LIGHTHOUSE TRAILS RESEARCH          April 9, 2018     LIGHTHOUSE TRAILS PUBLISHING
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Oprah Says No to 2020 Presidency Unless God Tells Her to Run
Oprah

Oprah Winfrey at Stanford in 2015 – clip from YouTube video; used according to the US Fair Use Act

In a March 2018 interview article titled  “Oprah Winfrey: Why I won’t be running for US President in 2020,” Oprah answers, when asked, “So we won’t see President Oprah in the future?,

No. No, you will not. I don’t feel that I am qualified to take on the responsibilities of what that means, which is to run the world. Nor do I feel like I have the amount of energy that it would take to do it. I don’t feel like that is my calling.

However, in another 2018 article titled “Oprah: If I’m supposed to run for president, God has to tell me,” Oprah says she is waiting for a sign from God as to whether she is supposed to run.

“I went into prayer,” she said of calls for her to run for president. “’God, if you think I’m supposed to run, you gotta tell me, and it has to be so clear that not even I can miss it.’ And I haven’t gotten that yet.”

While it is still too early to know if Oprah Winfrey is going to run for president in 2020, one thing is for sure – if Oprah did win the election, United States would have as its president the most prolific and influential New Age advocate in the world today and one who believes in the work of New Ager Neale Donald Walsch whose “God” told him that Hitler did the Jews a favor and that “the era of the Single Savior is over.”

Note: After posting this piece above on the LT Facebook page, one reader shared that he thought it was racist to speak up against Oprah. We answered him: It's true that Oprah is an African American woman, but that is not what we are challenging. Not at all. She is the most influential person today (at least in North America) in bringing a New Age spirituality into people's lives. People need to be warned about that.

While we know there is racism out there against blacks and Jews (and we detest it), you won't find such sentiment at Lighthouse Trails. And if you ever do see a comment (on FB) to that effect, please let us know at editors@lighthousetrails.com or 406-889-3610 as we would immediately remove it and ban that person. We do not give a platform for that.

We hope you can see our hearts here and that this is not a race or color issue. In actuality, we care about Oprah as a person, and we and our authors have prayed for her. But like others today, she is spiritually misleading folks.

Our FB reader, Edgar, who was still concerned (partly based on different Facebook comments he read), responded with: Do you make people repent by mocking them? Who made all these people judges? Are all these people who are mocking her pure in the eyes of God? Pastors, Reverends, Priests, and Bishops, they all have one duty which is to teach and preach the Word of God. Know that your battle is not with human beings but it's against the evil spirits and their principalities.

We answered Edgar with:  You are right Edgar that our battle is with evil spirits and principalities. But, the Bible does tell believers to be Bereans and to warn about those who are bringing "another Gospel." Oprah claims to be a Christian, but she is bringing "another Gospel." She promotes and helps to raise up New Age teachers, one of whom says that God says Hitler did the Jews a favor by killing them. While we don't mock Oprah, and we don't claim to know her heart as only God can know the heart, we do believe we have a responsibility to challenge her New Age "Christianity" because it convinces people that God is in everyone. And if that were true, that God is in everybody, then there is no need for the sacrifice Jesus made on the Cross. That same New Ager who said that Hitler did the Jews a favor also said that the "era of the single savior is over" (meaning everyone is their own savior).

Edgar, Oprah's New Age "God" teaches that there is no evil, that basically all is from "God." If New Agers, like Oprah, would take that to the fullest degree, that would mean that "God" wanted the Holocaust, slavery, child abuse, etc. and that those things weren't evil. We think if she realized this, perhaps she would not be promoting that "God" to millions of people.

Our FB reader, Edgar, did write back after this and said he now understood where we were coming from.

Related Articles:

Happy Belated Easter from Oprah Winfrey’s New Age Christ! – The Crucifixion Never Happened

 Oprah Winfrey’s New Age “Christianity” and the Emperor’s New Clothes

Oprah Winfrey’s New Age “Christianity” (Part 2) – Neale Donald Walsch, “God,” and Hitler

Social/Political Activism and the New Age

The New Age, Politics, and the Department of Peace

Lighthouse Trails Sends Out Seventh Booklet Mailing to Christian Leaders

letter to christian leaders

For two years, Lighthouse Trails has been sending out booklets and short letters to dozens of Christian leaders three times a year. This week we are doing our seventh mailing, which will include two booklets and a short letter.  The current list contains about 160 names.

When we first started this project in the spring of 2016, our list primarily contained the names of highly influential leaders in today’s evangelical church. While many of those names will remain on the list, we are beginning to add the names of our readers’ pastors as well when that is requested. After all, it only seems right to include those as well so that our readers’ churches may benefit too. If you have the name (and mailing address) of a Christian leader or pastor whom you would like us to send these booklets to three times a year, please e-mail the name and mailing address to editors@lighthousetrails.com. Be sure to include a good mailing address. (Note: At this time, we are only able to include U.S. addresses.)

In the previous six mailings, we have mailed the following booklets: 10 Scriptural Reasons Jesus Calling Is a Dangerous Book, 5 Things You Should Know About Contemplative Prayer, Rick Warren’s Dangerous Ecumenical Path to Rome, Is Your Church Doing Spiritual Formation?, Dear Christian Leader, Have You Grown Careless About the Gospel?, The Shack and Its New Age Leaven, Yoga and Christianity: Are They Compatible?, Richard Foster’s School of Contemplative Prayer, Shack Theology, and The New Missiology: Doing Missions Without the Gospel.

