In This Issue
Print Friendly and PDF

If you like this e-newsletter that you are reading, you might also like the Lighthouse Trails Research JOURNAL: Our low-cost subscription-based print journal is mailed out to homes, churches, and offices 6 times a year. The 32-page journal contains the most important stories from our e-newsletter from the previous 8 weeks and also other features. You may wish to receive that in addition to this free e-newsletter. You can sign up any time during the year for the print journal. You can also buy individual or past issues here. Many people have now signed up for the print journal, and we are getting very favorable feedback that the journal is most beneficial. For common questions about the journal, click here. See a sample issue here.

Note: Because we are a research ministry, we do post news articles from various secular and Christian sources along with our own in-house articles if we believe our readers can benefit from the information. We also post video clips from YouTube at times. Also please note, any advertising on YouTube videos is not in any way connected to Lighthouse Trails and is beyond our control, but we make every effort to use only video clips that have no obscene or vulgar content including in advertising.

*Photos used in this e-newsletter that are not exclusive to Lighthouse Trails are either 1) in the public domain, 2) used in accordance with the US Fair Use Act, 3) or are from unless otherwise mentioned; used with permission.


Long-Time BSF Leader Steps Down As BSF Heads Deeper Into Emergent Waters

LTRP Note: For several years now, Lighthouse Trails has received letters from many women who have been involved with BSF (Bible Study Fellowship). Each one expressed a concern that the organization once taught God’s Word but over the last decade especially began to drift. Lighthouse Trails noted in 2010 that BSF’s current executive director Susie Rowan is a proponent of contemplative prayer (and we knew this would eventually lead to an emergent, social-justice “gospel.”) Linda, the BSF leader who wrote the letter below confirms this. Incidentally, Linda submitted her resignation letter to BSF last week after being involved with the organization for over 20 years (12 years as a leader).

“Co-incidentally,” we received a second letter last week from another BSF member who shared similar concerns. In Victoria’s letter, she stated:

I WAS a Bible Study Fellowship member awaiting the fall 2018 class . . . until I read Susie Rowan’s e-book seemingly promoting Dominion Theology. Susie promotes questionable authors that support the rapid growing apostate emergent church, socialism, and the NAR. It tells me through the language in her e-mails and books, she is in favor of Dominionism’s seven mountains, the ecumenical movement / emergent church.

It seems there is more focus on building the ecumenical emergent church than there is building a relationship with Christ. He seems to be put on the back burner when it comes to politics, culture, and leaning into liberal perspective and “rules for change.” . . . I was looking forward to a different more conservative group this fall not realizing this “movement” was coming from the leadership – I did not know BSFI was so heavily immersed into politics etc. that drive the tone of socialism and liberalism downward to the attendee. Victoria

And now the letter from Linda, the BSF leader who just resigned:

Dear Lighthouse Trails:

I thought you might want to read this and alert your readers. The attached eBook [this link taken from BSF FB page] is co-written by Susie Rowan, head of BSF International. It was emailed to BSF class members and leadership this month to lay the foundation for their new study, a revision of the former study called “History of Israel and the Minor Prophets.” The new study is “People of the Promised Land (Part 1),” a name exposing BSF’s departure from a focus on Scripture’s purpose of revealing God and His glory to instead follow the wide path of man-centric teachings.

Concerns from this publication include, but are not limited to:
*Quotes by Rick Warren & Timothy Keller — They quote many people (secular, too). You will probably know more “red flag” names than I am aware of.

*Substitution of “Gospel Community” for “Body of Christ” (“Community” is used 20 times; Body 0). I am wondering why I don’t read more about the concern of this trend in “Christian” ministries/churches? The popular buzz word is “community” these days, used as a replacement for the biblical word “Body.” Community and body are NOT synonyms. Only the body has a Head, with the individual parts literally dependent upon one another. Though “community” celebrates togetherness, individuality is the emphasis (like the secular philosophy of multiculturalism). With community, the required unity and inter-dependence of parts are minimized or ignored. Above all, the subtlety that seems to be missed is how “community” completely neglects the need and purpose for the Head. It’s about the people, the benefit of their togetherness and their strength in joining forces. Reminds me a lot of Babel.

*Distortion of 1 Corinthians 3 — Chapter 1 mishandles this text with a man-centric application about godly leadership, ignoring Paul’s clear teaching that GOD is the point, not he who sows/waters. This chapter lays the groundwork for the new study. “People of the Promised Land” apparently will not be about God, but the great men (leaders) of the Bible.

*BSF teaches that believers have a biblical mandate to redeem their culture, quoting Chuck Colson as support, rather than God’s Word. They have recently partnered with Barna and Steve Graves, who also push this man-centric, non-biblical agenda. Their refrains are “engage the culture” and “keep the conversation going.”

*The book’s concluding statement: “If we live well now, we’ll leave behind something worth remembering,” emphasizing the book’s recurring point that believer’s should be driven to leave a legacy on this earth. (Purpose-driven life?) Conspicuously absent is the biblical mandate to live for God’s glory alone.

*Steve Graves (co-author)—Check out his website. His primary vocation is executive coaching. Rowan appears to have been a client? His focus is man’s personal fulfillment, not God’s glory.

*Rowan signs all of her correspondence with a call for the “FAME” of Jesus (vs. His glory)

BSF has forgotten their first love. The ministry is rapidly circling the drain, teaching elements of Spiritual Formation, pushing seeker-friendly training of leaders, watering-down their study materials, and redefining “grace” and “love” in the training of their leadership, in promoting silence/compromise over speaking truth that may offend. I have been in BSF since 1996, with 12 years in leadership. I have watched the steady decline of this ministry since Susie Rowan assumed the helm about a decade ago. The departure from truth has become most evident starting with the training of leadership last year, and now with this very overt, “in writing” proclamation of BSF’s new direction to all registered members. The BSF Area Team last spring announced a coming five-year plan of significant changes. I cannot imagine what is next. Already BSF is but a shadow of its former self; it bears the same name and a familiarity of format, but the heart of the ministry to equip the church as a “training center” has been removed. It no longer seeks the glory of God, but has made “man” the focal point of God’s purpose. They give lip service to seeking the Lord in prayer, but their decisions and direction are formed from their numerous surveys of the population NOT attending their classes. They have become consumer-driven, compromising Truth in an effort to woo the “U-40” (under 40) crowd to join BSF. They measure their success and growth in numbers. They have forgotten their first love, the Word of God.

For many years, I have stayed in BSF to contend for the faith, to fight for truth through words and prayer. At this time, however, I believe that BSF is too far gone; the anti-Truth agenda too blatant. With a heavy heart, I will not be a part of BSF this fall, as I direct my time and energy to focus on promoting truth instead of fighting against lies. I can no longer be a part of something that is now clearly working against the pursuit of Truth. I am heartbroken.

I hope that you find this information useful in calling the unaware to be alert and sober-minded. BSF, with Susie Rowan at the helm, has been patient in pushing this anti-biblical agenda, but the water is now boiling. Is is too late for the frog?

For the GLORY of Jesus!

P.S. You probably should take a quick peek at this, too [Rowan’s new e-book, The Gospel Changes Everything] The notes section identifies some of those influencing Rowan. This publication served as a soft introduction to the shift in BSF’s focus/agenda.

