Posts Tagged ‘Talbot’

New Spiritual Disciplines From Ancient Roman Catholic Sources

by  Roger Oakland  

Promoters of the emergent conversation say we are on the verge of an era that promises renewed spiritual awareness. “Spiritual disciplines” are being touted as the avenue to a “spiritual reformation” that will take Christianity to a new and higher level of spirituality drawing all participants closer to God.

Books published by major Christian publishers written by well known authors are plentiful on this topic. For example, J.P. Moreland and Klaus Issler are both professors at Talbot School of Theology at Biola University in southern California. Moreland is professor of philosophy. Issler is professor of Christian education and theology. Navpress published a book they co-authored titled The Lost Virtue of Happiness: Discovering the Disciplines of the Good Life. On the back cover, the following statement is made:

Authors J.P. Moreland and Klaus Issler illustrate how we are happy only when we pursue a transcendent purpose – something larger than ourselves. This involves a deeply meaningful relationship with God through a selfless preoccupation with the spiritual disciplines. The Lost Virtue of Happiness takes a fresh look at the spiritual disciplines, offering concrete examples of ways you can make them practical and life transforming.

The title gives a good overview of what the book is about. Moreland and Issler believe they have rediscovered important spiritual principles that have been lost. If you follow these principles and they become part of your everyday Christian life, you can be transformed. Click here to read this entire article.

NEW BOOKLET: An Epidemic of Apostasy – How Christian Seminaries Must Incorporate “Spiritual Formation” to Become Accredited

An Epidemic of Apostasy – How Christian Seminaries Must Incorporate “Spiritual Formation” to Become Accredited 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.  Below is the content of the booklet. There is a also an appendix (see below). To order copies of An Epidemic of Apostasy – How Christian Seminaries Must Incorporate “Spiritual Formation” to Become Accredited, click here.

An Epidemic Of ApostasyBy the Editors at Lighthouse Trails

Spiritual Formation: A movement that has provided a platform and a channel through which contemplative prayer is entering the church. Find spiritual formation being used, and in nearly every case, you will find contemplative spirituality and its “pioneers” such as Richard Foster, Dallas Willard, and Henri Nouwen. Spiritual Formation is based on “spiritual disciplines” that can be practiced by people of any faith to make them more “Christ-like.” Rebirth through Jesus Christ and regeneration through the Holy Spirit are not essential. Rather it is a works-based “theology” that has strong roots in Roman Catholicism and ancient paganism.1

Contemplative Spirituality: A belief system that uses ancient mystical practices to induce altered states of consciousness (the silence) and is rooted in mysticism and the occult but often wrapped in Christian terminology. The premise of contemplative spirituality is pantheistic (God is all) and panentheistic (God is in all). Common terms used for this movement are “spiritual formation,” “the silence,” “the stillness,” “ancient-wisdom,” “spiritual disciplines,” and many others.2

What do Abilene Christian University, Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, Bethel Seminary, Biola Seminary, Briercrest College and Seminary, Dallas Theological Seminary, Eastern Mennonite Seminary, Fuller Theological Seminary, Moody Theological Seminary & Graduate School, Multnomah Biblical Seminary, Regent College, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and around 240 other seminaries and colleges throughout North America all have in common?3 They are all accredited or in the process of being accredited through the Association of Theological Schools (ATS).4

What do Cincinnati Christian University, Columbia International University, Briercrest College & Seminary, Hope International University, Moody Bible Institute, Prairie Bible College and about 90 other colleges and seminaries throughout North America all have in common? They are all accredited through the Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE).5

What do the two accreditation organizations—Association of Theological Seminaries and Association for Biblical Higher Education—have in common? Both associations require schools that wish to be accredited to include Spiritual Formation within the school’s infrastructure. Just what exactly does that mean for these 350 some seminaries and Bible colleges? Well, it means that if they want to receive and maintain their accreditation, they are going to have to incorporate Spiritual Formation (i.e., contemplative spirituality) into the lives of their students.

This would certainly answer, in large part, a question that Lighthouse Trails has had—how is it that contemplative spirituality has become so widespread so quickly within Christian colleges and seminaries over the past decade?

We were told, when we contacted ATS, that “Each school and tradition approaches this [Spiritual Formation] in a different way.” In other words, how one school defines “Spiritual Formation” may differ from how another school defines it, they say. Yet, both accreditation associations have made it very clear that they are speaking of contemplative spirituality when they are speaking of Spiritual Formation. That’s easy to prove. A look around their websites and in their handbooks shows clear signs of the contemplative emphasis.

