Posts Tagged ‘pierre teilhard de chardin’

What Your Church Needs to Know Before Doing a Priscilla Shirer Study

The repetition [of a word or phrase] can in fact be soothing and very freeing, helping us, as Nouwen says, “to empty out our crowded interior life and create the quiet space where we can dwell with God.”—Jan Johnson, When the Soul Listens, p. 93

Years ago, I got a chance to meet Jan Johnson. . . . I was encouraged and redirected in so many ways. As a young woman trying to navigate the ins and outs of my relationship with the Lord, Ms. Jan spoke wisdom into my life that was extremely pivotal in my life—personally and in ministry.—Priscilla Shirer (emphasis added; http://www.goingbeyond.com/blog/wisbits; quoted in 2010 and still up on Shirer’s website)

Priscilla Shirer

This week, our office received a call from a woman who was concerned that her church is going to be doing a study using material by Priscilla Shirer. Our caller wanted to get some information she can show her pastor as to why her church should not be doing a Priscilla Shirer study. Because Priscilla Shirer is a contemplative proponent, we concur with our caller’s concerns. In John Lanagan’s booklet,  Beth Moore & Priscilla Shirer – Their History of Contemplative Prayer,Lanagan shows how both Moore and Shirer have been advocates of contemplative spirituality for quite some time. In that booklet, and this is what we want to focus on in this article, Lanagan discusses a woman named Jan Johnson. Because Priscilla Shirer embraces and has gleaned spiritually from Johnson, we need to take a closer look at what Johnson believes.

We first heard about Jan Johnson in Ray Yungen’s book A Time of Departing where Yungen explains:

Spiritual director Jan Johnson, in her book When the Soul Listens: Finding Rest and Direction in Contemplative Prayer, is a perfect example of an evangelical Christian who endorses and promotes this practice [contemplative prayer]. She leaves no doubt about what this type of prayer entails:

“Contemplative prayer, in its simplest form, is a prayer in which you still your thoughts and emotions and focus on God Himself. This puts you in a better state to be aware of God’s presence, and it makes you better able to hear God’s voice, correcting, guiding, and directing you.” [emphasis added]

Johnson’s explanation of the initial stages of contemplative prayer leaves no doubt that “stilling” your thoughts means only one thing; she explains:

“In the beginning, it is usual to feel nothing but a cloud of unknowing. . . . If you’re a person who has relied on yourself a great deal to know what’s going on, this unknowing will be unnerving. [emphasis added] (Ray Yungen, A Time of Departing, 2nd ed., p. 82.)

When Johnson talks about stilling the mind in order to experience God’s presence and hear His voice, she is referring to something that is universal with mystics—putting the mind into a neutral, altered state where one is not aware of the distractions around him. This inner stillness can only be achieved through some type of meditative practice (see Johnson’s quote at top of this article), which in the case of “Christian” mystics is contemplative prayer. For those of you unfamiliar with contemplative jargon, the “cloud of unknowing” is taken from a small book of the same name, written by an anonymous monk several hundred years ago. The book is a primer on contemplative prayer and in it instructs:

Take just a little word, of one syllable rather than of two . . .  With this word you are to strike down every kind of thought under the cloud of forgetting. (The Cloud of Unknowing)

This is describing a mantra-style practice, no different than that used in eastern meditation. It is interesting that Jan Johnson says the effect of this type of prayer is “unnerving.” Webster’s Dictionary defines unnerving as “inspiring fear.” This reminds us of another contemplative teacher, Richard Foster, who suggested that people pray prayers of protection before practicing contemplative prayer in order to avoid an evil encounter. But where in Scripture is prayer to God described as inspiring fear or something that needs prayers of protection first? Nowhere. That’s not how God’s Word defines prayer.

Jan Johnson

In Jan Johnson’s book, Invitation to the Jesus Life: Experiments in Christlikeness, Johnson shows her resonance with a number of contemplative figures with quotes by and references to them.  One particular name that jumps out is New Age sympathizer Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. Read a few quotes by Chardin and then ask yourself, why would a Christian author (Johnson) be drawn to someone with these views:

What I am proposing to do is to narrow that gap between pantheism and Christianity by bringing out what one might call the Christian soul of pantheism or the pantheist aspect of Christianity.—Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Christianity and Evolution, p. 56

Now I realize that, on the model of the incarnate God whom Christianity reveals to me, I can be saved only by becoming one with the universe. Thereby, too, my deepest ‘pantheist’ aspirations are satisfied.—Chardin, Christianity and Evolution, p. 128.

I believe that the Messiah whom we await, whom we all without any doubt await, is the universal Christ; that is to say, the Christ of evolution.—Chardin, Christianity and Evolution, p. 95.

Johnson’s 2016 book Meeting God in Scripture: A Hands-On Guide to Lectio Divina leads readers in lectio divina meditations. Lectio Divina is used today as a gateway practice into contemplative mystical prayer. In her book, Johnson provides a section titled  “Relax and Refocus (silencio)”  which is instruction to readers on how to get rid of mental distractions when trying to practice lectio divina:

Each exercise begins with brief guidance to slow down, quiet your inner self and let go of distracting thoughts. . . . focusing on God. A way to interrupt this [mental] traffic is to focus on being present in the moment by breathing in and out deeply— even overbreathing. It also helps to relax our body parts one by one: bending the neck, letting the arms go limp, relaxing the legs and ankles. Loosen each part from the inside out. This doesn’t mean you’re setting aside your mind— you’re redirecting your mind away from the busyness that often consumes you. Being present in the moment prepares you to wait on the still, small voice of God. If you are distracted, you may want to try the palms up, palms down method. Rest your hands in your lap, placing your hands palms down as a symbol of turning over any concerns you have. If a nagging thought arises, turn your hands palms up as a “symbol of your desire to receive from the Lord.” [Foster] If you become distracted at any time during meditation, repeat the exercise. (Meeting God in Scripture, Kindle version, Kindle location 102)

To back up her teaching on practicing contemplative meditation and finding that inner stillness of the mind, Johnson turns to several contemplative teachers in Meeting God in Scripture. Sadly, God and Scripture are not the only things readers are going to meet when they read this book by Johnson. They will also meet Richard Foster, Dallas Willard, Henri Nouwen, and David Benner. Other books Johnson has written have the same caliber.  A few of those titles are:  Spiritual Disciplines Companion: Bible Studies and Practices to Transform Your Soul, Enjoying the Presence of God: Discovering Intimacy with God in the Daily Rhythms of Life, Abundant Simplicity: Discovering the Unhurried Rhythms of Grace, and Renovation of the Heart in Daily Practice: Experiments in Spiritual Transformation (Willard and Johnson). She has written several others books which carry the same message: you’ve got to have the inner mental silence to really know God (something Beth Moore has said too—in the Be Still DVD).

We could give several more examples of Johnson’s embracing contemplative spirituality. You won’t find much that she has written that doesn’t include this element. In one article on her website titled “What Is Solitude & Why Do I Need It? or . . . Turn Up the Quiet,” she quotes panentheist Thomas Merton from his book New Seeds of Contemplation. Why does Jan Johnson keep referring to contemplative mystics in her writings? There can only be one answer to that question—because she resonates with them.

Conclusion

As noted at the beginning of this article, Priscilla Shirer “was encouraged and redirected in so many ways” when she met Jan Johnson. She added that Johnson “spoke wisdom into [Priscilla’s] life that was extremely pivotal in [her] life—personally and in ministry.” Shirer said these words in 2010 and has left them up on her website to this day. Obviously, she still feels this way about Johnson. In Shirer’s popular book 2006/2012 Discerning the Voice of God, she favorably quotes Jan Johnson twice from When the Soul Listens. Shirer also quotes contemplatives Joyce Huggett and Phil Yancey in Discerning the Voice of God. Shirer clearly has been influenced by Jan Johnson as she admits herself.

We’ll close with this: On Priscilla Shirer’s website, where she talks about meeting Jan Johnson, she also includes an article by Johnson who is quoting panentheist Catholic priest Richard Rohr (founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation) from his book Everything Belongs (meaning everything and everyone is part of God). Rohr’s spirituality would be in the same camp as someone like Episcopalian panentheist Matthew Fox (author of The Coming of the Cosmic Christ). Rohr wrote the foreword to a book called How Big is Your God? by Jesuit priest (from India) Paul Coutinho. In Coutinho’s book, he describes an interspiritual community where people of all religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, and Christianity) worship the same God. For Rohr to write the foreword to such a book, he would have to agree with Coutinho’s views. On Rohr’s website, he has an article titled “Cosmic Christ.” One need not look too far into Rohr’s teachings and website to see he is indeed promoting the same Cosmic Christ as Matthew Fox – this is the “christ” whose being they say lives in every human—this, of course, would nullify the need for atonement by a savior. Lighthouse Trails has written numerous times about Rohr as he is aggressively pushing his panentheistic mystical spirituality into the evangelical church. If everything you have read in this article has not persuaded you to steer clear of Shirer’s studies, then this should do it, hands down. The fact that she keeps the post about Rohr on her website should alarm all Bible-believing Christians and illustrates the spiritual affinity Priscilla Shirer is drawn to.

