Who We Are
Trails is a Christian publishing company. While we hope you will read the
books we have published, we also provide extensive free research,
documentation, and news on our Research site, blog, and newsletter.
We pray that the books as well as the
online research will be a blessing to the body of Christ and a witness to
those who have not yet accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord.
What is Contemplative
definition: contemplative spirituality: a
belief system that uses ancient mystical practices to induce altered states
of consciousness (the silence) and is rooted in mysticism and the occult
but often wrapped in Christian terminology; the premise of contemplative
spirituality is pantheistic (God is all) and panentheistic (God is in all).
spiritual formation: a
movement that has provided a platform and a channel through which
contemplative prayer is entering the church. Find spiritual formation being
used, and in nearly every case you will find contemplative spirituality. In
fact, contemplative spirituality is the heartbeat of the spiritual
How Widespread Has Spiritual Formation Become? Read our list of ministries
that are promoting it. Please pray for the leaders of these groups
that their eyes may be opened.
For the latest updates on
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please visit Understand the Times website.
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Children are at risk! In public schools, in both Canada and the United
States, students are being introduced to eastern-style meditation through
Yoga.1 YMCA clubs are offering
Yoga, and many television programs for kids make reference to various New
Age concepts. Even babies are the target for becoming mystically attuned.2 And just this past
spring, Washington state students (as young as 5 years old) were bused in
to hear the Dalai Lama and Rob Bell. 3
But it's not just children in the secular
world. Children in churches are at risk too. Churches are introducing
kids of all ages to Rob Bell's Nooma films (a gateway to the New Age/New
Spirituality), 4 and in many mainstream
churches, yoga for the whole family is being offered.
Lighthouse Trails has reported on
"Children and Meditation" many times. That's because it is
serious. And if kids don't get enough influence of eastern mysticism while
they are growing up to forever change their spirituality, they very likely
will end up in a college that will finish the job. And that's both
secular and Christian. It's no laughing matter.
Last year we reported that Focus on the
Family's Adventures in Odyssey was promoting contemplative spirituality.5 And there was the story
about an organization called Kids in Ministry where a boy having a
kundalini-type episode was filmed at one of the group's meetings.6
Eugene Peterson has a "Bible"
in which children are instructed on contemplative meditative
techniques. 7 NavPress has hopped
on the contemplative bandwagon for kids too in their PrayKids magazine. 8 Even Awanas has been
showing interest in contemplative spirituality.9
The list could go on and on. The point we
want to make is this. Children need to be warned and watched over.
Otherwise, it's almost a sure thing, that they are going to
become practitioners to New Age style meditation. Just as any good
parent watches over their children to guard them against sexual abuse, so
too parents must now do the same in spiritual matters. Gone are the days
when parents could send their children off to Sunday School or mid-week
youth group, fully confident that all is well. It just might not be so.
Thus, we urge you to equip your children
and make sure you know what they are watching on television, what they are
being taught in Sunday school, and what they are doing at the local YMCA or
youth group. Their spiritual welfare is at risk, and it is our
responsibility as parents to protect them.
In the grace of our Lord,
Lighthouse Trails Research
An Evangelical Manifesto for an Interfaith World
by Berit Kjos
Uncompromising Christians are not welcome!
"[Evangelical] Manifesto" is full of contradictions. While its
authors claim to trust the Bible, they flout God's warnings. They claim to
exclude no one, yet they redefine and "repudiate" fundamentalists.
They claim to speak for themselves, but their message demands global
transformation and prophesies disaster if not obeyed. They claim to follow
"the narrow way," but they call for a broad, interfaith
"framework" (new rules) for participating in the "public
square" without offending anyone.
By whose authority did the steering committee draft this new social
contract? It's not Biblical! Though it tells us that the Gospel freed us
from legalism, it imposes man's rules and restrictions on God's people!
"An astonishing and horrible thing has been committed in the land: The
prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule by their own power; And My
people love to have it so. But what will you do in the end?" Jer.
What is "Common Good" in a Pluralistic world?
