LTRP Note: In a January 4, 2010 article, “Mystical Spirituality Paradigm Saw Major Growth in 2009,” we made reference to the January 2010 issue of Charles Stanley’s popular magazine In Touch. In that issue was an article by a Joseph Bentz who highlighted the spiritual journeys of two women, whom Bentz claimed were both converted to the Christian faith. Both women today can be considered significant proponents of the new spirituality. We stated:
While we are not suggesting that Charles Stanley is a contemplative now because of the inclusion of this article, we believe it is a perfect example of a steady blending of contemplative and New Age to the point where eventually no one will notice the difference, and what will be known as Christianity will be mystical.
This week, we received the following email from someone who has followed Charles Stanley’s ministry for many years and who is very concerned about this lack of spiritual discernment in his ministry. A few years ago, we spoke with one of Stanley’s top assistants, with the hope that he would ask Charles Stanley to read A Time of Departing and/or Faith Undone, which we sent to the assistant for Dr. Stanley. We never heard whether he read the books, but seeing Anne Lamott and Sara Miles names in his current issue of In Touch is very disheartening. Why won’t Christian leaders bring themselves up to speed on these matters and begin warning rather than abetting?
The Letter to Charles Stanley (used with permission):
Dear Dr. Stanley:
Regretfully, I again must write this followup letter to the one I wrote you dated January 4, 2010 regarding the In Touch magazine article in the January 2010 issue by Joseph Benz titled, “I Didn’t Want to be a Christian but….How Running Away Can Take you on an Unexpected Journey.”
I had a phone call on Friday, January 15, from a young woman on the In Touch staff regarding my letter. I’m sorry that I did not get her name, but I had just finished a call on which I was still focused and neglected to get her name. I may perhaps be mistaken, but I assumed she was one of the editors at the magazine. The young woman expressed the intent of the author was that God could reach anyone, and I wholeheartedly agreed with that, as I am a testament to that indisputable fact. I, in turn, expressed my concerns that the two women Mr. Benz focuses on in the article, Anne Lamott and Sara Miles, both authors, by their own words, deeds, and indeed, lifestyles do not show a biblical conversion. In fact, the copies of interviews given by Lamott and Miles since their “epiphanies” which I am enclosing with this letter portray no such Christian conversion. In fact, Sara Miles is a lesbian in a 14+-year “marriage” relationship with her lesbian lover. Gay and proud of it she is. Your caller seemed surprised at that, even though it was mentioned in my previous letter, and you can read Ms. Miles own declaration of that fact and her other unbiblical beliefs in the enclosed materials. Anne Lamott, on the other hand, is braggadocios in the fact that in each of her books she uses the “F” word in describing her “conversion,” and states she was “F* by Jesus.”
I had also stated in my earlier letter that I was concerned that those reading the article would purchase the 2 books noted within the footnotes without researching the authors simply because the titles appeared in the In Touch magazine. Your [seemingly] young staff member said rather astonishingly that she had not thought along those lines. She also said that Mr. Benz was a well-known and respected author and professor. I do not care what credentials Mr. Benz carries. If in my own research I am providing you with copies of interviews from Lamott and Miles regarding their “spiritual” journeys, how could Joseph Benz not be privy to the same information or more about their professed conversions? Did the good professor read the books they authored, or does he blindly write his articles and books without research? If he has read their books, if he did research on the 2 subjects, is it not academic arrogance to foist upon the readers of In Touch magazine a false impression that Lamott and Miles had a conversion to the Jesus of the Bible, which is not evident in any of their own words over the many years of their “born-again” conversions. Mr. Benz has presented another Jesus, a false one at that, and he has done it deceptively within the pages of In Touch magazine.
In an article titled, “Neo-Liberal Stealth Offensive,” author Phil Johnson , executive director of Grace to You ministry [John MacArthur] and lay pastor at Grace Community Church, Sun Valley, CA, states, “The gospel’s most dangerous earthly adversaries are not raving atheists who stand outside the door shouting threats and insults. They are church leaders who cultivate a gentle, friendly, pious demeanor but hack away at the foundations of faith under the guise of keeping in step with a changing world. No Christian should imagine that heresy is always conspicuous or that every purveyor of theological mischief will lay out his agenda in plain and honest terms. The enemy prefers to sow tares secretly, for obvious reasons. Thus Scripture expressly warns us to be on guard against false teachers who creep into the church unnoticed (Jude 4), wolves who sneak into the flock wearing sheep’s clothing (Matt 7:15), and servants of Satan who disguise themselves as angels of light (2 Cor. 11:13-15).”
I am not the only one who is waiting a response, Dr. Stanley. My close brothers and sisters in Christ are waiting, my pastor and other pastors are waiting a response, and others not known to either of us personally are waiting for a response. In fact, in the enclosed article from the morebooksandthings blog, some are questioning if In Touch has begun to get out of touch with the true Gospel. You may be completely unaware of Mr. Benz’s January article, although the young woman caller did assure me that you had more input than I might think you had in the day-to-day operations. I do know that Joseph Benz has written for In Touch in the past. As I have stated previously, it is interesting that he used The Message in his In Touch magazine article for Scripture quotation, particularly in light of the fact that Eugene Peterson is a contemplative mystic. The one phrase that keeps crossing my mind is, “birds of a feather flock together.”
Dr. Stanley, I care about you, In Touch, and First Baptist Atlanta. My previous letter sets forth my high regard for you. I do hope that you will publicly quell the questions this January article has raised. I would, however, like to raise one other question. Do you perhaps have tares amongst your staff at In Touch? The good folks at Lighthouse Trails at lighthousetrailsresearch.com devote their entire ministry to contemplative spirituality, emergent church, and the “New Christianity.” I highly recommend this internet site as a point of research and reference to you and your staff, if you are unaware of their ministry.
Please know that I come to you with this matter in the love of Christ and in the calling of the Holy Spirit, earnestly contending for the faith.
Interview excerpt with Sara Miles (2007) by San Francisco Chronicle:
SF Chronicle: You are married to a woman who you’ve been with for almost 14 years. How do you reconcile Christian teachings that oppose same-sex relationships with your own beliefs as a Christian?
Sara Miles: Which Christian teachings? I think it’s kind of simple to say that the Bible says this or that thing is good or bad. The Bible is a collection of documents that is remade every time somebody reads it. And Christianity is a religion that over the centuries has adapted to incredibly different cultures, so people reinterpret and reinterpret and reinterpret [the Bible]. I also don’t feel like once the last pages of the King James Bible were assembled that God stopped talking to Christians. The conversation between God and the church is not finished.