Nazarene Church Welcoming Contemplative Spirituality?

“But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.  As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.
For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.
” Galatians 1:8-10

** UPDATE** FRIDAY, APRIL 17, 2009

Regarding the Pre-Assembly Spiritual Retreat, Dr. Alden Sproul is no longer listed on any of the websites any longer (NNU, NTS, or the general website).  He is apparently no longer part of the leadership team that is going to beleading the Spiritual Retreat.  No explanation as to why has been given.  His withdrawal in no way settles this matter, and questions still need to be asked as to why this retreat is still be offered to Nazarenes around the world.

Dear brothers and sisters, it is with sadness that I post this article from Lighthouse Trails Research, as I myself am a Nazarene, like many of you. I had resolved last year, when I first started to discover the infiltration of contemplative spirituality practices into our universities and seminaries, that I would uphold truth no matter what the cost.  Loyalty to a person, group, church, or denomination must not take precedence over faithfulness to Jesus Christ and to the authority of His Word.  I pray that the Lord will reveal the light of truth to those who are teaching these unbiblical practices, and that they will repent.  Let’s return to the Bible as our final and only 100% reliable authority; let us remove these dangerous teachings that do not line up with God’s Word; and let us not waver in standing for the true gospel and for God’s Word.

Nazarene General Assembly Welcomes Contemplative Spirituality–Nazarene Pastors WorldWide Invited

Source:  Editors at Lighthouse Trails

Contemplative spirituality has been coming into the Nazarene denomination for some time through their seminaries and universities. But this summer, the mystical-based spirituality will be taking a giant step into the Nazarene Church at large. The Nazarene Theological Seminary will be presenting a contemplative retreat to pastors and leaders from around the world who will be attending the 2009 General Assembly & Conventions in June.

The conference, which will take place in Orlando, Florida, is open to pastors, leaders, and lay people within the Nazarene Church. A staff member in the Nazarene General Assembly conference office told Lighthouse Trails on March 16th that they are expecting from 15,000 to 25,000 attendees from around the world, some of whom will be non-Nazarenes as all are welcome.

The General Assembly Spiritual Formation Retreat will be held at San Pedro Center, a Franciscan retreat center the day before the opening session of the General Assembly conference. And while concerns over having a Nazarene retreat at a Catholic contemplative location should stir concern, this report is focusing on one of the six people who will be leading the retreat, Dr. Alden Sproull. Sproull is founder and director of the Kairos Center for Spiritual Formation based in Redlands, California.

Dr. Alden SproullAccording to his website* (see below), Alden Sproull has “worked in Contemplative Spiritual Practices for 30 years.” The Kairos Center is “a unique center for spirituality.” The website also states:

Kairos is not a religion, but people from a variety of traditions benefit from the spiritual programs at Kairos that are not available at traditional religious institutions.

Under “Spiritual Practices,” on Sproull’s website, he states: “We need to open ourselves to the presence of God through regular spiritual practices. In stillness we can feel unity with God.” Sproull says that examples of these spiritual practices can be found on the “Center for Contemplative Mind in Society” website, which he links to from his site. An extensive “tree” of mystical practices are listed, some of which include: centering prayer, yoga, labyrinth walking, contemplative prayer, building altars, the Jesus Prayer, lectio divina, mantra meditation, visualization, and chanting. This site has a lengthy list of Recommended Reading, too many to list in this report. A few of the titles will illustrate the nature of the site: Breakfast with Buddha, Pure Heart, Enlightened Mind: The Life and Letters of an Irish Zen Saint, The Asian Journal of Thomas Merton, Lighting the Lamp of Wisdom: A Week inside a Yoga Ashram, and Waking Up: A Week inside a Zen Monastery.

Alden Sproull would not link to this site, if he did not agree with its overall message, and what Nazarene’s may fail to understand is the underlying interfaith, interspiritual connections that are brought out clearly in his linking to that site.

