Posts Tagged ‘Ray Yungen’
LTRP Note: Carolyn recently mailed this letter to Lighthouse Trails. She wrote it shortly after Ray passed away (on October 16th). Carolyn is the author of Castles in the Sand and Dangerous Illusions.
Update: After posting this letter on November 30, a reader wrote to us concerned that Carolyn was writing this letter to Ray, that it might give the impression that Carolyn or Lighthouse Trails endorsed talking to the dead. So that there is no misunderstanding and so that we do not mislead anyone, we want to clarify that neither Lighthouse Trails nor Carolyn Greene believe one can talk to the dead or should one try to talk to the dead. Carolyn’s letter was meant as a tribute to Ray and not intended in any fashion as an effort to communicate with Ray. Because of this concern, we have reworded Carolyn’s letter into third person.
Dear Lighthouse Trails,
How I have missed Ray Yungen, and always will.
The first time I heard about Ray, I read his book, A Time of Departing, on the contemplative spirituality that had crept into my church. I had been questioning it, and his book gave me the confidence to stand in the truth.
The first time I met Ray was when he came to speak at my church . . . the new church we found and loved where the truth was being taught.
The first time I got to know Ray was a few days later. We had lunch in the Greek restaurant, and we talked about all the things that had put us on the same page for such a time as this. One touching thing he told me that day was that he was a romantic at heart. His dream was to have a picnic with a checkered tablecloth and a basket of food on a grassy hill with someone he could love. A beautiful girl with a British accent perhaps, with whom he could wax eloquent. It was sweet that he shared his hopes in many conversations to come, and I wished it for him, but it was not to be.
The first time he came to our family’s home was some time later, to discuss my research on a current faith healer who was telling everyone to “come get some” Holy Ghost fire at a big so-called revival in Florida. He walked in, and I was prepared to get down to business and show him all I had found. But he asked if I had any coffee, and if he could just sit on the leather couch and take it all in. It was my first introduction to the idea of having an awareness of the ambiance of a moment, that life was not all about work. Life was about taking it in and enjoying the gift of it. I saw that in Ray— a home was a place to cherish. I remember how he so enjoyed the roast beef dinner at our table, how relaxed he was, how he enjoyed every moment, and took interest in everything. It was not a fancy meal but one he would refer to years later as “a wonderful dinner,” even though we didn’t have the HP sauce he requested. After dinner, we watched video clips together on my computer of the madman who shook and flailed wildly on stage, claiming it was the Holy Spirit anointing, like a wolf deceiving the sheep. Ray were so stunned by it that he stood up, walked to the view windows and looked out at the hills . . . deep in thought at first; then very excitedly, he began to pace and explained how this was the connection between Brother Lawrence (who danced like a madman when he went into “the presence”) and this modern-day movement. And sure enough, as I researched further, this false teacher did indeed “practice the presence,” and even taught it. Ray thanked me profusely. I was simply honored.
Then Ray made a temporary move to Canada and lived with some brothers in the Lord. The first time I dropped by to discuss his research, he greeted me with such delight and enthusiasm. We were always on the same page and had many interesting conversations. Together, we led an evening addressing questions about Yoga to concerned parents at a local elementary school that was introducing it to kids.
What also impressed me was that Ray knew the Bible very well. He loved attending our church when he could and was a wonderful addition to our fellowship, often joining the lunch crowd at the restaurants for Sunday dinner. I always sensed God’s strength and joy in him. He couldn’t suppress the sparkle in his eye or subdue the constant grin that lit up his face. Especially when we would visit the local Christian bookstore, and he would bounce from book to book, excitedly expressing his exasperation, for all to hear, that such a store would sell books written by the mystics.
The time came when he had to go back home to the U.S., and we lost contact. From what I saw in the time he was with us, he embraced life as much as he did his calling. His passion was the ministry God gave him . . . to warn the church of false teaching disguised as the truth.
Surely he changed the direction of so many people walking the paths of error. Looking back on time, I now realize that God used Ray to change the course of my life. I was told he picked my pen name for the novel I wrote for his publisher, the publishing company that would not even exist were it not for Ray. I was so honored. How I wish I could have told him these things before he left us.
