Coming From the Lighthouse
Alert: Popular Contemplative Book in Christian Circles
Soul Feast by Marjorie Thompson is a book that
promotes mantra meditation and New Age mystics. It
stands among many other contemplative prayer books
that do the same. But what is so alarming
is that it also stands within the ranks of many Christian
ministries, organizations, churches, and colleges.
And even though Thompson does not hide her mystical
affinities, many in Christian circles see her
as a trustworthy source for spiritual nourishment.
The book was first released in 1995. Henri Nouwen
was still alive, and he wrote the foreword, saying
that Soul Feast is "the fruit of Marjorie's
personal practice, her solid studies, and long experience
in spiritual formation. It brings together in a clear,
concise way the essence of her ministry." Nouwen
would agree that if someone wanted to know what Thompson
really believed, this book would provide the "essence"
of those beliefs.
In the book, Thompson gets right to the point of the
book when she makes the following statements in the
Some Christians find that
'mindfulness meditation," a traditional Buddhist
practice, helps them live their Christian discipleship
The practice of contemplative prayer might give a
Christian ground for constructive dialogue with a
Spiritual practice is the heart of this book.
Thompson, an ordained minister
of the Presbyterian Church USA, 1 is a director for The Pathways Center (part of the Upper
Room Ministries).2 Upper Room is an organization that promotes mantra based
meditation and is the creator of the popular, meditation
tool Walk to Emmaus.
In Soul Feast, Thompson's "Annotated Bibliography"
(of books she favors) is a who's who of pantheistic
contemplatives including: Thomas Merton, Henri Nouwen,
Anthony de Mello, Richard Foster, Tilden Edwards,
Edward Hays, Morton Kelsey, and Parker Palmer. Jesuit
priest De Mello, author of Sadhana: A Way To God,
says this of meditation:
A Jesuit friend once told
me that he approached a Hindu guru for initiation
in the art of prayer. The guru said to him, "Concentrate
on your breathing." My friend proceeded to do
just that for about five
minutes. Then the guru said, "The air you breathe
is God. You are breathing God in and out. Become aware
of that, and stay with that awareness." (FMSCN, p. 119)
Soul Feast is
peppered with quotes by and references to staunch
New Age mystics like Matthew Fox, Gerald May,
and M. Scott Peck. Others in the book are Dallas Willard,
Richard Foster, and Brother Lawrence (see our research site for detailed information
on these teachers). All of these named have one thing
in common - they believe in the silent altered state
that is induced through contemplative prayer.
One of the mystics Thompson refers to is Thomas Keating, the
father of the modern day centering
prayer movement. In referring to Keating's
philosophy, Thompson states:
A way of prayer closely related
to this ancient form [the Jesus prayer] is now enjoying
a revival among Christians of several traditions.
It is called "centering prayer," and is
a good way to introduce the person in the pew to contemplation.
Centering prayer is based on a fourteenth-century
treatise titled The Cloud of Unknowing. In
this way of prayer, you select a single word that
sums up for you the nature and being of God. Single-minded
focus on this prayer word in silent concentration
becomes a vehicle into the mystery of divine presence
and grace. The method bears a striking resemblance
to Eastern meditation with mantras but has developed
independently out of the mystical strands of Western
Most likely Thompson read
Keating's statement in a book he wrote the foreword
to (Kundalini Energy and Christian Spirituality)
where he said that Kundalini (a product of occultic
meditation) and Christian contemplative prayer were
one in the same.
Encouraging the practice of
lectio divina and breath prayers, Thompson tells
readers to find their own prayer words, then
"repeat the phrase gently in your mind for
several minutes" (p. 52). She adds: "Over
time, the repetition creates a space in which words
fall away and we become more aware of the Presence
they point to." Brother Lawrence recognized
this presence. In his book The Practice of the
Presence of God it says he "danced violently
like a mad man" when he practiced going
into the presence (see ATOD, p. 147).
While anyone who has researched the contemplative
prayer/spiritual formation movement would expect
to find names like Richard Foster and Dallas Willard
connected with this book (because of their similar
spiritual proclivities to Thompson), it is disquieting
to learn just how many Christian ministries are
resonating with Thompson. For instance, in the recent
Harvest House release Authentic Parenting in
a Postmodern Culture, author Mary E. DeMuth
favorably references Thompson in three different
chapters. James Emery White (Rick Warren's pro-Harry
Potter, pro-contemplative colleague)3, makes favorable reference to Thompson twice
in his book, Serious Times. He says: "The
spiritual life is 'the increasing vitality and sway
of God's spirit in us,' writes Marjorie Thompson"
(p. 75). White likens this "spiritual life"
to Thomas Merton's view.
