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Relationships and Religious Agendas

by Paul Proctor
Free-lance writer

Have you ever tried to reason with a religious agenda? It’s hard to do, isn’t it? You can quote God’s Word until you’re blue in the face, but those who have fully invested themselves into it will not be easily swayed even when it doesn’t square with scripture.

Often, what comes into play is a mystical mindset and performance-based pride involving a “passion” or “vision.” Persuaded with sentimental stories, tender tears, and a charming demeanor, a misguided group can, over time, become spiritually deaf, dumb, and blind to anyone and anything outside that vision, including God’s Word – following along with a misplaced faith in someone’s persona, position, or personal experience.

This happens in the Church today because Christians have largely relegated all things scriptural over to leaders for interpretation having made ministers into magistrates and pastors into priests – relying on professionals to perceive God’s Will for their lives rather than prayerfully reading and studying His Word for themselves like the Bereans of Acts 17 who “received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”

Having now put so great an emphasis on our relationships with one another and the results we covet, no longer do we turn to the Bible for answers to the issues of life, instead, allowing the counsel of the compromised to compel us along with their practical advise and benevolent ventures, assuming they are anointed and appointed by God to do so. It is a sweet seduction with eternal consequences and a spiritual short cut for the shortsighted and undisciplined.

Of course, we’re all in need of good relationships and good counsel; but when we rely on “smooth words” instead of God’s Word to direct us, we set ourselves up for deception, disobedience, and disaster. And, when we eventually fall and fail, how quickly we offload the blame onto those who misled us rather than taking responsibility for our own neglect – cleaning up the embarrassing mess left behind only to search yet again for another to lead in like manner – never repenting but always repeating the same ecclesiastical error over and over. This is what happens when we think and act relationally and experientially rather than biblically.

God gave us His Word for a reason, not as an option or a last resort. He does not yield to cultures and trends, as do we in the Church today. Nor does He need to try this or that to see what works and experiment with the things of this world to bring about His eternal ends. He who called creation into being with His Word need not alter it to accommodate the flesh and bring rebellion into repentance and faith.

It is only men who change, adjust, and experiment – leaning on their own understanding to try and help the One who needs no help – all the while bringing glory to self.

As it was in the Garden of Eden, so it is today; we continue to set aside the Word of God in the interest of Results and Relationships, forgetting that forsaking our way of doing things for His and learning obedience by faith was the point all along.

“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” – Proverbs 3:5

Used with permission. Copyright Paul Proctor

A Special Note From Ruth Hunt (Dave Hunt’s Wife)

Dave and Ruth Hunt (photo)

LTRP Note: As many of you know, berean defender of the faith, Dave Hunt, went home to be with the Lord earlier this year. The note below is from The Berean Call website from Dave’s wife, Ruth. While we have never personally met Ruth, we carry her excellent book, East Wind and are grateful for this work. And as the apostle Paul says, in referring to the believer in Christ, “Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord:  (for we walk by faith, not by sight:)  we are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 5: 6-8)

September 2013

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I would like to express my deepest gratitude to all of you for your dear cards and letters and prayers. They have meant so very much to me. I hope that you will understand that I am no longer able to respond individually, but please know that every note has been read and is cherished. I am truly blessed to have so many dear friends.

I must now share with you that my doctors have declared me terminally ill and have given me approximately four months to live. I am not in any pain and am being well cared for by family, friends, and caregivers.

I truly look forward to this glorious transition and the fact that I will soon be with my beloved Savior and with Dave and others who have gone on before me. The Lord was so kind to me in answering my prayer, which was that He would allow me to stay well enough to care for my dear David until he went home to be with Him. I was blessed to be there, holding his hand, as he drew his last breath, and I knew that he was with Jesus! How kind of God to have given me that privilege.

I thank each one of you for the many, many years of loving fellowship that we have shared, and I pray that you will be comforted by the fact that I am perfectly at peace. I look forward with much joy to our grand reunion in heaven one day soon! “What a day, glorious day, that will be!”

Affectionately yours,

Ruth Hunt

 

A Special Note From Ruth Hunt (Dave Hunt’s Wife)
FEATURE ARTICLE: An Open Letter to Christian Leaders: Please Tell Us Where We Are Wrong
Letter to the Editor: Concerns About Home Church Using Book by Renovare’s James Bryan Smith
A Glimpse into the Past – 4 Native American Men Who Longed For “the Book” and Were Denied It
The Metaphysical Explosion & the Higher Self – A Path to Spiritual Enlightenment or a Road to Dangerous Deception?
Letter to the Editor: Parents of a Colorado Christian University Student Are Equipping Their Child to Spot Contemplative Deception
California Legislators Table Bill Seeking to Punish Youth Organizations Opposing Homosexuality
The Mind-Changing Dialectic Process
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Christianity Today Treats Contemplative Controversy as Legitimate Issue in Cover Story About Beth Moore
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2012 YEAR IN REVIEW

 
Who We Are
Lighthouse Trails is a Christian publishing company and research project ministry. We work with a group of Christian journalists and authors, all who understand the times in which we live from a biblical perspective. While we hope you will buy and read the books we have published, watch the DVDs we have produced, and support our ministry, we also provide extensive free research, documentation, and news on our Research site, blog, e-newsletter, and now our subscription based print journal. We pray that the books as well as the online research will be a blessing to the body of Christ and a witness to those who have not yet accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord.
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BOOKLET TRACTS

In January of 2013, we began publishing Print Booklet Tracts. Click the banner below to see what we have so far. More will be added regularly. These are specifically designed to give out to people.

BOOKLET TRACTS FROM LIGHTHOUSE TRAILS
An Open Letter to Christian Leaders: Please Tell Us Where We Are Wrong

By the Editors at Lighthouse Trails

For over 11 years, Lighthouse Trails has been issuing a warning about a mystical spirituality, known as contemplative prayer, which is coming through the conduit of the Spiritual Formation movement. It has not been an easy road to travel on, but through the Word of God and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we saw this paradigm shift, which was affecting a large segment of the evangelical and Protestant church and lining up with biblical prophecy of a day coming when there will be great deception and many would fall away from the faith. We also became completely convinced that the roots of contemplative spirituality were based in panentheism (God in all), interspirituality (all paths lead to God), and universalism (everyone is united with God in spite of belief).

Once we saw this, we simply could not quit the work we had been called to do. Today, those convictions are stronger than ever, but the opposition or indifference we have encountered from the ranks of those widely known as leaders of the evangelical church has been stunning and sometimes unbelievable, especially in light of the fact that our only desire is to protect the message of the Cross from an opposite message that carries no hope of salvation or a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Looking back, it is hard for us not to see ourselves as a kind of David in his battle with Goliath. Lighthouse Trails is not a big ministry, at least as far as staff and resources go. If someone had told us 11 years ago that one day most major Christian ministries would know who we were and would resent, despise, or even hate us, we would not have believed it. You see, when we first began, we were under the impression that our warning was going to be welcomed by Christian leaders, and in fact, we thought that our own ministry could be short lived because once they were given the information and documentation about this great spiritual deception, they would take up the banner and run with it, and we would be able to go back to our lives before Lighthouse Trails began. After all, they were the ones who had the money, audience, credentials, and popularity to really make a difference. We had none of these things. 

It wasn’t too long before we learned that the Christian leaders were not going to be receiving our message.

Opposition didn’t start right away. But then, that would make sense as we started at ground zero, with virtually no publishing experience and no readership. We had to take online college courses to learn how to build websites and design books. We sent out free copies of A Time of Departing (our launching book) to Christian radio stations, organizations, ministries, and pastors. One of these copies went to Rick Warren. Another to John MacArthur. One to Jerry Falwell, another to Focus on the Family, and on and on. From 2002 to 2006, we gave away over three thousand copies of A Time of Departing.  We heard back from several men and women, many of whom had Masters and Doctorate degrees who told us the book was right on the mark. Dr. Jim Diehl, for example, former General Superintendent of the Church of the Nazarene, called one day and praised the book as “excellent” and “vital.” Chuck Smith spoke with one of our editors and said that our work was meaningful and important. John MacArthur told a staff member, who told us by phone, that he greatly appreciated the work we were doing. Rick Warren wrote us a personal note to tell us the book is a “hot topic” and has a place on his library bookshelf.

