Archive for the ‘Christian Organizations’ Category

KIDS AT RISK: Letter to the Editor: AWANA Continuing Down the Emergent Road

Dear Lighthouse Trails:

A while back I alerted you to the fact that Awana was joining forces with Josh Griffin who was the youth pastor for Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church. Josh Griffin is also associated with Youth Specialties, an organization that promotes occult [contemplative] practices to youth.

Awana - Kids at Risk

bigstockphoto

Unfortunately, Awana is continuing down the emergent road. Here are some examples:

1. On February 22, 2017, Steve Kozak, the executive director of Awana YM, (Youth Ministries) wrote a blog post encouraging youth leaders to promote Lent. Lent is very popular among those in the emerging church. Wikipedia says “The purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer through prayer, doing penance, mortifying the flesh, repentance of sins, and self-denial.”(1) Kozak in his blog said, “Teach your students to go without, so that they can experience an overflowing of Christ.”(2) Nowhere in the Bible is the practice of Lent mentioned.

2. On April 6, 2017, Awana YM held a youth leaders round table event at Bill Hybels’ Willow Creek Community Church. Participants were Josh Griffin, Sean McDowell, Dr. Larry Acosta, Elizabeth Bjorling Prest, Steve Kozak, (Director of Awana Youth Ministries) and Ryan Guard, (Director of Student Impact at Willow Creek Community Church.)(3)

3. Awana is promoting several books that they feel youth group leaders should be reading. The following books are a compilation from two different blog posts. I am not familiar with all the authors, but I know many of these authors to be troubling.

The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen [recommended by Sean McDowell]
The Celtic Way of Evangelism by George G. Hunter
The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard
Bloom Where You’re Planted by H.B. London
Purpose Driven Youth Ministry by Doug Fields with a forward by Rick Warren, published by Youth Specialties/Zondervan
Your First Two Years In Youth Ministry By Doug Fields, published by Youth Specialties/Zondervan
Sustainable Youth Ministry by Mark Devries
Sticky Faith by Kara E. Powell, (Who spoke at the Youth Specialties National Convention) and co-authored by Chap Clark
Growing Young by Kara E. Powell, Jake Mulder and Brad Griffin
Leading With a Limp by Dan Allender
St. Augustine’s City of God (St. Augustine is very popular in the Emerging Church Movement)
Christian Origins of the Question of God (4 Volumes by N.T. Wright
The Holy Wild by Mark Buchanan(4)

Sincerely, L.F.

Footnotes:
1. Lent- Wikipedia: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lent
2. Awana YM Lent: More Than Giving Up by Steve Kozak, February 22,2017 https://awanaym.org/blog/lent-more-than-giving-up
3. Awana YM
https://awanaym.org/events/youth-leaders-round-table-4-6-2017
4. Awana YM
(1)Books Youth Leaders Should Be Reading
April 7,2017; https://awanaym.org/blog/5-books-youth-leaders-should-be-reading

(2)Must Have Books For Every Youth Leader by Steve Kozak July 20,1017
https://awanaym.org/blog/6-must-have-books-for-every-youth-leader

Related Information:

Letter to the Editor: AWANA Now Teaching Children to Hear the Voice of God

A History of AWANA’s Contemplative Track Record and the Implications of Their New CEO

Revisting Awana’s Move Toward Contemplative – And Another Look at “Perspectives on Children’s Spiritual Formation

Taizé Worship – Growing in Popularity, But Roots Are in Mystical Monasticism

Taizé Worship Service

Taizé Community in France during a worship service (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons; copyright owner: Damir Jelic; used with permission)

By Chris Lawson
(Author of Taizé: A Community and Worship: Ecumenical Reconciliation or an Interfaith Delusion?)

