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Coming From the Lighthouse

                Printer Friendly Version (click here)         December 22, 2008

In This Issue -

Report on Rick Warren's Speaking at Muslim Convention

Rick Warren: "Annoyed" with Critics - Serving Two Masters Not Working

Movie Review: Twilight - An Assault on the Atoning Blood of Jesus Christ

Pew Forum Survey: Most "Christians" Believe Multiple Paths to Salvation

Update on Ohio Family Hit by SWAT Team Raid

Maitreya, Obama, and the Purpose Driven Plan

America on the Brink

Conference Alert: Focus on the Family Marriage Conference Will Include Contemplative Proponent Gary Thomas

2008 Fall Book/DVD Special from Lighthouse Trails

Choosing the Right Book

 

 

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 Report on Rick Warren's Speaking at Muslim Convention

On December 15th, Lighthouse Trails reported that Rick Warren would be speaking at the 8th Annual Muslim Public Affairs Council(MPAC) Convention on December 20th. That conference has now taken place and below is a revealing commentary by one of the other speakers. The article addresses the present situation where Warren is being strongly criticized by the homosexual community and the media for his support on banning homosexual marriage. According to the article, Melissa Etheridge, a popular lesbian rock singer and songerwriter, who met and spoke with Rick Warren at the convention, was very impressed with Warren and feels he may change his stance on homosexual marriage with "some work" by those in favor of homosexual marriage.

Aside from Etheridge and Warren, New Age guru Deepak Chopra was also featured (by video). It is interesting to note that the writer of the article said he read The Purpose Driven Life for the first time on his way to the convention. He notes that there are "passages" in PDL that "are an unwitting argument for the unity of religions." He also gives Rick Warren credit for helping more evangelicals vote Democrat.

Below, the article:
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Juan Cole, President of the Global Americana Institute

I was in Long Beach,Ca. on Saturday for the annual conference of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, where Pastor Rick Warren and I were both headliners.

Also appearing on the stage Saturday evening were Melissa Etheridge and Salman Ahmad, singing Ring the Bells.... There are two stories here ... One is Rick Warren addressing a Muslim audience. The other is his being at the same event with Etheridge, who is gay.

Warren will read the invocation at President-Elect Barack Obama's inauguration, a choice that angered the gay community. Warren supported Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage (and forcibly divorced or 'de-married' 18,000 gay couples already married in California).....

Warren took the stage, friendly and ebullient, and implicitly complained about the bad press he has gotten since Obama announced he would read the invocation.....

Warren said, "Let me just get this over very quickly. I love Muslims. And for the media's purpose, I happen to love gays and straights."

He explicitly mentioned meeting Etheridge, and explained that he has been a long time fan of hers, beginning with her self-titled first album of 1988. "I'm enough of a groupie," he said, "that I got her autograph on the Christmas album." ...

Warren, in short, is a representative of the turn of some evangelicals to a social gospel. Since evangelicalism is a global movement and very interested in mission, his social gospel not surprisingly becomes a global social gospel....

Once a pastor turns, as Warren did, to a social gospel, then he has social goals to accomplish, and he needs all the help he can get. A social gospel creates a field of practical ecumenism....

So you begin to see why Obama is reaching out to this man.... If Warren is the future of the American evangelical movement, then many more evangelicals might end up Democrats ... And if any significant proportion of evangelicals can be turned into consistent Democrats, the party would more regularly win elections in some parts of the country and even nationally....

I came away liking and looking up to Warren. In fact, I wonder whether with some work he could not be gotten to back off some of the hurtful things he has said about gays and rethink his support for Proposition 8. Click here to read this entire article.

Other Coverage on the MPAC/Warren Story:

Pastor Rick Warren addresses Muslim group, emphasizes need to find common ground, Los Angeles Times

"We're always looking to work with unlikely partners, and I think he's a new kind of evangelical," said [MPAC] spokeswoman Edina Lekovic. "We have a lot in common."

