Archive for the ‘The Emerging Church’ 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

 

 

 

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

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

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

By Warren B. Smith

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

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

When People Say the Shack is Just a Novel

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

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

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

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

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

Paul Young’s Conversations with God

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

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

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

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

Young’s “Christian” Universalism

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

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

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

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

Young the Universalist

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

Who is Paul Young Really Listening To and Conversing With?

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

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

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

Young Publicly Endorses Universal Salvation

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

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

The Trinitarian Lie

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

New Age in the Church

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

What Will the Church Do?

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

Shack, TBN, and the New Age Lie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Shack’s Universal Papa

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

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

Shared Universal Presence

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

Papa as Earth Mother

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

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

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

Papa as Trickster

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

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

Praying to Which Papa?

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

Trickster Book

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Cat Named Judas

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

Heresy and Betrayal

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

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

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

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

A Wonderful and Horrible Betrayal

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

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

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

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

Endnotes

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

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

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

Guest Commentary on Andy Stanley’s Sermon: “Speaking the Way the First Century Christians Did”

Guest Commentary by Don Jasmin
Fundamental Baptist Ministries
Used with permission.

2 second still shot of Andy Stanley from a YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T5KsMLZZoWw. used in accordance with the U.S. Fair Use Act

[The following is a] critical evaluation of a sermon by Dr. Andy Stanley, a leading mega-church Emergent pastor on the above title [“Speaking the Way the First Century Christians Did”], along with a scriptural analysis of how the first century Christians actually did speak.

First of all, this writer has absolutely no qualms or quarrel with the above title. It is an excellent theme that this prominent preacher [Andy Stanley] chose. This preacher fully concurs with the theme Dr. Stanley chose. He fully desires to speak in the same way that the first century Christians chose. His disagreement is with the content and meaning of Dr. Stanley’s sermon, not the title or the theme.

“Speaking the Way the First Century Christians Did”—Dr. Andy Stanley, North Point Community Church, Alpharetta, GA

The above sermon was delivered at “The Drive” Conference, a “three-day gathering of over 2,400 pastors and church leaders from 25 countries and 700 organizations. The sermon was a supposed “call for believers to re-examine and adapt their approach to communicating the Gospel in a culture where Christians are now the minority.”

Dr. Stanley informed the attendees that Christ declared that his disciples would “take the message to every nation and tribe and tongue,” and they did; Christians “became a majority world religion.” But then “we began to speak with an authority that I don’t think Jesus intended, and we’ve lost a bit of our message and our leverage.”

Stanley’s concern was that unless “evangelicals in particular—change their approach  in communicating with unchurched people, [the] followers of Christ will lose their voice and forfeit opportunities to share the Gospel.” Stanley complained that we “sometimes keep people from ever coming close to church” because “we have given culture a lot of other things to argue with us about.” According to Stanley, believers must experience a dramatic shift, if “we are to speak into the culture of a world that needs to know there is a God in heaven” who “has invited each person to call Him Father.”

Stanley claimed that believers “assume a culture that doesn’t exist anymore, where correctness and accuracy no longer are the key delineators. We can’t take the “I’m right…you’re wrong” approach, which is supposedly one of the major obstacles in winning people. Stanley contended that “a major reason for the decline of the church was that we “have focused too much on policing the behavior of outsiders without looking at the inside.” Stanley alleged that love, prayer and caring for one another are not what outsiders see when “people think of the church.”

Stanley claimed that the reason the church “grew in the first century” is because “women were valued . . . children were treasured . . . and slaves attracted” because “everyone was equal before God.” The need of the church is to “go back and speak the way the first century Christian did.”

Now, all of the above statements may seem plausible, but they are actually a run-around-the basic truth Christ exemplified and actually taught. First, the major problem has NEVER been the culture in society, but the condition of sinners.  The great need has NOT been an over-emphasis on the authoritarian scriptures, but an under-emphasis on an authoritative Saviour. The New Testament Christians did NOT “tiptoe through the tulips,” to proclaim the Gospel message.

Furthermore, God is NOT the spiritual FATHER of all human beings. The so-called “Lord’s Prayer,” which  actually is not the Lord’s Prayer (that’s in John 17) in Matt. 6 was given to actual disciples who knew God personally as their Heavenly Father. God is only the “Father” of those who “love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity”—Eph. 6:24.

