Archive for the ‘Rick Warren’ Category

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

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

 

 

 

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”

Dr. George Wood Responds to Lighthouse Trails Article on AoG Resolution 3 and Israel

Also see Part 1: “Commentary: Assembly of God (AOG) General Council to Vote on Resolution Against Israel ” and Part 3: “A Further Unveiling of Assemblies of God Resolution 3 & the Serious Implications”

By the Editors at Lighthouse Trails

On July 28th, Lighthouse Trails posted a commentary by Lighthouse Trails author Cedric Fisher titled “Assembly of God (AOG) General Council to Vote on Resolution Against Israel.” This commentary set off a fire storm on the Internet, and on Saturday July 29th, Lighthouse Trails editors received an e-mail from Dr. George Wood (General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God). Dr. Wood is familiar with Lighthouse Trails because of a controversy in 2013 where Dr. Wood gave his blessing and permission for contemplative emergent Ruth Haley Barton to speak at the 2013 AoG General Council Conference resulting in some Lighthouse Trails articles addressing the seriousness of such promotion.

Shortly after Lighthouse Trails editors received the e-mail from Dr. Wood on the 29th regarding our recent posting of Cedric Fisher’s commentary, we learned that the e-mail was being distributed on the Internet. Because Dr. Wood has made his e-mail public, we are responding in the public arena; and because his e-mail stated that the commentary we posted is “false, meretricious, and slanderous,” we are compelled to issue this response. Below is Dr. Wood’s e-mail to Lighthouse Trails editors in its entirety (in black bold) along with response comments by us in indented non-bold green paragraphs. (After you have read this section, please see a response written by Cedric Fisher regarding Dr. Wood’s e-mail.)

Dr. George Wood, General Superintendent of AoG

Dr. George Wood’s e-mail to Lighthouse Trails:

I don’t know exactly who to address this to, so I have included all the email contact points provided on your website.

I am asking you to retract and apologize for the totally incorrect article you published on July 28, titled, “Commentary: Assembly of God (AOG) General Council to Vote on Resolution Against Israel.”

Here are the facts, as opposed to the lies given by Cedric Fisher.

1. Resolution 3 doesn’t mention Israel at all. It has nothing to do with Israel. As general superintendent, I am not indicating my support or opposition to this resolution as it comes from delegates to our General Council – but, I can tell you for a fact that you can search this resolution with a microscope and you will find no reference to Israel, nor will you find any intention that this resolution applies to Israel. Here’s the full text of the resolution: http://generalcouncil.ag.org/-/media/GC17/2017GCResolutionsBooklet.pdf?la=en.

Our Response: It is true that Resolution 3 does not mention Israel at all, and Cedric Fisher never said that it did. However, the resolution absolutely connects Israel with the Resolution when it states: “Furthermore, the Commission on Doctrinal Purity and the General Presbytery approved the 12 Assemblies of God position paper entitled, ‘Church Mission and Peacemaking.’” It is in that position paper that Israel is discussed and clearly rebuked as the guilty party for causing conflict. There is no mention of Islamic/Muslim wrong doing in the position paper. We realize that some reading “Church Mission and Peacemaking” may not see how it is implicating modern-day Israel, especially if they are not familiar with the present efforts to put most or all of the blame on Israel for Middle East conflict.

2. The AG position paper is titled, “Church Mission and Peacemaking.” Lighthouse Trails added “and Israel,” even though the position paper doesn’t mention issues regarding the modern state of Israel. Here’s the position paper: https://ag.org/Beliefs/Topics-Index/Church-Mission-and-Peacemaking.

Our Response: The phrase “and Israel” was mistakenly added twice in one sentence. We have now corrected that error. However, this does not change the context of the position paper. Dr. Wood says that the position paper doesn’t mention issues regarding the modern state of Israel, but we believe that is exactly what that position paper is doing.

3. “Israel–the Church’s Response” is not a position paper. It’s what we call a “common concerns” article. It was written by the Office of Public Relations over 15 years ago. Here’s the article itself: https://ag.org/Beliefs/Topics-Index/Israel-the-Churchs-Response. Here’s the topic index of other common concern articles: https://ag.org/Beliefs/Topics-Index.

Our Response: Cedric Fisher’s commentary did call both papers “position papers” when in reality “Israel – The Church’s Response” is not an official AoG position paper. Rather, it is listed under AoG Beliefs on their website and described as “based upon [AoG] common understanding of scriptural teaching.” (source: https://ag.org/Beliefs/Topics-Index)

4. By mixing quotations from the position paper and the common concerns article, Lighthouse Trails concocts a belief that simply doesn’t exist.

Our Response: We don’t agree with Dr. Wood’s assumption here. To say that an argument can’t be proven by using different credible (and related) documents is faulty reasoning.

5. The article goes on to talk about Rick Warren’s PEACE plan, which is NOT mentioned in Resolution 3, the position paper, or the common concerns article. It then states, “Resolution 3 is an attempt to present a more powerful statement of disassociation with Israel.” But Resolution 3 doesn’t mention the contemporary state of Israel at all, let alone “a more powerful statement of disassociation with Israel.” This is simply a lie.

