Posts Tagged ‘Max Lucado’

Book Review: Max Lucado’s Cure for the Common Life Promotes the Mystics & a “Divine Spark”

Cure for the Common Life, by author Max Lucado, is a book about “living in your sweet spot.” Lucado tells readers in chapter one to “[h]eed that inner music,” and quoting mystic Martin Buber from his book, The Way of Man (a book on Jewish mysticism), Lucado tells readers they each have a “divine spark.” Buber had panentheistic affinities as he embraced the teachings of Hasidism (Jewish mysticism) and believed that this divine spark that Lucado refers to is in every human being and every part of creation.

Throughout Lucado’s book, he quotes other mystics and contemplatives: Saint Thomas Aquinas,Thomas Merton, Eugene Peterson and Richard Foster. It is Thomas Merton who said:

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

Merton and Buber shared this belief that everyone had a divine spark. When Max Lucado quotes men of these persuasions, telling readers they each have a “sweet spot” then referring to a divine spark in everyone, this is very confusing and will leave the unaware spiritual seeker believing him.

Cure for the Common Life has drawn endorsements from an assortment of Christian leaders, and their names sit on the front inside covers of Lucado’s book as well as on the back cover. New Age sympathizer Ken Blanchard says of the book, “Max Lucado has done it again! He has taken simple truths and made them available to all of us (emphasis mine). Richard Foster says, “I’m so glad for Max Lucado’s insightful call for us to live and work as we are intrinsically designed by God.” Sheila Walsh said that the “message of this book could change your life forever.” Bob Coy (Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale) and Bob Buford ( of the emergent-advocating Leadership Network) also gave raving reviews of the book. On the back cover, New Age sympathizer Laurie Beth Jones says, “This book can cure whatever ‘blah’ that ails you!” Jones would fit more in with the New Spirituality than with evangelical Christianity even though she is considered by many to be an evangelical writer. In Jones book, Teach Your Team to Fish, she states: “I have been challenged by the concept of meditation … I decided recently to accept the invitation of a friend to experience the sheer silence of meditation-undirected prayer. … I had before only sensed intellectually … But by going deep into prayer I could almost feel it.” (p. 142.)

Lucado seems to have  come out of the contemplative closet with Cure For the Common Life. He was featured on the Be Still DVD, along with Richard Foster and Beth Moore. In that DVD, Lucado emphasized the importance of contemplative prayer, saying “It’s nothing mystical, necessarily. It’s nothing secretive. It’s just what we do with our body we do with our soul.” But Richard Foster would probably disagree – contemplative is mystical, and in many ways is very secretive.

Christian leaders with contemplative and New Age sympathies are not the only ones who love Cure for the Common Life. Barnes and Noble bookstores  have a New Age-promoting project called East West that is “a resource for conscious [New Age] living. It opens doors to self-discovery, higher awareness and true understanding.” Under East West’s best sellers list when Lucado’s book was released are five titles, one of them being Lucado’s book Cure For the Common Life. This is what East West said of Lucado’s book:

According to New York Times bestselling author Max Lucado, you were designed as a one-of-a-kind to achieve one God-given purpose. And embedded in your soul are the power and passion to fulfill it. As Dr. Phil McGraw writes, “Cure for the Common Life can help you find that uniqueness that puts it all in perspective, and show you how to live it every day so that you aren’t just existing in God’s creation but thriving in His plan.”

Apparently, those with New Age persuasions admire Lucado’s “divine spark” in everyone idea. And why not. That’s what the New Age is really all about.

Emerging “Progressive” Spirituality: Joining the New Age with Christianity, and Christian Leaders Say OK

No one group understands emerging “progressive” spirituality as much as those in the New Age. That’s because it is their religion. So when the evangelical emerging church movement rose to the forefront, New Agers must have found it quite intriguing and most likely rewarding to see their belief system finally take root in Christianity.

In the book, As Above, So Below, written by Ronald S. Miller and the editors of New Age Journal, the authors appropriately name the first chapter “The Emerging Spirituality.” Now some may say, “Oh, they might call it that, but it isn’t the same as the Emerging Church ala McLaren, Jones, Kimball, Pagitt, etc. That’s an entirely different ball game.” Well, let’s take a look at this chapter in the New Age book. The chapter, “The Emerging Spirituality” starts off with a story about Jesus and Moses. That would certainly throw a few people–only Christians talk about Jesus, right? The book then quotes New Ager Joan Borysenko who explains the significance of the story they relate:

Like the Jesus of this story, . . .  many of us lose touch with our own indwelling Divine nature-the unlimited creative potential of love the real Jesus assured us could literally move mountains.