The worship practiced at Taizé has attracted many people from around the globe and from many different denominations. While many of the words found in Taizé worship music are words found in Scripture or words that do not necessarily contradict Scripture, the Taizé songs and worship services themselves are centered around contemplative, ecumenical, and oftentimes emergent spirituality themes. The emphasis is not on the teaching or exhortation of the Word of God but rather is to help participants “experience” God through sensory-focused music and singing. A church association in the UK describes the Taizé worship style as such:

The contemplative worship practices of the Taizé community are promoted at an annual international conference. Taizé worship is being incorporated in a wide variety of churches, both Protestant and Catholic and its pattern of devotion is emulated in other monastic communities around the world.

A Taizé worship service involves sung and chanted prayers, meditation, a period of silence, liturgical readings, and use of candles. There is no preaching. The style of prayer practiced at Taizé has attracted many worshippers from around the globe and from many different denominations.1

The main focus on the Taizé worship is the chanted prayers, meditations, and songs. However, the Bible warns against such practices:

[W]hen ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. (Matthew 6:7-8)

The Contemplative Network, an online resource for those interested in meditative prayer practices, describes Taizé worship and prayer like this:

For those familiar with Taizé common prayer, but unfamiliar with Centering Prayer practices, they will discover that they grow from the same root of seeking to surrender the mind and heart to the intimate presence of God. They share the same spirit of ancient monastic traditions to open space to let the Word of God reverberate in all its dimensions. Those who have tasted of this open space during the silent period of a Taizé common prayer service may find themselves well disposed to explore related contemplative practices such as Lectio Divina and Centering Prayer.2

The Taizé worship is not based on the objective Word of God but rather offers spiritual experiences that are subjectively appealing to the flesh. In Scripture, we are instructed to build up the inner spiritual man and to resist the carnality of the flesh (Ephesians 3:16, Romans 8:1-16).

Jesus Christ instructed His disciples that they should not use repetitive prayers (chanting) like the heathen (New Agers, pagans, etc.) do. Anytime experience is given higher regard than God’s Word, it puts followers at risk of becoming victim to deception and even dangerous spiritual realms. Mystical and esoteric experiences are subjective, meaning they are not founded on anything solid or concrete. It is the Word of God (the Bible) that is to be our steering mechanism through life. Consider these verses that show the importance of the Word of God. You won’t find any verses giving credence to seeking after mystical experiences:

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. (Psalm 119:9)

Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (John 8:31-32)

Taizé Worship Influenced by Catholic Prayers

The repetitive Taizé songs are influenced by the Roman Catholic notion that a person needs to say a certain amount of repeated prayers in order for them to be enough (e.g., the Catholic works mentality—which dictates that one must do enough works to reduce the time in Purgatory).

An example in Roman Catholicism would be the Rosary—a droning repetition of the same set of prayers, something like this: six repetitions of Our Father, fifty repetitions of the Hail Marys, and three repetitions of the Glory-be prayers. These repetitive prayers are usually said before or after mid-week Masses.

Jesus said, when asked about how to pray, to only pray to God (not Mary or saints or angels) and to not repeat the same prayers over and over again like the pagans “for they think they shall be heard for their much speaking.”

Six different Psalms tell us to sing a new song unto the Lord, but not one tells us to chant. Now Psalm 136 is unique in that it uses the refrain “his mercy endureth for ever,” but this is not a chant in that each refrain is a response to a different statement. So, unlike the psalms, the Catholic uses endless repetition out of guilt (in doing penance) or to be heard by God or from the sense that the Taizé songs are sung to allow participants to go into mind-altering trance-like states.

Taizé Worship Practices Similar to New Age Meditation

Sadly, many of the spiritual experiences occurring during Taizé worship services are similar to what takes place during New Age meditation. The following quote is from Lacy Clark Ellman, author of the New Age website, A Sacred Journey. Her quote is from “Inside the Taizé Community: An Interview with Brother Emile.” The processes (i.e., techniques) she mentions are reminiscent of many transformative occult practices. Regarding Taizé worship, Ellman explains:

Singing their [Taizé monks] chants left me transported—centering me, bringing me peace, and thus opening me up to the Sacred. I’ve been known to describe it as the perfect combination of the contemplative and charismatic—the words simple and liturgical in nature, with the repetition making space for the Sacred Guide to enter. . . .

