As the organized Christian church and church leaders continue in their plunge toward apostasy, turning their heads and ignoring the truth, all the while attempting to discredit those who are trying to warn, more and more people are being pulled into this tidal wave of deception. When Lighthouse Trails wrote a press release in 2005 showing that Rick Warren was planning on using New Age sympathizer Ken Blanchard to help implement his Global P.E.A.C.E. Plan and train leaders, attempts were made to discredit Lighthouse Trails.
Now 5 years later, as various Christian organizations, denominations, and movements have spun out of control and hastened toward major spiritual deception through contemplative mysticism, kingdom now theology, and emerging spirituality (all part of Satan’s Great Lie that started in the Garden of Eden), others have joined in attempting to discredit Lighthouse Trails and other concerned ministries.
In response to some of these attempts, Lighthouse Trails author Ray Yungen wrote an article in 2009 titled Is Lighthouse Trails haters? This stemmed from a Calvary Chapel event in 2009 called Movement 2009, in which a Calvary Chapel leader told thousands of youth that the haters tried to stop us but they didn’t. This was in reference to Lighthouse Trails previous reporting that Calvary Chapel was going to use emerging church author Mike Erre to address these youth. Erre’s book, Death by Church is a primer on the “new” emerging spirituality.
In 2009, Warren B. Smith wrote a book titled A “Wonderful” Deception: The Further New Age Implications of the Emerging Purpose Driven Movement. In this book, Smith tells the story of what happened after Lighthouse Trails wrote that 2005 press release on Rick Warren and Ken Blanchard. Today, we are presenting this section of the book in its entirety because we think people need to know what is going on behind the scenes and know that things are not always as they seem.
As we witness the lacking of a majority of Christian leaders to warn against last days apostasy IN the church (not just secular deceptions in the world), we soberly continue to report on what is taking place. If your pastors and leaders are telling you NOT to listen to Lighthouse Trails and others who are critical of the evangelical church’s move toward a “new” Christianity, a paradigm shift they say, please do your own research before you take their word for it.
To illustrate just how far Christian leaders have slipped in contending for the faith and courageously standing against those who are bringing in dangerous false doctrines, in the summer of 2009, at a Greg Laurie Harvest Crusade, Calvary Chapel founder Chuck Smith introduced Rick Warren as his “good friend.” Warren, who was sharing the platform with Smith and Laurie that day, then addressed the crowd. Just a few years earlier, Calvary Chapel had publicly denounced the Purpose Driven teachings, saying: “The teaching and positions of Rick Warren have come into conflict with us at Calvary Chapel. Pastor Chuck has directed us to discontinue this product [Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose Driven Life] effective immediately.”1
From chapters 4 & 5 of A “Wonderful” Deception by Warren B. Smith
In a May 31, 2005 midnight e-mail to Lighthouse Trails Publishing, Rick Warren made it clear that he was not happy with George Mair or with Lighthouse Trails regarding the subject of Ken Blanchard. With an apparent effort to take the spotlight off Blanchard’s New Age affinities, Warren attempted to place it on George Mair and Lighthouse Trails instead.–Warren Smith
In April 2005, a new book was published about Rick Warren. It was titled A Life With Purpose: Reverend Rick Warren: The Most Inspiring Pastor of Our Time. The book was an extremely favorable presentation of Warren and the Purpose Driven movement. Author George Mair genuinely liked and respected Warren as he described the Saddleback pastor’s life and ministry. Mair’s book was carried in major bookstores around the country—including Christian bookstores. The author’s high regard for Warren was evident throughout A Life With Purpose. Early on in his book, Mair writes:
I knew one thing for sure about Rick Warren: his is a fascinating story. A humble man with humble beginnings, he is changing America—and the world—“one soul at a time.”2
After hearing him preach and experiencing Saddleback Church, I understand why millions are listening to this man, and knew that the story behind the movement deserves to be told.3
His demeanor as the founder and pastor of one of the largest churches in the world reflects a man whose focus is on his mission to serve the Lord by bringing in the unchurched souls—the lost sheep—to embrace and celebrate the saving Grace of Jesus Christ.4
A Life With Purpose is filled with continuous praise for Rick Warren and his Purpose Driven ministry. Nothing George Mair said could be considered negative or critical about Warren. In fact, the rare comment of a critic is usually offset by the author himself. For example, Mair states:
Another thing those critics fail to take into account is the role that Rick himself plays in the phenomenal growth of his church. Rick Warren is a truly charismatic spiritual leader. It’s clear to anyone who experiences one of his Saddleback services that he truly loves what he does. He relishes standing up at the podium, looking out at the smiling crowd, and sharing the Good News of Jesus.5
There is no question that A Life With Purpose is an overwhelmingly positive account of Rick Warren and the Purpose Driven movement. However, at one point George Mair—in an almost naive and non-judgmental way—talks about Norman Vincent Peale and the New Age influence Peale had exerted on the Church Growth movement. Mair frames his remarks about Peale by writing:
The numbers speak for themselves. The Church Growth Movement has been wildly successful in Southern California . . . as well as in the rest of the country. Which prompts us to ask: what are the roots of this powerful movement? Rick Warren may be the foremost figure in the CGM today, but he’s only a piece—albeit an important one—of a greater development in the Christian Church. Who and what gave birth to this movement in which Rick would play such a vital role?6
Mair answers his own question by stating what other writers have known and also set forth—that it was Norman Vincent Peale who really provided the spiritual foundation of today’s Church Growth movement. In a sub-section titled “Laying the Groundwork: New Age Preacher Norman Vincent Peale,” Mair writes:
Reverend Norman Vincent Peale is, to many, the most prophetic and moving New Age preacher of the twentieth century. He is also the father of the self-help movement that formed the groundwork for the Church Growth Movement. Peale formed perhaps the most dramatic and meaningful link between religion and psychology of any religious leader in history. It is this same approachable, therapeutic brand of religion that many mega churches, including Saddleback, put forward today. It is this kind of religion that is so appealing to the masses of unchurched men and women that Rick Warren hopes to reach.7
George Mair goes on to state that Saddleback Church “distinctly bears the stamp of Norman Vincent Peale”:
Peale’s ministry was the first to raise the question that still faces mega churches today: is it spiritual compromise if a pastor simplifies his message in order to make it appealing to a huge number of seekers?8
His biographer, [Carol R.] George, says, “Norman Vincent Peale is undoubtedly one of the most controversial figures in modern American Christianity.” But no matter what people think about his theories, they have to acknowledge Peale’s remarkable unification of psychology and theology. Without that unification, mega churches wouldn’t exist today. . . . In that sense, Saddleback distinctly bears the stamp of Reverend Norman Vincent Peale.9
While Mair explains that it was Peale who laid the New Age “groundwork” for today’s Church Growth movement, he notes that it was Robert Schuller who helped to create the effectiveness of the megachurch movement on a national scale:
But it’s hard to argue that Schuller was not the first person to be effective on a national scale. He was unquestionably a pioneer in the Church Growth Movement and a major influence on Rick Warren.10
In his book, George Mair notes that Rick Warren had attended the Robert H. Schuller Institute for Successful Church Leadership.11 Then, after describing some of the various church growth leaders up to and including the 1980s, Mair writes:
But in the 1990s, following in the footsteps of Peale and Schuller, the leader of the next generation of Church Growth Movement pastors emerged. That man was none other than Rick Warren.12
In researching his book, George Mair had discovered the same Lutheran Quarterly article sent to me the month before by the Indiana pastor. Citing the article, Mair wrote how Norman Vincent Peale had been accused of plagiarizing material from an occult source:
Some of Peale’s former colleagues and another minister went so far as to accuse him of plagiarism. Writing in the Lutheran Quarterly, Reverend John Gregory Tweed of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and Reverend George D. Exoo of Pittsburgh wrote that many of Peale’s uplifting affirmations originated with an “obscure teacher of occult science” named Florence Scovel Shinn. They based this charge on their comparison of words in Peale’s writings and those of Shinn’s book, The Game of Life and How to Play It, in which they found some identical phrases.13
In A Life With Purpose, George Mair also reveals that Norman Vincent Peale had been accused of using unattributed material from occult/New Age author Florence Scovel Shinn. From my own research that had been spurred by that same Lutheran Quarterly article, I learned that Peale had much more interest and involvement in the occult than I realized. He had openly endorsed the works of key New Age figures like Ernest Holmes, Eric Butterworth, and Bernie Siegel. Because questions had already arisen regarding Rick Warren’s undiscerning reference to Siegel and Warren’s use of unaccredited material from Robert Schuller in the The Purpose Driven Life, the very last thing Warren needed was a book—no matter how much it praised him—intimating a New Age link running from Peale to Schuller to Warren himself. In short, Warren did not need any more New Age implications arising that would cast further doubt upon his Purpose Driven movement. But ironically—at least on the surface—it wasn’t Mair’s remarks about Peale that stirred up concern at Saddleback Church but rather an offhand remark Mair had made in his book about author and businessman Ken Blanchard….
It was not until the release of George Mair’s book in 2005 that some people learned that Rick Warren had announced back in 2003 that Ken Blanchard would be working with him on the P.E.A.C.E. Plan. When Lighthouse Trails Publishing learned about Blanchard’s involvement with Warren, they were concerned. One of their authors, Ray Yungen, had been researching the New Age for many years and often came across Blanchard, who had been consistently endorsing and writing the forewords to New Age books and organizations. On April 19, 2005, Lighthouse Trails issued a press release, quoting George Mair’s book that Warren had “hired” Blanchard to work with him on the P.E.A.C.E. Plan.19 Lighthouse Trails warned of the serious New Age implications of allowing someone as undiscerning as Blanchard to teach Christians around the world how to “lead like Jesus.”The press release documented many of Blanchard’s New Age endorsements including Deepak Chopra’s book, The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success and a book titled What Would Buddha Do at Work? for which Blanchard wrote the foreword. (To read all of chapter 4 and 5 of A “Wonderful” Deception and for endnotes, click here.)