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Coming From the Lighthouse

                                          Printer Friendly Version (click here)        September 8, 2008

In This Issue -

Update on The Shack: New Age Similarities, Continued Popularity, and Calvary Chapel Official Statement

New Age Sympathizer Leonard Sweet to Speak at Seventh Day Adventist Conference

Phyllis Tickle and a New Kind of Church

Tickle's Great Emergence: A Reformation Every 500 Years?

Gary Gilley Review of The Shack

Contemplative Prayer and the Evangelical Church

Resources for Researchers

Christian Resistance Book - A Must Read

Important New Series on the Emerging Church

Publishing News

Newsletter in Print

Book Spotlights

 

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Update on The Shack: New Age Similarities, Continued Popularity, and Calvary Chapel Official Statement

The Shack by William P. Young has been on the New York Times Best Seller List for 15 weeks, currently in the number one position for fiction books. The book has been promoted by popular Christian figures such as Eugene Peterson and Gayle Erwin (The Jesus Style). What's more, numerous Christian ministries such as Probe Ministries (an apologetics group based out of Texas) are endorsing the book. Probe's associate speaker, Sue Bohlin says "The Shack became one of my all-time favorite books before I had even finished it." 1

In addition to receiving wide acceptance from the Christian community at large, the author speaks at many evangelical churches. On September 8th and 9th, for instance, Young will be speaking at North Valley Calvary Chapel in Yuba City, California, church of Calvary pastor Bob Fromm. 2 However, even though this is a Calvary Chapel church, Calvary Distribution (the resource and book venue for the Calvary Chapel movement) has issued an "Official Statement" regarding The Shack. Calvary Distribution's book reviewer Keyan Soltani calls The Shack "a dangerous book." The Official Statement reads:

Due to the popularity of this book and the positive endorsements it has received from the Christian community, we felt that it would be prudent to explain why, as those who hold fast to the word/nature of God as inerrant, we will not be endorsing this book. Some of our concerns include:

*  The minimizing of the word of God: The Shack errs in the presumption that God desires to be freed from His word as expressed by the characters, yet, the Psalmist tells us in Psalm 138:2 "For You have magnified Your word above all Your name."

* The redefining of the nature of God: the book implies a theology of modalism which is defined as the non Trinitarian belief that the Heavenly Father, Resurrected Son and Holy Spirit are different modes or aspects of one God, as perceived by the believer, rather than three distinct persons in God Himself.

*  The book's conversational tone is intended to catch the reader off guard with overt casualness. There is a personalized-trademarked version of God that requires the least bit of commitment; seeker-friendly experience over truth; an air of anti-authority for the spiritually lazy consumer. The double-speak and theology that is embedded in this book with its underlying condescension, protesting agenda, and liberal theology are genetic markers of the emergent church.

We recognize the enormous popularity of The Shack but are wary of the overlying theological implications and the presentation of the person of God within this book.

In a Lighthouse Trails report on The Shack, it was brought out that co-author of The Shack, Wayne Jacobsen 3 resonates with the leaders in the emerging church, which may well have influenced the final draft of The Shack. The book refers to God as "the ground of all being" that "dwells in, around, and through all things--ultimately emerging as the real" (p. 112)--this is the ripe fruit of contemplative/emerging spirituality. One can find this language and definition of God in the writings of John Shelby Spong and Marcus Borg, and the concept overflows within the emerging camp. Let there be no mistake, this description of God does not mean that God upholds everything; it means that God is the essence of all that exists (in other words, He dwells in all humans and all creation).

New Age proponent Sue Monk Kidd would agree with The Shack's definition of God: in her book, First Light, she says God is the graffiti on the building (p. 98).

It is possible that a key to understanding The Shack could actually lie with Monk Kidd who was once a conservative Southern Baptist Sunday school teacher. She began studying the teachings of mystic Thomas Merton, which eventually led her out of the Southern Baptist arena and into the New Age. Today, she follows goddess spirituality (Sophia) and has said in one of her books that God dwells in all things, even excrement (The Dance of the Dissident Daughter).