Instead of trying to facilitate an experience with bright lights and catchy songs, the [Taizé] brothers invite visitors into their own experience—a rhythmic practice of chants, reading, and [meditative] silence in languages found across the globe. They didn’t explain what was going on or how to participate, apart from a board that displayed which song was to be sung next.3 (emphasis added)

The problem with this explanation is that occultists (shamans, sorcerers, witches, etc.) and New Age practitioners around the globe are receiving similar experiences, in varying forms, through spirit contact via spiritualism, séances, channeling, etc. So too, non-Christians enter varying levels of voluntary and involuntary possession states using this same process.

Instead of encouraging Christian worship settings that provide for a clear understanding of sound biblical preaching and teaching of the Bible, Taizé worship services provide a fast track to spiritual experience via unbiblical forms of prayer, meditation, and silence. In many cases, they bypass the Bible altogether. In settings like this where anything goes—chanting, centering down to enter “the silence,” lengthy repetitive singing, and meditative/altered states—any form of spirit contact can occur.

Considering these things, it is of utmost importance that Christians heed this biblical warning:

Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils. (1 Timothy 4:1)

When people are not being taught the Bible and warned about the dangers of false doctrine and non-biblical practices, they will inevitably, in mystical Taizé type settings, end up under the influence of deceiving spirits. As the above passage describes, strong delusion will overtake them. This is no small problem as it is running rampant in the church throughout the world.
The true Christian has only one option at this point, and that is to obey Scripture and separate from those who bring teachings contrary to the Word of God.

Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple. (Romans 16:17-18; emphasis added)

(This is an excerpt from Chris Lawson’s book Taizé: A Community and Worship: Ecumenical Reconciliation or an Interfaith Delusion?)

Endnotes:

1. The Cornilo Churches, UK (http://www.cornilochurches.org.uk/taiz.htm).
2. The Contemplative Network, “Prayer With the Songs of Taizé (http://www.contemplative.net/prayer-with-songs-taize-t-1_43.html).
3. “Inside the Taizé Community: An Interview with Brother Emile” (http://www.asacredjourney.net/2013/08/taize).

Ten Questions for Those Who Claim the “Supreme Beings” of the Nations are the True God

By Sandy Simpson

When did ANY of the Patriarchs and Prophets in the Old Testament and the apostles or Jesus Christ in the New Testament ever claim that the “supreme beings” of the nations were Elohim/YHWH, the one True God? And yet, this very thing is being taught by popular figures within the Christian church today.

I have ten questions for the World Christian Gathering of Indigenous People (WCGIP) adherents such as Don Richardson, Daniel Kikawa, the late Richard Twiss, Terry LeBlanc, Danny Lehman, Aloha Ke Akua, YWAM as well as many in the Emergent Church (EC). The questions arise from their claim that the “supreme beings” of the nations are all the True God, YHWH, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I have included Scripture verses with each of the following questions, and the footnotes provide further documentation.

 10 Questions with Scriptural Answers

1. Did Abraham claim that the God who called him from Haran was the same as the god Baal of the Canaanites?

So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran. (Genesis 12:4; emphasis added)

The word for “LORD” in the above verse is YHWH, the name of God, the I Am. Baal was a false god of the Caananites, not YHWH. The “supreme beings” of Canaan were actually a polytheistic couple, Baal and Asherah, as in all ancient cultures modeled after the false religion of Nimrod and Semiramis at Babel.1

2. Did Joseph, upon being taken to Egypt, tell the Pharaoh they had always been worshipping the true God by the name of Amen (Amon)?

The LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, saith; Behold, I will punish the multitude of No, and Pharaoh, and Egypt, with their gods, and their kings; even Pharaoh, and all them that trust in him. (Jeremiah 46:25)

The God of Israel, thus the God of Joseph, said He would bring punishment on the false “supreme being” of the Egyptians and the leaders who worshipped it. The “supreme beings” of Egypt were Amen and Mut.2

3. Did Moses, after going up to the mountain of God, come down and tell Israel their worship of the Golden Calf was good because it was the same as the worship of YHWH?