LTRP Note: To understand more about the social-justice “gospel,” please read the following:

What You Need to Know About Jim Wallis and the Social-Justice Gospel

D is for Deception—The Language of the “New” Christianity

(photo from; used with permission)

Chicago Tribune: “Teaching Pastor Resigns Over Willow Creek’s Handling of Allegations Against Bill Hybels"

Bill Hybels

By Manya Brachear Pashman
Chicago Tribune

The lead teaching pastor of Willow Creek Community Church announced his resignation from the South Barrington megachurch Sunday, saying he could no longer serve there with integrity.

Steve Carter, who took over as lead teaching pastor in April when Bill Hybels stepped down from the helm of the church he founded 42 years ago, said he was “horrified” by allegations reported Sunday by The New York Times that Hybels had sexually harassed his former executive assistant for two years.

Carter also said he did not agree with the way elders had handled the first reports by the Chicago Tribune in March that revealed allegations of misconduct by Hybels with women — including church employees — spanning decades. Click here to continue reading.

Related Articles:

Lynne Hybels’ “God”

Willow Creek unfolding kinder, gentler apostasy

Still Confusion on Willow Creek “Repentance”

Comments From Our Readers

The following are some of the comments that came in this past week from our readers regarding articles posted on our blog:

On Willow Creek: Most of the churches today just do not get it. Even with all the sin abounding in these emergent churches most Christians do not see the need to depart from the Spiritual Disciplines, New-Age mysticism, Dominionism, etc. So sad to see this horrific apostasy from God's Word. Elizabeth

On Willow Creek: This dominionist centered thought will lead them to help usher in antichrist, believing him to be the savior or a reasonable facsimile there of. Rick

On Willow Creek: The mainstream reporting insinuates Willow Creek was somehow 'solid' before the sexual perversion was finally brought to light. Not so. I would suggest the sexual sin is directly tied to the false teaching, false gospel, globalism, antisemitism, etc. Donna

On Willow Creek: Willow Creek has been used as the model for seeker driven 'church management' for years. The theology is a mile wide and an inch deep. John

On Bible Study Fellowship (BSF): I have been wary of this group for a long time. All false teachers and phony ministries have one thing in common-they get into grandma’s house by speaking much if not all truth, then once inside, ravish the household and destroy it. Amazing how few professing Christians understand this dynamic. Steven

On BSF: When I was young we use to go to "Home Days". To gather together to have fun. Most cities had tents from churches in the area. Giving away Texts from the Bible. Today cities call it "Community Days". Many cities have banned the churches from having a tent. Our country is headed for Socialism? Marxism? Communism? All 3 mean the same thing. Totalitarianism. Pray for our country. Jeffry

On BSF: Instead of saving the people on the Titannic with the Gospel, they are trying to save the Titannic! Anna

On BSF: The term "community" shows up a lot in the contemplative/emerging church writing. Peter Drucker was a communitarian (different than being a communist but no more scriptural) and through Bob Buford's Leadership Network influenced a who's who of these leaders. Also, Rod Dreher (author of the Benedict Option) has been heavily influenced by Alasdair MacIntyre another communitarian. This philosophy heavily emphasizes "community" but not scripture. This teaching does not come from the Holy Spirit. Come soon Lord Jesus! Glenn

On BSF: BSF has been on the edge for a while. I, too, have been a BSF leader, for a time in Houston, and then where I am now. I have had red flags thrown up on various things during my time and no longer have the desire to continue to be a leader, for some of the reasons Linda states in her letter.Deborah

On the Potter and Romans 9: Excellent! May I add that in Jeremiah 18:7-10 speaking of that nation who would repent. My thoughts go to Jonah! God wanted him to go to Nineveh and Nineveh repented. That takes 'free will'. Many of us were raised is some form of religion before we came to Christ. Why is it so hard for Calvinist's to understand the simplicity that is in Christ? Does not Romans 9 further describe what nation Jesus would come from; Romans 9:12-13. Calvinism lacks prophesy, and many are into replacement theology and one Calvinist pastor told me that God created Satan evil and had no idea that they had free will. This is a wonderful explanation of TULIP by Rob Congdon: Nannette

On the Potter and Romans 9: The wave of calvinism/reformed theology that's sweeping into the church is staggering. Those of us that see the Truth need materials like this to help wash the mud from our brothers' and sisters' eyes. Angela

On the Potter and Romans 9: Jetemiah and Ezekiel destroy Calvinism over and over again by God showing his mercy to his “elect” Jews." I would never have been able to articulate the potter illustration the way you did. It will help me tremendously when I speak with Calvinists. I met a high school youth group from a popular Calvinist church nearby, and after a brief discussion a few of them said they wanted to get together to discuss Limited Atonement and the Bible version issue. I was dreading it because of Rom. 9. Not anymore. Ed

On Contemplative Christian Colleges: I went thru a long journey coming out of the New Age. This was after some experiences that made me know there was God. I just didn’t know Who He was. I moved out of the city I was in and left everything behind. I became involved with my neighbors who were a very small Mormon offshoot. When I was coming out of that, I went to a little local Methodist church for help getting out of the cult. They sent me home with these prayers! Wow. That was ten years ago and every morning I sit here and study. I’m glad I came across your site. And I’m glad Jesus came and got me and stayed with me during my wandering! Jerialice

Is the Emerging Church in the Past?: The church I attend is led by a pastor and elders who I truly believe highly esteem the Word of God. I was alarmed to know of a "secret" Beth Moore study for certain women in the church. When I questioned one of the elder's wives about it she said it was fine because the more mature women who were present could make sure those that were younger in the faith weren't misled by any confusing teaching from Beth Moore. Seriously, all of these women are misled. I was at this same woman's home for a small group gathering and very much to my surprise, she had a well used copy of Jesus Calling on her coffee table. When I tried to talk to my pastor about my concerns, his response was that contemplative prayer, Beth Moore, and the emergent nonsense are a passing fad - nothing to see here folks, just move along... He also referred to me as austere and pugnacious when he came to the hospital to pray for me prior to a surgery. I believe this emergent, contemplative movement is endemic in the church, not unlike a virus. The only anti-viral so to speak is the Word of God and God given discernment. Laura

Editor's Note: If you would like to leave comments about any of our articles, you may do so one of three ways: e-mail us a "letter to the editor" at; leave a comment on our blog at the bottom of any article (we publish most of them); or leave a comment on our Facebook page.

Long-Time BSF Leader Steps Down As BSF Heads Deeper Into Emergent Waters
Chicago Tribune: “Teaching Pastor Resigns Over Willow Creek’s Handling of Allegations Against Bill Hybels
Comments From Our Readers

Willow Creek Has A Lot More to Repent of Than Sexual Abuse Cover-Ups

Letter to the Editor: Our Discerning Pastor Caved In To Allowing Deception in the Church
Sending Your Child to a Christian College This Fall? – Read This First!
Is the “Emerging Church” a Thing of the Past?
NEW BOOKLET: A Potter Looks at Romans 9
Check Out Our Updated What is Calvinism? Pack
Leave a Review and Get a Discount Coupon and Check Out New Release
Supporting Lighthouse Trails

Quick Links for Lighthouse TrailsBryce Homes for Widows and Children in Kenya Lighthouse Trails on Twitter Check out LT Videos on YouTube Visit Lighthouse Trails on Facebook Lighthouse Trails Research


or Our Blog Search Engine

If you are NOT a subscriber to our 32-page Journal delivered to your home, office, or church (not this free e-newsletter you are reading) and want to be, click button to subscribe:


(The subscribe button above is for the hard copy journal delivered to your home, office, or church, not this free e-newsletter you are reading.)

