NEW BOOKLET TRACT: The “Spiritual” Truth Behind Alcoholics Anonymous—And Why Christians Should Think Twice About Joining A.A.
The “Spiritual” Truth Behind Alcoholics Anonymous written by John Lanagan is our newest Lighthouse Trails Print Booklet Tract. The Booklet Tract is 18 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. To order copies of The “Spiritual” Truth Behind Alcoholics Anonymous, click here.
By John Lanagan
Can two walk together, except they be agreed? (Amos 3:3)
I am the Lord: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another. (Isaiah 42:8)
Christians in Alcoholics Anonymous may not see it this way, but in their participation of A.A., they are standing in agreement with a belief system that lifts up strange gods. In Alcoholics Anonymous, all gods are considered equal and are called “the higher power,” thus relegating Christ our King to commonality as if He were simply one nameless deity among many. Yet Scripture tells us:
Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)
In 1941, Jack Alexander of the Saturday Evening Post wrote the article that provided A.A. its first national publicity. Describing A.A.’s “higher power,” Alexander noted the following:
[The alcoholic] “may choose to think of his Inner Self, the miracle of growth, a tree, man’s wonderment at the physical universe, the structure of the atom, or mere mathematical infinity. Whatever form is visualized, the neophyte is taught that he must rely on it and, in his own way, to pray to the Power for strength.”1
Please note that Alexander’s article, with this A.A. definition of “god,” is distributed as official Alcoholics Anonymous literature.
“God” Without the Doctrine
Nearly eighty years later this salad-bar approach—design your own god—has seemingly become a cultural norm. “Spiritual” is in. “Religion” is out. Many Americans now refer to their god as a “higher power.” A.A.’s twelve-step program (along with cultural acceptance of anti-biblical meditative practices) has literally changed the spiritual direction of the country.
In The Fall of the Evangelical Nation, author Christine Wicker credits Alcoholics Anonymous with “hastening the fall of the evangelical church.”2 Wicker notes how A.A. “slowly exposed people to the notion they could get [a god] without the dogma, the doctrine, and the outdated rules. Without the church, in fact.”3
Since the twelve steps have nothing to do with Christ, neither sin nor biblical repentance is addressed. This, of course, is very appealing to the flesh. The Steps address “wrongs,” “making amends,” and “moral inventory,” but one inserts one’s own moral code within the context of these Steps. Because of these Steps, millions believe they are right with “god” and man.
Everything, it seems, has been turned upside down: Alcoholics Anonymous can supposedly help everyone, but experiencing Christ without the twelve steps can supposedly help no one. (Sobriety without A.A. will be addressed at the end of this booklet.)
When all is said and done, A.A. attendance serves to subtly condition Christians to worship with non-believers; perhaps this has been the point all along.
It is written:
Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? and what concord hath Christ with Belial? . . . Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. (2 Corinthians 6:14-15, 17)
Obviously, we are not separating. Christians participate in A.A.’s Christ-less corporate prayers every day.
A Spiritual Program
For decades, A.A. has been referred to as a “spiritual program,” a harmless adjunct to one’s own religious belief system. Because of this misrepresentation, most Christians are sincerely unaware that A.A. is a subtrend of the New Age.
Richard Rohr, a Catholic priest and renowned advocate for New Age type meditation practices says this of A.A.:
The spirituality of Alcoholics Anonymous will go down in history as the significant and authentic contribution to the history of spirituality. It is genuinely a spirituality.4
In A.A.’s twelve step program, anything and everything—from spirits to inner divinity—can be worshiped as “god.” One of A.A.’s Big Book teachings is that God can only be found within ourselves.5 A.A.’s belief system by no means requires dealing with sin—or the Savior.
In order to comprehend the hold A.A. exerts upon people, it must be understood that two key passages in the A.A. Big Book (essentially the A.A. “bible”) are interpreted from a literal, fundamentalist perspective. Here is what is read to alcoholics at the beginning of every single meeting:
Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. There are such unfortunates. They are not at fault; they seem to have been born that way.”6
The Big Book goes on to note, “We thought we could find an easier, softer way. But we could not.”7
Despite the elasticity of the higher power, these two fundamentalist passages lock many into the A.A. system while also teaching contempt or distrust for alternative ways of gaining sobriety. Particularly opposed is the idea of getting help in “church.”
Irving Peter Gellman observes:
A member who suggests that A.A. is not as effective as maintained, and who implies that some improvement might be made, will be censured when broaching these ideas. The A.A. program is deemed infallible, whereas other methods are considered less than perfect.8
Christians in the program often adjust their theology. In a pastor’s office, an A.A. Christian told me straight faced that alcoholics were too angry and didn’t want to hear about Christ, so the “higher power” concept was necessary. This is simply one more repetition of what I have heard at many, many A.A. meetings.
