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"From the Lighthouse" Newsletter

                               Printer Friendly Version (click here)      April 2, 2009

 

Lighthouse Trails 7 Year Anniversary

In This Issue -

National Service Corps Bill Clears Senate Hurdle

LifeWay Stores Erroneously Tells Customers Lighthouse Trails Books "Out-of-Print"

FEATURE ARTICLE: Concerned Family Asks Legitimate Questions of Christian Leaders

Richard Foster's Legacy Endures - Christian Leaders Help to Make it So

A Conditioning Process - Caving into Deception

God in Everything? The Premise of Contemplative Spirituality

Surviving Beatles Unite to Promote Kid's Meditation

New YouTube Clip - Roger Oakland

What is the Spiritual Formation Movement, and Why is it Unbiblical?

Reiki on the Rise in 2009

Reiki, and its Connection to the Contemplative Practices of Thomas Merton and Richard Foster

Christian Organizations Falsely Labeled"Hate" Groups

The Shack Author Joins the Ranks of Those Who Deny Substitutionary Atonement

Nazarene General Assembly Welcomes Contemplative Spirituality--Nazarene Pastors WorldWide Invited

Time Magazine Article on Rick Warren's New Magazine

"The First-Ever Catholic-Emergent Conference" Erroneously Advertised

Judge Orders Homeschoolers Into Public District Classrooms

Creation DVD Touches Hearts of African Refugees

Purging the Memory of Our Christian Roots

Gaither Family Fest to Include The Shack Author

Lighthouse Trails Taking Applications

Spanish Edition of Faith Undone Going to Press!

Lighthouse Trails 1st Fiction

Publishing News

Choosing the Right Book

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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March 2009 marked the 7 year anniversary of Lighthouse Trails Publishing. We are grateful to the Lord for His provision and grace that has allowed us to publish and distribute several books and DVDs.

We were also able to begin Lighthouse Trails Research Project in 2004, making information available on the Web free to all. Currently, the research site and blog have over 1400 articles, nearly 800 pages, and  25,000 external links. There is a search engine and topical index to help find information.

We'd like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who have joined us in getting the information out to others. We know, because of the phone calls, letters, and emails we have received over the years, that many believers are in difficult situations in their communities, churches, and families because of the increase in spiritual deception in these days in which we live.

May the Lord strengthen each one of you who defends the Word of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Thank you, and God bless you,

Editors at Lighthouse Trails

About Us:

 

Note: In January, Lighthouse Trails went from a weekly e-newsletter to a monthly e-newsletter. We realize this is not the best set-up for many people as the monthly newsletters are much larger and more difficult to read through. We hope to restore our weekly e-newsletters as soon as possible. Thank you for your patience during this time.

 

National Service Corps Bill Clears Senate Hurdle

LTRP Note: We urge you to read the articles, which links we have posted below this New York Times article, to gain a full understanding of the efforts to bring about a national "volunteer" service program. The world's most popular pastor, Rick Warren, is very involved in this effort. He, in fact, is on the leadership council for Service Nation.

Katy Phillips
New York Times


Following overwhelming House passage ... on a procedural move that essentially guarantees a major expansion of a national service corps, a cornerstone of volunteerism that dates back to the era of President Kennedy. It's akin to a call to arms by President Obama, who has harkened back to those early days to demand giving back by those who voted for him....

Tonight's vote, propelled by President Obama's urging of an expansion, would mean a growth in such work from 75,000 community service jobs to 250,000....

Senator Hatch mentioned that the Rev. Rick Warren, the evangelical minister of Saddleback Church and author of "A Purpose Driven Life," was an enthusiastic supporter of this effort, as was Senator John McCain, the former Republican presidential nominee. The latter's support, to Senator Hatch, demonstrated the exceptional bipartisan backing of the expansion. Click here to read this entire article.

Related Information:

Rick Warren, Reader's Digest Join Forces for New Purpose Driven Publication

Is this our future: Mandatory Community Service, a Three-Legged Purpose Driven Plan and a Brave New World?

 

Rick Warren's New Magazine Promotes the New Global Spirituality

New Age Department of Peace Bill Introduced to Congress One Week After Inauguration

 

LifeWay Stores Erroneously Tells Customers Lighthouse Trails Books "Out-of-Print"

Lighthouse Trails would like to alert its readers that LifeWay Christian Stores has been informing interested customers that Lighthouse Trails books are "discontinued" or "out of print." LifeWay Stores is the bookstore arm of the Southern Baptist Convention and has over 150 walk-in stores and a popular online store. Concerned customers have contacted Lighthouse Trails and said that when they tried to order Lighthouse Trails books from a LifeWay store, they were told the books were either "discontinued" or "out of print." Lighthouse Trails contacted several LifeWay stores and also the corporate office to confirm this.

An office administrator at LifeWay corporate office told Lighthouse Trails that store managers should be telling customers that the books are in print but that LifeWay will not order them or make them available for their customers. (LifeWay has placed a "D" status - for discontinued - on all Lighthouse Trails books.) Lighthouse Trails informed the office administrator at LifeWay that we did not expect LifeWay to carry our books because of our differing views on mysticism (i.e. contemplative spirituality). LifeWay has been the subject of a number of Lighthouse Trails articles, warning the body of Christ about books they are selling and promoting. Authors they carry include Rob Bell, Brennan Manning, Jan Johnson, Ken Blanchard, Doug Pagitt, Tony Jones, Richard Foster, and a high number of other eastern-style meditation proponents. (Over the past few years, LifeWay Stores has removed Brian McLaren's books as well as books by Henri Nouwen, Thomas Keating, Thomas Merton, and books on Yoga.)

In our conversation with the LifeWay office administrator, Lighthouse Trails explained that it seemed unethical and dishonest for a Christian organization (Southern Baptist Convention) of its size, income, and influence to mislead customers in this manner toward a small Christian publisher. The LifeWay administrator said that instructions might be issued to the stores that customers should be told accurate information about books that LifeWay does not offer but that are still in print and available through other normal distribution channels (Ingram, SpringArbor, CBD, Amazon, etc.).

LifeWay Stores also carries The Shack, whose author recently shared his non-biblical views on substitutionary atonement.

If you are a LifeWay Stores customer, we hope you will encourage LifeWay to speak accurately regarding the print status of biblical books they do not wish to carry and also ask them to reconsider their promotion of contemplative and emerging authors. This would, of course, include mega-pastors Rick Warren and Bill Hybels. Southern Baptist Convention is doing their members a disservice by offering them so many books that promote the "new (age) spirituality."

Contact Information:
Chris Turner - Media relations manager
e-mail : chris.turner@lifeway.com
office : (615) 251.-2307
mobile : (615) 403-0670

Brooklyn Noel - Media relations specialist
e-mail : brooklyn.noel@lifeway.com
office: (615) 251-2797
mobile : (615) 218-2505

Related Information:

Examples of emerging/contemplative books that LifeWay carries and book reviews of those books:

1. Tony Jones: The New Christians ... Lighthouse Trails Book Review

2. Kingdom Triangle by J.P. Moreland ... Book Review by LT

3. Stricken by God by Brad Jersak ... Book Review

4. Book with Foreword by Marjorie Thompson ... Book Review on Thompson's book, Soul Feast

5. They Like Jesus but Not the Church by Dan Kimball ... Book Review by LT

6. Conformed to His Image by Ken Boa ... Book Review by LT

7. Red Moon Rising by Pete Greig ... Review by LT

8. Adele Alhberg Calhoun's Spiritual Disciplines Handbook ... Information on Calhoun's book

Note: The following article is based on actual facts, but the name has been changed to protect the innocent.

In September of 2008, a Christian woman (a wife and mother) stumbled across the Lighthouse Trails Research website when she and her husband became concerned about certain things happening in the large church they had been attending for several years, including plans to build a labyrinth and her husband being taught a repetitive breath prayer at a men's prayer breakfast. Prior to that day, Susan had not heard the term contemplative spirituality nor did she know the meaning of "emerging church." But on that particular day, Susan learned that she, her husband, and her teenage sons were attending a church showing signs of going emerging. She was shocked. 