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 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.

Contacting Us

Click here for contact information.




Click on any logo below for that country.

bhmyanmar.gifbhmexlogo.jpg bhphilippineslogo.gifbhkenyalogo.gif bhsafricalogo.gifbhusalogo.jpg

(Button for Haiti not showing)

Visit the Understand the Times website for the latest updates on the Bryce Homes International missions outreach.


Willow Creek Has A Lot More to Repent of Than Sexual Abuse Cover-Ups
Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit

Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit (photo from RNS:; used in accordance with the US Fair Use Act)

An August 8, 2018 Christianity Today article titled Willow Creek Elders and Pastor Heather Larson Resign over Bill Hybels chronicles events that led to Willow Creek founder Bill Hybels’ resignation from the megachurch due to numerous women having come forth with accusations of years of sexual misconduct and abuse by Hybels. Because of the lackadaisical attitudes Willow Creek leadership has taken toward the victims of Hybels sexual abuse, the Christianity Today article states that the two current lead pastors have resigned followed by the entire board of Willow Creek stepping down.

The Christianity Today article leaves the impression that once Willow Creek gets rid of these leaders, elects a new board, and apologizes to the women, there will be a fresh “new start” for Willow Creek. However, there is more to this Willow Creek story than meets the eye, more to repent of than the cover up of sexual misconduct, and the Christianity Today article unknowingly alludes to it. The CT article states:

In the summer of 2008, Bill Hybels stood in front of thousands of pastors and other church leaders gathered at Willow Creek Community Church and admitted his megachurch had failed.

“We made a mistake,” he told the crowd gathered for the 2008 Global Leadership Summit (GLS). A detailed Willow study had found that the church had helped many people find new faith in Jesus, but had failed to teach them how to practice the spiritual disciplines needed to grow their faith.

Lighthouse Trails remembers when Bill Hybels came forth with this declaration. He had actually announced it earlier in 2007. At that time, headlines across Christian media blasted the news that Willow Creek had repented. Lighthouse Trails readers began contacting our editorial office asking if we heard the news that Willow Creek had repented. This led to our researchers digging a little deeper to get the full story on Willow Creek’s “repentance.” In November of 2007, we issued an article titled “No Repentance from Willow Creek – Only a Mystical Paradigm Shift.” Our article began:

Recently, headlines about Willow Creek filled the front pages of several online news outlets. The caption stated: “A Shocking Confession from Willow Creek Community Church.” Some wondered if Willow Creek’s pastor Bill Hybels was repenting from past errors in ministry techniques.1 But a Lighthouse Trails commentary showed that this “shocking confession” was actually a re-enforcement of Willow Creek’s efforts to “transform this planet” through contemplative and emerging spiritualities.

That earlier LT commentary stated:

It is no new thing that Willow Creek wishes to “transform the planet.” They are part of the emerging spirituality that includes Rick Warren and many other major Christian leaders who believe the church will usher in the kingdom of God on earth before Christ returns. This dominionist, kingdom-now theology is literally permeating the lecture halls of many Christian seminaries and churches, and mysticism is the propeller that keeps its momentum. If Willow Creek hopes to transform the planet, they won’t be able to get rid of the focus on the mystical (i.e., contemplative). Their new Fall 2007 Catalog gives a clear picture of where their heart lies, with resources offered by New Age proponent Rob Bell, contemplative author Keri Wyatt Kent, and the Ancient Future Conference with emerging leaders Scot McKnight and Alan Hirsch as well as resources by Ruth Haley Barton and John Ortberg. Time will tell what Willow Creek intends to do about strengthening its focus on “spiritual practices” and “transform[ing] the planet.”

Back then, Willow Creek had conducted a study to find out how they had failed as a ministry. The results of their study led Willow Creek to make a new more passionate commitment to taking their congregation into the emergent church via contemplative prayer practices (i.e., spiritual disciplines) as was clearly illustrated in the Fall 2007 issue of their magazine, where editors stated:  “The landscape of our ministries is shifting. Brace yourself for the aftershocks.” The issue included the articles and teachings by numerous contemplative/emergent figures such as Richard Foster, Richard Rohr, Ruth Haley Barton, and John Ortberg (see more detail). There was no doubt about it after reading that issue of their magazine, Willow Creek’s repentance was basically saying, “We are changing the way we do things around here – we need to incorporate more of the contemplative, mystical element into our people’s lives.” And, yet, Christianity Today and other Christian media outlets made it look like a true biblical repentance was taking place at Willow Creek.

Since Willow Creek’s “repentance” in 2007, Lighthouse Trails has tracked much of what Willow Creek has been up to from Lynne Hybel’s anti-Israel efforts to the work by Hybel’s grown kids and kids-in-law to bring the contemplative prayer movement to full fruition at Willow Creek—and, of course, Bill Hybel’s own demise through his out-of-control sexual exploitations of women who worked for or with him.

To give an example of where Willow Creek is at today, we’d like to draw your attention to The Practice, a program started by Bill Hybel’s son-in-law, Aaron Niequist, in 2014 that takes place on Sunday nights at Willow Creek and specifically incorporates contemplative prayer practices. On The Practice website, it states:

The Practice is an experimental gathering where we immerse ourselves in God’s dream for humanity, practice the historic disciplines [i.e., contemplative meditation] that align us with His dream, and carry each other along the way.

While the headlines for a while will focus on the sexual-abuse accusations and the resignations and apologies that are following, there’s not much chance that you will see headlines discussing Willow Creek’s contemplative/emergent ways. Of course, you won’t. Virtually every major Christian media outlet (including Christianity Today) is either giving a pass to this mystical paradigm shift or is outright promoting it. If only the purpose-driven, Willow Creek, seeker-friendly, church-growth, dominionist “church of today” could see that it is on a mystical slippery slope to full apostasy, and while exposing sexual predators and helping victims is an important thing, the very nature of the “new spirituality” with a dependence on esoteric experiences instead of God’s Word and the power of the Holy Spirit, will not make people live more righteously and God pleasing but will, in fact, pull them deeper into darkness and sin because the source of those esoteric (contemplative) experiences are driven and led by the same source that deceived Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and not by the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ. Thus, any “fruit” of such a “repentance” will be sour and harmful.

In spite of all that has been happening at Willow Creek, this year’s Global Leadership Summit still took place this week as is stated in a Religious News Service article. It was expected that over 400,000 around the world would participate. Christians today seem to need to have their ears tickled and their spiritual bellies filled, and the show must go on.

Letter to the Editor: Our Discerning Pastor Caved In To Allowing Deception in the Church

LTRP Note: We received the following comment last week from a reader regarding the article we posted earlier this week by Roger Oakland about the emerging church. From phone calls, e-mails, and letters we receive, we know many are going through similar situations in their churches. We pray that pastors who do seem to have some discernment and understanding for the times in which we live will pastor with courage, strength, and spiritual fortitude and not be afraid to speak the truth. Perhaps print a copy of a recent commentary we posted titled “Spiritual Discernment What It Is and How to Get It” and give a copy to your own pastor.