A.A. has given us the confusion of recovery passing for sanctification, and twelve-step theology has some Christians in A.A. believing it is perfectly fine to encourage alcoholics to go ahead and make up a “god.” To help justify attendance in this non-biblical spirituality, the myth has been promulgated that most alcoholics with custom-designed higher powers will eventually come to Christ. This is simply not so. It is relatively rare but is presented as a common occurrence. This claim is one of the primary ways Christians justify A.A.
In Alcoholics Anonymous, most Christians experience a transference of faith. The twelve-step experience often becomes an idol. It is not uncommon to speak with Christians who are more concerned with “recovery” than sanctification and who demonstrate a preference for A.A. rather than the fellowship with the saints.
[A]nd them that worship and that swear by the Lord, and that swear by Malcham. (Zephaniah 1:5)
Over the past couple of decades there have been numerous U.S. lower and higher court cases where it was determined that A.A. is a religious organization.* An A.A. meeting is essentially a devotional service. The “higher power” receives praise and worship; confession is heard; testimony is given; the group invokes the Serenity Prayer and the Lord’s Prayer. The 12th Step instructs A.A. members to go forth and Spread the Word.
Whether one calls it religious or spiritual, the bottom line is that millions have been taught to reach outside (or inside) of themselves and draw on a higher power to give them strength.
Lost in all this is the holiness of the God of the Bible—the God who absolutely does not want His people placing Him amongst false idols. Lost—ignored, really—is the Lord’s abhorrence of worship of false gods. Was Jeremiah mistaken? King Josiah? Do biblical passages such as 2 Corinthians 6:14-17 and Galatians 1:8-9 fail to address Alcoholics Anonymous?
A.A.’s “All-Inclusive” God
Alcoholics Anonymous is spiritual in origin; it was created to point unbelievers away from Christ and to dilute the theology of the Christians who do attend the meetings.
A simple perusal of the A.A. Big Book demonstrates how A.A. teaching opposes Christ. The A.A. Big Book states:
We found that God does not make too hard terms with those who seek Him. To us, the Realm of the Spirit is broad, roomy, all inclusive; never exclusive or forbidding to those who earnestly seek. It is open, we believe, to all men. When, therefore, we speak to you of God, we mean your own conception of God.”9 (emphasis added)
And yet, the Lord specifically warns against the broad way:
Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat. (Matthew 7:13)
If the Lord warns against the broad way of spirituality, why do we think we know better? Why would we even want to participate in such a thing or give it credibility by approving of it?
Hurting alcoholics who do not know the Lord also learn, through meetings and the A.A. Big Book, that they do not need Christ in order to have a relationship with God. According to the Big Book:
[A]ll of us, whatever our race, creed, or color are children of a living Creator with whom we may form a relationship upon simple and understandable terms as soon as we are willing and honest enough to try.10
Speaking from personal experience, this is how it is presented to alcoholics in the meetings—that one can simply reach out to “god,” and there he/she/it will be. Thus have many been pointed away from the biblical God because of A.A. Without Christ, we can never have a relationship or spend eternity with God the Father.
Some Disturbing History of A.A.
How did this happen? How did Christians get so involved with Alcoholics Anonymous and other twelve-step programs? Unfortunately, writers such as pro-A.A. author Dick B. have been churning out books and articles about the alleged Christian roots of A.A. and the twelve steps for years. This has influenced many.
According to the Alcoholics Anonymous website, “the origins of Alcoholics Anonymous can be traced to the Oxford Group,”11 an ecumenical movement of the 1930s. Oxford’s founder, Frank Buchman, said “he never touched any doctrine in any of his meetings, as he did not want to upset or offend anyone.”12
The great preacher Dr. H.A. Ironside warned that the Oxford Group:
. . . appeals to people who reject the inspiration of [the Bible] as well to those who profess to believe it; it appeals to people who deny the Deity of Christ as well as to those who acknowledge it; to those who deny the eternal punishment of sin as well as those who believe in it. Here in our city it is openly endorsed by the Swedenborgians and by leaders of the Unitarians, as well as by a number who belong to orthodox churches. But it is silent about the blood of Christ.13
Dr. Ironside also warned about the Oxford Group’s unholy meditation (emptying the mind) which often culminated in the practice of automatic writing:
Each one is urged in the morning to sit down quietly with the mind emptied of every thought, generally with a pencil in hand, waiting for God to say something to them. They wait and wait and wait. Sometimes they tell me nothing happens, at other times the most amazing things come. Tested by the Word of God many of these things are unscriptural. They lay themselves open for demons to communicate their blasphemous thoughts to them.14 (emphasis added)
This appears to have been the method A.A. co-founder (and former Oxford Group member) Bill Wilson used to receive the twelve steps. T.A. McMahon, chief editor at The Berean Call ministry, writes, “A.A.’s official biography indicates Bill Wilson received the details of the 12 Steps through spirit dictation.”15
While some insist A.A. has a Christian or biblical origin, Alcoholics Anonymous is like a pie. One can claim it is made with lemon meringue ingredients, but if tar, rat poison, and glass shards are also in the mix, is it ever really a lemon meringue pie? “[A] little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (1 Corinthians 5:6).