[T]hey have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. (Exodus 32:8)

The golden calf is contrasted against the true God of Israel by Moses. Interestingly, the golden calf was not only an idol meant to take the place of YHWH, but it was a symbol of the Pharaoh who was considered a “god” by the Egyptians.

I have established that the only god specifically called a “Golden Calf” by the ancient Egyptians in their writings is Pharaoh in the Old Kingdom Pyramid Texts (these texts exist into later New Kingdom times in reworked formats). In these texts, Pharaoh calls himself a “Golden Calf,” born of heaven, who wishes to be allowed to board the sacred solar bark or boat, which carries the Sun god each day across the heavens. Pharaoh was called “Son of the Sun” and in New Kingdom times “the Sun,” in letters from Canaanite princes addressed to Pharaoh Akhenaten (reigned ca. 1350-1334 BCE).3

So Israel wanted to go back to Egypt and back under the rule of Pharaoh who was to be worshipped as a “god.”

4. Did Joshua, in conquering the nations in Canaan, claim that Baal was the True God?

And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died, being an hundred and ten years old. And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnath-heres, in the mount of Ephraim, on the north side of the hill Gaash. And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the LORD, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel. And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim: and they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked the LORD to anger. And they forsook the LORD, and served Baal and Ashtaroth. (Judges 2:8-13)

During the time of Joshua, the people of Israel worshipped the true God, by in large. But a generation after Joshua died turned away from YHWH to the worship of Baal & Ashtoreth. The “supreme beings” of Canaan were the Baals and Asherahs.4

5. Did Elijah test the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel just for a good laugh because Baal was really the True God?

And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word. (1 Kings 18:21)

The whole conflict was between the false god Baal and the true God, YHWH. Postmodern “progressive” inclusivists of today would have never had this showdown. It would have shown that inclusivism is garbage. The “supreme beings” of Canaan were the Baals and Asherahs.5

6. Did Jonah tell the people of Nineveh to repent to their god el, who was not Elohim but the consort of Athirat?

Now the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me. (Jonah 1:1-2)

And the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time, saying, Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee. So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days’ journey. And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown. So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. (Jonah 3:1-5)

Anytime you see the word “LORD” in capitals in English Bibles, it is the word “YHWH.” YHWH sent Jonah to Nineveh, and when they heard that God was going to judge them, they repented. Jonah then got angry because they were Gentiles who worshipped false gods.

The origin of the name Nineveh is obscure. Possibly it meant originally the seat of Ishtar, since Nina was one of the Babylonian names of that goddess.6

El and Athirat were the “supreme beings” of Ninevah.7 They were not worshipping the “El” Who is YHWH but a generic singular El which means “god.” They were continuing in the polytheistic worship of Babel which was the worship of a male and female supreme beings.

7. Did David tell the Philistines to continue to worship the god Dagon because he was the same as YHWH?

And when the men of Ashdod saw that it was so, they said, The ark of the God of Israel shall not abide with us: for his hand is sore upon us, and upon Dagon our god. (1 Samuel 5:7)

The statue of Dagon fell twice in the presence of the Ark of the Covenant, and the men of Ashdod admitted that their god was different from the God of Israel. The “supreme beings” of the Philistines were Dagon and Derceto.8 Emergent inclusivists of today would say that since Dagon was a “supreme being,” he was the true God, and they would get Bible translation societies to include his name in the Ashdod Bible.9

8. Did Daniel tell king Nebuchadnezzar to continue the worship of Marduk as the One True God?

The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar: and he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles’ feathers, and his nails like birds’ claws. And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation: and all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou? At the same time my reason returned unto me; and for the glory of my kingdom, mine honour and brightness returned unto me; and my counsellors and my lords sought unto me; and I was established in my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added unto me. Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase. (Daniel 4:33-37)