What Andy Stanley Actually says: How He Speaks [links added by LT]

ABOUT THE BIBLE

“At a conference of ‘pastors and teachers’ at the NewSpring Leadership Conference [NLC] in Sept. 2012, Stanley claimed that ‘Pastors should intentionally give unbelievers permission not to believe and not to obey.’ [Ed: Where does the Scripture give such permission?] He also encouraged pastors to STOP USING THE PHRASE ‘THE BIBLE SAYS’ in sermons because it creates a ‘house of cards’ that is easy to knock down.” –  [Christian Post, September 10, 2012, http://www.christianpost.com/news/andy-stanley-your-approach-to-preaching-can-hinder-your-message-81396, emphasis added]

He further told attendees that we should NOT present to our children that “It’s all or nothing,” since there are parts of the O. T. “that’s almost impossible to defend.”  He encouraged preachers: “Don’t cite the Bible, cite its authors.” We should never “point to the Scripture as a whole,” but only to individuals who were eye-witnesses of Christ’s death and resurrection. – [Ibid, emphasis added]

Stanley also stated that he believes in Christ’s resurrection, but “Not because of B-I-B-L-E.” Stanley said “I don’t know what happened to dinosaurs, and I don’t know anything about Adam and Eve, but I believe Jesus rose from the dead.” – [Ibid, emphasis added]

ABOUT THE VIRGIN BIRTH OF CHRIST

In a sermon on Dec. 3, 2016, Stanley minimized the Virgin Birth of Christ: “A lot of people don’t believe it, and I understand that.” “Maybe the thought is, they had to come up with some kind of myth about the birth of Jesus to give him street cred later on. Maybe that’s where that came from.” [Christian Today: https://www.christiantoday.com/article/megachurch.pastor.andy.stanley.claims.christianity.doesnt.hinge.on.birth.of.jesus.sparking.controversy/103385.htm]

ABOUT HOMOSEXUALITY

In Apr. 2015, Andy Stanley spoke at the “Catalyst West” at Mariners Church in Irvine, CA where he stated that “the local church should be the ‘safest place on the planet for students to talk about anything, including same-sex attraction.”  Stanley declared: “We just need to decide, regardless of what you think about this topic—no more students are going to feel like they have to leave the local church because they’re same-sex attracted or because they’re gay . . . that ends with us.” –  [Christian Post, April 18, 2015, http://www.christianpost.com/news/andy-stanley-churches-should-be-safest-place-on-the-planet-for-gay-youth-137739/] [*LT Note: What struggling confused teenagers need is the same as what all people need—that is to realize their sinfulness and need for a Savior, repent and believe in and turn to Jesus Christ by faith, receiving His salvation through grace, asking Him to take over their lives, live inside them, and change them into what He desires for their lives. Providing a “safe” place for teens who are confused about their sexuality is only a truly safe place if it provides them with biblically honest and accurate answers regarding their sin and the solution to that sin.]

ARE THE ABOVE STATEMENTS THE WAY THE FIRST CENTURY CHRISTIANS SPOKE?  READ THE STATEMENTS BELOW TO DISCOVER THE FACTS!

THE WAY THE FIRST CENTURY CHRISTIANS ACTUALLY SPAKE

  1. The first Century believers spoke FAITHFULLY. They never compromised the Gospel doctrines for fear of the opposition and persecution such preaching would bring to their lives. Acts. 8:4 states that “they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word.” They never toned down the Gospel truths simply because it might offend some radical Jews. In I Cor. 4:2, the Apostle Paul stated that “it is required in stewards that a man be found faithful.”
  2. The first Century Christians spoke FREELY. The first century believers did NOT “hide their light under a bushel” or “tiptoe through the tulips” as many modern compromising Emergent and professing New-Evangelical Christians do.

Acts 4:13 states that when the unbelieving Jews “saw the BOLDNESS of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled; and they took knowledge of them that they had been with Jesus.” Acts 5:32 states that these first century Christians “daily in the temple, and in every house . . . ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.”

These early first century Christians did not withhold major biblical truths about Christ’s atonement and resurrection because they were afraid they might offend some potential hearers.  With the Apostle Paul, there was no “cover-up” of the truth because he was afraid it would offend his hearers. Paul boldly declared in Acts 20:20-21 that I kept back nothing that was profitable to you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house, Testifying both to the Jews, and to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.”

  1. The first Century saints spoke FERVENTLY: “Life Style Evangelism” and a soft non-“conversational” non-controversial tone was NOT the Gospel these early first century believers proclaimed. These first century saints proclaimed the Gospel message with mighty AUTHORITY & POWER. The Holy Ghost had truly “come upon” them, so that they became bold witnesses wherever they traversed. They were mighty witnesses “both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth—Acts 1:8.”

