LIGHTHOUSE TRAILS RESEARCH           August 21, 2017     LIGHTHOUSE TRAILS PUBLISHING
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Letter to the Editor: Churches Strongly Influenced by “Religious Correctness”

Dear Lighthouse Trails:

Our Christian churches are being strongly influenced by what I call Religious Correctness. It is similar to Political Correctness.  If you question anything, you are told to sit down and shut up. Do not rock the boat.

I am a former Roman Catholic who now knows and loves Jesus Christ.  In Sunday school class at my church, when I questioned Mother Teresa (soon to become a Catholic saint to whom Catholics can pray), and I also brought up some of the anti-biblical practices of the RCC, I was told that I could either keep quiet or leave.

Besides that, last Sunday’s sermon at that same church was all about getting more of the un-churched in our community to come to church. Nothing about a sinner’s need for a Savior was even mentioned.

The methods of Rick Warren and Bill Hybels for filling churches with more people are being adopted all over America. Instead of spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ, a church is now supposed to be run like a business.  Growth is the most important thing.

Thankfully, the Lord has already led me to a strong Bible-believing church.

Congratulations [on] influencing the Assemblies of God to reconsider joining the growing number of churches in America with anti-Semitic leanings. Keep up your good work.  You are making a difference.

In His name, Mark

Related Articles:

Still Confusion on Willow Creek “Repentance”

 

 

Is Your Child or Grandchild Heading to Christian College This Fall? – 9 Things You Should Do Before He Goes

Fall is quickly approaching, and by now, if you have a child or grandchild who is going to attend Christian college this year, he or she is most likely enrolled and ready to go. As Lighthouse Trails has reported over the last several years, the majority of evangelical/Protestant colleges, seminaries, and universities are now, to varying degrees, integrating contemplative spirituality and emerging ideologies into the lives of their students. With this in mind, you might consider doing the following nine things so that you and your child can know what to expect in that school and how to deal with it:

1. First, see if that school is on our contemplative colleges list. Sadly, this list is continually growing.

2. Ask the school for a current textbook list (you may e-mail it to Lighthouse Trails so we can analyze the list for you). Usually textbook lists will also give the authors’ names as well as titles of books.

3. Search your particular college’s website to see if it has spiritual formation programs. You can type words into college website search engines (such as this one at Moody Bible Institute) such as: Nouwen, “spiritual formation,” “lectio divina,” Shane Claiborne, “Christian formation,” etc.

4. Find out who will be speaking at student chapels.

5. Ask for a syllabus for each class your student is enrolled in.

6. After getting the textbook list, the chapel speaker list, the search engine results, and the class syllabi, refer to our Directory of Authors to see if any names from the school are in that directory.

7. Make sure your child is educated on what  contemplative prayer, spiritual formation, and emerging church really mean. They should read at least one of the following LT books: A Time of Departing, Faith Undone, Castles in the Sand. You as a parent or grandparent should read An Epidemic of Apostasy – How Christian Seminaries Must Incorporate “Spiritual Formation” to Become Accredited as well. If you do not have one of those books on hand or if you or your child or grandchild cannot afford to buy one of them, please let us know, and we will send a copy to your child complimentary.

8. Contact the school chaplain and ask some good questions. It is often the school chaplain or campus pastor who decides who is going to be invited to speak at chapels and also is often in charge of Spiritual Formation activities outside of class.

9. Find out which church your child will be attending while in school. Many, many times, the majority of students of a particular college go to the same church, and many, many times, that church is pro-contemplative, pro-emerging.

If your child or grandchild is not yet enrolled in a college, then this list will put you  in a better position to help him or her make a decision on where to attend. If your child or grandchild is already enrolled for this fall, then this list will help you help your child be better equipped and prepared for the road ahead.

Here is our growing list of Christian schools that ARE promoting contemplative and/or emerging: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/Colleges.htm. And here is a small list we have put together of schools that are thus far NOT going in that direction: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/collegesgood.htm.

Some of our past articles on Christian colleges:

Baylor University Professors Using Meditation and Mantras to “Help” Students

Letter to the Editor: Liberty University Offering Yoga Classes . . . AGAIN!

“Christian Palestinianism” & Emergents Lynn Hybels and Jim Wallis Come to Multnomah University For “Justice” Conference

Faith Baptist Bible College & Seminary “Crossed Off” “Good” College List – Hopefully Temporarily

Letter to the Editor: Saddened by Christian & Missionary Alliance and Ambrose University Continuing Plunge into Contemplative

The “New” Emerging Theology Breeds Atheism in a Generation of Young People

In Need of a Pastor for Your Church? Try Looking at NON-Contemplative Colleges

Teresa of Avila Comes to Christian College

More articles in our Contemplative Colleges category.

Evolutionary Beliefs Versus the Unconquerable God
Evolutionary Conspiracy vs the Resurrection

photo credit: bigstockphoto

By Roger Oakland and Caryl Matrisciana

Through evolutionary beliefs, we can see that our culture is slamming the door on God the Creator while at the same time opening the door to the fallen spiritual realm (the demonic realm). As a result, people are increasingly embracing Satan’s false promise that they are the masters of their own world.

This lie has become more firmly entrenched as the evolution conspiracy has tried in every way possible to remove God from His rightful position as Creator. It has done this in science, in education, in medicine, and in popular culture by undermining faith in God’s revealed Word, the Bible. Tampering with the authority and intent of God’s written Word has serious consequences which God severely warns about (see Revelation 22:18-19). The Bible teaches that man was created by God, fell from God’s grace as a result of disobedience, and is desperately in need of redemption. This truth has been a stumbling block to many who choose rather to believe that man was not created by God but evolved and is the end product of some unguided process of chance and time. Man’s pride argues that the biblical perspective of creation is unscientific, without admitting to the unreasonable assumption of evolutionism.

Evolutionism’s attempts to rid man of knowledge and trust in the biblical God of creation cannot curb humankind’s incurable desire for supernatural fellowship and worship. Man was created to worship, and whether he worships the Creator God or other idols including himself, his spiritual drive must be met. In response to such needs, evolutionary thinking has embraced many humanist and New Age concepts. This is nothing short of Satan’s lie to Eve in Genesis 3:4,5: “Ye shall not surely die . . . ye shall be as gods.”

By accepting the idea of “godhood” (that man is in control of his own power and destiny), modern man buys into the very same hoax that seduced Eve in the first place. The power that was promised her was a counterfeit offered by the one who wanted to draw her away from her dependence on and relationship with God.

Millions of people are being duped by the false spiritual idea that our society continues on an upward evolutionary pathway, that mankind is on the verge of entering a brand-new age of consciousness and awareness that will come as a so-called quantum leap in man’s evolutionary process. As we are presently witnessing in today’s society, man’s decision to eliminate God by propagating the lie of evolution has ignited a wildfire of New Age/new spirituality thinking and mentality which openly encourages contact with the occult, worship of self, and denial of a biblical God.

It is so unfortunate that the Bible has been laid aside as a reliable and trustworthy source of information. Paul admonished Timothy to stay in the Word:

[F]rom a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. (2 Timothy 3:15-16)

Also, the psalmist praises God for His Word in saying, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105). But, too often, many prefer to grope in darkness than to lay hold of the wisdom that we need for all life and godliness.

The Bible, the mighty sword of the Christian warrior, is increasingly and deliberately being undermined in schools and even churches, many of which dismiss its content as symbolic and irrelevant.
An example of blatant misrepresentation was witnessed at the Jesus Seminar. Though its membership has considerably dwindled—only forty participants remain out of the original 2001—the Jesus Seminar was at one time an influential group of Bible scholars, including teachers from universities and seminaries and even representatives of the Society of Biblical Literature. This group, which began in 1985, ruled out the authenticity of eighty percent of the words attributed to Jesus from the Gospels. It concluded that the Lord’s Prayer did not go back to the historical Jesus. It rejected such important Christian foundations as John 3:16 and John 14:6 (“I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”) This group systematically attempted to invalidate the Messiah’s sacrifice of His blood for the atonement of man’s sins. It also assaulted His unique character as God and the teaching of His inevitable return to rule on earth. But the unbeliever’s skeptical view of God and of the faithful authority of His Word cannot change God’s eternal purpose. God is not mocked.

Ultimately, Satan cannot and will not win in his conspiracy against God but is doomed to eventually be cast into the lake of fire burning with brimstone (Revelation 20). At times, however, many people question God’s ways and purposes, and Satan is credited with winning the battle. At the crucifixion of Jesus, all the rulers, powers, the world forces of darkness, and spiritual forces of wickedness in high places (Ephesians 6:12) must have believed they had successfully killed the “King of the Jews” and thwarted His eternal plan. For three days, Satan’s human accomplices were filled with arrogant pride at their accomplishment. But then unconquerable God overpowered death and presented Himself resurrected to His triumphant followers. His resurrection represented the future hope of all believers, the hope of eternity in His presence.

