Posts Tagged ‘spiritual deception’

The Perfect Spiritual Storm Looming

By T.A. McMahon
The Berean Call

Perfect storm defined: a mixture of seemingly varied events that converge together creating a greater magnitude of devastation.

I remember as though it were yesterday a conversation I had with Dave Hunt not too long after he had moved to Bend, Oregon. He wanted me to move to Bend also that we might continue communicating with those who had responded favorably to the book I’d had the privilege of co-authoring with him, The Seduction of Christianity. That book and many of his later books, articles, and sermons gave insights into most of the things that would prove to be portents of the developing apostasy that we see moving ahead at overwhelming speed and in wide circulation today.

In our 25 years of ministering through The Berean Call, we have extensively covered various aspects of the apostasy. Although some of the highly promoted deviations from Scripture have had their heyday and then appeared to have faded, in fact they have simply undergone alterations, changed players, assimilated other heresies, adjusted to the times, and become more devious, i.e., hidden in plain sight. One example of this is the Word/Faith Movement (W/FM). The popular leaders of days past included Oral Roberts, Kenneth Hagin, Sr., Charles Capps, David (formerly Paul) Yonggi Cho, and Gloria and Kenneth Copeland. The Copelands are still around, along with their followers, and are promoting the same false teaching, but the W/FM has expanded to the Faith Healing Movement, the Prosperity Teachings, the Positive Confession Movement, and the Inner Healing Movement, all of which have been raised to a new level of sophistication as major tactics of the Adversary. These perversions of the Word of God originated when Satan deceived Eve in Genesis:3:1Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
See All…
with his words, “Yea, hath God said…?” Questioning and then repudiating what God has declared has been Satan’s strategy from the beginning and will continue until he is thrown into the Lake of Fire.

That Deceiver and Father of Lies has also employed a host of seemingly diverse deceptions that are nevertheless connected. The Word/Faith teachings are not merely a perversion of biblical faith, but they are of late gleaned from the mind science cults, with concepts that go back to Hinduism and other Eastern mystical religions. The teachings of this movement are found within Transcendentalism and New Thought, as well as the writings of Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Mary Baker Eddy’s Christian Science and Helena Blavatsky’s Theosophical Society brought Eastern spiritual beliefs into mainstream America. Click here to continue reading.

Discernment Ministries Not Needed? Would the Apostle Paul Agree?

By the Editors at Lighthouse Trails

This week, someone sent us an online article, written by a pastor who said that the church does not need discernment ministries  anymore. While the pastor’s comments that such ministries are making great money by doing this kind of work were erroneous, it was the pastor’s rationale and conclusions about discernment ministries as a whole that were most troubling. His rationale was that discernment ministries should not be criticizing and challenging leaders and teachers within the church (but rather outside the church; e.g cults, Mormonism); his conclusion was the church does not need discernment ministries and people should stop listening to them. He lumped all discernment ministries together, suggesting that they are all jealous of each other and spend a lot of time fighting amongst themselves. (By this reasoning—that discernment ministries are invalidated because of fighting and jealousy—then there also should be no marriages, families, churches, organizations, or virtually any human institution because institutions are made up of sinful humans who do at times fight and struggle between each other.) He suggested that many of these discernment people will end up dying early anyway because of the high level of stress involved. Needless to say, we found such an article very sad because we knew there would be people who would read it and would be persuaded by the pastor’s words.

There is one thing true in what this pastor stated, and that is that there can be quite a bit of stress involved with discernment. But, again, his rationale is faulty. It would suggest that since being discerning (or having a discernment ministry) is stressful, it must be wrong. But if we look at the lives of the apostles, the Old Testament prophets, and many martyrs who have lost their lives over the last 2000 years for standing for truth, no doubt, their lives were stressed and difficult. To speak the truth is not easy, and to speak the truth within the church is downright tough. Few knew this more than the apostle Paul:

Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. (2 Corinthians 11: 25-27)

Even though Paul determined to put his trust in the Lord and serve Him only, what he went through sounds pretty stressful. Why was he willing to go through those sufferings and persecutions? Because he had full

The Martyrdom of Paul (Illustration by Joseph Martin Kronheim, public domain)

confidence that he was called to warn and to preach for the edifying and exhorting of the body of Christ:

[I]f ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;  who now rejoice in my sufferings for you . . . warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily. (Colossians 1: 23-24, 28-29; emphasis added)

At Lighthouse Trails, we by no means claim to be of the caliber of the apostle Paul. Nor do we want to be looked upon as such. We are just one part of the body of Christ, working diligently in a work we believe God has called us to do. We do not claim to be anything special, but we do claim that God in His wisdom has a place in the body for such a ministry as ours (Paul addressed this in 1 Corinthians 12; vs 21:  And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you”).

