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September 11, 2006 
 Coming From the Lighthouse Newsletter
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It has become apparent to many now that contemplative spirituality has made its way into the church and in a big way. It has entered through many avenues: Purpose Driven, the emerging church, the church growth and seeker friendly movements and through Christian educational institutions and Christian bookstores. One Christian leader after the other is endorsing and promoting this spirituality - a spirituality that contradicts biblical Christianity and the gospel message. Some of these leaders have indicated that they should not be challenged or questioned on what they teach and what they promote. While we, as believers, desire to show respect to pastors and Christian leaders, we also know we cannot be silent when error and deception are being condoned. The Bible makes it clear that each one of us is responsible to study the Word and defend the faith.

"Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." I Thessalonians 5:21

"These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Therefore many of them believed..."
Acts 17: 11, 12

John Piper Conference Includes Contemplative Promoting Speaker
 

The Desiring God 2006 National Conference, to be held on September 29th, will be addressing "the Supremacy of Christ in a postmodern world." According to John Piper, founder of the Desiring God ministries, speakers for the national conference are "eager to speak on behalf of the risen Lord of the universe, Jesus Christ." However, one of the speakers is Mark Driscoll (of Mars Hill Church), who is considered to be one of the emerging church leaders. While Driscoll has recently stated that he has distanced himself from certain Emergent leaders (McLaren, Jones, etc.), in a recent Lighthouse Trails article, documentation shows that Driscoll is promoting contemplative spirituality. There should be, therefore, great concern that John Piper is including Driscoll in a conference that is addressing post-modernism in a critical light. Contemplative spirituality (i.e., New Age mysticism) is the vehicle that the postmodern world is using to reach their objectives. Including a pro-contemplative speaker at this conference will confuse participants at best and dangerously mislead them spiritually at worst. Rather than bringing Mark Driscoll in as a speaker, his spiritual sympathies towards contemplative should be exposed, and people should be warned.

According to the Acts 29 Network (Driscoll's ministry) recommended reading list of "worthy literature" Mark Driscoll recommends books by Richard Foster, Dallas Willard, and a book called The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. Other books on the list include those by panentheist St. John of the Cross, and a collection of books about Celtic Spirituality (i.e., contemplative spirituality) as well as books by Thomas Merton, Teresa of Avila, Eugene Peterson, and Larry Crabb (AACC). Act 29's recommendation of Thomas Merton (who said he was impregnated with Sufism: Islamic mysticism) is perhaps the most telling of all. One of the books Driscoll recommends by Merton is Wisdom of the Desert (referring to the desert fathers). Lighthouse Trails Research has contacted Acts 29 in the recent past and told them about these recommended resources and their dangers. As we stated in our previous article:
For Driscoll to say he has distanced himself from some aspects of the emerging church (or the Emergent leaders) but then advocate Merton and this line up of other avid mystics is an oxymoron.

The point is, Mark Driscoll is promoting contemplative spirituality, and for someone to say they don't promote the emerging church but then promote contemplative is faulty thinking because the latter is so much worse - it is contemplative spirituality that makes the emerging church so heretical. Remember, the premise of contemplative is that all paths lead to God and God is within all creation.
We hope and pray that Mark Driscoll will remove these contemplative recommendations from his website and make a public statement saying that contemplative spirituality is an anti-biblical belief system that he rejects. Otherwise, we pray that John Piper will find someone else to speak at his upcoming conference.

Acts 29 is also recommending various emerging/contemplative organizations, networks and churches that should also be removed from his site if Driscoll is to be considered as someone who is against the emerging church and contemplative spirituality.
 Evangelical Leaders Endorse Contemplative-Promoting Book
 Erwin Lutzer, Jerry Falwell and James Kennedy Endorsement Sends Wrong Message

Trusted Christian leaders, ones many would never suspect, have endorsed a book by contemplative proponent Larry Crabb, a "spiritual director" for the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC) and a popular Christian author. Three pages of endorsements inside the book have several obvious names: Brian McLaren, Tony Campolo, Brennan Manning, Bob Buford, Chuck Smith Jr. and John Ortberg. This is like a who's who of evangelical contemplative proponents. But then there are names that would be the last ones you would expect to see in a book that comes right out and condones centering and contemplative prayer: Dr. James Kennedy, Erwin Lutzer and Dr. Jerry Falwell.

