Posts Tagged ‘phyllis tickle’
Letter to the Editor: Friend’s Church Bringing in “Praying in Color” – A Disguised Vehicle for Contemplative Prayer
LTRP Note: Lighthouse Trails has received many emails over the past few years about the “praying in color,” which has become extremely popular within Christianity. This prompted us to publish a booklet by Lois Putnam on the subject. While coloring is not wrong in itself, the “praying in color” movement is a disguised vehicle for contemplative prayer (not really all that disguised either). Beware, our enemy comes as an angel of light and his ministers as ministers of righteousness.
Dear Lighthouse Trails,
A friend of mine texted me to ask if I had heard of “praying in color.” She included the following website: www.prayingincolor.com. Immediately, I knew that this was not of God. I perused the website and was not surprised that this is rooted and grounded in Hinduism, Catholicism, visualization, and mysticism. Apparently, one of the leaders at my friend’s church is introducing this to the congregation. My friend knew something wasn’t right or biblical about this. The leader explained to the congregation that she had gone to a seminar on “praying in color” and was so taken in by it that she is inviting a “praying in color” coach to do a seminar at her church. This is not the first time that this leader has introduced false teaching to the congregation (i.e. Rick Warren, Purpose Driven Life).
I explained to my friend that this is certainly not in line with the Bible. I can only pray that she and others will take a stand and resist this demonic activity from coming into their church.
Just reading the bios of Sybil MacBeth and her husband, you are immediately aware that they are into mysticism, etc. On the back cover of the 2nd book listed in my e-mail, she has a quote from Phyllis Tickle.
Just a brief sample of what is on the website, it states the following:
1) Welcome to a New Way to Pray in Color?
Why Pray in Color?
2) You want to pray but words escape you. 2) Sitting still and staying focused in prayer are a challenge. 3) Your body wants to be part of your prayer. 4) You want to just hang out with God but don’t know how. 5) Listening to God feels like an impossible task . 6) Your mind wanders and your body complains. 7) You want a visual, concrete way to pray. 8) You Need a new way to pray.ant a visual, concrete way to pray.
3) According to the website, you can pray in color or black and white.
4) In her book Pray and Color: A Color Book and Guide to Prayer, you can read the following: “Try coloring as a bridge to an island of inner quiet and prayer. Since 2007, thousands have enjoyed learning a new prayer practice called Praying in Color from Sybil MacBeth. This new coloring book and guide allows anyone to quiet the mind and pray while creating something visual and inspired. Slowing down isn’t easy in our culture where stimulation and constant virtual connection are the norm. If you find the transition from busyness to stillness difficult, follow Sybil to a slower, more contemplative pace through coloring as prayer and as spiritual practice. Includes an introduction and guide to fourteen types of prayer, along with 32 pages to color.”
5) In another book, Praying in Color: Drawing a New Path to God, you can read the following: “Praying in Color: Drawing a New Path to God by Sybil MacBeth introduces the active, visual prayer practice the author calls “praying in color.” The book provides a little bit of memoir and theology and a lot of how-to. Step-by step instructions in Chapter 3 introduce “praying in color” as a way to do intercessory prayer. Additional chapters explain how the practice can be applied to learning Scripture, keeping Advent and Lent, practicing lectio divina, and praying in other ways.”
Thomas Merton and Tony Jones are listed in endnotes.
You can go to Amazon to peruse a chapter or two: https://www.amazon.com/Praying-Color-Drawing-Active-Prayer/dp/1557255121/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1475095439&sr=1-4&keywords=sybil+macbeth (if you can’t click on link, just copy and paste in your browser.)
—In Chapter 3, she quotes from Mary Eddy Baker . . . talks about a children’s prayer that her mother would pray over her from Baker. In this prayer, Baker starts the prayer off by saying, “Father-Mother God.”
My heart breaks to know that so many professing Christians are deceived and cannot recognize Satan masquerading as an angel of light. Even more devastating, she has a book for children.
I know this is a long email, but I wanted to be able to give you a thorough overview of these books. Hopefully, you can warn other Christians.
To Lighthouse Trails:
I’ve been noticing a new trend – adult coloring books. The little research I have done links these books with Buddhism. Do you have any information on this new trend?
I just stay away from things like this, but the reason I’m asking is because my 13 year old daughter was introduced to them at Sunday School today. Thankfully I had already warned her about these books, so she knew enough to bring it to my attention. I would like to warn this Sunday School teacher . . . who is already using these books at her school to calm the “bad” kids down.
As far as I’m concerned it’s just another way for the evil one to come into the church. I am really afraid for people; no one seems to question anything these days.
Thanks for any insight that you can give.
Much of this idea has been propagated by Sybil MacBeth’s Praying in Color book series. While there is certainly nothing harmful about adults coloring, in and of itself, the idea behind MacBeth’s praying through coloring does have a contemplative spirituality premise. On MacBeth’s website, she gives 8 reasons to color while praying:
1) You want to pray but words escape you.
2) Sitting still and staying focused in prayer are a challenge.
3) Your body wants to be part of your prayer.
4) You want to just hang out with God but don’t know how.
5) Listening to God feels like an impossible task .
6) Your mind wanders and your body complains.
7) You want a visual, concrete way to pray.
8) You Need a new way to pray.
In Sybil MacBeth’s book, Praying in Color: Drawing a New Path to God, the book is endorsed on the back cover by emergent writer Phyllis Tickle (a colleague of Brian McLaren). In that book, MacBeth speaks frequently about the contemplative practice called lectio divina, a meditative practice. With Tickle’s endorsement and the promotion of contemplative practices, we must question what MacBeth’s “new path” to God is. A look at the endnotes in the book may provide an answer to that question. She cites Thomas Merton (panentheistic contemplative Catholic monk), Parker Palmer (New Age sympathizer), and Tony Jones (contemplative emergent leader).
In a 2015 Religious News Service article titled “Coloring books for grown-ups: Calming — but a spiritual practice?,” it states:
Alison Gary used to go to church on Sunday mornings, but lately she’s embraced a different ritual: staying home and coloring with her 6-year-old daughter, Emerson. . . . “Emerson and I color almost every Sunday morning,” Gary said, while her husband, a yoga teacher, cooks and listens to music. “I let my mind let go, and I feel more connected to the world, more centered. . . . Gary is not the only grown-up rediscovering the contemplative joys of what once was considered a childish pastime. . . . Many books feature circular mandalas and Zen patterns, as well as mystical peacocks. . . . While adult coloring is mostly being marketed as a balm for the stress of modern life, many fans, like Gary, also describe it in spiritual terms.
Which raises the obvious question: Can coloring seriously be considered a spiritual practice? Some may scoff, but “it can become more than just coloring, if you want it to,” said Sybil MacBeth, author of the 2007 book “Praying in Color.” . . . MacBeth shares techniques to “incorporate the intention of prayer into coloring,” by doodling names of people or events, and intercessory requests such as healing and peace. MacBeth, a “dancer, doodler and former community college math professor” married to a retired Episcopal priest, believes coloring and doodling can be powerful prayer practices — a revelation she stumbled upon by accident. (source)
Praying in color or adult coloring books is another deceptive scheme of the enemy to get people to enter the dangerous contemplative silence that is rooted in New Age style meditation.