While Nazarene universities and seminaries have been embracing contemplative spirituality for a long time, many of the denomination’s pastors and church members may not have yet been introduced to contemplative. But with the upcoming contemplative retreat, that may all change. Clearly, a message is being sent to Nazarenes worldwide that says, “Contemplative is a worthwhile spirituality that should be welcomed.” As Lighthouse Trails has tried to show through articles and books, contemplative prayer is a route to mystical interspirituality, which in its very nature denies the Cross and the Gospel message. We believe the apostle Paul’s admonition in II Thessalonians 2 relates to the growing interest and adherence to contemplative spirituality within the walls of Christianity: “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day [Christ’s return] shall not come, except there come a falling away first.”

  • Alden Sproull’s website, Kairos Center for Spiritual Formation is often offline and cannot be readily accessed. This link, however, will show a cached file of the site.

Related Articles:

Trevecca Nazarene University Promoting Contemplative Spirituality in No Small Way

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

Nazarene Universities Welcome Brian McLaren

Contemplative Spirituality and the Emerging Church Come to Kansas Through YouthFront and MNU


This article or excerpt was posted on March 16, 2009@ 7:24 pm .

From
: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com

Rob Bell: A Modern Day Gnostic

The title** for today’s post (coincidentally we are studying 1st John in Sunday School class) could actually apply to any of a number of emergent “high priests” who preach their version of the “Word of God” by denying or questioning the very authority of… The Word of God.  (See a short description of gnosticism at the end, but I will not go into a long detailed account of it here). For many emergents, their argument is: “the Bible is just ink on paper, or just a book with letters in it.  The real Word is Jesus.  So stop idolizing that book, and worship the real Word.” I have mentioned this argument before, and it is yet a small example of the silly way in which emergents make their case today.  They go round and round with circular arguments to answer the simplest of questions, which leads them to make re-assuring statements such as:

nothing can be certain… everything now is open to debate… “Christianity must be Re-Imagined”…we are Christ-followers, not Christians…. “it is my goal to destroy Christianity as a world religion”…. “we need a fusion of the sacred and the secular” ….”Christian fundamentalists are the new enemy of this century”…  “We discover practices for our own faith in an encounter with someone of another faith”…”a theology of mysticism provides some hope for common ground between Christianity and Islam”… “Emergent doesn’t have a position on absolute truth, or on anything for that matter”…. “thinking about Jesus’ return is a ploy by Satan to get us distracted.”…
(*For the answers as to who said these quotes, see the end of my post)

“the Bible is a product of human work, not divine fiat”. That’s from Rob Bell.

Who is Rob Bell?  He is the teaching pastor at Mars Hill Church (not to be confused with Mark Driscoll’s church).  He is author of such books as the very popular Velvet Elvis, and the creator of a popular series of videos geared especially for youth, called NOOMA.  I’m sorry to say that he is popular with youth, because they are some of the most impressionable people around, easily influenced and eager to go for whatever is hip and cool.  Right, dude?  Seriously, he actually speaks in a way that is very hip and attractive to youth, very casual in his approach.  That’s not bad in itself; kids like listening to someone who sounds hip and cool; rather, it is the content of many of his videos, books, and sermons that is very concerning to me, hence my little profile in the form of some of his more provocative quotes.  (For those who tend to go around to different blogs and attack everyone who criticizes his teachings, please don’t waste too much time with the same old arguments I have heard from you time and time again, unless of course you decide to finally use scripture to rebut what I say.  That would be refreshing!)

I have profiled Brian McLaren and Tony Jones recently.  Now it’s Rob Bell’s turn.   I have never met him personally, he seems like he would be a nice guy to sit around with and have a chat, and I have no hatred or even dislike for Rob Bell, neither do I dislike the others.  However, I have an obligation as a Christian to point out false teaching, as commanded in the scriptures, including this one:

Ephesians 5:6-11 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.

Titus 1:9-13 He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. For there are many rebellious people, mere talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision group. They must be silenced, because they are ruining whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach—and that for the sake of dishonest gain.  . . . Therefore, rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith

1 Timothy 4:16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

It would be a stretch for anyone to imply that passages like this, and even more, do not command us to be on guard and expose false teachings and teachers.  That is another lesson, and if you want to review a thorough lesson on the subject of judging false teachers, go to the permanent page on my blog titled “Judge Not” by brother Yomi Adegboye, a faithful contender for the faith.