The list of names on the Manifesto's Steering Committee and its
"Charter Signatories" suggests that this document is a collective
effort of Evangelical leaders. But the primary author seems to be Os
Guinness. His 2008 book, The Case for Civility: And Why Our Future Depends
on It, is simply a more detailed version of the Manifesto's agenda. We find
countless repetitions of phrases such as "common good" in both
book and Manifesto.
This "common good" must be negotiated in a "Public
Square" -- a global arena where people share their views. To keep
their debates "civil," they must learn to appreciate pluralism
and seek a "common life" compatible with all beliefs and
lifestyles. Peace and unity must be forged through a collective "framework"
that provides the social rules for "living together with our deepest
differences." The Manifesto summarizes the challenge:
"...what we as Evangelicals lament in the culture warring is not just
the general collapse of the common vision of the common good, but the
endless conflict over the proper place of faiths in public life, and
therefore of the freedom to enter and engage public life from the
perspective of faith. A grand confusion now reigns as to any guiding
principles...."[1,p.16] Click here to read this entire article and for access to
links and citations.
Concerns for Focus on the Family's Marriage Conference
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, also 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.
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)
(link to article on meditation) 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
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"
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 body mind'" (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
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
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:
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].
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)
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 and far-fetched 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.
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
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:
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.3
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:
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
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:
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)
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.
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?
Focus on the Family Answers Lighthouse Trails - Defends
Contemplative Author - May 2006 - Letter from Focus on the Family
Newsweek - Has the Evangelical Manifesto Fizzled Out?
The Milquetoast Manifesto
Holy Laughter or Strong Delusion
LTRP Note: Several years ago, Warren Smith, author of Deceived on Purpose,
wrote an article about the Holy Laughter movement. Because of what is
taking place at the Todd Bentley "revival," we are presenting
"Holy Laughter or
by Warren Smith
I watched the video again. It was entitled Signs and Wonders Camp meeting
1994. Pastors of huge charismatic churches were stumbling around the church
stage "drunk" with "holy" laughter. Wanting to testify
to the fact that "holy" laughter had transformed their ministries
and their lives, many of them were unable to speak when called on to do so.
But their "drunken" condition became their testimony. Their
halting speech was seen as "proof" of the "power of the
spirit" that had come over them. The congregation roared in approval
as pastor after pastor laughed uncontrollably and then fell to the floor.
Standing alongside the "drunken" pastors was evangelist Rodney
Howard-Browne, the self described "Holy Ghost bartender" who was
serving up this "new wine" of "holy" laughter. Many
Christians today believe that Howard-Browne is God's appointed channel for
imparting joy and revival to the end-times church. Other Christians see
Howard-Browne as a false prophet who is inflicting great damage to the body
[W]hen I talked with several members of the San Francisco Vineyard
congregation I was told how hundreds of people were getting "hit"
with "revival"--how some people were getting so "soaked in
the spirit" they would lose consciousness for up to several hours
after falling to the ground with "holy" laughter. The Vineyard
members described "holy" laughter unqualifiedly as
"awesome" and definitely "the work of the Lord."
I learned that their Vineyard pastors had recently flown to a Vineyard
church in Toronto where God had reportedly "touched down" and
where "revival" had "broken out." The San Francisco
pastors participating in the Toronto "revival" had then
"brought it back" to San Francisco. It seemed that one of the
characteristics of "holy" laughter is that it can be easily
transferred from one person to another through the laying on of hands. Thus
the Toronto "revival" had now "spread" to San
Francisco. Nightly meetings were now being held at the San Francisco
Vineyard to accommodate the streams of people wanting to get
"touched" by this "move of God."
Within weeks of my visit to Vineyard I happened to catch a program on
"holy" laughter on a local Christian TV station. The panel of
guests were enthusiastically discussing "holy" laughter and
endorsing it unquestioningly as a latter days "outpouring" of
God's Holy Spirit. Comparing "holy" laughter to the
"work" of the Spirit at Pentecost, they were convinced that
"holy" laughter was completely authentic. They equated
"holy" laughter with the biblical notion of joy. As far as they
were concerned "holy" laughter was the "joy of the
Lord." Scriptural references to joy were cited; testimonies were
given; songs were sung; and by the end of the program I felt like I had
just watched a one hour info-mercial on "holy" laughter.
