Posts Tagged ‘Willow Creek’
Dear Lighthouse Trails:
Can you recommend how to find a biblical teaching church that is not on the contemplative/emergent/Acts 29 path? My husband and I are feeling so unsettled about how these movement seem to be creeping in to all the churches in our area including the one that we are members at. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
Lisa (from Illinois)
Our Comment (from our article “How Do I Find a Good Bible-Believing Church?”):
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. 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. 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 “culture” 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 our CD 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, John Piper, etc.—those who claim to be orthodox biblical Christians but who promote contemplative spirituality and emerging figures.
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 an extensive “Master List” of authors who fall within the contemplative, emerging, hyper-charismatic, River, New Age, “Christian” homosexual, etc. camps. It’s an excellent resource.
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/Purpose Driven 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 Jesus Christ will rule and reign in a literal millennial period is considered unbiblical and heretical.
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 Tract How to Know When the Emerging Church Shows Signs of Emerging into Your Church. May God bless 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)
Dear Lighthouse Trails:
I would be so appreciative if you could help me. Our church is planning on having every adult Sunday school class do the John Ortberg Fully Devoted book. I researched him and found that he is tied to the spiritual formation movement. I researched his seminary education, churches he has pastored, and checked out his current church. I went to the ________ director of our church with this information. [He] did listen, is aware of the emergent church, and is a very theologically conservative person. However, the pastor wants [him] picking “middle of the road” type materials despite his strong biblical stances in the pulpit as well. They have both read through this book and believe there is nothing harmful there, even after I pointed out the background of this man. They also believe ”spiritual formation” is found in the Bible. I agree that maturing in Christ, being conformed to the image of Christ, and maturing in Christ are found in the Bible, but not “spiritual formation.” . . . I’m willing to stand corrected if I’m wrong in my understanding of Fully Devoted as I have not read the book. I don’t want to read John Ortberg as I believe from my research he is emergent.
I said all of that to ask of you, please help me be properly informed. Am I misinformed about John Ortberg, or is he emergent? Is Fully Devoted “harmless” and a good tool to get people acting on their faith, as that is what my pastor and ________ director believe. They are solid in their theology. Either I am really missing the boat, or they are being deceived. I want to be able to say I was wrong if I misinterpreted John Ortberg, or plead with them again with rock solid evidence that they are introducing poison into our body and making people comfortable with a wolf.
You are not mistaken in your concerns about the teachings of John Ortberg. As for his book, Fully Devoted, it is not harmless at all. For one, most of the people Ortberg quotes or references in the book are contemplative mystics and/or contemplative advocates: Henri Nouwen, Brother Lawrence, Dallas Willard, Richard Foster (Celebration of Discipline), and Ken Gire.
Two, the book encourages contemplative meditation. In this paragraph, you can see this:
Ultimately, the goal is not to get through the Scriptures, it’s to get the Scriptures through you. And that will require meditation. The act of meditation should not seem spooky; it simply involves the practice of sustained attention. Whatever your mind repeats, it retains. If you think about it, each of us daily gives sustained attention to something. It’s just a question of what that something is. (Kindle Locations 366-369)
Why do we say this is encouraging contemplative meditation? Even though he does not come right out and tell readers to repeat a word or phrase, he is clearly not talking about pondering on and thinking about the Scriptures when he says “the act of meditation.” One would never try to defend that activity by saying it shouldn’t “seem spooky.” The key here is when he says “the practice of sustained attention.” In other words, the practice of putting the mind in neutral, which, contemplative all agree is done through repeating a word or phrase or focusing on the breath. Skeptics may say that Ortberg isn’t referring to contemplative meditation, but in most of Ortberg’s books, he turns to the mystics for insight and inspiration.
In Ortberg’s more recent book, God is Closer Than You Think, Ortberg quotes favorably from contemplatives such as Anne Lamott, Annie Dillard, Gary Thomas (Sacred Pathways), Brother Lawrence (who danced violently like a mad man when he practiced), interspiritualists Tilden Edwards (Shalem Institute), Thomas Kelly (Divine Center in all), Jean Pierre de Caussade, Frederick Buechner, Meister Eckhart as well as Dallas Willard and Thomas Merton. If a church uses Fully Devoted for a study, participating church members may be inclined to pick up more material by Ortberg and could very well be led to the writings of these aforementioned authors.