I am doing this to help anyone not familiar with these emergent leaders, so they can understand some of the basic teachings or theology that comes from them.  Yes, this is not a comprehensive piece- I know.  But believe me, if I said one or two two of these comments myself in front of my dad, that would be enough for him; I would be in hot water, because he knew the scriptures, and he would have told me directly that I was dead wrong.  I’ll leave it up to you to judge here from his very own words, whether Rob Bell should be welcome in your church, your youth group, or any Christian university.

ROB BELL IN HIS OWN WORDS:

ON THE SUBJECT OF HELL:

“When people use the word hell, what do they mean?  They mean a place, an event, a situation absent of how God desires things to be.  Famine, debt, oppression, despair, loneliness, death, slaughter-they are all hell on earth.  Jesus’ desire for his followers is that they live in such a way that they bring heaven to earth.  What’s disturbing is when people talk more about hell after this life than they do about hell here and now.  I want to do what I can to resist hell coming ot earth.”  Velvet Elvis, p. 148  (So to Rob Bell, hell is not literal; it is here on earth)

Heaven is full of forgiven people. Hell is full of forgiven people. Heaven is full of people God loves, whom Jesus died for. Hell is full of forgiven people God loves, whom Jesus died for. The difference is how we choose to live, which story we choose to live in, which version of reality we trust. (emphasis mine).  Velvet Elvis, p. 146
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ON THE VIRGIN BIRTH:
“What if tomorrow someone digs up definitive proof that Jesus had a real, earthly, biological father named Larry, and archaeologists find Larry’s tomb and do DNA samples and prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the virgin birth was really just a bit of mythologizing the Gospel writers threw in to appeal to the followers of the Mithra and Dionysian religious cults that were hugely popular at the time of Jesus, whose gods had virgin births? But what if as you study the origin of the word virgin, you discover that the word virgin in the gospel of Matthew actually comes from the book of Isaiah, and then you find out that in the Hebrew language at that time, the word virgin could mean several things. And what if you discover that in the first century being “born of a virgin” also referred to a child whose mother became pregnant the first time she had intercourse?”  Velvet Elvis
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ON THE BIBLE:
“The Bible is a collection of stories that teach us about what it looks like when God is at work through actual people. The Bible has the authority it does only because it contains stories about people interacting with the God who has all authority”. Velvet Elvis, p. 65  (All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,  2 Tim. 3:16)

“…it wasn’t until the 300s that what we know as the sixty-six books of the Bible were actually agreed upon as the ‘Bible’. This is part of the problem with continually insisting that one of the absolutes of the Christian faith must be a belief that “Scripture alone” is our guide. It sounds nice, but it is not true. In reaction to abuses by the church, a group of believers during a time called the Reformation claimed that we only need the authority of the Bible. But the problem is that we got the Bible from the church voting on what the Bible even is. So when I affirm the Bible as God’s word, in the same breath I have to affirm that when those people voted, God was somehow present, guiding them to do what they did. When people say that all we need is the Bible, it is simply not true. In affirming the Bible as inspired, I also have to affirm the Spirit who I believe was inspiring those people to choose those books. Velvet Elvis, p. 68
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ON SIN:
“I can’t find one place in the teachings of Jesus, or the Bible for that matter, where we are to identify ourselves first and foremost as sinners. Now this doesn’t mean we don’t sin; that’s obvious. In the book of James it’s written like this: ‘We all stumble in many ways.’ Once again, the greatest truth of the story of Adam and Eve isn’t that it happened, but that it happens. We all make choices to live outside of how God created us to live. We have all come up short.” – Velvet Elvis, p. 139   (Here is at least one place: Paul said that amongst all sinners that Christ came to the world to die for, he is the chief sinner!  1 Timothy 1:15)
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ON THE ATONEMENT OF CHRIST:
“So this reality, this forgiveness, this reconciliation, is true for everybody. Paul insisted that when Jesus died on the cross he was reconciling ‘all things, in heaven and on earth, to God. This reality then isn’t something we make true about ourselves by doing something. It is already true. Our choice is to live in this new reality or cling to a reality of our own making”- Velvet Elvis, p. 146  (Perhaps doing something like… repent!)
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WHOSE FAITH SHOULD WE PUT OUR TRUST IN, ROB?
“Who does Peter lose faith in? Not Jesus; he is doing fine. Peter loses faith in himself. Peter loses faith that he can do what his rabbi is doing. If the rabbi calls you to be his disciple, then he believes that you can actually be like him. As we read the stories of Jesus’ life with his talmidim, his disciples, what do we find frustrates him to no end? When his disciples lose faith in themselves….. Notice how many places in the accounts of Jesus’ life he gets frustrated with his disciples. Because they are incapable? No, because of how capable they are. He sees what they could be and could do, and when they fall short it provokes him to no end. It isn’t their failure that’s the problem, it’s their greatness. They don’t realize what they are capable of….God has an amazingly high view of people. God believes that people are capable of amazing things. I’ve been told I need to believe in Jesus. Which is a good thing. But what I’m learning is that Jesus believes in me….God has faith in me.” Velvet Elvis, p. 133     (What?  God has faith in me???)