Rick Warren: "Annoyed" with Critics - Serving Two Masters Not Working

A SPECIAL LIGHTHOUSE TRAILS COMMENTARY

A recent USA Today article, "Saddleback founder Warren driven to expand his reach," begins by asking the question "Could California pastor Rick Warren possibly be everywhere at once?." The article mentions Warren's global travels, while promoting his Purpose Driven Peace Plan and the recently launched Peace Coalition. The question that should be asked is "Can pastor Rick Warren possibly serve both God and man at the same time?." With modern technology, jet travel, Internet and other high speed communication, and millions of dollars at Warren's disposal from book sales, the first feat may not be too difficult to accomplish--in essence Rick Warren is everywhere at once. But the second, serving both God and man at the same time, is utterly impossible.

The USA Today article gives a few hints regarding Warren's failure in his attempt to serve both God and man at once. Since the release of The Purpose Driven Life, Warren has consistently taught that the first reformation (Luther) was about creeds (doctrines and beliefs) and the second reformation (the one Rick Warren is attempting to initiate) is about deeds (i.e., good works). Rarely has he said that this new "reformation" will be about both deeds AND creeds, and certainly he has not taught that creeds IS more important that deeds. His emphasis on creeds (doctrine) has been minimal. But in the USA Today article, he states:

"Of course, we need creeds ... We don't need to change what we believe. We need to change how we behave. It's not creeds or deeds. I didn't say that. It's creeds and deeds.(emphasis added)

This is a misleading statement by Warren, and many reading it will think he is defending biblical doctrine. But in reality, he isn't. What he is saying here is that no matter what your beliefs are, that is OK, but you need to have deeds. This is not defending biblical doctrine at all. What he is saying is (and has consistently said throughout the years) that it doesn't matter what beliefs you have, as long as you do good works. The set of quotes below are an example of how Warren has placed beliefs on a back burner while exalting the need for good works:

"The first Reformation was about beliefs. This one needs to be about behavior. ... We've had a Reformation; what we need now is a transformation." ."--Rick Warren, July 2005 at the Baptist World Alliance with Tony Campolo and Jimmy Carter

Warren called for "a new reformation" to adapt to the 21st-century world. "The first Reformation was about belief; this one needs to be about behavior."--Rick Warren, 2005, "A World of Baptists," Associated Baptist Press

"You know, 500 years ago, the first Reformation with Luther and then Calvin, was about beliefs. I think a new reformation is going to be about behavior. The first Reformation was about creeds; I think this one will be about deeds. I think the first one was about what the church believes; I think this one will be about what the church does. The first Reformation actually split Christianity into dozens and then hundreds of different segments. I think this one is actually going to bring them together."--Rick Warren, Pew Forum on Religion

Warren has convinced millions of people that a new reformation is going to take place via the Purpose Driven Movement: a reformation in which good works (deeds) must be practiced regardless of one's religious beliefs or even lack of them. What beliefs one holds is secondary, according to Rick Warren. At the 2005 UN Prayer Breakfast, he told an audience of Christians, Hindus, and Muslims, "God doesn't care what religion you are." He told acclaimed broadcast journalist and interviewer Charlie Rose that his Purpose Driven Peace Plan could include homosexuals, and he told the Pew Forum that his reformation could include Muslims. And when he says that the first reformation "split Christianity" and the new one will "bring them [Catholicism and Protestantism] together, it broadens his reformation kingdom even more.

Rick Warren's reformation is an earthly, man-inspired movement, and this is why the emphasis cannot be placed on biblical doctrine - it would be too limiting and constricting. To back up our claims that Warren has not emphasized biblical doctrine, Lighthouse Trails has documented through books and articles, for more than 6 years, Warren's long-standing and continuous promotion of a new spirituality that is ecumenical, mystical, emerging (or merging), compromising, and has strong implications of the New Age movement.

And yet, even with all the evidence there is to show that Rick Warren is walking down a path that is heading for something far different than biblical Christianity, the USA Today article says that "he's annoyed that anyone questions his evangelical credentials." He has shown this annoyance many times in many ways. In a book he has used for training leaders and pastors, it says that opposers (to his program) are like "leaders from hell." When George Mair wrote a biography about Warren that Warren didn't like (even though it was a testament of praise), Warren tried to defame Mair in a most unkind and un-warranted manner. A number of other examples could be shown here that proves the USA Today article is accurate when it says "he's annoyed" with anyone who questions his theology.

