LIGHTHOUSE TRAILS RESEARCH          October 9, 2018     LIGHTHOUSE TRAILS PUBLISHING
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Warning: Hymnary.org (Via Calvin College) Tainting Old Hymn With Contemplative Advice
Joseph Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore

Lighthouse Trails has known for several years that Calvin College is a contemplative-promoting institution, but it looks like that influence has seeped into a ministry of Calvin College, Hymnary.org, an online resource that provides the lyrics and information for thousands of hymns. A Lighthouse Trails reader brought to our attention this week that on the hymn page for a hymn written in 1862 by Joseph H. Gilmore, Hymnary.org wrote an introduction paragraph on Lectio Divina. While there is nothing in Gilmore’s hymn, He Leadeth Me, or in his biographical information, to suggest that this hymn has anything to do with contemplative prayer or that Gilmore wanted the words of the hymn repeated over and over for the intent of getting singers of the hymn to enter some sort meditative state, Calvin College and Hymnary.org have taken the liberty of tying the hymn to the contemplative practice of Lectio Divina. On the “Leaders Notes” on the He Leadeth Me page at Hymnary.org, it states:

Lectio Devina (sic) is a common devotional practice in which one spends a significant amount of time reflecting and meditating on one verse of Scripture, or a short passage. It is amazing what the Holy Spirit can say to us when we take time to listen and ponder, but also, like Gilmore, what we hear when we least expect it, such as when we read through as familiar a passage as Psalm 23.

Whoever wrote this and linked it with this hymn is obviously trying to promote a particular agenda – one that Calvin College is no stranger to. But we find it highly inappropriate and disrespectful to taint a hymn written over a hundred and fifty years ago in such a manner. If you aren’t sure what Lectio Divina is, please read our article that explains it very clearly. Essentially, in Lectio Divina, the practitioner finds a few words from a Scripture passage and repeats those words over and over in order to enter what contemplative mystics call “the silence.” It is in this meditative altered state that the practitioner has been told he or she can now hear the voice of God. Contemplative advocates such as Beth Moore say you cannot really know God intimately without this self-induced “stillness” or silence. Lectio Divina is kind of a “gateway drug” into full-blown contemplative meditation. And because Scripture is used to practice Lectio Divina, it gives the deceptive feeling that it must be OK. But in reality, Scripture is being misused (and abused) as a tool for meditation.

Incidentally, Calvin College also oversees the Christian Classics Ethereal Library (a subject of past Lighthouse Trails articles because of the CCEL’s strong promotion of contemplative spirituality).

While Calvin College and Hymnary.org have the legal right to taint and even alter hymns, given that most of them are in the public domain, we can’t help wonder what the Lord thinks of taking a hymn that is about our trusting the Lord and letting Him lead us in our lives and turning it into a tool for entering altered states of consciousness similar to the meditation of the New Age and eastern religions.

We also highly doubt Joseph Gilmore would approve of his beautiful hymn being used in this damaging way. According to one hymn website:

[He Leadeth Me ] was birthed out of a particular struggle in American history. This hymn was composed in 1862 during the Civil War, a time of upheaval and insecurity. The author was preaching at First Baptist Church in Philadelphia soon after his ordination.

Another hymn website quotes Joseph Gilmore talking about He Leadeth Me:

It was the darkest hour of the Civil War. I did not refer to that fact— that is, I don’t think I did— but it may subconsciously have led me to realize that God’s leadership is the one significant fact in human experience, that it make no difference how we are led, or whither we are led, so long as we are sure God is leading us.

As with many of the hymns of old, He Leadeth Me was inspired during a time of hardship and suffering and was an exhortation to put our trust in the Lord and not in ourselves. Tragically and ironically, contemplative prayer isn’t about that at all because its roots are panentheistic and interspiritual, both which put more trust in man than in God, focusing more on what man can do for himself rather than what God did for us in the finished work on the Cross.

Below are the words of Joseph Gilmore’s hymn, He Leadeth Me:

He Leadeth Me by Joseph Gilmore

He leadeth me: O blessed thought!
O words with heavenly comfort fraught!
Whate’er I do, where’er I be,
still ’tis God’s hand that leadeth me.

Refrain:
He leadeth me, he leadeth me;
by his own hand he leadeth me:
his faithful follower I would be,
for by his hand he leadeth me.

2 Sometimes mid scenes of deepest gloom,
sometimes where Eden’s flowers bloom,
by waters calm, o’er troubled sea,
still ’tis God’s hand that leadeth me. Refrain

3 Lord, I would clasp thy hand in mine,
nor ever murmur nor repine;
content, whatever lot I see,
since ’tis my God that leadeth me. Refrain

4 And when my task on earth is done,
when, by thy grace, the victory’s won,
e’en death’s cold wave I will not flee,
since God through Jordan leadeth me. Refrain

 

“Mindfulness Meditation in Public Schools: Side-Stepping Supreme Court Religion Rulings”

The article below is a few years old, but it’s worth reading in light of the fast-growing move to get mindfulness meditation into ALL public schools in America. The headline, “Mindfulness Meditation in Public Schools: Side-Stepping Supreme Court Religion Rulings” certainly drew our attention when a reader recently sent it our way, partly because the source is Huffington Post, a highly popular liberal mainstream online media source, a source we would not expect to carry an article refuting allowing mindfulness meditation in public schools.

“Mindfulness Meditation in Public Schools: Side-Stepping Supreme Court Religion Rulings”

By Cathy Gunther Brown, Ph.D.

Since the 1960s, the United States Supreme Court has found it unconstitutional for public schools to teach religious practices such as prayer. But today, mindfulness meditation—a Buddhist religious practice similar to prayer—is promoted by schools nationwide. Why aren’t the courts intervening? Because promoters assert, as the Associated Press did recently, that “Western culture has secularized” this “centuries-old” religious practice.

But what does it mean to “secularize” mindfulness? It boils down to a simple change of vocabulary. Promoters drop the terms “Buddhism” and “meditation” and add the terms “neuroscience” and “scientific research.” Meanwhile, the same practice is taught in both public schools and Buddhist basics classes.

Indeed, the Associated Press notes that the Portland, Oregon high-school mindfulness program it features, Peace in Schools, is the “brainchild” of European-American Caverly Morgan, who “trained at a Zen Buddhist monastery for eight years,” and who, according to Morgan’s personal website, remains committed to “Zen Awareness Practice” and “maintains her own spiritual practice while offering the gift of practice to others.” Click here to continue reading.

To read the Lighthouse Trails booklet on mindfulness, click here.

(Photo from bigstockphoto.com; used with permission.)

 

Letters to the Editor

The following are some of the comments that came in this past week from our readers regarding articles posted on our blog. Some of these comments were made on our blog; others were made on the LT Facebook page. If you would like to post a comment to one of our articles, you may do so at the blog. You only need to give your first name:

Emergent Church's War on the Word: Excellent Article. I'm OK your OK and that's OK. Really? Our world is being trained to take away The Cross, The Lord Jesus and The Bible. Our world has been infiltrated in all aspects of our life with a lie. Hath God said? Schools, government, churches, societies, clubs, colleges and seminaries. Andy Stanley, please snap out of it! Andy went to Dallas Theological Seminary. Once a pillar of the Bible and God's defender of Truth. Dallas seminary has become in many cases like mans opinion instead of God's Word. Deception is taking it over. All Born Again Believers need to PRAY for our leaders in the church, schools and government. This world is free falling to except The Man of Sin. Jeffry

Obstacle to the New Age: Climb to the top of any continental divide you could see it is capped with snow. It looks like a single unit on both sides of the divide. When it melts the opposing sides form rivers flowing in opposite directions. In America everything ends up in the Gulf or in the Pacific thousands of miles apart. One one side are Bible believing Churches and on the other are Bible doubting churches. They can look the same but in the end are not just miles apart they are in conflict. Doubt always creates more doubt. Loosing a little trust in the Bible leads to having no trust in the Bible. This doubt leads to searching in all the wrong places for an alternative belief system. Few things tickle the ears more than the old lie of the new age. T.I. Miller

Senior Center Sued: This is the time we are at the crossroads. The laws are leaning further away from Biblical Christianity all the time. This is making it about impossible to own a business and be loyal to Jesus at the same time. Sooner or later someone like that 'couple' will come along and sue the business owners and the law, sadly, is more and more on that side. Then the pressure is on to either choose to remain loyal to Jesus at great sacrifice, or cave towards mammon and the devil. The crossroads are here. Anna Rosa