IF it is of God—Answering the questions of IF:Gathering by Cedric Fisher is our newest Lighthouse Trails Booklet Tract. The Booklet Tract is 14 pages long and sells for $1.95 for single copies. Quantity discounts are as much as 50% off retail. Our Booklet Tracts are designed to give away to others or for your own personal use. Below is the content of the booklet. To order copies of IF it is of God—Answering the questions of IF:Gathering, click here.
IF IT IS OF GOD—Answering the questions of IF:Gathering
By Cedric H. Fisher
IF:Gathering came in like a storm, one of those winter events that seem to appear out of nowhere. No one saw it coming. A team of highly popular women—authors, bloggers, and speakers coming together—what a great idea. But it wasn’t novel. Professing Christians have been making pilgrimages for decades to high-energy conferences with a star list of speakers and singers. As with so many of these other conferences, IF purported to do the work of God. However, IF was unique in that it was mostly a digital event. It was greatly effective.
The IF:Gathering held its second event in February of 2015 and involved 1200 women at the physical location, with a possible 100,000 or more watching by 40,000 live links in more than 120 countries. The ongoing influence of IF after the conference has the potential to reach hundreds of thousands of women all while flying under the radar of pastors and church leaders who may be accepting IF:Gathering at face value, not knowing anything about this group of high energy talented women leaders.
After reading the list of IF speakers and researching information about them, I have become convinced that IF poses a significant risk to Christian women, who unwittingly are submitting themselves to IF’s speakers and teachers. The danger? It comes in the form of emergent ideology, spiritual formation, and contemplative spirituality (contemplative prayer is a mantra-like “prayer” practice that vitalizes the “progressive” “new” Christianity (i.e., the emerging church). Thus, I am compelled to report on my findings regarding IF.
How did IF:Gathering come about and is it ordained by God? These are questions every responsible Christian needs to ask concerning anything claiming to be a new move or revelation from God. Those questions are especially important during such a time as this, a time when the church is suffering from great deception and apostasy. Is IF influencing women to draw nearer to God or rather leading them onto a spiritually dangerous path to heresy?
IF’s Beginning—A Whisper from the Sky
The 2015 IF:Gathering did not end when the conference was over. It continues to function through the network established before the conference occurred. Its influence continues through local churches and individuals who hosted the event, through social media, available videos of the event, and the “IF:Table,”* all of which have the potential to reach countless more women and evolve into a major women’s movement. If that occurs, it will help set the agenda of how the future generation perceives and implements Christianity.
The first statement on their website under “Who We Are” is:
We exist to gather, equip and unleash the next generation of women to live out their purpose.1
The founder of IF:Gathering, Jennie Allen, is a bright and energetic, best-selling author, blogger, and popular speaker. She appears sincere and dedicated to ministering to people. She and her husband have been involved in ministry for a number of years. However, since she is the founder, we must consider her activity, her influences, and her statements about the birth of IF:Gathering.
Allen is a Bible teacher who had been teaching groups of girls and young women since high school. She studied at the University of Arkansas for three years, completed her B.S. in Communications at Carson Newman College in Tennessee, and graduated from Dallas Theological Seminary with a Master’s in Biblical Studies in 2005. It would be two years after her graduation from DTS when she had an experience that birthed IF: Gathering.
Allen signed a multi-project contract in 2011 with Thomas Nelson, which included a series of seven DVD-based Bible studies and two trade books. Her first study released in 2011, followed by another one released in 2012. Her first trade book was also released in 2012. Allen’s book Restless: Because You Were Made for More and the Restless video-based Bible study were released simultaneously in January 2014, a month before the first IF:Gathering.
Allen was also one of the speakers in the neo-emergent Nines Conference in 2014, which hosted a speaker lineup that included some of the main influences in the New Christianity movement.
How did the IF:Gathering originate? There are different and conflicting explanations given by Allen. The first account was presented by Allen in the initial IF:Gathering in Austin, Texas, 2014:
About 7 years ago, a voice from the sky—that doesn’t often speak to me—but that day there was this whisper. It was the middle of the night, actually. And it was “Gather and equip your generation.” And this was ridiculous, because honestly, I was a stay at home Mom, I didn’t know anybody that could help me with that job. And it was a completely ridiculous statement. So ridiculous that I just, for two days my bones hurt, and I didn’t know what to do with it. My bones hurt, for two days.
I thought, Okay God, what do you want me to do? Wisely my friend said, “Jennie, if it’s God,” cause it may not be. All voices from the sky are not always God, FYI. But, “if it’s God, then He’s going to give you everything you need to accomplish His purposes. So just wait.” And so I waited, and that was seven years ago, guys.2
Allen eventually came to believe it was God who whispered. She would wait several years for Him to put IF: Gathering together. However, a year after the account of IF’s birth that she gave in the 2014 conference, she posted another account on her blog:
Truth is, IF:Gathering began as more of a hunch than a vision.3
A month later, and one year after her first account, Allen gave another account of how the IF came about during the IF: Gathering February, 2015:
I mean, 7 years ago, 8 years ago now, I heard a voice that . . . well, okay, I didn’t. This is like all different theologies right now. Okay, just give me grace. I don’t know, but I’m just telling you, in the night I woke up, and I was overcome with these words, “Disciple a generation.”
But I sat on it. I put it in my back pocket and said, “Okay God, if you want to do something crazy like that, you’re gonna have to make it happen.”4
I read Allen’s book, Anything: The Prayer that Unlocked my God and My Soul, written a couple of years after her experience with the sky whisperer. In her book, Allen describes deep intimacy with God and willingness to obey Him completely. However, she does not mention anything about Sky Whisperer or his commission to organize the IF: Gathering. I find that puzzling. What better place to introduce and expound on such a life-changing intimate experience and surrender than in a book describing full surrender?
I’m willing to concede that there could be a good reason for the inconsistencies of her accounts as to how IF came about. But an individual whom God supernaturally calls to accomplish a significant work should give a credible and unambiguous account of that call. One could say, “I saw a need and did my best to meet it.” However, when one says, “I heard a voice from God,” a different standard is involved. The reason is because something that has a supernatural event as an origin will have a much greater weight of influence. It presents the individual as a special agent of God, just as any of the figures in the Bible whom God used to accomplish unprecedented purposes. It almost immunizes the revelation and the individual from critical examination.
Therefore, I believe it is proper and reasonable to examine Jennie Allen’s statements concerning the origin of the IF: Gathering. The questions are: “Is Allen’s explanations of the origin of IF:Gathering convincing and does she provide viable and credible information that concludes IF: Gathering originated from God? One should prayerfully consider those questions and ultimately should ask: if it’s origin is in question and if it’s founder is involved in emergent conferences, can IF:Gathering produce good fruit? The next section concerning the speakers in IF:Gathering may help answer that last question.
For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. (Luke 6:43-44)
IF, The Speakers: Ambassadors of God or Emergent Collaborators
If Jeannie Allen did indeed hear supernaturally from God, and if God supernaturally equipped her to organize the IF:Gathering, we would expect good fruit from the conference and the speakers. We would not expect people who are influenced by emergent, New Age, and other aberrant authors and teachers. It is logical to expect that the speakers would be stellar Christian examples.