Click here to read this entire article.
To read more about "Holy Laughter," "Latter Rain,"
"Kingdom Now," and "Word-Faith," movements, read The Other Side of the River by Kevin Reeves --
One man risked all to find the truth and to save his family.
Town Hall: "Obama Enjoys Support of New Generation of
By Floyd and Mary Beth Brown
Christian leaders are picking new causes; many are joining the Obama
bandwagon as it crosses America, and their elders are not impressed....
the evangelical leaders who fought against abortion -- and for protection
of the institution of marriage -- now retiring and dying, a void is
beginning to appear. Just like a little wooden boat floating downstream,
many evangelical Christians are adrift in new swift currents of a
"social gospel." ...
Gay Activist Group to Visit Saddleback on Father's Day - A
LTRP Note: We believe that God loves the whole world. We do not believe any person
should be treated with hateful or cruel behavior. We also believe the
homosexual lifestyle is not compatible with biblical Christian
living and that God makes this very clear in His Word.
Father's Day Weekend (June 13-15), Rick Warren's church will be visited by the American
Family Outing, a project hosted by the gay activist group SoulForce.
According to the website, "diverse families from around the country
will create meaningful conversations about faith, family, and LGBT
people." These "meaningful conversations" will take place at
six mega churches, two of which are Saddleback Church and Willow Creek
Church. The first of these six visits began with Joel Osteen's church on
Mother's Day and the last one will end on Father's Day at Saddleback.
In regard to the visit to Saddleback on June 15th, according to one article, "Gay dads celebrate Father's Day with
Rick Warren, author of 'The Purpose Driven Life,'" "a group of
LGBT and straight-ally families will spend their holiday in a way that is
both extraordinary and profoundly commonplace: they will attend services at
Saddleback Church . . . The following day, the families will join leaders
from Saddleback Church for a private meal and conversation."
Soulforce states that the goal for the road trip is "[t]o begin a
process of changing hearts and minds in today's largest mega-churches . . .
to educate the national public through the media on the issues of faith,
family, and sexuality."1 Soulforce says that pastors like Rick Warren and Bill
Hybels are more "pragmatic and politically sophisticated" than
leaders like the late Jerry Falwell and James Kennedy and ones like James
Dobson. Calling Rick Warren and Hybels "emerging leaders" of a
new generation, they hope the road trip can persuade Warren, Hybels and the
other four mega-church pastors to drop their stereotyping of
homosexuals, who in the past have each called the practice of homosexuality
a sin. Soulforce would like to see that kind of talk end. "Through our
visibility we hope to peacefully challenge the false stereotypes about LGBT
[Lesbian/Gay/Bi-Sexual/Transgendered] people and same-gender families, and
educate the public through authentic and personal conversations," says
Soulforce. The visits will include spending time in worship together, a
private forum for "personal and direct interaction and dialogue,"
and some sort of meal together."
In view of the Soulforce event and the enormous changes taking place
in our society (and the church), we are posting this November 2006 article
again. See below:
Story Will Raise Serious Questions For All"
from November 2006
week's exposure of evangelical leader, Ted Haggard, is going to bring a lot
of questions to the surface. Gay rights activists, the secular media, and
many others are going to say, "See, why should we ban homosexual
marriages? Even the Christians do it. Why should we say it is wrong? And
why should we even become Christians? They are no different." And is
it any wonder that non-Christians will ask these questions? As they see it,
Christians accept (and are often even a part of) homosexuality, homosexual
unions, homosexual religious leaders, pedophile priests and pastors, etc.
But regardless of the news of Ted Haggard's secret lifestyle, and in spite
of increased acceptance of homosexuality, even among much of
evangelicalism, the practices of homosexuality and pornography are harmful,
and they destroy families and society.
I would like to tell you a story about a Christian family and what
homosexuality and pornography did to them. It is a true story. Catherine
was 25 years old and pregnant when her husband deserted her and their
children. He was gone for two years, having utterly abandoned his family.