The Spiritual Proclivities of A.A.’s Founders
Factors affecting A.A.’s formation must include: A.A. co-founders Bill Wilson’s and Dr. Bob Smith’s biblically forbidden spiritualism, Dr. Bob’s freemasonry, the meditative silence/spirit communication learned from the Oxford Group, and the anti-biblical teachings of William James and New Thought heretic Emmet Fox.
The A.A. co-founders attended the Oxford Group separately before they met and together during 1935, which is the official starting date of Alcoholics Anonymous. During this time, Smith and Wilson were delving deeply into biblically forbidden spiritualism, which Wilson continued to practice for decades.
Early A.A. member Tom Powers saw the A.A. co-founders firsthand as they engaged in spiritualistic practices the Lord detests. “Now, these people, Bill and Bob, believed vigorously and aggressively. They were working away at the spiritualism; it was not just a hobby.”16
There are a number of Bill Wilson’s spiritualistic experiences documented in his official A.A. biography. Wilson wrote:
The ouija board got moving in earnest. What followed was the fairly usual experience—it was a strange mélange of Aristotle, St. Francis, diverse archangels with odd names, deceased friends—some in purgatory and others doing nicely, thank you! There were malign and mischievous ones of all descriptions, telling of vices quite beyond my ken, even as former alcoholics. Then, the seemingly virtuous entities would elbow them out with messages of comfort, information, advice—and sometimes just sheer nonsense.17
There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord (Deuteronomy 18:10-12)
A.A. and New Thought Emmet Fox
The co-founders of Alcoholics Anonymous were also admirers of Emmet Fox and his heretical New Thought/New Age book, The Sermon on the Mount. This book was used in early A.A. before A.A.’s own Big Book was published. As pro-AA author Dick B. acknowledges, “[Fox’s] writings were favored by [A.A. co-founders] Bill W. and Dr. Bob.”18
Why is this significant that A.A. founders resonated with Emmet Fox? In The Sermon on the Mount, Fox teaches:
The “Plan of Salvation” which figured so prominently in the evangelical sermons and divinity books of a past generation is as completely unknown to the Bible as the Koran. There never was any such an arrangement in the universe, and the Bible does not teach it at all.19
Fox’s book bristles with teachings that sincere Christians would not be able to embrace at all.
According to Fox’s The Sermon on the Mount:
[In] the Bible the term “Christ” is not identical with Jesus, the individual. It is a technical term which may be briefly defined as the Absolute Spiritual Truth about anything.20
The plain fact is that Jesus taught no theology whatever.21
With regard to the story of Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden, Fox says it “was never intended by its author to be taken as history, but literal-minded people did so take it, with all sorts of absurd consequences.”22
Bob Smith has been portrayed for years as a biblical Christian. Yet, according to a woman quoted in A.A.’s official biography of Dr. Bob, “The first thing [Dr. Bob] did was get me Emmet Fox’s The Sermon on the Mount.”23 A Bible-believing Christian would never place such heresy in a hurting alcoholic’s hands.
Like the Gnostics, Emmet Fox was a purveyor of special secret knowledge. He writes:
Wonderful as the “outer” Bible is, it is far less than one percent of the “inner” Bible—the Bible that is hidden behind the symbols. If you have been reading the Bible without the spiritual interpretation, you have not found the real message of the Bible, for that lies below the surface.24
Fox’s influence should always be considered when one hears of references to the Bible in early AA. People assume, logically enough, that if the co-founders were mentioning the Word of God, this must mean they were Christians. Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith probably viewed the Bible along the lines of Fox’s esoteric spiritual wisdom rather than believing it to be the literal Word of God. One cannot, after all, promote anti-biblical heresy and simultaneously believe and obey the Word of God.
As you can see, Alcoholics Anonymous has anything but a fundamental biblical or Christian origin. Spiritualism, New Thought, and contemplative prayer (meditation) are three factors that must be acknowledged.
Spiritually Deceptive Meditation Practices
As previously noted, A.A.’s twelve-step program (along with anti-biblical meditative practices) has literally changed the spiritual direction of the country.
