Posts Tagged ‘pope francis’
DRESS REHEARSAL FOR A FALSE REVIVAL? – Evangelical, Charismatic, Emerging Leaders, & Pope Francis Unite for “Together 2016” in Washington, DC
According to a news release from PRWire titled “Pope Francis To Address Americans At National Mall Event ’Together 2016’ With Special Video Message,” Pope Francis will be joining (via video) evangelical leaders such as Ravi Zacharias, Luis Palau, Michael W. Smith, and Josh McDowell, emerging-church leaders such as Francis Chan, Ann Voskamp, Jennie Allen (IF), and Mark Batterson (Circle Maker) and charismatic leaders such as Sammy Rodriguez and Hillsong for an event motivated by a goal to bring unity to all those who “love Jesus.” The event is called “Together 2016,” subtitled Fill the Mall.
Nick Hall, the organizer of the event who hopes to draw one million people to the National Mall on July 16th, stated: “Together 2016 is about laying aside what divides us to lift up Jesus who unites us.”1 Hall told one news source, “We are coming together in historic unity to pray for a reset for our nation.”2
It’s been over fifteen years since contemplative pioneer Richard Foster shared his vision of Catholics and evangelicals coming together3 and over two decades since Chuck Colson helped author a document titled “Evangelicals/Catholics Together.”4 It’s been over a decade since Rick Warren announced his hopes to bring about a second reformation that would include people of different religions.5 In more recent days, evangelical leaders such as Beth Moore,6 Franklin Graham,7 and Kenneth Copeland8 have played their parts in helping to remove the barriers between the evangelical/Protestant church and the Roman Catholic Church (something the Catholic Church calls the New Evangelization program9).
According to the Bible, we know a time is coming when a global one-world religion will serve alongside a global one-world government, both of which will reject Jesus Christ as the Messiah and Lord. Whether they realize it or not, the leaders and musicians participating in Together 2016 are helping to make that global religion a reality as they participate in this ongoing relay race of breaking down the walls that divide different faiths in the name of unity at all costs.
Right now, in America, evangelical and charismatic leaders are calling for a nation-wide revival. But will their revival be a revival from God; or will it be a false revival? And is Together 2016 nothing more than a dress rehearsal for this false revival?
NEW BOOKLET: The Alpha Course— An Evangelical Contradiction by Mary Danielsen and Chris Lawson is our newest Lighthouse Trails Booklet Tract. The Booklet Tract is 16 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 The Alpha Course— An Evangelical Contradiction, click here.
Let us first open this overview of the Alpha Course with several passages in Scripture that warn us of the wolves that will enter the church looking to pervert the Gospel and introduce falsehood. We must always measure everything by the plumbline of God’s Word because without that, deception awaits.
2 Peter 2:1-2 tells us:
But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.
1 John 4:1 tells us to “try [test] the spirits” to see if they are from God; and 1 Timothy 4:1 says:
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.
That verse should cause every believer in Christ to be increasingly sober-minded and vigilant.
Now, when Scripture tells us to test all things, this is not a mere take-it -or-leave-it suggestion. We are clearly instructed that this is an absolute needful thing for us to do—and it is needed more today than ever before. It is becoming more and more clear that most churches (and most individual Christians too) are not doing this simple thing because the level of apostasy and heresy in the church today is mind-boggling and growing by the day.
We know this booklet is going to ruffle some feathers by challenging the Alpha Course. But as the late apologist Walter Martin said, “Controversy for its own sake is sin. Controversy for the sake of truth is a divine mandate.” In light of that, we will state our case for the many unbiblical problems with the Alpha Course and leave it to the reader to decide if it is of any value to the church.
Alpha and the Anglican Church
The Alpha Toolkit is offered for $199 which provides churches with all the materials needed to train small group leaders, marketing materials to entice church-goers and non-church-goers alike, workbook-type guides for each participant and the all-important DVD featuring fifteen talks by Nicky Gumbel.
The Alpha Course is presented as an evangelistic course designed to bring an easy-going method of exploring the “big questions” of life from a Christian perspective.1 With such a vague description, Alpha appeals to a wide range of seekers.
Alpha Course was started in 1977 by an Anglican priest named Charles Marnham, serving at Holy Trinity Brompton (HTB) parish in London. It began as a course for church members on the basics of the faith.
Shortly later, John Irvine, a curate at the time at HTB, took it over and developed it into the format it has today. In 1990, Sandy Millar (vicar of HTB at that time) invited HTB reverend Nicky Gumbel to take the helm of the Alpha Course, overseeing further revisions to appeal to the widest audience possible. Gumbel added his own touch to Alpha, helping the program to spread around the world at an exponential rate.
It is important to recognize that Alpha’s creation in the Anglican Church is significant. The Anglican Church dates back to the 16th century when King Henry VIII broke away from the Catholic Church, which would not allow him to get a divorce. Henry decided to use his throne to pass a series of laws to prevent the office of the Pope from having any authority in England. One of these laws, titled “The Act of Supremacy,” declared the King of England to be the head of the newly formed Church of England, giving him virtually the same level of authority in England as the Pope had over the Catholic Church. As a result, the Anglican Church is a curious and ecumenical mix of Catholicism and Protestantism. The 39 articles of Anglican belief developed in the reign of Elizabeth I laid out the Protestant doctrine and practice of the Anglican Church but were deliberately written to be so vague that they were open to various interpretations by Protestants and Catholics alike.2
With 80 million members worldwide today, the Anglican Church (which includes the Episcopal church) is largely in sync with the liberal political, theological, and ecumenical worldviews seen throughout postmodern Protestantism today. So it should not surprise anyone that Anglicanism finds a strong voice in evangelical circles via the Alpha Course by those who value unity over truth, social justice over the true Gospel, and a strong desire to reconnect with our “vintage” faith—marching off to reconcile with Rome at the end of the day.
Who is this man with the unassuming and friendly name, Nicky Gumbel? His bio alone should cause red flags, but the average North American Christian either knows nothing of his bio, or he or she simply doesn’t care. Again, considering the church today, both cases are probably equally true.
Gumbel is vicar of the largest Anglican church in Britain (a big problem in itself when you realize what the Anglican church stands for, as we have explained above). If you look at the website of Gumbel’s church, Holy Trinity Church Brompton, you will find a typical site that looks similar to many Protestant church sites today. In addition, if you were to do a search on Gumbel’s view of the Bible, you will find much encouragement to read the Bible, and you might presume from what you read that he and his church place a high value on its contents.
The truth is, anyone can say they revere the Bible; anyone can say they read it and want you to read it as well; anyone can present an orthodox “Statement of Faith.” But what needs to be examined is what that person or organization is truly teaching. Anyone can talk the talk, but it takes a lot more than having a good sounding doctrinal statement to walk a genuine walk. The fruit of a self-proclaiming Christian group needs to be looked at.
