Does Psalm 46:10 Teach Contemplative/Centering Prayer?

I have been disturbed for quite a long time about the contemplative practices which have so poisoned our universities and now are also filtering into so many Nazarene churches (and most all other denominations as well).  Our last post highlighted the problems at Point Loma Nazarene University, including the ridiculous fining of at least one student who refused to attend chapel services which promoted this unbiblical practice. Experience, experience, experience… that seems to be the focus of the contemplatives, instead of “God’s Word.. what does it say to us”?

The article below by Pastor Ken Silva at continues the focus on these issues, with commentary on one of the most commonly used excuses to justify contemplative or centering prayer, and that is Psalm 46:10.

God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; Though its waters roar and foam, Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, The holy dwelling places of the Most High. God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. The nations made an uproar, the kingdoms tottered; He raised His voice, the earth melted. The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our stronghold.

Come, behold the works of the LORD, Who has wrought desolations in the earth. He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariots with fire. ”Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our stronghold. (Psalm 46:1-11, NASB)

Be Still And You’ll Know You’re Being Mislead

The heart of this short article from Apprising Ministries is to bring to your attention that it’s quite common for those who are teachers of the corrupt Contemplative/Spirituality/Mysticism (CSM) of so-called Spiritual Formation (SF) to appeal to verse 10 of the above Psalm 46 in an attempt to justify their unbiblical practice of Contemplative/Centering Prayer (CCP), which is a type of transcendental meditation for the “Christian.” For example you’ll definitely see this in this teaching of Living Spiritual Teacher and Quaker mystic “Roshi” Richard Foster as well as that of his spiritual twin ordained Southern Baptist minister Dallas Willard.

Perhaps the best recent example would be the DVD Be Still And Know, which was an veritable ode to CCP. The “Bible Study Guide” that comes with it informs us:

Be Still is an interactive film that provides a contemplative look at the history, importance and power of prayer from a cross-denominational point of view… demonstrat[ing] contemplative reflection as a vital part of our everyday lives… featur[ing] some of today’s most highly respected Christian authors, educators, speakers and ministers including Dr. Henry Cloud, Richard Foster, Max Lucado, Beth Moore, Priscilla Shriver and Dallas Willard. (1)

Sure enough on page 9 under the subheading “Contemplative Prayer” we’re told that, “The Bible speaks specifically about being quiet and still before the Lord.” And the first verse used to support their contention that Scripture is speaking about being “quiet and still” in preparation for CCP meditation is Psalm 46:10. In Prayer: Finding The Heart’s True Home the aforementioned Richard Foster writes:

So many passages of Scripture provide a touchstone for Meditative Prayer: “Be still and know that I am God”; “Abide in my love”; “I am the Good Shepherd”; “Rejoice in the Lord always.” (149)

And then we have Ruth Haley Barton, a spiritual director, teacher ,and retreat leader trained through The Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation. Co-Founder & President of The Transforming Center Barton has also been a featured speaker and teacher at Zondervan’s National Pastors Conference for the past couple of years heading up their Pastor’s Retreats. Her book Invitation to Solitude and Silence: Experiencing God’s Transforming Presence, which by the way you can purchase right from Lifeway Christian Stores of the “Protestant” Southern Baptist Convention, has a foreword from Dallas Willard and an endorsement from Tilden Edwards who heads the interspiritual Shalem Institute.

In her chapter ”Beyond Words” where she describes her “journey” (I’m coming to hate that word) into the “silence and solitude” of CCP Barton opens with a quote from apostate Roman Catholic monk Richard Rohr and explains that “help came from a spiritual director” whom Barton met when she “sought her out for therapy.” Barton then tells us that:

this wise woman said to me, “Ruth, you are like a jar of river water all shaken up. What you need is to sit still long enough that the sentiment can settle and the water can become clear”… well, that image called to me with the hope of peace, clarity and a deeper level of certainty in God than I had ever known. In the desire [which] this image stirred up, I recognized an invitation to be still and know beyond my addiction  to noise, words, people and performance-oriented activity. (29, 30)

What Is The Lord Telling Us When He Tells Us Be Still And Know He’s God?

