See also Part 1 Year in Review | See also Part 2 Year in Review | See also Part 3 Year in Review
(Listed in order of date posted)
On March 9th of this year, a press release came out announcing the retirement of long-time AWANA president Jack Eggar who was being replaced by an interim president and CEO, Valerie Bell. Bell is a member of Willow Creek (and her husband is a Vice President of Willow Creek Association). The fact alone that AWANA has selected someone from Willow Creek to lead AWANA should be enough to show that AWANA has at least in part absorbed the spirituality of Willow Creek, which is the spirituality of the emerging church (and that is NOT guilt by association). But the selection of Valerie Bell has even deeper roots in the “new” spirituality.
“Are you looking for reliable, Christ-centered information and healing that is safe, affordable and that really does work? Are you sick & tired of being sick & tired? Are you a healer or are you searching for effective healing that is Christ-centered? You have found your tribe.”
So says Tammy Anderson Ward, President of Hope Haven Events, who presents the “Christ-Centered Energy Healing Conferences.” If Christ-centered energy healing sounds like an oxymoron, that’s because it is. And all one needs to do is cruise around on the website to see that the nature of these conferences is blatantly New Age. But we’ll get to that in a little bit. The group is reaching out to a broad audience and is being billed as “the world’s largest Christ-centered energy healing conference;” but what caught the attention of Lighthouse Trails and author Ray Yungen more than anything is that they are reaching out to homeschool kids and parents, a traditionally conservative segment of the population.
According to a news release from PRWire titled “Pope Francis To Address Americans At National Mall Event ’Together 2016’ With Special Video Message,” Pope Francis will be joining (via video) evangelical leaders such as Ravi Zacharias, Luis Palau, Michael W. Smith, and Josh McDowell, emerging-church leaders such as Francis Chan, Ann Voskamp, Jennie Allen (IF), and Mark Batterson (Circle Maker) and charismatic leaders such as Sammy Rodriguez and Hillsong for an event motivated by a goal to bring unity to all those who “love Jesus.” The event is called “Together 2016,” subtitled Fill the Mall.
On June 13, Lighthouse Trails reported on an event called Together 2016 that will take place this summer in Washington DC. We explained that organizer Nick Hall was bringing together evangelical, emerging, charismatic, and Catholic leaders for the ecumenical purpose of uniting together. A special video appearance by Pope Francis will be part of the event. A similar event (but without the Pope) has been announced. The Gathering: A National Solemn Assembly will take place in September in Dallas, Texas, and while there doesn’t appear to be any direct promotion of the Roman Catholic religion as there is with Together 2016, there is a definite united-we-stand-regardless-of-our-beliefs scenario in The Gathering.
As we observe evangelical Christianity being drawn toward “the Mother Church” of Roman Catholicism, it is amazing to see how very few Christian leaders speak up about this. On the contrary, one after the next, Christian leaders are succumbing to this ecumenical, interfaith last-days apostasy of merging evangelicalism into the Catholic fold. Lighthouse Trails has reported on numerous examples of highly influential evangelical leaders heading in this direction: Rick Warren, Beth Moore, James Robison, and Ken Copeland to name a few.
Today, we received two different e-mails that provided information to show the continuance of this evangelical move toward Rome. In the first e-mail sent by Roger Oakland of Understand the Times, Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa senior pastor Brian Brodersen was brought to our attention. Brodersen is beginning an online YouTube series called Things That Matter.
Last week, a colleague sent a note to Lighthouse Trails asking us to review a sermon that Erwin Lutzer recently gave at Skip Heitzig’s Calvary Chapel of Albuquerque (New Mexico) Church. Lighthouse Trails has issued challenges and appeals to Erwin Lutzer on a number of occasions over the past ten years because of our concerns that as a major Christian leader (Pastor Emeritus (as of spring 2016) of Moody Church – the same church Dr. Harry Ironside and D.L. Moody pastored many years ago), Lutzer would lead many astray because of his written endorsement of Larry Crabb’s book, The Papa Prayer, that openly promotes “centering prayer.” An editor from Lighthouse Trails spoke personally on the phone with Lutzer in 2006 but to no avail.
For three years, Lighthouse Trails has been warning believers about Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling. It was October 25th 2013 that we announced going to press with Warren B. Smith’s book “Another Jesus” Calling. Since then, we have published three booklets by Warren on the topic as well as several articles. We also sent his booklet 10 Scriptural Reasons Jesus Calling is a Dangerous Book to over 100 Christian leaders earlier this year. Interestingly, in these past few years, we’ve heard virtually no public comments by Christian leaders about Jesus Calling – for or against. We wondered, “Do they like the book and are too afraid to say so?” or “Do they NOT like the book and are too afraid to say so?” Afraid that if they stated their true feelings about the book – whether for or against – they would take heat from either their followers who love the book or from discernment ministries who warn about the book. Well, apparently, all that doesn’t matter anymore because leaders are starting to speak up about Jesus Calling – and the ones who are, LOVE IT!
InterVarsity Christian Fellowship has come under public heat because it recently announced they were giving an ultimatum to employees who saw nothing wrong with same-sex (homosexual) marriage. In a Charisma magazine article (we are not endorsing Charisma), the author states:
InterVarsity Christian Fellowship is one of the leading campus ministries, and its publishing arm, InterVarsity Press, is one of the top Christian publishers. But this fine ministry is learning the hard way that, when it comes to homosexuality, you cannot straddle the fence.1
The reason the Charisma writer says “straddle the fence” is because InterVarsity Press has been publishing emergent, contemplative, New Age/New Spirituality authors for a long time, and mixing truth with error has finally caught up with them.
According to a Christianity Today article, LifeWay Resources (the Southern Baptist Convention resource arm) has stopped selling products by Jen Hatmaker because of her promotion of same-sex marriage. The CT article stated:
Jen Hatmaker posted a 650-word response on her Facebook page Monday, saying she “wrestled with and through Scripture, not around it” before coming to a decision to affirm same-sex relationships, which recently led to LifeWay Christian Resources pulling her books from its stores.
Hatmaker has been the topic of Lighthouse Trails articles and Cedric Fisher’s booklet called IF it is of God: Answering the Questions About IF: Gathering as she is part of the group of women who head up the women’s movement called IF: Gathering.
According to an article in the Catholic Herald, Pope Francis has proposed six new beatitudes. The article states:
At the Mass, which took place at the conclusion of his ecumenical trip to the country, Pope Francis highlighted the lives of the Swedish saints Elizabeth Hesselblad and Bridget of Vadstena. . . . New situations require new energy and a new commitment, he said, and then offered a new list of Beatitudes for modern Christians.
Four of the “new beatitudes” had to do with forgiving others, caring about the earth, and helping the poor and needy. One of them was ecumenical in nature: — Blessed are those who pray and work for full communion between Christians [meaning Christians and Catholics], and the second resonated with earlier comments Pope Francis has made to indicate that this pope is not only ecumenical, he is also interspiritual (all paths lead to God) and panentheistic (God is in all).