This does explain, though, how: 1) there can be so many biblical references in the Alpha Course and yet have it be so off the mark, and 2) how they can emphasize the work of the Holy Spirit and still manage to completely misrepresent Him to the Alpha student. Just because there are a multitude of Bible verses used does not mean they are interpreted or applied correctly. The Bible can be and often is misconstrued and taken out of context. At any rate, today the Anglican Church in Britain, under the authority of Prince Charles, is certainly not known for sound doctrine or emphasis on the kind of Christianity that the Scriptures describe, so “fruit inspection” is crucial.
An important development in the historical background of Alpha’s creators is that HTB Church became the center of the “holy laughter” movement for England and Europe in the 1990s. Eleanor Mumford, along with her husband John, carried the Vineyard movement to the UK (with grudging approval from Vineyard founder John Wimber3), visited the Toronto Airport Vineyard Church in Ontario in 1994, and brought back the experiences she had there. Nicky Gumbel attended a meeting in a home in May 1994 where Mumford told of her experiences in Toronto and “invited the Holy Spirit to come.”
The moment she did that, strange things began to happen. One person was thrown across the room and did lie on the floor howling and laughing, “making the most incredible noise.” Another man was lying on the floor “prophesying.” Some appeared to be drunk. Gumbel testified that he had an experience “like massive electricity going through my body.”4 Gumbel got himself together and rushed to a meeting at Holy Trinity Brompton. . . .When he closed that meeting with prayer and said, “Lord, thank you so much for all you are doing, and we pray you’ll send your Spirit,” the same strange phenomenon were again manifested. One of those present lying on the floor with his feet in the air started “laughing like a hyena.”
Nicky Gumbel spends a substantial amount of time relating to Alpha participants in Alpha’s video 3 talk 9, exactly how this occurred:
Ellie Mumford told us a little bit of what she had seen in Toronto . . . It was obvious that Ellie was just dying to pray for all of us. . . . Then she said, “Now we’ll invite the Holy Spirit to come.” And the moment she said that one of the people there was thrown, literally, across the room and was lying on the floor, just howling and laughing—making the most incredible noise. . . . I experienced the power of the Spirit in a way I hadn’t experienced for years, like massive electricity going through my body. One of the guys was prophesying. He was just lying there prophesying.5
From there, others brought the movement to Brownsville Assembly of God in Pensacola, Florida, and the hyper-charismatic church of the ‘90s once again brought shame to the Christian community by laughing, barking, and claiming that gold dust and feathers falling on their assemblies was proof of God’s presence and approval. At some gatherings, taxis were provided for those “too drunk in the spirit” to drive home from services.
If you are saying to yourself that this is old news (1994) and not relevant today, let us caution you that today Alpha is bigger and more influential than ever. According to Alpha’s own site, over 27 million people have now completed Alpha, and its running in 169 countries in 112 languages. Spiritual deception never disappears. Our adversary just regroups it for a different (i.e., bigger) audience because 1) so many proclaiming Christians do not know about context, nor do they really seem to care, and 2) the devil is not going to dismiss a perfectly good deception if he can nab a successive generation with its lies.
So here is our warning: if you believe that Gumbel’s Holy Spirit doctrines are not a problem and his bringing the Brownsville debacle into the church is not important to anyone any longer, then please continue to read. The truth of the matter is that any falsehood we allow, even in small leavenous lumps, leads to greater compromise down the road unless true repentance takes place.
In an interview with the UK Guardian in 2009, Gumbel makes it clear that while he considers himself a Christian, more specifically he is an Anglican. He explains:
This may sound pernickety but I wouldn’t describe myself as an evangelical. These are labels, which I don’t think are helpful. If I was going to use any label it would be Christian, and if you push me any further I’d say I’m an Anglican—that’s the family of the Church that I belong to.6
Since the Anglican Church has so much in common with the Roman Catholic Church, we have to wonder how evangelicals got the impression that the Alpha Course is compatible with Protestant/evangelical Christianity.
In the following two quotes, we can see Gumbel’s acceptance and promotion of Roman Catholicism and the Catholic papacy:
It was a great honor to be presented to Pope John Paul II, who has done so much to promote evangelism around the world. We have been enormously enriched by our interaction with Catholics in many countries.7
Probably one of the strongest movements of the Holy Spirit is in the Roman Catholic Church, so there’s not a huge theological difference between the official teaching of the Catholic Church and the Anglican Church, for example.8
So we see that the Anglican Church, which has foundations deep in Catholicism, has produced a program that is sweeping the globe, designed to give simple answers to people who want to know the meaning of life. Alpha is designed to be fun and attractive, affirming and enjoyable (i.e., “inoffensive”). But how will this Catholic-influenced agenda point people to the real Jesus Christ, the real Gospel, the real sinful state of humans under the conviction of sin, and their need for a Savior? Will Alpha’s fun, attractive, and affirming program (yours for only ten weeks of classes) lead participants to repenting and surrendering their lives to God in such a manner that will secure their eternal destination (1 John 5:13)?
Alpha is missing the mark on so many levels doctrinally, it is tough to cover it all here. Within its pages, there is no satisfactory explanation as to why Jesus had to die in the first place. Sin is described as doing “wrong things” and yet the doctrine of sin is never fully taught, avoiding even the actual word.
What is never explained is that the biblical concept of “sin” is not just about doing wrong, it is about who we are—the motivations of the heart, our inherent sinful nature, and our separation from God. Alpha does not teach about the full nature of God or His attributes, His righteous anger at sin, or that holy justice required a substitution on our behalf. “Gospel light” hardly describes it fully, and one is left with the impression that Christ died because we mess up sometimes and because the universe brings with it some abstract notion of justice in case stuff happens. Alpha does not bring home the reality or the gravity of our sin, the realization that in us is no good thing, and the truth of how God sees us as lost in our sin until we receive (trust) Christ as our Savior. Thus, we can have no confidence in Alpha that it can truly convert people into a saving faith in Jesus Christ.
The Holy Spirit According to Alpha
Among the fifteen video talks Nicky Gumbel presents throughout the course, of particular interest to discerning Christians are talks number 8, 9, and 10. These talks are shown at Alpha’s distinctive Holy Spirit Weekend discussing who the Holy Spirit is, what He does, and how one might be filled with the Holy Spirit. Manifestations supposedly of God’s Spirit are encouraged during this weekend, even among those who are not yet saved.
Given the background of Alpha’s creators, one can only imagine what experiences might be encouraged. Manifestations such as uncontrollable laughter, lights, shaking, burning, physical heat, gold dust, and shocks have been documented from numerous sources. New Age participants in Reiki therapy and Kundalini Yoga experience the same kinds of manifestations.
