Who Are We To Judge? Answering The Question

“Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” Proverbs 27:6

“I would rather tell you the hurtful truth, than pretend that all is well and good.”  A pastor friend recently responded to an article I posted by David Cloud, Being A Friend To Sinners: The Emergent Way.  (Original source)

I wanted to share my response to him, as his thoughts reflect what many other pastors and laypeople believe. It is vital to keep providing facts and evidence to our Christian brothers and sisters, even as they continue to be shocked by what they see as uncaring and hateful words, improper judgmentalism, and “divisiveness.”   we have been called haters by such as “pastor” Steve Furtick.  My objective is to show them the truth even if it hurts, and to show that what we are doing is the most loving thing we can do in the face of apostasy today: expose and call out the false teachers, and warn the believers of the danger they are facing, dangers that threaten their very spiritual well-being.  We do this as friends, and because it is a biblical mandate.  As always, I am open to correction from the word of God.

From A Pastor Friend:

    “Wasn’t Jesus accused of the same behavior: being a friend of sinners and publicans? He befriended multitudes, but most of them did not come to repentance.   There is a time, a place, and a way for everything. We need to stop this war against the Church just because some choose to do things differently.  Who are we to be judging others? Are we so full of ourselves that we cannot see that we are hurting the Church rather than heal her? What we need (all of us without exception) is an infilling of the Holy Spirit. Shorter than this is just nonsense.”

Dear Brother, thanks for the comments.

Yes, Jesus was indeed a friend to sinners.  The stark difference is this: He befriended them, BUT He always pointed them to their only real need; their need for spiritual re-birth.  Not so with the emergent crowd and the man-pleasers of today in our denomination and others.  These people focus on becoming friends with unbelievers, and emphasize following “the way of Jesus” by doing good deeds, and practicing the “let’s all get along philosophy” of the emergents, ecumenists and New Evangelical crowd.

So here is the problem.  For all their good intentions of living “in community”, of being a friend to the world, of being non-judgmental and accepting of everyone, they lose sight of the “main thing.”  They ignore the most important thing that Jesus ALWAYS did: He showed the sinner his need of a Savior to pull him out of the miry clay of sin.  That is what is so wrong with the church today, as David Cloud pointed out in the article.  Too many in the church are focusing solely on being friends to sinners, to the detriment of their real need.  I quote from the article again:

“Gurganus is saying we should befriend the unsaved, but he is not saying what the emerging church is saying.  Gurganus is saying that the objective is not merely to befriend the unsaved but to win them to Christ!”

I hope you read that article again by brother Cloud.  It is so right on and biblically solid, I don’t see what objection you have to it, but I am open to biblical correction, as I am sure brother Cloud is also.  Many in the Nazarene church today and other denominations are failing to emphasize the Gospel.  Not the social gospel; not the environmental gospel; not another Jesus; but the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which teaches that nothing is more important in our lives than to repent, confess our sins, and turn to Jesus Christ, the only way to the Father.  Anything that pushes aside this message, or waters it down to a works-based gospel, is not the true gospel; it is doctrines of demons.  And I am sorry to say, but this is being disseminated in the Church of the Nazarene by our leaders and many university presidents, and by many district superintendents and pastors who are byproducts of Nazarene Theological Seminary, a school which is shamefully condoning the teaching of occultism and contemplative spirituality.  (Please refer to Proverbs 27:6 again before you get offended at what I just said).

You said:  “There is a time, a place, and a way for everything. We need to stop this war against the Church just because some choose to do things differently.”

It is not that some are doing things differently; it is that those different ways are contradictory to biblical principles. You must realize that we are fighting a war against Satan, and not against the Church.  We are in the middle of what looks like the end times apostasy.  The true Church is composed of obedient Nazarenes, Baptists, and Christians from many different denominations.  The true Church is not composed of those who are attacking the Church and its biblical foundation; the true Church is composed of those who are standing up to defend the truth of God’s word. The war against the Church will only stop when Jesus Christ returns and puts Satan away for good; in the meantime, please do not mistake me and others for being those who wage war against the Church!  We are defending the faith, we are defending the Church.  We cannot continue to ignore the cancer that is spreading within the church, and much of it is being spread by the corrupt shepherds in many of our pulpits.  As Roger Oakland said in his article on end times apostasy:

“No denomination or fellowship of churches is immune to this delusion. Even those who once stood on the simple Word of God, warning of deception and teaching the Bible  verse by verse, have fallen in the trap. The pressure is too great not to go with the flow. Even when well-respected pastors and leaders see the signs of apostasy happening in their own circles and proclaim a warning, most refuse to listen. They go on their merry way for the sake of popularity and success.”