Nebuchadnezzar had to be taught a lesson by the LORD (YHWH) so he would be humbled and recognize who the True God was. He had built a ninety foot statue either of himself, Nimrod, or Marduk since Marduk is a direct link to the worship of Nimrod. The “supreme beings” of Babylon were Marduk and Astarte (continued worship of Nimrod and Semiramis).10

9. Did Ezra and Nehemiah ask the Persians if they could rebuild the Temple as a tribute to the Persian god Ahura Mazda?

The vessels also that are given thee for the service of the house of thy God, those deliver thou before the God of Jerusalem. (Ezra 7:19)

The king Artaxerxes ordered that the temple implements be returned so they could eventually rebuild the temple of the “God of Jerusalem.” This was not for the Persian gods but for the True God. The gods of the Persians were Ahura Mazda and Spenta Armaiti.11

10. Did Paul use a clever missiological technique by telling the Greeks that God is Zeus, or the Romans that He is Jupiter or the Ephesians that He is embodied in Artemis?

And when the people saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in the speech of Lycaonia, The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men. And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercurius, because he was the chief speaker. Then the priest of Jupiter, which was before their city, brought oxen and garlands unto the gates, and would have done sacrifice with the people. Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out, and saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein: who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways. Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness. And with these sayings scarce restrained they the people, that they had not done sacrifice unto them. (Acts 14:11-18)

This situation is entirely consistent with Paul teaching over and over again that the Gentiles “do not know God.” Paul was there to bring them the Gospel, not to syncretize their own god with the God of the Bible. This is exactly what he did in Aereopogus also when he explained to them Who the “Unknown God” was, and most of them did not want to hear the truth.

Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods. (Galatians 4:8)

For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. (1 Corinthians. 1:21)

Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. (1 John 3:1)

And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient. (Romans 1:28)

[N]ot in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God. (1 Thessalonians 4:5)

. . . that at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: but now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. (Ephesians 2:12-13)

[I]n flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8)

The “supreme beings” of the Greeks were Zeus and Hera, though Zeus had a number of other consorts spawning a pantheon of gods.12 Jupiter and Juno were the “supreme beings” of Rome, again spawning a pantheon of other gods.13 Artemis was a virgin goddess, never married, but was the daughter of Zeus and Leto.14

IN CONCLUSION
The obvious answer to the questions above, both from the Bible and historical records, is a resounding “No.”

. . . that ye come not among these nations, these that remain among you; neither make mention of the name of their gods, nor cause to swear by them, neither serve them, nor bow yourselves unto them. (Joshua 23:7)

For all the gods of the nations are idols: but the LORD made the heavens. (Psalm 96:5)

For all people will walk every one in the name of his god, and we will walk in the name of the LORD our God for ever and ever. (Micah 4:5)

The LORD will be terrible unto them: for he will famish all the gods of the earth; and men shall worship him, every one from his place, even all the isles of the heathen. (Zephaniah 2:11)

There is only one Name (Jesus Christ) under heaven by which men may be saved.

Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)

And yet present-day false teachers claim a person can be saved by “general revelation” of “God” without the revelation of Jesus Christ.

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

This is abundantly clear in the books, messages, and DVDs put out by such teachers on this subject and now in the book by Don Richardson called Heaven Wins. The WCGIP and EC false teachers also cannot answer the many verses in the Bible, which state that the Gentiles “did not know God.” This type of teaching constitutes a grand delusion in the last-days apostasy and a new radical Replacement Theology where the one True God of the Bible is replaced with “supreme beings” from all cultures and Israel is replaced by all the nations. This heresy has even helped Bible translation societies to put the names of the false gods of the nations into the Bible! That’s how dangerous such teaching is. It undermines the very Gospel of Jesus Christ itself and puts at risk the eternity of millions of souls.

(This article is from Sandy Simpson’s booklet of the same title. It is available through Lighthouse Trails.)

