Posts Tagged ‘Rob Bell’

NEW BOOKLET: ATONEMENT REJECTED! How the Emerging Church Views Christ’s Death on the Cross

NEW BOOKLET: ATONEMENT REJECTED! How the Emerging Church Views Christ’s Death on the Cross by Roger Oakland is our newest Lighthouse Trails Booklet.  The Booklet is 10 pages long and sells for $1.95 for single copies. Quantity discounts are as much as 50% off retail. Our Booklets are designed to give away to others or for your own personal use. Below is the content of the booklet.  To order copies of  ATONEMENT REJECTED! How the Emerging Church Views Christ’s Death on the Cross, click here. 

ATONEMENT REJECTED! How the Emerging Church Views Christ’s Death on the Cross

By Roger Oakland

In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace. (Ephesians 1:7)

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

The heart and core of the Christian faith is based upon Jesus Christ’s shed blood at Calvary as the only acceptable substitutionary atonement for mankind’s sins. The Gospel message requires this foundation. The Bible says the wages of sin is death—thus every person alive should receive the penalty of spiritual death because none of us is without sin. Satan hates the Gospel message. He understands what the Gospel means, and his agenda is to deceive mankind from understanding and believing so they can suffer eternally with him. While Scripture is very clear about the necessity of Christ’s death in order for us to be saved, some believe this would make God a blood-thirsty barbarian and that a loving God would never send His Son to a violent death. Embedded within the structure of the emerging church is just such a belief.

Precivilized Barbarity
Many in the emerging church movement (i.e., the “new” Christianity/New Spirituality) would vehemently object if someone told them that emerging church leaders don’t like the Cross. They would jump up and say, “Yes, they do. I’ve heard them talk about Jesus and His going to the Cross. They say they love the Cross.”

Some emerging church leaders do say they love the Cross, but an underlying theme has entered the church. It says that while Jesus’ going to the Cross was an example of sacrifice and servanthood that we should follow, the idea that God would send His Son to a violent death for the sins of mankind—well, that is not who God is. A loving God would never do that! Such a violent act would make Christianity a “slaughterhouse religion.”1

Liberal theologian and pastor of the Riverside Church in New York City, Harry Emerson Fosdick (1878-1969), believed that the doctrine of the atonement, where “Jesus suffered as a substitute for us” because of our sins, is a “precivilized barbarity.”2 In his book, The Modern Use of the Bible, Fosdick says that Jesus’ going to the Cross should be seen as an example of a life of service and sacrifice and not compared with “old animal sacrifices” and “made ‘a pious fraud’ played by God upon the devil.”3 In Fosdick’s book Dear Mr. Brown, he states:

Too many theories of the atonement assume that by one single high priestly act of self-sacrifice, Christ saved the world.4

Fosdick ends that statement with a pronounced—“No!” He insists, “These legalistic theories of the atonement are in my judgment a theological disgrace.”5 Fosdick considered the idea that God would actually send His Son to die on a Cross to take our place to be the basis for a violent and bloody religion. He rejected the biblical message of an atonement and substitutionary sacrifice.

Fosdick was the pastor of Riverside Church of New York City from 1925 to 1946. While he has been long gone, his ideologies have remained intact and have drifted right into the evangelical church through emergent leaders. In October 2006, Riverside Church held the 5th Fosdick Convocation in honor of their former pastor. Two of the emerging church’s most influential teachers were there as speakers in honor of Fosdick—Brian McLaren and Tony Campolo.6 As I will show you, McLaren resonates with Fosdick’s view of the Cross.

False Advertising for God
In an interview, Brian McLaren questioned the idea of God sending His Son to a violent death, calling it “false advertising for God”:

[O]ne of the huge problems is the traditional understanding of hell. Because if the cross is in line with Jesus’ teaching then—I won’t say, the only, and I certainly won’t say even the primary—but a primary meaning of the cross is that the kingdom of God doesn’t come like the kingdoms of this world, by inflicting violence and coercing people. But that the kingdom of God comes through suffering and willing, voluntary sacrifice. But in an ironic way, the doctrine of hell basically says, no, that’s not really true. That in the end, God gets His way through coercion and violence and intimidation and domination, just like every other kingdom does. The cross isn’t the center then. The cross is almost a distraction and false advertising for God.7 (emphasis added)

What an extraordinary example of faith under attack. If McLaren is right, all those who have ever lived and believed in Christ’s atonement have been misled and wrong. McLaren has taken the freedom to reconstruct what faith means by distorting the Scriptures, or worse yet, saying the very opposite of what the inspired Word of God says. This is blasphemy! McLaren also states:

And I heard one well-known Christian leader, who—I won’t mention his name, just to protect his reputation. ‘Cause some people would use this against him. But I heard him say it like this: The traditional understanding says that God asks of us something that God is incapable of Himself. God asks us to forgive people. But God is incapable of forgiving. God can’t forgive unless He punishes somebody in place of the person He was going to forgive. God doesn’t say things to you—Forgive your wife, and then go kick the dog to vent your anger. God asks you to actually forgive. And there’s a certain sense that, a common understanding of the atonement presents a God who is incapable of forgiving. Unless He kicks somebody else.8

To further elaborate on McLaren’s rejection of the message of Christ’s atonement through His blood, we look to Episcopal priest Alan Jones. In his book Reimagining Christianity, Jones carries through with this idea that God never intended Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross to be considered a payment for our sins:

