken for the truth of the Gospel.

So, while it may be true that people from all over the world have a sense of right and wrong, the spirituality of all tribes and nations must give way to the truth of the Gospel rather than trying to reshape the Gospel to make it more palatable to any culture. After all, what part of the Gospel would we change? The fact of the matter is that the “preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18). Thus, it remains that the Gospel will always be offensive and politically incorrect to the unbeliever regardless of cultural setting. The Gospel is offensive not because it is the “white man’s religion” (which it never was) but because it is the way God chose to redeem mankind – which appears foolish to the carnal mind. But as Scripture declares, “the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Corinthians 1:25).

Now, let me share something that caught my attention as I was watching the I’ll Never Go Back video. I was listening to Chief Shoefoot share how he became a shaman or witchdoctor and about  the spirituality that ensued, and I was amazed by the realization that as he was describing his spirituality as a shaman, he was describing the spirituality that is being promoted in the church today as “cutting-edge Christianity.” In fact, Chief Shoefoot’s spirituality was far ahead of contemplative spirituality and the New Age of today. Furthermore, they were already incorporating spiritual disciplines into their meditative practices. When I realized this, I listened to Chief Shoefoot very attentively and with much interest because I understood then that they had been practicing “contemplative spirituality” and the “spiritual disciplines” probably for many centuries – perhaps even longer than the Desert Fathers. In listening to him describe his spirituality as a shaman, I also realized that he was at the same time describing where the spirituality of contemplative prayer, the New Age, and the spiritual disciplines will be in the future.

So, while the meditative practices and disciplines of the Desert Fathers phased out to near extinction after the Middle Ages and is being resurrected today, the Yanomamo have preserved and developed these practices and brought them to full fruition. In other words, as the church and the New Age movement are in unison developing these practices, they will in time become like the Yanomamo.

In the video, Chief Shoefoot describes how he was introduced to shamanism at an early age because he was far advanced for his age in spiritual acuteness. Like contemplative prayer and New Age meditation, connection with “God” is accomplished by going into an altered state of consciousness (i.e., the silence). A drug is used for this purpose along with chanting (mantra), rhythm, and dancing. Spiritual disciplines – to include the withholding of food and sleep (i.e., fasting) – were also used to make the spiritual senses more acute. Chief Shoefoot, as I listened to him describe his story, was much more advanced than the mystics and contemplative prayer leaders of today. He literally saw into the spirit world and beheld various spirits which the Yanomamo even had names for.

The Yanomamo shaman recognizes the spirit world as a reality, not a superstition. According to Chief Shoefoot, spirits of various sorts are seen as desirable and are invited to “get inside your chest” while others are avoided as being evil. I am reminded how contemplative leader Richard Foster warns his students to beware of dangerous spirits when they practice contemplative prayer. In Faith Undone, Roger Oakland talks about this:

Proponents of contemplative prayer say the purpose of contemplative prayer is to tune in with God and hear His voice. However, Richard Foster claims that practitioners must use caution. He admits that in contemplative prayer “we are entering deeply into the spiritual realm” and that sometimes it is not the realm of God even though it is “supernatural.” He admits there are spiritual beings and that a prayer of protection should be said beforehand something to the effect of “All dark and evil spirits must now leave.”1

What Chief Shoefoot realized too late is that none of these spirits are good and those considered to be evil cannot be avoided either. He learned that once a person enters into the occultic or contemplative realm, he becomes subject to the spirits that inhabit that realm. Christian mystics who engage in contemplative prayer think they are encountering the Holy Spirit, but Chief Shoefoot literally saw that this realm is inhabited by nothing more than demons who in time also made their habitation in him (and in other members of the tribe).

Understandably, much of the activity of the tribe was marked by immorality and violence. Even anthropologists who are unsympathetic to the Christianizing of these tribes recognize that there is a problem in their social and domestic interactions. Consider, for example, the following quote from an anthropological source regarding the role and treatment of wives in Yanomamo culture:

It is interesting to watch the behavior of women when their husbands return from a hunting trip or a visit. The men march slowly across the village and retire silently into their hammocks. The woman, no matter what she is doing, hurries home and quietly but rapidly prepares a meal for her husband. Should the wife be slow at doing this, the husband is within his rights to beat her. Most reprimands meted out by irate husbands take the form of blows with the hand or with a piece of firewood, but a good many husbands are even more severe. Some of them chop their wives with the sharp edge of a machete or ax, or shoot them with a barbed arrow in some nonvital area, such as in the buttocks or leg. Many men are given to punishing their wives by holding the hot end of a glowing stick against them, resulting in serious burns. . . . It is not uncommon for a man to injure his errant wife seriously; and some men have even killed wives. Women expect this kind of treatment. Those who are not too severely treated might even measure their husband’s concern in terms of the frequency of minor beatings they sustain. I overheard two young women discussing each other’s scalp scars. One of them commented that the other’s husband must really care for her since he has beaten her on the head so frequently! . . . Some men . . . seem to think that it is reasonable to beat their wife once in a while “just to keep them on their toes.”2

For lack of space, let me just say that the interactions of men with each other both within and between tribes is often not peaceable either. But, in any case, Native Spirituality plays a highly significant role in the happenings of these tribes.

Now, I imagine my statement made earlier that those who practice contemplative prayer or New Age mysticism will eventually become like the Yanomamo must now sound too extreme or at least a tongue-in-cheek statement. Actually, it would bring me much comfort if I were to know that I am completely wrong in this assertion. But I am deeply concerned about people, many of whom are Christians, delving into contemplative prayer, eastern meditative practices, and New Age mysticism thinking that they will better themselves by doing so. All of these are occult practices that will tie the user in with the demonic realm though he may think he is connecting with “good” spirits or the Holy Spirit. If you have never yet availed yourself of our books, you should secure a copy of A Time of Departing by Ray Yungen and Faith Undone by Roger Oakland. These books will help give you a picture of where we are headed spiritually as a nation and on a global scale. Also, available from us are the writings of Warren Smith, an ex-New Ager who joined the movement for all the right reasons (seeking truth) but eventually learned that what was happening to him was very wrong.

It is not unusual for people to join the New Age movement or engage in yoga or meditative practices like contemplative prayer to reap health benefits to include higher levels of relaxation or to live a more victorious life, but, all the while, they are being introduced to something demonic both in origin and operation. The Bible makes a clear statement about occult or mystical practices in Deuteronomy 18:9-12 by sounding the alarm that these practices are “an abomination unto the Lord.” Then, too, Jesus warned against praying as the heathen do by using “vain repetitions” (Matthew 6:7), which is a clear indictment against chanting or the mantra-like words and phrases used in contemplative or meditative prayer.

Yet, more and more Christians are joining in contemplative or mystical prayer, thinking it will make them stronger spiritually when the opposite is the case. In fact, what Christians are being drawn into is very antichrist in nature. Our research shows that those who engage in contemplative prayer in time see less and less relevance to the Cross (the atonement) to where it becomes unnecessary. The reason for this is quite simple: contemplative prayer makes a person feel one with and a part of God to where a sacrifice for sin no longer makes any sense.

Contemplative prayer is one and the same thing as New Age or mystical prayer; both are occultic practices in that they bring the practitioner into the demonic realm though he believes all the while that he is connecting with God. Then when I heard Chief Shoefoot’s testimony, I realized that shamanism is one and the same thing as contemplative or New Age mystical prayer as well. As one adherent of mysticism explains, “The meditation of advanced occultists is identical with the prayer of advanced mystics.”3 Thomas Merton, a Catholic monk, who helped pioneer the modern-day contemplative prayer movement identified with Buddhism (saying he “intend[ed] to become as good a Buddhist as [he] can”)4 because he realized that the prayer of the Buddhist monks was the same as his. Alice Bailey, whom I consider the mother of the New Age movement, predicted that New Age (or occultic) spirituality would not go around the Christian church but rather through it. She called it the “the regeneration of the churches.” In explaining this, Ray Yungen says:

[I]nstead of opposing Christianity, the occult would capture and blend itself with Christianity and then use it as its primary  vehicle for spreading and instilling New Age consciousness!5

In other words, occultic prayer all over the world is coming to a head and bringing about the great falling away that the Bible predicts will happen. Modern day proponents refer to it as quantum spirituality; and through borrowing terms used in physics, they tell us that if enough people meditate at the same time, we will achieve a critical mass, and we will then witness the dawning of the age of Aquarius where peace will guide our planet. However, Alice Bailey and New Age leaders who have followed her see Christians who do not practice New Age style meditation as in the way because they are not being “vibrationally sympathetic.” Such people, they maintain, will have to be eliminated! Having come from the New Age movement, Warren Smith has been warning Christians about this for some time. New Age leaders speak of love, but those who have birthed and perpetuated the movement have something much more sinister in their hearts.