Take the “Additional Resources for Seminary Presidents” 18-page handbook, for instance, from ATS.It recommends books by mysticism advocates Jim Collins (Good to Great), Daniel Goleman (author of The Meditative Mind), Peter Drucker, contemplative mystic Henri Nouwen, Buddhist sympathizer Peter Senge (recommending his book The Fifth Discipline (the 5th discipline meaning meditation), contemplative advocate Dorothy Bass, and Catholic nun and Buddhist zen practitioner Rose Mary Dougherty (part of the panentheistic Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation in Washington, DC); and there are numerous other “Spiritual Formation/contemplative” advocates in the list of “Additional Resources for Seminary Presidents.”6

In the ATS Handbook under “Assessing Outcomes in the Master of Divinity Program,” where it talks about assessing students progress, it states:

The Master of Divinity degree program standard requires that students be educated in four areas: (1) Religious Heritage, (2) Cultural Context, (3) Personal and Spiritual Formation, and (4) A Guide for Evaluating Theological Learning Capacity for Ministerial and Public Leadership . . . The MDiv standard requires each school to address the four areas.7

The ATS is determined that Spiritual Formation is integrated through all four of these areas:

However, the standard indicates that achievement and formation in these four areas should be integrated: “Instruction in these areas shall be conducted so as to indicate their interdependence with each other and with other areas of the curriculum, and their significance for the exercise of pastoral leadership.”

Integrated outcomes result from an integrated curriculum and instructional strategies.8

The Spiritual Formation/contemplative focus at the Association for Biblical Higher Education is as troubling as it is at ATS. In the ABHE Programmatic Standards handbook, it states under Curriculum—Essential Elements: “[A]n accredited graduate program is characterized by . . . A learning environment that cultivates critical thinking, theological reflection, spiritual formation, and effective leadership/ministry practice.”9

That might sound vague, but the 2011 ABHE Leadership Development Conference helps clarify ABHE’s view of Spiritual Formation. Session 1 was titled: Student Spiritual Formation—Principles, Processes, Issues, Resources & Assessment.10 This session was presented by Todd Hall of Biola University, a school that has clearly come out on the side of contemplative spirituality. Hall co-authored a book with contemplative advocate Dr. John Coe, who is the director of Biola’s Institute of Spiritual Formation; Hall also teaches Spiritual Formation at the Institute, which turns to the ancient mystics for spiritual understanding.

It is interesting to note the following in the conference literature:

Todd also developed the Spiritual Transformation [a contemplative term] Inventory (STI), a measure of Christian spirituality that is being used in national assessment projects conducted by the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU), Association of Biblical Higher Education (ABHE), and Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI).11

In other words, when it says “a measure of Christian spirituality that is being used” to assess students at Christian schools, it means that assessment is made under the lens of contemplative spirituality. Students are assessed to see if they are properly absorbing their spiritual disciplines ala Spiritual Formation.

ABHE’s Council of Reference members list also indicates a contemplative agenda. Members include J.P. Moreland (whom Lighthouse Trails has critiqued for his contemplative advocacy) and contemplative musician Michael Card.12

Students who oppose or resist contemplative spirituality aren’t going to find success in these 350 theological Spiritual Formation-driven schools. According to the ATS Handbook, “direct evidence of students reaching stated goals is needed.”13 In a section titled Quality Assurance Expectations, it explains again that students will be expected to “provide evidence” that they are being transformed into their view of spirituality:

[T]heological schools are required to provide evidence that students in general reach stated learning outcomes. 14

In the summer of 2010, Moody Bible Institute, accredited through ABHE, took part in ABHE’s Assessment and Accountability Project. A report on this project explains in depth the criteria for assessing the outcomes of student success. The four areas are Biblical, Transformational, General/Experiential, and Missional (Transformational, Experiential, and Missional are terms used frequently by contemplative/emerging advocates). The “suggested assessments” include ABHE Spiritual Formation Assessment.15 The report explains that students will need to “demonstrate the knowledge of specific spiritual disciplines.”16

Incidentally, the ABHE Spiritual Formation Assessment is given every year whereas some other programs at ABHE are only assessed every three years. Clearly, ABHE intends to see Spiritual Formation thriving at these accredited member schools. One of the ways they will do this is through the influence of Henri Nouwen. In the Winter 2010 ABHE Journal is an article titled: “Hospitable Teaching, Redemptive Formation, and Learning Mobility: A Spirituality of Teaching Based upon the Writings of Henri J.M. Nouwen” by Neal Windham.17 Nouwen’s idea of hospitality and redemption incorporated mystical practices, universalism, and an interfaith reconciliation.

Anyone who thinks that Moody Bible Institute is not going to succumb to the pressure from ABHE to implement a full Spiritual Formation program at Moody is not looking at the obvious here. Already Moody has a Master of Arts in Spiritual Formation and Discipleship. By the way, the report we mentioned—ABHE’s Assessment and Accountability Project—is on Moody’s website. In the past, Moody has condemned Lighthouse Trails for our efforts to warn them because they were veering toward contemplative/emerging figures.18 What shall they say now? They HAVE incorporated Spiritual Formation (that is, contemplative spirituality). In the spring of 2013, Lighthouse Trails issued a special report titled “Concerns Grow as Moody Presses Forward Down Contemplative Path.”19

One other case in point, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School has been accredited by ATS since the 1970s. It went through an assessment by ATS in 2010 and passed. That is partly because Trinity now has a Spiritual Formation emphasis.20 Some may argue that just because a school uses the term Spiritual Formation doesn’t mean they are going contemplative. But in virtually every case we have ever examined, if a school is using that term, they are using the writings of the contemplative mystics.