Willow Creek did a women's
study of Soul Feast 4, and Abilene Christian University used the book as a
textbook in their Spiritual Formation course5. Bethel University also used the book as a textbook
in their Spring 2007 course, DYNAMICS OF CHRISTIAN
SPIRITUALITY as did Wheaton College in a similar
course.6 Mark Yaconelli of Youth Ministry and Spirituality
Project also recommends the book (7), and so do many other Christian leaders and
groups. The book is recommended by a professor at
the Canadian Mennonite University (8), and by leaders in a number of other denominations:
Nazarene, Wesleyan, Presbyterian, Disciples of Christ,
Church of God, and Southern Baptist. In fact, LifeWay
Stores (Southern Baptist) offers the book to patrons
in their Christian Living section.9 Unfortunately, if Thompson's spirituality becomes indicative
of "Christian living," the words of mystic
Karl Rahner will ring true when he said the Christian
of the future will be a mystic on not a Christian at
It is clear that Thompson shares a spiritual kinship
with New Age mystics. That is why she references
people like Matthew Fox.
Chances are your church is
carrying a copy of Soul Feast in their
bookstore or on their library bookshelves. If so,
your friends, loved ones, and family members have
been put in harm's way. We hope you will warn them.
Some may feel we are
being too indicting of Marjorie Thompson's
book and her spirituality, but something she says
in the back of her book should dispel any doubts.
Thompson lists a book titled An
Invitation to the Spiritual Journey by John P. Gorsuch. Of the book, Thompson says,
"A graceful, inviting book on spiritual growth
and the practices that lead us toward God"
(p. 175). In Gorsuch's book, he references favorably
Paramhansa Yogananda (Autobiography of a Yogi)
and called the yogi a saint who leads people
back to God. Thompson must have read this in Gorsuch's
book. For her to call Gorsuch's book "graceful,
inviting" and say it leads us "toward
God," can bring us to only one conclusion
- Marjorie Thompson believes eastern style
meditation is a valid message for Christians.
Contextual Theology - Falling From Truth Through the Emerging
by Roger Oakland
In order for the emerging church to succeed, the Bible
has to be looked at through entirely different glasses,
and Christianity needs to be open to a new type of
faith. Brian McLaren calls this new faith a "generous
orthodoxy."1 While such an orthodoxy allows a
smorgasbord of ideas to be proclaimed in the name
of Christ, many of these ideas are actually forbidden
and rejected by Scripture.
Pagitt believes that he is part of a cutting-edge
response to the new postmodern world. It's a response
he and others see as completely unique, never having
been tried before in the history of man. Pagitt states:
It seems to me that our post-industrial times require us to
ask new questions-questions that people 100 years
ago would have never thought of asking. Could it be
that our answers will move us to re-imagine the way
of Christianity in our world? Perhaps we as Christians
today are not only to consider what it means to be
a 21st century church, but also and perhaps more importantly-what
it means to have a 21st century faith.2
Many people I meet at conferences who come from a wide variety
of church backgrounds tell me the church they have
been attending for years has radically changed. Their
pastor no longer teaches the Bible. Instead, the Sunday
morning service is a skit or a series of stories.
The Bible seems to have become the forbidden book.
While there are pastors who do still teach the Bible,
they are becoming the exception rather than the rule.
Emergent leaders often say the message remains the
same, but our methods must change if we are going
to be relevant to our generation. The measure of success
for many pastors today is how many are coming, rather
than how many are listening and obeying what God has
said in His Word. Let's consider how Doug Pagitt uses
the Bible in his own church. He states:
At Solomon's Porch, sermons are not primarily about my extracting
truth from the Bible to apply to people's lives. In
many ways the sermon is less a lecture or motivational
speech than it is an act of poetry-of putting words
around people's experiences to allow them to find
deeper connection in their lives... So our sermons
are not lessons that precisely define belief so much
as they are stories that welcome our hopes and ideas
What Pagitt is describing is a contextual theology;
that is, don't use the Bible as a means of theology
or measuring rod of truth and standards by which to
live; and rather than have the Bible mold the Christian's
life, let the Christian's life mold the Bible. That's
what Pagitt calls "putting words around people's
experiences." As this idea is developed, emerging
proponents have to move away from Bible teachings
and draw into a dialectic approach. That way, instead
of just one person preaching truth or teaching biblical
doctrine, everyone can have a say and thus come to
a consensus of what the Bible might be saying. Pagitt
To move beyond this passive approach to faith, we've tried
to create a community that's more like a potluck:
people eat and they also bring something for others.
Our belief is built when all of us engage our hopes,
dreams, ideas and understandings with the story of
God as it unfolds through history and through us.4
You may not have heard the term before, but contextual theology
is a prominent message from the emerging church. In
his book, Models of Contextual Theology (1992),
Stephen B. Bevans defines contextual theology as:
... a way of doing theology in which one takes into account:
the spirit and message of the gospel; the tradition
of the Christian people; the culture in which one
is theologizing; and social change in that culture,
whether brought about by western technological process
or the grass-roots struggle for equality, justice
In other words, the Bible in, and of itself, is not free-standing-other
factors (culture, ethnicity, history) must be taken
into consideration, and with those factors, the message
of the Bible must be adjusted to fit. As one writer
puts it, "Contextual theology aims at the humanization
of theology."6 But two questions need to be asked.