  • 2 Timothy 2:23-25 Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.

FINALLY, ON THE WORD OF GOD AGAIN:
The Christian faith is mysterious to the core.  It is about things and beings that ultimately can’t be put into words.  Language fails.  And if we do definitively put God into words, we have at that very moment made God something God is not.  Velvet Elvis p. 32  (Here we read one of Rob’s attempts to undermine the authority of the scriptures. Velvet Elvis, p. 32
My translation:
You can’t trust the Bible, it’s just words, you see?  We can’t put God in a box!  Every man’s translation to himself!
My question to Rob: if we can’t trust the words, do we instead trust smooth talking modern day enlightened gnostics like you?  I think not.  I’ll trust the Bible, thanks anyway!)

For one of the more thorough reviews of Rob Bell, go to Bob Dewaay’s blog, Truth Matters.

*Answers to the Mystery Quotes:

“Christianity must be Re-Imagined” Brian McLaren
“it is my goal to destroy Christianity as a world religion”  Erwin McManus (Christian Examiner, telephone interview
“we need a fusion of the sacred and the secular” Brian McLaren (Finding Our Way Again, p. 4-5)
“Christian fundamentalists are the new enemy of this century”  Rick Warren (Philadelphia Enquirer, 1/8/2006)
“We discover practices for our own faith in an encounter with someone of another faith” Brian McLaren (Finding Our Way Again)
“a theology of mysticism provides some hope for common ground between Christianity and Islam”  Tony Campolo (Speaking My Mind, p. 149)
“Emergent doesn’t have a position on absolute truth, or on anything for that matter”  Tony Jones (from his own blog commentary, 11/21/2005)
“thinking about Jesus’ return is a ploy by Satan to get us distracted.”… Rick Warren (Purpose Driven Life, pp. 285, 286)


** Gnosticism: This was the most dangerous heresy that plagued the early church in the first 3 centuries.  Gnostics essentially asserted that matter was inherently bad, and that spirit was good.  They also denied the full humanity of Jesus, although attributing some form of deity to him.  And they especially claimed some type of higher or secret knowledge, known only to a select few, the enlightened ones, so to speak.

Losing Sight of Sin and Conviction

Today’s posting is from my friend Scott Hervieux, a minister from North Carolina.
You can check out his website at:  http://web.me.com/shervieux

Losing Sight of Sin and Conviction

My pastor had a saying “those who are offended by the truth, are offended because they know the sin in their life, and can’t stand the truth.”   A side from this whole “emerging/emergent” thing, here is even a problem with non-emerging/emergent type churches; the preaching that God is Love.  God is Love and we should emphasize that, but even in some of the most bible teaching churches, I have seen them stray away from the teaching of sin and conviction.  Now, I am not saying we need to be the old “Hellfire and Brimstone, if your not saved you’re going to burn in hell” type of church.  But the problem is, we have become so caught up in the fact that we are living in the dispensation of Grace, that the teaching of true repentance of sin has fallen by the way side.  What is repentance?  Repentance is “to turn from”.  Yes, we are sinners saved by grace, by Jesus taking our sin for us on the cross  – but when we see or are convicted of sin, we are to repent or turn away from it.