Finally, it should be noted that the first century Christians spoke (a) authoritatively: “For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God—Acts 20:27: (b) affectionately: “for the love of Christ constraineth me…II Cor. 5:14a”; (c) Annointedly: “who he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God—II Cor. 1:21.”

CONCLUSION

Let’s truly speak like the first century Christians spoke, not like Andy Stanley and the worldly emergent Christians and the New-Evangelical imitators do today. In Acts chapter two, the Apostle Peter preached a classic sermon dealing with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ based on Ps. 16:8-11, where he spoke “freely” about David’s decease—Acts 2:29—and Christ’s resurrection—Acts 2:30-36.

Social Justice Emergent Jim Wallis and SoJourners Presents World Change Through Faith and Justice Summit

LTRP Note: The force behind this event that took place in June is Jim Wallis and his organization SoJourners. To understand the socialist, anti-biblical roots of this effort, read Mary Danielsen’s article/booklet What You Need to Know About Jim Wallis and the Social-Justice Gospel. It is important to  be aware of events such as the one described below because this is what the younger generations are being drawn into, and many of these young people are coming from Christian homes. The result is, they leave their biblical faith and exchange it for an anti-Christian lie. Your children, your grandchildren are being targeted. Also because environmentalism plays a huge role in this “new” spirituality, read Roger Oakland’s article/booklet A Christian Perspective on the Environment.

Submitted by a researcher and a Lighthouse Trails reader

On June 21-23, 2017, an event took place in Washington, DC called The Healing + Resistance Summit: World Change through Faith and Justice.  The Summit is organized by Jim Wallis’ Sojourners Ministries and Magazine:  https://sojo.net/.  While many Christians do attend this Summit and while the stated purpose of Sojourners Ministries does use some Christian terms (erroneously) when talking about the “biblical” call to social justice and the need for “Christians” to “act on their faith” to bring world peace and justice,  Sojourners and their Summit is anything but biblical.  Jesus’ work on the Cross is not mentioned.  Man’s need for a personal Savior because of our fallen state and sinfulness is not addressed either.  Instead, Sojourners’ Healing + Resistance Summit believes that men and women can and should unite together to transform individuals, communities, the church, and the world in order to achieve justice and peace.  There is a strong contemplative emphasis (Yoga, centering prayer, body prayer, and spiritual direction) and ecumenical and interfaith emphases and participation as well.

According to the Sojourners Ministries website, the following is the mission and vision of Sojourners:
Mission

“The mission of Sojourners is to articulate the biblical call to social justice, to inspire hope and build a movement to transform individuals, communities, the church, and the world.

Vision
We envision a future in which Christians put their faith into action in the passionate pursuit of social justice, peace, and environmental stewardship, working in partnership with people of other perspectives, for the common good of communities, families and individuals. We articulate that vision, convene and mobilize constituencies, and build alliances for effective advocacy.”
https://sojo.net/about-us/who-we-are

According to Sojourner’s The Healing + Resistance Summit 2017 promotional video, 300 activists, leaders, artists, and others gathered together in June to find new solutions toward justice as the world becomes more and more unjust.  The Summit investigates the power of healing and resistance through exploring 5 themes, which are:

(1)  the power of story to mend gaps
(2)  truthtelling and ordering the world around truth
(3)  resistance of the “normalization of injustice” by the faithful
(4)  disruption of injustice in systems, which means reimagining and rebuilding the institutions of government, business, and church where injustice exists
(5)  healing because “sustainable dissent must also include reconciliation with our bodies, our relationships, and our God”
The purpose of the Summit is to give individuals a clear vision on how to fight injustice.
https://summitforchange.com/