A UK apologetics site, in exposing Alpha, had this to say about “strange manifestations”:
Biblically, the Holy Spirit magnifies Christ—but not Himself —but in Alpha, the Holy Spirit sometimes seems to be doing “his own thing.” Some of those who have been involved with HTB and Alpha claim that they have felt a force, or an unseen power, impelling them to do some very strange and even unChristian things, such as laughing uncontrollably. All responsible Christians, at length, must surely question such things in order to evaluate the fruits of a movement.9
So just how long has this deception been brewing, and at what point did Gumbel appear to be introduced to a specific level of supernatural manifestations? On a particular Alpha video, Gumbel recounts the night that John Wimber (founder of the Vineyard Movement) visited HTB church back in 1982, years before the holy laughter movement. At this meeting, there were many “words of knowledge” (supernatural revelations concerning the situations of various people in the room): “Specific details were given, accurately describing the conditions . . . As the list was responded to, the level of faith in the room was rising.” The following account gives more of what happened on Wimber’s visit:
Gumbel says that he still felt “cynical and hostile” until the following evening when he was prayed for: “So they prayed for the Spirit to come . . . I felt something like 10,000 volts going through my body . . . The American (Wimber) had a fairly limited prayer. He just said “more power” . . . it was the only thing he ever prayed. . . . Now we’ve seen many kinds of these manifestations of the Spirit on the weekends. . . . These manifestations and the physical healings themselves are not the important thing . . . the fruit of the Spirit. . . . these are the things that matter, the fruit that comes from these experiences. So we began to realise that God heals miraculously. . . .
Nicky Gumbel gives no indication here that he or anyone else attending that meeting tested the spirits to ensure that everything came from the Holy Spirit.”10
Author and lecturer Roger Oakland offers some insight:
When Vineyard pastor Randy Clarke came to the Toronto Airport Vineyard in January of 1994, he held several nights of meetings and then lit “the fire.” Randy Clarke had received his “anointing” from the “Holy Spirit Bartender” from South Africa, Rodney-Howard Browne.
For years afterwards, the transferrable anointing spread around the world. “It” was also called “it.” Once someone got “it” they were able to give “it” away. “It” was transported to the UK by Nicky Gumbel from the Holy Trinity Brompton Anglican Church in England.11
Benjamin Creme, the New Age guru who has been preparing the world for decades now to receive “The (new age) Christ” actually expressed his thoughts about the Toronto Blessing some time back. What makes this significant is that for the last few decades and continuing today, Creme has had only one job: promoting the one he calls “The Christ”—Lord Maitreya. Also back in 1982, he took out pricey full-page ads in every major global newspaper announcing in bold headlines that “The Christ is Now Here,” which was quite the jolt to the prophecy student who is versed in what the Scriptures say about a final evil world ruler.
Creme is convinced even today that his “Christ” will communicate telepathically to all citizens of the world simultaneously when his time comes to be revealed. Those practicing mind-altering meditation (such as Yoga or contemplative prayer) are being conditioned to be “vibrationally sympathetic” to receiving such “messages.” (To read more about Benjamin Creme and “Lord Maitreya, read Warren B. Smith’s book False Christ Coming: Does Anybody Care?) The fact that Creme would have anything to say about a signs and wonders movement within the Protestant Church actually says as much about the church as the guru. But when asked about the Toronto Blessing and what he thought of it, he said it was a good thing, and is . . . “the [same] method being used by his [own] spiritual Masters to soften up Christian Fundamentalists to accept the New Age Christ when He appears.”12 Charming . . . and not just a little alarming.
When we look at the background and what influences the “spirit” behind Alpha, there is every indication that this is not the Holy Spirit of the Bible, who does not ask us to do all kinds of weird and crazy things. We are not to seek visions and dreams or other things typical in Alpha-style hyper-charismatic circles. While some might perceive Alpha’s teachings on the Holy Spirit to be biblical, the problem lies in the clear beliefs and practices of the founder and how it is and has spread throughout the churches in practice thanks to Toronto and Brownsville. The kinds of manifestations that Gumbel promotes have nothing to do with the Comforter leading us into all truth and making us more like Jesus. It will more likely lead the participant into altered states of consciousness and occult practices common in New Age and emergent circles.
So who are the endorsers of the Alpha program? Probably the most influential supporter of Alpha (at least within the evangelical church) is Rick Warren. Warren was the keynote speaker at the 2014 Alpha Global Conference. For the fee of $190, one could catch him at Royal Albert Hall or get a seat at Gumbel’s church in Brompton (HTB)—remember, the site of the birth of the Holy Laughter movement.
The credibility that Warren lends to Alpha cannot be understated because of his highly popular Purpose Driven movement. And if Alpha was previously found mostly in mainline denominations and charismatic churches, Rick Warren’s backing is going to provide a major thrust for the Alpha course to enter evangelical and even conservative Christian denominations.
In addition, Willow Creek Association promotes and presents the Alpha Course, and on Alpha’s main website, there is information about the various churches that teach the Alpha Course.
A 2016 endorsement of the Alpha Course by Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa’s senior pastor, Brian Brodersen, is going to have a significant impact on many Calvary Chapel and other non-denominational mega churches. Brodersen posted this statement on April 14, 2016 on his Facebook to Nicky Gumbel regarding Gumbel’s new ALPHA film series:
What a FANTASTIC introduction to the new ALPHA film series! Good One @ Nicky Gumbel.13
Something that Calvary Chapel leaders—and all Christian church leaders for that matter—should remember is that the reason the Protestant Reformers were burned at the stake during the Protestant Reformation was because they stood against the errors of Roman Catholicism.
Today, things are quite different. We see thousands of Christian leaders of every sort either sympathizing with or outright promoting ecumenism and working with churches and movements that the Roman Catholic Church is absorbing or seeking to absorb into the fold in the future. The Pope’s and the Vatican’s influence is like a magic spell over many Christian leaders these days, and many have forgotten that judgement of the Living God is upon those who twist Scripture and present a false gospel:
I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. (Galatians 1:6-12)
A simple question one should ask of Brian Brodersen and other Christian leaders is: “Which version of Jesus Christ is Nicky Gumbel promoting—the Roman Catholic version of Jesus that is eaten and ingested in the Roman Catholic ritual of the sacrifice of the Mass or the biblical Jesus of Nazareth who was sacrificed only once for all time and is now sitting at the right hand of God in heaven (Hebrews 10:12) and is NOT being mystically turned into a wafer by a priest to be eaten and ingested (John 6:62-63)?
Well, in actuality, Gumbel, if he chooses to, can simply bounce back and forth like a ping-pong ball, playing to each crowd freely whenever the social context calls for it. With Roman Catholics, he can eat the Eucharistic Jesus, and with Protestants he can point to Scripture, and with charismatics, he can promote excesses and holy laughter and just go with the flow however things take shape. This type of convoluted spirituality escalates confusion to its highest form. This is not Christianity, this is diabolical!
Where Does it Lead?