Before your church does a Priscilla Shirer study, please keep in mind the things you have read in this article. Contemplative prayer has roots in panentheism  (God is in all) and interspirituality (all paths lead to God) as you can read in Ray Yungen’s article “The Final Outcome of Practicing Contemplative Prayer: Interspirituality.” Do you really want your church influenced in any way by a spirituality that is so against the Cross? Are we saying Priscilla Shirer is necessarily against the Cross? No, but for someone who wrote a book on how to discern the voice of God, she sure isn’t showing any discernment in the voices that she herself is listening to and being persuaded by.

** 100th BOOKLET FROM LIGHTHOUSE TRAILS! ** Leonard Sweet—A More Magnificent Way of Seeing Christ?

BKT-SWEET-sEditor’s Introduction Note: It is very fitting that our 100th Booklet is about emerging-church leader Leonard Sweet. Many of you may not know who he is or know very little about him, but his influence in the church has been significant. He is a prolific author who has been writing popular books since the 1990s, has worked closely with many Christian leaders such as Rick Warren, and has been very involved in teaching college-age evangelical students.

Sweet is currently organizing and co-hosting an event in Germany taking place in October called Luther 2017. Sweet has brought on board with him at the event Christian figures including Dr. George Wood, head of the Assemblies of God denomination, Dr. Gustavo Crocker, one of the General Superintendents of the Church of the Nazarene, Dr. Jo Anne Lyons, head of the Wesleyan denomination, Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, and several other major Christian leaders from around the world.

Important to note is Sweet’s newest book, Jesus Speaks, published by the same publisher (Thomas Nelson) as Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling and released this past summer. Jesus Speaks is touted by Sweet and co-author Frank Viola as “the practical sequel” to Jesus Calling that “gives you the practical steps to have your own ‘Jesus Calling’ experience.” As Warren B. Smith has documented in his book “Another Jesus” Calling, the Jesus in Jesus Calling is a false Christ.

And so the great deception happening in the church today continues. Popular proclaiming Christians introducing believers and unbelievers alike to false Christs and a “more magnificent way of seeing Christ” but, sadly, a way that does not point people to the true Jesus Christ at all. Once you read this booklet below, you will understand the direction Leonard Sweet is taking the church and why this cannot be ignored.

NEW BOOKLET: Leonard Sweet—A More Magnificent Way of Seeing Christ? by Warren B. Smith is our newest Lighthouse Trails Booklet Tract.  The Booklet is 18 pages long and sells for $1.95 for single copies. Quantity discounts are as much as 50% off retail. Our Booklets are designed to give away to others or for your own personal use. Below is the content of the booklet. To order copies of Leonard Sweet—A More Magnificent Way of Seeing Christ?, click here. 

Leonard Sweet—A More Magnificent Way of Seeing Christ?

By Warren B. Smith

To survive in postmodern culture, one has to learn to speak out of both sides of the mouth.1
—Leonard Sweet

Who is Leonard Sweet?

Leonard Sweet is an ordained Methodist minister who is presently the E. Stanley Jones Professor of Evangelism at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey. He is also a visiting distinguished professor at George Fox University in Portland, Oregon. On his various websites, he is described as a “scholar of American culture” who has authored over 60 books and 200 articles and has published over 1500 sermons. A “Phi Beta Kappa graduate,” he is a “frequent speaker at national and international conferences, state conventions, pastor’s schools, retreats” and “serves as a consultant to many of America’s denominational leaders and agencies.” Descriptive terms such as “distinguished,” “most influential,” “widely quoted,” “highly sought after,” and “the Picasso of Preaching” give visitors to his website the distinct impression that this is a man they should definitely pay attention to. And many people are doing just that.

Day-to-day believers may or may not be familiar with Leonard Sweet, but many in Christian leadership are very familiar with this self-described “semiotician.” According to his website, a semiotician is someone who “sees things the rest of us do not see and dreams possibilities that are beyond most of our imagining.” And as a “cultural futurist” and “Christ follower,” he seems to be very comfortable assuming the role of a postmodern prophet who provides hip observations of what is and what will be. His mission is to help the church become more culturally relevant in the 21st century. However, as he attempts to walk the narrow line between the Gospel and the world, he frequently walks over that line into the false teachings of the New Age/New Spirituality. When he does, legitimate questions need to be raised about what he is doing.

In June 2010, Sweet became the object of a swirling controversy, and his name suddenly disappeared from the list of scheduled speakers at a National Worship Conference taking place in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The controversy centered around the New Age implications of many of the quotes and teachings found in his 1991 book Quantum Spirituality: A Post Modern Apologetic. Prior to the conference, a number of people were starting to ask pertinent questions about Sweet and what he was teaching. In my 2009 book A “Wonderful” Deception, I wrote three chapters on Leonard Sweet and the obvious New Age implications of what he was teaching. In the first chapter on Sweet, I described some of my initial impressions regarding this man, and in particular, his book Quantum Spirituality:

Highly intellectual and well-read, Leonard Sweet almost dares you to keep up with him as he charges through the spiritual marketplace. Operating at lightning speed and quoting from countless books and articles, he will impress many readers with his quick wit and spiritual insights. However, as he treacherously dives into New Age waters and challenges his readers to go there with him, serious problems arise within his “postmodern apologetic.”

In reading Quantum Spirituality, I recalled the Sermon on the Mount when Jesus warned that you can’t serve two masters (Matthew 6:24). Leonard Sweet may be a professing evangelical Christian, but he also simultaneously praises New Age authors and their teachings.2

Sweet’s “Response” to Critics

Keenly aware of the controversy he has created, Sweet has a statement prominently posted on his present home website titled—“A Response to Recent Misunderstandings.” While his attempt to explain himself might satisfy the uninformed reader, his “Response” does not address the specifics of what he has written and is actually teaching. His simplistic denunciation of the New Age is unconvincing. His statement that the “New Age rhymes with sewage” and his encouraging the use of a “daily ritual of starting the day by standing in front of a mirror and saying: “God is God and I am not” do not speak to the fact that he has never even addressed, much less renounced, the specific New Age teachings that he was otherwise appearing to deny and disparage. And his stating “back when the New Age was a movement” completely misses the fact that the New Age movement never went away. Those of us who came out of New Age teachings and have been observing the New Age over the past several decades know that contrary to Sweet’s claims, the New Age movement has actually grown exponentially and is now mainstream and an inherent part of our culture. Due to its continued wide-spread growth and influence, the New Age threat to the church (and the world) is larger than ever before. But now it is just hiding in plain sight behind the facade of other names like “New Spirituality,” “New Worldview,” or in Sweet’s case—the “New Light” teachings of a “Quantum Spirituality.” But by any other name a rose is still a rose and the New Age is still the New Age.

Because Sweet’s “A Response to Recent Misunderstandings” left so many unanswered questions and because of his continued influence in the church, it seems imperative that thoughtful Christians take a deeper look at what Leonard Sweet is really teaching. For starters, here are five immediate concerns to consider.

FIVE IMMEDIATE CONCERNS

1) Leonard Sweet teaches the New Age doctrine of “Immanence” that would have the church believe God is “in” everyone and everything

In her 1948 book The Reappearance of the Christ, New Age matriarch Alice Bailey and her spirit guide Djwhal Khul describe how the path to their New Age God will be based on an “immanent” God that is “within every form of life”:

. . . a fresh orientation to divinity and to the acceptance of the fact of God Transcendent and of God Immanent within every form of life. These are the foundational truths upon which the world religion of the future will rest.3 (emphasis added)

Likewise, in his 1980 book, The Reappearance of the Christ and the Masters of Wisdom, New Age channeler Benjamin Creme, states that the New World Religion will be based on the proposition that “Christ” is “immanent”—“in man and all creation”:

But eventually a new world religion will be inaugurated which will be a fusion and synthesis of the approach of the East and the approach of the West. The Christ will bring together, not simply Christianity and Buddhism, but the concept of God transcendent—outside of His creation—and also the concept of God immanent in all creation—in man and all creation.4 (emphasis added)

In Leonard Sweet’s 1999 book SoulTsunami—with its front cover endorsement by Rick Warren—Sweet introduces this same New Age idea of God not only being transcendent but also immanent. He writes:

To survive in postmodern culture, one has to learn to speak out of both sides of the mouth. It should not be hard, since Christianity has always insisted on having things both ways. Isn’t it based on the impossible possibility of Jesus being “beyond us, yet ourselves” (poet Wallace Stevens)? Biblical theological is not circular with a fixed center, but elliptical, revolving around the double foci of God’s immanence and God’s transcendence.5 (emphasis added)