(An excerpt from Caryl Matrisciana and Roger Oakland’s book The Evolution Conspiracy, 2nd edition)

 

 

 

Letter to the Editor: Churches Strongly Influenced by “Religious Correctness”
Is Your Child or Grandchild Heading to Christian College This Fall? – 9 Things You Should Do Before He Goes
Evolutionary Beliefs Versus the Unconquerable God
Dallas Willard, John Ortberg, Richard Foster – Are We Wrong in Calling Them Emergent/Contemplative?
New Book Release by Warren B. Smith – Pressing On Through It All

Letter to the Editor: Husband Brought Home This Contemplative Book From Conference – “The Spiritual Formation of Leaders”

A Poem By a “Very Old Man” Who Stands Alone for Truth
"Truth is Invincible!"—Even in a Communist Prison Camp
NEW BOOKLET – SHACK THEOLOGY: Universalism, TBN, Oprah, and the New Age
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Dallas Willard, John Ortberg, Richard Foster – Are We Wrong in Calling Them Emergent/Contemplative?

Recently, we were asked to give an account as to why Dallas Willard (d. 2013), Richard Foster, and John Ortberg were listed in Roger Oakland’s booklet How to Know When the Emerging Church Shows Signs of Emerging Into Your Church as part of the emerging church. 

We would first like to say that it is understandable how someone could take offense to these men being named in a booklet on the emerging church. All three have stated that they love Jesus and have often used Scriptures in their writings and lectures. So why say they are part of the emerging church?

Richard Foster and Dallas Willard

Photo: Richard Foster (l); Dallas Willard (r)

The Real Crux of the Matter

The real crux of this matter comes down to the contemplative prayer movement, which because it has its roots in panentheism (God in all) and interspirituality (all paths lead to God)  as we have been able to document in our writings these past many years, it is basically a synonym for the emerging church. In fact, without contemplative prayer, the emerging church would not have had the success (if you will) that it has had because contemplative prayer is the force that drives it. And given the fact that there are so many variables equal between the two, if someone is a proponent of contemplative prayer, we classify him as part of the emerging church. Many people mistakenly think that the emerging church would just be those of the caliber of Brian McLaren or Rob Bell. But we cannot agree with this at all. We believe the documentation we have gathered these past 15 years clearly shows that the two movements are one in the same.

That being said, one of the problems is that many Christians do not  understand what contemplative spirituality is. They believe that contemplative prayer is just prayer that contemplates (ponders) the things of God. Or that it is likened to a time of solitude (e.g., a quiet time with the Lord, perhaps sitting by a creek or turning off the radio). But contemplative prayer, as Richard Foster has very often made clear in his writings, is a practice that requires one to remove all distractions of the mind by practicing some type of mantric-like meditation (breath prayers, centering prayer, lectio divina, etc) and allowing the mind to enter a neutral state where all thought is gone. If contemplative prayer were just normal, but perhaps more focused, prayer, then why has there been so much differentiation in the church regarding it, whereas now through Spiritual Formation programs, countless Christian colleges and seminaries have brought contemplative spirituality into their schools?

If we could establish that this type of extra-biblical prayer is similar to an eastern-style meditation that Christians should not be engaged in, we would need to then look to see how this has entered the church and through whom. At this point, we would like to recommend two articles we have written that concisely explain and document 1) the roots of contemplative prayer and the connection between it and eastern style and occultic meditation, and 2) the significant role that Richard Foster has played in bringing contemplative spirituality into the evangelical church. Here are the links to those two articles: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=18192 and  http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=17941. Each of the articles is filled with many quotes (none taken out of context) so that it isn’t just our opinion but is coming right from the sources themselves.

Dallas Willard and John Ortberg

Dallas Willard (l); John Ortberg (r)

Now, about Dallas Willard (John Ortberg is a disciple of Willard so we will not bring him into this letter for sake of not allowing this article to get too lengthy – see the end of this article for some Ortberg links).  What we have to say about Dallas Willard is really only going to be understood if one understands contemplative spirituality. Otherwise, we can show that Willard promotes contemplative spirituality, but if one does not realize what that term means, it may not mean much when we show Willard’s propensity for this mystical spirituality.

  1. In 1998, in the Journal of Psychology and Theology, Dallas Willard made the following statement: “Indeed, solitude and silence are powerful means to grace. Bible study, prayer and church attendance, among the most commonly prescribed activities in Christian circles, generally have little effect for soul transformation, as is obvious to any observer. If all the people doing them were transformed to health and righteousness by it, the world would be vastly changed. Their failure to bring about the change is precisely because the body and soul are so exhausted, fragmented and conflicted that the prescribed activities cannot be appropriately engaged, and by and large degenerate into legalistic and ineffectual rituals. Lengthy solitude and silence, including rest, can make them very powerful.” (Dallas Willard,Spiritual Disciplines, Spiritual Formation and the Restoration of the Soul,” Journal of Psychology and Theology, Spring 1998, Vol. 26, #1, pp. 101-109. Also available in The Great Omission, San Francisco: HarperCollins, 2006)

Dallas Willard and Richard Foster together believed that what the church needs more than anything else is Spiritual Formation. As Richard Foster himself has stated (see the Foster booklet), the term Spiritual Formation came from the Catholic Church long before evangelicals used the term. For those who will read our article explaining what Spiritual Formation is, they will be able to see that Spiritual Formation (or the Spiritual Disciplines) is the vehicle that brings contemplative prayer to the church. Based on what we have witnessed in the majority of Christian colleges and seminaries, this has been a very successful effort. http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=16176

  1. In 2004, Ruth Haley Barton wrote a book titled Invitation to Silence and Solitude. Dallas Willard wrote the foreword. Barton, who was trained at the New Age/panentheistic Shalem Prayer Institute in Washington, DC, also wrote the Spiritual Formation curriculum with John Ortberg for Willow Creek church after her training at Shalem. In Invitation to Silence and Solitude, Barton describes a wordless time of prayer that she calls the silence. “Take three long, deep breaths to help yourself settle into the silence.” (Kindle edition, Kindle location 689-690). It is very clear in her book that when she says silence, she is not talking about external silence; rather she is talking about stilling the mind so that there are no thoughts to distract us. Naturally, as humans, we cannot just turn off all thoughts. Our minds are thinking throughout our waking hours. The contemplative teaches that we must rid ourselves of these “distractions,” but we cannot do that without an aid. That aid is repeatedly saying a word or phrase (or focusing on the breath or an object)  for as much as 20 minutes (that’s how long author Gary Thomas tells readers to repeat their prayer word in his highly popular book Sacred Pathways):

    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)

In Barton’s book, she references favorably several Catholic panentheistic mystics: Richard Rohr, Henri Nouwen, Basil Pennington, William Shannon, and others. For Dallas Willard to write the foreword to her book, he must have agreed with what she was writing in the book. He was a very learned, educated man (referred to as “one of today’s most brilliant Christian thinkers“) who must have known also who these mystics mentioned in her book were and what they believed.

  1. In fact, on Dallas Willard’s own website, there is a page of recommended resources. The page has been there for years and is still there today. http://www.dwillard.org/resources/RecReading.asp. Here is an archive of the same page in 2010: https://web.archive.org/web/20100314131254/http://www.dwillard.org/resources/RecReading.asp. On that page, which obviously was what Dallas Willard himself recommended, are the names of several contemplative mystics and advocates of mantric-like meditation.

One of the recommended books, written by Jan Johnson, is Invitation to the Jesus Life: Experiments in Christlikeness. Like Barton, Johnson is a long-time highly influential promoter of contemplative prayer. In the book, which by the way favorably references several mystics such as Anglican priest Kenneth Leech and even some New Age type figures (e.g., Gerald May and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin), she says the following: “To listen to God requires experimentation and practice so that we develop ‘ears to hear’ . . .  Such practice involves Scripture study and meditation, prayer (especially contemplative prayer)”  (Kindle edition, Kindle Locations 399-400). Johnson also encourages breath prayers, lectio divina, and “practicing the presence.” Her book that Willard recommends is a primer on contemplative prayer; and in that book, for the more curious reader, she recommends her book When the Soul Listens where she states:

“Contemplative prayer, in its simplest form, is a prayer in which you still your thoughts and emotions and focus on God Himself. This puts you in a better state to be aware of God’s presence, and it makes you better able to hear God’s voice, correcting, guiding, and directing you.” (p. 16)

Johnson’s explanation of the initial stages of contemplative prayer leaves no doubt that “stilling” your thoughts means only one thing; she explains:

“In the beginning, it is usual to feel nothing but a cloud of unknowing. . . . If you’re a person who has relied on yourself a great deal to know what’s going on, this unknowing will be unnerving. (p. 120)

We have never heard of a prayer in the Bible that would cause us to feel “unnerving.” This is typical language of and explanation by contemplatives. We know that those who practice occultic or eastern style meditation will often have experiences that could be described as unnerving. Richard Foster says that before one practices contemplative prayer, it is wise to say prayers of protection.(Richard Foster, Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, 1992, pp. 155-157.) But where in Scripture are we instructed to pray prayers of protection from prayer?

