Spirituality of Oprah
by Ray Yungen
question, the most influential practical mystic today is talk show host
Oprah Winfrey. Her predominantly female audience, numbering in the tens of
millions, looks to her as the source of spiritual inspiration--even more so
than church, in many cases.
I realize speaking critically of someone as warm and caring as Oprah might
stir angry emotions in many of her viewers. Nonetheless, please keep in
mind that with Oprah, as with the others I have written about, her obvious
good qualities are not the issue here. While I might admire Oprah as a
person, I am gravely concerned about what she promotes.
Somewhere during her career, Oprah read a book titled Discover The Power
Within You by Unity minister Eric Butterworth. In line with Unity
teaching, the book expounded on the Divinity of Man as perceived through
mystical practice. Oprah embraced these views so earnestly that she
book changed my perspective on life and religion. Eric Butterworth teaches
that God isn't "up there." He exists inside each one of us, and
it's up to us to seek the divine within.1
talk show has launched many New Age authors into national
super-stardom--authors such as Marianne Williamson, Sarah Ban Breathnach,
Iyanla Vanzant, and Cheryl Richardson.
One such author propelled into prominence by Oprah, with regard to New Age
teaching, is Gary Zukav. Zukav became a regular guest on the Oprah show
following his first appearance in October of 1998. Afterwards, his book
titled The Seat of the Soul became a constant fixture at the top of
the New York Times bestseller list for an astounding two years!
The Seat of the Soul, pure and simple, is a spiritual primer or
manual for New Age thought. It has gained such popularity even though it
lacks the elements that have traditionally attracted a wide readership
(i.e., novels, biography, scandal, health, etc.). The book's basic message
is, "Dwell in the company of your nonphysical Teachers and guides
The Seat of the Soul has struck a resonant chord with an enormous
number of people. The notion of "nonphysical guides and
teachers"3 is now considered perfectly acceptable by a vast number in
the reading public. When such a book is embraced by so many for so long it
means the New Age is already here. Clearly, our society is not heading
toward the cliff concerning New Age spirituality--we are already over it!
Oprah's 2005 book, Live Your Best Life, highlights various areas of
her philosophies. In the chapter on spirituality there is a story about
Spiritual Energy. In it, there is a positive reference to a Reiki master
who supports Oprah's view that "we [humanity] are all
interrelated." This underlies Winfrey's spirituality, that ALL IS ONE.
Despite her charming personal manner, there is little doubt her viewers and
readers are still being fed a consistent diet of New Age spirituality.
(From A Time of Departing, 2nd ed. by Ray Yungen, pp.
1. Oprah Winfrey cited in Eric Butterworth's, Discover the Power Within
You (San Francisco, CA: Harper Row), front cover.
2. Gary Zukav, The Seat of the Soul (New York, NY: Simon &
Schuster, 1990, Fireside Edition), p. 239.
3. Oprah Winfrey, Live Your Best Life (Des Moines, IA: Oxmoor House,
first edition, September 2005), p. 105.
following is a book review by Lighthouse Trails editors.
church leader Tony Jones' March 2008 release, The New Christians:
Dispatches from the Emergent Frontier, may not come as a shock to those
who have already read Jones' books, An Emergent Manifesto of Hope and The Sacred Way. But it does provide further
insights into the true nature of the emerging church. In The Sacred Way,
Jones openly acknowledges his affinity with mysticism. With chapters on
labyrinths, stations of the cross, the silence, centering (mantric) prayer,
and more, Jones' leaves no doubt that he embraces eastern-style mystical
prayer practices. In An Emergent Manifesto of Hope, he takes it to
the next level. The thesis of that book could be described as:
The Kingdom of God is already here on
earth, includes all people, all faiths, and in fact is in all people and
all of creation and can be felt or realized through mysticism which
connects everything together as ONE. (see review
Those who have come to understand mantra
meditation know that the usual outcome of going into altered states is a
new spiritual consciousness that is open to both panentheism (God in all)
and interspirituality (all religions lead to God). 1
In order to have this new spiritual outlook, one's view of
"truth" must be adjusted - Jones' new book, The New Christians,
provides such an outline for this adjustment. A theme of this book
could go something this:
Emergents say they believe in truth, but
they define it as something that is always changing and being refined, can
never be grasped, and enfolds all beliefs, except the ones that insist
there is only one truth.
It's not really any wonder that Jones
says this - he credits Brian McLaren as "helping to birth this
book" (p. 253). McLaren's view on truth resonates with the description
As is typical with many emerging church books, The New Christians emphatically tries to convince readers that the "church is dead"
(p. 4), at least church as we have known it. Jones uses several analogies
to describe present day Christianity, such as it being like the nearly-obsolete
pay phones, or a dying old growth forest, or compost (rotting vegetables).
He says we can almost hear the "death rattle" of "America's
church" (p. 5).