With each passing year, the Alpha Leadership course becomes more blatant in its rejection of sound doctrine in favor of an ecumenical agenda that will merge seamlessly with the coming world spirituality predicted in the Bible. In 2015, the list of speakers at the Alpha Global Conference should concern every Christian who is a lover of truth: Rick Warren, who we mentioned earlier, Father Raniero Cantalamessa (preacher to the Papal household whose writings are recommended reading in the Guide for Alpha participants), word of faith proponent Joyce Meyer, Archbishop Justin Welby, and several others.
One should note that the Alpha Course is so “user-friendly” and spiritually generic that Roman Catholic leaders accommodate it, embrace it, utilize it, and promote it. It is the unchanged standard Alpha Course. Alpha is compatible with Catholic teaching, but it does not present wholly Catholic issues. It assumes that follow-up teachings will be offered to Catholics and those wishing to become Catholic. And, of course, as we said earlier in this booklet, Nicky Gumbel has met with at least two popes in order to cultivate an Alpha Course that is geared entirely for a Roman Catholic context. Alpha for Catholics is utilized on a global scale.
In fact, the introduction page for the Roman Catholic Alpha Course promotes it this way:
Answering the Call for the New Evangelization
Alpha is a tool for the New Evangelization that is being used by thousands of Catholic parishes in over 70 countries around the world. Alpha creates an environment and opportunity for an encounter with Jesus. As Pope Francis likes to say, it’s a chance for “Jesus to find them.”14
Alpha is without a doubt a great experience of new evangelization.15—Archbishop Rino Fisichella, President, the Pontifical Council for Promotion of the New Evangelization
Would a biblically sound, Gospel-focused program be so accepted and embraced by the Roman Catholic Church? No, because it would be incompatible with the Catholic view of salvation. Alpha markets itself as helping people find truth and find God. If Alpha originally intended to be coy about its true colors, Gumbel removed all doubt at the 2015 Global Conference by revealing its cooperation with Rome:
Ultimately, unity is not doctrinal, it’s relational . . . unity doesn’t mean we’re not interested in the truth! The only way to get truth is through unity!16
But Christian history has proven already that unity is often embraced at the cost of truth, and those who stood alone (like the martyrs) were the ones who made a difference. Truth can bring unity, but unity for its own sake does not lead to truth. That is why Jesus promoted truth and did not commit Himself to the crowds.
Gumbel also expressed the following at the conference:
Unity is not an option—Jesus is still praying for our unity—so that the world will be one.
Unity doesn’t mean we have to agree on everything—disagreement is healthy.
I used to think if some part of the church is different from me, they must be wrong. Now I think, ‘wow, they’re different from me, I must have so much to learn from them!
I have come to love the Catholic Church—If God has given them the same Spirit, who are we to oppose God?
The same Spirit lives in the Catholics, and the Orthodox, and the Pentecostals and the Protestants, even the Anglicans have the same Holy Spirit living within them. That’s what makes us one!
We live in a divided world that demands a united church.
Root of all problems in the world is division. Paul gives us the answer to this—it’s in relationships!17
No, Mr. Gumbel, the root of all problems in the world isn’t division. Jesus said He came to cause division—division between truth and error. The root of all problems in the world is sin, which separates man from God. And the only way to get truth is through the Word of God. Subjective and experiential Christianity is guaranteed to leave one walking in step with the apostates on the broad road to destruction.
The Bottom Line
The church today, using unnatural (and unbiblical) growth methods and programs, has grown into an unnatural institution, with perverse and unsound doctrines, combining paganism with Christianity and compromising any bits and tidbits of truth. The Bible indicates that true church growth comes from “the washing of water by the word” (see Ephesians 5:26-27). Only as we cleanse ourselves of false doctrine while washing in the pure doctrine of God’s Word can we experience the natural growth that God intended.
The Alpha Course fits perfectly into today’s emergent “progressive” culture with its experiential mysticism and its ecumenical merging of all faiths, starting with Rome. We won’t be surprised next to see Alpha for Muslims. It is also a front for Toronto-blessing-style hyper-charismania and Latter Day Prophet lying signs and wonders antics. Even if people find some truth in it, there is enough poison to render it harmful to the body as a whole. Even if a solid church can find a way to present it with their own solid teaching, why bother? If we need so many books to explain the Bible, how are we any different from the various cults today?
The bottom line with Alpha is this: Can Christians who love the Word and their Bibles be comfortable with, or even need, a program that is—
Written from the Church of England/Anglican perspective?
Written and taught by a man who brought us holy laughter and the Brownsville Revival?
Teaches Catholics the same course as Protestants and urges them to stay in the church they are in?
Is ecumenical to the core?
Promotes an incomplete theology of the Cross and atonement?
Promotes New Age/hyper-charismatic manifestations claiming they are of the Holy Spirit?
Teaches Kingdom Now Theology/Dominionism?
If you or your church are using the Alpha Course, or are considering using it, please prayerfully consider what you have read in this booklet.
To order copies of The Alpha Course— An Evangelical Contradiction, click here.
3. Alpha Course’s Gumbel Invites Vineyard UK Founder Eleanor Mumford & Furtick, Hybels to Leadership Conference http://www.donotbesurprised.com/2013/02/alpha-courses-gumbel-invites-vineyard.html.
6. “Nicky Gumbel Interview Transcript” (The Guardian, August 28, 2009, http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/belief/2009/aug/28/religion-christianity-alpha-gumbel-transcript).
7. Roger Oakland, “Alpha and the Pope, http://www.understandthetimes.org/commentary/c25.shtml, quoting Nicky Gumbel from “Alpha News,” March-June 2004, p. 7.
8. “Nicky Gumbel Interview Transcript,” op. cit.
10. Sandy Simpson, “The Dangers of the Alpha Course” (http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/alpha.html; quoting from Session 12 White Alpha training manual ppS8-62/Video V Talk 13).
11. Roger Oakland, “Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa and Alpha,” http://www.understandthetimes.org/commentary/c183ccandalpha.shtml.
12. Nick Needham, “The Toronto Blessing,” http://orthodoxinfo.com/inquirers/toronto.aspx.
13. From Brian Brodersen’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/PastorBrianBrodersen/posts/822581941179918.
14. Alpha For Catholics, http://us.alphausa.org/Groups/1000042056/Alpha_Catholic_Context.aspx.
16. Nicky Gumbel, “A Vision for a United Church,” at the 2015 Alpha Leadership Conference; https://lc17.alpha.org/2015-talks.
17. These quotes are taken from a Letter to the Editor: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=17458.
To order copies of The Alpha Course— An Evangelical Contradiction, click here.
“How can we know if something is not a move of God? In today’s church, there are two significant signs that can be looked at to answer this question.”—Roger Oakland
By Roger Oakland
Understand the Times, International
Throughout my life, I have seen God work in many supernatural and natural ways. God is a God of wonders, and there are many times I wonder at the things He does to help me connect the dots in order so I can understand the times.
