ACSI (Association of Christian Schools) Searches for New President – Will This One Be a Contemplative?

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The ACSI (Association of Christian Schools International) has announced that Ken Smitherman, president of ACSI, will be retiring next August. Lighthouse Trails has issued two reports on ACSI this year regarding their leanings toward contemplative through their Spiritual Formation program. Our first report stated that contemplative books are being recommended and offered to ACSI’s 5300 member schools. In addition, ACSI told attendees of the Early Education Conference on April 19, 2008 to read Henri Nouwen’s book, In the Name of Jesus for preparation for the conference. (link removed by ACSI) Our second report stated that ACSI is recommending to its member schools Brian McLaren’s A New Kind of Christian. McLaren, who has made many public statements that attempt to derail biblical Christianity, is part of the emerging church movement.
In this latter report, we explained that in addition to the McLaren recommendation, ACSI president Ken Smitherman speaks favorably of emerging leader and mysticism proponent Rob Bell’s book, Velvet Elvis. The report also stated that Smitherman defends his embracing of mystical spirituality.
With regard to the ACSI’s search for a new president, their website states that this person must have an “understanding of spiritual formation.” Those the ACSI turns to for their own “understanding” of spiritual formation include Brian McLaren, Dallas Willard, J.P. Moreland, and other contemplative figures. What’s more, two of their conferences in 2008 took place at a contemplative Catholic Retreat Center in Colorado. (link removed by ACSI)

We hope that ACSI will put in the place of president someone who understands the dangers of the contemplative prayer and emerging church movements and someone who will seek to uphold the Word of God at all costs. This is an organization that works with and serves thousands of Christian schools worldwide representing 1.2 million students. If they present contemplative spirituality as an acceptable and beneficial belief system, the spiritual damage to countless students will be devastating. Please pray that the ACSI search committee will make every attempt to understand these dangers before making their selection. On their website, they state:

The next president of ACSI will face many opportunities and challenges. The Presidential Search Committee is committed to prayer and invites you to join us as we seek the Lord’s guidance and wisdom for the selection of the next president whose godliness, giftedness, and vision will lead our diverse community into the future.

It also says they are looking for “One who … affirms the authority of Scripture as God’s inerrant Word.” Because contemplative and emerging spirituality are contrary to the Word of God, choosing a contemplative president would go against the ACSI’s written commitment to find someone who “affirms the authority of Scripture.”