Space does not permit me to deal with all the conference speakers, so I have chosen several whom I believe need to be examined. They are listed in alphabetical order.
After reading portions of her book, Jesus Feminist, I get the impression Sarah Bessey believes that Christianity is stuck with the Woman Suffrage movement somewhere in the 1920s. She references radical feminist, social activist, and journalist Dorothy Day in her book and seems to draw from secular feminism. From that concept, she tries to invent a need for radical feminism in Christianity, presenting bizarre commentary on the Scriptures to back up her position. The following quote illustrates her view:
Many of the seminal social issues of our time—poverty, lack of education, human trafficking, war and torture, domestic abuse—can track their way to our theology of, or beliefs about, women, which has its roots in what we believe about the nature, purposes, and character of God.5
In the back of Jesus Feminist under “Further Reading,” Bessey offers a book titled How I Changed My Mind About Women in Leadership, which includes essays from emerging church authors Tony Campolo, John Ortberg, and Bill and Lynne Hybels. Jesus Feminist also has endorsements in the book by Brian McLaren and Tony Jones. On her blog, she lists among her favorites A Generous Orthodoxy by Brian McLaren and Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning.6 She also promotes The Way of the Heart by Henri Nouwen.7 There’s no question that Bessey resonates with the views of these men.
With such emergent and contemplative influences, how can good fruit be produced by this speaker?
Christine Caine claims Joyce Meyer as her “spiritual mother” and lists Word of Faith preacher Sheryl Brady as a dear friend calling her “flat out the best chick preacher of the word.”8 Caine has “preached” in seeker/emergent Steven Furtick’s mega church in Charlotte, North Carolina. The following is transcribed from Caine’s opening statement in Furtick’s church:
This place is a little bit like God, take this in context, in that like you are omnipresent. You are here. You are across the room. You are down the street. You are all over the worldwide web. It is like wherever you look, here we are and it is my honor and privilege to be here, I couldn’t wait.9
Caine also declared that her heart was “knitted” to Furtick. One whose heart is surrendered to God could not possibly be knitted to an individual such as Furtick. Journalist and researcher Jim Fletcher says this about Furtick:
Steven Furtick . . . mentored as he is by evangelical bigwigs like Rick Warren and Bill Hybels, felt bold enough to post a YouTube video in which he sneeringly challenged what I’d call traditional Christians to basically get out of the way, because their time is past. Presumably, to Furtick, it’s the “new generation’s” time now, so step aside with your stodgy hymns and expositional preaching style. . . . Masked a bit by a pious nod toward humanitarian causes, the leadership of this group is quite nasty, albeit in subtle ways.10
Further, according to the itinerary on Christine Caine’s website, she will be speaking at NAR (New Apostolic Reformation) leader Bill Johnson’s Bethel Church in Redding, California in August 2015 in the Bethel Women’s Conference. Why does this matter? It shows a pattern of being willing to associate with people and “minister” in churches that are teaching and promoting false and dangerous teachings.11
Melissa Greene is the pastor of worship and arts at GracePointe Church in Franklin, Tennessee. The church made national headlines in January of 2015 as senior pastor, Stan Mitchell, declared his church now accepts homosexual marriage.12
When I pull up Greene’s website, I immediately notice the picture of her sitting in a Yoga position. In a May 25th, 2014 message on her website titled “Worth,” Greene admits to reading emerging church pioneer Brian McLaren’s book, A Generous Orthodoxy (and McLaren spoke at GracePointe in the fall of 2014). Greene favorably quotes other prolific New Spirituality names: Phyllis Tickle, Richard Rohr, Frederick Buechner, Rob Bell, Nicholas Wolterstorff, Thomas Merton, Peter Gomes, Aldous Huxley—a list that reads like a veritable who’s who in emergent and contemplative heresy.
In “Worth,” Greene declares that, “Christianity is broad and diverse.”13 Considering that many of her influences accept all religions as being of God, there is no doubt to what she means when she states this. Greene also made the audacious statement: “The most devastating fear in people’s lives is the fear of God.”14 She attempts to validate her statement by taking verses out of context and misapplying them. What does God’s word declare?
And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28)
Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (2 Corinthians 7:1)
For thousands of young Christian-professing women to submit to someone like Melissa Greene could have a detrimental effect.
In Jen Hatmaker’s book, Interrupted: When Jesus Wreck Your Comfortable Christianity, she makes it clear that she is influenced by a number of New Age/New Spirituality individuals. She quotes Catholic priest and contemplative activist Richard Rohr and emergent leader Shane Claiborne. On her blog, she promotes the book, The Circle Maker, by Mark Batterson, a book that encourages readers to draw circles around specific things in order to have more answered prayers. Batterson was inspired with this idea by an ancient sage.
In Hatmaker’s book, 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, she reveals that her family takes part in a Roman Catholic ritual with mystical origins, the “Seven Sacred Pauses.”15 Hatmaker got her inspiration from Seven Sacred Pauses, a book by Macrina Wiederkehr who is a spiritual director in the contemplative prayer movement. In Wiederkehr’s retreats, seekers are guided through experiences of silence, contemplation and lectio divina (a contemplative practice where words and phrases from the Bible are repeated in mantra-like fashion). The “seven sacred pauses” are seven times a day to pause and pray, which Wiederkehr describes as “breathing spells for the soul.”
Consider Hatmaker’s statement concerning the preaching of God’s Word:
I have spent half my life listening to someone else talk about God. Because of this history, I’ve developed something of an immunity to sermons.16
This is eerily similar to the sentiment of Sue Monk Kidd (author of The Secret Life of Bees), who once, as a conservative Southern Baptist Sunday school teacher, expressed her dissatisfaction (and eventual rejection) of the preaching of God’s Word. That led Monk Kidd down a path away from the Christian faith and straight into the New Age. Today, she worships the goddess Sophia.
This disgruntlement of God’s Word is so prevalent among leaders of the emerging New Spirituality church. If not preaching, then what? Is it emotionally charged conventions and books with flowering, poetic phrases that open up to spit out a toxic drop of heresy? If Hatmaker is immune to preaching, she has rejected God’s method in favor of her own.
Ann VosKamp’s highly popular book, One Thousand Gifts, is peppered with favorable references to and quotes by various mystics, pantheists, and universalists. The following is a list of some of those influences:
Sarah Ban Breathnach, Teresa of Avila, Julian of Norwich, Evelyn Underhill, Brennan Manning, Annie Dillard, Thomas Aquinas, Peter Kreeft, Walter Brueggemann, Francis de Sales, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Henri Nouwen, and Jean-Pierre de Caussade. She also quotes mystic Catholic nun Kathleen Norris on her blog.17
You may not have heard of all these names, but in my research, I have found that they all embrace a panentheistic mystical-based spirituality. For VosKamp to quote and reference so many authors in this category shows she is embracing and absorbing the spirituality of these figures.