The Church’s fixation on the death of Jesus as the universal saving act must end, and the place of the cross must be reimagined in Christian faith. Why? Because of the cult of suffering and the vindictive God behind it.9

The other thread of just criticism addresses the suggestion implicit in the cross that Jesus’ sacrifice was to appease an angry God. Penal substitution [the Cross] was the name of this vile doctrine.10

Brian McLaren has endorsed Reimagining Christianity and says of the book:

Jones is a pioneer in reimagining a Christian faith that emerges from authentic spirituality. His work stimulates and encourages me deeply.11

That God Does Not Exist
This idea of rejecting God’s judgment placed on Jesus Christ instead of us is integrated into the teachings of many others. William Shannon (biographer of Catholic monk and mystic Thomas Merton) said:

This is a typical patriarchal notion of God. He is the God of Noah who sees people deep in sin, repents that He made them and resolves to destroy them. He is the God of the desert who sends snakes to bite His people because they murmured against Him. He is the God of David who practically decimates a people . . . He is the God who exacts the last drop of blood from His Son, so that His just anger, evoked by sin, may be appeased. This God whose moods alternate between graciousness and fierce anger . . . This God does not exist.12 (emphasis added)

So in other words, according to Fosdick, McLaren, and Shannon, Jesus should be seen as a model of sacrifice to follow in our own lives, but to view God the Father as a judge against sin is not a proper view of God. Those who reject the atonement realize the greatest threat to their heretical views is those who take the Scriptures literally and seriously. Fosdick explains:

Were you to talk to that fundamentalist preacher, he doubtless would insist that you must believe in the “substitutionary” theory of atonement—namely, that Jesus suffered as a substitute for us the punishment due us for our sins. But can you imagine a modern courtroom in a civilized country where an innocent man would be deliberately punished for another man’s crime? . . . [S]ubstitutionary atonement . . . came a long way down in history in many a penal system. But now it is a precivilized barbarity; no secular court would tolerate the idea for a moment; only in certain belated theologies is it retained as an explanation of our Lord’s death . . . Christ’s sacrificial life and death are too sacred to be so misrepresented.13

This is a perfect example of how the emerging church turns doctrine it doesn’t understand (or accept) into a mockery against Scripture and God’s plan of salvation. God’s ways are not our ways and to expect them to line up with our own human reasoning is ludicrous:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9)

The late Catholic contemplative author Brennan Manning (a favorite among many evangelicals) joined the ranks of those who rejected the substitutionary atonement. In his book Above All, Manning quotes William Shannon almost word for word, regarding the atonement:

[T]he god whose moods alternate between graciousness and fierce anger . . . the god who exacts the last drop of blood from his Son so that his just anger, evoked by sin, may be appeased, is not the God revealed by and in Jesus Christ. And if he is not the God of Jesus, he does not exist.14 (emphasis added)

Dying for the Sins of the World
The late Marcus Borg (another favorite among evangelicals) was a lecturer and the author of several books, some of which are Jesus and Buddha, The God We Never Knew, and Reading the Bible Again for the First Time:

Taking the Bible Seriously But not Literally. His thinking greatly influenced the emerging church movement and its leaders. Brian McLaren had “high regard”15 for Borg, and the two of them participated in a seminar series at an interspiritual center in Portland, Oregon one summer.16 Rob Bell (a major influencer among young evangelicals) references and praises Borg in his still-popular book Velvet Elvis.17 Walter Brueggemann, Professor Emeritus at Columbia Theological Seminary and one of the contributors to Richard Foster’s Renovare Spiritual Formation Study Bible, considers Borg an essential part of the “new” Christianity. Brueggemann states:

Marcus Borg is a key force in the emerging “new paradigm” of Christian faith.18

Borg explains in his book The God We Never Knew that his views on God, the Bible, and Christianity were transformed while he was in seminary:

I let go of the notion that the Bible is a divine product. I learned that it is a human cultural product, the product of two ancient communities, biblical Israel and early Christianity. As such, it contained their understandings and affirmations, not statements coming directly or somewhat directly from God.. . . I realized that whatever “divine revelation” and the “inspiration of the Bible” meant (if they meant anything), they did not mean that the Bible was a divine product with divine authority.19

This attitude would certainly explain how Borg could say:

Jesus almost certainly was not born of a virgin, did not think of himself as the Son of God, and did not see his purpose as dying for the sins of the world.20

If what Borg is saying is true, then we would have to throw out John 3:16 which says God so loved the world He gave His only Son, and we would have to dismiss the theme of a blood offering that is prevalent throughout all of Scripture. In the Old Testament, it is clear:

For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul. (Leviticus 17:11)

But Borg rejects this emphasis:

To think that the central meaning of Easter [resurrection] depends upon something spectacular happening to Jesus’ corpse misses the point of the Easter message and risks trivializing the story. To link Easter primarily to our hope for an afterlife, as if our post-death existence depends upon God having transformed the corpse of Jesus, is to reduce the story to a politically-domesticated yearning for our survival beyond death.21

What is behind this mindset? Listen to one New Ager describe what underlies this line of thought:

Jesus was an historical person, a human becoming Christ, the Christos is an eternal transpersonal condition of being. Jesus did not say that this higher state of consciousness realized in him was his alone for all time. Nor did he call us to worship him. Rather, he called us to follow him, to follow in his steps, to learn from him, from his example.22

Fosdick would resonate with this. When he says, “Christ’s sacrificial life and death are too sacred to be so misrepresented,” he means that Christ is an example to be followed, not an innocent sacrifice for our guilt and thus worthy of praise and worship. Satan wants desperately to be worshiped and adored as God. He hates all that Jesus’ death stands for. Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, purchased with His own blood the lives of those written in the Book of Life.