In addition to Dallas Willard recommending Jan Johnson on his website, he also recommends Richard Foster, to whom he was closely connected, and mystics Madame Guyon, Evelyn Underhill, Teresa of Avila (who levitated because of her meditation practices), Henri Nouwen (who after years of practicing mysticism came to the conclusion that Jesus is not the only path to God – see his book Sabbatical Journey, p. 51), Ignatius (The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius), and even Jungian occultist Agnes Sanford. How could Dallas Willard have Agnes Sanford’s occultic-promoting book The Healing Light on his website since at least as far back as 2004?! (https://web.archive.org/web/20041214164830/http://www.dwillard.org/resources/RecReading.asp).

How many unsuspecting, trusting individuals have come across Dallas Willard’s webpage on his site recommending these people and been drawn into the teachings promoted by them?

One Final Example

We could provide many other examples showing Dallas Willard’s connection and advocacy to the contemplative prayer movement. Even Rick Warren acknowledged this in his first book The Purpose Driven Church where he identified Richard Foster and Dallas Willard as key players in the movement (p. 127).  But we’ll leave you with this final example. We hope and pray those reading this article will read some of the documentation we have provided in the links we’ve included. The evidence is there for those who are willing to study this matter. Roger Oakland was correct in including these names in his booklet on the emerging church.

  1. Our final example has to do with Dallas Willard’s book, The Spirit of the Disciplines, a book that remains highly popular in Christian circles.  On the back cover of the book is an endorsement by goddess worshiper Sue Monk Kidd. Although the book was written several years ago, her name remains on the back cover of the book along with the name of her book, The Dance of the Dissident Daughter. It is in that book that Sue Monk Kidd says God is in everything, even human excrement (pp. 160-163)! And in speaking about mysticism in that book, Monk Kidd says:

    As I grounded myself in feminine spiritual experience, that fall I was initiated into my body in a deeper way. I came to know myself as an embodiment of Goddess…. Mystical awakening in all the great religious traditions, including Christianity, involves arriving at an experience of unity or nondualism. In Zen it’s known as samadhi…. Transcendence and immanence are not separate. The Divine is one. The dancer and all the dances are one. . . . The day of my awakening was the day I saw and knew I saw all things in God, and God in all things. (pp. 161-163, Dance of the Dissident Daughter)

Does Dance of the Dissident Daughter sound like a book that should be included on the back of a Christian book (The Spirit of the Disciplines)? Hardly! Dallas Willard is viewed as a great Christian scholar. But something is very amiss here. In addition to Monk Kidd’s endorsement on the back of The Spirit of the Disciplines, Willard favorably references inside the book panentheist Catholic monk Thomas Merton as well as Agnes Sanford. Although the book was originally published in 1988, we are referring to the 2009 Kindle edition, which was a mere eight years ago when Dallas Willard was still alive. In the book (see Bibliography), he has turned to the writings of numerous panentheistic mystics: Bernard of Clairvaux, The Cloud of Unknowing (a primer on contemplative prayer written by a Catholic monk centuries ago), The Desert Fathers, Harry Fosdick (who denied substitutionary atonement), Ignatius, Soren Kierkegaard, Thomas Merton, Meister Eckhart, New Ager M. Scott Peck, Agnes Sanford, and others. Untold numbers of Christians have read The Spirit of the Disciplines, and they have been introduced to the writings of these mystics whose ideas are interwoven in the pages of this book. Incidentally, on Dallas Willard’s website, it states that The Spirit of the Disciplines is a companion book to Richard Foster’s book Celebration of Discipline (where Foster says, “we should all without shame enroll in the school of contemplative prayer”).

What we have presented here is not guilt by association but is guilt by promotion and proxy. It is our estimation that Dallas Willard and Richard Foster have done a terrible disservice to the body of Christ and to the work and furtherance of the Gospel. We hope those reading this will take the time to study this matter out.

Related Links:

Letter to the Editor: What About John Ortberg’s Fully Devoted Book? My Pastor Wants to Use it

David Jeremiah Opens Pulpit to Contemplative Advocate John Ortberg

“Tough Questions” with Dallas Willard . . . and His Contemplative Propensities

More on John Ortberg


New Book Release by Warren B. Smith – Pressing On Through It All

Note: Warren B. Smith (along with Gospel musician Trevor Baker) will be speaking at The Berean Call Conference this week in Bend, Oregon. The conference will be livestreamed.Pressing on Through it All by Warren B. Smith

Mountain Stream Press, the publishing ministry of Warren B. Smith, is happy to announce the release of its latest book, Pressing On Through It All. The book is a compilation of numerous devotional articles Warren has written in the past year. The book is a topically laid out arrangement of Scripture verses, hymns, and meaningful commentary. This is book is a special treasure that can be used by those going through difficult times or by those who just want to be reminded how incredible God’s Word is.

Book Information
232 pages
Retail: $14.95
ISBN: 978-0997898286
Available through Lighthouse Trails and most major online outlets.

To order your copy, click here. 

From the book:

NOTE TO THE READER

As former members of the New Age movement, my wife Joy and I have spent the last thirty-three years actively warning about the deceptive teachings of the New Age/New Spirituality that have progressively crept into the church. For the last ten years, to offset the spiritual heaviness that often accompanies this kind of ministry, I would study, compile, and then arrange certain Scriptures around specific themes that would provide my wife and I with encouragement and spiritual uplift. Almost as an afterthought, these personal studies became small booklets that were made available to share with others. I used the theme “through it all” for each of the booklets, hoping people reading them would find the same scriptural encouragement we had received from them.

In writing these “through it all” booklets, Joy and I knew we had to be prepared to face the testing that would likely come with such a project. But little did we know that the testing would unfold as it did. Yet, we have marveled at how the Lord has sustained us and carried us through this difficult period.

Over the last year and a half, we had to cut down and remove well over a hundred dead trees on our property that had become casualties of a recent four-year drought. Then one year ago today, we were suddenly displaced from our home-—and remain displaced as of this writing—by a destructive house fire that also resulted in the deaths of four of our beloved cats. Living in a number of different locations since the fire—many of them motels—we still await the restoration of our home. Adding to this and a number of other challenging events, I underwent three unexpected emergency surgeries after a life that had been virtually free of any medical concerns whatsoever.

As a result of all of these trying circumstances, we soon found ourselves reading our own “through it all” booklets for encouragement and support—Trusting God Through It All, Standing Fast Through It All, Praising God Through It All, along with all the other booklets. And they have given us immeasurable comfort and strength during this demanding time. Now combined in one book, I pray these carefully selected scriptural compilations will provide you with the same degree of comfort and strength they have given us.

God’s Word is truly awesome and encouraging, and oh so necessary, as we all endeavor to keep pressing on—through it all.

—Warren B. Smith
July 3, 2017

To order your copy of Pressing On Through It All, click here. 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Note to the Reader
1/Praying Through It All
2/Trusting God Through It All
3/Watchful and Discerning Through It All
4/God’s Help and Comfort Through It All
5/Being Thankful Through It All
6/Remaining Hopeful Through It All
7/Remaining Faithful Through It All
8/Rejoicing Through It All
9/Sound Doctrine Through It All
10/Standing Fast Through It All
11/Patiently Waiting and Enduring Through It All
12/God’s Word Through It All
13/God’s Blessings Through It All
14/Praising God Through It All
Endnotes

To order your copy, click here. 

Author Bio: Warren B. Smith (B.A. University of Pennsylvania; M.S.W. Tulane University)—A veteran who worked at the White House Communications Agency and later became a community social worker, serving as a program coordinator for people with special needs, directing several homeless programs, and working as a Hospice social worker in New Orleans and on the California coast. After leaving the New Age movement and becoming a Christian, he began writing extensively on the subject of spiritual deception. He has written seven books and numerous booklets and has spoken on radio, television, and at seminars and conferences for the last twenty-five years.