Sweet clearly spells out what he means by “immanence” in his 1991 book Quantum Spirituality: A Postmodern Apologetic. As a self-described “radical,” he presents his “radical doctrine” that God is immanently embodied “in” His creation. He writes:

Quantum spirituality bonds us to all creation as well as to other members of the human family. . . . This entails a radical doctrine of embodiment of God in the very substance of creation. . . . But a spirituality that is not in some way entheistic (whether pan- or trans-), that does not extend to the spirit-matter of the cosmos, is not Christian.6 (emphasis added)

But Sweet’s “radical” panentheistic doctrine is a key New Age teaching—as is so much of what he wrote in Quantum Spirituality. In his “A Response to Recent Misunderstandings,” Sweet tries to dispel questions about Quantum Spirituality by saying, “Would I write the same book today? No. Would I say the same things differently? Yes. I started working on the book in my late 20s. I hope I’m older and wiser now.” But when it comes to the New Age implications of what he is teaching, he is not any wiser in regard to his previously stated New Age doctrine. In several subsequent books, Sweet reintroduces his New Age doctrine of immanence—that God is immanently embodied “in” His creation. For example, in his 1999 book Soul Tsunami, Sweet writes:

Postmodern evangelism is first of all telling people how special they are, how much God loves them, how unique each and every one of them is. The fourth-century theologian Athanasius said in one of his letters that God became one of us “that he might deify us in Himself.” Similarly, elsewhere he wrote that Christ “was made man that we might be made God.”7

In Sweet’s 2010 book Nudge: Awakening Each Other to the God Who’s Already There, he expresses in different words what he wrote in Quantum Spirituality about the “embodiment of God in the very substance of creation”:

An incarnational God means that God-stuff is found in the matter of the universe.8

In this same book he also wrote, “Nudgers help people discover their inner Jesus.”9 But God is not “in” everyone and everything. Jesus is not “in” everyone and everything. Sweet may seem to denounce the New Age, but what he is teaching is New Age. This is dangerous and unbiblical leaven. The apostle Paul lamented that it only took “a little leaven” to lure the Galatians away from the Gospel they once knew so well.

Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?  This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. (Galatians 5:7-9)

God states in the first commandment, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” The New Age “God” who is “in” everyone and everything is another “God” and therefore a false God. Contrary to Leonard Sweet’s teaching in Quantum Spirituality, God is not embodied in His creation. Contrary to his teaching in Nudge, “God-stuff” is not found in the matter of the universe, and everyone does not have an “inner Jesus.” Scripture is very clear. Man is not God because God is not “in” everyone and everything. In Jeremiah 16:20, God warned: “Shall a man make gods unto himself, and they are no gods?” In Matthew 23:12, Jesus warned, “And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.” For further scriptural references on why God is not “in” everyone and everything and how this false teaching has entered both the world and the church, see my booklet Be Still and Know that You Are Not God.

2) Leonard Sweet describes the “Father” of the New Age Movement” as “Twentieth-century Christianity’s major voice”

Sweet describes heretical Jesuit Catholic priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin—the “Father of the New Age Movement—as “Twentieth-century Christianity’s major voice.”10 In her best-selling New Age classic, The Aquarian Conspiracy, author Marilyn Ferguson describes Teilhard de Chardin as “the individual most often named as a profound influence by the Aquarian Conspirators who responded to a survey.”11 He is also the most frequently referenced New Age leader in her book. The Teilhard quote “This soul can only be a conspiracy of individuals” is found on the very first page of her book and inspired her to title her book The Aquarian Conspiracy. Ferguson wrote that “Teilhard prophesied the phenomenon central to this book: a conspiracy of men and women whose new perspective would trigger a critical contagion of change.”12

Evident in his posted “Response,” Sweet appears to be baffled by everyone’s concern about some of the things he is writing. He seems to take any criticism as a personal attack. But this criticism, if you will, is not about him personally, it is about what he is teaching. Jesus didn’t say “Get behind me Satan” to Peter because he thought Peter was Satan. He said “Get behind me Satan” because of what Peter was saying. And because Sweet describes the “Father of the New Age movement” as “Twentieth-century Christianity’s major voice,” I believe the Lord would tell Leonard Sweet the same thing today. This should become especially evident when you read the following unbiblical statements made by Teilhard de Chardin in his book Christianity and Evolution:

What I am proposing to do is to narrow that gap between pantheism and Christianity by bringing out what one might call the Christian soul of pantheism or the pantheistic aspect of Christianity.13 (emphasis added)

The cross still stands . . . But this is on one condition, and one only, that it expand itself to the dimensions of a New Age, and cease to present itself to us as primarily (or even exclusively) the sign of a victory over sin.14

I can be saved only by becoming one with the universe.15

I believe that the Messiah whom we await, whom we all without any doubt await, is the universal Christ; that is to say, the Christ of evolution.16

[I]f a Christ is to be completely acceptable as an object of worship, he must be presented as the saviour of the idea and reality of evolution.17

A general convergence of religions upon a universal Christ who fundamentally satisfies them all: that seems to me the only possible conversion of the world, and the only form in which a religion of the future can be conceived.18

Teilhard Again?

Sweet’s affection for Teilhard de Chardin surfaced again in his 1999 book Aqua Church. After quoting a strong Bible-based stanza from the hymn “Jesus Savior Pilot Me,” Sweet follows it with a very revealing quote from Teilhard de Chardin. Teilhard stated that those who “see” Christ as he does understand Christ in “a much more magnificent way” than all those who went before him:

Christ is in the Church in the same way as the sun is before our eyes. We see the same sun as our fathers saw, and yet we understand it in a much more magnificent way.19

Really? Teilhard and his followers understand Christ in a much more magnificent way than their “fathers”? More than all the martyrs? More than the original disciples? This seems to indicate that Teilhard and Sweet and their “semiotic” emergent postmodern “Christ followers” are “seeing” something about Christ that the rest of the church does not see. Would Sweet have the church believe that Chardin’s seemingly updated New Age “Christ” is the real Christ? Is the “semiotic” Sweet trying to show us that if we adopt the New Age teachings of Teilhard, we, too, will “see” Christ in a “much more magnificent way” than the Christians who came before us? Sadly, it would seem that this is so.

Sweet seems to believe that with new understandings from quantum physics, a New Age/New Gospel/New Spirituality/Quantum Spirituality would enable Christians to see Christ in a much deeper and “more magnificent way.” The church would finally understand that the science of quantum physics proves that God is an energy force that interpenetrates and embodies His creation. Therefore, we are all “connected” because we are all “God” because God is “in” everyone and everything. Sweet argues that Christians of the past weren’t ready to deal with things like quantum physics, quantum wavelengths, and the New Age implications of a Quantum Spirituality that would totally transform their faith and challenge everything they thought they knew about being a Christian. In his 2016 book Jesus Speaks, Leonard Sweet writes:

The Holy Spirit brings Jesus’ voice to life through history, theology, science, and social experience. Jesus told the disciples, “I have much more to say to you” (John 16:12). In other words, Jesus was saying, “You can’t handle everything I have to say to you right now. Some of my truth has a wavelength, and it needs time, maybe even centuries, to play itself out.20

But this implies that God’s Word is incomplete and insufficient and therefore in need of new revelation. This is simply not true. Besides, when Jesus said “I have much more to say to you, He was talking to His disciples—not to the church today. It is also important to notice how Sweet conveniently squeezed “wavelength” into his interpretation of Jesus’ words to set up his Quantum Spirituality. But Jesus wasn’t withholding spiritual insights that would have to be delivered to His people two thousand years later. This kind of false teaching is an inherent part of the New Age deception. The fact is Jesus has already given us everything we need to know in His Holy Bible.

Jesus warned of false prophets who would come in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15). And there would be those who honor Him with their lips, but their hearts would be far from Him (Matthew 15:8). He also warned of those who serve two masters (Matthew 6:24). Psalm 144:11 warns of vain men who deceive with the “right hand of falsehood.” In Psalm 12:2, David warned of those who speak with a “double heart.” In James 1:8, James taught that “a double minded man is unstable in all his ways. In 1 Timothy 3:8, Paul referred to these same men as “double-tongued.” For Leonard Sweet to exalt the “Father of the New age movement”—Teilhard de Chardin—and suggest that Teilhard’s way of seeing Christ is a “much more magnificent way” than our forefathers is to fall prey to our Adversary’s deceptive devices. One thing is for sure: The New Age movement hasn’t gone away—it has entered the church through men like Teilhard de Chardin and those like Sweet who exalt him as “Twentieth-century Christianity’s major voice.”

(3) Leonard Sweet Praises New Age leaders as his “Heroes” and “Role Models”

While some Leonard Sweet defenders argue that his postmodern “New Light” apologetic flies right over the heads of “Old Light” “fundamentalist” types, the facts tell a different story. But what one learns in reading Quantum Spirituality is that Sweet wants to transform biblical Christianity into a Quantum Spirituality that is, in reality, a New Age/New Spirituality. Without any apology, Sweet writes that he is part of a “New Light” movement, and he describes those he especially admires as “New Light leaders.” But many of Sweet’s “New Light leaders” are New Age leaders who are in the process of overturning biblical Christianity through obliging New Age sympathizers like Leonard Sweet.

