Posts Tagged ‘Roger Oakland’

Letter to the Editor: Purpose Driven Movement – Is There Really Something to Be Concerned About?

Dear Lighthouse Trails:

I don’t normally write others with questions, but seek answers through my own research. Your posting about Rick Warren and the Purpose-Driven Church, along with books offered on your website, have been most helpful.

On June 26-29, I attended a PD conference at Saddleback Church. The church staff and spouses attended a 3-day conference on “Hope Renewed.” I was there all 3 days taking notes and listening to what was said. The speaker each day was Rick Warren.

After those 3 days, I found myself questioning what I thought I knew about Rick Warren and the Purpose-Driven Church; even realizing all that I had previously read at your site and others. After all, he seemed to have a gift for simplifying things and holding everyone’s attention. Was I wrong to think differently and was he on target? I found myself wondering why I had questioned this fine man speaking before me.

But at the end of the third day during one of the worship music sessions, I realized how sad I felt for all the attendees and how all the messages thru music were only “positive” messages about God; not much if any about our sin and desperate need for Jesus.

For as humble as Rick Warren presents himself, I couldn’t help thinking that I was missing something that didn’t seem quite right, or I was wrong to question him and the PD movement at all; and somehow the articles on your website and others were all wrong. Was it a possibility that I was in the presence of a seducing spirit or a spirit that deceives and blinds even believers in Christ? As I have reflected over the last 2 weeks, I believe that is exactly what happened.

I writing to share with you what happened – trusting that my thinking and assumptions are not wrong. I appreciate your consistent work with sharing the truth of God’s Word and that of your authors. I have not found many places to get such help.

_____________________

LTRP Note: After observing and researching Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Movement for over 15 years, we find that the evidence gathered simply cannot be ignored. If you are reading this letter to the editor and finding yourself uncertain as to what the roots, foundation, and goals of Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Movement are, please read some of the articles below. For books on this issue, read A Time of Departing, Faith Undone, Deceived on Purpose, A “Wonderful” Deception, and The Good Shepherd Calls. 

Some of the More important Articles About the Purpose Driven Movement

The Peace of God versus the P.E.A.C.E. of Man

The Kingdom of God and a Man of Peace

Rick Warren’s Dangerous Ecumenical Pathway to Rome And How One Interview Revealed So Much

THE THREE LEGGED STOOL PLAN

Rick Warren’s Daniel Plan – The New Age/Eastern Meditation Doctors Behind the Saddleback Health

A Visit to Rick Warren’s Health Seminar – The Unfolding of a Global New Age Plan

The Story Behind Lighthouse Trails

The New Missiology – Doing Missions Without the Gospel

RICK WARREN RETAINS UNBIBLICAL POSITION IN NEW 2012 EDITION OF THE PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE

Rick Warren’s Popular Broad Way Christianity Misses the (Biblical) Mark

Looking to the Past to Unravel Confusion About Rick Warren, Islam, and Warren’s All-Inclusive “Second Reformation”

Purpose Driven Terrorism

Chrislam – The Blending Together of Islam & Christianity and Rick Warren’s Muslim Man of Peace 

NEW BOOKLET: THE REFORMATION: A Brief But Important Look (Some Things You Might Not Know)

2017 marks the 500th year anniversary of the Reformation period in history. This year, orthodox, ecumenical, emergent, liberal, and even secular groups will be “honoring” the Reformation. In this new booklet by Roger Oakland, certain aspects of the Reformation will be discussed, aspects you won’t find in these other circles.

 THE REFORMATION: A Brief But Important Look (Some Things You Might Not Know) by Roger Oakland is our newest Lighthouse Trails Booklet. The Booklet is 14 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 THE REFORMATION: A Brief But Important Look (Some Things You Might Not Know), click here.

THE REFORMATION: A Brief But Important Look (Some Things You Might Not Know)

By Roger Oakland
A study of church history reveals that the plan by the serpent to infiltrate Christianity has been relentless through the ages. This plan continues today and is accelerating as the apostasy foretold in the Bible unfolds. In my book, The Good Shepherd Calls, I document how the counterfeit bride (what the Bible calls the harlot) is assembling an amalgamation of apostate “Christianity” with the world’s religions for establishing a peace plan. This peace plan will in turn set up a one-world religion in the name of Christ to further the cause of peace. What is happening right now in the political, economic, and religious sectors is a gradual unfolding of this plan that will build up speed and momentum as we approach the coming of the Antichrist.

While it is impossible to accomplish a complete study of church history in one small booklet, I have chosen one period of time that will help us to comprehend a number of principles we are trying to clarify. While Christianity can become distorted and separated from the foundation of the Bible so it is no longer recognizable as biblical Christianity, God always calls out those who hear His voice. As Jesus said: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10: 27).

Throughout church history, those who are called out form a remnant. Hearing the voice of the Good Shepherd in the midst of a Christianity that has gone astray and then speaking out against this deception is always met with opposition, hostility, and even death. Of course, this would be expected according to the battle described in the Bible between good and evil, God and Satan.

The area of church history we will be discussing in this booklet is a time known as the Reformation when the reformers split from the Roman Catholic Church in an attempt to re-establish what they believed was a Bible-based Christianity. The reformers, and those who followed their lead, then faced what was called the Counter Reformation (by Rome) and were persecuted. In many cases, they were tortured or killed because of their refusal to submit to papal teachings such as those that said Jesus could be found in a wafer (the Eucharist), and they would not pledge their allegiance to Rome or the pope. Many Christians today have either forgotten about the Reformation and the Counter Reformation, do not understand the implications of what took place, or have never even heard about this period of time.

It is also important to point out that those who led the Reformation were not infallible individuals. They were grieved by the way Christianity had departed from Scripture and had a desire to make corrections. But some of their corrections were not biblically based. How tragic it is today that many sheep follow these men (even naming themselves after them) and their ideas more than they follow the Lord Jesus Christ and His Word. Even though a correction to the course of Christianity was made, the corrections often did not go far enough, or in some cases veered away from biblical truth altogether. In other cases, some reformers did not want to leave the Catholic Church but rather desired to change some things but leave other beliefs that were just as detrimental intact. Nevertheless, many of these men and women suffered greatly for their efforts to stand for truth.

It is essential that we examine and understand the past because many proclaiming Christians today are being led down the same path as the past, as if they are trying to rediscover the wheel, and they don’t understand that the Bible was written so we don’t have to thrash about aimlessly in the tides of life.

As the reformers discovered, contending for the faith is not an easy road to walk. My prayer is that those believers today who are indeed contending for the faith and trying to warn the deceived can do so in love. Contending is not being contentious. Instead, contending should be sharing the truth in love with the deceived.

The Reformation

One source describes the Reformation in the following way:

The Protestant Reformation was the 16th-century religious, political, intellectual and cultural upheaval that splintered Catholic Europe, setting in place the structures and beliefs that would define the continent in the modern era. In northern and central Europe, reformers like Martin Luther, John Calvin and Henry VIII challenged papal authority and questioned the Catholic Church’s ability to define Christian practice. They argued for a religious and political redistribution of power into the hands of Bible- and pamphlet-reading pastors and princes. The disruption triggered wars, persecutions and the so-called Counter Reformation, the Catholic Church’s delayed but forceful response to the Protestants.1

More information from the same document suggests the goal of the reformers was to guide people away from a man-made system of power and control (purported to represent Christ) back to following Christ and His Word alone. We read:

Historians usually date the start of the Protestant Reformation to the 1517 publication of Martin Luther’s “95 Theses.” Its ending can be placed anywhere from the 1555 Peace of Augsburg, which allowed for the coexistence of Catholicism and Lutheranism in Germany, to the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia, which ended the Thirty Years’ War. The key ideas of the Reformation—a call to purify the church and a belief that the Bible, not tradition, should be the sole source of spiritual authority—were not themselves novel. However, Luther and the other reformers became the first to skillfully use the power of the printing press to give their ideas a wide audience.2

The most significant contribution of the Reformation is its illumination and recognition of the true Gospel of justification (salvation) by grace alone through faith in Christ alone apart from earning salvation through works; this fundamental truth exploded as the Word of God (the Bible) became available to the common people. We can even thank the more obscure events, such as the invention of the printing press around 1440 by Johannes Gutenberg and the efforts of Bible translators for making this possible. Meanwhile, many other extra-biblical dogmas and traditions that had reinvented biblical Christianity with outright non-Christian beliefs had been implemented to control the sheep as well. Some of these were:

Selling of indulgences
Purgatory
Praying to dead “saints”
A focus on Mary as the mother of God
The rosary and repetitive prayers to “Mary”
The “Holy doors” opened on Roman Catholic Jubilee for forgiveness
Transubstantiation
The Eucharistic Jesus
Eucharistic adoration
Popery and the infallibility of the pope

While there were many different Reformation leaders in various countries, we will reference only a few.

Germany and Lutherism

Martin Luther (1483-1546) was an Augustinian monk and university lecturer in Wittenberg when he composed his “95 Theses,” which protested the pope’s sale of indulgences in lieu of doing penance. After Luther read and came to understand Romans 1:17 that says, “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith,” Luther’s spiritual life was radically changed as he came to realize he was not under this continuous weight of condemnation but through Christ had found justification through faith alone. This understanding helped spark the Reformation.

Although he had hoped to spur renewal from within the Catholic Church, in 1521 he was summoned before the Diet of Worms and excommunicated. Sheltered by Friedrich, elector of Saxony, Luther translated the Bible into German and continued his production of vernacular pamphlets. When German peasants, inspired in part by Luther’s empowering “priesthood of all believers,” revolted in 1524, Luther sided with Germany’s princes. By the Reformation’s end, Lutheranism had become the state religion throughout much of Germany, Scandinavia, and the Baltics.3

Sadly, Luther later turned vehemently against the Jews after becoming discouraged because they wouldn’t convert. Tragically, Adolph Hitler utilized Luther’s anti-Jewish sentiments to help convince the German people to turn against the Jews.4

As far as Luther’s contribution of his discovery of the essence of the Gospel, that justification is through faith and not works, it cannot be understated, and he did suffer persecution for his reform efforts.

Switzerland and Calvinism

The Swiss Reformation began in 1519 with the sermons of Ulrich Zwingli, whose teachings largely paralleled Luther’s. In 1541, John Calvin, a French Protestant who had spent the previous decade in exile writing his Institutes of the Christian Religion, was invited to settle in Geneva and put his Reformed doctrine into practice—which stressed an extreme view of God’s sovereignty and humanity’s predestined fate where man has no control over his fate nor the free will to choose or reject Christ, as these things are predetermined. These teachings have brought much confusion to Christians over the centuries in that Calvin’s doctrine contradicts the message of the Gospel that “whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16) and this verse from the Book of Revelation:

And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. (Revelation 22:17)

The result of Calvin’s work was a theocratic regime of enforced, austere morality. Calvin’s Geneva became a hotbed for Protestant exiles, and his doctrines quickly spread to Scotland, France, Transylvania and the Low Countries, where Dutch Calvinism became a religious and economic force for the next 400 years.5

Like Luther, Calvin was fallible, and in addition, he was the cause of much human suffering. This can be documented in the writings of Bernard Cottret, a university professor who greatly admired Calvin, and whose book (published by Eerdman’s) was intended to be a favorable portrait of Calvin, yet it describes more than 38 executions attributed to Calvin.

[Cottret] documents the dates of each of John Calvin’s despicable acts and shows that Calvin’s methods included imprisonment, torture, and execution by beheading and by burning at the stake.6

Michael Servetus was a scientist and a theologian who was born in 1511. Calvin had given Servetus a copy of his writings hoping for admiration and a favorable review. When Servetus returned Calvin’s writings to him with review and critique comments in the margins, Calvin was infuriated. On October 27, 1553, at the age of 42, Servetus was burned alive at the stake. To add to his agony, Calvin had Servetus’ own theological book tied to his chest, the flames of which rose against his face. While Michael Servetus’ doctrines may not have all been biblically sound, Calvin’s torture and execution of this man is inexcusable.7

Another problem with Calvinism is that it offers no assurance of salvation. The reason for this is that while the Bible declares “whosoever” may come, Calvin’s grasp and understanding of “predestination” was so all consuming as to become “another gospel” where one gets saved if and only if God has already chosen to save someone; hence, receiving the Gospel according to Scripture is both impossible and of no avail to someone predestined to Hell. It is worth noting that in his will, Calvin wrote a plea to God to save him if He can find it in His will to do so.8 This is completely contrary to Scripture that promises us assurance of salvation:

He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. (John 3:36)

These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. (1 John 5:13)

England and the “Middle Way”

The history of Christianity in England is marked by some extreme highs and lows, often happening simultaneously, where good and evil were always present, clashing with but never eradicating the other. King Henry VIII had a highly questionable personal life, but through the course of related events, broke away from Rome, instituted an English church, and made the Bible available to the people. Below is a brief historical synopsis of this turbulent period of English history:

In England, the Reformation began with Henry VIII’s quest for a male heir. When Pope Clement VII refused to annul Henry’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon so he could remarry, the English king declared in 1534 that he alone should be the final authority in matters relating to the English church. Henry dissolved England’s monasteries to confiscate their wealth and worked to place the Bible in the hands of the people. Beginning in 1536, every parish was required to have a copy.

After Henry’s death, England tilted toward Calvinist-infused Protestantism during Edward VI’s six-year reign and then endured five years of reactionary Catholicism under Mary I. In 1559, Elizabeth I took the throne and, during her 44-year reign, cast the Church of England as a “middle way” between Calvinism and Catholicism, with vernacular worship and a revised Book of Common Prayer.9

Without a doubt, a reformation was needed. And the reformers paid a high price, some with their lives, to help pave a road away from the heresies of the Roman Catholic Church and toward biblical purity. But even though their roles in this were substantial, nevertheless, they were still just fallible men and women who were used of God and in some cases of our adversary. They should not have been put on spiritual pedestals to be esteemed so highly that centuries later, when a Christian challenges their writings, he is sorely ostracized by much of today’s Christian academia.

The Counter Reformation

Understanding some of the history behind Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, and the Jesuit agenda to bring back the “separated brethren” to the “Mother of All Churches” reveals one of the darkest periods of church history. Untold numbers (some estimates are in the tens of thousands, others in the tens of millions) of Christians, Jews, and other non-Catholics were tortured and killed if they refused submission to the pope, refused to accept that Jesus Christ was present in the Eucharist, or simply refused to be Catholic.

In fact, at this point, I would suggest our readers either read or re-read a copy of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. This will give an excellent overview of the suffering and torture imposed on Bible believers during the Reformation and Counter Reformation Period by the Roman Catholic hierarchy. For those who are unable to read the book, we will provide an example, quoting a source that explains who the Huguenots were and the persecution they endured because they desired to follow the Good Shepherd:

The Huguenots were French Protestants. The tide of the Reformation reached France early in the sixteenth century and was part of the religious and political fomentation of the times. It was quickly embraced by members of the nobility, by the intellectual elite, and by professionals in trades, medicine, and crafts. It was a respectable movement involving the most responsible and accomplished people of France. It signified their desire for greater freedom religiously and politically.

However, ninety percent of France was Roman Catholic, and the Catholic Church was determined to remain the controlling power. The Huguenots alternated between high favor and outrageous persecution. Inevitably, there were clashes between Roman Catholics and Huguenots, many erupting into the shedding of blood.

Thousands of Huguenots were in Paris . . . on August 24, 1572. On that day, soldiers and organized mobs fell upon the Huguenots, and thousands of them were slaughtered. . . .

On April 13, 1598 . . . the newly crowned Henry IV [who favored the Huguenots] . . . issued the Edict of Nantes, which granted to the Huguenots toleration and liberty to worship in their own way. For a time, at least, there was more freedom for the Huguenots. However, about one hundred years later, on October 18, 1685, Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes. Practice of the “heretical” religion was forbidden. Huguenots were ordered to renounce their faith and join the Catholic Church. They were denied exit from France under pain of death. And, Louis XIV hired 300,000 troops to hunt the heretics down and confiscate their property.10

Nothing New Under the Sun

This brief study of the Reformation and the Counter Reformation opens a window to the past that has either been forgotten or ignored. We know that most Catholics today would be totally against people being tortured and burned at the stake, and while it is not our objective to open old wounds or to be called “Catholic bashers,” it is important to understand what happened in the past from a biblical perspective with the hope it won’t happen again.

Unfortunately, something is happening in the Protestant church today that would shock and horrify those believers who have gone before us suffering torturous deaths because they would not bow the knee to the Catholic Church. Many of today’s Protestants, who at one time agreed that the Reformation needed to take place, have now proclaimed that the Reformation has no relevance anymore and that Protestantism and Catholicism need to see themselves as one church. While the same unbiblical dogmas, traditions, and ideas are being taught by the Catholic Church (and being labeled as harmless by many Protestant leaders), the martyrs of the Reformation are now considered by some to be anti-ecumenical crackpots who endured tremendous suffering and death for what is now seen as trivial and unnecessary.

The church that once relied on the Word of God now follows men who have compromised the truth or ignored the truth entirely. Church history is being repeated, perhaps for the last time, and many have fallen asleep or are willingly ignorant.

The last-days delusion is upon us. Many Christians who are attempting to maintain biblical integrity and not “go with the flow” of megachurch madness cannot even find a church to attend that has not compromised the faith. Denominations and associations of fellowships that were once on track have been derailed.

If we have heeded the warnings and instruction of Scripture, we must expect this attack on biblical faith. Like those who were willing to speak the truth in the past and suffer the consequences, the Good Shepherd is calling those who are willing to take a similar stand today.

To order copies of THE REFORMATION: A Brief But Important Look (Some Things You Might Not Know), click here.

Endnotes:
1. History.com; The Reformation: http://www.history.com/topics/reformation.
2. Ibid.
3. Ibid.
4. Toward the end of his days, Luther became profoundly anti-Semitic, and the publishers and author of The Good Shepherd Calls and this booklet wish to dissociate themselves utterly from the views he expressed on the Jewish people during these final few years. As Perry, Peden, and Von Laue point out, “Initially, Luther hoped to attract Jews to his vision of reformed Christianity. In That Jesus Was Born a Jew (1523), the young Luther expressed sympathy for Jewish sufferings and denounced persecution as a barrier to conversion. He declared, ‘I hope that if one deals in a kindly way with the Jews and instructs them carefully from the Holy Scripture, many of them will become genuine Christians . . . We [Christians] are aliens and in-laws; they are blood relatives, cousins, and brothers of our Lord.’”  Based on this point, Luther went on to say: “if it were proper to boast of flesh and blood, the Jews belong more to Christ than we. I beg, therefore, my dear Papist, if you become tired of abusing me as a heretic, that you begin to revile me as a Jew.”  Thanks in no small part to the appalling extent of Rome’s past persecution of the Jews ‘in the Name of Christ’, the vast majority of Jews did not convert to Christianity, and this, combined with Rome’s many false teachings about the Jews, prompted Luther toward his violent diatribes against them. It should also be borne in mind that he lived in a very anti-Semitic time, and in a very anti-Semitic part of the world. Tragically, centuries later, Adolph Hitler utilized the anti-Semitic sentiments of Luther to help justify to the Germany people his atrocities toward the Jewish People, which resulted in over six million Jewish deaths.  For further information on Luther’s views of the Jews, read William Shirer’s The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.
5. http://www.history.com/topics/reformation, op. cit.
6. B. Kirkland D.D., Calvinism: None Dare Call it Heresy (Sarnia, ON: Local Church Ministries, www.fairhavensbaptist.com), p. 4.
7. Ibid.
8. Norman F. Douty, The Death of Christ, Rev. And Enlarged (Irving, TX: Williams & Watrous Pub. Co, 1978), p. 176.
9. http://www.history.com/topics/reformation, op., cit.
10. The Huguenot Society of America, “Huguenot History,” http://huguenotsocietyofamerica.org/?page=Huguenot-History.

To order copies of THE REFORMATION: A Brief But Important Look (Some Things You Might Not Know), click here.

Buried in Unmarked Graves

By Roger Oakland

Credit: Bigstockphoto.com

Vast are the burial grounds resulting from man-centered Christianity. When men follow men rather than the Good Shepherd, they seek after wealth, kingdoms, power, and illicit sexual relationships—anything to feed the flesh, which we know is never satisfied. When this happens, it is no longer Christianity but rather another “Christianity,” a dead and harmful religion (which is man’s invention) promoting another Jesus. Religion robs the innocent from true freedom in Jesus. The temples, the cathedrals, the shrines, and the modern day megachurches often testify to the accomplishments of man more than they speak of the wonders of God, who sent His Son to redeem us from our sins.

Further, study the hierarchies that humans construct—the popes, the cardinals, the bishops, and the priests. Or replace the “Holy Catholic Church” with the “Protestant” counterparts, and you find the same thing. While there may be a different configuration, the end results are the same. Followers are abused and misused by the power brokers that control them.

Many are those who have been beaten and hurt. They are buried in unmarked graves without tombstones covered over by time. Those responsible for their demise continue from generation to generation. They are abusive powerful despots who boldly proclaim “how dare you touch God’s anointed” as they bury more and more. They believe their threats have a scriptural basis.

Such is the case for many in a fellowship of pastors I was once involved with. For this reason, two Norwegian brothers (myself being one of them) felt led to warn these men, many of whom got their focus off the Good Shepherd.1 Sadly, they started out right but ended up wrong. As the Bible states, it is not how you start but how you finish that counts.

This group lost their moorings. Many of them were so encapsulated by power, success, and church growth, they did not realize they had become lukewarm and then cold. While the Good Shepherd warns them in His Word, they chose to ignore the warnings. Just like the Bible proclaims, Ichabod (meaning God’s glory departed) became a reality and an era of struggle that should have been laden with victories for Christ ended with the death of this group’s heart-broken founder.2 Isn’t it interesting how history repeats itself? Whatever has happened before can and does happen again.

The Word of God is light. The Word of God shines into the darkness, and the darkness hates the light. Often those in darkness think they are in light and do not see the light when the light shines.

Nevertheless, the God of the Bible always wins. Sometimes the scenario plays out with a very unhappy ending. God is a God of justice, and justice always prevails. The good news for the deceivers is that God is also a God of mercy, and He gives man the opportunity to repent until the day he takes his last breath. God does not desire that any should perish but wants all to come to repentance.

Endnote:

  1. http://www.understandthetimes.org/commentary/c190finalwakeupcall.shtml.
  2. You can read about Roger Oakland’s years in the Calvary Chapel churches in his biography Let There Be Light, 2nd ed.

(This is an excerpt from Roger Oakland’s book, The Good Shepherd Calls)

Related Video:

(From Roger Oakland’s emerging church lecture series)

“Reconciliation” — A “Theological Theme” at Taizé

By Chris Lawson
(From his 2017 book, Taizé—A Community of Worship: Ecumenical Reconciliation or an Interfaith Delusion?)

In a book titled A Community Called Taizé: A Story of Prayer, Worship, and Reconciliation (with a foreword by Desmond Tutu), author Jason Brian Santos says that the “three prominent theological themes of Taizé are reconciliation, freedom and trust.”1

Taizé Community

In explaining “reconciliation,” Santos says that Brother Roger [founder of Taizé community in France]  did not want any particular “theology” at Taizé because that would hinder the “reconciliation” between those of different religious persuasions. Santos describes Brother Roger’s ecumenical vision:

As the community developed and new brothers joined Brother Roger, it became apparent that genuine ecumenism would be one of the most significant challenges the community would face. After all, for over four hundred years estrangement had existed between Protestants and Catholics. But for the young Swiss theologian, it was four hundred years too many. Brother Roger understood all of humanity to be reconciled to God in and through Christ. . . . all are equal in Taizé; the community becomes a living example of reconciliation. . . .

This, to a large degree, is why the Taizé chants were birthed to help bring young people from different Christian traditions together in a unified expression of prayer.2

Bearing in mind that these “unified expression[s] of prayer” are largely mystical repetitive chants and other contemplative practices (e.g., lectio divina, centering prayer), the words of the Catholic contemplative monk, Thomas Merton, come to mind. Merton once described a conversation he had with a Sufi (Islamic mystic) leader who told Merton there could be no fellowship between those of different religions as long as doctrines (he referred then to the “doctrine of atonement or the theory of redemption”3) stood in the way. Merton assured him that while doctrines such as these were a barrier, there could be unity of spirit in the mystical realm.4 This is what Brother Roger was proposing for Taizé.

Jason Brian Santos, who spent time at Taizé researching the community, sums up Taizé’s view of reconciliation:

When Christ made all things new, he restored in us the image of God. Moreover, this image was restored in all of humanity. As a consequence, when we see our neighbor we ought to see the image of God; we ought to see Christ.5 (emphasis added)

Webster’s Dictionary defines “reconciliation” as “the act of reconciling, or the state of being reconciled; reconcilement; restoration to harmony; renewal of friendship.”6

To the Catholic Church, this reconciliation means something very different from the idea of two friends reconciling after a disagreement or estrangement. Rather, it sees the “reconciliation” between Catholics and Protestants as the reabsorption of Protestants into the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church, as an institution, has always seen Protestants as “the lost brethren,” so the only feasible reconciliation is to bring them back. The papacy and the Roman hierarchy will only be fully satisfied when they have fully assimilated the Protestant church into its system on its terms.

In Roger Oakland’s book, The Good Shepherd Calls, he discusses the “Roman Catholic Ecumenical Delegation for Christian Unity and Reconciliation.”7 Oakland explains the efforts being made by both the Catholic Church and leaders in the Protestant church to eradicate the barriers that keep the Catholics and the Protestants from becoming one church. There is every reason to believe that Taizé desires this very same thing. And with 100,000 people coming to Taizé every year, they very well may see this union take place sooner than later.

An online promotional piece for Jason Brian Santos’ book A Community Called Taizé by his publisher, InterVarsity Press, asks the question, “Why have millions of young people visited an ecumenical monastic community in France?”8 Like the emerging-church movement with its sensory-driven mystical contemplative practices, momentum is picking up rapidly in ecumenical movements worldwide. But why has the Taizé Community in particular grown so much in recent years? One apparent answer is that several popes and many Protestant groups have heartily promoted and endorsed it. While it is being touted as a place of reconciliation through love, certainly there is more going on than meets the eye.

Endnotes:
1. Jason Brian Santos, A Community Called Taizé: A Story of Prayer, Worship and Reconciliation (IVP Books, 2008, Kindle Edition), Kindle Location 1366.
2. Ibid.
3. Rob Baker and Gray Henry, Editors, Merton and Sufism (Louisville, KY: Fons Vitae, 1999), pp. 109-110.
4. Ibid.
5. Jason Brian Santos, op. cit.,
6. http://www.webster-dictionary.org/definition/Reconciliation.
7. Roger Oakland, The Good Shepherd Calls: An Urgent Message to the Last-Days Church (Eureka, MT: Lighthouse Trails Publishing, Inc, 2017), p. 131.
8. “Why have millions of young people visited an ecumenical monastic community in France?” (InterVarsity Press website: https://web-beta.archive.org/web/20100104080925/https://www.ivpress.com/title/ata/3525-look.pdf).

How to Find a Bible-Believing Church

                                                                   bigstockphoto.com

We have often been asked, “How do I find a good Bible-believing church?” There are many believers who are struggling to find one in their own communities. To start with, we usually recommend they make phone calls to potential churches and ask a few concise questions such as:

“Do you have a Spiritual Formation program at your church?” or “Has your church implemented aspects of the Purpose Driven Movement anytime in the past 10 years?.”

Since thousands of churches would answer yes to both or at least one of these questions, they are worthwhile to ask, and it would certainly narrow down the scope of one’s search. Here are a few other questions that could be asked:

1. Is the pastor using The Message “Bible” in his sermons and studies? Because this paraphrase is very often used by pastors and teachers who promote contemplative spirituality or emerging spirituality (as the language in The Message helps support these false teachings), it is another indicator that a church is going in the wrong direction.

2. Is the church affiliated in any way with the Willow Creek Association? Oftentimes, a church has not implemented the Purpose Driven Movement but is, rather, hooked up with Willow Creek. This is as problematic as Purpose Driven. See our article on our website titled, “No Repentance from Willow Creek—Only a Mystical Paradigm Shift.”

3. Is the church connected at all with Bethel Church of Redding, California? Bethel’s hyper-charismatic influence is huge today, and many churches are getting on board with the Bethel craze. That would include Jesus Culture too, which is an offshoot of Bethel. Before starting your search for a church, make sure you understand what the Word of Faith/NAR, hyper-charismatic movement is. Lighthouse Trails has several trustworthy authors who write about these issues. You’d be surprised to learn how extensive this influence has been in North American churches, even in ones that do not consider themselves charismatic.

3. Ask a potential church if it would mind mailing you a few recent Sunday programs. When you get them, look for some of the key terms used within the contemplative/emerging camp: missional, servant leader, soul-care, spiritual formation, transformation, transitioning, silence, organic, authentic, reinvent, spiritual disciplines, Christ follower (the term Christian isn’t typically liked too well by contemplatives and emergent) Christian formation (or Christian spirituality) (a term often meaning the same as Spiritual Formation). Just using these terms alone doesn’t suddenly make a church contemplative or emerging, but it does show that at least one person in leadership at that church is reading books of that persuasion, and eventually that person’s influence will affect that church adversely.

In addition to those three questions, be sure and visit a church’s website as there you may be able to find the answers to these questions without making the phone call. When on a website, see if there is more talk about unity, “culture,” social justice, and relevancy than about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You can check out the doctrinal and mission statements but be on guard—a church can have a solid-sounding doctrinal statement and be actually going in an entirely different direction. Listen to an interview called Beware the Bridgers for some information on that. And by the way, remember who some of the more popular ”bridgers” are, closing the gap between “rightly dividing the Word” and spiritual deception in millions of people’s lives: Beth Moore, Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, Tim Keller, John Piper, etc.—those who claim to be orthodox biblical Christians but who promote contemplative spirituality and/or emerging spirituality.

When on a church’s website, you can usually find out which conferences the church is involved with or recommending to their church members. The IF: Gathering conferences are growing tremendously in popularity all across North America, but as Cedric Fisher has documented in his booklet IF It is of God—Answering the Questions About IF: Gathering,  IF is an avenue through which emergent theology is entering the church. There are many other conferences and events, usually with high attendance, taking place yearly that are pumping up Christians with heretical ideas and “theologies.” If you find out a church you’ve been researching is involved in any of these, that is a big warning sign.

Also, once your search for a new church has narrowed down to a few churches, a weekday visit to those churches’ bookstores would be important. Look for books by Richard Foster, Gary Thomas, Henri Nouwen, Brennan Manning, and other authors discussed and critiqued on the LT website. Chris Lawson from Spiritual Research Network has a booklet that provides an extensive list of authors who fall within the contemplative, emerging camps. It’s an excellent resource.

While searching for a good church, it would be important to find out where a particular church is at in relation Jesus Calling and The Shack. Many churches have been allowing New Age ideas into their congregations through such books. Be sure to read former New Age follower Warren B. Smith’s materials which will help you identify what the New Age is and how it can disguise itself as a better, newer “Christianity.”  You might ask about women’s and men’s Bible study groups and which books are being used at these meetings. That will tell you a lot.

When all this has been done to find a Bible-believing church, if there are any in your community that have passed the contemplative/emerging/seeker-friendly/hyper-charismatic test, maybe it’s safe to take your family for a Sunday visit. Are many of the people walking in carrying Bibles? Seeker-friendly and church-growth churches discourage that because it might “offend” unbelievers (or as they say unchurched) coming to church. Does the pastor at some point in his sermon talk about the Cross (the atonement) and salvation (and mention of hell)? These are subjects that many churches avoid because of the “offensiveness” of that message. Better to offer an espresso drink and a little rock n roll music during the service and a psychology-based, feel-good message that appeals to the carnal senses (sensual) rather than build up the spiritual man.

Once you have found a church that seems to be sound, you should not stop being discerning. That must be ongoing. That might seem like a ”paranoid” or overly concerned attitude to have, but if we remember the many verses in Scripture that talk about spiritual deception (right from the Garden of Eden all the way to the Book of Revelation), we will realize it is the responsibility of the Christian to be discerning and watchful. And the Bible frequently talks about the latter days before Christ’s return where deception will run more rampant than ever before. Roger Oakland gives a list of signs to look for to see if a church is becoming or has become contemplative/emerging. As you begin to attend a new church, this list may be helpful to you and your family:

Scripture is no longer the ultimate authority as the basis for the Christian faith.

The centrality of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is being replaced by humanistic methods promoting church growth and a social gospel.

More and more emphasis is being placed on building the kingdom of God now and less and less on the warnings of Scripture about the imminent return of Jesus Christ and a coming judgment in the future.

The teaching that the church has taken the place of Israel and Israel has no prophetic significance is often embraced.

The teaching that the Book of Revelation does not refer to the future, but instead has been already fulfilled in the past.

An experiential mystical form of Christianity begins to be promoted as a method to reach the postmodern generation.

Ideas are promoted teaching that Christianity needs to be re­invented in order to provide meaning for this generation.

The pastor may implement an idea called “ancient-future” or “vintage Christianity” claiming that in order to take the church forward, we need to go back in church history and find out what experiences were effective to get people to embrace Christianity.

While the authority of the Word of God is undermined, images and sensual experiences are promoted as the key to experiencing and knowing God.

These experiences include icons, candles, incense, liturgy, labyrinths, prayer stations, contemplative prayer, experiencing the sacraments, particularly the sacrament of the Eucharist.

There seems to be a strong emphasis on ecumenism indicating that a bridge is being established that leads in the direction of unity with the Roman Catholic Church.

Some evangelical Protestant leaders are saying that the Reformation went too far. They are reexamining the claims of the “church fathers” saying that communion is more than a symbol and that Jesus actually becomes present in the wafer at communion.

There will be a growing trend towards an ecumenical unity for the cause of world peace—claiming the validity of other religions and that there are many ways to God.

Members of churches who question or resist the new changes that the pastor is implementing are reprimanded and usually asked to leave.

Roger has these signs listed in his booklet/article How to Know When the Emerging Church Shows Signs of Emerging into Your Church.

May God bless you and guide you in your search. It may seem like an insurmountable task, but we know there are still good churches out there because we often hear from pastors who are staying the course and are aware of the times in which we live. May God lead you to find one of these churches.

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural [carnal] man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. . . . For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:12-16)

Kingdom-Now Evangelicals

By Roger Oakland
While I believe Rome leads the way with the bold claim that God chose Peter and the succeeding popes to take the title of “Vicar of Christ” and determine what the sheep should or should not believe, other groups believe they have been called to usher in or even prepare and set up the kingdom of God here on Earth without the presence of the King. Often taking the position that Jesus will not actually physically return to rule and reign for a period of one thousand years, these groups see themselves as chosen by God to be human vessels for this purpose.
Common names for this teaching are: Kingdom Now, Dominion Theology, and Reconstructionism. It is the idea that before Christ can return, the world must be brought together in unity and perfection, and this work will be done by the Christian church. Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven P.E.A.C.E. Plan, Jim Wallis’ social gospel agenda, and Tony Campolo or Brian McLaren’s emergent church are a few of the avenues through which this is being propagated. The goal is to basically eradicate all the world’s ills (e.g., disease, poverty, terrorism, and pollution) and thus, we will have created a “Heaven on Earth” Utopia.

While creating such a world sounds very good, it is not what the Bible says is going to happen. Many Scriptures, in both the Old and New Testaments, describe a very different scenario, such as the following:

Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. (Matthew 24:9-14)
The following list of some of the erroneous teachings in Kingdom-Now theology illustrate how dangerous this belief system is, yet it has tremendously pervaded the church today:
Prophetic Scriptures are denied or fulfilled in 70 AD (as is also the belief of preterism).
The church is the new Israel (replacement theology).
Armageddon is the ongoing battle between the forces of light and darkness.
The Antichrist is a spirit, not an actual person.
We are already in the Tribulation, but at the same time, we are in the Millennium. It doesn’t get any stranger! It’s one or the other.
Rather than following traditional Bible prophecy, they follow “new revelations.”
Modern-day prophets must be obeyed and not judged for their inaccuracy.
They want to restore the Edenic nature even though Eden is where sin began.1
This movement has swept the planet, and those who refuse to join hands are considered “colonial,” “militant fundamentalists,” and “narrow-minded crackpots” who are not willing to catch the “new wave” and get on board with the mighty revival that is moving the world toward unity and peace. Many of the leaders in this movement have no problem whatsoever joining with the pope in Rome and the kingdom-of-Earth plans he has for joining together with other religions, including Islam.
While some discerning Christians can see how this trend plays a role in light of Bible prophecy, there is a huge portion of Christianity that does not. These are those who are reading books by authors who promote emerging church (or “progressive Christianity”) ideas for the postmodern generation that reject the teachings of the Bible and embrace establishing the kingdom of God on Earth right now. They are willing to join hands with other religions by reinventing Christianity into a “broad-way” spirituality where all are saved and part of God’s Kingdom. No longer do they believe in the “narrow road” to eternity. The kingdom of God is for all religions, they say (and even for those who believe in nothing). Unity, peace, connectedness, and oneness is all that matters, while biblical doctrine is being set aside as irrelevant to the “new reformation” at hand. Obviously, such a view leaves little room for the Cross and the biblical Gospel. And Scriptures such as this one are overlooked:
And he [Jesus] went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem. Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are. (Luke 13:22-25; emphasis added)
Unfortunately, while there may be many pastors, like Rick Warren, who still hold to a personal belief in Jesus Christ as their Savior, the time will come when the path they are now taking may cost them dearly. It is my hope that these leaders might wake up to see what they are doing before it is too late. And let us not forget the countless number of people following these shepherds who may never embrace a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ because of the truths being withheld from them for the sake of “peace” and “unity.”
It is also grievous to know that a good number of “Christian” leaders no longer believe (or have never believed) in the Cross as a propitiation for sin but maintain their belief that such a concept is both archaic and barbaric. They hold to the view that Christianity needs to be reinvented for our times. Brian McLaren, who in 2015 represented “Christianity” at the Parliament of the World Religions in Utah, holds to just such a view. In one interview, he said that the idea of God sending His Son to a violent death is “false advertising for God” and he equally rejected the doctrine of Hell as well.2
In addition, McLaren has played a significant role in promoting kingdom-now theology as can be seen in his book The Secret Message of Jesus: Uncovering the Truth That Could Change Everything. McLaren, who was once listed by Time Magazine as one of the top 25 most influential persons associated with evangelical Christianity, has sought to upgrade the Christian faith in order to make it relevant for today. He asks a number of questions at the beginning of his book that imply the church has misrepresented Jesus’ core message and promotes the idea that Christians need to be honest with themselves even if that means altering their faith. In his book, he makes the following statement:
Sadly, for centuries at a time in too many places to count, the Christian religion has downplayed, misconstrued, or forgotten the secret message of Jesus entirely. Instead of being about the kingdom of God coming to earth, the Christian religion has too often been preoccupied with abandoning or escaping the earth and going to heaven . . . We have betrayed the message that the kingdom of God is available for all, beginning with the least and last and the lost—and have instead believed and taught that the kingdom of God is available for the elite, beginning with the correct and the clean and the powerful.3
In McLaren’s 2016 book titled The Great Spiritual Migration: How the World’s Largest Religion is Seeking a Better Way to be Christian, he describes this all-inclusive “kingdom of God” that incorporates “multifaith [i.e., all religions] collaborations.” He states:
This kind of collaboration leads to a fresh understanding of what it means to evangelize. I was taught that it meant converting people to the one true religion, namely, my own [Christianity]. Now I believe evangelism means inviting people into heart-to-heart communion and collaboration with God and neighbors in the great work of healing the earth, of building the beloved community, of seeking first the kingdom of God and God’s justice for all. Members of each tradition bring their unique gifts to the table, ready to share and receive, learn and teach, give and take, in a spirit of generosity and vulnerability. Neither my neighbors nor I are obligated or expected to convert. . . . As we work together for the common good, we are all transformed. Those who haven’t experienced this kind of transforming collaboration simply don’t know what they’re missing. . . . Through multifaith collaborations, I have come to see how the language Paul used about one body with many members (1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12: 4– 5) applies not only to differing gifts among individual Christians but also to differing gifts among religions.4 (emphasis added)
While many evangelicals have now pushed Brian McLaren to the sidelines of evangelical Christianity, others have continued carrying on his message, sometimes in more subtle ways. But as the Bible says, there is nothing new under the sun. Satan’s devices are always in play. His goal is to destroy the message of the Cross, and while he cannot ever actually destroy it, he can cause untold numbers to reject it by offering them substitutes. But we know there is no substitute for the finished work on the Cross by Jesus Christ, who is the only Savior for mankind.
What Does This Tell Us?
There is a common cliché: if it quacks like a duck, walks like a duck, and has feathers like a duck—it is a duck! Efforts are underway to establish the kingdom of God on Earth right now without the King. Is this what Jesus intended would happen, or are we being misled by human beings who are following the thoughts of their own imagination or worse yet the inspiration of Satan?
While the idea that the kingdom of God is being established here on Earth by human leaders has been around for centuries, we should pay special attention when current events reveal that though the world gets worse and worse, we are being told it is getting better and better. When false religions become part of the kingdom, then clearly, this is not God’s kingdom, but rather it is the kingdom that belongs to the god of this world. Jesus made it very clear there are two kingdoms—one of God and one of this world—when he told Pontius Pilate shortly before He was crucified, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). Jesus also said to Pilate in that same conversation “Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.” Ask yourself this, are you hearing the voice of the Good Shepherd, or is it the voice of the god of this world who leads a kingdom that is not of God?
Endnotes:
1. Taken from “Kingdom-Now Theology” (Lighthouse Trails blog, March 6, 2007, http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=3295).
2. Interview by Leif Hansen (The Bleeding Purple Podcast) with Brian McLaren, January 8th, 2006); Part 1: http://web.archive.org/web/20090103090514/http://bleedingpurplepodcast.blogspot.com/2006/01/brian-mclaren-interview-part-i.html; Part II: http://web.archive.org/web/20060127003305/http://bleedingpurplepodcast.blogspot.com).
3. Brian McLaren, The Secret Message of Jesus (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2006), pp. 78-79.
4. Brian McLaren, The Great Spiritual Migration (New York, NY: Convergent Books, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, 2016), Kindle location 2768.
(Roger Oakland is the author of several books, booklets, and is featured in many teaching DVDs and films. His latest book, The Good Shepherd Calls, deals with the apostasy taking place in the church today.)

Have You Heard the Term, “Thin Places”?

By Roger Oakland

Mantra-style meditation is actually divination, where practitioners perform rituals or meditation exercises in order to go into trances and then receive information from spiritual entities. Campolo elaborates on the fruit of mysticism, an atmosphere he calls “the thin place”:

The constant repetition of his name clears my head of everything but the awareness of his presence. By driving back all other concerns, I am able to create what the ancient Celtic Christians called “the thin place.” The thin place is that spiritual condition wherein the separation between the self and God becomes so thin that God is able to break through and envelop the soul.1

This term “thin place” originated with Celtic spirituality (i.e., contemplative) and is in line with panentheism. Listen to one meditator:

I experienced a shift deep within me, a calmness I never knew possible. I was also graced with a sense of “oneness” with nature around me and with everyone else in the human family. It was strangely wonderful to experience God in silence, no-thingness.2

This “oneness” with all things is the essence of the ancient wisdom. Marcus Borg, a former professor at Oregon State University and a pro-emergent author, also speaks of “thin places.” One commentator discusses Borg’s ideas on this:

In The Heart of Christianity, Borg writes of “thin places,” places where, to use Eliade’s terminology, the division between the sacred and the profane becomes thin. Borg writes that he owes this metaphor of “thin places” to Celtic Christianity and the recent recovery of Celtic spirituality. As the following passage reveals, his understanding of “thin places” is deeply connected to his panentheism, his articulation of God as “the More,” and his—like Eliade—division of the world into layers of reality.3

Borg says these thin places (reached through meditation) are “[d]eeply rooted in the Bible and the Christian tradition,”4 but he, like others, is unable to show biblical evidence that God mandates meditation. Thin places imply that God is in all things, and the gap between God, evil, man, everything thins out and ultimately disappears in meditation:

God is a nonmaterial layer of reality all around us, “right here” as well as “more than right here.” This way of thinking thus affirms that there are minimally two layers or dimensions of reality, the visible world of our ordinary experience and God, the sacred, Spirit.5

Mike Perschon, former writer for Youth Specialties, also found these thin places as he went into the silence:

We held “thin place” services in reference to a belief that in prayer, the veil between us and God becomes thinner. Entire nights were devoted to guided meditations, drum circles, and “soul labs.”6

I believe that Campolo, Borg, and Perschon each experienced the same realm in their thin places.

(This is an excerpt from Roger Oakland’s book on the emerging church, Faith Undone.)

Notes:

1. Tony Campolo, Letters to a Young Evangelical (New York, NY: Perseus Books Group (Basic Books), 2006), p. 26.
2. Carol and Rick Weber, “Journeying Together” (Thin Places, April/May 2007, Year Eight, Issue Four, Number 46), p. 1.
3. Chris Baker, “A Positive Articulation of Marcus Borg’s Theology” (Sandlestraps Sanctuary blog, April 5, 2007, http://sandalstraps.blog spot.com/2007/04/positive-articulation-of-marcus-borgs_05.html.
4. Marcus Borg, The Heart of Christianity (New York, NY: HarperCollins, First HarperCollins Paperback Edition, 2004), p. 155.
5. Ibid.
6.  Mike Perschon, “Desert Youth Worker: Disciplines, Mystics and the Contemplative Life,” (Youth Specialties, http://www.youth specialties.com /articles/topics/spirituality/desert.php).

Related Reading:

Mennonite Magazine Offers: “Find Yourself a Thin Place this Christmas”

In Touch Magazine Draws Readers to “Celtic Spirituality”


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