One of the books Ortberg quotes from in Fully Devoted is Dallas Willard’s The Spirit of the Disciplines. On the back cover of that book sits an endorsement by goddess worshiper Sue Monk Kidd and the title of her book The Dance of the Dissident Daughter. It is in that book that Monk Kidd says God is in everything, even human waste!
Fully Devoted is basically a preparation or conditioner for contemplative prayer. Your pastor and _________ director may believe that Ortberg’s book is “a good tool to get people acting on their faith,” but we believe nothing could be further from the truth. The best tool to get people to act on their faith is to encourage them to stay in the Word of God and to make sure they have a personal and genuine relationship with Jesus Christ. Reading the contemplative proponents may get people to practice the “spiritual disciplines” (e.g. silence, fasting, solitude. etc.), but it will not truly make them more Christ-like. That can only come from having Christ in us when we are born again and He is our Lord and Savior. It cannot come from performing certain works and disciplines. Spiritual Formation is a works-based belief system that leads people into a dangerous unbiblical spirituality because of the meditation practices that go along with it.
If you can get your pastor to agree to read A Time of Departing, we will be happy to send him a complimentary copy.
[Christ] in whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise. (Ephesians 1:13)
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.
HOW POPULAR IS LECTIO DIVINA BECOMING IN THE EVANGELICAL/PROTESTANT CHURCH?
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
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
By Jim Fletcher
Used with permission.
At the Catalyst East conference in Atlanta, I listened to Lynne Hybels give a talk about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. One of her concluding slides was an image of the security fence Israel erected to keep out terrorists. It’s worked quite well, and that seems to bother critics of the Jewish state, who can’t bring themselves to simply say that it’s good Jews are not being murdered anymore.
Instead, the critics refer to the fence as a “wall,” or, more provocatively, an “apartheid wall.” This is a complete inversion of the truth, since Israel is the most open society in the Middle East, and grants far-reaching rights to Arabs.
An interesting lie being peddled is that the fence completely surrounds Bethlehem. It does not.
Yet, by alleging that the fence encircles the town—this even by members of the Religious Left who have been there and know better—they succeed in portraying Israel as the “warden” of the “prison” the Palestinians are kept in.
Hybels chose to include an image in her presentation that showed a simple message written on the fence:
This is significant, because it signals yet another evidence that leftists are tightening their grip on Evangelicalism. After all, Rob Bell’s 2011 book, Love Wins, in which he comes out as a universalist while simultaneously denying that he did so—this a hallmark tactic of leftists posing as “evangelicals”—is admired by those change-agents within the church who are attempting to transform it into an altogether different entity.
By approvingly displaying this image, Hybels shows clearly that she embraces the same type of theology/ideology that Bell does. They are all in the same camp, and specific examples could be cited all the day long:
•Donald Miller’s hit piece on Israel, from his November 19 blog post.
•Andy Braner’s recent blog post bemoaning the tough conditions of those that live in Bethlehem.
•Gabe Lyon’s recent “Q” discussion/interview with Sami Awad, a leading change agent and Bethlehem resident who is friends with Lynne Hybels.
•Relevant magazine’s continued flirtation with anyone who either mocks Bible prophecy or sides with Israel.
By the way, I’ve just been informed that Relevant’s issue dealing with the Israel/”Palestine” conflict—set for January—has been moved to July. Be watching for it.
A further interesting development is that when I attempted, several times, to get an interview with Catalyst director Brad Lomenick, and ask him why anti-Israel and self-described “non-Marxist socialist” Cornel West spoke at Catalyst East in 2011, I was told Mr. Lomenick doesn’t have time.
(There is plenty of other data that shows the Catalyst team is committed to spreading the Palestinian narrative throughout the American church.)
Personally, if I were responsible for filling young evangelicals’ heads with leftist ideology espoused by Liberation Theologian West…I’d find the time to tell constituents why. But you must know, dear reader, that a hallmark of the New Evangelical leadership is to stonewall when someone questions their methods.
This type of ideology is flooding the evangelical world, as we speak.
It doesn’t matter to these people that Israel’s security fence borders Bethlehem on only two sides. The story must be advanced that it completely encloses the tragic town.