But then in 2005, we wrote a special report titled ”Rick Warren Teams Up With New-Age Sympathizer Ken Blanchard!” It didn’t take too long after that report came out for us to know that we had crossed a line, and life was never going to be the same again. You can read more about those early years in two articles we wrote: one, “How Lighthouse Trails Began – Part One: “It was a dark and stormy night,” and two, “Lighthouse Trails, the Early Years – Part 2 – “A Hot Topic” That Just Wouldn’t Go Away.”  Warren B. Smith also documented some of the events in an entire chapter in his book A “Wonderful” Deception (chapter 5). Some of the things that took place were like elements out of a B-rated mystery novel like phone lines suddenly “out of order,” e-mails apparently being intercepted, being told by Saddleback that federal agents were investigating us because they thought we had broken into the Saddleback server, and so forth. We wondered what we had gotten ourselves into. 

Over the course of the years, there have been many terrible and unkind things said about us in public venues. We’ll give you a brief rundown of some of these things that have been said. Prepare yourself - none of them have anything to do directly with our actual work. In fact, the one thing we have yet to see is any solid and biblical refutation of our work. It’s as if it’s always avoided. Everything is said, but no solid challenge is given.

So what are these terrible things said publically about Lighthouse Trails? Here’s an incomplete sampling: One  pastor, on a popular blog, said we were “like fleas on the back of a dog.” Then there was the time, on stage at a Calvary Chapel event with thousands of young people, where we were called “the haters.” Rick Warren’s former chief apologist said in an article that has been sitting on a high traffic Christian website for years that if we had the legal means we would torture and murder people. One well-known apologist coined the term “discernment divas” and first used it referring to one of the women writers at Lighthouse Trails in 2006. Then there were the generic name-calling terms like witch-hunters, freaks, fanatics, militant fundamentalists, and so forth. After a few years of this, we couldn’t help wonder why these highly qualified men (and sometimes women) had nothing qualified to say about our work.

We want to make one thing clear here. By telling our readers these things, we are not trying to gain sympathy. We don’t feel sorry for ourselves. We understand that in doing this kind of ministry, there is inevitably going to be strong reaction and defense tactics. No one wants to be criticized or challenged, especially leaders who have become accustomed to being followed, not being corrected.

What’s been frustrating about the name calling, however, is that we’ve been very open to receiving solid biblical refutation of the message we are proclaiming. In fact, we said from the very beginning of our ministry that all we really wanted was for the contemplative issue to come to the table, to be discussed, challenged, and considered. Eleven years ago, if one Googled the term “contemplative prayer,” virtually nothing came up on the first few pages of search results that was from a critiquing point of view. Mystical spirituality in the Christian church was being largely unchallenged. 

As we learned of all the men who had great educational and theological credentials, we thought there would be some scholarly response and a taking hold of the torch, so to speak. We didn’t expect name calling, innuendos, sometimes downright lies (like the rumors that we often hear), and ad hominem and straw men arguments. That took us by surprise. And we began to wonder why this was happening. Was it possible, we asked ourselves, that some of these educated leaders couldn’t see the big picture of this deception? We just wanted some proof that we were wrong, some good solid biblical evidence that our conclusions were way off.

We got used to the name calling and over time, found some of it humorous (in a way); at least, we found it meaningless. It was the other accusations that got to us though, because we knew they were without merit (or evidence). One of the most common accusations against the research at Lighthouse Trails is that we take quotes out of context. And yet, and this is the truth, in all these years, we have not had one person actually give us an example of where we have done this. As a case in point, about 5 years ago, two educated men, both with doctorates from a higher learning institution in Canada, said that A Time of Departing was faulty because it took quotes out of context. We wrote to them in an amiable manner and asked if they could provide just one or two examples so that we could see where we went wrong. They did not produce one example. Lighthouse Trails has been meticulous about checking and double checking every quote in a book or article we publish to make sure that the intent of any particular author is not misconstrued or taken out of context. If someone did produce a legitimate example, we would speedily correct that. You see, it is not our intention to falsely accuse or villainize anyone. Taking quotes out of context is an accusation we take very seriously, and we take great efforts not to do that. And yet, we hear this often from our critics. But we are still waiting for an example.

The second most common accusation against us is that we use faulty and loose guilt by association reasoning. We have addressed this in many past articles, but we will say it again here: there is a difference between loose guilt by association and guilt by promotion or by proxy. What’s more, there is a legitimate guilt by association. The way our critics would have it, there is no such thing and it doesn’t matter who a person is associated with. But you won’t find backup in Scripture on that. On the contrary, consider all the verses that tell God-fearing people to keep good company, avoid standing with heretics or unruly people, keep oneself unspotted from the world, avoid the appearance of evil, and so forth.

One of the big issues that continuously surfaces is related to guilt by association. Those who accuse us of using guilt by association say that we call people contemplative or emerging proponents because they have been “associated” with a contemplative person. But, we have never done that. For instance, often we will challenge a big name leader for sharing a platform with contemplative and emergent figures. But we have never said that person was now a contemplative or emergent himself just for sharing the platform with one. An example of this is when we challenged Joel Rosenberg and Kay Arthur for attending Canada’s Breakforth contemplative-promoting conference and sharing the platform with emergents like Leonard Sweet and Tony Campolo. We never once said that now this makes Rosenberg and Arthur contemplatives or emergents themselves. No. The challenge we gave was that reputable, Bible-believing leaders should not give credibility to false teachers by standing on the same platforms or being at the same conferences.

Another case in point just occurred. We challenged John MacArthur for using a sermon for many years till present where he favorably quotes the late major contemplative pioneer Dallas Willard. The accusations started pouring in that we were calling MacArthur a contemplative proponent. But we never did. Our challenge was and is that by highly influential leaders favorably quoting false teachers, they inadvertently are giving credibility to that teacher and thereby lessening resistance from the Christian community at large to their message.

One last accusation that we want to address in this article is an accusation that comes primarily from a few popular public figures in the Calvinist/Reformed camp, and that is that all or most of the writing done at Lighthouse Trails is done by one woman (or a “discernment diva” as they  say – incidentally a diva is typically a self-centered, egotistical, arrogant woman (often a performer) who is domineering and rude to those around her. If you read our articles you’ll see this is not an accurate description of what we are trying to do that springs from a heart-felt love for people, which is the opposite of diva behavior). Three things on this issue: first, calling women who are believers in Christ “divas” is a derogatory and ungodly remark – period! Second, it isn’t true that most of the writing at Lighthouse Trails comes from just one person. Take a look at any of our e-newsletters, our blog, or our printed journals, and you will see  the names of many writers, both men and women. As you can see on our authors’ page, we currently use the writings of 11 women and 19 men. For anyone to say that our material is written by just one person appears to be a dishonest effort to minimize the value in the work of these 30 some writers.

Relating to the issue of women, as far as the accusation that women shouldn’t be in a ministry of this kind at all – all we can say to that is that if God can use a donkey, surely He can use a woman (Numbers 22:21-38). It is interesting to note that in the case of Balaam’s donkey, God used the donkey to warn and save Balaam’s life.  Is it so unthinkable that God would use women to warn of impending spiritual danger? To cry out to their brothers, of whom many have fallen asleep on the watch? Of all those labeled ”discernment divas” whom we know, each of them is a loving mother, wife, and in some cases grandmother who has, not by her own choice, but by God’s apparent choice, accepted the role much like Balaam’s donkey. And remember, that donkey was struck several times by Balaam before God finally intervened – then Balaam’s eyes were opened, and he saw that the donkey’s efforts to warn him were legitimate.

Balaam’s Donkey

 All of this that we have said in this article leads us to ask the question to Christian leaders, where have we gone wrong? Please tell us. Not by name calling or accusations without proof. If we have taken something out of context, please show us some examples of that. If have wrongly called someone a contemplative advocate or sympathizer, please tell us how. But all we ask is you present us with the documentation, the evidence. We only ask for the same standard to be applied to us that we have tried to use ourselves: honesty, accuracy, and Christian charity.