 

Letter to the Editor: Husband Brought Home This Contemplative Book From Conference - "The Spiritual Formation of Leaders"

The Spiritual Formation of Leaders by Chuck MillerDear Lighthouse Trails,

I want to thank you again and possibly alert you on another author you should watch. Recently, my husband went to a pastor’s conference and brought a book back home titled The Spiritual Formation of Leaders by Chuck Miller, Ed. D.

Immediately I saw the title, the bells went of in my head, and sure enough, going through it, it has quotes from Brennan Manning’s Ragamuffin Gospel, Henri Nouwen, Thomas Merton et. al. Looking through also, the author talks of a soul room, listening to God speak to you from all around you. Chapter 7 is titled “What exactly happens in the Soul Room? – Leadership: Moving from Management to Mystery.”

I must say, immediately I saw the book’s title, I became uncomfortable. These books look so good, so endearing and people are genuinely seeking how they can grow in Christ. If not for Lighthouse, I may not have known the treacherous path we would have been walking. As for me, since 2011, I have decided it’s Sola Scriptura. Away with especially new “Christian” books.

Thank you Lighthouse, and God bless you.

T. U.

LTRP Note: In addition to Brennan Manning, Henri Nouwen, and Thomas Merton, The Spiritual Formation of Leaders also contains quotes by and references to numerous other contemplative/emergent figures: New Age sympathizers Steven Covey and Parker Palmer, contemplatives John Ortberg, John Eldredge, Dallas Willard, Richard Foster, as well as emergents N.T. Wright, Robert Webber, Klaus Issler, and Eugene Peterson.

One of the books that Chuck Miller quotes from is Richard Foster’s Meditative Prayer. Here are a few quotes from that book to help illustrate our concerns about using the writings of contemplative authors:

“We will discover how the imagination can aid us in our task and consider the three major steps into meditative prayer.” (p. 3)

“In the fullness of time Jesus came and taught the reality of the kingdom of God and demonstrated what life could be like in that kingdom. He showed us God’s yearning for the gathering of an all-inclusive community of loving persons with himself as its prime sustainer and most glorious inhabitant.” (emphasis added, p. 5)

“To pray is to descend with the mind into the heart.” (quoting Russian mystic Theophan the Recluse, p. 7)

“I am because HE IS.” (p. 20)

“[A] third step in meditative prayer, which is the prayer of listening.” (p. 21)

Quoting from numerous mystics and panentheists, Foster says, “The great masters [mystics] of the interior life [meditative life] are overwhelmingly uniform in their witness to this reality [“an inward attentiveness to the divine Whisper”  p. 22].” (p. 22)

To describe meditative prayer, Foster uses words such as “spiritual space,” “inner sanctuary,” “Eucharistic feast,” “centering down,” “re-collection,” “divine breathings,” “rhythm of the Spirit,” “prayer of quiet,” “divine Center,” “spiritual ecstasy.”

A Poem By a “Very Old Man” Who Stands Alone for Truth

old manThere is a very old man
Whom the Lord took by his hand
And taught him things
About the churches in the land.
Except for his wife,
He stands all alone.
No one comes by
Or calls on the phone.
He and his wife
Are at the end of their life.
It won’t be long until they say
Tootle loo—the song is all gone.
They will be home,
With the Lord in Heaven above,
Surrounded by Christ,
And held in His love.
Amen.
Tom (August 2017)

 

"Truth is Invincible!"—Even in a Communist Prison Camp

LTRP Note: Georgi Vins was a Baptist pastor who was imprisoned for his faith in the Soviet Union for a total of eight years. When he was first imprisoned, he was 32 years old. The following is an excerpt from his book The Gospel in Bonds.

One of the prisons Georgi was in during his 8 years of imprisonment - Irkutsk Prison; Library of Congress; public domainBy Georgi Vins
(author of The Gospel in Bonds)

Photo: One of the prisons Georgi was in during his 8 years of imprisonment - Irkutsk Prison; Library of Congress; public domain[/caption]

One Sunday evening I stepped out of the hot, stuffy barracks to get some fresh air. It was early October, but already a soft snow was falling. The recreation area where prisoners played volleyball in the summer was deserted. I walked back and forth across the playground, deep in thought, praying and singing a bit. After a while, I realized that I was not alone. Another prisoner was making his way toward me.
The stranger was a Yakut, about fifty years old, with broad shoulders and a stocky build.

“Are you Petrovich?” he asked in perfect Russian.

“Yes, that’s what they call me,” I answered. “Are you from the latest transport? I’ve never seen you before.”

“I’ve been here two weeks already,” he said with a grin. “My name is Stepan. May I talk with you? They tell me that you’re a Christian, that you were arrested for your faith. I believe in God, too, but I was arrested for murder.”

Then Stepan told me his story.

He was a mathematics teacher. He’d studied seven years at an institute in Leningrad specifically for the peoples of the North. Then Stepan returned to Yakutia and began teaching. He was arrested twice, both times for murder. His first prison term was ten years; this time he was sentenced to fifteen. He still had seven years to serve.

Stepan loved vodka. But he couldn’t hold his liquor, and when he drank even a little, he would immediately lose control of himself. But now the Lord had begun to work in his heart.

Before coming to Tabaga, Stepan had been in a camp in the northern Urals. There he met a Christian prisoner who spoke a great deal about the Lord and was a good testimony. I was so glad that the seed of God’s Word had already been sown in Stepan’s heart, even though he’d never read or even seen a Gospel. As soon as Stepan found out that I was a Christian, he had decided to meet me.

“May I read your Gospel?” he asked. “Everyone knows you have one.”

I gave Stepan the first fifteen chapters of the Gospel of John. He read them over and over. A week later, he asked if I had anything else. I held out the little Gospel of Mark.

“It’s so tiny!” he exclaimed. “Are you sure it’s a real Gospel?”

“Of course it’s real! It’s a mini-Gospel printed especially for prisoners,” I explained.

After he had read that whole book through, he came to me and said, “Truth is defenseless, but it is invincible.”

“What exactly do you mean by that?” I asked.

“Jesus Christ lived, was crucified, and died,” Stepan said thoughtfully. “But He’s alive today because He arose. And right now in our twentieth century, there are still Christians who love and believe Him and are willing to suffer for His teachings. That confirms that truth is invincible. The Gospel is alive! Jesus Christ cannot be destroyed! Faith in God is a great power! That’s why I say that truth is defenseless but also invincible.”

Related Articles by or about Georgi Vins:

The Georgi Vins’ Story: The Gospel in Bonds (A Book Review)

A Pastor in a Soviet Prison—The Most Dangerous of All! by Georgi Vins

 

NEW BOOKLET – SHACK THEOLOGY: Universalism, TBN, Oprah, and the New Age

NEW BOOKLET: SHACK THEOLOGY: Universalism, TBN, Oprah, and the New Age by Warren B. Smith is our newest Lighthouse Trails Booklet. The Booklet is 18 pages long and sells for $1.95 for single copies. Quantity discounts are as much as 50% off retail. Our Booklets are designed to give away to others or for your own personal use. Below is the content of the booklet. To order copies of SHACK THEOLOGY: Universalism, TBN, Oprah, and the New Age, click here.

SHACK THEOLOGY: Universalism, TBN, Oprah, and the New Age

By Warren B. Smith

Shack TheologyI have written a number of short articles pertaining to The Shack and its author William P. Young. My intention has been to shed some light on the leaven of universalism that is at the heart of the book’s often errant theology. This booklet presents seven of these articles.

Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. (Galatians 5:7-9)

When People Say the Shack is Just a Novel

A woman standing in line outside the theater to see The Shack movie was eager to talk with me about Wm. Paul Young’s best-selling book. She said she “loved” The Shack and couldn’t understand why it had so many critics on the Internet. She was especially perplexed by the number of “negative” comments made by pastors. Obviously confused by all the controversy, she suddenly exclaimed—“But The Shack is just a novel!”

What the woman and so many other Shack readers fail to take into account is that the book is much more than “just a novel.” It is a carefully crafted presentation of Paul Young’s alternative “Christian” universalist theology based on “real” conversations he claims to have had with God. In Young’s forward to The Shack Revisited, a book written by his friend C. Baxter Kruger, Young corrects any misunderstanding that The Shack is just a novel. He writes:

Please don’t misunderstand me; The Shack is theology. But it is theology wrapped in story.1

If you want to understand better the perspectives and theology that frame The Shack, this book [Kruger’s] is for you. Baxter has taken on the incredible task of exploring the nature and character of the God who met me in my own shack.2

According to Young, God came to him in the “Great Sadness” of his own personal “shack” and communicated directly with him. Much of The Shack’s theology is based on what Young learned in his conversations with God.