Endnotes:
1. See http://home.comcast.net/~chris.s/canaanite-faq.html.
2. See http://socsci.colorado.edu/LAB/GODS.
3. See http://www.bibleorigins.net/EgyptianOriginsGoldenCalf.html.
4. See http://home.comcast.net/~chris.s/canaanite-faq.html.
5. See http://home.comcast.net/~chris.s/canaanite-faq.html.
6. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nineveh.
7. See http://ancienthistory.about.com/library/weekly/aa102197.htm.
8. See http://voices.yahoo.com/biblical-overview-history-philistines-1952417.html.
9. See http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/GenericandSpecific and also http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=8655.
10. See http://home.comcast.net/~chris.s/assyrbabyl-faq.html.
11. Sarah Iles Johnston, Ancient Religions (Harvard University Press, 2009), p. 199.
12. See http://www.csun.edu/~hcfll004/zeusgirl.html.
13. See http://gwydir.demon.co.uk/jo/roman.
14. See http://www.theoi.com/Olympios/Artemis.html.

Note: For more information on the false polytheistic gods of ancient times, read my article “Monotheism in Ancient Cultures is Virtually Nonexistent” at: http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/monotheisminancientcultures.html. It is important to note that in virtually every culture from Babel on, the “supreme beings” were not monotheistic gods but rather male/female pairings patterned on the worship of Nimrod and Semiramis of Babel. Also note that every one of these “supreme beings” spawned a pantheon of other false gods to be worshipped.

SOZO – Climbing Up Another Way – Is There A Spiritual Ladder to the Lap of “Father God”?

LTRP Note: Today, a caller asked us if we had any information on SOZO. While we have had inquiries about SOZO in the past, we have never posted anything about it. Below is an article from The Berean Call discussing the origins and nature of SOZO. If you know someone who is getting involved with this, please pass this article on to them.

“Climbing Up Another Way – Is There A Spiritual Ladder to the Lap of ‘Father God’?”

By Mark Dinsmore (The Berean Call)

History and Structure of Sozo

“SOZO” is a psycho-spiritual deliverance and inner healing methodology birthed out of Bethel Church in Redding, California. But though the Bethel Sozo website banner says, “[A] Ministry of Bethel Church,” the FAQ section disclaims, “The Sozo staff are independent contractors and are not Bethel Church Staff.” Apparently for legal reasons, no one wants to call this “counseling” or “therapy.” Rather, they simply call it “healing prayer” (and yet, they strongly recommend a suggested donation for receiving “prayer” for which recipients (“Sozoees”) must first sign a waiver.

For background, it is interesting to note that Bethel was once an Assemblies of God (AG) church, and Bill Johnson was an AG pastor; but he led his flock out of AG in 2006 to jump into the NAR/River Revival movement. Johnson is now a self-appointed “apostle,” and his church is now a part of his own “Revival Alliance” network, co-founded with Che Ahn (Harvest Rock Church, Pasadena, CA) and John Arnott (Catch the Fire Toronto; formerly Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship; formerly Toronto Airport Vineyard Church).

Although Sozo got its start at Bethel, other Sozo groups have spun off, such as The Freedom Resource (TFR). Headed by author and executive director Andy Reese, TFR publishes its own manuals and presentations on how to use Sozo. According to TFR’s website, no one individual “owns” or controls the copyright for Sozo concepts and “tools” used in the program: “This particular style or format for ministry has evolved (and continues to evolve) from roots in the Argentine revivals, the understanding and writings of various practitioners of inner healing and deliverance, and from the experience of several churches and individuals including Randy Clark’s ministry and Bethel Church in Redding, California. It is changing and growing as we all learn, grow, and share experiences and tools with each other.” [Note: TFR just announced brand differentiation from Bethel Sozo and will now practice under “Freedom Prayer.”] Click here to continue reading.