We know there are some who name themselves among “discernment ministries” who are guilty of not exhibiting the fruits of the Spirit when writing and reporting. They are at times vitriolic, unkind, practice mean name calling, and go after a figure’s personal effect rather than staying focused on the teachings, doctrines, beliefs, and promotions. It has been a criteria of Lighthouse Trails from our beginning that any author or writer we publish is allowing the fruits of the Spirit (e.g., love, gentleness, goodness, meekness, etc., Galatians 5:22-23) to be prevalent in his or her work.

Scripture says that as the days on this Earth grow darker and darker, spiritually speaking, more and more proclaiming Christians will turn away from the truth of God’s Word and the Gospel of Jesus Christ (e.g., “some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils,” 1 Timothy 4:1). Lighthouse Trails and the authors we represent are determined to continue in the work in which we have been called in spite of the fact that we are often falsely accused, unjustly discredited, and misjudged. Whether the Lord takes us home early or allows us to live long lives, it is our prayer that we will endure faithfully until the end. Perhaps, in time, people will stop listening to discernment ministries all together. If and when that day comes, we pray there will be enough pastors and churches who are speaking the truth and warning “night and day.” In the following passage by Paul, we can see that his heart was for the building up of the body of Christ, no matter the cost to him. May we all, as believers in Jesus Christ, whether “discernment ministry,” pastor, or neither, strive to have this same attitude:

 But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children: so being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us. For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God.  Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe: as ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children, that ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory. (1 Thessalonians 2:7-12, emphasis added)

CONCLUSION

The following is a list of discernment ministries that Lighthouse Trails has come to know and look to over the past fifteen years; they are ones that meet the biblical criteria described above. Though these particular ministries may not agree with each other on every aspect, we have seen no greed, worldly ambition, jealousy, mean spiritedness, or dishonesty in these ministries. While they, like Lighthouse Trails, do not claim to be perfect or infallible, they always point readers back to the Word of God and uphold the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Is there a need for discernment ministries in today’s church? We believe the answer to that question is a resounding “yes.” And we believe the apostle Paul would agree.

Trusted Discernment Research Ministries

The Berean Call

Deception in the Church
Sandy Simpson

Forcing Change
Carl Teichrib

Guarding the Flock Ministries

Herescope Blog

Kjos Ministries
Berit Kjos

Learn to Discern Granny

Let Us Reason Ministries
Mike Oppenheimer

Lighthouse Trails Research Project

ReachOut Trust

Spiritual Research Network

Understand the Times,
Roger Oakland

Guest Commentary – Welcome to Rome!

By Judson Casjens
Guest Commentary

Gallup’s annual Values and Beliefs poll, conducted May 3-7, 2017, found that a “leftward movement in perceptions of what is morally acceptable has been ongoing,” with a shift in 13 of 19 issues over time (since 2001). In another section of the same poll, Gallup found that just 24 percent believe the Bible is the literal word of God—the lowest in Gallup’s 40 years of asking Americans about their biblical beliefs.

On several key social issues Americans responded in the most recent survey that it is morally acceptable to use birth control (91%), get divorced (73%), engage in opposite-sex sexual acts outside marriage (69%), engage in same-sex sexual acts (63%), have a baby outside of marriage (62%), commit physician-assisted suicide (57%), view pornography (36%) and practice polygamy (17%).

Southern Evangelical Seminary President and Evangelical leader Dr. Richard Land said the Gallup findings on social issues and faith in the Bible’s validity are certainly linked:

bigstockphoto.com

“There’s been a marked movement left in everything except adultery,” Land said of the surveys. “Cheating on one’s husband or wife still remains taboo. But as more and more people view the Bible as a book of fables, we can see an increasing level of paganism of the United States. The apostle Paul would recognize contemporary America because it looks a lot like ancient Rome and Corinth—except with modern conveniences.”

