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Update on The Shack: New Age Similarities, Continued
Popularity, and Calvary Chapel Official Statement
The Shack by William P. Young
has been on the New York Times Best Seller List for 15 weeks,
currently in the number one position for fiction books. The book has been
promoted by popular Christian figures such as Eugene Peterson and Gayle
Erwin (The Jesus Style). What's more, numerous Christian ministries
such as Probe Ministries (an apologetics group based out of Texas) are
endorsing the book. Probe's associate speaker, Sue Bohlin says "The
Shack became one of my all-time favorite books before I had even finished
In addition to receiving wide acceptance from the Christian community at
large, the author speaks at many evangelical churches. On September 8th and
9th, for instance, Young will be speaking at North Valley Calvary Chapel in
Yuba City, California, church of Calvary pastor Bob Fromm. 2 However, even though this is a Calvary Chapel church,
Calvary Distribution (the resource and book venue for the Calvary Chapel
movement) has issued an "Official Statement" regarding The
Shack. Calvary Distribution's book reviewer Keyan Soltani calls The
Shack "a dangerous book." The Official Statement reads:
Due to the popularity of this book and the positive
endorsements it has received from the Christian community, we felt that it
would be prudent to explain why, as those who hold fast to the word/nature
of God as inerrant, we will not be endorsing this book. Some of our
* The minimizing of the word of God: The
Shack errs in the presumption that God desires to be freed from His
word as expressed by the characters, yet, the Psalmist tells us in Psalm
138:2 "For You have magnified Your word above all Your name."
* The redefining of the nature of God: the
book implies a theology of modalism which is defined as the non Trinitarian
belief that the Heavenly Father, Resurrected Son and Holy Spirit are
different modes or aspects of one God, as perceived by the believer, rather
than three distinct persons in God Himself.
* The book's
conversational tone is intended to catch the reader off guard with overt
casualness. There is a personalized-trademarked version of God that
requires the least bit of commitment; seeker-friendly experience over
truth; an air of anti-authority for the spiritually lazy consumer. The
double-speak and theology that is embedded in this book with its underlying
condescension, protesting agenda, and liberal theology are genetic markers
of the emergent church.
We recognize the enormous popularity of The Shack but are wary of
the overlying theological implications and the presentation of the person
of God within this book.
a Lighthouse Trails report on The Shack, it was brought out that
co-author of The Shack, Wayne Jacobsen 3 resonates with the leaders in the emerging church,
which may well have influenced the final draft of The Shack. 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. Let there be no mistake, 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).
New Age proponent Sue Monk Kidd would agree with The Shack's definition
of God: in her book, First Light, she says God is the graffiti on
the building (p. 98).
It is possible that a key to understanding The Shack could actually
lie with Monk Kidd who was once a conservative Southern Baptist Sunday
school teacher. She began studying the teachings of mystic Thomas Merton,
which eventually led her out of the Southern Baptist arena and into the New
Age. Today, she follows goddess spirituality (Sophia) and has said in one
of her books that God dwells in all things, even excrement (The Dance of
the Dissident Daughter).
is perhaps a striking similarity between The Shack's "God"
the Father and the Black Madonna used in Monk Kidd's best selling novel, The
Secret Life of Bees (coming out soon as a movie). Monk Kidd says the
Black Madonna she chose is "a powerful symbolic essence that could
take up residence inside of [the novel's character, Lily] and become
catalytic in her transformation."4 The fact that both Sue Monk Kidd and William Young
have chosen a Black Madonna figure as representing "God"
and that both talk about the ground of all being (God in all things)
cannot be ignored. Episcopal priest (panentheist) Matthew Fox says:
the Black Madonna is returning. She is coming, not going, and she is
calling us to something new (and very ancient as well)....
