Posts Tagged ‘Willow Creek’
By Chris Lawson
Spiritual Research Network
Each of the following authors professes to be Christian and/or uses biblical terminology in his or her writing, yet promotes at least one of the following serious false teachings: contemplative spirituality (i.e., Spiritual Formation), the emergent, progressive “new” spirituality, the seeker-friendly, church-growth movement (e.g., Willow Creek, Purpose Driven) and/or Yoga. This list is taken from Chris Lawson’s Booklet, A Directory of Authors (Three NOT Recommended Lists)
Abbott, David L.
Adams, James Rowe
Arico, Carl J.
Barton, Ruth Haley
Bass, Diana Butler
Buchanan, John M.
Calhoun, Adele Ahlberg
Carroll, L. Patrick
Coffin, William Sloane
Crossan, John Dominic
De Mello, Anthony De Waal, Esther
Dykes, David R
Dyckman, Katherine Marie
Evans, Rachel Held
Flowers, Betty Sue
Fosdick, Harry Emerson
Friend, Howard E., Jr.
Funk, Mary Margaret
Graham, Dom Alfred
Haas, Peter Traban
Hansen, Mark Victor
Hildegard of Bingen
Ignatius Loyola, St.
Jenks, Gregory C.
Jones, Laurie Beth
Kent, Keri Wyatt
Kidd, Sue Monk
King, Robert H.
Kraft, Robert A.
Meyers, Robin R.
Moore, Brian P.
Moran, Michael T.
Muyskens, John David
Norris, Gunilla Brodde
Paloma, Margaret M.
Patterson, Stephen J.
Peale, Norman Vincent
Pope Benedict XVI
Ruether, Rosemary Radford
Smith, Chuck, Jr.
Smith, James Bryan
Spong, John Shelby
St. Romain, Philip
Talbot, John Michael
Taylor, Barbara Brown
Vaswig, William (Bill)
Wilhoit, James C.
Yanni, Kathryn A.
Yarian, Br. Karekin M., BSG
Young, William Paul
Yungblut, John R.
Zeidler, Frank P.
This list is taken from Chris Lawson’s Booklet, A Directory of Authors (Three NOT Recommended Lists)
To Lighthouse Trails:
I just came across your site in search of some background information concerning the emergent church movement (which I was aware of, but had no idea of it’s size or that it was labeled as such).
I was concerned about a particular speaker at Compassion Intl. and after finding the post at the Lighthouse Trails blog, “Letter to the Editor: What To Do When Christian Charities, Such as Compassion, Turn Contemplative/Emergent,” and reading some articles at ‘Stand Up for The Truth,’ I realized there are many on that particular list that cause concern.
Last June they appointed a new President and Chief Executive [Santiago Mellado]. When I went to the website, I read over his biography again… rather than summarize, I would just encourage you to read it.
LTRP Note: Compassion International’s new president, Santiago Mellado, was the president of the contemplative/emerging-promoting Willow Creek Association for 20 years (according to the biography mentioned above). Couple that with Compassion International’s embracing of numerous contemplative/emergent speakers, and concerns about Compassion mount. It is also troubling to consider what the ramifications may be for Compassion International if Mellado shares the same “Christian Palestinianism” views that Willow Creek leader Lynn Hybels has.
In 2012, Lighthouse Trails posted the “50 Top Organizations With a Significant Role in Bringing Contemplative Spirituality to the Church.” We are reposting this list for those who may not have seen it then, and we have added 8 “runner ups” to the list (see bottom of post). From 12 years of research at Lighthouse Trails Research Project, we have found these organizations to have had a significant role in bringing contemplative spirituality into the evangelical/Protestant church. If you do not know or understand the implications of this, we urge you to educate yourself as soon as possible.
Note: We have not listed any colleges or seminaries in this list. To see our list of contemplative promoting schools, click here. This list below is in conjunction with our recent list of Christian leaders: 100 Top Contemplative Proponents Evangelical Christians Turn To Today.
8. Boundless Webzine (FOF)
11. Christian Classics Ethereal Library (CCEL)
12. Christian Missionary Alliance
13. Christianity Today
14. Emergent Village
15. Evangelical Lutheran Church of America
16. Focus on the Family
17. Group Magazine
20. Intervarsity Press
31. Presbyterian Church USA
32. Relevant Magazine
35. Saddleback Church
38. Teen Mania
39. The Church of the Nazarene
40. The Ooze
41. The Purpose Driven Movement
42. The Upper Room
43. Thomas Nelson Publishers
45. Wesleyan Church
46. Willow Creek Association
47. Worship Leader Magazine
48. Youth Ministry & Spirituality Project
49. Youth Specialties
2014 Update: Runner Ups
3. World Vision
8. Assemblies of God
Note: You can get information on any of these organizations using our search engines on both our blog and research site.
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).