All of this sure sounds pleasing and it most certainly is the prevailing postevangelical view of Psalm 46:10 — Be still, and know that I am God (NIV). The huge problem for the growing band of evangelical CSM supporters in the Emerging rebellion against Sola Scriptura is that this verse has nothing at all to do with the subject of prayer as the context should make clear. Taken in the context of this Psalm, an exclaimation of praise for the glorious absolute sovereignty of the LORD God Almighty, we have a reminder that those who belong to Him should “cease striving”; stop worrying, “be still,” rest quietly, in any kind of situation because the LORD is your God.

Yet how odd that postevangelical and Emergent Church contemplatives content to embrace mystery ala Rob Bell will tell me that I can’t know for sure verse 10 really means what I just told you it does. However, in a perfect demonstration of double-mindedness these same wannabe Christian mystics are then certain that they know this verse is in fact teaching their spurious spirituality. Even so the fact remains that these neo-Gnostics with their supposedly superior understanding of the “real” meaning of Scripture, which out of the other side of their mouths they tell us can’t be clearly understood, have wrested this verse out of its context.

As to a proper view of Psalm 46:10 in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary series Dr. Willem A. VanGemeren is right when he points out that:

the psalmist encourages the godly to “know” that the Lord is God. Though it was tempting to ally themselves with foreign powers, to rely on military strength, or to give themselves over to idolatry and pagan ways, the godly must learn to persevere to the end. The exhortation “be still” calls on them to stop doing one thing in favor of something else. What their temptation was may be implied from v.2: “Therefore we will not fear.”

Throughout the history of Israel and Judah, severe national distress brought the temptation to abandon true religion for the ephemeral security of political alliances, military strength, and worldly paganism (Realpolitik). Instead of choosing a negative option, the people of God distinguish themselves by the pursuit of godliness: “Know that I am God.” The “knowledge” of God includes a factual knowledge about him, his past acts, and his promises. But in this context the psalmist calls on them to commit themselves to the Lord and to seek his “refuge,” “strength,” and “fortress” (vv.1, 7, 11). (Psalm 46, CD Rom)

Then in his own classic The Treasury of David Charles Spurgeon quotes Jonathan Edwards as teaching the following concerning Psalm 46:10 :

Verse 10. Be still, and know that I am God. The great works of God, wherein his sovereignty appeared, had been described in the foregoing verses. In the awful desolations that he made, and by delivering his people by terrible things, he showed his greatness and dominion. Herein he manifested his power and sovereignty, and so commands all to be still, and know that he is God. For says he, I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. In the words may be observed,

A duty described, to be still before God, and under the dispensations of his providence; which implies that we must be still as to words; not speaking against the sovereign dispensations of Providence, or complaining of them; not darkening counsel by words without knowledge, or justifying ourselves and speaking great swelling words of vanity. We must be still as to actions and outward behaviour, so as not to oppose God in his dispensations; and as to the inward frame of our hearts, cultivating a calm and quiet submission of soul to the sovereign pleasure of God, whatever it may be. (Online source)

Next pastor Larry DeBruyn will now give us a good working knowledge of the Hebrew which underlies the English ”Cease striving”, “Be still”:

“Be still” (Hebrew, rapah) is used 46 times in the Old Testament with meanings everywhere from describing laziness to ordering relaxation. Though the majority of versions translate the injunction “Be still”, other meanings are “Cease striving (NASB), “Be quiet” (NCV), “Desist” (Young’s), or “Calm down” (CEV). In no biblical usage or context does the Hebrew verb enjoin God’s people to meditate or contemplate. Rather, believers are to rest and trust in God. (Online source, emphasis his)

And in closing, if you are someone who has found themselves attracted to these seducing spirits and their doctrines of demons in CSM and CCP I will now leave you to contemplate the following sound advice and stern warning from pastor Bob DeWaay in his article Contemporary Christian Divination: The False Claims and Practices of Christian Mystics:

I have debated people about these techniques many times. They often say, “God can do anything and use anything, you are tying to put God in a box.” You probably have heard that argument. When I was doing my research on divination for the previous issue of CIC, I thought about the “putting God in a box” accusation. The Biblical record shows that it is God who purposely limits the ways we can come to Him. If there is a “box” God made it. I think a better analogy than a box, is a sheepfold. It is a Biblical analogy.

Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber” (John 10:1). The true sheep enter the sheepfold through the door, Jesus Christ (John 10:7). He as the Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep (John 10:11). He protects His sheep from the wolves, gives them pasture, and abundant life (John 10:10-15). Being in the sheepfold may seem restrictive compared to the adventures of exploring the bigger world out there unencumbered by the guidance of the Shepherd. However the restrictions are there to save our spiritual lives.

The restrictions God places on how and by what means we may legitimately come to Him and receive spiritual truth are for our own good. The spirit world that Christian mystics like Morton Kelsey want to explore is far more complex than even Jung and Kelsey give it credit for being. The dangers of deception are far more real. In fact, if we journey into the world of the spirits by means other that what God has ordained, we will be deceived, not may be deceived. The spirits who inhabit that world have been there for many thousands of years practicing the art of deception. They willingly give people whatever experience they would tend to think is from God. Jose Silva, who is Catholic, when he went into his alpha level to gain guides received Jesus and Mary. The spirits will give you what you would expect is from God in your own context. They will provide any experience that serves their deceptive purposes, including sending a spiritual “Jesus” (see 2Corinthians 11:4). The prohibitions on divination are there to protect us from these malicious entities.

So we are not putting God in a box, God is putting us in a sheepfold if we are willing to be there. The practices of “thinking outside the box” that are so popular today are fatal when it comes to spirituality. God has not left access to spiritual truth in the hands of innovative thinkers who like pioneers blaze new trails. God has given access to Himself, once for all, through Jesus Christ who is our heavenly High Priest. The truth is revealed once for all in the Scriptures. (Online source, emphasis his)


Point Loma Nazarene University Welcomes Brian McLaren and Embraces Contemplative Spirituality

This is yet another continuing story in the sad saga of the incorporation of pagan eastern mystical practices into the Nazarene universities.  I am still waiting for emergents to give me a biblical case for these unbiblical practices.  I have practically pleaded with them to justify these things, but all they use is either their own human wisdom, or they take one verse out of context and lamely use it as an excuse.  The following from Lighthouse Trails Research highlights the problems at Point Loma, including the fining of students who refuse to attend chapel services which promote these practices.

Source:  Editors at Lighthouse Trails

Point Loma has hopped on the contemplative/emergent bandwagon, and one student and his family are very concerned. Lighthouse Trails has been contacted by a parent who told us her son attends Point Loma Nazarene University in California. Fortunately, for this woman’s son, he recognizes the spiritual deception that is taking place at Point Loma, but unfortunately he is a minority there and believes if he spoke up and his identity were revealed, he could be asked to leave the school or be reprimanded in some way.

The mother who called us said her son is in a dilemma. The school’s required chapel services are inundated with contemplative/emerging persuasions, and students who do not attend are fined. This particular student has made a decision not to sit in chapel when there are false doctrines being espoused, and he now owes quite a bit of money to the school. (1, 2)

Let’s take a moment and examine what is taking place at Point Loma Nazarene University–

To begin with, this past February PLNU had emergent leader and mysticism promoter Brian McLaren speak. Click here to listen to McLaren at PLNU. There is also the following endorsement for McLaren is posted on the Point Loma website:

On February 6, 2009, the Center for Pastoral Leadership had the pleasure of hosting Pastors Day 2009 for over 200 pastors from the greater San Diego area and beyond. This year, we were pleased to welcome as our special guest, author Brian McLaren. Time Magazine, in a recent publication, listed McLaren as “one of the twenty-five most influential evangelicals in America.” It was a generous grant from the Strategic Planning Committee that made his coming to PLNU a reality. 3

This was not the first time Brian McLaren has spoken at Point Loma. In February 2008, Lighthouse Trails reported that McLaren was to be a featured speaker in March (08).4 To better understand McLaren’s spiritual views and why his theology is not compatible with biblical Christianity, please read our review of his book, Finding Our Way Again. The book is part of the Ancient Practice Series put out by Thomas Nelson publishers. The book is a diatribe against biblical Christians (especially the ones waiting for Christ’s return) and an appeal to interspirituality via mysticism.

