Hi Lighthouse Trails!
Thank you so much for your ministry! My family has been learning about apostasy for a little while now, and we stumbled across your website recently. . . We read your article about VOM and Michael Wurmbrand and were deeply saddened by it. We have supported VOM for many years so it made us do even more research on it. I e-mailed Michael, and he responded very kindly; and my family has decided not to support VOM anymore. Thank you for the information that you have provided.
I have a question about Compassion International now. I am truly concerned that Compassion lists Doug Pagitt as one of their speakers. I also read about an upcoming event in which some Compassion Advocacy Coaches will be able to learn how to do contemplative prayer at a retreat in Nebraska. You can read about it here:
I sponsor a child from _________, and I received a letter today from their Child Development Center and they mentioned that the teenage students study themes that require “a deeper reflection, self-discipline and formation…” (underline mine). I have learned enough lately to know that spiritual formation is another term for contemplative prayer. I was not sure if that is exactly what they meant by formation, but I definitely want to know. I called Compassion today and the person did not really answer my question very well, I don’t think they really knew what contemplative prayer was. I want to continue supporting my child since I truly care for him, but I do not want to support a ministry that will teach him New Age spirituality!!!!!! I was wondering if you could give me more information on Compassion, and what should I do about sponsoring my child?
My family is having trouble finding ministries to support since we stopped supporting Samaritan’s Purse, VOM, and others due to their teachings. We are looking for similar ministries to support. We love Ray Comfort and Living Waters; we also love Ken Ham and AIG. Do you have a list of similar ministries to VOM/Samaritan’s Purse that we could support? Michael Wurmbrand told us about a ministry he started in the 70s called Help for Refugees that we are thinking about supporting.
Thanks again for your ministry and all that you do!
While Lighthouse Trails does not make recommendations for churches and organizations (largely because we do not have the manpower to follow up on such recommendations to confirm whether a particular church or organization is still biblically based), we do bring warnings to the body of Christ about groups that have strayed from a biblical viewpoint and become ecumenical, contemplative, emerging, and a part of the liberal social justice movement. Tragically, most of the larger, more known organizations have already taken this spiritual plunge. While we realize that these organizations do help with the physical needs of many around the world, they have come to misrepresent true Christianity and have set aside the Gospel (all together in some cases) in exchange for a powerless substitute. So while they are conduits for helping with poverty, they have become neglectful in the most important thing any human being needs – rich or poor – and that is to have the chance to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ and be given the opportunity to receive Jesus as Lord and Savior. And as long as Bible-believing Christians continue financially supporting such groups, the groups will see no need to change (not that they will change – but at least if support is withdrawn and explanation is given as to why, then the organizations will know why they are losing support and some, perhaps, may examine the issues and have their eyes opened).
While we know there are no perfect churches and organizations (because imperfect humans operate them), we do know by Scripture that the gauge which we can set for ourselves while living in this world is the Gospel (that man is sinful and in need of a Savior and that Jesus Christ died to pay the price for our sins and rose taking victory over death and that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth on Him shall not perish but have everlasting life). The contemplative/emerging belief system rejects this. The contemplative/emerging view is that God is in all people (regardless of acceptance of and belief in Jesus Christ as Savior), that man can save himself and the earth by his own means (bringing about the Kingdom of God), and that Jesus was a good role model and example but did not suffer a painful death for the purpose of atonement (a loving God would never do that, they say). This is why Lighthouse Trails is so determined to warn about the contemplative prayer movement and the “new” emerging spirituality. Where contemplative prayer comes in is as a vehicle. As Ray Yungen has shown in his book A Time of Departing, when a person begins practicing contemplative meditation, over time, his or her spiritual outlook changes (just as Thomas Merton’s and Henri Nouwen’s did), and it begins to resemble one that looks more Buddhist or Hindu than Christian.
When we consider that Doug Pagitt is listed on the Compassion International website as one of their regular speakers (see link above), it is difficult to fathom how Compassion can say on their website that “God’s Word must have the final authority in regulating compassionate treatment of every human being, including children.” Doug Pagitt, who is one of the founders of the new Brian McLaren CANA Initiative—a liberal, emerging think-tank—has consistently promoted contemplative spirituality and the emerging church for many years. Compassion also lists Tony and Bart Campolo (Tony is a leader in the Christian Palestinianism movement), Mark Scandrette (An Emergent Manifesto of Hope), mantra-meditation advocate Gary Thomas, emergent writer Ann VosKamp (One Thousand Gifts), and a number of other emergent-type figures. Their speaker list is actually transforming into a contemplative/emergent who’s who. In our minds, Compassion’s partnering with Doug Pagitt and other emergents sends a loud message that they do NOT consider God’s Word as a final authority. How could they and still lock arms with emergent leaders?
