Lighthouse Trails Research Project Header

January 30, 2007 
 Coming From the Lighthouse Newsletter
In This Issue  
Printer Friendly Version

The apostle Paul was a great comfort to Timothy, and he instructed him in the ways of the Lord. We too can be encouraged through his words and find guidance from his instruction. And when difficult days come, we can draw strength and courage. Paul suffered terribly for standing for the faith, but he knew the Truth and followed the Good Shepherd. May we, who suffer much less than Paul did, do the same.

The apostle Paul:

"I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as my forefathers did, as without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day, greatly desiring to see you, being mindful of your tears, that I may be filled with joy, when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also.

"Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

"Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, to which I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day." II Timothy 1:3-9

"A New Vision for God's Kingdom on Earth"
 

"Imagine a World, A New Vision for God's Kingdom on Earth" - These are the words used to describe the upcoming "Big Event 2007" with Brian McLaren held at Woods Memorial Presbyterian Church, Severna Park, Maryland in February. With workshops titled "What are the world's greatest problems?" and "Youth in Today's Challenging World," at a quick glance to most, the conference would seem benign. But just what does this mean, "A New Vision for God's Kingdom on Earth," or as a PowerPoint presentation* says about the event, "the kingdom of God is here now"? The PowerPoint presentation quotes McLaren as saying:

...if we have a new world, we will need a new church. We won't need a new religion per se, but a new framework for our theology. Not a new Spirit, but a new spirituality. Not a new Christ, but a new Christian.
What this kind of language means is that we should not be thinking about those mansions in the sky that Jesus promised, or about a second coming or an Armageddon. No, we should believe that the Kingdom of God is already here, and once the people of the world come together in unity and peace, then that Kingdom will be realized fully.

While the thought of having a world without hunger, war, and disease is a wonderful idea, it is not what the Bible says is going to happen before Jesus Christ returns. According to Scripture, there will never be a time when lasting peace will reign on the earth, prior to the physical return of Christ. Thus our focus as Christians should not be to eliminate global problems, but rather our focus should be to bring the gospel message (while remembering to help the poor, the needy and the afflicted as Christians have and continue to do through many means) to all the nations of the world.

So just why is it wrong to try to bring the Kingdom of God to earth in the manner that McLaren and other emergents and contemplatives suggest? The detriment in it is that these efforts will culminate in bringing about a world ruler that the Bible warns about called the anti-Christ, and such efforts will not cause people to accept Jesus Christ as Lord of their lives but will actually deceive them into worshipping a false christ.

As many of you may already know, New Agers such as Alice Bailey, Marianne Williamson and Neale Donald Walsch were/are working to establish a "Kingdom of God on earth" as well. Those who adhere to New Ageism believe that this utopia will come about by a critical mass of humanity meditating together which will help the rest of the world realize their oneness with each other and that God dwells within every part of creation including every human being.

To understand that McLaren (and many other emerging/contemplative teachers) shares an affinity to the New Age emphasis on unity through meditation, we point you to a book called Reimagining Christianity by Episcopalian Bishop Alan Jones (San Francisco's Grace Cathedral). In the book, Jones states:
...the life of contemplative prayer, ... Loved and in communion with all things, the soul is born in and out of the secret silence of God. This silence at the heart of mysticism is not only the meeting point of the great traditions but also where all hearts might meet.1
In another section of Jones' book, he says:
But another ancient strand of Christianity teaches that we are all caught up in the Divine Mystery we call God, that the Spirit is in everyone, and that there are depths of interpretation yet to be plumbed.... At the cathedral we "break the bread" for those who follow the path of the Buddha and walk the way of the Hindus (p. 89).
Brian McLaren is drawn to Jones' spirituality. On the back cover of Reimagining Christianity sits McLaren's endorsement:
It used to be that Christian institutions and systems of dogma sustained the spiritual life of Christians. Increasingly, spirituality itself is what sustains everything else. Alan Jones is a pioneer in reimagining a Christian faith that emerges from authentic spirituality. His work stimulates and encourages me deeply.