The book goes on to say that the problem with most people is they have forgotten who they really are, don’t know their purpose or reason for existing and just need to reach higher to grasp their utmost potential. It sounds just like some of our most popular evangelical leaders. And like many emerging church leaders, the book says we need to get away from “automatized programs” and have a wake up call. The book tells us that this “wake up call” comes in the form of the metaphysical (mysticism), the “esoteric core of all the world’s spiritual traditions.” This mirrors what Rick Warren (who promotes the emerging church and its spirituality) said in his first book, the Purpose Driven Church, where he praised the “Spiritual Formation” movement which he sees as God’s way of bringing “believers to full maturity.” Warren said that the movement had a “valid message for the church” and gave “the body of Christ a wake-up call” (pp. 126-127). The problem is that the Spiritual Formation movement draws on the same mystical techniques as found in the New Age movement, (eg., mantra-like prayers, breath prayers). In Warren’s book, he touts Richard Foster and Dallas Willard as icons of the Spiritual Formation movement. When Warren says maturity, it implies that the church has been immature because of its mystical deficiency. At other times, Rick Warren has stated that his “new reformation,” an idea that New Agers share, would incorporate those from different religious traditions. Warren may use the name of Jesus quite often, but the overall concept implies that faith in Jesus is not really necessary to bring peace into the world, and this is exactly the thing the New Age teaches.

As Above, So Below (a primer for the New Age) says that “we possess a hidden higher self, the spark of divinity within the soul” (p. 3). Once again, we can turn to emerging/contemplative leaders within Christianity to see they are saying the same thing. Anyone who has read Brennan Manning will recognize the term higher self. And in Max Lucado’s book, Cure for the Common Life, Lucado talks about the “divine spark” that is in each person. And we could give numerous other examples of contemplative emerging authors and leaders who talk like this, even though they name the name of Jesus. So the New Age teaches a higher self and a “spark of divinity” within the soul of every person, and so do Christian leaders.

Miller’s book says that mysticism is the “highest common factor” (p. 2) that links all religions together. He adds that we can practice this mysticism and still remain in our own religion. That’s exactly what Thomas Merton came to believe when he spoke with Dr. Bramachari,1 a Hindu monk who told him he didn’t have to leave the Christian tradition to be the best Buddhist he could be. Tony Campolo, another emerging/contemplative evangelical saw this common factor and suggested this very thing in his book, Speaking My Mind:

Beyond these models of reconciliation, a theology of mysticism provides some hope for common ground between Christianity and Islam. Both religions have within their histories examples of ecstatic union with God … I do not know what to make of the Muslim mystics, especially those who have come to be known as the Sufis. What do they experience in their mystical experiences? Could they have encountered the same God we do in our Christian mysticism?” (pp. 149-150)

Ronald Miller sounds very much like many of today’s emerging leaders when he says: “The modern age requires that we use our newly gained wisdom to transform the world (p. 7).” It is alarming to hear him say that mysticism (i.e., meditation) is the catalyst for “planetary healing,” naming various ecological and social problems facing the world today. Because some of the most influential Christian leaders and organizations today are promoting contemplative spirituality with one hand and working towards global transformation and unity on the other, we believe they are going in the same direction and with the same vehicle (mysticism) as the New Age. And when one realizes that the philosophy behind the New Age is panentheism (God in all) and that it totally negates the gospel message of Jesus Christ, then it is easier to see why it is so disturbing to see Christians promoting the emerging church and contemplative spirituality. For those readers who may be skeptical of our assertions, As Above, So Below has an entire chapter devoted to contemplative spirituality (chapter 3) and its vital place in its panoply of respected New Age practices. And yet that chapter makes reference to some of the same authors that Christians are now adhering to: Thomas Keating, Thomas Merton, the Desert Fathers, Julian of Norwich, and Martin Buber (Buber is quoted by Max Lucado on the divine spark). The fact is, Miller makes our point for us as no one else could.

Note:

1. Henri J.M. Nouwen, Thomas Merton: Contemplative Critic (San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row Publishers, 1991, Triumph Books Edition)

Book Review: Max Lucado’s Cure for the Common Life Promotes “Divine Spark” in All

Cure for the Common Life, by author Max Lucado, is a book about “living in your sweet spot.” Lucado tells readers in chapter one to “[h]eed that inner music,” and quoting mystic Martin Buber from his book, The Way of Man (a book on Jewish mysticism), Lucado tells readers they each have a “divine spark.” Buber had panentheistic affinities as he embraced the teachings of Hasidism (Jewish mysticism) and believed that this divine spark that Lucado refers to is in every human being and every part of creation.