In the two years since we began sending out booklets, we have received a number of form letters acknowledging receipt. We also received correspondence from Pat Boone and Ben Kinchlow, both of whom shared affirming comments about our work. Thus far, the only ministry that contacted us and told us to stop sending booklets is Chuck Swindoll’s ministry. We complied with the request and removed his name.

Below is the letter in this seventh mailing as well as a link to an updated list of the leaders to whom we send booklets.

Dear Christian Leader:

Please find enclosed two of our published booklets that we hope you will find useful in your ministry.

The first booklet, Israel: Replacing What God Has Not, is written by Mike Oppenheimer and covers a vitally important topic—replacement theology, which is the view that the Christian church has replaced Israel and the Jewish people. The booklet shows, through Scripture, that God has not forgotten His promises to the Jews or to the nation of Israel. In this day and age when biblical prophecy is being fulfilled on such an unprecedented and unparalleled scale, none in the church should be in disbelief with regard to God’s promises to the Jewish people. But many are.

The second booklet, D is for Deception by Kevin Reeves lists much of the language of today’s emergent, progressive Christianity and provides brief definitions of these popular and misleading terms. When you hear words such as “missional,” “social justice,” “vintage faith,” “spiritual formation,” and “servant leadership,” you may be surprised to know what these terms really mean to leaders of the “new” Christianity.

Thank you for taking the time to study these matters.

In service for Christ,

The Editors at Lighthouse Trails Publishing
P.O. Box 908
Eureka, MT 59917

For a PDF of the list of leaders on our current list, click here. Please pray for these men and women. A small number of our readers have told us that sending these materials to leaders who are in deception is a waste of time. Even if that were true, we believe it is the responsible thing to do, and we leave the results of it up to the Lord. *Please note that just because a name is on this list does not mean that person or ministry is in deception. Some would fall in that category; others would not.

Related Articles:

February 2016 – Lighthouse Trails Publishing to Make Contact with Over 100 Christian Leaders to Warn About Jesus Calling

Second Lighthouse Trails Letter and Booklet Pack to Be Sent to 130+ Christian Leaders

Lighthouse Trails Sends Out Third Letter and Two Booklets to 130 Christian Leaders

Fourth Letter to Christian Leaders Goes Out – A Warning About “The Shack”

Lighthouse Trails Sends Out 5th Letter to 145 Christian Leaders

Lighthouse Trails Sends Out 6th Letter to 160 Christian Leaders

(photo from bigstockphoto.com; used with permission)

 

“Nike Partners With Mindfulness, Meditation App Headspace, Introducing New Age Practices to Runners”

NikeBy Heather Clark
Christian News Network

The footwear and apparel corporation Nike has partnered with the mindfulness and meditation app Headspace, introducing the practices to runners worldwide with the goal of boosting athletic focus and performance. However, the president of an organization that focuses on concerns in the sports world from a Christian perspective says that the development is troublesome and presents a false duplicate for the things of God.

According to reports, Nike has been offering audio-guided runs for some time, but most recently decided to work together with Headspace so that users of its Nike+ Run Club app can now listen to a mindfulness and meditation guide as they pound the pavement.

Headspace was co-founded by Andy Puddicombe, who, according to the group’s website, was ordained in India as a Tibetan Buddhist monk after spending years studying meditation. Click here to continue reading.

To read related articles on Mindfulness, click here.

(photo from bigstockphoto.com; used with permission)

Lighthouse Trails has gone to press with Calvinism: None Dare Call It Heresy. The book will be available in by the end of April. You can pre-order your copy now, and we will ship it as soon as the books are back from press.

Oprah Says No to 2020 Presidency Unless God Tells Her to Run
Lighthouse Trails Sends Out Seventh Booklet Mailing to Christian Leaders
“Nike Partners With Mindfulness, Meditation App Headspace, Introducing New Age Practices to Runners”
Francis Chan Warns Those Who Criticize Christian Leaders: “God Will Destroy You”

Trevecca Nazarene University Continues To Promote Mystical Silence Instead of Biblical Prayer

Understanding Paul’s Appeal at Mars Hill – And How the Emerging Interpretation Really Got it Wrong
Focus on the Family STILL Defends Contemplative Prayer—Says Jesus and Disciples Practiced It
BOOKLET HIGHLIGHT: Earth Day and a Total Transformation for a Post-Christian World
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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 and booklets 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 products 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, trusting in Him for the salvation of their souls.

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Francis Chan Warns Those Who Criticize Christian Leaders: “God Will Destroy You”
Francis Chan with Mike Bickle

Photo: Francis Chan in 2016 being prayed for by IHOP’s Mike Bickle (used in accordance with the US Fair Use Act for the purpose of critique and review

A recent YouTube video that has been viewed over 50,000 times thus far* of highly prolific and popular Christian author and speaker Francis Chan creates a very disturbing scenario of how the Body of Christ should operate. Speaking to a group at Bethel Church, he strongly implied that God will destroy (kill) anyone who questions or opposes the teachings of Christian leaders. Using fear to motivate his audience, he used for his basic text: “If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are” (1 Corinthians 3:17).

Without giving specific names, Chan spoke of those who present any negative criticism of leaders (naming Rick Warren, Mark Driscoll, and John Piper as examples of leaders who should not be criticized). Chan took it a step further and described incidents in the Bible where God took people’s lives as in the case of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:10) to predict that God will take the lives of those who have negative things to say about the teachings of today’s spiritual leaders.