If only more Christians could understand that the premise behind these ideas ultimately leads to the denial of the Cross. Many New Agers and New Age type "Christians" say that a loving God would not send His son to a violent death. In Jones' book, he says the doctrine of the Cross is a vile doctrine. But God did send His Son to the Cross so that many might have salvation.

Hearing the words of this conference "Imagine a World," I am reminded of a song that hit the best selling charts many years ago during the hippie revolution that depicts a world that seeks after peace but without the Prince of Peace:

"Imagine there's no Heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today ...
"And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace."2

For those who believe the Bible to be the truly inspired Word of God, we know that this Kingdom of peace will not come to the earth until He returns in glory.

For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

Notes:

*: You may need to have PowerPoint on your computer for this to work.

1. From page 174 of Reimagining Christianity, as quoted from page 175 of A Time of Departing, 2nd ed.



Kay Arthur/Josh McDowell Share Platform with Contemplative Campolo
 

This past weekend, the Break Forth Conference took place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Emergent/contemplative Tony Campolo shared the speaking platform with Kay Arthur, Josh McDowell, and Jack Hayford. (see poster) It is our hope that Kay Arthur and Josh McDowell warned those who attended that they should steer clear of contemplative and emergent spirituality, which might have been presented at the conference if Tony Campolo's recent book, Letters to a Young Evangelical, is any indication. In the book, which is a collection of letters to young believers, Campolo states: "[T]he West had severed itself from an ancient, magical form of religiosity and replaced it with a modern worldview in which religion was reduced to that which is rational and ethical (p.10)." He adds that he is seeking to become an "actualized Christian" where:

"[I] ntimacy with Christ has developed gradually over the years, primarily through what Catholic mystics call "centering prayer." Each morning, as soon as I wake up, I take time--sometimes as much as a half hour--to center myself on Jesus. I say his name over and over again to drive back the 101 things that begin to clutter up my mind the minute I open my eyes. Jesus is my mantra, as some would say. The constant repetition of his name clears my head of everything but the awareness of his presence. By driving back all other concerns, I am able to create what the ancient Celtic Christians called "the thin place."... After a while, an inner stillness pervades (p. 26)."

He later reiterates: "Having an intimate relationship with Christ is at the core of being an Evangelical." He explains there are three things to consider: 1. "Centering prayer," 2. "Contemplative Bible study" (lectio divina), and 3. "spiritual disciplines." Campolo says he "learned about this way of having a born-again experience from reading the Catholic mystics, especially The Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola" who developed "a 'oneness' with God," through contemplative practices. Campolo says that when the Reformation took place, we "left too much behind (p. 31)" and that "some Catholic saints" helped to deepen his prayer life. As with other contemplatives, Campolo had deep mystical experiences from practicing this mantra-style prayer:

"When I rise after engaging in this centering kind of prayer, I sense a fullness in my soul (p.31)" and "something happens to me that is strange and blessed" (p. 33).

In Campolo's book, Speaking My Mind, he suggests that the bond between Christianity and Islam is a mystical state. This idea is actually at the very heart of the New Age that teaches that all things are connected together and the realization that universal oneness comes through practicing meditation. If Josh McDowell and Kay Arthur are going to be doing "Christian" conferences with Tony Campolo, we hope they will tell the conference attendees that contemplative spirituality does not truly make one more intimate with God, regardless of the high feelings and emotions it may produce.


Emerging Spirituality: Joining the New Age with Christendom
 


No one group understands emerging spirituality as much as those in the New Age. That's because it is their religion. So when the evangelical emerging church movement rose to the forefront, New Agers must have found it quite intriguing and most likely rewarding to see their belief system finally take root in Christendom.

