Dear Lighthouse Trails:
We appreciate your attention to the wayward teaching at many Christian schools, but have a serious question. The list of non-contemplative schools is mostly Bible colleges. What would you suggest to a student who is not going into full-time ministry, is looking for a liberal arts or sciences degree, and quite frankly, needs the fellowship of other believers at his age? Our son will latch onto campus lifestyle, is involved at church, but is not inclined to seek philosophy or meditative styles. He’s a straight shooter who has been in Christian schools all his life. Our initial thoughts are to consider a Bible school for a semester or two prior to going to a Christian university, or to be extra critical of which professors and classes are taken for Bible requirements. What would you do?
[A concerned parent]
Christian parents looking for the right college to send their children to in this day and age have got a huge challenge in front of them. The majority of Christian colleges and seminaries are promoting Spiritual Formation (i.e., contemplative/emerging). In our research, Lighthouse Trails has struggled to find schools that are NOT promoting it. Thus, our list of “good” colleges (those that are not bringing Spiritual Formation into their schools) is very small. And sadly, over the years, it has grown even smaller. So for a parent who understands the dangers of the “new” spirituality, finding the right school where a child can receive a solid education and a four-year bachelor’s degree within the parameters of biblical Christianity is an extremely difficult and even near impossible task.
We cannot tell you how many parents have called or e-mailed us over the years and told us that their child’s Christian faith was turned completely upside down within a term or two of attending a contemplative-promoting school. Some of these kids actually come out four years later proclaiming to be atheists! And yet we’ve been amazed at how many parents have also contacted us to tell us that even though they understood the warnings we were giving, they sent their child to a contemplative school anyway, and now they were devastated at the outcome in their child’s life.
Before we list some suggestions, there are a few schools in our “good” list that offer four-year degrees: Bob Jones University, Faith Baptist Bible College & Seminary, and Pensacola Christian College. As our notice on the good colleges list says, we are not necessarily endorsing these schools, but we are saying they have not incorporated Spiritual Formation/Contemplative/Emerging into their schools so far.
Here are some suggestions:
1. Foremost, make sure your child has an absolute solid understanding of the Christian faith (e.g., does he know what atonement really means because in a school using contemplative authors that concept will be challenged – they will turn Jesus into more of a “servant leader” and model than a Savior and atoner of our sins; does he understand why evolution is not valid and how it ties in with New Age/new spirituality thinking, etc.). Thus, the idea of sending one’s child to a solid Bible school for a couple semesters could be useful in helping him to have a more solid grasp on biblical Christianity.
2. If your child has not watched DVDs like Roger Oakland’s emerging church DVD lecture series or read Carolyn A. Greene’s novel Castles in the Sand (specifically written with college-age people in mind) and Ray Yungen’s A Time of Departing, then he should. And it could even be done as a family. This is vital. And as we have said before, if someone cannot afford to buy one or both of these books, we’ll send a complimentary copy. We’ve given our lives to get this message out because we know that the Spiritual Formation-contemplative prayer movement undermines the Word of God and destroys faith.
3. Because contemplative meditation (occultism) is the vehicle Satan is using to deceive the masses into moving away from Jesus Christ, it is crucial for a young person to understand what exactly meditation is and why it is absolutely contrary to the Christian faith. So make sure your child understands what the New Age is and what meditation is (for instance, a lot of Christians think lectio divina is OK—it’s not!). We have free articles on our research site and on our blog that talk about meditation. And Ray Yungen’s book For Many Shall Come in My Name does a fantastic job on breaking it down into an understandable fashion. Here is one article, written by Ray, that can help a person comprehend the dynamics of meditation: “Understanding the New Age, Meditation, and the Higher Self.”
4. In regard to your statement that you’ll “be extra critical of which professors and classes are taken for Bible requirements,” it isn’t enough to make sure your child doesn’t take “contemplative”-leaning classes because in contemplative schools, one of the greatest influences on the students is their required chapel services. Most parents are unaware and think that their children are safe in chapel – nothing could be further from the truth. Part of the reason for this is because often chapel pastors at colleges have been trained at contemplative colleges themselves, and they are bringing their ideas with them. Another reason is that often chapel services are run or developed by the Spiritual Formation department of a school. So what we are saying here is that if your child attends a contemplative-promoting school, this kind of spirituality is most likely integrated throughout the infrastructure of the school. Another avenue in the school through which it could come is the missions or outreach program; and most Christian colleges require students to become involved in these types of programs. And beware—progressive emerging social justice Christianity is lurking behind the scenes.
5. This leads us to the next issue – where will your child go to church while he is in college? Years ago, when we still had Corban University (once called Western Baptist College) in Salem, Oregon on our “good” college list, Ray Yungen spoke to the World Religions & Cults class each year. The professor (who greatly supported Ray’s and LT’s work) was surprised on Ray’s very first visit to his class that most of the students had already heard of contemplative and some were even practicing it. He had thought they hadn’t even heard of it. Where did they learn this, he wondered, for at the time the school was not promoting it at all. After some research, we found the answer. Most of the students at Corban were attending the most emerging/contemplative church in the area! The school staff and leadership never allowed Ray to address and warn the entire student body, and today that school is listed on our contemplative-promoting college list. The point is, you can take all the precautions you can think of, as a parent, to make sure your child doesn’t end up in contemplative classes, but if he ends up going to the local emerging church, then all your efforts will be in vain.
Conclusion: To be honest, one of the most dangerous places for a child raised in a Christian home to be today is in a Christian college or seminary. For the most part, they have been overtaken and become breeding grounds for apostasy. Just look and see what is happening at Moody Bible Institute according to the article we just posted last week. There are some schools that this has not happened to. But if you are looking for that four-year degree, your choices are going to be extremely slim.
A parent might think that he or she can issue a general vague warning to his child to be careful, but when that child sits day after day under “new” spirituality professors, attends college chapels day after day or week after week listening to subtle messages by emerging/contemplative advocates, listens to sermons with subtle underlying emerging messages Sunday after Sunday, and attends Bible studies with hip college pastors who have hidden agendas, even the strongest faith will be put to the test; and because the child is caught off guard (not expecting heresy at a Christian school), his faith is not just put tot he test, it is thrown down and stomped on. That is because the child now sits under the influence of wolves in sheep’s clothing. For some kids, attending secular schools and a good solid church may be a far better choice than paying homage to a school that says it’s Christian but practices the opposite.