Someone once said that connecting dots in order to make a meaningful drawing or picture is easy. All one has to do is use a pencil or pen to join one number to another. Now, while this may sound easy, in the confusing world we presently live in, connecting dots is not so simple.
My calling has been to connect dots in order to help believers, and unbelievers, understand what the Bible has to say about the times in which we live. The Bible helps us to understand the past, the present, and the future and is of paramount importance as it is given to us by the inspiration of God for our benefit. For example, we read in 2 Timothy 3:16-17:
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
Now, for the point of this commentary. First, let me start with John 6. This is the story of where Jesus miraculously multiplied fish and bread to feed the multitude that had come to hear him preach. Afterward, the men whom he fed said, “This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world” (vs. 14). The chapter goes on:
When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone. (vs 15)
Later in the chapter, it explains that the multitude found him and began questioning him as to where he had gone. But rather than answering their question, He brought to their attention the motives of their hearts:
Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. (vs. 26)
Jesus had used the miracle of the loaves and fishes to show them that He was God. But they didn’t see that—in essence, they only saw how they benefited from what He had done. They missed the entire point of what God was trying to show them and do in their lives. Click here to continue reading.
NEW BOOKLET TRACT: C is For Catholicism—An Evangelical Primer on Catholic Terminology by Kevin Reeves 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 C is For Catholicism—An Evangelical Primer on Catholic Terminology, click here.
C is For Catholicism—An Evangelical Primer on Catholic Terminology
By Kevin Reeves
I remember well those hot pre-summer vacation days in Philadelphia, standing in formation with my classmates in the parking lot of the Catholic church/school to which I belonged, the sun baking my hatless head as we sang in unison the praises of Mary, the Mother of God. It was a yearly festival, this May Procession, and although we grade-school kids were supposedly there to honor Mary, we all knew that if we adhered close enough to the religious choreography, the parish priest looking on would cut that school day in half. And, if we were really sharp, he would give us off the whole next day. That was the real goal, and we knew it—for each to keep his place in formation, standing straight and uncomplaining, responding correctly to cues from the nuns. It usually paid off, though I clearly recall once being stiffed by the priest although we’d suffered admirably through the hot, endless ordeal.
I bring up the May Procession, not by way of mocking, but because it is indicative of the Catholic Church at large. The term “religious choreography” is aptly used, because it is descriptive of the rigidity of the faith and practice in which I was immersed for the first twenty-four years of my life. The church called the way we were to move, think, act, if we wanted to remain in good standing and possibly attain salvation.
It has been my experience that Roman Catholicism is basically composed of rules to be obeyed. The closer one adheres to said rules, it is taught, the holier one becomes. Though the Scriptures are utilized—albeit in conjunction with what Protestants believe are non-canonical books, like Maccabees and Tobit—they are never stand-alone but are always viewed through the lens of Catholic tradition and doctrine and take secondary place to that church’s form and structure. Catholicism teaches that one cannot be righteous apart from the Catholic system; salvation, as such, is not solely on the basis of the shed blood of Jesus Christ, but also on the basis of works—works which adhere to the Catholic formula. For all those years, I was taught, and believed, that it was the Catholic Church that saved me, not Jesus alone. And for all those years of faithful belief and practice, including twelve years of Catholic school, I never once heard the undiluted Gospel preached.
It was said with pride within my own family that we came from 200 years of Catholic tradition. Our spiritual forebears included poor Irish farmers, assorted rogues one step ahead of the law, fiddlers, and (I was told, anyway) an Irish archbishop, and with such an impressive, unbroken line of Catholicism, we were born into the fold. Until I drifted away from the Catholic Church at twenty-four, all my religious experience had been formed by that ancient tradition. I was raised among statues of Mary and the saints, scapulars, holy water, and blessed palm leaves, but I don’t recall ever seeing a Bible in the house. We really didn’t need one for the spiritual path we were on. The parish priest and nuns taught us all we needed to know to be good Catholics. Not good Christians, mind you. Good Catholics. I say without animosity that there was, and is, a huge difference, one which Catholics do not seem to understand.
For the past several decades, there has been a concerted effort by both the Catholic hierarchy and some leading evangelicals to join hands, forget the tumultuous past, and work together as brothers and sisters in Christ. Though it has always been a subtle thrust of the Vatican to draw back to its church those who consider themselves “Protestant,” now the move has gained such momentum that subtlety is no longer warranted. Today, so much Catholic tradition has inundated even mainline churches that the lines between truth and error are blurred, or worse, eradicated altogether.
Even many Bible-believing Christians love Saint Francis of Assisi, that gentle mendicant at whose beckoning wild animals would supposedly become tame. They have no idea that in real life he was a Catholic mystic, whose vision of Christ supposedly pierced his own hands, feet, and side with the visible, painful wounds of Christ’s crucifixion; they don’t know that Francis honored and held as holy his pope, Innocent III, who instituted the first serious persecution of those who deviated from Catholic tradition; they do not know of the many popes who had mistresses, sired illegitimate children, lived in luxury, ruled as emperors and yet whose word, spoken “from the chair” of Saint Peter was still considered by the faithful to be the very word of God.
When asked about the discrepancy, a Catholic may indeed admit to a checkered papal history, and at the same time confess that a reigning pope can and does speak infallibly, “from the chair.”
Many Christians who don’t recognize the danger infiltrating Christ’s church might well remark that because the pope and his emissaries don’t do those same things today, then we should forget the past, forgive, and move on, recognizing what is good in Catholicism and even incorporating some (or many) of its tenets and practices. I wonder if John Hus, William Tyndale, or scores of other good Christian men and women who gave their all to free multitudes from the religious bondage of Catholicism would think it appropriate to let bygones be bygones. Remember, for all the papal bluster about goodwill toward those outside Vatican purview, the Catholic Church is still basically the same as it was many hundreds of years ago. It has never renounced the Counter-Reformation, nor repented for the execution of men like Hus, nor repudiated its most dearly held doctrines like transubstantiation (the re-sacrifice of Christ on the Cross in every Mass) or the belief in Mary as mediator between Jesus and men.
Many of the following terms were pulled from my memory of long association with and participation in the Catholic Church. As a child I learned the Mass in Latin, competed for “holy cards” in Catholic school, revered both the priests and nuns, and, faithfully adhered to the system marked out for me from birth. Some outworking of Catholicism may have changed since my Catholic days, but the system, the doctrine, and the practices are essentially the same. I have also turned to the research and work of Roger Oakland, director of Understand the Times, International and his excellent book, Another Jesus?: The Eucharistic Christ and the New Evangelizations to confirm the meanings of the following terms.
As Christians who hold fast to the Scriptures and abide in Jesus, we need to love Catholics, while at the same time expose the errors of the religious system in which they are enmeshed. Only by speaking the truth in love and finding no place for compromise with error can we glorify the God who saved us through the shed blood of His only Son.
