That headline may seem a bit overboard or shocking at first glance, but this is what is happening in many of the Christian colleges, seminaries, and universities to kids who start off as Christian and four years later are proclaiming to be now atheist. At Letourneau University, this happened to the son of a family that Lighthouse Trails has known for years. When their son graduated from Letourneau, he said he no longer believed he was a Christian. Rather, he said he is now an atheist.
And this is not the first time that Lighthouse Trails has heard such a tragic story.
So when a Lighthouse Trails reader contacted us recently asking what we thought about Letourneau University, we provided this parent (who is looking for a Christian school for his college-age child to attend) with the following information:
1. Here you can see that they brought in Biola University’s Mr. Contemplative himself to speak to the students: http://www.letu.edu/news/2012/Dr.JohnCoe.html.
2. Here the school turns to contemplative mystic Adele Ahlberg Calhoun to help teach students how to fast: http://www.letu.edu/opencms/opencms/_Other-Resources/presidents_office/vision/process/fasting.html.
3. In this example, you can see the student chapel schedule where they have emergent author Mark Scandrette speaking to the students: http://www.letu.edu/_Student-Life/spiritual-life/chapel/Fall2012/index.jsp. You will find Scandrette‘s name mentioned in Roger Oakland’s book, Faith Undone. Scandrette is connected with an organization called Imagine,(https://www.facebook.com/ReImagineSF), and would be inline with the spirituality of New Age sympathizer, Leonard Sweet. Scandrette‘s book, Soul Graffiti, is a primer in emergent theology.
4. You can also see on the Letourneau chapel schedule, chapel’s focusing on the contemplative practice of lectio divina as well as chapel’s led by contemplative advocate Mindy McGuire (Soulcare.com), John Coe (heads up the Spiritual Formation department at Biola).
5. One particular chapel at Letourneau (December 2012) was titled “Spiritual Disciplines in Other Cultures.” The title alone makes us shudder. In this video of that chapel service, you can see various students sharing. One young man talks about how Thomas Merton changed his entire spiritual outlook: http://www.letu.edu/_Student-Life/spiritual-life/chapel/Fall2012/flashvideo/2012-12-03-Mosaic.html.
6. Letourneau is also promoting the contemplative/emergent message through their Impact Retreat for students:http://www.letu.edu/_Student-Life/leadership/IMPACT/resources.html. In the 2012 retreat, Aubrey Spears, an Anglican pastor, was the speaker. In this pdf, http://www.letu.edu/opencms/export/sites/default/_Student-Life/leadership/IMPACT/media/Session_x2_-_Receiving_the_Day.pdf, are the sermon notes for one of the talks Dr. Spears presented during the retreat. Spears tells students, as is typical of most contemplative teachers, that you cannot really mature spiritually without “slowing down” or having the stillness. He then proceeds to teach the students various forms of contemplative prayer. If you read the back of this pdf, you will see that Spears turns to emergent/contemplative figures such as Phyllis Tickle, John Ortberg, Marva Dawn, Calvin Miller, Dorothy Bass,Eugene Peterson, and Henri Nouwen.
Some may be asking right now, why would following contemplative authors turn a Christian student into a proclaiming atheist? Well, consider this: Contemplative prayer is panentheistic at its roots (God is in all things). If one comes to believe that everyone and everything is divine or that God or divinity is in all things, including all humans, then the message of the Cross (man needing a Savior because of his sin) and the message of a personal Creator who loves man begin to lose their significance and meaning. And once that happens, is it possible there is a short gap between panentheism and atheism? Both reject the idea of a personal God.
Think about what happens to a young person who has been raised in a Christian home, then ends up in a “Christian” college, and begins getting indoctrinated with emergent teachings by men and women who use Christian terminology and even Scriptures (out of context) to basically knock down everything that child learned in his Christian home. And because most Christian parents today are not equipping their children to recognize and resist spiritual deception (probably because the parents have no idea what spiritual deception even looks like because it isn’t talked about in most churches), they are literally throwing their children to the wolves.
How we wish the family we know who sent their son to Letourneau would have asked Lighthouse Trails about that school four years ago. But, like so many other Christians today, they underestimated the wiles of the devil, and now their beloved son is in the clasp of deception.
If you are looking for a Christian college for your child, do two things: First, make sure your child understands the underlying agenda and teachings of contemplative/emerging spirituality; and second, find a college that at least has some understanding of (and resistance to) the contemplative/emergent issue. Here is one alternative: http://www.faith.edu/. We know that school has a president who is aware of these dangers and is committed to keeping them out. It may not have the prestige that some of these other bigger schools have, but at least a student will more likely still be a Christian when he or she graduates. And isn’t that worth everything!
If you have a high school or college age student, we recommend he or she read Castles in the Sand and that you as parents read A Time of Departing and Faith Undone. Then sit down together as a family and discuss these things until you feel confident that your child gets it. Please realize that all the work you have done over the past 18 years of that child’s life can be undone in just a few terms at a contemplative/emerging college. We have talked to many many parents over the last 11 years who have shared their tragic stories with us.
Note: Needless to say, Letourneau University is now on our Contemplative Colleges list.