Then one day, he showed up, but with him came a secret so great and so
horrible and one Catherine would not learn about for three long years. In
the end, the innocence of her children was ripped out of their lives-for at
the hands of their own father, they were subjected to the abuses of a
homosexual pedophile and used to make money through a father's immoral
means. After a conviction in court that should have given these children
and this mother assurance of future safety but instead offered neither,
Catherine had no choice but to take her children and go into hiding in
What does homosexuality and pornography do to families? Add to that the
victimization of children, which is often the case, and you have the
ingredients to destroy a society. Throw in drugs and New Age mysticism...
and you have little to hold on to. While everyone, both Christian and
non-Christian alike, have their thoughts and opinions about Ted Haggard and
the implications of this situation, let us remember that homosexuality and
pornography destroy. How do I know? I am Catherine, and my story, Laughter Calls Me, is the
story of my own children. In reading about Ted Haggard, I decided to come
forth with the hope that some child or some family might be spared the
suffering that mine and countless others have experienced.
Today, all eyes are on Ted Haggard for his indescribable actions, but we
must look further than just this one man. Christian leaders, as a whole,
have been walking in deception and sin for some time, and they have
bankrupted the Christian church at the price of truth, and
souls have been lost because of it. I pray there will be judgment in the
house of the Lord - that the sexual perversions, the mysticism, the New
Age, the over zealous marketing and deceptions will be eradicated and the
true body of Christ will shine through (even though Jesus said the world
will hate us - did the leaders forget that part?)
As leaders like Rick Warren have contacted us at Lighthouse Trails, and as
I have seen first hand their efforts to defend themselves and cover up the
truth, I have wondered why they should still be called the leaders of the
church. And then I realized, the true body of Christ is not made up of
leaders that compromise, deceive and preach false doctrines that the Bible
The true body of Christ has one leader, and He is a powerful - yet loving,
a righteous - yet compassionate God. And He is the only way of salvation -
there is absolutely no other way. As opposed to the religions of the world,
with Christ we cannot earn salvation; He gives it freely. While we have all sinned and equally need forgiveness from him, and while we do sin and need
to go daily to Him in humility and confession, we cannot abide in sin if He
lives in us. And He will live in the repentant soul who humbles himself and
asks Jesus Christ to be Lord of his live.
Saved by His grace,
author of Laughter Calls Me
"This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to
you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we
have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice
the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have
fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses
us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and
the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to
forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say
that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in
us." I John 1:5-10
Shaping the Minds of the Youth
the late 1960s, two youth workers in their twenties, Mike Yaconelli and
Wayne Rice (who happened to be working for Youth for Christ at the time),
wanted to change the way youth ministry was viewed and approached. They
self-published a small booklet called Ideas, began talking to senior
pastors and churches, and in 1970 held their first conference. They called
the company Youth Specialties. Interestingly, the late theologian
Francis Schaeffer attended their second annual conference.1 Schaeffer would
be very surprised if he had known that thirty years down the road this
young, sprouting organization would become one of the major catalysts for
the emerging church movement.
Just a few years after Youth Specialties was launched, Zondervan publishers
took notice of the two men's work:
Youth Specialties' passion for youth
workers caught the attention of Zondervan Publishing House in 1974. Zondervan
came to YS and said, "You guys are weird and unpredictable. We want to
put your books in bookstores," recalls Mike. Zondervan was very Dutch,
very Grand Rapids, very conservative--but hey, they believed in our
Zondervan's interest in Youth Specialties
would only increase, and over the next thirty years, the two companies
would publish over 500 resources for youth workers. It is worth mentioning
that Zondervan became the property of Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation in
1988. Murdoch's corporation, also owner of Fox News, has been a
major catalyst for Purpose Driven Life and now, we see, for the
emerging church through Zondervan. This is significant in light of Rick
Warren's relationship with Murdoch. Warren says he is Murdoch's pastor;3 it
is clear that both he and Youth Specialties benefited from a corporation
that had a net profit of 21 billion dollars for the 2004 fiscal year,4 and
whose founder (Murdoch) received a "papal knighthood" from Pope
John Paul II for Murdoch's donation of "large sums of money" to
the Catholic church.5
In 1984, as Youth Specialties grew and its circle of influence spread
across the country, Zondervan signed a co-publishing agreement with Youth
Specialties. Eventually, there was the National Youth Workers Convention, the
National Pastors Convention, and another 100 seminars throughout the year
around the country.