We found his reasoning both very troubling and perplexing. And the question that came to our minds is this: The discernment ministries, and even those who question confusing theologies, are clearly under attack here, but how is it that God would want to slay us? We thought further: Doesn’t Scripture say, “the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet I have no need of you” (1 Corinthians 12:21)? But Chan is saying that God has no need of people like us (who are a part of God’s temple) and will destroy us.

One of the sad things about all of this is that years ago, when we first started our publishing ministry, we sent a copy of our first book (A Time of Departing)  to Rick Warren because we naively saw him as a Christian leader who would see the apostasy the book describes and share our concerns. Warren even sent us a personal reply that sounded very affirming. But in time, we came to realize that Rick Warren had joined the ranks of those who opposed our exposure of the error and dangers of contemplative prayer and the emerging church.

We have, as a ministry, always tried to share the truth in love (even though at times that was a challenge because of the anger coming at us). And in all these years, we have never suggested or even hinted that God wanted to kill or destroy those whom we have critiqued or of those who opposed our ministry (and in some cases attempted to destroy it).

But here, Francis Chan is prescribing a death sentence on ministries like ours (and of the people in them). In addition, he is conditioning believers who are following him to not question things they are being taught or “try the spirits” to see whether they are from God. A pastor or teacher should always encourage his congregation to “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). While, of course, idle gossip and cruel slander have no place in the life of a Christian and should always be discouraged and corrected, this is much different than testing all things with Scripture to see “whether those things were [are] so” (Acts 17:11).

For the Body of Christ to be healthy, it must operate in genuine repentance—but that can not happen where serious doctrinal error is covered up and apostasy runs wild. It is irresponsible, self-serving, and highly manipulative for a public figure to suggest that God is going to kill anyone who challenges or criticizes a Christian leader.

Please take the time to read the passage below from Roger Oakland’s book, The Good Shepherd Calls. It further expresses our concern for churches and ministries that are not willing to test all things with Scripture. Much of what is happening in the church at large today does not stand up to the test of Scripture, and it is not right to pretend that it does; nor is it right to threaten those who are challenging leaders and to liken them to branches that God will prune and destroy.

“Test the Spirits”
By Roger Oakland

[T]here is a . . . scenario where church members are led to believe that if they follow the leader, then they are under an umbrella of protection where God is pleased when the congregation shows strict obedience to the shepherd. Oftentimes, this cultish mentality is compounded by the idea that the members of the church should trust the pastor’s discernment more than their own because the pastor is more mature and in tune with the things of God. Again, the reality is that we should be like the citizens of Berea who “searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11). Jesus never taught unquestioning obedience to a pastor or leader but rather said, “[I]f the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch” (Matthew 15:14). In other words, we are all accountable for our own actions, and the pastor was never meant to be a “covering” where we are permitted to do things that violate our own conscience.

This is not to say that we should challenge a good pastor on every decision he makes, but if we are under a pastor who is a false teacher, Jesus’ instruction is to “Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind” (Matthew 15:14).

Sometimes, if not usually, the above scenario [causes] havoc, all in a single church. This is a very sour formula for discernment as few have the courage to speak up, and those who do are usually exited from the church.

It is very possible for genuine sincere Christians who follow this kind of teaching to be led astray. If we are not willing to be consistent about what we believe, then we will be inconsistent in practice. Inconsistency can easily lead to apostasy. And as Paul warned, apostasy is a key factor in preparing the way for the Antichrist.

A spiritual delusion is presently underway in the name of Christ, and the church is being prepared to embrace it. The apostle Paul stated this would happen, and the current trend indicates this is exactly what is happening. And according to the Bible, if Christians are being deluded now, we can expect the delusion to intensify.

Bible doctrine is based on the idea that a tenet of faith must be established by the support of the whole counsel of God. Scripture must always provide the basis for biblical doctrine. The Bible teaches that all Scripture has been given by the inspiration of God.

Today, a growing number of church leaders are saying Bible doctrine is not as important as it was once thought to be. Holding firm to biblical doctrine can divide the body and hold back revival, some are saying. (From chapter 12 of The Good Shepherd Calls)

Related Material:

Link to Chan’s YouTube talk titled “Are You Destroying the Church?”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UHuue9ZXzmM&t=126s

How to Know if You Are Being Spiritually Abused or Deceived—A Spiritual Abuse Questionnaire by Chris Lawson

*This video is posted on various YouTube channels. In just three channels we looked at, the total views was over 50,000.

 

Trevecca Nazarene University Continues To Promote Mystical Silence Instead of Biblical Prayer
Trevecca Nazarene University

Nazarene Logo (used in accordance with the US Fair Use Act for critique and review purposes)

By Manny Silva of Concerned Nazarenes

“I am deepening in the mystical forms of prayer.” (Dan Boone)

Thanks to the undiscerning “leadership” of President Dan Boone, Trevecca Nazarene students will have the opportunity to go on a mystical ride. Once again, it time for the “Spiritual Formation” retreat at the Gethsemani monastery in Kentucky, spiritual home to the famed Roman Catholic mystic, universalist, and Buddhist sympathizer Thomas Merton. (https://www.trevecca.edu/community-life/faith-service/spiritual-formation-retreat) Merton, who is dead, is a rising star amongst many undiscerning, confused or deceived Nazarene pastors of today. Along with his spiritual brother, Henri Nouwen, and other modern day proponents such as Richard Foster, they have risen to a prominence equaling and perhaps surpassing that old out of style book called the Bible.

Contemplative prayer uses the same meditative exercises used in Eastern religions and New Age cults. Practicing the silence has absolutely no basis in scripture, yet Dan Boone has deceived many students at Trevecca by sending them on yearly retreats alongside Roman Catholic nuns and monks. Dr. Boone also promotes the use of prayer labyrinths, and has had one there for years at Trevecca. After I exposed this more fully, he made excuses about it, and later re-named the labyrinth and called it something else.

