What is Contemplative
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Film Warning: The
Secret Life of Bees May Leave Dangerous Sting
will no doubt find The
Secret Life of Bees, a new film which opened in theaters this
fall, to be a heart-warming, endearing movie, but behind the outward
storyline lies a New Age theme and a spiritually dangerous sting.
The film is based on former Guideposts contributor Sue Monk Kidd's best-selling
book, The Secret Life of
Bees. Monk Kidd, once a conservative Southern Baptist Sunday
School teacher, now worships the goddess Sophia (a New Age, mystical
concept of "God"). Her new spirituality began to take form when
she started reading Thomas Merton. From there she started practicing
eastern meditation and eventually moved into the Divine
The Fox Searchlight film has woven within its seams the representation of
the Black Madonna. Most viewers will have no idea what the Black Madonna
stands for. Monk Kidd discusses the Madonna's role:
As I began the novel, I wanted the
driving impetus in Lily's life [the girl in the film/book] to be the search
for home and for her mother. But clearly in the back of mind, I knew there
was a less tangible, more symbolic search for home and mother that needed
to take place: a coming home to herself and the discovery of the mother
within. I knew Lily would have to find an undreamed of strength, and that
she would do it the same way the powerful black women around her did it -
through the empowerment of a divine feminine presence, in this case a Black
Fox's description of the Black Madonna
(or the ancient Egyptian goddess Isis as she is alternately understood)
included her supposed leading of distressed people to find emotional
healing within themselves.
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 calls us to our Divinity which is also
our Creativity. First, our Divinity. Because she is a goddess, the Black
Madonna resides in all beings. She is the divine presence inside of
creation. She calls us inside, into the "kingdom/queendom of God"
where we can co-create with Divinity and feel the rush of Divinity's holy
breath or spirit.
In Monk Kidd's book The Dance of the Dissident Daughter,
she elaborates on the theme of the goddess dwelling in everything when she
Deity means that divinity will no longer
be only heavenly ... It will also be right here, right now, in me, in the
earth, in this river, in excrement and roses alike.(p. 160)
In her book, When the Heart Waits, Monk Kidd's
spirituality is spelled out clearly when she explains:
There's a bulb of truth buried in the
human soul [everyone] that's only God ... the soul is more than something
to win or save. It's the seat and repository of the inner Divine, the
God-image, the truest part of us. (pp. 47-48)
Strobel's Son - Founder of Contemplative Ministry - Biola Named as
"Partner," Lee Strobel as "Supporter"
Strobel, son of prolific Christian author, speaker, and teacher, Lee
Strobel, says he grew up at Willow Creek Church and later studied at
Biola's Talbot School of Theology. Today, he is helping to pave the
contemplative way by touting the works and practices of mystics,
contemplatives, and emergents. Kyle's website ministry Metamorpha is called "an
online community for Christian spiritual formation," listing several
contemplative practices, including repetitive prayers, lectio divina, and
Ignatian exercises. Recommended books on the site list a who's who of
contemplative mysticism proponents such as Dallas Willard, Thomas Merton,
Richard Foster, Henri Nouwen, Adele Calhoun, Thomas Kelly, and several
In an article on Metamorpha, specific instruction for Ignatian exercises
(named after St. Ignatius of Loyola) is given. In the Metamorpha article,
it says that the "imagination is key in Ignatian prayer.... Ignatian
meditation involves several key spiritual disciplines: lectio divina,
Ignatian contemplation, reminiscence, and the examination of consciousness
(notice: not conscience)."1
A video on Metamorpha by Richard Foster titled "What role do the
ancient Christians play in life of believers today?" is quite
revealing.2 Foster lists several ancient
mystics as those we should turn to for spiritual direction. One he named is
Jean Pierre de Caussade (from the 1700s), a mystic and the author of Abandonment to Divine Providence.3 Foster also names panentheist
Thomas Kelly who Foster quotes in one of his books as saying there is a
divine center in every person (see Streams
of Living Water). Foster also tells readers to practice
meditation exercises such as lectio divina.
There is no question that Kyle Strobel is following the contemplative path.
He resonates with numerous mystics whom Lighthouse Trails has critiqued in
the past, as well as emergents like Leonard Sweet and Dan Kimball. It is
hard to know whether his interest for the mystical began at Willow Creek or
Biola - both promote it. But in his book, Metamorpha, he gives credit to Biola professor John Coe for
helping him come to his present spiritual understanding. Coe is the founder
of Biola's Institute of Spiritual
Formation where contemplative prayer is openly promoted.