There will come a day when Christians who have joined up with New Age practices will have to make a decision to return to Christ and have an undivided loyalty to Him and to His Gospel or to continue on in their occultic, mystical practices. Some have already crossed over the line perhaps never to return to the precious hope we have in the Gospel. God has been so merciful, but His mercy will not be extended forever. Isn’t it better to cling close to the Gospel now and to be ready for the Bridegroom when he returns at an unexpected hour?

We at Lighthouse Trails, as do other ministries like ours, have a sense of urgency to call all Christians to return to their true roots – namely the Gospel. Our loyalty needs to be with our Savior and not with the traditions of men. Whether we are Native American or of European or any other descent, Jesus Christ needs to be more precious than any of the things that would make us appear politically correct or gain the favor of men.

Notes:

1.  Roger Oakland, Faith Undone (Eureka, MT: Lighthouse Trails Publishing),  p. 99.

2.  Napolean A. Chagnon, Yanomamo: The Fierce People (New York, NY: Holt, Reinhart adn Winston, 3rd edition), pp.112-113.

3.  Richard Kirby, The Mission of Mysticism (London, UK: SPCK, 1979), p. 7; as cited in A Time of Departing, p. 32.

4.  David Steindl-Rast, “Recollection of Thomas Merton’s Last Days in the West” (Monastic Studies, 7:10, 1969), as cited in A Time of Departing, p. 78.

5. Ray Yungen, A Time of Departing (Eureka, MT: Lighthouse Trails Publishing, 2nd edition), p. 124.

Note: To access information about the books and DVDs we mention in this article, click here.

I’ll Never Go Back – DVD

“Contextualization” of the Gospel – A Free-Falling Catastrophe

By Roger Oakland

You may not have heard the term before, but contextual theology is a prominent message from the emerging church. In his book, Models of Contextual Theology(1992), Stephen B. Bevans defines contextual theology as:

…a way of doing theology in which one takes into account: the spirit and message of the gospel; the tradition of the Christian people; the culture in which one is theologizing; and social change in that culture, whether brought about by western technological process or the grass-roots struggle for equality, justice and liberation.1

In other words, the Bible in, and of itself, is not free-standing—other factors (culture, ethnicity, history) must be taken into consideration, and with those factors, the message of the Bible must be adjusted to fit. As one writer puts it, “Contextual theology aims at the humanization of theology.”2 But two questions need to be asked. First, will the contextualizing of Scripture cause such a twisting of its truth that it no longer is the Word of God, and secondly, is Scripture ineffective without this contextualization? To the first, I give a resounding yes! And to the second, an absolute no. The Word of God, which is an inspired work of the living Creator, is far more than any human-inspired book and has been written in such a way that every human being, rich or poor, man or woman, intelligent or challenged will understand the meaning of the Gospel message if it is presented in their native language; and thanks to the tireless work of missionaries for centuries, the Gospel in native languages is becoming a reality in most cultures today.

Dean Flemming is a New Testament teacher at European Nazarene College in Germany and the author of Contextualization in the New Testament. In his book, he defends contextual theology:

Every church in every particular place and time must learn to do theology in a way that makes sense to its audience while challenging it at the deepest level. In fact, some of the most promising conversations about contextualization today (whether they are recognized as such or not) are coming from churches in the West that are discovering new ways of embodying the gospel for an emerging postmodern culture. 3

These “churches in the West” Flemming considers “most promising” are the emerging churches. He would agree with Bevans’ model of theology, but he has an answer to the emerging church’s dilemma. He states:

Many sincere Christians are still suspicious that attempts to contextualize theology and Christian behavior will lead to the compromising of biblical truth … we must look to the New Testament for mentoring in the task of doing theology in our various settings.4

There’s good reason some Christians are suspicious. But it can seem harmless at first because Flemming suggests the answer is in the New Testament, which he believes should be used as a prototype or pattern rather than something for doctrine or theology. New Testament theology is always open for change, he says, but we can learn how to develop this change by studying New Testament stories and characters. The premise Flemming presents of contextualizing Scripture is that since cultures and societies are always changing, the Word must change with it and be conformed to these changes. But I would challenge this. The Bible says the Word is living, active, and powerful:

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)

And if the Word is this powerful, then it is stable and eternal as well. God, in His magnificence, is the Author of Scripture, and He surpasses time, culture, and societies. Contextualizing says people and cultures change, and therefore God’s Word must change. But, on the contrary, it’s people who need to change to conform to Scripture. If we really believe that the Bible is God’s Word, this would be clear to see; but if we think to ourselves that the Word is not infallible, not inspired, then contextualization would be the obvious expectation.