Practicing the silence is simply another form of contemplative mysticism (or contemplative spirituality), which is often excused for by Boone and others by abusing the meaning of Psalm 46:10. Dr. Boone once said on his profile page at Nazarene Theological Seminary, “…I am deepening in the mystical forms of prayer.” (It is no longer there). Well, this is exactly where the Church of the Nazarene is going, and even more boldly than nine years ago when I first saw this coming. Click here to continue reading.

Related Articles From the Past:

2013 – A Plea to the General Assembly 2013: Death of the Church of the Nazarene or Repentance?

2013 – Conflicting Reports: Nazarene Superintendent Says Nazarene Church Not Emergent versus Olivet Nazarene University Welcomes Emergent Mystic

2010 – Buddhist/Universalist Sympathizer Woos Nazarene Students at NNU

2009 – Trevecca Nazarene University Promoting Contemplative Spirituality in No Small Way

2008 – Nazarene Universities Welcome Brian McLaren

2007 – Nazarene Superintendent Praises “A Time of Departing” – But Denomination’s Schools Sinking into Contemplative

 

Understanding Paul’s Appeal at Mars Hill – And How the Emerging Interpretation Really Got it Wrong

mars hillBy Mike Oppenheimer

Editors Note: Today, it is common to hear the argument that since Paul quoted pagan poets in Acts 17, it’s OK for Christians to quote those who teach false doctrine. Adherents of the emerging church and contemplative spirituality have basically turned Acts 17 into a license for a free-for-all kind of “I can quote anybody I like, because Paul did” attitude. In this article/booklet, Mike Oppenheimer takes a close look at this section of Scripture to see if this is really the example Paul was setting and also shows, on the grander scale, the outcome of practices where the Gospel is being diffused and Christianity is being absorbed into the beliefs of a particular culture.

When Paul spoke the Gospel to these religious pagans in Athens on Mars Hill for the first time, he didn’t wait to become friends first to “share his beliefs.” This is an absurd method to abide by. He took the time to explain their idolatry and the truth. No one knows how many chances he or she will get to speak to an unbeliever, so you speak as if it is your only time. You cannot be called an evangelist if your purpose is not to first bring the Gospel but instead to be friends and then give the Gospel. This is not how the apostles conducted their evangelism, nor how they taught the church to. This does not mean we ignore developing friendships, but to grow in a relationship takes time and time is not something that we all have. Friendships are not a necessity to speak the Gospel message. It wasn’t to Peter in Acts 2, and it was not to Paul on his missionary journeys.

There are those today who use Acts 17, Paul’s Mars Hill encounter with the Greek philosophers, to prove that truth is found elsewhere (or everywhere), and the Bible is not the only place that contains spiritual truth. Let’s examine the Scripture carefully and the other poets he quotes to learn the truth on this matter:

Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry. Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him. Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection. And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is? For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean. (For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing). (Acts 17:16-21)

Paul looked at the surroundings he was in, and all he saw was false worship. Athens was famous for their temples that were works of art. There was no other place on earth at the time where so many idols were exhibited. (Idolatry was the very thing that caused God to punish Israel over and over again.) Paul went to his brethren first as his policy was in every city (Acts 17:1-2). He reasoned with them by engaging in an argument from what the Scriptures teach. He also discussed openly the things of God with those who were not Jewish. He did not start with making similarities with the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers; he started with teaching them of the death and resurrection of the Messiah. He did not begin with what they had but what they did not have. It was then that they identified him as one speaking about foreign gods (vs.18), something they had never heard of before. They prided themselves on being hip to the newest philosophy. Their interest perked; they were intrigued by Paul’s message and were eager to hear the latest teaching, so they brought him to explain to others this new teaching.

The Epicureans, named after their founder Epicurus (who lived in 341-270 B.C.), believed the chief end of living was pleasure. They believed in numerous gods who had no influence over the affairs of man, but they did not believe in the immortality of the soul.

Paul’s audience was very hard to preach to; the Epicureans believed everything evolved, as they did not have a concept of creation. The Epicureans believed that the world was made accidentally by atoms which having been in perpetual motion from the beginning had brought this form. Aristotle’s school held “that the world was from eternity, and everything always was from eternity, and everything always was what now it is.”1

The Stoics, founded by Zeno (c. 300 B.C.), believed that God who indwells all things is the world’s soul. God is in all men; all men are brothers. Furthermore, living in harmony with nature brings happiness. Stoics were men of high moral principle, yet they believed that human affairs are governed by fate.

Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; and hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: for in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.

And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter. So Paul departed from among them. Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed: among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them. (Acts 17:22-34)

We have known this as Paul’s appeal to the philosophers on Mars Hill. Paul, though being courteous, does not compromise his message. He started with the idols as false religious worship. Their zealousness in their devotion was superstitious, and Paul points out that they even erected an idol to a god they do not know. Paul now becomes philosopher to them instead of the theologian he would be with the Jews who have the ordinances of God. He appeals to their conscience and reveals to them a knowledge of the true and living God, who alone is to be the object of their adulation. He lays a foundation, instructing them in the primary principle of the Christian faith, that there is only one God. And though they worshipped a myriad of gods, Paul appeals to them on the evidence that some of their poets acknowledged a supreme being—the knowledge of which God has planted in the hearts of all people (e.g. Romans 1:19-20), being that man is made in the image of God and though he is corrupted, still has a conscience of moral right and wrong.

