Charles Stanley’s In Touch Magazine has been the subject of several Lighthouse Trails articles because of the magazine’s continued propensity toward contemplative/emergent people. Just this past summer, our most recent article, “Sad News About Charles Stanley’s In Touch Magazine,” reported how the August 2013 issue of In Touch featured Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove of the “New Monasticism” emerging church movement. Now in the November 2013 issue, In Touch magazine is featuring an article about an ecumenical interfaith organization that is largely Catholic influenced and was, in fact, the very organization where Henri Nouwen spent the last decade of his life. What’s the big deal about that? some may ask. Well, it is a big deal when you stop and consider the implications. Charles Stanley is seen as the quintessential evangelical Bible teacher by millions. He is trusted, respected, and looked to for understanding of the biblical Gospel. So when his organization starts down a path that promotes contemplative spirituality, the emerging church, and yes, Roman Catholicism – there is a big problem.
In the November 2013 issue is an article written by Benjamin Dolson titled “Our Table.” It is a story about L’Arche, an organization that began in the 60s to offer an alternative living style for intellectually-handicapped people. The work itself is certainly not what we contest as it has removed needy people out of institutions and into a more viable living situation. We are not here to condemn the work being done at the L’Arche communities from a humanitarian point of view. But why does an evangelical ministry feel the need to continually point its followers to organizations or people that do not line up with the biblical Gospel. As Lighthouse Trails has documented scripturally for several years, the contemplative prayer movement and Roman Catholicism are presenting a different “Gospel” than the one the Bible presents. The Roman Catholic “Gospel” is a justification by works gospel, and the contemplative prayer (i.e., Spiritual Formation) “Gospel” is one that has panentheistic and interspiritual roots. And we should mention that the Catholic church is utilizing the contemplative prayer movement to draw in converts to Catholicism (as Ray Yungen explains in his article “Contemplative Spirituality – the Source of the Catholic Church’s Expansion“).
For those who may not realize just how Catholic L’Arche is, here is a statement posted on the L’Arche international website:
L’Arche was founded in a village in France in the Roman Catholic tradition. Generally the communities reflect the predominant faith tradition or traditions of the local population. Thus, with the foundations of the communities of Daybreak in Canada and Asha Niketan in India, the Federation became first ecumenical and then interfaith. Most communities today consider themselves as Christian, some are ecumenical, some identify as Anglican or Protestant, and the majority are Catholic in their practice. The four communities in India and the project in Bangladesh have an interfaith character. All communities of the Federation welcome people of any or no faith and seek to respect and support members in their particular faith choice.1 (emphasis added)
The award-winning In Touch magazine has inspired and motivated readers for more than 25 years with resources to invigorate their faith including daily devotionals, in-depth Bible studies, insightful teaching from Dr. Stanley, and much more.
Communities of faith, of God’s reign, bring together into oneness those who by culture and by education are far apart. This is the body of Christ. This is the church.
In reading our article here, some may feel we are being too nit-picky and critical. After all, In Touch is talking about helping the needy. But if that reasoning is legitimate, then basically, as Christians, we are to embrace an anything-goes mentality (i.e., the church should embrace all “faith communities” without any protection over the Christian message of redemption). But the Bible so clearly and so frequently warns of beliefs that are contrary to the truth of Scripture. In writing this article about In Touch and L’Arch ecumenical interfaith communities, we are reminded of something Henri Nouwen said in the last book he ever wrote. We’ve quoted it often over the years because it shows very succinctly the “fruit” of contemplative mysticism, which Nouwen fully adhered to and practiced:
Today I personally believe that while Jesus came to open the door to God’s house, all human beings can walk through that door, whether they know about Jesus or not. Today I see it as my call to help every person claim his or her own way to God. —From Sabbatical Journey, page 51, 1998 Hardcover Edition
It boils down to this: Christian organizations like In Touch Ministries have been presenting themselves to their readers and supporters for many years as having a solid biblical message. Yet now, many of them appear to be changing course. Isn’t it only right and fair for them to come forward and tell their followers that they are no longer adhering just to biblical Christianity?
Does Charles Stanley know what has happened to his magazine? some may ask. We have no idea as he has remained absolutely silent on the situation. We’ve sent books, made phone calls, and we know there are LT readers who have contacted his ministry. But to date, we have never heard of any response. At least Focus on the Family has come right out and admitted that they see nothing wrong with the contemplative tradition. With In Touch, we will just have to keep putting pieces of the puzzle together until a complete picture can be seen.