Jones explains that the movement was spawned because a lot of youth pastors
had been raised in this dying, superficial Christianity and the emerging
church is their way of coming of age. But anyone who has read Roger
Oakland's powerful expose' on the emerging church (Faith Undone) knows that the movement was
actually spawned by big corporate dollars, and it is very likely that these
youth pastors' discontent for traditional Christianity is more the fault of
the seminaries they attended rather than their upbringing. Many of the
seminaries have been heralding this "new kind of Christianity"
for a long time. Incidentally, on page 48, Jones says that those who funded
the emerging church through Leadership Network in the 90s weren't too happy
about the direction these young emergents were heading. "The funding
for the Young Leaders Network (later to become Emergent)," Jones says,
"was about to come to an end." But this statement is somewhat
misleading, giving the impression that the emergents were financially left
out in the cold. The publisher for The New Christians (and for many
other emergent books) is Jossey Bass, an imprint of a large corporation called
Wiley & Sons and a partner with Leadership Network. Between Jossey
Bass, Zondervan, Baker Books (Emersion) and Thomas Nelson, the emerging
church authors are hardly left to fend for themselves.
In Jones' efforts to convey to readers that non-emerging Christians do not
care about humanity and the earth, he goes into a gory detailed account of
a chicken slaughterhouse where chickens are issued an electric shock and
then their throats are slit. He says that the typical Christian just
doesn't care about the world's abuses, tragedies, and woes, and says that
when disaster hits, all they care about is whether "victims had
invited Jesus into their hearts" (p. 18). Using extreme examples over
and over to prove his points, Jones will leave many unsuspecting readers
with the notion that up until now Christians have done almost nothing good
for this world. And like his cohorts, Tony Campolo and Dan Kimball, who also paint a dismal view of
traditional Christianity, Jones believes that the problems of the world are
actually caused (at least in large part) by Christians. Jones neglects to
admit that when disasters happen throughout the world, Christian-led
organizations race to the scenes, often sooner than governmental agencies.
While there have certainly been countless occurrences throughout history
when those proclaiming to be Christian do fit Jones' stereotype, he
completely (and seemingly intentionally) leaves out the category of true
Christianity that has been in existence since the beginning of the church
two thousand years ago. A distorted attempt by several of today's
contemplative and emerging leaders would have us believe that true devoted
Christians have not existed up until now, until paradigms like Purpose
Driven and emerging spirituality came on the scene. This of course, is
resulting in a growing hostility and alienation towards biblical
What is even more disturbing about The New Christians is Jones'
attack on truth and the Word of God. Jones insists that it is wrong to
accept and believe the Bible to be true without using logic and reasoning.
For the conservative, the sacred text of
Christianity is indubitable, established by an internal and circular
reasoning: "The Bible claims to be God's truth, so therefore it's
Jones emphasizes the role philosophy and
reasoning must play in determining whether the Bible is true and God
is real. And in fact, he acknowledges how ancient atheist philosophers
influenced the early beginnings of the emerging church (p. 43). But in
reality, philosophy and reasoning does not bring people to Christ. Most
philosophers are atheist or agnostic. The influence of philosophy coupled
with the use of mysticism certainly explains why "emergents" are
Jones' also believes that the gospel has been dormant throughout most of
history, except during specific times when it was able to break through
"human institutions." He states:
And although it [the gospel] has been
crusted over for eons, it will inevitably find a time and a fissure, an
opportunity to blast through that crust and explode, volcano-like into the
atmosphere. (p. 36)
If this were true, then God has failed to
keep his gospel alive, or at best has only been able to allow it to come
out of dormancy from time to time. Yet we know that there has always been a
representation of the true gospel on the earth throughout history.
Ultimately, what one will come away with from Jones' book is that Jones
(and all emergents, he says) believes that truth cannot be pinned down and
set in concrete. What is true for today may not be considered truth
tomorrow. And he isn't talking just about negotiable societal and cultural
ideologies. He is talking about doctrine too. In fact, that is really the
point he wants to get across in this book. Emergents love the Bible, he
says, but they are not going to be so arrogant "[t]o assume that our
convictions about God are somehow timeless" and to think they are
"establishes an imperialistic attitude that has a chilling effect on
the honest conversation that's needed for theology to progress" (p.
114). This progression of theology that Jones speaks of is not limited to
areas of theology that are often and legitimately debated by Christian
scholars. No; Jones says even the doctrine of atonement cannot be set in
stone. He says it is "arrogant and a bit deceptive" (p. 77) to
suggest that there can be any one understanding of atonement. He was
referencing the difference between a traditional Christian pastor versus
Brian McLaren, who has called the doctrine of hell and the Cross
"false advertising" for God. 2 Jones states that to "try to freeze one
particular articulation of the gospel, to make it timeless and universally
applicable, actually does an injustice to the gospel" (p. 96). He says
we must "refigure our theology" (p. 104) and that
"emergents" are "looking for a Christianity that's still
exploratory" (i.e., theology is flexible - p. 108) and "a gospel
that meshes with our own experience of the world" (p. 110).