You get it, don’t you? Let me be indelicate:
The left lies.
They lie in order to advance their ideology, which is an acidic stew of Marxism, New Age, and outright apostasy.
One of the outposts their Panzer divisions are smashing currently is pro Israel support in the American church.
Notice too that you hear only silence from America’s leading Christian…leaders. Who is holding Donald Miller accountable for writing the same kind of stuff about Israel that Hamas does? He actually alleges that Israel controls the caloric intake of Gazans…and nobody says a word!
When I attempted to ask Miller’s rep how he knows this, and whether he will come forth with documentation, I was stonewalled.
And, through networking and the internet, this anti-Israel agenda is truly a global enterprise. This week, English vicar Stephen Sizer is in east Asia, filling heads there with anti-Christian Zionist and anti-Israel invective. All the while smiling.
Last year, self-described Pentecostal (!) writer Paul Alexander referred to Jesus as a Palestinian. It is lost on these people that this is classic, Soviet-style propaganda, first unleashed on the world by leading theologian Yasser Arafat.
Where is the discernment today?
Love wins? Yes, it will, but the very definition of love has been distorted in our world today. Love will win, because love is truth, and truth will be triumphant.
At this moment and beyond, a sweet truth exists: Israel is alive and her haters hate.
*Note: Lynn Hybels, wife of Willow Creek senior pastor Bill Hybels, writes for New Spirituality/anti-Israel figure Jim Wallis (SoJourners).
Dear Lighthouse Trails:
I want to take this time to thank you for all the work you do. I read the post today about the pastor complaining about Castles in the Sand. I read the post he is referring to and what it did for me was make me buy the book. I finished reading it in 2 days. The [excerpt from Castles in the Sand] was not offensive, except maybe to someone who has a propensity towards this practice, and that is unfortunate. Please do not let responses like this pastor’s discourage you. You do a great work for the body of Christ, and I appreciate all you do. I’ve been reading your blog for the past several years, and it has been a wealth of information-as well as an “eye-opener” for my family. We had joined a church when we moved to a new area, and it was so warm and friendly we made it our church home. It held all the doctrines of the faith that we grew up with (Baptist), but it was also very different in that the music was contemporary (as in loud and popular) and the dress was casual, which we never thought much of because we live at the beach.
They had small groups as opposed to traditional Sunday school which was kind of fun, meeting new friends in someone’s home. But, there was never a real teacher in the groups we had-we even hosted a group in our home, and our teacher was always a video, complete with fill-in-the-blanks books. The group we held at our house chose (from the approved list by our elders) one study on prayer by Philip Yancey. Later, we picked one called Be Still, not knowing anything about it. During one session we all even got down on our knees and tried to “quiet our minds” while we chose a verse phrase to repeat. We all thought it was very strange but no one knew anything about what we were getting in to. All I can say is the Lord protected us from anything harmful during that study. [see research on the Be Still DVD]
About 6-9 months later, I joined a BIBLE study ladies group (praise the Lord for one faithful teacher in that church) and only then did the Lord begin to open my eyes to the unbiblical things going on in that church. Before we joined, the pastor wore a suit every week and was an expository preacher. Then he changed and started wearing hawaiian shirts and was no longer preaching expository. They took Baptist out of their name, got together a worship band, and became very “relevant” to the community around us-meaning, no longer including too much of the gospel in the sermons. (I now pretty much hate the word “relevant,” and it’s a shame cause it’s a good word.) The sermons weren’t called “sermons,” and when we met, it was a “worship gathering.” We were no longer “members” of the church, we were “partners.” We promoted Rick Warren right and left, including selling his book in our “lobby” of our new and updated (and expensive) building. In fact, when I finally did read Purpose Driven Church, it was almost verbatim as to what had taken place at this church. We had been through every RW study that he had and even had repeated some of them to make sure we were changing how we were supposed to.
Anyway, during my time with this particular Bible study teacher, we were studying the end times. I was actually studying the Bible for myself (for the first time in a long time), and God had begun working in me in many ways. Praise the Lord! I “stumbled” upon your website one night while I was researching how Satan was currently affecting Christendom (for our study). God used Lighthouse Trails to help me understand what was going on in our church, and I thank Him and LT for that! My husband and I felt terrible for the studies we had done in our home (Be Still-and looking back the Yancey one was weird too), and we immediately told the elders about our concerns. They did review the Be Still video and removed it from their “list,” but how it got there in the first place was because they had declared that everything Saddleback and Willow Creek did, we could do, not really filtering any of it for themselves.