The problem with preaching God is Love, is that it has turned into this feel-good type religion.  God loves me, so if it feels good then it must be right.  If it feels good, then God must be in it.  I am saved by Grace, and saved by a graceful God; therefore no matter what I do or what I believe, God loves me, and He will save me.  This is where we are dead wrong.  I can take many Bible verses and interpret them to mean that God does not judge anyone and that any preaching on the word of God is good.  Even Satan himself quoted scripture when trying to have Jesus worship him during the 40 days in the wilderness fasting.  Jesus used the same scripture verses to tell Satan what the word of God said.  Both Satan and Jesus were quoting from Deuteronomy.

The church as a whole has watered down the Gospel to the point of there is no teaching of the consequences of SIN.  Oh, there are still a few churches that do teach the consequences of sin, but most stay away from it and only touch on the grace of God. Why?  It’s because we don’t want to offend anybody.  When people feel that you have gone from preaching to meddling, then they are offended.  Why?  It’s because God has convicted them of that sin.  How many times have you heard a sermon and thought “How did the pastor know that about me, and why did he single me out in his sermon?”  Nope, 99.5% of the time, the pastor does not know, and it is God speaking through his word and sermon to your heart on a particular matter.

This “God is love” and a “watered down gospel”, is then coupled with the religion of prosperity from the name it and claim it crowd.

This has led to a false religion that God is Love, and if God loves me, I will have whatever I ask for.  If I wish for something and don’t get it – then God does not love me.  The Bible talks about unanswered prayer, and why your prayers are not heard by God.  And one of them is un-repented sin in your life.  The Bible also clearly teaches about earthly and spiritual riches and treasures.

I do a lot of reading, and there are many “Christian books” that lift me spiritually and make me feel good.  The problem with half of them is if you dig deep, you will see that verses are taken out of context or the meaning has been twisted to fit the message the author is trying to convey.  Also, if you dig into some of these authors’ lives and beliefs, you will think twice about what you are reading.

I had an experience once.  I was in a Christian book store and picked up a book on teaching in a post modern world (or was it reaching the lost in a post modern world?)  Anyway….  I really did not even know the scriptures,  like I do now.  The whole time I was looking at this book, I kept saying something is not right.  I also felt someone standing over my shoulder.  I kept turning around, but no one was there.  Every time I looked at another page in the book, I felt someone was there and I should put the book back on the shelf.  I went home and researched the book and the author (I wish I could remember the title and the author now – but it was several years ago).  It turned out the author was a New Ager, and a lot of his teaching was a mixture of the Bible and New Age philosophy.   Now, getting vibes and feeling someone is there is not an indication of God, but God was using that to send a message to me to watch what I was reading and feeding into my brain.

So do we need to focus on the good and the things of the Lord?  Yes.
Do we need to be educated in God’s word to have proper discernment over false teachings? Yes.
Is every Pastor teaching the word of God as they should? No.
Can I make a difference in someone’s life, without the word of God? Absolutely, there are denominations that believe you are saved by works.  If you are saved,  then you will have works, but works do not save you.  Also, just because I am charitable and lead a good life does not mean that Jesus is in my heart and I am pleasing him.
Is Jesus Love? Yes.
Was Jesus ever unloving?  This is a catch-22.  Jesus is Love.  But I am sure when he cleared the synagogue twice, convicted the Pharisees, etc., they thought he was unloving.

Just because an author is popular, has a large following, and “led a lot of people to Christ”, does not mean that he is teaching the true Gospel and message.  There are many pastors I can name who have “fallen from Grace” because they were teaching a different religion and leading a different life.