In the last chapter of One Thousand Gifts, “The Joy of Intimacy,” Voskamp writes:
Mystical union. This, the highest degree of importance. God as Husband in sacred wedlock, bound together, body and soul, fed by His body, quenched by His blood . . . God, He has blessed—caressed. I could bless God—caress with thanks. It’s our making love. God makes love with grace upon grace, every moment a making of His love for us . . . couldn’t I make love to God, making every moment love for Him? To know Him the way Adam knew Eve. Spirit skin to spirit skin . . . The intercourse of soul with God is the very climax of joy . . . To enter into Christ and Christ enter into us—to cohabit.18
This is what contemplatives consider “intimacy” with God, as if God is more a lover or a boyfriend than the Creator of the Universe, the King of Kings, and our beloved Savior. This is what millions of young Christian women are being introduced to.
The question is, are Sarah Bessey, Christine Cane, Melissa Greene, Jen Hatmaker, and Ann VosKamp really called from God as they profess to be? While I won’t question their sincerity, I must ask the questions: How can the IF:Gathering be ordained by God? How can Jennie Allen have supernaturally heard from God concerning her conference? And how could righteous God Almighty have sanctioned a movement that is so influenced by diabolical sources?
The IF:Gatherings promise great solutions, but in practice, they covertly chip away at biblical concepts of God, the Holy Spirit, and biblical Christianity. They are based on flawed concepts masked by alluring phrases. Like all other emerging church “coaches” and mentors, the IF leaders intend to solve the problem of what they insist is failed Christianity. They believe a replacement—New Christianity—is the solution.
Considering the influences of the speakers, the IF:Gatherings will lead to dangerous, alternate spirituality. The Conference overwhelms susceptible women with music, visuals, and emotional camaraderie. When their hearts are prepped and open, provocative questions are presented, and answers that conflict with God’s word are offered.
IF the Fruit is Good
When I was a worldling, I visited the notorious Bourbon Street in New Orleans. Fresh from the Oklahoma hills, I had never witnessed anything remotely like it. One thing that fascinated me most were the barkers. The barkers were men who stood outside of the many establishments attempting to coax passersby to enter them. They were so convincing. Their skills had been honed by trial and error. Bending to the persuasive and captivating power of their words, I entered one of those establishments. Once inside, I was shocked at the total absences of morals. Although it made my cheeks blush, and my moral upbringing urged me to leave, I was with a couple of friends and didn’t want to be considered a prude. So I stayed. The longer I stayed, the more I got used to the immorality. The more I got used to it, the more I wanted of it.
The speakers at the IF:Gathering are barkers. They are luring many professing Christian women with persuasive and captivating words. A repetitive error I noticed in the Conference was that a speaker would set up a straw man, and then mix the answer to it with Scripture. She would then insist that the conclusion was a valid point. An example was when Jen Hatmaker argued that we cannot possibly know all of God. She quoted a Scripture from Romans 11:33. Her conclusion was that because we cannot know God fully, it is not detrimental to faith to have doubt. However, faith does not depend on knowledge, but trust. Lack of knowledge should not make us doubt, but rather a lack of trust. This was a prevailing theme at IF.
Hatmaker also insisted that God set us free simply to set us free; that He set us free for us. Again, this does not agree with God’s Word:
For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. (1 Corinthians 6:20)
We were created for God’s purpose, to worship and serve Him. He set us free so we could belong to Him to honor and serve Him with all our hearts, mind, bodies, and spirits.
One constant thing that made me cringe was the cavalier attitude that some of the speakers, especially Jennie Allen, exhibited toward God. At one point, Allen, says, “Darn it, darn it,” and goes off on a rant implying that God is stupid, mean, and that His plan is absurd. The rant came only minutes after she declared she was nearly overcome with reverential fear of God.19
In Melissa Greene’s “Worth” sermon, one comes away with the following conclusions:
Certainty is bad; Questions (and no answers) is good.
The old-fashioned faith of our parents and grandparents is outdated and irrelevant.
References to numerous mystics and emergents
The “text” (the Bible) is OK, but there is so much more to be grasped.
In the end, everyone is saved.20
As I mentioned earlier, Greene admits to reading Brian McLaren, and from the content of the “Worth” video, McLaren’s spirituality has become her own. The IF leaders hope to lead as many women as possible into the same direction as Jennie Allen declares:
While I wish I were a more confident, rebellious pioneer, God had to nearly force me to the wild, new path He had for IF. I am however compelled to call as many of you as possible to the roads less traveled because there are many wandering who may never make it up to the highway.21
[God] will take this hell on earth and someday show us how hell was building heaven.22—Jennie Allen
The IF conferences are full of emotional manipulation with videos of heartbreaking stories and impassioned pleas to do something; draw near to God, have more faith, win the lost, help the less fortunate, etc. At various points in the 2015 conference, a speaker would burst out in an impassioned plea to do something about the plight of humanity as if it were the fallback position when passion was otherwise lacking.
IF’s leaders insist that biblical Christianity has failed as a viable work of God and that God and they are bringing forth a cure—New Christianity.
I fear that IF’s excellent adventure is advertisement for a mass departure from God’s Word. Rather than having their faith built up, participants are encouraged to question “traditional” Christianity. And those who are giving the answers—the IF women—are unfortunately getting their information from emergents and mystics who present a different gospel and another Jesus.
It is addictive, this linguistic confection. The mind is overcome with giddiness. But is it of God? Or is it rather a “beautiful” seduction? I believe the latter is true.
To order copies of IF it is of God—Answering the questions of IF:Gathering, click here.
* IF:Table is a dinner hosted by one person on the second Sunday of each month. It is described as six women, four questions, two hours (https://ifgathering.com/new-to-the-table/)
1. IF:Gathering website, “Who We Are”: https://ifgathering.com/who-we-are.
2. Jennie Allen, 2014 IF:Gathering: https://ifgathering.com/if-gathering-2014.
3. Jennie Allen’s blog, “How to Leave Normal”: https://ifgathering.com/2015/01/how-to-leave-normal, January 21, 2015.
4. Jennie Allen, IF: Gathering: https://ifgathering.com/2014/09/ifgathering-2015, February 2015.
5. Sarah Bessey, Jesus Feminist: An Invitation to Revisit the Bible’s View of Women (New York, NY: Howard Books), p. 169.
6. Sarah Bessey’s blog: http://sarahbessey.com, December 30, 2008.
7. Ibid., July 17, 2008.
9. Christine Caine, Elevation Church, Code Orange Revival 2012, http://elevationchurch.org/sermons/codeorangerevival (some of her sermon can be watched at: http://www.god.tv/code-orange-revival/night-4-anything-is-possible-with-god).
10. Jim Fletcher, “‘Hip’ church gives biblical Christians new label: ‘Hater’” (WorldNetDaily, http://mobile.wnd.com/2014/12/hip-church-gives-biblical-christians-new-label-hater/#JEfipOHtSOZJfZeD.99).
11. Read John Lanagan’s article/booklet titled The New Age Implications of Bethel Church’s Bill Johnson where it discusses Johnson’s propensity toward “quantum spirituality” (the belief that God is in everyone).
12. Elizabeth Dias, “Nashville Evangelical Church Comes Out for Marriage Equality” (Time Magazine, January 29, 2015; http://time.com/3687368/gracepointe-church-nashville-marriage-equality).