As for Trinity, so are they. In their 2012-2013 catalog, they list some recommended authors for incoming seminary students for “excellent background.”21 Among those authors is Henri Nouwen and the mystic monk Brother Lawrence. This means that incoming students are being introduced, before they even get started, to contemplative writers. Trinity also has on this recommended reading list Lesslie Newbigin, a Scottish writer and Bishop who is looked to for insights by emerging church figures because of his sympathetic and embracing views of postmodernism (i.e., emerging). Of Newbigin, emerging church leader Brian McLaren says: “I see my work very much in line with Newbigin’s.”22 Trinity has at least one course, DE 5740, that is called Spiritual Formation. And in a student chapel service in October 2010, contemplative pioneer, the now late Dallas Willard was the guest speaker.23 Willard is aligned with Richard Foster, and both men have had a major influence in bringing contemplative spirituality into the evangelical church.

The future of Christian theological schools is bleak. In many cases, they are the most dangerous places for Christians to be, from a biblical point of view. Already scores of them are implementing contemplative spirituality, via Spiritual Formation programs, into the lives of their students. And remember, these students are the evangelical/Protestant church’s future pastors, youth pastors, Sunday school teachers, professors, missionaries, and leaders. Thanks to ATS and ABHE, there’s little doubt that a growing number of Christian seminaries and colleges will join the ranks of contemplative-promoting schools. Consider the following by some of the people who are recommended on the resource list at ATS. This will illustrate the severity of this epidemic of apostasy.

Henri Nouwen: “Today I personally believe that while Jesus came to open the door to God’s house, all human beings can walk through that door, whether they know about Jesus or not. Today I see it as my call to help every person claim his or her own way to God.”24

Daniel Goleman: “The meditation practices and rules for living of these earliest Christian monks [the Desert Fathers] bear strong similarity to those of their Hindu and Buddhist renunciate brethren several kingdoms to the East . . . the meditative techniques they adopted for finding their God suggest either a borrowing from the East or a spontaneous rediscovery.”25 Note: Goleman’s book advocates Tantric sex, Kundalini, T.M., and other deep occultic meditative practices.

Rose Mary Dougherty: A description of Dougherty from the Shalem Institute: A Zen student for a number of years, Rose Mary was called forth as a dharma holder in the lineage of the White Plum Asanga in 2004, becoming a dharma heir in 2006. As a sensei, she teaches Zen meditation in various settings and assists people in integrating contemplative presence and just action in their lives.26

If you know someone who is attending a seminary or Christian college that is accredited by ATS or ABHE, the quotes above are a representation of what that person may be getting rather than the true Gospel of Jesus Christ.

To order copies of An Epidemic of Apostasy – How Christian Seminaries Must Incorporate “Spiritual Formation” to Become Accredited, click here.

1. From the website.
2. Ibid.
8. Ibid, (A., p. 8.
9., p. 9.
11. Ibid., p. 3.
13. ATS Handbook (, p. 9, Section 8.
14., p. 46.
15., p. 7.
16. Ibid., p. 17.
21., p. 188.
24. Henri Nouwen, Sabbatical Journey (New York, NY: Crossroad Publishing, 1998), p. 51.
25. Daniel Goleman, The Meditative Mind (Los Angeles, CA: Tarcher/Putnam Inc., 1988), p.53.

To order copies of An Epidemic of Apostasy – How Christian Seminaries Must Incorporate “Spiritual Formation” to Become Accredited, click here.


Christian Schools That Are Promoting Spiritual Formation and Contemplative Spirituality

Note: Lighthouse Trails has done research on every one of the schools below.


Lighthouse Trails has done research on every one of the schools below.

Abilene Christian University—Abilene, TX

ACTS Seminaries of Trinity Western University—British Columbia, CA

Alberta Bible College–Calgary, Alberta, CA

Ambrose University—Calgary, Alberta, CA

American Christian College & Seminary—Oklahoma City, OK

Anderson University—Anderson, IN

Anderson University—Anderson, SC

Ashland Theological Seminary—Ashland, OH

Assemblies of God Theological Seminary—Springfield, MO

Azusa Pacific University, Haggard School of Theology—Azusa, CA

Baptist Theological Seminary of Southern Africa—Johannesburg, ZA

Barclay College—Haviland, KS

Baylor University—Waco, TX

Beeson Divinity School—Birmingham, AL

Belmont University—Nashville, TN

Bethel Seminary—San Diego, CA St. Paul, MN, East Coast campus

Bethel University—St. Paul, MN

Biblical Theological Seminary—Hatfield, PA

Biola University—La Mirada, CA

Briercrest Bible College— Caronport, Saskatchewan, CA

Bryan College—Dayton, TN

California Baptist University—Riverside, CA

Calvin College—Grand Rapids, MI

Campbell University—Buies Creek, NC

Campbellsville University—Campbellsville, KY

Canadian Mennonite University—Winnipeg, Manitoba, CA

Carey Institute—Vancouver, British Columbia, CA

Cedarville University—Cedarville, OH

Christian Theological Seminary—Indianapolis, IN

Christian University (GlobalNet); ministry of RBC Ministries (online)