During the weeks that followed, Susan scoured the Internet for documentation and information on this "new" spirituality that had apparently come into her own church. She also learned that her teenage sons' youth group had been promoting emerging church figures--and had already done a three-week course on Rob Bell's Velvet Elvis (Bell had spoken at the church as well). It is Rob Bell who tells Velvet Elvis readers to study New Age mystic Ken Wilber for three months for a "mind-blowing introduction to emergence theory and divine creativity [panentheism (God in all) and pantheism (all is God)]" (p.192 V.E.). Ken Wilber promotes all varieties of mysticism: tantra, yoga, kundalini, karma meditation, sexual transformation through mysticism, etc. 1 And on the YouTube account associated with Wilber (which he openly links to from his main site) are many offensive videos, including one by a rapper who talks about raping girls from ages 1-10. Unspeakable! For any Christian church or school to use Rob Bell's materials, when he clearly resonates with Ken Wilber is a breach of faith. Many Velvet Elvis readers are young people. When they read Bell encouraging them to turn to Wilber, they could end up on Wilber's website and even the YouTube videos, not to mention Wilber's New Age books.
 

When Susan and her husband confronted their church's leadership about their embracing of certain emerging church leaders, the leadership denied these allegations. Emerging church links (such as The Ooze) that were posted on the church website were hastily removed, but with no public disclaimer or explanation. And even though The Ooze link was removed, Spencer Burke, The Ooze's founder, states currently on his site that he "serves" at that church. Roger Oakland quotes Burke in Faith Undone:

I stopped reading from the approved evangelical reading list and began to distance myself from the evangelical agenda. I discovered new authors and new voices at the bookstore--Thomas Merton, Henri Nouwen and St. Teresa of Avila. The more I read, the more intrigued I became. Contemplative spirituality seemed to open up a whole new way for me to understand and experience God. I was deeply moved by works like The Cloud of Unknowing, The Dark Night of the Soul and the Early Writings of the Desert Fathers.2

It seemed to Susan that the church removing certain links was merely a damage-control tactic to avoid public scrutiny. And even though some links were removed, other troubling ones remained and do so to this day. One of these is Beliefnet.com, an extremely popular, high-traffic website that services all religions. Strangely, Susan's "evangelical church" was linking directly to Beliefnet.com's Catholic section. This, of course, falls in line with contemplative spirituality that was pioneered into the evangelical church by Catholic monks (Merton, Keating, Pennington). But strange, because Susan's church was denying being contemplative.

Beliefnet.com has an array of departments that represent every religious tradition under the sun. Some of the departments include: A Course in Miracles, Wicca, New Thought, Hindu, Unitarian Universalist and so on. There is even information on warlocks and an article in the Pagan and Earth-Based section titled "Welcome Your Baby: Pagan Traditions." Another section is by a homosexual warlock. Banners flash throughout the site, beckoning visitors to join particular groups. And the Christianity section is inundated with eastern-mysticism sympathizing figures like Marcus Borg, Tony Jones, and suggestions for practicing eastern-style meditation. Clearly, Beliefnet.com is not a website that a biblical church would point their congregants to. Author and researcher Ray Yungen, in hearing about the church linking to Beliefnet.com, commented: "It has a buffet-style approach to spirituality. In other words, whatever suits your taste--so typical of the emerging church view."

Other links that remained on Susan's church website are Discipleship Journal and SoJourners Magazine, both heavy proponents of contemplative/emerging spirituality.

As Susan learned the nature of this "new spirituality," she became increasingly alarmed. And as she began talking about it with the leadership at her church, it became apparent to her that this was going to be no small matter and that her concerns were not going to be welcomed by her church's pastors and elders. After several agonizing weeks of discussion, prayer, and turmoil, Susan and her husband sadly left their church. They knew they could not, in good conscience, leave their sons (and themselves) in harm's way.

But for Susan, the battle was only just beginning. One of her son's was scheduled to go on a missions trip to Europe with his Christian high school group. But at a parent's meeting, when Susan asked one of the leaders if the students would be attending any of the "boiler rooms" (Catholic-oriented contemplative "prayer" rooms) when they were in the UK, the leader curtly replied, "We'll go where ever the Lord leads." Susan thought perhaps he did not know what the boiler rooms were, but his sharp answer worried her. By this time in Susan's research, she had learned that the UK boiler rooms, started by mystic proponent Pete Greig (Red Moon Rising) were not something she wanted her young son to take part in. And Susan suspected that the reason for the swift dismissal of her question at the parent's meeting was because she was becoming known as a trouble-making parent who didn't understand the wave of the future for Christianity.

Susan and her husband were still going to allow their son to go on the UK trip. After all, his school was a Calvary Chapel high school. But last week something happened that changed all that. Susan learned that her son's class was asked to read a book titled How to Stay Christian in College by J. Budziszewski. The students were to do a book report on the book, and then the class would study it in the following weeks.

Susan made a quick call to Lighthouse Trails and asked what we knew about this author. We had not heard of him, but quickly learned that J. Budziszewski (pronounced Boo-jee-shef-ski) was an author and professor who had converted in 2004 from Protestantism to Catholicism. We also learned he was a proponent of contemplative practices. He is a featured professor on contemplative-promoting Focus on the Family's TrueU.org online university, telling students to practice lectio divina as a form of meditation.3

It seemed quite ironic that someone who had left the Christian faith to follow contemplative Catholicism wrote a book to instruct high school students how to remain Christian while in college, when he had converted away from evangelical Christianity. And knowing that a Calvary Chapel high school was using this book was troubling. Interestingly, the first person Budziszewski quotes in How to Stay Christian in College is Lutheran-turned-Catholic priest, the late Richard John Neuhaus, who many would consider a friend in the emergent/Catholic conversation.

Lighthouse Trails quickly obtained a copy of How to Stay Christian in College, and much to our dismay saw full page advertisements at the back of the book for books by Tony Jones and Eugene Peterson. We could understand why Budziszewski's publisher would place ads for Jones, a major advocate for mystical practices, in the back of Budziszewski's book. But we could not understand how Calvary Chapel could bring this into their school.

Thinking that perhaps Calvary Chapel was not aware of Budziszewski's 2004 conversion and his promotion of contemplative prayer practices, Lighthouse Trails, on behalf of Susan's family, contacted the Calvary Chapel high school. The vice-principal of the school politely listened to our concerns and said he would get back with us very soon. We told him that we felt compelled to issue a warning about the matter but said we would wait until we heard back from him. We told him we were concerned for Susan's son as well as the other students, who had been handed this book just prior to graduating and heading off to college. We said we felt this situation was urgent and we hoped to hear from him that the book had been pulled.
Several days passed, and we never did hear back from the school. Yesterday, Susan contacted us after she had a meeting with the vice-principal. She told him, in view of her and her husband's growing concerns, including the use of Budziszewski's book and the vagueness about the UK boiler rooms, they could not allow their son to go on the UK trip. She also learned yesterday that Budziszewski's book was not going to be pulled, and in fact, the vice-principal had been instructed from higher ups "don't call Lighthouse Trails - let them do their article."

Needless to say, Susan and her husband have felt a sense of distraughtness that the Christian church is going in this direction, and discernment (or even the desire for it) seems so lacking. Lighthouse Trails has acknowledged in the past that Calvary Chapel's founder Chuck Smith has made public statements denouncing contemplative mysticism, the emerging church, and the Purpose Driven Movement. He is one of the few leaders in the evangelical church who has made such bold proclamations. Thus, this article is not to condemn Calvary Chapel as a whole. We know there are many Bible-believing Calvary Chapel pastors who are standing strong for the faith. But rather it is to show that deception is often subtle, and Christian leaders cannot give way to it when it is spotted. It doesn't matter that the school did not call Lighthouse Trails back. We are insignificant. But it does matter, that in spite of legitimate and substantiated concerns, the book was not removed. Below is a heartfelt letter that Susan wrote to us this week. We post it with her permission--

Dear Lighthouse Trails:

We told our son to pray, as he is going to the beach to get some sun--he is off school today.


He seems okay that he is possibly not going to England after all. I believe the leaders have singled him out for some reason. I have told him that he may likely be sent home for some minor infraction, most likely the day before the team goes to the boiler rooms. Good try, not with our son. We know it is because we have challenged the Emergent doctrine that is entering even some Calvary Chapels. What will happen when Chuck Smith dies???