Paul Young’s Conversations with God

A Christian news source recently reprinted excerpts from several posts Paul  Young made on his personal blog back in August 2007. In these excerpts, Young explained that The Shack is a story, but it is a story based on real conversations he was having with God, his friends, and his family. He writes

Remember, I am thinking about writing this for my kids, so I am searching for a good vehicle to communicate through. I figure a good story would be great . . . but I didn’t have one. So I started with what I did have . . . conversations. So, off and on, for about three months I wrote down conversations; conversations that I was having with God mostly, but which often included friends or family.3 (emphasis added)

Is the story “real”? The story is fiction. I made it up. Now, having said that, I will add that the emotional pain with all its intensity and the process that tears into Mack’s heart and soul are very real. I have my “shack,” the place I had to go through to find healing. I have my Great Sadness . . . that is all real. And the conversations are very real and true. . . .

So is the story true? The pain, the loss, the grief, the process, the conversations, the questions, the anger, the longing, the secrets, the lies, the forgiveness . . . all real, all true.4 (emphasis added)

Young’s “Christian” Universalism

In a February 16, 2008 post on a blog called Christian Universalism: The Beautiful Heresy, an avowed “friend” of Paul Young corroborates Young’s 2007 blog post about his conversations with God. The friend describes how the conversations Young’s main character Mack has with God in The Shack are “real conversations” that Young actually had with God. She reveals how these conversations “revolutionized” Young, his family, and friends such as herself. She says that the “radically dangerous” teachings that Young put in his novel have become her new “systematic theology” and The Shack is her new “systematic theology handbook.” The following are her exact words and punctuation as they were originally posted on the Christian Universalism blog:

I know the author well—a personal friend. (Our whole house church devoured it [The Shack] last summer, and Paul came to our home to discuss it—WONDERFUL time!) The conversations that “Mack” has with God, are real conversations that Paul Young had with God . . . and they revolutionized him, his family, and friends (Paul had a very traumatic past, raised by missionary parents, who left him in the care of the stone-age Dani tribe, while they did “God’s work.” He was abused by them, in the process—and there were other tragedies in his life, later on. When he was a broken mess, God began to speak to him). He wrote the story (rather than a “sermon”) to give the real conversations context—and because Jesus also used simple stories to engage our hearts, even by-passing our objective brains, in order to have His message take root in our hearts, and grow. . . .

I had already come to believe all the “radically dangerous” teachings within this book—so it mostly confirmed what I already believed. But, it most definitely highlighted the reality that I don’t yet KNOW (KNOW!) how much God loves me. I want the relationship with God that I see in Paul Young’s life. . . . This was the first book that I read straight through 4 times. First to absorb it. Secondly, to underline. Third to highlight. Fourth, to put “headers” on the top of each page, so that I could find certain passages again. It’s become my new “systematic theology” handbook.15 (emphasis added)

Thus, by his own account and that of his friend, Paul Young would be the first to deny that The Shack is “just a novel.”

Young the Universalist

Back to my conversation with the woman in front of the movie theater. When she said that The Shack was “just a novel,” I described how his novel was actually a fictional device used as a “vehicle” for presenting some of his own misguided theological teachings—teachings that had more in common with New Age teachings than biblical Christianity. When she acknowledged knowing about the New Age movement, I told her that some of The Shack’s teachings were actually New Age teachings. But before I could explain what those specific teachings were and how I had once been involved in the New Age myself, the theater doors opened, the line started moving, and our conversation was suddenly over. She seemed relieved as she turned toward the theater and away from me. Praying that she would come to understand that Paul Young has more in common with New Age universalism than biblical Christianity. I had no idea at the time that Young was about to publicly declare in a new book what so many of us already knew. In Lies We Believe About God, which was released on March 7th, 2017 Young states that he believes in “universal salvation”6 and that “every single human being is in Christ” and “Christ is in them.”7 Thus, Young himself makes it very clear in his own words that The Shack is not “just a novel” but rather a “cunningly devised fable” (2 Peter 1:16) for presenting some of his own heretical universalistic New Age views.

Who is Paul Young Really Listening To and Conversing With?

Paul Young would have us believe that he has been having “real” conversations with God and that he was inspired by God to write The Shack. Yet he is now declaring himself to be a universalist who believes in the false New Age trinitarian doctrine that God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit are already “in” everyone. In other words, Young, as a professing universalist, would have us believe that all of humanity is already saved (universal salvation). The question that naturally arises and that is now before the church is—just who is Paul Young actually listening to and conversing with? The God of the Bible or seducing spirits (1Timothy 4:1)?

Wm. Paul Young’s Universal New Age Lie—Christ “In” Everyone

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; But after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, Having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth and shall be turned unto fables. (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

Young Publicly Endorses Universal Salvation

In his book Lies We Believe About God, Paul Young openly describes himself as a universalist. In chapter 13, Young would have us believe it is a “lie” to tell someone, “You need to get saved.”8 Young asks himself the rhetorical questions, “Are you suggesting that everyone is saved? That you believe in universal salvation?”9 He answers, “That is exactly what I am saying!”10 Young then goes on to teach that “every single human being is in Christ” and that “Christ is in them.”11 With this unbiblical teaching, one recalls how Young put these same heretical “God in everything” words in the mouth of his “Jesus” character in The Shack. He wrote:

God, who is the ground of all being, dwells in, around, and through all things.12

The Trinitarian Lie

Young would have us believe his trinitarian lie that God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit inherently indwell everyone.13 This is exactly what the false “Christ” of the New Age teaches. In fact, it is the foundational teaching of the New Age/New Spirituality/New World Religion that has progressively moved into the world and into the church.

New Age in the Church

As I pointed out in my booklet, The Shack and Its New Age Leaven,14 the teaching that God is “in” everyone is the foundational universalist New Age teaching that has been increasingly popularized over the last thirty years by New Age authors and teachers and heavily promoted by people like Oprah Winfrey. Sadly, it is also found in the books and teachings of well-known church figures like Robert Schuller, Rick Warren, Eugene Peterson, Leonard Sweet, and Sarah Young.15 And in a November 1, 2016 Catholic News Service article titled, “Pope Offers New Beatitudes for Saints of a New Age” Pope Francis, in a Catholic Mass in Malmo, Sweden, proposed a new “beatitude”—“Blessed are those who see God in every person and strive to make others also discover him.”16

What Will the Church Do?

Paul Young wanted to have a conversation about the nature of God, and that conversation is now front and center before the church. Will pastors and leaders and day-to-day believers contend for the faith and fight the good fight, or will they let false teachers like Paul Young have their uncontested say and have their uncontested way?

Shack, TBN, and the New Age Lie

Trinity Broadcasting Network has provided The Shack author Wm. Paul Young with the world’s largest “Christian” stage—his very own television series on TBN. Young’s Restoring The Shack episodes have been masterfully produced on location in beautiful Montana. His presentations are usually underscored and enhanced with soothing music that is clearly designed to evoke a strong emotional response and positive assent from viewers to whatever Young may be preaching or teaching.

In what could also be described as “The Shack Show,” Young brings his own weekly brand of Shack promotion, Shack theology, and Shack therapy to TBN viewers as he hopes to convert them from their own “Great Sadness” to his own “relational” take on what used to be biblical Christianity. The real sadness is that Young’s Shack theology and Shack therapy have more to do with his love for universalism and New Agey trinitarianism than it does with scriptural truth.  Why New Agey? Because when Young teaches about “relationship” he is, by his own Shack definition, referring to the Trinity within—a God and Christ and Holy Spirit that are said to be “in” everyone and everything.17

Somewhat elusive about exposing his own personal universalism in the past, Young has recently made himself very clear on the matter. In his March 2017 book Lies We Believe About God, he asks two rhetorical questions of himself—“Are you suggesting that everyone is saved? That you believe in universal salvation?” His immediate and almost defiant response in the book is—“That is exactly what I am saying!”18 Nevertheless, TBN has been only too pleased to not only promote his new book on every episode, but to simultaneously use it as a fund raiser for themselves at the same time. Obviously, with TBN becoming a showcase for Paul Young and his creative, relational, universalistic, New Agey take on the Trinity, TBN is giving new meaning to the “Trinity” in Trinity Broadcasting. And it looks like Young and TBN are in for the weekly long haul as most Christian leaders look on with apparent indifference.

TBN Pulls Plug on “Shack” Author’s New Book—Sort of . . .