Cincinnati Bible Seminary—Cincinnati, OH

Corban University—Salem, OR

Colorado Christian University—Lakewood, CO

Columbia Theological Seminary (Presbyterian)—Decatur, GA

Cornerstone University—Grand Rapids, MI

Dallas Theological Seminary—Dallas, TX

Drew University—Madison, NJ

Duke Divinity School (Duke University)—Durham, NC

Eastern Mennonite Seminary—Harrisonburg, VA

Eastern University—St. Davids, PA

Emmanuel Bible College—Kitchner, Ontario, CA

Emmanuel School of Religion—Johnson City, TN

Fresno Pacific University—Fresno, CA

Fuller Theological Seminary—Pasadena, CA

George Fox University Seminary—Newberg, OR

Gordon College—Wenham, MA

Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary—South Hamilton, MA

Grace Theological Seminary—Winona Lake, IN

Grand Canyon College—Phoenix, AZ

Greenville College—Greenville, IL

Harding School of Theology—Nashville, TN

Harding University—Searcy, AR

Hope College—Holland, MI

Hope International University—Fullerton, CA

Houghton College—Houghton, NY

Indiana Wesleyan University—Marion, IN

John Brown University—Siloam Springs, AR

John Wesley College—Pretoria, ZA

Lancaster Bible College—Lancaster, PA

LeTourneau University—Longview, TX

Liberty University—Lynchburg, VA

Lincoln Christian University—Lincoln, IL

Lipscomb University—Nashville, TN

Luther Rice Seminary/University—Lithonia, GA

Malone College—Canton, OH

Mars Hill Graduate School—Bothell, WA

Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary—Fresno, CA

Messiah College (Brethren in Christ Church)—Mechanicsburg, PA

MidAmerica Nazarene University—Olathe, KS

Milligan College—Milligan College, TN

Montreat College—Montreat, NC

Moody Bible Institute—Chicago, IL

Mount Vernon Nazarene—Mt. Vernon, OH

Multnomah University—Portland, OR

Nebraska Christian College—Papillion, NE

New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary—New Orleans, LA

Northern Baptist Theological Seminary, Lombard, Chicago, Rockford, IL

Northeastern Seminary—Rochester, NY

Northpark University & Northpark Theological Seminary—Chicago, IL

Northwest Nazarene University—Nampa, ID

Northwestern College—Orange City, IA

Northwestern College (University of Northwestern)—St. Paul, MN

Nyack College—Nyack, NY

Oklahoma Christian University—Oklahoma City, OK

Oklahoma Wesleyan University—Bartlesville, OK

Olivet Nazarene University—Bourbonnais, IL

Oral Roberts University—Tulsa, OK

Pacific Rim Christian College—Honolulu, HI

Palm Beach Atlantic University—Palm Beach, FL

Pepperdine University—Malibu, CA

Phoenix Seminary—Phoenix, AZ

Prairie College of the Bible—Three Hills, Alberta, CA

Providence College and Seminary—Otterburne, Manitoba, CA

Reformed Theological Seminary—Several locations in U.S.

Regent College—Vancouver, British Columbia, CA

Rockbridge Seminary—Springfield, MO

Rocky Mountain College—Calgary, Alberta, CA

Rolling Hills Bible Institute—Rolling Hills Estates, CA

Samford University—Birmingham, AL

Shorter College—Rome, GA

Simpson University—Redding, CA

Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary—Wake Forest, NC

Southeastern University—Lakeland, Fl

Southwest Baptist University—Bolivar, MO

Spring Arbor University—Spring Arbor Township, MI

Talbot Seminary (Biola)—La Mirada, CA

Taylor Seminary/Taylor College—Edmonton, Alberta, CA

Taylor University—Upland, IN

Toccoa Falls College—Toccoa Falls, GA

Trevecca Nazarene University—Nashville, TN

Trinity International University—Deerfield, IL

Trinity Western University—Langley, British Columbia, CA

Tyndale University College & Seminary—Toronto, Ontario, CA

Vanguard University—Costa Mesa, CA

Western Seminary—Portland, OR; Sacramento, San Jose, CA

Western Theological Seminary—Holland, MI

Westmont College—Santa Barbara, CA

Wheaton College Graduate School, Wheaton, IL

Whitworth University—Spokane, WA

William Carey Institute —Vancouver, British Columbia, CA

* This is not a complete list. Lighthouse Trails is adding new schools to this list as we learn of their contemplative propensities. To see updates to this list, visit: We also have a small list of Christian schools that are not promoting Spiritual Formation at:

An Epidemic of Apostasy – How Christian Seminaries Must Incorporate “Spiritual Formation” to Become Accredited, click here.

Want Your Child to Become an Atheist? – Send Him to LeTourneau University in Texas (or Any Other Contemplative/Emergent School For That Matter)

That headline may seem a bit overboard or shocking at first glance, but this is what is happening in many of the Christian colleges, seminaries, and universities to kids who start off as Christian and four years later are proclaiming to be now atheist. At Letourneau University, this happened to the son of a  family that Lighthouse Trails has known for years. When their son graduated from Letourneau, he said he no longer believed he was a Christian. Rather, he said he is now an atheist.

And this is not the first time that Lighthouse Trails has heard such a tragic story.