You asked, “Who are we to be judging others?”

Answer: In the same chapter in Matthew where Jesus CLEARLY shows to us that we are to judge, He later gives us another command that, if we do not judge- we cannot keep that very commandment!  He said:

“Watch out for false prophets.   They come to you in sheep’s clothing.  But inwardly they are ferocious wolves.”  Matt. 7:15

How can we watch out for false prophets?  We judge them by their fruits, and whether their teachings line up with the word of God.  So we are expected by the Lord Jesus Christ to judge; but we are to judge righteously.  It is biblical; it cannot be refuted; and it is an act of disobedience to refuse to judge, because if we do, then we are disobedient to a whole bunch of other scriptures which we cannot truly obey, unless we judge!  I will point you again to a more thorough presentation on whether we should judge or not, as I have posted before, in Yomi Adegboye’s biblical answer to the question: Judge Not?

Finally, you said: “Are we so full of ourselves that we cannot see that we are hurting the Church rather than heal her? What we need (all of us without exception) is an infilling of the Holy Spirit. Shorter than this is just nonsense.”

First, what is hurting the church is not the biblical Christians who are faithful to God’s word; it is the purveyors of false doctrines, including many of our leaders, as I have documented many times.  These are hurting the Church, not folks like me.  We must put away this continuing habit of unity at the cost of compromising God’s word.

It is ironic that you mention the Holy Spirit.  I was speaking to a new sister in the Lord the other night.  She was expressing the heartbreak she and her husband are experiencing, as they see the slow infiltration of emergent ideology into their own church.  She spoke of certain things she felt inside as she listened to sermons, and heard things that just did not sound right.  I have felt the same things, as have many others.  We believe that much of that “gut feeling” that something is wrong, comes from the prompting of the Holy Spirit in us.  Much of that “feeling” has then been validated by the testimony of others, and ultimately, by the testimony of Holy Scripture.

Believe me, the Holy Spirit has led us to where we are now.  We take ridicule from our very own friends and family, and from people we know for years, who have remained blind to the truth for the sake of preserving their “fellowship.”  Worst still is the fact that many know the truth, but are deliberately compromising for their comfort, friendships, or even positions of power.  At what cost, and who will they answer to someday?

I challenge you once again to look at the facts I report on every week, and come to a conclusion based on God’s word, and nothing else.  I challenge you to come and join the many other pastors, laymen and leaders who have joined with us in the same biblical principle: that we are to please God first, and not men.

“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.”  Gal 1:10

Being A Friend To Sinners: The Emergent Way

The following is excerpted from the WHAT IS THE EMERGING CHURCH? This book is available from Way of Life Literature, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143 (toll free phone), www.wayoflife.org (online catalog), fbns@wayoflife.org (e-mail).  I highly recommend the book.  It is one of the best on the emergent church phenomenon sweeping evangelicalism.

 

Being A Friend To Sinners
(originally posted at Way of Life website)

The emerging church calls upon Christians to build intimate relationships with the unsaved but not necessarily with the objective of leading them to Christ. 

Mars Hill Church in Seattle used to operate a secular rock club called Paradox which hosted hundreds of rock concerts. Senior pastor Mark Driscoll said the focus of this operation was simply to show hospitality. “So we welcomed kids into a safe place where we could build relationships of grace on Jesus’ behalf RATHER THAN PREACHING AT THE KIDS or doing goofy things like handing out tracts” (Confessions of a Reformission Rev., pp. 126, 127). 

In the eyes of emerging church leaders, distributing gospel tracts is “goofy.” 