The first time I heard of his illness, I had hoped to share these thoughts with him. But then suddenly, he was gone. I was so sorry to hear the final news. That day I pictured him walking in a golden meadow with Jesus, picnic basket in hand, a sparkle in his eye, waxing eloquent, and enjoying the ambiance of eternity.
I miss Ray. He truly was, and forever will be, a RAY of SON SHINE.
LTRP Note: If you have not read Castles in the Sand and its sequel Dangerous Illusions, we would highly recommend it, especially if you have or are a college-aged person.
Dear Lighthouse Trails:
Many years ago when I was teaching an adult Sunday School class, I was so impressed with the importance of a certain book, I had the whole class order that book by Ray Yungen. It was called A Time of Departing.
It was all about how a new movement was entering the church. It went by a variety of names: spiritual formation, contemplative prayer, contemplative spirituality. It included topics like centering prayer, meditation, lectio divina, and visualization. It is a linking of Catholic and Eastern religions and has nothing biblical in it. Both my adult children and their spouses were in the Sunday School class.
Five years passed, and we got a new pastor who began to talk of John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila among others (they are Catholic saints, and the Catholic link to all this is immense). Because we had read Ray Yungen’s book five years earlier, we were aware of the error that was being preached. All of our family were very active in the church – some had been there for over 20 years and held positions of authority – but we had been warned so we took our families, after having warned many others, and left.
Because of housing, our families went to two different Assembly of God churches. One day I saw sign-up sheets on tables in the foyer of one of the churches. One was for Spiritual Formation classes. I hoped it wasn’t what I feared it was. Things had seemed calm for approximately five years.
On Sunday Oct. 9 of this year (2016), the Spiritual Formation Pastor gave a sermon and told of his visits to Catholic monasteries. He then asked everyone to close their eyes, take deep breaths, picture Jesus, look at His face (during this time gentle music began to play), think of a time during the week that made you sad and invite Jesus into your thoughts. This is visualization. It is called an Ignatian exercise after Catholic founder of the Jesuits, St. Ignatius Loyola. It is everything that Ray Yungen described in his book, and the pastor stood there and led all those thousands of people in an exercise totally unbiblical. He then suggested they do this 2-3 times a day whenever they encounter difficult or sad situations.He says he does this every day himself. My granddaughter – who was 13 at the time we left the former church and is 20 now – knew what she was listening to. She had heard us speak of Ray’s book often. She had been educated just as the Lord would have her to be.
How strange that this book has followed us. Yesterday, I was preparing for my Thursday night meeting with the woman I’m discipling. We are studying the 23rd Psalm. The author of the book suggested we read Gal 5. What I found there made me think of what happened at these two churches: Gal 5:9: “A little leaven [or a few false teachers] leavens the whole lump [or misleads the whole church].”
On Sunday Oct. 16, a week after the Spiritual Formation Pastor gave his sermon – the author of the book that tried to warn everyone about this danger, Ray Yungen, died of a complication of a leukemia treatment at the age of 64. There are many of us who mourn his passing and highly respect his life. He has helped keep us from darkness and walking in the light. May God be pleased and say “well done, thou good and faithful servant.”
His concern at the end of his life was not only for his generation and the darkness that had infected us but ensuring that it not touch the next. That was the kind of man Ray was—always longing to expose the darkness. My granddaughter shows that his legacy continues.
By Ray Yungen
Contemplative advocates propose that there has been something vital and important missing from the church for centuries. The insinuation is that Christians have been lacking something necessary for their spiritual vitality; but that would mean the Holy Spirit has not been fully effective for hundreds of years and only now the secret key has been found that unlocks God’s full power to know Him. These proponents believe that Christianity has been seriously crippled without this extra ingredient. This kind of thinking leads one to believe that traditional, biblical Christianity is merely a philosophy without the contemplative prayer element. Contemplatives are making a distinction between studying and meditating on the Word of God versus experiencing Him, suggesting that we cannot hear Him or really know Him simply by studying His Word or even through normal prayer—we must be contemplative to accomplish this. But the Bible makes it clear that the Word of God is living and active and has always been that way, and it is in filling our minds with it that we come to love Him, not through a mystical practice of stopping the flow of thought (the stillness) that is never once mentioned in the Bible, except in warnings against vain repetitions in the New Testament and divination in the Old Testament.