More things become clear to us all the time. This new Calvary Chapel high school is so different than the one we knew with our first two kids. Times are changing; now our senior gets a book by a protestant theologian-turned-Catholic, WHO IN AN ARTICLE PREACHES THE PRACTICE OF "lectio divina" from the desert fathers.

As a family, we reject the mystical, sensual lies, the emptying of the mind in meditation, to put so many other unclean spirits in... No thank you. No meditation, except on the Word of God. The Bible states this will happen in the last days, that there will be a great departing from the faith. This concerns us as we see the YOUTH of today being targeted with false doctrine and mystical practices.

Up at Biola University they now have a Masters Degree program in "Spiritual Formation." The seminaries are practicing mystical spirituality, even lectio divina, meditation, getting a high from breathing techniques (breath prayers) and entering the alpha state, and the ensuing "HIGH."

Because of this we have such a heavy heart for the youth of today. We sincerely grieve over the lies and false doctrine that they are being told. The Bible also speaks that not all who say Lord, Lord, will enter the gates of Heaven ... Lord, keep our young people safe, as well as our own kids, loved ones, and friends.

What happened to just JESUS?? It seems so simple, and for some unknown reason it does not seem to be enough for so many today.

We support your ministry and the fact that your hearts are so committed to exposing the truth. We choose to follow ONLY the inspired Word of God. We do not give any, and I mean any, credence to all the other "supposed" Christian authors, who do not speak the truth of the Word of God. Because of this, kids today love the physical and emotional HIGH and think that that is God. Lord God please have mercy on us.

We, as you know, have left an O.C. (RH) church that had breath prayers, Rob Bell, were going to build a labyrinth, linked to Emergent leader Spencer Burke, and still links to Beliefnet.com. WHY would a Christian church EVER lead their flock to this site rather than the one true Jesus Christ?

When confronted with this site they said they were going to remove it, like the Spencer Burke site. IT has been a full month, and they have not. Do they want to have their seekers and very vulnerable flock turn to dangerous doctrine?? Do they want their flock of believers to take the belief-net test, and maybe end up in a pagan or occult religion???

How can one of RH pastors state to my husband and I, that after a meeting with Calvary Chapel pastors, that they are on the same page??

We have tried to e-mail Chuck Smith and to have a meeting. He has never answered us. We do not believe that he has ever gotten our messages. Where is Chuck Smith?? The body of Christ needs him right now. Well if you can shed any light on the subject, please do.

CONTENDING FOR THE FAITH,

Concerned parents in Orange County

Notes:
2. Spencer Burke, "From the Third Floor to the Garage," online chapter from Stories of Emergence published by Zondervan/Youth Specialties, 2003, http://www.theooze.com/etrek/spencerburke.cfm.

 

Richard Foster's Legacy Endures - Christian Leaders Help to Make it So

If there is one person who could be considered the "father" of the present evangelical "spiritual formation" movement, that person is Richard Foster. And in spite of the non-biblical, mystical-promoting foundation of the spiritual formation movement, Foster continues to be touted, promoted, and looked up to by evangelical leaders, pastors, and professors. This article hopes to reveal the underlying nature of Foster's spirituality and to reject the recommendations of these Christian figures who rather than warning the body of Christ about Foster's spiritual formation, they point to him as a credible source of spiritual nourishment.

Recently, Christianity Today featured an article written by Richard Foster titled "Spiritual Formation Agenda." In the article, Foster discusses the progress (and the lack of progress) he feels the church has made in the last thirty years regarding spiritual formation. He says thirty years because that is when he officially began his efforts to bring spiritual formation to the evangelical church through his book, Celebration of Discipline, which has now sold over two million copies and where Foster stated: "[W]e should all without shame enroll as apprentices in the school of contemplative prayer."1

Foster explains in the CT article:

Thirty years ago, when Celebration of Discipline was first penned, we were faced with two huge tasks: First, we needed to revive the great conversation about the formation of the soul; and second, we needed to incarnate this reality into the daily experience of individual, congregational, and cultural life. Frankly, we have had much greater success with the first task. Christians of all sorts now know about the need for spiritual formation, and look to saints Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant for guidance. (emphasis added)

Foster couldn't be more right on two accounts: first, Christians of nearly every denomination are embracing "spiritual formation" today, and Lighthouse Trails has been documenting that for several years; and secondly, "spiritual formation" IS indeed connected to "saints Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant."

But who are these "saints" that Foster refers to and what is their spirituality? This is a key and valid question. And Foster himself can answer it. All we have to do is look to his own writings--he has been revealing these saints to the church for over thirty years. And incredibly, the church has bought into it hook, line, and sinker, hands down, no questions asked. Prove of that is abundant and convincing as Lighthouse Trails has often shown.

Two of the best sources to turn to in order to understand Foster's spirituality are his two books, Spiritual Classics (2000) and Devotional Classics (1990). In each book, Foster features writings from 52 "great devotional writers" or as he has often called them Devotional Masters. In Devotional Classics, Foster features: St. John of the Cross, St. Bernard of Clairvaux, St. Teresa of Avila (who levitated during mystical trances), St. Ignatius of Loyola, and Hildegard of Bingen (called a saint but not actually canonized). The one thing these five all have in common is they were practitioners of mysticism and held to panentheistic (God is in all) views.

In Foster's two Classics books, he also features several other mystics of this same nature. Some of those include Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Meister Eckhart, John Main, Karl Rahner, Thomas Merton, Evelyn Underhill, Julian of Norwich, Brother Lawrence, and Henri Nouwen. (For more information about these individuals, refer to our research site.)

One evening in 1994, Lighthouse Trails author Ray Yungen attended a seminar in Salem, Oregon, in which Richard Foster was speaking. Yungen had not heard much about Foster prior to that time but when a concerned youth pastor asked him to come listen to Foster, Yungen agreed. Prior to the seminar, Yungen read Celebration of Discipline. At that time, Yungen had been studying and researching New Age mysticism for ten years. Yungen describes a brief conversation he had with Foster that evening:

After the seminar ended . . . I approached Foster and politely asked him, "What do you think of the current Catholic contemplative prayer movement?" He appeared visibly uncomfortable with the question, and at first seemed evasive and vague. He then replied, "Well, I don't know, some good, some bad (mentioning Matthew Fox as an example of the bad)." In defense, he said, "My critics don't understand there is this tradition within Christianity that goes back centuries." He then said something that has echoed in my mind ever since that day. He emphatically stated, "Well, Thomas Merton tried to awaken God's people!" I realized then Foster had waded deep into Merton's belief system.2

Yungen began to study Foster in depth after that, and in 1999, he wrote the first edition of A Time of Departing, an expose on the contemplative prayer movement.

In order to understand this mystical movement, one must understand the spirituality of Thomas Merton. Yungen continues:

[I]t is precisely this alignment with Merton that undermines Foster's claim to being mystically attuned to the God of the Bible. Merton expressed views such as, "I see no contradiction between Buddhism and Christianity ... I intend to become as good a Buddhist as I can."

It is essential to really understand why Merton said things like this in order to understand why the contemplative prayer movement presents such a potential danger to evangelical Christian churches. Merton's conversion was spiritual, not social or political, as clearly revealed in one of his biographies:

His [Merton's] change of mind with regard to the higher religions was not the result of tedious comparison and contrast or even concerted analysis. It was an outgrowth of his experience with the Absolute [God].

In other words, Merton found Buddhist enlightenment in contemplative prayer.3

Today, 30 years after Richard Foster started his campaign for contemplative formation, he is still aligning himself with Thomas Merton, who actually told New Ager Matthew Fox once that he felt sorry for the hippies who were taking LSD because they could get the same results practicing contemplative prayer.4 In Foster's upcoming book (April 2009), Longing for God: Seven Paths of Christian Devotion, Foster devotes an entire six-page section of the book to Thomas Merton. He says that "Merton is captivated by God's relentless love for the world" (p.81). He acknowledges that Merton, like Foster himself, was influenced by Meister Eckhart and other mystics, as well as occultist Aldous Huxley (Perennial Wisdom, as above, so below). Foster says that Merton "stands as one of the greatest twentieth-century embodiments of spiritual life as a journey" (p. 84). What Foster DOES not tell the reader though in his new book is that Merton believed that God dwelled in all people. He embraced the Sufi (Islamic mystic) as well as the Buddhist view of God, that man, in totality, shares the divine nature, and in essence IS the divine nature, of God. Leonard Sweet, another admirer of Merton, quotes Merton in the preface of his book, Quantum Spirituality:

It is a glorious destiny to be a member of the human race, ... now I realize what we all are.... If only they [people] could all see themselves as they really are ... I suppose the big problem would be that we would fall down and worship each other.... At the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusions, a point of pure truth.... This little point ... is the pure glory of God in us. It is in everybody.5.