Senior Center Sued: Jesus said " if the world hated Me, they will hate you also"! And " they hated Me without a cause". Christans must be like Daniel so that the only thing they have a charge against us is our worship of the true and living God!- Herb and Christiana

Emergent Church's War on the Word: Amazing how the “analytical mind” will be used to stifle faith. They don’t want to accept the simple truth and people find the need to insert a modern twist to a perfect writing. The really sad part is he takes other people down that path which leads to doubt and eventually falling away from God. Pete

Emergent Church's War on the Word: Absolutely Right On! I believe that one of the main reasons so many today do not understand the Word of God is what the Apostle Paul declares in (1 Cor. 2:14)! They have never been made Spiritually Alive by God because they merely know about Jesus Christ, but they do not truly know Him personally as their own personal Savior and Lord because they have never been truly Born Again! Therefore, they do not have the Indwelling Holy Spirit of God abiding in them, so they lack any spiritual understanding! They have "a form of Godliness, but deny the power there of!" Mike

Emergent Church's War on the Word: The Word of God is written for our encourage and correct our lives. It is inspired by the Holy Spirit and I believe every word. Thank you for sharing. Lisa

Butterfly Illusions: "What communion has light with darkness?" 2 Corinthians 6:14. When the enemy of our soul comes guised as an angel of light, speaks smooth and flattering words, and, as in our day, argues religiously; let Christians beware. Satan has gained more successes by sowing his tares while men sleep, then by all his strength arrayed to crush God's people. When he fails to crush, he tries to corrupt: such are his devices. The speakers at this Proclaim 19 Convention are a wide variety of pastor-teachers, mystics, new agers, radio talk show hosts and even some hollywood movie stars have been invited. By their fruit you will know them. Sadly, some of the fruit at this conference is rotten to the core. There is no communion with mans darkness and the light of Gods love for us. Jeffry

Butterfly Illusions: About Roma Downey and her husband: I was not familiar with them, but watched part of the first episode of the series they called The Bible. I was horrified to see the unBiblical ways they portrayed Biblical events. I didn't finish watching it and didn't watch any other episodes. I also warned others about the series. CW

Warning: Hymary.org (Via Calvin College) Tainting Old Hymn With Contemplative Advice
“Mindfulness Meditation in Public Schools: Side-Stepping Supreme Court Religion Rulings”
Letters to the Editor

The Emergent Church's War on the Word

The Most Formidable Obstacle to the New Age
“Lesbians Sue Christian Senior Center Over Biblically-Based Policy Banning Same-Sex Cohabitation”
Halloween! A Warning to Parents
"Contextualization" of the Gospel - A Free-Falling Catastrophe
NEW BOOKLET: Butterfly Illusions: The New Age Implications of Roma Downey’s Box of Butterflies & the Christian Leaders Who Were Fooled
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The Emergent Church's War on the Word

By Gregory Reid

It was, of course, inevitable that the Emergent Church would begin to have babies that were even more unbiblical than itself. Andy Stanley is one of those spiritual offspring of a departure from biblical faith and adoption by experiential religious deception. In 2016, he told a group of pastors at the Southern Baptist Convention that they needed to get the spotlight off the Bible (August 2016 “Onward” conference). Now his spiritual "children" are following suit.

Sometimes, I just get a gut feeling about something before I know exactly what is wrong with it. Such has been my experience on a new newsfeed called, “Hello Christian” which sounds so spiritual but is basically clickbait with increasingly poisonous spiritual bait articles. I’ve commented on some, ignored others. But this recently, I received one of their e-mails with an article I just couldn’t let pass.

You see, the Bible means everything to me. I was taken out of the occult and the New Age at the very young age of 15 when I had already been studying – and had been brainwashed by – those worlds since I was about 8. One of the consistent features of those worlds was the denigration of or commonizing of the Bible as if it was man-made, as if it was just like any other religious book. It was a damnable lie, one that nearly sent me to an eternal hell.

So, when I came to Jesus, the first thing God had to do was to deliver me from that spiritual madness, that utter nonsense dispensed by demons who hated and despised every word of the holy Scriptures. And after that was done, I began to devour every single word of it like a man who was starving to death. It healed me. It delivered me. It restored my sanity.

And yes, I became one of “those guys.” God said it; I believe it; that settles it.

In fact, I almost quoted that very sturdy old phrase last week while speaking at a church and trying to tell people why the Jesus movement of the 1960s-1970s was so powerful. It was owed in part to a bunch of innocent hippie kids getting saved, picking up the Bible, and daring to say, “I believe every word of this book, and I am going to live it!” And thus, the Holy Spirit had a generation of people who would carry His Word to their generation in power and authority.

It’s been a slow, slick slide down Emergent Road since then, and now all the little compromises in the church, all the seeker-friendly doors we’ve opened to welcome the world and its ways into our midst, all the strange fires we have begun to place on God’s Holy altar are revealing themselves—becoming bolder all the time because no one is manning the outposts anymore. The watchmen are asleep, and the pastors have been seduced by worldly ways and promises of empires and prosperous ease in the name of ministry.

So, I suppose I was not terribly shocked to read in the article I received by John Pavlovitz an attack on the very phrase I just mentioned.

The article was titled, “Why the Bible Shouldn’t Be Worshipped.”

I want to reiterate one thing and clearly proclaim another before I go any further. I want to reemphasize that the denigrating, humanizing, and commonizing of the Scriptures has always been a favorite faith destroyer of the demonic world and every false religion. Whenever you hear people saying things like (and I have heard it for years, so Mr. Pavlovitz is not original) “You shouldn’t worship the Bible,” I point out that (1) I don’t, and that (2) God thinks so highly of His Word that He says He places His Word above all His Name (Psalm 138:2). I would guess if the Creator of all things places His own Word in such high regard, we probably shouldn’t spend our feeble and misled efforts trying to get others to “get the spotlight” off it.

Pavlovitz (a pastor and author) has entered the scene to write a vague, confusing article that is sure to reassure the emergent crowd that the Bible is something to be discussed, to be unsure of, and to be generally devalued lest we “worship it.” After all, Pavlovitz reminds us, the Bible is our “mysterious ancient text.” Pavlovitz appears to be the spiritual progeny of off-the-reservation apostate Rob Bell, who helped begin this “journey” by getting us to “have a conversation” about the “shared, ancient stories of our ancient ancestors.” (As if that negates its content somehow; you know, if we can kind of imagine a group of neanderthals sitting around a fire saying, “Ug, Grog, me think God real,” then we can interpret their ancient neanderthal-like writings through our more enlightened luciferian minds. Um . . . I meant learned minds.)

As to one of my favorite expressions, “God said it, I believe it, that settles it,” Pavlovitz says:

[I]t’s an odd little religious mantra [funny how phrases like “odd little” help devalue the claim of the statement] that perfectly captures the strange, often paradoxical relationship we modern Christians have with our mysterious ancient text.

Perhaps if Pavlovitz encountered the Jesus of the Word, His Word would not seem strange and often paradoxical. Disclaimer: I don’t understand it all. I likely never will in this life. I, however, would never attempt to denigrate the findings of nuclear physicists because they are “strange and paradoxical.”

“Many of us have made The Bible the central pillar of our faith,” Pavlovitz continues,” while not really knowing what it actually says. (especially not the earlier, weirder stuff.)”

He then goes on to say that we claim without question that it is "filled with the words

He continues:

At this point, I must say to Mr. Pavlovitz: Stop with the allusions to earlier weirder stuff that you use to sound cool and mysterious and like you know something we don’t because you are superior in your understanding and shouldn’t have to explain what you mean (similar to Leonard Sweet’s “more magnificent way”). The only mysterious thing here is what you are saying. And I have no interest to understand you because I know where you’re taking us, and I’ve been there and done that—

You insist that the Bible “is an incredibly complex library of writings, culled from thousands of years and multiple, very human writers.” Yet the Scriptures themselves tell us that “all scripture is given by inspiration of God [God-breathed] and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16) and that “knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:20-21). That doesn’t sound like it was merely, as you implied, a product of “very human writers.” It was so much more than that. Don’t you see, you have attempted to lower it to the level of your “very carnal understanding.”

