By David Dombrowski
A growing and subtle tactic that is actually producing more “bridges” is to invite speakers of differing values, perspectives, and doctrines to the same conference and thereby make the speaker of compromised or apostate teachings appear more credible.
It is all too easy in the busy world in which we live today to get caught up in worldly concerns that would tend to draw our hearts in a different direction than God intends. A Scripture that comes to mind is the one in Proverbs that says:
Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Proverbs 4:23
This Scripture tells us that we are to keep a watchful eye, or to guard our hearts, against things that would steal away from us the very things that are most precious in life. That is why it is good to stop from time to time to reflect, reevaluate, and check our compass bearings.
The fact is we are sojourners through this life, and this is not our permanent home. Like Abraham, we can set up a “tent,” but our permanent dwelling is not here. Jesus said:
Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Matthew 6:19-21
Too often, for the Christian, anxiety and stress over the many things in life—be it business, finances, health, or possessions—overtake us. Yet Jesus said that our heavenly Father will take care of us if we seek His kingdom first. If our lives are full of worry and stress, like a thermometer or pressure gauge, it should be an indicator to us that we need to reevaluate our lives and decide if our treasures are truly in heaven and if we will cling to God’s promises to provide for us as He sees fit. Our involvement with the needs of the Christians in Kenya, Africa has even further driven the point to us that as North Americans especially we need to diligently watch where our true treasures are and not get caught up in “things.” In and of themselves, there is nothing wrong with having possessions as long as they do not rule our hearts. Whatever we have—whether it is earthly goods, health, intelligence, or education—these things are a loan to us and can only be of real benefit when they enable us to serve the kingdom of God in the cause of the Gospel. Paul, for instance, said:
I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Philippians 4:12
Paul was a well-educated man who probably had known prosperity, yet he risked everything for the sake of the Gospel. That is why he could also say:
But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ. Philippians 3:7-8
Over the past few years, Lighthouse Trails has become aware of a new strategy of the enemy. This should be of particular concern if you are a pastor, a Christian leader or author, or a conference speaker—someone who is influencing others. In a past article, we made reference to some Christian figures, who we termed “bridgers.”1 These are pastors and Christian leaders who, while they themselves may have reputations as being traditional in their doctrine and teaching, are pointing their followers to Contemplative/New Age mystics and emerging/emergent church leaders. In other words, they are bridges to deception.
A growing and subtle tactic that is actually producing more “bridges” is to invite speakers of differing values, perspectives, and doctrines to the same conference and thereby make the speaker of compromised or apostate teachings appear more credible. For example, a pastor who has been dabbling in mysticism and is looking for a safe way to turn on his congregation to whatever he is practicing will invite a mystic to an upcoming conference; but he will simultaneously invite a conservative Bible teacher known for discernment to the same conference. By doing this, the pastor has now found a way to bring mysticism into his church under the guise of biblical truth. So, in essence, the biblical speaker has become a bridge to false doctrine.
Although this tactic seems rather benign to many, it is actually quite diabolical in that it brings confusion into the body of Christ. Those in the audience who are the more discerning will walk away from such conferences perplexed and disillusioned, while those lacking in discernment may have just taken a ride down the slide to apostasy and delusion. And, another result is that while it lifts the reputation of the false teacher (because he or she is sharing a platform with a biblical teacher), it actually weakens the reputation of the trusted biblical teacher. Oh how clever of Satan to perform such a multi-faceted maneuver. Everyone gets hurt!
We have been trying to warn some to beware of this tactic, which is actually being used in a religious/ political nature to give credence to those with emerging ideas. We have had mixed response to our appeal, but typically what we hear is that these biblical speakers see such conferences as opportunities to have a speaking platform. No matter who they share the platform with. This is what Kay Arthur’s ministry told us when we brought to their attention the problem with Kay Arthur sharing a platform with emerging figure Tony Campolo at the Breakforth event in Canada.
Something similar happened when Calvary Chapel mega-pastor Greg Laurie shared a platform at Lifefest 2011 with a Catholic priest. The priest is known for his work in bringing recognition to a Marian apparition. Harvest Ministries’ response to questions about Laurie attending this event with the priest was that this gave him a chance to share his message with the lost.