In spite of Richard Foster's obvious embracing of Merton's spirituality, evangelical leaders continue to stand by Foster. A case in point: At the upcoming Renovare international conference, The Jesus Way (June 21-24), popular Christian figure, Max Lucado, will be one of the featured speakers. Lucado will be joining Richard Foster, Dallas Willard, John Ortberg, and Eugene Peterson (all contemplatives) at the conference. Lucado's presence at the event is not a total surprise to Lighthouse Trails. Three years ago, we reported that Lucado's book, Cure for the Common Life, was promoting contemplative spirituality. 3 But most people don't know that, and he is the very personification of the typical mainstream evangelical pastor, so his aligning with Foster is very significant.

In addition to Lucado's embracing of Foster, Focus on the Family sells a series by H. B. London that features Richard Foster in a favorable interview. While this too is no surprise to Lighthouse Trails because Focus on the Family resonates with Gary Thomas, who resonates with contemplative spirituality in his books, FOF's promotion of Richard Foster will influence many, many people.

Some may accuse us of guilt by association but this is clearly guilt by promotion. In other words, there is a tie in or connection between every one we've mentioned. The individuals we've discussed are basically kindred spirits. And this illustrates the ground that contemplative spirituality is gaining on an ongoing basis. Lighthouse Trails wants to emphasize that this is no passing fad but the wave of the future. Karl Rahner (one of Foster's mystics) said that "The Christian of the future will be a mystic or he will not exist at all."6

In Rick Warren's first book, The Purpose Driven Church, Warren praised the spiritual formation movement and recognized Richard Foster's key role in it. Warren said that spiritual formation was a "valid message for the church"7 and has "given the body of Christ a wake-up call."8 Unfortunately, largely because of Rick Warren's world-wide following, Richard Foster's legacy continues to endure.

Notes:
1. Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline (San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row, 1978 edition), p. 13.
2. Ray Yungen, A Time of Departing (Silverton, OR: Lighthouse Trails Publishing, 2nd ed, 2006), pp. 76-77.
3. Ibid.
4. Interview with Matthew Fox: http://web.archive.org/web/20060425035122/nineoclockservice.tripod.com/mattiefx.htm.
5. Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander (Garden City, NY: Doubleday Publishers, 1989), pp. 157-158.
6. Karl Rahner, Theological Investigations, Concern for the Church, translated Edward Quinn (New York: Crossroad, 1981), p. 149.
7. Rick Warren, Purpose Driven Church, p. 127.
8. Ibid.


Christian Mystics of the Past

 

A Conditioning Process - Caving into Deception

by Caryl Matrisciana

One day in 1979, a young California business man was on his morning jog on a hillside path overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Feeling the breeze against his face and taking in the beauty around him, he suddenly heard a whispered voice within him. He describes the experience:

It formed into a pair of meaningless but mellifluous-sounding syllables in my mind, which gradually grew into a chant. To the beat of my running steps I gave voice to it, feeling a bursting joy: Kah-lee! ... Kah-lee! Somehow I knew that it was good and right for me to be doing this. Several months later, a friend gave me a copy of Paramahansa Yogananda's Autobiography of a Yogi. A few pages into the text, reading the author's account of his early life in India, I came across these words: "Our family moved to Lahore in the Punjab. There I acquired a picture of the Divine Mother in the form of the goddess Kali."

I was stunned. No wonder on that morning run I had felt such an abounding bliss . . . I had been chanting the name of a Nature god! I later learned that on that morning I had been a few hundred yards from the seaside ashram that Yogananda occupied for many years. Many mysterious experiences led me eventually to the feet of this master.1

The jogger that day was Jim Ballard, the author of Mind Like Water, a primer in Eastern religious practices. Former New Age follower Warren Smith describes his own reaction to Ballard's experience with Kali:

Just as I had not questioned the supernatural circumstances that led me to Indian guru Bhagwhan Shree Rajneesh, Ballard did not question the supernatural circumstances that led him to Paramahansa Yogananda. Yet if either one of us had been seriously reading the Bible back then we might have looked at our spiritual experiences quite differently. . . .

Fueled by his supernatural experience with "Kali" and by other various "mysterious experiences," Ballard was eventually led to "the feet" of Yogananda just as I had been led by my mysterious experiences to "the feet" of Rajneesh.2

Ballard's experience took place nearly thirty years ago, but the effect the Hindu god had on him continue. In his book, Little Wave and Old Swell (most recently published in 2007), Ballard says the book was "Inspired by [Hindu swami] Paramahansa Yogananda."3

Sadly, a very popular Christian figure has written glowing forewords to both of Ballard"s books: Ken Blanchard, author of The One Minute Manager and founder of "Lead Like Jesus," calls Mind Like Water a "wonderful book," adding:

I hope that you and countless other readers will find in Mind Like Water some ways to calm your mind and uplift your consciousness, and to transform the way you operate every day in this chaotic world.4

Little Wave and Old Swell is a children's book that carries the same message as Helen Schucman's A Course in Miracles--a New Age book made popular largely through Oprah Winfrey's promotion. What is the theme of the Course?â€"that man is divine, and God is in all. In the foreword to Little Wave and Old Swell, Blanchard tells readers to "[r]ead it many times. Let it speak to your heart."

Blanchard's endorsement of Mind Like Water and Little Wave and Old Swell is a prime example of how New Age spirituality has entered Christianity.

In view of these things, I cannot help but recall the lyrics I heard so many years ago at the musical Hair: "This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius."5 But unlike the optimistic, utopian world the hippies in the 1960s thought was in the making, the Bible says the world will enter a time of strong spiritual delusion. Revelation 12: 9 says that at some point in history, before Jesus Christ returns, Satan will deceive the whole world.

Our hope as young hippies, for a world with "Harmony and understanding, Sympathy and trust abounding,"6 will not occur. True peace will not come before the world experiences a great tribulation, as Revelation describes, but will only occur after Jesus Christ comes back to take His rightful place as King. Before Christ returns, the Anti-christ will come, and many will fall into his grip of madness and deceit.

Before the world can accept this world leader, a conditioning process must first take place. Such a process has been going on for some decades. Western society has been heavily influenced and altered by it already. The last hold out against the New Age of Aquarius is the Christian church. Now, that too is caving in under the assault. (From Out of India by Caryl Matrisciana, chapter 16, "The Dawning of the Age.")

Notes:

1. Jim Ballard, Mind Like Water (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2002), p. 14.
2. Warren Smith, Reinventing Jesus Christ, chapter 5 updates, p. 12.
3. Jim Ballard, Little Wave and Old Swell (New York, NY: Atria Books, Simon & Schuster, Inc., 2007), front cover.
4. Ken Blanchard quoted from foreword of Jim Ballard's Mind Like Water, op. cit.,
5. "Aquarius," song in the production, Hair, op. cit. (used by permission from Alfred Publishing Co. - permissions on file at LTPC).
6. Ibid.

Related Information:

Ken Blanchard Presents: Little Wave and Old Swell (A Course in Miracles for Children)

Important Research on Ken Blanchard

 

God in Everything? The Premise of Contemplative Spirituality

by Ray Yungen

The theological implications of this worldview put it at direct odds with biblical Christianity for obvious reasons. Only one true God exists, and His identity is not in everyone.