Now you see Shack author Wm. Paul Young’s new book Lies We Believe About God promoted on TBN, now you don’t. For seven straight episodes of Trinity Broadcasting Network’s weekly series Restoring The Shack, Paul Young’s new book was prominently featured and even offered as a fund raiser for TBN. Each week’s episode was then posted on the Internet—promos and all. But starting with episode 8, everything changed. Young’s new book was no longer featured and promoted. It also disappeared from episodes 2-7 that had been previously posted on the Internet. TBN editors had actually gone into the previously posted original programs and edited out all their prior offers for Lies We Believe About God. Into the spots where Lies had been offered, a promotional offer for The Shack has been inserted into its place—who would ever know? Only the first episode of Restoring The Shack has retained the original promos for Lies, perhaps as a minor concession to the author or as a way to keep their editing process from being a complete and total whitewash.

Why the disappearing act? From all appearances, it looks like an emergency edit for the purpose of damage control. You would have to ask the publicity department at TBN, but one can only speculate that the network had not done themselves any favors by endorsing and promoting Young’s extremely controversial new book. In Lies, Young had announced, among other things, that he was a proponent of “universal salvation,”19 that the statement “You need to get saved” is a “lie,”20 and that Christ is “in” “every single human being.”21 TBN was probably getting a mountain of questions on all fronts as to why they were promoting this book—a book that in so many ways is at complete odds with biblical Christianity. In light of Young’s new book, one major ministry wrote TBN stating that having Young’s program on TBN was “inexcusable” and “downright blasphemous.”

In a week that saw the graphic artist who helped design the cover of The Shack renounce the book and renounce his involvement with the project,22 TBN made their move. Young’s book Lies has—at least for now—faded into the background and disappeared from TBN. And while some might commend TBN for eliminating their promotion of Young’s new book, the question that still begs to be asked is—”Why did TBN ever promote Lies We Believe About God in the first place? Better yet, why did they ever promote Paul Young and The Shack in the first place?

The Shack’s Universal Papa

There is nothing new about saying, “I am God.” . . . However, in the Judeo-Christian-Moslem world, God is usually not popularly understood as a universal presence, the ground of all being.23—New Age leader David Spangler (emphasis added)

God, who is the ground of all being, dwells in, around, and through all things [a universal presence]24The Shack’s “Jesus” defining “Papa” as a universal New Age God (emphasis added)

Shared Universal Presence

Ask certain indigenous peoples of the South Pacific Islands who Papa is, and they will tell you she is a female goddess25—just like The Shack’s female Papa. Ask certain Haitians, New Orleanians, and Wiccans who are into Voodoo, and they will tell you that Papa is a shapeshifting “trickster” who can appear as either a male or female deity—just like The Shack’s Papa.26 And if you ask, they will all tell you that their Papas are universal Papas who dwell “in, around, and through all things”—just like The Shack’s Papa.

Papa as Earth Mother

Shack enthusiasts should take note that “Papa” is also the name of a Polynesian Earth goddess who is part of a pantheon of gods and goddesses found in the South Sea Islands. On the “Journeying to Goddess” website, under the heading “Goddess Papa,” we read that Papa is “the Earth Mother who gave birth to all things” and that “Polynesians summon Papa to help in all earthly matters.”27

In his book Unshackled, Pastor Larry DeBruyn describes how Paul Young’s “Papa” bears a striking resemblance to “the name, nature, and nurturing potential” of this Polynesian Earth goddess Papa.28 Quoting from a source on Hawaiian gods and goddesses, DeBruyn cites the references they make to the “comfort,” “care,” “guidance,” and “unconditional love,” that are given to people “in times of crisis and grief” by this Hawaiian Papa and how her “intervention instills calming reassurance and healing.”29 Young seems to parallel the same script as The Shack story wholly revolves around the comfort, care, guidance, and unconditional love that is given by Papa to his main character, Mack, during his time of crisis and grief—how Papa’s intervention instills calming reassurance and the ultimate healing of Mack’s “Great Sadness.”30

Another website elaborates on how the female Polynesian Papa “worshiped by Native Hawaiians” is regarded as “a primordial force of creation who has the power to give life and to heal.”31 A pagan site informs us that a Papa goddess is especially prevalent amongst the Maoris of New Zealand,32 while another site references a South Seas Papa as part of the mythology of the Southern Cook Islands group.33 While Young obviously put a lot of thought into the naming of his Shack characters, and even though he spent his early childhood living on the South Pacific Island of Papua New Guinea,34 he claims to have had no knowledge of this South Seas Papa goddess prior to his writing of The Shack.35

Papa as Trickster

Certain Haitian, New Orleanian, and Wiccan Voodoo practitioners are devoted to a spiritual “Papa” who can appear as both “male and female” and is known as the “trickster.”36 By simply googling “Papa” and “trickster,” a variety of websites emerge to describe this Papa Legba spirit that stands at the gateway to the spirit world. One of these sites—“Exemplore”—states that Papa Legba “is one of the most widely served African deities” and “is always the first and last spirit invoked in any ceremony” because “he opens and closes the doorway to the spirit world.”37 The site explains that in Voodoo, “Papa” is “the intermediary” who “stands at a spiritual crossroads and grants or denies permission to speak with the spirits of Guinee.”38

On the same Exemplore site, in a special section for witches, Papa is described as a “master shape shifter” who “can help you transform on the astral realm, master dream powers, and advanced magics.”39 But in regards to Papa, it states that “in his shapeshifter form he tends to change genders and forms to delight himself. So don’t be surprised if a woman shows up to help you.”40 And just as Paul Young’s female Papa and the South Seas islands female Papa can be summoned for help, comfort, and healing, this Voodoo trickster Papa can be similarly called upon. One of the posted comments on this witches part of the site states—“Anyone can summon Papa!”41 But sometimes this Voodoo Papa comes when he is not summoned. In another comment, a perplexed woman wrote—“I did not know about Papa at all until he presented his self to me as my spirit guide. Is this normal?”42 A posted reply assured her that “Papa does his own thing his own way, so if he presented himself to you, you can be sure it is him.”43 Another site expressed the confusion that can result from a female “God” named Papa—“It’s so confusing because Papa is a Mama.”44 But Scripture assures us that the one true God is “not the author of confusion” (1 Corinthians 14:33). He is not a Papa who is a Mama which art in a Shack—He is “our Father which art in heaven” (Matthew 6:9).

Praying to Which Papa?

So what Papa are people invoking when they are inspired to pray to Papa after reading The Shack? Is Paul Young presenting Shack readers with the true God of the Bible or with a generic Papa “God” that overlaps with all the other mamas and papas and gods and goddesses around the world? The Shack’s “Jesus” answers that question loud and clear for any Shack reader who has a heart for the truth. With words purposefully put in his mouth by Young—a self-described universalist45The Shack’s “Jesus” proclaims that his Papa “God” is “the ground of all being” because he “dwells in, around, and through all things.”46 In other words,  The Shack’s Jesus says that The Shack’s Papa indwells everyone and everything. This is the same universal God that New Age leader David Spangler describes in the beginning quote of this article. But this is panentheism, and this is a lie. This is the foundational teaching of the New Age/New Spirituality/New Worldview that has been rapidly emerging both in the world and in the church. All of this is to say—The Shack’s Papa is a universal Papa and The Shack’s “God” is a counterfeit “God” who has cunningly wormed his way into an unsuspecting church.

Trickster Book

As seen with the Voodoo Papa, some of these mama and papa gods and goddesses are also “tricksters.” And they are definitely doing their trickster thing—which often entails cleverly undermining existing societal rules and established religious beliefs as they offer their unique brand of spiritual healing in the name of a more universal alternative spirituality. What can be especially deceptive is that much of their rebellious spiritual activity is cloaked in half-truths, clever remarks, playful humor—and even Christian language. And what seems all too apparent is that The Shack—and particularly The Shack’s Papa—fall into this trickster category. The novel grabs people’s hearts and minds even as biblical Christianity is being dismantled in front of them as they read the book. And only a trickster book can convince people they are reading about Jesus Christ when the name of Christ is never mentioned—not even once—in the entire story. A generic universal Jesus and a generic universal Papa and not a single mention of Christ, or the Devil for that matter—yet The Shack has already become one of the most popular Christian books ever written!

Trickster books for the church will use Christian language to pull the wool over your eyes to mess with your mind—it’s all part of “messing around” and being a trickster. Toward the end of The Shack’s story, when the female Papa shapeshifts into being a male Papa, Mack asks if Papa is “still messing” with him. Papa’s immediate answer is—“Always.”47 At this point, sincere readers of The Shack need ask themselves a reasonable question—“Is the one true God of the Bible always “messing” with us, or is this what you would expect from a universal gender-bending trickster Papa “God” who bears more of a resemblance to the trickster god of this world than the one true God of the Bible.