"Theology is not universal, nor is it transcendent" (p. 112), he
claims, but it is "temporary" and we "must carry our theologies
with an open hand" (p. 114). He adds:
[E]mergents reject metaphors like
"pin it down," "in a nutshell," "sum it up,"
and "boil it down" when speaking of God and God's Kingdom, for it
simply can't be done (p. 114).
One of those "theologies" Jones
refers to is that of homosexuality. He explains: "What I can proclaim
with confidence is that in a hundred years, the church will not be debating
gay marriage anymore. We will have reached consensus and moved on." He
adds to that: "[E]mergents are pretty humble about the positions we
hold today and about the issues that we consider most important" (p.
However, reading Jones' book is probably not going to help readers get a
grasp of just what these positions are. Jones' is all over the place with
his ideas and ultimately says even these ideas are forever changing and
being reformed based on the experiential and "comes in all sorts of
forms" (p. 160). Quoting Brian McLaren, Jones goes so far as to say
that the moment we think we have truth and theology figured out, "we cease
being faithful.... The Bible is a companion on the faith journey, not a
textbook of proofs" (p. 168).
In the end, Jones leaves his readers with this: "Jesus did not have a
'statement of faith'" (p. 234). In other words, Jesus was just as
vague and unsure about what is truth, atonement, righteousness, the gospel,
as are the emergents today. But this is a complete and horrible distortion
of Jesus Christ, who did indeed have a statement of faith. In fact,
everything He said was a statement of true faith, and He spoke as one
knowing exactly what truth is:
For he taught them as one having
authority, and not as the scribes." (Matthew 7:29)
And He also stated: "Howbeit when
he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth."
Jones says that end-times, last-days thinking Christians "propose the
dubious theology that the world is going to get worse and worse and worse
until it gets so bad that God has to intervene" (p. 98-99). And like
many, such as Tony Campolo, Jones suggests that those who believe in wars,
increasing sin, "false teachers," and "antichrists" are
the cause of environmental issues (p. 100). In reality, while it is true
that every person in the world who owns a car contributes to pollution, many
of the earth's major environmental problems stem from abuse of land by
corrupt governments and profit-hungry corporations (i.e., human
sinfulness), not because of Christians who believe what the Bible says
about Christ's return. That's absurd!
Finally, and not in any way least, Jones makes a case for mysticism when he
says that "[E]mergents will use all of the means available to them to
quest after this truth we call God." He says this on the heels of
explaining that his wife (a Yoga instructor), has gotten into alternative
health. Jones say emergents "quest after God using the tools of the
medieval mystics and the ancient monastics (i.e., contemplative prayer)....
some will even be open to sources of truth that are external to traditional
[biblical] Christianity, be it philosophy or another religious system (p. 159)." And it is in these other religious systems that Jones and
the New Christians find "truth." He puts it well:
In the aftermath of the myth of
objectivity [absolute truth], of fideisims and airtight systems, we're left to embrace
our subjectivity, to revel in it, for it's only when we accept our own
biases that we allow them to be shaped by contrary opinions and biases. One
place where this is most poignant is interreligious dialogue" (p.
Fellow cohorts who place their names on The
New Christians endorsement include Tony Campolo, Brian McLaren, Shane
Claiborne, Dan Kimball, Jim Wallis, Mark Ostreicher (from Youth
Specialties), and a number of others who have proven over time that they
too have joined the ranks of a spirituality that cannot lead people to
Christ but only to confusion and lostness. And it is for this reason we
hope that The New Christians: Dispatches from the Emergent Frontiers will not end up on the library and classroom shelves of Christian colleges
and seminaries and certainly not in the youth groups of Christian churches
"Oprah and Friends" to teach course on New Age
LTRP Note: Warren Smith is a
former New Age follower. It was his book Deceived on Purpose that first alerted the
church to the New Age implications of The Purpose Driven Life. We
are posting the following article because Oprah Winfrey has become a major
influencer in the lives of millions of women. Her recent promotion of New
Ager Eckhart Tolle's January release, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose has
turned the book into a best seller in just weeks. In the meantime, Oprah's
year-long promotion of A Course in Miracles is leading countless
women into the arms of a New Age religion and a false god. This is no minor
thing that is taking place. The New Age has come out of the closet in full
force, and most Christians don't even realize they are stepping to its tune
through contemplative, emerging, and Purpose Driven spirituality.
Friends" to teach course on New Age Christ
by Warren Smith
Oprah Winfrey will be letting out all the stops on her XM Satellite Radio
program this coming year. Beginning January 1, 2008, "Oprah &
Friends" will offer a year-long course on the New Age teachings of A
Course in Miracles.1 A lesson a day throughout the year will completely
cover the 365 lessons from the Course in Miracles "Workbook."
For example, Lesson #29 asks you to go through your day affirming that
"God is in everything I see."2 Lesson #61 tells each person to
repeat the affirmation "I am the light of the world."3 Lesson #70
teaches the student to say and believe "My salvation comes from
By the end of the year, "Oprah & Friends" listeners will have
completed all of the lessons laid out in the Course in Miracles Workbook.