13. Melissa Greene, “Worth” (http://melissagreenemusic.com/tag/worth, May 25, 2014, watch video at: https://vimeo.com/97252399, 22:40 minutes to 22:47 minutes).
14. Ibid, 24:18 minutes to 24:25 minutes.
15. Jen Hatmaker, 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess (Nashville, TN: B & H Publishing Group, 2012, Digital Edition), Kindle location 3266.
16. Ibid., Kindle location 435.
17. Ann VosKamp, (http://www.aholyexperience.com/2006/11/memorizing-word).
18. Ann VosKamp, One Thousand Gifts (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010), pp. 213, 216-217.
19. Jennie Allen, IF:Gathering; Session 1- 03.
20. Melissa Greene, “Worth,” op. cit.
21. Jennie Allen, “How to Leave Normal,” op. cit.
22. Jennie Allen, Restless: Because You Were Made for More (Nashville, TN: W Publishing, 2013), p. 74.
To order copies of IF it is of God—Answering the questions of IF:Gathering, click here.
As a professional musician, singer, and recording artist, Cedric Fisher was deeply immersed in the darkness of the secular music business and its trappings. He was addicted to drugs and alcohol. There was no thought of God in his life, but he dabbled in I Ching, Transcendental Meditation, believed strongly in reincarnation, witches and wizards, gods, and experienced demonic activities, including levitation and apparitions. In 1978, while playing a gig in Lubbock, Texas, he decided to purchase a Bible. Early in the morning after the gig, he started reading it. Not wanting to read such a large book without knowing whether it would be interesting, he began reading the last chapter. After reading Revelation 3:20, he kneeled by the bed and prayed. He was gloriously saved and instantly delivered of addiction and the torment that had driven him to it!
Today Cedric is an ordained minister and the director of Truthkeepers, a web-based ministry warning about spiritual deception in the church. He and his wife, Cheryl, live on the East Coast where he pastors a small house church that he pioneered. His past experience helps him to identify diabolical darkness that masquerades as Christianity today. Cedric believes God has called him to not only prepare believers to be equipped to avoid deception and apostasy but also to expose the heresies that have inundated modern Christianity.
Corban University (formerly Western Baptist College), a Former Non-Contemplative College, Teams Up with Mark Driscoll
Corban University of Salem, Oregon used to be called Western Baptist College. It used to be a Christian college that did not promote contemplative spirituality or the emerging church, and it used to be on the Lighthouse Trails “good” Christian colleges list (colleges that don’t promote Spiritual Formation). But that was then, and today is a new day for Corban University.
Lighthouse Trails has watched the slow but steady change at Corban for the last several years, hoping it would not begin to fully engage in the Spiritual Formation movement. But a recent headline about Corban caught the attention of Lighthouse Trails editors who were compelled to respond. The headlines of that article read: “Corban University Signs Unique Partnership Agreement With Mars Hill Church.” In that article, it states:
Starting in the fall of 2014, Corban University of Salem, Ore. and Mars Hill Church will offer a 24-credit Bible certificate at the Mars Hill Bellevue, Wash. location. Classes are slated to begin in the fall of 2014.
The curriculum will include Bible and Theology Foundation, Ministry Skills Foundation, Introduction to Bible, Introduction to Theology, Christian Worldview and Apologetics, Biblical Spiritual Formation, Gospels, Bible Study Methods.
“We are anticipating a great, ongoing relationship with Mars Hill Church, pending approval of the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities,” said Corban Provost Matt Lucas.
The article talks about the huge influence that Mars Hill (home to Mark Driscoll) has with “15 locations in five different states, reaching millions around the world.” Mark Driscoll has been the topic of several LT articles because of his promotion of contemplative spirituality and other emerging beliefs (see our research links and video below documenting Driscoll’s mockery of biblical eschatology related to the last days and the Lord’s return).
Lighthouse Trails first became involved with Corban University (then Western Baptist) in 2002, when it was discovered that a summer youth theater day camp being held at Corban was introducing children attending the camp to visualization techniques. An editor at Lighthouse Trails arranged a meeting with three Corban professors to explain the concerns (it so happened that one of the LT editor’s children was attending that camp). At that time, the concerns by Lighthouse Trails were dismissed by the professors as erroneous. The LT editor took that opportunity to warn Corban professors that if they did not take a pro-active stand against the contemplative prayer movement and the emerging church and make sure all of their instructors understood the dangers, in time, the school would become an adherent to these heretical teachings.
Shortly after A Time of Departing by Ray Yungen was released in the fall of 2002, Corban professor Dr. Robert Wright invited Ray to address his World Religions & Cults class. From that point on, Dr. Wright became a strong advocate for Yungen’s and Lighthouse Trails’ message and had Ray return on several subsequent years. At one point, Dr. Wright wrote an article about the emerging church, which LT carries to this day on the research site. In that article Dr. Wright called Ray Yungen a “competent researcher” of the New Age and mysticism and that “[t]he methods of contemplative prayer are the same as those used in Eastern religion.” Dr. Wright said that some “very popular authors in the evangelical church have latched on to contemplative prayer as a way to go deeper with God.” And then he names Richard Foster and Brennan Manning. Of contemplative prayer, Dr. Wright stated:
[T]he purpose of contemplative prayer is to enter an altered state of consciousness in order to find one’s true self, thus finding God. This true self relates to the belief that man is basically good. Christian proponents of contemplative prayer teach that all human beings have a divine center and that all, not just born again believers, should practice contemplative prayer.
Unfortunately, Lighthouse Trails began to notice that not all the faculty at Corban held to the same convictions that Dr. Wright did. For instance in 2007, in Corban Magazine in an article titled “Understanding the Emerging Church Movement,” a book co-authored by contemplative author J.P. Moreland, was recommended (see page 11). The Corban article made several comments that indicated some at Corban did not have a good understanding of the emerging church movement. One comment, made by Corban professor Sam Baker, echoed contemplative J.P. Moreland. Baker stated: “The extreme of rationalism is that we worship the Bible instead of the God of the Bible.” J.P. Moreland, in a Christianity Today article, says that Christians are too committed to the Bible: “In the actual practices of the Evangelical community in North America, there is an over-commitment to Scripture in a way that is false, irrational, and harmful to the cause of Christ.”
Also in that Corban article, Sam Baker suggests we must be careful not to “throw the baby out with the bath water” when it comes to the emerging church. In regard to “mystical ancient rites,” Baker said that “some people have found these practices to be beneficial to their faith.” He says that if the practices produce good results, then they have “merit.” However, as Lighthouse Trails has often pointed out, just because one’s intent is “good” does not legitimize practices that are clearly Hinduistic and New Age in nature. Baker says that the emerging church has “stirred believers’ interest in meditation.”