First, will the contextualizing of Scripture cause
such a twisting of its truth that it no longer is
the Word of God, and secondly, is Scripture ineffective
without this contextualization? To the first, I give
a resounding yes! And to the second, an absolute no.
The Word of God, which is an inspired work of the
living Creator, is far more than any human-inspired
book and has been written in such a way that every
human being, rich or poor, man or woman, intelligent
or challenged will understand the meaning of the Gospel
message if it is presented in their native language;
and thanks to the tireless work of missionaries for
centuries, the Gospel in native languages is becoming
a reality in most cultures today.
Dean Flemming is a New Testament teacher at European
Nazarene College in Germany and the author of Contextualization
in the New Testament. In his book, he defends
Every church in every particular place and time must learn
to do theology in a way that makes sense to its audience
while challenging it at the deepest level. In fact,
some of the most promising conversations about contextualization
today (whether they are recognized as such or not)
are coming from churches in the West that are discovering
new ways of embodying the gospel for an emerging postmodern
These "churches in the West" Flemming considers "most
promising" are the emerging churches. He would
agree with Bevans' model of theology, but he has an
answer to the emerging church's dilemma. He states:
Many sincere Christians are still suspicious that attempts
to contextualize theology and Christian behavior will
lead to the compromising of biblical truth ... we
must look to the New Testament for mentoring in the
task of doing theology in our various settings.8
There's good reason some Christians are suspicious. But it
can seem harmless at first because Flemming suggests
the answer is in the New Testament, which he believes
should be used as a prototype or pattern rather than
something for doctrine or theology. New Testament
theology is always open for change, he says, but we
can learn how to develop this change by studying New
Testament stories and characters. The premise Flemming
presents of contextualizing Scripture is that since
cultures and societies are always changing, the Word
must change with it and be conformed to these changes.
But I would challenge this. The Bible says the Word
is living, active, and powerful:
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than
any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing
asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and
marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents
of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)
And if the Word is this powerful, then it is stable and eternal
as well. God, in His magnificence, is the Author of
Scripture, and He surpasses time, culture, and societies.
Contextualizing says people and cultures change, and
therefore God's Word must change. But, on the contrary,
it's people who need to change to conform to Scripture.
If we really believe that the Bible is God's Word,
this would be clear to see; but if we think to ourselves
that the Word is not infallible, not inspired, then
contextualization would be the obvious expectation.
While certain parts of the Bible may be read as poetry
(as Pagitt suggests), for indeed the Bible is a beautifully
written masterpiece, it is also a living mechanism
that is not to be altered-rather it alters the reader's
heart and life. It is much more than putting words
around people's experiences as emergents suggest.
The Bible tells us God is always right; it is man
who is so often wrong. When we rely upon human consensus,
we will end up with man's perspective and not God's
revelation. This is a dangerous way to develop one's
spiritual life-the results can lead to terrible deception.
Brian McLaren put it well when he admitted it isn't
just the way the message is presented that emerging
church proponents want to change ... it's the message
itself they are changing:
It has been fashionable among the innovative [emerging] pastors
I know to say, "We're not changing the message;
we're only changing the medium." This claim is
probably less than honest ... in the new church we
must realize how medium and message are intertwined.
When we change the medium, the message that's received
is changed, however subtly, as well. We might as well
get beyond our naivete or denial about this....9
While reaching today's generation for the cause of Christ is
something we as Christians should all desire, we must
remember Jesus Christ challenged us to follow Him
and be obedient to His Word. Scripture commands us
to "be not conformed to this world: but be ye
transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Romans
12:2). But the emergents are leading followers in
the opposite direction, teaching that the Word of
God needs to be conformed to people and cultures instead
of allowing it to conform lives through Jesus Christ....
reimagining Christianity allows a dangerous kind of
freedom; like cutting the suspension ropes on a hot
air balloon, the free fall may be exhilarating but
the results catastrophic.(From Faith Undone, pp. 42-45.) Click here for endnote references.
Peace and Harmony - An Apostasy of "Light"
by Ray Yungen
I do not agree with the view that the New Age is the path to
the Golden Age of global peace and harmony. But after
22 years of research, I fully understand why so many
people have embraced metaphysics [mysticism] and why
they seek transformation for humanity as a whole.
By and large, they have rejected orthodox (old paradigm)
Christianity as being unacceptable, but still want
to retain spiritual meaning and a utopian vision in
their lives. In addition, they see metaphysics as
helpful towards improving the quality of their daily
lives, whether it be better health, more loving relationships,
inner peace, or guidance for success and prosperity.