Those who finish the Course will have a wholly redefined spiritual
mindset--a New Age worldview that includes the belief that there is no sin,
no evil, no devil, and that God is "in" everyone and everything. A
Course in Miracles teaches its students to rethink everything they
believe about God and life. The Course Workbook bluntly states: "This
is a course in mind training"5 and is dedicated to "thought
Teaching A Course in Miracles will be Oprah's longtime friend and
special XM Satellite Radio reporter Marianne Williamson--who also happens
to be one of today's premier New Age leaders. She and Conversations with
God author Neale Donald Walsch co-founded the American Renaissance Alliance
in 1997, that later became the Global Renaissance Alliance of New Age
leaders, that changed its name again in 2005 to the Peace Alliance. This
Peace Alliance seeks to usher in an era of global peace founded on the
principles of a New Age/New Spirituality that they are now referring to as
a "civil rights movement for the soul."7 They all agree that the
principles of this New Age/New Spirituality are clearly articulated in A
Course in Miracles--which is fast becoming the New Age Bible. So what
is A Course in Miracles and what does it teach?
A Course in Miracles is allegedly "new revelation" from
"Jesus" to help humanity work through these troubled times. This
"Jesus"--who bears no doctrinal resemblance to the Bible's Jesus
Christ--began delivering his channeled teachings in 1965 to a Columbia
University Professor of Medical Psychology by the name of Helen Schucman.
One day Schucman heard an "inner voice" stating, "This is a
course in miracles. Please take notes."8 For seven years she
diligently took spiritual dictation from this inner voice that described
himself as "Jesus." A Course in Miracles was quietly
published in 1975 by the Foundation for Inner Peace. For many years
"the Course" was an underground cult classic for New Age seekers
who studied "the Course" individually, with friends, or in small
As a former New Age follower and devoted student of A Course in Miracles,
I eventually discovered that the Course in Miracles was--in
reality--the truth of the Bible turned upside down. Not having a true
understanding of the Bible at the time of my involvement, I was led to
believe that A Course in Miracles was "a gift from God" to
help everyone understand the "real" meaning of the Bible and to
help bring peace to the world. Little did I know that the New Age
"Christ" and the New Age teachings of A Course in Miracles were
everything the real Jesus Christ warned us to watch out for. In Matthew 24
Jesus warned about false teachers, false teachings and the false
"Christs" who would pretend to be Him.
When I left the New Age "Christ" to follow the Bible's Jesus
Christ, I had come to understand that the "Jesus" of A Course
in Miracles was a false "Christ," and that his Course in
Miracles was dangerously deceptive. Here are some quotes from the
"Jesus" of A Course in Miracles:
"There is no sin. . . " 9 [See note]
A "slain Christ has no meaning."10
"The journey to the cross should be the last 'useless
"Do not make the pathetic error of 'clinging to the old rugged
"The Name of Jesus Christ as such is but a symbol... It is a symbol
that is safely used as a replacement for the many names of all the gods to
which you pray."13
"God is in everything I see."14
"The recognition of God is the recognition of yourself."15
"The oneness of the Creator and the creation is your wholeness, your
sanity and your limitless power."16
"The Atonement is the final lesson he [man] need learn, for it teaches
him that, never having sinned, he has no need of salvation."17
Most Christians recognize that these teachings are the opposite of what the
Bible teaches. In the Bible, Jesus Christ's atoning death on the cross of
Calvary was hardly a "useless journey." His triumph on the cross
provides salvation to all those who confess their sin, accept Him and
follow Him as their Lord and Saviour. His victory on the cross rings
throughout the New Testament. It has been gloriously sung about in beloved
hymns through the ages and is at the heart of our Christian testimony.
I found the Jesus of the Bible to be wholly believable as He taught God's
truth and warned about the spiritual deception that would come in His name.
The "Jesus" of A Course in Miracles reveals himself to be
an imposter when he blasphemes the true Jesus Christ by saying that a
"slain Christ has no meaning" and that we are all "God"
and that we are all "Christ." It was by reading the Bible's true
teachings of Jesus Christ that I came to understand how deceived I had been
by A Course in Miracles and my other New Age teachings.
I was introduced to A Course in Miracles by Dr. Gerald Jampolsky's
book Love is Letting Go of Fear. Jampolsky declared in his
easy-to-read book how the teachings of A Course in Miracles had
changed his life. As an ambassador for A Course in Miracles over the
years, Jampolsky has been featured not only in New Age circles but at least
twice on Robert Schuller's Hour of Power. While Schuller introduced
Jampolsky and his "fabulous"18 Course in Miracles-based
books to his worldwide television audience, it was Marianne Williamson's
appearance on a 1992 Oprah Winfrey Show that really shook the rafters.
On that program, Oprah enthusiastically endorsed Williamson's book, A
Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles.