There is perhaps a striking similarity between The Shack's "God" the Father and the Black Madonna used in Monk Kidd's best selling novel, The Secret Life of Bees (coming out soon as a movie). Monk Kidd says the Black Madonna she chose is "a powerful symbolic essence that could take up residence inside of [the novel's character, Lily] and become catalytic in her transformation."4 The fact that both Sue Monk Kidd and William Young have chosen a Black Madonna figure as representing "God" and that both talk about the ground of all being (God in all things) cannot be ignored. Episcopal priest (panentheist) Matthew Fox says:

Today the Black Madonna is returning. She is coming, not going, and she is calling us to something new (and very ancient as well)....

[The Black Madonna archetype awakens in us and ... she is so important for the twenty-first century.... The Black Madonna invites us into the dark and therefore into our depths. This is what the mystics call the "inside" of things, the essence of things. This is where Divinity lies. It is where the true self lies.... Because she is a goddess, the Black Madonna resides in all beings. She is the divine presence inside of creation.5

The gap between the New Age and Christianity is being narrowed, and The Shack is another disastrous and deceptive tool that will bring this about. When David Jeremiah favorably quoted and referenced Sue Monk Kidd in his book, Life Wide Open, we knew this would further close the gap that gave Christianity its distinctness. It is this distinctness that allows sinful man to see his need for a Savior. When that gap closes, the Gospel message will be hidden from view from even more people than it is today. The Shack has brought about some huge strides in causing this to take place.

More on The Shack:

The Shack: Father-goddess Rising by John Lanagan

The Shack and Its New Age Leaven - God IN Everything? by Warren Smith

THE SHACK, "Elousia," & the Black Madonna by Larry DeBruyn

New Ager Matthew Fox Talks About the Return of the Black Madonna

New Age Sympathizer Leonard Sweet to Speak at Seventh Day Adventist Conference

The 4th Annual National Conference on Innovation, sponsored by the Ohio Conference of Seventh Day Adventists, will take place in October in Columbus, Ohio and will feature New Age sympathizer/emerging futurist Leonard Sweet. On the conference website, it states:

Partners in Innovation is a convergence of people and organizations committed to providing the environment, encouragement, resources and support for the emergence of the Adventist Church of the future in North America.... We ask you to consider becoming a partner in developing this far-reaching initiative to energize a new future for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America.

Leonard Sweet, who promotes mysticism, christ-consciousness, and the "New Lights" movement that touts people like Matthew Fox, Ken Wilber, and other mystic proponents, recently spoke at Rick Warren's Small Groups Conference. Sweet states in his book Quantum Spirituality that the "power of small groups is in their ability to develop the discipline to get people 'in-phase' with the Christ consciousness (meaning the divinity of man) and connected with one another (meaning interspirituality)(p. 147).

The emerging church has been making inroads into Seventh Day Adventism as it has in most of "religion in the Western world." Roger Oakland, in his book Faith Undone, discusses Samir Selmanovic, a Muslim turned-Seventh Day Adventist pastor-turned emerging figure:

Samir Selmanovic ... has some interesting and alarming views on Christianity. He states:

The emerging church movement has come to believe that the ultimate context of the spiritual aspirations of a follower of Jesus Christ is not Christianity but rather the kingdom of God.... to believe that God is limited to it [Christianity] would be an attempt to manage God. If one holds that Christ is confined to Christianity, one has chosen a god that is not sovereign. Soren Kierkegaard argued that the moment one decides to become a Christian, one is liable to idolatry.1

On Selmanovic's website, Faith House project, he presents an interfaith vision that will "...seek to bring progressive Jews, Christians, Muslims, and spiritual seekers of no faith to become an interfaith community for the good of the world. We have one world and one God."2

While Selmanovic says he includes Christians in this interspiritual dream for the world, he makes it clear that while they might be included, they are in no way beholders of an exclusive truth. He states:

Is our religion [Christianity] the only one that understands the true meaning of life? Or does God place his truth in others too? Well, God decides, and not us. The gospel is not our gospel, but the gospel of the kingdom of God, and what belongs to the kingdom of God cannot be hijacked by Christianity.3

While it is true that God is the One who decides where He is going to place truth, He has already made that decision. And the answer to that is found in the Bible. When Selmanovic asks if Christianity is the only religion that understands the true meaning of life, the answer is yes. How can a Buddhist or a Hindu or a Muslim fully understand truth when their religions omit a Savior who died for their sins?