Land went on to say:

“The precipitous decline in traditional Judeo-Christian morality on these social issues is directly related to the decline in belief in the Bible’s moral authority,” Land said. “Besides the shift left in these crucial social issues, the decrease in the belief in the Bible as the literal, authoritative Word of God is even more alarming. It says something alarming about our culture, when for the first time in 40 years, biblical skepticism has surpassed biblical literalism. We can hope that the half who fall in the middle, believing that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, stay true to that conviction and are even strengthened in their belief of the Bible.”—excerpted from Southern Evangelical Seminary e-mail (5/22/2017) (quoted for informational purposes)

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Where do we go from here? The proverbial snowball is rolling downhill and getting ever larger, and one can discern from reading about various nations, including Israel, in Scripture that the ending is not very pleasant. History demonstrates time and again that at the end is no revival, but rather judgement. While Gallup’s poll above includes evangelicals and non-evangelicals, other polls of evangelicals only don’t appear very encouraging either. For the most part, they merely reflect what is stated above. Land is correct in his assessment of the connection between people’s view of the Bible and moral decline. And if this is true, what we are seeing is only symptomatic and not the genuine cause.

What this means for true believers is that rather than supporting various crusades and rally’s around the country which purport to create a voice on various moral issues, we instead need to focus upon becoming holy in our lives and obedient insofar as the true Gospel is concerned. We can “clean up” the country, even get some laws changed; but then where are we? Using the examples of Jesus and the early Church, where do we find the effort and focus? Let me assure one and all that it was not cleaning up and changing paganism for the purpose of complimenting Christianity, but rather leading holy lives and “striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27) and using every effort in the spread of that very same Gospel . . . period. And the world of that day was not turned upside down by grandiose crusades or “festivals,” but by people like you and I relating to others just like you and I, and so the Gospel spread. We have turned way too much over to the so-called “professionals” and in so doing have diminished our own value, responsibility, and role in the spread of God’s kingdom.

Not at all unlike Israel of old, today’s evangelicalism is ever turning a deaf ear to God’s Words and warnings, the past polls of evangelicals only have shown similar movement away from the Bible as being verbally inspired and therefore as having diminished authority, all of which is playing a large part in the church’s drift away from biblical orthodoxy. In the middle of all this, the ecumenical push for unity is contributing mightily because all this “togetherness” requires the message of the one and only way of salvation not be mentioned, much less pressed; this movement seeks to find spiritual value and even instruction apart from Gospel truth, which by definition means paganism. James asks some rather pointed questions:

Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh. (James 3:11-12)

What on earth are we doing by mixing and blending Truth with error and then calling it love and unity? Of necessity, the true Gospel must be the first casualty in this type of endeavor. The ideas of political correctness and tolerance in true Christianity for the purposes of being non-offensive are unknown in the whole of Scripture; the Gospel message is offensive for it declares that one is an offense to God, under condemnation already, and there is nothing one can do except trust in the provision made by God’s Son Jesus Christ—something the Catholic Church has declared “anathema” at least three times in Vatican II documents because theirs is a “works-based” system of salvation (sacramental).

What we find so prevalent in evangelicalism today is a refusal to notice and react when God’s Word is relegated to some mere movement, error, or teaching. When Israel had changed internally due to the admission of pagan practices and beliefs, even to the point of worshipping foreign goddesses, Yahweh sent the prophet Isaiah along with others, but what God said to Isaiah regarding His purposes and Israel’s response needs to be given very careful consideration:

And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed. Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate. (Isaiah 6:9-11)

In a similar discussion with His disciples in which their relationship with the world was discussed, Jesus uttered these thought-provoking words:

 If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin. He that hateth me hateth my Father also. If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father. But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause. (John 15:22-25)

We have become so focused upon “results” that we have forgotten that irrespective of another’s response, witness and testimony must be faithfully given, and that even rejection serves God’s purposes in that an opportunity for repentance has been given. That was Isaiah’s ministry, and that is a very sobering thought. So to all out there attempting to be faithful, don’t be discouraged due to little or negative response, even from evangelicals; in many ways, this is our calling.

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)

How to Find a Bible-Believing Church

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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)

NEW BOOKLET: Progression to Deception: How New Age Influence is Destroying the Church—One Step After the Next

NEW BOOKLET: Progression to Deception: How New Age Influence is  Destroying the Church—One Step After the Next by Gregory Reid 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 Progression to Deception: How New Age Influence is  Destroying the Church—One Step After the Next, click here.