Throughout Lucado’s book, he quotes other mystics and contemplatives: Saint Thomas Aquinas,Thomas Merton, Eugene Peterson and Richard Foster. It is Thomas Merton who said:

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

Merton and Buber shared this belief that everyone had a divine spark. When Max Lucado quotes men of these persuasions, telling readers they each have a “sweet spot” then referring to a divine spark in everyone, this is very confusing and will leave the unaware spiritual seeker believing him.

Cure for the Common Life has drawn endorsements from an assortment of Christian leaders, and their names sit on the front inside covers of Lucado’s book as well as on the back cover. New Age sympathizer Ken Blanchard says of the book, “Max Lucado has done it again! He has taken simple truths and made them available to all of us (emphasis mine). Richard Foster says, “I’m so glad for Max Lucado’s insightful call for us to live and work as we are intrinsically designed by God.” Sheila Walsh said that the “message of this book could change your life forever.” Bob Coy (Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale) and Bob Buford ( of the emergent advocating Leadership Network) also gave raving reviews of the book. On the back cover, New Age sympathizer Laurie Beth Jones says, “This book can cure whatever ‘blah’ that ails you!” Jones would fit more in with the New Spirituality than with evangelical Christianity even though she is considered by many to be an evangelical writer. In Jones book, Teach Your Team to Fish, she states: “I have been challenged by the concept of meditation … I decided recently to accept the invitation of a friend to experience the sheer silence of meditation-undirected prayer. … I had before only sensed intellectually … But by going deep into prayer I could almost feel it.” (p. 142.)

Lucado seems to be coming out of the contemplative closet. He was featured on the Be Still DVD, along with Richard Foster and Beth Moore. In that DVD, Lucado emphasized the importance of contemplative prayer, saying “It’s nothing mystical, necessarily. It’s nothing secretive. It’s just what we do with our body we do with our soul.” But Richard Foster would probably disagree – contemplative is mystical, and in many ways is very secretive.

Christian leaders with contemplative and New Age sympathies are not the only ones who love Cure for the Common Life. Barnes and Noble bookstores recently began a New Age-promoting project called East West that is “a resource for conscious [New Age] living. It opens doors to self-discovery, higher awareness and true understanding.” Under the best sellers list are five titles, one of them being Lucado’s book Cure For the Common Life. This is what East West says of Lucado’s book:

According to New York Times bestselling author Max Lucado, you were designed as a one-of-a-kind to achieve one God-given purpose. And embedded in your soul are the power and passion to fulfill it. As Dr. Phil McGraw writes, “Cure for the Common Life can help you find that uniqueness that puts it all in perspective, and show you how to live it every day so that you aren’t just existing in God’s creation but thriving in His plan.”

Apparently, those with New Age persuasions admire Lucado’s “divine spark” in everyone idea. And why not. That’s what the New Age is really all about.

Christian and New Age Leaders Together in Post-911 Book

By Warren Smith

The first time I encountered Rick Warren was in the spring of 2002, in a book titled From the Ashes: A Spiritual Response to the Attack on America. The book was a collection of articles written by a wide variety of “spiritual leaders” and “extraordinary citizens” published in response to the events of September 11, 2001. Proceeds from the book were to go to the families of the 9/11 victims. I remember being intrigued by the fact that Christian leaders found themselves included in a book that also featured many familiar New Age leaders. Articles by Billy Graham, Bruce Wilkinson, Charles Colson, Max Lucado, Bill Hybels, Jerry Jenkins, Bishop T.D. Jakes and others were side by side with articles written by prominent New Age leaders like Neale Donald Walsch, the Dalai Lama and Starhawk the witch. I was not familiar with the man simply listed as “Pastor Rick Warren.”

I discovered From the Ashes just after writing Reinventing Jesus Christ [now titled False Christ Coming: Does Anybody Care?]. In my 2002 book, I had updated readers on significant recent New Age activity. I was concerned because Christian leaders were doing so little to warn believers about a New Age movement that had reinvented itself and was now referring to its teachings as the “new gospel” and the “New Spirituality.” I found it particularly interesting that in From the Ashes Christian leaders not only found themselves in the company of top New Age leaders, they were now being directly challenged by some of these same New Age people.