For by grace are ye saved, through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. (Ephesians 2: 8-9)
Catholicism in Terms
Absolution: The forgiveness of one’s sins by a priest, who acts as a mediator between God and man. That the priest is the one who forgives sin is confirmed by the priest’s own words: “I absolve thee in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” As a teenager once, prior to confession, I asked a priest, “Father, can you forgive hatred?”
“I can forgive any sin, son,” he said with confidence in his authority.
This is in direct conflict with Scripture, which states in 1 Timothy 2:5 that “. . . there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”
Ash Wednesday: Catholic holy day wherein a priest smudges the sign of the cross on the foreheads of the faithful with a semblance of the words, “dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return,” a warning of the short earthly life span of man. The faithful usually wear the ashes on their foreheads the entire day, in full view.
Assumption: The supposed heavenly taking up of the body of Mary into glory.1
Bleeding Host: A communion wafer that oozes blood and/or pulses like a heart.
Catechism: A book enumerating and explaining the teachings of the Catholic Church. It is given to potential converts and, historically, taught in Catholic schools to students.
Confession: The act of confessing one’s sins to a priest in order to obtain absolution. The priest acts as mediator between God and men, forgiving sins and prescribing what he considers an appropriate penance.
Confessional: The dark, boxlike structure where Catholics to go “confession” (see cover of this booklet). A screen is between the priest and the sinner so that neither can clearly see the other, for privacy’s sake.
Contemplative Prayer: Going beyond thought by the use of repeated prayer words or phrases. The religious chanting common in some monks’ orders qualifies as contemplative, since the phrases, intonation, and method used in the chant is designed to lift the practitioner from the earthly to the divine realm.
Counter-Reformation: The movement, exemplified by the Council of Trent, organized by the Catholic Church and meeting for years that codified Catholic belief in opposition to the Protestant reformers. The council essentially denied the simple truth of the Gospel in favor of longstanding Catholic tradition and Vatican interpretations, and placed an anathema (curse from God) on those in disagreement with its findings on such things as transubstantiation.
Crucifix: Cross on which a figure of Jesus still hangs. Central point of any Catholic church and affixed to the rosary chain, the crucifix reminds the worshipper of the suffering of Christ and His sacrifice for the salvation of souls. Praying while staring at the crucifix is common among Catholics, as the crucifix is used as a prayer assist.
Ecstasy: The ultimate goal of the Catholic mystic in his seeking of God, usually involving separate incidents over a lifetime of devotion. Manifestations accompanying ecstasy, such as visions, crying, rapture, trance, levitation, the receiving of the stigmata, etc., have been reported throughout history.
Eucharist: The sacrament of the partaking of the Communion wafer and wine consecrated by the priest during the Mass. Believed to impart special grace, because the recipient is said to be eating and drinking the actual body and blood of Christ. Also refers to the Communion elements themselves.
Eucharistic Christ: The actual, physical presence of Christ in the consecrated Host, which is to be worshipped by the faithful. It is important to remember that Catholics do not believe they worship a wafer; they believe they worship the Christ that appears in wafer form.
Eucharistic Miracle: Communion wafers that bleed, pulse like a heart, etc. Wine that turns miraculously into human blood. If reports are genuine, then these are actual supernatural occurrences, and completely at odds with the Scriptures, hence demonic in origin.2
Ex Cathedra: Literally, “From the Chair,” meaning the chair of Saint Peter, whom Catholics believe was the first pope of the Roman Church. When a pope speaks Ex Cathedra, his words are considered to be the very words of God.
Father: Official term of address for a priest, as he is seen as a mediator between God and men, the conduit through which the eucharistic transubstantiation is performed, and in matters of faith and practice the wise leader of a spiritual “family” (his parishioners). This is in direct violation of the commandment of Jesus in Matthew 23:9, wherein our Lord states, “And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, who is in heaven.”
Though Catholics downplay the importance of this distinction, to call anyone “father” in the official, spiritual sense indicates deference to his presumed spiritual standing, which is believed to be higher and more in tune with God. Implied in this term and image of the Catholic “father” is the idea of a God who is not directly approachable by the “laity,” or the everyday Catholic. Instead, the common people who come with petitions or confessions to God the Father approach through a complex spiritual protocol of Mary, the saints, the angels, and, of course, the family or parish priest. But the Scriptures tell us repeatedly that “. . . because ye are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father” (Galatians 4:6) and that we are to “come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). By His death and resurrection, Christ Himself has torn the veil that separated us from God (Matthew 27:51) and removed the system that required a human high priest as intermediary. A priest, Catholic or otherwise, is no longer needed for the Christian to directly approach his Father God.
Genuflection: The act of bowing down on one knee before the altar, often in consort with a sign of the cross, in worship of the Jesus whom Catholics believe is physically present in the Host. The Host is kept in a special, ornate box behind the altar. The faithful Catholic, before leaving the church building, turns, faces the Host (the body of Jesus), and falls on one knee in worship of the Host he believes to be God. This is no less than idolatry.
Good Works: In the Catholic sense, necessary to maintain one’s salvation. Catholics will cite James 2:17 (“Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone”) to support their assertion. But James here is speaking of works showing that you already have faith in Christ, not that faith plus works equals salvation.
Hail Mary: A prayer of devotion to Mary, ending with the plea, “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.”
Holy Water: Water blessed by the priest and normally kept in small water dishes near the inside entrance to a Catholic church. The faithful dips a finger or two in the water and makes the sign of the cross.
Host: From the Latin hostia, meaning “victim,” because Christ is supposedly sacrificed repeatedly, in every Mass. Physically, it is the Communion wafer consecrated by the priest. When lifted up at the high point of the Mass, and blessed by the priest, the Host is said to become the actual body of Christ. Likewise, the wine, when lifted up and consecrated during the Mass, is said to become the actual blood of Christ.
Immaculate Conception: The doctrine which declares that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was born without original sin in order to be the perfect vessel for the birth of the Son of God. The Scriptures say that only Jesus was born without sin, because He was God incarnate.
Indulgence: A pardon or shortening of the time that a soul is sentenced to purgatory, granted by an act of the pope. The selling of indulgences to raise monies for the building of a new church or add to the Vatican treasury, etc., was so widespread during the Middle Ages, that a ditty developed from the practice: “As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, a soul from purgatory springs.”
Infallibility: A characteristic presumed of the pope when speaking officially on faith and doctrine. His words are considered inerrant, without flaw, as coming from God.
Lectio Divina: Means “sacred reading.” In today’s contemplative movement, it often involves taking a single word or small phrase from Scripture and repeating the words over and over again.
Lent: The forty-day period preceding the day the Lord’s resurrection is celebrated. During Lent, Catholics donate extra money, give up certain harmless pleasures, make a more serious commitment to the church, sacrifice for others, etc.