The USA Today article also shows that Warren's view toward what he calls fundamentalist Christians is just as derogatory as ever. "'There are all kinds of fundamentalists," he [Warren] says, listing Christian, Muslim, Jewish, atheist, even secular forms. "I don't happen to agree with any of them."' Warren's distaste for fundamentalist Christianity was revealed in January 2006, when a Philadelphia reporter, attending a Saddleback service, stated: "Warren predicts that fundamentalism, of all varieties, will be 'one of the big enemies of the 21st century.' ... Muslim fundamentalism, Christian fundamentalism, Jewish fundamentalism, secular fundamentalism - they're all motivated by fear. Fear of each other.'" In 2005, at the Pew Forum of Religion, Warren told the mostly liberal audience:

Today there really aren't that many Fundamentalists left; I don't know if you know that or not, but they are such a minority; there aren't that many Fundamentalists left in America ... Now the word 'fundamentalist' actually comes from a document in the 1920s called the Five Fundamentals of the Faith.* And it is a very legalistic, narrow view of Christianity." 1

This brings us to the point we hope to make in this article. Rick Warren has been trying to appeal to both the secular world and the evangelical world--he is attempting to serve both "God" and man. Shortly after he made the comments rejecting the five fundamentals of the faith, he made a statement, this time to a Christian audience, saying he did not reject them but rather believed in them. In his efforts to bring about an ecumenical, global reformation, Rick Warren has attempted to appeal to all persuasions. But what he says to one audience does not work for another, so he must change what he says, depending on the occasion and the audience. The reason it does not work, is because a Christian cannot serve both God and man. The true Christian cannot work to build a kingdom of this world while trying to hold onto God's kingdom, one that Jesus said is not of this world.

Rick Warren believes that Christian fundamentalists will have no part in his new reformation. He believes they are an enemy to the world today. He likens them to Islamic terrorists. But in actuality, a true Christian "fundamentalist" is one who believes in the fundamentals of biblical faith. Thus, his annoyance, anger, and growing frustration should not be directed at true believers (what he calls fundamentalists).

Scripture is clear: "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon" (Matthew 6:24). In Warren's effort to serve the world, he has come to despise the bride of Christ.

Right now, in the news, Rick Warren is taking some heat by the secular media and by homosexual activists for his stand against homosexual marriage, and Barack Obama is taking heat for asking Warren to participate at the inauguration. What is so ironic about this is that Rick Warren has done more to help Obama win than perhaps any other person. That may sound very far fetched to many, but please consider this: Through various means, Warren has helped to propel the emerging church, a movement which ignited possibly millions of young people to join ranks with leaders like Brian McLaren, Tony Campolo, and Jim Wallis. McLaren, who became an advisor to Obama prior to the election, and was named as one of the 25 most influential evangelicals by Time magazine, gave the green thumbs up to his followers to vote for Obama. It is very likely that this huge group of young "progressive evangelicals" (perhaps well over 20 million, according to some estimates) tipped the balance toward Obama, giving him the victory. But that is not all Warren did: In addition to helping propel the emerging church, Warren's badgering at conservative Christians for focusing too much on abortion and homosexual marriage eventually gave way to causing confusion and guilt by many who were Purpose-Driven congregants. That number, by the way, is high. With 400,000 churches in his network (worldwide), a conservative number of US followers could easily be well over 50 million people (300,000 X 250 congregants). So this is why we say it is ironic that Warren is in the present trouble with the homosexuals and the secular media. He helped to get them the president they wanted.

Regardless of Rick Warren's reasons for showing a last-minute public support for California's Proposition 8 (banning homosexual marriage), he is a man who is attempting to serve both "God" and man. Perhaps after all these years, since the release of The Purpose Driven Church, it has finally caught up with him. But where will he find his home? It will not be with the liberals and homosexuals unless he changes his stance on homosexual marriage. And it will not be with biblical Christians whom he is "annoyed" with and whom he has come to despise. Will it be with the broad group of spiritual "seekers" who are ever looking but never finding truth because it is never truly presented to them? Some will see Rick Warren as a Christian martyr for being ridiculed and harassed by the media and homosexual activists. But Lighthouse Trails can only see him as one who has been deceived and has taken far too many with him into that deception.

A man of God is not annoyed when he is questioned and challenged, but rather he seeks to repent and correct his wayward path. If Rick Warren became single-minded, serving only God, he would stand to lose a lot, but it would be nothing in comparison to what he would gain. "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" (Mark 8:36)


* The Five Fundamentals of the Faith
1. The Deity of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2. The Virgin Birth.
3. The Blood Atonement.
4. The Bodily Resurrection.
5. The inerrancy of the scriptures.