They would think it the height of ignorance and folly
to condemn such seemingly wonderful ways to better
the human condition.
Many would reject a challenge of New Age consciousness
from a Christian viewpoint as being the result of
misinformation. It is widely believed in New Age circles
that Jesus Christ was Himself a metaphysician of great
stature. They quote verses where Jesus proclaims:
"The kingdom of God is within you" (Luke
17:21)--meaning a reference to the higher self, "Be
still and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10)--a
reference, they say, to meditation, and "Greater
works than these shall he do" (John 14:12)--meaning
New Agers can have His powers. As far out as this
may sound to many Christian readers, New Age adherents
are quite sincere in this belief. They firmly argue
that reincarnation was originally in the Bible but
was taken out at the Council of Nicea so that church
and state could better control the common people by
fear. Although there are still plenty of skeptics
and critics, these beliefs are becoming less offensive
and more acceptable all the time.
One of the most common New Age attitudes is that there
are many paths to God and that it is wrong to judge
or condemn another person's path because not all people
are suited for the same one. New Agers teach that
each person should find the path best suited for himself.
There are two questions to be answered here: Is it
right to judge? And do all paths lead to God? Jesus
Christ foretold in Matthew 7:22-23:
Many will say to me in that day, "Lord, Lord, have we
not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast
out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?"
And then will I profess unto them, "I never knew
you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."
I find it most interesting that people who were doing "many
wonderful works" or miraculous works in His name
were, in reality, working "iniquity" or
evil. This leads me to believe that a great deception
These verses also tell me that all paths do not lead
to God and, because they do not, one had better judge
which path is correct. Many people, of course, counter
with, "Judge not, that ye be not judged."
However, taken in context, this verse (Matthew 7:1),
is talking about hypocrisy in human behavior and not
about withholding critical examination of spiritual
teachings. Galatians 1:8 bears out the necessity to
evaluate spiritual teaching with proper discernment.
But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel
unto you than that which we have preached unto you,
let him be accursed.
And II John 1:9-11 says:
Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of
Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine
of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If
there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine,
receive him not into your house, neither bid him God
speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker
of his evil deeds.
And again in Ephesians 5:11, "...have no fellowship with
the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove
How may we reprove something if we don't determine
whether or not it fits the bill of "unfruitful
works?" In II Timothy 3:16-17, we read:
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable
for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction
in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect
[complete], thoroughly furnished [fully equipped]
unto all good works.
Noticing the New Age propensity for also quoting Bible verses
to support the claims of metaphysics, I have focused
on the obvious conflict between the Ancient Wisdom
and the God of the Bible that runs from Genesis through
Revelation. The continuity of this apparent contrast
is undeniable to the point that any New Ager would
have to acknowledge that it exists. This contrast
and objection is the foundation for any logical Christian
opposition to metaphysics. Notice the list of metaphysical
arts in Deuteronomy 18:9-12:
When thou art come into the land which the Lord thy God giveth
thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations
of those nations. 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 [a psychic,
or an observer of times, meaning festivals connected
to nature worship], or an enchanter [one who manipulates
people by occult power], or a witch [one who uses
occult power]. Or a charmer [hypnotist], or a consulter
with familiar spirits [one who receives advice or
knowledge from a spirit], or a wizard [one who uses
a spirit to do his will], or a necromancer [one who
believes he is contacting the dead]. For all that
do these things are an abomination unto the Lord:
and because of these abominations the Lord thy God
doth drive them out from before thee.
The word abomination in verse 12 means "abhorrent"
or "disgusting." Please note the reference
to familiar spirits in the following verses from Leviticus.
This term is found throughout the Old Testament and
has a negative connotation:
And the soul that turneth after such as have familiar spirits,
and after wizards, to go a whoring after them, I will
even set my face against that soul, and will cut him
off from among his people. (Leviticus 20:6)
An example of this is a book called Creative Visualization by Shakti Gawain, which could be called one of the
bibles of the New Age movement (over three million
copies have been sold in the US and translated into
25 languages). Gawain explains the basic process of
visualization. First comes "relaxing into a deep,
quiet meditative state of mind,"1 which is to
be done every morning and afternoon. This opens the
"channel" for "higher wisdom and guidance
to come to you."2 Gawain then describes the nature
of this guidance:
The inner guide is known by many different names, such as your
counselor, spirit guide, imaginary friend, or master.
It is a higher part of yourself, which can come to
you in many different forms, but usually comes in
the form of a person or being whom you can talk to
and relate to as a wise and loving friend.3
Your guide is there for you to call on anytime you
need or want extra guidance, wisdom, knowledge, support,
creative inspiration, love or companionship. Many
people who have established a relationship with their
guide meet them every day in their meditation.4
What Shakti Gawain is talking about is the same thing spoken
of in Deuteronomy 18--familiar spirits. The so-called
higher self is nothing more than a familiar spirit
out to manipulate those people who open themselves
to it. It has been common in Christian circles to
speak of them as demons. The word demon comes from
the Greek term deamonion, which literally means spirit
guide. Familiar spirits make contact while the person's
mind is in neutral and try to establish a strong connection;
the result is control of the person by the spirit.
