On December 19th, 2019, Christianity Today, the magazine that considers itself the “flagship” magazine for Christianity released an article written by the just-retired editor-in-chief, Mark Galli, titled, “Trump Should Be Removed from Office.” According to CT, the article set off a firestorm. And by our estimates, millions have now seen the article as scores of media outlets across the country reported on the story.1 However, that article will not be the focus of this Lighthouse Trails report. Rather, we will be discussing something said in a rebuttal article aimed at the critics that came out on December 22nd titled, “The Flag in the Whirlwind: An Update from CT’s President,” written by CT president Timothy Dalrymple.
In his effort to defend and define Christianity Today, Dalrymple’s article states that CT is “theologically conservative” and is “committed to the glory of God.” Lighthouse Trails hopes to show that in the last 20+ years, since the emerging “progressive” socialist church was birthed, that Christianity Today has not been theologically conservative and has actually helped to propagate an emergent socialist, very non-theologically conservative spirituality that does anything but bring glory to God.
Emergent Church Background
In Roger Oakland’s 2007 book Faith Undone, he chronicled the birth of the emerging church, dating back to the 1950s with Peter Drucker who eventually inspired another business guru, Bob Buford. Around 1998, Buford’s organization, Leadership Network, with encouragement and enthusiasm from Leith Anderson, Rick Warren, and Bill Hybels, pulled together a group of youth pastors from around the country to form what would be called Terra Nova. Some of these young men included Brian McLaren, Mark Driscoll, Dan Kimball, Doug Pagitt. Chris Seay, and Tony Jones.
The Terra Nova group eventually broke up with each of these men going their own ways; but today’s postmodern emergent church was birthed, and much theological and spiritual damage has been done because of it. Countless young people, raised in Christian homes and confessing a faith themselves, were introduced to emergent Marxist/socialist-leaning ideologies by professors in Christian colleges, youth pastors who were enamored with the Terra Nova men, hundreds of books by Christian publishers, and Christian magazines. Christianity Today was right there at the forefront giving a major platform and thrust to the commencement of the emergent church. Many of the young people who were taken down the emergent path through these venues either became emergent themselves or walked away from the Christian faith all together.
Lighthouse Trails has documented this tragic occurrence for nearly 18 years. So to hear Christianity Today defend itself and say it is a “theologically conservative” magazine that brings glory to God compels us to show the role it has played in bringing about quite the opposite. And as we described in our 2013 article, “They Hate Christianity But Love (Another) Jesus – How Conservative Christians Are Being Manipulated and Ridiculed, Especially During Election Years,” those who have propagated the emergent church (including Christianity Today) have had political motives that are cloaked in supposed theological and spiritual interests.
Our 2013 article stated:
In 2008, which was an election year, books, videos, broadcasts, and news articles were pouring into mainstream America with a guilt-ridden message that basically manipulated conservative Christians into thinking that either they shouldn’t vote because “Jesus wouldn’t vote,” or they shouldn’t vote on morality issues such as abortion or homosexuality. Suddenly, all over the place, there was talk about “destroying Christianity,” or “liking Jesus but not the church,” or “Jesus for president” (suggesting that maybe we could get Him on the ballot but certainly we shouldn’t vote for anyone already on the ballot). It all sounded very noble to many. . . .
It’s hard to believe there was not at least some political agenda in this storm of “we love Jesus but not the church or Christianity” especially witnessed in election years. And we believe this agenda was aimed particularly toward young people from evangelical conservative upbringings who had joined the emerging church movement. In a CBS Broadcast, anchorman Antonio Mora suggests there may have been over twenty million participants in the emerging church movement in the United States alone by 2006.2 Even half that number would be enough to change the results of a presidential election.
Our 2013 article also referred to the role that the “social justice gospel” played, something that changed the minds and spirituality of millions of young people, which inadvertently changed the outcomes of elections.
In 2011, we wrote an article titled “Christianity Today’s New 5 Year Teaching Series, the ‘Global Gospel Project,’ May Have Political and Emerging Objectives.” The article explained that Christianity Today had come up with a plan to help alleviate the confusion that so many young people now had regarding their spiritual beliefs (such as the atonement). In our article, we challenged Christianity Today for helping to create the problem in the first place through their continual and energetic endorsing and promotion of the emergent movement and then turning around and proposing to help solve the problem. In essence, that is what they have done for many years now—help create the problem then seemingly innocent and concerned offer to help solve the problem and act as if they have been on the right side all along. This is what they were doing over two decades ago, and by all appearances, this is what they are doing today.