“[F]inding the irreducible core and practical application of any given passage,” you insist, “is a monumental challenge.” To this I must respond with  . . . Really? “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” How complex is that? I think Pavlovitz has missed the part about if you’re going to enter the Kingdom, you must be as a little child—not a seminary-trained mouthpiece for higher and lower criticism.

“Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” It’s simple, really.

What those like Pavlovitz are trying to do is convince people not to take the Bible that seriously because it’s too hard to understand. As I recall, that’s what Catholic priests have told their people, that they shouldn't read it because it’s just too mysterious and complex and only they can interpret it.

Pavlovitz says that rather than admit and wrestle with the obvious challenges we face in historical context writing style and author intent, too many of us simply hide behind some incendiary, line-drawing, black and white, all or nothing rhetoric. We either believe it or we don’t. Well, Mr. Pavlovitz, I am guilty as charged. Except it has nothing to do with writing style or author intent (there he goes again, ascribing human frailties to the Bible so we won’t take it that seriously.)

I’m sorry that the Bible is so vague to the emergents, but I would suggest it is they who are hiding behind the shadows of their own illusions that the Bible is vague, human written, and allows all the compromises that a book with no absolutes would afford someone.

Pavlovitz says that for “so many believers," the Bible has become a fourth addition to the Trinity, something to be blindly worshipped. This is absurd! I have been a believer for almost 50 years and have never met these many believers nor have I ever seen anyone “blindly worship” the Bible. Revere, love, count on, act on, stake their lives on, yes. But never worship. That’s just a silly and nonexistent scenario.

Pavlovitz also claims that for the earliest believers, it was simply essential reading material on the way to the Promised Land. Well, they had far more respect for the Torah than these emergents certainly do. Jesus quoted it constantly. And He didn’t say, “Let’s discuss this . . . . see what we think it might mean, see if we can come to some kind of consensus.” And as to His own words, He said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:35).

Pavlovitz carefully preps his readers for the grand finale and the raison d’etre of his article by saying things like, “we don’t all agree on what it says or what it is and that’s okay” (spoken like a true Freudian 70s renaissance man – ‘I’m OK, you’re OK, and that’s OK!’) and, “[the Bible] is not, as we so often mischaracterize it, ‘the Word of God.’ Jesus is.” Um, yes, He is, but yes, IT is. READ.THE.BOOK. Specifically, Pavlovitz and other Word-rejecting Emergents might start with Psalm 119 which tells us exactly that. The Word of God is a lamp, is a light, etc. One can say Jesus is the Word but it is simply not biblical truth to say the Bible is not the Word of God, which is what Pavlovitz finally was bold enough to say. The Scriptures have always, and will always, testify to themselves.

It took Rob Bell hundreds of pages in Velvet Elvis to finally out with it. Pavlovitz came more quickly to the point in saying:

So says every false prophet in history. I am glad for this: At least, Pavlovitz finally came out with it: The Bible is whatever you think it is, and whatever else you “hear” or “feel” is also God’s Word. And this is how a generation opens itself up to signs and lying wonders, and eventually, the one coming who will deceive the whole world.

I do not understand all of the Scriptures. And I do not think it is right that people argue over small differences to the point of almost violence. But the problem has never been with God or His Word but rather with our pride, our human flesh. The Word itself stands on its own.

I will say again without any hesitation: God said It, I believe it, that settles it.

To all the Pavlovitzes, Bells, Sweets, and Stanleys, I will reiterate: the Scriptures say of God, “Thou hast magnified Thy Word above all thy name.” That’s as clear as it gets. Take it or leave it. You either believe it, as you say, or you don’t.

In this last day of abounding lies, may God give us the discernment to reject such hell-forged theses as have been presented by these so-called “progressive,” New Spirituality, emerging Christians and to hold firmly to the truth of His Holy Word, whose AUTHOR is the object of our worship.

Related Articles:

Pew: 25% of Survey’s Christians Don’t Buy Biblical God

They Call It “Bibliolatry” (Bible Worship) – But Could it Be a Contemplative Smoke Screen?

Native American Men Who Longed For “the Book” and Were Denied

“Thinking Outside the Box”

(photo from bigstockphoto.com; used with permission)

The Most Formidable Obstacle to the New Age

By Ray Yungen 

The New Age and Christianity definitely clash on the answer to the question of human imperfection. The former [the New Age] espouses the doctrine of becoming self-realized and united with the universe, which they see as God but in reality is the realm of familiar spirits. On the other hand, the Gospel that Christians embrace offers salvation to humanity through grace (unmerited favor). Romans 3:24 boldly states: “… being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” In Romans 6:23 we read: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” This gift is not earned or given as a reward for earnest or good intentions as Scripture clearly states:

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; not of works, lest anyone should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

This Scripture that tackles the issue of pride sharply distinguishes all of man’s religions from Christianity. Religion persuades us that man is innately good and, therefore, can earn his way to heaven through human perfectibility or, better yet, through the realization of his own divinity. Christianity emphatically states the opposite view that man needs to humbly recognize his own sinfulness and fallibility, and consequently needs salvation through grace.

The Holy Spirit, through the Scripture, convicts the sinner of his sinful and lost condition and then presents to the despairing and repentant man God’s solution–salvation through the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus Christ on the Cross: “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7) and then:

[I]f you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9-10)

Salvation is entirely a gift of grace bestowed on whoever believes in Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross as both God and man. Consequently, we must receive Him as Lord and Savior, understanding that it is by grace and grace alone that we are made acceptable in Christ before a holy God. Justification is God’s gift to the believer. This saving faith, also a demonstration of God’s grace, is more than an intellectual belief in Jesus’ death on the Cross but involves committing and entrusting one’s life to Jesus as both Lord and Savior–Christ’s going to the Cross was a finished work, and we as believers are now complete in Him. Nothing else can be added to this. How totally opposite from New Age thinking is God’s plan of salvation!

It all comes down to the preaching of the higher self versus the preaching of the Cross. New Agers may say God is synonymous with a person’s higher self, and the experience of God can only be discovered by way of meditation. However, the Christian admits his or her sinfulness before a Holy God and remembers he is saved only by the grace and mercy of God through the sacrificial shedding of Christ’s blood for his sins.

The message of Jesus Christ reaches out to the lost human race with the love of God who sacrificed His only begotten Son for the Swami Muktanandas of the world. The Bible teaches that man has an inherently rebellious and ungodly nature (which is evident), and his ways are naturally self-centered and evil in the sight of God. The Bible teaches that God is not indifferent to us. The sacrifice of Christ for the ungodly to reconcile us to God reveals the Lord’s love toward Man.

This explains why Christianity must be steadfast on these issues. If a belief system does not teach the preaching of the Cross, then it is not “the power of God” (I Corinthians 1:18). If other ways are correct, “then Christ died in vain,” rendering His shed blood unnecessary and immaterial (Galatians 2:21).

Because of this conflict, we can safely assume that Christianity is the most formidable obstacle to the New Age, standing like a bulwark against this tidal wave of meditation teachers and practical mystics. But, incredibly, many of the most successful practical mystics are appearing from within Christendom itself. Ironically, instead of stemming the momentum of New Age spirituality, it is our own churches that may very well be the decisive catalysts to propel this movement into prominence. Certain spiritual practices are becoming entrenched in our churches that, like an iceberg, seem beautiful and impressive on the surface but in reality will cause severe damage and compromise of truth. (from A Time of Departing, pp.24-26)

 
“Lesbians Sue Christian Senior Center Over Biblically-Based Policy Banning Same-Sex Cohabitation”

LTRP Note:The following news article is posted for informational purposes.

(Photo: Facebook/Friendship Village Sunset Hills)

By Samuel Smith
The Christian Post

A Christian retirement care facility in St. Louis, Missouri, is being sued after it turned away a lesbian couple in accordance with its biblically-based housing policy.

Seventy-two-year-old Mary Walsh and Bev Nance, 68, filed a federal lawsuit last month against the Missouri-based nondenominational nonprofit senior housing community Friendship Village Sunset Hills, a case that could have greater implications when it comes to the religious freedom rights of faith-based nonprofit institutions.

The couple, married since 2009, claim that the facility violated the Fair Housing Act and the Missouri Human Rights Act when it rejected their application for housing in July 2016 because they were a lesbian couple.