The following year after the Corban Magazine article came out, Lighthouse Trails learned that Corban had invited an emergent speaker, Dan Merchant (Lord Save Us From Your Followers) to speak. In a December 2008 LT article titled “Concerns Over ‘Lord Save Us From Your Followers’ Author Speaking at Corban College,” it stated:
In Corban’s Winter 2008 magazine the following is stated: “Dr. Kent Kersey [Corban campus pastor] brought Dan Merchant and his documentary, Lord Save Us From Your Followers, to campus as a conversation-starter. The film takes a critical look at American Christianity.” A Corban news article titled “Lord, Save Us From Your Followers’ gets ‘followers’ thinking” explains that Merchant spoke at Corban’s chapel service and later answered questions students had. “Campus Pastor Kent Kersey hoped the film would ’cause discussions.’ He deemed the event successful, therefore, because many classrooms have been abuzz since Merchant’s presentation, not to mention the informal conversations taking place.” The article said that Kersey believed “the message of the movie paralleled the maxim of St. Francis of Assisi, Preach the Gospel.” On Kersey’s blog, he says Merchant’s message is “compelling” and perhaps through it God is trying to say something to Christians (Kersey’s blog post was removed from the Internet: http://kentkersey.blogspot.com/2008/10/its-all-about-listening.html).
However, the gospel Dan Merchant is promoting may be a “different gospel” and “another Jesus” (II Cor. 11:4) than that of the Bible. In the last chapter of the book Lord Save Us From Your Followers titled “The sea refuses NO RIVER,” Merchant refers to the people he interviewed over the course of the last few years. They represent many different religious, sexual, and political persuasions, including atheists and practicing homosexuals. Calling them “wonderful children of God,” he adds: “I know we’re both children of God. If they don’t know it shouldn’t change anything for me and I know it doesn’t change anything for God.”
Back in 2008, if you typed the term “Spiritual Formation” into the Corban search engine, nothing would come up. Today, the term comes up around 30 times. One of the reasons is that when Corban became a university, they developed a Masters degree program with a concentration in Spiritual Formation. It’s in other places too, like the Major in Student and Family Ministry where TH463 Biblical Spiritual Formation is one of the courses. (Incidentally, there is no such thing as “Biblical” Spiritual Formation. Spiritual Formation is a term that is tied in with contemplative spirituality – just ask Richard Foster, a pioneer of the Spiritual Formation movement, if Spiritual Formation can exclude contemplative).
And today, a look at the Fall 2013 Corban textbook list is disheartening to say the least. Professor Kersey is using Phyllis Tickle’s The Great Emergence, John Franke’s Barth for Arm Chair Theologians (Barth’s ideas are highly favored by the emerging church) and Marcus Borg’s The Heart of Christianity in TH413. You can’t get more emergent than Tickle and Borg. Borg actually denies basic tenets of the Christian faith such as the virgin birth and the deity of Christ. Tickle thinks Brian McLaren could be the next Luther. Professor Kersey also uses textbooks by John Piper, a contemplative advocate. At least one other course, IS202, is using a Piper book as well.
We did thankfully notice in the Fall 2013 textbook list that Dr. Wright is still using A Time of Departing in his World Religions & Cults Class at Corban. However, all of the books being used that are pro-contemplative, pro-emerging in other classes at Corban by other professors send a message loud and clear to Corban students that contemplative/emerging is OK. Another example is the Senior Seminar course where Professor Gilbert is using Dan Allender’s book Leading With a Limp. Allender resonates with Brian McLaren (McLaren is listed in the acknowledgements in Leading With a Limp). Gilbert also uses a book by Allender in the Group Dynamics course (To Be Told: God Invites You to Coauthor Your Future).
Corban professors may defend themselves and say they are just using these books to take the good from them and leave out the bad (following Baker’s injunction not to “throw out the baby with the bathwater”). But why do students have to be immersed in heresy to spot it? Wouldn’t reading the Word and biblically solid books do a better job? Why is it that after a decade Ray Yungen’s book is still confined to just one professor’s class? We know for a fact that a high percentage of Corban students are attending an extremely contemplative/emerging church in Salem, Oregon. These students are getting it from every direction. Do their parents, who are paying high dollars to get their children a Christian college education, realize what their kids are being exposed to at church and at college? Most of them, probably not.
The Corban Music Department has been affected by contemplative/emerging spirituality too. In MU403, a book by Constance Cherry titled The Worship Architect: A Blueprint for Designing Culturally Relevant and Biblically Faithful Services is being used as the textbook. Cherry is one of the faculty at the Robert E. Webber Institute for Worship Studies (that should be called the Institute for EMERGING Worship Studies). The late Robert Webber was a foundational figure in building momentum for the emerging church.
We could give many other examples to show that contemplative/emerging has taken root at Corban University. A few more are: Biblical Leadership in Education using Phil Yancey’s book, The Jesus I Never Knew; BA593 using Peter Drucker’s The Effective Executive; Professor Baker in CM333 using contemplative Mark DeVries’ Sustainable Youth Ministry; CM641 using Bill Hybels Axiom; and CM501 using textbooks by contemplative Bruce Demarest (Seasons of the Soul and Four Views on Christian Spirituality).
Finally, we’ll look at a Corban class called Servant Leadership (a term largely used in the emerging church to liken Jesus to a good model or servant to follow rather than to a Savior from sin). In that particular class, a book titled The Servant: A Simple Story by James C. Hunter is the textbook. We could say many things about this book, but we’ll just point to the acknowledgements page where Hunter thanks emergent Tony Campolo and New Ager M. Scott Peck for their “skills in articulating some of the great truths of life” and “Simon, monk and archabbey librarian, St. Meinrad Monastery, St. Meinrad, Indiana for sharing “the ropes” of monastic life” with him. We find it astounding that Hunter’s book is the best Corban could do to teach students how to be good leaders. A book that thanks a Catholic Benedictine monastic monk, an emergent leader, and a New Ager for truths about life!
Lighthouse Trails editors find it nothing short of a tragedy that Corban has ended up in the contemplative minefield of Christian colleges. Now that they are partnering with Mark Driscoll, the descent into apostasy will no doubt be hastened more than ever.
Research Articles on Mark Driscoll (see video below):
This video is a segment from the powerful, hard-hitting The Submerging Church 2 DVD documentary by Good Fight Ministries.
Recently, a reader brought to our attention a new development within the emerging church – the Cana Initiative, a think tank comprised of “faith-engaged organizations, individuals, institutions and networks.” On the Cana Initiative website, it states:
The CANA Initiative seeks to create a healthy ecosystem for connection among existing and emerging individuals, organizations, and networks and will serve as an influential “network of networks.” The CANA Initiative is comprised of Roman Catholic, Evangelical, Mainline Protestant, Orthodox, and other Christians who believe the future for Christian life and mission will be different in many ways from the past and present. . . . The CANA Initiative seeks to support and encourage what is often called Emergence Christianity.
Interestingly, the first meeting that the CANA Initiative is holding is actually wrapping up today, November 21st, and is being held at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC. (an Episcopal church). We posted an unrelated (but maybe actually related) article this past October titled “National Cathedral Leader: ‘Homophobia’ a Sin; Same-Sex Marriages Will Be Performed.”