In conclusion, we have put together a chronological list of a few of the countless articles Christianity Today has posted over the last four decades that have given backbone and stamina to the emergent socialist “church.” CT might argue that they are merely reporting without bias, but that is not the case as their steady history of often one-sided reporting (especially from emergent-leaning editors and writers), accolades, and hearty praise to the emerging, contemplative, social-justice church shows their bias as does their own published materials (magazines, journals, podcasts) and their recommended reading lists, book reviews, and endorsements. This small sampling of CT articles below illustrates how this supposedly “theologically conservative” magazine has made a steady concerted effort to change and redefine traditional evangelical views on issues such as the New Age and mysticism, the biblical relevance of the nation of Israel, the sin of homosexuality, conservative politics, interspiritual ecumenism, and other “conservative” issues. All this to say, Christianity Today is anything but “theologically conservative.” Some will say that interspersed with the bad, Christianity Today has good articles too. But as Harry Ironside said, “Truth mixed with error is equivalent to all error, except that it is more innocent looking and, therefore, more dangerous.”3
As for the Christianity Today article calling for the removal of President Trump, given that so many church goers and proclaiming Christians see the magazine as a trustworthy manifesto and directive for Christianity, you can be sure, it will alter the way many evangelicals vote this coming November, just like it played its part in helping to alter the election in 2008.
An Incomplete Chronological List of CT’s Articles Promoting Emergent, Socialist, Contemplative, Progressive Spirituality
Summer 1981—“An Invitation to the Spiritual Life” (by Henri Nouwen)
Spring 1992—“SOULWORK ” (promoting contemplative meditation practices)
August 1993—“Leadership Network: The 21st-Century Church” (on Buford and Drucker)
January 1996—“Helping the Successful Become Significant” (on Bob Buford/Leadership Network)
Fall 1999—”BiblioFile Recommended Reading ” (Recommending New Age sympathizer, Leonard Sweet)
April 2000—“Measuring What Matters” (making plans for the growth of the emerging church and the contemplative prayer movement)
Fall 2001—”Amaze-ing Prayer” (by Dan Kimball, on the use of the labyrinth)
January 2002—“The True, the Good, and the Beautiful Christian”
Summer 2003—“Emerging Values” (by Brian McLaren)
August 2004—“Banning Gay Marriage Is Not The Answer”
November 2004—“The Emergent Mystique”
February 2005—“Jim Wallis: ‘I See Genuine Soul-Searching Among Democrats'” (Encouraging evangelicals to compromise on abortion and other conservative issues)
May 2005—“Yes to Yoga”
September 2005—“The New Monasticism” (uplifting social-justice emergent Shane Claiborne)
October 2006—”Elementary Disciplines: Spiritual formation for little lambs” (promoting contemplative prayer for children)
January 2007—“Fresh Air”
January 2007—“Five Streams of the Emerging Church” (by emergent Scot McKnight)
February 2008—“The Future Lies in the Past”
February 2008—“Braking for Bloggers” (CT upset that Cedarville cancelled event with emergent Shaine Claiborne)
May 2008—“What form should our love of LGBT neighbors take in the public square?” (Encouraging evangelicals to remain silent on the LGBT issue)
October 2008 (just prior to election) —“After the Aloha Shirts” (promoting Rick Warren’s PEACE Plan and Saddleback’s presidential forum (of which some analysts said helped to get Obama elected by swinging the views of many evangelicals)
October 2008—“Preach and Reach “ (helping to alter the election)
November 2008—“John Ortberg’s Lessons from the Election” (Ortberg is a major player in the contemplative prayer movement)
November 2008—”Listening and Learning in the Middle East ” (by anti-nation of Israel Lynne Hybels)
August 2010—“Discernment: Is There an App for That?” (article promoting New Age centering prayer)
August 2010—“What Is the Gospel Response to the Prop. 8 Decision?” (Hoping to stop conservative laws on LGBT)
December 2012—“Hope for the Gay Undergrad”
February 2013—“Why You Shouldn’t Have a Position on LGBTQs.” (Attempt to silence evangelicals on homosexual issue)
June 2013—“Sex Without Bodies” (Manipulating evangelical views on homosexuality)
March 2014—”Evangelicals Defend ‘Christ at the Checkpoint’ from Israeli Critics” (article with a strong anti-Israel slant)
October 2016—“An Evangelical’s Guide to the Enneagram”
December 2016—“Are Trump’s White Evangelical Supporters Racist?” (with emergent socialists Shane Claiborne and Tony Campolo)
August 2018—“In the Beginning Is Silence” (Mark Galli)
February 2019—“‘A Theology of Everything’ for a Pluralistic World” (on ecumenism)
Christianity Today’s Anti-Christianity Today by T.A. McMahon
- One media outlet, The Hill, received tens of thousands of views and “shares” when they announced the CT article about removing Trump from office.
- Cited from Faith Undone, from chapter 1; taken from Antonio Mora, “New Faithful Practice Away from Churches” (CBS Broadcasting, July 10, 2006).
- Harry Ironside, “Should Christians Expose Error?”
(Photo from bigstockphoto.com; used with permission)