Update: Feb. 23, 2014: When this article below was written on Feb. 13, 2014, the Faith Baptist Bible College bookstore was not carrying Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling (though they were carrying a couple of her other books). They had been carrying Jesus Calling last year but removed the book when Lighthouse Trails had informed the recently retired president of the book. Unfortunately, today, the book is appearing back on the college bookstore website. Lighthouse Trails had sent a copy of Warren B. Smith’s new book “Another Jesus” Calling to the interim president in early February of this year. He wrote us a note thanking us for the book and saying that it would be helpful to the school.
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As Lighthouse Trails has reported over the last several years, a fast-growing number of evangelical/Protestant colleges, seminaries, and universities are integrating contemplative spirituality (i.e., Spiritual Formation) and emerging ideologies into their schools. If you or someone you know are currently looking for a Christian college, we beseech you to check potential schools very carefully. Ask to see textbook lists, search their websites to see if they have spiritual formation programs, and find out who speaks at their student chapels. It would also be a good idea to contact the school chaplain and ask some good questions.
For many years now, Lighthouse Trails has maintained two lists on the research site. The first one is our growing list of Christian schools that ARE promoting contemplative and/or emerging: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/Colleges.htm And the second one is a small list we have put together of schools that are NOT going in that direction at this time: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/collegesgood.htm.
This brings us to the topic of this article. Today, February 12, 2014, with much dismay, Lighthouse Trails has put a stroke through Faith Baptist Bible College(in Iowa) which is one of the schools that has been on our “good”college list for many years. At this time, we cannot in good faith recommend the school and are compelled to issue this notice of caution to our readers. It is our hope that before Faith Baptist ends up on the contemplative college list, they will set things straight. Rather than remove their name altogether, we have crossed it out with the hopes that it might be able to remain on that “good” list.
The decision was made primarily because of the ongoing promotion and selling of contemplative-promoting authors in their bookstore (Sarah Young, Gary Thomas (also being used in their course M‐LC 648), John Ortberg, Brennan Manning, Peter Scazzero, Calvin Miller, Philip Yancey, Ken Boa, N. T. Wright (used in their course B‐AN 821), Beth Moore, Mark Driscoll, Brother Lawrence, and many others. They are even carrying the Thomas Merton promoting book Perspectives on Children’s Spiritual Formation. You can find information on each of these authors on our research site).
Over the past several years, Lighthouse Trails editors have had occasional correspondence with the recently retired president of Faith Baptist, Dr. James Maxwell. As a matter of fact, Dr. Maxwell wrote a great informative article a few years ago titled “The New Spirituality.” In that article, he rightly identified contemplative prayer as the vehicle through which the New Spirituality was entering the church. He footnoted Lighthouse Trails’ research as well. Based on that article and from correspondence we have had with Dr. Maxwell, we have been assured that he shares the same strong concerns that Lighthouse Trails has on this issue.
In 2011, Lighthouse Trails wrote a letter to Dr. Maxwell. The following is a shortened version of that letter with the key points:
Dear Dr. Maxwell,
. . . We learned recently that the accreditation Faith holds nationally is with Association for Biblical Higher Education. We learned about this while writing an article (http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=7733) about Christian school accreditation and how ABHE is requiring member schools to incorporate “spiritual formation” into the lives of their students. While we realize that each school is given some liberty as to how they interpret and implement spiritual formation, we have strong concerns because the term spiritual formation was pioneered into the evangelical church by those who promote a mystical contemplative spirituality (Richard Foster, Dallas Willard, etc), and when you point students to “spiritual formation,” you will ultimately be pointing them to these and other similar writers. We know that Faith is now beginning to use that term, saying that their spiritual formation will be a good one.
. . . . As just one example (a serious one) to back up our concerns, in your bookstore, under recommended books, in the Prayer section, you list just one book, and that is a book by homosexuality sympathizer, contemplative advocate, Phil Yancey. http://www.fbbcbooks.com/servlet/the-Books-cln-Christian-Living-cln-Prayer/Categories Do you realize what is in that book? It is basically a primer on contemplative spirituality. In the back of the book he recommends resources from people like Catholic convert Peter Kreeft, emerging darling Phyllis Tickle, of course Richard Foster, and many others of the same caliber. How did this recommendation come to be on Faith’s site? . . . However, you can remove the book but another will take its place if this issue isn’t dealt with properly [Note: while that book appears to no longer be on the Faith bookstore website, other books by Yancey are].