Sweet’s New Age “role models and heroes”

In the acknowledgments section of Quantum Spirituality, Leonard Sweet expresses his deep gratitude and admiration to various “New Light leaders” whom he openly praises as “the most creative religious leaders in America today.” But many of these “New Light leaders” are New Age leaders. Included in this group are a number of men I was very familiar with from my years in the New Age—among them are Willis Harman, Matthew Fox, and M. Scott Peck. Sweet describes these three men—along with numerous other New Age figures cited—as “extraordinary” and “great” New Light leaders. He goes so far as to say that they are his “personal role models” and “heroes” of “the true nature of the postmodern apologetic.” Sweet writes:

They are my personal role models (in an earlier day one could get away with “heroes”) of the true nature of the postmodern apologetic. More than anyone else, they have been my teachers on how to translate, without compromising content, the gospel into the indigenous context of the postmodern vernacular.21

But many of the men and women Leonard Sweet cited have compromised the “content” of the Gospel by translating it into the “postmodern vernacular” of a New Age/New Spirituality. For example, Willis Harman, Matthew Fox, and M. Scott Peck have all played leading roles in the initial establishment and popularization of today’s New Age/New Spirituality movement. But rather than commending these New Age/New Light leaders, a self-professing Christian leader like Sweet should be warning the church about them. A brief look at these three “New Light” leaders and their teachings will make this very clear.

Willis Harman (1918-1997)

Willis Harman is listed as one of the most influential Aquarian/New Age conspirators in Marilyn Ferguson’s The Aquarian Conspiracy. Harman was a social scientist/futurist with the Stanford Research Institute and one of the chief architects of New Age thinking. He wrote the book Global Mind Change:The New Age Revolution in the Way We Think. A review by The San Francisco Chronicle on the front cover of the book reads: “There never has been a more lucid interpretation of New Age consciousness and what it promises for the future than the works of Willis Harman.”22

Matthew Fox (1940- )

Another one of Sweet’s self-described “role models” and “heroes” is Matthew Fox, a former Catholic priest who was dismissed from the Catholic church for openly professing heretical New Age teachings—teachings that include those of his revered mentor, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. Fox, like Teilhard, teaches that all of creation is the “Cosmic Christ”—therefore the Cosmic Christ is “in” everyone and everything. In his book The Coming of the Cosmic Christ, Fox writes: “Divinity is found in all creatures.”23 and “We are all royal persons, creative, godly, divine, persons of beauty and of grace. We are all Cosmic Christs, ‘other Christs.’ But what good is this if we don’t know it.”24 Leonard Sweet actually credits Fox in a footnote in Quantum Spirituality for inspiring Sweet’s own description of the “cosmic body of Christ” and actually refers readers of Quantum Spirituality to Fox’s New Age book The Coming of the Cosmic Christ.25

M. Scott Peck (1936-2005)

M. Scott Peck, the late psychiatrist and best-selling author of The Road Less Traveled, is another one of the “role models” and “heroes” that Leonard Sweet cites in his book Quantum Spirituality. The Road Less Traveled was on the New York Times best-seller list for over ten years. In a subsection of his book titled “The Evolution of Consciousness,” Peck describes God as being “intimately associated with us—so intimately that He is part of us.”26 He also writes:

If you want to know the closest place to look for grace, it is within yourself. If you desire wisdom greater than your own, you can find it inside you . . . .To put it plainly, our unconscious is God. God within us. We were part of God all the time.27

When Matthew Fox’s The Coming of the Cosmic Christ was published in 1988, the lead endorsement on the back of Fox’s book was written by M. Scott Peck. Peck and Fox were obviously in New Age agreement. Peck, like Fox and Sweet, describes Pierre Teilhard de Chardin in glowing terms. He describes Teilhard as “[p]erhaps the greatest prophet” of the “mystical,”  evolutionary leap that will take mankind toward “global consciousness” and “world community.”28 And it is this mystical New Age Christ of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Willis Harman, Matthew Fox, M. Scott Peck, and Leonard Sweet that challenges biblical Christianity today.

4) Leonard Sweet thanks New Age Leader David Spangler for helping him develop his Quantum Spirituality’s “new cell understanding of new light leadership”

If we want to possess a magic crystal for our New Age work, we need look no further than our own bodies and the cells that make them up.29—David Spangler, 1991

I am grateful to David Spangler for his help in formulating this “new cell” understanding of New Light leadership.30—Leonard Sweet, 1991

In his “A Response to Recent Misunderstandings,” Leonard Sweet states: “Because I quote someone does not mean I agree with everything that person ever wrote.” He goes on to say that “Some of the quotes I chose were meant to provide contrasting positions to my argument, some to buttress my argument, some even to mock my argument. The key consideration to whether I quoted someone was not ‘Do I agree with them?’ but ‘Does this quote energize the conversation?’ ‘Guilt by association’ is intellectually disreputable and injurious to the whole body of Christ.” But there is a big difference between “guilt by association” and “guilt by promotion.” Leonard Sweet is praising, thanking, and glorifying many of these New Age leaders—hardly guilt by association, especially when Sweet writes:

I believe these are among the most creative religious leaders in America today. These are the ones carving out new channels for new ideas to flow. In a way this book was written to guide myself through their channels and chart their progress. The book’s best ideas come from them.31

Ironically, one of the “channels” guiding him was an actual New Age channeler—David Spangler. A pioneering spokesperson for the New Age, Spangler has written numerous books over the years. His book The Revelation: The Birth of the New Age is a compilation of channeled transmissions that he received from his disembodied spirit-guide “John.” At one point in the book, Spangler documents what “John” prophesied about “the energies of the cosmic Christ” and “Oneness”:

As the energies of the Cosmic Christ become increasingly manifest within the etheric life of Earth, many individuals will begin to respond with the realization that the Christ dwells within them. They will feel his presence moving within and through them and will begin to awaken to their heritage of Christhood and Oneness with God, the Beloved.32

In a postmodern-day consultation that bears more than a casual resemblance to King Saul’s consult with the witch of Endor (1 Samuel 28), Leonard Sweet acknowledges in Quantum Spirituality that he was privately corresponding with New Age channeler David Spangler. Sweet even thanks Spangler for assisting him in forming his “new cell understanding” of “New Light leadership.”33 But as believers we are to “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness.” Rather than thanking them, we are to reprove and expose them (Ephesians 5:11).

(5) Misapplication of Quantum Physics: Trying to Draw Spiritual Truth From Physical Theory

Leonard Sweet—just like New Age leaders—tries to use Quantum Physics to prove that God indwells his creation.

The coming together of the new biology and the new physics is providing the basic metaphors for this new global civilization that esteems and encourages whole-brain experiences, full-life expectations, personalized expressions, and a globalized consciousness.34—Leonard Sweet, SoulTsunami

When we experience such a quantum of transformation, we may simultaneously feel that the whole of the New Age is happening right now, that we are on the verge of overnight transformation—the fabled quantum leap into a new state of being.35—David Spangler, Reimagination of the World

We have the epitome of a great science . . . quantum physics . . . Everyone is God.36—New Age Channeler J.Z. Knight, What the Bleep Do We Know

In his book The Tao of Physics: An Explanation of the Parallels Between Modern Physics and Eastern Mysticism, New Age physicist Fritjof Capra describes the union of mysticism and the new physics. He wrote “this kind of new spirituality is now being developed by many groups and movements, both within and outside the churches.”37 As an example of how this “new spirituality” is moving into the church, he actually cites one of Leonard Sweet’s “role models” and “heroes”—Matthew Fox.38

When Sweet refers to the new biology and the new physics as metaphors, he stretches these “metaphors” to the position of being actual fact. From his understanding of quantum physics, he asserts that all things are composed of energy and that this quantum energy must be God, hence God is embodied in all things. Yet, this metaphor falls on its face when we learn from Paul’s writings that God and creation are two separate things as is illustrated in chapter one of Romans: “Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator” (Romans 1:25). Paul further exposes the error of spiritualizing physical creation showing that all things are not God, nor are they even spiritual. As he points out, the “earthy” is only temporary and will be done away with:

So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption . . . There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. . . .  As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. . . . Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. (1 Corinthians 15:42, 44, 48, 50)

Leonard Sweet and Rick Warren’s “New Spirituality”

In their 1995 joint presentation The Tides of Change, Leonard Sweet and Rick Warren had a quantum conversation as they discussed “waves,” “quantum metaphors,” “revival,” and what they were calling—even back then—a “New Spirituality.” Sweet told Warren:

Yeah, this is a wave period. I really love that metaphor of the wave and the wavelength. First of all, it is a quantum metaphor. It brings us out of the Newtonian world into this new science.39

Quantum waves, quantum wavelengths, quantum metaphors—all leading to a universal Quantum “God” and the Quantum New Age “Christ” of a New Spirituality, a New Worldview, and ultimately a New World Religion—a New World Religion that will be based on New Age teachings that have been labeled scientific but are, in reality, “science falsely so called”:

Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. Amen. (1 Timothy 6:19-21)

Conclusion

Teilhard de Chardin, Leonard Sweet, and an ever-growing band of New Age sympathizers would have us believe that all those who preceded us in the faith were unable to “see” the big picture, because, after all, they didn’t have access to all the new scientific discoveries that we have today—scientific information that would have helped them gain the new spiritual understandings that Leonard Sweet claims to have acquired.