In They Like Jesus but Not the Church, Dan Kimball begins by relating a talk he gave to a group of pastors. He told them that he spends a considerable part of his time as a pastor developing relationships with unbelievers. He said that he gets invited to [rock & roll drinking] clubs to hang out and see bands, and said that “this also is a way to hang out with and build trust and credibility with those I’m befriending” (p. 12). He said, “I shared how incredibly refreshing it is to be friends with people outside of church circles” (p. 13). When one of the pastors asked him if he had won them to Christ, he replied, “No, I’M JUST TRYING TO BE THEIR FRIEND and get to know them” (p. 14). 

When another pastor commented that the emerging generation of people are “pagans” and “they just need to hear solid preaching, which will cause them to repent of their ways,” Kimball strongly disagreed.  Kimball says the term “missional” means that “we don’t ‘bring Jesus’ to people but that we realize Jesus is active in culture and we join him in what he is doing,” and, “we serve our communities, and that we build relationships with people in them, rather than seeing them as evangelistic targets” (They Like Jesus, p. 20). 

Kimball quotes from many unsaved people that he has befriended, giving their opinions about Christ and the church, and he says: “I DIDN’T SET OUT TO PROSELYTIZE THEM; I SIMPLY MET THEM TO BEFRIEND THEM, enjoy their company, and ask their opinions. … I see them as friends, not as evangelistic targets” (p. 61).  Kimball says he thinks Christians have done more harm than good by witnessing to unbelievers using “traditional” methods of confronting them with their sin and need for Christ (p. 38). He says that instead of street witnessing we should develop “relationships in which we dialogue and build trust with people” (p. 43). 

We agree that believers should be friendly to the unsaved and should be ready to befriend them, but this friendship must be done very carefully in the context of holiness.  It is far better to invite the sinner to spend time with us than for us to spend time with them on their own turf (bars, rock concerts, and such).  And there should always be the objective of reaching the unsaved for Christ. Yes, we have an agenda, because we are commanded by our Master to preach the gospel to every person (Mark 16:15). That is the “agenda” Jesus has given us. The most important way a believer can be a friend to the unsaved is to confront him with the gospel. Assuming that hell is real and that salvation is only through faith in Christ, nothing is friendlier or more compassionate than this! 

 In his book The Peril of Islam, Gene Gurganus, who was a missionary to Muslims in Bangladesh for 17 years, gives a proper biblical philosophy of befriending unbelievers in the context of evangelism. The first of his nine suggestions for winning Muslims to Christ is the following: 

“If we are going to evangelize Muslims, the first thing we have to do is to cultivate a friendship. Saying, ‘Hello. How are you?’ is not enough. We need to come along side and get to know him, know his problems, his frustrations, his ambitions, and his fears” (p. 61). 

Gurganus is saying we should befriend the unsaved, but he is not saying what the emerging church is saying. Gurganus is saying that the objective is not merely to befriend the unsaved but to win them to Christ!   That is what we see in the life and ministry of Jesus. He was the friend of sinners par excellence and He spent time with sinners, but He never sinned in any way with sinners. Jesus was not a rock & roll “party animal.” And He most definitely had the “agenda” of saving those He befriended. He said, “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). Jesus did not come to earth just to make friends, to give people a sympathetic ear, and to help them in some vague sense. 

The context of Jesus’ statement in Luke 19:10 was his visit to Zacchaeus’ house, and Jesus didn’t go home with the tax collector to hang out and party; he went home with him specifically to lead him to repentance. Jesus was guilty of being “a guest with a man that is a sinner” (Luke 19:7), but this simply means that he loved sinners and sought to win them to God. Jesus didn’t spend his time with sinners partying to rap music; He spent His time teaching spiritual truth.

Christ preached very plainly to people; He was not afraid of offending them with direct truth. He demanded repentance (Matthew 18:8-9; Luke 13:3-5). He instructed sinners to “sin no more” (John 8:11). He warned often of hell, at least 14 times in the Gospels, describing it as a place of fire and eternal torment (i.e., Matthew 5:22, 29, 30; 10:28; 11:23; 18:9; 23:15, 33; Mark 9:43-48; Luke 12:5; 16:23). He warned men to cut off their hands and pluck out their eyes rather than go to hell. This type of preaching would put an end to any party! Jesus’ preaching was so plain and uncompromising that most of his own followers eventually turned away from Him because they were offended at His words and His powerful call to discipleship (John 6:60-66).