New Age leader Neale Donald Walsch’s article appeared just pages from Bishop T.D. Jakes’ opening article. In his article, Walsch challenged religious leaders everywhere, including Rick Warren, Billy Graham, and every Christian leader in the book, in light of the events of September 11th to accept and preach the “new gospel” that “We are all one.” After erroneously claiming that the Bible supports the idea that “We are all one,” Walsch wrote:

We must change ourselves. We must change the beliefs upon which our behaviors are based. We must create a different reality, build a new society….We must do so with new spiritual truths. We must preach a new gospel, its healing message summarized in two sentences:

We are all one.

Ours is not a better way, ours is merely another way.

This 15-word message, delivered from every lectern and pulpit, from every rostrum and platform, could change everything overnight. I challenge every priest, every minister, every rabbi and religious cleric to preach this.1

I remember reading this and realizing how brazen the New Age was getting, and how deceptively appealing the idea of “Oneness” must sound to a terrified humanity still wondering when the next disaster might strike. What a clever way to present New Age teachings to a vulnerable world. But I was also thinking what a great opportunity it was for Christian leaders—particularly in this book—to contend for the faith by exposing the New Age teachings that were behind Walsch’s seemingly “positive” exhortation.

In Walsch’s best-selling Conversations with God books, in which he purports to have actual “conversations with God,” Walsch’s “God” specifically defines what he means by the “new gospel” teaching that “We are all One.” “God” tells Walsch:

God is creation.2

You are the Creator and the Created.3

You are already a God. You simply do not know it.4

You are One with everyone and everything in the Universe—including God.5

There is only One of Us. You and I are One.6

If the Christian leaders in From the Ashes contended for the faith by responding to Walsch’s New Age challenge, they could use the situation to delineate the significant differences between New Age teachings and the teachings of biblical Christianity. It was a unique opportunity for church leaders to expound upon the fact that God is not inherently “at One” with His creation and that man is not divine. They could explain that the Bible makes it very clear that humanity’s only “Oneness” with God, and with each other, is through the person of Jesus Christ when we repent of our sins and choose to accept Him as our Lord and Savior.

For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:26-28; emphasis added)

Walsch’s public challenge was a great opportunity for these Christian leaders to contend for the faith. But other than one lone pastor in Iowa,7 I am not aware of anyone else publicly responding to Walsch’s challenge.

Today, Walsch and other New Age leaders have accelerated their challenge to the Church by declaring that “God” has a 5-Step “PEACE Plan” to ultimately save the world through the establishment of a “New Spirituality.” Part of this “New Spirituality” demands that Christians abandon their belief in Jesus Christ as their exclusive Lord and Savior. In a recent best-selling Walsch book, his New Age “God” has now openly declared, “The era of the Single Savior is over.”8

But even with all of these open threats and challenges to biblical Christianity, most Christian leaders today continue to generally ignore almost anything having to do with New Age teachers and teachings. Over the last decade, as New Age teachings exploded in popularity, church leaders suddenly became very quiet about the New Age. Perhaps distracted by church growth concerns and tracking what they considered to be the latest “moves of God,” church leaders seemed to be missing the latest moves of our spiritual Adversary. Excited about all of the “great” things they felt God was doing, they had become ignorant of what our Adversary was doing. (from Deceived on Purpose, chapter 1)

Notes

1. Beliefnet Editors, From the Ashes: A Spiritual Response to the Attack on America (USA: Rodale Inc., 2001), p. 21.
2. Neale Donald Walsch, Conversations with God: an uncommon dialogue, Book 1 (New York, NY: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1995, 1996), p. 198.
3. Neale Donald Walsch, Conversations with God: an uncommon dialogue, Book 3 (Charlottesville, Va: Hampton Roads Publishing, Inc., 1998), p. 350.
4. Walsch, Conversations with God: Book 1,  p. 202.
5. Walsch, Conversations with God: Book 2,  p. 173.
6. Neale Donald Walsch, Friendship with God: an uncommon dialogue (New York, NY: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1999), p. 23.
7. Bill Randles, “An Open Letter to Neale Donald Walsch,” http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/NealeDonaldWalsch.html 
8. Neale Donald Walsch, The New Revelations: A Conversation with God (New York, NY: Atria Books, 2002), p. 157.

Letter to the Editor: Husband Concerned About Max Lucado’s Influence in the Home

Dear Lighthouse Trails:

My husband read something about Max Lucado’s endorsement of someone involved in Contemplative Prayer or the Emerging Church and now wants me to get rid of Max Lucado’s books that I’ve had for years.  I have much enjoyed his writings and have not picked up on anything non-Scriptural.  I may not agree with every interpretation, but that’s not the issue here.