Some sessions from the Healing + Resistance Summit 2017 are:
Morning Yoga

“Yoga is an ancient mind-body practice that compliments any faith tradition. In a Christian context, yoga can be understood as “body prayer.” Join us for an hour of centering the mind, heart, and body through body movement and breath work. You’ll enjoy gentle stretching and intentional breathing as a way of bringing your whole self in service to God.”
Morning Centering
“A spiritual director and a featured artist will guide us into a grounded, prayerful space.”
Spiritual Direction Sessions
“Spiritual direction is an ancient spiritual discipline in which persons are assisted in observing God’s presence and work in their lives. A spiritual director offers a listening, open, prayerful presence to another while they walk together with God. Most simply, a spiritual director “listens to God on a person’s behalf.”
All participants are invited to engage one of our spiritual directors at The Summit.”
Praying with the Body
“We will learn several body prayer techniques and somatic and neuro‐kinetic exercises that will allow us to connect to centering breath, to release the mind, and to balance the nervous system. By entering into sacred movement we will allow for our bodies to usher us into a deeper experience with God.”
“Faiths” for Climate Action
“Religious‐environmentalism is now poised to evolve to a new level of reach and impact, with local faith communities coming together to join the new “glocal” (global‐local) climate and environmental movement. This session will trace key factors in the development of the religious‐environmental movement, analyze the current context, and offer a vision for the movement’s future that creates opportunities for holistic eco‐discipleship that will represent a foundation for church development in the anthropocene era.”
Courageous Conversations
“The profound level of global conflict, the apocalyptic disruptions in human and civil rights, and the vitriolic tensions in the U.S. call us to confront the power of our spiritual practices and strengthen our capacity to hold conversations and create dialogue across our different experiences. In order for us to continue creating the Beloved Community, we must increase our ability to listen, hear, understand, analyze, and empathize with those who possess different social identities and worldviews.”
Climate Justice
Global Peace
LBGTQIA
Racial Justice
Disability Justice

https://summitforchange.com/schedule/

REPRESENTATIVES FROM THESE ORGANIZATIONS PARTICIPATED IN THE SUMMIT
Interfaith
Baha’is of the United States
U.S. Bahá’í Office of Public Affairs
Friends Commitee on National Legislation (Quaker)
Equal Exchange Interfaith Program
Interfaith Connections TV show
Parliament of the World’s Religions
Interfaith Power & Light (DC.MD.NoVA)
Interfaith Youth Core
Wild Goose Festival

Catholic
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
Sisters of Mercy of the Americas (Catholic)
Madonna University

Political
Congressman Joe Kennedy III, D-MA

University President
Georgetown University, President

Evangelical Christian
Kathy Khang, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA
Church World Service
Christ Ministry Center
North American Assn of Christians in Social Work (NACSW)
Progressive National Baptist Convention
National Council of Churches USA
Christian Churches Together in the USA
American Baptist International Ministries
Willow Creek Community Church
World Relief

Environmental
GreenFaith
Honor the Earth; Sacred Pipe Resource Center

Bono’s Organization
Bono’s THE ONE Campaign
https://summitforchange.com/schedule/   (Click on Attendees for full list.)

INFORMATION ON SOME OF THE SUMMIT LEADERS
Phileena Heurertz

*During the Summit, Phileena led Morning Yoga and was one of the leaders of the Spiritual Direction sessions.
Background Info
“Phileena Heuertz is an author, speaker, spiritual director, retreat guide and yoga instructor.”
“founding partner” of Gravity – a center for contemplative activism with her huband, Christopher Heuretz
” A member of the New Friar movement”
“Phileena has led contemplative retreats for a number of faith communities including: Word Made Flesh, World Vision International, Compassion International, as well as non-faith and interfaith groups in leading cities across the nation.”
“certified spiritual director in the Ignatian contemplative evocative method.”
“She is  a board member emeritus for Duke Divinity School’s Center for Reconciliation and board member for Richard Rohr’s Center for Action and Contemplation.”
http://phileena.com/biography/
https://gravitycenter.com/learn/community/founders/

Jenny Yang, Vice President of Advocacy and Policy at World Relief
*During the Summit, Jenny Yang was one of the leaders on the Core Conversation of Healing.
Background Info
Speaker at The Justice Conference 17 at Willow Creek Community Church, IF Gathering, ERLC and Focus on the Family’s Evangelicals for Life 17 in DC
Schedule:  https://www.jennyhyang.com/speaking/
“Chair of the Refugee Council USA (RCUSA) Africa Work Group, and was named one of the “50 Women to Watch” by Christianity Today”
https://www.jennyhyang.com/

Amena Brown
*During the Summit, Amena Brown was one of the leaders of the Core Conversations session on Story, and co-led Morning Centering.
Background Info
Speaker and performer at The Justice Conference 17 at Willow Creek, IF Gathering, and MOPS’ MOMcon Conference
“performed and spoken at events across the nation such as The RightNow Conference, Creativity World Forum, Catalyst Conference, Chick-fil-A Leadercast, as well as touring with Gungor.”
http://www.amenabrown.com/about/

Sojourners has already determined that the dates for its next Summit will be June 13-15, 2018 in Washington, DC.

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

“Is Lighthouse Trails Haters?”