 

Movie Review: Twilight - An Assault on the Atoning Blood of Jesus Christ

 By Pastor Bill Randles

Believers in Grace Fellowship

Iowa 

Why "Twilight" is spiritually fatal, and what it shows us about the state of Christian youth.

"... they will turn their ears away from the truth and be turned aside unto fables." (2 Timothy 4:4)

If someone would have told me 25 years ago, that one day a popular series of "vampire romance" books would be accepted and promoted by evangelical ministries, I wouldn't have been able to believe it. That's why I was shocked to read this article by Christian documentarian and researcher, Caryl Matrisciana & Paul Villanueva, click here which documents the glowing reviews of the occult book series by evangelical publications such as: Campus Life, Focus on the Family, Christianity Today, Christian Teen, and Christian Stay at Home Moms Magazine. All gave glowing testimonials, and some even suggested that the "Twilight" series could become the basis for Bible discussions and studies!

My purpose isn't to merely echo Caryl Matrisciana & Paul Villanueva's excellent article, exposing the occult roots of this book series. Rather, I have a burden to show you why I believe that this literature could have a completely soul deadening effect on those who are fascinated by its dark vision.

First of all, consider what the 'vampire' myth really is--nothing less than an obscene parody of the precious gift of God--which is eternal life through the Son of God, Jesus Christ, and by the gift of His blood, offered to God for us. To God, blood is sacred, those who drink it are an utter abomination to Him, because of what blood represents. We obtain eternal life by accepting in faith our share of the offering of the blood of Jesus, termed precious by God, ... As of a lamb without blemish and without spot (I Peter 1:19).

In the pagan myth, 'vampires' are those who obtain 'immortality' by sucking other's blood. The 'immortality' they gain, is literally a damned existence. They live in the night, they cannot endure light, they feed on the blood of innocence. Far from just a harmless thrill, Vampirism is the basis for all sorts of pagan spiritualities. Blood drinking and blood sacrifice is an everyday reality among animists all over the world.

The vampire fable is nothing less than an all out assault on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Consider this, a young person can go to a theater on a Saturday evening and vicariously fall in love with a vampire, and his 'coven'(family), and then go to church on Sunday morning and partake of the Lord's supper. That same person on Saturday evening could conceivably root for a girl to forfeit her own mortal soul, to be the lover of a vampire, and the next morning go to church and eat the bread and drink the cup of eternal life! Can one eat at both the Lord's table and the table of demons? Did you know that this book series was 'given' to a Mormon woman in a dream, and that she was visited in a subsequent dream by the vampire figure?

"You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons, you cannot partake of the Lord's table and the table of demons." (I Cor 10:21)

Ah but Pastor it is only a movie! Lighten up! But this is more than a movie--it is a pagan myth which is a perversion of the only Gospel that can save us. The movie presents vampires as being attractive, in fact so attractive that the young lady in the story is willing to become a vampire to be with her lover. In order to be with her vampire lover, she submits to being an eternally damned soul! This movie skillfully plays on the emotions in such a way that the viewer pulls for the mortal young woman to be with her "lover," a 110-year-old vampire in the form of an attractive and well-mannered teen.

What the popularity of this film, even among evangelical youth, says about the state of the church is that we have forgotten what we once knew very well. That is, you can't fill your mind with all of this paganism without injuring your relationship with God. We used to know that it is very possible to "lose your soul," to so jade ourselves by constant, undiscerning exposure to worldliness, that we render ourselves unable to pray, to hear the Word, or to live for God.

We once knew that to voluntarily expose ourselves to blasphemy and sexual sin--not to mention something as blatantly spiritual as Vampirism--was something to be shunned, avoided, that it was soul deadening, and injurious to our Christian walk.

Another thing the popularity of this movie shows us is the loss of the sense of the sacred among Christians. Paul warned the Christians in Ephesus, to: "Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness but rather expose them."(Ephesians 5:11)

Where is the sense of the sacred? The idea of the sacred is that there are some things in life that are 'other,' they are above us, they are not to be 'profaned,' for they are above us. For example, marriage is sacred, so is sexuality, as well as life itself. The purity of children is to be held sacred, that is why there is a special warning to any who would cause them to stumble.