Some may be wondering why Lighthouse Trails is issuing this statement about
Kyle Strobel who is not too well known yet. We do so because his father,
Lee Strobel, is one of the most well known Christian figures today, and
this connection will bring much attention to Kyle's ministry, in turn
pointing many unsuspecting people toward contemplative spirituality. We
believe a warning is necessary and warranted.
One of the mystics Kyle recommends is Thomas Merton. The following three
quotes by Merton are very indicative of Merton's spiritual affinities
and should not be ignored:
"I'm deeply impregnated with
Sufism." Thomas Merton, The
Springs of Contemplation, p. 266
"And I believe that by openness to Buddhism, to Hinduism, and to these
great Asian traditions, we stand a wonderful chance of learning more about
the potentiality of our own traditions, because they have gone, from the
natural point of view, so much deeper into this than we have." Quote
by Merton from the book, Lost
Christianity by Jacob Needleman
"Isn't it a pity that people are going into LSD to have spiritual
experiences, when we have a tradition in the Church [contemplative prayer]
which no one knows anything about?" Read the Interview in which Matthew Fox
Earlier this year, Relevant magazine asked Kyle
to name ten books he believes "all Christians should read."4 Two of them are written by
Henri Nouwen (who Kyle calls a "prophet"), one by Brother Lawrence, and one by Thomas a' Kempis - all three had
In closing, on the Metamorpha site, InterVarsity Press is named as a
"sponsor" of Metamorpha, Lee Strobel is named as a
"supporter," and Biola's Institute of Spiritual Formation is
named as a "partner."5
Journal is also named as a "partner." Conversations Journal offers articles by some of the most blatant eastern-style mysticism
teachers including Brian McLaren, Basil Pennington, and Tilden Edwards -
the latter two are known panentheists.6 It was Tilden Edwards who
said: "This mystical stream [contemplative prayer] is the Western
bridge to Far Eastern spirituality" (Spiritual Friend, p. 18), and Basil
Pennington who said:
We should not hesitate to take the fruit
of the age-old wisdom of the East and capture it for Christ. Indeed, those
of us who are in ministry should make the necessary effort to acquaint
ourselves with as many of these Eastern techniques as possible ... Many
Christians who take their prayer life seriously have been greatly helped by
Yoga, Zen, TM and similar practices. (Finding Grace at the Center , pp.
New Age Author Marilyn Ferguson Dies, 70
Los Angeles Times
Marilyn Ferguson, 70,
dies; writer's 'The Aquarian Conspiracy' was pivotal in New Age movement
Marilyn Ferguson, whose best-selling book "The Aquarian
Conspiracy" helped establish the New Age movement by tying together
its disparate threads, has died. She was 70.
Ferguson died Oct. 19 at her home in western Riverside County. She is
believed to have died of a heart attack, her son, Eric, told the Los
"The Aquarian Conspiracy," published in 1980, was the first
comprehensive analysis of the various unconnected efforts - such as
scientists investigating biofeedback, midwives running alternative birthing
centers and a Christian evangelist promoting meditation - that would
coalesce into the New Age movement. Click here to read this entire news
The Great Heretical Idea: Oprah and
Eckhart Do the New Age Shift by Warren Smith
Understanding Visualization's Role in the New Age
current popularity of visualization techniques is largely due to a woman
named Shakti Gawain. Her book, Creative Visualization, teaches that we can,
in essence, create our own reality. Her teaching goes beyond the boundaries
of a normal use of the imagination--it delves into the supernatural,
mystical world where one can conjure up beings from the spirit realm and
alter the course of the future. Gawain considers these spirit guides
friends who can help us through life: "Many people who have
established a relationship with their guide meet them every day in their
meditation."1 But as do all New Age thinkers, Gawain believes that man
shares divinity with God. "There is no separation between us and
God,"2 she states. She calls this "our divine potential."3
How do visualization techniques line up with the Christian faith? The Bible
says that the "blessed hope" of the church is the physical return
of Jesus Christ to earth (Titus 2:13). But if we are longing for a mystical
experience that will somehow bring Him into view now, we need to weigh our
desires against biblical principles. God is not a shimmering puppet whom we
can control with our own cleverly devised mental strings: He is a Spirit, a
person separate from ourselves, and we must worship Him in spirit and in
We must test all spirits, as the apostle John instructed. To the New Ager,
God appears as light. The Bible warns that Satan comes as an angel of light
(II Corinthians 11:14), but that Jesus is the real Light of the world. So
what can we do to be sure that our "visions" and our
"messages" are from the true God? "[E]very spirit that
confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God"
(I John 4:3). Jesus is God's only-begotten Son. He died on the Cross for
our sins. He was raised from the dead on the third day. He is fully God and
fully human. He is the Christ, not a bearer of the christ-consciousness.