On the CANA website (started and managed by Doug Pagitt according to Domain Tools.com), it talks about how the last two decades have brought out many “emerging expressions of Christian faith across the entire religious landscape”1 (translated, that means interspiritual). It was just about 15 years ago that Leadership Network (under Peter Drucker’s protégée, Bob Buford) gathered together a group of young Christian men (first calling them the Young Leaders Network) and began the Terra Nova project (see chapter 2 of Faith Undone for more about Terra Nova). Some of those men were: Mark Driscoll, Brian McLaren, Dan Kimball, Chris Seay, Tony Jones, and Doug Pagitt. Eventually, the group broke away from Leadership Network and became what is known as Emergent. While they did not all stay together as the years past, today, they are all advocates for contemplative spirituality (worth noting).
According to CANA Initiative, “A number of innovative leaders have emerged over recent decades. They have taken big risks and made big sacrifices. Around them, Progressive, Emergence, and Missional networks have taken shape.” CANA has a pretty hefty list of these leaders, and CANA may be the first time they have made such a major effort to come together in a more organized fashion. We’re quite confident that atonement rejector Brian McLaren is at a top level of this organizing. In May of 2013, we posted an article titled “Brian McLaren ask for significant cash for mystery project.” That article stated:
On his blog [on May 22, 2013], Brian McLaren is making a mysterious appeal for money. Not just a few dollars, but big, bodacious financial support from those with deep pockets. What’s it for? Brian won’t say, but if you want to contribute, you could email him at a special “happy to help” address.
On McLaren’s blog, he stated with regard to this request for money: “Grace [his wife] and I recently decided to make a significant financial investment in building some behind-the-scenes support structures for this movement to take its next steps. I think the time is ripe. I’m looking for some people to join in this initiative.” Later, in another posting, McLaren stated: “We’re considering the name CANA . . . (Potential Name: CANA Initiative).”2
When you think of the negative impact (from a biblical point of view) Brian McLaren, Doug Pagitt, Tony Jones, and a number of other emergent figures have had, it’s scary to think of the further impact this new CANA initiative could have on many, especially many young people. Thanks to the big bucks, the huge media attention, an early endorsement and promotion by big name figures like Bill Hybels and Rick Warren, and publishing companies whose support they have enjoyed, the Emergent pioneers are “alive and well.” We knew they had not gone away. That is why we have always disputed the notion that the emerging church was a passing fad that has dissipated. A case in point, two years ago when John MacArthur said the emerging church was in “disarray and decline,” we were compelled to speak up in our article, “John MacArthur Says Emerging Church in “Disarray and Decline” – Evidence Shows Differently.” We’re not really sure why MacArthur and others have thought that the emerging church was dead. It made no sense. For one thing, the main driving force behind the emerging church is contemplative mystical prayer. And sadly, that is NOT in disarray and decline. On the contrary, contemplative spirituality has, for the most part, entered almost every evangelical Protestant denomination and almost every Christian seminary and college (Richard Foster and Dallas Willard having been at the forefront of bringing it in).
The emerging church may have a greater end they are seeking than contemplative prayer (that greater end being total unity and oneness among all of humanity), but they cannot get there without getting a critical mass of people to have a change of consciousness, which can come speedily through meditative experiences (altered states). Unbeknownst to these emerging change agents (perhaps some of them do know), they have fallen prey to the devil’s end-time plan to bring total unity and oneness among all humanity for one purpose – so he can be worshipped by the world as God: ” that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world (Revelation 12:9).
If you want to understand where the emerging/emergent/contemplative/progressive church is heading and how they are going to get there, just read the chapter by chapter synopsis of Faith Undone. Pay attention to the sections that talk about the denial of the atonement of Jesus Christ for our sins and the kingdom of God on earth now (prior to Christ’s return) being established. We don’t know how much money Brian McLaren and his wife donated to kick off the new initiative, but we do know he and the others means business. Watch in the future to see how many books are published by CANA initiators. In the past decade, numerous publishers have provided ample platform for McLaren and the others. Some of the more outstanding publishers catering to emergent have been: Wiley & Sons, Zondervan, Thomas Nelson, Baker (Emersion Books), Intervarsity Press, and NavPress. McLaren’s most recent book, Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road?: Christian Identity in a Multi-Faith World and his 2014 upcoming book We Make the Road by Walking: A Year-Long Quest for Spiritual Formation, Reorientation, and Activation are examples of what we have to look forward to from these CANA Initiators.
Here are some of the names and photos of “Initiators” of the CANA Initiative. If you type in any of these names in our search engine at the top right of this blog, you can find background information on most of them:
Lighthouse Trails has watched in dismay over the past few years as Charles Stanley’s In Touch magazine has made the decision to promote contemplative/emergent names. When our editors picked up a copy of the August 2013 issue and saw a feature article written by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, we decided to call In Touch Ministries to find out who was responsible for the content in the magazine. Sadly, the response we received from the editorial department at In Touch left us with a sinking feeling that the evangelical church has been seduced and there was no turning back.
We’ll talk about the phone call in a minute but first a look at Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove.
In June of 2011, Lighthouse Trails free lance writer Mike Stanwood wrote “Contemplative Spirituality Lands on Charles Stanley’s In Touch Magazine . . . Again.” In this article, it was revealed that in the January 2011 In Touch magazine issue, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove was featured in an article written by In Touch Managing Editor Cameron Lawrence. That article, titled “The Craft of Stability: Discovering the Ancient Art of Staying Put,” highlighted the “ intentional Christian community” at the Rutba House (Wilson-Hartgrove’s home) and their “daily prayer routine.” The In Touch article stated that Rutba House is an evangelical community rooted in the Protestant tradition and that Wilson-Hartgrove is an ordained Baptist minister, yet it also reported that Rutba’s community principles are borrowed from Benedictine monks and that all of their efforts are based on St. Benedict’s “rule of life.”
In Stanwood’s article, he points out that Wilson-Hartgrove is part of the “New Monasticism” movement within the emerging church. To help you understand just how serious this situation is with Charles Stanley and his ministry, read this following section of Stanwood’s article:
Wilson-Hartgrove is most recently known for co-authoring Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals with new monastic activist Shane Claiborne. Other books he has authored may also fall into the emerging/contemplative category. For example, one such book called New Monasticism: What It Has to Say to Today’s Church (1) has been endorsed by mystic proponents Brian McLaren, Phyllis Tickle, Tony Campolo, and Catholic priest and centering prayer advocate Richard Rohr. The mystics resonate with the “new monasticism” – this is plain to see.
On the surface, the new monasticism may look OK with its many good works of helping the poor and the needy. But the underlying belief system does not line up with biblical doctrine; rather it is about establishing an all-inclusive kingdom of God on earth now where individual salvation is replaced with a community salvation for the whole world. Atonement has less emphasis on Jesus Christ as the only atonement for man’s sins and instead becomes an at-one-ment where all of creation is “being” saved by coming together as one (and yes, seeing the divinity of man). This is the kind of “atonement” that McLaren, Tickle, and Rohr would resonate with.
It is important to see that they don’t just resonate with the good works coming out of the new monasticism; born-again Christians have been performing good works by helping the poor and needy for centuries and continue to do so. While this new monasticism supposedly distinguishes itself by its good works, in reality it is mysticism and the foundational beliefs of mysticism (i.e., panentheism, kingdom now, etc) that distinguish it. And it is that element that Tickle, McLaren, and Rohr embrace.