While we know we are all fallible, and as humans we don’t have a full understanding of the things of God according to Scripture, we, like others in the body of Christ, are attempting to walk a life that is honoring to God. We know we fail at that at times, and we are totally dependent on Him to lead us and strengthen us. We have attempted to report to Christians information that is pertinent to the health of the Christian church. If we have erred in our deductions and conclusions, then we want to be corrected. If we can be shown that our warning and work is faulty and against Scripture, we will apologize and even step down from this work.

We do not see ourselves as better than anyone else, and certainly we know we do not have the “qualifications” (from a human point of view) that would entitle us to be in any kind of authority over another (we do not even desire such authority). We have endeavored to stand beside our brothers and sisters, not above, not below. But because we believe so strongly that we are living in the days the Bible predicts will occur before the return of Christ where there will be a great falling away (of faith), we are gravely concerned that most of the Christian leaders seem to be either ignoring or going along with this major paradigm shift in the church at large. And while Lighthouse Trails is just a small ministry which could end at any time (as God sees fit) and certainly we have not come to the church with the splendor, finesse, support, or backing that most of the major Christian leaders have, we beseech these leaders to consider that God often uses the foolish things and weak things to speak His message (like Balaam’s donkey).

And so, if we are wrong, rather than using name calling, which is unprofitable, show us where we are wrong. If you, dear Christian leader, are  on the side of truth, then consider our warning. Maybe you don’t like our delivery, but if there is no solid evidence to prove us wrong, wouldn’t it be wise to humble yourselves and listen?

We have written this article, not as a means to defend ourselves but more so to defend our work.

Letter to the Editor: Concerns About Home Church Using Book by Renovare’s James Bryan Smith

To Lighthouse Trails:

Recently my home church added a new pastor as the leader of Small Groups/Spiritual Formation. I am very concerned.

Soon after taking this position he introduced a book by James Bryan Smith titled The Good and Beautiful God.  This book is to be studied at each of our church’s small groups in addition to a 9 week Sunday evening class.

My first introduction to this book was in our adult Sunday school class when our teacher referred to lectio divina found in chapter 5. Immediately red flags went up in my mind. I had never heard of lectio divina nor contemplative spirituality before but I new something was very wrong.

Later, when I got a hold of the book, I saw that on the front cover is a quote and endorsement by Dallas Willard. I have searched your website but have not found a review of this book. Could you please review and report on this book?

I have yet to discuss my concerns with my senior pastor but when I do I pray it will be with discernment and double honor. I would just like a little more knowledge on this book and spiritual formation before I share my concerns and feats for my church. Any information will be a great help.

You are doing a wonderful work.

Blessings, _______________

OUR RESPONSE:

You are very correct in your concerns about James Bryan Smith’s book. Lighthouse Trails has known about this author for a number of years because of his very close connection with Richard Foster. An Amazon.com Author Page description of Smith states the following:

James Bryan Smith (M. Div., Yale University Divinity School, D. Min., Fuller Seminary) is a theology professor at Friends University in Wichita, KS and a writer and speaker in the area of Christian spiritual formation. He also serves as the director of the Christian Spiritual Formation Institute at Friends University.

A founding member of Richard J. Foster’s spiritual renewal ministry, Renovaré, Smith is an ordained United Methodist Church minister and has served in various capacities in local churches. Smith is also the author of A Spiritual Formation Workbook, Devotional Classics (with Richard Foster), Embracing the Love of God, Rich Mullins: An Arrow Pointing to Heaven and Room of Marvels.

Of course, just the fact that Smith helped to found Renovare is evidence enough that he is a major contemplative advocate. Renovare is one of the longest standing vehicles through which contemplative spirituality (i.e., Spiritual Formation) has entered the evangelical church. And traditionally, as a whole, the Friends denomination/movement embraces contemplative mysticism as well. But let’s take a look at this particular book, The Good and Beautiful God. This is actually the first in a series by Smith called The Apprentice Series. There is also The Good and Beautiful Life and The Good and Beautiful Community.

In The Good and Beautiful God (the one your group will be using), there are a number of things we would like to point out:

1.  Dallas Willard’s endorsement sits on the front cover (he also wrote the foreword to the book: “The best practice I have seen in Christian spiritual formation.” 

2. On the dedication page of the book, it reads: ”For my teachers Dallas Willard and Richard J. Foster.”

3. In the introduction of the book, Smith gives an interesting chronicle of how he came to meet Foster, become a chosen student of Foster’s, and from there delved into the world of Spiritual Formation, being introduced to the writings (and even meeting in person) Henri Nouwen, Dallas Willard, and Brennan Manning. Smith states:

 The influence of all of these people—Richard, Henri, Rich [Mullins], Brennan and Dallas—on me is so strong that I am not sure I have any ideas that were not shaped by theirs. (p. 12)

4. In the Acknowledgements, Smith says:

This book—and all of the books in The Apprentice Series—would not exist were it not for Dallas Willard, a living example of a true apprentice of Jesus, who has inspired me in countless ways. Dallas’s outline of a “curriculum for Christlikeness” is the framework of these books. It is difficult to measure the impact of his life and writings on my soul. (p. 227)

Willard’s “curriculum for Christlikeness” is based on the teachings of numerous mystics, as we have documented in previous Lighthouse Trails articles.

5. Endnotes in the book reveal who Smith turns to for “wisdom” and “spiritual understanding.”. Of course, there is Willard, Foster, Nouwen, and Manning. As Smith’s introduction describes, these are his mentors and heroes. In addition, there are names like the mystic Catholic nun, Kathleen Norris, emergent church favorites Karl Barth and H. Richard Niebuhr, contemplative teacher Jan Johnson and contemplative/emerging musician David Crowder.  Then there is the Benedictine Handbook and The Upper Room Dictionary of Christian Spiritual Formation (Upper Room is an organization whose primary purpose is to promote Spiritual Formation. They are the creators of the Walk to Emmaus).

6. One of the contemplative practices that Smith teaches on and references throughout his book is lectio divina. He gives instruction on page 108 on how to use lectio divina to find your special word or phrase to repeat in contemplative meditation. Our article, “LECTIO DIVINA-What it is, What it is not, and Should Christians Practice it?,” is a worthwhile read to understand lectio divina.

With regard to the other two books in the Good and Beautiful series by Smith, with a quick perusal in The Good and Beautiful Life, we can see Smith includes Thomas Merton and Rob Bell in his line of spiritual references, talks frequently about being in the silence, and again, recommends repeating a special word or phrase during contemplative meditation. There is also a reference to contemplative and Catholic sympathizer J.P. Moreland. The Good and Beautiful Community, the third in the series, continues in the same vein and includes references for Shane Claiborne, N.T. Wright, Tony Campolo, Walter Brueggemann, and Eugene Peterson (all part of the emerging church).

If James Bryan Smith’s books are used in a group setting, they are going to introduce participants to contemplative spirituality and to the most influential names (Foster, Willard, Nouwen, and Manning) who have carried the torch from the halls of the Catholic monasteries of Thomas Merton, Thomas Keating, and Basil Pennington to the pews of the evangelical church. Smith’s message lines up with the community/social justice/emergent ”theology” that says spiritual transformation comes through practicing the “spiritual disciplines,” especially the silence, and the kingdom of God is built when unity at all costs is upheld (removing the barriers of doctrine).

 

A Glimpse into the Past – 4 Native American Men Who Longed For “the Book” and Were Denied It

LTRP Note: The following is a story from the book Stories From Indian Wigwams and Northern Campfires. The book was written by Egerton Ryerson Young, a young Canadian missionary in the late 1800s, who, with his wife and small children, spent years with the Native people in Canada, living among them, loving them, and sharing the Gospel and the Word of God with them. This is one of the unforgettable stories from the “Wigwam” book. While some of the terms and writing would be considered “unpolitically” correct today, Young’s great respect, admiration, and acknowledgment of the value and worth of the Native people is above reproach.