Since McLaren left the pastorate a few years ago, he has focused much of his time at colleges and universities. In Finding Our Way Again, McLaren reveals his interest in reaching youth. We explain in our book review:

In McLaren’s chapter titled “Moving On,” he gives a detailed analysis of how the emerging church is God’s answer to a stifled, fearful Christian church. He explains that this merging church must infiltrate the “institutions that rejected it,” adding that “conservative Protestants have repeated their Catholic sibling’s earlier mistakes (referring to the Catholic church’s one time rejection of Galileo). Then he says: “But over time, what they reject will find or create safe space outside their borders and become a resource so that many if not most of the grandchildren of today’s fundamentalists will learn and grow and move on from the misguided battles of their forebears [biblical believers]” (p. 133). You see, McLaren and his emerging church fellows (Pagitt, Sweet, Warren, want to change the minds of our children and grandchildren. That is why Rick Warren once said that the older traditional ones will have to leave or die because they won’t change, thus the emphasis in the emerging church on the youth.

Point Loma doesn’t seem to have any problem handing over their young charges to emergent leaders like Brian McLaren.

Another contemplative/emerging advocate that has spoken in the last couple years at Point Loma is Tony Campolo (who says mysticism unites religions). In Campolo’s book, Letters to a Young Evangelical, Campolo states: “[T]he West had severed itself from an ancient, magical form of religiosity and replaced it with a modern worldview in which religion was reduced to that which is rational [doctrine] and ethical [morality](p.10).” He talks in that book about becoming an “actualized Christian” and describes his own embracing of mystical practices:

[I]ntimacy with Christ has developed gradually over the years, primarily through what Catholic mystics call “centering prayer.” Each morning, as soon as I wake up, I take time–sometimes as much as a half hour–to center myself on Jesus. I say his name over and over again to drive back the 101 things that begin to clutter up my mind the minute I open my eyes. Jesus is my mantra, as some would say. The constant repetition of his name clears my head of everything but the awareness of his presence. By driving back all other concerns, I am able to create what the ancient Celtic Christians called “the thin place.”… After a while, an inner stillness pervades (p. 26).”

Is it any wonder that discerning students don’t want to attend Point Loma chapel services. What a travesty that they are being charged monetary fines to protect themselves.

Point Loma student body president, Andrew Henck, represents Point Loma students. Sadly, he turns to Henri Nouwen, Brennan Manning, and Parker Palmer for his spiritual nourishment and recommends these authors to Point Loma students, many of whom, no doubt, look up to him for guidance.

There could be at least a partial explanation for Point Loma’s interest in mysticism proponents. Mark Carter, the school’s chaplain, is apparently drawn to contemplative spirituality. In the January 26, 2009 PLNU newsletter, it gives information for a class Carter was presenting: LISTENING FOR GOD’S VOICE: AN EXPLANATION AND EXPERIENCE OF LECTIO DIVINA–Grab your dinner and join Chaplain Mark Carter in the Cunningham Dining Room on Tuesday, January 27, at 6:30 p.m. for time in God’s Word. Also, on his bio, on the Point Loma website, Carter says that “Brother Roger of Taize” is his hero. Brother Roger is the late founder of a contemplative, interspiritual community called Taize in France. Taize Worship at the Taize Community in France In the Taize Songbook, it describes the Taize experience:

“Short chants, repeated again and again, give it a meditative character,” the brothers explain in a brief introduction printed in the paperback songbook. “Using just a few words, [the chants] express a basic reality of faith, quickly grasped by the mind. As the words are sung over many times, this reality gradually penetrates the whole being.”

In a UK news article that came out after Brother Roger’s death, it identified him as a “new age pioneer.” We believe this would be an accurate estimation of Taize’s founder and Taize worship. And it is in contradiction to evangelical Christianity. A chaplain from a Christian university should not be telling students that an interspiritual mystic is his hero. Remember, the premise behind mysticism is panentheism (God in all things).

Contemplative spirituality is peppered throughout Point Loma Nazarene University. One book list, at PLNU’s Center for Pastoral Leadership, names a number of contemplative authors, including Marjorie Thompson, listing her book, Soul Feast. Thompson, an ordained Presbyterian minister, promotes mantra meditation in that book and favorably quotes New Age mystics. One person she points to in the book is Anthony DeMello, who once said:

A Jesuit friend once told me that he approached a Hindu guru for initiation in the art of prayer. The guru said to him, “Concentrate on your breathing.” My friend proceeded to do just that for about five minutes. Then the guru said, “The air you breathe is God. You are breathing God in and out. Become aware of that, and stay with that awareness.” (FMSCN, p. 119)

As Lighthouse Trails has reported on many times, most of the Nazarene universities are now embracing contemplative/emerging spirituality. Point Loma is one of them, and for students at Point Loma who see what is happening and refuse to sit and listen to the school’s barrage of mystic-proponents in chapel, they are going to have to dig deep in their wallets and purses and pay PLNU’s “chapel fines.”