 

George Wood Steps Down From Assemblies of God General Superintendent Position—and Resolution 3 Is Withdrawn

According to numerous sources, Dr. George Wood has stepped down from his role as General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God denomination. One source, Charisma Magazine, stated the following in a news article Wed (August 9th) afternoon:

Douglas E. Clay was voted general superintendent of the General Council of the Assemblies of God USA in a stunning vote after former General Superintendent George O. Wood removed his name from the ballot. . . .

Multiple rounds of voting took place earlier that day. Wood participated in at least one of those rounds of voting before removing his name from the ballot. After Clay’s strong performance, one source suggested Wood “felt this was indicative of a different direction.” (source)

Also according to various sources, including firsthand accounts by General Council delegates at the convention, the controversial Resolution 3, which was supposed to be voted on at this year’s Assemblies of God General Council in Anaheim, California, was withdrawn by R3’s foremost author, Ross Byars, after numerous Assemblies of God delegates publicly expressed strong concern about the Resolution. One Facebook source stated: “Resolution 3 was removed at/by the General Council of AOG that had become a firestorm for believers.”

Related Information:

To read recent articles regarding the controversy of Resolution 3, click here.

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

Dear Lighthouse Trails:

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

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

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

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

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

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

_____________________

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

Some of the More important Articles About the Purpose Driven Movement

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

The Kingdom of God and a Man of Peace

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

THE THREE LEGGED STOOL PLAN

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

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

The Story Behind Lighthouse Trails

The New Missiology – Doing Missions Without the Gospel

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

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

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

Purpose Driven Terrorism

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

Saddleback Youth Worker Ruben Meulenberg Charged With 5 Felony Counts – Saddleback Remaining Tight Lipped on Staff Issue

Ruben Meulenberg mug shot

The following is an update from two recent Lighthouse Trails articles: Saddleback Church Youth Worker Arrested for Molesting 14-Year-Boys Brings Issue to Surface”  and “Saddleback Church Statement Appears to Downplay Role of Alleged Molester Ruben Meulenberg.”

Ruben Meulenberg, the youth worker at Saddleback Church who was arrested for allegedly molesting two 14-year-old boys at Saddleback, has been charged with 5 felonies related to the molestation of the boys. At least one of the boys was 13 when the abuse began.

The following public information on the case has been released by the Orange County District Attorney’s office:

Case # 17HF0707

Date: May 30, 2017

YOUTH MINISTRY MENTOR CHARGED WITH COMMITTING LEWD ACTS ON TWO JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL BOYS

SANTA ANA, Calif. – A youth ministry mentor was charged today with committing lewd acts on two junior high school boys.

Defendant Charges Court Date
Ruven Meulenberg, 32, Lake Forest
  • Three felony counts of lewd acts on a child
  • Two felony counts of lewd acts on a child under age 14

Sentencing enhancement

  • Multiple victims
Continued arraignment

  • June 9, 2017, 10:00 a.m.
  • Department CJ-1, Central Jail, Santa Ana
  • Bail: $1 million

Circumstances of the Case

* At the time of the crime, Meulenberg is accused of being a volunteer youth mentor at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest in a position of trust with access to children.

* Between May 2016 and May 2017, Meulenberg is accused of committing lewd acts on 13-year-old boys John Doe 1 and John Doe 2, both on and off church property.

* Between May 18, 2017, and May 22, 2017, the defendant is again accused of sexually molesting the victims, who were then 14 years old.

* On May 24, 2017, a Saddleback Church representative reported suspected inappropriate conduct to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department (OCSD), who investigated this case.

* Meulenberg was arrested by OCSD on Thursday, May 25, 2017.

Prosecutor: Deputy District Attorney Courtney Thom, Sexual Assault Unit

After Lighthouse Trails released its May 29th article questioning whether Saddleback was downplaying the role in which Ruben Meulenberg had at Saddleback, the Christian Post ( which calls itself “the nation’s most comprehensive Christian news website“) wrote an article titled “Was Saddleback Church Youth Mentor Who Was Charged With Molesting Boys a Volunteer?” in which they referenced the Lighthouse Trails article questioning Saddleback’s recent statement on Meulenberg being just a a volunteer. Interestingly, the Christian Post article revealed that as of yet Saddleback has not answered the question as to whether Ruben Meulenberg was on staff at Saddleback. While it may be true that he was a youth volunteer, certain indicators, as we pointed out in our previous article, suggest that Meulenberg may also have been on staff (see Appendix below), a claim that Saddleback has not yet denied or admitted.