It was Alice Bailey, the famous occult prophetess who coined the term New Age, who made this startling assertion:

It is, of course, easy to find many passages which link the way of the Christian Knower with that of his brother in the East. They bear witness to the same efficacy of method.1

What did she mean by the term "Christian Knower"? The answer is unmistakable! [O]ccultism is awakening the mystical faculties to see God in everything. In Hinduism, this is called reaching samadhi or enlightenment. It is the final objective of yoga meditation: God in everything--a force or power flowing through all that exists. William Johnston believes such an experience exists within the context of Christianity. He explains:

What I can safely say, however, is that there is a Christian samadhi that has always occupied an honored place in the spirituality of the West. This, I believe, is the thing that is nearest to Zen. It is this that I have called Christian Zen.2

The famous psychologist Carl Jung predicted this system would be the yoga of the west.3

 

Surviving Beatles Unite to Promote Kid's Meditation

"More than 40 years after they traveled to India to study transcendental meditation, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr will reunite for the cause."1

LTRP Note: According to the article below, the two remaining Beatles (the musical group from the 60s) will be teaching children around the world to meditate. But they aren't the only ones who are putting kids in touch with their higher, mystical selves. From AWANA clubs, to Focus on the Family's Odyssey to Eugene Peterson's Message Bible for Kids to Rob Bell's Nooma films in the Christian schools, Christian leaders and teachers are bringing kids to the contemplative, mystical waters as well. Please see our links below.

By Alan Duke
CNN
out-of-house writer

"Surviving Beatles reunite to promote kid's meditation"

(CNN) - Former Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr will reunite on stage next month [Change Begins Within Benefit Concert in conjunction with David Lynch Foundation] to raise money to teach transcendental meditation to children around the world to "help provide them a quiet haven in a not-so-quiet world," McCartney said.

The star-studded list of performers who will join them include two musicians who were with the Beatles when they journeyed to India's Himalayan foothills in 1968 to learn transcendental meditation from Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

"In moments of madness, it has helped me find moments of serenity," McCartney said in the concert announcement.

Profits from the April 4 show at New York's Radio City Music Hall will fund the David Lynch Foundation's program, which has already taught 60,000 children around the world how to meditate, foundation spokesman Steve Yellin said.Click here for source.

Read Out of India, Caryl Matrisciana's compelling biography. In that book, India-raised Matrisciana shares how the Beatles had an impact on an entire generation. Also for a complete analysis of the current contemplative prayer (Spiritual Formation) movement within Christianity, read A Time of Departing.

More on Children and Meditation:

National Pilot Project to Study Contemplative Kids - Project Influenced by Thomas Keating

Message Bible for Little Kids Instructs on Contemplative Meditation

Focus on the Family's Adventures in Odyssey - Promoting Contemplative?

Special Alert: Awana Embraces Contemplative Spirituality!

 

New YouTube Clip - Roger Oakland - Road to Rome

Lighthouse Trails has now placed a third 10-minute video clip of Roger Oakland on our YouTube account. This one is a portion of Roger's talk, Road to Rome and the Emerging Church from his four-part DVD series. You may click here, which will take you to Lighthouse Trails YouTube. From there you may watch this new clip as well as two other clips by Roger and two by Warren Smith when he addressed 800 pastors in California in 2008. We will be adding two clips of Ray Yungen lectures in the near future.

All Lighthouse Trails YouTube video clips are edited and compiled by Luke, to whom we are most grateful.

 

What is the Spiritual Formation Movement, and Why is it Unbiblical?

Spiritual Formation: A movement that has provided a platform and a channel through which contemplative prayer is entering the church. Find spiritual formation being used, and in nearly every case you will find contemplative spirituality. In fact, contemplative spirituality is the heartbeat of the spiritual formation movement.

by Roger Oakland 

When I first began writing in the field in the late 70s and early 80s the term "Spiritual Formation" was hardly known, except for highly specialized references in relation to the Catholic orders. Today it is a rare person who has not heard the term. Seminary courses in Spiritual Formation proliferate like baby rabbits. Huge numbers are seeking to become certified as Spiritual Directors to answer the cry of multiplied thousands for spiritual direction.1--Richard Foster

A move away from the truth of God's Word to a mystical form of Christianity has infiltrated, to some degree, nearly all evangelical denominations. Few Bible teachers saw this avalanche coming. Now that it is underway, most do not realize it has even happened.

The best way to understand this process is to recall what happened during the Dark Ages when the Bible became the forbidden book. Until the reformers translated the Bible into the language of the common people, the great masses were in darkness. When the light of God's Word became available, the Gospel was once again understood.

I believe history is repeating itself. As the Word of God becomes less and less important, the rise in mystical experiences escalates, and these experiences are presented to convince the unsuspecting that Christianity is about feeling, touching, smelling, and seeing God. The postmodern mindset is the perfect environment for fostering spiritual formation. This term suggests there are various ways and means to get closer to God and to emulate Him. Thus the idea that if you do certain practices, you can be more like Jesus. Proponents of spiritual formation erroneously teach that anyone can practice these mystical rituals and find God within. Having a relationship with Jesus Christ is not a prerequisite. In a DVD called
Be Still, which promotes contemplative prayer, Richard Foster says that contemplative prayer is for anyone and that by practicing it, one becomes "a portable sanctuary" for "the presence of God."2

Rather than having the indwelling of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, spiritual formation through the spiritual disciplines supposedly transforms the seeker by his or her entering an altered realm of consciousness.

The spiritual formation movement is widely promoted at colleges and seminaries as the latest and the greatest way to become a spiritual leader. It teaches people that this is how they can become more intimate with God and truly hear His voice. Even Christian leaders with long-standing reputations of teaching God's Word seem to be succumbing. In so doing, many Christian leaders are frivolously playing with fire, and the result will be thousands, probably millions, getting burned.

It isn't going into the silence that transforms a person's life. It is in accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and allowing Him to change us that transformation occurs.

And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel. (Colossians 1:21-23)

We are reconciled to God only through Christ's death (the atonement for sin), and we are presented "holy and unblamable and unreproveable" when we belong to Him through rebirth. It has nothing to do with works, rituals, or mystical experiences. It is Christ's life in the converted believer that transforms him. (For more information on this topic and emerging spirituality, read Faith Undone.)

Notes:
1. Richard Foster, "Spiritual Formation: A Pastoral Letter" (January 18, 2004, click here).
2. Richard Foster, Be Still DVD (Fox Home Entertainment, 2006), section titled "Contemplative Prayer."

Related Information:

Assemblies of God: Committed to Spiritual Formation, Contemplative and Emerging

Which organizations are involved with spiritual formation?

Morersearch on spiritual formation.

 

Reiki on the Rise in 2009

LTRP Note: The following out-of-house news article by Spafinder reveals that in 2009 Reiki [i.e., energy healing) will be one of the top 10 health spa trends to watch. There are currently over 1 1/2 million Reiki channelers in the US; Germany, alone, has over a million Reiki channelers. Below this news article, we have posted an article by Ray Yungen, who addresses the dangers of Reiki and its connection to contemplative mysticism.

"SpaFinder Issues 6th Annual Full Trends Report:'Top 10 Spa Trends to Watch in 2009'"

SpaFinder, the global spa resource, has announced ... the company's sixth annual forecast of the emerging concepts that will shape the world of spa in 2009 and beyond. The global spa industry's extraordinary growth and resiliency has been fueled by important new ideas in health, wellness, fitness, beauty, design, and cuisine. Despite a turbulent economy, SpaFinder President Susie Ellis believes 2009 will prove no exception, with the industry continuing to innovate, including developments such as the 'in-transit' spa experience, new offerings for the exploding Gen X and Y demographic, bolder eco-friendly initiatives, and the ramping up of global spa brands....

Everyone's 'talking about energy,' and for 2009 the spa industry will follow suit, with a lot of high-voltage buzz around 'energy medicine' and therapies like Reiki; Qi Gong; chakra balancing; healing touch; magnetic, light and sound therapy; and acupuncture. While there's charged debate about how to define these practices, whether they're in fact 'new,' or whether there's enough scientific evidence to warrant our attention--the energy medicine trend within both the spa industry and the medical establishment is clear. For instance, Dr. Oz of Oprah fame recently argued that 'the next big frontier of medicine ... is energy medicine,' and former Surgeon General and Canyon Ranch CEO Richard Carmona recently reported that energy medicine is one of the emerging science areas they're pursuing for their forward-thinking medical resorts. Click here to read this entire article.

 

Reiki, and its Connection to the Contemplative Practices of Thomas Merton and Richard Foster

by Ray Yungen

A mystical pragmatism is growing particularly fast through various New Age healing techniques. One such procedure is called Reiki (pronounced ray-key), a Japanese word that translates to Universal Life Energy or God energy. It has also been referred to as the radiance technique. Reiki is an ancient Tibetan Buddhist healing system, rediscovered by a Japanese man in the 1800s, that only recently has come to the West.