Progression to Deception: How New Age Influence is  Destroying the Church—One Step After the Next

By Gregory Reid

Deception—A Progressive Disease
The church has opened the door to the New Age. What started out as just a crack has now become a wide open door. In just a few short decades, the walls of biblical discernment have been so completely torn down that not only do the majority of church goers seem completely oblivious to the deception that has entered, many of the church’s leaders are actually promoting the various avenues through which the New Age/New Spirituality has come in. This is exactly what Theosophist leader Alice Bailey predicted would be part of the New Age infiltration into the church:

The Christian church in its many branches can serve as a St. John the Baptist, as a voice crying in the wilderness, and as a nucleus through which world illumination [New Age thought] may be accomplished.1

This paradigm shift has been underway for some time. It probably began to get a real foothold in our present time with Norman Vincent Peale’s “Power of Positive Thinking” theology, quickly adapted by Rev. Robert Schuller who was really the first modern “megachurch” and “seeker friendly” church pastor. The ideas of these two men were once considered an aberration from mainstream Christian doctrine. But here we are decades later, and seeker friendly and power of positive thinking has become the norm and goes unchallenged. The crack into Bible-based evangelical churches had begun to open just a little . . .

Fast forward: In the last three decades, we have opened our doors to things like the holy laughter movement, barking like dogs and oinking like pigs (calling it the “anoinking of the Spirit”), and worse. A number of leaders challenged these things, but its promoters did not repent.

Eventually came spiritual formation, “be still” meditation, breathing techniques, “Christian” Yoga, “the sacred feminine,” labyrinths, and most recently circle making—all an extension of exotic and pagan religions, eastern mysticism, and Buddhist/Hindu tools to reach “the divine within.” These began to creep into church media, books, music, sermons, seminars, and movies. Even Catholic priest and mystic Thomas Merton came to be revered by many evangelicals though he was a man who once said he intended “to become as good a Buddhist as [he] can;”2 and the writings of the late Catholic mystic Henri Nouwen continue influencing millions of evangelicals, even though his spirituality led him to deny that Jesus was the only way to the Father by the end of life.3

The door opened a little wider . . . where were the watchmen? Where were the shepherds? Even pastors were welcoming these things. And as these heretical movements crept in, the Word of God began to become an addendum to our lives, a devotional nicety but not central in our walk with Jesus, and no longer our final determination of truth.

Slowly, the poison seeped into our ranks . . . one book, one DVD, one conference, one movie at a time. Everyone ignored the subtle twisting of the Word of God in Rob Bell’s Velvet Elvis, hailing it as “groundbreaking.” And indeed, it was, but not in a good way. His next book, The Sex God raised a few eyebrows, but youth pastors everywhere still adored him, emulated him, and bought glasses and cool clothes to look just like him in an attempt to “relate to youth.” Millennial youth pastors began diluting (or just plain dismissing) the Word of God and preparing little mini-messages to justify their increasingly party-like youth-group atmosphere which was strong on entertainment and weak on the Word of God.

Then Rob Bell wrote Love Wins, denying Hell and proclaiming universalism—the idea that everyone gets saved. Today, he is sharing platforms with Oprah Winfrey and with New Age guru Deepak Chopra at conferences with titles like “The Seduction of Spirit.”4 Some seducing is going on, that’s for sure!

When Bell was finally exposed as being truly a non-evangelical false teacher, I heard nothing but cricket sounds from all those who formerly sang his praises. But by then, everyone was off chasing the next big thing anyway, the next bestseller, the next circle-making, ear-tickling, Scripture-diluting fiasco. We had formed a pattern of going after the latest “it,” or hottest speaker, or bestselling book, and then when it turned out the thing or person was exposed as fraudulent, in error, or full of deception, almost no one took responsibility for originally supporting or promoting them in the first place—least of all the Christian media and those who peddled their products.

I could give countless examples where Christian leaders and pastors promoted someone who was espousing anti-biblical views, and then later when the wrongness became publicized, these same Christian leaders and pastors did nothing to rectify the damage they did in pointing thousands, if not millions, in the wrong direction. No words of regret, no humility, no warnings to what they should have seen in the first place—just silence . . . until the next big thing came along.

Rarely do people say, “we were wrong.” Rarely do leaders say, “We were in error.” And because of that, unrepentant error in discernment has led to greater and greater error, because deception is a progressive disease.

The more error we receive and engage in, the more the ability to discern goes numb and then finally dies altogether. The church has stepped through the door of deception, and now one step at a time, the descent down the stairway to spiritual destruction is underway.