Though world religions may share some moral precepts (don't lie, steal, etc), the core essence of Christianity (redemption) is radically different from all of them. Interspirituality may sound noble on the surface, but in actuality, Selmanovic and the other emerging church leaders are facilitating occultist Alice Bailey's rejuvenation of the churches. In her rejuvenation, everyone remains diverse (staying in their own religion), yet united in perspective, with no one religion claiming a unique corner on the truth. In other words all religions lead to the same destination and emanate from the same source. And of course, Bailey believed that a "coming one" whom she called Christ would appear on the scene in order to lead united humanity into an era of global peace. However, you can be sure that if such a scenario were to take place as Bailey predicted, there would be no room for those who cling to biblical truth.

As is the case with so many emergent leaders, Selmanovic's confusing language dances obscurely around his theology, whether he realizes it or not. Sadly, for those who are lost and who are trying to find the way, the emerging church movement offers confusion in place of clarity. It blurs if not obliterates the walls of distinction between good and evil, truth and falsehood, leaving people to stumble along a broken path, hoping to find light. (from Faith Undone, pp. 187-189)

How far will the emerging mystical church move into Seventh Day Adventism? A 2004 article in the Adventist News Network, "Church, Congregations Increase Focus on 'Spiritual Formation," gives more than a glimpse to the answer to this question. "Spiritual formation is a topic being raised by many pastors and church leaders in a growing number of Christian denominations," the article states. It adds:

For the Seventh-day Adventist Church, a "wake-up call" was sounded after a 2002 survey showed that though doctrinal understanding was high, there were several "areas of concern,"

The article says that "concerns can be linked to how the church rates in the area of spiritual formation, which has been defined by one Adventist Church pastor as 'the process of becoming a mature Christian disciple of God." Spiritual formation, another term for contemplative spirituality, eventually leads into the arena of the emerging church (both are based in mysticism). The article goes on: "Today this subject is receiving serious emphasis in Adventist institutions, as well as in local congregations."

A case in point, in 2006, Brian McLaren was a guest speaker at the Adventist Loma Linda University. McLaren rejects the traditional view of the atonement (substitutionary death of Christ for sins). Loma Linda now has spiritual formation as an integral part of school life. Interestingly, they are using the Journal of Spiritual Formation that is put out by Biola University (a strong proponent for contemplative).

John Jenson, an Adventist pastor in Torrance, California, says, "There's a need for spiritual formation with the [Adventist] Church . . . without spiritual formation, a person would be 'spiritually uncivilized.'" If this line of reasoning is shared among other Adventist pastors, then no doubt contemplative/emerging spirituality will place its heavy mark on the Adventist movement as it has already done in so many other religious groups. And with Leonard Sweet speaking at Adventist conferences, this process will be speeded up all the more.

Notes:
1. Doug Pagitt and Tony Jones, An Emergent Manifesto of Hope, Samir Selmanovic section, "The Sweet Problem of Inclusiveness," pp. 192-193.
2. From Faith House Project website: http://samirselmanovic.typepad.com/faith_house/2.WhatisFaithHouseProject.pdf.
3. Doug Pagitt and Tony Jones, An Emergent Manifesto of Hope, p. 194.

 

Phyllis Tickle and a New Kind of Church

Out-of-house article

"Seeking spirituality outside of churches"

Pub theologians meeting over beer a growing religious trend
By Lindsay Melvin
Memphis Commercial Appeal

With the late afternoon sun still shining, a dozen people from across Memphis ducked into a dark pub for cold drafts and a generous helping of God and religion.

Most, having come straight from work, gathered around the red and white checkered tables at Kudzu's near Downtown and dove right in.

Setting off a litany of responses, a long-haired man known as "The Rabbi" asked from under his floppy safari hat: "Is our mind hardwired to have faith?"
Click here to read this entire out-of-house news article.