What is meant by the term anti-biblical meditative practices? This refers to Eastern and New Age meditation but also to contemplative prayer, which is New Age meditation disguised with “Christianese” terminology.
In true biblical meditation, the mind remains active. We ponder, we consider, and think about the Scripture we have read. This can be a wonderful and profound time with the holy God.
This is not so with Eastern/New Age/contemplative. Here the object is to stop active thought, often by repeating a word or phrase over and over. When thought is stilled, the person enters what is known as the silence, and it is here that incredible spiritual deception can occur. This can affect and even determine one’s theology, a frightening thing considering all the “Christian contemplative” activity in churches these days.
These practices are rampant throughout our culture. The potential—and actuality—toward such spiritually deceptive meditation exists within A.A.’s Step 11:
Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
“Meditation is something that can always be further developed. It has no boundaries, either of width or height,” wrote A.A. co-founder Bill Wilson.25
The actual experience of meditation and prayer across the centuries is, of course, immense. The world’s libraries and places of worship are a treasure trove for all seekers.26
In other words, Wilson was open to meditative knowledge wherever it could be found—whether in Hinduism, Buddhism, distant libraries, the local Catholic church, or anywhere else.
This is an overall belief in twelve-step theology—there are absolutely no boundaries when it comes to defining the “higher power.”
This undefined “God” is meant, of course, to help. Tormented people, in the grasp of some overwhelming bondage, enter a twelve-step group and are told they must turn to a higher power. It doesn’t matter what you believe in, they are told, but it is crucial you believe in something.
So they do. They choose a spirit, perhaps, or a self-designed deity, or decide to worship the universe, or St. Jerome, or virtually anything else. But they surely reach out to something.
Then, when they reach Step 11, they seek through prayer and meditation even deeper communion with whatever idol–or entity–they have invited into their lives. As instructed, they ask for knowledge—what does the deity want them to do? They ask for power—and some enter the silence.
The revered Bill Wilson encouraged people to meditate. He stated, “Meditation is our step out into the sun.”27
Historically, around the world, much has been experienced in the meditative silence: bliss, spirit-guides, a higher self, oneness. And there have been false christs, wrapped in shining deception, communicating instructions and “wisdom” to some.
And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. (2 Corinthians 11:14)
One God Among Many “Higher Powers”?
When it comes to A.A.’s “Christian” roots, God’s people have been—to use a technical term—snookered.
Scripture is clear. We were never meant to be part of an all-gods religion. It is not “legalism” to point out that the Lord will absolutely not be seen as one higher power among many. It is not “legalistic” to state that His people are absolutely to remain separate from non-Christian spirituality. (2 Corinthians 6:14-17, Galatians 1:8-9, Isaiah 42:8, 1 John 4:1-3, 2 John 9-11, Matthew 10:32-36, 1 John 2:23, John 14:6)
We should no more participate in A.A. because of alcohol addiction than we should attend the Mormon church to get help with family issues.
Bluntly stated, many Christians have ended up with more faith in the power of the twelve-step program than in Jesus Christ. We have disobeyed the Scriptures, and we are bearing the consequences.
If ye love me, keep my commandments. (John 14:15)
What, then, is a Christian to do? Bondage to alcohol is no light thing. It is important to understand that drunkards were set free in the early days of the church (1 Corinthians 6: 9-11). The power of Christ is just as available to us today.
A.A. co-founder Bill Wilson came to understand that many alcoholics—those who truly wanted to quit drinking—could not be helped by Alcoholics Anonymous. Wilson spent many years looking for effective alternatives,28 but alcoholics in A.A. meetings are never informed about this.
An article in Journal of Alcohol and Drug Education notes the following:
Cochrane Database conducted a systematic review of randomized controlled trials evaluating the effectiveness of AA and other Twelve-Step programs (labeled Twelve Step Facilitation or TSF). Eight studies were included in the review, and, of these, three evaluated AA programs. The conclusions of this review were that “no experimental studies unequivocally demonstrated the effectiveness of AA or TSF approaches for reducing alcohol dependence or problem.” (Ferri, Amato, & Davoli, 2006)”29 (emphasis added)
People have the right to know A.A.’s success rate is limited. The body of Christ has the right to know that sending people into A.A. violates Scripture, points unbelievers away from Christ, and waters down essential theology of the Christian faith.
There are powerful Christian options such as Teen Challenge and the online ministry, Setting Captives Free. There is another totally biblical approach called The Most Excellent Way founded by a husband and wife who were alcoholics. They left A.A. and sought the Lord over how to help others.