By Egerton Ryerson Young

THE VISIT OF THE FLATHEAD INDIANS & THEIR REQUEST FOR THE BOOK DENIED Long years ago, in the depths of winter, there appeared in the city of St. Louis four Flathead Indians. They carried in their persons the evidences of many hardships and of the severest privations. Bronzed and scarred were they by the summer’s heat and winter’s pitiless blast, for many moons had waxed and waned since they had commenced their long and dangerous journey from their own land, which lay not far from the shores of the Pacific Ocean. Their trail had led them through the domains of hostile Indian tribes. Thrilling indeed had been their adventures, and many had been their risks of losing both their scalps and lives. For weeks when crossing the broad ranges of the Rocky Mountains, where gloomy defiles and dark recesses abound for hundreds of miles, they had ever to be on the alert, lest in an unguarded moment there should spring out upon them the panther or mountain lion or rush upon them the more dreaded grizzly bear.

But although their very appearance bore pathetic evidence of their privations and sufferings, yet very little had they to say about themselves or their personal sorrows. An all absorbing longing had got into their hearts to be the possessor of one thing, and this passion had dwarfed into insignificance every thing else to them. There had been implanted by some chance seed-sowing such a craving for something to satisfy their spiritual natures that in order to get this for which their souls now longed they had unflinchingly faced all the storms and dangers of that fearful journey. Yet to the thoughtless white men to whom they first addressed themselves, very strange and meaningless seemed the importunate request or petition of these gaunt, wearied red men. They came, they said, from the land of the setting sun; across the great snow-clad mountains and the wide prairies for many moons they had traveled; they had heard of the white man’s God and of the white man’s book of heaven; a stranger had visited them and had told them things that had excited the whole tribe. He had told them of the great God who had made all things, and that the white man had a book which told all about him and what they were to do to have his favor. So that they might obtain this book they had come from their home far away across the Rocky Mountains. Thus strangely they pleaded for a copy of the word of God.

Some persons, becoming interested in the appearance of these strange Indians and their remarkable request, took them to the commanding officer of the military post in that city, and to him they told their simple story and besought his aid. Unfortunately for them, although the general was a kind-hearted man, he was a Roman Catholic, and so when he took them to the bishop and priests of his Church, while they were received with the greatest hospitality and shown the pictures of the Virgin Mary and of the saints, they were steadily denied their oft-repeated request for the Bible. Caring for none of these things, importunately did they plead for the book, but all in vain. So exhausting had been the journey that two of the Indians died in St. Louis from their sufferings and hardships. The other two after a time became discouraged and homesick and prepared to return to their far-off home. Ere they left the city a feast was gotten up for them and speeches were made, and the general and others bade them “Godspeed” on their journey. During the addresses at the close of the feast one of the Indians was asked to respond. His address deserves not only to rank among the models of eloquence, but should be pondered over as an expression of the heart-cry of very many of the weary, longing souls who, dissatisfied with their false religions, are eagerly crying out for the true. They want the book. In this English version, like all of these highly figurative poetical Indian orations, it loses much in the translation. He said:”I came to you over the trail of many moons from the land of the setting sun beyond the great mountains. You were the friends of my fathers, who have all gone the long way. I come with an eye partly opened for more light for my people who sit in darkness; I go back with both eyes closed. How can I go back blind to my people? I made my way to you with strong arms through many enemies and strange lands, that I might carry back much to them. I go back with both arms broken and empty. Two fathers came with us. They were the braves of many winters and wars. We leave them asleep here by your great water and wigwams. They were tired in many moons and their moccasins were worn out. My people sent me to get the white man’s book of heaven. You took me where you allow your women to dance as we would not allow ours, and the book was not there. You took me where they worship the Great Spirit with candles, but the book was not there. You showed me images of the good spirits and pictures of the good land beyond, but the book was not among them to tell us the way. I am going back the long, sad trail to my people of the dark land. You make my feet heavy with gifts, and my moccasins will grow old and my arms tire in carrying them, yet the book is not among them. When I tell my poor blind people after one more snow in the big council that I did not bring the book no word will be spoken by our old men or by our young braves. One by one they will rise up and go out in silence. My people will die in darkness, and they will go on the long path to other hunting grounds. No good white man will go with them, and no white man’s book to make the way plain. I have no more words.”

1985_66_145_1a

George Catlin painting #207.
“Hee-Oh_’Ks-Te-Kin,” (The Rabbit Skin Leggings)

How sad and pathetic are these words, and how unfortunate it was that these Indians should have fallen into the hands of the members of that Church which refuses to give the blessed book to the people! However, a young man who was present was so impressed with the address of this Indian that he wrote to friends in the Eastern States an account of this strange visit and the pathetic appeal of the Indians for a Bible. Some earnest Protestants became much interested in the matter, but it was two years before a missionary started with the Bible for that land which then lay many hundreds of miles beyond the most western shores of Anglo-Saxon civilization.

Meanwhile what had become of the two remaining Indians? After leaving St. Louis for their western home they fell in on the plains with George Catlin, the celebrated Indian artist. But although they traveled with him for many days, whether it was from Indian reserve and stoicism, or that they had become disheartened and discouraged, they did not mention the object of their visit to him. However, he painted their portraits, and in his famous collection they have become historic and are to be seen numbered 207 and 208. After leaving Catlin, one more of the Indians died, and so there was but one survivor of the four to return and announce to the Great Council the death of his companions and that the white man had refused them the book. The tribe was embittered, and gave up all hope of aid and comfort from the white man’s God. From a condition of eager longing to hear and accept the teachings of the good book they swung over to the opposite extreme, and so when the missionaries at length found these Indians they received no welcome from them, and found it almost impossible to overcome the feelings of despair and bitterness which had sprung up in their hearts against the white man. However, other tribes in that same land were more docile, and a church and manual labor schools were established, and many of the Indians become Christianized. Rome refuses the Bible. Our glorious evangelical Protestant Churches love to give to all tribes and nationalities the blessed book. With the open volume in their hands our missionaries go forth, and at many a camp-fire and in many a wigwam they read and expound its blessed truths. Many are their trials and discouragements, but glorious are their triumphs and genuine are the rewards won.

Stories From Indian Wigwams and Northern Campfires is available from Lighthouse Trails in both print and -PDF-book.

Other inspirational excerpts from this book:

The Story of Mask-e-pe-toon – A Murderous Native American Who Found His Savior

He Wished to Leave the “Old Way” and Follow the Christian Way – A True Story

Foreword by Nanci Des Gerlaise (and Front Matter)

 

The Metaphysical Explosion & the Higher Self – A Path to Spiritual Enlightenment or a Road to Dangerous Deception?

by Ray Yungen

After 25 years of research, I fully understand why so many people have embraced metaphysics (mysticism) and why they seek transformation for humanity as a whole. By and large, they have rejected orthodox (old paradigm) Christianity as being unacceptable, but still want to retain spiritual meaning and a utopian vision in their lives. In addition, they see metaphysics as helpful towards improving the quality of their daily lives, whether it be better health, more loving relationships, inner peace, or guidance for success and prosperity. They would think it the height of ignorance and folly to condemn such seemingly wonderful ways to better the human condition.

Many would reject a challenge of New Age consciousness from a Christian viewpoint as being the result of misinformation. It is widely believed in New Age circles that Jesus Christ was Himself a metaphysician of great stature. They quote verses where Jesus proclaims: “The kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21)–meaning a reference to the higher self, “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10)–a reference, they say, to meditation, and “Greater works than these shall he do” (John 14:12)–meaning New Agers can have His powers. As far out as this may sound to many Christian readers, New Age adherents are quite sincere in this belief. They firmly argue that reincarnation was originally in the Bible but was taken out at the Council of Nicea so that church and state could better control the common people by fear. Although there are still plenty of skeptics and critics, these beliefs are becoming less offensive and more acceptable all the time.

One of the most common New Age attitudes is that there are many paths to God and that it is wrong to judge or condemn another person’s path because not all people are suited for the same one. New Agers teach that each person should find the path best suited for himself.