Thomas Merton (the man who inspired Dallas Willard and Richard Foster) said that he saw various Eastern religions “come together in his life” (as a Christian mystic). On a rational, practical level, Christianity and Eastern religions will not mix; but add the mystical element and they do blend together like adding soap to oil and water. I must clarify what I mean: Mysticism neutralizes doctrinal differences by sacrificing the truth of Scripture for a mystical experience. Mysticism offers a common ground, and supposedly that commonality is divinity in all. But we know from Scripture “there is one God; and there is none other but he” (Mark 12:32).
In a booklet put out by Saddleback Church on spiritual maturity, the following quote by Henri Nouwen is given:
Solitude begins with a time and place for God, and Him alone. If we really believe not only that God exists, but that He is actively present in our lives—healing, teaching, and guiding—we need to set aside a time and space to give Him our undivided attention.1
When we understand what Nouwen really means by “time and space” given to God, we can also see the emptiness and deception of his spirituality. In his biography of Nouwen, God’s Beloved, Michael O’ Laughlin says:
Some new elements began to emerge in Nouwen’s thinking when he discovered Thomas Merton. Merton opened up for Henri an enticing vista of the world of contemplation and a way of seeing not only God but also the world through new eyes. . . . If ever there was a time when Henri Nouwen wished to enter the realm of the spiritual masters or dedicate himself to a higher spiritual path, it was when he fell under the spell of Cistercian monasticism and the writings of Thomas Merton.2
In his book, Thomas Merton: Contemplative Critic, Nouwen talks about these “new eyes” that Merton helped to formulate and said that Merton and his work “had such an impact” on his life and that he was the man who had “inspired” him greatly.3 But when we read Nouwen’s very revealing account, something disturbing is unveiled. Nouwen lays out the path of Merton’s spiritual pilgrimage into contemplative spirituality. Those who have studied Merton from a critical point of view, such as myself, have tried to understand what are the roots behind Merton’s spiritual affinities. Nouwen explains that Merton was influenced by LSD mystic Aldous Huxley who “brought him to a deeper level of knowledge” and “was one of Merton’s favorite novelists.”4 It was through Huxley’s book, Ends and Means, that first brought Merton “into contact with mysticism.”5 Merton states:
He [Huxley] had read widely and deeply and intelligently in all kinds of Christian and Oriental mystical literature, and had come out with the astonishing truth that all this, far from being a mixture of dreams and magic and charlatanism, was very real and very serious.6
This is why, Nouwen revealed, Merton’s mystical journey took him right into the arms of Buddhism:
Merton learned from him [Chuang Tzu—a Taoist] what Suzuki [a Zen master] had said about Zen: “Zen teaches nothing; it merely enables us to wake and become aware.”7
Become aware of what? The Buddha nature. Divinity within all.
That is why Merton said if we knew what was in each one of us, we would bow down and worship one another. Merton’s descent into contemplative led him to the belief that God is in all things and that God is all things. This is made clear by Merton when he said: “True solitude is a participation in the solitariness of God—Who is in all things.8
Nouwen adds: “[Chuang Tzu] awakened and led him [Merton] . . . to the deeper ground of his consciousness.”9
This has been the ploy of Satan since the Garden of Eden when the serpent said to Eve, “ye shall be as gods” (Genesis 3:4). It is this very essence that is the foundation of contemplative prayer.
In Merton’s efforts to become a mystic, he found guidance from a Hindu swami, whom Merton referred to as Dr. Bramachari. Bramachari played a pivotal role in Merton’s future spiritual outlook. Nouwen divulged this when he said:
Thus he [Merton] was more impressed when this Hindu monk pointed him to the Christian mystical tradition. . . . It seems providential indeed that this Hindu monk relativized [sic] Merton’s youthful curiosity for the East and made him sensitive to the richness of Western mysticism.10
Why would a Hindu monk advocate the Christian mystical tradition? The answer is simple: they are one in the same. Even though the repetitive words used may differ (e.g. Christian words: Abba, Father, etc. rather than Hindu words), the end result is the same. And the Hindu monk knew this to be true. Bramachari understood that Merton didn’t need to switch to Hinduism to get the same enlightenment that he himself experienced through the Hindu mystical tradition. In essence, Bramachari backed up what I am trying to get across, that all the world’s mystical traditions basically come from the same source and teach the same precepts . . . and that source is not the God of the Old and New Testaments. That biblical God is not interspiritual!