The Gospel itself is sacred. I believe that "Twilight" is a direct assault on the gospel, an obscene parody of the good news of salvation, the salvation we obtain by partaking of the precious blood of Jesus, offered as a sacrifice for us. Jesus is the one who has brought "life and immortality to light" through the Gospel. I don't believe it is possible to read or enjoy "Twilight" without spiritual defilement.

Of course we must remember, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness ... for the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sins." (I John 1:79)

 

Pew Forum Survey: Most "Christians" Believe Multiple Paths to Salvation

LTRP Note: The survey discussed in this out-of-house article was performed by the Pew Forum on Religion, the liberal body to which Rick Warren denounced the five fundamentals of the faith in 2005.

Pew Forum on Religion

A majority of all American Christians (52%) think that at least some non-Christian faiths can lead to eternal life. Indeed, among Christians who believe many religions can lead to eternal life, 80% name at least one non-Christian faith that can do so. These are among the key findings of a national survey conducted by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life from July 31-Aug. 10, 2008, among 2,905 adults.

The survey is designed as a follow-up to the Pew Forum's U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, conducted in 2007, which reported that most Americans who claim a religious affiliation take a nonexclusive view of salvation, with seven-in-ten saying that many religions can lead to eternal life while less than one-quarter say theirs is the one, true faith leading to eternal life. But what exactly do these respondents have in mind when they agree that "many religions can lead to eternal life?" Is this primarily an example of most Christians (who account for nearly 80% of the U.S. adult population) acknowledging that some Christian denominations and churches besides their own can lead to eternal life? Or are most people interpreting "many religions" more broadly, to include non-Christian faiths?

The new study asks those who say many religions can lead to eternal life questions about specific faiths. Sixty-nine percent said Judaism can lead to eternal life, compared to 52 percent for Islam, 53 percent for Hinduism, 42 percent for atheists and 56 percent for people with no religious faith. Click here to read this entire out-of-house article.

Related Information:

[W]ide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Matthew 7:13-14

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.John 14:6

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber....I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. John 10:1, 9

 

Update on Ohio Family Hit by SWAT Team Raid

On December 6th, Lighthouse Trails issued a report by Kjos Ministries about an Ohio family that was victimized in a SWAT team raid on their food coop in their home. There is now a video interview with the family, who is telling their story. Also for updates and further information from Kjos on this situation, click here. WorldNet Daily has also reported on this story. Click here to watch video interview.

 

Maitreya Rising?

by Paul Proctor

 

There was a very strange announcement made recently in the form of a press release posted on the Dow Jones & Company's Market Watch website dated December 12, 2008, that bears mentioning, if for no other reason, because it reads like something from a supermarket tabloid. Come to think of it, didn't Rupert Murdoch just buy Dow Jones & Company not long ago? If you're not aware, they also publish, among other things, the Wall Street Journal.

Anyway, whether this speaks to the decline of a once great business publication or the growing power and influence of a coming world leader, only time will tell. Either way, it is clearly another ominous sign of the desperate times in which we live.

The article in question titled, Share International Reveals Christmas Miracle, advises readers to prepare for a coming miracle that all of us will see in the sky shortly before the "emergence of Maitreya and his group, the Masters of Wisdom." ...

The article goes on to say:

Look now for the biggest miracle of all. In the very near future a large, bright star will appear in the sky visible to all throughout the world--night and day.

Unbelievable? Fantasy? No, a simple fact. Around a week later, Maitreya, the World Teacher for all humanity, will begin his open emergence and--though not yet using the name Maitreya--will be interviewed on a major US television program.

Who is Maitreya, you ask?

The press release describes him this way:

Awaited by all faiths under different names, Maitreya is the Christ to Christians, the Imam Mahdi to Muslims, Krishna to Hindus, the Messiah to Jews, and Maitreya Buddha to Buddhists. He is the World Teacher for all, religious or not, an educator in the broadest sense.

If that doesn't peg your spiritual discernment meter, you may want to go have it checked.

What I find fascinating is that this Maitreya fellow seems to have a strangely similar "share and save the world" agenda to that of Purpose Driven Pastor Rick Warren with his Global P.E.A.C.E. Plan and also President-elect Barack Obama with his Global Poverty Act and Universal Service Plan--men who apparently have no aversion to working with any or all of the world religions or non-religions to save the planet--which may explain, at least in part, why Warren is scheduled to lead the invocation at Obama's upcoming inauguration.
Click here to read this entire article. 