Black Madonna archetype awakens in us and ... she is so important for the
twenty-first century.... The Black Madonna invites us into the dark and
therefore into our depths. This is what the mystics call the
"inside" of things, the essence of things. This is where Divinity
lies. It is where the true self lies.... Because she is a goddess, the
Black Madonna resides in all beings. She is the divine presence inside of
gap between the New Age and Christianity is being narrowed, and The
Shack is another disastrous and deceptive tool that will bring this
about. When David Jeremiah favorably quoted and referenced Sue Monk
Kidd in his book, Life Wide Open, we knew this would further close
the gap that gave Christianity its distinctness. It is this distinctness
that allows sinful man to see his need for a Savior. When that gap closes,
the Gospel message will be hidden from view from even more people than it
is today. The Shack has brought about some huge strides in causing
this to take place.
More on The Shack:
The Shack: Father-goddess Rising by John Lanagan
The Shack and Its New Age Leaven - God IN Everything? by Warren Smith
THE SHACK, "Elousia," & the Black Madonna by
New Ager Matthew Fox Talks About the Return of the Black
Age Sympathizer Leonard Sweet to Speak at Seventh Day Adventist Conference
The 4th Annual National Conference on Innovation, sponsored
by the Ohio Conference of Seventh Day Adventists, will take
place in October in Columbus, Ohio and will feature New Age
sympathizer/emerging futurist Leonard Sweet. On the conference website, it states:
Partners in Innovation is a convergence
of people and organizations committed to providing the environment,
encouragement, resources and support for the emergence of the Adventist
Church of the future in North America.... We ask you to consider becoming a
partner in developing this far-reaching initiative to energize a new future
for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America.
Leonard Sweet, who promotes mysticism,
christ-consciousness, and the "New Lights" movement that touts
people like Matthew Fox, Ken Wilber, and other mystic proponents, recently
spoke at Rick Warren's Small Groups Conference. Sweet states in his book Quantum
Spirituality that the "power of small groups is in their ability
to develop the discipline to get people 'in-phase' with the Christ
consciousness (meaning the divinity of man) and connected with one another
(meaning interspirituality)(p. 147).
The emerging church has been making inroads into Seventh Day Adventism as
it has in most of "religion in the Western world." Roger Oakland,
in his book Faith Undone, discusses Samir Selmanovic, a Muslim
turned-Seventh Day Adventist pastor-turned emerging figure:
Selmanovic ... has some interesting and alarming views on Christianity. He
emerging church movement has come to believe that the ultimate context of
the spiritual aspirations of a follower of Jesus Christ is not Christianity
but rather the kingdom of God.... to believe that God is limited to it
[Christianity] would be an attempt to manage God. If one holds that Christ
is confined to Christianity, one has chosen a god that is not sovereign.
Soren Kierkegaard argued that the moment one decides to become a Christian,
one is liable to idolatry.1
Selmanovic's website, Faith House project, he presents an interfaith vision
that will "...seek to bring progressive Jews, Christians, Muslims, and
spiritual seekers of no faith to become an interfaith community for the
good of the world. We have one world and one God."2
While Selmanovic says he includes Christians in this interspiritual dream
for the world, he makes it clear that while they might be included, they
are in no way beholders of an exclusive truth. He states:
our religion [Christianity] the only one that understands the true meaning
of life? Or does God place his truth in others too? Well, God decides, and
not us. The gospel is not our gospel, but the gospel of the kingdom of God,
and what belongs to the kingdom of God cannot be hijacked by Christianity.3
it is true that God is the One who decides where He is going to place
truth, He has already made that decision. And the answer to that is found
in the Bible. When Selmanovic asks if Christianity is the only religion
that understands the true meaning of life, the answer is yes. How can a
Buddhist or a Hindu or a Muslim fully understand truth when their religions
omit a Savior who died for their sins?