Our Response: As for Rick Warren’s influence within the AoG, this could be proven in a number of different ways (not to mention that he is one of the keynote speakers at this year’s AoG General Council along with Mark Batterson (Circle Maker) and Priscilla Shirer (contemplative teacher)), but we will provide this one piece of documentation. In a 2008 Time Magazine article titled “Rick Warren Goes Global,” it states:

“Warren is particularly excited by the hands-on involvement of some of the larger players in the Evangelical community. “A guy was going, ‘I’ll take Mozambique,’ and another guy was going ‘I’ll take Nigeria,’ ” he said happily, adding that he’s already secured personal commitments from influential leaders in the Salvation Army and the Assemblies of God (the largest Pentecostal denomination.) “They’ve said, they’re in, and they have to get their boards along,” he reported.” (emphasis added; source: http://content.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1809833,00.html?xid=rss-nation).

Since 2008, the Purpose Driven paradigm has continued to have a major influence in nearly all evangelical denominations, including Assemblies of God. 

Regarding Dr. Wood’s statement that it is a lie to say that Resolution 3 is anti-Israel, it is not. This resolution was worded in such a way as to not appear to be directly implicating modern Israel. 

6. “AoG General Superintendent George O. Wood and other leaders of the denomination appear enamored with Warren to the extent they are virtually subservient.” That would be news to me, Rick Warren, and other leaders of the denomination. Furthermore, there is no denomination more active than ours in evangelizing Muslims.

See our response in point #5.

7. As is typical of Lighthouse Trails, you engage in six-degrees-of-separation conspiracy mongering. Even though neither Don nor Jodi Detrick wrote Resolution 3, he is mentioned because he is married to her, and she is mentioned because she allegedly promotes “contemplative spirituality.” This isn’t research; this is nonsense.

Our Response: Actually, Cedric Fisher’s mentioning Jodi Detrick because she is the wife of the chairperson of the AoG 2017 Resolutions Committee is certainly not “six-degrees-of-separation conspiracy mongering.” First of all, this is a husband and wife who are both highly active in AoG leadership; this is hardly “six-degrees of separation.” Second, the issue that took place with Dr. Wood and the AoG General Council in May of 2013 was no minor issue. Dr. Wood allowed Ms. Detrick to bring in a hard core New Age sympathizer to teach AoG women at the AoG General Council Conference that year. Lighthouse Trails wrote three carefully documented articles explaining several aspects as to why Barton should not be allowed to teach Christian women. After our first article (http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=11431), Dr. Wood issued a public statement defending Ms. Detrick’s choice of speakers (and he incidentally mentioned Ms. Detrick’s husband as he felt the association was important for people to know – the very thing he condemned Cedric Fisher for doing). Our second article in 2013 included Dr. Wood’s response defending the choice of Ruth Haley Barton (http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=11554). Incidentally, Cedric Fisher (a former AoG pastor who was not an LT author at that time) wrote an article addressing the issue with Barton (http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=11569). He made some very valid points, and his article from 2013 is worth reading to better understand the dilemma.

We believe it was appropriate for Cedric Fisher to mention the Wood/Detrick/Barton event that took place four years ago because from years of researching the contemplative prayer movement, we know that one of the “fruits” of contemplative prayer is a shift in attitude regarding Israel. While there have always been those (such as those in the Reformed camp) who have historically rejected Israel of having significance according to a biblically prophetic view and adhere to Replacement Theology, there is also now a growing number of evangelicals who are moving from a pro-Israel stance to an anti-Israel stance, and many of those evangelicals have first embraced the contemplative prayer movement. Is this just a coincidence? We don’t believe so. Those who practice contemplative meditation, over time, begin to change their views on the Atonement, the Cross, salvation, and even Israel and the Jews because the meditation experience is panentheistic (God in all) and interspiritual (all paths lead to God) in nature; and when one begins to accept panentheism and interspirituality, the Cross, the Atonement, salvation through Christ alone, and Bible prophecy (which includes understanding Israel and the return of Christ) do not fit into that mold any longer.

Dr. Wood resents the fact that Jodi Detrick name was mentioned in Cedric Fisher’s article, so much so that he has resorted to ugly name calling. We fear that Dr. Wood does not understand these vital issues, and that is why he is lashing out. 

8. The article about Ross Byar’s school is hilarious. Ross teaches “pacifism,” not “passivism.” And do evangelical Christians really want to go on record opposing the teaching of pacifism to MUSLIM students? Additionally, the Haaretz.com article cited doesn’t report that Byars’ school advocates “inner eye” mysticism. It says that on the day the journalist visited, they were learning about the mysticism of an important modern Jewish rabbi. A good education acquaints people accurately with the beliefs of others. LTR makes that look suspicious.

Our Response: Dr. Wood better read that article at Haaretz.com again. It clearly states that the teacher at Byar’s school is introducing and advocating a mystical spirituality to the students. The article states:

“Today, in fact, she’s [the teacher] trying to introduce the students to a mystical teaching from Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, the first Ashkenazi chief rabbi in British Mandatory Palestine. The big idea is his concept of the “inner eye,” and Talesnick [the teacher] wants to suggest that if you can see with it, you’re color blind. It’s a good lesson against racism.”

Cedric Fisher stated it accurately when he said the school was advocating a mystical teaching. 

9. I could pick apart the article’s references to the six authors of Resolution 3–all of whom I know personally or at least know of–but I’ll just quote this hilarious statement about Nam Soo Kim: “I could not discover any significant involvement or contributions to the AoG. As with most of the other authors, he seems to be involved with activity outside of the denomination.” For the record, Nam Soo Kim is an executive presbyter of the national Assemblies of God, a fact that is easily found on the AG website: https://ag.org/About/Leadership-Team/Executive-Presbytery.