To Lighthouse Trails:

Upon relocating to a new area of the US, we found a local church to attend. Initially it appeared to be a “fit.” The pastor shared similar concerns & convictions at first. We had been told by him his church had been heading toward a seeker-friendly church, but the red flag of concern was discerned by him and others and they attempted to cease in that direction. As time went on, there were red flags that we discerned: it didn’t matter what Bible translation was used; Beth Moore studies were being used by one of the woman teachers, a liberal bent pervaded in & across many of the members, contemporary music that did not glorify the Lord, but instead was emotional & entertaining, psychological principles blended into some of those who taught and/or gave a message, and so much more. There was much concern, and we talked to the pastor from time to time of what we were discerning. After almost 4 years we were convicted to leave that church. In addition to the emerging church manifestation, psychological “self” messages, the awareness of free masonry activities of the worship leader and others in that church and more lighter goings on led us to leave. The pastor covered for all that, and we exited!!!


(photo from; used with permission)

Sending Your Child to a Christian College This Fall? – Read This First!

LTRP Note: The following is a chapter from the Lighthouse Trails book Castles in the Sand, the only novel we know of that exposes the dangers of contemplative spirituality and spiritual formation. The story, based on true facts, is about a young Christian college girl who is introduced to mysticism through her spiritual formation professor. In the following chapter, Tessa, troubled by some of the strange symptoms she is experiencing when practicing meditation, seeks help from her school counselor. But alas, the counselor is involved in the very spirituality that is affecting her.

Lighthouse Trails published this book in 2009 because we saw the danger that many young people were in when they began attending Christian colleges, seminaries, and universities that were promoting spiritual formation (i.e., contemplative spirituality). Today, nine years later, the landscape of these religious institutions is more dangerous and deceptive than ever, and the majority are going in this direction.

Castles In The SandCastles in the Sand
by Carolyn A. Greene
Bad Counsel

But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.–Jesus, Matthew 6:7

“And so, I’m really not sure what to think anymore about this spiritual formation training,” Tessa said softly. She felt very small and insignificant sitting in front of the huge desk in the head counselor’s office. The walls were covered with hardwood panels, and on the one with the credenza pushed against it hung a framed portrait of a man staring down at her with knowing eyes. The counselor wrote on a notepad with an expensive-looking gold pen. He had been at Flat Plains Bible College for nearly five years and most of the students respected him. Tessa had often heard him play the cello in the string quartet during chapel for Monday meditations. He was a bachelor, but not the kind the girls would flirt with. She wondered if he ironed his own shirts every day, as he always wore a crisp white one under his sports jacket. He had a few odd quirks but was generally kindhearted and caring. Tessa didn’t know why she felt so uncomfortable as she sat in his office. The counselor analyzed the comments he’d been jotting down. His notes said this girl had dark circles under her eyes and seemed very nervous. She had no previous record of drug use and had never gotten into trouble at school.

“Miss Dawson, we realize it’s an emotionally and spiritually demanding course. You have probably been working very hard. I see you stayed at school over the Christmas holidays as well as spring break last week to catch up on some course assignments. With the semester nearly over, the pressure will soon be off. Have you talked to your spiritual formation professor?”

“Well, she was the one who recommended that I be mentored by Ms. Jasmine. Naturally, I was excited about that, at first. Now, I’m not sure anymore. So I talked to the other counselor this morning, and she told me that you and Ms. Jasmine are the only people I need to talk to about my concerns.”

“Did she now? Instead of speaking to me, have you talked to Dr. Winters first about your concerns?” He secretly wished Dr. Jasmine Winters hadn’t been so casual with the students, allowing them to address her by her first name. It was simply disrespectful.

“Well, that’s the problem. I’m not comfortable with that.”

The counselor leaned forward on his oak desktop and looked at her over his black-rimmed glasses. “Well, apparently Dr. Winters is comfortable enough to have you all call her Ms. Jasmine. Now, could you tell me exactly why you are ‘uncomfortable’?”

“It’s like this. I . . . when I am in a session . . . I mean, when I did the sessions with Ms. Jazz, I mean Dr. Winters, strange things happen, I mean, happened.” Tessa started to cry. “I’m sorry, I haven’t been sleeping well.”

Tessa felt her throat tightening. This wasn’t easy for her. At first, in the beginning of the school year, everything was good. Really good, actually, and Tessa had soon become a keen and open-minded student. But later, she’d begun having reservations, even before Katy read her “the list.” She couldn’t say why, exactly, only that she’d started to feel vaguely suspicious and oddly unsettled about the whole thing. That was probably why she could never muster the courage to take it to the next level. And lately, her resistance seemed increasingly ineffective. She used to have control, but she didn’t seem to have it anymore. Had the words of warning, the words she had so carelessly rejected, been right after all?

“What sort of strange things?” the counselor asked, interrupting her thoughts.

“Yes. Well, this may sound very, very weird, but I get a tingling, prickling sensation in my head and my hands, and sometimes all the way down to my feet.”

“Has Dr. Winters been letting you drink her Yerba Mate? It sometimes has an . . . effect on certain people.”

Tessa shuddered at the thought of the South American tea Ms. Jasmine sometimes drank through a metal straw. She thought the Yerba leaves looked and smelled like a wet horse stall.

“No. You don’t believe me, do you?” She reached into her pocket and pulled out a folded, wrinkled paper. It was the list Katy had tried reading to her the other night. Later, when Katy wasn’t there, Tessa picked it up, folded it neatly, and put it in one of her books. “I would like to read this to you. These are some symptoms that–”

“That you have?”

“Well, I might have some, but so does my friend Elise and at least half the class. But Dr. Winters has most of these. Can I just read this?”

“Have you been to see the school nurse?” he asked.

“I don’t need a nurse!” she said too loudly, and remorsefully looked down at the floor. “Please . . .” she said quietly.

“Go ahead.” The counselor leaned back in his chair.

“These are some of the symptoms I am talking about. It’s only some of them.”

Before coming there that day, she had highlighted certain symptoms on the list with a yellow marker, ones she had either experienced herself or saw or heard about in others, including Ms. Jasmine–especially Ms. Jasmine. She held the wrinkled paper in her clammy hands and began reading the symptoms she had marked:

Hearing sounds like a flute, waterfall, bees buzzing, ringing in the ears, inner voices, mental confusion, difficulty concentrating, emotional outbursts, uncontrollable laughing and crying, rapid mood shifts, fear, rage, heightened awareness, trances, sensations of heat or prickling in the hands and head, feelings of peace and tranquility, ecstasy, dreams or visions of spirit guides, out-of-body experiences, awareness of auras, chakras, healing powers, sensitivity–

“All right, all right. That’s enough, I’ve got the point,” the counselor interrupted. He pulled off his glasses, puffed a few breaths of hot air onto the lenses, and unfolded a clean white handkerchief to polish them.

“But I’m not finished. I–”

“Miss Dawson, look, I believe you. A few other students have reported minor things. But everything has an explanation. This is a very old school. Before we rule out the insulation or the lead paint, here’s what I think. First of all, you have completed the required reading, am I correct?”

Tessa nodded.