God has made us ambassadors for Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:17-21). The believer’s chief job in this world is to urge sinners to be reconciled to Christ. This is not a peripheral part of our purpose in this present world; it is the very heart of it!  Further, our ministry to the unsaved must have a great sense of urgency to it. To preach the gospel to “every creature” necessitates this. There is not time to build an intimate relationship with every unbeliever in the world. Further, the Bible says that today is the day of salvation (2 Cor. 6:2). It warns against banking on tomorrow (James 4:13-14). “The night is far spent, the day is at hand” (Romans 13:12). We are the Lord’s ambassadors who are left in this world to proclaim this solemn message while there is still opportunity. 

“Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come” (Matthew 24:42).

“Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh” (Matthew 24:44).

“Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh” (Matthew 25:13).

“Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober” (1 Thessalonians 5:6).

Evangelist D. L. Moody, though not one of my spiritual heroes, had it right when he said, “I look upon this world as a wrecked vessel. God has given me a lifeboat and said to me, ‘Moody, save all you can.’”

_________________________

This article is excerpted from the WHAT IS THE EMERGING CHURCH? This book is available from Way of Life Literature, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143 (toll free phone), www.wayoflife.org (online catalog), fbns@wayoflife.org (e-mail).

Beware: Spiritual Disciplines (aka contemplative mysticism) Still Infiltrating Evangelical Christian Colleges

The following is from Lighthouse Trails Research, documenting the continuing trend of many Christian universities that are rejecting Biblical Christianity in exchange for Eastern mysticism.  Among them in this report is Olivet Nazarene University, although practically all Nazarene universities and the seminaries are on the spiritual formation bandwagon (aka contemplative spirituality), which is fast becoming a requirement for Christian schools to be accredited, and for future pastors in order to graduate.  Many of you know of this, but I want you to continue to be aware of one of the most deadly trends in Christian higher education today that is polluting the minds of many of our young people today.  The General Superintendents in the Nazarene denomination and other leaders seem to have either bought into this or refuse to do anything about it at this time.

Spiritual Disciplines Handbook – Christian Organizations, Seminaries, and Ministry Leaders Incorporate This Mystical Primer into Christian Education (source, Lighthouse Trails Research)

Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun is a primer on contemplative mysticism, bursting with contemplative meditation instruction along with references and quotes by some of the movement’s most prolific mystics on the scene today. It’s a book one might expect to find on the shelves of a Catholic monastery, a New Age bookstore, or in an emerging church coffee house; while it probably is in those types of places, the book has become a common textbook in many spiritual formation classes and has found a growing audience with evangelical pastors, seminary professors, and Christian ministry leaders. In fact, many of those in ministry are eagerly flocking to this book, and in so doing pointing potentially millions of Christians to the book’s message. While we have made mention of this book in several articles over the past decade, we feel it is time to present a more focused critique of Calhoun’s book and her message.

 

 

Who is promoting Calhoun’s handbook? First of all, a major advocate of the book for a number of years is Rick Warren. You can find the book on his resource website, where Saddleback gives a hearty recommendation for the book. Willow Creek also recommends the book in their Establishing Life Giving Rhythms class. In a course at Reformed Theological Seminary, the book is being used as “required reading.” In Olivet Nazarene University’s Spiritual Formation and Personal Development course, the book is listed in the “Suggested Reading” section. In Biola’s online course, Introduction to Spiritual Formation, the book is “Recommended Reading.” Assemblies of God Theological Seminary’s course, Renewing the Spiritual Leader includes Calhoun’s book in a list for required reading. Moody Bible Institute’s Midday Connection radio program had Calhoun as a guest speaker in November 2011, and Midday Connection host Anita Lustrea talks about Calhoun in her own book, What Women Tell Me. Lustrea, tells how she met Calhoun during a course called Growing Your Soul and how Calhoun taught her some of the contemplative “spiritual disciplines” (p. 125). On the Wesleyan denomination’s website, in a Spiritual Formation course, Calhoun’s book is listed in a Bibliography on Spiritual Formation. MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) had Calhoun as one of the speakers at their 2011 MOPS International Convention. On the book’s publisher’s website (InterVarsity Press), you will find an endorsement for the book by the popular pastor Timothy Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian of NYC, who says of Calhoun’s handbook:

I have long profited from Adele Ahlberg Calhoun’s gifts in the field of spiritual development, and I am delighted that she has compiled her experience with spiritual disciplines into book form. I highly recommend it and I look forward to using it as a resource at our church.

