Joel Rosenberg says he will speak at Break Forth, but serious implications should be considered
Dear Concerned Christian,
If your head is spinning, trying to keep up with the latest happenings of the leaders of the evangelical Christian church, it’s no wonder. For many, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to see clearly through the muddy waters of organized Christianity. More and more leaders, who have been considered orthodox and traditional, are ending up on speaking platforms with those from the emerging/contemplative/New Spirituality arena.
These minglings are not occasional or isolated events any longer. They are happening with increased frequency. For the most part, Christian leaders are not speaking up about the confusion it is causing.
Some people watching this unfold are angry that ministries like Lighthouse Trails would dare question their spiritual” heroes.” For others, they laugh and say, “See, I told you there was nothing wrong with this new paradigm spirituality.” And still others say, “I thought at one time it was wrong, but one of my favorite Christian figures shows no concern (and in fact stands alongside them), so now I believe this new spirituality is not wrong at all.” And in the midst of all this, confusion mounts, and the Gospel message is looking more obscure all the time.
Examples, you ask? Too many to list them all. But here are a few:
1. Joel Rosenberg and Frank Peretti have joined with New Spirituality teachers Leonard Sweet, William Paul Young, and a host of other contemplative/emerging figures to speak at the upcoming Break Forth conference in Canada in January. This is in spite of the fact that Peretti himself has written fiction stories that actually expose the darkness of the New Age.
2. Greg Laurie invited Rick Warren to give the opening prayer at Laurie’s 2009 Harvest Crusade and asked Chuck Smith to publicly welcome Warren at the event.
3. Apologetic figures Norman Geisler and Greg Koukl joined other “apologists” at Saddleback Church for an apologetics conference. Future Saddleback apologetic conferences are already being planned.
4. Emerging church leader Rob Bell and Chuck Swindoll shared a platform at the 2009 Catalyst event.
5. Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa invited emerging church author/pastor Mike Erre to speak to thousands of youth at their 2009 Movement event. In opening remarks at the event, concerned ministries were called “haters” for publicly stating their concerns.
6. In the 2007 Break Forth conference, Kay Arthur shared a platform with emerging/mystic Tony Campolo.
7. Andy Stanley (son of Charles Stanley), who says he is not part of the emerging/New Spirituality, shared a platform at Youth Specialties 2009 National Youth Workers Convention with contemplative/emerging figures Donald Miller (Blue Like Jazz), David Crowder, Duffy Robbins, Tony Campolo, Jim Burns, and a number of others in that camp. In fact, Youth Specialties is one of the main avenues through which the contemplative/New Spirituality is entering the church today and has been for many years.
8. The 2009 National Worship Conference brought together Calvary Chapel leader Greg Laurie and Jesus movement singer, Chuck Girard, with New Spirituality leaders Leonard Sweet, Brennan Manning, David Crowder, and Sally Morgenthaler.
This is just a sampling of conferences that have combined the “traditional” with the heretical. These conferences throughout North America are happening at a furious pace, and we believe are being used by Satan to converge and blend truth with error, so that soon there will be no distinction. Christians are flocking to these events, showing their full support. But this is one fast moving train that Christian believers should hop off before it’s too late.
On November 9th, Lighthouse Trails posted a report titled, WHY are Joel Rosenberg and Frank Peretti Appearing With New Age/New Spirituality Sympathizers? Then, on November 13th, Joel Rosenberg issued a public statement regarding this matter. He stated:
A few of you have expressed concern that I’ve agreed to speak at the “Break Forth 2010” conference in Edmonton, Canada Jan 29-31 because there are some other speakers slated to attend whose theology is questionable. Chief concern: William Young, author of “The Shack,” a novel I and others have found heretical. The reason I am attending is because it is the largest Christian conference in Canada (some 15,000 evangelicals are expected) and I’m not ready to concede such ground to those who are peddling false teaching. I’ve been asked to come there at [sic] [to] teach the Word of God and preach the gospel, and that’s exactly what I’m going to do. I can’t explain why Young, for example, was invited. But why cede the entire stage to him. Moreover, at this critical juncture, I plan on explaining why God loves Israel so much and why He wants us to help mobilize a global movement to stand with Israel while so much of the rest of the world is turning against her. Thanks for your concerns. I would appreciate your prayers. May God bless you guys.
In his statement, Joel Rosenberg has implied that Break Forth is a trustworthy organization that is bringing in just one heretical teacher, William Paul Young, but the conference is bringing in a number of them, and in fact, the New emerging spirituality is the dominant presence in the conference. Even though Rosenberg’s rationale sounds credible on the surface and even though his message is valid, unless he specifically identifies and challenges what these other speakers are saying, he in essence gives credence by sharing a platform with them because his respectability will be implanted in the minds of the attendees. It is logical that because Rosenberg is respected and trusted, the others will be too because in people’s minds you don’t have heretics and proclaimers of the Gospel on the same bill in a non-debate scenario. In essence, it is the opposite of guilt by association; it is validity by association.