A very popular author today, William Paul Young (author of The Shack) also rejects the idea that Christ’s shed blood was needed to save man. He has come right out and said this openly.23 And yet, many Christian leaders promote both Young and The Shack without any qualms.

The Bible says, “without shedding of blood is no remission” (Hebrews 9:22), and also, “He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself” (Hebrews 9:26). Are we to reject these Scriptures and other ones as well that speak of the atonement because it doesn’t sound logical? Scripture tells us that the carnal mind is at enmity with God. We need to recognize that the Bible is God’s revelation of Himself to man. It is our final authority, and we must adhere to the truth of its teachings.

Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.. . . And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. (1 John 4:10, 14)

Many in the emerging church may insist they do not hold to the distorted view on the atonement that this booklet has described. But it is important to understand that the underlying nature of this view of rejecting the atonement is panentheistic (God in all) and pantheistic (God is all), which is the “fruit” of practicing contemplative mysticism. To put it in plain terms, one of the key characteristics of the emerging church is engaging in mystical prayer practices (i.e., contemplative). This in turn produces a drastic change in spiritual outlook that over times takes on panentheistic views. And when that happens, a new perspective on the atonement always occurs because when one believes man is divine (god within), then he believes man does not need to have anyone make atonement for him. A substitutionary  death (taking a sinner’s place) on the Cross would not be necessary and in fact, would be an insult to man’s own divine nature.  It would be humiliating. Like Thomas Merton said, if we really knew what was in each one of us, we would fall down and worship one another.24 He and other contemplatives say that man’s biggest problem isn’t a sinful nature; no, it’s that he does not realize he is divine.

If Jesus’ going to the Cross and shedding blood was merely an act of service and sacrifice, an example for others to follow, and was not actually a substitutionary payment for the sins of humanity, then why celebrate the resurrection as so many churches do? It would make no sense. Churches that cling to contemplative/emergent ideologies and practices should consider this. While they cling to one (contemplative), they’re on the road to denying the other (the atonement) . . . even if they don’t realize it.

To order copies of  ATONEMENT REJECTED! How the Emerging Church Views Christ’s Death on the Cross, click here. 

Endnotes:
1. Beka Horton, Church History and Things to Come (Pensacola, FL: Pensacola Christian College, 1997 printing), p. 156.
2. Harry Emerson Fosdick, Dear Mr. Brown (New York, NY: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1961), p. 136.
3. Harry Emerson Fosdick, The Modern Use of the Bible (New York NY: The Macmillan Company, 1924), p. 230.
4. Harry Emerson Fosdick, Dear Mr. Brown, op. cit., p. 135.
5. Ibid., p. 134-135.
6. Riverside City Church, New York City, http://www.the riversidechurchny.org/getinvolved/?fosdick-speakers.
7. Interview by Leif Hansen (The Bleeding Purple Podcast) with Brian McLaren, January 8th, 2006); Part 1: http://bleeding purple podcast.blog spot.com/2006/01/brian-mclaren-interview-part-i.html; Part II: http://bleedingpurplepodcast.blog spot.com/2006/01/interview-with-brian-mclaren-part-ii.html).
8. Ibid., part II.
9. Alan Jones, Reimagining Christianity (Hoboken, NJ: Wiley and Sons, 2005), p. 132.
10. Ibid., p. 168.
11. Ibid., Brian McLaren on back cover.
12. William Shannon, Silence on Fire (New York, NY: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1995 edition), pp. 109-110.
13. Harry Emerson Fosdick, Dear Mr. Brown, op. cit., p. 136.
14. Brennan Manning, Above All (Brentwood, TN: Integrity Publishers, 2003), pp. 58-59.
15. Statement by Brian McLaren on McLaren’s website: http://www.brianmclaren.net/archives/000201.html, “What about other websites?”
16. The Center for Spiritual Development, 2006 Summer Seminar called “The Church in the 21st Century” where Brian McLaren and Marcus Borg were two of the speakers, http://www.center-for-spiritual-development.org/DVDCatalog.html.
17. Rob Bell, Velvet Elvis (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2005), pp. 180, 184.
18. Walter Brueggemann cited on United Theological Seminary website: http://www.united.edu in reference to Marcus Borg’s book, The Heart of Christianity.
19. Marcus Borg, The God We Never Knew (New York, NY: HarperCollins, First HarperCollins Paperback Edition, 1998), p. 25.
20. Ibid.
21. Marcus Borg, “Easter About Life, Not Death” (Washington Post/Newsweek “On Faith” column, April 7, 2004, http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/panelists/marcus_borg/2007/04/easter_not_about_death_but_lif.html).
22. John White (Science of Mind, September 1981), p. 15.
23. This is documented on the Lighthouse Trails Research site: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=22246.
24. Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander (1989 edition), pp. 157-158.

To order copies of  ATONEMENT REJECTED! How the Emerging Church Views Christ’s Death on the Cross, click here. 