“Then you must know that the ancient Christians who tapped into methods of prayer that the modern church has forgotten also describe many of the same experiences. What if these things, which you say make you fearful, are simply God’s graces and favors being bestowed upon you? Rather than having a fear-based faith, we must open ourselves to God’s voice. We must not shut the door to new forms of God’s communication with us, Tessa. The Bible says, ‘Shout to the Lord a new song!’ We cannot put God in a box.”

He reached behind him and pulled a book from his shelf. The title on the cover said The Interior Castle, but Tessa thought this one looked older and thicker than her copy, which was called Selections from the Interior Castle. He pushed up his thick-framed glasses and opened it to a page with a folded corner.

“As St. Teresa of Avila wrote, ‘Our Lord is just as pleased today as He has ever been to reveal favors to his people, and I’m convinced that anyone who will not believe this closes the door to receiving them herself.’ So you see, only those who believe and open the door will be the recipients of His revelations and favors!”

Tessa knew about that. She had written a paper on the Teresian prayer model. “Yes, I understand that concept. But something is not right, I’m telling you. One evening not long ago I arrived early at our mentoring session, and Ms. Jazz was . . . she was . . .”

“Tessa, Dr. Winters is a very spiritually disciplined person, and a fine role model. She does the fixed hours of prayer several times a day, and some people, when they find out, just don’t understand. It’s a classic case of fearing the unknown. I trust she has been training you to do your prayer exercises as well. May I ask how far you have gone in your quiet prayer time in regard to the inner rooms of the Teresian prayer model?”

“Well, I . . . I could never get past the fourth room,” she said, sniffing. “The castle. It haunts me in my dreams. What I thought was beautiful is turning into a bad dream. It’s just not lining up with . . .” She stopped in mid-sentence and thought about Katy and Gramps, and how they would often say that something was not “lining up with Scripture.” “I guess I just don’t know anymore if the voices I am hearing are from God or . . . I’m just . . . I’m very scared.”

“Dear Tessa, I think I have just answered your own question.” The counselor looked pleased with himself and assured her with a compassionate smile. “Now take a deep breath and listen to me carefully. Close your eyes . . . There, that’s right. Now, do you remember how St. Teresa compared the doubts we have to reptiles? Let me read a little more from the fifth chapter.” The way the counselor read reminded Tessa of the way Ms. Jasmine read–slowly, methodically, pronounced:

In the prayer of quiet in the previous mansion, the soul needs to be very experienced before it can be sure what really happened to it. Did it imagine the whole thing? Was it asleep and dreaming? Did the experience come from God, or from the devil disguised as an angel of light? The mind feels a thousand doubts. And so it ought, for as I said, we can be deceived in these mansions, even by our own nature. It is true that there is little chance of those poisonous creatures entering the Fourth Mansion, but slippery little lizards are small enough to slip in unnoticed. They do no harm, especially if we ignore them, but these little thoughts and fancies thrown out by the imagination can be annoying.

However active those lizards may be, they cannot enter into the Fifth Mansion. Here, neither the imagination, the understanding, or the memory has any power to prevent God’s grace flowing into the soul.

The counselor closed the book and placed it on a stack of Travel Mongolia magazines. His chair creaked as he leaned back and took off his glasses again. “Tessa,” he said, “perhaps you need to enter into the fifth room of the castle and allow God’s grace to flow into your soul. You seem too focused on poisonous, negative thoughts, which you simply must choose to ignore. I suggest you contemplate Scripture more often through your lectio divina exercises.”

Tessa nodded her head, folded the paper, and stood up. Her ears began to ring again. The book he had read from sounded different from the one she had. Why were they always quoting to her out of books? Gramps usually quoted the Bible, and he seemed to know a lot of it by heart. She wasn’t sure if Ms. Jasmine even owned a Bible. If she did, Tessa had never seen it.

She was more confused than ever. Everyone here kept telling her to shut out the noises and go within herself. “There you will find your true self,” they’d say. However, her true self was the part of her that was so confused. Gramps always said that God is not the author of confusion. For some reason, Tessa remembered that cold fall day at the retreat when they were instructed to go and find their true selves, and she found the [mysterious] woodsman instead. What was that verse he read? “Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.”

She had no idea why she remembered that verse today, but how desperately she longed to know truth and have wisdom right now.
“May I go now?” she asked, rubbing her temples. “I . . . I have a really bad headache.”

The counselor nodded and watched her walk to the door….

“Oh and Miss Dawson, one more thing,” he said as she paused with her hand on the knob. “St. Teresa, your namesake, also said that a venomous reptile cannot live in the presence of divine light. If we are to be Christ followers, we must choose not to join the ranks of the spiritually uncivilized who refuse to be enlightened. Please keep this in mind.”

Tessa gave a weak, “OK,” then opened the door and stepped into the hall. The door swung shut behind her with a precise click. She watched as students walked past her to their classes, chatting and laughing happily as though everything was normal and there wasn’t a care in the world. As for herself, she wondered if she was going mad. Nothing made sense anymore.

Back in the office, the counselor glanced at his watch. Thank goodness she’s gone, he thought. It was nearly noon. Time for the Daily Office, the fixed hours of prayer Ms. Jasmine had taught them at their second staff retreat. He found that even five minutes spent centering down helped him get through a stressful day. Lately, more students like Tessa had begun to ask him too many difficult questions. Not to mention that paranoid old Mr. Brown who had been phoning and giving him a hard time.

He was beginning to feel more than a little annoyed.

He locked his office door, put a Taize worship CD into his Sony player and sat down in his chair again. Glancing up at the chart on his wall, he took a deep breath. He nearly had it memorized but wanted to be sure of the steps, so he read them again:

-Be attentive and open
-Sit still
-Sit straight
-Breathe slowly, deeply
-Close your eyes or lower them to the ground

Then he closed his eyes and slowly repeated the verse of the day from the Sacred Meditation website–

Be still and know that I am God.
Be still and know that I am God.
Be still and know . . .
that I am God . . .
that I am God . . .
that I am God.
That I am God,
I am God,
I am God,
I am God,
I am,
I am,
I am,
I am . . .

The noise in the hallway soon disappeared as Dr. Frank Johnson … shut out the sounds around him and slipped into a peaceful inner silence.

(This is an excerpt from chapter 19 of Castles in the Sand, the 1st novel ever written that exposes the dangers of contemplative spirituality.)

Related Information:

Is Your Church Doing Spiritual Formation (Important Reasons Why It Shouldn’t)


Is the “Emerging Church” a Thing of the Past?

By Roger Oakland
Understand the Times, International

Recently, I read a Facebook post by a southern California pastor that the “emerging church” was no longer a problem for him or his church. He stated that the emerging church was just another passing fad that had come and then disappeared never to be heard of again. His church was going to focus on what was positive and insinuated that “hyper-discernment ministries” were scaring his sheep into believing they were living in the last days and that apostasy was rampant.

The comments by this pastor are not uncommon. In fact, fewer and fewer shepherds today are warning the sheep in their flocks of the dangers lurking not only outside the fold but also within the fold. A good shepherd must keep watch over his flock as many wolves are lurking around seeking whom they may devour. Ignoring these dangers does not make the problems go away. Sheep can easily be misled by false unbiblical teachings that are like a grain of arsenic in a milk shake. The milk shake may look and taste good but the grain of arsenic will be enough to kill someone.