Our Response: The fact that Cedric Fisher did not know of Nam Soo Kim’s involvement with AoG is a moot point, but we accept the correction. However, there is one author of Resolution 3 that we do know about, and that is Murray Dempster. In 2007, 80 evangelical leaders signed a document titled “An Evangelical Statement on Israel/Palestine.” A November 2007 Christianity Today article titled “Evangelical Leaders Reiterate Call for Two-State Solution for Israel and Palestine” discussed the document and listed Murray Dempster as one of the signatories. The article stated:

[O]ver 80 evangelical leaders have signed a statement indicating their belief ‘that the way forward is for the Israelis and Palestinians to negotiate a fair, two-state solution.'” (source: http://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2007/november/148-33.0.html (For a list of Dempster’s credentials that include the signing of this two-state solution document, see http://www.seu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/MWD-Resume-Updated-SEU-8.1.2013.pdf)

We find this unnerving that a man, Dempster, who is a signatory for a document that calls for a two-state solution, is also a contributing author and endorser to this AoG resolution that has the potential of invoking great harm to the Jewish people; and it is equally troubling that the head of AoG is perfectly OK with this. He says that he knows all of them personally or at least knows of them—insinuating that this makes them all legitimate). According to one Jewish Christian radio host we spoke with this morning, a two-state solution would “legitimize” a Palestinian State filled with brutal terrorists who want to destroy Israel. What in the world is AoG doing playing with this kind of fire?! Cedric Fisher provided us with some thought-provoking comments today on the two-state solution:

“Some evangelical leaders insist there is nothing wrong with the Two-State Solution.  They claim that Israel advocates a Two-State Solution.  If that were true, then it would have already occurred and we would not be having this controversy.  There is a vast difference between the versions of Two-State Solutions.  Israel’s version could be summed up as, “You leave us alone, and we’ll leave you alone.”  Conversely, the Two-State Solution advocated by certain evangelicals is to moderate a resolution between Israel and Palestine that involves Israel giving up the West Bank, its biblical heritage as God’s Chosen People, and other untenable concessions.  There is an effort to dismiss Israel from eschatology and brand it as just another sinful nation.

“These leaders cannot understand why true supporters of Israel view them as anti-Semitic.  They claim they are not anti-Semitic but rather that they also support Israel.  They obviously do not support the Israel that exists, but the “Israel” they have modeled for their peace plan.  I invite the reader to read the literature of these so-called pacifists for “peace.”  If they supported Israel as it presently exists, they would not be sympathetic to the Muslim narrative and attempt to coerce Israel to accept a pro-Palestinian Two-State Solution.  

10. This conclusory statement is an outright lie: “Therefore, to embrace the Palestinian and Muslim cause and reject Israel is, in essence, to be anti-Semitic. Thus, the AoG’s positions papers and Resolution 3 is oxymoronic in presentation and factitious in intent. It is an effort to unite the 60 million-member worldwide denomination with other denominations and political groups that are openly hostile to Israel.” None of the AG links the author has provided–to Resolution 3, our position paper, or even our common concerns article–embrace Islam, reject Israel, or exhibit antisemitism. The World Assemblies of God Fellowship numbers 68.5 million adherents, not 60 million (https://ag.org/About/Statistics), but the author can’t even get this basic statistic right. And I am unaware of any member nation of the WAGF that’s “openly hostile to Israel.” I certainly am not – having been to Israel over 40 times and having established the Assemblies of God Center for Holy Lands Studies that has brought thousands to Israel – including hundreds of students preparing for the ministry.

Our response: We stand behind Cedric Fisher’s closing comments. We believe AoG is facing a real threat, and the fact that their head cannot see this and has no problem with Resolution 3 is scary at best.

You should have regard for truth. But, you [do] not.

The article you published is false, meretricious, and slanderous. You should be ashamed.

Finally, there is a process in our Constitution and Bylaws by which members can present resolutions. The authors of resolutions have no guarantee that what they propose will be adopted; but, our Bylaws make provision for members to have that right.

Our Response: The men who wrote Resolution 3 are leaders in the AoG, not some renegades who have no influence in the denomination. Without intending on sounding disrespectful, the shame goes to AoG leaders who are involved in trying to pass Resolution 3 and to Dr. Wood, not Cedric Fisher and Lighthouse Trails.

Response to George Wood’s E-mail from Cedric Fisher:

I wish to thank Dr. Wood for taking time out of his busy schedule to respond to my commentary. Since Dr. Wood has insisted on more information, I will respectfully honor his request.

First, I concede that Resolution 3 does not contain the word “Israel,” and I never stated that it did. However, it contains the reference to a position paper that does mention Israel. Additionally, although “Israel—the Church’s Response” is not an official position paper, it is a position officially assigned to the “Church” and included under “Beliefs” on the AoG website. Further, Resolution 3 is presented as being about peacekeeping, but the statement it proposes to add to the Constitution includes justice and peacemaking. Here is why that is important.

We must ask, “What nations in conflict did the authors of R3 have in mind when they wrote the Resolution?”