 

America on the Brink

A Commentary Worth Thinking About - What May Lie in the Future

 

NOTE: Paul Walter was born in socialist Yugoslavia in 1945. He and his family emigrated to America in 1959. He served 3 years in the U.S. Armed Forces and became a U.S. citizen in 1963.

By Paul Walter (a survivor of communism)
NewsWithViews.com

PREDICTIONS

Political Correctness and Freedom of Speech

The first thing that Socialists do when they gain power is try to silence free speech. Conservative Talk radio hosts such as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glen Beck, Laura Ingram, Lou Dobbs, etc. are already being criticized by "Progressives" in Congress. There is a serious effort underway right now to bring back a failed law, the oxymoronic "Fairness Doctrine," in a bold, open attempt to silence opposing political views. Internet news sites such as WorldNetDaily.com, NewsWithViews.com, DrudgeReport.com, InfoWars.com and many others will be silenced along with talk radio. In order for darkness (lies) to prevail, light (truth) has to be snuffed out.

Public scrutiny and criticism of elected officials will be forbidden. Any person exposing political corruption will be labeled anti-government. If they persist in attempting to correct that political corruption, they will be called a terrorist! All police departments around the country will be required to have terrorist units.

[In a communist country of my birth I remember that one could criticize any capitalist country one wishes as long as it wasn't yours or another communist country. Criticism of any official brought police in black uniform to your door usually at night when everyone was asleep.]

Religious Persecution and Sharia Law

Traditional churches will be attacked by Socialists, Feminists and Homosexuals. Christians will increasingly be ridiculed and called bigots because of their religious beliefs. Church services will be regularly disrupted. Under pressure, many church leaders will give-in, capitulating for the sake of peace. They will give up their moral principles, or face the anti-discrimination laws that will be passed to force churches, organizations and people to comply with the immoral doctrines of the socialist, secular humanists.
Click here to read this entire commentary.

 

Conference Alert: Focus on the Family Marriage Conference Will Include Contemplative Proponent Gary Thomas

Gary Thomas tells readers to repeat a word for 20 minutes and points them to a tantric sex advocate, but still Focus on the Family keeps Thomas for speaking and for his books.

On February 28, 2009, Focus on the Family will present to churches across North America the "Focus on Marriage" conference in a "LIVE simulcast." Focus has invited Gary Thomas to help train married couples attending the event. Thomas, strongly promoted by Rick Warren, has several popular books covering topics such as marriage, parenting, and spirituality. Unfortunately, he is a proponent of contemplative prayer. Beth Moore, who has also promoted contemplative spirituality, is one of the other speakers at the conference. This report will only address only Gary Thomas.*

In his book, Sacred Pathways, Thomas instructs readers:

It is particularly difficult to describe this type of prayer in writing, as it is best taught in person. In general however, centering prayer works like this: Choose a word (Jesus or Father, for example) as a focus for contemplative prayer. Repeat the word silently in your mind for a set amount of time (say, twenty minutes) until your heart seems to be repeating the word by itself, just as naturally and involuntarily as breathing. (p. 185)

Thomas' contemplative propensities take him (and readers) into an area that could have significant ramifications on countless families. In his book Sacred Marriage (a book that Focus on the Family stands by and sells on their website), Thomas introduces readers to a woman named Mary Anne McPherson Oliver and to her book Conjugal Spirituality .Thomas favorably references Oliver several times throughout Sacred Marriage and also references Oliver on his website in a Sacred Marriage study guide. 1

Who is Mary Anne McPherson Oliver and why should Christians be concerned about Gary Thomas' promotion of this woman's book, Conjugal Spirituality?

On the back of Oliver's book, it states that "[r]eligious practice as we know it today remains, in effect, 'celibate.' Mary Anne Oliver proposes an alternative ... she examines the spiritual dynamics of long-term relationship."

You may be wondering, "What does that all mean?" To put it simply, Oliver believes that sexuality and spirituality go together and that couples are missing out because they have not incorporated the two but rather have practiced what she calls a celibate spirituality. But she is not just talking about spirituality - she is talking about mystical spirituality!