Oprah told her television audience that Williamson's book about A Course
in Miracles was one of her favorite books, and that she had already
bought a thousand copies and would be handing them out to everyone in her
studio audience. Oprah's endorsement skyrocketed Williamson's book about A
Course in Miracles to the top of the New York Times bestseller
list. Ironically, all of this was happening after I had left the Course and the New Age. In fact, I was doing the final editing on my book The Light That Was Dark that warned about the
dangers of the New Age--and in particular A Course in Miracles.
After being introduced to the world on Oprah, Marianne Williamson has
continued to grow in popularity and, as previously mentioned, has become
one of today's foremost New Age leaders. Williamson credits Winfrey for
bringing her book about A Course in Miracles before the world:
"For that, my deepest thanks to Oprah Winfrey. Her enthusiasm and
generosity have given the book, and me, an audience we would never
otherwise have had."19 In her 2004 book, The Gift of Change,
Twenty years ago, I saw the guidance of
the Course as key to changing one's personal life; today, I see its
guidance as key to changing the world. More than anything else, I see how
deeply the two are connected.20
Thus the New Age teachings of A Course
in Miracles are about to be taught by Marianne Williamson to millions
of listeners on Oprah's XM Satellite Radio program. Listeners are
encouraged to buy A Course in Miracles for the year-long course. An
audio version of A Course in Miracles recited by Richard (John Boy
Walton) Thomas is also available on compact disc.
Popular author Wayne Dyer told his PBS television audience that the
"brilliant writing" of A Course in Miracles would produce
more peace in the world.21 Williamson's New Age colleague, Neale Donald
Walsch, said his "God" stated that "the era of the Single
Saviour is over"22 and that he ("God") was responsible for
authoring the teachings of A Course in Miracles.23
Meanwhile, Gerald Jampolsky's Course in Miracles-based book, Forgiveness,
continues to be sold in Robert Schuller's Crystal Cathedral bookstore as
Schuller prepares to host a January 17-19, 2008, "Rethink
Conference" at his Crystal Cathedral.24
At this critical time in the history of the world, the New Gospel/New
Spirituality is coming right at the world and the church with its New Age
teachings and its New Age Peace Plan. But this New Age Peace Plan has at
its deceptive core the bottom-line teaching from A Course in Miracles that "we are all one" because God is "in" everyone and
everything. But the Bible is clear that we are not God (Ezekiel 28:2; Hosea
11:9). And per Galatians 3:26-28, our only oneness is in Jesus Christ--not
in ourselves as "God" and "Christ." What Oprah and
Marianne Williamson and the world will learn one day is that humanity's
only real and lasting peace is with the true Jesus Christ who is described
and quoted in the Holy Bible (Romans 5:1).
Oprah Winfrey's misplaced faith in Marianne Williamson and the New Age
teachings of A Course in Miracles is a sure sign of the times. But
an even surer sign of the times is that most Christians are not taking heed
to what is happening in the world and in the church. We are not contending
for the faith as the Bible admonishes us to do (Jude 3).
It is time for all of our Purpose-Driven and Emerging church pastors to
address the real issue of the day. Our true Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ
is being reinvented, redefined, and blasphemed right in front of our eyes
and hardly anyone seems to notice or care. If we want the world to know who
Jesus Christ is, we need to also warn them about who He is not. There is a
false New Age "Christ" making huge inroads into the world and
into the church. The Apostle Paul said that "it is a shame" we
have to even talk about these things, but talk about them we must
If people want to follow Oprah Winfrey and the New Age "Christ"
of A Course in Miracles they certainly have that right. But let them
be warned that the New Age "Christ" they are following is not the
same Jesus Christ who is so clearly and authoritatively presented in the
pages of the Bible.
2. A Course in Miracles: Combined Volume (Glen Ellen, California:
Foundation for Inner Peace, 1975), (Workbook), p. 45.
3. Ibid., p. 102.
4. Ibid., p. 119.
5. Ibid., (Text), p. 16.
6. Ibid., (Preface), p. ix.
7. Neale Donald Walsch, Tomorrow's God: Our Greatest Spiritual Challenge (New York: Atria Books, Simon & Schuster, 2004), pp. 262-263.
8. Robert Skutch, Journey Without Distance: The Story behind "A
Course in Miracles" (Berkeley, California: Celestial Arts, 1984),
9. A Course in Miracles: Combined Volume, (Workbook), p. 183.
10. Ibid., (Text), p. 425.
11. Ibid., p. 52.
13. Ibid., (Teachers Manual), p. 58.
14. Ibid., (Workbook), p. 45.
15. Ibid., (Text), p. 147.
16. Ibid., p. 125.
17. Ibid., p. 237.
19. Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles
A Course in Miracles (New York: Harper Perennial, 1996), p. ix.
20. Marianne Williamson, The Gift Of Change: Spiritual Guidance for a
Radically New Life (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2004), p. 5.
21. Wayne Dyer, "There's a Spiritual Solution to Every Problem,"
Public Broadcasting System broadcast in 2001.
22. Neale Donald Walsch, The New Revelations: A Conversation with God (New
York: Atria Books, 2002), p. 157.