In that vein, Leonard Sweet, Rick Warren, and other Christian leaders are now teaching that God is in the process of bringing a new “Reformation”40 and a “great spiritual awakening” to the church. Sweet writes: “God is birthing the greatest spiritual awakening in the history of the church.”41 Yet this new reformation and great awakening Sweet heralds, is falsely founded on his hybridized New Age Christianity with its “radical doctrine of embodiment of God in the very substance of creation.”42 Ironically, while Sweet—as previously mentioned—encourages “a daily ritual” of standing in front of a mirror affirming “God is God and I am not,” he at the same time tells people that, as a part of creation, God is embodied in them. He also encourages people to be “nudgers.” He says “nudgers are not smudgers of the divine in people.”43 “Nudgers help people discover their “inner Jesus.”44

When the true Christ was asked what will be the sign of his coming and the end of the world, He said, “Take heed that no man deceive you.”(Matthew 24:4)—that many false prophets would arise and deceive many (Matthew 24:11). He specifically warned us to beware of false prophets who come in sheep’s clothing. He said we would know them by their fruits.

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? (Matthew 7:15-16)

We must exhort one another daily. We must continue to preach the Word and not fall prey to those who would diminish the Word with their worldly wisdom, clever stories, metaphors, and false teachings. The Bible and our Lord Jesus Christ always have been and always will be sufficient for all our needs.

Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (2 Timothy 4:2-4)

Regarding Leonard Sweet’s “radical doctrine of embodiment of God in the very substance of creation,” Jesus warns:

Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.45 (Matthew 15: 7-9)

To order copies of Leonard Sweet—A More Magnificent Way of Seeing Christ?, click here. 

Endnotes
1. Leonard Sweet, SoulTsunami: Sink or Swim in New Millennium Culture (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1999), p. 28.
2. Warren B. Smith, A “Wonderful” Deception: The Further New Age Implications of the Emerging Purpose Driven Movement (Magalia, CA: Mountain Stream Press, 2009), p. 106.
3. Alice A, Bailey, The Reappearance of the Christ (New York, NY: Lucis Publishing Company, Lucis Press, Ltd., 1948), 1996, p. 150.
4. Benjamin Creme, The Reappearance of the Christ and the Masters of Wisdom (London, England; The Tara Press, 1980), p. 88.
5. Leonard Sweet, SoulTsunami, op. cit., p. 28.
6. Leonard Sweet, Quantum Spirituality: A Postmodern Apologetic (Dayton, OH: Whaleprints for SpiritVenture Ministries, Inc., 1991, 1994), p. 125.
7. Leonard Sweet, SoulTsunami, op. cit., p. 304.
8. Leonard Sweet, Nudge:Awakening Each Other to the God Who Is Already There (Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2010), p. 157.
9. Ibid., p. 40.
10. Leonard Sweet, Quantum Spirituality, op. cit., p. 106.
11. Marilyn Ferguson, The Aquarian Conspiracy: Personal and Social Transformation in the 1980s (Los Angeles, CA: J.P. Tarcher, Inc., 1980), p. 50.
12. Ibid., p. 25.
13. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Christianity and Evolution (New York, NY: Harcourt Brace Jovanivich, Inc., 1971), p. 56.
14. Ibid,. pp. 219-220.
15. Ibid,. p. 128.
16. Ibid,. p. 95.
17. Ibid,. p. 78.
18. Ibid,. p. 130.
19. Leonard Sweet, Aqua Church: Essential Leadership Arts for Piloting Your Church in Today’s Fluid Culture (Loveland, CO: Group Publishing, Inc., 1999), p. 39.
20. Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola, Jesus Speaks: Learning to Recognize & Respond to the Lord’s Voice (Nashville, TN: W Publishing Group, an imprint of Thomas Nelson, 2016), p. 85.
21. Leonard Sweet, Quantum Spirituality, op. cit., p. viii.
22. Willis Harman, Global Mind Change: The New Age Revolution in the Way We Think (New York, NY: Warner Books, 1988), front cover.
23. Matthew Fox, The Coming of the Cosmic Christ: The Healing of Mother Earth and the Birth of a Global Renaissance (San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row Publishers, 1988), p. 154.
24. Ibid., p. 137.
25. Leonard Sweet, Quantum Spirituality, op cit., pp. 124, 324.
26. M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth (New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 1978), p. 281.
27. Ibid.
28. M. Scott Peck, The Different Drum: Community Making and Peace (New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 1988), pp. 205-206.
29. David Spangler and William Irwin Thompson, Reimagination of the World: A Critique of the New Age, Science, and Popular Culture (Santa Fe, NM: Bear & Company Publishing, 1991), p. 62.
30. Leonard Sweet, Quantum Spirituality, op. cit., p. 312.
31. Ibid., p. ix.
32. David Spangler, The Revelation: Birth of A New Age (Elgin, IL: Lorian Press, 1976), p. 177.
33. Leonard Sweet, Quantum Spirituality, op. cit., p. 312.
34. Leonard Sweet, SoulTsunami, op. cit., p. 121.
35. David Spangler and William Irwin Thompson, Reimagination of the World, op. cit., p. 126.
36. What the Bleep Do We Know (DVD) (20th Century Fox, 2004, http://www.whatthebleep.com), transcribed by author.
37. Fritjof Capra, The Tao of Physics: An Explanation of the Parallels Between Modern Physics and Eastern Mysticism (Boston, MA: Shambhala Publications, Inc., 1999), p. 341.
38. Ibid.
39. The Tides of Change (A 1995 audio presentation with Leonard Sweet and Rick Warren that was part of an ongoing series called “Choice Voices for Christian Leadership,” distributed by Abington Press). On file with publisher.
40. Leonard Sweet, SoulTsunami, op. cit., p. 17.
41. Ibid., p. 34.
42. Leonard Sweet, Quantum Spirituality, op. cit., p. 125.
43. Leonard Sweet, Nudge, op. cit., p. 31.
44. Ibid., p. 40.
45. Leonard Sweet, Quantum Spirituality, op. cit., p 125.

To order copies of Leonard Sweet—A More Magnificent Way of Seeing Christ?, click here. 

Brian Brodersen and Greg Laurie’s “Bigger Picture of Christianity”

As we observe evangelical Christianity being drawn toward “the Mother Church” of Roman Catholicism, it is amazing to see how very few Christian leaders speak up about this. On the contrary, one after the next, Christian leaders are succumbing to this ecumenical, interfaith last-days apostasy of merging evangelicalism into the Catholic fold. Lighthouse Trails has reported on numerous examples of highly influential evangelical leaders heading in this direction: Rick Warren, Beth Moore, James Robison, and Ken Copeland to name a few.

Today, we received two different e-mails that provided information to show the continuance of this evangelical move toward Rome. In the first e-mail sent by Roger Oakland of Understand the Times, Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa senior pastor Brian Brodersen was brought to our attention. Brodersen is beginning an online YouTube series called Things That Matter. In his introductory segment, he explains that this new show is going to help believers see “the bigger picture of Christianity.” He says that too often Christians focus on issues that are not important. As we listened to his words, we couldn’t help but be reminded of the words of emerging church pioneer, Leonard Sweet, when he said:

“Christ is in the Church in the same way as the sun is before our eyes. We see the same sun as our fathers saw, and yet we understand it in a much more magnificent way.” (Aqua Church, p.39, emphasis added)

Sweet was actually quoting Pierre Teilhard de Chardin when he said this as Warren B. Smith points out in his book, A “Wonderful” Deception. What is this “more magnificent way” to which Sweet refers? We know what Chardin means by this, and based on our research on Leonard Sweet and the emerging church, Sweet concurs with Chardin. The “more magnificent way” of seeing things is the paradigm shift that brings all religions together as one, removing all “barriers,” and ultimately leading man to believe he is Divine.