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William Paul Young (THE SHACK AUTHOR) & His Connection with Panentheist Richard Rohr

LTRP Note: The Shack movie is about to be released. Millions of Americans will go to theaters to watch the movie. Most likely, the majority of them will be church goers and proclaiming Christians since The Shack book is vetted as a Christian story. Recently, a church contacted Lighthouse Trails and ordered 300 copies of Warren B. Smith’s booklet The Shack and Its New Age Leaven. If you have family, church members, pastors, and friends who might be considering attending this movie, please pick up some copies of the booklet and pass them out. As you can see from the piece below by Lighthouse Trails author Lois Putnam, William Paul Young resonates with panentheists (God is IN all), and we know from our research that The Shack resonates with this concept too. Please do what you can to warn everyone you know. The false “Christ” of The Shack has big plans to deceive many. If you can’t afford to buy the booklet, you can print the content from our blog; but we believe this very inexpensive booklet is a better way to go (in a published bound format, it helps give credibility to the material and the source).

By Lois Putnam

Catholic priest and panentheist mystic Richard Rohr (along with co-author mystic emergent Mike Morrell) recently wrote the book The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation.  William Paul Young wrote its foreword.  Inside, its dedication says:  “From Richard Rohr: To all unsuspecting folks who do not know they are already within the ‘Divine Flow'” [i.e., panentheism].  In the foreword, Young says, “May we feel within us the eternal life of Jesus reaching through our hands–to heal, to hold, to hug–and celebrate the bread of our Humanity, the sanctity of the Ordinary, and Participation in the Trinity.”

Other endorsers include Rob Bell, Brian D. McLaren, and a host of others.  As Lighthouse Trails Research points out in “In Case You Still Aren’t Sure About the Shack and Its Author,” perhaps Young’s “Twenty Books Everyone Should Read” will convince you otherwise.  Click onto the article here: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=17684

And Young, continuing his close association with Rohr, will join him and Cynthia Bourgeault in April 6-8, 2017 to take part in a program titled: “Trinity: The Soul of Creation” in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Its online descriptive ad reads, “Rohr, Bourgeault, and Young believe the Trinity . . .  has the capacity to change everything.  We already participate within this dance whether we realize it or not [that God is in everyone].  But when we consciously engage in loving communion, we open ourselves to being transformed at the deepest levels.  Bring your heart, mind, and body to this . . .  conversation.  Join an ecumenical and inter-faith gathering, moving together through reflective experiences, including contemplative prayer, music, movement (Yoga, Tai Chi Chin, and walking meditation), group and individual processing. …” To read Lois Putnam’s entire article on The Shack, click here.  

Note: Cynthia Bourgeault is a name we know well at Lighthouse Trails. Ray Yungen spoke of her to us often. She is an Episcopal priest who is a devoted advocate for everything contemplative. Here is a list of some of her books to prove our point.

Related Articles:

Something to Think About – Richard Rohr, the New Age, and Young Evangelical Christians

IF: Gathering Leader/Pastor Melissa Greene—A Female Version of McLaren, Bell, Rohr, and Merton

Richard Foster’s Renovare Turns to Panentheist Mystic Richard Rohr and Emerging Darling Phyllis Tickle For New Book Project

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T. D. Jakes, Rob Bell, and Steve Furtick Make it Onto Oprah’s New Age Super Soul 100 List of “Awakened Leaders”

Mega-church pastor T. D. Jakes, evangelical defector Rob Bell, and emergent church pastor Steve Furtick were among the list of mostly New Age names given on Oprah’s Super Soul 100 list of “awakened leaders.” As Lighthouse Trails has documented for many years, Oprah Winfrey is the most influential New Age leader today and has given a platform and a  voice to countless New Age teachers including Marianne Williamson and her Return to Love book (expounding on A Course of Miracles).

T. D. Jakes

T. D. Jakes

Along with T.D. Jakes, Steve Furtick, and  Rob Bell are some other names you might recognize. Remember, week after week, millions of North Americans still follow Oprah. Even many Christians read the materials of these listed below and find themselves enamored with the people and the teachings of the New Age.

Deepak Chopra

Caroline Myss

Dr. Christiane Northrup

Dr. Michael Beckwith (from The Secret)

Eckhart Tolle

Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love)

Esther Hicks (The Secret)

Gary Zukav

Jack Canfield (Chicken Soup for the Soul)

Pastor John Gray (from Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church)

Marianne Williamson (A Course in Miracles teacher)

Tony Robbins

 

 

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Watkins’ 100 Most Spiritually Influential People of 2016 – How Many Names Do You Know?

RobBellPhoto1

Rob Bell

Watkin’s Mind Body Spirit Magazine released its 2016 top 100 most spiritually influential people alive today. If you have been reading Lighthouse Trails for some time, you will recognize several names. One thing all of these names have in common is an affinity toward mysticism. Sadly, a number of these New Ager/New Spirituality names have had significant influence, either directly or indirectly, on the Christian church in the last several years: e.g. Thomas Keating, Richard Rohr,  Julia Cameron (The Artist’s Way), Pope Francis, Rhonda Byrne (The Secret), and Rob Bell. Click here to read how Watkin’s determined who should be on the list.