Churches that allow the Holy Spirit to work in people’s lives will see people freed from addiction (bondage to sin). My church has fellowship once a week for those who are struggling. We already have the weapons to fight: the indwelling of the Holy Spirit when we are born again into Jesus Christ, prayer, and His Word. In fact, the Bible tells us we have armor that we can wear when battling against the flesh, sin, and the works of darkness.
Therefore . . . let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. (1 Thessalonians 5:6-8, emphasis added)
Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil . . . Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. (Ephesians 6:11, 16)
We look to the Bible to understand the sheer power of God: His holiness, His love, and His grace and mercy.
We do not downplay His hatred of sin. We rejoice in His faithfulness.
Nor do we overlook simple common sense—but we start first with His Word and go from there.
The Word of God will pierce even the hardest heart. It is time to stop relying on Alcoholics Anonymous and obscure “higher powers,” and on mystical meditative practices, and start depending—truly depending—on the supremacy of Jesus Christ.
. . . That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith. (Ephesians 3:16-17)
To order copies of The “Spiritual” Truth Behind Alcoholics Anonymous, click here.
The editors of Lighthouse Trails and John Lanagan are in no way minimizing the importance of those with addictive behaviors in getting help. But what we advocate and encourage is Christ-centered help (based on the Word of God). Two places that offer this (and there are others) are:
The Most Excellent Way—http://www.tmewcf.org.
* I have documented several of these cases on my website at: http://mywordlikefire.com/2014/06/12/alcoholics-anonymous-narcotics-anonymous-established-as-religious-in-court-cases.
1. Jack Alexander, “Alcoholics Anonymous: Freed Slaves of Drink, Now They Free Others” (Saturday Evening Post, March 1, 1941). According to the A.A. website, A.A. World Services publishes the article in pamphlet format and sells about 22,000 of them each year; http://www.aa.org/lang/en/subpage.cfm?page=472.
2. Christine Wicker, The Fall of the Evangelical Nation (Harper-Collins Publishers, 2008) pp. 133-138.
5. Alcoholics Anonymous (nicknamed the Big Book) published by A.A. World Services, Inc., 1939), p. 55.
6. Ibid., p. 58.
7. Ibid., p. 58.
8. Irving Peter Gellman, The Sober Alcoholic (College and University Press, 1964), p. 121.
9. Alcoholics Anonymous, op. cit., pp. 46-47.
10. Ibid., p. 28.
12. William C. Irvine, Heresies Exposed (New York: Loizeaux Brothers, Inc., 1921), p. 54.
13. H.A. Ironside, The Oxford Group: Is It Scriptural? (New York: Loizeauz Brothers, Publishers,1943), http://web.archive.org/web/20110424094418/http://aabibliography.com/oxford_group_is_it_scriptural_ha_ironside.html.
15. T.A. McMahon, “Where’s Your Head . . . and Your Heart?” (The Berean Call newsletter, March 1, 2002), http://www.thebereancall.org/content/wheres-your-headand-your-heart.
16. Pass It On: The story of Bill Wilson and how the A.A. message reached the world (Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 1984), p. 280.
17. Ibid., p. 278.
18. Alcoholics Anonymous History, Dick B.’s Early A.A. Resources, http://silkworth.net/dickb/earlyresources.html.
19. Emmet Fox, The Sermon on the Mount (HarperCollins, 1934), pp. 4-5.
20. Ibid., p. 124.
21. Ibid., p. 3.
22. Ibid., p. 13.
23. Dr. Bob and the Good Oldtimers (Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.), p. 310.
24. Herman Wolhorn, Emmet Fox’s Golden Keys To Successful Living (Harper & Row, 1977), p. 59.
25. Bill Wilson, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions (Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 1953), p. 101.
26. Ibid., p. 98.
28. Pass It On, op. cit., p. 370.
29. Journal of Alcohol and Drug Education, December 2010, http://www.questia.com/library/p572/journal-of-alcohol-drug-education.
John Lanagan is a researcher and writer whom the Lord has rescued from alcohol addiction. He resides with his wife in the Great Northwest and his primary subject is the anti-biblical origin and nature of Alcoholics Anonymous. You can visit him on the web at: http://mywordlikefire.com.
To order copies of The “Spiritual” Truth Behind Alcoholics Anonymous, click here.
LTRP Note: The article below (and the accompanying photo) about emerging church leader Tony Campolo is a reminder that children and college-age young people are the target for Satan’s devices of deception. Campolo and others with similar “progressive” agendas (such as Brian McLaren, Shane Claiborne, Tony Jones, etc.) are zealously talking to and teaching as many children and youth as they possibly can. And often in Christian school settings. Sadly, pastors and Christian teachers have sat by idly and allowed it to happen. While this article below explains that Campolo will be slowing down now that he is 79 (going from 300 talks a year to just 200), his younger protégées—like Shane Claiborne—are carrying on Campolo’s message. To learn more about that message, you can read our articles “On evangelicals and interfaith cooperation: an interview with Tony Campolo,” “Tony Campolo Against California’s Restrictions on Homosexual Marriages.” and “Coming to Christ Through Mysticism?.”