Though world religions may share some moral precepts (don't lie, steal,
etc), the core essence of Christianity (redemption) is radically different
from all of them. Interspirituality may sound noble on the surface, but in
actuality, Selmanovic and the other emerging church leaders are
facilitating occultist Alice Bailey's rejuvenation of the churches. In her
rejuvenation, everyone remains diverse (staying in their own religion), yet
united in perspective, with no one religion claiming a unique corner on the
truth. In other words all religions lead to the same destination and
emanate from the same source. And of course, Bailey believed that a
"coming one" whom she called Christ would appear on the scene in
order to lead united humanity into an era of global peace. However, you can
be sure that if such a scenario were to take place as Bailey predicted,
there would be no room for those who cling to biblical truth.
As is the case with so many emergent leaders, Selmanovic's confusing
language dances obscurely around his theology, whether he realizes it or not.
Sadly, for those who are lost and who are trying to find the way, the
emerging church movement offers confusion in place of clarity. It blurs if
not obliterates the walls of distinction between good and evil, truth and
falsehood, leaving people to stumble along a broken path, hoping to find
light. (from Faith Undone, pp. 187-189)
far will the emerging mystical church move into Seventh Day Adventism? A
2004 article in the Adventist News Network, "Church, Congregations Increase Focus on 'Spiritual
Formation," gives more than a glimpse to the answer to this
question. "Spiritual formation is a topic being raised by many pastors
and church leaders in a growing number of Christian denominations,"
the article states. It adds:
the Seventh-day Adventist Church, a "wake-up call" was sounded
after a 2002 survey showed that though doctrinal understanding was high,
there were several "areas of concern,"
article says that "concerns can be linked to how the church rates in
the area of spiritual formation, which has been defined by one Adventist
Church pastor as 'the process of becoming a mature Christian disciple of
God." Spiritual formation, another term for contemplative
spirituality, eventually leads into the arena of the emerging church (both
are based in mysticism). The article goes on: "Today this subject is
receiving serious emphasis in Adventist institutions, as well as in local
A case in point, in 2006, Brian McLaren was a guest speaker at the Adventist Loma Linda University.
McLaren rejects the traditional view of the atonement (substitutionary
death of Christ for sins). Loma Linda now has spiritual formation as an
integral part of school life. Interestingly, they are using the Journal of Spiritual Formation that is put out by Biola
University (a strong proponent for contemplative).
John Jenson, an Adventist pastor in Torrance, California, says, "There's a need for spiritual formation with
the [Adventist] Church . . . without spiritual formation, a person would be
'spiritually uncivilized.'" If this line of reasoning is shared among
other Adventist pastors, then no doubt contemplative/emerging spirituality
will place its heavy mark on the Adventist movement as it has already done
in so many other religious groups. And with Leonard Sweet speaking at
Adventist conferences, this process will be speeded up all the more.
1. Doug Pagitt and Tony Jones, An Emergent Manifesto of Hope, Samir
Selmanovic section, "The Sweet Problem of Inclusiveness," pp.
2. From Faith House Project website: http://samirselmanovic.typepad.com/faith_house/2.WhatisFaithHouseProject.pdf.
3. Doug Pagitt and Tony Jones, An
Emergent Manifesto of Hope, p. 194.
Phyllis Tickle and a New Kind of Church
Tickle's Great Emergence: A Reformation Every 500 Years?