Paul says elsewhere in 1 Corinthians 8:4-5: “[W]e know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one.” To the believers, he instructs in 1 Corinthians 10:19-20: “What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing? But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils.” Paul was considerate to their ignorance in that he did not call their idols demonic. However, with these pagan philosophers he takes a different tack. He tells them we are created beings countering the Greek thought that men were gods.

Paul defines God in vs.24. Some make a big deal out of the Greek word theos being used. Paul uses the common word for God (theos); he did not use any of their gods’ names. The focus is on an unknown god whom they were treating as all the rest. Theos is a generic word; it is not a name but a title. When he used theos, they understood what he meant, that his God (theos) was not any of theirs.

The Epicureans held the view that the world was not made by God. In vs. 24, Paul states that God made the world and all things—that this God could not be confined within temples made with hands, as He is the Lord who governs both heaven and earth. Paul built a foundation first to prove this by reverting to things they could understand.

Therefore, the gods whom they worshipped in their temples was not the true God. Paul’s basis was the Old Testament, Isaiah 66:1-2:

Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest? For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD.

But to infer the absurdity of their idolatry, he helps them see their own foolishness by appealing to the writings of their own poets. In vs.25, he tells them God does not need anything from man; in fact, we need him, as He is the giver of life. God gives life; He is the fountain of all He gives breath to—both man and beast. Paul also teaches that divine worship is not enacted and established for GOD but for the use of His creatures: He needs nothing that man can give Him; for man only has what he received from the hand of his Maker. Therefore, what they have made for God cannot be a fair or accurate representation of Him.

Vs.26: “[H]e hath made of one blood [meaning Adam] all nations of men.” Paul’s emphasis is to show our common origin and the right way. This same thought appears in Acts 14:17 in the speech to the Greeks at Lystra. Paul is telling them that God is in control, not man. Certainly, these men being knowledgeable on all the beliefs of their day would have heard about the Hebrews belief of Genesis or the flood.

Vs.27: The Gentiles were not familiar with God and His ways and needed a revelation; until then they must grope after God. The true God is Spirit; therefore, He is not an idol and He is closer than they think. In one sense, He is further off because creature and Creator are separate, yet in another sense as Spirit, He is closer. Therefore, Paul is saying they do not know this God he is speaking of, yet He may be revealed to them if they seek him.

In Romans 10:20, Paul quotes Isaiah who said very boldly, “I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me.” Paul is giving them a principle that God has made known in times past, for Jeremiah also writes, “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13). It is in this attitude that Paul appealed to the philosophers on Mars Hill.

Vs.28: “[F]or in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.”

They fashioned a tomb for you, O holy and high one—The Cretans, always liars, evil beasts, idle bellies! But you are not dead; you live and abide forever, For in you we live and move and have our being. (poem Cretica written by Epimenides (ca. 600 BCE)

God is the very source of our existence: the principle of life comes from Him. Therefore, we should not think of God as ordinary man, He cannot die like men. We are dependent on Him for our life. We need to understand that in speaking to philosophers, Paul was trying to give them the meaning of their own poets. What he did not mean is that we are all part of God or God is part of us. What he quoted was directly opposing the views of the Epicureans. Here Paul is citing poets whom they respect and brilliantly turns it on the idolatry they now practice. Paul has made a case that as men we have a necessary dependence on this God we do not know or see. He inserts their own poet’s statements as an added incentive to consider that their worship is wrong. He juxtaposes what was being said in the past for what they practice in the present.

Aratus was also a Greek poet, a Cilician who lived about 275 years before Christ. Paul was well acquainted with his and other writings because of where he was brought up. Aratus wrote a poem called “Phaenomena,” also quoted by Paul. The sentiment is found in several others, being very common among the enlightened philosophers of the day. By saying your own poets, he does not mean poets born at Athens, but merely Grecian poets, Aratus and Cleanthus being chief and in whose “Hymn to Jupiter” the same words occur.

With Jove we must begin; nor from him rove; Him always praise, for all is full of Jove! He fills all places where mankind resort, The wide-spread sea, with every shelt’ring port. Jove’s presence fills all space, upholds this ball; All need his aid; his power sustains us all. For we his offspring are. (emphasis mine)

Cilician poet Aratus also wrote: “It is with Zeus that every one of us in every way has to do, for we are also his offspring” (Phaenonlena 5; emphasis mine).

Paul used another pagan source to confirm the truth of the Bible, not the reverse; he was showing them how even their own poets had some knowledge (though corrupted) of the “unknown God.” If he was saying their poet spoke truth, then he would be endorsing Zeus, a false god, contrary to the very thing he was trying to prove.

If Paul meant that we literally are God’s offspring, He would be agreeing with the gods of Greek philosophy. He did not!

This is poetry he quoted—not doctrine or Scripture. Paul meant that all men are God’s offspring in the sense that they are His creation and dependent on Him for life. There is no biblical teaching of the universal fatherhood of God and a brotherhood of all men (John 1:12; and in the book of Ephesians, Paul teaches we must be adopted into God’s family).

Certainly, Paul’s main point is not to build a bridge to them. If Paul wanted to build a bridge, he certainly did not employ the new evangelistic ways we are seeing today. He told them what most would avoid. Paul was not making a bridge to their culture but to people who had various false beliefs on God and life. He used their poets to show a similarity in what he was conveying to be wrong, not what is right. Paul uses their own poets against their idolatry. He is not condoning their poets’ words as truth equal with the Bible’s revelation but dismantles their own views by using the poetry as a point of similarity to the Bible’s revelation.