23. Neale Donald Walsch, Conversations with God: an uncommon dialogue,
Book 1 (New York: G.P. Putnamâ€™s Sons, 1996), p. 90.
Posted with permission by author
Crystal Cathedral Presents Contemplative Retreat
May 8-9, Robert Schuller's Crystal Cathedral will present the "Praying the Psalms with Jesus Retreat." The
retreat will be held at the Prince of Peace Abbey and will feature a
contemplative spiritual director (William Gaultiere), stations of the cross, meditation in "various
ways," and "Benedictine monks heavenly chants."
The retreat comes just a few weeks after the Rethink Conference was held at
the Crystal Cathedral, in which many evangelical leaders joined Schuller and Erwin McManus for the three day conference
to "rethink" global and religious issues. Many of the speakers
were promoters of eastern-style meditation as well as proponents of the
emerging church. For more information about the Rethink event and its
interspiritual implications, please see our research.
William Gaultiere, the speaker at the May retreat, received his certificate
in spiritual direction from Schuller's Leadership Institute. Several
well-known Christian leaders also received training at the Institute,
including Rick Warren and Bill Hybels. Warren's and Hybel's present
affinity toward contemplative spirituality reflects the spiritual
atmosphere at the Leadership Institute as we have documented for many
years. Schuller himself emphasized the impact that contemplative Henri
Nouwen had on his school:
All of our students have to watch and
listen to Henri Nouwen. I keep interrupting and stopping the video machine,
telling them to notice how he uses his hands, to look at the twinkle in his
eye, to see how he connects his eye with the eye of the listener, to be
aware of the words he uses--all positives, no negatives.
While Schuller's ecumenical and mystical
affinities have influenced countless people around the world throughout the
years, evangelical leaders continue ignoring this and standing with him at
the Crystal Cathedral. Kay Warren (also an admirer of Henri Nouwen) was one
of the speakers at the Rethink as was Gary Smalley, Dan Kimball, and other
Christian leaders. Last year Mark Driscoll (pastor of Mars Hill) spoke at
the Crystal Cathedral.1 And many other Christian leaders have done the same.
Quotes by Robert Schuller:
From Robert Schuller's book, My Journey ... "I met once more
with the Grand Mufti (a Muslim), truly one of the great Christ-honoring
leaders of faith. ... I'm dreaming a bold impossible dream: that
positive-thinking believers in God will rise above the illusions that our
sectarian religions have imposed on the world, and that leaders of the
major faiths will rise above doctrinal idiosyncrasies, choosing not to
focus on disagreements, but rather to transcend divisive dogmas to work
together to bring peace and prosperity and hope to the world...." p.
"Standing before a crowd of devout Muslims with the Grand Mufti, I
know that we're all doing God's work together. Standing on the edge of a
new millennium, we're laboring hand in hand to repair the breach." p.
Liberty University Climbs Deeper into the
was reported in two previous stories (February 2007, August 2007), Liberty University has been incorporating
contemplative/emerging authors into their classrooms and college life.
Nearly a year after our first report, Liberty shows no signs of taking a
stand against this anti-biblical belief system. Students attending Liberty
will be required to read the following books in the following classes and
should use discernment and caution. Hopefully students who are desiring to
adhere to biblical truth will challenge the favorable use of these books
and the teachings within them:
Counseling 506 - Henri Nouwen
Evangelism 997 - John Maxwell, Andy Stanley, Rick Warren, Erwin McManus
Path 610 (Spiritual Formation) - Richard Foster
MCCS 994 (Missions): Brian McLaren
Liberty University also carries on their website the Code of Ethics for the AACC (American Association of Christian Counselors)
with the following statement:
Although rooted primarily in an orthodox
evangelical biblical theology, this Code is also influenced (according to
the paradigm offered by Richard Foster) by the social justice,
charismatic-pentecostal, pietistic-holiness, liturgical, and contemplative
traditions of Christian theology and church history.
According to a recent Christianity Today article, Richard Foster is a
pioneer in the contemplative (i.e., ancient future) prayer movement.
Incidentally, Lighthouse Trails spoke with a personnel from Liberty
University today and was told that Dr. Tim Clinton, who is the president of
AACC, is a professor at Liberty and also the Executive Director of the
Center for Counseling and Family Studies at Liberty. (Please click here to read about Clinton's promotion of Richard
Foster and other contemplatives.)
In addition to the contemplative influences listed above, in the Center for
Worship (Resources) Liberty University recommends reading from the
following: Rob Bell (Velvet Elvis), Erwin McManus, Donald Miller, Andy
Stanley, Dan Kimball, David Crowder, Michael Card, and Madeleine L'Engle,
all of whom promote contemplative spirituality.1 A weak disclaimer follows this list.
And finally, we bring attention to the Liberty Career center, in which
students are being advised to use resources from Youth Specialties.3 Youth Specialties has been a pioneer in introducing
Christian youth by the thousands to eastern-style spirituality through contemplative
and emerging leaders. Events they have hosted have included yoga,
contemplative meditation, and teachings by many, many New Age sympathizers.