LTRP Note: We are re-posting this excerpt from Faith Undone due to the
upcoming October release of Phyllis Tickle's new book, The Great Emergence (Baker Books)
By Roger Oakland
Phyllis Tickle is a
best-selling author and the founding editor of the religion department at Publishers
Weekly. She is also a friend of the emerging church. Doug Pagitt says
Tickle is the best friend the emergent movement could ever have.1
the fall of 2008, Baker Books (through their partnership with Emergent
Village-Emersion Books) will release Tickle's book called The Great
Emergence. The following description of the book confirms Tickle's
allegiance to emerging spirituality:
to provide a practical, positive vision of the church as it steps into the
future. Tickle says the book will discuss the development of the emerging
church, what she calls the "Great Emergence," placing it among
the other great phenomena in the history of Christianity, including the
Great Schism and the Great Reformation. "Every 500 years," Tickle
said, "the empowered structures of institutionalized Christianity,
whatever they may be, become an intolerable carapace that must be shattered
so that renewal and growth may occur. Now is such a time."2
a PBS interview, Tickle referred to this "[e]very 500 years"
theory and said, "the church has a giant rummage sale." She said,
"Christianity is in the midst of a new reformation that will radically
remake the faith."3 At the Joint Annual Meeting of the Society of
Biblical Literature (SBL) where Tickle and McLaren shared a platform, one
participant noted that, "[Tickle said] Brian McLaren is to this new
reformation what Martin Luther was to the Protestant Reformation."4
If indeed Brian McLaren, or any of the emergent leaders or upstarts, lead
and direct this new reformation, it will do as Tickle says--"radically
remake the faith." Emergent proponent Troy Bronsink reveals that this
remaking will include all of humanity and all of creation. In An
Emergent Manifesto of Hope, Bronsink, a minister in the Presbyterian
Church (USA), states:
... is a gift given to all the church that is placing us in tension with
things as they are.... we will discover courage to let go of the old
orientations, see creation expanding.5
the emergent conversation is to have a "next chapter," it will
need to learn from other sketches outside of Western Christendom as well as
from within the depths of other traditions (denominations and communions)
once dismissed on rational-political grounds, and it must continue, all the
more, to seek ways of sketching that benefit the rest of creation.6
says that emergent is "a guild of prophets" that will lead the
way for "existing practitioners of Christianity."7 He says they
will create an "environment" that will equip "any and all
for the process of emergence."8 He adds that "practices of
meditation" are necessary to "sustain" the emergent hope(9)
but gives a word of caution to emerging seekers:
seeing ourselves as a creative agent within the domain of the Christian
church will domesticate Emergent into what one critic has already claimed
is an "asterisk on the landscape of American church growth." On
the other hand, seeing the integrated whole of the church (emerging and
otherwise) as a creative agent within creation, Emergent can be a place
where practitioners embody the church's creative agency for all of emerging
society. (emphasis added)10
says the emerging church must not become confined within the structure of
Christianity, and this is perhaps where we can understand the theological
limits of the emerging church. Those limits? There are none! The sky is the
limit for the all-encompassing emerging church that includes all faiths,
and all creation. Atonement is not part of this new reformation because all
creation is already being saved and unified with God. It's no wonder
emerging prophets over the past several decades from [Henry] Fosdick to
Alan Jones to Brian McLaren reject penal substitution--in their grand
emergence, it just isn't needed.
A poem from An Emergent Manifesto of Hope illustrates what the
emerging church calls expanded redemption. I think you will see how such a
theology has no room for atonement through Jesus Christ. The poem reads:
only soul, whole body!
Not only whole body, all of the faithful community!
Not only all of the faithful community, all of humanity!
Not only all of humanity, all of God's creation!11
is very contradictory to what Jesus said:
will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name?
and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful
works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me,
ye that work iniquity. (Matthew 7:22-23)
a noble and comforting notion that all humanity and creation are redeemed,
but it doesn't square with biblical spiritual reality.
Emergent leader Karen Ward asks the question, "Is there an 'emerging'
theology of the atonement?"12 She answers, "I think not."
Calling it "the mystery we're in," she refers to the atonement as
at-one-ment,13 a term occultist and New Age prophet Alice Bailey uses to
refer to our (all humanity's) oneness and equality with God.14 Ward
explains her views:
are being moved, as a community, beyond theories about atonement, to enter
into atonement itself, or at-one-ment. The new reality and new relationship
of oneness with God which Christ incarnated (in life, cross, and
resurrection) and into which we are all invited "for all time."15
emergent reformation, when it comes to fruition, will stand on the side of
the line drawn in the sand that says all humanity is One--regardless of
religion, beliefs--we are all One. That Oneness will mean one with all
creation too, and inevitably with God. This is what the New Age movement is
striving for--a time when all of mankind will realize both their unity and
divinity--and the Gospel as we know it, according to Scripture, will be no
1. Steve Knight citing Doug Pagitt, "Phyllis Tickle to Write Book for
Baker Books/Emersion"(Emergent Village, May 30, 2007,
3. Fred Plumer, "What is Progressive Christianity Anyway?" (The
Center for Progressive Christianity,
4. Citing from Emergent Village Weblog, http://www.emergent village.com/weblog/emergent-and-the-new-reformation).
5. Doug Pagitt and Tony Jones, An Emergent Manifesto of Hope (Grand
Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group, 2007), Troy Bronsink section: "The
Art of Emergence," p. 68.
6. Ibid., pp. 68-69.
7. Ibid., p. 69.
8. Ibid., p. 70.
9. Ibid., p. 71.
10. Ibid., pp. 72-73.
11. Ibid., p. 83.
12. Robert Webber (editor), Listening to the Beliefs of the Emerging
Churches (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2007), Karen Ward chapter:
"The Emerging Church and Communal Theology," p. 163.
13. Ibid., pp. 163-164.
14. Throughout Alice Bailey's writings is the concept of humanity's
at-one-ment (oneness) with God.
15. Robert Webber (editor), Listening to the Beliefs of the Emerging
Churches, Karen Ward, op. cit., p. 164.
This has been an excerpt from Faith Undone by Roger Oakland, from chapter 12,
"A New Reformation?"
Gary Gilley on The Shack:
"A Dangerous Piece of Fiction"
A Book Review by Pastor Gary Gilley on The Shack by William P. Young
of the most popular and controversial Christian books of recent years is
the fictional work by first time author William Young. Evangelical
recording artist Michael W. Smith states, "The Shack will leave you craving for the
presence of God." Author Eugene Peterson believes "this book has
the potential to do for our generation what John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress did
for his. It's that good!" ... Given its popularity (number one on the New York Times bestseller list for paperback fiction), influence and mixed reviews, we
need to take a careful look. Good Christian fiction has the ability to get
across a message in an indirect, non-threatening yet powerful, way.
Progress is the most successful in the genre and has been
mightily used of the Lord to teach spiritual truth. What determines the
value of fiction is how closely it adheres to Scripture. It is by these
criteria that we must measure The
plot is developed around the abduction and murder of six year old Missy,
beloved daughter of nominal Christian Mackenzie Philips (Mack). This great
tragedy has, of course, shaped the lives of Mack and his family in horrific
ways. Mack's life is simply described as living under "The Great
Sadness." Then one day four years later God drops Mack a note in his
mail box and invites him to the isolated shack where Missy was murdered.
Obviously skeptical, Mack takes a chance that God might really show up and
heads alone to the shack. There God, in the form of all three members of
the Trinity, meets with him for the weekend. God gives Mack new insight
about Himself, about life and about pain and tragedy and Mack goes home a
new man. Click here to read this entire book
Contemplative Prayer and the Evangelical Church
by Ray Yungen
is a practice that is becoming more and more popular within the evangelical
church. It is called contemplative prayer or centering prayer. Youth
organizations and seminaries are particularly drawn to this, thus impacting
the Christian youth in this country. Furthermore, there is a snowballing
effect wherein contemplative prayer is being accepted and endorsed by more
and more evangelical leaders, often based not on their own experience and
understanding but rather on the word of other respected leaders who in turn
may not have fully researched this subject. I would like to address four
points, each with quotes from various published works. Click here to read this entire
I. A Distinct
Connection Between New Age, Eastern Religion, the Occult, and Contemplative
II. Main Proponents of
This Movement Have Been Aligned With Eastern Religion
III. Methods in
Contemplative Prayer Are Same As In Eastern Religion
IV. Authors in the
Evangelical Church Have Latched Onto Contemplative Prayer
Note: Please feel free to
use and distribute Ray Yungen's article on contemplative prayer.