To paraphrase a verse: ‘let no man add to or take away from the word that is written”.  Any meaning added to or taken away from what the word of God says and teaches is a SIN and those who mislead their followers will have a price to pay.  Any pastor or teacher has more judgment on them, as they are leading others in  the word.

When we start following men over the word of God, then there is a problem.  My pastor was going to have to take time out from teaching as he was having health concerns.  I asked him, rather than taking a break or postponing classes, would it be all right to teach since I have already graduated from these courses.  His response was “I have no question in my mind your ability to handle these classes and to properly teach.  The problem is some people are only here for me.  If I am not the teacher, then they will not come.  This is a sad reality with some of  the people in this church and in this school as I feel they are following me rather than God’s word.  It should not matter who is teaching, what should matter is what is being taught.”

Scott Hervieux,  http://web.me.com/shervieux

A Sampling Of Tony Jones’ Views

This is the second installment of “profiles in emergent”, and this week it is youth speaker Tony Jones.  As mentioned before, this will not be extensive, but serves as some brief highlights of his theology and some of his more “interesting” quotes,  some of which are heretical in nature.
I encourage you to do more research and find out more information on Tony’s theology and involvement with mystical practices.
(I have an earlier post regarding his rejection of the doctrine of original sin- just check the Tony Jones category)

tony-jones
Tony Jones is a big name when it comes to the Emergent church.  He is one of the so-called originals in the movement.  He is a well-known youth speaker who also founded the Emergent Village, which is like an organized version of the Emergent church.  Our previous emergent celebrity, Brian McLaren, was also a co-founder of Emergent Village.  Tony is also the resident theologian at Solomon’s Porch, Doug Pagitt’s church.  Doug is also a top high priest of the movement who is into “Christian” yoga, and will earn his own profile here soon.
Some of Tony’s books are: The New Christians: Dispatches from the Emergent Frontier; An Emergent Manifesto of Hope; The Sacred Way.

Tony openly acknowledges in The Sacred Way his fascination with mysticism.  He has written chapters on labyrinths, stations of the cross, the silence, centering (mantric) prayer, and much more.

This from Lighthouse Trails Research:
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.

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).

Jones emphasizes the role philosophy and reasoning must play in determining whether the Bible is true and God is real.

And this from thinkerup.blogspot.com:

  • “In neither of his two books, Soul Shaper: Exploring Spirituality And Contemplative Practices In Youth Ministry (2003) and The Sacred Way: Spiritual Practices for Everyday Life (2005), does Jones present the Gospel.
  • Like so many leaders in the Emergent Church, his personal testimony is not of being a convicted sinner without hope before the all Holy God and in that conviction coming to Christ as the only Savior. Rather, in Chapter 1, “The Quest for God”, Jones’ testimony shows that in 2005 he is still fumbling in the darkness of unbelief, quote:

“[Some of us] have this nagging feeling that God is following us around, nudging us to live justly, and expecting us to talk to him every once in a while…Every time I leave God’s side, as it were, it’s not too long until I feel God tagging right along beside me, I can’t seem to shake him. Yet having this sense of God’s company doesn’t necessarily translate to a meaningful spiritual life. I know this because despite my awareness of God’s presence, I have spent most of my life trying to figure out what to do about it”.

So here are some more sample quotes from Tony Jones (youth leader, remember). Take some time to read through and let me know if you agree with me that Tony Jones is, like Brian McLaren, a false teacher:


ON THE RELIABILITY OF THE BIBLE

“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 true.”

ON HOMOSEXUALITY

“I now believe that GLBTQ can live lives in accord with biblical Christianity (as least as much as any of us can!), and that their monogamy can and should be sanctioned and blessed by church and state.”

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ON ABSOLUTE TRUTH
“Emergent doesn’t have a position on absolute truth, or on anything for that matter. Do you show up at a dinner party with your neighbors and ask, ‘What’s this dinner party’s position on absolute truth?’ No, you don’t, because it’s a non-sensical question.”