For related information:

The Great Emergence: A Reformation Every 500 Years? (on Phyllis Tickle) by Roger Oakland

Phyllis Tickle: Brian McLaren is like another Luther

 

Tickle's Great Emergence: A Reformation Every 500 Years?

LTRP Note: We are re-posting this excerpt from Faith Undone due to the upcoming October release of Phyllis Tickle's new book, The Great Emergence (Baker Books)

By Roger Oakland

Phyllis Tickle is a best-selling author and the founding editor of the religion department at Publishers Weekly. She is also a friend of the emerging church. Doug Pagitt says of her:

Phyllis Tickle is the best friend the emergent movement could ever have.1

In the fall of 2008, Baker Books (through their partnership with Emergent Village-Emersion Books) will release Tickle's book called The Great Emergence. The following description of the book confirms Tickle's allegiance to emerging spirituality:

[I]ntended to provide a practical, positive vision of the church as it steps into the future. Tickle says the book will discuss the development of the emerging church, what she calls the "Great Emergence," placing it among the other great phenomena in the history of Christianity, including the Great Schism and the Great Reformation. "Every 500 years," Tickle said, "the empowered structures of institutionalized Christianity, whatever they may be, become an intolerable carapace that must be shattered so that renewal and growth may occur. Now is such a time."2

In a PBS interview, Tickle referred to this "[e]very 500 years" theory and said, "the church has a giant rummage sale." She said, "Christianity is in the midst of a new reformation that will radically remake the faith."3 At the Joint Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) where Tickle and McLaren shared a platform, one participant noted that, "[Tickle said] Brian McLaren is to this new reformation what Martin Luther was to the Protestant Reformation."4

If indeed Brian McLaren, or any of the emergent leaders or upstarts, lead and direct this new reformation, it will do as Tickle says--"radically remake the faith." Emergent proponent Troy Bronsink reveals that this remaking will include all of humanity and all of creation. In An Emergent Manifesto of Hope, Bronsink, a minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA), states:

Emergent ... is a gift given to all the church that is placing us in tension with things as they are.... we will discover courage to let go of the old orientations, see creation expanding.5

He continues:

If the emergent conversation is to have a "next chapter," it will need to learn from other sketches outside of Western Christendom as well as from within the depths of other traditions (denominations and communions) once dismissed on rational-political grounds, and it must continue, all the more, to seek ways of sketching that benefit the rest of creation.6

Bronsink says that emergent is "a guild of prophets" that will lead the way for "existing practitioners of Christianity."7 He says they will create an "environment" that will equip "any and all for the process of emergence."8 He adds that "practices of meditation" are necessary to "sustain" the emergent hope(9) but gives a word of caution to emerging seekers:

[M]erely seeing ourselves as a creative agent within the domain of the Christian church will domesticate Emergent into what one critic has already claimed is an "asterisk on the landscape of American church growth." On the other hand, seeing the integrated whole of the church (emerging and otherwise) as a creative agent within creation, Emergent can be a place where practitioners embody the church's creative agency for all of emerging society. (emphasis added)10

Bronsink says the emerging church must not become confined within the structure of Christianity, and this is perhaps where we can understand the theological limits of the emerging church. Those limits? There are none! The sky is the limit for the all-encompassing emerging church that includes all faiths, and all creation. Atonement is not part of this new reformation because all creation is already being saved and unified with God. It's no wonder emerging prophets over the past several decades from [Henry] Fosdick to Alan Jones to Brian McLaren reject penal substitution--in their grand emergence, it just isn't needed.

A poem from An Emergent Manifesto of Hope illustrates what the emerging church calls expanded redemption. I think you will see how such a theology has no room for atonement through Jesus Christ. The poem reads:

Not only soul, whole body!
Not only whole body, all of the faithful community!
Not only all of the faithful community, all of humanity!
Not only all of humanity, all of God's creation!11

This is very contradictory to what Jesus said:

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. (Matthew 7:22-23)

It's a noble and comforting notion that all humanity and creation are redeemed, but it doesn't square with biblical spiritual reality.