The refusal was based on the fact that Friendship Village’s “cohabitation policy” limits those who can live together in the same unit to spouses, parents, children and siblings.  Click here to continue reading.

Related Information:

Jack Phillips Again in Legal Trouble, This Time for Not Making Transgender-Themed Cake

Lighthouse Trails resources on the homosexual/transgender issue

 

 

 

 

Halloween! A Warning to Parents

LTRP Note: This warning by former New Ager Johanna Michaelsen is available as a Lighthouse Trails booklet, suitable to give to others.

Halloween! A Warning to Christian ParentsBy Johanna Michaelsen

It was the night of Halloween, and ironically, I was working on a chapter about Halloween for my book Like Lambs to the Slaughter: Your Child and the Occult when the doorbell rang. I was greeted by an adorable bunch of little kids doing their level best to look like gruesome Witches and vampires. I bent down as I distributed apples and oranges in response to lusty cries of “trick or treat!”

“You kids want to know something?” I asked very softly.

“Yeah!” came a unanimous chorus.

“With the Lord Jesus, there is no trick. He loves every one of you very much.”

Several little faces beamed up at me through their ghoulish makeup. “That’s neat!” exclaimed one little girl. “Yeah!” chimed in a few others.

“This is Jesus’ night,” I said. Why I said that, I’m not really sure. I was poignantly aware of the fact that it is a night the devil has made a point of claiming for himself.

“No it’s not!” snarled a hidden voice. “It’s Jason’s night!” A boy who was taller than the rest stepped out from the shadows. He was wearing the white hockey mask of “Jason,” the demented, ghoulish killer in the movie Friday the 13th and was brandishing a very realistic-looking hatchet. I have to admit that the boy gave me a start, but I stood my ground and dropped a banana into his bag.

“No, ‘Jason,’ this is still Jesus’ night!” I repeated. And indeed it is, even though it is most assuredly the night set aside for the glorification and worship of idols, false gods, Satan, and death. “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.”1

“Jason” evidently resented the competition, however, for he ripped our mailbox right out of the ground and left his banana squished on the stair. Click here to continue reading.

 

 

"Contextualization" of the Gospel - A Free-Falling Catastrophe

God's WordBy Roger Oakland

You may not have heard the term before, but contextual theology is a prominent message from the emerging church. In his book, Models of Contextual Theology(1992), Stephen B. Bevans defines contextual theology as:

. . . a way of doing theology in which one takes into account: the spirit and message of the gospel; the tradition of the Christian people; the culture in which one is theologizing; and social change in that culture, whether brought about by western technological process or the grass-roots struggle for equality, justice and liberation.1

In other words, the Bible in, and of itself, is not free-standing—other factors (culture, ethnicity, history) must be taken into consideration, and with those factors, the message of the Bible must be adjusted to fit. As one writer puts it, “Contextual theology aims at the humanization of theology.”2 But two questions need to be asked. First, will the contextualizing of Scripture cause such a twisting of its truth that it no longer is the Word of God, and secondly, is Scripture ineffective without this contextualization? To the first, I give a resounding yes! And to the second, an absolute no. The Word of God, which is an inspired work of the living Creator, is far more than any human-inspired book and has been written in such a way that every human being, rich or poor, man or woman, intelligent or challenged will understand the meaning of the Gospel message if it is presented in their native language; and thanks to the tireless work of missionaries for centuries, the Gospel in native languages is becoming a reality in most cultures today.

Dean Flemming is a professor at MidAmerica Nazarene University and the author of Contextualization in the New Testament. In his book, he defends contextual theology:

Every church in every particular place and time must learn to do theology in a way that makes sense to its audience while challenging it at the deepest level. In fact, some of the most promising conversations about contextualization today (whether they are recognized as such or not) are coming from churches in the West that are discovering new ways of embodying the gospel for an emerging postmodern culture. 3

These “churches in the West” Flemming considers “most promising” are the emerging churches. He would agree with Bevans’ model of theology, but he has an answer to the emerging church’s dilemma. He states:

Many sincere Christians are still suspicious that attempts to contextualize theology and Christian behavior will lead to the compromising of biblical truth . . .  we must look to the New Testament for mentoring in the task of doing theology in our various settings.4

There’s good reason some Christians are suspicious. But it can seem harmless at first because Flemming suggests the answer is in the New Testament, which he believes should be used as a prototype or pattern rather than something for doctrine or theology. New Testament theology is always open for change, he says, but we can learn how to develop this change by studying New Testament stories and characters. The premise Flemming presents of contextualizing Scripture is that since cultures and societies are always changing, the Word must change with it and be conformed to these changes. But I would challenge this. The Bible says the Word is living, active, and powerful:

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)

And if the Word is this powerful, then it is stable and eternal as well. God, in His magnificence, is the Author of Scripture, and He surpasses time, culture, and societies. Contextualizing says people and cultures change, and therefore God’s Word must change. But, on the contrary, it’s people who need to change to conform to Scripture. If we really believe that the Bible is God’s Word, this would be clear to see; but if we think to ourselves that the Word is not infallible, not inspired, then contextualization would be the obvious expectation.

While certain parts of the Bible may be read as poetry (as emergents suggest), for indeed the Bible is a beautifully written masterpiece, it is also a living mechanism that is not to be altered—rather it alters the reader’s heart and life. It is much more than putting words around people’s experiences as emergents suggest.

The Bible tells us God is always right; it is man who is so often wrong. When we rely upon human consensus, we will end up with man’s perspective and not God’s revelation. This is a dangerous way to develop one’s spiritual life—the results can lead to terrible deception.

Brian McLaren put it well when he admitted it isn’t just the way the message is presented that emerging church proponents want to change . . . it’s the message itself they are changing:

It has been fashionable among the innovative [emerging] pastors I know to say, “We’re not changing the message; we’re only changing the medium.” This claim is probably less than honest . . .  in the new church we must realize how medium and message are intertwined. When we change the medium, the message that’s received is changed, however subtly, as well. We might as well get beyond our naïveté or denial about this.5

The Woman at the Well

If you listen to the emergent conversation long enough, you will hear a recurring theme: Christians are wrong to confront unbelievers head on with the Word of God. We should instead lay aside our desire to preach or share the truths from the Word and spend more time developing relationships and friendships with the unchurched (a politically correct name for unsaved). They often use Jesus as an example, saying He did not confront people but always accepted them for who they were.

One example is in Dan Kimball’s book, They Like Jesus but Not the Church. In his chapter titled “The Church Arrogantly Claims All Other Religions are Wrong,” Kimball refers to the story where Jesus is sitting near a well by Himself (the disciples have gone to the nearby town), and he talks to a Samaritan woman. Kimball alters the story by saying:

He [Jesus] stopped and asked questions of the Samaritan woman (John 4) and didn’t just jump in and say, “Samaritans are all wrong.”6

But Kimball is wrong. Jesus did the exact opposite! He didn’t ask her any questions, and He confronted her straight on—something Kimball says (throughout his book) is a terrible thing to do to an unbeliever. Listen to Jesus’ words to the woman:

Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

The woman saith unto him, I know that Messiah cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he. (John 4:21-26)

Kimball largely bases his premise on the reasoning that Christians should not do or say anything that might offend unbelievers, even if that anything is truth and Scripture.

The fact is, Jesus did confront people with the truth, as did His disciples (as well as the Old Testament prophets). And why did He? He told the woman at the well the reason:

Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. (John 4:10)

There is no question about it, the Word of God is offensive to the unbeliever just as I Corinthians 1:18 states:

For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

And again in 2 Corinthians 2:15-16, when Paul explains the attitude he encountered when witnessing to unbelievers:

For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life.

If Paul had been adjusting (contextualizing) the Word of God to fit the culture and context of the lives of those he spoke to, he would not have said “the aroma of death leading to death.” He took the spiritual state of these people very seriously, and he had full confidence that God’s Word, unaltered and unchanged, could reach into the heart and soul of any person who would receive Christ by faith. Whether a person is young, mentally challenged, or of a different culture or ethnic group, the Gospel is God’s Gospel, and He made it so that all who receive it by faith will understand His love and forgiveness and have eternal life. . . .