The only nation in conflict that the majority of evangelicals are focused on is Israel. Regarding the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, the terms justice and peacekeeping are interpreted by the worldview of whoever employs them. Some evangelicals consider Israel “unjust” and even “racist” in their dealings with Palestinians. I propose that the conflict is not because Israel is unjust, racist, or rejects peace. It exists because her neighbors wish to annihilate her as stated in the following:

I will never allow a single Israeli to live among us on Palestinian land. (Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, The Jerusalem Post)

The solution that political Progressives, Liberals, Palestinian sympathizers, denominations, and some leading evangelical “pacifists” propose is a two-state solution. That attempt at “justice and peacemaking” would devastate Israel. Standing in the way of a two-state solution is the traditional, biblical, eschatological view that most evangelicals hold dear. There is currently a massive effort underway throughout Christianity to neutralize and eject that view from evangelicalism. The result, unintended or perhaps intended, is that anti-Semitism has reared its ugly head in evangelicalism.

Therefore, we are wary of overtures of justice and peacemaking by individuals who have been involved in efforts to impose a two-state solution on Israel.  Is it the intent of R3 authors to legitimize a worldview that undermines historical evangelical support for Israel in the name of justice and peacemaking? We can help answer that question by taking a look at some of R3’s authors.

R3 author Murray Dempster is considered by some of his peers as the “‘Grandfather of Modern Pentecostal Pacifism.” Dempster was a signer of the document “An Evangelical Statement on Israel/Palestine” that proposes a two-state solution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. He also signed a letter to President George Bush in July 29, 2007, calling for a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict that includes the vast majority of the West Bank.

Dempster is professor of social ethics at Assemblies of God Southeastern University. An online blog post titled, “Liberal Theology at Assemblies of God University?” features the testimony by David Thrower expressing concern about the influence of the Emergent Church and “progressive” adherents that question the supremacy of God and the authority and veracity of His Word at Southeastern. Thrower mentioned Dempster touting liberal theologian James Cone. However, deeply troubling was his observation concerning rampant anti-Semitism that included an on-campus lecture by pro-Palestine advocate Sami Awad. At one point in the lecture, Awad had very anti-Semitic comments mentioning that Israel did not have a right to exist. – Chelsen Vicari, Juicy Ecumenism blog; December 18, 2014, https://juicyecumenism.com/2014/12/18/squishy-theology-assembly-gods-southeastern-university/

Another R3 author, Robert E. Cooley, signed the Yale “A Common Word” Christian Response document http://faith.yale.edu/common-word/common-word-christian-response. Among the signers is Rick Warren, one of the speakers at the upcoming 57th General Council in Anaheim. The document begins:

As members of the worldwide Christian community, we were deeply encouraged and challenged by the recent historic open letter signed by 138 leading Muslim scholars, clerics, and intellectuals from around the world. “A Common Word Between Us and You” identifies some core common ground between Christianity and Islam which lies at the heart of our respective faiths as well as at the heart of the most ancient Abrahamic faith, Judaism.

The document also stated:

Before we “shake your hand” in responding to your letter, we ask forgiveness of the All-Merciful One [a name for the Muslim god] and of the Muslim community around the world. . . . That so much common ground exists—common ground in some of the fundamentals of faith—gives hope that undeniable differences and even the very real external pressures that bear down upon us can not overshadow the common ground upon which we stand together.

As I pointed out in my commentary, R3 author Robert W. Houlihan and Russell P. Spittler have made statements in support of Dempster.

How can I or anyone who is willing to take a serious look at this situation conclude that R3 is anything other than an attempt to undermine evangelical support for Israel?

Related Information:

The Berean Call Conference: Israel in the Line of Fire

DVD Exposes “Christian Palestinianism” and the Evangelical Leaders Promoting It

 Chrislam – The Blending Together of Islam & Christianity

Another Look: Has the Church Replaced Israel?

Terror Against Israel

 

Commentary: Assembly of God (AOG) General Council to Vote on Resolution Against Israel

Also see Part 2: “Dr. George Wood Responds to Lighthouse Trails Article on AoG Resolution 3 and Israel ” and Part 3: “A Further Unveiling of Assemblies of God Resolution 3 & the Serious Implications”

By Cedric Fisher
Truth Keepers

During the 57th Assemblies of God General Council in Anaheim, California, August 7-11, 2017, the denomination’s membership will vote on Resolution 3. The Resolution is presented as an affirmation that the church should be involved in peace-keeping through conflict resolution. One is compelled to ask why such a resolution is needed. As most denominations, the AoG already has bylaws and leadership positions that promote peace and engage in conflict resolution within the denomination. Apparently, Resolution 3 proposes to involve the membership in the affairs of races, religions, and nations outside the denomination.

The General Council of the Assemblies of God, district councils, and local churches should be involved in conflict resolution between churches, denominations, races, religions, and countries. We believe justice and peacemaking are necessary complements of compassion ministries, and this should be clearly stated in our Constitution. – Resolution 3, 57th General Council, August 7-11, 2017, Anaheim, California.

Some members are deeply concerned that the Resolution will weaken and perhaps obliterate the denominations support for Israel. I believe they have good cause for concern. The leadership has already approved two position papers, “Church Mission and Peacemaking” and “Israel – the Church’s Response,” both which negatively affect Israel. Those position papers are essential to understanding the consequences of passing Resolution 3. (correction: The “Israel – the Church’s Response is not a position paper, but rather is an AoG article listed under AoG Beliefs “based upon [AoG] common understanding of scriptural teaching.”