Emergent leader Karen Ward asks the question, "Is there an 'emerging' theology of the atonement?"12 She answers, "I think not." Calling it "the mystery we're in," she refers to the atonement as at-one-ment,13 a term occultist and New Age prophet Alice Bailey uses to refer to our (all humanity's) oneness and equality with God.14 Ward explains her views:

We are being moved, as a community, beyond theories about atonement, to enter into atonement itself, or at-one-ment. The new reality and new relationship of oneness with God which Christ incarnated (in life, cross, and resurrection) and into which we are all invited "for all time."15

The emergent reformation, when it comes to fruition, will stand on the side of the line drawn in the sand that says all humanity is One--regardless of religion, beliefs--we are all One. That Oneness will mean one with all creation too, and inevitably with God. This is what the New Age movement is striving for--a time when all of mankind will realize both their unity and divinity--and the Gospel as we know it, according to Scripture, will be no more.

Notes:
1. Steve Knight citing Doug Pagitt, "Phyllis Tickle to Write Book for Baker Books/Emersion"(Emergent Village, May 30, 2007, http://www.emergentvillage.com/weblog/phyllis-tickle-to-write-book-for-baker-booksemersion).
2. Ibid.
3. Fred Plumer, "What is Progressive Christianity Anyway?" (The Center for Progressive Christianity, http://www.tcpc.org/library/article.cfm?library_id=377).
4. Citing from Emergent Village Weblog, http://www.emergent village.com/weblog/emergent-and-the-new-reformation).
5. Doug Pagitt and Tony Jones, An Emergent Manifesto of Hope (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group, 2007), Troy Bronsink section: "The Art of Emergence," p. 68.
6. Ibid., pp. 68-69.
7. Ibid., p. 69.
8. Ibid., p. 70.
9. Ibid., p. 71.
10. Ibid., pp. 72-73.
11. Ibid., p. 83.
12. Robert Webber (editor), Listening to the Beliefs of the Emerging Churches (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2007), Karen Ward chapter: "The Emerging Church and Communal Theology,"  p. 163.
13. Ibid., pp. 163-164.
14. Throughout Alice Bailey's writings is the concept of humanity's at-one-ment (oneness) with God.
15. Robert Webber (editor), Listening to the Beliefs of the Emerging Churches, Karen Ward, op. cit., p. 164.

This has been an excerpt from
Faith Undone by Roger Oakland, from chapter 12, "A New Reformation?"

 

Gary Gilley on The Shack: "A Dangerous Piece of Fiction"

A Book Review by Pastor Gary Gilley on The Shack by William P. Young

One of the most popular and controversial Christian books of recent years is the fictional work by first time author William Young. Evangelical recording artist Michael W. Smith states, "The Shack will leave you craving for the presence of God." Author Eugene Peterson believes "this book has the potential to do for our generation what John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress did for his. It's that good!" ... Given its popularity (number one on the New York Times bestseller list for paperback fiction), influence and mixed reviews, we need to take a careful look. Good Christian fiction has the ability to get across a message in an indirect, non-threatening yet powerful, way. Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress is the most successful in the genre and has been mightily used of the Lord to teach spiritual truth. What determines the value of fiction is how closely it adheres to Scripture. It is by these criteria that we must measure The Shack....

The plot is developed around the abduction and murder of six year old Missy, beloved daughter of nominal Christian Mackenzie Philips (Mack). This great tragedy has, of course, shaped the lives of Mack and his family in horrific ways. Mack's life is simply described as living under "The Great Sadness." Then one day four years later God drops Mack a note in his mail box and invites him to the isolated shack where Missy was murdered. Obviously skeptical, Mack takes a chance that God might really show up and heads alone to the shack. There God, in the form of all three members of the Trinity, meets with him for the weekend. God gives Mack new insight about Himself, about life and about pain and tragedy and Mack goes home a new man. Click here to read this entire book review.

 

Contemplative Prayer and the Evangelical Church

by Ray Yungen

There is a practice that is becoming more and more popular within the evangelical
church. It is called contemplative prayer or centering prayer. Youth organizations and seminaries are particularly drawn to this, thus impacting the Christian youth in this country. Furthermore, there is a snowballing effect wherein contemplative prayer is being accepted and endorsed by more and more evangelical leaders, often based not on their own experience and understanding but rather on the word of other respected leaders who in turn may not have fully researched this subject. I would like to address four points, each with quotes from various published works.
Click here to read this entire report.  