Vs.29: Paul has taken one point of similarity and dismantled their mindset by concentrating on the unknown God—the real One that they do not know. So there is no bridging to what they believe but what they don’t believe or know. Because of what Paul has presented to counter their idolatry, he brings his argument to a conclusion that “we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.” It is absurd to suppose that the original source of our existence (God) can be like gold and silver or stone and inanimate objects. We are living and intelligent beings; our nature is more excellent than the works of man’s hands, since we are like Him who formed us, so why would we even consider worshipping an object fashioned by men?

Vs.30: Paul’s invitation is for them to repent. This shows that he is not approving of anything they are doing. God is the creator of men, but to identify God with something man has made is ignorance (Romans 1:22-23). He indicts them; calling these wise philosophers ignorant is a strong accusation. In times past, God has overlooked this blindness but no longer. He commands men everywhere to repent, not just the Greeks but all people in every nation. At this point, Paul goes back to the Bible and preaches a righteous judgment coming by Christ who is the only man that was raised from the dead to eternal life.

Vs.32: “[S]ome mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter.” Paul had to change the people’s belief system to bring them up to date with Christ. Their belief system was challenged first. The message of the Gospel goes out with only a few, not many, responding.

The Cross was “foolishness” to the Greeks; they had no background to this concept, especially that of the resurrection. Telling people the Good News of Jesus without telling them what is wrong with their religion or belief system rarely works. The apostles did not do this, and this was not what Paul did at Mars Hill despite that many use it as an example of making bridges. Methods of evangelism that do not deal with the issue of sin in a culture and God’s command to repent are ineffective. You can’t just preach the Gospel if the people don’t understand the language you are using. If they don’t understand the terminology, how can they understand the solution? The bad news from Genesis needs to be presented first before the Good News from the New Testament can be explained, just as Paul did in principle to these Greek philosophers. Paul started with Bible revelation and ended with the Bible’s revelation.

Humanism is the religion of our culture that explains everything without God. Our culture is permeated with philosophies. We live in a “Greek” culture today with evolution, pan-spermea, and various other concepts running rampant.

Instead of doing real evangelism, many model from Mars Hill with the opposite intent. Actually, we have a reverse of Mars Hill. Instead of Christians declaring the true God among the false, we have them accepting the false gods as true ones. They embrace the different religious beliefs as valid and a complement to Christianity. Within this unison stands a God who is still unknown to the lost. It is up to us to proclaim Jesus the Only Messiah to them.

Today’s “progressive Christianity” is not based on the Bible, and it is affecting the entire Christian body, not to mention the lost. “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do” (Psalms 11:3)? We need to rebuild the foundations. It starts with Genesis, and the basics of sin and the history of man—so that the Cross can be understood by a culture that does not know God.

To order copies of  Understanding Paul’s Appeal at Mars Hill in booklet format, click here.

Endnotes:
1. From Matthew Henry’s Commentary

(photo from cover of Understanding Paul’s Appeal at Mars Hill booklet, from bigstockphoto.com; used with permission)

Focus on the Family STILL Defends Contemplative Prayer—Says Jesus and Disciples Practiced It
Focus on the Family

Focus on the Family logo; used in accordance with the U.S. Fair Use Act for the purposes of critique and review

A Lighthouse Trails reader recently asked our editors to take a look at a page on the Focus on the Family website defending the practice of contemplative prayer. Those of you who have been readers of Lighthouse Trails for a while will know that Lighthouse Trails has challenged Focus on the Family on more than one occasion for their promotion of contemplative prayer. We first issued a concern twelve years ago in the spring of 2006 in an article titled “Focus on the Family Answers Lighthouse Trails -Defends Contemplative Author.”   That article stated:

“On April 26th, Lighthouse Trails Publishing contacted Focus on the Family, via telephone, sharing concerns about FOF’s recent promotion of contemplative author Gary Thomas. On May 5th, Lighthouse Trails received a letter from Timothy Masters of Focus on the Family’s “Office of the Chairman.” Masters responded to Lighthouse Trails with the following:

[D]ue to the unusual nature of your inquiry, our phone representative has taken the liberty of forwarding your message to the staff here in Dr. Dobson’s office for special handling.

“While we are pleased that our phone call has received attention from Dr. Dobson’s personal office, statements made in the letter by Masters have left us concerned and disheartened. Masters said that the staff:

… found nothing within the pages of Sacred Parenting [by Gary Thomas] that contradicts the Christian faith or Dr. Dobson’s philosophy … we are not in a position to address the contents of Mr. Thomas’s other writings … but this much we can tell you: there is and always has been a strong tradition of contemplative prayer in the Christian church that has nothing to do with mantras and Eastern meditation. To confuse the two, as you have done, is to jump to an unwarranted conclusion based on a misunderstanding of certain features they appear to share in common.

“In light of Master’s apparent conviction that the two camps (Christian and Eastern contemplative) are distinct and unrelated, it is important to note here that Tilden Edwards, the founder of the largest and most influential contemplative school in the US, would disagree that the two are indeed different. Edwards revealed that contemplative prayer is the Western bridge to Far Eastern spirituality in his book, Spiritual Friend (of which Richard Foster endorsed, calling it an excellent spiritual book).