Unfortunately, many Christians don't understand that there are other
spiritual sources of power besides Jesus. For every true gift, there is a
counterfeit, and many people are using the counterfeit power, often through
visualization. This reminds me very much of my own former use of psychic
powers. In fact, visualization or imaging is unrelated to anything I have
ever learned from the Bible. Norman Vincent Peale described the technique
in his book Positive
the years went by, I began using imaging techniques whenever I wanted to
achieve a certain goal. In my second little church, located in Brooklyn,
New York, attendance was low; in fact one day I found the sexton dragging
one of the back pews out of the building. When I asked him why, he said he
was going to chop it up for firewood. "No one sits in it anyway,"
"Put it back," I told him grimly. "Somebody is going to sit
in it!" I visualized that pew full, and all the other pews full, and
the church filled to capacity. I held that image in my mind. I worked for
it with every ounce of strength I had. I made it part of my innovative
thinking. And the day came when the image became a reality. . . .
Perhaps the idea of the power of positive thinking was conveyed to me right
then and there. But behind that idea, and in it, and beyond it was the
concept of imaging-holding the image of yourself succeeding, visualizing it
so vividly that when the desired success comes, it seems to be merely
echoing a reality that has already existed in your mind.4
Vincent Peale's positive thinking is nothing short of faith in faith. This
has been substituted for faith in our God. And faith in our faith is
nothing short of faith in ourselves: our wills, our desires, our minds,
even our subconscious minds and illusions--in other words, our dreams....
In view of this, what should we be doing? The Bible gives us sound and sure
instruction: Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that
needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (II Timothy
Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.
Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to
withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. (Ephesians
6:13)And let us "earnestly contend for the faith which was once
delivered unto the saints" (Jude 3). Satan is the mastermind behind
New Age thinking, and his plan is to "deceiveth the whole world"
(Revelation 12:9). He wants to change the minds of billions, to
restructure, recondition, and reprogram them as rapidly as possible. And he
is doing it successfully, unbeknownst to the masses. (from Out
of India, chapter 13)
1. Shakti Gawain, Creative
Visualization (Novato, CA: Nataraj Publishing, 2002 edition),
2. Ibid., p. 167.
4. Norman Vincent Peale, Positive
Imaging (Ballantine Books, First Ballantine Books Trade
Edition, 1996), pp. 28-29.
More on Visualization, click here.
Hymn to Hitler - Guest Commentary
In Germany, when Hitler came to power, it was a time of terrible financial
depression. Money was worth nothing. In Germany people lost homes and jobs,
just like in the American Depression in the 1930s, which we have read about
in Thoene's Shiloh books.
In those days, in my homeland, Adolph Hitler was elected to power by
promising "Change." He blamed the "Zionists" around the
world for all our problems. He told everyone it was greedy Zionist Bankers
who had caused every problem we had. He promised when he was leader, the
greedy Zionist bankers would be punished. The Zionists, he promised, would
be wiped off the face of the earth.
So Hitler was elected to power by only 1/3 the popular vote. A coalition of
other political parties in parliament made him supreme leader. Then, when
he was leader, he disgraced and expelled everyone in parliament who did not
go along with him.
Yes. Change came to my homeland as the new leader promised it would.
The teachers in German schools began to teach the children to sing songs in
praise of Hitler. This was the beginning of the Hitler Youth movement. It
began with praise of the Fuhrer's programs on the lips of innocent
children. Hymns in praise of Hitler and his programs were being sung in the
schoolrooms and in the play yard. Little girls and boys joined hands and
sang these songs as they walked home from school.
My brother came home and told Papa what was happening at school. The
political hymns of children proclaimed Change was coming to our homeland
and the Fuhrer was a leader we could trust.