Do you see a spiritual need to dispose of his past writings?  Most of these were written about 10 years ago.  I also have a couple of his children’s books.

I would value and appreciate your feedback.

Thank you.

Janice

Dear Janice:

We understand your husband’s concerns. It would be hard for a discerning Christian to read the writings of someone who was promoting such a heretical teaching.

It isn’t just that Max Lucado was endorsing someone else involved with contemplative – it’s that he wrote his own contemplative promoting book; that’s a bit more involved than how you have described it.

A responsible Christian leader who realized he had written a book that had such dangerous references  and teachings should feel convicted and pull that book off the market while also making a public renouncement of these teachings. To our knowledge, that has not happened. And in fact, Max Lucado’s book, Cure for the Common Life, has a very high rating on Amazon, which tells us that many, many people have read this book and been possibly taken into the contemplative, panentheistic arms of Thomas Merton. http://www.amazon.com/Cure-Common-Life-Living-Sweet/dp/0849919096/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1292558181&sr=1-1

Lighthouse Trails editors

Below is our 2006 review on Max Lucado’s book, Cure for the Common Life:

Cure for the Common Life, by author Max Lucado, is a book about “living in your sweet spot.” Lucado tells readers in chapter one to “[h]eed that inner music,” and quoting mystic Martin Buber from his book, The Way of Man (a book on Jewish mysticism), Lucado tells readers they each have a “divine spark.” Buber had panentheistic affinities as he embraced the teachings of Hasidism (Jewish mysticism) and believed that this divine spark that Lucado refers to is in every human being and every part of creation.

Through Lucado’s book he quotes other mystics and contemplatives: Saint Thomas Aquinas,Thomas Merton, Eugene Peterson and Richard Foster. It is Thomas Merton who said,

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

Merton and Buber shared this belief that everyone has a divine spark. When Max Lucado quotes men of these persuasions, telling readers they each have a “sweet spot” then referring to a divine spark in everyone, this is very confusing and will leave the unaware spiritual seeker believing him.

Cure for the Common Life has drawn endorsements from an assortment of Christian leaders, and their names sit on the front inside covers of Lucado’s book as well as on the back cover. New Age sympathizer Ken Blanchard says of the book, “Max Lucado has done it again! He has taken simple truths and made them available to all of us (emphasis mine). Richard Foster says, “I’m so glad for Max Lucado’s insightful call for us to live and work as we are intrinsically designed by God.” Sheila Walsh said that the “message of this book could change your life forever.” Bob Coy (Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale) and Bob Buford (creator of the emerging church) also gave raving reviews of the book. On the back cover, New Age sympathizer Laurie Beth Jones says, “This book can cure whatever ‘blah’ that ails you!” In Jones book, Teach Your Team to Fish, she states: “I have been challenged by the concept of meditation … I decided recently to accept the invitation of a friend to experience the sheer silence of meditation-undirected prayer. … I had before only sensed intellectually … But by going deep into prayer I could almost feel it.” (p. 142.)

Lucado seems to be coming out of the contemplative closet. Recently he was featured on the Be Still DVD, along with Richard Foster and Beth Moore. In that DVD, Lucado emphasized the importance of contemplative prayer, saying “It’s nothing mystical, necessarily. It’s nothing secretive. It’s just what we do with our body we do with our soul.” But Richard Foster would probably disagree – contemplative is mystical, and in many ways is very secretive.

Christian leaders with contemplative and New Age sympathies are not the only ones who love Cure for the Common Life. Barnes and Noble bookstores recently began a New Age-promoting project called East West that is “a resource for conscious living. It opens doors to self-discovery, higher awareness and true understanding.” Under the best sellers list are five titles, one of them being Lucado’s book Cure For the Common Life. This is what East West says of Lucado’s book:

According to New York Times bestselling author Max Lucado, you were designed as a one-of-a-kind to achieve one God-given purpose. And embedded in your soul are the power and passion to fulfill it. As Dr. Phil McGraw writes, “Cure for the Common Life can help you find that uniqueness that puts it all in perspective, and show you how to live it every day so that you aren’t just existing in God’s creation but thriving in His plan.”

Apparently, those with New Age persuasions admire Lucado’s “divine spark” in everyone idea. And why not. That’s what the New Age is really all about. But the questions must be asked, Why is Thomas Nelson publishing another book that promotes New Age ideas (see their book Yoga for Christians, 2006), and is this book going to be carried in Christian bookstores and churches and considered another worthy book for Sunday school classes?


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