I know you received a letter recently from a Dr. ______ with his concerns. You stated to him that Faith was not going to practice or incorporate contemplative spirituality, but Dr. Maxwell, how are you warning your faculty and students? How can you be so sure that some of them are not at home in the evenings reading Richard Foster, Henri Nouwen, Dallas Willard, or Phil Yancey? They are probably reading Yancey as you have the book readily recommended to them. I have often wondered these past few years why your school did not ever have your professors or students read A Time of Departing. To date, there is no other book that covers this matter in the well documented, logical and biblical manner that this book does.
Now two years later, Faith Baptist Bible is still carrying books by contemplative authors and using a smattering of them in their classrooms. And the accreditation with ABHE is still in effect. It is because of these things that Lighthouse Trails can no longer safely recommend Faith Baptist to our readers as a school that is free from the contemplative influence.
If you are not acquainted with ABHE, please read our article “An Epidemic of Apostasy – How Christian Seminaries Must Incorporate “Spiritual Formation” to Become Accredited.” In that article, we document that ABHE intends to insure that all accrediting member schools will fall into step with a vigorous Spiritual Formation (i.e., contemplative) program. Faith Baptist will be no exception!
We’ve already done the homework here for nearly 12 years. So please read our “Epidemic of Apostasy” article if you never have. It connects the dots. But we’ll give one convincing example now that for a school to be aligned with ABHE for accreditation will mean theological and spiritual suicide for a college in the long run (from a biblical point of view). As you can see on this page here, ABHE is partnered with a number of various organizations (about eight of them). These partnerships are not some kind of loose association. On the contrary, ABHE utilizes their “cutting-edge services.” One of the partnerships is with Spiritual Transformation Inventory. Long story short (see our article for more), this is basically an assessment tool on how well a school is integrating Spiritual Formation and the “spiritual disciplines” and practices into its school. There are numerous things we could show you, but let’s take a look at the STI’s Connected Life Workbook. In the book, under REFERENCES ON SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES/PRACTICES (p. 23), there is a who’s who of contemplative mysticism proponents some of which are Dallas Willard, Richard Foster, Henri Nouwen, David Benner, Ruth Haley Barton, and so forth. The workbook encourages students to “develop a contemplative prayer life” (p. 19). The book focuses on how well the individual feels and experiences “God’s presence” (obtaining a low score if the feeling or experience is small). It includes a section on how to hear God’s voice while practicing being still and repeating portions of Scripture. This workbook is a classic example of pushing contemplative prayer. ABHE uses this assessment tool to help steer member schools in obtaining and keeping their accreditation. Do the math—it all adds up.
Lighthouse Trails has witnessed many once-solid Christian colleges and seminaries take those first small, seemingly insignificant steps toward the contemplative deception. Once a school starts down that path, the momentum picks up, and before you know it, that school is wholeheartedly embracing this dangerous heretical spirituality.
While the interim president at Faith Baptist Bible College & Seminary did accept a copy of “Another Jesus” Calling and some other materials from us last month, we have yet to see the bookstore cleaned up. After over two years of pleading with the school to remove these books, we are skeptical that it will happen now.
In December of 2013, we sent the following note to Dr. Maxwell as a final effort before he retired:
Dr. Maxwell, in reviewing Faith’s “module textbook” list, we found that one of the classes is using Gary Thomas’ book Sacred Marriage where Thomas references a tantric sex teacher a dozen times (M‐LC 648 Marriage Counseling Prb. & Case Studies Newman Sacred Marriage). We wrote about Thomas’ book. Here is the link to that article: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=2515. We can’t figure out why a school like Faith is willing to use a book by a major contemplative figure like Thomas (in his book Sacred Pathways, he tells readers to repeat a word for 20 minutes) but will not use a book like A Time of Departing in their classes, especially when they have had a president who understands the seriousness. We find that so strange. But we are beginning to wonder if our efforts to warn Faith Baptist are just words blowing in the wind.
More articles in our Contemplative Colleges category