Some may say this is a stretch to suggest that Brian Brodersen is thinking this way just because he says “the bigger picture of Christianity.” But is it really a stretch? As we reported earlier this year, Brodersen recently came out publicly promoting the Alpha Course leader, Nicky Gumbel, who is practically in the arms of the papacy and will take millions of Alpha Course participants with him. It was no small thing that a leading Calvary Chapel pastor endorsed Gumbel and the Alpha Course (if you aren’t sure what to think about the Alpha Course, read our recent article by Mary Danielsen and Chris Lawson). While Brodersen is not proclaiming that man is Divine, whether he realizes it or not, he is helping to remove the barriers between evangelical Christianity and Roman Catholicism.

What is this “bigger picture of Christianity” that Brodersen is talking about? Is he just talking about the Christianity that is beyond the Calvary Chapel borders? Of course not; that would be nothing new as many Calvary Chapel pastors, including CC’s founder Chuck Smith have acknowledged that the body of Christ includes believers outside of Calvary Chapel. Calvary Chapel has never claimed that the body of Christ was solely within their own walls. Time will tell what exactly Brodersen means by this “bigger picture of Christianity.” However, from our perspective, it stands to reason that Brodersen’s remarks would resonate with Rick Warren’s when Warren has stated on numerous occasions that Christianity does include the Catholic Church and that we should focus more on what we have in common than in what we don’t. In other words, the bigger picture of Christianity. That is what Warren means. In Brodersen’s Things That Matter segment, he expressed his concern that some in the body of Christ are focusing too much on “non-essential” issues. We are curious as to what those “non-essential” issues are, and we suspect one of those will be criticizing the Catholic Church.

The second e-mail we received today was regarding Calvary Chapel’s leading pastor Greg Laurie. The e-mail stated: “As a former attendee at Harvest Christian Fellowship [Laurie’s church], it saddens me that Pastor Greg gives validity to Mel Gibson. This post was on Pastor Greg’s Instagram.” The Instagram our reader was referring to shows a photo of Greg Laurie, his wife, and Hollywood actor Mel Gibson.

laurie-gibson-2016

 

While this may seem to be of no significance at first glance, the message that Laurie included in his Instagram also stated: ” I have good news; this dynamic duo [Gibson and Randall Wallace] is working together on a follow-up of the epic film on the crucifixion of Jesus, The Passion. . . . I am really looking forward to a long-overdue movie about this topic from the man who created a whole new template for telling a biblical story on film, Mel Gibson.”

laurie-gibson-text-2016

As veteran author and teacher Roger Oakland has documented in his book, Another Jesus, The Passion film was an attempt by Mel Gibson to “evangelize” evangelicals and drawn them “back to the Mother Church.” As Oakland pointed out, Gibson said:

The goal of the movie [The Passion] is to shake modern audiences by brashly juxtaposing the “sacrifice of the cross with the sacrifice of the altar–which is the same thing.”1
When Gibson says “the sacrifice of the altar,” he is talking about the Catholic Mass, which re-crucifies Christ repeatedly.

Oakland also wrote “The Passion of the Christ Motives Revealed” that brings out more evidence from Gibson himself that The Passion was intended to draw non-Catholics to the Catholic Church. Oakland stated:

The newly released “Definitive Edition” of Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” confirms the film was produced with the specific purpose to promote a Roman Catholic agenda that would introduce viewers to the Roman Catholic “Mary” and the Roman Catholic “Jesus.”

One of the statements Mel Gibson made (brought out in Oakland’s article) regarding this Definitive Edition of The Passion was about Mary. Gibson stated: “[S]he was cooperating with this, salvific work. I tried to make that obvious.” You can read several other statements by Gibson with regard to his  motive in doing The Passion in the article above.

Read this extract from Another Jesus titled “What Lies Behind Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ,” and you will see that The Passion was an effort to bring “modern audiences” into the Catholic fold. There’s little doubt that Greg Laurie knows of this information from Roger Oakland. Roger was virtually the only Calvary Chapel figure (when he was part of Calvary Chapel) opposing the raving support the evangelical church was giving The Passion when it came out, and he was severely criticized for his opposition; and at the 2005 Calvary Chapel senior pastor’s conference in Murrieta, California, with Chuck Smith’s permission, a copy of Another Jesus was given out to each pastor in attendance.

Laurie’s recent praise on Instagram of Mel Gibson and The Passion isn’t the first time Laurie has shown that he sees “the bigger picture of Christianity.” In 2015, he publicly promoted New Age Catholic Roma Downey.2 And in 2011, there was the LifeFest event where he had no problem sharing a platform with a Catholic priest as you can read in our article “Green Bay Catholic Priest David Ricken leads Mass at Lifefest Before Joint Worship with Greg Laurie” and Roger Oakland’s articleThe Pope’s New Evangelization Program: Bishop Ricken, Greg Laurie and Calvary Chapel. ” And, of course, most recently, we reported on The Gathering 2016 taking place this fall where Laurie and other evangelical leaders are coming together in an ecumenical event that has at least one pro-Catholic speaker.

There are too many instances to ignore anymore where Christian leaders are saying OK to joining up with the Roman Catholic Church. And sadly, there is too much silence and apathy from the ranks of the evangelical/Protestant camp. Few voices are speaking up, and when those voices are silenced, all that will be left will be the bigger picture of a false Christianity.

Related Information:

The Catholic Church’s Role in the Coming One-World Global Religion

Chicken Soup for the Soul Books Now Have Sold over 500 Million Copies!

LTRP Note: Recently, Lighthouse Trails author Ray Yungen told us that Jack Canfield’s Chicken Soup for the Soul books have now sold over 500 million copies worldwide.1 We found that astounding as well as extremely troubling in light of the New Age element that permeates the Chicken Soup for the Soul books. For instance, as author and former New Age follower Warren B. Smith points out in his book A “Wonderful” Deception, the very first quote in the very first Chicken Soup for the Soul book in 1993 was by panentheist mystic Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. What a way to kick off a series that would end up selling 500 million copies! Below Ray Yungen talks about Chicken Soup for the Soul,

“Every religion I’ve looked at has some technology— … I’ve studied all of them and found what works for me and I’ve tried to make it available to others. What works for me is a combination of disciplines: I do yoga, tai chi which is a Chinese martial art and three kinds of meditation-vipasana, transcendental and mantra (sound) meditation. If you have to pick a yoga for me, I lean towards bhakii in the sense of devotion, adoration, singing, feeling love and joy exist in my heart.” Jack Canfield, (from Choosing To Be Happy)

The Chicken Soup Phenomenon
By Ray Yungen

Over the last two decades, a series of high profile, immensely successful books (500 million sold) have impacted the lives of many Christians. They are the Chicken Soup for the Soul books by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen. Although these books are filled with seemingly charming and uplifting stories, Canfield’s New Age spirituality is quite disturbing from a Christian viewpoint. In understanding the foundational views of these two authors, one must ask, “Can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit” (Luke 6:43)?

In 1981, in the Science of Mind magazine, an interview revealed Canfield was no less than a teacher of the highly occultic “psychosynthesis” method developed by a direct disciple of Alice Bailey (see Bailey’s clear occultism and birthing of the term New Age in chapter two). In some of his most recent writings, Canfield openly reveals he had his “spiritual awakening” in a yoga class in college where he felt God “flowing” through all things.1 Hence, Canfield also promotes many occult writers.

In order to draw a conclusion on the spiritual persuasions of the Chicken Soup for the Soul authors take a look at one particular book they both enthusiastically endorse. The book is called Hot Chocolate for the Mystical Soul, compiled by Arielle Ford. Its format is identical to that of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series—101 stories by different authors on a particular theme.

Ford’s book permeates with Eastern and New Age metaphysical content. A panoply of psychics, mediums, astrologers, channelers, and especially Hindu mystics present a wide array of stories. One such story is about a psychic who writes of her abilities.2 Another story in the book is about a Hindu holy man who manifests “holy ash” out of thin air.3 Yet another involves a man who claims to be the reincarnation of the apostle Paul and writes that the message of Jesus is “God dwells within each one of us [all humanity].”4 

Co-author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, Mark Victor Hansen, agreed with Ford’s book so wholeheartedly that he wrote the foreword. Listen to a few excerpts from this foreword, which reveal Hansen’s view:

[E]nlightening stories will inspire you. They will expand your awareness, . . . you will think in new exciting and different ways . . . You will be renewed through the tools, techniques and strategies contained herein . . . May your mystical soul be united with the mystical magical tour you’ve been wanting and waiting for.”5 

Jack Canfield echoes this praise on the back cover by stating, “They [the stories in the book] will change your beliefs, stretch your mind, open your heart and expand your consciousness.”6 

In March 2005, Canfield came out with his book, The Success Principles. As can be expected, one of these success principles is about meditation. Canfield relates, “I attended a meditation retreat that permanently changed my entire life.”7 Canfield does a superb job of integrating metaphysics with the needs of business creativity. He emphasizes:

As you meditate and become more spiritually attuned, you can better discern and recognize the sound of your higher self or the voice of God speaking to you through words, images, and sensations.8

These books are selling like hotcakes in some evangelical bookstores because they are positive. If someone would have told me fourteen years ago that such books would someday be selling in Christian bookstores, I would have said they were nuts—no way!

