Update on the Exponential 2007 Conference
On September 16th, Lighthouse Trails issued a report titled “Bob Coy Joins Contemplative Promoters Rick Warren and John Ortberg for Conference.” On October 12th in a telephone conversation, personnel at the Crown Financial Ministries office (the major sponsor for the event) said that originally Bob Coy was scheduled to be physically present at the conference, but plans had changed for undisclosed reasons and while he would still be participating in the event, he would be addressing the audience through a videotaped session instead.
Coy’s church, Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale, has been carrying and selling books by several contemplatives and/or emergents (see examples below), including material by Rick Warren. This has resulted in people contacting Lighthouse Trails with concerns and confusion because of Calvary Chapel’s statements last year (see recall notice (link removed from CC website) and position paper) that denounced both Purpose Driven and the emerging church. Since then, Calvary Chapel’s founding pastor, Chuck Smith has spoken on the pulpit and on the radio on several occasions against both contemplative spirituality and the emerging church.
Even still, according to many Calvary Chapel attendees in various CC churches who have contacted Lighthouse Trails, some CC pastors are continuing to promote Purpose Driven, the emerging church, and contemplative spirituality. While the individual CC churches are self-governed without major interception from Chuck Smith, Smith requested that any CC church going in the emerging church direction or promoting it change their name and not be affiliated with the movement.
With regard to Bob Coy’s church, Lighthouse Trails contacted Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale and spoke with the bookstore manager about the books they were carrying and why they were causing concern. Lighthouse Trails then sent complimentary copies of Faith Undone and A Time of Departing to the bookstore manager to help explain contemplative and emerging to him.
While there are CC pastors who continue to promote Purpose Driven, emerging and contemplative, numerous Calvary Chapel pastors have contacted Lighthouse Trails in the last month since Roger Oakland’s book exposing Purpose Driven, contemplative spirituality, and the emerging church (Faith Undone) was released. These pastors have requested multiple copies of the book and said the book is important and vital. They are distributing it throughout their congregations. The book shows clearly Rick Warren’s involvement and promotion of the emerging church, as well as the ecumenical/interspiritual nature of the movement.
Calvary Chapel is not the only Christian organization that is experiencing conflict because of efforts to ignite a mystical, ecumenical spirituality within. In fact, most Christian denominations and organizations are now influenced to varying degrees by contemplative spirituality even though some leaders in the organizations may not want that. A case in point is the Nazarene Church of America. Four years ago, General Superintendent Dr. Jim Diehl contacted Lighthouse Trails and said he agreed with what was written in A Time of Departing and encouraged us to continue with our work. However, during the last few years, contemplative has raced into Nazarene churches, seminaries, and universities at an alarming speed.
Chuck Smith was one of the first Christian leaders of a major Christian organization/movement to speak up publicly against these mystical-promoting belief systems (i.e., Purpose Driven, emerging, contemplative). It is the hope that others will follow suit and in so doing preserve the precious Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is the only way of salvation.
Below is a copy of our 9/16/07 report addressing the Exponential 2007 event:
On November 13th and 14th at Saddleback Church in California Bob Coy, pastor of Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale will join Rick Warren and John Ortberg for the Exponential 07 conference. Both Warren and Ortberg are strong proponents of contemplative spirituality, and attendees should use caution and discernment.
While staff at Coy’s Florida church have told Lighthouse Trails on various occasions that they do not promote contemplative spirituality or the emerging church, the walk-in bookstore at the church has been selling books by contemplative and/or emergent leaders and authors such as Rob Bell, David Crowder, and Liz Babbs.
Crowder, author of a contemplative promoting book called Praise Habit, also performed at the Fort Lauderdale church this past February.
Rob Bell’s mystical affinities can be seen in his book Velvet Elvis for one, where he tells readers (often teens) to spend three months studying a book by New Ager and Buddhist sympathizer Ken Wilber (see Faith Undone for more information on Rob Bell’s beliefs).
The Exponential 07 event describes itself in the following way:
Learn new and practical ways these diverse and dynamic leaders have shifted their congregations from just tipping God to experiencing the joy of giving.
Unfortunately, the experiences Rick Warren and John Ortberg offer followers could include the contemplative experience. Ortberg co-authored the Willow Creek Spiritual Formation curriculum with Ruth Haley Barton of the Tranforming Center, a place where Christian leaders are taught the dynamics of contemplative prayer. In Ortberg’s book, God is Closer Than You Think, Ortberg quotes favorably from contemplatives such as Anne Lamott, Annie Dillard, Gary Thomas (Sacred Pathways), Brother Lawrence (who danced violently like a mad man when he practiced contemplative), interspiritualists Tilden Edwards (Shalem Institute), Thomas Kelly (believed a Divine Center was in all people), Jean Pierre de Caussade, Frederick Buechner, Meister Eckhart as well as Dallas Willard and Thomas Merton.
One of the other speakers at the Exponential 07 is Allen Hunt, senior pastor at Mt. Pisgah United Methodist Church, where the Walk to Emmaus is hosted.1 The Walk to Emmaus is a meditative experience/lesson created by Upper Room Ministries, a pro-contemplative/mystical organization that encourages all types of eastern-style meditation. According to the Walk to Emmaus website, it is “an adaptation of the Roman Catholic Cursillo Movement, which originated in Spain in 1949.” 2 A women’s group at Mt. Pisgah is focusing on contemplative prayer proponent Larry Crabb. In Crabb’s book, The Papa Prayer he talks about the benefits of centering prayer.3
A “Sneak Preview” promotional video clip of the Exponential 07 conference states: “The principles taught here are fantastic, right out of the Word of God.” But in view of the speakers this year, the principles taught may be more dangerous than “fantastic” and may offer something contrary to the Word of God. It may be best for Bible believing Christians to steer clear of the Exponential 07 conference at Saddleback Church this year. And we pray that those who do attend will not be exposed or introduced to the dangerous teachings of contemplative spirituality.
Is Rick Warren Promoting Contemplative Prayer?