The Reiki technique consists of placing the hands on [or near] the recipient and then activating the energy to flow through the practitioner and into the recipient. One practitioner describes the experience in the following way:

When doing it, I become a channel through which this force, this juice of the universe, comes pouring from my palms into the body of the person I am touching, sometimes lightly, almost imperceptibly, sometimes in famished sucking drafts. I get it even as I'm giving it. It surrounds the two of us, patient and practitioner.1

What is this "juice of the universe?" The answer is an important one, given by a renowned Reiki master who explains:

A Reiki attunement is an initiation into a sacred metaphysical order that has been present on earth for thousands of years ... By becoming part of this group, you will also be receiving help from the Reiki guides and other spiritual beings who are also working toward these goals.2

While this is not widely advertised, Reiki practitioners depend on this "spirit guide" connection as an integral aspect of Reiki. In fact, it is the very foundation and energy behind Reiki. One Reiki master who has enrolled hundreds of other masters spoke of her interaction with the spirit guides:

For me, the Reiki guides make themselves the most felt while attunements are being passed. They stand behind me and direct the whole process, and I assume they also do this for every Reiki Master. When I pass attunements, I feel their presence strongly and constantly. Sometimes I can see them.3

A Christian's initial response to this information might be, "So what? I don't travel in those circles, so it does not concern me." This nonchalant viewpoint would be valid except for the fact that Reiki is currently growing to enormous proportions and in some very influential circles. (It may even be in your local hospitals, schools, and youth organizations.) It is essential to know that many nurses, counselors, and especially massage therapists use Reiki as a supplement to their work. It is often promoted as a complementary service.... One Reiki master delightfully noted this surge of interest when he stated:

Over the years, there has been a shift in the belief system of the general public, allowing for greater acceptance of alternative medicine. As a result, we are seeing a growing interest in Reiki from the public at large. People from all backgrounds are coming for treatments and taking classes.4

One very revealing statistic involves Louisville, Kentucky, where 102 people were initiated into Reiki in just a single weekend.5 This denotes a large number of people are drawn to Reiki in the Bible belt, traditionally a conservative part of America.

It is important to understand the way in which Reiki is presented to the public at large. Despite its underlying metaphysical foundation, when one reads the literature put out by Reiki practitioners it is not at all apparent. One Reiki master who runs a day spa repeatedly uses words like comfort and nurture in her brochure. Reiki is something that will give you pleasure. Another woman who is a professional counselor tells her potential clients that Reiki will give them deep relaxation and reduce pain. Again and again these same themes emerge from promotional literature on Reiki--relaxation, well-being, reduce illness, reduce stress, balance your mind, etc. How can one say that Reiki is bad when it claims to help people?

The reason for this level of acceptance is easy to understand. Most people, many Christians included, believe if something is spiritually positive then it is of God. A pastor friend of mine recounted a situation in which a Christian, who had some physical problems, turned to Reiki for comfort. When this pastor advised the man that Reiki fundamentally opposed the Christian faith he became furious and responded with the following defense, "How can you say this is bad when it helped me?" That is why I titled [a chapter in my book] "Discernment." To discern is to "test the spirits" (1 John 4:1). If something is of God it will conform to the very cornerstone of God's plan to show His grace through Christ Jesus and Him alone (Ephesians 2:7). Reiki, as I defined earlier, is based on the occult view of God.

This assessment of Reiki is beyond question. Every Reiki book I have ever seen is chock full of pronouncements that back up the point I am trying to make. In The Everything Reiki Book, the following clears up any doubt about Reiki's incompatibility with Christianity:

During the Reiki attunement process, the avenue that is opened within the body to allow Reiki to flow through also opens up the psychic communication centers. This is why many Reiki practitioners report having verbalized channeled communications with the spirit world. (emphasis mine)6

What is even more disturbing is that the Reiki channeler may not even have control over this "energy" as the following comment shows:

Nurses and massage therapists who have been attuned to Reiki may never disclose when Reiki starts flowing from their palms as they handle their patients. Reiki will naturally "kick in" when it is needed and will continue to flow for as long as the recipient is subconsciously open to receiving it.7

Another such method is Therapeutic Touch. Like Reiki, it is based on the occultic chakra system, portrayed as the seven energy centers in the body aligned with spiritual forces. The seventh chakra identifies with the God-in-all view. Therapeutic Touch is widely practiced by nurses in clinics and hospitals. It is seen as a helpful and healing adjunct to nursing care.

If the connection between Reiki healing and other metaphysical practices can be seen, then we more fully understand why the following quote is one of the most powerful statements as to the true nature of contemplative prayer. A Reiki master in the course of promoting the acceptance of this method relayed:

Anyone familiar with the work of ... or the thought of ... [she then listed a string of notable New Age writers with Thomas Merton right in the center of them] will find compatibility and resonance with the theory and practices of Reiki.8

Reiki comes from Buddhism, and as one Merton scholar wrote, "The God he [Merton] knew in prayer was the same experience that Buddhists describe in their enlightenment."9

This is why it is so important to understand the connection between the writings of Richard Foster and Brennan Manning with Merton. Promotion indicates attachment, and attachment indicates common ground. Something is terribly wrong when a Reiki master and two of the most influential figures in the evangelical church today both point to the same man as an example of their spiritual path. (from chapter 5, A Time of Departing) To understand more about the connection between Foster, Manning, and Merton, read
A Time of Departing in its entirety.

Notes:
1."Healing Hands" (New Woman Magazine, March, 1986), p. 78.
2. William Rand, Reiki: The Healing Touch (Southfield, MI: Vision Pub.,1991), p. 48.
3. Diane Stein, Essential Reiki (Berkley, CA: Crossing Press, 1995), p. 107.
4. William Lee Rand, "Reiki, A New Direction" (Reiki News, Spring 1998, http://www.reiki.org/reikinews/reikinewdir.html, accessed 12/2005), p. 4.
5. Reiki News, Winter, 1998, p. 5.
6. Phylameana lila Desy, The Everything Reiki Book (Avon, MA: Adams Media, 2004), p.144.
7. Ibid., p. 270.
8. Janeanne Narrin, One Degree Beyond: A Reiki Journey into Energy Medicine (Seattle, WA: Little White Buffalo, 1998), p.xviii.
9. Brian C. Taylor, Setting the Gospel Free (New York, NY: Continuum Publishing , 1996), p. 76.

Click here for More on Reiki

 

Christian Organizations Falsely Labeled "Hate" Groups

GUEST COMMENTARY

by Linda Harvey
Mission America
Columbus, OH

[Another] pro-family organizations was just listed as a "hate" group on a supposedly objective web site. It might be amusing if it didn't hurt the reputations of tireless and upstanding Christian groups.

The Southern Poverty Law Center is based in Montgomery, Alabama, and originally was a watchdog for racist groups, and I certainly appreciate this focus. But the group also has a long history of radical left-wing activism, including more recently, becoming defenders of "tolerance." By their priorities, though, we are to tolerate every religion except Christianity. There is to be no criticism of law-breaking and financially-draining illegal immigrants, because that's "racism." And homosexuality and transgenderism are to be considered worthy lifestyles. Those who oppose homosexuality in the public arena are now automatically suspect.

The SPLC identifies groups they deem as "hate" groups. They regularly publish hate group lists, and this wouldn't matter if they were just another goofball leftie group out there. But some law enforcement agencies use this group's information for their own "watch" lists, and the SPLC even conducts some "hate crimes" training.

Along with the neo-Nazi and Ku Klux Klan groups, they have recently begun adding others they call "anti-gay." And that's where these pro-family groups come in. Traditional Values Coalition based in California is headed by Reverend Lou Sheldon.... TVC is now a so-called "hate" group listed on the SPLC web site.
Click here to read this entire article.

Related Article:

The Election is Over - What About the Department of Peace?

 

The Shack Author Joins the Ranks of Those Who Deny Substitutionary Atonement

In a recent radio interview, The Shack author, Paul Young, told the interviewer he did not hold to the traditional view of the atonement in that he does not believe Jesus Christ bore the punishment (i.e., penalty) for man's sins when He died on the Cross (transcript).

He also stated, with regard to this topic: "I don't know if you're aware, but that's a huge debate that's going on in theology right now within the evangelical community." That debate, to which Young refers, is the new theology (or as we call it the new spirituality) that is entering Christianity through contemplative and emerging figures such as Brennan Manning, Brian McLaren, and Marcus Borg.