Limbo: The supposed state just short of heaven wherein reside those good souls who had not been baptized into the Roman Catholic Church. This includes babies stillborn or those who died before being baptized.
Lourdes: A famous grotto in France where the peasant girl Bernadette Soubirous supposedly witnessed multiple appearances of the Virgin Mary. The grotto later became a pilgrimage site for the sick and infirm, and many supernatural healings have been said to occur there.
Mary: The mother of Jesus in the Bible, called The Mother of God by Catholics. She is the object of adoration to the faithful who pray to her for mercy, forgiveness, or miracles. The faithful sometimes make vows to her, contrary to the admonition in Matthew 5:33-37 to utter no oaths at all. Also called the Blessed Mother, Blessed Virgin, Virgin Mary, Our Lady, and the Queen of Heaven. One common prayer of praise to her states, “Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope.” So much in this prayer usurps the authority of both Christ and the Father in the life of the true Christian. In 2 Corinthians 1:3, God, not Mary, is the one from whom mercy flows, He being called “the father of mercies and the God of all comfort.” In the above prayer to Mary, she is also called “our life,” but Colossians 3:4 states that “. . . when Christ, who is our life, shall appear . . .” Later in that same prayer to Mary, she is called the Catholic’s “advocate,” thus again usurping Christ’s position, as 1 John 2:1 calls Him, not Mary, the Christian’s advocate.
This image of Mary as a powerful go-between is so central to the Catholic faith that it is impossible to conceive of Catholicism without her in the position of adoration that she holds. It is of utmost importance to realize that the Bible says very little about the mother of Jesus. Catholic tradition is responsible for the Marian construct we see in operation today.
Marian Apparitions: Though not exclusively a Catholic term, it is used to denote supposed appearances of Mary in her glorified state. She is said to have appeared to individuals or groups of people in many locations throughout the world, including at Fatima, Portugal in the early part of the twentieth century.
Mass: A celebratory re-sacrifice of Christ on the Cross. This is a contradiction of the many Scriptures that declare Christ died only once, for all men, for all time, such as Hebrews 9:28, which states that “Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many.” He is never to be re-offered as a sacrifice for sin, such as is done in the Mass. His one sacrifice was sufficient.
May Procession: A spiritual celebration of the Catholic Church, which, in my time, was composed of schoolchildren in the Catholic school I attended, and directed by nuns and priests. Mary is honored as the Mother of God. One of the songs sung during the celebration is “Immaculate Mary.”
Mediatrix: Term applied to Mary, the Mother of Jesus, who is said to be a co-redeemer with Christ. In Catholic practice, Mary is often the mediator between men and Jesus, it being suggested that she is more merciful and that her Son in heaven would refuse her nothing.
Monstrance: The ornate, hand-held container that is used to display the Host. A priest raises the monstrance above his head and passes it before the congregation, allowing them to worship the supposed Jesus in the Host.
Mortal Sin: A sin that, if not repented of before death, condemns a soul to hell.
Mystic: In Catholic parlance, one who seeks complete union with God.
Mysticism: A direct experience with the supernatural realm outside scriptural boundaries.
New Evangelization Plan: A program by the Catholic Church designed to win the world to Christ (the Eucharistic christ), with the Eucharist as the focal point.3
Our Father: The Catholic term for the Lord’s Prayer. “Forgive us our debts” is usually substituted with “forgive us our trespasses.”
Pope: From the Latin papa. The supreme, spiritual head of the entire Roman Catholic Church on earth, considered the “vicar” of Christ.
Purgatory: Place of punishment wherein those who died with venial sins on their souls will be purged. Considered by some Catholics to be a place of fiery torment of unspecified but limited duration.
Penance: Good works, restitution, or a set of prayers to be prayed after a priest absolves sin. Failure to do penance when so ordered invalidates the absolution.
Relics: Anything once belonging to a deceased, sainted Catholic, including bones, articles of clothing, personal possessions, etc., that are considered imbued with supernatural power. Historically, the sale of relics was a booming business. Supposed pieces of the “true cross” and spots of “Christ’s blood” were once peddled in Europe.
Righteousness: The position of being in right standing with God through good works, prayers, and devotion to the teachings of the Catholic Church. Contrary to the use of the term in the Bible (2 Corinthians 5:21, Romans 3:28), righteousness in the Catholic system is not imputed and irrevocable, but rather maintained by following the Catholic protocol.
Rosary: A set of beads, ending in a crucifix, that is used with a particular pattern of fixed prayers, especially the Our Father and the Hail Mary. Primarily a devotional tool to Mary.
Saints: Devoted Catholic men and women, most notably mystics, who were canonized by the Catholic Church after a Vatican investigation has proven that two miracles occurred through or by their intervention. Catholic tradition ascribes to some saints rather fantastic characteristics, such as bi-location (being in two places at one time), levitation, or the stigmata.
Separated Brethren: Any Christian who is not a Catholic. Protestants.
Scapular: Small piece of consecrated cloth, with a picture of the Mother of God and/or the saint to whom it was first given. The scapular is designed to be worn about the neck as a symbol of consecration to Mary. Supposedly presented by Mary to Catholic Saint Simon Stock in the early medieval period, in the form of a monk’s habit. It was eventually cut down to its present form for use with common Catholics, with the promise that the faithful who die wearing the scapular will not be sent to hell.4
Sign of the Cross: Short ritual, using the hand to touch first the forehead, then the center of the chest, then the left side of the chest or shoulder, then the right. During the ritual some bow their heads, and some say, “In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.” The ritual is a symbol of worship and humility.
Statues: It would be difficult to overstate the importance of statues (those miniature or life-size representations of Mary, the Catholic saints, and Christ) in Catholic worship. In a church, or consecrated by a priest for private use, such statues are viewed as holy by “the faithful.” Catholics kneel before them, fix their eyes upon them while praying, and implore favors from those they represent. This practice is in direct violation of the Second Commandment, written in Exodus 20:4-5, which forbids the pagan practice of bowing before images in worship. Doing connotes idol worship.
In many churches, bouquets of fresh flowers are placed at the feet of a statue of Mary, by the faithful as evidence of their devotion to the Mother of God. Statues may also be attired according to month, holy day, or festival, such as those of Mary in certain Catholic nations, where the statue is crowned, dressed in fine garments and jewels, and paraded on a garlanded platform through the streets amid throngs of worshippers. In some churches, the statue of Mary, normally placed near or beside the altar rail, is shown with a serpent under her feet, indicating that she will tread down Satan. The Bible states that only Christ, not Mary, will crush the serpent’s head, since it is He alone who purchased salvation for believers at the cost of His own blood.
In the past century, miracles attributed to Catholic statues include mouths moving as if to speak, and blood or tears or milk flowing from the eyes. In view of the Scriptures, such bizarre manifestations can only be considered demonic.