There are two questions to be answered here: Is it right to judge? And do all paths lead to God? Jesus Christ foretold in Matthew 7:22-23:

Many 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.”

I find it most interesting that people who were doing “many wonderful works” or miraculous works in His name were, in reality, working “iniquity” or evil. This leads me to believe that a great deception is occurring.

These verses also tell me that all paths do not lead to God and, because they do not, one had better judge which path is correct. Many people, of course, counter with, “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” However, taken in context, this verse (Matthew 7:1), is talking about hypocrisy in human behavior and not about withholding critical examination of spiritual teachings. Galatians 1:8 bears out the necessity to evaluate spiritual teaching with proper discernment. Paul warns:

But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.

And II John 1:9-11 says:

Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.

And again in Ephesians 5:11, “…have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.”

How may we reprove something if we don’t determine whether or not it fits the bill of “unfruitful works?” In II Timothy 3:16-17, we read:

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect [complete], thoroughly furnished [fully equipped] unto all good works.

Noticing the New Age propensity for also quoting Bible verses to support the claims of metaphysics, I have focused on the obvious conflict between the Ancient Wisdom and the God of the Bible that runs from Genesis through Revelation. The continuity of this apparent contrast is undeniable to the point that any New Ager would have to acknowledge that it exists. This contrast and objection is the foundation for any logical Christian opposition to metaphysics. Notice the list of metaphysical arts in Deuteronomy 18:9-12:

When thou art come into the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination [a psychic, or an observer of times, meaning festivals connected to nature worship], or an enchanter [one who manipulates people by occult power], or a witch [one who uses occult power]. Or a charmer [hypnotist], or a consulter with familiar spirits [one who receives advice or knowledge from a spirit], or a wizard [one who uses a spirit to do his will], or a necromancer [one who believes he is contacting the dead]. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord: and because of these abominations the Lord thy God doth drive them out from before thee.

The word abomination in verse 12 means “abhorrent” or “disgusting.” Please note the reference to familiar spirits in the following verses from Leviticus. This term is found throughout the Old Testament and has a negative connotation:

And the soul that turneth after such as have familiar spirits, and after wizards, to go a whoring after them, I will even set my face against that soul, and will cut him off from among his people. (Leviticus 20:6)

An example of this is a book called Creative Visualization by Shakti Gawain, which could be called one of the bibles of the New Age movement (over three million copies have been sold in the US and translated into 25 languages). Gawain explains the basic process of visualization. First comes “relaxing into a deep, quiet meditative state of mind,”1 which is to be done every morning and afternoon. This opens the “channel” for “higher wisdom and guidance to come to you.”2 Gawain then describes the nature of this guidance:

The inner guide is known by many different names, such as your counselor, spirit guide, imaginary friend, or master. It is a higher part of yourself, which can come to you in many different forms, but usually comes in the form of a person or being whom you can talk to and relate to as a wise and loving friend.3

Your guide is there for you to call on anytime you need or want extra guidance, wisdom, knowledge, support, creative inspiration, love or companionship. Many people who have established a relationship with their guide meet them every day in their meditation.4

What Shakti Gawain is talking about is the same thing spoken of in Deuteronomy 18–familiar spirits. The so-called higher self is nothing more than a familiar spirit out to manipulate those people who open themselves to it. It has been common in Christian circles to speak of them as demons. The word demon comes from the Greek term deamonion, which literally means spirit guide. Familiar spirits make contact while the person’s mind is in neutral and try to establish a strong connection; the result is control of the person by the spirit. The core of New Age spirituality is that the higher self (i.e., familiar spirit) is supposed to be the guiding principle in every area of one’s life – period! That is why in Ephesians 6:12, the apostle Paul warns us:

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

He is saying that there are non-human powers (forces) that are in opposition to God. The nature of this is apparent to anyone who takes a close look at metaphysics with this verse in mind. After a certain point, influence and guidance from the familiar spirit progresses to outright possession. This, I believe, is the kundalini effect. One New Age proponent explains it the following way:

Before, kundalini had seemed like a fable to me, fascinating and appealing, but as improbable in its way as God talking to Moses through a burning bush or Jesus raising the dead. But now I was sometimes aware, toward the end of the third stage of Dynamic Meditation, of something moving as elusively as neon up my spine, flashing like lightning in my limbs…. When, in the fifth and final stage, I danced, I now sensed myself moved by a force more powerful, more inventive, than any I could consciously summon.5

I believe that Raphael and Alice Bailey’s “Tibetan” are familiar spirits. I also believe they are revealing their plan of operation in their writings. The intent of these beings can be seen by what the following metaphysical practitioners convey:

It is all there – just look for it. Seek the immortal, eternal Spirit that dwells within you - the “I am presence,” containing all that was, is, or ever shall be….6

The whole of life will become more meaningful as you live from the center within. Remember that you are Gods in the Making.7

It is not necessary to “have faith” in any power outside of yourself.

Who do you think would want you to believe something like that? Who would want you to believe that God does not exist outside of yourself – that you don’t need to have faith in anything external. New Age writer/philosopher David Spangler reveals who in his book Reflections on the Christ when he writes:

Some being has to take these energies into his consciousness and substance and channel them as it were to those other beings who must receive them, in this case humanity. The being who chose to embody these energies and to be in essence the angel of man’s inner evolution is the being we know as Lucifer.8

He lays out the entire program behind the New Age movement in the following explanation:

He [Lucifer] comes to make us aware of our power within, to draw to ourselves experience. He comes to make us aware of the power of creative manifestation which we wield.

When you are working with the laws of manifestation you are in essence manifesting a Luciferic principle.9

Even if Spangler had not written these words, the link between Lucifer and the New Age movement would still be evident to Christians from reading II Corinthians 11:13-15:

For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

For this deception to be effective, he would have to come as an “angel of light.” To judge a belief system as being satanic, one should compare how close it comes to Satan’s own statements about himself. God is asking him, “How art thou fallen from heaven, 0 Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!” (Isaiah. 14:12). Then He reminds Satan of his own words when he challenged God:

For thou [Satan] hast said in thine heart, “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.” (Isaiah 14:13-14)

Then later, when Satan deceived Eve in the Garden, he said:

For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. (Genesis 3:5)

The metaphysical explosion that our society is currently immersed in is a continuation of what Leviticus 19:31 warned against:

 Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards [metaphysicians], to be defiled by them: I am the Lord your God. (emphasis mine)

On this basis alone, Christians have a duty to challenge the validity of the New Age metaphysical message.

(Ray Yungen is the author of  For Many Shall Come in My Name.)

Notes:
1. Shakti Gawain, Creative Visualization (San Rafael, CA: Whatever Publishing, 1978), p. 14.
2. Ibid., p. 56.
3. Ibid., p. 91.
4. Ibid., p. 93.
5. James S. Gordon, The Golden Guru (Lexington, MN: The Stephen Greene Press, 1988), p. 8.
6. Donald Yott, Man and Metaphysics (New York, NY: Sam Weiser, Inc., 1980), p. 103.
7. Shakti Gawain, Creative Visualization, op. cit., p. 15.
8. David Spangler, Reflections on the Christ (Findhorn Foundation, second edition, 1978), p. 36.
9. Ibid., p. 41.

Letter to the Editor: Parents of a Colorado Christian University Student Are Equipping Their Child to Spot Contemplative Deception

To Lighthouse Trails:

Thank you so much for all the work you do.  Your website has been so helpful and informative as we seek to gain more understanding about the emergent church and contemplative spirituality in general.

The reason I’m writing is because I was looking something up on your site for a friend and came across your recently updated information about Colorado Christian University.  Our _____ is a ________ at CCU this year, and we’ve been keeping a close eye on the contemplative influences there.  Well before we knew about contemplative spirituality and your wonderful website, our _____ grew very fond of CCU.  My husband and I ultimately decided to allow _____ to go there, but we discussed contemplative issues with ___ in great depth and also had ___ read Castles in the Sand and Faith Undone this summer.  We want ___ to be fully aware of things ___ might encounter there, and also be prepared to hear some of the key words and phrases that have to do with the contemplative subject.  We are trying to help ___ avoid taking classes that require reading books and authors that we’ve heard about from your website. 