Few seemed alarmed that Roma Downey had no sooner graduated from a New Age college when she began work on her and her husband’s television series The Bible or that she has never renounced her New Age beliefs.5 And in fact, the highest levels of leadership in the church gave her a pass on those issues because, they said, the benefits of how it would reach people outweighed the theological or doctrinal problems. Downey’s movies have been sprinkled with gnostic teachings; and, to be honest, by the time these concerns were raised, certain denominations and groups had invested far too much money in promoting the movies to retract, recall product, and publicly repent at that point. In the end, I believe financial concerns were more important than truth.

The Shack—A Temporary Fix
By the time the book The Shack came around, we had already been prepped through years of “felt need” theology, experiential-based faith, and cherry-picking Scriptures we liked while ignoring the ones we didn’t.

As the Internet grew, I began to understand the power of the appeal to our emotions. More than once, I had seen almost an entire five to ten-minute video on some issue and found myself in tears before I found out at the end that not only was it not a Christian video and did not have a Christian message, but it was produced by people who represented a view that was unbiblical, New Age, and worse. I got emotionally hooked before I learned the truth. Those without a biblical foundation of truth stay hooked. Basically, they get seduced. They have become addicted to being seduced and need the next sensually induced, carnally-inspired fix because that is what has become the foundation of their “faith,” and they have come to believe they can’t get by without it.

People loved The Shack because it replaced the God of the Bible (which deep down they possibly didn’t feel comfortable with because His ways are beyond our understanding and bad things happen, and it upsets our sunshine version of Christianity) and gave them a God who made them feel good, who took the God of the Bible and said, “That’s not really God, this is what God is like . . .” and gave them a diluted, false version of Father, Son, Holy Spirit, and a dose of Sophia, Greek goddess of “wisdom.”

I was sure that anyone with even a modicum of discernment would throw the book in the trash. I had underestimated how wide the door of deception had opened. I lost friends that were pastors who were furious at me for questioning the book. One pastor railed at me, “I haven’t had a relationship with God for years, but now I have my ‘Papa’ back! You can’t take that from me!”

Nothing jarred me more than seeing grown men of God just abandoning clear truth because something tugged their heart, justifying the scriptural butchering by saying, “It’s just fiction; it’s not the Bible!” I confronted someone on this the other night. “What about the satanic Necronomicon. Can I read it? It’s just fiction. Can I read pornography? It’s just fiction.” They thought that a bit extreme. Of course it was. My point was, what was their criteria, where was their own event horizon they were not willing to cross because it was just too obviously wrong? How much Scripture bending or ignoring would they accept and justify as OK because it was “just fiction” before they had enough and said no more?

The genius of The Shack is how cleverly it has clothed itself in a loose and nebulous garment of Scriptures—just enough to justify the complete butchering of the true nature of God and morph Him into a Trinitarian hybrid god that represents whatever will make you feel better about your horrible tragedies and “great sadness.”6 The fact is, though, God will not appear as whatever we want. One person said, “God appeared as a fiery bush, but I know he’s not a bush!” But He did not appear as a bush. He appeared in a bush. God will not appear as Shiva, Buddha, or Sarayu, because He says, “I AM THAT I AM” (Exodus 3:14). We can say God is like a rock, but we cannot say God is like Baal. It’s not about imagery; it is about the nature and character of God. And The Shack gives a false representation of both of these.7

Look, I get it. I’ve suffered innumerable losses my entire life, and every one of us at some point cries out, “WHY, GOD?” And in those moments, people either reject Him as uncaring, or call upon His name wherein He brings us into His Kingdom, and we learn to trust Him in the midst of, sometimes in spite of, tragedies that seem to have no reason.

We may find ourselves once again crying out in pain, “Why God!?”

He has answered this in His Word. It’s called having faith, trusting Him, and knowing He loves us.

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5)

As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the Lord is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him. (Psalm 18:30)

Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God. (1 John 3:1)

The Shack is a quick fix to feeling better, a panacea, a spiritual drug that allows you to embrace a conception of God that may temporarily take away the pain but leaves you with an open door to deception because it is not the God of the Word. It is not the real thing! And the Jesus it presents is not the real Jesus.

Is The Shack the God portrayed in Scripture? Is God a woman? Is Jesus a clumsy young man? Is the Holy Spirit a girl named after a Hindu river? Is the judge of our lives Sophia? Is everyone saved? Is Jesus just the best way to the Father, as the book suggests, or is He what the Bible says—the only way?

“But they’re just parables! Stories! It’s not the Bible!” some argue. So is it acceptable to distort the truth in the guise of fiction just to make a point? How is that ever acceptable? The Shack presents a God who does not judge, one who can change, and one who suggests Jesus is simply a better way to God, not the only way. But feeling has trumped truth, and the book has become a multi-million bestseller. To simplify the responses I have heard, “Don’t confuse me with biblical facts. It makes me feel good!”