In Doug Pagitt’s book A Christianity Worth Believing, Pagitt denounces the idea that the Bible is our final authority. The following is a short book review on Pagitt’s book done by one of our free-lance writers. Please read this as it will help show where the “new” emerging “Christianity” is going (and sadly, taking lots of Christian organizations, like Compassion, VOM, and World Vision, with it):
“Doug Pagitt’s New Book – A Christianity Worth Believing – NOT Worth Believing”
by Ezra McGill
In his book, A Christianity Worth Believing, emergent leader Doug Pagitt presents a theology that is worth exposing, because it is neither biblical nor Christian. This is the unfortunate power of media-savvy emergent leaders–errant theology is couched in Christian terms, and the undiscerning are drawn in.
As others have noted, Doug Pagitt undoubtedly cares about his flock, the homeless, coffee farmers in Guatemala, and the environment. Yet, if the emergent movement could be summed up in one phrase, perhaps it is this: “Tiny men shaking tiny fists at the biblical God.”
The Bible tells us, “The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the LORD shall have them in derision.(Psalm 2: 2-4)
The author of A Christianity Worth Believing vigorously disputes the authority of the Word of God. He writes, “The inerrancy debate is based on the belief that the Bible is the word of God, that the Bible is true because God made it and gave it to us as a guide to truth. But that’s not what the Bible says” (p. 65).
He further explains, “This is how it works. We are characters in the stories we hear. The living Bible invites us to step into the stories, not as observers, but as participants in the faith that is alive and well and still being created” (p.67).
That’s right. Pagitt believes Christianity is still in the process of being created. Obviously, this theology that is being created is in total opposition to biblical Truth. Like the author of The Shack, Pagitt categorically denies the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ.
He states, “the early evangelists recognized they could help the Jesus story make sense if Jesus was seen as someone who was chosen to appease the wrath of God—hence, the ‘anointed one’ who could do what no one else could do” (p. 181).
So, minus our Savior, how does this emergent leader view receiving forgiveness for sins? Before we get to this, let us understand that he spends a good deal of time making the artificial distinction between Christians’ alleged Greco-Roman understanding of God (Pagitt sees this as a distant God), and the Old Testament Hebrew God (always present, understanding, and intimate).
Incredibly, the author presents the Old Testament as his “proof” that there has always been accessible forgiveness for sin. He notes that his wife was raised in a Jewish family, and she “tells [the congregation] each year that the Jews would celebrate the Day of Atonement by gathering lint from their pockets, every little corner of them. She invites us to do the same. Then we write confessions on pieces of paper or pick up leaves to represent each sin and walk to the edge of a stream. As we drop our leaves and papers into the stream, we read from the Psalms” (pp.163-164).
Psalm 103:11-13 is then read to Pagitt’s congregation: “For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him.”
Following this, he writes, his wife, “reminds us that just as the water carries our words away, God takes our sins from us. As far as can be, sin is removed, taken, gone. Yes, sin exists, and when we find it, we should get rid of it” (p. 164).
But what defines “sin” if the Bible is not really the authoritative Word of God? If Christ is not Savior? Pagitt never really gives a satisfactory answer to this.
“Thy prophets have seen vain and foolish things for thee: and they have not discovered thine iniquity, to turn away thy captivity; but have seen for thee false burdens and causes of banishment”(Lamentations 2:14). Pagitt assures us he understands this new theology can be upsetting. “This can come as a shock to those Christians who are so used to hearing that Jesus is the solution to sin that they assume that the remedy started with the death of Jesus. The Jewish Tradition tells us otherwise” (p. 163).
A Christianity Worth Believing is the presentation of a distorted version of our faith. It is the tepid celebration of a powerless, false “christ.” It is textbook emergent heresy. Those reading this book who do know and love Christ may feel disgust, disbelief, even scorn. Well and good. But may we also be very afraid for those who are exposed to such teaching.
“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14).
One gets the sense that Doug Pagitt seems compelled to deny the Truth–he simply cannot see it. He is the angry blind man striking out with his cane. He swings, he slashes; he jabs and stabs. Unfortunately, that sharpened cane has poked out many an eye.
And seems poised to pierce many, many more.
“And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch?’” (Luke 6:39)