Sadly, other such books have seeped into Christian bookstores. In one store, Sara Ban Breathnach’s book Simple Abundance, A Daybook of Comfort and Joy, was spotted under a sign, which read, “For Devotions.” In this book she informs her readers we are all “asleep to our divinity.”9 Yet, in spite of her obvious connection to the New Age, I have been told that women’s prayer groups at evangelical churches have ordered this book in bulk!

A vast number of Christians feel they are safe from being misled, simply because they have been professing Christians for so long. This is not the case at all. Considering today’s spiritual and social climate, both adults and young people desperately need keen spiritual discernment. As we move closer to the return of Christ, Scripture makes clear reference to the deluding spirits that will manifest themselves with increased intensity and effectiveness.

Notes:
1. Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Dare to Win (New York, NY: Berkeley Books, 1994), p. 195.
2. Arielle Ford, Hot Chocolate for the Mystical Soul (New York, NY: Penguin Putnam, 1998), pp. 244-247, 361.
3. Ibid., p. 36-39.
4. Ibid., p. 15.
5. Ibid., pp. xiii-xiv.
6. Ibid., back cover.
7. Jack Canfield, The Success Principles (New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2005), p. 316.
8. Ibid., p. 317.
9. Sara Ban Breathnach, Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy (New York, NY: Warner Books, 1995, October 31).

Letter to the Editor: “We thought we were safe.”

Dear Editors:

We left a moderate Baptist Church in Raleigh because of the emergent teaching. Thank the Lord, a number of families left because once we connected the dots, we left. We were all rather shaken that this extreme theology could be right under our noses and we didn’t recognize it. When I went for counseling to a very conservative pastor in the area, I was told that because we were in a moderate church, that type of heresy could easily be there.

So, we (my husband and I) found a conservative church with their statement of faith reflecting the 5 fundamentals of the faith. We thought we were safe, but we still met with the pastor and his wife to be on the safe side. We discussed our previous experience, gave the minister books and materials from your website, and we were assured he would not tolerate emergent.

An assistant pastor, with the approval of the senior pastor, showed Jeff Bethke’s film and he quoted Pierre de Chardin (what is a Baptist pastor quoting him!). I just assumed he was ignorant and perhaps he was. But I documented the dangers of these two people and gave it to him. No follow-up desired. At this point, I’d be flipping out if I was a pastor reading this information. But, no response to me. Then, a Sunday school teacher was allowed to introduce Bill Hybels and his teaching. Then 1,000 Gifts [by Ann Voskamp] is allowed to be taught to the women. I documented in detail the dangers, the leaven, being brought into the church.  I left it with the pastor and his wife. Again, at this point, after reading these articles, I’d be flipping out wanting to know, “What on earth!”

Then a familiar call comes to our home (remember, this is our second church dealing with this) from the pastor basically telling me to stop it. Asking the pastor if he had a problem with 1,000 Gifts, he said 90% was solid and 10% questionable. I replied that since  when do we as Christians  put percentages on allowable heresy.  I said, “I don’t mind if this book is taught as long as you also use this as a teaching time to warn about emergent and panentheism and all of its authors she references.” Deaf ears. Then I find out the Bible study leader for the women loves Jesus Calling and 1,000 Gifts. Where is the discernment?  The pastors are not guarding their flock.  We are sick at heart.  This pastor said he reviewed Lighthouse Trails and had problems with you all.

So, we leave. Go to another very conservative church and the pastor from the pulpit encourages everyone to attend the David Jeremiah meeting here  and references in a positive way Blackaby’s writings. I know this dear man of God is clueless, well, I hope so (meaning he is not doing this because he wants to promote emergent).

Thank you for all of your documented research and as Frances Schaefer warns, loving the way you treat your subject matter. Sincerely, ________

PS: Just finished reading The Great Evangelical Disaster by Frances Schaeffer. How amazing accurate to 2012.

Question to the Editor: What About One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp?

Dear Lighthouse Trails:

A group of friends who are believers are doing a book study on “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp. I thought I heard the word “Eucharist” mentioned.  Do you know anything about the book or author? Just curious,

Blessings to you, _______

Our Review from 2011:

“Ann Voskamp’s Best Selling Book One Thousand Gifts – A Collision of Inspiration and the New Spirituality”

One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp is a 2010 Zondervan title that is a New York Times, USA Today, and Amazon Best-Seller. The author is a contributing writer for DaySpring, and she has a blog that receives 40-50 thousand visitors every week.1  Voskamp has risen quickly in popularity, with invitations to various conferences and other events. (In April, she spoke in Portland Oregon at the Q Conference sharing a platform with popular Christian figures like Luis Palau and Louie Giglio).

Ann Voskamp’s sincerity and her desire for a relationship with the Lord are unarguable. Her honesty in her own shortcomings and frailties is admirable. Her description of how she witnessed the death of her baby sister (run over by a farm truck) when she herself was very young is heart-wrenching. What’s more, few would disagree with the overall key theme of the book that we should give thanks to God in everything (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Voskamp shares how practicing thanksgiving and gratitude has changed her life. Thinking about 1 Timothy 6:6 (“godliness with contentment is great gain”), it is true that being thankful and content does have great gain in the believers life.

But One Thousand Gifts, as well-meaning as the author may be, is not a book we can recommend and in fact is one we must warn about. We do not want to cause distress to Ann Voskamp; but given the high popularity of her book, we are compelled to issue this warning.

It is clear by reading One Thousand Gifts that Ann Voskamp reads and admires several mystics, panentheists, and universalists. Her book is peppered with quotes by Sarah Ban Breathnach (a New Age author launched into stardom by Oprah), Teresa of Avila, Julian of Norwich, Evelyn Underhill, Brennan Manning,  Annie Dillard, Thomas Acquinas, Buddhist sympathizer and Catholic convert Peter Kreeft, Walter Brueggemann, Francis de Sales, Jesuit priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Henri Nouwen, and Jean-Pierre de Caussade. Many of the statements Voskamp says in her book  would resonate with these authors showing that Voskamp has absorbed some of the beliefs of these people. In addition, Voskamp’s popular blog lists a number of contemplative/emerging authors on her book list page: Richard Foster (Celebration of Discipline),  Adele Ahlberg Calhoun (Spiritual Disciplines Handbook, a primer on Eastern style meditation), and emerging church author Phyllis Tickle are included.

In reading One Thousand Gifts, we are reminded of author Sue Monk Kidd (The Secret Life of Bees), who started off as a conservative Southern Baptist Sunday School teacher, but when she began reading Thomas Merton and other mystical writers, her spiritual outlook changed dramatically. The progress of Monk Kidd’s spiritual change can be seen from one book to the next. Today, she is a self-proclaimed worshipper of the goddess Sophia and states in her book The Dance of the Dissident Daughter that God is in all things (panentheism) even graffiti and excrement. Monk Kidd says:

Deity means that divinity will no longer be only heavenly … It will also be right here, right now, in me, in the earth, in this river, in excrement and roses alike. (p. 160)

Ann Voskamp echoes Monk Kidd when she states that God is “present in all things,” even “sewage flowing downriver” (p. 110-111)

The last chapter of One Thousand Gifts, “The Joy of Intimacy,” Voskamp devotes to what she calls “intimacy” with God. But brace yourself, you won’t find the way she talks about intimacy with God in the Bible. We share the following with you not to shock you for theatrical sake – its to show where the “new” Christianity is heading.  We think it important, in light of the many young women who are reading this book, to quote Voskamp’s view of “intimacy” with God which she also calls the “mystery of that romance.” Voskamp says:

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.  (pp. 213, 216-217).

We find Voskamp’s mixture of sexual and spiritual language when referring to a relationship with God offensive. The most “intimate” relationship anyone ever had with God on this earth was the one Jesus Christ had with His Father; but nowhere in the Bible does Jesus (or the disciples) use sexual language and innuendos to describe the relationship between God and man. And in fact, the Bible tells us that sexual union was given to man, in the confines of marriage between a man and wife, for procreation; the Bible also tells us that in our eternal heavenly home, there will be no marriage (the need for procreation will not exist). If we, as Christians, were supposed to think about our relationship with God in sexual terms, wouldn’t God have made that clear in His word?  It’s like the contemplative prayer movement that emphasizes repeating a word or phrase over and over to be intimate with God. But nowhere are we instructed to do this in Scripture. It’s as if the Holy Spirit who inspired men to write the books of the Bible left out vital elements that now contemplatives and emergents are enlightening us to. God forbid that we should think so. Books like One Thousand Gifts have added to what God has said in His Word.