We spoke with them numerous times about our other concerns over the direction the church was going, but unfortunately it fell on deaf ears. Honestly, I think part of it is that they have invested a lot of time and money into a new building, new band equipment, new children’s wing complete with flat screens for entertainment, and the new and relevant atmosphere. It broke our hearts. . . . we felt so alone. We still pray for them, but we felt we had to leave. The good news is that we found a “Bible-driven” church. . . . Not as many people are members, but we sure get the Word every Sunday-doesn’t it seem to be that way?
I do have a couple of questions, if you don’t mind. I know y’all are busy so if you don’t have time to answer I understand. After reading Castles in the Sand I began to wonder if a lot of colleges are really that saturated with Spiritual Formation.1 Are they? Or are they dabbling with it here and there and maybe the book portrays it more than it is to get the point across? Now, I understand that once you go down this road, I’m sure it only gets worse. But I’m asking because we have ___ kids that will be college age in ____ years. . . .
I’m sorry this is so long-it’s longer than I intended, but I thought you should know what a blessing you are to me and I’m sure to countless others. May God continue to bless your ministry as you contend for the faith.
LTRP Note: A few years ago, a rumor (started by Willow Creek) began that Willow Creek had “repented” of past errors. Lighthouse Trails researched this story and issued a rebuttal article titled “No Repentance from Willow Creek – Only a Mystical Paradigm Shift.” If you have not read that article yet, we urge you to do so along with the article below. Mysticism, which is what the article above is about, and homosexuality, which is what the article below is about, go hand in hand – they are part of the New Age death religion (abortion, evolution, mysticism, homosexuality, etc).
By Gay Christian Movement Watch
CHICAGO – Since the massive –but impotent– religious giant Willow Creek Church announced in late June that it was severing ties with Exodus International over issues with homosexuality, the smell of gradual decay continues to rise from its headquarters at 67 East Algonquin Road in South Barrington, IL. And if the church is spiritually decaying, its a sure sign that its leadership has already decayed.
According to 1 Tim 4 widespread apostasy will significantly mark the latter years of the church.
The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.
The “latter days” are not coming, they are here.
Two recent developments in the story shed light on the new brand of apostasy Willow Creek is unfolding and why the world wants churches to sell out completely.
White House Appointees to InterFaith Council Include NAE Leith Anderson and Willow Creek Lynne Hybels
By Dan Gilgoff and Eric Marrapodi, CNN
The White House announced a dozen appointments to its faith advisory council on Friday (in Feb), with the leader of the nation’s largest evangelical group and the head of the nation’s leading Christian denomination serving lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people are both on the list.
National Association of Evangelicals President Leif (sic)[Leith] Anderson and Nancy Wilson, head of the Metropolitan Community Church – the nation’s largest denomination expressly serving LGBT [homosexual] Americans – are among the appointees to the panel, which was launched by President Barack Obama in 2009.
Excerpt from Faith Undone on Leith Anderson’s role in the emerging church:
In 1992, Leith Anderson (Doug Pagitt’s former pastor), currently the president of the National Association of Evangelicals, spoke of this new emerging 21st century church. His views eventually became set in stone as the emerging church has chosen experience over doctrine. Anderson reveals:
The old paradigm taught that if you had the right teaching, you will experience God. The new paradigm says that if you experience God, you will have the right teaching. This may be disturbing for many who assume propositional truth must always precede and dictate religious experience. That mindset is the product of systematic theology and has much to contribute … However, biblical theology looks to the Bible for a pattern of experience followed by proposition. The experience of the Exodus from Egypt preceded the recording of Exodus in the Bible. The experience of the crucifixion, the resurrection and Pentecost all predate the propositional declaration of those events in the New Testament. It is not so much that one is right and the other is wrong: it is more of a matter of the perspective one takes on God’s touch and God’s truth.
Anderson is saying that the Word of God is still being written, and today’s experiences can dictate what that Word is. (Faith Undone, p. 55,56)