2016 Spiritual 100 list at a glance:

1 Dalai Lama 35 Thomas S. Monson 68 Ajahn Brahm
2 Pope Francis 36 Gary Snyder 69 Gary Zukav
3 Desmond Tutu 37 Alex Grey 70 Anita Moorjani
4 Eckhart Tolle 38 Pema Chödrön 71 Tony Robbins
5 Deepak Chopra 39 Francis Chan 72 Robert Bly
6 Paulo Coelho 40 Mooji 73 William Bloom
7 Alice Walker 41 Vandana Shiva 74 Michael Bernard
8 Rhonda Byrne 42 Rob Bell Beckwith
9 Alejandro Jodorowsky 43 Amma – Sri Mata 75 James Redfield
10 Oprah Winfrey Amritanandamayi Devi 76 James van Praagh
11 Matthew Fox 44 Iyanla Vanzant 77 Fritjof Capra
12 Louise L. Hay 45 Rowan Williams 78 Tara Brach
13 Jaggi Vasudev 46 Neale Donald Walsch 79 Mark Nepo
14 Graham Hancock 47 Ali al-Sistani 80 Steve Taylor
15 Arianna Huffington 48 Julia Cameron 81 Starhawk
16 Elizabeth Gilbert 49 Byron Katie 82 Huston Smith
17 Ram Dass 50 Robert Thurman 83 Caroline Myss
18 Robin Sharma 51 Bruce Lipton 84 Adyashanti
19 Sri Sri Ravi Shankar 52 Dan Millman 85 Richard Saul Wurman
20 Karen Armstrong 53 Jack Canfield 86 David Frawley
21 Jon Kabat-Zinn 54 Prem Rawat 87 Seyyed Hossein Nasr
22 Marianne Williamson 55 Dadi Janki 88 Thomas Keating
23 Martin Seligman 56 Brian Weiss 89 Richard Gere
24 Rupert Sheldrake 57 Daisaku Ikeda 90 Gangaji
25 Sam Harris 58 Richard Bandler 91 Elaine Pagels
26 Richard Bach 59 Richard Rohr 92 Lee Carroll
27 Thomas Moore 60 Clarissa Pinkola Estés 93 Lynne McTaggart
28 Don Miguel Ruiz 61 Gregg Braden 94 Mantak Chia
29 Esther Hicks 62 David Steindl-Rast 95 Sogyal Rinpoche
30 Justin Welby 63 Stanislav Grof 96 Malala Yousafzai
31 Andrew Weil 64 Doreen Virtue 97 Shakti Gawain
32 James Lovelock 65 Thich Nhat Hanh 98 Michael A. Singer
33 Ken Wilber 66 Jack Kornfield 99 Sharon Salzberg
34 Daniel Goleman 67 David Deida 100 Claudio Naranjo

 Click here to read how Watkin’s determined who should be on the list.

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‘Too Much God Talk’: Rob Bell’s ‘Progressive’ Successor Steps Down from Leading Mars Hill

Kent Dobson

By Heather Clark
Christian News Network

GRANDVILLE, Mich. — Kent Dobson, who took over the leadership role at Mars Hill in 2012 after controversial author and speaker Rob Bell left the congregation he founded, has now also decided to step down, stating that “being a pastor is not who I am.”

“My place here has not felt right, like I was wearing someone else’s suit that didn’t quite fit and I tried to get it tailored and maybe I had shoulder pads from the 90’s or something. I don’t know,” he told the congregation on Sunday. “It just felt like it didn’t quite fit me so well.”

Dobson said that he feels restless and uncomfortable around “too much God talk.”

“I’ve felt restless, but I’ve always felt restless and a bit homeless when it comes to church and when it comes to God talk,” he explained. “When I hear too much God talk, I start to feel like (shudders) [it’s] too much religion. I don’t know; it gives me a restless feeling. A lot of times I feel like an outsider at my own party.” Click here to continue reading.

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NEW BOOKLET TRACT: The Unacknowledged War and the Wearing Down of the Saints

NEW BOOKLET TRACT: The Unacknowledged War and the Wearing Down of the Saints by Cedric Fisher is our newest Lighthouse Trails Booklet Tract. The Booklet Tract is 14 pages long and sells for $1.95 for single copies. Quantity discounts are as much as 50% off retail. Our Booklet Tracts are designed to give away to others or for your own personal use.  Below is the content of the booklet. To order copies of The Unacknowledged War and the Wearing Down of the Saints, click here. 

The Unacknowledged War and the Wearing Down of the Saints

rp_bkt-cf-aw.jpgBy Cedric Fisher

Orthodox Bible-believing Christians do not fit in our world nor will they be tolerated.1—From an eye-witness account of the 2015 Parliament of the World Religions

In the wake of a brutal execution of Christians at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon in October 2015, the Obama administration announced the appointment of a new czar position to supposedly battle domestic terrorism. According to one report:

[T]he new position within the Justice Department—yet to be filled—will focus on investigating lone-wolf domestic terrorists or “extremists.” The person who heads this new effort will target extremists who plan mass shootings, hold racist, bigoted or anti-government views or see themselves as “sovereign citizens.”2

However, many analysts are concerned that this new czar’s purpose will be to also identify and target conservative Christians and believe this decision could easily amount to an attack on freedom of religion and a dramatic escalation of the soft persecution streaming non-stop from the Obama administration. Actions like these appear to be intimidating conservative Christians into silence and obscurity so as not to be identified and harassed by Homeland Security, the Justice Department, the Internal Revenue service, and so forth.

Bryan Fischer of OneNewsNow wrote that the president’s new terror czar position is an example of his “abiding hostility to people of Christian faith.”3 Further, Fischer wrote:

If you are a sincerely devoted follower of Jesus Christ, your president believes you are a potential domestic terrorist.4

Of course, there is absolutely no evidence that conservative Christians are a threat to national security. It is a fact that they do not commonly vote democrat and that they are vocal about Obama’s destructive and anti-Christian policies.

