On December 12, 2019, Christianity Today posted an article by “new” Christianity pastor Ed Stetzer, giving a recap of the GC2 Summit that took place on December 6th. The article, titled “Lies Pastors Believe, Part One,” states:
Two months of planning for our GC2 Summit on Facing Hard Truths & Challenges in Pastoral Ministry couldn’t have prepared us for what we saw God do this past Friday. Over 400 leaders joined us in person and nearly 80 livestreamed in from all over the world to hear pastors and counselors talk about leadership, burnout, and mental health. If you were unable to join us, you can purchase the full day’s recordings through the GC2 website. They will be available until January 10, 2020.
The messages from leaders such as Rick Warren, Derwin Gray, Ruth Hayley Barton, Drew Hyun, David Wang, Philip Ryken, Margaret Diddams, and others reflected the most important messages pastors need to hear today.
With at least three of the nine speakers being strong advocates for Spiritual Formation (a synonym for “contemplative spirituality”)—Rick Warren, Ruth Haley Barton, and David Wang (a pastor of Spiritual Formation)—it is clear that organizers of GC2 believe Spiritual Formation is a crucial element of “the most important messages pastors need to hear today.”
Spiritual Formation is the entry point for bringing New Age meditation into the church as Lighthouse Trails has time and again documented. The GC2 is yet another example of how Spiritual Formation has become saturated in today’s evangelical church. In fact, it is so integrated now that it’s difficult to find many lines of distinction. Ruth Haley Barton and Rick Warren illustrate this perfectly.
Both Barton and Warren have been long-time activists for contemplative spirituality (i.e., Spiritual Formation). Rick Warren began endorsing it with his first book The Purpose Driven Church saying that the movement has a valid message to the church (p. 126) and continued promoting it in The Purpose Driven Life. Ruth Haley Barton, after training at the highly New Age panentheistic Shalem Center in Washington, DC many years ago, moved into Willow Creek to work with John Ortberg. Together the two created the Spiritual Formation/Contemplative Prayer curriculum for Willow Creek. Today, Barton runs The Transforming Center, a contemplative outreach that trains thousands of pastors in Spiritual Formation.
The GC2 Summit (which was a conference for pastors and church leaders) focused primarily on “burnout,” “mental illness,” and pastoral care and was at least in part to be a remembrance of Rick Warren’s son who passed away in 2013 from suicide. We cannot even imagine the suffering a family would go through from such a loss, and we would not wish that on anyone is this world. We also recognize that the incidence of suicide by young people has reached epidemic proportions. People are looking for answers understandably. Unfortunately, as with the issue of racism that we recently wrote about, the church is looking to the world (and to the New Age) for its answers.
It was no accident or coincidence that GC2 organizers brought in to the discussion of mental health issues prolific Spiritual Formation teachers. They obviously believe that Spiritual Formation is a major part of the answer to mental illness and pastoral burn out. But as we have shown for nearly 18 years, Spiritual Formation, contemplative and centering prayer, lectio divina, Yoga, mindfulness meditation, energy healing, and other New Age-based esoteric experiences and practices will not bring lasting relief for those in mental anguish. Quite the contrary as even secular studies are now showing (see links below).
If your church or someone you know is involved with any of the practices mentioned above, first bring yourself up to speed on understanding these issues; then, pray and do what you can to help others who are caught up into something that is very spiritually (and mentally) dangerous. Remind them that the Lord and His Word are what will bring true peace of mind, comfort, and rest for our souls. The world, and worldly carnal practices, cannot give these things.
The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. (Psalm 34:18)
But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. (1 Peter 5:10)
Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved: for thou art my praise. (Jeremiah 17:14)
There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)
(Illustration from bigstockphoto.com; used with permission)