Twelve years later, Youth Specialties partnered with San Francisco
Theological Seminary to form the Youth Ministry & Spirituality
Project.6 The following year, the young organization was awarded a grant by
the Lilly Endowment.7* By this time, Youth Specialties had contacted the
new emergent leaders and said they wanted to work together. Sharing many of
the same spiritual affinities as Emergent, Youth Specialties hoped to help
take the movement to the next level with more books, more conferences, and
In 2006, Zondervan bought Youth Specialties.8 After the purchase, Zondervan
made a commitment that it would continue its support of the emerging leaders.
While Zondervan's role in helping build the emerging church movement cannot
be minimized, it is not the only Christian publisher that has added force
to the movement. In fact, most major Christian publishing houses have
released at least a few books written by emerging church leaders or books
that have an emerging spirituality bent to them.
The secular publishing industry has also played a significant part in the
emerging church's tremendous success in getting their message out. In 1996,
Leadership Network established a partnership agreement with Jossey-Bass (a
large San Francisco-based publishing house), which would turn out to be
most beneficial for both parties.9 Incidentally, Jossey-Bass had a close
ongoing relationship with Peter Drucker, who sat on the Jossey-Bass board,
and his Leader to Leader Journal is to this day published by Jossey-Bass.
Through this strong-arm publishing alliance of Jossey-Bass and Leadership
Network, the handful of carefully selected young men (Young Leaders
Network) began writing books, and with the Drucker/Buford marketing
energies, these young emerging leaders became known world-wide in just a
few years, so much so, that in 2005, Time magazine named Brian
McLaren one of the country's top 25 "Most Influential Evangelicals."10
In addition to numerous books being published by the Jossey-Bass Leadership
Network series, several conferences have taken place that have further
propelled this movement. The secular Mother Jones magazine took
notice of the young emergent movement and its benefactors, stating:
Postmoderns receive crucial
support--financial and otherwise--from the mega churches. These postmodern
ministries are loosely organized by the Leadership Network, a Dallas-based
umbrella group for many of the nation's mega churches. It's the Leadership
Network that keeps Driscoll's bohemian Mars Hill ministry in touch with the
fast-growing, but more traditional, University Baptist Church in Waco by
holding conferences and seminars. For the past three years the network has
sponsored national conferences that bring together postmodern leaders.11
There is little doubt that the emerging
church movement would not be what it is today without the zeal, backing,
and efforts of Leadership Network, Rupert Murdoch, Jossey-Bass, Youth Specialties,
Willow Creek, Peter Drucker, Rick Warren, Zondervan publishing, and the
Bob Buford has stated that, "A few men can make a huge
difference," and he adds, "[I]t has become my firm conviction
that the way to affect multitudes is to Focus on the Few."12 With such
a stealth backing, I can see why this would be true. But if these
"Few" are preaching a different gospel, the "affect" on
the "multitudes" could produce a terrible falling away from the
If such a process does occur, what will it look like? Will it happen
overnight, or will there be a seductive alluring over time? Will the youth
be targeted? And what will happen to those who warn about this seduction?
Will they be considered out of touch and narrow-minded, holding back new
frontiers and tides of change?
For Christianity to be restructured, a spiritual paradigm shift of a
magnificent strength and clever strategy would have to take place. It would
have to involve all denominations, even ones that were once biblically based.
While humans will carry out this shift, we know the Bible teaches that the
battle we face is not against flesh and blood and that there is an evil one
"which deceiveth the whole world" (Revelation 12:9). When man
turns his back on what the Lord has said, nothing good can come from it:
Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man
that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth
from the LORD. For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not
see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the
wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited. (Jeremiah 17:5-6)(From Faith Undone, chapter 2)
* In 2001, the Lilly Endowment awarded
Youth Ministry & Spirituality Project another even bigger grant--$691,000.