Old Town Jerusalem (Photo: bigstockphoto.com; used with permission

The New Paradigm
The amalgamation of those position papers and Resolution 3 would establish a new paradigm regarding the denomination’s view and treatment of Israel. The new paradigm aligns with the emerging consensus of significant leaders in Christianity that insists Israel’s biblical-based claims are responsible for unrest in the Mideast. They are further convinced that evangelical support for Israel erroneously strengthens those claims. Their solution is to diminish that support, express sympathy with Muslims and Palestinians, and pressure Israel to relinquish her biblical entitlements. This is evident in the insidious statement in “Israel – the Church’s Response”:

And many Christians outside Israel seem bent on assisting God in fulfilling His prophesied blessing on His chosen people. – “Israel – the Church’s Response”

That reads like something right out of a political Progressive emergent handbook. It implies that “Christians outside Israel” are deceived or misguided. By whom? Israel? We are not misguided, but informed by God’s word. Conversely, agreeing with or sympathizing with Israel’s enemies actually assists Satan in fulfilling his plan to oppress and annihilate Israel.

In “Church Mission and Peacemaking” under the section, “Biblical Directives for Peacemaking,” the paper mentions Israel’s historical apostasies and makes this provocative statement:

The great writing prophets of the Old Testament severely condemned the dreadful social exploitation and injustice of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah in their prosperous but declining years.

The references makes it clear that the authors consider Israel to be the problem in accomplishing peace because of their steadfast refusal to accept the demands of her enemies.

The new paradigm further emerges in the following statement:

Because of the contribution of the patriarchs, of Jesus, and of the Jewish disciples to our Christian faith, the Church is often viewed as being pro-Israel, and therefore anti-Palestinian. But we must never forget our Christian Palestinian brothers and sisters who suffer great terrors and hurts. But neither should we forget the Jewish Christians and others who are caught in this conflict. We must remember that millions on both sides of this end-times conflict need to come to a faith in Jesus Christ. – “Israel – the Church’s Response”

Because of what the Scriptures tell us, we as Christian believers must stand by Israel and the Jewish people. That does not mean that a Christian is against Palestinians who are genuine Christians. However, we must be opposed to any attempt to oppress or destroy Israel or divest her of biblical entitlements. Today, we are witnessing a fast-growing change in attitude by Christian groups around the world toward Israel and the Jews, one that is fueling anti-Semitism and a general animosity toward them.

Rick Warrens P.E.A.C.E. plan
The new paradigm also appears to align with Rick Warren’s P.E.A.C.E. plan and his concept of “religious pluralism.” Warren’s idea is that Muslims and Christians should be partners in working to end what he calls “the five global giants.” One of the things Warren asks is how can Christians and Muslims work together to bring peace to the world? The answer is by one or both religions to compromise their belief systems and scheme to delegitimize Israel.

Warren’s overtures to Muslims and tenure on the Council of Foreign Relation should discredit him as a model of Christian leadership. However, the extent of his acceptance by AoG leaders is astounding and perplexing. AoG General Superintendent George O. Wood and other leaders of the denomination appear enamored with Warren to the extent they are virtually subservient. That adulation is also prevalent among the younger ministers. Many of the same individuals are covertly or overtly involved in ecumenism. Could that be the reason for a steady effort to bring the denomination into compliance with Warren’s worldview? A necessary step would be to publically express sympathy with Palestinians and Muslims.

Resolution 3 is an attempt to present a more powerful statement of disassociation with Israel. Clearly, the AoG leadership rejects the biblical view that Israel plays a special role in God’s eschatological plan. It appears they have bought into the politics of the political Progressives, the Seeker/Emergents, and Rick Warren’s worldview. Whatever their motivation, it is without a doubt not founded on a biblical mandate.

Is There a Biblical Basis for Peace in the End Times?
The questions are, “Can anyone except Christ achieve peace on earth and should that be the church’s mission in these last days?” Every student of eschatology understands that “war and rumors of war” is a prophetic sign of the end times. A companion sign is that all nations will oppose Israel. Sympathizing with Israel’s enemies to end war encourages aggression against Israel. The authors of Resolution 3 extend that sympathy under the guise of an alleged biblical mandate for “the Church” to be involved in peacekeeping between nations. Any peace that could come out of such an effort will be false peace, which is one of the deceptions Antichrist will foist on the world.

Resolution 3 authors attempt to provide a scriptural base for their claims:

However, the Scriptures strongly support conflict resolution as an appropriate method to obtain peace when one is wronged or has wronged another. – Resolution 3

All the biblical references they provide for support of the Resolution are primarily about personal relationships and harmony among God’s people. Also, consider that none of the verses concern eschatology. The verses they use cannot be co-opted to endorse sympathy for Israel’s enemies without violating the spirit of the exegesis. The authors are, in fact, using God’s Word to support spiritually fatal compromise. Further, I must point out that rejecting Israel’s claims that are solidly based on unambiguous Scriptures, while establishing a contradictory narrative based on ambiguous scriptural references, is patently duplicitous. It is the stuff of heresy.

Christ declared that He did not come to bring peace (Matthew 10:34). There cannot be peace between light and darkness. There can be no peace or ecumenism between diabolical religions and true Christianity. Neither will there be peace between Israel and her enemies. Let us not forget that God’s adversary, Satan, hates Christians, and he hates the Jews and Israel.