Evangelical Christianity is now being invited, perhaps even catapulted into seeing God with these new eyes of contemplative prayer. And so the question must be asked, is Thomas Merton’s silence, Henri Nouwen’s space, and Richard Foster’s contemplative prayer the way in which we can know and be close to God? Or is this actually a spiritual belief system that is contrary to the true message that the Bible so absolutely defines—that there is only one way to God and that is through His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, whose sacrifice on the Cross obtained our full salvation? If indeed my concerns for the future actually come to fruition, then we will truly enter a time of departing.
For more about Ray Yungen’s work, visit: www.atimeofdeparting.com.
1.. Henri Nouwen, cited in Saddleback training book, Soul Construction: Solitude Tool (Lake Forest, CA: Saddleback Church, 2003), p. 12.
2. Michael O’ Laughlin, God’s Beloved (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2004), p. 178.
3. Henri J.M. Nouwen, Thomas Merton: Contemplative Critic (San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row Publishers, 1991, Triumph Books Edition), p. 3.
4. Ibid., pp. 19-20.
5. Ibid., p. 20.
7. Ibid., p. 71.
8. Ibid., pp. 46, 71.
9. Ibid., p. 71.
10 . Ibid., p. 29.
Sometimes we think of spiritual formation as formation by the Holy Spirit. Once again. That’s essential. . . . But now I have to say something that may be challenging for you to think about: Spiritual formation is not all by the Holy Spirit. . . . We have to recognize that spiritual formation in us is something that is also done to us by those around us, by ourselves, and by activities which we voluntarily undertake . . .There has to be method.1—Dallas Willard
Aside from the fact that Spiritual Formation incorporates mystical practices into its infrastructure (remove the contemplative aspect and you don’t have “Spiritual Formation” anymore), Spiritual Formation is a works-based substitute for biblical Christianity. Let us explain.
When one becomes born again (“that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Romans 10:9-10), having given his or her life and heart over to Christ as Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ says He will come in and live in that surrendered heart:
Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. (Revelation 3:20)
Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. (John 14:23)
To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: (Colossians 1:27)
[I]f the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. (Romans 8:11; emphasis added)
When God, through Jesus Christ, is living in us, He begins to do a transforming work in our hearts (2 Corinthians 3:18). Not only does He change us, He also communes with us. In other words, we have fellowship with Him, and He promises never to leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).
This life of God in the believer’s heart is not something we need to conjure up through meditative practices. But if a person does not have this relationship with the Lord, he may seek out ways to feel close to God. This is where Spiritual Formation comes into play. Rather than a surrendered life to Christ, the seeking person begins practicing the spiritual disciplines (e.g., prayer, fasting, good works, etc.) with the promise that if he practices these disciplines, he will become more Christ-like.
But merely doing these acts fails to make one feel close to God—something is still missing. And thus, he begins practicing the discipline of silence (or solitude), and now in these altered states of silence, he finally feels connected to God. He now feels complete. What he does not understand is that he has substituted the indwelling of Christ in his heart for a works-based methodology that endangers his spiritual life. Dangerous because these mystical experiences he now engages in appear to be good because they make him feel close to God, but in reality he is being drawn into demonic realms no different than what happens to someone who is practicing transcendental meditation or eastern meditation. Even mystics themselves acknowledge that the contemplative realm is no different than the realm reached by occultists. To understand this more fully, please read Ray Yungen’s book A Time of Departing.
Bottom line, it is not possible to be truly Christ-like without having Christ inside of us because it is He who is able to change our hearts—we cannot do it without Him.
It is interesting to note that virtually every contemplative teacher has a common theme—they feel dry and empty and want to go “deeper” with God or “become more intimate” with God. But if we have Christ living in us, how can we go any deeper than that? How can we become more intimate than that? And if going deeper and becoming intimate were so important, why is it that none of the disciples or Jesus Himself ever told us to do this? As Larry DeBruyn states:
Why are Christians seeking a divine presence that Jesus promised would abundantly flow in them? . . . Why do they need another voice, another visitation, or another vision? Why are some people unthankfully desirous of “something more” than what God has already given to us? Why is it that some Christians, in the depth of their souls, are not seemingly at rest?2
Is There a “Good” Spiritual Formation?
