On January 23rd, Lighthouse Trails reported that Cedarville University had scheduled emerging church leader Shane Claiborne to speak at Cedarville on February 11th. It has now been brought to our attention that the Claiborne event has been cancelled. Lighthouse Trails spoke via email with John Davis, Associate Director of Public Relations for Cedarville University, who confirmed that Shane Claiborne would not be speaking there after all. Davis stated: “In light of the concern expressed, both on and off campus, about Shane Claiborne, the university has opted to cancel the event.”
The evening with Claiborne that was going to take place was titled after Claiborne’s book, The Irresistible Revolution. Our Jan. 23rd report pointed out that proceeds from the sale of that book were going to many emerging/contemplative type organizations including Brian McLaren’s home church and mystic proponent Tony Campolo. The book’s foreword is written by liberal political activist Jim Wallis.
One Cedarville professor wrote to Lighthouse Trails today after hearing of the cancellation and said he was sorry that Claiborne would not be speaking because students need to “become active participants in the world of ideas and to become critical thinkers.” He added that perhaps “Claiborne’s visit would have sparked a number of interesting and educationally valuable conversations that we so desperately need to have.” Another person called us, identifying herself as a student at Cedarville, and said it was “very unfortunate” that Claiborne was cancelled. She said he was a wonderful person and his book had great ideas.
While it is understandable that professors wish for students to have knowledge of various mindsets, it is not so understandable that they would want to use those promoting false doctrine to instruct students, even if they are really nice people. When we asked a Cedarville University personnel last week if he would bring in a New Ager to address the students, he said no. But, as we pointed out, that is what they are doing by bringing in any emerging church leader and/or author. The two philosophies line up very neatly. Thus, while we agree that Christian college students should be informed on the various religions and spiritualities of the world, we disagree that they should learn them from the practitioners themselves. But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. No. Neither do they need to bring in an emerging activist to teach the students about mysticism and emerging spirituality.
The problem is most people don’t really know what emerging spirituality is all about. Thus, it is difficult for people to see it as anything but a different kind of Christianity but Christianity none the less. While we believe it is for the best that Shane Claiborne will not be speaking at Cedarville this February, our ongoing concern is that if Cedarville faculty, staff, and students do not fully understand the spiritual implications of emerging, then next month or the month after that it will be another name and then another.
We beseech Cedarville students and faculty to learn what the dynamics of the emerging church are. This would include understanding contemplative spirituality because mysticism is the driving force behind emerging. In fact, without mysticism there would be no emerging church movement.
Today, when we told Ray Yungen what had happened at Cedarville, he asked us to convey something he felt was vital. It is from his book A Time of Departing:
Dr. Rodney R. Romney, former Senior Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Seattle is a person frequently quoted as an example of a New Age Christian. He very candidly revealed what was conveyed to him in his contemplative prayer periods. The “source of wisdom” he was in contact with told him the following:
I want you to preach this oneness, to hold it up before the world as my call to unity and togetherness. In the end this witness to the oneness of all people will undermine any barriers that presently exist.1
Could this be a familiar spirit speaking here? Jesus Christ did not teach that all people are one. There are the saved and the unsaved. And Jesus Christ is the catalyst for this distinction. But the spirit who spoke to Dr. Romney also revealed something else of vital importance. It declared, “Silence is that place, that environment where I work.”2 Please pay attention to this! God does not work in the silence–but familiar spirits do. Moreover, what makes it so dangerous is that they are very clever. One well-known New Ager revealed what his guiding (familiar) spirit candidly disclosed:
We work with all who are vibrationally sympathetic; simple and sincere people who feel our spirit moving, but for the most part, only within the context of their current belief system.3
The term “vibrationally sympathetic” here means those who suspend thought through word repetition or breath focus–inward mental silence. That is what attracts them. That is their opening. That is why Tilden Edwards called this the “bridge to far Eastern spirituality,” and this is what is being injected into the evangelical church!
If Cedarville students and faculty cannot grasp the underlying reality and spiritual framework behind the emerging church, then they could find themselves swept up into a spirituality that is not in harmony with the Gospel of the grace of God.
But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. (Acts 20:24)
1. Rodney R. Romney, Journey to Inner Space (New York, NY: Riverview Press., 1986), p. 132.
2. Ibid., p. 138.
3. Ken Carey, The Starseed Transmissions (A Uni-Sun Book, 1985 4th printing), p. 33.