While reaching today’s generation for the cause of Christ is something we as Christians should all desire, we must remember Jesus Christ challenged us to follow Him and be obedient to His Word. Scripture commands us to “be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). But emergent/New Spirituality advocates are leading followers in the opposite direction, teaching that the Word of God needs to be conformed to people and cultures instead of allowing it to conform lives through Jesus Christ. Reimagining Christianity allows a dangerous kind of freedom; like cutting the suspension ropes on a hot air balloon, the free fall may be exhilarating but the results catastrophic.

Notes:
1. Stephen B. Bevans, Models of Contextual Theology (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, Seventh Printing, November 2000, http://www.cca.org.hk/resources/ctc/ctc94-02/1.Yuzon.html), p. 1.
2. Paul L. Lehmann, “Contextual Theology” (Theology Today, Princeton Theological Seminary, 1972, http://theologytoday.ptsem.edu/apr1972/v29-1-editorial2.htm).
3. Dean Flemming, Contextualization in the New Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005), p. 14.
4. Ibid, pp. 14-15.
5. Brian McLaren, Church on the Other Side (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000 edition, formerly titled Reinventing Your Church), p. 68.
6. Dan Kimball, They Like Jesus but Not the Church (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2007), p. 167.

 

NEW BOOKLET: Butterfly Illusions: The New Age Implications of Roma Downey’s Box of Butterflies & the Christian Leaders Who Were Fooled

Roma Downey, who has never renounced her extensive New Age involvement, is now firmly entrenched and aligned with contemporary Christian leadership. Because Christian leaders and day-to-day believers have given Roma Downey a get-out-of-the-new-age free pass, Lighthouse Trails is releasing a second Roma Downey booklet. This booklet emphasizes the danger of Downey’s most recent book, Box of Butterflies, which has been incrementally and dangerously endorsed by a wide variety of Christian leaders (listed in the booklet). In addition, a number of Christian leaders such as Rick Warren, Greg Laurie, and John MacArthur will be speaking at an event in 2019 called Proclaim 19, and Roma Downey is also one of the speakers. While some say this is no problem for this mixture of speakers at a Christian event and is only a faulty premise of guilt by association, we believe such actions by Christian leaders only give the New Age/New Spirituality further admittance into the church. Of course, many disagree with our calling out and challenging Christian leaders on such matters.

NEW BOOKLET: Butterfly Illusions: The New Age Implications of Roma Downey’s Box of Butterflies & the Christian Leaders Who Were Fooled by Greg Reid is our newest Lighthouse Trails Booklet. The Booklet is 18 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 Butterfly Illusions, click here.

Butterfly Illusions by Gregory ReidButterfly Illusions: The New Age Implications of Roma Downey’s Box of Butterflies & the Christian Leaders Who Were Fooled

By Gregory Reid

The illusion of separation is just that, an illusion.1—Roma Downey, Box of Butterflies

The illusion is that we are separate, distanced from our Earth, Moon and Stars, yet in reality we are one.2—New Age writer Grace Gabriella Puskas

But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear. (Isaiah 59:2)

I had just given my life to Jesus, and I was excited to share Him with others. I went out one night with a group from our Bible study to pass out literature and tell people about the Lord and what He had done in my life.

“Jesus loves you!” I said to one man as I handed him a paper.

“I’m a Buddhist,” he replied.

“That’s cool,” I replied. “All paths lead to God.” “Jesus loves you,” I told a lady.

“What, am I going to go to Hell if I don’t believe?” she answered.

“No,” I replied, “There is no Hell. Heaven and Hell are here on earth!”

As good intentioned as I was, I was not sharing the God of the Scriptures but rather the lies I had learned from studying the occult.

One of our team members told our house leader, Dave, about my unbiblical ideas. Dave was prepared to talk with me. When I met with him, he said, “Greg, I hear you don’t believe in Hell. Can you read this verse for me?” He had his Bible opened and was pointing to a verse. “Read this,” he said.
“‘He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned,’ Mark 16:16. So?”

“I also hear you believe all paths lead to God.”

“So what?” I replied testily.

“Read this,” Dave said, pointing to another verse.

“‘I am the way the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me’ John 14:6.” On it went until I finally snapped at him. “What’s your point, Dave?”

“My point is, you either believe all of this Word or none of it. You either believe everything Jesus said is true, or you’re saying He’s a liar. He said He was the only way to God. Understand?”

I did. And I was furious. I had spent four years studying spiritual teachers—Edgar Cayce, Ruth Montgomery, Jeanne Dixon, Paramahansa Yogananda, and others. Everything I learned and accepted as true, I learned from them—reincarnation, communicating with departed loved ones, that all paths lead to God, that there is no Hell, that Jesus was just a great teacher—a Christ among many Christs of whom we all were Christs—and now this man was telling me it was all a lie.

The battle for my soul had begun. It had only been a month since I had given my life to Jesus Christ. Now I was told that I could either believe the Bible or believe my long-held New Age teachings, but not both. I would either believe all paths led to God or Jesus was the only way. I could believe in reincarnation or that “it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). I took it all to God and studied the Scriptures. It became clear that what Jesus and the Bible said were nearly a hundred percent in opposition to everything I believed.

I was devastated. All I had believed was threatened. The Word of God overwhelmingly contradicted my New Age worldview. I was sick with the conflict. I can’t remember the specific turning point, but in one moment, I realized I had been utterly lied to by Satan and that everything I learned was a lie. I knew I couldn’t walk with Jesus and hold on to the lies. Jesus had saved me out of the utter darkness I had grown up in—including the confusion all these “beliefs” really led to. I chose to follow Him. “Jesus, I believe Your Word,” I prayed. And in one moment, my New Age worldview crumbled into an ash heap. Instead of feeling sad or lost—I felt free. A tremendous weight lifted off me. From that moment on, the Bible began to make sense for the first time.

I’ve never regretted that decision or failed to be thankful for the person that dared to tell me the truth.

It’s been years since I stepped out of the world of New Age and occult thought. It took time to be healed from the knots of lies I had believed. The clarity of the simple truth of God’s Word was a miracle to me.

I could not have imagined that, not too many years later, the very doctrines of death from which I was delivered had begun to seep into the very highest levels of the church. Before then, I underwent solid spiritual education and preparation through the Word of God and godly teachers such as Dr. Walter Martin who sharpened my discernment and helped me teach and train believers concerning spiritual warfare, the last days, and spiritual deception. I also had three encounters that showed me how deception could easily slip into Christian circles.

The first involved a “Christian” counselor a friend had recommended. Warning lights immediately went off as she began speaking of “The Christ Spirit,” the “divine within,” and using other New Age words I had once used myself. I broke off the meeting when she and her associate tried to lead us into a guided visualization meditation! I was shocked that my friend had recommended her as a Christian counselor.

The second incident was at a conference I had been invited to by a well-known Christian author. That weekend, her “spiritual father” taught, and from the moment he began to speak, I knew he was a New Age teacher, speaking about “God, whoever you conceive him or her to be, . . . the Bible, which contains the words of God . . .” and saying that Jesus swore and was married. Sadly, my attempt to reason with the writer who had invited me cost me the friendship.

The third incident involved a woman who asked me to explain why I thought Edgar Cayce was wrong. I explained that he practiced the occult. “But he healed people!” she protested.

“He was an occultist,” I answered.

“But he quoted out of the Bible and loved Jesus!” I then explained biblically and specifically why he was teaching the occult. She realized she had been deceived. It was revealed that the wife of one of her church’s elders was having an “invitation only” ladies’ Bible study where she taught Edgar Cayce and promoted other New Age concepts like reincarnation. She had also laid hands on and prayed for nearly every pastor in our city.

I thought these encounters I had witnessed were rare and that most Christians wouldn’t fall for such things. But somewhere in the late 1990s, New Age teachings—sometimes in very subtle forms—began gaining a foothold in the church, from “Christian Yoga” to Buddhist/Hindu-modeled meditation in the guise of “contemplative prayer.” It was the beginning of what soon became a flood of New Age-tinged, infused, or themed books and teachings right in the center of the church, from The Shack to Rob Bell’s Velvet Elvis and more. I challenged these things scripturally, and I was often opposed for trying to expose the New Age and occult roots of these teachings.

In 2013, Roma Downey, star of the acclaimed TV series Touched by an Angel, and her husband Mark Burnett burst onto the Christian scene with their well-produced television series, The Bible, followed shortly thereafter with the movie, Son of God.