The new book that these leaders have endorsed promises to teach readers a revolutionary way to pray. The book, The Papa Prayer (Integrity Publishers, 2006), boasts that this new kind of prayer will "shatter your view of prayer as it used to be" (back cover). The author, a board member of the Spiritual Formation Forum, does not hesitate to let readers know that he currently practices both contemplative prayer and centering prayer (which are really one and the same):
I've practiced centering prayer. I've contemplatively prayed. I've prayed liturgically....I've benefited from each, and I still do. In ways you'll see, elements of each style are still with me (The Papa Prayer, p.9).
And then on page 22, Crabb says, "Other forms of relating to God that have unique value in connecting us to Him include contemplative prayer and centering prayer." Read the rest of this article, click here.

Spiritual Direction - Started by Mystics, Promoted by Christians
 

Spiritual Directors International (SDI) is an interspiritual "learning community committed to advancing spiritual direction around the world" with a membership that "consists of people from many nations and many faiths." According to SDI, spiritual direction is "the contemplative practice of helping another person or group to awaken to the mystery called God in all of life," and they respond "to this call by tending the holy around the world and across traditions. Ray Yungen discusses SDI in A Time of Departing:
To underscore the scope and reach of the contemplative prayer movement let's look at the numbers put out by an organization called Spiritual Directors International (SDI). On their website this group gives ample evidence of what their practices are. In one national conference, the following was presented: This workshop offers an opportunity to study and experience the director's role in a person's move into the beginning and early stages of contemplative prayer, silence, and openness to new sorts of praying. One of the objectives of SDI is "Tending the holy around the world and across traditions."
While it is evident that SDI believes outside of the scope that salvation can only be found through Jesus Christ according to the Bible, it is interesting to note the wide variety of Christian denominations that are represented by SDI:
A 2005 membership list showed 531 Episcopalians, 223 Presbyterians, 201 United Methodists, 154 Lutherans, and a whopping 2,355 Roman Catholics; counting another forty or so "traditions," the total was nearly 5000. To show the nature of just what they mean by "across traditions" the list included Buddhist, Gnostic Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Jewish, Siddha Yoga,and even Pagan/Wiccan (A Time of Departing, 2nd ed. p.41).
A 2003 Christianity Today article, Got Your Spiritual Director Yet?, confirms two things, one that spiritual direction is contemplative, and two that it is becoming a part of evangelical Christendom. The article explains that popular Christian author Larry Crabb is changing his views. Once a believer in psychology he is switching to spiritual direction. The article credits contemplatives (mystics) such as John Cassian and Ignatius of Loyola for getting spiritual direction into the church and suggests that we can learn more about it from Richard Foster, Eugene Peterson, and Dallas Willard - with this we completely agree. As Rick Warren stated in his book, Purpose Driven Church, Foster and Willard are key players in the Spiritual Formation movement, but while Warren says that this movement is a vital wake up call for the church, we say it is a terrible seduction for the church.
At the Cost of Truth, Christian Media Builds a Superstar
 

If you've ever taken a journalism class in college, you were probably told that the media has a very powerful influence. You may have been told that the media can even start and stop wars. Well in the world of evangelicalism, the same seems to be true. A number of Christian media sources have taken Rick Warren and helped to turn him into a superstar, tracking his every move, reporting on his every deed. The articles are usually biased, sounding more like political campaign ads than news stories.

As an example of this off-balanced journalism, take a look at the BP (Baptist Press) News. The BP News (a Southern Baptist Convention news arm) has not been shy about its admiration and promotion of Rick Warren. Articles about Warren are published on the average about three weeks out of any given four week period. Most of the articles are glowing reports - few have any hint of criticism.

An article written on Thursday, September 7th is a perfect example of this. The BP article, titled " WSJ Raises Criticisms About "Purpose- Driven' Model," listed as a "news" item, was BP News' response to the recent Wall Street Journal article about Purpose Driven resisters. While the article spoke in highly favorable terms of Warren, it neglected to mention some of the more significant facts of the Wall Street Journal article, such as tactics that have been used by Purpose Driven leadership to stop resisters (like making sure opponents never get to serve in leadership in any church in the community again).

While BP News promotes and exalts Warren, Christianity Today does also. Warren is featured or/and mentioned in hundreds of articles.

The Christian Post, a newspaper that says it "does not promote or demote any denomination and/or Christian congregations" publishes dozens of glowing stories about Warren each year as well as articles written by him. In August alone, there were about 17 instances. That's more than four a week.

And then there is Fox News, which focused particularly on Warren last month. Fox News is owned by the same corporation that owns Warren's publisher.

Few would deny that Rick Warren has become a superstar, but it hasn't been done without a little help from his friends. Do the countless readers and viewers of these "friends" realize that this superstar is promoting a New Age spirituality (contemplative), the emerging church movement and a global unity that will further delude a blind world? And do Christian readers and viewers realize that such delusion will steer the lost away from the gospel message of Jesus Christ rather than to it?

"Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils..." I Timothy 4:1

For more on Rick Warren's promotion of contemplative, read A Time of Departing.

Also read:
Baptist Press Responds to Wall Street Journal article on Warren


 

Evangelical Covenant Church - Denomination Gone Contemplative
 

The Evangelical Covenant Church began in the late 1880s "in the biblical instruction of the Lutheran State Church of Sweden, and in the great spiritual awakenings of the nineteenth century." The denomination has ministries on five continents and claims that it "values the Bible as the Word of God." Therefore it is with sadness to report that the ECC has gone into contemplative, seeming to have no reservations in doing so. With several educational institutions, including North Park University, the ECC influences many people, including many college students.

>From labyrinths to centering prayer groups and everything in between, the ECC is promoting contemplative spirituality to their members. Centering prayer groups adhere to the teachings of Basil Pennington and Thomas Keating, both of whom are panentheists (God in all things). In addition, ECC offers several opportunities for its members to participate in Spiritual Formation (an avenue through which contemplative spirituality is introduced), and a seminar called Habits of the Heart presents contemplative practices such as lectio divina. A recommended reading list for Christian Formation contains just about every contemplative teacher one can imagine.

The denomination's university, North Park University, is reflective of the denomination and incorporates many of the same contemplative practices and persuasions as does North Park Theological Seminary, which also has a Center for Spiritual Direction (spiritual direction - another avenue through which contemplative spirituality enters).

Many members of the Evangelical Covenant Church will be heart-broken as they are forced to leave their ECC churches (some of whom have contacted Lighthouse Trails) in search of ones that maintain biblical integrity and defend the gospel of Jesus Christ in truth and courage. Contemplative spirituality, in all its substance and form, can never do this and will only cause havoc and deception.
 
Hymns - Why Do Contemplative-Promoting Authors Dislike Them?
 

"[W]e made the strategic decision to stop singing hymns in our seeker services." Rick Warren, Purpose Driven Church, p. 285

It is interesting (and sad) to watch the growing trend among those who promote contemplative and/or emerging and those in the seeker-friendly movement to teach their followers that hymns are outdated, irrelevant and un-useful.

In light of the fact that many of the traditional hymns were birthed out of suffering and hardship, the rejection of them is even more difficult to embrace. However, in the atmosphere of today's Christendom, it is not more difficult to understand. Much of Christendom has made a direct bee line for Catholicism, ignoring the very fact that our past brothers and sisters were martyred in their attempts to leave the institution and its rituals behind. We live today in such a spiritual environment where so many are able to run back to the very thing that others died to leave; thus it is not hard to understand why so many are rejecting the hymns of those who suffered for their defense of the faith.

In his first book, Purpose Driven Church, Warren devotes several pages to convincing readers that hymns are outdated and need to go. David Jeremiah, in his book Life Wide Open, said: "Unfortunately, we often encourage comfort zones in the church." He then quotes contemplative Calvin Miller, who said: "I was struck one day by all the hymns that center on faith as a protective refuge." Examples he gave included "A Mighty Fortress is Our God," "Rock of Ages," and "Haven of Rest." Jeremiah said that such songs were "comfort music for weak-kneed saints" (pp. 164-165). Is it possible that many of today's Christian leaders have become so alienated from the very idea of suffering for the defense of the faith, that the notion of singing songs "that center on faith as a protective refuge" is ridiculous to them? And could it be that Christians today are being trained, not to be stand for truth, but rather to bend with and mimic our culture?

A Mighty Fortress

A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God's own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabbath, His Name, from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.

That word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him Who with us sideth:
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God's truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.
 
Mark Driscoll and Acts 29 Network - Promoting Contemplative
 

Mark Driscoll, the president of Acts 29 Network, became part of the original Emergent team that Leadership Network brought together. In a Criswell Theological Seminary article, Driscoll stated:

"In the mid-1990s I was a young church planter trying to establish a church in the city of Seattle when I got a call to speak at my first conference. It was hosted by Leadership Network and focused on the subject of Generation X. ... Out of that conference a small team was formed to continue conversing about postmodernism ..."

