LTRP Note: Recently, we sent out a Special Note to our readers asking you to pray for us as we have been undergoing extra pressures from forces that wanted to see Lighthouse Trails come to an end. While we can’t say that all pressure has been relieved, we can say that God has answered your prayers in a number of ways, mostly in that He lifted us up, encouraged us, and strengthened us. In addition, we were reminded, once again, that we (and all believers) are in a battle, and though we at times grow weary, we are assured through His Word that He will not leave us or forsake us, and He said in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” How grateful we are for those wonderful words of promise and hope.
We know there are those who believe Lighthouse Trails editors and authors are haters. Lately, we have been again made aware of this and were reminded of something that took place eight years ago. In May of 2009, we wrote an article titled “Calvary Chapel Termination Has Profound Implications.” The article was a special report detailing Calvary Chapel (CCOF) firing Chuck Smith’s brother, Paul Smith. Our article began with:
Lighthouse Trails regrets to report that on May 5th, Paul Smith, brother of Chuck Smith (the founder of the Calvary Chapel movement), was fired from his position in the Calvary Chapel (CCOF) organization during an unscheduled meeting that day. The motion to fire Paul Smith was made by board member Roger Wing and seconded by Chuck Smith’s son-in-law, Brian Broderson. Other board members affirmed the motion, and Paul Smith was dismissed.
Within hours of Paul Smith being fired, we talked to him, asking for permission to write the story. Paul had been working hard to keep the emerging church out of Calvary Chapel, but he was coming up against brick walls. Shortly after his dismissal, a youth event put on by Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa called Movement 2009 was scheduled to take place. Thousands of young people were expected to attend. The reason Paul was trying to intervene in the event was because Mike Erre, an influential emergent author, was the scheduled speaker. Lighthouse Trails had exposed Erre’s emergent leanings in a review of his book, Death by Church. However, Paul Smith was fired a few weeks before the event took place, which then prevented him from having any say in the matter.
Movement 2009 took place, and Mike Erre spoke to several thousand youth. During the event, one of the organizers of the event stood in front of the crowd and said that “the haters tried to stop us, but they didn’t.” We knew they were speaking about Lighthouse Trails (and probably Paul Smith). In response to this idea that Lighthouse Trails is “haters,” author and researcher Ray Yungen wrote a letter to our readers. In view of increased pressure on us lately, we wanted to repost Ray’s letter, answering the question, “Is Lighthouse Trails haters?”
“Is Lighthouse Trails Haters?”
By Ray Yungen
Recently, at a large Christian youth event, Lighthouse Trails was indirectly referred to as “haters” because of our articles and books exposing the emerging church movement. We realize that many people think ministries like Lighthouse Trails are mean-spirited, hateful, and derive pleasure from causing trouble for others.
On the contrary, what motivates and drives Lighthouse Trails is a sense of duty to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We see that being the issue at stake.
Right now, there is a struggle going on for what the church of the future will look like. Karl Rahner once said the Christian of the future will be a mystic or he or she will not exist at all. The question must be asked (and answered): Is this really a good thing? Will mysticism lead to a Christianity that is more vibrant and in harmony with the will of God?
When one looks at the writings of those such as Henri Nouwen, Thomas Merton, Thomas Keating, etc., one finds that this mysticism is rooted firmly in a spiritual understanding more in-tune with Buddhism and Hinduism that with the writings of the apostles in the Bible.
Thomas Merton said:
It is a glorious destiny to be a member of the human race, … now I realize what we all are…. If only they [people] could all see themselves as they really are … I suppose the big problem would be that we would fall down and worship each other…. At the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusions, a point of pure truth…. This little point … is the pure glory of God in us. It is in everybody. (A Time of Departing, p. 59)
This is identical to what is called in New Age spirituality, the higher self. Over the last few decades there has been an ever-increasing number of individuals in Christianity that draw on and promote persons such as Thomas Merton and Henri Nouwen. The mission at Lighthouse Trails is to point out that if the church goes in the same mystical direction as these individuals, it will ultimately embrace the spiritual perceptions such as the one just stated. If that sounds implausible, take a look at the spiritual life of Sue Monk Kidd (author of The Secret Life of Bees).
Monk Kidd was at one time a conservative Southern Baptist Sunday school teacher. But after she was introduced to the writings of Thomas Merton, she branched out and began embracing contemplative practices and her spirituality dramatically changed. Eventually, it led her to say that God dwells in everything, even excrement and graffiti.
At Lighthouse Trails, we are not motivated by hate for people but rather by love and concern. We believe, with everything in us, that man’s only hope lies in Jesus Christ and the free gift of salvation offered to those who believe and accept it. And we also believe that contemplative/emerging spirituality leads man away from that Gospel not toward it. This is why we do what we do.
Lighthouse Trails author