By Kristin E. Holmes, Inquirer Staff Writer
As a recruiter for the Almighty, the Rev. Tony Campolo lets few things get in his way.
Even a stroke eight years ago prompted defiance.
“I know my civil rights,” said the hospitalized minister, challenging a doctor’s admonition to postpone a week of speeches at Harvard University. (The doctor wound up monitoring Campolo and his condition from a front-row seat.)
The Bryn Mawr minister, author of more than 35 books, and onetime spiritual adviser to President Bill Clinton has packed his calendar for years with more than 300 speaking engagements annually to raise charitable funds and tap young people for Christian service.
But at 78, Campolo has, as his wife, Peggy, said, decided to step back before someone says, “You’re an old man” who should step aside. Click here to continue reading.
By Heather Clark
Christian News Network
PIERRE, S.D. – Lawmakers in South Dakota have defeated a bill that sought to protect pastors from performing same-sex “weddings,” as the bill failed approval by a Senate committee by a single vote.
Senate Bill 66 was deemed to be unnecessary by opponents of the legislation, as they asserted that the state constitution already protects residents from being forced to violate their conscience.
“No member of the clergy nor lay official of any church or religion may be required to solemnize any marriage, provide services, accommodations, facilities, goods, or privileges for a purpose related to the solemnization, formation, or celebration of any marriage, or treat any marriage as valid for any purpose if such action would cause any such entity or individual to violate their sincerely held religious beliefs,” it read.
The legislation also protected pastors from lawsuits or any other type of retribution for refusing to officiate homosexual ceremonies against their conscience. Click here to continue reading.
Hello Lighthouse Trails:
The church I used to attend is now fully immersed in the new culture that has swept thru the churches over the last decade. With constant references to and quotes from the likes of Nouwen, Merton, Augustine, Ignatius of Loyola, Campolo, Keller, Eldredge, Yancy, along with small groups that once were Bible studies, but are now books and DVDs from the above – we rely on good teaching from many of the ministries that we can access online.
Who would ever have thought that the day would come when you would have to ask to study books of the Bible in Bible Study and be told NO !! I look forward to learning and staying abreast of what is going on in the Church in these days in which we live.
In what appears to be an effort to make controversial elements disappear, significant portions of material from the original Introduction to Sarah Young’s #1 best-selling book Jesus Calling have been removed. With no apparent explanation regarding the changes, Sarah Young’s publisher, Thomas Nelson, seems to be flooding the market with the new version.
Key words, phrases, and whole paragraphs have been vastly altered and/or eliminated all together. The most notable deletion is the removal of Sarah Young’s enthusiastic endorsement of God Calling—the channeled New Age book she described in her original Introduction as a “treasure to me.” It was God Calling that inspired her to begin receiving the personal “messages” from “Jesus” that comprise her devotional Jesus Calling:
During that same year, I began reading God Calling, a devotional book written by two anonymous “listeners.” These women practiced waiting quietly in God’s Presence, pencils and paper in hand, recording the messages they received from Him. The messages are written in first person, with “I” designating God. While I was living in Japan, someone had mailed this book to me from the U.S. I had not read it at that time, but I had held onto the book through two international moves. Six or seven years later, this little paperback became a treasure to me. It dovetailed remarkably well with my longing to live in Jesus’ Presence.1
The above paragraph regarding God Calling has been completely removed from the newer Introduction to Jesus Calling: The first sentence of the original paragraph that followed this now-deleted paragraph continued to make reference to the “Two Listeners” and God Calling.
The following year, I began to wonder if I, too, could receive messages during my times of communing with God.2
With some not so subtle editing, this sentence in the new Introduction now reads:
The following year, I began to wonder if I could change my prayer times from monologue to dialogue.3
The “too” in the original “I, too” phrase refers to the “Two Listeners” of God Calling. As you can see, this reference to the “Two Listeners” has now been omitted from the newer Introduction. Her reference to receiving messages has also been deleted. In fact, there are now no references to God Calling at all in this newer scrubbed version of the original Jesus Calling. They have been completely edited away by either Sarah Young or her editors or both.
When Lighthouse Trails editors learned of these changes, they e-mailed Thomas Nelson and questioned them about the alterations. After three weeks, Lighthouse Trails has still received no reply concerning these changes—other than an acknowledgement e-mail to say that Thomas Nelson received their e-mail.