Stigmata: Visible marks depicting the wounds of Jesus’ crucifixion, appearing on the hands, feet and side of certain mystics, such as Francis of Assisi.
Tabernacle: The ornate box on the altar containing the hosts.
Transubstantiation: The doctrine that asserts that during the Mass, the Host (the communion wafer) and the communion wine are transformed miraculously into the literal body and blood of Christ.
Venial Sin: A “smaller” sin, one that does not place the soul in eternal jeopardy. It is believed that a Catholic may die with venial sins on his soul, and, after a time of suffering in purgatory, be taken to heaven.
Visualization: Can be used as a springboard to mysticism, i.e., visualizing oneself walking with Jesus, talking with Him, sitting at His feet and listening to His teaching. This goes much farther than harmless imagining in that visualization is utilized to actually bring one into contact with God.
To order copies of C is For Catholicism—An Evangelical Primer on Catholic Terminology, click here.
2. Joan Carroll Cruz, Eucharistic Miracles: And Eucharistic Phenomena in the Lives of the Saints (Rockford, IL: Tan Books and Publishers, 1987), back cover; cited in Roger Oakland’s Another Jesus? (Eureka, MT: Lighthouse Trails Publishing, 2004), page 115.
3. Read chapter 6, “The New Evangelization” of Another Jesus? for more information.
To order copies of C is For Catholicism—An Evangelical Primer on Catholic Terminology, click here.
By Ray Yungen and the Editors at Lighthouse Trails
In an article released in January 2016 written by New Age leader Deepak Chopra titled, “Will Pope Francis Become a Holy Man for the World?,” Chopra states,
Pope Francis I is poised to be more than a very popular pontiff . . . He could rise to become a symbol of holiness beyond the Catholic Church. . . . for those of us who aren’t Catholic, there’s a universal message voiced personally by the Pope: “No one can be excluded from God’s mercy. The question, then, is how potent this mission will be.
Chopra says that “millions of non-Catholics feel a fresh wind blowing” because of the Pope’s actions and that Pope Francis has “become a spiritual exemplar.”
In the article, Chopra gives some advice to Pope Francis, that he not become another “theological” pope but rather one with a “higher consciousness” and like the “Jesus” who was not theological but rather “enlightened.” Chopra adds:
I hope in a corner of my heart that Francis I can open himself to a kind of Super-ecumenical position, not only allowing that other faiths have validity, but seeing that the Eastern tradition of higher consciousness is in fact universal. . . . we must be realistic. Spiritual experiences occur in consciousness. . . . There is no reason to reject meditation as “not Christian” when the point is that meditation, among other contemplative practices, alters brain function. In so doing, specific regions of the brain are trained to register subtle perceptions. The deeper your perceptions, the more subtle the levels of reality you are comfortable with. At the deepest level, we encounter the entire history of spiritual awakening, which is the opening of the self to the self through expanded awareness. . . . If we are in fact witnessing the career of the most conscious pope in modern times, let him tell us more about consciousness and the spiritual fulfillment it contains.
Pope Francis is well on his way to doing just that. As a Jesuit contemplative priest, he is very much drawn to this mystical higher consciousness. That is why he named Thomas Merton as one of four most meaningful people when he was in the United States last year. As we have often pointed out, Merton found Buddhist enlightenment in contemplative prayer. Merton’s view that God is in every person is summed up in this statement:
During a conference on contemplative prayer, the question was put to Thomas Merton: “How can we best help people to attain union with God?” His answer was very clear: “We must tell them that they are already united with God. Contemplative prayer is nothing other than “coming into consciousness” of what is already there. ( Brennan Manning, The Signature of Jesus (Sisters, OR: Multnomah, 1996, Revised Edition), p. 211.)
Deepak Chopra and many other are hoping that Pope Francis will be that one who will bring the entire world into “superconsciousness” (the realization that man is divine). Remember the Parliament of World Religions this past fall that Lighthouse Trails reported on (see links below). It was a New Age/New Spirituality gathering of emerging church leaders, New Age leaders, Eastern religious leaders, and others who were looking for a “Coming Messiah” as Alice Bailey “prophesied” who could save the world. And who was the figure everyone was talking about at the Parliament with enthusiasm and hope? None other than Pope Francis.
LTRP Note: The following article is posted for informational and research purposes and not as an endorsement of the sources. Both Christianity Today and LifeWay Research are proponents of the “new” spirituality (i.e., contemplative/emerging), which has helped to accelerate the current surge of interspirituality and ecumenism within the evangelical church and is, in effect, causing this major paradigm shift toward the merging of the Protestant/evangelical church with the Roman Catholic Church.
The information in this article is quite stunning. We are seeing a major paradigm shift taking place.
By Lisa Cannon Green
More than half of evangelical pastors say Pope Francis is their brother in Christ.
More than one-third say they value the pope’s view on theology, and 3 in 10 say he has improved their view of the Catholic Church.
Those are among the findings of a new study of 1,000 Protestant senior pastors, released this week from Nashville-based LifeWay Research.
Overall, the survey found that many Protestant pastors have taken a liking to Pope Francis.
Nearly 4 in 10 say the pope, known for his humility and concern for the poor, has had a positive impact on their opinions of the Catholic Church. Almost two-thirds view Pope Francis as a genuine Christian and “brother in Christ.” Click here to continue reading.
The title for a new book, The Good Shepherd Calls: An Urgent Warning for the End Times Church, flooded into my mind like a lightning bolt flashing in the darkness. In all honesty, I had no desire or motivation to write another book. I have been telling people that I was in retirement when I was asked about writing another book.
For the last five years, my ministry had shifted away from focusing on discerning the times to our Bryce Homes International program, assisting poor and underprivileged children around the world. I was satisfied to live out the rest of my life without facing the pressures and the hostility so common in a ministry that deals with contending for the faith.
For almost four decades of my life, I have been on the front lines directing an apologetics ministry called Understand The Times. As the result of a serious illness that nearly ended my life in 2009 when I was in my early 60s, I reasoned the time had come to let others take my place in the battle. However, that suddenly changed after reading an article and watching a video that showed Jesuit Pope Francis proclaiming that all religions including “Christianity” worship the same God. Something in me snapped. How could I not send out a warning?
Immediately, I wrote and published a commentary on our website showing that Bible prophecy is in the process of being fulfilled and the return of Jesus Christ is at hand. I could no longer remain silent. Something had to be done to wake up the pastors and the church. We are living in the crucial Last Days the Bible foretells will unfold, and the time is short.
Yet there is a huge problem. The closer we get to the return of Christ, fewer and fewer recognize what is happening. Satan’s deceptive plan to set up a One-World global religion in the name of Christ for the cause of peace is being fulfilled to set up the religion for the Antichrist. Why are the pastors not warning the sheep? Worse yet, why are so many pastors promoting global ecumenism and praising the pope? Click here to continue reading.