Voskamp isn’t the only emerging-type author to use sexual language when talking about intimacy with God. We see an increase in books and speakers talking about” intimacy with God” (most of these writers are proponents of contemplative – that’s no coincidence – but rather signs that tantra spirituality (sexual experiences combined with mystical experiences)) is entering the church now. One of the most popular books today on marriage, Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas (promoted by Calvary Chapel, Focus on the Family, and Rick Warren) is laced with quotes by or references to (about a dozen instances) Mary Anne McPherson Oliver’s book, Conjugal Spirituality, a primer on tantric sex; McPherson Oliver says that “mystical experiences can be associated with erotic love.” McPherson Oliver tells readers to use mantras and breath prayers during the sexual experience to help induce the tantric mystical experience. The fact that one of today’s most popular Christian books on marriage has so many references to this book is a telling sign of what has entered the evangelical/Protestant church. The popularity of One Thousand Gifts is another sure indication.

Today, the “new” progressive Christianity is more sensual than spiritual.  Appealing to the senses (making it sensual) and the carnal man rather than strengthening the spiritual man within. Scripture warns us though: “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace” (Romans 8:6). One Thousand Gifts may be the poster book, so to speak, for the latest carnally-minded book, taking a place in line with The Shack.

Book Review: Hipster Christianity by Brett McCracken – When “Cool” Isn’t Cool and Is Ashamed of the Gospel

Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils. I Timothy 4:1

Hipster Christianity, a book written by Brett McCracken, is being publicized by both secular and Christian media, such as the Wall Street Journal, the New YorkerAmerican Family News, and Christianity Today (cover story).  According to McCracken, his book Hipster Christianity  “goes deep into the questions of what it means to be cool and what it means to be Christian.” The subtitle of the book reads: When Church and Cool Collide. McCracken’s “hipster Christianity” is nothing more than emerging (merging) spirituality looked at through different colored sunglasses. Many may be fooled into thinking that “hipster Christianity” is a “cool” way to look at biblical Christianity. It’s not. And it has nothing to do with the way one dresses or which “hip” sunglasses or reading glasses he or she is wearing. It’s about spiritual deception, which often looks “good,” (especially to those who don’t know what God’s Word says) but in actuality is lethal.

For those wondering if McCracken, managing editor of Biola University’s magazine and regular writer for the emergent Relevant magazine, considers himself a “hipster,” the answer he gives in the introduction of his book is “yes.” He is not writing impartially as some may think or assume.

McCracken has found resonance with a lot of emerging leaders, one of them being Shane Claiborne, whom McCracken says is “perhaps one of the most important Christian hipsters around” (p. 99). If indeed Claiborne is one of the most important hipster’s, then consider the following as to the direction that the “hipster” spirituality is going. In Claiborne’s book, Irresistible Revolution, Claiborne states: “I don’t know if you’ve read the Bible, and if you haven’t, I think you may be in a better place than those of us who have read it so much that it has become stale” (p. 40). Claiborne, “one of the most important hipsters around” is telling his readers that the Bible hasn’t become sweeter and richer to him over the years – it has become stale. This is not the words of someone who loves and embraces God’s Word.

In Shane Claiborne’s book, Jesus for President, on page 229, Claiborne references New Age/New Spirituality panentheist Matthew Fox. Lighthouse Trails e-mailed Claiborne in 2008 and asked him about this reference. He wrote back and told us: “This was a typo — it should be ‘Tom Fox.'” But putting Matthew Fox instead of Tom Fox isn’t a typo – it’s a slip.  Either way, one of Claiborne’s admirers, Leonard Sweet, who tells Claiborne’s readers “read this book to hear the irresistible voice of Jesus on every page,” also references the Episcopalian priest Fox telling Sweet’s own readers that Matthew Fox is one of his “personal role models” and “heroes.” (Quantum Spirituality, front matter)

Shane Claiborne isn’t the only “important” figure to “hipster” emerging Christians. Brett McCracken tells readers in Hipster Christianitythat these “hip” Christians identify also with panentheistic/mystic/Jesuit priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (p. 98). This is significant in uncovering the truth about “Hipster Christianity.” First of all, consider the following statements by Chardin – understand these, and you will understand the great deception taking place in the name of Christianity today.

What I am proposing to do is to narrow that gap between pantheism and Christianity by bringing out what one might call the Christian soul of pantheism or the pantheist aspect of Christianity. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin Christianity and Evolution (Harcourt, 1969), p. 56

Now I realize that, on the model of the incarnate God whom Christianity reveals to me, I can be saved only by becoming one with the universe. Thereby, too, my deepest ‘pantheist’ aspirations are satisfied. Chardin, Christianity and Evolution (Harcourt, 1969), p. 128

I believe that the Messiah whom we await, whom we all without any doubt await, is the universal Christ; that is to say, the Christ of evolution. Chardin, Christianity and Evolution (Harcourt, 1969), p. 95 (these quotes taken from A “Wonderful” Deception, research book by Warren B. Smith)

Bring to the scene again, Leonard Sweet. Sweet has on more than one occasion revealed his admiration for Chardin, calling him “twentieth-century Christianity’s major voice” in Sweet’s book, Quantum Spirituality ( p. 106). And in Sweet’s 1994 book, Aqua Church, he quotes Chardin saying, “Christ is in the church in the same way as the sun is before our eyes. We see the same sun as our fathers saw and yet we understand it in a much more magnificent way” (p. 39).

What is behind this “more magnificent way” of seeing things?  This is the emerging/hipster/evolutionary spirituality that rejects the Bible as the stable, consistent, and trustworthy inspired Word of God and rather clings to the idea that God or Divinity indwells (and is equal to) all things. Hipsters and emergents are attracted to those who reject God’s Word, hoping to envelope Christianity with a spiritual evolution that says we are evolving beyond the limitations of what is written in the Bible.  These merging interspiritual panentheists are ashamed of the Gospel; but they try to veil that shame in social justice and environmental causes all the while shunning the whole counsel of God. An example of this is on Leonard Sweet’s Jesus Manifesto book  where he says that  “Christians have made the gospel about so many things” other than Christ, such as “doctrines” and “ideas,”  states Sweet’s website. This is a common way among merging authors to reject the authority of Scripture and even making Christians feel guilty and ashamed for holding to “doctrine” as if it is some plague rather than the framework of our faith. But Scripture says that this “doctrine” (the message of the Gospel) is the power of God to salvation, and we should not be ashamed of it:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth. Romans 1:16

Other figures McCracken includes in his emerging, hipster “Christianity” are contemplative proponents Mark DriscollDonald Miller (Blue Like Jazz), Lauren Winner, and Rob Bell. Add to this Jay Baaker. McCracken says “Christian hipsters love thinking and acting Catholic…. They love the Pope, liturgy, incense, lectio divina…” (p. 98).

McCracken asks the question, where can you find “Christian hipsters” and answers it accurately by saying Christian colleges and Christian college towns (p. 106), now hotbeds for apostasy. Of course, he includes the contemplative promoting Biola University in his list of “cool” colleges. McCracken delves into the political arena and explains how “cool” young Christians helped to bring Obama into office (pp. 158-160). Parents who have kids attending Christian colleges should hop in their cars today, head down to those colleges, and find out just what your kids are being introduced to. On McCracken’s website,  it states:

A huge number of Christian hipsters are college students or newly graduated wayfarers. Birthed in vast quantity on the campuses of Christian colleges, these sorts of Christian hipsters embody that newbie, activist spirit of “just now discovering that I can be Christian and care about the poor” [this is the apostate church’s way of saying that Christians never cared about the poor until Purpose Driven/emerging/hipster “Christianity” came along  – a lie to be sure]. … With one foot in their old [meaning out dated] Baptist youth group and the other on the unsteady terrain of viewing missions through the lens of post-colonialism [a favorite term used by emerging leaders to indicate that fundamentalist Bible believing Christians are archaic], these kids are horizon-broadened, foundation-shaken [true – shaking the foundation of their biblical faith] and mind-blown on a daily basis, as they encounter such things as genocide, non-western plumbing, or Camus for the first time in their lives. All the while they are learning to live lives of unconventionality–dabbling in post-legalism rebellion and vice (cheap alcohol and tobacco mostly) while figuring out how to sustain a more authentic and substantial Christianity than the feeble religion [yes, McCracken is talking about the way you raised your children] of their upbringing.

While popular emerging church leaders have tried to say that the emerging church is dead (see: Some Say the Emerging Church is Dead – the Truth Behind the Story) (and now hipster is better), nothing has changed. It’s the same  panentheistic merging deception that Satan presented to Eve in the Garden when he asked her to question God and tempted her in desire to be God.

The Bible says that in the days before Christ returns, there will be great deception. The devil is running like mad, to and fro, trying to confuse, deceive, and manipulate Christians into turning away from the one and only true Gospel message. After all, if Christians preach the true Gospel, people will get saved and spend eternity with the Lord. Hipster Christianity is just the enemy’s latest effort to stop the Gospel from being proclaimed.

Don’t be fooled, Hipster Christianity isn’t “cool” at all – it is lukewarm spirituality – this is one time when “cool” is not cool and is ashamed of the Gospel.

For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Acts 20:27-29


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