This "huge debate" states that a loving Father would never send His Son to a violent death on behalf of the sins of others. And while they do not deny that Jesus did physically die on a Cross, they insist that His death was not to be a substitutionary act wherein He was punished for our sins. Rather, they say, He was killed by man, not for man. And he was a perfect model of sacrificial servanthood. As Episcopal new spirituality author, Alan Jones, states, "Jesus' sacrifice was to appease an angry God. Penal substitution was the name of this vile doctrine" (Reimagining Christianity, p. 168).

Contemplative proponent Brennan Manning, quoting Catholic mystic William Shannon, says: "[T]he god who exacts the last drop of blood from his Son so that his just anger, evoked by sin, may be appeased . . . does not exist" (Above All, pp. 58-59). Mystic Marcus Borg has this exact same view. He is opposes the doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement and sees the Cross as merely a metaphor for transformation in the mystical sense. 1 Brian McLaren shares this view (and indeed resonates with Borg) when he says that hell and the Cross are "false advertising for God." 2

The Shack, still at the top of the New York Times Best Seller list, is being heralded as one of the best Christian books ever. But as Lighthouse Trails and other concerned ministries have reported in a number of documented articles, The Shack is not a Christian book, and it should not be packaged, presented, and promoted as such.

While many who have read The Shack, tout that it has changed their lives, what these people do not understand is that the book appeals to people's senses; thus, the book is sensual. And because it makes people feel good, they assume (wrongly) that it must be from God. But The Shack is appealing to the carnal man and not the spiritual, and as the Bible warns, there is a "wisdom [that] descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish" (James 3: 15).

For more information on the denial of substitutionary atonement by Christian mystics, click here.

 

 

Nazarene General Assembly Welcomes Contemplative Spirituality--Nazarene Pastors WorldWide Invited

Contemplative spirituality has been coming into the Nazarene denomination for some time through their seminaries and universities. But this summer, the mystical-based spirituality will be taking a giant step into the Nazarene Church at large. The Nazarene Theological Seminary will be presenting a contemplative retreat to pastors and leaders from around the world who will be attending the 2009 General Assembly & Conventions in June.

The conference, which will take place in Orlando, Florida, is open to pastors, leaders, and lay people within the Nazarene Church. A staff member in the Nazarene General Assembly conference office told Lighthouse Trails on March 16th that they are expecting from 15,000 to 25,000 attendees from around the world, some of whom will be non-Nazarenes as all are welcome.

The General Assembly Spiritual Formation Retreat will be held at San Pedro Center, a Franciscan retreat center the day before the opening session of the General Assembly conference. And while concerns over having a Nazarene retreat at a Catholic contemplative location should stir concern, this report is focusing on one of the six people who will be leading the retreat, Dr. Alden Sproull. Sproull is founder and director of the Kairos Center for Spiritual Formation based in Redlands, California.

According to his website* (see below), Alden Sproull has "worked in Contemplative Spiritual Practices for 30 years." The Kairos Center is "a unique center for spirituality." The website also states:

Kairos is not a religion, but people from a variety of traditions benefit from the spiritual programs at Kairos that are not available at traditional religious institutions.

Under "Spiritual Practices," on Sproull's website, he states: "We need to open ourselves to the presence of God through regular spiritual practices. In stillness we can feel unity with God." Sproull says that examples of these spiritual practices can be found on the "Center for Contemplative Mind in Society" website, which he links to from his site. An extensive "tree" of mystical practices are listed, some of which include: centering prayer, yoga, labyrinth walking, contemplative prayer, building altars, the Jesus Prayer, lectio divina, mantra meditation, visualization, and chanting. This site has a lengthy list of Recommended Reading, too many to list in this report. A few of the titles will illustrate the nature of the site: Breakfast with Buddha, Pure Heart, Enlightened Mind: The Life and Letters of an Irish Zen Saint, The Asian Journal of Thomas Merton, Lighting the Lamp of Wisdom: A Week inside a Yoga Ashram, and Waking Up: A Week inside a Zen Monastery.

Alden Sproull would not link to this site, if he did not agree with its overall message, and what Nazarene's may fail to understand is the underlying interfaith, interspiritual connections that are brought out clearly in his linking to that site.

While Nazarene universities and seminaries have been embracing contemplative spirituality for a long time, many of the denomination's pastors and church members may not have yet been introduced to contemplative. But with the upcoming contemplative retreat, that may all change. Clearly, a message is being sent to Nazarenes worldwide that says, "Contemplative is a worthwhile spirituality that should be welcomed." As Lighthouse Trails has tried to show through articles and books, contemplative prayer is a route to mystical interspirituality, which in its very nature denies the Cross and the Gospel message. We believe the apostle Paul's admonition in II Thessalonians 2 relates to the growing interest and adherence to contemplative spirituality within the walls of Christianity: "Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day [Christ's return] shall not come, except there come a falling away first."

* Alden Sproull's website, Kairos Center for Spiritual Formation is often offline and cannot be readily accessed. This link, however, will show a cached file of the site.

Related Articles:

Trevecca Nazarene University Promoting Contemplative Spirituality in No Small Way

Nazarene Superintendent Praises "A Time of Departing" But Denomination's Schools Sinking into Contemplative

Nazarene Universities Welcome Brian McLaren

Contemplative Spirituality and the Emerging Church Come to Kansas Through YouthFront and MNU

Ambrose University (CMA & Nazarene) Full Speed into Contemplative/Emergent


 

Time Magazine Article on Rick Warren's New Magazine

PyroMarketing Hagiography

"The pastor's partners at Reader's Digest aren't worried about readers being turned off by a Rick Warren overload. On the contrary, they're counting on his global appeal. "He's a powerhouse," says Alston in explaining the publisher's decision to take on the new title." -- TIME, 3/11/09

hagiography: (noun) A biography that idealizes or idolizes the person (especially a person who is a saint); the writing and critical study of the lives of the saints.

In a March 11, 2009 TIME magazine article titled "Rick Warren's Magazine: A Publishing Leap of Faith," it describes the next step of Rick Warren's massive global marketing campaign. Rick Warren has his own magazine, Purpose Driven Connection, which is compared to Oprah Winfrey's "O" magazine, which is all about self-promotion for the well-known New Age TV celebrity. In fact, the same Reader's Digest executive who launched Oprah's magazine now oversees Rick Warren's magazine. Commenting that one article on Rick Warren's ventures in Rwanda "veers toward hagiography," TIME explains:

The premiere issue features a softly lit, smiling Warren on the cover (though his spokesman Larry Ross is quick to make clear that the cover images will change - "this isn't going to be like O"). Inside, no fewer than seven articles are written by Warren or his wife Kay.

What is significant about the launching of this magazine is that it is to MEMBERS, not mere customer SUBSCRIBERS. Rick Warren is still following the PyroMarketing strategy laid out by Greg Stielstra in his book of that title, which we reviewed in an article series called "The Dopamine-Driven Church" in 2007 here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here. Click here to read this entire article.

Related Information:

Rick Warren/Reader's Digest Partnership Targets New Multi-Million Member Audience

 

"The First-Ever Catholic-Emergent Conference" Erroneously Advertised

On March 20-22, what is being called "the first-ever Catholic-Emergent conference" took place. The name of the conference is The Emerging Church: Conversations, Convergence and Action. Spencer Burke, of the Ooze, calls it "one of the magical moments in this movement of God."1

The event was being erroneously advertised as a meeting of Catholic and Protestant leaders. Emergent Village states: "[T]his will be the first gathering to be planned and hosted by a team of Catholic and Protestant leaders working together for the good of the church at large."1 The Center for Action and Contemplation (web home of Catholic priest and contemplative Richard Rohr and host to the event) also identifies the non-Catholics as "Protestants" and "Evangelicals." However, the non-Catholic speakers for the conference would be more accurately described as emerging church leaders. The reason for this distinction is vital: Many of the leaders in the emerging church movement do not resonate with some of the most foundational doctrines of historical Protestantism and Evangelicalism (e.g., substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ and the authority of Scripture as being the inspired word of God), thus it is erroneous for them to be called Protestant or Evangelical.