If Sarah Young is repenting from having written a book that was inspired by a New Age channeled book, then a public statement by Sarah Young and Thomas Nelson needs to be issued recanting their devotion and adherence to God Calling, and the production of Jesus Calling needs to cease. There are currently over nine million copies of Jesus Calling sold (it is unknown how many had the original Introduction, but since the new Introduction version is relatively recent somewhere in the last couple of years, it is reasonable to say that the majority of the 9 million contains the recommendation of God Calling and other material now omitted). There is no way to rectify all the damage that has been done because of Jesus Calling, but zealous efforts need to be made.
As Warren B. Smith has shown in his new book “Another Jesus” Calling, Jesus Calling is significantly flawed from a biblical point of view. And it has the earmarks of being inspired by a false Christ. That means that even if Thomas Nelson scrubs certain words, phrases, and paragraphs from the book, the bottom line is that it was flawed from the beginning and will always be that way. Nothing can turn Jesus Calling into a good book. The best thing Sarah Young can do is write another book, showing her humility and sorrow for misleading so many people. Sarah Young may be very sincere and probably did not mean to cause anyone any harm, but her book is teaching people to listen to and look for something Jesus warned strongly about: “Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them” (Luke 21:8).
P.S. According to the editors at Lighthouse Trails, bookstores, outlets, and the market in general are still saturated with the edition of Jesus Calling which as the original Introduction with God Calling.
1. Sarah Young, Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2004, ISBN 978-1-5914-5188-4, hardcover with original Introduction), p. XI
2. Ibid., pp. XI-XII.
3. Sarah Young, Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2004, ISBN 978-1-5914, hardcover with newer Introduction), p. XII.
He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (John 7:38)
And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. (Revelation 18:4)
According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love. (Ephesians 1:4)
Living water flows and brings life whereas muddy water is foul, dank, and stagnant, and it brings death. Jesus Christ came so that we can have lives washed anew with the living water of His Holy Spirit and the Word of God. The Bible teaches that sin influences every part of our being from birth because we are children of Adam. Before rebirth, we are spiritually dead. The Bible says that when we become born again, He translates us from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of Light. Everything is made new, old things are passed away, and we become new creatures. In His mercy, He saves us and opens our spiritual eyes:
And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;). (Ephesians 2:1-5)
Salvation means to be rescued from danger and taken to a safe place.
When the Bible talks about the forgiveness of sin, the turning point is called justification. This means that God forgives us—the guilty ones—and declares us innocent because of the great exchange of our sins for Christ’s atonement that happened on the Cross.
This exchange, or justification, happens instantaneously; we don’t grow into it. That’s why it’s connected to the term “born again.” It’s a change from one state—being “unborn”—to another state—being reborn. The Bible also teaches that as we die with Christ we are raised with Christ (see Romans 6:3–9).
Once we are born anew, we grow in Christ. We don’t grow in being forgiven; we are already forgiven. We don’t grow into being born again; we are born again. But we do grow more and more to be like Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit, through the washing of the Word of God, and through God’s hand and direction in our lives’ circumstances—both in blessings and in trials:
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28).
This process is called sanctification. It’s also called walking with the Lord or walking in the Spirit. This continues throughout a believer’s life, and it’s not a “happy-go-lucky” superficial Christianity. More often than we would like, it involves suffering, trials, temptations, and sacrifices. Nevertheless, we can experience all these with the risen Lord’s victory and presence in our lives. And He has promised never to leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).
It’s also very important to realize that this is not a state of sinlessness. One of the devil’s most effective snares for believers is the temptation to pretend. While we are children of God, we are also at the same time imperfect, fallible human beings. The Bible teaches that every human being has a sinful nature, but that for those who believe, the Lord Jesus’ death on the Cross has destroyed that “old man” under Adam—that old citizenship in the kingdom of darkness. Colossians says:
Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son. (Colossians 1:13)
However, even though our citizenship in Satan’s kingdom has ended, sin doesn’t disappear. After our re-birth, a sinful nature is still active—the literal term is “flesh.” The good news, however, is that now the believer is indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and by walking in the Spirit, a believer needs no longer to be controlled by sin (Romans 8:5, Galatians 5:16).
A new Christian is like an immigrant who has entered a new land and is unfamiliar with its laws and customs. And standing nearby is the devil trying to convince that new babe in Christ that he or she never really left, twisting the Word of God and hurling flaming darts (see 1 Peter 5:8).
First Timothy warns us that there are “seducing spirits” and “doctrines of devils” (demons) that deceive and cause some to “depart from the faith” (1 Timothy 4:1).