The fact is, there is a war against Bible-believing Christians on the horizon. And until we acknowledge it, we are not going to fully grasp how essential it is to prepare and remain prepared for a brutal period that is rapidly approaching. There has always been a satanic war against God’s people. However, in the United States, we have become complacent, and like the frog in the boiling water, it has crept up upon us, and most won’t even realize it has happened until it is too late. We have lived in relative peace, and up until a couple of decades ago, enjoyed a fair amount of respect from the secular world.

That has changed radically. We are now in an increasingly hostile environment, and it is getting more antagonistic. Most true Christians that I am acquainted with are well aware of the frontal assaults from the secular realm and the openly heretical forays by emissaries of Satan in the religious realm. But most of them have not recognized the danger much closer to them. Certainly, the unified and unifying world religions despise true biblical Christianity. But it is a mistake to view those entities as being outside the scope of our associations.

For example, the rhetoric of the 2015 Parliament of the World’s Religions (which took place in Salt Lake City in October of 2015)has been espoused within mainstream and emergent Christianity for a significant period. Brian McLaren, Rob Bell, and even Rick Warren (to name a few) have written or expressed virtually or literally the same agenda. It is all about ecumenism, everyone in harmony, world peace, and the need for a “New Christianity.” But an eye witness at the 2015 Parliament succinctly described the underlying purpose of this New Christianity (i.e., New Spirituality):

The Parliament of the World’s Religions has an agenda and they are now very open about it. It is now an outright attack on the Christian church and the Word of God. . . .

They are not afraid to say that “an orthodox Bible believing Christian does not fit in our world nor will they be tolerated.” It was in our face. This Parliament is a sort of coming out of the closet for them.5

The New Christianity/New Spirituality is the great and final apostasy—rank rebellion against the nature of God while at the same time re-identifying and glorifying the nature of Satan.

Most members and ordained ministers in denominations have not yet realized that the war has spread much closer to home. The satanic spirit inspiring the Parliament of the World’s Religions is motivating the New Age moles that have invaded Christianity. Evidence of that influence is now apparent in leaders of denominations. When a denominational leader supports New Age heretics, invites New Age gurus to speak at denominational functions, recommends heretical books as sound doctrine, then Satan has invaded and overthrown Christian leadership. To treat it as simply another disagreement or denominational dispute is farcical. One cannot hope to fight this spiritual war by the means commonly used to solve disputes between two born-again believers.

The intensity of that war and the extent of its progress is seen by the fact that the World Parliament of Religions, the Federal Government, highly popular and influential Christians including denominational leaders, and the Roman Catholic Church appear to have come to an agreement. They agree that Bible-believing  Christians (and Jews) are the source of all the world’s ills. Their consensus is that the exclusivity of biblical Christianity (i.e., Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation, and man is not God but a sinner) is a hindrance to achieving world peace, global unity, climate control, hunger and disease management in third-world countries, harmony between religions, emotional well-being of licentious individuals, population control through abortion and euthanasia, genetic research using aborted babies, the advancement of science to “prove” evolution, and virtually every immoral issue and problem in the world. The solution cannot be arrived at without the elimination or eradication of true Christianity. As the eye witness at the Parliament states, according to the new spirituality view, “[t]he Christian orthodox view of Heaven and Hell will no longer be tolerated as they say it divides humanity.”6 One Parliament speaker, Salih Sayigan from the Department of Theology at Georgetown University, stated:

[E]xclusiveness leads to violence when we say you get to go to Heaven and you end in Hell; then we have a problem when you exclude you sow seeds of extremism.7

The plan to rid the world of these biblical “extremists” will be by incremental oppression in various forms. In a number of Muslim nations, they are well beyond increments. They brutalize, rob, rape, imprison, and murder Christians. The violence they use to remove Christian influence is justified as a means to solve violence. In other words, if they murder all the Christians, then they won’t have to murder anymore. That is the pragmatic premise of the coming brutal persecution. The slaughter of the Jews by Hitler was presented as necessary to peace, prosperity, and superiority. People believed that when the killing was done, there would be an end to any further killing in the Utopia achieved. They would simply need to endure the inhumanity for the chance at a world wherein inhumanity did not exist.

Of course, evil cannot solve evil. The killing cannot and will not end with the death of all Christians and Jews. Some other faction of society will be deemed a roadblock to progress, and the killing will resume. Evil must metastasize everywhere it infects and gains control. It can no more be a means to the development of peace than rape is a means to developing love. The war against Christians has but one purpose and that is to destroy God’s people and thereby eliminate godliness from the earth. It is Satan’s ploy.

Hasn’t the time come to identify the ones compliant with Satan’s goals? They do not appear as devils. There are no horns, no fangs, no foaming mouths, or other diabolical features. They appear as benevolent and gracious people. Their personalities are charismatic. Their rhetoric is engaging. Their leadership is diplomatic, for the most part, and they fit confidently (or seemingly humbly) into their esteemed positions. It is difficult to look beyond the image of such individuals, their smiling faces, considering their position, hear their gregarious and congenial words, and recognize the cleverly disguised malevolence. But it must be done. Until they are properly identified, evil will operate successfully and unabated through these people.

At this point, I am not certain that the evil can be stopped or even slowed down. The degradation of the secular and religious realms may be too far gone to reverse or much less halt. And after all, the Bible tells us such days are coming. However, there remains a reason to make the effort. There are still professing Christians who have not entered apostasy but have no idea, for various reasons, what is taking place within and outside the walls of Christianity. Warning them about the intense and clever deception is still viable. It is for that purpose we must continue to try.

