The New Baptist Covenant, an alliance of over 30 Baptist organizations, will be hosting the 2008 Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant conference starting today, January 30th. A luncheon will be held with guest speaker, Al Gore. Other speakers at the event include Tony Campolo and former presidents Bill Clinton (keynote speaker) and Jimmy Carter (the founder of the New Baptist Covenant).
Former presidential candidate, Al Gore, is a popular speaker and author on environmental issues. What many may not know is he is also a promoter of New Age thought. Research analyst Ray Yungen explains:
It would surprise many Americans to know that they actually voted for a New Age sympathizer for president of the United States in the 2000 election. In a Time magazine article in 2003 called “Just Say Om,” former presidential candidate, Al Gore, said the following about meditation: “We both [he and his wife] believe in regular prayer, and we often pray together. But meditation–as distinguished from prayer–I highly recommend it.”
One might argue that perhaps Gore was not referring to mystical type meditation and that he didn’t have any such proclivities, but this notion would be put to rest by his endorsement of a book (Marriage of Sense and Soul) by Ken Wilber, a leading figure in the New Age. On the back cover of the book, Gore proudly proclaimed Wilber’s book is “one of my new favorites.” New Ager Neale Donald Walsch publicly revealed Gore’s spiritual sympathies in the following comments he made at the Humanity’s Team Leadership Gathering in 2003:
You know Al Gore. I know Al well and he says to me, “Hey Neale, I used to be the next president of the United States.” Al has read my books and loves them, but he can’t possibly say that publicly…. He should be able to, and in the society we’re going to recreate he will be able to, but right now he can’t. (1)
For those not familiar with Walsch’s work, this may not seem that significant. But Walsch is the author of the Conversations with God books, in which millions of copies have been sold. His books are the supposed conversations between Walsch and “God.” Walsch’s “God” proclaims:
The twenty-first century will be the time of awakening, of meeting The Creator Within. Many beings will experience Oneness with God…. There are many such people in the world now–teachers and messengers, Masters and visionaries–who are placing this vision before humankind and offering tools with which to create it. These messengers and visionaries are the heralds of a New Age. There is only one message that can change the course of human history forever, end the torture, and bring you back to God. That message is The New Gospel: WE ARE ALL ONE. (from For Many Shall Come in My Name, 2nd ed., pp. 55-56)
The 30 plus Baptist organizations that are part of the New Baptist Covenant represent 20 million Baptists around the world, according to the NBC website. Baylor University and the Baptist Standard news source stand among the groups that have joined the NBC. While some may be surprised that Baylor University is on the list, the school’s spiritual affinity toward the New Age showed up last year when they invited New Age sympathizer Leonard Sweet to speak. 2
The Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Baptist body in existence, is not part of the New Baptist Covenant. A statement on the NBC website explains why:
While a number of the leaders in the New Baptist Covenant are members of Southern Baptist Churches, and individual Southern Baptists and Southern Baptist congregations are expected to participate in the Celebration, the SBC’s leadership has to date not been involved in this initiative. The organizations represented in the New Baptist Covenant are members of the North American Baptist Fellowship, an affiliate of the Baptist World Alliance. The Southern Baptist Convention withdrew from membership in the North American Baptist Fellowship and the Baptist World Alliance in 2004.
In addition to Al Gore and Tony Campolo, both advocates of eastern mysticism, some of the “Presenters” at the conference starting today are also proponents of mystical meditation: MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers), The Alban Institute, and The Upper Room.
While this article will not attempt to determine whether there are political motives behind this newly formed organization that includes at least three major political personalities, one thing can be stated with surety: The New Baptist Covenant has the potential of being another avenue through which mystical spirituality will enter the lives of millions of people and thus take them further away from the Gospel message of Jesus Christ.