When I first heard, I assumed that Roma had departed from the New Age message that was so strongly evident in the series she co-starred in with her spiritual mother Della Reese. (Della was pastor of a large New Age/New Spiritualty church in California. She was totally committed to New Age principles.)
Immediately, Mark and Roma were widely embraced by the Christian world and media. Even though I knew how deeply committed Roma had been to New Age precepts, I was cautiously hopeful she had turned away from them. I began to research, hoping to find a testimony that would confirm she had broken with New Age teaching and become a true follower of Jesus Christ and His Word.

Instead, I found that Roma had graduated from John Roger’s University of Santa Monica—one of the most well-known New Age schools in the world—in 2010, and by 2011 was working with her husband on The Bible series.3 Roma was using all the right words about Jesus, but I feared she might be talking about another Jesus, one in complete affinity with New Age thought. Roma, a committed Catholic since childhood, said she had always loved Jesus yet had no conflict participating in a televised séance with well-known psychic John Edward who “channeled” her deceased mother.4

It was almost a certainty that Roma was still a committed New Age believer. Around the time of the release of Son of God, I was miraculously given an opportunity to personally hand Roma a copy of The Light that was Dark by Warren B. Smith, the testimony of how he and his wife were delivered out of the New Age and A Course in Miracles. I prayed that Roma would read it and turn away from the New Age and somehow communicate that in an upcoming interview, book, or article.

Box of Butterflies

In 2018, Roma Downey came out with a new book, Box of Butterflies. As I read the book, I was dismayed to see she had not rejected her New Age views at all. Box of Butterflies is filled with New Age precepts. Page after page has quotes from a mix of Christian, mystic, Buddhist, Muslim, and New Age leaders interspersed with her own Christian-sounding but New Age beliefs.

Box of Butterflies would fit in any New Age/New Spirituality/self-help bookstore section with no objection nor contradiction as to its contents, simply because there is nothing in Box of Butterflies that contradicts or, in fact, is not accepted and taught in the New Age/New Spirituality circles. Nothing. In many ways, the book is little different than many Christian self-help, possibility-thinking books that fill today’s Christian bookstores. The poison is always in the mixture.

Here is the problem. Roma Downey is not known in Christian circles as a “New Age” author but as one of us. Mark and Roma are accepted as believers—loving Hollywood luminaries who brought new life to religious films through The Bible series and Son of God. They have been given carte blanche into church leadership, pastoral circles, Christian media, and places of influence without question because their presentation, products, and faith appear to be the genuine. Their sincerity is so real that one is reticent to ask the most crucial question: Who is the Jesus of whom they speak? Jesus Himself said clearly there would be false Christs in the last days (Matthew 24:24). Is the Jesus they love the Jesus of the Word of God?

It is not unusual that New Age devotees accept all religions, believe in reincarnation, accept all religious books as equally valuable, do not believe in Hell, and can say with all sincerity, “I love Jesus with all my heart.” But the Jesus that New Agers love is a “Christ” who is one of many “ascended masters,” allows everyone into Heaven, and accepts everyone whether they believe in the blood sacrifice of Jesus as an atonement for their sins or not. This is the New Age world Roma has come from and, from all indications, never left.

Box of Butterflies has received endorsements from some of the most well-known and respected leaders and pastors in the evangelical world. This requires that we look carefully at what exactly they have endorsed. So many Christian leaders have endorsed Roma unreservedly that unsuspecting Christians have been given complete liberty to pursue Roma’s world and will suspect nothing as they take their first step into the world of New Age/New Spirituality that Roma lives by and promotes. With Box of Butterflies, the doors to the New Age have been thrown wide open.

The New Age/New Spirituality movement has a very clear and exacting agenda. The movement, in fact, is a very old movement that began with the Tower of Babel (see Genesis 11) where all people united in a multireligious occult community. It has continued through the teachings of Madame Blavatsky, Alice Bailey, and more recently, Neale Donald Walsch, Barbara Marx Hubbard, Marianne Williamson (author of A Return to Love), Rhonda Byrne (author of The Secret), Eckhart Tolle, and a plethora of others. This movement has always had vanguards who wrote and spoke to further the vision for a New Age in which all religions are one. Their belief is that we must unite the world under one banner that includes all people, all religions, all governments. It includes the need to absorb the church by slowly removing “old and outdated teachings” such as the Cross, sin, and Hell, replacing them with the idea that we must be one family under whatever “God” each person worships to save the world and bring peace. Their teachers and influencers are many and vast, from Oprah Winfrey to the late John Roger and his New Age university from which Roma graduated.

Roma’s Associations and Influencers

There’s an old expression: Tell me who you’re with, and I’ll tell you who you are. The people we affiliate with, the writers and teachers we recommend tell us a great deal about who we are.

We must put that test to some of those Roma quotes in Box of Butterflies. After we examine them, I’ll leave every Christian believer including pastors and leaders with the question: Are you comfortable recommending this book, knowing these things?

Let’s now look at some of those quoted in Box of Butterflies, who they are, what they say in this book, and what they believe.

Thomas Merton
Box of Butterflies gives three quotes by the Catholic mystic Thomas Merton, one of which states:

May we . . . not neglect the silence that is printed in the centre of our being. It will not fail us.5

For those not familiar with Merton, the following quotes from some of his writings and speeches illustrate his spiritual propensities:

I came with the notion of perhaps saying something for monks and to monks of all religions. . . . My dear brothers, we are already one. But we imagine that we are not. And what we have to recover is our original unity.6 (emphasis added)

If only they [people] could all see themselves as they really are . . . I suppose the big problem would be that we would fall down and worship each other. . . . At the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusions, a point of pure truth. . . . This little point . . . is the pure glory of God in us. It is in everybody.7

I see no contradiction between Buddhism and Christianity. . . . I intend to become as good a Buddhist as I can.8

It is not difficult to see, when examining the teachings of Thomas Merton, that he clung to panentheistic (God in all) and interspiritual (all paths lead to God) views that contradict the Word of God.

Henri Nouwen
Roma quotes Henri Nouwen several times in her book. Here is a small sampling from Nouwen’s books that illustrate his spirituality:

The God who dwells in our inner sanctuary is also the God who dwells in the inner sanctuary of each human being.9 (emphasis added)

[O]ur souls are those sacred centers where all is one . . . It is in the heart of God that we can come to the full realization of the unity of all that is.10 (emphasis added)

Today I personally believe that while Jesus came to open the door to God’s house, all human beings can walk through that door, whether they know about Jesus or not. Today I see it as my call to help every person claim his or her own way to God.11

David Richo
David Richo, also quoted in Box of Butterflies, is a psychotherapist who uses Buddhist and other mystical practices with his clients. He is the author of several books promoting the New Age, such as Everything Ablaze: Meditating on the Mystical Vision of Teilhard de Chardin (Chardin is considered broadly to be the “father” of the New Age movement). Any Christian with even the least amount of biblical discernment would never favorably quote Richo.

Rabindranath Tagore
Rabindranath Tagore was a Hindu and the author of the book Sadhana: The Realization of Life, which touts panentheistic beliefs. In Box of Butterflies, Roma quotes him as saying:

Death is not extinguishing the light; it is only putting out the lamp because the dawn has come.12

Tagore is speaking of all people, no matter what their beliefs are or where they put their faith. Contrary to his belief stated above, death is followed by darkness for those who reject Jesus. In his book, Sadhana, Tagore says, “death is not the reality.”13 But for the lost unbeliever, death is not only the reality, it is the place of eternal separation from God. The spiritual teachings of Tagore do not belong in a box of butterflies (butterflies symbolizing life and hope) but are rather in the remains of dead empty cocoons where there is no life at all. Obviously, by Roma quoting him, she is gleaning from his teachings and passing them on to unaware Christians.

Robert Holden
One of the most concerning persons quoted in Box of Butterflies is Robert Holden, a New Age motivational speaker and author. Roma gives Holden an entire page in her book. A few lines are:

The belief that happiness has to be deserved has led to centuries of pain, guilt, and deception. So firmly have we clung to this single, illusory belief that we’ve almost forgotten the real truth about happiness. . . . Happiness is natural, happiness is a birthright, happiness is free, happiness is a choice, happiness is within, and happiness is being.14

Holden’s website states:

Robert Holden Ph.D.’s innovative work on psychology and spirituality has been featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Good Morning America, a PBS show called Shift Happens! and in two major BBC documentaries. . . .