The point of today's article is to show the escalation of contemplative
spirituality into a college or university when school leaders do not take a
pro-active stand against it. If professors and students are not educated as
to the true nature of this fast growing and powerfully deceptive belief
system (that includes emerging and Purpose Driven), then it will infiltrate
and influence that institution at a multiplying rate.
Lighthouse Trails will send a complimentary copy of A Time of Departing to any Liberty
University professor that requests one. Please email us.
Time is of essence.
For more information on Christian colleges and universities that are going
in a contemplative/emerging direction, click here.
The twisted "truths" of The Shack & A Course in
books (one new, one old) have suddenly grabbed public attention and
captured the hearts of multitudes. One is long and instructional -- a
dictation from a channeled spirit guide. The other is a fictional testimony
full of tear-jerking dialogue. A Course in Miracles (ACIM) is obviously
occult, while the more subtle message of The Shack by William P. Young has
been widely accepted in postmodern churches.
The two books share a common message. I saw a stark expression of it back
in 1992. Skimming through a magazine called Well-Being Journal, I noticed
this New Age "insight" from the author's "inner guide:"
"Many people believe in evil, sin, and dark forces. It is your purpose
to teach the opposite which is the Truth: there is no devil, no hell, no
sin, no guilt except in the creative mind of humankind."
I heard similar views at Gorbachev's 1997 State of the World Forum. At the
time, keynote speaker Marianne Williamson was touting the Kabbalah, not A
Course in Miracles (ACIM). While those New Age "insights" would
fit both, it's most emphatically expressed through ACIM, which Williamson
is now popularizing across America through Oprah Winfrey's weekly radio
The Shack calls for a similar denial of reality. Yet countless pastors and
church leaders are delighting in its message. By ignoring (or redefining)
sin and guilt, they embrace an inclusive but counterfeit
"Christianity" that draws crowds but distorts the Bible. By also
discounting Satan, they weaken God's warnings about deception. No wonder
His armor for today's spiritual war became an early victim of this spreading
assault on Truth. Click here to read this entire article.
Christianity Today Blames "Bloggers" for Resistance
Popular Christian magazine conveys inaccurate message--it's
more than just "bloggers" who are concerned about
contemplative/emerging spirituality in the colleges and universities.
Today headline for the February 11th online edition reads "Braking for Bloggers." The article is about Cedarville University canceling emerging church
activist Shane Claiborne, who was supposed to speak at Cedarville
yesterday. The cancellation took place one week after Lighthouse Trails
released an article titled "Cedarville University Bringing Emerging Church Activist to
Campus." That article, and others written by other ministries,
resulted in numerous people contacting Cedarville with concerns over the
If one was to read the CT article, "Braking for Bloggers," it
would be easy to get the impression that resistance against emerging and
contemplative spirituality is limited to a few "vigilante"
bloggers. The article starts out by identifying resisters as "a small
but vocal number of bloggers." A few paragraphs later, Carl Ruby,
Cedarville VP for student life, is quoted as saying:
"Nearly all of the opposition to
Claiborne's visit came from off campus," he said. "The reaction
from both faculty and students has been along the lines of, 'We are a
university ... We need to be having these kinds of conversations on campus
if we are going to adequately equip the next generation of Christian
The CT article stated that one Cedarville
student believed his peers "were upset ... because the administration
was bowing to the will of various bloggers, thus sheltering them." And
finally, at the end of the article, Shane Claiborne was quoted as calling
these resisters "vigilante voices" who Cedarville was too
insecure to stand up to.
However, CT's estimation that the cancellation took place because of a few
vigilante bloggers is inaccurate at best, and deceptive at worst. But they
are not alone in this type of reporting. For several years now major
leaders and organizations have been saying the same thing about those who
are challenging their teachings and drift toward the paradigm shift of
emerging/contemplative. For example, in November of 2006, Lighthouse Trails
posted an article titled, Mr. Warren ... excuses, excuses. Rick Warren had been
videotaped while in Syria and later said it was "bloggers" who
had criticized him for comments he made minimizing Christian and Jewish
persecution in that country. In our report, we stated:
It is worthwhile to note that those whom
Rick Warren refers to as "bloggers" include many reputable and
long standing ministries and organizations, some of which are news
agencies, radio ministries, discernment ministries, and publishing
companies. The implication in using the term "bloggers" is that
there is no credibility or stability, thus they should be ignored. With the
exception of Lighthouse Trails (just under 5 years old), these other
ministries have been around a very long time.
And this is the point we want to make in
today's rebuttal: In their use of the term "bloggers," CT is more
than implying that those who are challenging emerging/contemplative
spirituality (promoted by Claiborne and many others) are not qualified to
say anything at all.