Speakers for the 2009 event, on the "emerging" side included Brian McLaren, Shane Claiborne, and Phyllis Tickle. Richard Rohr represented the Catholic side. Rohr's spirituality would be in the same camp as someone like Matthew Fox (author of The Coming of the Cosmic Christ) who believes in pantheism and panentheism. Rohr wrote the foreword to a 2007 book called How Big is Your God? by Jesuit priest (from India) Paul Coutinho. In Coutinho's book, he describes an interspiritual community where people of all religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, and Christianity) worship the same God.

To understand the significance and the ramifications of the ecumenical move toward Catholicism by key Christian figures, read Roger Oakland's Faith Undone: the emerging church - a new reformation or an end-time deception.

For information on the teachings and beliefs of the conference speakers, please refer to Lighthouse Trails Research Project.

 

Judge Orders Homeschoolers Into Public District Classrooms

By Bob Unruh
WorldNetDaily

A North Carolina judge has ordered three children to attend public schools this fall because the homeschooling their mother has provided over the last four years needs to be "challenged."

The children, however, have tested above their grade levels--by as much as two years.

The decision is raising eyebrows among homeschooling families, and one friend of the mother has launched a website to publicize the issue....

A statement released by a publicist working for the mother, whose children now are 10, 11 and 12, said Mangum stripped her of her right to decide what is best for her children's education.

The judge, when contacted by WND, explained his goal in ordering the children to register and attend a public school was to make sure they have a "more well-rounded education."
Click here to read this entire article.

More "Signs of the Times" Articles:

Swat Team conducts food raid in rural Ohio

I Found God in Soviet Russia

More on Family Hit by Swat Team

An Enlightened Race

 

Creation DVD Touches Hearts of African Refugees

 CUSTOMER REVIEW: I used the God of Wonders DVD in a personal Bible study at the home of four young Central African refugees who were rescued out of the Gatumba Burundi massacres. They have only been here 1-1/2 years; just learning English, and I'm helping to teach them English using the Bible.

We had just begun in Genesis 1 & 2 when I received the DVDs. You should have seen the faces on these kids when they saw visuals of God's magnificence! The amazing Hummingbird, the lightning, snowflakes, DNA ... the lions and animals they were so familiar with from Africa! ... [T]he visuals were worth a thousand words!! GOD used the beauty of Jim Tetlow's masterpiece to touch deeply the souls of a precious 6 yr. old little girl, and three of her five brothers aged 9, 11 & 14. ALL FOUR children made their profession for Jesus Christ after the 1st two chapters of Genesis & his DVD ... in spite of the spiritual battle, the enemy may have thought evil against this project ... BUT GOD MEANT IT UNTO GOOD, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people ... Gen 50:20 - C. M. from Maine

For more information on God of Wonders DVD, including links to trailers and sample video clips,
click here.

 

Purging the Memory of Our Christian Roots

by Berit Kjos

My favorite book as a child was a Norwegian translation of an old British book titled "The Wide Wide Word." It tells about a young girl sent to live with a distant aunt after the death of her mother. Since Ellen had already learned to trust Jesus, she knew He was with her in the midst of her dark and lonely surroundings. She saw His love in amazing ways--especially through a kind young woman who uses every painful hurdle in Ellen's early life to point her to God's ever--present comforts.

Since my family rarely mentioned God in those days, this book opened my eyes to His loving sovereignty. It became my life--line to His special strength during Norway's post-war years. And when we moved to America, it was the main treasure I brought with me.

Such books may soon be forgotten--banished
by a law that prohibits the sale of children's books published before 1985. The justification for such an outrageous decree is that the print might contain a tiny amount of lead. Testing books for lead is prohibitively expensive. According to an article titled, The New Book Banning, "no one seems to have been able to produce a single instance in which an American child has been made ill by the lead in old book illustrations--not surprisingly, since unlike poorly maintained wall paint, book pigments do not tend to flake off in large lead-laden chips for toddlers to put into their mouths."

Could political goals have prompted this specific ban? I don't know. But if I were a postmodern change agent, I would want to hide old books that refresh young minds with moral absolutes and the unadulterated memories of our historical roots. Truth and freedom are incompatible with today's evolving standards for global solidarity.

Today's Christian books are different. Actual Scriptures are usually missing, and new marketing schemes have led even Christian publishers to adapt their books to postmodern demands. Since entertainment is vital to sales, their new children's books often show silly images of our holy God--designed to amuse, not show reverence. We seem to have forgotten God's admonitions:

"I will not let them ... profane My holy name anymore." Ezekiel 39:7

"You thought that I was altogether like you; but I will rebuke you." Psalm 50:21

Nothing speeds America's memory loss faster than its spreading boundaries for Biblical truth. And it's no accident that today's emphasis on politically correct tolerance rarely applies to Christians. Click here to read this entire article.

 

Gaither Family Fest to Include The Shack Author

Bill and Gloria Gaither will be hosting the 19th annual Family Fest in May and will be featuring The Shack author William Paul Young. The Gaithers have been a popular Christian music team for many years. Lighthouse Trails is sorry to see they will be including The Shack author in this year's event. The Shack, a fiction story that has been at the top of the New York Times Best Seller List for 41 weeks, is presented as a Christian book but has serious New Age implications including the Black Madonna (goddess) theme.

The Gaithers aren't the only popular Christian figures who are promoting The Shack and labeing it as Christian. Speaker and author Gayle Erwin has heartily endorsed the book as have singers Michael W. Smith and Wynonna Judd, and the book is often used in church studies in various denominations. In Rick Warren's new magazine, The Purpose Driven Connection, in the premier issue, Warren refers to the book as a "notable best-selling Christian" book (p. 24).

In 2005, the Gaithers held their Gaithers Praise Gathering in which they invited Brian McLaren, Leonard Sweet, and other emerging church leaders to be speakers.1. In 2008, at the
Gaither's Fall Festival
, Brian McLaren's book, The Secret Message of Jesus (see Faith Undone for information on that book) was featured in the Readers Breakfast Club. Gloria Gaither is also on the Advisory Board for the Spirit and Place Festival, an organization sympathetic to the "new (age) spirituality." McLaren is a featured personality in that organization.

The Gaither's promotion of The Shack, Brian McLaren, and Leonard Sweet are strong indicators that the Gaithers are attracted to emerging spirituality, and this will no doubt influence many of their followers.

For more on The Shack, click here.

 

Lighthouse Trails Taking Applications

Lighthouse Trails is currently looking for someone who can work from their home or office and who is familiar with the Adobe Dreamweaver program. Starting pay is $15/hour and would entail about 20 hours a month. This person would be working on our three websites, finding and fixing broken links and creating new pages. We will provide training for the right person. Must have some understanding of html code. Please click here to visit our employment/volunteer page where you will find applications and other information.

 

Spanish Edition of Faith Undone

Lighthouse Trails is pleased to announce that the Spanish edition of Faith Undone is now available. Sally Arias, our Spanish translator, completed the translating of LA FE DESECHADA last Fall. She worked closely with editors in Columbia to help finish the project.  You may order the book now. It also qualifies for quantity discounts (10 or more) as do all Lighthouse Trails books.

Click here to order and for a product description in Spanish.

ISBN: 978-0-9791315-8-5

Retail: $12.95

272 pages, softbound

 

Lighthouse Trails First Fiction

Lighthouse Trails 1st Fiction -
Castles in the Sand

by Candadian author Carolyn A. Greene

Book Information:
ISBN 978-0-9791315-4-7
Retail - $12.95
Softbound 208 Pages

Description: When a young Christian college girl named Teresa is introduced by her Spiritual Formation professor to the writings of a young mystic girl from the 16th century, Teresa of Avila, the 21st century Teresa's life is dramatically affected as she plunges into mysticism. As the young girl falls deeper into the grips of this dark spirituality, a young mysterious man and Teresa's concerned foster grandfather, who graduated years earlier from the same school, see what is happening to the young girl, and they make plans to rescue her.

This "fiction with a message" will help readers to see the true nature behind contemplative spirituality (Spiritual Formation), which has so quickly pervaded Christian colleges, seminaries, and universities across the globe.

Author Bio: Castles in the Sand is Carolyn Greene's debut book. She has studied the New Age movement and the contemplative prayer movement for several years. She lives in Canada with her husband and two children. Carolyn A. Greene is the authors pen name. Click here to order and for more information.

 

 

 

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