The core of New Age spirituality is that the higher
self (i.e., familiar spirit) is supposed to be the
guiding principle in every area of one's life -
period! That is why in Ephesians 6:12, the apostle
Paul warns us:
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities,
against powers, against the rulers of the darkness
of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high
He is saying that there are non-human powers (forces) that
are in opposition to God. The nature of this is apparent
to anyone who takes a close look at metaphysics with
this verse in mind. After a certain point, influence
and guidance from the familiar spirit progresses to
outright possession. This, I believe, is the kundalini
effect. One New Age proponent explains it the following
Before, kundalini had seemed like a fable to me, fascinating
and appealing, but as improbable in its way as God
talking to Moses through a burning bush or Jesus raising
the dead. But now I was sometimes aware, toward the
end of the third stage of Dynamic Meditation, of something
moving as elusively as neon up my spine, flashing
like lightning in my limbs.... When, in the fifth
and final stage, I danced, I now sensed myself moved
by a force more powerful, more inventive, than any
I could consciously summon.5
I believe that Raphael and Alice Bailey's "Tibetan"
are familiar spirits. I also believe they are revealing
their plan of operation in their writings. The intent
of these beings can be seen by what the following
metaphysical practitioners convey:
It is all there-just look for it. Seek the immortal, eternal
Spirit that dwells within you - the "I am presence,"
containing all that was, is, or ever shall be....6
The whole of life will become more meaningful as you
live from the center within. Remember that you are
Gods in the Making.7
It is not necessary to "have faith" in any power
outside of yourself.
Who do you think would want you to believe something
like that? Who would want you to believe that God
does not exist outside of yourself - that you don't
need to have faith in anything external. New Age writer/philosopher
David Spangler reveals who in his book Reflections
on the Christ when he writes:
Some being has to take these energies into his consciousness
and substance and channel them as it were to those
other beings who must receive them, in this case humanity.
The being who chose to embody these energies and to
be in essence the angel of man's inner evolution is
the being we know as Lucifer.8
He lays out the entire program behind the New Age movement
in the following explanation:
He [Lucifer] comes to make us aware of our power within, to
draw to ourselves experience. He comes to make us
aware of the power of creative manifestation which
When you are working with the laws of manifestation
you are in essence manifesting a Luciferic principle.9
Even if Spangler had not written these words, the link between
Lucifer and the New Age movement would still be evident
to Christians from reading II Corinthians 11:13-15:
For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming
themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel;
for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of
light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers
also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness;
whose end shall be according to their works.
For this deception to be effective, he would have to come as
an "angel of light." To judge a belief system
as being satanic, one should compare how close it
comes to Satan's own statements about himself. God
is asking him, "How art thou fallen from heaven,
0 Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down
to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!"
(Isaiah. 14:12). Then He reminds Satan of his own
words when he challenged God:
For thou [Satan] hast said in thine heart, "I will ascend
into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars
of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation,
in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the
heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High."
Then later, when Satan deceived Eve in the Garden, he said:
For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your
eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing
good and evil. (Genesis 3:5)
Without a doubt, the New Age movement fits that bill.
(From For Many Shall Come in My Name, Ray Yungen, 2007,
Lighthouse Trails Publishing, pp.132-139)
1. Shakti Gawain, Creative Visualization (San
Rafael, CA: Whatever Publishing, 1978), p. 14.
2. Ibid., p. 56.
3. Ibid., p. 91.
4. Ibid., p. 93.
5. James S. Gordon, The Golden Guru (Lexington,
MN: The Stephen Greene Press, 1988), p. 8.
6. Donald Yott, Man and Metaphysics (New York,
NY: Sam Weiser, Inc., 1980), p. 103.
7. Shakti Gawain, Creative Visualization, op. cit.,
8. David Spangler, Reflections on the Christ (Findhorn
Foundation, second edition, 1978), p. 36.
9. Ibid., p. 41.
Use Harry Potter to Spread Christian Message?
Note: This article is from an outside
news source. Please see our links below for related
Telegraph News (UK) - The Church of England
is publishing a guide advising youth workers how to
use Harry Potter to spread the Christian message.
Days before the release of the seventh and final novel
in the series, youth leaders are being told they could
use the popularity of the Potter books and films as
a "launch pad" for exploring Christian themes.
The guide - published by Church House Publishing -
comes as fans gear up for the release of Harry Potter
and the Deathly Hallows on Saturday, marking the final
chapter in an extraordinary publishing phenomenon.