So when a Lighthouse Trails reader contacted us recently asking what we thought about Letourneau University, we provided this parent (who is looking for a Christian school for his college-age child to attend) with the following information:

1. Here you can see that they brought in Biola University’s Mr. Contemplative himself to speak to the students:

2. Here the school turns to contemplative mystic Adele Ahlberg Calhoun to help teach students how to fast:

3. In this example, you can see the student chapel schedule where they have emergent author Mark Scandrette speaking to the students: You will find Scandrette‘s name mentioned in Roger Oakland’s book, Faith Undone. Scandrette is connected with an organization called Imagine,(, and would be inline with the spirituality of New Age sympathizer, Leonard Sweet. Scandrette‘s book, Soul Graffiti, is a primer in emergent theology.

4. You can also see on the Letourneau chapel schedule, chapel’s focusing on the contemplative practice of lectio divina as well as chapel’s led by contemplative advocate Mindy McGuire (, John Coe (heads up the Spiritual Formation department at Biola).

5. One particular chapel at Letourneau (December 2012) was titled “Spiritual Disciplines in Other Cultures.” The title alone makes us shudder. In this video of that chapel service, you can see various students sharing. One young man talks about how Thomas Merton changed his entire spiritual outlook:

6. Letourneau is also promoting the contemplative/emergent message through their Impact Retreat for students: In the 2012 retreat, Aubrey Spears, an Anglican pastor, was the speaker. In this pdf,, are the sermon notes for one of the talks Dr. Spears presented during the retreat. Spears tells students, as is typical of most contemplative teachers, that you cannot really mature spiritually without “slowing down” or having the stillness. He then proceeds to teach the students various forms of contemplative prayer.  If you read the back of this pdf, you will see that Spears turns to emergent/contemplative figures such as Phyllis Tickle, John Ortberg, Marva Dawn, Calvin Miller, Dorothy Bass,Eugene Peterson, and Henri Nouwen.

Some may be asking right now, why would following contemplative authors turn a Christian student into a proclaiming atheist? Well, consider this: Contemplative prayer is panentheistic at its roots (God is in all things). If one comes to believe that everyone and everything is divine or that God or divinity is in all things, including all humans, then the message of the Cross (man needing a Savior because of his sin) and the message of a personal Creator who loves man begin to lose their significance and meaning. And once that happens, is it possible there is a short gap between panentheism and atheism? Both reject the idea of a personal God.

Think about what happens to a young person who has been raised in a Christian home, then ends up in a “Christian” college, and begins getting indoctrinated with emergent teachings by men and women who use Christian terminology and even Scriptures (out of context) to basically knock down everything that child learned in his Christian home. And because most Christian parents today are not equipping their children to recognize and resist spiritual deception (probably because the parents have no idea what spiritual deception even looks like because it isn’t talked about in most churches), they are literally throwing their children to the wolves.

How we wish the family we know who sent their son to Letourneau would have asked Lighthouse Trails about that school four years ago. But, like so many other Christians today, they underestimated the wiles of the devil, and now their beloved son is in the clasp of deception.

If you are looking for a Christian college for your child, do two things: First, make sure your child understands the underlying agenda and teachings of contemplative/emerging spirituality; and second, find a college that at least has some understanding of (and resistance to) the contemplative/emergent issue. Here is one alternative: We know that school has a president who is aware of these dangers and is committed to keeping them out. It may not have the prestige that some of these other bigger schools have, but at least a student will more likely still be a Christian when he or she graduates. And isn’t that worth everything!

If you have a high school or college age student, we recommend he or she read Castles in the Sand and that you as parents read A Time of Departing and Faith Undone. Then sit down together as a family and discuss these things until you feel confident that your child gets it. Please realize that all the work you have done over the past 18 years of that child’s life can be undone in just a few terms at a contemplative/emerging college. We have talked to many many parents over the last 11 years who have shared their tragic stories with us.

Note: Needless to say, Letourneau University is now on our Contemplative Colleges list.

Related Articles:

Rob Bell to Teach Teens That Christian Beliefs About Hell are ‘Misguided and Toxic’


An Epidemic of Apostasy – Christian Seminaries Must Incorporate “Spiritual Formation” to Become Accredited



We Said it Would Happen, and It Has – CNN: “At evangelical colleges, a shifting attitude toward gay students”

LTRP Note: For several years, Lighthouse Trails has been warning that thanks to the emerging church and to the mega-leaders who have promoted it, the views on sexuality within the evangelical church would change. And it has, as you can see from this CNN article below. After you have read this article, please read some of our own articles (see links below) on this matter. It’s important to understand that Satan is the author of death. Abortion, evolution, panentheism, mysticism, homosexuality, pedophilia – these all point to death, not to life, not to the Cross. We know Christian families who put their kids into “Christian” high schools and colleges, and those kids came out of high school or college proclaiming to be homosexual. These emerging/contemplative colleges are destroying the lives of kids who have been raised in Christian homes. Parents, grandparents, you better do something and stop putting your kids in these schools. If your heart isn’t breaking over this, then we don’t know what it will take. And please understand that there IS a connection between contemplative spirituality (i.e., mystical practices) and a change in outlook regarding sexuality.