It did not bother leaders and publishers that Young’s second book, Eve—a “reimagining” of the Adam and Eve story—was laced with kabbalistic themes and occultic, gnostic fairy tales. “It’s just a story.” The door opened wider. . . .

You see, Satan keeps pushing the goalpost deeper and deeper into the center of the church, and every time he sees no resistance, he is emboldened and takes it to “the next level.”

In March of 2017, The Shack movie was released. People seem just as fascinated with the movie as they are with the book. But I notice one difference—those who support The Shack appear to be much angrier at those with questions than before. “You’re so judgmental!” “Who do you think you are?” “You must be looking for a book deal or something.” “You’ll never lead anyone to Christ, and I doubt if you ever did before.” I’ve had it all thrown at me with the release of the movie as I have tried to reason it out with folks. And I have come to realize that the level of deception has gone so deep that not only are people willing to embrace a lie and ignore the error, but worse—they see themselves as loyal Christian believers while at the same have no problem promoting a story by a man who claims that everyone is “in Christ” already. And you cannot reason with that level of delusion. It’s gone beyond the intellectual. It’s now in the realm of “seducing spirits” (1 Timothy 4:1).

A Church Enamored with New Age Mysticism
Universalism—the “all paths lead to God” religion—is exactly what is needed to turn millions of proclaiming Christians into participants of the one-world antichrist mystery religion that Alice Bailey wrote about and all Luciferian world leaders are counting on.

We did not accept Rob Bell’s universalism. But now we are willing to ignore William Paul Young’s. That is the malignancy of deception unchecked.

The Shack movie comes at a time when eastern meditation techniques are being welcomed wholeheartedly into the public educational system under the guise of “mindfulness.”8 Mindfulness is a Buddhist technique of detachment, leading practitioners to realizing the “divine within,” which eventually supposedly leads to Nirvana—nonexistence. North American children, as young as pre-school age, are being taught how to meditate and do Yoga to reach this Nirvana state.

This eastern meditation paradigm shift is occurring in the church as well via contemplative prayer and the “spiritual disciplines.”9 In 2017, several “Christian” books came on the scene promoting meditation and mindfulness practices under the guise of “devotional” books and “adult coloring books.” One book on contemplative meditation is The Wired Soul: Finding Spiritual Balance in a Hyperconnected Age by Tricia McCary Rhodes. Her book “reintroduces us to the classic disciplines of Scripture reading, meditation, prayer, and contemplation.”10 Rick Warren was promoting Rhodes book, The Soul at Rest: A Journey into Contemplative Prayer, as far back as 2003 on his website that stated:

This book is a quiet-time companion for those who hunger for a greater intimacy with God. It offers fresh insight into little understood aspects of prayer and introduces a step-by-step journey of learning contemplative prayer.11

The site referred to Tricia Rhodes as “one of our favorite authors on contemplative prayer.”12 In The Soul at Rest, Rhodes gives instruction on contemplative prayer:

Take deep breaths, concentrating on relaxing your body. Establish a slow, rhythmic pattern. Breathe in God’s peace, and breathe out your stresses, distractions, and fears. Breathe in God’s love, forgiveness, and compassion, and breathe out your sins, failures, and frustrations. Make every effort to “stop the flow of talking going on within you—to slow it down until it comes to a halt.”13

Rick Warren’s promotion of her book in 2003 helped to make a solid place for Rhodes in the evangelical church, and today she, along with so many others like her, is securely wedged in, all the while presenting a panentheistic (i.e., God in all) eastern-style meditation belief system to an unsuspecting church that’s proved itself to have little or no discernment. Does that bother Rick Warren or any of the others who endorsed her? Do they feel the need to warn the church about an author they promoted to millions of people? The answer to that is a resounding no!

So, the church just keeps on going further on the path to the New Age goal of “east meets west,” where we all become one under a false one-world religion and we all recognize the “Christ spirit” or godhood in each other.