But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. (2 Corinthians 4:3-4)

Universal Shack Therapy: Wm. Paul Young, Kahlil Gibran, and “The Great Sadness

Wm. Paul Young writes that The Shack is “theology wrapped in story.”48 And his Shack theology presents a universalistic Shack Therapy for the “Great Sadness” that plagues his main character “Mack.” Young remarks in numerous interviews that, like Mack, most people have their own inner “shack” where they store their secrets and their own personal “Great Sadness.” This “Great Sadness” becomes Young’s personal metaphor for the inner pain and anguish locked within his and other people’s souls. Lebanese-American writer, artist, philosopher, and universalist Khalil Gibran (1883-1931) uses this same phrase—”great sadness”—in his 1926 book The Madman: His Parables and Poems. He wrote:

Then a great sadness came over the face of my soul, and into her voice.49

However, it seems that the derivation of Young’s phrase “The Great Sadness” was consciously or unconsciously taken from parts of two consecutive lines from yet another Gibran book that Young actually quoted from in The Shack. Chapter 4 in The Shack is titled “The Great Sadness.” Underneath this title, Young quotes a single line about “sadness” from Gibran’s work Sand and Foam—“Sadness is but a wall between two gardens.”50 The next line—one that Young did not quote—has the word “great” in it: “When either your joy or your sorrow becomes great your world becomes small.”51 The word “great” in the second line linked with “sadness” in the line directly above it creates Young’s term—“The Great Sadness.” Whether or not he realizes it, Young seems to have derived the phrase “Great Sadness” from the universalistic writings of Kahlil Gibran. In his essay “Your Thought and Mine,” Gibran writes:

Your thought advocates Judaism, Brahmanism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam. In my thought there is only one universal religion, whose varied paths are but the fingers of the loving hand of the Supreme Being.52

In the Acknowledgments section of The Shack, Young thanks Kahlil Gibran for his “creative stimulation.” He quotes Gibran not only in The Shack, but also in opening the very first chapter of his second novel Crossroads. Kahlil Gibran is best known for his perennial best-seller, The Prophet—a book that “has long been one of the bibles of the New-Age movement.”53 As a matter of fact, as former New Agers, Gibran’s book was a treasured part of our New Age library. What’s more, “New Age Pioneer” was the title of a 1998 New York Times book review about Gibran and his New Age influence.54 Robin Waterfield, an authority on Gibran and a consulting editor for religious and New Age publishers, wrote a definitive biography on Gibran that was the subject of the aforementioned New York Times book review. Waterfield’s book, Prophet: The Life and Times of Kahlil Gibran, described the biographer’s belief that Gibran was highly influential in the initial formation of the New Age Movement:

I suggest that Gibran has been one of the hidden influences on the New Age . . . I cannot say that without him the New Age movement would not have arisen, but it is, I think, safe to say that he has had an enormous influence on it.55

I think it is arguable that Gibran was one of the founding fathers of the New Age.56

Ten years after the release of The Shack, Paul Young declared he was a believer in universal salvation.57 Sounding much like any New Age universalist, Young is now teaching the panentheistic and heretical New Age doctrines of Christ “in” everyone58 and God “in” all things.59 With The Shack being recently made into a movie and with Shack book sales now over 22 million copies, with countless radio and television interviews and church talks under his belt, and with his own Restoring The Shack weekly TBN prime time television series, Paul Young had done just about everything except appear on Oprah. But then he also did that. On July 9, 2017, Young was the featured guest on Oprah Winfrey’s Super Soul Sunday television program.60 The day after the program, Young suddenly announced—“I want to be more like Oprah.”61 And with that statement Shack lovers should be shocked that an avowed Christian would want to be “more like Oprah”—one of the most influential New Age leaders in the world today.62 But what most people don’t realize is that in regard to New Age universalism, Wm. Paul Young is already like Oprah—and Kahlil Gibran—and this may be one of the greatest “Great Sadnesses” of all.

A Cat Named Judas

The name Judas has been described as the most hated name in all the world. Except for Shack author Wm. Paul Young and maybe a few exceptional others, hardly anybody ever names anyone or anything Judas. It is one of those forbidden names like Jezebel or Lucifer that people would never dream of naming their child, their dog—or their cat. The very name denotes a sense of treachery and betrayal. After all, Judas was the one who openly betrayed Jesus and paved the way for His crucifixion. So what was Paul Young thinking? Why does The Shack’s most endearing character—Missy—have a cat named Judas?63 And it seems especially odd to have a cat with that name in a family where the mother’s faith is described as “deep”64 and Missy is asking sincere questions about Jesus’ death.65

Heresy and Betrayal

Young contends that The Shack is much more than a fictional novel. He describes The Shack as “theology wrapped in story.” He writes:

Please don’t misunderstand me; The Shack is theology. But it is theology wrapped in story, the Word becoming flesh and living inside the blood and bones of common human experience.66

This is said in spite of the fact that Young’s Shack characters and universalistic Shack “theology” frequently mock God and God’s Word with their cryptic humor and clever interplay. To be perfectly blunt, the name Judas fits right in with much of what Young is teaching. Like Judas, Young betrays Jesus Christ and biblical Christianity with his heretical Shack theology—a Shack theology where there is, among other things, no Devil and no Christ. Neither of them can be found anywhere in the whole Shack story. The Devil is never mentioned because Young would have us believe that evil and darkness “do not have any actual existence.”67 And The Shack’s “Jesus” is never identified as Christ. In fact, the name of Christ is nowhere to be found in the whole Shack story.68

One well-known pastor gave an impassioned sermon about thirteen heresies he found in The Shack.69 One heresy he did not mention is perhaps the most egregious of all—the panentheistic proposition that God is “in” all things. Incredibly, Young puts this foundational doctrine of the New Age/New Spirituality/New World Religion right in the mouth of The Shack’s “Jesus.” Young’s “Jesus” states—“God, who is the ground of all being, dwells in, around, and through all things.”70 But this is a false teaching. God is not “in” all things.71 For Young to put these heretical words in the mouth of The Shack’s “Jesus” is an absolute betrayal of the true Jesus Christ.

A Wonderful and Horrible Betrayal

Thus, as Paul Young plays fast and loose with biblical Christianity, should we be surprised that he plays fast and loose with a name like Judas—a name that perfectly describes his role in today’s wayward church. What Young describes as “theology wrapped in story” is really biblical betrayal wrapped in a cunningly devised fable (2 Peter 1:16). The Shack is everything that the true Jesus Christ warned us to watch out for when he said to “be not deceived” (Luke 21:8). And that warning would seem to include authors like Wm. Paul Young who think nothing at all about putting heretical New Age doctrines in Jesus’ mouth and naming a little girl’s cat Judas.

The Shack may seem “wonderful” to countless Shack readers, but in reality it is a betrayal of biblical Christianity and of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In the words of the prophet Jeremiah—The Shack may seem “wonderful,” but it is actually “horrible,” and yet the people “love to have it so.”

A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land; The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof? (Jeremiah 5:30-31)

To order copies of SHACK THEOLOGY: Universalism, TBN, Oprah, and the New Age, click here.