Sarah Pulliam Bailey

Wheaton, Illinois (CNN)– Combing through prayer requests in a Wheaton College chapel in 2010, then-junior Benjamin Matthews decided to do something “absurdly unsafe.”

He posted a letter on a public forum bulletin board near students’ post office boxes. In the letter, he came out as gay and encouraged fellow gay Christian students – some of whom had anonymously expressed suicidal plans in a pile of the prayer requests – to contact him if they needed help.

In a student body of 2,400 undergraduates in the suburbs of Chicago, at what is sometimes called the Harvard of evangelical schools, Matthews said that 15 male students came out to him. Other students seemed somewhat ambivalent about his coming out, he said.

No one told him he was wrong or needed to change, Matthews said some students were obviously uncomfortable with someone who would come out as gay and remain a Christian. Click here to continue.

LT Articles:

Biola’s New Gay and Lesbian Student Group – A “Fruit” of Their Contemplative Propensities?

What’s Sex Got To Do With It?

As Obama OKs Homosexual Marriage, Christian Leaders Partly to Blame



‘LECTIO DIVINA” List – Who is Promoting it?

This list is taken from our Lectio Divina: What it is, What it is Not, and Should Christians Practice it? Print Booklet Tract. This list will be updated as needed. You can read that booklet by going here.

On February 25th, 2013, Redeemed Presbyterian Church (Timothy Keller’s church) was added to the list.
On February 26th, 2013, singer Michael Card was added to the list.

Some places you will find it.

David Crowder in Praise Habit
Richard Foster (numerous places)
John Michael Talbot in The Universal Monk
Dan Kimball in The Emerging Church
Tony Jones in Divine Intervention
David Benner in Opening to God: Lectio Divina and Life as Prayer
Eugene Peterson in Eat This Book
Ken Boa in Healthy Spirituality and Conformed to His Image
Eugene Peterson in Message Bible for Kids
Keri Wyatt Kent in Listen
Multnomah University (OR)
Mike Bickle in IHOP
Cornerstone U. (MI)
Marjorie Thompson in Soul Feast
John Ortberg in An Ordinary Day with Jesus
Adele Ahlberg Calhoun in Spiritual Disciplines Handbook
Christian Camp & Conference Association (CCCA)
Biola University (CA)
Larry Crabb in Real Church
Michael Casey in Sacred Reading
Saddleback Church
Willow Creek
Ruth Haley Barton (various)
Jan Johnson in When the Soul Listens
Leighton Ford in The Attentive Life
Lynne Babb in Joy Together
Richard Peace in Conversations in the New Testament
Mark Yaconelli in Downtime: Helping Teenagers Pray
Dallas Willard in Hearing God
Robert Webber in Ancient Future Faith
J.I. Packer in Praying
Mike King in Presence Centered Youth Ministry
Ivy Beckwith in Formational Children’s Ministry
Brian McLaren in Finding Our Way Again
Tony Campolo in The God of Intimacy
Timothy Keller  at Redeemer Presbyterian
Michael Card in A Sacred Sorrow

They Call It “Bibliolatry” (Bible Worship)- But Could it Be a Contemplative Smoke Screen?

In a article titled “How Evangelicals Became Over-Committed to the Bible and What Can Be Done About It,” Biola University professor J.P. Moreland says that  evangelical Christians are too committed to the Bible. He states:

“In the actual practices of the Evangelical community in North America, there is an over-commitment to Scripture in a way that is false, irrational, and harmful to the cause of Christ,”  [Moreland] said. “And it has produced a mean-spiritedness among the over-committed that is a grotesque and often ignorant distortion of discipleship unto the Lord Jesus.” The problem, he said, is “the idea that the Bible is the sole source of knowledge of God, morality, and a host of related important items. Accordingly, the Bible is taken to be the sole authority for faith and practice.(source)

While Moreland gives examples such as non-charismatics who steer clear of any and all venues such as “impressions, dreams, visions, prophetic words, words of knowledge and wisdom,” there may be more behind his statements than meets the eye. This idea of “bibliolatry” (the idolizing of the Bible) did not originate with Moreland. Contemplative Brennan Manning (who gets many of his ideas from mystics like Thomas Merton and William Shannon (Silence on Fire), once said this:

I am deeply distressed by what I only can call in our Christian culture the idolatry of the Scriptures. For many Christians, the Bible is not a pointer to God but God himself. In a word–bibliolatry. God cannot be confined within the covers of a leather-bound book. I develop a nasty rash around people who speak as if mere scrutiny of its pages will reveal precisely how God thinks and precisely what God wants.”–Brennan Manning, Signature of Jesus, pp. 188-189

Without checking the further inferences of such statements, some may agree with Manning and Moreland solely on the idea that we should not worship a leather-bound book but rather the One of whom the book is about. But few “over-committed” Bible-believing Christians would argue with that. Christians who believe the Bible is the actual inspired word of God know that the Bible is not God Himself, but it is the Jesus Christ proclaimed in that Bible who is to be worshiped. But they also know that within the pages of the Bible are the holy words, ideas, and truths of God. So for Moreland and Manning to suggest that these types of Christians don’t really worship God but rather pages in a book is a misrepresentation of Bible-believing Christians.