Additionally, peace cannot exist in a community when a church takes upon itself to solve every conflict. God’s Word actually has something to say about that bad decision:

He that passeth by, and meddleth with strife belonging not to him,is like one that taketh a dog by the ears. – Proverbs 26:17

Authors of Resolution 3

Finally, it is important to consider the authors of Resolution 3. It was difficult to discover if all of them were credentialed with the Assemblies of God. References to being AoG ministers or working in organizations connected to the denomination are missing in most of the source material.

The chairperson of the Resolution committee is Donald H, Detrick. Detrick’s wife, Jodie Detrick, is a Life Coach and supporter of contemplative spirituality. Mrs. Detrick wrote the AoG defense of inviting New Age guru Ruth Haley Barton to speak at the General Council in Orlando, Florida.

Concerning the authors of Resolution 3, the following is a sampling of information easily available on the Internet:

J. Ross Byars: Co-founder of Jerusalem School Bethlehem on the West Bank, “Impacting the Arab World with the message of hope through education.” The school delivers to mostly Palestinian youth the “Good News of the Gospel delivered through a culturally-relevant lens.” The pacifism of Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, and Mahatma Gandhi are taught. The schools “takes an ecumenical approach because most of its students are Muslims.” – Haaretz.com, “Think Palestinian Schools Preach Violence? Visit This One,” July 22, 2017

Furthermore, JSB teaches a mystical teaching, the concept of the ‘inner eye,’ from Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, Kabbalist and the first Ashkenazi chief rabbi in British Mandatory Palestine. – ibid

Robert E. Cooley: President Emeritus and former Professor of Biblical Studies and Archaeology of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminar. Dr. Cooley was a consultant on the merging of the Assemblies of God schools in Springfield. I advise individuals to watch his YouTube video about the leadership challenges of globalization and social diversification of communities, “Evangelical Leadership in the 21st Century” January 30, 2015. I also encourage reading “The Future of the Christian University: An Interview with Dr. Robert E. Cooley” on Pathos.com. Cooley advocates a new paradigm by Christianity regarding its association with nations and religions. His involvement with Resolution 3 defines more clearly what he means by that advocacy.

Murray W. Dempster: Professor of Social Ethics, Southeastern University, Lakeland, Florida. Author of Christian Concern in Pentecostal Perspective: Reformulating Pentecostal Eschatology, Called and Empowered: Global Mission in Pentecostal Perspective, and other books.

Robert W. Houlihan: Professor of Practical Ministry and Missions at Southwestern University. Houihan wrote, “Another area that has caused some concerns for Pentecostals in recent years is the realization that the early Pentecostals overemphasized evangelism and neglected cultural sensitivity and the social and justices issues for the poor. . . . More recently Pentecostal scholars such as Murray Dempster have created a framework to help missionaries reflect on the biblical text and provide them with a social ethic to undergird their social practices.” – Robert Houlihan; “Theological Education in a Cross-Cultural Context: Essays in Honor of John and Bea Carter; Accessing Missional Ministries in the Pentecostal Church: A Trial of Overemphasis on Evangelism.”

Nam Soo Kim: Pastor of Promise Church and Promise Ministries International, Seoul, South Korea. PMI considers itself as a ministry to the world’s 1.85 billion children. Not much is publically known about Kim. I could not discover any significant involvement or contributions to the AoG. As with most of the other authors, he seems to be involved with activity outside of the denomination.

Russell P. Spittler: Senior professor of New Testament at Fuller Theological Seminary. Author of Perspectives on the New Pentecostalism, Charismatic Christianity as a Global Culture, and other books. Spittler wrote in support of Murray Dempster’s book, Called and Empowered: Global Mission in Pentecostal Perspective: “An unprecedented mix of pentecostal theology and mission practice, virtually a manifesto for pentecostal missions. . . . The fullest and finest missiological treatise originating within classical Pentecostalism available.”–Russell P. Spittler

Prophecy is Being Fulfilled
In conclusion, I must point out that Rome changed the name of Judea to Palestine in 136 A.D. Islam did not arrive until about the 7th century A.D. Christianity is a religion that originated with a Jewish man, Christ Jesus the Son of God. The church is established on Jewish disciples of Christ with Him as the Cornerstone. Historically and evidentiary, there is no basis for any attempt to dispose Israel of her biblical heritage and rights.

Therefore, to embrace the Palestinian and Muslim cause and reject Israel is, in essence, to be anti-Semitic. Thus, the AoG’s positions papers and Resolution 3 is oxymoronic in presentation and factitious in intent. It is an effort to unite the 60 million-member worldwide denomination with other denominations and political groups that are openly hostile to Israel. That is not peace keeping, but quite the opposite. It is meddling in affairs that the true church, the Body of Christ, has no biblical mandate to become involved in. Furthermore, it is compromise of the worst sort during the worst period in Israel’s history and likely to help trigger an unprecedented military attack on Israel.

What we are witnessing is the formation of the False Prophet’s global church and the dark kingdom of Antichrist. Prophecy is racing toward fulfillment. Christianity’s leaders and theologians are more concerned about the relevance of Christianity, its political position in the world system, and the numerical value of Christendom than about standing uncompromisingly for God’s truth. I do believe that some professing Christians feel intense pressure to compromise and thereby avoid being ostracized or even persecuted.

It is time to wake up and heed God’s Word. Love for truth is dissipating as fog in the morning sun. Convenient yet false interpretations of God’s Word are being duplicitously presented as new truth. The resulting false conclusions are leading to a dangerous and perhaps eternally fatal pragmatism.