In the book, As Above, So Below, written by Ronald S. Miller and the editors of New Age Journal, the authors appropriately name the first chapter "The Emerging Spirituality." Now some may say, "Oh, they might call it that, but it isn't the same as the Emerging Church ala McLaren, Kimball, Pagitt, etc. That's an entirely different ball game." Well, let's take a look at this chapter in the New Age book. The chapter, "The Emerging Spirituality" starts off with a story about Jesus and Moses. That would certainly throw a few people--only Christians talk about Jesus, right? The book then quotes New Ager Joan Borysenko who explains the significance of the story they relate:

Like the Jesus of this story, ... many of us lose touch with our own indwelling Divine nature-the unlimited creative potential of love the real Jesus assured us could literally move mountains.
The book goes on to say that the problem with most people is they have forgotten who they really are, don't know their purpose or reason for existing and just need to reach higher to grasp their utmost potential. It sounds just like some of our most popular evangelical leaders. And like many emerging church leaders, the book says we need to get away from "automatized programs" and have a wake up call. The book tells us that this "wake up call" comes in the form of the metaphysical (mysticism), the "esoteric core of all the world's spiritual traditions." This mirrors what Rick Warren (who promotes the emerging church and its spirituality) said in his book, the Purpose Driven Church, where he praised the "Spiritual Formation" movement which he sees as God's way of bringing "believers to full maturity." Warren said that the movement had a "valid message for the church" and gave "the body of Christ a wake-up call" (pp. 126-127). The problem is that the Spiritual Formation movement draws on the same mystical techniques as found in the New Age movement, (eg., mantras breath prayers). In Warren's book, he touts Richard Foster and Dallas Willard as icons of the Spiritual Formation movement. When Warren said maturity, it implies that the church has been immature because of it's lack of mystical deficiency. At other times Rick Warren has stated that his "new reformation," an idea that New Agers share, would incorporate those from different religious traditions. Warren may use the name of Jesus often, but the overall concept implies that faith in Jesus is not really necessary to bring peace into the world, and this is exactly the thing that the New Age teaches.

As Above, So Below (a type of manual for the New Age) says that "we possess a hidden higher self, the spark of divinity within the soul" (p. 3). Once again, we can turn to emerging/contemplative leaders within Christendom to see they are saying the same thing. Anyone who has read Brennan Manning will recognize the term higher self. And in Max Lucado's book, Cure for the Common Life, Lucado talks about the "divine spark" that is in each person. And we could give numerous other examples of contemplative emerging authors and leaders who talk like this, even though they name the name of Christ. The New Age teaches a higher self and a "spark of divinity" within the soul of every person, and so do Christian leaders.

Miller's book says that mysticism is the "highest common factor" (p. 2) that links all religions together. He adds that we can practice this mysticism and still remain in our own religion. That's exactly what Thomas Merton came to believe when he spoke with Dr. Bramachari,1 a Hindu monk who told him he didn't have to leave the Christian tradition to be the best Buddhist he could be. Tony Campolo, another emerging/contemplative evangelical saw this common factor and suggested this very thing in his book, Speaking My Mind :
Beyond these models of reconciliation, a theology of mysticism provides some hope for common ground between Christianity and Islam. Both religions have within their histories examples of ecstatic union with God ... I do not know what to make of the Muslim mystics, especially those who have come to be known as the Sufis. What do they experience in their mystical experiences? Could they have encountered the same God we do in our Christian mysticism?" (pp. 149-150)
Ron Miller sounds very much like many of today's emerging leaders when he says: "The modern age requires that we use our newly gained wisdom to transform the world (p. 7)." It is alarming to hear him say that mysticism (i.e., meditation) is the catalyst for "planetary healing," naming various ecological and social problems facing the world today. Because some of the most influential Christian leaders and organizations today are promoting contemplative spirituality with one hand and working towards global transformation and unity on the other, we believe they are going in the same direction and with the same vehicle (mysticism) as the New Age. And when one realizes that the philosophy behind the New Age is panentheism (God in all) and that it totally negates the gospel message of Jesus Christ, then it is easier to see why it is so disturbing to see Christians promoting the emerging church and contemplative spirituality. For those readers who may be skeptical of our assertions, As Above, So Below has an entire chapter devoted to contemplative spirituality (chapter 3) and its vital place in its panoply of respected New Age practices. And yet that chapter makes reference to some of the same authors that Christians are now adhering to: Thomas Keating, Thomas Merton, the Desert Fathers, Julian of Norwich, and Martin Buber (quoted by Max Lucado on the divine spark). The fact is, Miller makes our point for us as no one else could.