Robert is the author of Happiness NOW!; Shift Happens!; Authentic Success; Be Happy; Loveability; . . . 365 Daily Meditations from A Course in Miracles; and Life Loves You, co-written with Louise Hay [the founder of Hay House, the largest New Age publishing house.]15

There is nothing in Robert Holden’s writings to even suggest he believes in or follows the Jesus Christ of the Bible but everything to show he is a devoted New Age teacher. For those reading this who are not familiar with A Course in Miracles (essentially the New Age “Bible”), the following section by former New Age follower and Course devotee Warren B. Smith explains:

A Course in Miracles . . . claims it is new revelation that was supposedly delivered by Jesus Himself to . . . Helen Schucman [who] claimed she heard an inner voice saying, “This is a course in miracles. Please take notes.” So, for seven years she took down the notes. It was a whole new philosophy about life. It was a whole new religion, if you will. . . .

The Jesus of A Course in Miracles . . . says the following things, and they are not true. “The recognition of God is the recognition of yourself.” And, “The journey to the cross should be the last useless journey.”

Another thing the Jesus of A Course of Miracles said was, “Do not make the pathetic error of clinging to the Old Rugged Cross.” These things I know now are total blasphemy to believers in Christ, but somebody who doesn’t know what happened on the cross wouldn’t know that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and to defeat the Devil.

Then, there was a most interesting statement this New Age Jesus claimed, “There is no sin. There is no evil. There is no Devil.” Okay, with that you have pretty much turned the Bible upside down, and all in the name of what? Love. It’s all done in the name of love.

The one spectacular heresy that this New Age Jesus said that is really significant, especially today, is that when this Jesus was asked, “Are you Christ?” He responded, “Yes, and along with you.”16

With such quotes, affiliations, and sympathies that Roma has exhibited in Box of Butterflies, there cannot be any doubt as to her affinity with the New Age. She obviously is very familiar with who Robert Holden is and that he teaches from A Course in Miracles. Roma would not quote him if she did not believe what he says. Again, tell me who you’re with, and I will tell you who you are.

Three Points of Focus in Box of Butterflies

When we take Box of Butterflies as a whole, we can see three themes that run through the book.

I. Possibility Thinking
Throughout the book, with Roma’s quotes, references, and statements, the message is: There is nothing really wrong with you; you just need to wake up to who you are, remember you are in God (and God is in you), and accept that you are full of power, love, and possibility just the way you are and who you always have been (“I pray this book is a moment of remembering for you. A remembering of who you really are.”17) This is a theme echoed by the Muslim poet Rumi whom Roma also quotes, “My soul is from elsewhere. I’m sure of that, and I intend to end up there.”18

The “Gospel” of possibility thinking presented in Box of Butterflies is a contradiction to the biblical view of man that we are born into sin, that we are born into a broken world, and that we need a Redeemer to save and deliver us from our sin. If we really “remembered who we are,” we would remember that without Him, we are in spiritual darkness. Scripture tells us we need to turn from that old dark lifeless existence (repent), come to the Cross, and be born again into new life. Roma’s book expresses the overall New Age teaching of accepting the inherent goodness in all people and in yourself.

Man’s heart is sinful, and he is separated from God because of it. It is only in trusting in the Lord Jesus and His sacrifice on the Cross for our sins and being born anew that we can truly “remember who we are” with an accurate assessment. Outside of that provision God gave mankind for salvation, there is nothing within us that can save our souls from eternal separation from God. If you believe the Word of God, then you realize that the idea that we are inherently good and just need to “remember who we are” is a deception meant to keep us from recognizing that “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). This foundational biblical belief is nowhere to be found in Box of Butterflies. But the opposite view is.

II. Universalism and “Separation”

From Box of Butterflies:

Define yourself radically as one beloved by God . . . every other identity is an illusion.19—John Eagan, a Jesuit who practiced Ignatian exercises

I am sorry, God, for forgetting the truth. That you are my Father, and I am your child. That we all belong to one family.20 —Roma Downey (emphasis added)

There are people in the world who really get it. Who embody the great possibility that dwells within each one of us. The potential we all have to love, to speak truth, to connect no matter our differences. To understand that we are all one, that we all belong to each other, that we are all one big, beautiful family of God.21 Roma (emphasis added)

Tucked carefully within the pages of Box of Butterflies is the language of universalism—that we are all part of God’s family; whether Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, Christian, or any other religion, we are all one.

It goes much deeper, however. As in the first quotes in this booklet, Roma says something that absolutely defines her beliefs in New Age thought when she states:

The illusion of separation is just that, an illusion. . . . If we are all God’s children, it means that we are all one family. . . . We are all the family of God. We forget. We get caught up in separation. . . . We all belong to each other.22 (emphasis added)

The “illusion of separation” is a teaching that humans are not, and never have been, separated from God, or each other, and that to believe there is a separation between God and man is an “illusion.”

We are here to awaken from the illusion of our separateness.23—Thich Nhat Hanh, Vietnamese Buddhist monk and peace activist (emphasis added)

But why do most of us have this mentality? . . . The illusion of separation is what causes this. On the surface . . . we all appear separated. But this is the base level of who we are. When you start to peel away the surface of the ego, brain, and assorted vehicles (physical, astral, and mental), you will find that we exist within the network of the Universal Mind or All That Is. . . . But we forget.24

This “illusion of separation” that Roma has placed in her book is a core principle of New Age thought. Typing that phrase into a search engine will bring up hundreds of New Age and occult websites. What’s more, this “illusion of separation” teaching is now being introduced into the church through others and now through Roma Downey; and Christian leadership is giving this New Age belief a pass.

Let’s read the words of two more New Age teachers on the matter:

A sense of separation from God is the only lack you really need to correct.25—A Course in Miracles

You are to destroy the illusion of separation.26—Neale Donald Walsch, Friendship with God

This “illusion of separation” is becoming so prevalent in the church that former New Age follower Warren Smith wrote a booklet titled Oneness vs. Separation Heresy: Now in the Church solely devoted to this teaching. To really understand how detrimental this “illusion of separation” heresy is, read his booklet as it offers numerous quotes by both New Agers and Christian leaders alike.

We are separated from our Creator God through sin. If separation is an illusion, as Roma states, then there was no reason for Jesus to die on the Cross. He died because sin separated us from God, and the only way to save us was through Jesus shedding His blood for us. To reject that this blood sacrifice on the Cross is the only way to be reconciled to the Father is to deny the very heart of the Gospel and the reason Jesus came to the earth and gave His life.

III. The Butterfly Effect

The butterfly is the vehicle through which Roma brings her message in the book. For Roma, she sees the butterfly as a symbol of many things: hopefulness, life, God speaking to her, etc. But much more is going on here. Through her use of the butterfly metaphor, Roma’s views on death, Heaven, and our departed loved ones are revealed. It begins with a story of Roma at her mother’s grave when she and her father witness a passing butterfly:

“Would you look at that little butterfly. That could be your mother’s spirit right there!” her father says, a story she repeated in 2018 on a CBN interview.27 This is not just a touching story or analogy. Roma believes her mom uses butterflies to speak to her from beyond the grave:

These gifts, these simple moments that show that He is here and that your loved ones are still surrounding you, are the ones that lift my heart and give me strength. They show me that the veil between this world and the next is just that, a thin veil. We are closer than we think, though we may feel so far. Separation is just an illusion.28 (emphasis added)

Roma wraps up her book with the death/butterfly theme with a story of how she won a prize in a contest, and it turned out a woman who made jewelry had a “unique” piece and felt Roma should have it. It was a butterfly. Roma said, “Tears sprang to my eyes. Immediately, I knew it was from my mom. That it was a message from her. I’m still here, Roma. All these years later, I’m still right here. . . . That ring was a gift from my dear mother. It was meant for me.”29 (Her grief is so palpable on these pages, it is painful to even address it.)

Those moments were so validating to me. I then understood that my mother is still reaching out to me. That I will see her again. That I will be reunited with the loving energy of my mom and dad.30

At this point, I realize that bleeding through nearly every page of the book is a grieving little girl who never got over the death of her parents. A recurring theme of grief and the afterlife are tied in with some dangerous misleading conclusions about it all.