One of the most common arguments we hear defending Spiritual Formation is that there is a “good” Spiritual Formation done without contemplative prayer. To that we say, we have never yet seen a Spiritual Formation program in a school or a church that doesn’t in some way point people to the contemplative mystics. It might be indirectly, but in every case, if you follow the trail, it will lead you right into the arms of Richard Foster, Dallas Willard, and other contemplative teachers.
Think about this common scenario: A Christian college decides to begin a Spiritual Formation course. The instructor has heard some negative things about Richard Foster, Henri Nouwen, and Brennan Manning, and he figures he will teach the class good Spiritual Formation and leave those teachers completely out. But he’s going to need a textbook. He turns to a respected institution, Dallas Theological Seminary, and finds a book written by Paul Pettit, Professor in Pastoral and Education Ministries. The book is titled Foundations of Spiritual Formation. The instructor who has found this book to use in his own class may never mention Richard Foster or Dallas Willard, but the textbook he is using does. Within the pages of Pettit’s book is Richard Foster, Philip Yancey, N.T. Wright, Dallas Willard, Thomas Aquinas, Lectio Divina, Ayn Rand, Parker Palmer, Eugene Peterson, J.P. Moreland, Klaus Issler, Bruce Dermerst, Jim Burns, Kenneth Boa and Brother Lawrence’s “practicing God’s presence.” You may not have heard of all these names, but they are all associated with the contemplative prayer movement and the emerging church.
Another example of this is Donald Whitney’s book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life. Whitney is Associate Professor of Biblical Spirituality at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. While his book does not promote contemplative mysticism, he says that Richard Foster has “done much good”3 in the area of Christian spirituality.
Our point is that even if there is a sincere attempt to teach Spiritual Formation and stay away from the mystical side, we contend that it cannot be successfully accomplished because it will always lead back to the ones who have brought it to the church in the first place.
Spiritual formation is sweeping quickly throughout Christianity today. It’s no wonder when the majority of Christian leaders have either endorsed the movement or given it a silent pass. For instance, in Chuck Swindoll’s book So You Want to Be Like Christ: 8 Essential Disciplines to Get Your There, Swindoll favorably quotes Richard Foster and Dallas Willard. Swindoll calls Celebration of Discipline a “meaningful work”4 and Willard’s book The Spirit of the Disciplines “excellent work.”5 In chapter three,”Silence and Solitude,” Swindoll talks about “digging for secrets . . . that will deepen our intimacy with God.”6 Quoting the contemplative poster-verse Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God,” Swindoll says the verse is a call to the “discipline of silence.”7 As other contemplative proponents have done, he has taken this verse very much out of context.
Roger Oakland sums it up:
The Spiritual Formation movement . . . teaches people that this is how they can become more intimate with God and truly hear His voice. Even Christian leaders with longstanding reputations of teaching God’s word seem to be succumbing. . . .
We are reconciled to God only through his “death” (the atonement for sin), and we are presented “holy and unblameable and unreproveable” when we belong to Him through rebirth. It has nothing to do with works, rituals, or mystical experiences. It is Christ’s life in the converted believer that transforms him.8
What Christians need is not a method or program or ritual or practice that will supposedly connect them to God. What we need is to be “in Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:30) and Christ in us. And He has promised His Spirit “will guide [us] into all truth” (John 16:13).
In Colossians 1:9, the apostle Paul tells the saints that he was praying for them that they “might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.” He was praying that they would have discernment (“spiritual understanding”). He said that God, the Father, has made us “partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light” (vs 12) and had “delivered us from the power of darkness [i.e., power of deception]” (vs. 13). But what was the key to having this wisdom and spiritual understanding and being delivered from the power of darkness? Paul tells us in that same chapter. He calls it “the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints” (vs. 26). What is that mystery? Verse 27 says: “To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
For those wanting to get involved with the Spiritual Formation movement (i.e., contemplative, spiritual direction), consider the “direction” you will actually be going.