The Harry Potter books and films have been attacked
in the past by evangelicals for allegedly glamorizing
the occult. Click here to read more.
For related information:
The Deadly Magic of Potter Movies
Rick Warren OK With Harry Potter
Harry Potter and the Superconsciousness by Ray Yungen
What do "The Secret," Yoga, and Harry Potter have
in common? by Caryl Matrisciana
America's 50 Most Influential Churches - Many Pro Contemplative/Emergent
The Church Report has
released their annual"America's 50 Most Influential Churches" poll.
The list is compiled each year by getting the input
of around 2000 church pastors and leaders. Last year's
list, on which we reported, is very similar to this year's.
Willow Creek (Bill Hybels) is in the number one spot,
and Saddleback (Rick Warren) is number two. As was
the case in last year's poll, many of the churches
(and pastors) that made it into one of the 50 spots
for 2007 are pro-contemplative and/or pro-emergent
churches/pastors. Because the premises of contemplative
and emerging are one in the same, we list these churches
in just one group. Here is our list of the
ones that fit that group:
#1 Willow Creek (Bill Hybels)
#2 Saddleback (Rick Warren)
#3 Fellowship Church (Ed Young)
#4 North Point (Andy Stanley)
#5 Life Church (Craig Groeschel)
#6 Granger Community Church (Mark Beeson)
#10 Sea Coast (Greg Surratt)
#11 Mosaic (Erwin McManus)
#12 Mars Hill (Rob Bell)
#13 North Coast Church (Larry Osborne)
#18 Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale (Bob Coy)
#27 Calvary Chapel Capo Beach (Chuck Smith Jr.)
#31 Menlo Park Presbyterian (John Ortberg)
#35 Wooddale (Leith Anderson)
#39 National Community (Mark Batterson)
#45 Oak Hills (Max Lucado)
There are several others churches that made the list
that do not necessarily fall into the contemplative/emergent
camp, but show indications that they may be heading
that way. In our report last year, we concluded with
a statement that still holds true this year:
Many of the 50 are part of and participate in the "new
evangelicalism" that approaches Christianity
from a business viewpoint with strong New Age affinities.
If indeed this list by The Church Report is an accurate
estimation of influential churches, it is a valid
statement to say that [Christianity] is now in some
very troubled waters, both in North America and
around the world.
Lighthouse Trails believes that real godly influence
should be attributed to the many unrecognized Christian
pastors throughout the world who have stayed true
to the Word of God and faithfully preached the gospel
of Jesus Christ. These shepherds of the body of
Christ do not compromise truth with church-growth,
seeker-friendly, Purpose-Driven and mystical New
Age practices. These are the pastors (and their
churches who support them) who should be honored.
They are the ones who will stand against the seducing
spirits and doctrines of demons that will usher
in that false "coming one" who opposes
and hates Jesus Christ - the only name in which
Christian Bookstores Face Crisis of Faith
LTRP Note: The following article discusses the recent CBA (Christian
Bookseller's Association) annual convention. In light
of most major Christian publishing houses having turned
to contemplative and emerging spiritualities to find
profits and growth, we believe this article has some
interesting insights. Below the article, please see
our links to related topics.
By Dale Hanson Bourke
Religion News Service
ATLANTA -- Here at the International Christian Retail
Show [formally CBA show] it is, to borrow a phrase
from Charles Dickens, the best of times or the worst
of times, depending on whom you ask.
Two years ago organizers stopped calling this expo
the Christian Booksellers Convention. Book and Bible
publishers are no longer the dominant force. They
now share the exhibit floor with a dizzying array
of T-shirt manufacturers, greeting card companies
and even Christian candy makers.
Book publishers point out that Christian retailers
are no longer their primary sales channel. Online
sellers such as Amazon.com, and such "big box"
stores as Wal-Mart, account for an increasing percentage
of their profits -- and their attention. Click here to read more.
Publishers Who Release Contemplative Books
Our articles on Christian Bookstores
The Deadly Magic of Potter Movies
by Berit Kjos
Parents who watch the Harry Potter movies may not always be
aware of the dark occult world that empower this
series. For instance, unlike the book, this dark,
disturbing movie doesn't explain the nightmarish
scene above. Nor does it describe the murderous
spells and curses that kill Sirius Black, Harry's
beloved friend and "godfather." To better
understand those forces, which has captivated today's
youth culture, you may want to read our review of
the book behind the fifth movie, The Order of the
You may not know that Sirius, like Harry, was an
animagus (shape-shifter) who could turn himself
into a large, black dog. This shape-shifting process
is sometimes called transmutation. Its roots may
not trouble those who delight in Harry's magical
world, but Christians should remember that shape-shifting
has been part of sorcery and shamanism through the
In this segment of the seven-part series, Voldemort,
the evil wizard with the cravings of a vampire,
repeatedly makes his deadly assaults through the
jaws of a serpent. And since Harry was psychically
linked to this devilish wizard, he participates
in the attack as if he were actually inside the
snake -- as if Voldemort's spirit had possessed
But this event is not an example of shape-shifting.