Oliver received her doctorate in mystical theology at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, and her book permeates with her mystical persuasions. She describes her "discomfort" regarding present views on sexuality and religion and says she hunted for answers by talking to monks, going on retreats and even spending an entire ("liturgical") year at Taize, an ecumenical, meditation-promoting community in France. Eventually, she came to identify what she termed "conjugal spirituality" (p. 1).

Oliver says that "negative attitudes" and "walls" toward sex have inhibited people and says: "Although the walls are coming down, the separation of sex and spirituality which has been operative since the 4th century has yet to be completely eliminated" (p. 16).

What exactly is Oliver proposing couples do to remove these "walls"? Very clearly, her message to couples is to turn to mysticism. In dismay, she says that "spiritual counselors and writers" have not begun to teach the "Upanishads [Hindu scriptures] and Tantric writings as the basis for moral theology for couples" and that "[s]ome still refuse to grant that mystical experience can be associated with erotic love" (p. 18). Oliver says that changes in mainstream theology have prepared the way for "the emergence of conjugal spirituality." She adds: "An upsurge of interest in the spiritual life and a renaissance in mystical studies have widened the domain of spirituality" (p. 27).

This mysticism that Oliver encourages is experienced through "bodily exercises" that the couple practice together, "creating one's spiritual space." Listen to some of her instructions in what she describes as "intercourse on all levels of consciousness":

1. "Center 'that whole human reality which some people are beginning to call bodymind'" (p.85).
2. "Two basic movements in which each can contact the core energy of the other and experience the enlarging of the oval inhabited by the divine presence" (p. 91).
3. Yin and Yang movements
4. "Concentrate in the stillness and silence" (p. 93).
5. "Center yourselves."
6. "Meditate using the five senses. Experience the circuit of energy circling slowly through the joined bodies" (p. 93).
7. "Focus a few minutes on the breath as a sign of the Spirit's activity within yourself" (p.102).
8. "Repeat name or "I love you" as a mantra" (p. 102).

In Conjugal Spirituality, Oliver talks favorably about mystic Teilhard de Chardin's Omega Point and the "Indian Tantric Yoga tradition ... spoken of as kundalini potential energy" (p. 97). She describes public sexual ceremonies in which couples practice "Taoist visualizations and meditations, accompanied by breathing exercises" and talks of "[i]nvoking the gods and goddesses." Oliver says that society may frown on such public displays of sexual mysticism at this time and couples may have to improvise until restrictions are lifted. She says that "sexual union celebrated [is] an eschatological sign of God's kingdom where all will be one" (p. 101).

It is important to realize here that when Gary Thomas read Oliver's book, he resonated with it. This is not guilt by association, but rather guilt by promotion. For those who do not understand the significance of his promotion of Conjugal Spirituality, perhaps a brief lesson in tantric sexuality (an underlying theme in Oliver's book) will help to illustrate it. Ray Yungen explains:

Tantra is the name of the ancient Hindu sacred texts that contain certain rituals and secrets. Some deal with taking the energies brought forth in meditation through the chakras and combining them with love-making to enhance sexual experiences.

Once completely off-limits to the masses of humanity, tantra, like all other New Age methodologies, is now starting to gain increasing popularity. A Google search on the Internet shows 6,600,000 entries for the word tantra! This union of sexuality and Eastern spirituality is a perfect example to illustrate just how much the New Age has permeated our society as it has affected even the most intimate areas of people's lives.

The potential to impact a very great number of people, especially men, was brought out in an article by a sex worker who incorporates "Tantric Bodywork" into her services. She paints a very sad portrait of the dynamics of the "enormous sex industry" in which millions of stressed and unhappy men seek out "erotic release" from women who are just as unhappy and stressed as their clients. She observes that there is a "culturally rampant phenomenon that spouses are disconnected from each other."

To remedy this tragic interplay of exploitation, she has turned to Tantric Union to give her clients what she feels is not just sex but "union with the divine." After she read a book called Women of the Light: The New Sacred Prostitute, she turned her erotic business into a "temple." Of this temple, she says it is:

...dedicated to being a haven of the sacred, a home for the embodiment of spirit, filled with altars, sacred objects, plants, art, dreamy sensual music, blissful scents. My space is home to Quan Yin [a Buddhist goddess], crystals blessed by the Entities of John of God [a Brazilian spirit channeler].