Additional resources on Wilson-Hartgrove’s website include a DVD called Discovering Christian Classics: 5 Sessions in the Ancient Faith of Our Future, a five-week study with contemplative advocate Lauren F. Winner (Girl Meets God) for high school or adult “formation.” A description of this DVD states:
“You will discover the meaning of conversion and prayer from the Desert Fathers and Mothers; how to love from the sermons of St. John Chrysostom; St. Benedict’s Rule of Life and how it became one of the foundations of Western Christian spirituality; how to have an intimate relationship with God according to The Cloud of Unknowing; and what it means to ‘pick up your cross” in the Imitation of Christ by Thomas A. Kempis.’”
Another book Wilson-Hartgrove has authored, called The Wisdom of Stability: Rooting Faith in a Mobile Culture, refers readers to the wisdom of Lao-tzu, the desert monastics, Thomas Merton, Benedictine spirituality, panentheist and interspiritualist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, and Benedictine nun Joan Chittister.
In a Beliefnet interview one year ago, Wilson-Hartgrove shared how “we need the wisdom of those who’ve gone before us.” This wisdom he is referring to comes not from the Bible, but from the contemplative “Benedictines (who) taught us to start the day with common prayer.”1
After seeing what is at the core of Wilson-Hartgrove’s spiritual wisdom, it is not surprising to learn that he recently made an appearance at the [very emergent] Wild Goose Festival .2 According to an article in the Christian Post, the Wild Goose Festival was a “four-day revival camp in North Carolina featuring music, yoga, liberal talk and embracing of gays and lesbians.”
The fact is, anyone who is drawn to Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, as Wilson-Hartgrove is, has got to be following a different spirit and another gospel or at the very least greatly deceived. Chardin, who is attributed to the term “cosmic Christ,” did not hide the fact in his writings that he believed, not in the Christ of the Bible, but a christ consciousness in every human being.
While we do not challenge Wilson-Hartgrove’s sincerity or concern for the poor and needy, we must challenge his consistent promotion of contemplative mystics and emergent leaders, and he certainly does not seem like a proper fit with In Touch Ministries, that is unless In Touch is going emerging. The reason we say this about Wilson-Hartgrove’s sincerity has to do with the phone call we had with two editors of the editorial staff of In Touch magazine on July 24, 2013. One of the editors we spoke with was Cameron Lawrence, the Editor in Chief (and also the one who wrote the 2011 In Touch article featuring Wilson-Hartgrove). Lawrence asked us if we had ever spoken with Wilson-Hartgrove personally, suggesting that he was a sincere man who lived out the Gospel by helping the needy. We answered him by stating that the issue at hand was not a private matter but rather a public issue because Wilson-Hartgrove is a public figure (books, conferences, articles, etc). We said that it did not matter what he might say in a private conversation, but it did matter what he was teaching others. And it mattered greatly that In Touch was promoting him.
When we spoke with Cameron Lawrence, we told him we wanted to know who was responsible for putting the article by Wilson-Hartgrove in the magazine to which he told us “the entire editorial staff” made the decision. We asked him if he would be interested in seeing some of our documentation to which he answered, “I have been on the Lighthouse Trails website, and I didn’t find it helpful.” The other editor we spoke with, who wished to remain anonymous, said it sounded like we were on a “witch hunt” to which we responded, “No, we are part of a Gospel-protection effort.”
At times like this, it is difficult not to become discouraged by the lack of interest in Christian intelligentsia and leadership regarding the contemplative/emerging issue. What more can we say to show them what seems so obvious to ourselves and many other Bible believing contenders of the faith? A number of years ago, when the Be Still DVD (a contemplative infomercial) came out and we saw Charles Stanley’s name in the credits as someone who supported the DVD, we contacted his ministry and spoke with a personal assistant. He accepted our offer for a free copy of A Time of Departing but said that Charles Stanley would be too busy to read it.
If the mystics whom Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove gravitates to are right, then Jesus’ words that He is the only Way to the Father are wrong. You can’t have it both ways. The opposite view – the contemplative – is that God is in all things, including all people. This is what all mystics believe, across the board. And if that were true, then the need for a Savior would vanish, and there wouldn’t be any need for “one way” to God because man is already indwelled with God and a part of God.
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. John 14:6
1. New Monasticism & The Emergent Church: FS Talks with Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove: http://blog.beliefnet.com/flunkingsainthood/2010/06/new-monasticism-the-emergent-church-fs-talks-with-jonathan-wilson-hartgrove.html.
2. Learn more about the Wild Goose Festival here: Left-Leaning ‘Wild Goose’ Festival Draws Ire of Evangelicals
Conference Alert: Philip Yancey and InterVarsity Press Join Emergents McLaren and Tickle at Wildgoose Festival
This year, from August 8th through 11th, the Wildgoose Festival will take place in Hot Springs, North Carolina. The festival is an emergent “church” event, which since its inception has included on the speaker list names like Brian McLaren, Phyllis Tickle, Jim Wallis, Richard Rohr, and Tony Jones. This year, Christianity Today editor and popular evangelical author Philip Yancey will join McLaren, Tickle, and a number of other hardcore emergent at the festival. Intervarsity Press, a long-standing evangelical publisher, is one of the sponsors helping to finance the event.
The Wildgoose Festival began in 2011, started by a group of North Americans who had been attending a festival in the UK called Greenbelt1 and were “inspired” to begin a similar event in the U.S. A history statement reads:
A place to meet each other in a renewed moment – a space for change. In the spirit of vibrant, category-defying Celtic Christianity, we saw our desire embodied in the Celtic Church’s way of speaking about the enigmatic Holy Spirit: The Wild Goose, who wanders where she will. Who can tame her? No one. Far better it is to embark on a Wild Goose Chase, and see the terrain of our faith be transformed.
Translated, what that means is that Christianity cannot be defined, or confined, to one particular set of beliefs (doctrine), that it is always changing, always transforming (thus the Bible, as Phyllis Tickles says, is a nice poetic book of beautiful stories, but not an authority from God). This has been the mantra-cry of the emergent church (see Faith Undone for a history of the current emergent church). Today, the emergent church has evolved into a full-blown Eastern-style mysticism-energized, quasi-Marxist, liberal, anti-atonement, pro-homosexual marriage “community.”
Joining Yancey, McLaren, Phyllis Tickle, and Intervarsity Press will be Richard Cizik (formerly in leadership at the National Association of Evangelicals but left after showing support for homosexual marriage), Troy Bronsink, Mark Scandrette (see Faith Undone on Bronsink and Scandrette), Ian Morgan Cron, and a fairly large number of other emergent-embracing speakers. Past speakers have included Lynne Hybels, the now late Richard Twiss (Indigenous People’s Movement), and Doug Pagitt.
The point we want to make in this brief conference alert is that when you have one of the most prolific evangelical authors and an editor of THE Christian magazine – Philip Yancey – along with a formerly traditional evangelical publishing company – Intervarsity Press – participating in an event like the Wildgoose Festival, you can see how much the emergent church has influenced and infiltrated evangelical Christianity. And even still, Christian leaders and most pastors remain silent.