Scot McKnight is another who uses this term, bibliolatry. In his book A Community Called Atonement, McKnight says, “I begin with the rubble called bibliolatry, the tendency for some Christians to ascribe too much to the Bible” (p. 143).  Emerging spirituality figure Walter Brueggemann uses the term in his book Theology of the Old Testament (p. 574).

There may be a logical reason why these men condemn those who adhere to the Bible too strongly. All have something in common – they all promote contemplative spirituality. And, as we have shown time and again, those who embrace the  contemplative spiritual outlook, often shift their focus from the moral (doctrine) to the mystical as Henri Nouwen suggested in his book In the Name of Jesus:

Through the discipline of contemplative prayer, Christian leaders have to learn to listen to the voice of love . . .  For Christian leadership to be truly fruitful in the future, a movement from the moral to the mystical is required. (p. 32)

In Moreland’s book, The Lost Virtue of Happiness, he talks about rediscovering important spiritual principles that have been lost. In Faith Undone, Roger Oakland cites this book in explaining the problem of mysticism:

Two of the spiritual disciplines . . .  are “Solitude and Silence” (p. 51). The book says that these two disciplines are “absolutely fundamental to the Christian life” (p. 51). . . .  Moreland and Issler [co-author] state:

In our experience, Catholic retreat centers [bastions of mysticism] are usually ideal for solitude retreats . . . We also recommend that you bring photos of your loved ones and a picture of Jesus . . .  Or gaze at a statue of Jesus. Or let some pleasant thought, feeling, or memory run through your mind over and over again (pp. 54-55)….

Moreland and Issler provide tips for developing a prayer life. Here are some of the recommendations they make:

[W]e recommend that you begin by saying the Jesus Prayer about three hundred times a day (p. 90).

When you first awaken, say the Jesus Prayer twenty to thirty times. As you do, something will begin to happen to you. God will begin to slowly begin to occupy the center of your attention (p. 92).

Repetitive use of the Jesus Prayer while doing more focused things allows God to be on the boundaries of your mind and forms the habit of being gently in contact with him all day long (p. 93).

Moreland and Issler try to present what they consider a scriptural case that repetitive prayers are OK with God. But they never do it! They say the Jesus Prayer is derived from Luke 18:38 where the blind man cries out, “Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me,”(p.90) but nowhere in that section of the Bible (or any other section for that matter) does it instruct people to repeat a rendition of Luke 18:38 over and over. (from Faith Undone, pp. 117-119)

To be sure, the worship of any leather-bound book would be unscriptural and idolatrous, but we have never known or heard of a single case where a Christian advocates or practices Bible worship. As far as that goes, we have known countless Christians who respect (revere) the Bible as being the inspired Word of God; now if that were a point deserving criticism and condemnation, then we would necessarily need to place the apostle Paul under such scrutiny for having said, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16). Was Paul a Bible worshiper? We know he was not. We also know that he never instructed anyone to repeat words or phrases from the Bible over and over for the purpose of achieving a “silence” (i.e., a mind-altering state). Such a practice is not taught anywhere in Scripture; hence, we propose that it is just such a practice that is a misuse of Scripture. Is it mere coincidence that in virtually every case where someone uses the “bibliolatry” argument, that person also promotes contemplative prayer, a practice that cannot be supported through Scripture? And by downplaying scriptural authority, cannot the contemplative viewpoint be easier to promote within Christianity?

One last case in point about “bibliolatry” comes from Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa, Idaho  (NNU) where Dr. Jay McDaniel was invited to speak. McDaniel is a self-proclaimed “Christian” Buddhist sympathizer. When asked by a student at the lecture whether he believed that Jesus was “the way, the truth, and the life,” McDaniel stated that if Jesus had meant to say that He himself was the way, the truth, and the life, it would have been egocentric and arrogant of Jesus – He only meant to point people in the right direction – letting go of ego and grasping love. McDaniel stated also that Buddhist mindfulness (eastern meditation) is just as truth filled  as doctrine and theology. He said there was an overemphasis in the church on doctrine calling it bibliolatry (idol worship of the Bible). (source) (click here to watch video of McDaniel lecture)

There is an attack on the Word of God. That’s no new thing–secular humanists, New Agers, and philosophers have attacked the Bible for centuries. But this attack of which we speak comes from within the ranks of Christianity out of the halls of highly respected universities and off the presses of successful Christian publishers, and it is being carried forth by those who gain access into the hearts of men and women through their use of contemplative spirituality.

What can we make of this idea of “bibliolatry”? The following statement offers some valid insight regarding this idea that Christians put too much emphasis on the Bible:

Today some are saying that the Bible is a lesser revelation than the Son. But if we do not make much of the Bible, then we cannot know much of the Son, for our only source of information about the Son (and hence about the Father) is through the Bible. Furthermore, if the Bible is not to be trusted,  then again, we cannot know truth about the Son . . . if the Bible is not completely true, we end up with either misinformation or subjective evaluation. Jesus Himself asserted that the Bible revealed Him (Luke 24:27, 44-45, John 5:39). (A Survey of Christian Doctrine, Ryrie, p. 17)

In summary, we find it rather odd that in a time in history when many churches are hardly even opening the Bible, that Bible-believing Christians would be accused of focusing  too much on the Bible. Our continual plea to all Christians is to be diligent in their study of the Scriptures and to be as the Bereans who “searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11). We should also note that Jesus never corrected people for studying the Scriptures but rather for their lack of understanding them. Paul nailed it on the head when he said, “Study to show thyself approved unto God . . . rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). Could this accusation of “bibliolatry” be nothing more than a smoke screen to further the contemplative agenda?