“While FOF states they are “not in a position to address” Gary Thomas’ other books (which clearly promote contemplative), the book that FOF does promote, Sacred Parenting, devotes an entire chapter to contemplative spirituality, calling it the “active discipline” of “true listening,” and saying it is the way we can “seize heaven and invite God’s presence into our lives” (pp. 58-59). In that chapter, Thomas names two people who had a major impact in his prayer life: contemplative/mystic Teresa of Avila and Frank Buchman, initiator of Moral Re-Armament, now called Initiatives of Change, an inter-faith organization working towards globalization. Buchman was a controversial figure, partly due to his 1930s public statements showing admiration for Adolph Hitler. And according to cult expert Dave Hunt, Buchman was involved in both mysticism and the occult:

MRA founder Frank Buchman … embraced new revelations through occult guidance [and]helped to set the stage for the New Age movement…. He inspired thousands on all continents to meditate … decades before Maharishi Mahesh Yogi left India. (Hunt, Adaptation of Occult Invasion, 1998)

“Gary Thomas devoted three entire pages to Buchman in Sacred Parenting. All things considered, this book hardly seems like it will be a “tremendous help and a great inspiration to those moms and dads who choose to take advantage of its message.” On the contrary.

“The question must be asked, when Masters states that “there is and always has been a strong tradition of contemplative prayer in the Christian church that has nothing to do with mantras and Eastern meditation,” which authors have or do teach contemplative prayer excluding the mantra and Eastern-like meditation? Richard Foster, whom Focus on the Family now promotes? Gary Thomas? Thomas Merton? Brennan Manning? Henri Nouwen? (All of whom can be found on FOF websites and all of whom teach mantra-style meditation)
We must also ask, can Focus on the Family rightfully disregard the contents of Gary Thomas’ other writings, writings in which he tells readers to repeat a word or phrase for 20 minutes until the “word becomes part of you.” Did the apostle Paul, or the Psalmist or Jesus Christ ever give such instructions? Of course not. Gary Thomas’ website clearly promotes practices such as lectio divina and centering prayer all the while encouraging visitors to read the works of Thomas Merton and Basil Pennington, both of whom wholeheartedly and without reservation embraced Eastern mysticism. Incidentally, Thomas teaches Spiritual Formation at Western Seminary. By promoting one of Thomas’ books, FOF is directly promoting contemplative prayer.

“Focus on the Family has entered into an unbiblical territory that can spiritually harm many people, including children. It is our prayer that Dr. Dobson [who is no longer with FOF] and other Christian leaders will look at the facts fairly before proceeding any further down this path.” (end of 2006  article – source)

Since 2006, when we first contacted Focus on the Family, the organization has shown no interest in taking a serious and biblical look at contemplative spirituality. On the contrary, one only needs to read their current statement on their website to see that they have not lessened their stance but rather have emphasized it.

The statement is formatted as a Question and Answer with the Question reading:

Are “contemplative prayer” and other “spiritual disciplines” part of a “New Age” plot to subvert the church? Should I steer clear of these practices? My church recently launched a class in “spiritual formation.” I was excited when I learned of this opportunity because I’m hungry to know the Lord in a deeper, more personal way. But when I shared this with a Christian friend at work, she responded with dire warnings about the “eastern” influences concealed within the contemplative prayer movement. Now I’m thoroughly confused. Can you help me?

Focus on the Family answers by saying:

With all due respect for your friend, we think her fears are unnecessary. There is nothing unbiblical or anti-Christian about solitude, silence, and contemplative prayer. Not, at any rate, as they have been practiced within the context of Christian history. As a matter of fact, these disciplines are part of a time-honored tradition. They’ve been central to the church’s spiritual life for centuries. The fact that an idea looks or sounds like “New Age” mysticism at first glance doesn’t necessarily prove that it is “New Age” mysticism. You have to dig deeper to get at the heart of the matter. This is a case where the danger of jumping to unwarranted conclusions is very present and real indeed.

The Focus on the Family statement then says it will provide some “scriptural evidence” to prove contemplative prayer is biblical. Misusing both 1 Kings 19:12 and Psalm 46:10 (the two “signature” verses used by contemplatives to “prove” their point), FOF then suggest that even Jesus and the disciples practiced contemplative prayer. Their response continues:

On the basis of this biblical foundation, a strong tradition of Christian contemplation and mysticism has grown up within the church over the past 2,000 years. Many of the early church fathers of the first three centuries of the Christian era . . . were contemplatives who had mystical experiences in prayer. This tradition has nothing to do with the depersonalizing, self-abnegating, Nirvana-seeking spiritual practices of the Hindus, Buddhists, and New-Agers. . . .  In our view, it’s not the form or style of such experiences that determine their legitimacy. Neither should we place too much emphasis on the methods or techniques of prayer that precede them. What counts is their content and the degree to which they either do or do not bring glory to the Lord Jesus Christ. (emphasis added)

Clearly, Focus on the Family has groomed their response since that first response in 2006. And they are just as wrong today as they were then.

First, there is nothing in God’s Word whatsoever to indicate that Jesus or the disciples practiced a mystically induced prayer (repeating a word or phrase in order to enter a silent state to hear God).

Second, the frequent references in the statement by FOF to contemplatives of the past are without a doubt referring to mystics such as the Desert Fathers, Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, and others who practiced this “time-honored tradition.” This is easy to prove because it is these figures who every modern-day contemplative looks to for his or her contemplative “inspiration” “within the context of Christian history” “for centuries.”

Third, contrary to what FOF says, contemplative prayer is no different than the “spiritual practices of the Hindus, Buddhists, and New-Agers” as Lighthouse Trails has documented for sixteen years since the release of Ray Yungen’s book A Time of Departing (*see note below). We could provide many quotes to show that contemplative prayer is indeed one in the same as eastern-style meditation or occultic (i.e, New Age) meditation. But we’ll just provide a few right in this article. These are cited from Yungen’s booklet  “Five Things You Should Know About Contemplative Prayer.”