And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel. (Colossians 1:21-23)
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power. (Colossians 2: 8-10)
To order copies of Is Your Church Doing Spiritual Formation? (Important Reasons Why They Shouldn’t), click here.
1. Dallas Willard, “Spiritual Formation: What it is, and How it is Done” (http://www.dwillard.org/articles/artview.asp?artID=58).
2. Larry DeBruyn, “The Practice of His Presence” (http://herescope.blogspot.com/2013/12/the-present-of-his-presence.html).
3. Donald Whitney, “Doctrine and Devotion: A Reunion Devoutly to be Desired” (http://web.archive.org/web/20080828052145/http://biblicalspirituality.org/devotion.html).
4. Chuck Swindoll, So You Want to Be Like Christ: 8 Essential Disciplines to Get You There (Nashville, TN:W Publishing Group, a div. of Thomas Nelson, 2005), p. 15.
5. Ibid., p. 13.
6. Ibid., p. 55.
8. Roger Oakland, Faith Undone, op. cit., pp. 91-92.
This has been an extract from our booklet Is Your Church Doing Spiritual Formation? (Important Reasons Why They Shouldn’t). To order this booklet, click here.
Letter to the Editor from an Assemblies of God Pastor: How God Sent Ray Yungen Who “Radically Altered the Path of Our Ministry”
LTRP Note: We are posting this, not just as a tribute to Ray but even more so to help Christian pastors and leaders consider taking a closer look at how they are operating their ministries and churches and ask themselves if they are truly preaching “Christ crucified” or are they following after programs made by men.
Dear Lighthouse Trails:
I don’t remember the exact date, but sometime in early 2011, we were watching “Frances and Friends” on TV over the Son Life Broadcasting network. We weren’t fans of the Jimmy Swaggart Ministries and taking the time to watch one of their programs was not something that was planned on our part. But, God had a plan. Anyhow, as we tuned in to that program, the guest speaker being interviewed by Frances Swaggart over the telephone was Warren Smith. We had never heard of this man but what caught our attention was his comments about Rick Warren and the “Purpose Drive Church” ministry model. In as much as we pastor an Assemblies of God church, and, at that time, were avid disciples or Rick Warren, I stopped to listen to what Warren was saying about Rick Warren. Rick Warren was (and still is) promoted heavily by the Assemblies of God as the “new” ministry model to follow. But what Warren Smith had to say about the Purpose Driven Church and the Purpose Drive Life stopped me dead in my tracks. When that program was over, my wife and I sat there stunned. We had been following Rick Warren’s ministry for approximately 13 years and never had any inclination that it was NOT what we should be doing in our ministry.
I sent an e-mail to Warren Smith that day (or the next) telling him how very much we had appreciated his courage and his willingness to come on national TV and denounce the Purpose Driven Church model. What we learned that day through Warren was shocking, but we felt the peace of God as to what we were learning. In that e-mail I mentioned to Warren that we were now re-examining our promoting the PDC model. Bro. Warren called me on the phone the day after he received my e-mail which was quite a shock to me that he would take the time to do that. But Warren asked me if I would permit him to put me in contact with a man he considered a mentor and who lived in Salem, Oregon which is about 3 hours away. He said that his name was Ray Yungen. I said that would be fine, and he gave me Ray’s phone number.
Still reeling from what I had just learned from Warren about Rick Warren, I decided not to call Ray. But not making that phone call to Ray right away kept nagging at me. I truly believe that this “nagging feeling” was actually the Holy Spirit exhorting me to call him. So, after about two weeks of putting it off, I relented and called Ray. When Ray answered his phone and I told him my name, he said immediately, “Well, it’s about time. I didn’t think you were going to call.” After a few moments of talking to Ray, he asked if he could come to our town and visit with me and share some information he believed would be very helpful to our ministry.