I also wanted to give additional information about the chapel you mentioned in your update.  Last April, I decided to listen to the chapel that featured Archbishop Aquila as a guest speaker.  My husband and I were wondering why they had him as a guest . . . it boggled our minds.  Much to our surprise, the Archbishop actually encouraged the students to practice lectio divina, and proceeded to instruct them as to how to do it.  We thought you might be interested to know about this ~ it was very disappointing.

The required new student retreat is this weekend.  The brochure mentioned “workshops on contemplative topics.”  We are interested to hear about what those are from our _____.  ____ is avoiding taking those workshops if they are optional, which we hope they are.  ___ knows what to steer clear of thanks to your website!

We appreciate you keeping us informed on this huge topic!

Please keep our names anonymous if any of this information is posted . . . thank you!

California Legislators Table Bill Seeking to Punish Youth Organizations Opposing Homosexuality

By Heather Clark
Christian News Network

SACRAMENTO – A bill that sought to punish youth organizations that oppose homosexual behavior and gender confusion by revoking their tax exempt status has been tabled–at least for now.

As previously reported, Senate Bill 323 (SB323) was first introduced in mid-February by Ricardo Lara, a Democratic state senator from Los Angeles. Lara is himself an open homosexual, as well as a member of the California Legislative LGBT Caucus. According to the bill’s introduction, SB323 would “provide that an organization that is a public charity youth organization that discriminates on the basis of gender identity, race, sexual orientation, nationality, religion, or religious affiliation is not exempt from [state taxes].”

Later in the legislation, approximately 25 youth organizations are specifically listed as entities that would have to embrace these “gender identity” and “sexual orientation” guidelines, or else lose their tax-exempt standing. Little League, Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, Young Men’s Christian Association, Young Women’s Christian Association, Future Farmers of America, Future Homemakers of America, 4-H Clubs, Boys’ Clubs, and Girls’ Clubs are all included. Click here to continue reading.

Related Articles:

A Special Commentary: Recent Events Show America’s Children in Grave Increased Danger of Sexual Abuse

Big Surprise – NOT! – “GLAAD Continues Push for Boy Scouts to Allow Openly Homosexual Leaders”

THE VOTE IS IN: Boy Scouts vote to allow openly practicing homosexual members

 

The Mind-Changing Dialectic Process

By Berit Kjos
Kjos Ministries
(author of How to Protect Your Child From the New Age & Spiritual Deception)

“When we put all this information together – the needs…pictures…and our ability to create completely new behaviors – we have the basics of control theory.” William Glasser: “The Quality School: Managing Students Without Coercion”[1]

“The challenge to humanity is to adopt new ways of thinking, new ways of acting, new ways of organizing itself in society, in short, new ways of living.”[2] Our Creative Diversity, UNESCO.

“’How do we get a critical mass of people doing things differently? Through the sharing of generative ideas, ideas that can change how people think and act….What we as a planet need in order to transform how our large systems work is a network of people spreading ideas of interdependency and sustainability.”[3] Peter Senge. “Changing our organizations to change the world”

“…absolute behavior control is imminent…. The critical point of behavior control, in effect, is sneaking up on mankind without his self-conscious realization that a crisis is at hand. Man will… never self-consciously know that it has happened.”[4] Raymond Houghton, To Nurture Humaneness, ASCD (curriculum arm of the NEA), 1970.

The world’s path to success is changing fast. In the new 21st-century institution – be it a school, church, corporation or government — hard work and dedication won’t suffice. Getting ahead in the global community will mean compromise, conformity, group thinking and submission to the ground rules of the consensus process.

It makes sense. Global visionaries and managers know well that their battle for social solidarity must be won by consensus, not by force. Mikhail Gorbachev, still an unrepentant Communist, showed his commitment to this transforming process in a 1993 editorial. He wrote,

President Clinton will be a success if he manages to use American influence to accomplish this transformation of international responsibility and increase significantly the role of the United Nations.… Bill Clinton will be a great president… if he can make America the creator of a new world order based on consensus.[5]

The power of DIALOGUE

This century-old plan [6] for “socializing” the masses gathered momentum when Julian Huxley, brother of Aldous, was chosen to head Unesco. Two years later, he wrote a book titled, “UNESCO: Its purpose and Its Philosophy.” This 1947 blueprint for change called for a universal implementation of Georg Hegel’s dialectic process:

“The task before UNESCO… is to help the emergence of a single world culture with its own philosophy and background of ideas and with its own broad purpose. This is opportune, since this is the first time in history that the scaffolding and the mechanisms for world unification have become available…. And it is necessary, for at the moment, two opposing philosophies of life confront each other from the West and from the East….

“You may categorize the two philosophies as two super-nationalisms, or as individualism versus collectivism; or as the American versus the Russian way of life, or as capitalism versus communism, or as Christianity versus Marxism. Can these opposites be reconciled, this antithesis be resolved in a higher synthesis? I believe not only that this can happen, but that, through the inexorable dialectic of evolution, it must happen….

“In pursuing this aim, we must eschew dogma – whether it be theological dogma or Marxist dogma…. East and West will not agree on a basis of the future if they merely hurl at each other the fixed ideas of the past. For that is what dogma’s are — the crystallizations of some dominant system of thought of a particular epoch. A dogma may of course crystallize tried and valid experience; but if it be dogma, it does so in a way which is rigid, uncompromising and intolerant…. If we are to achieve progress, we must learn to un-crystallize our dogmas.”[7]

Today, the Hegelian Dialectic has become the cornerstone not only of the global education system, but of “Quality” management in all kinds of governmental, corporate and private organization around the world. Meanwhile, the training programs, assessment technology and data tracking systems that complement and monitor this psycho-social process are growing increasingly sophisticated and intrusive.

For the complete article and footnotes, click here.

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The Latest Slideshow from Kenya – Lighthouse Trails Donors Are Making a Difference

The latest from the Bryce Homes for Widows and Children in Kenya. Supported solely by Understand the Times and Lighthouse Trails readers. We hope you will consider becoming part of the support for these 20+ Christian fatherless families (including the three overseeing pastors’ families) in Rongo and Suna, Kenya where these families are being given support to live and be healthy and are being discipled in the things of the Lord through the teaching of the Word of God. For more information, slideshows, or to donate, visit www.missionsfortruth.com (the Lighthouse Trails missions website) and Understand the Times. 

Most of the families now have new houses thanks to the donations from UTT and LT readers (along with new clothing and new cook stoves with chimneys); however, they have some vital needs still including outdoor latrines and wells. Most of the families have no indoor plumbing, and without outdoor latrines, health risks increase greatly. Also if we can build wells for each home, or most of the homes, home gardens and small livestock (chickens and goats) will become a possibility. All donations go through UTT (a non-profit organization) and are given directly and fully to the project in Kenya. We also have the Widows Baskets project by Lighthouse Trails. 12 widows in Rongo are making hand-braided baskets – Lighthouse Trails buys them at a fair market price and sells them to LT readers. This is just the beginning of finding ways to help these families without fathers support themselves (in most of these homes, the fathers have died from AIDs or other diseases). If you cannot see this video slideshow, click here.

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow
 
 

For more information, slideshows, or to donate, visit www.missionsfortruth.com (the Lighthouse Trails missions website) and Understand the Times. 

WEEKLY SPECIAL OFFER - Castles in the Sand - Buy 1 copy, Get one free

THIS WEEK'S SPECIAL OFFER: Buy one copy of Castles in the Sand, and get one copy free. We are about to announce the sequel to Castles in the Sand. If you haven't read Castles yet, we urge you to do so. This offer will allow you to give one copy away. This book is the only novel published that addresses the Spiritual Formation movement in the Christian colleges today. A book that both parents and students should read.

THIS SPECIAL OFFER WILL END ON SEPTEMBER 18TH (Wednesday) AT MIDNIGHT. (Shipping in the U.S. for all orders is only $5 flat rate.)