Both Harry and Voldemort have the magical ability
to "talk" with snakes (parseltongue),
but this is different. Harry is now an unwilling
participant in Voldemort's mind. He feels his enemy's
hatred, shares his thirst for blood, and participates
in his murderous action. Click
here to read the rest of this article by Kjos Ministries.
Rick Warren OK With Harry Potter
Harry Potter and the Superconsciousness by Ray Yungen
What do "The Secret," Yoga, and Harry Potter have
in common? by Caryl Matrisciana
Lifeway Removes Yoga Music, Keeps Yoga Article
Awana Embraces Contemplative Spirituality
In February of 2006, Lighthouse Trails issued a report titled "Awana: Are They Heading Toward Contemplative/Emergent?" The concerns were over the organization's connection
with Willow Creek, with Awana's interest in Spiritual Formation and with a recommended
ministry list that included a number of contemplative/emergent
organizations, including Youth Specialties.1
A year and a half later, Awana is showing signs that
it is becoming a full-blown contemplative organization.
First of all, through Awana's prison project, the
organization is incorporating New Age sympathizer Ken Blanchard's Lead Like
Jesus Encounter program. On July 13th, we spoke
with Lyndon Azcuna, Awana Cross Cultural Ministries
director, who told us he was a Lead Like Jesus facilitator.
Azcuna works in the main headquarters office of Awana.
He said that the project was using Ken Blanchard's
materials. When we explained to him that Blanchard
promoted the New Age and mystical meditation, he said
that the program did not have these elements.
However, the Lead Like Jesus Encounter is largely
based on Blanchard's book, Lead Like Jesus,
and that book does include contemplative elements.
For instance, in the chapter called "The Habits
of a Servant Leader" a palms-up, palms-down exercise
is described (something Richard Foster has encouraged)(p.
158). The book gives a typical instruction on contemplative:
Before we send people off
for their period of solitude, we have them recite
with us Psalm 46:10 in this way: Be still and know
that I am God. Be still and know. Be still. Be....
When people return from their time of solitude, they
have big smiles on their faces. While many of them
found it difficult to quiet their mind,they say it
was a powerful experience. The reality is most of
us spend little if any time in solitude. Yet if we
don't, how can God have a chance to talk with us?
For Awana to include Ken Blanchard's
teachings into its organization, shows that the situation
is quite serious. Blanchard has been promoting eastern-style meditators for over twenty
years, and to this day is still doing so. In addition,
he is a board member for the occultic Hoffman [Quadrinity] Institute.
Blanchard participated in the Hoffman Process and
said it made his spirituality come alive. We believe
this experience he had through Hoffman is similar
to what Blanchard refers to in his Lead Like Jesus book, when he says people who "quiet their
mind[s]" during the Lead Like Jesus Encounter
have "powerful experience[s]." This means
that now children and families in Awana could possibly
wind up with the same experience.
Blanchard, who has been a professing Christian since
the 1980s, wrote the foreword for a 2001 book titled What Would
Buddha Do at Work?. In the book, 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
Blanchard has made numerous
other similar statements about other books. After
a 2005 report exposed his connection with Rick Warren
(see below), Blanchard placed a statement on a page
of his website for a short time that said some of
his previous endorsements had been wrong. However,
since that time, the endorsements have continued,
including his connection with Hoffman Institute. One
example of his continued endorsement of meditation
practices is his back-cover statement on Jon Gordon's
2006 book, 10-Minute Energy Solution, in which Gordon makes
several favorable references to eastern-style meditators
and the practice itself (see ATOD, pp. 164-165). Another example is Blanchard's June 2006 endorsement of Thom Crum's book, Three Deep Breaths.
Amazingly, in the book that inspired the Lead Like
Jesus Encounter that Awana is using, Blanchard acknowledges Norman Vincent Peale's role in his spiritual walk. According
to Ray Yungen (For Many Shall Come in My Name - p. 47), Peale had strong New Thought connections.
This could partly explain Blanchard's leanings toward
the New Age.
While Awana's decision to include Ken Blanchard's
materials into their program is enough evidence to
show that the organization is quickly changing, we
must now report that there is something even more
disquieting with regard to Awana and their slide into
contemplative - a book that is recommended by Awana
and also carried by the Awana store: Perspectives on Children's Spiritual Formation.
A description of the book is as follows:
In children's ministry, models,
methods, and materials abound. How do you decide what
direction you want your ministry to children to take? Perspectives on Children's Spiritual Formation allows you to examine the four prominent points-of-view
in the church today. You will then be able to make
a more informed decision on the way in which your
ministry should take.