If you know a student at a Nazarene University who is standing to defend the faith by refusing to sit and listen to those espousing mysticism, perhaps you could offer to help pay their chapel fines and include with that payment a letter to that school’s president. And if anyone would like to help the young man whose mother contacted us, you may do so through Lighthouse Trails, and we will make sure your contribution goes to this young man. It is a sad day in Christianity, when nearly an entire denomination’s university system has headed down the road of dangerous spiritual deception. Other evangelical denominations are doing the same, and it is equally tragic.

We’ll leave you with this. Point Loma is hosting a “Christian Formation Retreat.” The theme for this year’s retreat, “The Sacred Way” is based on emergent leader Tony Jones’ book by the same name. Jones’ writings have been the topic of several Lighthouse Trails articles. Jones, one of the original “emergent” guys from the 1990s with Leadership Network, has continued to promote mystical practices. He has become more pronounced in his beliefs in recent years, which can be clearly seen in his newer book, The New Christians, as well as in recent statements showing his laxed views on the homosexual lifestyle. As we have shown in the past, these two mind-sets naturally gel together (mysticism and advocating homosexuality) because both, by their very nature, deny a Creator who is separate from his creation. And thus, the rejection of the atonement is an obvious course.


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

Trevecca Nazarene University Promoting Contemplative Spirituality in No Small Way

Stand For Truth, Or Stand On The Sidelines

My friends, the only way we can really make a real difference in this world is to stand for the truth! Last week, Sue Butler reported on how she and her husband have come a long way in their fight for the truth. I’m sure they have suffered much personally. Only they know how much, but they are willing to risk everything for the truth. Question: how many of you have taken the time to investigate her claims? Or has she been dismissed as someone who is making up these things. If so, for what purpose? So she and her family can suffer ridicule, as if that is something we all desire? Do you think I have a desire to be ridiculed, or insulted, or deemed a liar, by intentionally posting something that I don’t believe to be true?  Well… I only welcome ridicule or insult in the following respect:

  • James 1:2-3 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,  knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.

We must be committed to the truth without compromise! I am committed to speak the truth regardless of the consequences. You can only be one of two things: you can be in the world and mixing with it, or you can be among it but not of the world, and only serving God.

  • James 4:6-8 You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.

I was watching a John MacArthur podcast titled Authoritative Nature of Truth, Part 1, and he said “the truth of God is completely outside of us, individually or collectively”. In other words, God does not dwell in us, as many New Age types teach, and which many emergents imply in some of their teachings.  The truth resides solely in, and is from God alone.  The truth does not reside in us, because we are all born liars, totally incapable of the truth on our own.

So in making decisions or judgments,we can do it based on our subjective feelings, or on the objective truth of the Bible. How many times have you heard several different people in a class or Bible study say, “well, this passage means this to me”, and you end up with several different meanings stated, of which none may be the actual meaning of the passage. The question should be, “what is God saying to all of us in this passage?” God is not a God of confusion, and it is ridiculous to think that John 3:16 or most any other plain spoken passage can possibly mean different things to different people, and in different contexts or cultural situations. That, however, is the theological framework of the emergent church movement!
(I realize that there are many difficult passages which can be problematic in understanding them completely, such as in the prophesies of Revelation; however, I speak about those many passages which are twisted beyond reason by many emergents).

The typical emergent church type, does not believe in objective truth. If I want to get more comments than usual on a blog posting, I only need to say some of the following types of statements:

  • • “The Bible is the authoritative Word of God”
    • “The Bible is the only infallible, completely reliable source of God’s truth”
    • “We can use reasoning, opinion, tradition, and history as a way to get to the truth, but all these things must fall under the authority of the Bible, and if it does not square up with the scriptures, you must throw it out.”