Notes: 1. Henri J.M. Nouwen, Thomas Merton: Contemplative Critic (San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row Publishers, 1991, Triumph Books Edition)


Broadest Faith Groups to Inaugurate Christian Churches Together
 

From the Christian Post
Courtesy: Prophezine Magazine

"Christians from five traditions, including Roman Catholic, will officially inaugurate a new national ecumenical body next month.

"Thirty-six churches and national Christian organizations representing over 100 million Christians will be the founding members of Christian Churches Together in the U.S.A. (CCT), which is said to be the only venue where all the major groupings of churches come together and also the most extensive ecumenical effort in U.S. history.

"'The creation of Christian Churches Together in the U.S.A. is an exciting development in the ecumenical world. It is an opportunity to broaden the ecumenical table or perhaps more directly to invite more people into ecumenical conversation,' said the Rev. Randall R. Lee, an executive for the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America)'s Ecumenical and Inter- Religious Relations, in a statement.

"After years of conversations, CCT made its official public flight and announced their formation in spring 2006, setting aside differences over theology and other issues and strengthening their Christian witness in the world." Click here to read this entire article.

Related Information:
See our research on Interspirituality.
Also see other articles and news on Interspirituality.



Dominionism and Its Human Empire
 

by Professor Johan Malan

Millions of Christians all over the world are confronted with the growing tide of dominionism. This is a form of Christian humanism in which believers see themselves as commissioned and empowered by God to manifest His kingdom on earth to the good of all. Dominionism is based upon kingdom theology since it claims to physically reveal the kingdom of God with all its benefits to humanity. Its institution is described as reconstructionism or a transformation movement because of the far-reaching changes that society must undergo to ensure a better life for all. This situation is described by some as "heaven on earth" and presupposes the incapacitating of Satan’s opposing kingdom of darkness.


THE ESSENCE WITHIN: DIVINITY OR DEPRAVITY?
 

by Pastor Larry De Bruyn

On the contemplative delusion that the kingdom of God is "within."

In common with eastern mysticism and New Age religion, contemplative spiritualists assume that all humanity possesses a divine essence within their souls, an essence waiting to be awakened through meditative contact with God. Because "God is within and permeates all creation," one contemplative states, "Every person can awaken to this and experience God directly." She then adds, ". . . anyone can experience this dynamic presence of God, because God is within everything he creates. . . . So 'The Kingdom of God is within you' is hardly a heretical statement."[1] Her reference to the "kingdom-of-God-within" derives from Jesus' statement in the Gospels where in responding to the Pharisees' question about how the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, "The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you" (Luke 17:20b-21, KJV). As assumed by contemplative spiritualists, did Jesus mean to infer that all persons possess a "dynamic presence," a kingdom of God within them?

In answering the question, it must first be noted that translations vary in how they treat Jesus' statement (Greek, 'entós 'umon 'estin). They read in one of two ways: first, that "the kingdom of God is within you" (KJV, NKJV, ASV, NIV); or second, that "the Kingdom of God is among you" (NAB, NRSV, NLT), or "in your midst" (NASB). So did Jesus mean to say to his hearers that the kingdom of God was "inside you" or, "in your presence"? The preposition will bear either meaning. So the understanding of what Jesus meant will depend upon other relevant contextual and theological issues.

First, the pronoun "you" (plural) refers to Pharisees who broached the question to Jesus. When Jesus said "the kingdom of God is within you", he was addressing a situation unique to the Pharisees at that time, and not alluding to a spiritual condition characteristic of the whole of humanity. Clarification regarding what Jesus meant about "the kingdom within" will be gained by knowing something of the Pharisees in general, and of one Pharisee in particular, Nicodemus.


Missionary Highlight
 

Evangelist Roger Oakland of Understand the Times, is currently in Asia where he will be ministering for two weeks to pastors and two orphanages. You may view a video clip of this region and his work there by clicking here.


Publishing News
 

We will be going to print with The Other Side of the River in about a week. Please pray for us as we wrap up the editing of this important biography by Kevin Reeves from Alaska.


 

 

 

Bookmark and Share