I will never forget my father's face. Grief and fear. He knew that the best
propaganda of the Nazis was song on the lips of little children....
I trembled last night when I heard the voices of American children
raised in song, praising the name of Obama, the charismatic fellow who
claims he is the American Messiah. Click here to read this entire
Brian McLaren: Hoping Obama Will Be
Our Next President
Barack Obama: "[W]e can create
a Kingdom right here on Earth."
Spiritual Politics by Warren Smith
Meditation: The heartbeat of a new
kind of politics
Obama Foreshadows Coming
When Hitler Came to
Power (Lest We Forget)
by Anita Dittman and Jan Markell
Adolf Hitler came to power because the confused and senile President
Hindenburg permitted it. In the early 1930s, Germany was in the throes of
the economic depression that had begun on Wall Street in October 1929. The
depression's effects had been felt in Germany almost immediately; by 1933
nearly one third of the country was unemployed.
During the 1930 elections, the Nazis made the most noise because they were
violently anti-communist and had the backing of wealthy German
industrialists. Scoring giant gains in the Reichstag, Germany's legislative
assembly, their representation jumped from twelve to one hundred and seven.
By 1932, the Nazis had become even stronger as they rallied around the
leadership of Adolf Hitler. With his staff, Hitler traveled to every
village and hamlet to gain votes, his unemployment bandwagon gaining so
much support that the Nazis more than doubled their parliament seats.
Then Hitler was offered the German vice-chancellorship peacefully and
legally. He refused. He wanted nothing short of the chancellorship, which
would give him power almost equal to Hindenburg-s. Later in 1932, he was
offered the full chancellorship, with limited conditions. Again he held
out, protesting the conditions.
By then Germany's streets were loud with riots and political fights.
Brown-shirted Nazis fought all opponents--particularly left-wing
ones--openly in the streets as well as in dark alleys.
Finally in January of 1933 Hitler was made the chancellor of a coalition
government; Hindenburg, nearly eighty-five and no longer able to read,
remained president. A torchlight parade was held on January 30th. A new era
of history had opened--the era of the Third Reich. German democracy was
dead. But with nearly six million unemployed, Germany had only a lukewarm
devotion to democracy anyway.
The Nazi appeal contained a lot of idealism. The idea of living in a
strong, virile country appealed to everyone, particularly the young.
Everyone was wide open to the propaganda that assured relief from
depression, inflation, and other tremendous hardships, and Nazism promised
a near-welfare state.
Hitler was totally underrated by his opponents. The Communist and Social
Democratic parties felt sure his incompetence would quickly be revealed and
that the Nazis would topple with little impact. Hardly anyone expected the
Third Reich to burn its swastika across Europe's landscape.... (From
chapter one, Trapped in Hitler's Hell)
Robert Schuller reveals new ecumenical vision for the future
One of the greatest ministers in our
denomination and in the history of the United States was Norman Vincent Peale. In
addition, this ministry has impacted the shape and the face of Protestant
and even Catholic ministry through the power of the Holy Spirit....
A mission is a place where you ask non-believers to come and find hope and
This spirit is the underlining principle that we have taught to over 50,000
pastors who over the years attended the Institute for Successful Church
Leadership. These pastors returned home and built upon it and even
surpassed what they learned from me. Bill Hybels, Rick Warren, and many
other pastors of most of the biggest churches today are a result of
applying that principle....
[A]fter much prayer we got a new vision and it is this: We're going to
invite great preachers in America that have never been on television to be
guest preachers here. In fact, the greatest sermons ever preached from the
Crystal Cathedral here in Garden Grove will be by guest pastors....
And we have to prove to the world that the church of Jesus Christ can be
ecumenical! We're not just one denomination. We are a representation of the
beloved Christians, whether they are Pentecostals, whether they are
Orthodox, whether they're Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, or whatever....
We will feature the great preachers from the world, starting with names of
men who went to our Institute within the last 40 years. You'll hear, of
course, from Bill Hybels, one of the greatest ministers in the world....
[W]e became a positive witness to the Roman Catholic Church, which at its
best is still the mother church of Christianity. Norman Vincent Peale, the
greatest positive thinking preacher from a mainline denomination in history
preached here often.... Henry Nouwen, top of the letter, Roman Catholic,
theologian, phenomenally. Listen to more
"World Net Daily Interviews Rick Warren - The Truth
Behind the Words" (Warren, Schuller, and Peale)
For more on Robert
Schuller, Rick Warren, and New Age implications of The Purpose Driven Life, read Deceived on Purpose by Warren Smith.