This original team included Brian McLaren, Doug Pagitt, Dan Kimball, Tony Jones, and Driscoll. However, in more recent days, Driscoll has made public comments that he has distanced himself from some of these Emergent leaders and aspects of the movement itself. The question therefore has been put to us, is Driscoll a promoter of contemplative spirituality and the emerging church movement? Perhaps one of the best places to look for this answer is Driscoll's ministry, Acts 29 Network (incidentally, there is no Acts 29 in the Bible). Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington, is also founder and president of Acts 29 Network, a "network of pastors from around the nation and world whose dream is to help qualified leaders called by God plant new churches and replant declining churches." But in examining the Acts 29 Network, there is no question that the "network of pastors from around the nation and world" who visit this website are going to be introduced to a spirituality that is contrary to Scripture and one which negates the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Under the "A29 Recommended Reading List" is a selection of what is referred to as "worthy literature." The list includes books by Richard Foster, Dallas Willard, and a book called The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. Other books on the list include those by panentheist St. John of the Cross, and a collection of books about Celtic Spirituality (i.e., contemplative spirituality) as well as books by Thomas Merton, Teresa of Avila, Eugene Peterson, and Larry Crabb (AACC). Act 29's recommendation of Thomas Merton (who said he was impregnated with Sufism: Islamic mysticism)is perhaps the most telling of all. One of the books Driscoll recommends by Merton is Wisdom of the Desert (referring to the desert fathers). For Driscoll to say he has distanced himself from some aspects of the emerging church (or the Emergent leaders) but then advocate Merton and this line up of other avid mystics is an oxymoron.

The point is, Mark Driscoll is promoting contemplative spirituality, and for someone to say they don't promote the emerging church but then promote contemplative is faulty thinking because the latter is so much worse - it is contemplative spirituality that makes the emerging church so heretical. Remember, the premise of contemplative is that all paths lead to God and God is within all creation.  

Another Christian Publisher Embraces Contemplative/Emerging
 

Baker Books seemed to be one of the few larger Christian publishing houses that had not jumped with both feet on the contemplative/emerging bandwagon. That all may be changing however. With their new release of James Wakefield's book on lectio divina and the Fall 2006 release of emerging leader Robert Webber's new book, The Divine Embrace, Baker Books is joining the ranks of Christian publishers who are capitalizing on the popularity of mysticism in Christendom. On Baker's website sits an endorsement for Webber's new book:
Robert Webber's new book places him in the good company of Dallas Willard, Richard Foster, and Eugene Peterson as one of our most important thinkers about spiritual formation for authentic Christian living. It provides fresh, wise, and challenging guidance that is rooted in a career of Christian leadership development. It draws from decades of research in church history and spirituality, and flows from the mind of a scholar and the heart of a practitioner. I am a fan of all his work, but I think this is his best and most important book to date."--Brian McLaren, author/speaker (brianmclaren.net)
Another Summer 2006 release by Baker Books is contemplative Calvin Miller's book, Preaching. Miller is the author of Into the Depths of God. In taking a closer look at Baker Books, we see that they have been dabbling in the contemplative path for some time now. In 1998, Baker published contemplative author David Benner's book, Care of Souls. But nothing in their past can compare to their plans for the future. What may be the most alarming of all is Baker Books upcoming Spring 2007 release, An Emergent Manifesto of Hope by Doug Pagitt, Tony Jones, Brian McLaren and Dan Kimball!
The Shape of Things to Come
Biola University Embraces Contemplative Spirituality

 
by Ray Yungen

Biola University, the traditional virtual bedrock of conservative Christian higher education, has opened itself to influences that would have its founders turning over in their graves. This Fall, at Biola's Christian Spirituality Soul Care series, contemporary Protestant mystic Ruth Haley Barton will be a featured speaker. Ms. Barton is a graduate of the Shalem Institute, founded by Tilden Edwards who believes Buddhist mysticism can enliven the spiritual life of the Christian. The Shalem Institute is the embodiment of all the heresies that Lighthouse Trails has been warning about since its inception. For Ms. Barton to successfully have completed the course in Spiritual Formation without any type of discomfort or protest indicates that she sees nothing wrong with Shalem's bent towards Buddhist/Hindu spirituality. This is apparent in her method of reaching God and is the classic modality that all world mystics use to reach their respective divinities.

Ms. Barton repeats the words "Here I am" over and over again for a period of time to induce a thoughtless state. To have Ruth Haley Barton speak with authority at an institution of Biola's background and history would be in essence no different than having Tilden Edwards himself speak there, a man who said that contemplative prayer was the bridge between Christianity and Far Eastern spirituality. If this Soul Care series is the shape of things to come at Biola, it would not be beyond the realm of possibilities that one day Biola would resemble the Shalem Institute!

Note: After her training at Shalem, Ms. Barton became the Associate Director for Spiritual Formation at Willow Creek and helped to develop their Spiritual Formation curriculum. Since then she has started the Transforming Center, where pastors and leaders are trained in the art of contemplative spirituality. Biola's Soul Care series includes other speakers who heartily promote contemplative prayer, including Dallas Willard.

 

 

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