See four points below:

I. A Distinct Connection Between New Age, Eastern Religion, the Occult, and Contemplative Prayer

II. Main Proponents of This Movement Have Been Aligned With Eastern Religion

III. Methods in Contemplative Prayer Are Same As In Eastern Religion

IV. Authors in the Evangelical Church Have Latched Onto Contemplative Prayer

Note: Please feel free to use and distribute Ray Yungen's article on contemplative prayer.

 

Resources for Researchers

Lighthouse Trails provides two web pages of resources for researchers and webmasters. There are many useful tools listed to help with researching topics and also maintaining websites.

 

Christian Resistance Book - A Must Read


Lighthouse Trails Publishing is pleased to announce the release of Things We Couldn't Say by Diet Eman.

This is the true story of Diet Eman, a young Christian woman who joined the resistance movement in the Netherlands during WWII. Together with her fiance' and other Dutch men and women, "Group Hein" risked their lives to save the lives of Jews who were in danger of becoming victims of Hitler's "final solution."

Things We Couldn't Say is an endearing and moving love story that occurs in the midst of extreme danger and often unbearable circumstances and loss. Before the war ends, Eman, her fiance', and several in their group are arrested and sent to concentration camps-many of them lose their own lives.
Hein Sietsma and Diet Eman

A time in history that should not be forgotten. A story that will inspire Christians to live more courageously and stand for what is right, doing so by the power and grace of God.

Table of Contents
Lighthouse Trails Publishing
ISBN 978-0-9791315-7-8
$14.95 Retail * 352 pages * Softbound
Photos * Illustrations

For more information: www.lighthousetrails.com
Toll Free Order Line: 866/876-3910 (M-F/8-5)
Or order from your local bookstore.

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Important New Series on the Emerging Church

The new 4-DVD Emerging Church series by Roger Oakland is now available.

Based on Faith Undone: the emerging church - a new reformation or an endtime deception, each DVD is 70 minutes long and features lecturer and author Roger Oakland of Understand the Times. This is a hard-hitting expose' of the apostasy entering the church through the emerging church, Purpose Driven, contemplative, etc. It provides a solid and convincing defense of the biblical Christian faith, which is under attack today. (Filmed in 2008)

For information and/or ordering for individual DVDs,
click here.

Lighthouse Trails Publishing
To Order: www.lighthousetrails.com
Toll Free Order Line: 866/876-3910
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Click here to read: Synopsis of DVD series

 

Publishing News

THREE WAYS TO ORDER DIRECTLY FROM LIGHTHOUSE TRAILS PUBLISHING:

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SAMPLE 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.

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Newsletter in Print - Coming Soon

If you would like to receive the Coming from the Lighthouse newsletter in print form by mail, please send an email to newsletters@lighthousetrails.com. Be sure and include your mailing address in the email. We will be issuing a printed newsletter several times a year for those who prefer that over the email edition or for some reason need both.

 Both email and printed editions will be free. The first issue of the print newsletter has not yet been issued.

 

Book Spotlights

 

Book Spotlights

These two important books expose the truth about contemplative spirituality, spiritual formation, and the new age.
A Time of Departing and For Many Shall Come in My Name

HOLOCAUST: LEST WE FORGET
A true story that will change your life and challenge your faith ..

"Will sweep you into 1930s Germany and back with your faith intact ... [Trapped in Hitler's Hell] carries a stark message for today's Western Christian ... will refocus your priorities and recharge your spiritual life."-Leo Hohmann, Read entire review at The Messianic Times   Trapped in Hitler's Hell

See all books and DVDs on the Holocaust

The Other Side of the River by Alaskan Kevin Reeves  

When mystical experiences and strange doctrines overtake his church, one man risks all to find the truth ... a true story. Read more about this important book, especially now in light of the Todd Bentley "revival" in Florida.

Find out the truth about the emerging church and the avenues through which it is entering Christianity.

Faith Undone by Roger Oakland

Find out more about the book that tells it like it is.

 

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