I could go on with a few more, but you can see from these statements what I mean. In most of my blog “conversations” with emergents, you will see a certain pattern over and over that is predictable. One, they use language and terminology that is not only sometimes strange, but sometimes seems like it has been copied and pasted from the same few sources. I have to admit, I had never heard the word “praxis” used so many times as I have in the last year. Also, key words used by emergents include “conversation”, “authentic relationships”, “community”, “missional”, “journey”, “ancient-future”, “liturgy”, “social justice”, “spiritual”, “spiritual formation”, and more.

Two, they rarely use scripture to back up their belief system, if they actually have one. You see, most emergents I have interacted with refuse to be pinned down on truthful statements. I have asked some of them to tell me where they stand on issues such as homosexual behavior and the doctrine of original sin, to name a few. Many emergents will not give an answer to these questions, but will dance around it, or ask you a question to deflect it.

If I ask them to back that up their statements with scripture, it is rare that they do. When they do, it is often out of context. For instance, many will justify contemplative prayer techniques by referring to Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God”. It is embarrassing to see them do this, because that passage in full context is not talking about meditating and being still the way they think it is so. Yet, they insist on using it as the main verse to justify their unbiblical contemplative spirituality practices. Don’t take my word for it, read that complete passage, and you will see what I mean.

For instance, where in the Bible is there any justification for using prayer labyrinths? Yet, sadly, these are being used in Nazarene churches and universities across our country, as well as many other denominations. How can that be? Is not the Bible the sole source of truth for us? And it is also infallible and inerrant, I may add, which also gets emergents very angry!

If the Bible is the sole source of truth for us, where is the rationale for using practices outside of the Bible, to get in touch with God? Does not the Bible have the proper instructions on how we should pray? Of course it does. But man in his “wisdom” has decided to bring in pagan practices into the Christian church to supposedly enhance our prayer life, and draw us closer to God! That is both arrogant and dangerous.  We connect to God through our relationship with the One who died for us in order that we may be reconciled with God.  There is no need for further man-made techniques or methods on how to get closer to God!  Jesus Christ is our mediator before God, and breath prayer techniques, and mantra prayers, and transcendental meditation disguised as “Christian” meditation, are futile and false attempts to experience God.  You think you are inviting God in by practicing these things, but you are in danger of inviting dangerous spirits to suggest things to you that are not from God.

If anyone out there can show me, based on the scriptures,  that using such a thing as a prayer labyrinth is okay for Christians, or practicing “the silence”, I will end this blog and pack it in. If you cannot do that, you better do some serious thinking and ask yourself, why do I condone this, or why do I turn a blind eye to this in my own denomination?

We are in a time of moral relativism, when Nazarene professors are teaching that God may not know the future- yes, it’s true, they are teaching this! It’s called Open Theism.  And it is plain heresy!
And can you believe that we have pastors and professors questioning the very authority of the scriptures?  Yes, that is true also.  What is coming out of our seminaries, brothers and sisters?

I’ve been reading “The Other Side of the River” by Kevin Reeves.  It’s his story of how mystical experiences and strange doctrines overtook his own church and almost destroyed him.  He talks about how for years, he sensed something was wrong, but was somehow gripped by fear and did not go further.  In it, he says,

  • “Many other Christians find themselves in this same predicament, especially those with a genuine heart for the truth.  When some doctrine foreign to biblical Christianity is introduced into the congregation, they want to inquire into its origin and validity, but fear holds them in check.” (pg. 20)

So maybe that’s the problem today in so many churches and universities across our denomination, as well as the Baptists, and a host of other denominations.  Fear.  Fear to stand up and say, “no, this is wrong.” Fear to fight the powers that be.

As Sue Butler’s blog says, the Nazarene church has lost it’s way.  Brothers and sisters, it’s time we stop sitting on the sidelines and stand up for truth. If we don’t, we will reap the reward that we deserve from doing nothing.

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.

P.S. As I was writing this since yesterday, I noted a comment from Brad attached to the last posting of Sue’s story.  I have not met Brad personally, but I do know him from emails back and forth.  Brad loves the Lord, and is a Nazarene.  He had to finally  make a decision and leave his Nazarene church, because it’s foundations were crumbling.  He is now in a strong Bible believing church.  It’s not Nazarene, but it does have a solid foundation.  I pray for Brad and his loved ones because it must have been hard to leave behind friends, perhaps even family.  But he had to do what’s right.  He had to stand for truth.