While my heart is saddened for Roma’s pain, I am deeply troubled that unsuspecting readers may take cues from her and seek their own communication or “signs” from departed loved ones. While very likely well intentioned and sincere, Roma is actually bringing potentially millions into harm’s way by promoting ideas and practices that do not align with the God of the Bible.

The Heart of the Matter

The Bible is very clear on the following points: 1) all paths do not lead to God, 2) salvation is only through Jesus Christ, 3) Hell and judgment are real, and 4) there is a coming tribulation in which Satan will try to unite the whole world against God and against His Christ ending with the visible return of the real Jesus to judge the living and the dead.

The Bible also says that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” As someone who was once steeped in the occult and the New Age, my heart is grieved for Roma and her husband Mark as well as for those who are being led down that same path. I am also grieved because I do not see Christian leaders discerning the New Age nature of Roma’s message. Have any of them, such as David Jeremiah (who publicly showed his unwavering support for her in 201531), sat down to explain to Roma and Mark the vital importance of breaking away from all New Age, occultic, and unbiblical ideologies and practices? Has Jeremiah and other leaders in the evangelical church ever asked them if they 1) believe that Jesus Christ is the only provision God has made for man to go to Heaven; 2) believe that the Bible is the Word of God, not just one of many “good” religious books; 3) believe there is a real Hell and a real judgement; and 4) believe that God does not dwell in every human being, that there is a separation between man and God and not everyone will be saved?

After reading this booklet and the quotes and documentation I have provided, you may be very surprised at the list of Christian leaders below, all who gave glowing endorsements for Box of Butterflies. Incidentally, I sent a letter with the same information to several of the names mentioned below.

Jonathan Falwell, Lisa Bevere, Samuel Rodriguez, Andy Stanley, Max Lucado, Rick and Kay Warren, Matthew Barnett (founder of the Dream Center), Mark Batterson (author of The Circle Maker), Christine Caine, TBN’s Laurie Crouch, Craig Groeschel (mega-church pastor), Ronnie Floyd (president, National Day of Prayer), Jim Daly (Focus on the Family president), Jerry Johnson (president of the National Religious Broadcasters), Erwin McManus, Kevin Palau (president of the Luis Palau Association), Andy Stanley (Charles Stanley’s son), and John Hagee who encourages people to “get several copies of this stunning book.” The only thing stunning about this book is that it has fooled all these evangelical leaders into thinking it is a God-given book. That is truly stunning!32

I have listed so many names to emphasize how serious this matter is. It’s not going to affect just a few people. Put together, these leaders and pastors have millions and millions of followers whom they influence. How can these leaders exhibit this drastic lack of discernment? I see three possibilities. One, is that as one Christian media representative told me, they are “aware of the issues” but have decided to go ahead and sell their material “for the greater good”—basically putting profit before principle and truth. Or two, they were so overwhelmed with the sheer genuineness and charm of Mark and Roma that they did not even read the book before, which is a terribly irresponsible thing to do. And three, they did read it, and they did not discern or care to discern the dangerous New Age nature of the book. I chill at the possibility that the third may be true.

In 2019, the National Religious Broadcaster’s Convention, called Proclaim 19, will take place in Anaheim, California. Some of the speakers lined up for the event are Greg Laurie, Rick and Kay Warren, Charles Stanley, John MacArthur, and Kirk Cameron—and along with those names scheduled to speak are Roma Downey and Mark Burnett.33 If this is what evangelical leadership has come to, then dark days are ahead for mainstream Christianity as it reaches deeply into this box of deceptive butterflies.

To order copies of Butterfly Illusions, click here.

Endnotes:
1. Roma Downey (Light Workers Media, LLC), Box of Butterflies (Howard Books, Simon and Schuster, 2018), p. 221, Kindle (e-pub) location 2520.*
2. Grace Gabriella Puskas, “A New Cycle” (Body, Mind Spirit magazine, Summer, 2018).
3. https://web.archive.org/web/20170628124120/http://www.universityofsantamonica.edu/testimonial/roma-downey-5; http://www.browsebiography.com/bio-roma_downey.html.
4. https://web.archive.org/web/20160331011148/http://www.locatetv.com/tv/crossing-over-with-john-edward/1821144; https://www.thefreelibrary.com/Roma%27s+TV+chat+to+dead+mother.-a082422578.
5. Roma Downey, Box of Butterflies, op. cit., p. 165, Kindle location 1913; citing Thomas Merton from the book Hidden Ground of Love: The Letters of Thomas Merton (edited by William Shannon), p. 116.
6. “Thomas Merton’s View of Monasticism,” a talk delivered at Calcutta, October 1968 (The Asian Journal of Thomas Merton, 1975 edition, appendix III), p. 308.
7. Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander (Garden City, NY: Doubleday Publishers, 1989), pp. 157-158.
8. David Steindl-Rast, “Recollection of Thomas Merton’s Last Days in the West” (Monastic Studies, 7:10, 1969, http://www.gratefulness.org/readings/dsr_merton_recol2.htm).
9. Henri Nouwen, Here and Now (New York, NY: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1997 edition), p. 22.
10. Henri Nouwen, Bread for the Journey (San Francisco, CA: Harper, 1997), Jan. 15 and Nov. 16 daily readings.
11. Henri Nouwen, Sabbatical Journey (New York, NY: Crossroad, 1998), p. 51.
12. Roma Downey, Box of Butterflies, op. cit., p. 229, Kindle location 2599.
13. Rabindranath Tagore, Sadhana: The Realization of Life (public domain Kindle copy from Amazon), Kindle location 437. For another exposé on Box of Butterflies, read Lois Putnam’s article, “To Unpack Roma Downey’s Box of Butterflies Is to Discover a Core False Teaching” at: http://whputnam00.blogspot.com/2018/06/a-book-review-to-unpack-roma-downeys.html.
14. Roma Downey, Box of Butterflies, op. cit., p. 202, Kindle location 2294; citing Robert Holden from Happiness Now (Hay House, 2007), p. 100.
15. https://www.robertholden.com/about-robert.
16. http://www.lamblion.us/2013/03/warren-smith-testimony-new-age-jesus.html.
17. Roma Downey, Box of Butterflies, op. cit., p. 11, Kindle location 225.
18. Ibid., p. 205, Kindle location 2314.
19. Ibid., p. 218, Kindle location 2476; citing John Eagan from A Traveler Towards Dawn.
20. Ibid., p. 225, Kindle location 2546.
21. Ibid., p. 149, Kindle location 1725.
22. Ibid., pp. 221-222, Kindle location 2520.
23. https://upliftconnect.com/illusion-of-separation.
24. “The Illusion of Separation,” http://www.spiritual-experiences.com/articles-spirituality/illusion-separation.php.
25. Helen Schucman, A Course in Miracles, Combined Volume (Mill Valley, CA: Foundation for Inner Peace, Third Edition, 2007, Kindle edition), p. 12, Kindle location 1452.
26. Neale Donald Walsch, Friendship with God: An Uncommon Dialogue (New York, NY: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1999, p. 21).
27. CBN interview with Roma Downey, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gmteMi9DeiY.
28. Roma Downey, Box of Butterflies, p. 212, Kindle location 2413.
29. Ibid., p. 214, Kindle location 2431.
30. Ibid., p. 215, Kindle location 2441.
31. “Letter to the Editor: David Jeremiah Brings Roma Downey and Mark Burnett to Shadow Mountain Community Church,” https://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=17111.
32. http://www.boxofbutterflies.com/testimonials.html.
33. http://nrbconvention.org.
*The wording in the print edition and the Kindle (e-pub) edition of Box of Butterflies may vary slightly. This booklet has taken the wording from the Kindle edition.

To order copies of Butterfly Illusions, click here.

Related Resources:

Confused by an Angel: The Dilemma of Roma Downey’s New Age Beliefs by Gregory Reid.

“GOD’S DREAM”—Satan’s Ultimate Scheme by Warren B. Smith

For a complete listing of Lighthouse Trails resources including other materials by Gregory Reid, visit http://www.lighthousetrails.com or write, call, or e-mail to request a catalog. You may also visit Greg’s website at: http://www.thecolorofpain.com.

 

 

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