When a pastor makes the claim that the emerging church is a thing of the past, this shows he is either uninformed or he is willingly ignorant. Sad to say, it can be both, and he may not even know it. The emerging church has many stealth methods to find its way under the radar. Satan is a master deceiver and knows what he is doing. In the early stages of the emergent church takeover, the methods may have been somewhat more obvious, at least to those with God-given discernment.
Now that the clear majority of churches have been inoculated with the poison, it appears that the majority of sheep have fallen victim to the poison and have fallen asleep. Discernment is diminishing. Worse yet, the shepherds (i.e., pastors and teachers), who are supposed to protect the sheep, have fallen asleep. They are still looking for ways to replace the older generation who “smelled a rat” and left. Now these pastors are looking for ways to fill the pews with novel ideas that appeal to the “carnal mind” (Romans 8:7).

There is one area that will illustrate that the emerging church is still alive and active in many churches, ministries, Christian colleges, and seminaries. One of the most effective ways for contemplative mysticism, along with other eastern mystical beliefs, to creep in is through recommended books for the women of the church in the “Ladies Ministry.” Millions of Christian women are reading books like Jesus Calling by Sarah Young, and books by Beth Moore are read and studied more than the Bible.

In fact, in many churches, these books replace the Bible altogether. Rather than teach verse-by-verse through a book of the Bible, the leader of the women’s study teaches page-by-page through a book that is very appealing to the flesh and provides additional revelation to the Bible. When a discerning woman in the study goes to the pastor and expresses her concerns, she is often chided for being divisive, or her concerns are totally overlooked.

One of the problems is this: often the pastor’s wife is the leader of the women’s study. He may or may not recognize that his own wife is off track. Whatever the case, recognizing the danger of what is going on and taking action is not in his portfolio—he doesn’t want to rock the boat. Soon the women have their husbands reading the books they are reading, and they too become inoculated with unbiblical ideas. Before long, the church that was once right on, is right off.

Emergent apostasy is spreading like wildfire around the world. The only way to slow this delusion down is to shine the light of God’s Word on Satan’s plan. However, therein lies the problem. Human pride will never be corrected by the truth unless leaders will humble themselves. Unfortunately, most who have chosen the path they are on have no intention to change. Even when they are chided with love, they hurl back nasty names rather than repent.

(Roger Oakland is the author of Faith Undone and The Good Shepherd Calls, both which address the emergent church.)



NEW BOOKLET: A Potter Looks at Romans 9

NEW BOOKLET: A Potter Looks at Romans 9 by David Dombrowski is our newest Lighthouse Trails Booklet. The Booklet is 10 pages long and sells for $1.95 for single copies. Quantity discounts are as much as 50% off retail. Our Booklets are designed to give away to others or for your own personal use. Below is the content of the booklet. To order copies of A Potter Looks at Romans 9, click here.

By David Dombrowski

Have you ever wondered why Jesus spoke in parables? Concerning the Messiah to come, the Old Testament indicated that He would open His mouth in parables (see Matthew 13:35 and Psalm 78:2). And throughout His ministry, Jesus used countless illustrations in His teachings. For some, He became a “stumbling block and a rock of offence” even as He shared spiritual truths with earthly illustrations. And I’ve pondered from time to time of both the positive impact to those who understood and the negative repercussions of those who took His statements the wrong way. As an ex-Roman Catholic, I am particularly concerned with how one takes His statement, “I am the bread of life” (John 6:35) because I understand now that His statement was spiritual and not physical (see John 6:63). But, over the centuries, the Roman Catholic Church has tortured and executed many people over this very point.

Before making the above statement, Jesus had the following discourse with the people who were flocking to Him:

Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed. Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. (John 6:26-29; emphasis added)

From the above dialogue, it becomes clear that Jesus wanted them to believe the Gospel. The Gospel was never intended to become a works-based religion of literally ingesting Jesus in the sacrament of the Eucharist but the Good News that God bestows eternal life to those who put their trust in the complete and finished work of Christ at Calvary in redeeming us from our sins. Unfortunately, even though Scripture refutes an earthy, physical view of how God redeems us, people remain blind to the meaning of the Gospel until they humbly and whole-heartedly turn to Christ. Until then, there is no assurance of salvation because they have never laid hold of it.

Likewise, Calvinism offers a distorted view of salvation based largely on a misconceived idea of what God is like. And while Catholicism is rooted in a misconstrued perception of what John 6 is talking about, Calvinism, likewise, is founded on an equally misconstrued view of what Romans 9 is talking about. In fact, Calvinist leaders will often guide their students to Romans 9 (isolating it from other Scriptures) because it is one of the very few passages in Scripture that remotely appears to support the conclusions of John Calvin—namely that man really has no free will and consequently anything and everything that happens on planet Earth has been preordained by God and is according to His own good pleasure; likewise, according to this view, it is God’s good pleasure to send most people to Hell. Romans 9 is often used to lure unsuspecting people into debates about predestination in that it gives the Calvinist a sense of security that he will win his hearer to his side.

This, of course, is a misuse of Scripture because while Romans 9, when isolated from the rest of Scripture, may seem to hold to the fatalistic viewpoint of Calvinism, the whole of Scripture absolutely refutes the findings and conclusions of John Calvin. Like Calvin, the Calvinist is now left with a lifelong task of having to read all of Scripture through a filter, where the meanings of words must be altered and Scriptures twisted and distorted to fit the Calvinist view.

It is therefore often unproductive to try to have any intelligent debate by looking only at Romans 9 as it seems to defy resolution by mulling over it in isolation from the rest of Scripture.

However, there is a passage in Jeremiah that not only refutes Calvinism it also addresses Romans 9. And while there are countless Scriptures that equally refute Calvinism, this passage has special significance because it speaks of the potter referred to in Romans 9:19-23 where Paul uses the illustration of a potter in similar fashion to why Jesus spoke in parables. The things of God, being spiritual, are often difficult to understand and can often be best explained by way of illustration. However, earthly illustrations need to be nonetheless spiritually discerned as we have already seen in Jesus’ referral to Himself as “the bread of life.” We must, therefore, take care not to distort an illustration from its actual and intended meaning.

With that said, let’s take a look at Jeremiah 18:1-12:

1The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, 2 Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words. 3 Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. 4 And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it. 5 Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 6 O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel. 7 At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it;8 If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them. 9 And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; 10 If it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them.

11 Now therefore go to, speak to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I frame evil against you, and devise a device against you: return ye now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good. 12 And they said, There is no hope: but we will walk after our own devices, and we will every one do the imagination of his evil heart. (emphasis added)

First of all, we should establish who the potter is in this passage. Rather than giving Jeremiah a vision, God instructed him to observe an actual potter at work. However, we learn in verse 6 that this potter served as an illustration of God as the potter of humanity—something that is both symbolic and quite literal. For in Genesis 2:7, we read that “the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground” making Him a potter in a literal sense of unequalled skill and intelligence. The capitalized word “LORD” refers to the Jehovah of the Old Testament whom John refers to as “the Word” in the New Testament who created all things (John 1:3) and “was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (v. 14), referring to Jesus. The same word for “LORD” is also what is used in this passage from Jeremiah, which identifies this Potter as our Creator who later became man to be our Redeemer.

Now, even though our bodies are mere clay, God did a wonderous work in creating us with an eternal soul (Genesis 2:7) fashioned after His own image (Genesis 1:26). And, while Genesis 1 and 2 are somewhat ambiguous as to what it means to be created in God’s image, Jeremiah 18 gives us insight into how we were created.