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ON THE DOCTRINE OF ORIGINAL SIN
“When I was growing up in a moderate, centrist church — somewhere between mainline Christianity and evangelicalism– Original Sin was a given.  I first learned about it in youth group, and we regularly talked about it.  Actually, it’s more accurate to say that we talked about a life with Christ, and the notion of Original Sin was in the background.  It was assumed.  And I cannot remember that it was ever debated.
In other words, I assumed that the doctrine of Original Sin was a biblical notion, and that all Christians accepted it as gospel truth.  Of course, neither is true.” (from Tony’s blog)

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ON WHAT IT IS TO BE A CHRISTIAN
“For years I’d been told that to be a Christian meant I had to do three things: (1) read the Bible, (2) pray, and (3) go to church. But I had come to the realization that there must be something more. And indeed there is. There is a long tradition of searching among the followers of Jesus — it’s a quest, really, for ways to connect with God…The quest is to know Jesus better, to follow him more closely, to become — in some mysterious way — wrapped into his presence. And I thank God that some of these brilliant and spiritual persons wrote down what they learned”.  (The Sacred Way, p16-17)

No testimony of any kind followed or went before this, about conviction and repentance from sin.

Essentially, Tony Jones is just like most of the major emergent leaders, as well as the majority of their misguided followers, and rejects an essential foundation on which Christians stand:
He does not believe in the absolute authority and reliability of scripture, or in its inerrancy; rather, he believes in a Bible that is flexible and can change meaning based on one’s cultural influences and setting.  This in and of itself is all I need to know. Again, this theology is prevalent amongst those such as Brian McLaren and other major influential emergents, meaning most of those who follow them tend to believe the same thing.

His dabbling with mysticism is also unbiblical. There is nothing in the Bible that supports the practices of prayer labyrinths and any of the other contemplative practices.  They may have been done for hundreds of years as a tradition, but it still does not make them biblical!  One of their biggest excuses for practices that encourage “the silence” is Psalm 46:10, which is completely taken out of context by contemplatives.

I have several suggestions regarding Tony Jones:

1. Please pray for him to repent from his rejection of biblical truth.
2. Pray for the youth who hear his messages and read his books, that they may not be deceived.
3. Pray that Christian universities and churches will stop inviting him to speak!
4. Speak out against his teachings whenever you get the chance.  The Bible commands us to do this.  Do not let anyone else tell you otherwise.

Sadly, he has spoken at at least one Nazarene university that I am aware of, including at student chapels.  He spoke at a Youth Ministry Conference at Mid America Nazarene University, co-sponsored, sadly, by Nazarene Theological Seminary.  He also spoke at a student chapel in September of 2007 at MNU.
I pray that this and other universities acquire more discernment and not allow Mr. Jones any more future speaking opportunities to spread his heretical views.  Perhaps they were simply mistaken and did not know what his theology was about, but would they not find out what the person is about before inviting them?  In any case, sorry to be harsh, but sometimes, that is required.  A lot of you know me by now, and so far, no has been able to show me that I am not biblically justified in “judging” Tony Jones and others.  I am not doing this for any reason but to do what is commanded to ALL of us in scripture:

  • Ephesians 5:6-11 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.
  • 2 Corinthians 11:12-15 And I will keep on doing what I am doing in order to cut the ground from under those who want an opportunity to be considered equal with us in the things they boast about. For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.

  • Titus 1:9-2:1 He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. For there are many rebellious people, mere talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision group. They must be silenced, because they are ruining whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach—and that for the sake of dishonest gain.  . . . Therefore, rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith and will pay no attention to Jewish myths or to the commands of those who reject the truth.

VIDEO LINKS:

Tony Jones and Doug Pagitt talking about the Emergent Church.  Watch as they say nothing about nothing.  It’s all about them.

Part 1, Eric Barger on What Is The Emergent Church?: an excerpt from his DVD.

Part 2, Eric Barger on The Emergent Church: another excerpt from his DVD.