The Christian Post article said that Rick Warren has not yet made a public statement about the case. According to the Christian Post’s website search engine, the online paper has featured Saddleback Church and/or Rick Warren in over one thousand articles since 2004, and most, if not all, praise and promote the work of the Purpose Driven pastor and his church.

While in the bigger picture of Ruben Meulenberg and his victims, it may not matter at all whether he was truly on staff at Saddleback or not; but if Saddleback Church is refusing to admit that he has been paid for any of his services, either as a contractor or a staff member, this should certainly raise questions as to how much can the mega-church be trusted to protect the children under its care. If facts about abuse at Saddleback are being kept in the dark, this will not produce the kind of environment where healing can take place for victims or where parents can feel secure about their children’s safety.

Appendix:

LinkedIn has the following information about Ruben Meulenberg:

Ruben Meulenberg

Saddleback Church | TornadoTwins | Age of Edge (game development)

Age of Edge, Corp

Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences

Orange County, California Area

Media producer operating in 5 areas: videogames, film, books, music & curriculum.

Companies founded:
– TheGameBible.com: in-house project, turning the Bible into a full videogame (www.TheGameBible.com).
– TornadoTwins.com: became the world’s largest game development youtube channel in 3 months.
– FPSControl.com: tool to help midsize game studios create multi-platform games
– GamePrefabs.com: game development store [sold to Unity Tech; world’s #1 game tech corp]
– more

Projects:
– Feature film: wrote, directed and co-produced Saddleback Kids’ first feature film with production staff & volunteers. Used by 700+ churches and given out to 3000 children at Saddleback Lake Forest.
– Curriculum: co-founded fastest growing children’s church curriculum organization in Holland. Trained Saddleback Church’s children’s production staff to use this format.
– Music: founded world’s largest youtube channel on dubstep development (reached in 2 weeks), reached most-votes in Newsboys remix competition, created dance album for Saddleback Church, scored Triumph motorcycle commercial (engine sounds as bass).
– Game Development: developed YouVersion’s Kid-Bible-App prototype in under two weeks. Co-organized web’s largest gamedevelopment competition with cgsociety.org, trained thousands of game developers worldwide (including Disney’s “where’s my water” app developers), developing “The Game Bible” (see above).
Writing: Oversaw writing of 3 years worth of narrative video series for Saddleback Church Childrens’. Wrote “The Unplugged”, a book to help software developers create quickly and on as low a budget as possible.
– Marketing: helped triple attendance count on the annual online conference “The Twelve”, resulting in 10,000+ attendees. Redesigned Saddleback Kids’ summer outreach program, helping it rise from 4% new visitors in previous years to over 30% new visitors.


Appendix 2:

YouTube Comment from Lighthouse Trails author Gregory Reid regarding Saddleback and youth groups:

I had an associate that went to Saddleback to look for cool church ideas and loved the idea that the sign over the youth building said, “No adults allowed.” I was mortified. Creating an isolated youth subculture is deadly and creates a breeding ground for predators. I wrote a book called The Color of Pain that includes a checklist for identifying pedophiles, I think it’s a crucial book in this vulnerable time for youth. When I was a youth pastor I did extreme vetting on every single volunteer or person who showed interest in our youth ministry, even the older college volunteers, and I watched them like hawks. Had to remove two adults who were predators looking for a kill. (source)

Gregory Reid is a child sexual abuse survivor. He wrote about his childhood in his book Nobody’s Angel. His later book, The Color of Pain (published by LT) is a tribute to men who were sexually abused as boys.


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