These are just a few instances of many more where evangelical Christians or organizations are turning to Calhoun’s Spiritual Disciplines Handbook for spiritual direction (see below this article for more who use the book). Now let us examine this book and see why it is so troubling to know it is being used in so many Christian venues.

As we stated above, Calhoun’s book is permeated with references of and quotes by some of the most prolific contemplative mystics today. But she doesn’t just quote and reference these mystics – in her book, she reveals that these teachers are her ”spiritual tutors.” She states:

I would be remiss not to mention the spiritual tutors that I know only through books: Dorothy Bass, Eugene Peterson, Gerald May, M. Basil Pennington, Dallas Willard, Phyllis Tickle, Fredrick Buechner, Richard Foster, Henri Nouwen, Richard Rohr, Jonathan Edwards [not a contemplative], Francis de Sales, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Ignatius Loyola, St. Benedict, Julian of Norwich and many more. Their ideas, voices and examples have shaped my own words and experience of the disciplines. (Acknowledgment’s page)

For those who have spent time on the Lighthouse Trails website or read A Time of Departing and Faith Undone, most of these names above will be familiar to you. You will know that the late Gerald May was the co-founder of the Shalem Institute of Spiritual Formation in Washington DC., and as Ray Yungen points out, May adhered to “Eastern metaphysical views,” which can be seen in many of his writings, including his book The Awakened Heart where he discusses the “cosmic presence” “pervading ourselves and all creation” (ATOD, p. 67). Yungen points out that “there can be no mistaking [May's] theological underpinnings” when May says:

It is revealed in the Hindu greetings jai bhagwan and namaste that reverence the divinity that both resides within and embraces us all. (The Awakened Heart, pp. 179-180)

Gerald May makes it very clear in that statement where he is coming from. This panentheistic, God-in-everybody view, which May embraced is the “fruit” of contemplative spirituality and is why we are so persistent in warning about this spiritual outlook that has entered the Christian church. Think about it, Adele Calhoun sees Gerald May as a spiritual tutor, and now she is presenting the beliefs of these tutors to untold numbers of Christians via her book. Let’s look at another tutor whom she turns to – Basil Pennington. In a book written by Pennington and Thomas Keating (who, by the way, Calhoun also recommends), the two Catholic monks write:

We should not hesitate to take the fruit of the age-old wisdom of the East and “capture” it for Christ. Indeed, those of us who are in ministry should make the necessary effort to acquaint ourselves with as many of these Eastern techniques as possible.

Many Christians who take their prayer life seriously have been greatly helped by Yoga, Zen, TM and similar practices, especially where they have been initiated by reliable teachers and have a solidly developed Christian faith to find inner form and meaning to the resulting experiences. (Finding Grace at the Center, pp. 5-6)

Calhoun would agree with Pennington and Keating on their views of “Eastern techniques.” She talks about these kinds of practices in her book, such as in the chapter she titles “Centering Prayer” where she instructs readers to focus on a “sacred word,” or in the chapter she titles “Breath Prayer,” where she encourages “short repetitive prayer[s],” or in her chapter titled Devotional Reading, where she talks about lectio divina and picking out one word from a passage of Scripture, a word which becomes the focus for meditation, or in her chapter titled “The Labyrinth Prayer,” where one is taught how to walk through a labyrinth while doing contemplative meditation. She also tells readers to “Explore the practice of liturgical prayer through using the book The Divine Hours by Phyllis Tickle, or The Daily Office of the Catholic church” (Kindle Edition, Locations 2861-2862). For those of you who may not know who Phyllis Tickle is, she has been the darling and a favorite mentor of emerging church leaders. It is Tickle who likened atonement-rejector Brian McLaren to another Luther, saying he could be instrumental in bringing about a “new reformation.”