It should be pointed out here that while the potter Jeremiah was observing was doing something physical, the work of the Potter referred to as “LORD” is doing a work that is spiritual. The spiritual “clay” really has to do with the fact that God has created all of us with a free will. The idea of free will actually makes a lot of sense from the perspective of God as our Potter (Creator) because if God had created us without it, we would be no more than puppets pleasing God not because we want to but because we would, in effect, be forced to do His will. But Scripture says that “God loveth a cheerful giver” as opposed to one who gives “grudgingly, or of necessity” (see 2 Corinthians 9:7; emphasis added). This, of course, makes complete sense even from a human perspective in that love—given or received— takes on full meaning when it is done freely and by choice.

So God made us of a spiritual “clay” that includes free will. However, this presents a dichotomy for the spiritual Potter in that He now has a substance (“clay”) to work with that is mutually exclusive of the results. For just as the earthly potter finds inconsistency in the clay he uses, the spiritual Potter must deal with the inconsistency of free will in the spiritual clay He uses to create and sustain life in each individual. Such is the situation in Jeremiah 18 where the potter Jeremiah is observing may have exceedingly great skill yet finds that “the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter” (v. 4); but rather than throw the clay away, he reworks the same clay again into “another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it” (v. 4). In other words, he reshaped the clay into a vessel that still seemed good to him though it had failed to take the shape of what he originally designed.

Such is the predicament of our spiritual Potter who fashioned each of us with a free will. But rather than throw us away, He works on us when we stray, refashioning our lives with the hope of repentance. We see this brought out dramatically in this passage from Jeremiah where God, speaking to the nation of Israel, gives opportunity after opportunity for repentance—both individually and as a people. Here God emphasizes that how we live our lives is not determined by our genes but on the choices we make. Ezekiel 18:1-4 elaborates on this point in referring to a proverb that suggested the iniquity of parents is locked into succeeding generations. In response to this, God says, “Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die” (v. 4). In other words, everyone is responsible for him or herself, and it is our own iniquity that brings us down. Likewise, the opportunity for repentance is available to us all, just as God’s forgiveness is available to all.

Thus, as we ponder the workings of the spiritual Potter in Jeremiah 18, it becomes abundantly clear that He has no resemblance to the imaginings of John Calvin. While Calvin’s “God” bestows no free will on all people, Jeremiah’s God is opposite in designing us as our Potter. In fact, beginning with verse 5, it becomes clear that it is God Himself, speaking through Jeremiah, who will now describe Himself as our Potter. Speaking of entire nations, God says that if a wicked nation repents, He will “repent” of the judgement that He meant to bring upon it (vv. 7-8); likewise, if a godly nation turns to wickedness, God will “repent of the good, wherewith [He] said [He] would benefit them” (v. 10). Furthermore, in verse 11, God speaks to the individual when He says, “return ye now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good” (emphasis added). Here, it is abundantly clear that God sees man as having:

a. A free will (otherwise He would not plead with them to repent)

b. The ability to repent (again, why else would He ask them to repent?)

c. The ability to do good (as seen in verse 11)

But the clay of Calvin is a crippled clay in that Calvin’s creation has no free will (but must act out what God has predetermined him to do), is totally lacking in the ability to repent and believe, and is unable to do good (due to “total depravity”—the “T” in TULIP). Scripture says, "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out" (Acts 3:19) and "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved" (Acts 16:31); but Calvin says the opposite in that we must be converted first before we can repent and believe. Again, Scripture says, "godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation" (2 Corinthians 7:10) and "the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith" (Galatians 3:24). What all of this is saying is that we must come to Christ in order to be converted. Conviction of sin enables us to see our need of a Savior while putting our faith in Christ opens the door to receive Him (be converted, born again).

But Calvin has rendered us as a disabled clay totally unlike the clay of Jeremiah 18. It is no wonder we are now receiving testimonies here at Lighthouse Trails of people coming out of Calvinism who thought they could find strength and assurance in it but instead were left with fear and uncertainty.

Furthermore, Calvinism renders people ineffective for leading people to Christ.* As an example of this, I remember our neighbors we once had who belonged to the Reformed church who criticized us for reaching out to another neighbor with the Gospel because they had already decided the other neighbor was predetermined to go to Hell. Their son told us he was a Christian because he had been baptized into the Reformed church as a baby (as prescribed by Calvin), but he later turned to the occult walking away from what he knew to be the Christian faith altogether. Calvinism also renders its members ineffective in that it actually presents another Gospel than that taught in the Scriptures. Though Calvinist scholars have much to say, when all is said and done, their only conclusion is that there is only one assurance of salvation, and that is in knowing that they are of the elect; but they can never know if they are of the elect and are therefore left with doubt and fear. Assurance in the Cross has been superseded by election, which turns out to be no assurance at all.

The problem for the Calvinist is that Romans 9, under the tutelage of John Calvin, has become a stumbling block for the Christian in much the same way that the Catholic Church has used John 6 to mean that we are saved through participation in Holy Communion. But just as careful examination of John 6 in the context of the whole chapter and with the whole of Scripture will bring one to the Gospel, Romans 9 will bring one to the Gospel when properly understood.

Unfortunately, the Calvinist is left with thinking that his doctrine is sound when he states: We are saved “by grace alone through faith alone” when all the while under the Calvinist system, he is actually being “saved” by election alone under a very confused theology that turns the steps to salvation around backwards and makes the Cross inaccessible because free will has been made void. In fact, the only assurance he can have is in “the perseverance of the saints” (the "P" in TULIP), but that is no real assurance at all because he can never know if he persevered enough nor if he will persevere to the very end. Ironically, this system of believing is actually works-based and not by grace alone nor is it by faith alone. The Calvinist is caught in a system designed by John Calvin that appears as if it should work but in actuality places the “believer” in a life-long position of questions and doubt. And while there are Calvinists who will proudly go about saying, “I am of the elect,” the truly honest and learned Calvinist knows in his heart that Calvinism offers no such assurance. That is why Calvin himself appealed to God before he died to show him mercy and grant him salvation—if God willed it.

So, even though I cannot relate to you the pain and damage of being raised Calvinist, I can as an ex-Roman Catholic comprehend what it means to take something beautiful in Scripture (i.e., the Gospel) and twist it to mean something else. It is the burden of exchanging the easy yoke of the Gospel for the heavy yoke of man.

If Romans 9 were not offering a Gospel to “whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17) but rather only to a pre-selected few, at the very least, the immediate context of Romans 9 would support this. But, in fact, we find this is not so. On the contrary, Romans 9:7-8 indicates that the true children of Abraham are the children of promise (i.e., those who believe in the promises of God just as Abraham did). And while Romans 9:20-23 may seem perplexing, it can only make sense with the rest of Scripture that God was willing to endure (not delight in) the vessels fitted for destruction because He has created everyone with a free will. This is what is so aptly brought out in our Jeremiah 18 passage about the Potter. And, yes, God does have foreknowledge of those who will reject Him, but the decision to receive or reject God’s promises nonetheless resides in the heart of man according to his own will. Hence, according to Romans 9:19-20, those who resist God are guilty because they have freely willed it to be so. As for salvation being freely given, Romans 9:30 goes so far as to say that salvation is available even to the Gentiles if they will but receive "the righteousness which is of faith." Then, in closing, this chapter, Romans 9:31-33 speaks of the “stumblingstone and rock of offence” (v. 33) referred to earlier in our discussion. It is of paramount importance, therefore, that we do not play games with the Gospel. The Gospel is true, it is of promise, and it is available to whosoever wills it. Finally, Romans 9 ends with these words: “[W]hosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed” [disappointed] (v. 33, emphasis added).