**NO COUPON CODE IS NEEDED FOR THIS SPECIAL. WHEN YOU BUY A COPY OF CASTLES IN THE SAND, YOU WILL AUTOMATICALLY RECEIVE A SECOND COPY FREE.

Christianity Today Treats Contemplative Controversy as Legitimate Issue in Cover Story About Beth Moore

LTRP Note: The following article was originally written by Lighthouse Trails editors in 2010. To date, the most frequent question we get is, "What about Beth Moore?" We think this report will give some clarity as to where Beth Moore stands on the contemplative issue. Furthermore, it helps to show that the contemplative/Spiritual Formation controversy is legitimate and very real.

"Christianity Today Treats Contemplative Controversy as Legitimate Issue in Cover Story About Beth Moore"

In the August 2010 cover story of Christianity Today, the magazine brought out two things that the major Christian media has thus far ignored – one, that Beth Moore, described as “the most popular Bible teacher in America”  by CT is a proponent of contemplative prayer, and two, that there is a debate over whether contemplative meditation is of Eastern religious origin or not. This Lighthouse Trails special report will look at both of these facets, Beth Moore’s contemplative propensities (incidentally, she is noted in CT  for influencing “millions” of women) and the vital question as to whether contemplative prayer is indeed rooted in Eastern mysticism. 

Christianity Today hit the nail right on the head when it informed its readers that:

“Critics argue that contemplative prayer is rooted in Eastern mysticism and thus not a practice that Christians should engage in.”

Lighthouse Trails has always warned that contemplative prayer is in fact rooted in Eastern mysticism, with a heavy emphasis on the word “rooted.” In Ray Yungen’s book, A Time of Departing, Yungen brings out that contemplative prayer was created by the Desert Fathers, a group of monks who lived in the desert during the early middle ages. Quoting Ken Kaisch, A Time of Departing reveals:

It was a time of great experimentation with spiritual methods. Many different kinds of disciplines were tried, some of which are too harsh or extreme for people today. Many different methods of prayer were created and explored by them. (Finding God, p. 191).

At the time, the city of Alexandria, close to where the Desert Fathers existed, was a stronghold of Eastern mysticism through the connection of King Alexander’s link to India. It is believed that the Desert Fathers utilized Eastern style meditation practices (i.e., mantra meditation), but instead of using Hindu or Buddhist mantras, they tailored this Eastern style prayer to their Christian beliefs, using “Christian” mantras. As an early treatise on contemplative prayer written by an anonymous monk, The Cloud of Unknowing, describes:  ”Take just a little word, of one syllable rather than of two . . . With this word you are to strike down every kind of thought under the cloud of forgetting.” This is why all the major icons of contemplative prayer (Thomas Merton, Thomas Keating, Henri Nouwen, etc) echo the same spiritual perceptions as Eastern meditation practitioners. Thomas Merton said as he was leaving on a trip to South Asia to address Hindu and Buddhist monks: ” We left the ground– I with Christian mantras and a great sense of destiny, of being at last on my true way after years of waiting and wandering … I am going home, to the home where I have never been in this body. ” (Merton’s Asian Journal, pp. ). Henri Nouwen echoed this when he said that Hinduism, Buddhism, and the Muslim (i.e., Sufism) religion offered many treasures for the spiritual life of the Christian (in the foreword of Thomas Ryan’s Disciplines for Christian Living).

For those who are still skeptical, the co-founder of one of the largest centers for teaching contemplative prayer, Tilden Edwards of The Shalem Institute, said that contemplative prayer is “the Western bridge to Far Eastern spirituality” (Edwards, Spiritual Friend, p. 18). How much more clear can this be? We could go on and on to verify the link between Eastern religion and contemplative spirituality. We have documented over 200 pages in A Time of Departing, not to mention article after article with continued documentation.

Returning to Beth Moore, while it may come as a surprise to many Christianity Today readers that Moore is being identified with contemplative “mysticism,” it is no surprise to Lighthouse Trails because in the spring of 2006, Moore was included in our coverage of a Fox Home Entertainment film titled Be Still,* an infomercial for contemplative spirituality.  Shortly after the DVD was released, Lighthouse Trails spoke with Moore’s personal assistant who said that Moore did not have a problem with Richard Foster or Dallas Willard’s teachings. To reiterate this, Living Proof Ministries issued a  statement a few weeks after the release of the DVD that stated: “[W]e believe that once you view the Be Still video you will agree that there is no problem with its expression of Truth.” Living Proof offered to send a free copy of the DVD to anyone who receives their email statement and wishes to view the DVD, saying that, “[I]t would be our privilege to do this for you to assure you that there is no problem with Beth’s participation in the Be Still video.” This statement was issued because several women contacted Moore’s ministry after reading the Lighthouse Trail report on the Be Still DVD.

In the Be Still DVD, countless enticements, references, and comments clearly show its affinity with contemplative spirituality. For instance, Richard Foster says that anyone can practice contemplative prayer and become a “portable sanctuary” for God. This backs up other statements by Foster over the course of the past thirty years in which he believes that even a non-believer in Christ can participate in the “spiritual discipline” of silence and have an encounter with God. The assumption by all mystics is that God dwells in all people, and meditation will help them to realize their own Divinity. This panentheistic view of God is very typical for contemplatives. As Ray Yungen points out, those who practice contemplative prayer begin to view God through panentheistic (God in all) and interspiritual (all is united) eyes. Thomas Merton, whom Foster has admired publicly for many years, believed that all human beings have divinity within, and this divinity can be accessed through contemplative prayer, thereby making the Cross of Jesus unnecessary for union with God. We believe that the reason for this change in spiritual outlook for those who continue practicing contemplative meditation (i.e., mantra-like meditation) is that these altered states of consciousness actually engage the practitioner with demonic realms leading to spiritual deception.

The underlying theme of the Be Still DVD is that we cannot truly know God or be intimate with Him without contemplative prayer and the state of silence that it produces. While the DVD is vague and lacking in actual instruction on word or phrase repetition (which lies at the heart of contemplative prayer), it is very misleading, to say the least. What they don’t say in the DVD is that this state of stillness or silence is, for the most part, achieved through some method such as mantra-like meditation. The purpose of the DVD, in essence, is not to instruct in contemplative prayer but rather to make you and your family hungry for it. The DVD even promises that practicing the silence will heal your family problems.

The thoughtful and discerning Christian needs to ask whether the Be Still DVD is an accurate “expression of Truth,” as Beth Moore says it is, and is there truly “no problem with Beth’s participation” in this project? Considering the fact that Christianity Today calls Moore “the most popular Bible teacher in America,” these are fair questions to ask. Moore has the potential of leading  millions of women in a spiritually dangerous direction. Those women in turn will bring this mystical teaching home to their husbands, children, and churches. In the Be Still DVD, Moore states: “[I]f we are not still before Him [God], we will never truly know to the depths of the marrow of our bones that He is God. There’s got to be a stillness.” Moore says that it is not possible to “truly know” that He is God without “a stillness.” She is not talking about a quiet place to pray and spend time in God’s word, but rather she is talking about a stillness of the mind – this is what contemplatives strive for – unless you practice this stillness of the mind, your relationship with the Lord is inadequate. According to Beth Moore, you don’t even know Him in the way you should.