One can also see how Calhoun resonates with Pennington and Keating when she favorably says that “three Cistercian monks, Thomas Keating, Basil Pennington and William Meninger, sought to revive this ancient form of meditative prayer.” (Kindle Edition, Locations 2460-2461). By the way, Calhoun recommends (Kindle Edition, Location 2498) Keating’s book, Open Mind, Open Heart, another ”textbook” on contemplative and centering prayer. In that book, Keating says this:

Centering prayer is a discipline designed to reduce the obstacles … choose a sacred word [to repeat] … Twenty to thirty minutes is the minimum amount of time necessary for most people to establish interior silence. (pp. 18, 21, 23 as quoted from Faith Undone, p. 81)

The repeating of a word or phrase is how contemplative prayer is practiced. This in turn begins to make the practitioner feel a oneness with God, humanity, creation, and with everything. This oneness is the whole crux of the matter. After awhile, the contemplative meditator begins to take on a different spiritual outlook. It’s what caused Thomas Merton (another mystic you will find in Calhoun’s book) to say “I see no contradiction between Buddhism and Christianity . . . I intend to become as good a Buddhist as I can.” (from David Steindl-Rast, “Recollection of Thomas Merton’s Last Days in the West” (Monastic Studies, 7:10, 1969). Or what caused Henri Nouwen (another Calhoun “tutor”) to say at the end of his life after years of meditating:

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.(From Sabbatical Journey, Henri Nouwen’s last book page 51, 1998 Hardcover Edition)

In addition to the tutors Adele Calhoun lists in her Acknowledgements page, she also includes other names in the book that are important to point out here: David Steindl-Rast, Marjorie Thompson (author of Soul Feast), Brian C. Taylor, Kathleen Norris (a Catholic contemplative nun), Karen Mains, Tilden Edwards, Ruth Haley Barton, and Esther De Waal. Between her “tutors” and these other names along with the practices and ideas Calhoun espouses in Spiritual Disciplines Handbook, the heart of the contemplative prayer movement is clearly and no doubtedly manifested in her book.

The following quotes by some of the people in Calhoun’s book are the focal point of our concerns. These aren’t minor points we’re dealing with. The essence of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is at risk to those who are being exposed to this. The spirituality that Calhoun and her tutors embrace leads to interspirituality (i.e., all paths lead to God). “Christian mysticism” resonates with Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, and Muslim mysticism, which means it’s not Christian at all; but practitioners become blinded to that – this is how Henri Nouwen came to call these mystical spiritual practices “treasures for the spiritual life of the Christian.” See now for yourself if you come to the same conclusions we have when you read these quotes:

The God he [Merton] knew in prayer was the same experience that Buddhists describe in their enlightenment. – Brian C. Taylor (Setting the Gospel Free, p. 76 -What Taylor means by this book title is getting rid of the biblical Gospel).

These [Christian] contemplatives also recognize their soul mates in other traditions, as did Thomas Merton in his pilgrimage to Buddhist Asia. This is because they have passed beyond the confines of religion as a closed system to an open awareness of God-in-life. Brian C. Taylor, Setting the Gospel Free

The enlightenment you seek in our religions has been present in Christianity from the beginning – from the back cover of Richard Rohr’s book, The Naked Now

[New Ager] Ken Wilber is really the best teacher today . . . to give us an “integral spirituality.” Pick any book of his that fascinates you, and you will know why I, as a Christian, recommend him. – Richard Rohr, The Naked Now, p. 153 (Wilber’s “integral spirituality” include yoga, zen, TM, kabbalah, tantric sex, kundalini, and centering prayer.)

This mystical stream [contemplative prayer] is the Western bridge to Far Eastern spirituality. – Tilden Edwards, Spiritual Friend, p. 18

The practice of contemplative prayer might give a Christian ground for constructive dialogue with a meditating Buddhist. – Marjorie Thompson, Soul Feast, Prologue

Skeptics may say, well these quotes are not in Calhoun’s book. That’s true, but anyone can see that Calhoun is encouraging her readers to turn to these mystics by calling them her tutors, quoting from them extensively, and recommending their books.