Well, Ray arrived, and he, my wife, and myself sat down, and Ray began to talk about such things as contemplative spirituality, the New Age movement in the church, soaking prayer, centering prayer, and all manner of related things that were taking place in the church world and being endorsed by noted leaders in Christianity. These were things we had never heard about from anyone at anytime. After listening to Ray for 5 ½ hours, my wife and I looked at each other with stunned amazement at what this man had just told us. He talked to us quietly and supported his claims thoroughly. I looked at Ray and said, “Ray, listening to everything you just said is a little bit like trying to get a drink of water out of fire hydrant.” Following that conversation, we walked back to my church office with Ray still talking, and when he walked into my office, he immediately perused my library. He asked my permission to take a closer look, and he began to pull out select books that I had. One by one, Ray pointed out individuals who were involved in what he had just discussed with my wife and I. People like, Tony Campolo, Richard Foster, Leonard Sweet, Joyce Meyer, and, of course, Rick Warren and others.
One item Ray spent some time looking at was something called “We Build People” which was a “discipleship” program put together by the General Council of the Assemblies of God under the direction of Rick Warren and his staff from Saddleback. The AG had asked Mr. Warren to come back to the Springfield, MO offices and help them develop this program but with a Pentecostal slant. The end result was “We Build People.” Ray pointed out that this program was endorsed by people like Richard Foster, et al.
With all of the above being said, my wife and I know that the Lord used Warren Smith to put us in contact with this wonderfully quiet, gentle, and godly man by the name of Ray Yungen who was guided by the Holy Spirit to completely and radically alter the path of our ministry and begin to preach Christ and Him crucified. Over the few years that we have known Ray, we have been continually fed through his research and his writings which have been a continual source of comfort and enlightenment.
If anyone asks me if I could name two people who have impacted life and ministry in a dramatic way, there is no doubt as to who those two would be – Ray Yungen and Warren Smith. Thank the Lord for their faithfulness.
Our hearts are deeply saddened with the passing of Ray, and we will be forever grateful for his ministry which, in our case, was life changing. Our ministry will never be the same. We look forward to the day when we will see him once again and rejoice with Him in the presence of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
In His Service,
Larry and Carol
Lighthouse Trails editors have put together a video tribute of our author Ray Yungen, who passed away on October 16th. We hope you enjoy watching this 8 minute presentation. The music featured is by Trevor Baker, Buck Storm, and James Sundquist (all used with permission – thank you guys!).
In life, we come across certain people who are extraordinary in character. Ray Yungen was just such a person.
It was Ray who first made us aware of the Catholic contemplative mysticism and certain New Age practices becoming popular and entering the church. He did more than point them out, he explained what they were and why a Christian should not participate in this kind of spirituality. As he explained about centering prayer, also: contemplative prayer was a means for all to find the God within by attaining oneness with self. This is the basis for Eastern religions from which mystical traditions originate.
Ray did not parse the truth, but he was considerate in the way he presented it to those caught in deceptions. A ministry is validated by a person’s example of being a servant, willing to help others, and not just by what they know. His knowledge did not surpass his caring, and his passion was genuine in helping others who were deceived by contemplative and New Age practices. Ray was always pleasant to speak with and be with.
I remember several years ago when we got together to film an Emerging Church DVD. We were sitting at the dinner table waiting for the food when Ray pulled out the book, The Shack, and read some quotes, asking us what we thought. He wanted our input before he voiced what his own concerns.
Another night, we decided to visit the local secular bookstore in town, and he immediately grabbed a few books off the shelves showing us the very same practices that the church was contending with. Ray was always animated about his ministry work.
I spoke with Ray a year ago on the phone as he was concerned about his health, especially his immune system. We discussed what could and could not be used to boost his immune system, which was very low at the time, avoiding any type of New Age medicine or techniques. Neither of us had any idea that this could later become cancer.
Being in this camp of apologetics, Ray was on the front line as a watchman who spoke on the changes of the church from inside influences of what we call the New Age teachings.
It is those who realize what is at stake who speak out. There is no doubt that Ray had his share of enemies, those who were willing to fight against him, not understanding what he was saying—they were just reacting to the things he said were wrong and dangerous. But he also had many friends who benefited from his friendship, his research, and his writings. Ray will be dearly missed. He leaves a legacy of research and writing that will be referred to by many in the years to come.
Ray is now, by the grace of God, able to rest and enjoy his rewards.
LTRJ Note: The following is a video of Ray Yungen and Mike Oppenheimer having a discussion about the things Mike was referring to in this tribute: