Posts Tagged ‘Roman Catholicism’
Faith Undone by Roger Oakland is back from press in its 12th printing. The book was released in 2007, and we believe it is still the most powerful and truthful book about the emerging church that has overtaken much of the Christian church. Below is a chapter by chapter synopsis of this book. If you have not read Faith Undone yet, we urge you to do so. And make sure your high school and college age children have read it. After you read this synopsis, you will understand why we say this. Some leaders of the emerging spirituality have tried to convince others that this movement is dead. But this emerging spirituality is anything but dead.
Faith Undone is available as a print book, an e-book, a PDF book, is in Spanish (La Fe Desachada), and is available in Kindle and Nook (as are all LT books and most booklets).
Faith Undone by Roger Oakland- Chapter by Chapter Synopsis:
1/A New Kind of Church
Leaders of the emerging church say drastic changes must take place because the church can no longer be effective with old ways and an old church. We need a new kind of Christianity if we are going to make a difference in people’s lives and the world around us. But just what is this new kind of Christianity?
Quote from chapter 1: A common technique to changing society (or the church) is to repeat an assertion over and over as fact; once people have heard a statement enough times, they come to believe it is true without questioning. They even parrot the statement in their own conversations, eager to appear in the know. Oh how we need to answer every assertion with, “Says who?” This book examines the underlying spiritual substance of the emerging church movement as Scripture tells us to do: “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (I Thessalonians 5:21).
2/The Birth of the Emerging Church
Contrary to what many believe, the current emerging church movement was not initiated by a group of disillusioned young people. In reality, the movement was largely the inspiration of a successful business guru whose ideas on an emerging church were catapulted into existence by other successful businessmen, and thus it became the influential religious force it is today. Backed by multi-million dollar corporations and entities, its very core has been influenced dramatically by those with mystical affinities.
Quote from chapter 2: While this chapter will lay out the origins of the emerging church, I do not wish to give the impression that this is merely a human endeavor. A distinct spiritual component to it implies a guiding force from the supernatural realm. This movement is very complex, and all of the underlying factors that played a role in its inception cannot be explained completely by just a short synopsis like this chapter. But my intent is that I can describe the framework in which this movement sprang and was able to gain the momentum it now enjoys.
3/A “New” Faith for the 21st Century
The Word of God is under attack. According to emerging church leaders, the Bible is not so much for truth and doctrine as it is for hopes, ideas, and participation. In other words, don’t use the Bible as a means of theology or absolute truth and standards by which to live; rather than the Bible molding the Christian’s life, let the Christian’s life mold the Bible.
Quote from chapter 3: In An Emergent Manifesto of Hope, [Will] Sampson writes:
A rallying cry of the Protestant Reformation was sola scriptura, Scripture alone. And while this doctrine may have arisen as a necessary corrective to abuses of church leadership in the Reformation period, it is in full effect today. Preachers speak of the Bible as an instruction book or as the only data necessary for spiritual living. But this diminishes some critical elements of theological knowledge. … Sola scriptura also tends to downplay the role of God’s Spirit in shaping the direction of the church.
Sampson says that people who fall into this category “do not take into account the subjectivity of human interpreters.” In other words, those men who penned Scripture may not have been that inspired after all. It could have been more a case of their point of view based on their own life experiences.
4/Riding the Emerging Church Wave
How far is this new kind of church willing to go to reach its objective? Emerging church proponents say there is a new wave taking place and we have to hop on. The wave is a Vintage Christianity, which in reality is an experience-based religion. Experiences must be implemented in order to attract both Christians and non-Christians alike; we must appeal to this postmodern generation with its hunger for experience, rituals, and mysticism.
Quote from chapter 4:The Bible says that “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God [i.e., an intellectual or cognitive approach]” (Romans 10:17). Not so in the emerging church. Faith comes by seeing images, touching icons, smelling incense, and hearing chants and liturgical recitations; then the “word” follows. Leonard Sweet calls it “EPIC culture: Experiential, Participatory, Image-Driven, Connected.” Post-moderns require such stimulation to experience God. Images of Jesus hanging on the cross are very common. So are icons of Mary and baby Jesus.
The emerging church embraces multi-sensory worship. Leaders of the emerging church say the ideas and beliefs of the early church fathers (100 AD to 600AD) are important and these teachings from the past will bring spiritual transformation and success to churches in the 21st century.
Quote from chapter 5: Stimulating images that provide spiritual experiences are an essential element of the emerging church. While many are bewildered why their churches are darkening their sanctuaries and setting up prayer stations with candles, incense and icons, the promoters of the emerging church movement say they know exactly what they are doing. Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Fellowship explains:
Everything in the service needs to preach-architecture, lighting, songs, prayers, fellowship, the smell-it all preaches. All five senses must be engaged to experience God.
Often, Christians who have been attending church all their lives find the changes their pastors are implementing disconcerting. They see the trend away from Bible teaching to multi-sensory stimulation.
6/When West Meets East
Contemplative spirituality (i.e., mysticism) is to the emerging church what the wind is to a sail boat. Without it, there is no momentum, and it is woven into the very fabric of the emerging church. In order to understand why this is so important, we must first understand the dynamics of contemplative spirituality.
Quote from chapter 6:Contemplative spirituality* is a vital element of the emerging church. One proponent defines it like this:
To help the mind become quiet, we can follow our breathing. Or we can repeat silently a chosen prayer phrase or a word.
That may sound beneficial at first glance, to quiet ourselves in the midst of a busy and hectic world. What Christian doesn’t want to be find rest and peace?
7/Monks, Mystics, and the Ancient Wisdom
The emerging church is embracing contemplative spirituality and what is called the ancient wisdom. While appearing to be Christian because of the altered terminology, in actuality, it is occult based and New Age.
Quote from chapter 7: Tony Campolo, professor emeritus of sociology of Eastern University in St. David’s, Pennsylvania, is founder of the Evangelical Association for the Promotion of Education. His own testimony is an example of someone who has not only embraced mysticism, it is the avenue through which he considers himself born again. Campolo states:
In my case intimacy with Christ had developed gradually over the years, primarily through what Catholics call “centering prayer.” Each morning, as soon as I wake up, I take time-sometimes as much as a half hour-to center myself on Jesus. I say his name over and over again to drive back the 101 things that begin to clutter my mind the minute I open my eyes. Jesus is my mantra, as some would say.
8/The Second Coming of the Eucharistic Christ
The Roman Catholic Church has a plan to establish the Kingdom of God here on Earth and win the world to the Roman Catholic Jesus-the Eucharistic Christ. It is believed the “triumph of the Eucharist” will be accomplished when the world (including the separated brethren) come under the rule and reign of Rome and the Eucharistic Jesus. The presence of “Christ” in the Eucharist is the second coming, Roman Catholic style. The emerging church is a bridge to Rome.
Quote from chapter 8: To those who traditionally haven’t had much ritual in their lives (i.e., Protestants), the ambiance of the [Catholic] Mass would have great appeal because of it’s religious novelty-thus the interest in the Eucharist [Catholic communion service where the elements are transformed into the actual body and blood of Jesus] by those who promote contemplative spirituality. And for many Catholics, the Mass (where the Eucharist is presented), in and of itself, is not a mystical experience. However if the contemplative dimension is added, one actually can enter the mystical realm. On the surface this phenomenon seems complex, but once we begin to understand mysticism, it all makes sense. Within the contemplative prayer realm, the meditator is actually getting in touch with a spiritual power or force. Combining the tradition of the Eucharist, which appeals to many who are raised in the Catholic Church, with the relatively recent explosion of contemplative practice, the Catholic Church sees this as a way to recover its robust state it had in previous decades.
9/The Kingdom of God on Earth
The Bible says that Jesus Christ will establish His kingdom when He returns to Earth. But today a theology called Kingdom Now or Dominionism is permeating the walls of Christianity, and the emerging church movement is taking this heretical belief full speed into the next generation. With the idea that the church can establish the Kingdom of God before Christ returns and essentially turn our world into a Christian world, this belief system has literally changed the way countless Christians view the world and go about their Christian living. What most of them don’t realize is this Kingdom of God on Earth mindset is an all out effort by Satan to merge the religions of the world and thus negate the gospel message.
Quote from chapter 9: Most people, with any common sense and compassion, would like to see a planet without poverty, disease, and illiteracy. I thank God for all the organizations that are working to help the suffering, the sick, and the poor. Jesus made it very clear that we are to care for and reach out to those in need. However, working to bring about utopia on Earth through global and religious unity is futile. My saying that might make some people angry, and they may accuse me of being fatalistic. But nowhere in Scripture is the notion supported that there will be a kingdom without tears, pain, poverty, and suffering until Jesus Christ physically returns and establishes it Himself.
There is another question that needs to be considered: Can the kingdom of God be established by those who don’t know the King? In other words, can people of all religions and faiths who donâ€™t know Jesus as King and Lord be members of His kingdom?
Rick Warren believes that God has shown him not only the boundaries (or lack of them) of this coming global kingdom, but also the strategy to bring it about. Before Warren came up with the plan, he says he asked Jesus to show him how to reach the world.
10/The Undoing of Faith
The fruit of the emerging church includes: changes in views on sexuality, the desire by emerging leaders to stop identifying with Christianity, eradicating the gap between good and evil (the very goal of Satan’s religion, the New Age), and developing a new missiology which says keep your own religion, just add Jesus. This truly is the undoing of Christian faith.
Quote from chapter 10: It should be apparent what is occurring as the emerging church evangelization program unfolds. Walls that once separated biblical Christianity from pagan religious belief systems are being demolished. Instead of proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ that saves sinners from hell, a new kind of gospel is being preached, and its preachers are wearing interspiritual robes of deception. Jesus proclaimed it is a narrow pathway that leads to heaven, and He is the only door through which to enter-but now the supposed pathway to God has been broadened to permit open access for the sake of establishing the kingdom.
11/A Slaughterhouse Religion?
If someone said that emerging church leaders don’t like the Cross, many would cry out, “Yes, they do. I’ve heard them talk about Jesus and the Cross.” But while this may be true, there is an underlying theme building momentum in the emerging church that says, “Jesus going to the Cross was an example of sacrifice and service that we should follow. But the idea that God would send His Son to a violent death for the sins of mankind-well that is not who God is. He would never do that!” This mindset negates the very atonement on which biblical Christianity rests.
Quote from chapter 11: In [Harry Emerson] 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.
Fosdick ends that statement with a pronounced-“No!” He insists, “These legalistic theories of the atonement are in my judgement a theological disgrace.”
12/A New Reformation?
Faith Undone shows that the nature of the emerging church’s new reformation is anything but new, and when it comes to pass could bear violence and persecution on those who defend the Bible as the true and literal Word of God. This is a heavy chapter that will zero in on what this new emerging reformation will look like.
Quote from chapter 12: Most likely, you have heard the term new reformation, or as some refer to it, postmodern reformation. Rick Warren talks about it, emerging church leaders discuss it, and New Agers for a long time have been saying, “We need a new reformation.” Referring often to the reformation that took place in the 16th century, these current reformation advocates believe that something as radically different as the early reformation must happen again. In fact, they believe that the church (and the world) will not survive without it. Statements like “We’ll do whatever it takes,” or “reinvent or die” often leave the lips of the new reformation evangelists. The passion and zeal to bring about the new reformation equals that of the early reformers.
13/Or An End-Time Deception
The Bible says that in the last days Satan will deceive the whole world with doctrines of demons and seducing spirits. The question must be asked, is the emerging church spirituality part of this great falling away? And just what are the earmarks of a church that has become part of this end-time deception?
Quote from chapter 13: There is no question about it, the world is in serious chaos, with poverty, sickness, and disease inflicting millions and millions of people. Suffering seems to be at an all time high level. Understandably, the world is looking for answers. Many religious leaders (including New Agers) believe we need a new reformation. Neale Donald Walsch, a prominent leader in the New Age, is one of those who has new reformation on his mind. He states:
We are suggesting that people become modern day Martin Luther’â€™s and take the five steps to peace and tack them up on church house doors, as Martin Luther did with his 95 theses in 1517 in Wittenburg, Germany, which started of course, the first Reformation. Our intention is to stimulate the second great Reformation of world religion. That is our intention, our goal and our purpose. We intend to, in fact, inspire the second great Reformation of world religion.
Comments like the one above are quite interesting because Walsch is not a Christian, but he speaks of a religious reformation that he is hoping to witness. But Walsch’s reformation does not include Jesus Christ. On his website Group of 1000, a statement explains what Walsch calls “the new spirituality”:
The New Spirituality is a global movement to create the space for humanity to experience its natural impulse toward the divine in a way which makes no one else wrong for the way in which they are doing it.
I realize that most Christians would probably laugh incredulously if someone told them they were heading toward the spirituality of Neale Donald Walsch. Most of them would see themselves as orthodox and biblically-based and certainly not as New Agers going toward some kind of new reformation that says everyone is God. But as I have tried to convey in this book, I believe the emerging church is the bridge between Christianity and this “new spirituality.” And the question that every Christian must ask themselves is, is this a bridge on which I am willing to walk and eventually cross?
For more information about Faith Undone, CLICK HERE
Fox News Contributor Kirsten Powers Exits Evangelicalism to Embrace Catholicism – Timothy Keller & Other Evangelical Leaders Partly to Blame
By L. Putnam
Kirsten Powers, Fox News’ pundit, happily announced on October 9, 2015 to “The Five” on “One More Thing” that the next day she would become Catholic. Immediately, Powers was “high fived” by Kimberly Guilfoyle, and Eric Bolling.
Exactly why was this announcement so news worthy? Well, for starters Kirsten, once an Episcopalian and later an atheist, had shared a “conversion story” about nine years ago. At the time well-known Presbyterian Pastor Tim Keller of Redeemer Church in New York City had played a role in unveiling her eyes to the truth that God existed. Further time at Redeemer had her calling herself an “orthodox Christian,” and sharing her story with Christianity Today. One wonders was there anything Keller shared about his own affinity with Catholicism as found, for example, in his book Reason for God that gave Kirsten the impression Catholics are surely true Christians?
In an article, “Fox News’s* Kirsten Powers Announces: ‘I’m Becoming Catholic,'” Catholic Deacon Greg Kandra of the Diocese of Brooklyn writes that during a 2006 trip to Taiwan Powers felt she had had a visitation from Jesus. Kandra further writes, “She has called her conversion a ‘a bit of a mind bender’ due to her political beliefs and former atheism, and prefers the term ‘orthodox Christian’ over ‘evangelical’ to describe herself due to the ‘cultural baggage’ around the word ‘evangelical.’ She has said that the biggest impact her new found faith had on her political beliefs was that she came to ‘view everyone as God’s child and that means everyone deserves grace and respect.'” However, I would point out, that the Bible does not say everyone is God’s child. One Christian source puts it this way, “The Bible is clear that all people are God’s creation (Colossians 1:16) and that God loves the entire world (John 3:16), but only those who are born again are children of God (John 1:12, 11:52, Romans 8:16; I John 3:1-10).”
* Kandra’s error.
In another piece, “Kirsten Powers Awakens to the Beauty and Depth and Riches of the Catholic Faith,” Rick Rice wrote of Msgr. Charles Pope’s* article that told of Kirsten’s beautiful conversion story to Evangelicalism. Rice noted that Msgr. Pope, at the time, prayed that Kirsten would to know that Jesus is Lord and the lover of her soul. Of the Msgr. Pope piece, Rice quotes, “But Father, but Father… ‘She did not become Catholic.'” However, Msgr. Pope wrote, “Well, all I know is that she is on a journey. And the Lord has surely led some of the best Catholics through the Evangelical denominations to the Catholic Church.** … In fact some of the greatest converts to the Catholic Church bring many gifts from their time as Evangelicals … At a personal level, I would love for Ms. Powers to find herself in full union with the Catholic Church. …” Rice went on, “Well Msgr. Pope, that one day has apparently arrived: Welcome Ms. Powers to the faith that challenges and enriches.” Rice ended by saying to Powers, “May God use you ma’am to bring others to His embrace.”
To reading this, click here.
LTRP Note: Lighthouse Trails began publishing Booklet Tracts nearly three years ago. Our first booklet was Ray Yungen’s 5 Things You Should Know About Contemplative Prayer. Ray has now updated and expanded this booklet with new information that is vital to our warning about contemplative prayer. The updated, expanded Booklet Tract is 18 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 new edition. To order copies of the updated expanded edition of 5 Things You Should Know About Contemplative Prayer, click here. This booklet also has two appendices: “A Few Common Terms” and “Christian Mystics of the Past.”
By Ray Yungen
It is fair to say there has been a mystical revolution throughout the Western world over the last forty years. Whereas mysticism was once uncommon within mainstream society, it has now become accepted and normal. Going by the law of the market, any reasonable person could deduce this from the number of bookshelves devoted to eastern mysticism and New Age thought in virtually all major bookstore outlets (e.g., Barnes and Noble and the now defunct Borders). The Borders bookstore in my hometown in Oregon offered 65 shelves to these subjects; a few decades earlier, B. Dalton bookstore had only five shelves on mysticism. Another indicator of the popularity of mysticism was the success of talk-show host Oprah Winfrey. Over the course of twenty some years, she introduced literally tens of millions of readers and viewers to the mystical life.
Many people may not know that there has been a “Christian” element to this phenomenon of mysticism known as contemplative prayer or centering prayer. This form of mystical prayer has entered the Christian church primarily through spiritual formation programs. Despite the actual practice being centuries old, going all the way back to the desert fathers in the middle ages, it has only recently struck a chord with many people within the numerous branches or denominations that make up the panoply of Christianity.
It would be prudent for those who want to enter into this practice to really understand the dynamics of what this really entails. Christians may expect that they are going to have a deeper encounter with the God of the Bible or lead richer fuller spiritual lives, but the reality may be radically different. In this booklet, you are going to read quotes , not from critics or opponents of contemplative prayer but rather champions and teachers of contemplative prayer that show the true nature of what this movement actually is spiritually grounded in. I want to say at the onset that these quotes are not skewered or taken out of context. They accurately illustrate the mindset of the particular author.
1. The Compatibility of New Age and Eastern Thought with Contemplative Prayer
New Agers and those practicing Eastern religion regard contemplative prayer as part of their own movement. The following excerpts are from New Age and Eastern thought proponents:
It’s important to note that, throughout the history of Christianity, Christian mystics have displayed an unusual openness to the wisdom of non-Christian philosophy and religion. In other words, Christian mysticism seems, from the beginning, to have had an intuitive recognition of the way in which mysticism is a form of unity that transcends religious difference.1—Carl McColman, The Big Book of Christian Mysticism (emphasis added)
The East does not represent a culture or a religion so much as the methodology [meditation] for a achieving a larger, liberating vision. In that sense, the “East” has existed in Western mystical traditions [i.e., contemplative prayer].2—Marilyn Ferguson, The Aquarian Conspiracy
Individual religions have various names for the esoteric paths that can bring us step by step to these experiences. In Mahayana Buddhism, there are the paths of the Tibetans or the way of Zen. . . . In Hinduism, there are the different forms of yoga. In Islam, there is Sufism. In Judaism, there is the teaching of the Cabala. In Christianity, there is contemplation. All of these can lead people to the ultimate level, to cosmic consciousness.3—Willigis Jäger, Searching for the Meaning of Life (emphasis added)
The meditation of advanced occultists is identical with the prayer of advanced mystics: it is no accident that both traditions use the same word for the highest reaches of their respective activities—contemplation.4—from the book, Richard Kirby, The Mission of Mysticism
Kundalini has long been known in Taoist, Hindu, and Buddhist spirituality.”5 “Since this energy [Kundalini occultic energy] is also at work today in numerous persons who are devoting themselves to contemplative prayer, this book is an important contribution to the renewal of the Christian contemplative tradition.6—Thomas Keating, Kundalini Energy and Christian Spirituality (emphasis added)
2. Major Proponents of Contemplative Prayer Advocate Eastern Religion
One of the outstanding characteristics of the contemplative prayer movement is what is known as interspirituality. In effect, this means you stay in your present religion but you absorb the spiritual perspective of those within Eastern thought. For instance, in Henry Nouwen’s book, Pray to Live, he describes contemplative proponent Thomas Merton as being heavily influenced by Hindu monks.7 Consider the following quotes:
[Thomas] Merton had encountered Zen Buddhism, Sufism, Taoism and Vedanta many years prior to his Asian journey. Merton was able to uncover the stream where the wisdom of East and West merge and flow together, beyond dogma, in the depths of inner experience. . . . Merton embraced the spiritual philosophies of the East and integrated this wisdom into [his] own life through direct practice. 8—from Yoga Journal magazine
[T]he author [Catholic priest Thomas Ryan] shows a wonderful openness to the gifts of Buddhism, Hinduism and Muslim religion. He discovers their great wisdom for the spiritual life of the Christian and does not hesitate to bring that wisdom home.9—Henri Nouwen, from the foreword of Disciplines For Christian Living (emphasis added)
This mystical stream [contemplative prayer] is the Western bridge to Far Eastern spirituality . . . It is no accident that the most active frontier between Christian and Eastern religions today is between contemplative Christian monks and their Eastern equivalents. Some forms of Eastern meditation informally have been incorporated or adapted into the practice of many Christian monks, and increasingly by other Christians.10—Tilden Edwards, founder of the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation, in Spiritual Friend
3. The Method in Contemplative Prayer Identical to the Method Used in New Age and Eastern Thought
The hallmark of contemplative prayer is found in such phrases as waiting for God in silence, stilling your thoughts, seeking God’s presence in the silence, and advancing in inward stillness, all with the characteristic of stopping the normal flow of thought. Many promoters of contemplative prayer would reject this being the result of using a mantra but many more accept this as being true.
Those who have practiced Transcendental Meditation may be surprised to learn that Christianity has its own time-honored form of mantra meditation. The technique, called Centering Prayer, draws on the spiritual exercises of the Desert Fathers, the English devotional classic, The Cloud of Unknowing, and the famous Jesus Prayer. . . . Reliance on a mantric centering device has a long history in the mystical canon of Christianity.11—Editors from New Age Journal, As Above, So Below
The techniques [Herbert] Benson teaches–silence, appropriate body posture and above all, emptying the mind through repetition of prayer—have been the practices of mystics in all the great world religions. And they form the basis on which most modern spiritual directors guide those who want to draw closer to God. . . . Silence is the language God speaks . . . says Thomas Keating who taught ‘centering prayer’ to more than 31,000 people in just one year. Keating suggests that those who pray repeat some “sacred word,” like God or Jesus.12—“Talking to God,” Newsweek magazine
Nonverbal prayer involves learning how to become silent inside. I first learned about nonverbal prayer as a part of other religious traditions. I did not know that it also has a long history in the Christian tradition (even though I had gone to a first-rate seminary; I do not know if it was not taught or if I missed it). It intrigued me. I learned about the use of mantras as a means of giving the mind something to focus and refocus on as it sinks into silence. I was thus delighted to learn later that the Christian tradition not only knows the practice of nonverbal prayer but also includes mantras.13—Marcus Borg, The God We Never Knew
The twentieth century, which has seen so many revolutions, is now witnessing the rise of a new mysticism within Christianity. . . . For the new mysticism has learned much from the great religions of Asia. It has felt the impact of yoga and Zen and the monasticism of Tibet. It pays attention to posture and breathing; it knows about the music of the mantra and the silence of samadhi. . . . Now what I say of Zen is true also of Christian mysticism. It also leads to an altered state of consciousness where all is one in God.”14 —William Johnston, The Mystical Way
Without in any way betraying his faith, the Christian can deepen his contemplation of divine mysteries through Hindu ways of prayer.15—Kathleen Healy, Entering the Cave of the Heart
Do not reflect on the meaning of the word; thinking and reflecting must cease, as all mystical writers insist.16—Willis Jäger, Contemplation: A Christian Path
The repetition [of a word or phrase] can in fact be soothing and very freeing, helping us, as Nouwen says, “to empty out our crowded interior life and create the quiet space where we can dwell with God.”17—evangelical author, Jan Johnson, When the Soul Listens
4. Finding the “God” Within
It is important to note here that the purpose of contemplative prayer is to enter an altered state of consciousness in order to find one’s true self, thus finding God. This true self relates to the belief that man is basically good. Christian proponents of contemplative prayer teach that all human beings have a divine center and that all, not just born-again believers, should practice contemplative prayer. The belief is that in the heart of man we find God (i.e., that we are God).
The God who dwells in our inner sanctuary is the same as the one who dwells in the inner sanctuary of each human being.18—Henri Nouwen from his book Here and Now
We [all humanity] bear this divine core within us. Zen calls it “essential nature”; yoga calls it “atman”; Christians call it “eternal life, the kingdom of God, or heaven.” . . . The Divine, which he [Jesus] called the Father, pulsates through us, just as it pulsated through him.19—Willigis Jäger, Search for the Meaning of Life
[Even people] who have yet to turn their lives over to Jesus Christ—can and should practice them [spiritual disciplines].20—Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline
When God grows up for us, a different kind of relationship—if it can be called a relationship—is called for. No longer are we two separate beings who interact across the distance that we imagine to lie between beings. We are now related to God as the body is to the breath. Essentially, we are one.21—Brian C. Taylor, Setting the Gospel Free
It is a glorious destiny to be a member of the human race . . . now I realize what we all are . . . If only they [people] could all see themselves as they really are . . . I suppose the big problem would be that we would fall down and worship each other . . . At the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusions, a point of pure truth . . . This little point …is the pure glory of God in us. It is in everybody. 22—Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander
[O]ccultism is defined as the science of mystical evolution; it is the employment of the hidden [i.e. occult] mystical faculties of man to discern the hidden reality of nature, i.e. to see God as the all in all.23—Richard Kirby, The Mission of Mysticism
5. Contemplative Spirituality Has Become Attractive to Those in the Evangelical Church
Despite the theological barriers that have existed between Catholicism and the evangelical church, evangelicals have become more and more receptive to the Catholic contemplative tradition. These barriers have more or less come down over the last few decades, and an increasing number of evangelicals are seeking out spiritual directors and spiritual formation programs which are the conduits into the realm of this mystical paradigm.
Some very popular authors who have been accepted by the evangelical church are activists regarding contemplative prayer as a way to go deeper with God. These authors have written and taught prolifically on contemplative prayer.
[W]e should all without shame enroll as apprentices in the school of contemplative prayer.24
Thomas Merton has perhaps done more than any other twentieth-century figure to make the life of prayer widely known and understood . . . his interest in contemplation led him to investigate prayer forms in Eastern religion . . . [he is] a gifted teacher.25
God’s hope for humanity is that one day we will all recognize that the divine dwelling place is all of creation. Christ comes again whenever we see that matter and spirit co-exist. This truly deserves to be called good news.26
[O]ne of my publishers . . . told me that right now my single biggest demographic is young evangelicals—young evangelicals. Some of my books are rather heavy. I’m just amazed.27
Ruth Haley Barton
A few years ago, I began to recognize an inner chaos in my soul . . . No matter how much I prayed, read the Bible, and listened to good teaching, I could not calm the internal roar created by questions with no answers.28
In Ruth Haley Barton’s book Invitation to Solitude and Silence (the book where Barton acknowledges Thomas Keating’s influence in her life), Barton quotes the late Catholic priest William Shannon from his book Silence on Fire (the biography of Thomas Merton). In that book, Shannon states:
Wordless prayer . . . is humble, simple, lowly, prayer in which we experience our total dependence on God and our awareness that we are in God. Wordless prayer is not an effort to “get anywhere, ” for we are already there (in God’s presence). It is just that we are not sufficiently conscious of our being there.29 (emphasis added)
Adele Ahlberg Cahoun
Adele Ahlberg Calhoun is the author of The Spiritual Discplines Handbook: Practices That Conform Us, a primer on contemplative and centering prayer. The following two quotes from her book clearly express her views:
Meditation is not simply a discipline of Eastern religions and New Age gurus. Meditation rests at the core of Judaeo-Christian spirituality; it’s an invitation to apprehend God.30
Take your time, and when a word “lights up” for you stop and attend. Let the word or phrase roam around in your mind and heart. . . . When your mind wanders, gently bring it back and continue your meditation.31
What illustrates Ahlberg Calhoun’s spiritual sympathies even more is a list of “tutors” she includes at the back of the book. Some of these are Basil Pennington, Henri Nouwen, Richard Rohr, Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, and Julian of Norwich, all of which absorbed interspiritual and panentheistic characteristics due to their contemplative practices. Many evangelical leaders, including Rick Warren, recommend or endorse The Spiritual Disciplines Handbook.On the book’s publisher’s website (InterVarsity Press), you will find an endorsement for the book by the popular pastor Timothy Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian of NYC, who says of Calhoun’s handbook:
I have long profited from Adele Ahlberg Calhoun’s gifts in the field of spiritual development, and I am delighted that she has compiled her experience with spiritual disciplines into book form. I highly recommend it and I look forward to using it as a resource at our church.32
A simple method of contemplative prayer (often called centering prayer . . .) has four steps . . . choose a single sacred word . . . repeat the sacred word inwardly, slowly, often.33
In an interview, Brennan Manning recommended William Shannon’s book, Silence on Fire and Thomas Keating’s book on centering prayer, Open Mind, Open Heart. In Silence on Fire, Shannon denounces the atonement and the biblical God in the following manner:
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.34 (emphasis added)
The quiet repetition of a single word can help us to descend with the mind into the heart . . . This way of simple prayer . . . opens us to God’s active presence.35
The God who dwells in our inner sanctuary is the same as the one who dwells in the inner sanctuary of each human being.36
During a conference on contemplative prayer, the question was put to Thomas Merton: “How can we best help people [not just Christians] to attain union with God?” His answer was very clear. We must tell them that they are already united with God. Contemplative prayer is nothing other than coming into consciousness of what is already there.37—stated by Brennan Manning in his book The Signature of Jesus
I see no contradiction between Buddhism and Christianity . . . I intend to become as good a Buddhist as I can.38
The Bible reveals that in the heart (center) of man our true self is not “God” but rather sinful and wicked:
But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. (Matthew 15: 18,19)
For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man. (Mark 7: 21-23; emphasis added)
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9)
The Bible also clearly warns against repetitive prayer and also tells us we cannot find God unmediated (i.e., without Christ).
But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. (Matthew 6:7)
For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 2:5)
It is ironic that in the last century more Christians have died for their faith in other countries than have died in past centuries combined. Many of these Christians have departed from Islam, Hinduism, or Buddhism to meet their executioners. What would these martyrs of the faith say to us if they could speak of our current western practice of intermingling Christianity with Eastern religion and the occult? The Bible warns against such mixture:
Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devil: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils. (1 Corinthians 10: 21)
Jesus never taught his disciples techniques to attain oneness with God, but rather spoke of Himself as the Way. In fact, the entire New Testament was written to dispute the idea that people can reach God through religious efforts and reveals that Jesus Christ is the only answer. In conclusion, the contemplative movement is founded on the following false premises*:
The heart of man is basically good and (it has a divine center). vs. The heart of man is wicked—A DENIAL OF THE SIN NATURE
Man can find God through his own efforts regardless of what religion he has embraced. vs. Jesus referred to Himself as the Way, the Truth, and the Life.— A DENIAL OF THE ATONEMENT
God is delighted by chanting and similar methods of meditative prayer. vs. Jesus said that He isn’t.—A DENIAL OF GOD’S PERSONAL NATURE
With false premises as these, the conclusions can only be erroneous. The Bible creates the proper understanding and balance of 1) man as sinful, 2) needing a redeemer, 3) with whom he can have an abundant life.
Perhaps the most misguided view of all in the contemplative prayer movement is summed up in the following quote by a biographer of Thomas Merton:
Nor should Christians delude themselves with the idea that the grace of God is monopolized by any particular structure of belief. God isn’t obeying the traffic lights of any religious system.39
But this is not true. God did create an organism called the body of Christ, and to enter, you have to believe something very specific. If you understand the objective of true Christianity, you will clearly see that the opinion stated in the quote above contradicts the message of the Cross, which is the essence Christianity. You cannot reconcile the statement above with the following verse:
. . . that in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:7)
*Note: * In philosophy, every “argument” must have a premise and a conclusion, but if your premises are false, it will inevitably lead you to a false conclusion.
To order copies of the updated expanded edition of 5 Things You Should Know About Contemplative Prayer, click here.
1. Carl McColman, The Big Book of Christian Mysticism (Charlottesville, VA: Hampton Road Publishing Company, 2010), p. 63.
2. Marilyn Ferguson, The Aquarian Conspiracy (Los Angeles, CA: J.P. Tarcher, 1980), p. 368.
3.Willigis Jäger, Searching for the Meaning of Life (Liguori, MO: Triumph Books, 1995), p. 31.
4. Richard Kirby, The Mission of Mysticism (London, UK: SPCK, 1979), p. 7.
5. Philip St. Romain, Kundalini Energy and Christian Spirituality: A Pathway to Growth and Healing (New York, NY: Crossroad, 1995). This excerpt is in the Foreword by Thomas Keating; page 7.
7. Henri Nouwen, Pray to Live (Fides Publishers, 1972), pp. 19-28.
8. Michael Torris (Yoga Journal magazine; January/February; 1999).
9. Thomas Ryan, Disciplines For Christian Living (Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1993). This excerpt written in the Foreword by Henri Nouwen; p. 2.
10. Tilden Edwards, Spiritual Friend (Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1980), pp. 18-19.
11.Ronald S. Miller, Editor of New Age Journal, As Above So Below (New York, NY: Tarcher/Putnam, 1992), p. 52.
12. Kenneth L. Woodward, “Talking to God” (Newsweek, January 6, 1992), p. 44.
13. Marcus Borg, The God We Never Knew (San Francisco, CA: HarperCollins, 1997), p. 125.
14. William Johnston, The Mystical Way: Silent Music and the Wounded Stag (HarperCollins,1993), Foreword, p. 336.
15. Kathleen Healy, Entering the Cave of the Heart (New York, NY: Paulist Press, 1986), p. 9.
16. Willigis Jäger, Contemplation: A Christian Path (Liguori, MO: Triumph Books, 1994), p. 31.
17. Jan Johnson, When The Soul Listens: Finding Rest and Direction in Contemplative Prayer (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1999), p. 93.
18. Henri Nouwen, Here and Now (New York, NY: Crossroad, 1994), p. 22.
19.Willigis Jäger, Search for the Meaning of Life, op. cit., pp. 243, 245.
20. Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline (San Francisco, CA: HarperCollins, 1988), p. 2.
21. Brian C. Taylor, Setting the Gospel Free (New York, NY: Continuum Publishing, 1996), p. 77.
22. Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander (Garden City, NY: Doubleday Publishers, 1989), pp. 157-158.
23. Richard Kirby, The Mission of Mysticism, op. cit., p. 6.
24. Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline (San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row, 1978 edition), p. 13.
25. Richard Foster, Spiritual Classics (San Francisco, CA: HarperCollins, 2000), p. 17.
26. Richard Rohr, “The Eternal Christ in the Cosmic Story” (National Catholic Reporter, 2009, http://www.thefreelibrary.com/The+eternal+Christ+in+the+cosmic+story.-a0214894722).
27. Kristen Hobby, “What Happens When Religion Isn’t Doing Its Job: an interview with Richard Rohr, OFM” (Presence: An International Journal of Spiritual Direction, Volume 20, No. 1, March 2014), pp. 6-11.
28. Ruth Haley Barton, “Beyond Words:Experience God’s presence in silence and solitude” (Discipleship Journal, Vol. 113 1999).
29. William Shannon, Silence on Fire (New York, NY: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1995 edition), pp. 109-110.
30. Adele Ahlberg Calhoun, Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, Kindle Edition), Kindle Locations 2050-2051.
31. Ibid., Kindle Locations 2071-2072.
32. Timothy Keller, InterVarsity Press website: http://www.ivpress.com/cgi-ivpress/book.pl/review/code=7697.
33. Brennan Manning, The Signature of Jesus; (Multnomah Books, 1994), p. 218.
34. William Shannon, Silence on Fire, op. cit., pp. 109-110.
35. Henri Nouwen, The Way of the Heart (San Francisco, CA: Harper, 1991), p. 81.
36. Henri Nouwen, Here and Now, op. cit., p. 22.
37. Brennan Manning, The Signature of Jesus, op. cit., p. 211; citing William H. Shannon, Silence on Fire (1991 edition), p. 22.
38. David Steindl-Rast, “Recollection of Thomas Merton’s Last Days in the West” (Monastic Studies, 7:10, 1969).
39. James Forest, Thomas Merton: A Pictorial Biography (New York, NY: Paulist Press, 1980), p. 81.
To order copies of the updated expanded edition of 5 Things You Should Know About Contemplative Prayer, click here.
Letter to Editor: Rick Warren Speaks in Philadelphia at Catholics’ World Meeting of Families on Sept. 25
Dear Lighthouse Trails:
Rick Warren gave the final keynote address of the World Meeting of Families conference on Sept.25th. Rick Warren told the crowd: “Thank you for caring about the family” and quoted Pope Francis as saying that “the family is under threat.” The World Meeting of Families conference is held every 3 years and is the world’s largest Catholic gathering of families.
Warren went on to say that he was inspired as a teen by the late Catholic Bishop Fulton Sheen. That was not surprising given Rick Warren’s past proven propensity to affiliate with and endorse Catholic leaders, as Lighthouse trails has well documented over the past years. See link: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com)/blog/?s=rick+warren+catholic&search=Search
The most disconcerting fact though is what Cardinal O’Malley said about Rick Warren:
“It’s important that Rick Warren is here . . . this is a witness of unity that’s important in today’s world, as we strive to proclaim the gospel of life: the need to protect every human being from the first moment of conception until natural death, to defend the family as a sanctuary of life, and family as a sacred calling described on the first pages of the Bible. . . . It’s a great consolation to share this stage with a fellow Christian who is truly committed to preaching the Gospel” (emphasis added).
First of all, aren’t we to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Mark 1:1; 1 Cor.9:12)? Where is this “gospel of life” even referred to in the Bible? Yes, God loves families, and yes, of course God cares about every human life and grieves over abortions, and yes, God desires for families to be healthy spiritually; but as biblical Christians, we unify around the Gospel of Jesus Christ and sound doctrine, not the “gospel of life” (whatever that is) or “defending families.” If we unify around the “gospel of life” and “defending families,” then we can join spiritual hands with Catholics, Mormons, and even an atheist who is against abortion, and for healthy family units . . . even if they don’t believe in the biblical Bospel (see 1 Corinthians 15:1-8). What we are witnessing with Rick Warren and other Christians joining together with Catholics in the name of God under a false gospel is not biblical unity.
See article link:
Concerned in California
I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. (Galatians 1:6-10)
To get a better idea of what the Catholic Church believes in, visit the the “Spirituality Center” of the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia: click here.
The Conversion of Protestants to Catholicism Through the Eucharist by Roger Oakland
I had always been confused as to the real nature of this advance in the Catholic church. Was this just the work of a few mavericks and renegades, or did the church hierarchy sanction this practice? My concerns were affirmed when I read in an interview that the mystical prayer movement not only had the approval of the highest echelons of Catholicism but also was, in fact, the source of its expansion. – Ray Yungen
“Contemplative Spirituality – the Source of the Catholic Church’s Expansion”
by Ray Yungen
While many Christians are still not even aware that a practical Christian mystical movement exists, momentum is picking up, and an obvious surge towards this contemplative spirituality has surfaced. Evidence regarding the magnitude of this mystical prayer movement is now within reach of the average person. In 1992, Newsweek magazine did a cover story called “Talking to God,” which made a clear reference to it. The article disclosed:
[S]ilence, appropriate body posture and, above all, emptying the mind through repetition of prayer have been the practices of mystics in all the great world religions. And they form the basis on which most modern spiritual directors guide those who want to draw closer to God.1
It is amazing to me how Newsweek clearly observed this shift in the spiritual paradigm over fifteen years ago, while many Christians (including most prominent leaders) still live in abject ignorance of this change. Are the teachings of the practical Christian mystic actually being assimilated so well that even our pastors are not discerning this shift?
In September 2005, Newsweek carried a special report called “Spirituality in America.” The feature story, titled “In Search of the Spiritual,” is seventeen pages long, and for anyone who thought that a Christian mystical movement did not exist, this article is all the proof needed to show it not only exists but is alive, well, and growing like you wouldn’t believe.
The article begins by describing the origin of the contemporary contemplative prayer movement, which began largely with a Catholic monk named Thomas Keating:
To him [Keating], as a Trappist monk, meditation was second nature. He invited the great Zen master Roshi Sasaki to lead retreats at the abbey. And surely, he thought, there must be a precedent within the church for making such simple but powerful spiritual techniques available to laypeople. His Trappist brother Father William Meninger found it in one day in 1974, in a dusty copy of a 14th-century guide to contemplative meditation, “The Cloud of Unknowing.”2
The most obvious integration of this movement can be found in Roman Catholicism. Michael Leach, former president of the Catholic Book Publishers Association, made this incredibly candid assertion:
But many people also believe that the spiritual principles underlying the New Age movement will soon be incorporated–or rather reincorporated–into the mainstream of Catholic belief. In fact, it’s happening in the United States right now.3
Incorporating it is! And it is assimilating primarily through the contemplative prayer movement.
Contemplative leader Basil Pennington, openly acknowledging its growing size, said, “We are part of an immensely large community … ‘We are Legion.'”4 Backing him up, a major Catholic resource company stated, “Contemplative prayer has once again become commonplace in the Christian community.”5
William Shannon [a mystic proponent and the biographer of Thomas Merton] went so far as to say contemplative spirituality has now widely replaced old-style Catholicism.6 This is not to say the Mass or any of the sacraments have been abandoned, but the underlying spiritual ideology of many in the Catholic church is now contemplative in its orientation.
One of my personal experiences with the saturation of mysticism in the Catholic church was in a phone conversation I had with the head nun at a local retreat center who told me the same message Shannon conveys. She made it clear The Cloud of Unknowing is now the basis for nearly all Catholic spirituality, and contemplative prayer is now becoming widespread all over the world.
I had always been confused as to the real nature of this advance in the Catholic church. Was this just the work of a few mavericks and renegades, or did the church hierarchy sanction this practice? My concerns were affirmed when I read in an interview that the mystical prayer movement not only had the approval of the highest echelons of Catholicism but also was, in fact, the source of its expansion. Speaking of a meeting between the late Pope Paul VI and members of the Catholic Trappist Monastic Order in the 1970s, Thomas Keating, disclosed the following:
The Pontiff declared that unless the Church rediscovered the contemplative tradition, renewal couldn’t take place. He specifically called upon the monastics, because they lived the contemplative life, to help the laity and those in other religious orders bring that dimension into their lives as well.7
Just look at the latest official catechism of the Catholic church to see contemplative prayer officially endorsed and promoted to the faithful by the powers that be. The new catechism firmly states: “Contemplative prayer is hearing the word of God … Contemplative prayer is silence.”8
I realized just how successfully Pope Paul’s admonitions have been carried out when I discovered the following at one popular Catholic bookstore. Many shelves were marked as spirituality–the focal point of the entire store. Eighty to ninety percent of the books on those shelves were on mystical prayer. It was clearly the overriding theme….
Contemplative spirituality reaches far beyond the walls of the Catholic church. Mainline Protestant traditions (Episcopalians, United Methodists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, United Church of Christ, etc.) have dived into the contemplative waters too. Their deep tradition of twentieth-century liberalism and sociopolitical activism has left them spiritually dry and thirsting for supernatural experiences. This school of practical mysticism gives them a sense of spirituality while still allowing them a liberal political correctness. Marcus Borg, [former] professor of Religion and Culture at Oregon State University and someone who resonates with mystical spirituality understands the popularity of mystical prayer. He states:
In some mainline denominations, emerging-paradigm [contemplative] Christians are in the majority. Others are about equally divided between these two ways of being Christian.9
A sales person at a bookstore that caters to these denominations once told me the contemplative prayer view has found a large audience in the Protestant mainstream, and many pastors are very open to these practices. She added that some members of the clergy did show resistance, but a clear momentum towards the contemplative direction was nevertheless occurring. An article in Publisher’s Weekly magazine addressing the move toward contemplative prayer in mainstream religious circles confirmed her observation. One woman in the publishing field was quoted as saying, “[M]any Protestants are looking to satisfy that yearning by a return to the Western contemplative tradition.”10 Another college professor pointed out:
My students have been typically middle-aged and upper middle class Methodists, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, and Baptists, active in the lay leadership of their churches. To outward appearances, they are quite conventional people. Yet I have found that virtually every one of my students has encountered the new age in one of its many forms and has been attracted by its mystery.11
Contemplative spirituality provides a seemingly profound experience of God without having to adhere to a conservative social outlook. It also gives its practitioners comfort to know they draw on a so–called Christian well of tradition. This dilutes any reluctance some might have about the orthodoxy of these practices.
To underscore the scope and reach of the contemplative prayer movement let’s look at the numbers put out by an organization called Spiritual Directors International (SDI). On their website this group gives ample evidence of what their practices are. In one national conference, the following was presented:
This workshop offers an opportunity to study and experience the [spiritual] director’s role in a person’s move into the beginning and early stages of contemplative prayer, silence, and openness to new sorts of praying.12
One of the objectives of SDI is “Tending the holy around the world and across traditions.” A 2008 membership list showed 652 Episcopalians, 239 Presbyterians, 239 Methodists, 175 Lutherans, and a whopping 2,386 Roman Catholics; counting another forty or so “traditions,” the total was 6648. To show the nature of just what they mean by “across traditions,” the list included Buddhist, Gnostic Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Jewish, Siddha Yoga, and even Pagan/Wiccan.* (see below)
(For more information about contemplative spirituality, spiritual formation, and New Age mysticism coming into the church, read A Time of Departing.)
1. Kenneth L. Woodward, “Talking to God” (Newsweek , January 6, 1992), p. 44.
2. Jerry Alder, “In Search of the Spiritual” (Newsweek, August/September 2005, Special Report: “Spirituality in America”), p. 48.
3. Michael Leach (America, May 2, 1992), p. 384.
4. M. Basil Pennington, Centered Living: The Way of Centering Prayer (New York, NY: Doubleday Publishing, Image Book edition, September 1988), p. 10.
5. Sheed & Ward Catalog, Winter/Lent, 1978, p. 12.
6. William Shannon, Seeds of Peace (New York, NY: Crossroad Publishing, 1996), p. 25.
7. Anne A. Simpson, “Resting in God” Common Boundary magazine, Sept./Oct. 1997, http://www.livingrosaries.org/interview.htm), p. 25.
8. Catechism of the Catholic Church (Urbi et Orbi Communications, 1994), p. 652.
9. Marcus Borg, The Heart of Christianity (San Francisco, CA: Harper, 2004), p. 7.
10. Kimberly Winston, “Get Thee to a Monastery” (Publisher’s Weekly, April 10, 2000), p. 39.
11. Bruce Epperly, Crystal & Cross (Mystic, CT: Twenty-third Publishers, 1996), p. 14.
12. Spiritual Directors International, Conference Workshops: “Exile or Return? Accompanying the Journey into Contemplative Prayer” (http://www.sdiworld.org/conference_workshops.html).
*Note on Spiritual Directors International. Since 2005, there have been significant increases in the SDI’s demographic statistics of spiritual director members. The overall increase went from around 5000 members in 2005 to 6648 in 2008 with new denominations and religious groups added.
For those who are not aware of the Catholic Church’s New Evangelization program, let me provide a brief overview. The Catholic Church plans to establish the kingdom of God on earth and win the world to the Catholic Jesus (i.e., the Eucharistic Christ). This will be accomplished when the world (including the separated brethren*) comes under the rule and reign of Rome and this Eucharistic Jesus.
The Eucharistic Jesus is supposedly Christ’s presence that a Catholic priest summons through the power of transubstantiation, the focal point of the Mass.
Many Christians believe the Christian tradition of communion is the same as the Catholic tradition of the Eucharist. But this is not so. The Eucharist (i.e., transubstantiation) is a Catholic term for communion when the bread and the wine are said to be transformed into the very body and blood of Jesus Christ. The Catholic Catechism states:
In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist “the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained.”2
The host is then placed in what is called a monstrance and can then be worshiped as if worshiping Jesus Himself. The implications are tied directly to salvation itself. With the Eucharist, salvation becomes sacramental (participation in a ritual) as opposed to justification by faith in Christ alone, described in Galatians 2:16. While this mystical experience is a form of idolatry (as well as the very heart of Catholicism), there is a growing interest by evangelical Christians in this practice, particularly by the emerging church.
The Catholic Church leadership, concerned with apathy for the Eucharist within the Catholic ranks, is hoping to “rekindle the amazement”3 of the Eucharist through what is called their “New Evangelization program.”4 With a two-fold purpose—to keep present Catholics and to bring evangelicals into the Catholic Church—church leadership has a plan to re-emphasize the Eucharist as the focus of the Catholic faith. By saying “rekindle the amazement,” they mean bring out the mystical, supernatural element of the Eucharist.
All Catholics are expected to worship the host (Eucharistic adoration of the transformed wafer), and church leadership says it is anathema (to be accursed) to reject this teaching. At the Council of Trent, the official Catholic position was:
If anyone denies that in the sacrament of the most Holy Eucharist are contained truly, really and substantially the body and blood together with the soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, and consequently the whole Christ, but says that He is in it only as in a sign, or figure or force, let him be anathema.5
If anyone says that Christ received in the Eucharist is received spiritually only and not also sacramentally and really, let him be anathema.6
While it is true that during the Reformation and Counter Reformation, many who refused to believe in transubstantiation were tortured and executed for their faith in the Gospel, time has a way of forgetting the facts of history.
In April of 2003, the previous pope wrote an encyclical promoting the “New Evangelization” program for the purpose of “rekindling amazement” for the Eucharist.7
Then in October of 2004, John Paul II initiated “The Year of the Eucharist” as part of his evangelistic plan to bring the world to the Eucharistic Christ. Following Pope John Paul’s death in April of 2005, Pope Benedict XVI picked up his predecessor’s mission immediately. He called the “faithful to intensify” devotion to the Eucharistic Jesus, and said the Eucharist is the “heart of Christian life.”8
Benedict hoped to perpetuate his pontificate where the previous pope left off. The article states:
Pope Benedict asked the faithful to “intensify in coming months love and devotion to the Eucharistic Jesus and to express in a courageous and clear way the real presence of the Lord.”9
Pope Benedict XVI suggested that praying to Mary would help “all Christians” draw closer to the Eucharistic Christ:
Mary is the “Eucharistic woman”.… Let us pray to the Virgin that all Christians may deepen their faith in the Eucharistic mystery, so that they live in constant communion with Jesus and are his valid witnesses.10
It is important to note here that the entire premise of the Catholic Mass is critically flawed. During each Mass, the Eucharistic Jesus is offered as an unbloody sacrifice. This repeated offering is in contradiction to the one-time new covenant offering of Hebrews 9:28:
So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.
Notice the verse indicates one offering, not numerous ones. The reason for this is apparent—in the essence of any sacrifice, there has to be some element of suffering, pain, or loss. Christ suffered for our sins, and God accepted this as a one-time offering for sin. Isaiah 53:10 explains: “Yet it pleased the LORD [the Father] to bruise him,” and “he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin.” It also says that when God, the Father sees, “the travail of his [Christ’s] soul,” He “shall be satisfied” (vs. 11).
Calvary was the only offering that was or ever could be accepted by God—for it was the only one that contained the “travail of his soul.” If the Mass, which Catholic apologists openly acknowledge, does not contain the suffering of Christ (which it doesn’t), then it cannot be presented as an offering, because it does not fit the Isaiah 53 context.
Further, Hebrews 12:2 says Christ “endured the cross, despising the shame.” Thus, the Mass cannot be the same as the Cross, for Jesus would constantly be in a state of shame. Therefore, the Mass is empty. It cannot atone for sins.
To read more about the connection between the emerging church and the road to Rome, read Roger Oakland’s book, Faith Undone.
1. According to Catholic teaching, the Eucharist is the central component of the Mass. It is believed that when a priest consecrates the Communion bread, the wafer is no longer bread, but the actual body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ. For a better understanding of the Eucharist and the Catholic’s New Evangelization plan , read Roger Oakland’s book, Another Jesus, Lighthouse Trails Edition, Summer 2007. Also for extensive research on Catholicism, see the website of former Catholic priest, Richard Bennett (Berean Beacon): http://www.berean beacon.org.
2. Catechism of the Catholic Church, para. 1374, page 383.6
3. H. J. Schroeder, The Canons and Decrees of The Council of Trent (Rockford, IL: Tan Books and Publishers, 1978), page 79, Canon 1.
4. Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, “The New Evangelization” (http://www.ewtn.com/new_evangelization/Ratzinger.htm).
5. H. J. Schroeder, The Canons and Decrees of The Council of Trent, op. cit., p. 79. Canon 1.
6. Ibid., page 80, Canon 8.
7. Zenit: The World Seen From Rome, “Why the Pope Would Write an Encyclical on the Eucharist: To Rekindle Amazement,” cited April 17, 2003, http://www.zenit.org.
8. “Pope Benedict calls on faithful to intensify devotion to Eucharistic Jesus,” http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/new.php?n=3686.
10. “Pope Benedict on Corpus Christi” (Zenit News, June 2006).
11. “Exploring a Catholic Rite” (Newsday, Long Island, NY, June 19, 2006).
Pope Francis, Rick Warren, and That 2014 Catholic Interview No One Thought Important? Reminder of Its Revealing Facts About “America’s Pastor”
In May of 2014, Roger Oakland wrote a five-part series addressing Rick Warren’s television interview with Catholic TV host Raymond Arroyo. The facts that Roger uncovered should have sent shock waves throughout the evangelical church . . . but they didn’t. In fact, leaders and most pastors in the Christian church didn’t seem to care at all. And now, Rick Warren will be joining Pope Francis (at the Papacy’s invitation) when the Catholic pope comes to the United States this month. Warren is scheduled to be a keynote speaker at one of the events. For discerning Christians who do care about what is happening to the church, including the current ecumenical move to bring the “lost brethren” back to the Mother Church (and ultimately form a unified global religious body as the Bible states will happen), we’d like to bring to your attention these five articles by Roger Oakland and ask that you pray that many eyes will be opened to what is happening. And much of this taking place within evangelicalism, if not most of it, can be attributed to the actions of leaders such as Rick Warren, Beth Moore, the late Chuck Colson, and many others, who have escalated this dangerous ecumenism that is changing the face of mainstream Christianity today.
Here are the links to those five articles from the special 2014 series written by Roger Oakland of Understand The Times, with some brief notes on each. There are also links to the actual interview between Warren and Arroyo.
a. Rick talks about the expansion of his ministry abroad, the Vatican delegation that recently came to Orange County to study his church’s style of evangelization, and which television channel he finds himself watching most often and the show that draws him.
b. Rick Warren starts the Purpose Driven Catholics program in 2005
c. Rick Warren admits he is in favor of the Roman Catholic New Evangelization program (set up to win the “lost brethren” back to the Mother Church).
a. There is no room for doubt: Warren’s march towards ecumenical unity with Rome is becoming clearer and bolder as time passes.
b. His own words confirm that Roman Catholic mystics and their writings have been a strong influence on him personally and his ministry.
c. The authors and the books mentioned by Warren are more than revealing. They clearly show where his theology is founded.
(See part 1 and 2 of the interview between Rick Warren and Raymond Arroyo, click here.)
a. Rick Warren may have a plan laid away for the future of promoting a “religious liberty movement” that will be the equivalent of the “civil liberties movement” of the past.
b. It is possible that a so-called “religious liberty” movement championed by America’s Pastor, who is willing to go to jail for standing up for the religious rights of all religions, could be a stepping-stone to something else. Especially when it is so obvious this would be another important way to join evangelicals and Catholics together, a common trend of our day.
c. Warren could be a major spokesperson for persuading evangelicals to join together with Roman Catholics.
(See part 3 of the interview between Rick Warren and Raymond Arroyo, click here.)
a. If Rick Warren and his followers represent the direction many former “Protestants” are headed, it is only a matter of time for the coming One World Ecumenical Religion to be established. The Jesuit plan to bring the “separated brethren Home to Rome” will have been accomplished.
b. Warren admits that he has a “spiritual director” at the retreat center at Saddleback who was trained by the Catholic contemplative figure Jean Vanier.
c. Vanier is a contemplative mystic who promotes interspiritual and interfaith beliefs, calling the Hindu Mahatma Gandhi “one of the greatest prophets of our times” and “a man sent by God.” In the book Essential Writings, Vanier talks about “opening doors to other religions” and helping people develop their own faiths be it Hinduism, Christianity, or Islam. The book also describes how Vanier read Thomas Merton and practiced and was influenced by the spiritual exercises of the Jesuit founder and mystic St. Ignatius.
(See part 4 of the interview between Rick Warren and Raymond Arroyo, click here.)
a. When a Christian leader publically makes statements or endorsements by saying or doing things that contradict the Bible, the leader needs to be addressed in a public manner so those who have been influenced can be put back on track.
b. Warren’s main reason for watching the Roman Catholic Eternal Word Television Network is to gain a knowledge and understanding of Christian history, then there is no question he is getting a biased one-sided view.
c. In Warren’s own words: “One of my favorite shows, which you repeat often is the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, which I love. And when I’ve had a very stressful day, I’ll come home, I’ve got it taped and Kay and I will both, we’ll listen. We’ll put it on and just sit back, relax and worship. And in the time of reflection, meditation and quietness I find myself renewed and restored. So thank you for continuing to play the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.”
d. “The Chaplet of the Divine Mercy is . . . based on the visions of Jesus reported by Saint Mary Faustina Kowalska (1905-1938), known as ‘the Apostle of Mercy.’ . . . Faustina stated that she received the prayer through visions and conversations with Jesus, who made specific promises regarding the recitation of the prayers. . . . the chaplet is often said as a rosary-based prayer with the same set of rosary beads used for reciting the Holy Rosary or the Chaplet of Holy Wounds, in the Roman Catholic Church. . . . The chaplet may also be said without beads, usually by counting prayers on the fingertips, and may be accompanied by the veneration of the Divine Mercy image.”
(See part 5 of the interview between Rick Warren and Raymond Arroyo, click here.)