But if we have any hope in us of rescuing these unknowing Christians, we who see and understand the times in which we live (because of the grace of God), we must get off the fence. We must speak out, write, pray, and stand without wavering when evil is present. The time is long past to enjoin the battle. Whatever it costs, we must stand up for God and His truth, have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, and expose the apostasy as the deadly spiritual plague it is. It threatens to destroy our children and our grandchildren from the newly born to the youth battling through the public education system while besieged by a torrent of satanic influences. Entire churches and even denominations are being vacuumed into its inescapable bottomless chasm.

It is a huge battle, but we must believe in the omnipotent God who will assist us. You may ask, “How can I ever stand strong in such a battle as this? I am too weak for something of this magnitude.” Yes, you are and I am, but He tells us in His Word the solution:

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

The Great Shut-Down
Not long ago, social media (e.g. Facebook, Google, etc.) presenting end-times information was bustling with activity. Eschatological and discernment posts were peppered with thousands of favorable commentaries. Now, most of the ones I’ve checked have incurred a significant drop-off in views, likes, comments, and shares. The most popular ones are receiving only a few hundred views and some less than a hundred. It is as if a switch was flipped and people are staying away from information deemed “negative.” The blogs and pages maintaining viewership are the ones presenting heresy or benign information.

Why are people shunning the news of a perilous time arriving? Are they rejecting portents of a harsh period because they no longer believe them to be true? No, I don’t think so. I believe it is what I call the Great Shut-Down. I’ve been expecting it to manifest—it has finally arrived. The Great Shut-Down is the point when negative information overload reaches a saturation point. People can only take so much bad news, especially those who are spiritually weak or have not been conditioned to receive harsh truth.

Futurologist Alvin Toffler labels the phenomenon in secular society as “future shock” syndrome. Toffler postulates that future shock is the result of people witnessing and feeling the effects of sudden negative changes in society. The lack of response from any authoritative source can cause them to feel helpless and hopeless. They reach the point where they no longer have the will to resist or even complain. Obviously, the secular faction is not looking to Christianity for hope. However, many professing Christians seem to be experiencing a lack of hope as well.

Sociologist and philosopher Émile Durkheim (1858-1917) observed that the collapse of European society by modernity dramatically affected Christianity. He observed that once “the collective force so vital for the life of a society was no longer generated,”8 faith in God declined. Harsh burdens and stresses prevented the people from sensing God’s presence. This resulted in replacing faith with belief in social justice and science. In other words, “the social milieu that supported Christianity disappeared, leaving Christian faith, values, and thinking without any social foundations to give them life.”9

Consider the situation today. Evidence suggests that Christianity is disintegrating from the inside out. Christian leaders are allowing (either through their silence or their promotion) millions of Christians to be introduced to heretical doctrines and practices. The effects of this landslide of heresy are pushing biblical Christianity into obscurity.10 One of the heresies that has made major inroads is contemplative spirituality (a mystical spirituality often introduced through Spiritual Formation programs).11 It is going unchecked and virtually fully ignored by almost every Christian leader, spreading throughout Christian colleges, seminaries, ministries, and denominations rapidly. People don’t realize that by embracing such a belief system, they are, in effect, rejecting the biblical concept of God’s nature because the two oppose each other. And the results of this are rejection of love for truth and unbridled acceptance of heretical and cultural trends.

Concurrently, there is a steady flow of negative information about the shenanigans being foisted on society by the courts and the federal government. There is ObamaCare, IRS scandals, executive orders circumventing Congress, the aberrant and oppressive SCOTUS ruling against Christianity, the Nuclear Treaty with Iran, and a porous border with Mexico. Adding to that disheartening list is the news of terrorists beheading those who profess to be Christians (among other atrocities), the Umpqua Community College massacre, a growing hatred around the world toward Israel, the Kim Davis saga, and attacks on Christian businesses that decline to support homosexual marriage. Combined with the Benghazi scandal, the Common Core invasion of public education, concerns about the next presidential election, an undependable and shaky economy, the nationwide genuflection of the Catholic pope, the burdens and stresses thus created go beyond comprehension, nearly crushing all hope.

Additionally, psychological secular studies concerning the effects of watching cable news indicate it produces “negative mood experiences.”12 Many professing Christians have been daily cycling through a spectrum of negative experiences including anxiety, sadness, anger, disgust, discouragement, fear, and even depression from cable news and radio talk shows. This constant flow of bad news about secular and religious events, along with the many warnings about encroaching heresy, the great apostasy, and the dark and deadly period ahead, has brought many Christians to a shutting-down state.

I personally believe one factor that has initiated this shut down is the highly publicized supposed “prophecies” based on the “blood moon” theories. People have had their emotions manipulated one too many times. It was after that fiasco was proven false that I really noticed the shut-down.13

Shutting Down or Staying Alert?
Whatever the cause, shutting down is the worst thing a Christian can do at this point of time. Instead of shutting down, believers need to be selective about what they are putting into their minds and spirits. Being informed is essential to being prepared. Shutting down will not prepare one to endure the harshness of the tough days ahead. It’s one thing if believers are focusing on their relationship with the Lord and want to spend less time on the Internet and watching TV. However, the temptation for many (and I have seen it already) will be to shut down by engaging in entertainment media and outlets of benign and mundane information. Rather than adjusting with balance, they are going into denial, choosing to believe we have lots of time before our society, as we know it, collapses. That’s the “Ostrich Complex,” and professing Christians with the Ostrich Complex will pay a severe price for what they are enjoying now.