In Rosenberg’s earlier announcement on his blog about Break Forth, he called this a “powerful Christian conference.” Saying this indicates that he may not understand the gravity of what is going on in the church. This is not just a doctrinal issue – what’s at stake is what Christianity will be in the future. Will it be mystical, panentheistic, and New Age, or will it be the Gospel once delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3)? If our concerns sound outlandish, read our report from last week where we show how Leonard Sweet resonates spiritually with New Age icons such as David Spangler and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.
As the New Spirituality becomes more widespread and acceptable, we’ll be seeing in the future many more of these dichotomies: the defenders of the faith sharing platforms with those who seek to radically change and alter the very Gospel these defenders are seeking to uphold. This is not the example that the Old Testament prophets or the New Testament disciples set. Most of them stood alone and often died alone because they would not compromise under any circumstances. Regarding those who teach or promote heresy, the apostle Paul writes strong words: “A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject” (Titus 3:10). According to the Rosenberg’s rationale, it is OK for him to share a platform with false teachers because his message is so important. But doesn’t his desire to get his message out override the Scripture in Titus 3:10? (And other Scriptures as well.) We must strongly disagree with this reasoning. The end does not always justify the means, and in this case, the end is highly questionable.
While Rosenberg says he is attending Break Forth to “defend Israel,” does he not realize that by giving credence to emergent/New Spirituality speakers, he is abetting the emerging philosophy that sees NO prophetic importance in Israel. A flood of Christian leaders are turning their backs on Israel, directly or indirectly, merely by promoting the emerging/contemplative/New Spirituality. Mr. Rosenberg, defend Israel, yes, by all means, but first defend the Gospel.
A note of irony. In Rosenberg’s rebuttal statement, he gives a link to Norman Geisler’s article refuting The Shack. Yet, Geisler recently teamed up with emerging-church-promoter Rick Warren (at Warren’s apologetic conference), all the while Rick Warren is selling The Shack on his Purpose Driven Connection website. Perhaps part of the problem here is that Christian leaders are not taking spiritual deception seriously. And yet Scripture warns that the days before Christ’s return will be very spiritually dark and that many will fall away: “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first. (II Thessalonians 2: 2).
This fusion of orthodox and heretical is not a new tactic. One of the best examples of this blending is Robert Schuller, identified by Bruce Wilkinson as “the real leader” (see A “Wonderful” Deception, p. 69) who has been inviting orthodox traditional Christians to Crystal Cathedral for a long time. Often these invited guests, such as Corrie ten Boom, come because they want to share their messages. But often they are being used to bring credibility to these vehicles of heresy–just as we believe Rosenberg and Peretti are being used. Even Break Forth’s promotion photo shows William Paul Young sandwiched between Peretti and Rosenberg.
We want to make one thing very clear. Lighthouse Trails believes Israel has a biblical prophetic role, and we agree with Rosenberg that anti-Semitic as well as anti-Israel sentiment is growing at an alarming rate. We too are vitally concerned, which is one of the reasons we publish and distribute several books and DVDs by Holocaust survivors and former resistance workers.
But Rosenberg and other dedicated Christian leaders must understand that it is also vitally important for defenders of the faith to warn against the devastation of spiritual deception that is quickly overtaking much of the evangelical Church. The Bible warns that a day will come when a one-world religious body will join together with a one-world governmental body, and together they will serve a world master who will seek to destroy Israel (and the Church) and cause all mankind to worship him. What good will the church be to Israel (or anyone else for that matter), if the Gospel is no longer preached? “[F]aith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).
If Rosenberg and other Christian leaders can steer their own followers away from this subtle yet deadly deception, they will do more to help thwart anti-Israel sentiments than they can know, just by the very reason that they will be pointing believers back to the Bible and away from the New Spirituality.
Does Rosenberg realize that the very emerging spirituality that is represented at Break Forth will help to usher in a “kingdom” that will allow no room for Israel? Roger Oakland explains:
As the world becomes more and more resentful toward Israel, the view that the church takes the place of Israel, leaving Israel no prophetic significance (replacement theology), will become increasingly accepted within Christianity at large. Those who believe the Book of Revelation predicts an apocalyptic future will be considered a danger to society and the well-being of this new kingdom of God. (Faith Undone, p. 227)
New Agers believe these dangers of society (Bible-believing Christians) will need to be gone before the world can truly be “healed.” (Please read False Christ Coming: Does Anybody Care? by Warren B. Smith for documentation on this “selection process.”) This is where the emerging, apostate church is heading. And whether they realize it or not, many are helping her to get there through their promotion of this New Spirituality.
Are we being extreme in saying these things? We think not. Watch, and see as the events and deception that the Bible warns about unfolds before your very eyes. And pray that there will be some courageous Christian leaders who will take a stand no matter the cost. It is possible that Rosenberg and Peretti could do more harm to Israel and the church than help by attending such conferences. We pray there will be those in these days, when the birth pangs in the Earth continue to intensify, who will “earnestly contend for the faith” (Jude 1:3). And may we as believers truly trust in Him and not lean to our OWN understanding but in all our ways acknowledge Him; then He promises to direct our paths (Proverbs 3).