To understand more about the contemplative idea of moving from the moral (doctrine) to the mystical, read chapter 4, section 1 of Faith Undone, “Experience over doctrine” and chapter 3 pages 61-64 (about Nouwen) of A Time of Departing.

Biblegateway Teaches Readers “Lectio Divina” – a Dangerous Gateway to a New Spiritual Outlook

Biblegateway, “an online searchable Bible in dozens of versions and languages” is one of the most popular websites on the Internet today, ranking in the top 1000 sites in the world.  Over 48,000 websites link to or recommend Biblegateway. Needless to say, their reach is substantial. Thus, it is with dismay to report that on their official blog this past September, Biblegateway introduced their readers to the contemplative practice of Lectio Divina in an article written by Brian Hardin called “Lectio Divina: Diving Reading.”

The teaching on Lectio Divina on Biblegateway doesn’t come as a complete surprise to Lighthouse Trails. Two years ago, Lighthouse Trails released a special report titled “Bible Gateway Now Gateway to Heretical Authors – Could Point Millions to Emerging Teachings .” The article quoted Biblegateway’s site as saying:

Of course, it’s critical that any advertising on Bible Gateway reflects our Christian values and does not conflict with our mission. That means we carefully screen the ads that appear on Bible Gateway, and we don’t use ads in ways that interfere with your ability to read and study Scripture.”

In our article, John Lanagan pointed out how the Biblegateway online bookstore was selling books by figures such as Rob Bell, Brian McLaren, Thomas Merton, Doug Pagitt, and many other authors who come into conflict with “Christian values.” In preparing our special report, Lanagan contacted Biblegateway general manager, Rachel Barach, who told Lanagan that the choices of books in Biblegateway’s online store were not really up to her but rather third party databases. In the case of the blog, this would be a different matter, and there would be more control  over content by those running it (Rachel and two others are the “contributors”).

The recent article posted on the Biblegateway blog, teaching Lectio Divina, promises to have more articles of a similar nature. For those who do not understand exactly what Lectio Divina is, please refer to our article titled, “Lectio Divina: What it is, What it is Not, and Why it is a Dangerous Practice” where we discuss Lectio Divina in depth. In that article, we state:

Contemplative mysticism pioneer Thomas Keating explains what lectio divina is not. It is not traditional Bible study, not reading the Scriptures for understanding and edification, and not praying the Scriptures (though praying the Scriptures can be a form of lectio divina when a word or phrase is taken from the Scriptures to focus on for the purpose of going into “God’s presence.”).1 Keating says that lectio divina is an introduction into the more intense practices – contemplative prayer and centering prayer.

At Lighthouse Trails, we believe Lectio Divina is a gateway practice into deep meditation exercises as it teaches participants to narrow down a passage of Scripture to a word or phrase that can be repeated in mantra-like fashion.

As we are watching Lectio Divina entering the mainstream evangelical church at a now-rapid rate, we know it is just a matter of time before more outright eastern-style meditation practices will be heralded by leaders in the Christian church. The ground was prepared when Christian leaders started heavily promoting and quoting the mystics and promoting and teaching “spiritual formation.” Teaching Lectio Divina is the next big step toward full embracing of contemplative spirituality, which will lead to apostasy as never before seen by the Christian church with its interspiritual, panentheistic, and anti-atonement roots.

In the Lighthouse Trails novel, Castles in the Sand, written by Canadian author Carolyn A. Greene (the only novel exposing the dangers of spiritual formation), the young girl in the story is enrolled in a Christian college and is introduced to Lectio Divina. In time, the girl encounters demonic activity because of practicing contemplative spirituality. While Castles in the Sand is a novel, it is based on the true story of what is happening in the church today. It should not be ignored by believers who wish to contend for the faith.

Those who practice mystical meditation will, in time, change their spiritual outlook. They may convert to Catholicism, or they may start embracing Buddhist or Hindu views. But they will not gain an “appreciation for the Bible,” something Biblegateway says they hope will happen to people reading their blog.


1. Multnomah (School of the Bible) University just finished a Lectio Divina Chapel on October 22nd.

2. InterVarsity Press

3.  Renovare (Richard Foster’s organization)

4. Willow Creek

5. Saddleback

6. Biola University

7. Redeemer Presbyterian Church (Tim Keller)


9. Eugene Peterson’s “Bible” for kids

10. Focus on the Family

11. American Bible Society

12. CCEL (Christian Classics Ethereal Library)

13. Today’s Christian Woman

14. Christianity Today

Related Articles:

When a Young Girl Meets a Mystic by Carolyn A. Greene

New Age Pathways in the Church by Mike Oppenheimer


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