The book offers four different
views on how to transform children. One author, Scottie
May, a professor at Wheaton, writes the section titled,
"Contemplative-Reflective Model." May gives
a hearty promotion of centering prayer, the Jesus
prayer, Christ candles, the Catholic Eucharist and
an strong endorsement for contemplative spirituality
ala Thomas Merton, whom she favorably quotes in the
book. Two Awana staff writers respond in the book
to May's contemplative approach and give it a thumbs
up with only minor cautions. But overall they believe
that contemplative is a valid approach for all Christians,
including children. Perspectives on Children's
Spiritual Formation is giving a green light to
Awana leaders around the world to practice contemplative
Some people may not understand why we write this report
about Awana. After all, they have done some wonderful
things for children. But that is the very reason we
do issue this report - we do not want to see Awana
sell out to the fast growing apostasy of contemplative
spirituality and the New Age; and because we care
about children, we speak up. With more and more public
schools teaching kids to meditate and do yoga, and
with more and more Christian schools bringing in emerging
leaders like Rob Bell (through his Noomas and his
book Velvet Elvis), millions of children are
now placed in harm's way by learning meditative techniques
that will possibly take them into altered states and
demonic realms. We hope Awana leadership will reconsider
their position on contemplative/spiritual formation
for the sake of children and their parents. And if
you have children in the program, please use extreme
caution in light of these new developments.
Let us leave you with this sobering thought: Sue Monk
Kidd was at one time a conservative Southern Baptist
Sunday school teacher. She was led down the road to
apostasy (i.e., worshiping the goddess Sophia) through
the practice of contemplative prayer after someone
handed her a book by Thomas Merton, the same Thomas
Merton who is endorsed and quoted in the Awana book,
Perspectives on Children's Spiritual Formation.
For more research information:
Ken Blanchard and the Hoffman Quadrinity Process
Our April 20th 2005 report, Rick Warren Teams Up with New Age Guru Ken Blanchard
Awana Club Now Featuring Book
Extensive database on Lead Like Jesus (CRS)
Spiritual Formation: Another name for contemplative spirituality
"Christian or Christ-Follower?"
Hindu Prayer in Senate Draws Religious Protesters
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Three protesters disrupted a prayer
by a Hindu chaplain on Thursday at the opening of
a U.S. Senate hearing, calling it an abomination and
shouting slogans about Jesus Christ.
It was the first time the daily prayer that opens
Senate proceedings was said by a Hindu chaplain.
Capitol police said two women and one man were arrested
and charged with causing a disruption in the public
gallery of the Senate. The three started shouting
when guest Chaplain Rajan Zed, a Hindu from Nevada,
began his prayer. Click here to read more.
See YouTube on this: click here.
Lighthouse Trails Publishing's 2nd
spring release, For Many Shall Come in My Name by
Ray Yungen is now here.
* * * *
Most people believe the New Age has been long gone
from our society, and if practiced at all now it
is only by unconventional fringe types. For Many
Shall Come in My Name reveals this is not the
case. In fact, quite the opposite has occurred.
The New Age movement (a term not normally used by
its proponents) has permeated virtually all aspects
of our society. This "Ancient Wisdom"
spirituality can be quite readily encountered in
the following fields: Business, Education, Health,
Self-Help, Religion, and Arts & Entertainment.
This book examines them all.
1. The Age of Aquarius and
its meaning in today's world
2. New Age practices like Reiki and yoga
3. Harry Potter and real witchcraft
4. The law of attraction and Oprah
5. Present day New Age prophets
6. Yoga in the public schools
7. Tantric sexuality and its spiritual risks
8. The Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism)
9. Wicca and its growing appeal
10. The occultic explanation of the Holocaust
11. Interspirituality and the coming false Messiah
12. The New Age as a force in politics
13. New Age hostility toward the church
14. The New Age in light of biblical prophecy
For more information on this book, click here.
* * * *
information on our 1st spring release, The
Other Side of the River, click
Don't miss these two important
UNDONE HAS GONE TO PRESS!
CHAPTERS OF LIGHTHOUSE TRAILS BOOKS:
Lighthouse Trails Publishing
now has sample chapters available online for most
of the books we publish. We believe you will find
each of these books to be well-written, carefully
documented, and worthwhile. Click here to read some of the chapters.
Note: Lighthouse Trails is a Christian publishing company. While
we hope you will read the books we have published,
we also provide extensive research, documentation,
and news on our Research site, blog, and newsletter. We pray that the books as well as
the online research will be a blessing to the
body of Christ and a witness to those who have
not yet accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior
Contemplative Spirituality: A belief system that
uses ancient mystical practices to induce altered states of consciousness
(the silence) and is rooted in mysticism and the occult but often wrapped
in Christian terminology. The premise of contemplative spirituality
is pantheistic (God is all) and panentheistic (God is in all). Common
terms used for this movement are "spiritual formation," "the
silence," "the stillness," "ancient-wisdom,"
"spiritual disciplines," and many others.
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.