New Age Department of Peace

Eight inches of snow shoveled this morning… sigh…

Anyway, Our Sunday School class this past week started getting into 1 John, and some of the discussion included talk about the “gnostics” that John warned about whose understanding of the real Christ was warped and unscriptural.   Since the New Age movement is very much alive and well, and a major threat to the health of the Christian church, I thought I would share this with you from my friends at Lighthouse Trails Research, which does outstanding research on New Age, emergent church, and contemplative spirituality/mystical practices.

New Age Department of Peace Bill Introduced to Congress One Week after Inauguration

On February 3, 2009, the Department of Peace bill HR 808 was updated and introduced to Congress by Representative Dennis Kucinich. For those who are not familiar with the efforts by prolific New Age leaders to bring to reality a US Department of Peace, these efforts began several years ago at a grassroots level. Support for the new department grew and presently 66 members of Congress are supporting the effort. Just one week after the new president took office, the updated Department of Peace bill was introduced.

Lighthouse Trails has issued a number of reports in the last few years addressing the Department of Peace (DOP). These reports explain that the DOP effort began with the Global Renaissance Alliance with New Age leaders Marianne Williamson, Barbara Marx Hubbard, James Redfield, Deepak Chopra, Gary Zukav, Wayne Dyer, and several others. Warren Smith talks about the alliance in his book, Reinventing Jesus Christ:

[O]ne of the obvious goals of the “new gospel” and of the Alliance organization is to completely “reinvent” (if it were possible) the traditional Gospel of Jesus Christ. While members teach that all paths lead to God, they know that there is no place in their new spiritual world order for those who insist that Jesus Christ is their Lord and Savior.

The Alliance presents itself as a “grassroots” organization of everyday folks, but it is important to remember that the Alliance is spearheaded by a high level group of “new gospel” advocates who appear to be operating from a general blueprint channeled from the spirit world years ago by esotericist and occultist, Alice Bailey, who is the author of many channeled works. Her blueprint is continually being affirmed and updated by the recent “new revelations” received by Schucman [A Course in Miracles], Hubbard, Walsch, [Benjamin] Creme and others.

Warren explains in his book how the Global Renaissance Alliance eventually changed its name to The Peace Alliance, which it is still called today and is the lobbying group and initiator for the Department of Peace.

While Barbara Marx Hubbard and some of the other high profile New Agers slowly faded from the forefront of The Peace Alliance, Marianne Williamson has remained a crucial influence. Up until recently, her name and photo were seen throughout the Peace Alliance website. And while her photo and name do not appear on the home page of the site presently, a simple search on the website shows she is still involved in the movement. Barbara Marx Hubbard and some of the other New Agers have remained involved to various degrees as well. In 2005 Marx Hubbard received a Peacebuilders award from the Peace Alliance. 1 But clearly, having the names of well-known New Agers in prominence would deter the efforts to convince Congress that this is a legitimate trustworthy organization that has an agenda of peace and not of a global change in consciousness for humanity as Marx Hubbard, Williamson, Dyer, Chopra, and others teach. This is where personalities like former anchor Walter Cronkite and Hollywood star Joaquin Phoenix, both DOP activists, have helped The Peace Alliance’s agenda.

As we stated in an article titled The Election is Over – What About the Department of Peace?, the Department of Peace will be a means to enforce New Age-based hate-crime legislation. And such legislation will ultimately remove the freedom of speech with regard to declaring the biblical Gospel as the only means of salvation. It will also remove the freedom for public figures (including pastors) to say that the homosexual lifestyle is wrong and sinful (a freedom that has already been restricted in Canada). Also worked into the wording of the bill are restrictions on ownership of guns.2

Ultimately, though, this is a plan to silence the messengers of the true Gospel.

As Bible-believing Christians, let us continue defending the faith in the midst of a dark and lost world that has rejected God’s Savior, Jesus Christ, as the only answer to man’s lostness. While bills and laws will pass, continually changing the structure and functioning of our society, nothing can change the truth found in His Word.

Jesus said:

Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. Matthew 24: 4-6

Lighthouse Trails has set up a research page for those who wish to track the “progress” of the Department of Peace.

* from the Lighthouse Trails Research Project http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/