While certain parts of the Bible may be read as poetry (as Doug Pagitt and Phyllis Tickle suggest), for indeed the Bible is a beautifully written masterpiece, it is also a living mechanism that is not to be altered—rather it alters the reader’s heart and life. It is much more than putting words around people’s experiences as emergents suggest.

The Bible tells us God is always right; it is man who is so often wrong. When we rely upon human consensus, we will end up with man’s perspective and not God’s revelation. This is a dangerous way to develop one’s spiritual life—the results can lead to terrible deception.

Brian McLaren put it well when he admitted it isn’t just the way the message is presented that emerging church proponents want to change … it’s the message itself they are changing:

It has been fashionable among the innovative [emerging] pastors I know to say, “We’re not changing the message; we’re only changing the medium.” This claim is probably less than honest … in the new church we must realize how medium and message are intertwined. When we change the medium, the message that’s received is changed, however subtly, as well. We might as well get beyond our naïveté or denial about this.5

The Woman at the Well

If you listen to the emergent conversation long enough, you will hear a recurring theme: Christians are wrong to confront unbelievers head on with the Word of God. We should instead lay aside our desire to preach or share the truths from the Word and spend more time developing relationships and friendships with the unchurched (a politically correct name for unsaved). They often use Jesus as an example, saying He did not confront people but always accepted them for who they were.

One example is in Dan Kimball’s book, They Like Jesus but Not the Church. In his chapter titled “The Church Arrogantly Claims All Other Religions are Wrong,” Kimball refers to the story where Jesus is sitting near a well by Himself (the disciples have gone to the nearby town), and he talks to a Samaritan woman. Kimball alters the story by saying:

He [Jesus] stopped and asked questions of the Samaritan woman (John 4) and didn’t just jump in and say, “Samaritans are all wrong.”6

But Kimball is wrong. Jesus did the exact opposite! He didn’t ask her any questions, and He confronted her straight on—something Kimball says (throughout his book) is a terrible thing to do to an unbeliever. Listen to Jesus’ words to the woman:

Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

The woman saith unto him, I know that Messiah cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he. (John 4:21-26)

Kimball largely bases his premise on the reasoning that Christians should not do or say anything that might offend unbelievers, even if that anything is truth and Scripture.

The fact is, Jesus did confront people with the truth, as did His disciples (as well as the Old Testament prophets). And why did He? He told the woman at the well the reason:

Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. (John 4:10)

There is no question about it, the Word of God is offensive to the unbeliever just as I Corinthians 1:18 states:

For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

And again in II Corinthians 2:15-16, when Paul explains the attitude he encountered when witnessing to unbelievers:

For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life.

If Paul had been adjusting (contextualizing) the Word of God to fit the culture and context of the lives of those he spoke to, he would not have said “the aroma of death leading to death.” He took the spiritual state of these people very seriously, and he had full confidence that God’s Word, unaltered and unchanged, could reach into the heart and soul of any person who would receive Christ by faith. Whether a person is young, mentally challenged, or of a different culture or ethnic group, the Gospel is God’s Gospel, and He made it so that all who receive it by faith will understand His love and forgiveness and have eternal life. . . .

While reaching today’s generation for the cause of Christ is something we as Christians should all desire, we must remember Jesus Christ challenged us to follow Him and be obedient to His Word. Scripture commands us to “be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). But the emergents are leading followers in the opposite direction, teaching that the Word of God needs to be conformed to people and cultures instead of allowing it to conform lives through Jesus Christ. Reimagining Christianity allows a dangerous kind of freedom; like cutting the suspension ropes on a hot air balloon, the free fall may be exhilarating but the results catastrophic. (For more information on the emerging church, read Faith Undone by Roger Oakland)

Notes:
1. Stephen B. Bevans, Models of Contextual Theology (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, Seventh Printing, November 2000, http://www.cca.org.hk/resources/ctc/ctc94-02/1.Yuzon.html), p. 1.
2. Paul L. Lehmann, “Contextual Theology” (Theology Today, Princeton Theological Seminary, 1972, http://theologytoday.ptsem.edu/apr1972/v29-1-editorial2.htm).
3. Dean Flemming, Contextualization in the New Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005), p. 14.
4. Ibid, pp. 14-15.
5. Brian McLaren, Church on the Other Side, p. 68.
6. Dan Kimball, They Like Jesus but Not the Church (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2007), p. 167.


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