Moving beyond Romans 9, we do not have to look very far to find some of the most comforting and reassuring Scripture to support the idea that God’s salvation is freely given to all who will come to Him. Romans 10:4 tells us that “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth” (emphasis added). And perhaps the best way to end this discussion is to look at the words of Scripture that follow in Romans 10: 8-13; the italicized portions are of special relevance to this subject. May God bless you as you give your life freely to Him.

But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. (emphasis added)

To order copies of A Potter Looks at Romans 9, click here.

Note: While this article was intended to bring clarity to the Potter in Romans 9, it is not exhaustive in dealing with the entire chapter. Romans 9:11-18 is also confusing to many in stating that God will have “mercy on whom he will have mercy” (v. 18). For an excellent explanation of this passage (as well as more on the Potter), we highly recommend Adrian Rogers’ video presentation on this subject.

Also, whether you are new to the subject of Calvinism or are working through its teachings, Bob Kirkland’s book Calvinism: None Dare Call It Heresy is an excellent resource that is available through LT as is Dave Hunt's book, T.U.L.I.P. and the Bible.1

*While there are Calvinists who are involved with evangelizing and mission work, it is not what most would think of evangelizing; the Calvinist who "witnesses" to others is merely hoping that he or she somehow is "witnessing" to one of the elect, who upon hearing about Christ will be "converted" and then able to believe on Christ. Many Calvinists do not like altar calls or open invitations to receive Christ because they fear it will draw too many "false converts" (i.e., the non-elect who make a profession of faith but who really aren't of the elect).

To order copies of A Potter Looks at Romans 9, click here.

(David Dombrowski is the chief editor of Lighthouse Trails and the author of several LT booklets. Photo: from; used with permission.)


Check out our updated What is Calvinism Pack: Now with 2 Books and 2 Booklets Click here to order.

Two books:

Calvinism: None Dare Call It Heresy (by Bob Kirkland)

T.U.L.I.P. and the Bible (by Dave Hunt)

2 Booklets:

For God So Loved the World That  . . . Whosoever (by Harry Ironside)

A Potter Looks at Romans 9 (by David Dombrowsk)

Leave a Review and Get Discount Coupon and Check Out New Release

If you have ever purchased or been given any Lighthouse Trails products, we invite you to leave a review (or reviews) on our Lighthouse Trails store site. If you do, you will receive a 10%-off coupon that you can use on your next purchase at Lighthouse Trails. Even if you don't plan to buy anything on the store, we hope you will still consider leaving a review (or reviews) as this helps readers when they can read what other people have to say about our resources.

Leaving a review is easy. Just visit our store, use the search engine to find a particular product. When you get to a product page, you will see a box that says "Rate This Product!" You will have to have an account to rate any product, but that is easy too. Just click this link to create an account.

Thank you in advance,

The Editors at Lighthouse Trails


Donating to Lighthouse Trails

SUPPORTING LIGHTHOUSE TRAILS: For those who would like to support Lighthouse Trails, we always appreciate both your prayers and your giving. And for those who have faithfully done that over the years, we thank you with all of our hearts. We know that some people may have the impression that Lighthouse Trails does quite well financially because we sell products that we publish and because our resources have had such a far reach; but, the truth is, it takes everything made through sales to keep Lighthouse Trails operating. Publishing, at least for small presses such as ours, is rarely a high-profit business. It would take a best seller to see that, one that the masses of people love. And because we are not just a business, but even more so a ministry, we keep our prices as low as we can, give away many resources, and have also made much of our material available for free on the research site and blog. That's not how big corporations run things as that would hurt the bottom line (profit), but we see the needs out there, and we trust God to keep us going as long as He sees fit.

We thank you in advance for seeing the value in a ministry like Lighthouse Trails and coming along side us with your prayers and support.

It is our prayer that we will faithfully be humble servants of the Lord’s work for years to come should the Lord tarry. If you would like to donate to Lighthouse Trails, you may send a donation by mailing it to: Lighthouse Trails, P.O. Box 908, Eureka, MT 59917. Or you may call 866/876-3910. There is also a donate option on our store website. (There is also a PayPal option on that page.)

Lighthouse Trails is not a non-profit 501 (c) 3 organization, so your donations will not be tax deductible.


Lighthouse Trails Research Journal

The Lighthouse Trails Research journal is a 32-page subscription-based journal mailed to your home, office, or church and can be ordered at any time during the year. Your subscription (which will entitle you to a full twelve months of journals-6 issues) will start when you subscribe. Click here to read more information or click here to sign up. Subscription rate: $15/year (6 issues) for U.S.; $29 for Canada; $42 for other international. (There is no added postage charged for the journal - the mailing costs are worked into the subscription fee.)

When you sign up, you will receive the most current issue of the journal at the time you subscribe. Click here to subscribe now. You can order past subscriptions for $3.

You may purchase subscriptions for friends, family members, pastors, etc. Just put that person's name in the ship to area when ordering online.

Call 866/876-3910 or e-mail

To order single past issues, click here.

For various addresses, just order single subscriptions,or mail in the addresses and payment.

NOTE: This subscription-based journal can be used in addition to this free e-newsletter you are getting in your e-mail box (the e-newsletter will continue to be sent out 2-4 times a month via e-mail at no charge). (view sample issue of print journal) It's never too late to subscribe for the print journal - anytime is fine.



If you are a subscriber to our print journal, click button to renew:




If you are a subscriber to the lighthouse Trails Research Print Journal, it may be time for you to renew your yearly subscription. To RENEW your yearly subscription ($15/year), click here. You can renew your subscription at any time. Just indicate on the store which month you want the renewal to start. If you can't remember when you subscribed, we'll double check when you renew and make sure the renewal starts on the right date. If you have any questions, you can call us at 866-876-3910 or e-mail at You can also renew by mail (see address at bottom of page), by fax (406-889-3633), or by calling.

Note: This notice does not pertain to this e-newsletter you are reading. The e-newsletter is free and requires no subscription.

Click button to renew your subscription for the Lighthouse Trails Research Journal.


To subscribe to the journal, click here.



Shepherd's Bible Verse Tea - Sampler BoxIn 2010, Lighthouse Trails began a small organic tea division as a way to help support the ministry of Lighthouse Trails. Thus the creation of Shepherd's Bible Verse Tea. Each tea bag has a string with a tag, and on each tag is a KJV Bible verse (95 verses used). Since the tea division began, we have had many people tell us how much they love our tea. We hope you will consider getting a box and trying it out. It is a wonderful gift too and helps to remind people about God's wonderful Word.

(except with media rate, journals, and some smaller orders where it might change the shipping costs)

* * *










Click here to enter store.



Lighthouse Trails Research Project | P.O. Box 908 | Eureka | MT |59917 | 406-889-3610


Support Lighthouse Trails

Photos in newsletter header and footer from unless otherwise indicated| used with permission.