Tragically, young Christians are perhaps the biggest target of Satan. The emerging church got the ball rolling and convinced millions of church-going young people that their parents way of seeing Christianity was old fashioned, colonial, and ineffective. And emerging church leaders had the perfect tool to get a hold of the minds of the youth—meditation. It started back in the late nineties and is in full swing today. A 2013 book titled, God in My Everything: How an Ancient Rhythm Helps Busy People Enjoy God by Canadian pastor Ken Shigematsu, is being used in Christian youth groups. According to the publisher, Zondervan, the book “draws on both eastern and western perspectives in writing and speaking.”14 Those are buzzwords for introducing a mixing of eastern religion thought processes with Christianity. The book is packed with quotes by and references to numerous mystics such as Thomas Merton and Basil Pennington. Catholic priest and panentheist Richard Rohr is a major advocate for mystical prayer. He said in an interview that his publisher told him his biggest audience is young evangelical men!15 Are Christian leaders and pastors shocked that their young people are being taught by mystics, panentheists, universalists, etc? Apparently not.

All of this is producing Christian minds that are malleable, soft, undiscerning, half-drugged, feeling good, and completely open to the power of suggestion from . . . whoever, and whatever. That is what eastern meditation techniques do. You empty your mind, “turn off distractions,” enter your “sacred space,” and accept that whatever comes must be good and right and from God.

The High Price of Having Our Ears Tickled
The church has become an entity seeking to have her ears tickled. Christians are seeking to feel better about their painful lives. Seeking to be successful, happy, and prosperous. What is it you seek? Step right up folks . . . we’ve got everything for you right now.

Everything except the whole truth of the Word of God, the way of the Cross, the power of the blood to save and heal and forgive, the altar of God where we come to be broken and changed, healed, and set free. Everything which made the Gospel powerful has and is being systematically removed by the enemy of our souls—not because it is not powerful, but because we no longer wish to humble ourselves, bow to its holiness and its truth. The church has exchanged the truth for a lie.

We are seeing the “fruit” of nearly thirty years of dumbing-down and de-prioritizing the Word of God, giving it a mini-place in our lives while shiny things and baubles and the newest “move” catch our attention and send us off on a fruitless quest for the next experience. It’s no wonder young Christians are falling for it so rapidly—their parents and grandparents have had no discernment and therefore could hardly lead and warn the younger generation of spiritual deception. The seed of the Word of God has corporately fallen on stony ground, without depth, where it grows up quick, shrivels, and dies.

I know I am very passionate about this, reluctant to even use the word passionate, so overused it is in today’s “New Spirituality.” However, I have every reason to be this way. I grew up in the occult—a world of delusions, lies, and darkness. When I tried to turn to New Age thought to dispel the darkness—turning to Hinduism, Buddhism, and becoming an avid follower of Paramahansa Yogananda in my little bedroom devouring his every word as “truth”—I ended up deceived, wrecked, and in utter darkness, even though some of it temporarily numbed my pain and made me “feel good.”

I understand many of these Christians who are so emotionally bound to The Shack and Jesus Calling that they have thrown caution to the wind and ignored the dangerous reality that in fact promotes unbiblical lies. I was a universalist when I got saved. I didn’t know what the Word of God said. I still believed all paths led to God! I was totally brainwashed. Then came this “mean man,” this “judgmental Christian” Bible study leader who dared to get out the Word of God and without holding back challenged me about my beliefs. This “judgmental, mean man” saved my spiritual life. (I thank God for Dave; may his memory be blessed!) I needed a hard word to break through the lies.

In all my dealings with everything from Rob Bell to The Shack, I understand that simple logic and reason isn’t working with people who are emotionally invested in the teachers or the stories. People need a wake-up call, and that may not feel good or seem loving. But I cannot apologize for my approach because I see that in the end, The Shack is not just a book or a movie but a game-changer that is extinguishing some of the last lights of discernment out of the hearts of who knows how many thousands (even millions) of believers. I know how they feel. I have been there. And I thank God that someone cared enough to hurt me with the truth. When a house is burning down and people are asleep inside, one cannot afford to meekly whisper, hoping the people hear. You have to shout at the top of your lungs, “Get out, quickly!” In dealing with these new delusions, it may be necessary to jar people awake.

Jesus said in Matthew 24 that all of this would happen. Paul said, “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils” (1 Timothy 4:1). The great falling away is at hand. But a remnant will remain faithful. I can only pray humbly not to be one who falls for the lies in a moment of vulnerability, or weakness, or pain or giving up, for we are all vulnerable, and it’s only by the grace of God we can stand. None of us is exempt from having to diligently guard against the lies of this age, outside and inside the church.

