College Alert: Palm Beach Atlantic University Promotes Contemplative/Emerging

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Palm Beach Atlantic University is a Christian college in Florida. Their “Guiding Principles” statement says:

Founded under the providence of God with the conviction that there is a need for a university in this community that will expand the minds, develop the moral character and enrich the spiritual lives of all the people who may come within the orbit of its influence, Palm Beach Atlantic University shall stand as a witness for Jesus Christ, expressed directly through its administration, faculty and students.

However, as is the case with so many Christian colleges today, PBA has begun to incorporate contemplative/emerging spirituality into their school.

Several courses at the University use textbooks by contemplative and/or emerging church authors such as their Urban Christian Leadership course UCMS2003 that includes a textbook by Brian McLaren (More Ready than you Realize). PBA’s School of Ministry courses SOM 2043 and SOM 2413 include contemplative prayer and emerging church textbooks Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster, Renovation of the Heart by Dallas Willard, and In the Name of Jesus by Henri Nouwen (also used in ORL5103 and MIN4403). MLS (Ministry Leadership Studies) uses Nouwen’s Wounded Healer, Cross Cultural Studies (CCS4003) includes Alan Hirsch’s Forgotten Ways (foreword by New Age proponent Leonard Sweet). Biblical Studies (BIB-SOM4033) is using J.P. Moreland’s book Kingdom Triangle (where his mystical propensities clearly show up). PBA’s Lifetime Fitness 1091 course uses a textbook called Get Fit, Stay Fit, which has numerous favorable references to Yoga and other eastern-style meditation techniques.

Where does Palm Beach Atlantic University stand when it comes to the emerging church? A clue to that answer can be found at the PBA Men’s and Women’s Conference taking place on January 16th. Pastor Scott Baugh of Florida’s The Journey church will be one of two featured speakers. On Baugh’s church website, he says his favorite books are: The Jesus I Never Knew (Philip Yancey), Blue Like Jazz (Don Miller), and Velvet Elvis (Rob Bell). All three of these fall in the contemplative/emerging camp.

Finally, students at PBA will be introduced to more contemplative/emerging spirituality through the University’s chapel program. A calendar for 2008 shows other events that would fall into this category such as “Serve God, Save the Planet”1 and Evangelical/Catholic Dialogue 2

Christian parents looking for a solid, Bible believing college to send their kids to should use caution and discernment when choosing a school. PBA appears to be falling into step with countless other Christian learning institutions that are jumping into the contemplative arena.

Update: Christian Research Service has informed us that in addition to promoting contemplative/emerging spirituality, Palm Beach Atlantic University is also teaching yoga classes. From the PBA website: “The fitness center is the most popular part of the Greene. Stocked with top-of-the-line cardio machines, machine and free weights, the fitness center helps enhance physical fitness and wellness. A variety of classes such as kickboxing, Pilates, abs, and yoga stretch are also provided for members. Numerous alumni, community individuals, and employee families purchase memberships to the facility each year to enjoy its outstanding equipment, cleanliness and friendly environment” ( )

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