Now the "multitudes of men" who come to her get much more than they bargained for. In the past, wives and girlfriends needed only to worry about sexually transmitted diseases from cheating husbands and boyfriends, but now their men may instead bring home spiritual entities! (from For Many Shall Come in My Name, pp. 115-116)

If Christians begin to incorporate contemplative practices with their sexual lives (a Christian version of tantric sex), the results will be devastating to the church, and we predict sexual perversion will be more rampant than ever. Why? Because if the altered states of consciousness are truly demonic realms (as we believe they are) then tantric sex is another venue of the hidden darkness that Jesus spoke of.

These assertions may sound absurd to some readers, but evidence of the truth of this does exist. For instance, Henri Nouwen (who along with Thomas Merton, is one of the top icons of the contemplative prayer movement), in his last book Sabbatical Journey, candidly revealed how he listened to audio tapes on the seven chakras which is the basis for tantric sex (p. 20). Also in Nouwen's book, he makes mention of his encounter with a mystic named Andrew Harvey, whom Nouwen referred to as his soul friend (spiritual mentor) and how much Harvey's mysticism had touched him (p. 149). And yet Harvey's mysticism includes this tantric element. In a 2007 conference (The International Conference on Sacred Sexuality), Harvey lead a workshop called "Sexual Liberation, Tantra, and Sacred Activism" in which Harvey did:

... show that sexual liberation and Tantra are vital parts of the Divine Mother's plan for the birth of a new humanity, since they make possible a profound and ecstatic contact with what Andrew calls Divine Eros - a tender passionate dynamic love-connection. True Tantric sexuality gives its' practitioners access to extraordinary and unified energies which will form the base of a commitment to Sacred Activism.

In view of Gary Thomas' promotion of mantra meditation in his book Sacred Pathways, it makes perfect sense that he would be quoting from someone like Oliver. But is this really what Focus on the Family wants to give to married couples attending the "Focus on Marriage" conference next February?

It is worth noting here that Focus on the Family shares their affinity over Thomas with Rick Warren, who says of Thomas: "In his book, Sacred Pathways, Gary identified nine of the ways people draw near to God." 2 Then Warren names contemplative as one of those. Of Sacred Pathways, Warren says:

Gary has spoken at Saddleback, and I think highly of his work. In this book, Gary encourages readers to understand the unique way in which they relate to God and then he tells them how they can make the most of their spiritual journeys. He places an emphasis on practical spiritual exercises.3Rick Warren also resonates deeply with Henri Nouwen, which would also make sense given his views of Thomas.

If you are concerned about Focus on the Family's continued promotion of Gary Thomas, please contact them and ask them to reconsider their earlier response when they stated in a letter to us that:

"[T]here is and always has been a strong tradition of contemplative prayer in the Christian church that has nothing to do with mantras and Eastern meditation. To confuse the two, as you have done, is to jump to an unwarranted conclusion based on a misunderstanding of certain features they appear to have in common."4

Those of you who have studied the contemplative issue know how faulty this response is. The contemplative tradition did not start with the biblical saints and apostles but rather a few centuries later with the desert fathers (who drew from those of Eastern religions), and when Focus on the Family says "features they appear to have in common," just what are those features? Either the method or the results. And we know from Gary Thomas, Henri Nouwen, and Mary Oliver McPherson, that it is both.

For those who may have any doubt about what we are saying, please consider this: In Sacred Pathways, Thomas favorably turns to a man named Basil Pennington (pp. 99, 104, 192). Ray Yungen pinpointed Pennington's views when he quoted him in A Time of Departing as saying:

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. (ATOD, p. 64)

Pennington also states:

It is my sense, from having meditated with persons from many different [non-Christian] traditions, that in the silence we experience a deep unity. When we go beyond the portals of the rational mind into the experience, there is only one God to be experienced. - Basil Pennington (Centered Living, p. 192)

It appears that this is the direction Gary Thomas is heading. The question is, will Focus on the Family and thousands of Christian couples do likewise?

 * Beth Moore, also one of the speakers at the 2009 Focus of Marriage Conference, has been a proponent of contemplative spirituality. See our report.

More:
Focus on the Family Answers Lighthouse Trails - Defends Contemplative Author - May 2006 - Letter from Focus on the Family

 

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