1. Youth Specialties' 30th Anniversary: http://www.youth
3. Malcolm Gladwell, "How Rick Warren Built His Ministry" (New
Yorker, September 12, 2005,
4. "News Corporation: Earnings Release for the Quarter and Fiscal Year
Ended June 30th 2004," accessed online at
5. Steve Boggan, "Catholic anger at Murdoch's papal knighthood" (The
(London) Independent, February 17, 1998).
6. From the Youth Ministry & Spirituality Project website:
7. "Youth Ministry and Spirituality Project Receives Major
Grant," (Youth Specialties News, January 11, 2001).
8. Press release from Zondervan, Tara Powers, "Leading Christian
Publisher Zondervan Acquires Ministry Organization Youth Specialties"
(May 2, 2006).
9. "Leadership Network's Top-Selling Books and Why" (Leadership
Network Advance, November 2005, http://www.pursuant group.com/leadnet/advance/nov05s2a.htm).
10. "25 Most Influential Evangelicals" (Time, February 7,
11. Lori Leibovich, "Generation: A look inside fundamentalism's answer
to MTV: the postmodern church" (Mother Jones, July/August
12. From Bob Bufor'â€™s website:
There's Something About Lilly
Christian Pastor Attends Brian McLaren's Everything Must
Change Tour - What He Witnessed
by Pastor Jeffery Whittaker
We've all heard it said: "The more things change, the more they remain
the same." The Bible says it another way in Ecclesiastes 1:9-10:
"The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which
is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the
sun. Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? It hath
been already of old time, which was before us. "
I found that the essence of these statements are still proving to be
axiomatic after my experience at the "Everything Must Change"
conference held at Goshen College in Goshen, Indiana with emergent church
leader Brian McLaren. I sat through session after session listening to the
emergent "gospel"; complete with medieval chants and choruses of
despair, apologies to the Native American Indians of the St. Joseph River
Valley, as well as to "Mother Earth" for scarring her through our
mining and oil drilling operations. The sarcasm with which traditional
Scriptural positions were discussed, coupled with repeated swipes at
Christians who were (in McLaren's opinion) waiting to be "snatched
away," "evacuated," or "beamed up," brought one
particular Scripture passage constantly to my heart and mind. Click here to read this entire article.
Announcing Summer 2008 Book
Release: Things We Couldn't Say
Lighthouse Trails Presents:
Things We Couldn't Say by Diet Eman - August 2008
This is the true story of Diet Eman, a young Christian woman
who joined the Christian resistance movement in the Netherlands during
WWII. Together with her fiancé and other Dutch men and women,
"Group Hein" risked their lives to save the lives of Jews who
were in danger of becoming victims of Hitler's "final solution."
Things We Couldn't Say is an endearing and
moving love story that occurs in the midst of extreme danger and often
unbearable circumstances and loss. Before the war ends, Eman, her fiancé,
and several in their group are arrested and sent to concentration camps -
many of them lose their own lives.
This story will help us remember a time
in history that should not be forgotten and will inspire us to live more
courageously and stand for what is right, doing so by the power and grace
of God. Things We Couldn't
Say is a powerful illustration of II
Corinthians 12:9, which states: "And
he [the Lord] said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my
strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather
glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me."
Things We Couldn't Say
Retail $14.95, 352 pages
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important books expose the truth about contemplative spirituality,
spiritual formation, and the new age.
A Time of Departing and For Many Shall Come in My
HOLOCAUST: LEST WE FORGET
A true story that will change your life and challenge your faith ..
sweep you into 1930s Germany and back with your faith intact ... [Trapped
in Hitler's Hell] carries a stark message for today's Western Christian
... will refocus your priorities and recharge your spiritual
life."-Leo Hohmann, Read entire review at The Messianic Times Trapped in Hitler's Hell
See all books and DVDs on the
The Other Side of the River by Alaskan Kevin Reeves
When mystical experiences and strange doctrines overtake his church,
one man risks all to find the truth ... a true story. Read more about this
important book, especially now in light of the Todd Bentley "revival"
Find out the truth about the emerging church
and the avenues through which it is entering Christianity.
Faith Undone by Roger Oakland
Find out more about the book that tells it like it