It is true that Lighthouse Trails has a blog. But so does Rick Warren.1 But he is never referred to as a "blogger,"
just Dr. Warren, Pastor Warren, America's pastor, and so forth. Christianity
Today has a blog as well,2 but they are not referred to as bloggers but rather
editors, vice presidents, CEOs, and such. 3 Thus, this article "Braking for Bloggers"
is inaccurate. Lighthouse Trails is a publishing house, 4 with editors, authors, and researchers. One
"vigilante" mentioned in the CT article does have a blog, but has
been a radio program producer and host for many years. But that is
The CT article doesn't line up somehow. In one statement, it quotes Dr.
Ruby as saying that most of the opposition about Claiborne came from
outside the university, and clearly the message in the CT article is that
the only ones causing dissension are "bloggers." Yet, the article
contradicts itself. Listen:
The Claiborne lecture was only one
episode in the ongoing story of Cedarville's efforts to pinpoint its
doctrinal commitments in the face of what some perceive to be the school's
move away from orthodoxy. Divisions came to a head when two professors were
fired last year over their disagreements with two other professors who were
sympathetic to the Emergent movement. 5 Author Donald Miller's visit to Cedarville in the
spring of 2006 also provoked complaints.
So we are just wondering, were those two
professors bloggers also? Hmmmm. Maybe not; just maybe there is a growing
number of believers who are finding out what the real agenda is to Purpose
Driven, emergent, contemplative, and they are saying "No More!" in
their Bible-based organizations. The simple fact is this: While the
majority of proclaiming Christians seem to be drawn to Purpose Driven and
spiritual formation (i.e., contemplative), there is indeed a growing number
of believers who see these teachings as contrary to the Word of God. They
are not just a few dissident radicals, but those who know that the Gospel
message of Jesus Christ, which declares He is the only way of salvation, is
precious and worthy to be defended.
To those professors and students at Cedarville and other Christian colleges
and universities who have spoken up, even at the risk of being fired or
ridiculed, we thank you and want you to know there are more than just a few
bloggers out here who see what you do. And to those professors and students
who do not see the harm in supporting and promoting the emerging,
contemplative leaders, we ask you to look at more than just deeds being
performed in the name of social justice and remember the creeds that
our forbearers died for in defending the Gospel of our Lord and Savior. If
God saw fit to preserve the Bible throughout the many centuries when so
many tried to snuff it out, surely we, as His body, can see fit to believe
it. And by His grace, we will have the strength and wisdom to do so.
For related news:
"Christianity Today Proclaims Ancient Future
Church At Hand"
Mt Vernon Nazarene University Invites Shane Claiborne
Contemplative Colleges Database
"Catholic Connection" (A Mennonite Speaks Up)
by David Burkey
June of 1977, monks, nuns and lay women and men met in Petersham to discuss
how best to accomplish "fruitful communication between adherents of
Eastern and Western world religions."
event brought people of diverse backgrounds together in the interest of
studying ways of worship from various Asian cultures and religions.
goal of this conference as stated in their report was as follows:
"To reflect together about the importance for monks and nuns to meet
and understand, to respect, and even to assimilate certain
values of the
take the initiative in promoting inter-religious dialogue with Asian monks and Asian
religions, as requested by the Roman Secretariate for Non-Christian
"And finally to arouse interest among Western monks and nuns in regard
to the extreme importance of Asian cultures and religions for themselves
and for the contemporary world.
report states clearly that they are following the directives of Vatican II
and a document called "
This document states further that, "The Church therefore urges her
sons and daughters to enter with prudence and charity into discussion and
collaboration with members of other religions. Let Christians...
acknowledge, preserve and encourage the spiritual and moral truths found
Primate stated in his views that "each man can discover elements of
East and West within himself."
Jean LeClercq suggested that Christianity be freed from a specific culture and
"open it up to the East, to Africa, and to the scientific world."5 Father Bebe Griffiths
said that "it is no longer possible to be a mature Christian, a mature
Hindu or a Buddhist without taking into account of other religions. Each
must be ready to listen to the other, to grow in mutual understanding.
Eternal Truth has from the beginning been revealing itself to all
its conclusion, this meeting produced several suggestions on how best to
accomplish its goals. 1) A list of experts was needed from both East and
West; 2) monasteries were needed; 3) useful publications were needed if
Yoga etc. was to be incorporated into the techniques of the monks. The
goals set forth are obvious attempts, and admittedly so, for the purpose of
finding commonality between the religions of non-Christians and Catholics.
the conclusion of each evening there was prayer. At the beginning of each
day there was meditation for "an hour guided by Abbot Tholens or by
another Master making use of the Asian insights into the divine nature
available also to Christians."
were prayer cushions for those who wanted to pray in an Eastern posture,
and a barren altar when discussion of Zen was the order of the day. When
the emphasis was Hindu, flowers were placed at eight points of the compass.
religion present seems to have been accommodated. Click here to read this entire
article and for footnote material.
We also have added several items by
other publishers/producers to our online store. Each one was carefully
selected and has the same high quality as our own Lighthouse
Special Note: Lighthouse Trails
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edition of Deceived on Purpose and The Light That Was Dark,
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believe you will find each of these books to be well-written, carefully
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