Many reading this may be asking, is there any other evidence as to where Moore really stands with regard to contemplative. The answer to that may at least partially be found in a book she wrote in 2002 called When Godly People Do Ungodly Things. In a section about “Unceasing Prayer,” Moore states:

I have picked up on the terminology of Brother Lawrence [a Carmelite mystic who said he "cried out, singing and dancing  violently like a madman" when he went into the "presence"1], who called praying unceasingly practicing God’s presence. In fact, practicing God’s presence has been my number one goal for the last year. (p. 109)

Moore says: “A head full of biblical knowledge without a heart passionately in love with Christ is terribly dangerous–a stronghold waiting to happen. The head is full, but the heart and soul are still unsatisfied” (p. 60). This language is very indicative of contemplatives and echoes Richard Foster who said we have become barren within or Rick Warren who says the church is not fully mature without spiritual formation ala Foster and Willard (i.e., contemplative prayer)  (The Purpose Driven Church, p. 126-127 ). However, all of this talk leads one to think that the Word of God is little more than a philosophy and needs the help of contemplative prayer to be effective at all. The insinuation is that the Holy Spirit is dormant and ineffective without this vital stimuli.  Contemplatives are making a distinction between studying and meditating on the Word of God versus loving Him, suggesting that we cannot love Him or know Him simply by studying His Word or even through normal prayer–we must practice contemplative to accomplish this. But the Bible makes it clear that the Word of God is living and active, and it is in filling our minds with it that we come to love Him and know Him, not through a mystical practice that is never once mentioned in the Bible, except in warnings against vain repetitions (Matthew 6:7) and Old Testament warnings against seeking to make contact with the spirit world or going into altered states of consciousness (Deuteronomy 18:11).

In Moore’s book, she makes frequent references to contemplative pioneer Brennan Manning, stating that his contribution to “our generation of believers may be a gift without parallel” (p. 72). This is indeed a troubling statement made by “the most popular Bible teacher in America.”  No doubt, many of the women who follow Moore, in reading her comments about Manning and her quoting of him have turned to the writings of Manning for further insights. Why wouldn’t they when their favorite Bible teacher speaks so highly of him? When they do turn to him, they will find that Manning is a devout admirer of Beatrice Bruteau, founder of  The School for Contemplation. Bruteau wrote the foreword to a book called The Mystic Heart by New Age mystic Wayne Teasdale, a book that actually lays out that contemplative prayer will unite Christianity with all the world’s religions at a mystical level. And yet, in Manning’s book, Abba’s Child, he says that Bruteau is a “trustworthy guide to contemplative consciousness.”  Manning  backs his love for “contemplative consciousness” by stating the following:

[T]he first step in faith is to stop thinking about God at the time of prayer. (The Signature of Jesus, p. 212)

Choose a single, sacred word or phrase that captures something of the flavor of your intimate relationship with God. A word such as Jesus, Abba, Peace, God or a phrase such as “Abba, I belong to you.” … Without moving your lips, repeat the sacred word inwardly, slowly, and often. (SoJ, p. 218)

When distractions come, … simply return to listening to your sacred word…. [G]ently return [your mind] to your sacred word. (SoJ, p. 218)

[E]nter into the great silence of God. Alone in that silence, the noise within will subside and the Voice of Love will be heard. (SoJ, p. 218)

This is the contemplative prayer that Beth Moore is promoting – Manning’s contemplative prayer. Furthering Beth Moore’s great admiration for Manning, she quotes him from his book Ragamuffin Gospel calling the book “one of the most remarkable books” (p. 290) she has ever read. But it is this very book that reveals Manning’s true affinity with contemplative spirituality. In the back of the book, Manning makes reference to Catholic priest and mystic Basil Pennington saying that Pennington’s methods will provide us with “a way of praying that leads to a deep living relationship with God.” However, most assuredly Pennington’s methods of prayer draw from Eastern religions. In his book, Finding Grace at the Center, Pennington says:

We should not hesitate to take the fruit of the age-old wisdom of the East and “capture” it for Christ. Indeed, those of us who are in ministry should make the necessary effort to acquaint ourselves with as many of these Eastern techniques as possible. Many Christians who take their prayer life seriously have been greatly helped by Yoga, Zen, TM and similar practices. (from A Time of Departing, 2nd ed., p.64, quoting Finding Grace at the Center, pp. 5-6)

Pennington also says that the Holy Spirit is the soul of the human family (Centered Living, The Way of Centering Prayer, p. 104).

In Ragamuffin Gospel, Manning cites Carl Jung as well as interspiritualists and contemplative mystics, Anthony De Mello (see note below), Marcus Borg (denies the Virgin birth and Jesus being Son of God), Morton Kelsey, Gerald May, Henri Nouwen, Annie Dillard, Alan Jones (who denies the atonement), Eugene Peterson, and goddess worshipper Sue Monk Kidd. This is a list of mystics that any discerning Bible teacher would never point followers to either directly or indirectly!

For Moore to call Manning’s book “remarkable” and to say his contribution to this generation of believers is “a gift without parallel” leads one to conclude that Beth Moore has absorbed Manning’s spirituality. And if that is the case, which we believe it to be, then Moore, as nice and well intentioned as she may be, has become another conduit for a panentheistic spirituality.

 What makes the Christianity Today’s August issue noteworthy is that this is the first time to our knowledge since the beginning of Lighthouse Trails in 2002 where a major Christian media has publicly recognized that there is a “debate” going on about contemplative spirituality (i.e., spiritual formation). While they did not identify  Lighthouse Trails as one of the “critics” of this debate, nevertheless they have  helped to bring it to the table and give it a broader platform. We would like to note here that over the past eight years thousands of believers have contacted Lighthouse Trails and do see what is taking place. This is not just something that only a handful of people see, albeit a minority in the church.

Lighthouse Trails sincerely implores Beth Moore and all Christian leaders going in the contemplative direction to take an honest look at the evidence that contemplative prayer IS rooted in Eastern mysticism. Nothing else explains the affinity that so many practitioners have for Hinduism, Buddhism, and Sufism. As Merton told a Sufi teacher, “My prayer tends very much to what you call fana” (Thomas Merton, My Brother, Pennington, p. 115). Fana is the same as Hindu Samadhi and Buddhist nirvana. Merton went on to explain how mystical meditation even eclipses the need to believe in Jesus’ atoning and saving work on the Cross. To the Sufi teacher, Merton stated:

Personally, in matters where dogmatic beliefs differ, I think that controversy [“the doctrine of atonement or the theory of redemption,” said the Sufi teacher] is of little value because it takes us away from the spiritual realities into the realm of words and ideas . . . . But much more important is the sharing of the experience of divine light, . . . It is here that the area of fruitful dialogue exists between Christianity and Islam. (Merton and Sufism, p. 109)

It is essential to grasp the significance of what is being said here: Merton believed that the doctrines that are the essence of Christianity (such as atonement and salvation) were irrelevant and actually, if taken seriously, were an  impediment to religious unity. The complete union of all the world’s religions cannot be accomplished  without a form of mysticism within Christianity-that form is contemplative prayer, the very thing that a growing and large number of Christian leaders are propagating today!

It is this that motivates Lighthouse Trails to continue issuing a warning. We are not haters, as some have supposed; in fact we love people,( including those who promote contemplative prayer) and feel compelled to warn them about the spiritual land mines buried within the mystical paths on which they have embarked.

Footnote:

1. The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence, translated by John Delaney, Image Books, 1977, p. 34


Note: The writer of the Christianity Today article, “First Came the Bible,” is Halee Gray Scott, a writer and a faculty member at Wesley Seminary and A. W. Tozer Theological Seminary. She is a Ph.D. candidate at Talbot School of Theology, where her research interests include leadership development and spiritual formation.

Many of the quotes in this report are taken from A Time of Departing. Click here for information on A Time of Departing by Ray Yungen.

Also read: Richard Foster and the Be Still DVD

*To view a transcript of the entire Be Still DVD, please contact us.

Quote by ANTHONY DEMELLO ON CONTEMPLATIVE SILENCE:

To silence the mind is an extremely difficult task. How hard it is to keep the mind from thinking, thinking, thinking, forever thinking, forever producing thoughts in a never ending stream. Our Hindu masters in India have a saying: one thorn is removed by another. By this they mean that you will be wise to use one thought to rid yourself of all the other thoughts that crowd into your mind. One thought, one image, one phrase or sentence or word that your mind can be made to fasten on. Anthony de Mello, Sadhana: A Way to God (St. Louis, the Institute of Jesuit Resources, 1978), p. 28.

To understand more about Brennan Manning's spiritual outlook, read " Brennan Manning’s “New Monks” & Their Dangerous Contemplative Monasticism" by John Caddock

 

 

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