Related Material:

ISRAEL: REPLACING WHAT GOD HAS NOT

Reminder: What Lighthouse Trails Believes About Israel and the Jews

The Berean Call Conference: Israel in the Line of Fire

World Vision Cries “Reform” – But What About Israel and the Emerging Church – The Story Behind the Story

DVD Exposes “Christian Palestinianism” and the Evangelical Leaders Promoting It

Letter to the Editor: Purpose Driven Movement – Is There Really Something to Be Concerned About?

Dear Lighthouse Trails:

I don’t normally write others with questions, but seek answers through my own research. Your posting about Rick Warren and the Purpose-Driven Church, along with books offered on your website, have been most helpful.

On June 26-29, I attended a PD conference at Saddleback Church. The church staff and spouses attended a 3-day conference on “Hope Renewed.” I was there all 3 days taking notes and listening to what was said. The speaker each day was Rick Warren.

After those 3 days, I found myself questioning what I thought I knew about Rick Warren and the Purpose-Driven Church; even realizing all that I had previously read at your site and others. After all, he seemed to have a gift for simplifying things and holding everyone’s attention. Was I wrong to think differently and was he on target? I found myself wondering why I had questioned this fine man speaking before me.

But at the end of the third day during one of the worship music sessions, I realized how sad I felt for all the attendees and how all the messages thru music were only “positive” messages about God; not much if any about our sin and desperate need for Jesus.

For as humble as Rick Warren presents himself, I couldn’t help thinking that I was missing something that didn’t seem quite right, or I was wrong to question him and the PD movement at all; and somehow the articles on your website and others were all wrong. Was it a possibility that I was in the presence of a seducing spirit or a spirit that deceives and blinds even believers in Christ? As I have reflected over the last 2 weeks, I believe that is exactly what happened.

I writing to share with you what happened – trusting that my thinking and assumptions are not wrong. I appreciate your consistent work with sharing the truth of God’s Word and that of your authors. I have not found many places to get such help.

_____________________

LTRP Note: After observing and researching Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Movement for over 15 years, we find that the evidence gathered simply cannot be ignored. If you are reading this letter to the editor and finding yourself uncertain as to what the roots, foundation, and goals of Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Movement are, please read some of the articles below. For books on this issue, read A Time of Departing, Faith Undone, Deceived on Purpose, A “Wonderful” Deception, and The Good Shepherd Calls. 

Some of the More important Articles About the Purpose Driven Movement

The Peace of God versus the P.E.A.C.E. of Man

The Kingdom of God and a Man of Peace

Rick Warren’s Dangerous Ecumenical Pathway to Rome And How One Interview Revealed So Much

THE THREE LEGGED STOOL PLAN

Rick Warren’s Daniel Plan – The New Age/Eastern Meditation Doctors Behind the Saddleback Health

A Visit to Rick Warren’s Health Seminar – The Unfolding of a Global New Age Plan

The Story Behind Lighthouse Trails

The New Missiology – Doing Missions Without the Gospel

RICK WARREN RETAINS UNBIBLICAL POSITION IN NEW 2012 EDITION OF THE PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE

Rick Warren’s Popular Broad Way Christianity Misses the (Biblical) Mark

Looking to the Past to Unravel Confusion About Rick Warren, Islam, and Warren’s All-Inclusive “Second Reformation”

Purpose Driven Terrorism

Chrislam – The Blending Together of Islam & Christianity and Rick Warren’s Muslim Man of Peace 

RNS Interview Reveals The Message Author Eugene Peterson Changes Mind About “Gay” Issues/Marriage

LTRP Note: The following news story from Religion News Service is posted for informational and research purposes and not as an endorsement of the source or the content. The Message “Bible” has had a huge impact on Christianity. Famous pastors, like Rick Warren, have quoted from it extensively, which has played a huge role in developing the present-day nearly apostate church. It’s too bad more Christians didn’t take heed to some of the warnings about Eugene Peterson and The Message over the past several years (see article links below).

Eugene Peterson – Photo: Creative Commons

“Eugene Peterson on changing his mind about same-sex issues and marriage”

By Jonathan Merritt
Religion News Service

When a journalist has a chance to interview a paragon of the Christian faith like Eugene Peterson, there’s a lot of pressure to pick the perfect questions. I’d asked him about why he was leaving the public eye and if he was afraid of death. I’d asked him about Donald Trump and the state of American Christianity. But there was one more topic I wanted to cover: same-sex relationships and marriage.

It’s one of the hottest topics in the church today, and given Peterson’s vast influence among both pastors and laypeople, I knew his opinion would impact the conversation. Though he has had a long career, I couldn’t find his position on the matter either online or in print. I did discover that “The Message,” Peterson’s popular paraphrase of the Bible, doesn’t use the word “homosexual” and “homosexuality” in key texts. Click here to continue reading.