Resources for Researchers
Trails provides two web pages of resources for researchers and webmasters.
There are many useful tools listed to help with researching topics and also
Christian Resistance Book - A Must Read
Trails Publishing is pleased to announce the release of Things We
Couldn't Say by Diet Eman.
This is the true story of Diet Eman, a young Christian woman who joined the
resistance movement in the Netherlands during WWII. Together with her
fiance' and other Dutch men and women, "Group Hein" risked their
lives to save the lives of Jews who were in danger of becoming victims of
Hitler's "final solution."
Things We Couldn't Say is an endearing and moving love story that
occurs in the midst of extreme danger and often unbearable circumstances
and loss. Before the war ends, Eman, her fiance', and several in their
group are arrested and sent to concentration camps-many of them lose their
A time in history that should not be forgotten. A story that
will inspire Christians to live more courageously and stand for what is
right, doing so by the power and grace of God.
Table of Contents
Lighthouse Trails Publishing
$14.95 Retail * 352 pages * Softbound
Photos * Illustrations
For more information: www.lighthousetrails.com
Toll Free Order Line: 866/876-3910 (M-F/8-5)
Or order from your local bookstore.
Important New Series on the Emerging Church
The new 4-DVD Emerging Church series by Roger Oakland is now
Based on Faith Undone: the emerging church - a new reformation or an
endtime deception, each DVD is 70 minutes long and features lecturer
and author Roger Oakland of Understand the Times. This is a hard-hitting
expose' of the apostasy entering the church through the emerging church,
Purpose Driven, contemplative, etc. It provides a solid and convincing
defense of the biblical Christian faith, which is under attack today.
(Filmed in 2008)
For information and/or ordering for individual DVDs, click here.
Lighthouse Trails Publishing
To Order: www.lighthousetrails.com
Toll Free Order Line: 866/876-3910
Click here to read: Synopsis of DVD
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BOOKSTORES AND OUTLETS
for small retail orders: Lighthouse Trails books are also available to
order from most bookstores (online and walk-in). If your local
bookstore isn't carrying one of our titles, you can ask them to order
it for you. While you may have to wait longer to receive your order,
the advantage of ordering through bookstores is that you will have no
BOOKSTORES MAY ORDER DIRECTLY
FROM LIGHTHOUSE TRAILS OR FROM INGRAM OR SPRINGARBOR.
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FROM LIGHTHOUSE TRAILS OR FROM BAKER & TAYLOR.
SAMPLE CHAPTERS OF
LIGHTHOUSE TRAILS BOOKS:
Lighthouse Trails Publishing now has
sample chapters available online for most of the books we publish. We
believe you will find each of these books to be well-written, carefully
documented, and worthwhile. Click here to read some of the chapters.
Newsletter in Print - Coming Soon
you would like to receive the Coming
from the Lighthouse newsletter in print form by mail, please
send an email to email@example.com.
Be sure and include your mailing address in the email. We will be issuing a
printed newsletter several times a year for those who prefer that over the
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Both email and printed editions
will be free. The first issue of the print newsletter has not yet been
important books expose the truth about contemplative spirituality,
spiritual formation, and the new age.
A Time of Departing and For Many Shall Come in My
HOLOCAUST: LEST WE FORGET
A true story that will change your life and challenge your faith ..
sweep you into 1930s Germany and back with your faith intact ... [Trapped
in Hitler's Hell] carries a stark message for today's Western Christian
... will refocus your priorities and recharge your spiritual
life."-Leo Hohmann, Read entire review at The Messianic Times Trapped in Hitler's Hell
See all books and DVDs on the
The Other Side of the River by Alaskan Kevin Reeves
When mystical experiences and strange doctrines overtake his church,
one man risks all to find the truth ... a true story. Read more about this
important book, especially now in light of the Todd Bentley
"revival" in Florida.
Find out the truth about the emerging church
and the avenues through which it is entering Christianity.
Faith Undone by Roger Oakland
Find out more about the book that tells it like it