If you want to know what the end result of practicing contemplative spirituality is, the following quote by David Steindl Rast (who is in Calhoun’s book) sums it up – drop the Cross of Christ! There’s no need for it once the world religions come together under the common denominator of mystical realms:

Unfortunately, over the course of the centuries, this [Christianity] has come to be presented in almost legal language, as if it were some sort of transaction, a deal with God; there was this gap between us and God, somebody had to make up for it—all that business. We can drop that. The legal metaphor seems to have helped other generations. Fine. Anything that helps is fine. But once it gets in the way, as it does today, we should drop it.David Steindl-Rast, talking to a Buddhist (Robert Aitken & Steindl Rast, The Ground We Share, p. 45, emphasis added)

We must choose one, dear Christian – contemplative spirituality or the Cross of Jesus Christ – we cannot have them both.

No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. (Matthew 6:24)

Other Instances Where Spiritual Disciplines Handbook is Being Used:

Anaheim Vineyard – Pastoral Staff Recommends list

Rockbridge Seminary (where Rick Warren is an “advisor”) – Master of Divinity, Master of Ministry Leadership

Eastern Mennonite University“Highly recommended” list

Northpark Theological University - “Highly recommended” list

Nazarene Theological SeminaryBibliography used

LeTourneau University

Trevecca Nazarene University – Formational Resources

 

Why Don’t More Pastors Speak Out Against Apostasy?

Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: “Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place.  Jeremiah 7:3

I received the following letter from a sister in the Lord who is on the front lines of the battle and warning her fellow Christians.  I follow the letter with a brief response.

I am so overjoyed these days as I think on the soon return of Jesus, and see prophecy being fulfilled before our very eyes.  Yet at the same time, I am also feeling so grieved in my spirit, because I do not see more of a stand being taken from those who do know the truth and have an audience or platform to proclaim the truth, but do not feel the urgency to aggressively expose this time of falling away.  I sometimes wonder if they think this is all a bad dream, or worse yet, just a passing fad, and hope it will just go away.   

I again made a trip to two local Christian Bookstores yesterday, and both seem to be “pushing” books that are filled with the mindset of the Emergent Church and the Missional Church.   I notice that Rob Bell’s ‘Velvet Elvis’ is constantly restocked and sold as a $1 bargain book, and placed at several different locations throughout the book section in full view as to make sure that it does not miss the eye of the customer – not just alphabetically, as most books are displayed.  (Personally, I do not even think his book is worth $1, but the plan seems to be to make them very available to as many people as possible, along with a host of others who are of this Emergent / Missional Church mindset.)  Outside of those clearly speaking against the Emergent Church, etc., I cannot even chance purchasing a book from current and especially new authors for running the risk that the author would already be steeped in this mindset.  I am beginning to feel the weariness from being on my guard continually.

I feel like “the house ” (i.e. the Church) is on fire, and most [Christians] are standing around just watching it burn.  I know that is not the case with your ministry, and others I keep up with on the internet, but in my own backyard, I am not seeing evidence that the alarm is sounding to the degree it seems a burning house would warrant.   I am only about 20 miles or so from the mega-ministry of Joel Osteen, whose message seems to stand out in our southern area more than others.  It seems that the message of the Emergent Church is slipping in relatively unnoticed, and now has a high level of penetration in the Christian Bookstores.  The Emergent Church has become just one more “feel good gospel”, and is not seen as a threat to The Church.  With all the Concerned Christian DVD’s we have passed out, we have only found a couple of people who even knew anything about the Emergent Church beforehand.  After giving them the DVD and checking back with them for their response, many have not even taken the time to watch it.   The exception is the faithful members of the church we recently left, where they are well aware that their church is on fire.  They are working overtime to distribute stacks of books like Faith Undone by Roger Oakland to as many members as possible in an effort to join together, vigorously sound the alarm, and desperately try to put the fire out in their beloved church which is quickly following the Emergent Path.   

I realize that the end time apostasy will encompass those within Christianity as well, but I would hope to see more effort to sound the “on fire” alarm in an attempt to wake up those who are asleep.  (In my opinion, “the five sleeping virgins who do have oil in their lamps and are waiting and watching for the Bridegroom” are a picture of the now awakening, discerning Church as spoken of in Matt. 25 – with the other five sleeping virgins representing those without discernment who fall prey to the false teaching of the end time.)  I have heard a handful of pastors address the Emergent Church in their sermons or on a few radio broadcasts, but not to the degree that I would expect, and often not by name.  The fact that there has been such a strong penetration into our Christian reading material of the Postmodern movement and it’s agenda seems to be a significant fact left un-addressed.  It seems like the alarm can just barely be heard.