Articles Warning About Eugene Peterson and The Message:
The New Age Implications of The Message “Bible’s” “As Above, So Below”

BOOKLET: The Message “Bible”— A Breach of Truth

Southern Baptist Convention Rejects Gender-Neutral NIV Bible But Embraces The Message, Renovare Bible, and Contemplative Books

WARNING: Modern-Day “Bible” Versions Used to Promote Liberal Agenda

Message Bible for Little Kids Instructs on Contemplative Meditation

RICK WARREN RETAINS UNBIBLICAL POSITION IN NEW 2012 EDITION OF THE PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE

Saddleback Church Statement Appears to Downplay Role of Alleged Molester Ruben Meulenberg

On Friday evening (May 26), Saddleback Church released a statement about the arrest of Ruben Meulenberg, the man who allegedly has been molesting boys at Saddleback. The Saddleback statement called Meulenberg a “student ministry volunteer.” Here is the full statement:

We are shocked and grieved to share that this week a Saddleback member reported that a student ministry volunteer had acted inappropriately with two 14-year-old boys. Of course, our staff quickly reported this accusation to our Orange County Sherriff’s Department. The next day, the volunteer was arrested on suspicion of the offense. The investigation of the accusation is now in the hands of the proper authorities.

We ask you to do two things: first, please pray for the Saddleback families who are involved in this sad matter; second, please pray for the investigators as they determine the facts. As followers of Jesus, we always want the whole truth to come out because Jesus taught us that lies enslave us, but the truth sets us free.

As a part of Saddleback, you know that our church has been built on the service of thousands of volunteers who donate hundreds of thousands of hours of their time. Most of you know that for decades we’ve had extremely high requirements and strict procedures in place for anyone who volunteers in our student and children ministries.

To be considered for volunteering with kids or students, we require fingerprinting, professional background checks, and personal interviews. We also use services that report any illegal activity to us immediately. In this case, the accused volunteer had no record of arrest or criminal charges. Also, our church requires volunteers who work with students or children to complete an annual training regarding appropriate conduct. Our system of safeguards has safely served over 40,000 students and children for 38 years.

Please pray for everyone involved. We love you.

Kurt Johnston, Student Ministries Pastor & Elder

 Steve Johnson, Executive Pastor & Elder (source)

Lighthouse Trails has since learned that Ruben Meulenberg, at least according to two sources (one by a source very close to Rick Warren and Saddleback), is not merely a volunteer at Saddleback – he is also a staff member. The first source is from an article written by public relations journalist Larry Ross, who states:

The Meulenberg brothers are versed media artists, programmers, consultants and the creators of FPS Control. As experienced professionals in the media industry, their training materials have trained over 20,000 musicians and 40,000 game and app developers globally, including Disney Mobile. Some past clients include ING Bank, Thompson, Pearson Education, RedHat, Logica CMG and Orange. They reside in southern California and serve on staff at Saddleback Church in the technology, communication and marketing ministries. (http://alarryross.com/tornado-twins-develop-unprecedented-video-game-the-game-bible-series/, emphasis added)

Ross has close ties with Rick Warren and Saddleback and has written numerous promotional reports on the Purpose Driven pastor.

The second source is from a Point of View interview done in 2014 where Meulenberg is described as a staff member at Saddleback:

The Tornado Twins’ materials have trained over 20,000 musicians and 40,000 game and app developers globally, including Disney Mobile. Some past clients include ING Bank, Thompson, Pearson Education, RedHat, Logica CMG and Orange.

Born and raised in the Netherlands, the Tornado Twins immigrated to the United States to create meaningful media. They reside in southern California and serve on staff at Saddleback Church in the technology, communication and marketing ministries. (https://pointofview.net/show/wednesday-october-22-2014/, emphasis added)

Ruben and Efraim Muelenberg (photo from YouTube 2 second clip; used in accordance with the US Fair Use Act)

If indeed Ruben Meulenberg is a staff member and one with a significant role in youth ministry at the mega church, then the statement released by Saddleback on May 26th has downplayed or minimized Meulenberg’s role at the church.

In addition to Ruben Meulenberg’s apparent staff position, his father, Abraham Meulenberg, is a pastor at Saddleback in charge of interfaith outreach. He was involved with Rick Warren’s efforts to form alliances with the Muslim community (source). Ruben’s mother, Marieke Meulenberg, is also a staff member at Saddleback, and according to her LinkedIn page, she serves as Project Manager and Volunteer Coordinator for the Office of the Pastor (source).

In various capacities, Ruben Meulenberg appears to have been quite involved at Saddleback. As you can see from this video of a Junior High “Glow Light” event, the Meulenberg brothers have been involved with training and influencing  the youth at Saddleback  (you may find this video disturbing as you watch the Meulenberg brothers, who call themselves the Tornado Twins, lead a large number of Saddleback Junior High kids into a frenzied state). The identical twin men have also introduced video games to Saddleback youth, and in fact, Rick Warren has encouraged and promoted one of their games as you can read in this Christian Post article, “Rick Warren Praises Twins’ Efforts to Create a Bible Video Game That Isn’t ‘Cheesy.”  And according to an Amazon web page, Warren also co-authored a book with Ruben Meulenberg along with some other authors titled Transformed: How God Changes Us. It seems very clear that Ruben Meulenberg has had more than a “volunteer” role at Saddleback, thus making the Saddleback statement misleading.

We hope Rick Warren and his staff will not try to minimize this tragic situation or their role in it in their failure to protect Saddleback kids. And we hope they will be honest with the parents as to what has really taken place. The facts seem to show that Reuben Meulenberg has been an integral part of Saddleback and has, unfortunately, had free unguarded access to the kids who trusted him.

Related Information:

5 Things You Can Do to Protect Your Kids From Sexual Predators

From an Investigative Sergeant—Helping Sexually Abused Children: A Calling, A Ministry, and a Mission

8 Things You Should Know About Boys Who Are Sexually Abused


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