LTRP Note: Recently, we sent out a Special Note to our readers asking you to pray for us as we have been undergoing extra pressures from forces that wanted to see Lighthouse Trails come to an end. While we can’t say that all pressure has been relieved, we can say that God has answered your prayers in a number of ways, mostly in that He lifted us up, encouraged us, and strengthened us. In addition, we were reminded, once again, that we (and all believers) are in a battle, and though we at times grow weary, we are assured through His Word that He will not leave us or forsake us, and He said in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “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.” How grateful we are for those wonderful words of promise and hope.

We know there are those who believe Lighthouse Trails editors and authors are haters. Lately, we have been again made aware of this and were reminded of something that took place eight years ago. In May of 2009, we wrote an article titled “Calvary Chapel Termination Has Profound Implications.” The article was a special report detailing Calvary Chapel (CCOF) firing Chuck Smith’s brother, Paul Smith. Our article began with:

Lighthouse Trails regrets to report that on May 5th, Paul Smith, brother of Chuck Smith (the founder of the Calvary Chapel movement), was fired from his position in the Calvary Chapel (CCOF) organization during an unscheduled meeting that day. The motion to fire Paul Smith was made by board member Roger Wing and seconded by Chuck Smith’s son-in-law, Brian Broderson. Other board members affirmed the motion, and Paul Smith was dismissed.

Within hours of Paul Smith being fired, we talked to him, asking for permission to write the story. Paul had been working hard to keep the emerging church out of Calvary Chapel, but he was coming up against brick walls. Shortly after his dismissal, a youth event put on by Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa called Movement 2009 was scheduled to take place. Thousands of young people were expected to attend. The reason Paul was trying to intervene in the event was because Mike Erre, an influential emergent author, was the scheduled speaker. Lighthouse Trails had exposed Erre’s emergent leanings in a review of his book, Death by Church. However, Paul Smith was fired a few weeks before the event took place, which then prevented him from having any say in the matter.

Movement 2009 took place, and Mike Erre spoke to several thousand youth. During the event, one of the organizers of the event stood in front of the crowd and said that “the haters tried to stop us, but they didn’t.” We knew they were speaking about Lighthouse Trails (and probably Paul Smith). In response to this idea that Lighthouse Trails is “haters,” author and researcher Ray Yungen wrote a letter to our readers. In view of increased pressure on us lately, we wanted to repost Ray’s letter, answering the question, “Is Lighthouse Trails haters?”

“Is Lighthouse Trails Haters?”

By Ray Yungen

Recently, at a large Christian youth event, Lighthouse Trails was indirectly referred to as “haters” because of our articles and books exposing the emerging church movement. We realize that many people think ministries like Lighthouse Trails are mean-spirited, hateful, and derive pleasure from causing trouble for others.

On the contrary, what motivates and drives Lighthouse Trails is a sense of duty to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We see that being the issue at stake.

Right now, there is a struggle going on for what the church of the future will look like. Karl Rahner once said the Christian of the future will be a mystic or he or she will not exist at all. The question must be asked (and answered): Is this really a good thing? Will mysticism lead to a Christianity that is more vibrant and in harmony with the will of God?

When one looks at the writings of those such as Henri Nouwen, Thomas Merton, Thomas Keating, etc., one finds that this mysticism is rooted firmly in a spiritual understanding more in-tune with Buddhism and Hinduism that with the writings of the apostles in the Bible.

Thomas Merton said:

It is a glorious destiny to be a member of the human race, … now I realize what we all are…. If only they [people] could all see themselves as they really are … I suppose the big problem would be that we would fall down and worship each other…. At the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusions, a point of pure truth…. This little point … is the pure glory of God in us. It is in everybody. (A Time of Departing, p. 59)

This is identical to what is called in New Age spirituality, the higher self. Over the last few decades there has been an ever-increasing number of individuals in Christianity that draw on and promote persons such as Thomas Merton and Henri Nouwen. The mission at Lighthouse Trails is to point out that if the church goes in the same mystical direction as these individuals, it will ultimately embrace the spiritual perceptions such as the one just stated. If that sounds implausible, take a look at the spiritual life of Sue Monk Kidd (author of The Secret Life of Bees).

Monk Kidd was at one time a conservative Southern Baptist Sunday school teacher. But after she was introduced to the writings of Thomas Merton, she branched out and began embracing contemplative practices and her spirituality dramatically changed. Eventually, it led her to say that God dwells in everything, even excrement and graffiti.

At Lighthouse Trails, we are not motivated by hate for people but rather by love and concern. We believe, with everything in us, that man’s only hope lies in Jesus Christ and the free gift of salvation offered to those who believe and accept it. And we also believe that contemplative/emerging spirituality leads man away from that Gospel not toward it. This is why we do what we do.

Ray Yungen
Lighthouse Trails author

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


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