From spiritual formation to the Eucharist to a paradigm shift, this tour has it all.
The presenters of the Everything Must Change Tour, scheduled for 2008, are proclaiming that a Deep Shift is taking place, and they are encouraging seekers to become a part of it. In honor of Brian McLaren’s upcoming new release, Everything Must Change (Fall 2007, Thomas Nelson), the tour will present McLaren to eleven cities throughout the U.S. The question Deep Shift asks is, “What does it mean, in today’s world, to be a follower of God in the way of Jesus?”
To better understand what McLaren and the other Deep Shift Guides mean by “way of Jesus,” we must have some understanding of the spiritual formation movement. Roger Oakland explains:
Spiritual formation is based upon experiences promoted by desert monks and Roman Catholic mystics; these mystics encourage the use of rituals and practices that if performed will bring the practitioner closer to God (or enable him to enter God’s presence). The premise is that if one goes into the silence or sacred space, then the mind is emptied of distractions, and the voice of God can be heard and personal transformation will take place. In truth, these hypnotic, mantric style practices bring one into altered states of consciousness, and rather than the believer being changed by the Holy Spirit and the indwelling of the person of Jesus Christ, he is supposedly changed (transformed) by entering this altered realm.
While proponents of spiritual formation (like Richard Foster) say these methods show that the Holy Spirit is doing something new to refresh Christianity, sadly these methods leave the practitioner duped and deceived by the workings of a counterfeit Holy Spirit.
And thus the term “way of Jesus” is more fitting than the term Christian (to leaders of the emergent paradigm shift) because to be a true Christian, Jesus lives inside and He is Lord and Savior over all. But to follow McLaren’s “way of Jesus” means you must only see him as a model and an example and not necessarily the only way to salvation. Actually, we must be so bold in this article to take it to the extreme that it really is. To follow this “way of Jesus” as McLaren and other New Age prophets like him declare means the atonement (Christ’s shed blood for our sins) must be kicked in the mud, and the Bible must be shattered and tossed as debris. Strong you say … not near enough. And it’s time to say so, because this Deep Shift will take place according to Scripture. But Scripture calls it what it truly is … a great falling away where doctrines of demons seduce and delude, and where Satan will deceive the whole world (Revelation 12:9 – see A Time of Departing).
On the atonement, Brian McLaren sees it as “false advertising for God.” His cohorts agree with him that God would be barbaric to send His Son to a violent death (see atonement article below). Jesus’ going to the cross was an example of servanthood, but that is all. No blood necessary. In fact, the idea of spilt blood is called vile by some.1
On the Word of God, emergent teachers condemn those who take the Bible literally and call such people legalistic fundamentalists who are the cause of all the ills of the earth. Dan Kimball in his new book, They Like Jesus But Not the Church insists (p. 19) that “those who are rejecting faith in Jesus” do so because of their views of Christians and the church. But he makes it clear throughout the book that these distorted views are not the fault of the unbeliever but are the fault of Christians, but not all Christians, just those fundamentalist ones who take the Bible literally.2
A perfect example of this “way of Jesus” that tosses the authority of the Word of God to the wind is in an article by Pastor Dave White of Pantano Christian Church in Arizona. In White’s sermon titled “Is the Bible True?”3, White states:
One day I mustered the courage to actually ask myself out loud, “Is the entire Bible to be read primarily as literal and factual or could at least parts of it be read as metaphorical stories that illustrate truth?” Could some of the Bible not be literally and factually true but be PROFOUNDLY TURE [sic]? I want to make it clear that some of you here might just say, “NO WAY” to that question. If you do, that is OK with me. I am not trying to get you to believe that some of the Bible may not be factual. My point is that in my own journey considering that possibility and confronting it has been revolutionary to my faith in both God and the Bible.
While there is probably not a Christian on earth that hasn’t at some time had doubts and questions, White is taking his doubts to a new level. Now, when he says that some of the Bible is not to be taken literally but rather metaphorically, he isn’t just referring to the parables of Jesus. He includes the story of Adam and Eve and original sin in the Garden of Eden, the story of Job, and the story of the prophet Jonah. White goes on to say that “No where does inspiration [of God’s Word] seem to be connected with the idea of guaranteeing the facts” (p. 2), and “some of the passages that can seem challenging if you think of them as literally factual and see how they read as stories that are profoundly true but not literally true” (p. 3). White sums it up by saying that even if the Bible is not all true, he would
“still be a follower of Jesus! Why? Because the way of Jesus – loving God and loving your neighbor – has proven to me to be life I like living. I believe I will enjoy the richest and most satisfying life possible by following in the way of Jesus and modeling my life after Him.
In the Pantano Christian Church’s Spiritual Formation program, they offer “tools” in solitude, which include fighting “through all the internal and external distractions by repeating a simple prayer like ‘Jesus, I belong to you,’ or ‘Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me,'” and reading contemplative author Fil Anderson’s Running on Empty: Contemplative Spirituality for Overachievers who incidentally quotes and speaks highly of Thomas Merton in his book. It makes sense that Pantano C.C. would be promoting contemplative spirituality as well as downplaying the authority of Scripture. Such downplaying is a product of deep contemplative meditation that Anderson discusses in his book.
Roger Oakland of Understand the Times believes that the emerging church is a bridge between evangelical Christianity and Rome (Catholicism). The fact that there will be a Eucharist service at the Everything Must Change tour is significant and is another indication of the spiritual deception that many Christians are falling prey to.4
You [Jesus] are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood … Worthy is the Lamb who was slain. (Revelation 5: 9 & 12)