Christian Leaders Network Together in a Dangerous Venture
Christian Leaders Network Together in a Dangerous Venture
The Church Communication Network (CCN) is a network of many of today's top Christian leaders. A list of Ministry Partners includes ministries such as Focus on the Family, Moody Publishers, Campus Crusade for Christ, Joni Eareckson, and MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers), with speakers that include David Jeremiah, Beth Moore, and Dr. Erwin Lutzer. Sounds like a pretty "Christian-friendly" group. Right? But add to that list New Age sympathizer Ken Blanchard, of Lead Like Jesus, the contemplative/emerging promoting SonLife Ministries, Larry Crabb of the American Association of Christian Counselors, Thomas Nelson Publishers (who just released Yoga for Christians), the Alpha Course, and Willow Creek Association, and you have a high-powered, influential network of Christian leaders, most of whom are promoting a New Age spirituality. But then it really shouldn't be any surprise. On the CCN website, "Spiritual Formation," which is a disguised term for contemplative spirituality, is included as one of CCN's key areas of interest and need for today's church. That would explain why Rick Warren is listed as one of the CCN speakers also - Warren calls the Spiritual Formation movement a valid message and a wake up call to the church.1
To better understand the reason for concern, let's look at some of the individual ministries that make up CCN:
As we have shown in the past, Ken Blanchard promotes the New Age and contemplative spirituality through the many book and organization endorsements he has given to numerous New Agers, Buddhists, psychics, and so on. His own comments and his close affiliations with New Age organizations over the last twenty years up until the present have no doubt misled many sincere people who were searching for the truth.
Thomas Nelson, once considered the Bible publisher, is quickly joining the fiasco of falling away of Christian ministries. This year they released a book called Yoga for Christians. The name says it all. They have also recently published Chuck Swindoll's book, So You Want to Be Like Christ, a book that clearly shows Swindoll's recent persuasions towards the contemplative.
Alpha Course North American president Todd Hunter has joined the emerging church/contemplative ranks as is clear to see by his partnering with Richard Foster's Renovare and promoting authors such as Brian McLaren. Hunter's own blog is filled with references to the emerging church, Youth Specialties, and more. (This blog has now been removed.)
The Church Communication Network isn't shy about promoting contemplative prayer. Coming up this month is the "Be Still" event, sponsored by CCN. As you may have already guessed, the Be Still conference is about Spiritual Formation, i.e., contemplative spirituality. From the CCN website: "How can we be still enough to find Christ in the midst of all the noise and distraction of our 24/7 culture? Invite your congregation to the inspirational CCN special event, BE STILL, and discover the joys of increasing intimacy with God that can be found in contemplative prayer." That intimacy will be taught by none other than Richard Foster and Dallas Willard. Richard Foster (who said we "should all without shame enroll as apprentices in the school of contemplative prayer"2) advocates Thomas Merton's teachings, even though Merton likened contemplative prayer silence to an LSD trip.
In case you are wondering if this Be Still conference is an isolated event, here are just a few other connections between CCN and the New Age/contemplative. On March 7th, CCN hosted "The Integrity Simulcast. Speakers included Bill Hybels of Willow Creek and Ken Blanchard. You may remember Blanchard's endorsement of the book called What Would Buddha Do At Work, in which Blanchard said, "Buddha points to the path and invites us to begin our journey to enlightenment. I ... invite you to begin your journey to enlightened work." But what you may not know is that Blanchard is still endorsing this type of work, such as his January 2006 endorsement of Jon Gordon's New Age book, The 10-Minute Energy Solution.
Other CCN events have included "Developing Leaders in a Postmodern Culture" with emerging church leader, Erwin McManus and Rex Miller, (author of The Millennium Matrix), "Worship in the Emerging Church" with Dan Kimball, "Spiritual Disciplines for Leaders" with Richard Foster and John Ortberg, and the list goes on.
Many of the largest Christian ministries have partnered with CCN. More are sure to join. This makes for an incredibly powerful and influential network. The question must be asked, with so much power and so much unity in the midst of such deception, what is going to happen to the pure gospel message of Jesus Christ and to those believers who are trying to defend the faith? Many of the ministries mentioned above have already been moving into the contemplative direction for some time. Campus Crusade, for instance, offers a labryinth experience on their Global Prayer Movement website. Networking only serves to increase the momentum that ministries are moving in. Perhaps it is time to question whether these leaders are still indeed the trustworthy leaders of the body of Christ. If these people want to continue to be referred to as our Christian leaders, then their foremost effort should be in promoting and preserving the integrity of the gospel. Contemplative spirituality has consistently proven to be a compromise of the gospel. Perhaps it is time for believers everywhere to stand and say, I will not adhere to a network of leaders that promotes a spirituality that masquerades as an angel of light.
1. Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Church, Zondervan, 1995, p. 126-127.
2. Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline, Harper & Row, 1978 ed. p. 13.