As painful and frightening as it is to accept, I believe we are on the verge of a global government and religion that will be very brutal to true Christians. It will take more than a sabbatical from bad news and ominous warnings to prepare for enduring life in such an environment.

Satan, the enemy of our souls, is working overtime right now to  “wear out the saints” (Daniel 7:25), but I cannot exhort you enough, this is not a time when born-again believers in Christ can afford to be worn down, bury their heads, and become apathetic toward what is happening around us. For those who cave in to that temptation of apathy, it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to stand when things get truly harsh. The time to prepare is long past, but it’s still not too late.  The first step is to wake up and accept truth. It is time to gather and store “oil,” the substance that keeps our light shining. In order to keep that flame lit and not allow it to become a flickering flame on a wick in a near-empty reservoir, we must put into action our confession of faith in Christ. He promises to sustain us as we abide in Him.

In conclusion, it is essential for preparation and subsequent endurance that we acknowledge the spiritual war in which we find ourselves, that we do not shut down our senses because of negative information overload, and that we do not live in a bubble of false security.

May we also remember that this home on earth is not our final destination. We have a home where God dwells in righteousness.   Nothing in this life is worth forfeiting the opportunity to live in that eternal kingdom with Him. If we are going to defeat the forces of darkness that seek to minimize our efforts and diminish our faith, we will have to fight, “not as one that beateth the air” (1 Corinthians 9:26) but as informed and equipped saints of God. We must not deceive ourselves and think we can be both complacent and effective all at the same time.

Instead of shutting down, let us look up. Genuine blessed hope is the buffer for the stress of perilous times. It can only be had with a sincere relationship with Christ, a strong knowledge of His Word, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit (who “shall teach you all things; John 14 :26). That is the only focus that makes sense in this period of encroaching darkness. As the psalmist so well stated, let us hope in His mercy, rejoice in Him, and trust in His holy name.

Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy; to deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine. Our soul waiteth for the Lord: he is our help and our shield. For our heart shall rejoice in him, because we have trusted in his holy name.—(Psalm 33:18-21)

To order copies of The Unacknowledged War and the Wearing Down of the Saints, click here. 

Endnotes:
1. Lynette Irwin, “Parliament of the World’s Religions 2015: An Eyewitness Account” (Herescope Blog: http://herescope.blogspot.com/2015/10/parliament-of-worlds-religions-2015.html).
2. Leo Hohmann, “New Obama Czar Will Hunt ‘Right-Wing’ Extremists” (WorldNetDaily, 10/15/2015, http://www.wnd.com/2015/10/new-obama-czar-will-hunt-right-wing-extremists).
3. Brian Fischer, “Obama: Christians Threaten Nation” (Guest Columnist, OneNewsNow, October 16, 2015,  http://www.onenewsnow.com/perspectives/bryan-fischer/2015/10/16/obama-christians-threaten-nation).
4. Ibid.
5. Lynette Irwin, “Parliament of the World’s Religions 2015: An Eyewitness Account,” op. cit.
6. Ibid.
7. Ibid, citing, Salih Sayigan, Department of Theology, Georgetown University.
8. Paul Carls, “Émile Durkheim” (Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, http://www.iep.utm.edu/durkheim), section: c. The Death of the Gods.
9. Ibid.
10. For extensive documentation on the compromise of Christian leaders, visit www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com.
11. Read A Time of Departing by Ray Yungen to understand contemplative spirituality.
12. Graham C.L. Davey, “The Psychological Effects of TV News” (Psychology Today, June 19, 2012, https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/why-we-worry/201206/the-psychological-effects-tv-news).
13. See “Four Blood Moons Are Coming” by Mike Oppenheimer of Let Us Reason Ministries: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=15326.

To order copies of The Unacknowledged War and the Wearing Down of the Saints, click here. 

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After the Working of Satan

cedric-fisher

Cedric Fisher

By Cedric Fisher
TruthKeepers

In Matthew 24:24, Christ warned about an end time deception that would be very effective, even against the believers, if that were possible. His and other biblical warnings are seldom mentioned the circles of heretics. It is like a corporate moratorium has been declared against confronting heresy. That has at least two effects on discernment. First, it opens the gates wide so that anything can come in. I say “anything,” but I mean it is actually anything but truth. Second, it nearly annihilates any quest for truth.

Heresy has replaced truth as most desirable by professing Christians. It has become so clever that it is sometimes difficult to tell the difference. The heretics use, and teach their deluded subjects to use, Christian terms. In fact, it is nearly impossible to discern between people with the form of godliness, and the ones with true godliness. The former deny the power of godliness, and the latter embrace it. Further, the former involve the flesh in everything religious. The latter involve the Holy Spirit.

Godliness in the Greek, is eusebia, which means, “reverence, respect, and piety toward God.” The mark of most heretics and their subjects is that they do not possess these qualities. Consider the way they carelessly handle the word of God, adding words, or leaving words out, to force it to their particular conclusion. They misinterpret clear verses, misquote God’s word, and then defend the misquote as if it were truth. The major error is, taking God’s word out of context. This shows an irreverence and disrespect for God’s word. If they do not reverence and respect His word, how can they reverence and respect God? Further, how can they love Him?

The apostle Paul also prophesied a coming great deception, delusion, and apostasy. Consider very carefully his words. This is essential to understanding what is happening today. Click here to continue reading.

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