Manny, are these pastors afraid of standing for Truth (similar to Jonah and others who were called to proclaim the truth in the face of error, but initially tried to avoid doing so?)   I just do not get it.  I cannot understand, for the life of me that if a pastor is called to preach Truth, why they would only be willing to “lightly” touch this message.  My whole life has been affected by this awareness, as I know yours and many others have been as well.  I am sure you have already experienced this moment of grief and frustration, but it has been so strong for me lately, and I feel the sadness of it almost continually.  I now understand why Jeremiah was called the “weeping” prophet because this is so grievous and heart-wrenching.  It feels like there is a hesitancy from the pulpit to “call a spade a spade”  (for lack of a better analogy).    Is this just the way it is going to be… or even, suppose to be?

I was curious to know if this is how you have felt in the past or do currently feel, or am I being over-dramatic.  I do tend to take life and my faith very seriously and can get a bit worked up and overly zealous at times, at least in the opinion of some.
In Christ,
Miriam

Dear Miriam,

Here are a few thoughts on your questions:

1. Why are so many pastors silent?  What reason could they have to be silent when they are called by God to speak the Truth?  Don’t they see that what is happening does not line up with God’s word?  Yes, many are behaving like Jonah, because I have personally spoken with them.  They listen, they nod their heads in agreement, and then that’s it.  Or they deflect my message with the erroneous argument that we should not be judgmental, thus steering clear of the questions at hand that need to be answered!   How ironic, coming from pastors who ought to know the Scriptures better than me!

In any case, I no longer hear from them, and I wonder what is going on in their minds daily after receiving the message I gave them.  And yes, sadly, I believe this is the way it is supposed to be- according to what I have read in Scripture.  The hearts of many will grow cold; even the elect may be deceived; and as the Lord’s return gets closer, there WILL be a great falling away before the son of perdition arrives on the scene to deceive even more.  It is chilling to think of that scenario, but we cannot make it go away by pretending there will be great revival- as that false notion keeps getting spread around.

Jesus said in Matthew 11 as he prayed to God, ““I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes.”  Are we the babes He refers to?  You and I are certainly not looked to as theological giants that everyone comes running to for advice.  Yet, why do we see this apostasy so clearly, and learned men do not?  I believe this clearly shows us that it is not head knowledge that reveals the truth to us, but God’s Holy Spirit as we walk in faith and obedience to His word.  Are these pastors and “spiritual giants” walking in obedience to God?

2. Yes, I also believe the house (the Church) has been on fire for a long time.  Yes, my heart has long been feeling that same heaviness that you have.  You are not overly zealous, nor over-dramatic or too worked up; you have a love, as I have, for those who are dear to you, as well as those you don’t know well, because you know the consequences of apostasy and worshiping a false Jesus are deadlier than physical death!  What more urgent message can we give, but to tell the people that they are headed towards destruction?  Yes, this is grievous!  This is heartwrenching!  I watched a movie about Jeremiah that my wife and kids gave me as a Father’s Day gift.  (Jeremiah’s Indictment).  Many of us feel just like the weeping prophet, who day after day, year after year, sees the people either flat out rejecting the Lord, fooled into participating in idolatry, or they just don’t care.  What else is there left to do but weep?

The same message applies to all professing Christians today.  Thus says the Lord to all who have turned from his command to obey Him in all things: “amend your ways” To all who desire to “live a godly life in Christ Jesus”, here is another guarantee: we WILL be persecuted for His name’s sake.  We may even be killed for His sake someday.  But the end result of our faithfulness is a crown of glory and being in the presence of the King.  Yet, that good news certainly does not remove the fact that many more than not will reject the true Jesus in the end days, and worship and bow to a false god.  Oh the sadness and heartbreak it brings to us, as we think of loved ones especially who we have given the message to, but who have rejected us.  But Jesus did say, “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.”  Matt. 24:12-13

So, we must continue to faithfully proclaim the truth to as many as will listen, and we must stand firm to the end.  It breaks our hearts knowing that many will turn away and their love will grow cold, but their responsibility will be to answer not to us, but to Almighty God on Judgment Day.

Manny

When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth? (Luke 18:8)

For additional reference: Falling Away (Durable Faith)