LTRP Note: The following letter to the editor is posted with permission. It is written by a graduate student of a Christian university. We find the professor’s remarks to this student provocative, especially considering what we discovered after reading the professor’s post. Please see our comments after the two posts below.
Dear Lighthouse Trails:
I am a graduate student at GCU [Grand Canyon University] in a biblical doctrine program. I had begun a new class in Hermenutics.
My pastors at church told me of your website, and I kept you in mind. A topic on spiritual formation came up recently, and I provided a link to your website on the topic. My teacher gave me a harsh grade and comment. Seems they are onto you!
Please see attached screenshots of what took place.
[From the student]:
[From the professor]:
Lighthouse Trails Statement:
We’d like to begin this statement in response to the professor’s comments by telling of an incident that happened several years ago. A radio host we had worked with at that time was contacted by two Ph.D theologians from Canada. The two men had read the book we published by Ray Yungen, A Time of Departing, and told the radio host that Ray Yungen had taken things out of context to make his points. The editors at LT asked the radio host if it would be OK for us to contact the two men. When we were granted permission to do that, we wrote to them, and respectfully asked them if they could give us one or two examples of where the book had taken things out of context. They could not provide any examples. We knew they would not be able to because we had gone through the manuscript with the utmost care, checking the context of every quote in the book against the original source. And to this day, we have not yet had anyone show us where we have taken a quote out of context in that book or any other that we have published.
The Grand Canyon University professor has accused Lighthouse Trails of “not” being “recognized in the scholarly community as credible.” We are assuming he means the Christian scholarly community. And yet, over the years, we have had numerous men and women with doctorate degrees and numerous pastors tell us that our work is indeed credible. For example, we once received a phone call from Dr. James Diehl (former General Superintendent of the Nazarene Church) who told us that A Time of Departing was excellent and that the message in it was vital. In addition, the first edition of A Time of Departing was endorsed by Dr. Robert Wright (Corban University), Dr. Donald Whitney (Southern Baptist Theological Seminary), Dr. Peter Jones (TruthxChange), and Dr. Wayne House (Faith Evangelical College and Seminary).
As one last example, Dr. James Maxwell, the now-retired president of Faith Baptist Bible College in Ankeny, Iowa spoke several times with Lighthouse Trails editors, praising the work that was being done. He also wrote an article that is online titled The New Spirituality, where he warned about the things that LT has warned about, and he referenced Lighthouse Trails in that article.
We have given these examples to show that there are those who have credentials who have backed up the work of Lighthouse Trails. But, as much as we appreciate those who have doctorates who have shown support, we’d like to quote author and lecturer Roger Oakland, when he spoke about “credentials.” He stated, “Credentials, for many, mean credibility. If you don’t have credentials, it doesn’t matter what facts you present. Facts are secondary.” That statement is true for many, but at Lighthouse Trails we have always believed that facts (and the Word of God) come before credentials. (source)
What We Found at the GCU Library
In the comment above by the professor at GCU, he advised his students to use “recognized sources from the GCU library” saying that “discernment sites do not qualify.”* So let’s take a look for a moment at the GCU library.
To start with, there are 35 books by or about the Catholic mystic, Thomas Merton, including Merton’s books Zen and the Birds of Appetite, New Seeds of Contemplation, and The Way of Chuang-Ztu. Merton became a mystic and a panentheistic who stated in his writings that God is in everyone.
There is a book by the mystic Meister Eckhart, titled Breakthrough, Meister Eckhart’s creation spirituality, in new translation / introd. and commentaries by Matthew Fox. Matthew Fox is a mystic who explains in his book The Coming of the Cosmic Christ, that every human being is Christ.
There are 170 listings of books with the word “Zen” in the title as well as Dark Night of the Soul by Gerald May and over 80 books promoting Yoga (such as Rāja-yoga, or conquering the internal nature by Swami Vivekananda).
The GCU library essentially has books by just about every mystic Lighthouse Trails has ever written about: Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Evelyn Underhill, Daniel Goleman, Hildegard of Binge, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Henri Nouwen, M. Scott Peck, the Desert Fathers, Julian of Norwich, Thomas Aquinas, Emanuel Swedenborg, Richard Rolle to name a few.
In addition, the GCU library has all kinds of books, too many to number, written by emergent/contemplative authors such as Brian McLaren, Tony Jones, Dan Allender, Richard Foster, David Benner, and Marcus Borg.
In the New Age category, GCU library has books galore. Books by: Swami Venkatesananda, Ramakrishna, Swami Abhedananda, Helena Blavatsky (founder of Theosophy and pioneer in the New Age movement), and Jon Kabat-Zinn were just a few of the New Age authors that line the physical and digital GCU library shelves.
The question we have for this professor, with his loose-ended advice to students to turn to “recognized” resources in the GCU library, is how in the world are students going to be able to decipher which books are credible and which aren’t? It seems rather unfair and unbalanced for a professor to condemn and harshly grade a graduate student who suggests to his fellow students to consider Lighthouse Trails for resources (which are well written and well documented) all the while pointing students to a library that is literally saturated with books and resources that can hardly be considered trustworthy and certainly don’t fall within the realm of scholarly and credible (especially from a biblical point of view).
P.S. As for the professor’s remark that some discernment sites promote “hateful attacks on fellow Christians,” we issue the same challenge we did so many years ago to the two theologians from Canada: Please show us where Lighthouse Trails has done this, for the indirect insinuation in his remarks is that LT is part of that group of sites that promotes hateful attacks.
*Many times, as in this case, those who try to discredit Lighthouse Trails suggest that we are merely a blog or a website. Lighthouse Trails Publishing, Inc. is a publishing house and research ministry that has been in existence since 2002, is incorporated (since 2017) in the state of Montana, and is recognized in the Christian Writer’s Market directory as a legitimate publisher. Besides, it is illogical to suggest that something cannot be credible if it is “just a blog or a website.” Information, be it from websites, books, newspapers, blogs, or magazines, is not credible because of the venue in which it is presented but is credible if it is accurate and properly documented.