Biola Magazine Editor Admits Biola Promotes Contemplative
managing editor of Biola University's magazine has
posted a statement, admitting that Biola is indeed introducing students to
contemplative spirituality in their chapel services. The following are a
few quotes from his statement:
week, a long-running smear campaign against "spiritual formation"
at Biola University kicked it up a notch. An organization called Lighthouse
Trails [has]unleash[ed] a torrent of criticism and insults about Biola,
claiming that Biola is drifting from its strong biblical roots and
embracing 'apostate Roman Catholic mystical spiritual formation'"
"You'll be shocked when you find out just what it is that these people
are up in arms about... Contemplative prayer! That's right, they are
worried about Biola possibly being apostate because in chapel we dare to
introduce students to ancient methods of contemplative, meditative prayer.
We dare to engage the students in Lectio Divina, an ancient method
inherited from the Desert Fathers of deeply reading and meditating upon a
scripture. It's not new-agey or mystical; it's simple, quiet, and
meaningful. The bible takes center stage. What is wrong with that?"
"[To Lighthouse Trails ... P]eople like Richard Foster (who they label
"neo-Gnostic"), Henri Nouwen, and Dallas Willard (who, for the
record, gave a very philosophical and helpful lecture at Biola's Torrey
Conference last Wednesday), represent an unbiblical mysticism that
masquerades as 'spiritual formation."
"It baffles me that 'spiritual formation,' which to me looks like a
positive, healthy thing from every angle, is being so aggressively
criticized. Even more baffled that Biola is being singled out and smeared
for their commitment to it." Click here to read more.
First, in response to the statement that Lighthouse Trails has released
"a torrent of criticism and insults," against Biola, this simply
is not true. We make every attempt to present the facts in a
straight-forward and non-vitriolic manner; and while these are difficult
things to say, they must be said.
Secondly, it seems very apparent that this young man truly believes there
is nothing wrong with contemplative spirituality. This is the failure of
Biola's administration, faculty, and leadership, who have allowed such a
belief system to take root in their school.
Finally, we want to assure Biola that we have not "singled" them
out. Contemplative spirituality is epidemic throughout a majority of
Christian colleges and seminaries today - Biola is certainly not the only
one. To see others going in this direction, please see our list.
Does God Sanction Mystical
The Shack Author Insists Bestseller is "a God thing"
LTRP Note: The following article by the Christian Post is for research and information
purposes. Lighthouse Trails believes The Shack is a highly deceptive book,
and contrary to what the author states below is not a "God
thing." In fact, we believe this book is another stepping stone to
lead Christians away from the truth of the Gospel and a path that will lead
unbelievers away from salvation through Jesus Christ. Below this article,
please refer to our research on The Shack.
The Christian Post has been a major media outlet to promote Purpose Driven Life,
contemplative spirituality, and the emerging church.
By Eric Young
Christian Post Reporter
Despite what critics have said about his highly popular and hotly debated
best-seller, The Shack, author William Paul Young remains convinced that
his book "is a God thing."
"I absolutely am convinced that this is a God-thing that God is the
One stirring this all up, challenging us to rethink and entertain growing
deeper in a relationship with Him rather than pursuing our
independence," Young said during a live chat with book lovers last
Though Young had not originally intended the novel to be for public
consumption, since its debut on the market last year, The Shack has reaped
in a surprising amount of success, generating a large amount of buzz - both
positive and negative - within Christian circles.
"This book has the potential to do for our generation what John
Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress did for his," stated Eugene Peterson,
Professor Emeritus Of Spiritual Theology at Regent College in Vancouver, in
a published endorsement for the book. "It's that good!" ...
"Al [Moher, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in
Louisville, Ky.] tried to get the book banned but was unsuccessful because
the theologians of his denomination (the Southern Baptist Convention)
'could find nothing unorthodox in The Shack that would warrant it being removed
or banned,'" Young reported last Wednesday....
Over one million copies of The Shack have been sold since it was published
in May 2007. It has maintained its status as the No. 1 Paperback trade
fiction seller on the New York Times best sellers list since June 2008. Click here to read this entire
LTRP Research on The Shack, click here.
2008 Fall Book/DVD Special from Lighthouse Trails
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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
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
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"
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
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.