These progressive deceptions over the last few decades have been just the build-up to the next great delusion, which could be the final one. God help us to turn away from the slow poisoning taking place in the church through breath-prayers, eastern meditation, mindfulness, Yoga, etc. God help us to surrender our soulish ways of perceiving God based on a book written by a wounded man, William Paul Young —unhealed from abuse and bitter church hurts—whom those seeking to make a profit have promoted regardless of his spiritual fragility and woundedness—a man who rejected the God of the Bible for a god who would somehow ease his pain—one that eases your pain as it kills your soul. The Shack is the spiritual Jack Kevorkian of our age.

Pray for William Paul Young, that God would pull him out of this most dangerous and deadly strange fire. Pray for the multitudes who are believing lies. And may God deal with those mercenaries and moneychangers who care more about what sells and profits them than about the care and protection of the flock of God.

Alice Bailey’s plans are about to come to full fruition. The greatest lie is just around the corner.

Stay strong, saints. “And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. (Luke 21:28)

To order copies of Progression to Deception: How New Age Influence is  Destroying the Church—One Step After the Next, click here.

Endnotes:
1. Alice Bailey, The Externalization of the Hierarchy (Lucis Publishing Companies), p. 510.
2. David Steindl-Rast, “Recollection of Thomas Merton’s Last Days in the West” (Monastic Studies, 7:10, 1969).
3.Henri Nouwen, Sabbatical Journey (New York, NY: Crossroad Publishing, 1998), p. 51.
4. http://www.carlsbadlifestylepubs.com/am_event/seduction-of-spirit-i-am-wholeness.
5. See Greg Reid’s booklet/article: Confused by an Angel: The Dilemma of Roma Downey’s New Age Beliefs. Online at http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=16968 or order from Lighthouse Trails.
6. Chapter four of The Shack is titled “The Great Sadness,” and the term is frequently used throughout The Shack.
7. See The Shack and Its New Age Leaven by Warren B. Smith. Online at http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=12290 or order from Lighthouse Trails.
8. Kris O’Donnell, “Mindfulness, Meditation Techniques Being Used in Public School Classrooms Across County on 750,000 Students” (Ivanhoe Newswire, http://www.ksat.com/health/mindfulness-meditation-techniques-being-used-in-classroom).
9. Visit the Lighthouse Trails Research blog for extensive information on contemplative spirituality and the “spiritual disciplines”: www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog or request their bi-monthly research journal mailed to homes and offices.
10. Tricia McCary Rhodes, The Wired Soul: Finding Spiritual Balance in a Hyperconnected Age (from the publisher’s description, found on the NavPress website where the book is being sold: https://navresources.ca/product_details.php?item_id=5458).
11. Rick Warren’s Ministry Toolbox, (September 3, 2003, http://web.archive.org/web/20081227031846/http://legacy.pastors.com/RWMT/?ID=118).
12. Rick Warren’s Ministry Toolbox (February 18, 2004, http://web.archive.org/web/20081227044251/http://legacy.pastors.com/RWMT/?ID=142).
13. Tricia Rhodes, The Soul at Rest (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 1996), p. 28.
14. Ken Shigematsu, God in My Everything: How an Ancient Rhythm Helps Busy People Enjoy God (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2013); from Zondervan’s website: http://www.zondervan.com/god-in-my-everything.
15. “The Cosmic Christ with Richard Rohr” (http://podcast.theliturgists.com/e/episode-35-the-cosmic-christ-with-richard-rohr/).

To order copies of Progression to Deception: How New Age Influence is  Destroying the Church—One Step After the Next, click here.

Is It a Solution or a Snow Job?

By Cedric Fisher
Truth Keepers

bigstockphoto.com

One of the most effective methods of satanic deception operates as a straw man argument. Of course, a straw man argument is a dishonest debate trick where an individual attributes a false position to his or her opponent and then defeats that position. It gives the false perception that he or she has won a point.

It is as a man wanting to impress a lady. So he burglarizes her house when she is away. Then he shows up with sympathy and offers to use his contacts and abilities to recover her cherished belongings. After a few days he shows up with her valuables. He explains that one of his contacts was able to recover the stuff, but he is not privy to the details. That trick makes a hero out of a thief and perhaps worse.

A similar example occurred in California concerning arson investigator and novelist John Orr. Orr rose up through the ranks to become a distinguished arson investigator because of his uncanny ability to discover the cause of arson fires. However, he was responsible for setting many of the arson fires he had investigated. Eventually, he was arrested, charged, and convicted of arson and murder. Click here to continue reading.

Cedric Fisher is the director of Truth Keepers ministry and the author of three Lighthouse Trails booklets.


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