But the beautiful difference is that now, not only is the mighty and glorious indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit at work within us, He has given us “all things that pertain unto life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3) and is working to transform and to prepare us to come into the full inheritance kept in Heaven for us (Jeremiah 31:33; Ezekiel 36:26–27; 2 Corinthians 3:3; 1 Peter 1).
God is in the process of renewing the mind of a believer and making him aware of what is pleasing and displeasing to Him. A great deal of the New Testament talks about putting to death the evil deeds of the body by the Spirit (Galatians 5, Romans 6, 8, Colossians 3) as well as renouncing and fleeing from the works of darkness. Repentance is a process that really means turning around in the mind and going in the complete opposite direction. And only God’s Word, through the power and illumination of the Holy Spirit, can transform our minds (see Romans 12:2). This process of sanctification can be difficult indeed, especially for those who have been deceived by Satan specifically in this area of the occult, which is so powerful and increasing in such dominance these days.
This is why it is so important to discern the types of “spirituality” we practice. And that is why the Bible continuously warns the people of God against involvement in worldly and demonic spiritual practices. Christians must separate themselves entirely from any spiritual practice that involves trying to create mystical experiences, something that is clearly not approved of in the Bible. Ephesians warns us:
See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:15–16)
Letter to the Editor: Guideposts Magazine Managing Editor Tells Readers – “I Start My Day With . . . Centering Prayer.”
Dear Lighthouse Trails:
I was given a subscription to Guideposts magazine. In the February issue, there is an article titled “Summoned” written by Anne Simpkinson – Online Managing Editor. The first paragraph reads as follows:
I start my day with prayer. Centering prayer, in which, rather than saying prayers aloud, you sit in silence, letting go of thoughts and distractions and resting in God. The point isn’t to talk to God, or even to listen to him, but to simply be with him.
Further down, the article reads:
I close my eyes and try to open to God’s presence. The sixteenth-century mystic Saint John of the Cross wrote that God’s first language is silence, and I’ve chosen centering prayer as a way to connect with God-beyond words, beyond thoughts, beyond emotions.
I would have to write the whole article to give you all she relates in it. She brings her cat in to it, also.
I did not realize Guideposts was going down this path.
The article referred to above was in the print Guideposts for February. While we do not have access to the printed issue, we found a similar article written by Anne Simpkinson, managing editor of Guideposts titled “Praying with Mimi.” Added to what was stated above, Simpkinson said:
First I read a devotion from one of the books I keep beside the chair. Then I put the book down and hit the start button on the meditation timer app I downloaded onto my phone. A soft bell chimes, signaling the beginning of my 20 minutes of prayer.
I close my eyes, repeat a sacred word two or three times then sit in silence.
It makes sense that Simpkinson would be practicing silent meditation. She lists Thomas Merton, Esther DeWaal, and Julie Cameron (all contemplative mystics) as three of her favorite authors.1 In an interview, when Simpkinson was asked about her spiritual practices, she stated:
In the mid-90s, I found a practice called Centering Prayer, which was developed by three Trappist monks—Father Thomas Keating, Father M. Basil Pennington and Father William Menninger. The practice is based on a method described in the 14th-century text, The Cloud of Unknowing, and which has been refined over the years. Instead of focusing on one’s breath or repeating a mantra, one uses a sacred word to renew one’s intention to be with God, to be with God as God is. This of course requires us to disengage from our thoughts.2
Lighthouse Trails does not find it surprising that Guideposts (which markets itself as a Christian/faith-based magazine) would be promoting contemplative prayer. The publication was founded by Norman Vincent Peale in 1945. Peale was a proponent of New Age type thinking. Both Ray Yungen and Warren B. Smith discuss Peale’s proclivities in their books. You can type in his name in our search engines and come up with several references.
What is troubling is knowing how many Christians read Guideposts and find nothing wrong with it. And yet, the magazine is filled with examples of New Age/New Spirituality beliefs and practices. One thing that especially stands out in the magazine is stories of spirit beings, angels, spiritual guides, etc. that communicate with people. Consider this statement made by religious author Charles Braden regarding Norman Vincent Peale:
The man through whose ministry essentially New Thought [New Age] ideas and techniques have been made known most widely in America is Norman Vincent Peale . . . He is reaching more people than any other single minister in America and perhaps the world (Braden, Spirits in Rebellion, p. 186)
There’s a mystical revolution going on (as the recent Time magazine cover story proclaims), and more and more people are falling under its influence, which is coming as angels of light and ministers of righteousness (2 Corinthians 11: 14-15). Christians need to put down those copies of Guideposts (like our reader above did), The Shack, Jesus Calling, Chicken Soup for the Soul, and return to the true Jesus Christ.
And he [Jesus] said, Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them. (Luke 21:8)