We could give countless examples where this is happening. A few more are: Rick Warren being invited to share the platform with Chuck Smith at Greg Laurie’s Harvest Crusade (Warren also gave the opening prayer), Joel Rosenberg sharing the platform with Leonard Sweet at Breakforth, Norm Geisler speaking at Rick Warren’s first “Apologetics Weekend” (the following year, they had 3 well known contemplative speakers, but having Norm Geisler there the year before gave the conference credibility to many), the 2009 National Worship Leaders Conference brought Greg Laurie and Leonard Sweet together, John Piper inviting Rick Warren to his Desiring God event, and on the list could go.
Often, when Christian speakers are trying to justify their actions, they liken these opportunities to Paul speaking to the Greek philosophers on Mars Hill. But, if we are going to use this comparison, we should be ready to do as Paul did. In other words, if invited to such a conference, go ahead and go, but when you get there openly rebuke in the presence of the audience the apostate message of the false teacher sharing the same platform; only in this way can the audience gain a clear understanding of what is right and what is wrong. “Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear” (1 Timothy 5:20).
Unfortunately, we know of few who would or have shown the courage to do this when put in that situation. And this is why we are recommending to those who are trying to maintain biblical integrity to stay away from such speaking opportunities. Too often, it’s easy to think that our message is so important that we should grab every opportunity to share it. However, in this context, even though these conferences may provide a speaking platform to get your message out to those who need to hear it, there is a two-fold downside to this: it minimizes the seriousness of the false teachings, and it neutralizes the message of others trying to share discernment with the church. In other words, a lot is lost, and nothing is gained. Our message then to those who speak at conferences is –please do not compromise just for the sake of your message; find out what you are getting into and with whom you will be sharing the speaking platform. And in no way put your message above the message of the Gospel. Remember the words in Scripture:
Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice. I Samuel 15:22
Going back to the idea of keeping watch over our hearts, we need to keep in mind that where our treasures are our heart will be there too. As committed Christians, should we not want our treasures to be in Heaven and in the things of the Lord? Remember Paul’s exhortation:
If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Colossians 3:1
Time is a precious commodity that we should not take for granted. Think of a sandglass or hourglass where you can literally watch time being poured out. Knowing that our time is relatively short, let us follow the injunction in Hebrews to “lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1).
Too many things hold us back from serving the Lord. In this verse in Hebrews, an illustration of an athlete is being used to show how, if we are to win a race, we need to strip off unnecessary weight. Scripture says that God will give us wings like eagles, but if we are tied down with the affairs and cares of the world, we will never be able to fly.
Want to find out where your heart is? Search out where your treasure is—that commodity that means more to you than anything else in life—and you will discover that it is in the same place where your heart is. As believers in Jesus Christ, our hope should be that when we find that treasure, it will be in the same place God’s treasure is too.
At Lighthouse Trails, we feel very privileged to be given the opportunity to defend the Gospel. We are in awe and humbled that God has used the “weak things” and the “foolish things” to confound the wise. Sometimes people call us to help solve their theological questions, and though we try to help as we can, we do not have all the answers. However, one thing we do know, and that is Christ and Him crucified. Jesus is the answer to what we really need; after all, isn’t life meant to be all about saving souls, and Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world? It’s that simple. Sometimes when people contact us, we get the notion when they test and probe us on theological questions that some of them think our ministry is all about having all the right answers to every theological matter. Perhaps some think that Lighthouse Trails expects all pastors to have a correct understanding of all the Scriptures. But, we know that all pastors are fallible, and we have never expected any Christian leader to be either sinless or inerrant. To expect a pastor to have all the answers is not only unrealistic but also a burden that no one can bear.
But what really does matter is—what do we think about the Cross and what do we think about God’s Word? Sadly, many of the new emerging contemplative leaders are preaching a Christ-less Word-less gospel. Likewise, those who practice mysticism through contemplative prayer inevitably come to the day when the atonement means nothing to them; we have seen this happen time and again. God knows that mysticism connects people to the demonic realm, and that is why it is forbidden in Scripture (Deuteronomy 18:9-15). Yet, again, mysticism is becoming the common practice of our day. It does not take a theological scholar to see that there is something wrong here.
Though the Gospel is a simple message—that Jesus died to make atonement for sin—nothing has ever come under more attack because Satan knows if he can destroy the message of the Gospel (or the messengers of the Gospel), he has destroyed Christianity anddestroyed the message by which we find salvation. His continual quest is to undermine our belief in the saving work of Jesus Christ. That is why, perhaps more than any time before, we must “keep thy heart with all diligence.”
- Term by Ingrid Schlueter.