Billy and Franklin Graham Join Emerging Church Leaders and The Shack Author for Catalyst Conference

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Billy Graham, and his son Franklin, will be speaking at the upcoming Catalyst Conference on October 8-9. Possibly, the father/son Grahams are not aware of the teachings and the spirituality that the Catalyst Conference represents. Unfortunately, Catalyst will gain respect and audience by many trusting and unaware admirers of the Grahams for including them on their list of speakers.

One of this year’s speakers is Mark Batterson, lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington DC. Batterson joined emerging leader Erwin McManus at McManus’ 2008 Awaken event, and he points readers on his website to Eckhart Tolle, a New Age guru who is currently being heralded by Oprah Winfrey. Batterson says that Tolle’s book, Practicing the Power of Now, is “instrumental in the way I think about life.” His public recommended reading list also includes several other New Agers and mystics: Jack Canfield, New Age mystic Daniel Goleman (The Meditative Mind), mantra-meditation promoter Gary Thomas (Sacred Marriage, Sacred Pathways), Leonard Sweet, Tony Jones, Brian McLaren, and several others who fall in the New Age and/or emerging/contemplative camp.

Another speaker at this year’s Catalyst is The Shack author William Paul Young. As Lighthouse Trails has indicated in several articles, The Shack has New Age implications that should concern discerning believers. Billy and Franklin’s participation at Catalyst will no doubt result in thousands of people seeing that as a thumbs up for The Shack. Our most recent article on The Shack, “Update on The Shack: New Age Similarities, Popularity Continues, and Calvary Chapel Gives Official Statement,” addresses where the book refers to God as “the ground of all being” that “dwells in, around, and through all things–ultimately emerging as the real” (p. 112); this is the ripe fruit of contemplative/emerging spirituality. One can find this language and definition of God in the writings of John Shelby Spong and Marcus Borg, and the concept overflows within the emerging camp. This description of God does not mean that God upholds everything; it means that God is the essence of all that exists (in other words, He dwells in all humans and all creation – read A Time of Departing for more info).

Another speaker at Catalyst 2008 is emerging leader Sally Morgenthaler. Morgenthaler wrote the foreword for Dan Kimball’s emerging church book, Emerging Worship , and she resonates deeply with contemplative proponents like the late Robert Webber. Her own book, Worship Evangelism, carries an endorsement on the cover by New Age sympathizer Leonard Sweet as well as C.Peter Wagner. Morgenthaler is currently a “Visiting Professor” at the very contemplative Christian school, George Fox University, along with Dan Kimball and Leonard Sweet.1 In her book, Worship Evangelism, she references mystic Henri Nouwen as someone who can lead us into God’s presence. Nouwen believed that Christian leaders had to move from the “moral to the mystical” in order to be effective (from In the Name of Jesus).

Jim Collins is also one of the speakers at Catalyst this year. He too resonates with contemplative/emerging “theologies.” In our article, “Willow Creek Leadership Summit Starts Today – Speaker Promotes New Age,” Collins’ affinity toward mystical spirituality is brought out. In 1982, Collins took Michael Ray’s course, “Creativity in Business.” The course (and the book named after the course) “takes much of its inspiration from Eastern philosophy, mysticism and meditation techniques” (from the book). In one section of the book it talks about “your wisdom-keeper or spirit guide-an inner person who can be with you in life…. We meditate to unfold our inner being.” The book also presents Tarot cards.

Collins was so inspired by Ray’s course in 1982 that he wrote the foreword for Ray’s 2004 book, The Highest Goal: The Secret That Sustains You in Every Minute. Collins says the book is “the distillation of years of accumulated wisdom from a great teacher.” Collins says he discovered “the path to my highest goal” by reading the book. What is this highest goal that Michael Ray speaks of? Realizing the divinity within. And how is this realization obtained? Through meditation. In the book, Ray tells readers to “[p]ractice emptying your mind,” “[e]xperience not thinking” and to “[m]editate regularly.” Other quotes in the book include those of Eastern religion gurus such as Ram Dass, Jiddu Krishnamurti, and Swami Shantananda.

Catalyst has several other speakers who fall into the same camp as the speakers mentioned above. Clearly, participants at Catalyst will be introduced to many who resonate with the non-biblical beliefs of the emerging church and contemplative spirituality. And with the two Graham’s names on the ticket, many of these participants will come to the event with open hearts and minds to all that is taught and said.

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