The meditation of advanced occultists [New Agers] is identical with the prayer of advanced mystics [contemplatives]: it is no accident that both traditions use the same word for the highest reaches of their respective activities—contemplation. Richard Kirby, The Mission of Mysticism, p. 7

It’s important to note that, throughout the history of Christianity, Christian mystics have displayed an unusual openness to the wisdom of non-Christian philosophy and religion. In other words, Christian mysticism seems, from the beginning, to have had an intuitive recognition of the way in which mysticism is a form of unity that transcends religious difference.—Carl McColman, The Big Book of Christian Mysticism, p. 63 (emphasis added)

The East does not represent a culture or a religion so much as the methodology [meditation] for a achieving a larger, liberating vision. In that sense, the “East” has existed in Western mystical traditions [i.e., contemplative prayer].—Marilyn Ferguson, The Aquarian Conspiracy, p. 368

Individual religions have various names for the esoteric paths that can bring us step by step to these experiences. In Mahayana Buddhism, there are the paths of the Tibetans or the way of Zen. . . . In Hinduism, there are the different forms of yoga. In Islam, there is Sufism. In Judaism, there is the teaching of the Cabala. In Christianity, there is contemplation. All of these can lead people to the ultimate level, to cosmic consciousness.—Willigis Jäger, Searching for the Meaning of Life, p. 31 (emphasis added)

Focus on the Family leaders were wrong in 2006, and  they are wrong in 2018. Tragically, along with so many other Christian organizations today, FOF has led countless Christians down a dangerous esoteric path that is not the path that Jesus and the disciples took but rather is the path that “advanced occultists” are on.

 

*Note: If you have not read A Time of Departing and would sincerely like to or would like to give a copy to your pastor, please e-mail us at editors@lighthousetrails.com, and we will send you a free copy. We will keep your name and address confidential. If your pastor or your church leadership is talking about “Spiritual Formation,” “contemplative prayer,” “spiritual directors,” or “the spiritual disciplines,” then it is time you found out what they are really talking about.

 

BOOKLET HIGHLIGHT: Earth Day and a Total Transformation for a Post-Christian World

rp_bkt-ct-earth-lg.jpgBy Carl Teichrib

More than 6 million Canadians join 500 million people in over 180 countries in staging events and projects to address local environmental issues. Nearly every school child in Canada takes part in an Earth Day activity.1—Earth Day Canada

Earth is more than just a spaceship. She is our Mother. She gave us life. There is nowhere else to go but to stay and love her.2—Reader’s comment regarding John Kerry’s Earth Day blog

Just as in olden days, the earth has become the focal point for worship. In Grecian times, the supreme Earth deity was Gaia, also known as the Universal Mother. Sacred oaths were given in her name, and worshippers performed rituals in her honor.3 One commentator tells us:

The classic artistic representation of Gaia is a woman emerging breast-high from the earth. The goddess arises but never leaves her planetary body. Visceral rites, including plant, animal, and (presumably ecstatic) human sacrifice as well as unabashed sexual ceremonies were held to adore the goddess’s fecundity.4

In our contemporary era, Earth Day has become the modern celebration of Gaia. Partakers of this event, whether aware of it or not, play off the ancient pagan beliefs of a Universal Mother. Like the sacred oaths taken in her name, today’s Earth Day celebrants sign environmental petitions, make pledges, and announce resolutions in support of Mother Earth. And like the old sacrifices to the deity, today’s Earth Day practitioners offer sacrifices of “good works” to the planet. Not only is the earth a deity to be venerated, but the earth itself—as the representative and embodiment of the goddess—has become a modern-day idol.

Do all who engage in Earth Day festivities realize the connections between this event and the ancient pagan deity? Some do, especially those who take a neo-pagan position; but many are unaware, thinking it’s a family-oriented way to engage in environmental conservation. Much good is done during Earth Day, such as cleaning up stream beds or planting trees—but that’s not the issue. Motivated by good intentions, scores of individuals (including professing Christians) participate without ever considering what Earth Day is actually about or the philosophies that underpin the movement.

James Coburn, the American actor (deceased in 2002), understood the overt pagan linkages. Consider his 1990 interview with journalist Caryl Matrisciana during the Malibu Beach Earth Day festival:

Caryl Matrisciana: “Mr. Coburn, why should we care about Earth Day or Mother Earth?”

James Coburn: “Mother Earth is our Mother! She’s the Mother Goddess. She’s the one that we should be praising rather than raping. I mean all of these people here today are here for one reason: Because they’re concerned about what’s happening to the earth—what mankind is doing to the earth. I mean the negative emotions we carry around, a lot of us, is another contributor to it; it feeds the Moon. [Author’s Note: the Moon is significant in pagan circles.]

“What we have to do is be true to ourselves. If we’re true to ourselves we’ll be true to Mother Earth. Mother Earth’s going to be bountiful; she’s going to give us everything we need. She has for a long time.

“We’ve lost our way. The pagans used to know how to do it. And the Indians, some of them still remember how to do it.
“The Earth is a living organism. We’re killing the one we love the most, and she loves us. We’ve got to praise our Mother Goddess!”5

When Earth Day was first inaugurated in 1970, Newsweek called the event “a bizarre nationwide rain dance.”6 The New York Times, however, said it was an idea “whose time has come because life is running out.” Earth, and the race of mankind, needed to be saved “from intolerable deterioration and possible extinction.”7

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