A Letter from Ray Yungen: Is Lighthouse Trails “Haters?”

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by Ray Yungen
Lighthouse Trails author

Recently, at a large Christian youth event, Lighthouse Trails was indirectly referred to as “haters” because of our articles and books exposing the emerging church movement. We realize that many people think ministries like Lighthouse Trails are mean-spirited, hateful and derive pleasure from causing trouble for others.

On the contrary, what motivates and drives Lighthouse Trails is a sense of duty to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We see that being the issue at stake.

Right now, there is a struggle going on for what the church of the future will look like. Karl Rahner once said the Christian of the future will be a mystic or he or she will not exist at all. The question must be asked (and answered): Is this really a good thing? Will mysticism lead to a Christianity that is more vibrant and in harmony with the will of God?

When one looks at the writings of those such as Henri Nouwen, Thomas Merton, Thomas Keating, etc., one finds that this mysticism is rooted firmly in a spiritual understanding more in-tune with Buddhism and Hinduism that with the writings of the apostles in the Bible.

Thomas Merton said:

It is a glorious destiny to be a member of the human race, … now I realize what we all are…. If only they [people] could all see themselves as they really are … I suppose the big problem would be that we would fall down and worship each other…. At the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusions, a point of pure truth…. This little point … is the pure glory of God in us. It is in everybody. (A Time of Departing, p. 59)

This is identical to what is called in New Age spirituality, the higher self. Over the last few decades there has been an ever-increasing number of individuals in Christianity that draw on and promote persons such as Thomas Merton and Henri Nouwen. The mission at Lighthouse Trails is to point out that if the church goes in the same mystical direction as these individuals, it will ultimately embrace the spiritual perceptions such as the one just stated. If that sounds implausible, take a look at the spiritual life of Sue Monk Kidd (author of The Secret Life of Bees).

Monk Kidd was at one time a conservative Southern Baptist Sunday school teacher. But after she was introduced to the writings of Thomas Merton, she branched out and began embracing contemplative practices and her spirituality dramatically changed. Eventually, it led her to say that God dwells in everything, even excrement and graffiti.

At Lighthouse Trails, we are not motivated by hate for people but rather by love and concern. We believe, with everything in us, that man’s only hope lies in Jesus Christ and the free gift of salvation offered to those who believe and accept it. And we also believe that contemplative/emerging spirituality leads man away from that Gospel not toward it. This is why we do what we do.

Ray Yungen
Lighthouse Trails author