Endnotes

  1. C. Baxter Kruger, The Shack Revisited: There Is More Going on Here than You Ever Dared to Dream ( New York, NY: FaithWorks, Hatchette Book Group, 2012), p. xi.
  2. Ibid., p. viiii.
  3. Sunny Shell, The Shack, a Biblical and Interactive Review” (http://blogs.christianpost.com/abandoned-to-christ/the-shack-a-biblical-and-interactive-review-28674/, posted 2/16/17), quoting Paul Young from his August 15, 2007 blog titled “The Shack—update—Background #2” (http://web.archive.org/web/20070911092057/http://www.windrumors.com/29/the-shack-update-background-2/).
  4. Sunny Shell, “The Shack, a Biblical and Interactive Review” (http://blogs.christianpost.com/abandoned-to-christ/the-shack-a-biblical-and-interactive-review-28674/, posted 2/16/17), quoting Paul Young from his August 15, 2007 blog titled “Is the story of The Shack true . . . is Mack a “real” person? (http://web.archive.org/web/20070911092319/http://www.windrumors.com/30/is-the-story-of-the-shack-trueis-mack-a-real-person).
  5. Christian Universalism—The Beautiful Heresy: The Shack (http://web.archive.org/web/20080307051159/http://christian-universalism.blogs.com/thebeautifulheresy/2008/02/the-shack.html, posted February 16, 2008 by Dena Brehm). Thanks to Kent McElroy for bringing this blog to my attention.
  6. Wm. Paul Young, Lies We Believe About God (New York, NY: Atria Books, an Imprint of Simon & Schuster, 2017), p. 118.
  7. Ibid., p. 119.
  8. Ibid., chapter 13 title in Lies We Believe About God is “You need to get saved.”
  9. Ibid., p. 118.
  10. Ibid.
  11. Ibid., p. 119.
  12. William P. Young, The Shack: Where Tragedy Confronts Eternity (Los Angeles, CA: Windblown Media, 2007), p. 112.
  13. In C. Baxter Kruger’s book, The Shack Revisited: There Is More Going On Here Than You Ever Dared to Dream, in the foreword, Shack author William Paul Young writes: “I want to say, ‘Thank you, and please read The Shack Revisited.’” He adds, “If you want to understand better the perspectives and theology that frame The Shack, this book is for you. Baxter has taken on the incredible task of exploring the nature and character of the God who met me in my own shack” (p. ix). On page 49 of The Shack Revisited, Kruger writes: “For inside of us all, because of Jesus, is nothing short of the very trinitarian life of God.” C. Baxter Kruger, The Shack Revisited: There Is More Going On Here Than You Ever Dared to Dream, op. cit. p. 49.
  14. To read this booklet, click here: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=12290.
  15. I have documented a short history of how this deceptive New Age teaching has entered the world and the church in my booklet Be Still and Know That You Are Not God. The booklet includes quotes by each of these figures. To read a copy of this booklet online, visit http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=17572.
  16. Cathy Wooden, “Pope Offers New Beatitudes for Saints of a New Age” (Catholic News Service, November 1, 2016).
  17. William P. Young, The Shack, op. cit., p. 112.
  18. Wm. Paul Young, Lies We Believe About God, op. cit., p. 118.
  19. Ibid.
  20. Ibid., p. 115.
  21. Ibid., p. 119.
  22. Dave Aldrich, graphic artist for The Shack book cover, said this on his Facebook page on April 4th 2017. See “Artist ‘Deeply Regrets’ Designing ‘Shack’ Cover, Says A Loving God Must ‘Judge’” at https://hellochristian.com/7153-artist-deeply-regrets-designing-shack-cover-says-a-loving-god-must-judge.
  23. David Spangler and William Irwin Thompson, Reimagination of the World: A Critique of the New Age, Science, and Popular Culture (Sante Fe, NM: Bear & Company Publishing, 1991), p. 148.
  24. William P. Young, The Shack, op. cit., p. 112.
  25. Part Three: The Chiefs xx Papa and Wakea (http://www.sacred-texts.com/pac/hm/hm22.htm; Godchecker website: http://www.godchecker.com/pantheon/oceanic-mythology.php?list-gods-names).
  26. Denise M Alvarado, “Papa Legba and Other Spirits of the Crossroads” (Who is Papa Legba?, Images of Legba, https://exemplore.com/magic/papalegba).
  27. https://journeyingtothegoddess.wordpress.com/2012/09/19/goddess-papa/, “Goddess Papa” September 19, 2012.
  28. 2 Larry DeBruyn, Unshackled: Breaking Away From Seductive Spirituality (Indianapolis, IN: Franklin Road Baptist Church, 2009), pp. 27-28. Author’s reference pertains to the now archived Wahine’o Wanana Institute’s “Hawaiian Goddesses” website: https://web-beta.archive.org/web/20110410205614/http://www.powersthatbe.com/goddess/papa.html.
  29. Ibid.
  30. William P. Young, The Shack, op. cit., pp. 43-66, p. 92, pp. 96-98, pp. 101-102.
  31. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papahanaumoku.
  32. The Goddess Papa, http://www.holladaypaganism.com/goddesses/cyclopedia/p/PAPA.HTM.
  33. Wikipedia: Papa (mythology), https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papa_(mythology).
  34. Wm. Paul Young—About (http://wmpaulyoung.com/wm-paul-young-about).
  35. Eric Barger, “Why The Shack Must be Rejected” (Lamb & Lion Ministries, Lamplighter, May 2017, http://christinprophecyblog.org/2017/04/why-the-shack-must-be-rejected), pp. 13-14.
  36. “Papa Legba and Other Spirits of the Crossroads” (Exemplore blog, Images of Legba, Who is Papa Legba?, https://exemplore.com/magic/papalegba).
  37. Ibid.
  38. Ibid.
  39. “Papa Legba for Witches,” How Legba Can Help You (https://exemplore.com/wicca-witchcraft/papa-legba-for-witches).
  40. Ibid.
  41. Ibid., Posted Comments (Nitecat response to babygirl1414).
  42. Ibid., Posted Comments (jacynnavarro).
  43. Ibid., Posted Comments (Nitecat response to jacynnavarro).
  44. http://www.godchecker.com/pantheon/oceanic-mythology.php?deity=PAPA.
  45. Wm. Paul Young, Lies We Believe About God, op. cit., pp. 118-119 (Young states that he believes in universal salvation.)
  46. William P. Young, The Shack, op. cit., p. 218.
  47. merriam-webster.com and encyclopedia.com (ousia).
  48. C. Baxter Kruger, The Shack Revisited, op. cit., p. xi.
  49. Khalil Gibran, The Madman: His Parables and Poems (Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, Inc., 2002, originally published in 1918 by Alfred A. Knopf, New York), p. 55.
  50. Kahlil Gibran, Sand and Foam (Lexington, KY: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2017, originally published in 1926), p. 37. Note: William Paul Young left out the word “but” in quoting this line from Gibran’s work.
  51. Ibid.
  52. Kahlil Gibran, Short Works by Khalil Gibran (Your Thought and Mine). (newthoughtlibrary.com/gibranKhalil/shortWorks/shortWorks).
  53. John Dodge, “Kahlil Gibran and the Fall of the Prophet” (Three Monkeys Online Magazine, www.threemonkeysonline.com/kahlil-gibran-and-the-fall-of-the-prophet).
  54. Liesl Schillinger, “Pioneer of the New Age” (The New York Times, December 13, 1998, http://www.nytimes.com/books/98/12/13/reviews/981213.13schillt.html).
  55. Robin Waterfield, Prophet: The Life and Times of Kahlil Gibran (New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press, 1998), p. 290.
  56. Ibid., p. 289.
  57. Wm. Paul Young, Lies We Believe About God, op. cit., p. 118.
  58. Ibid., p. 119.
  59. William P. Young, The Shack, op. cit., p. 112.
  60. Oprah Winfrey, Super Soul Sunday, YouTube July 9, 2017.
  61. Wm. Paul Young personal blog, “I Want to Be More Like Oprah.” (http://wmpaulyoung.com/i-want-to-be-more-like-oprah-watch-interview/).
  62. It should be noted that although Oprah Winfrey is an exceedingly powerful and influential New Age leader, she still persists in identifying herself as a Christian. But her Christianity is a New Age Christianity that is not biblically based and is no Christianity at all.
  63. William P. Young, The Shack, op. cit., p. 231.
  64. Ibid., p. 11.
  65. Ibid., p. 31.
  66. C. Baxter Kruger, The Shack Revisited, op. cit., p. xi.
  67. William P. Young, The Shack, op. cit., p. 136.
  68. Warren B. Smith, “The Christless Shack” (article posted at warrenbsmith.com).
  69. Michael Youssef, The Shack Uncovered: 13 Heresies Explained (Leading the Way Ministries, 2017, PDF: https://store.ltw.org/p-315-the-shack-uncovered-13-heresies-explained-pdf.aspx).
  70. William P. Young, The Shack, op. cit., p.112.
  71. Warren B. Smith, Be Still and Know That You are Not God: God is Not “in” Everyone and Everything (Eureka, MT: Lighthouse Trails Publishing, 2015). This booklet traces the history of the false teaching that God is “in” everything. It also offers a scriptural refutation of this heretical doctrine. Visit www.lighthousetrails.com.

To order copies of SHACK THEOLOGY: Universalism, TBN, Oprah, and the New Age, click here.

Author Bio: Warren B. Smith (B.A. University of Pennsylvania; M.S.W. Tulane University)—A veteran who worked at the White House Communications Agency and later became a community social worker, serving as a program coordinator for people with special needs, directing several homeless programs, and working as a Hospice social worker in New Orleans and on the California coast. After leaving the New Age movement and becoming a Christian, he began writing extensively on the subject of spiritual deception. He has written seven books and numerous booklet tracts and has spoken on radio, television, and at seminars and conferences for the last twenty-five years. For more information, visit www.warrenbsmith.com.

 
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