A Call To Stand In The Gap

From Sue Butler at

Dear Nazarene Christians,

My name is Sue Butler and for the last 13 years I have been a member, along with my husband at Albany Grace Church of the Nazarene. I as a young child was bussed to a Nazarene Church in Valdosta, GA. Over the years, we have been very active in our local church.

Recently, we came across some terrible information when we researched some of the teachings that were showing up in our literature, as well as terms that were cropping up, that were similar to Catholic terms. Then, we discovered the “Emergent Church” folks and were alarmed at how our schools and seminaries have opened the doors to them and their heresies, especially in programs such as Youth Specialties, Youth front, etc., which have wholeheartedly gone the way of this “new conversation”.

Of particular interest, is the influence of Brian McLaren. After careful research, we were deeply appalled at his foundational beliefs.

Another alarming influence in our denomination is that of Jon Middendorf. He has adopted the “emergent” viewpoint from all the indications we have found. I spoke with Jon Middendorf about some of the teachings, which are not found in the Bible. Jon was very polite and kind, but we were not able to come to any agreement on Biblical Authority. Please check out the dialogue between him and Greg Horton. Other things being taught such as, Lectio Divina, Contemplative Prayer, Icons, Labyrinths, and the uplifting of Catholics such as Thomas Merton, Thomas Keating, St. John of the Cross and “St. Ignatius of Loyola” which our own Nazarene Publishing House puts out a book for our youth promoting him as a great Christian! This man was part of the Counter Reformation. This literature is unacceptable.

The biggest heresy, in our opinion, is the praying method being called Contemplative Prayer / Centering Prayer (known as mysticism). Where is the scripture for such New Age stuff? When you research this type of prayer the alarm starts to go off.

Dr. Daniel Boone.” Says, in the Alumni spotlight. “I find myself deepening in the practices of spiritual formation that have shaped the saints of the ages, Lectio Divina, fasting, Sabbath observance, care for the poor, journaling, and contemplative prayer.” What exactly is contemplative prayer? If we go to Richard Foster, he will point us to Thomas Merton, which was known to be one of the greatest leaders in contemplative prayer/centering prayer (mysticism). Henri Nouwen is one of Dr. Daniel Boone’s spiritual guides; if we find out who Henri Nouwen looked to we will find Thomas Merton.

In an interview with Dr. Daniel Boone states Henri Nouwen has served as a spiritual guide. Eugene Peterson has been a distant mentor through his writings and Bill Hybels is mentioned, along with Barbara Brown Taylor. The material we have included will help you to see their unbiblical practices. Concerned Nazarene’s have spoken with Dr. Daniel Boone; we would like him to openly help us understand these practices. When we went to our pastor with these concerns, they were dismissed at first. Then, it was admitted that he was already aware of these teachings in Seminary and seen nothing wrong with these teachings. We are truly brokenhearted over the danger facing our denomination. We want all to be awakened and join us as we fight to alert our brothers and sisters in Christ of the dangers of engaging in these mystical practices.

To that end, we are asking you, as people who love the LORD JESUS CHRIST to please examine what the claims that are being presented. If you also find it troubling, pray about what God would have you do. I hope that the solid people in leadership positions will take note and purge out the leaders who are taking us down the road to destruction. We are building a website to house information pertinent to this cause. Will you stand in the gap and be counted for the LORD?? If you disagree with us, I welcome your comments.

Please take the time to examine these claims. The Bible exhorts us to study for ourselves and also to examine ourselves, repeatedly. Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayers are that our denomination might once again glorify Jesus Christ in all we say and do. Sincerely, Sue Butler

1. Re: Dr. Daniel Boonehttp://www.nts/edu/alumni-spotlight–dr-dan-boone-winter-2007/


The Nicodemus Kind of Christian

Last week I posted a letter from a Nazarene who had to leave her church because of the invasion of emergent theology.  As I think about those fellow Nazarenes and Christians from other denominations who have had such a difficult time for standing up for the true gospel, I wonder about some of their Christian brothers and sisters in their church, or former church, who may also have known what was going on, but would not speak out.  I don’t know for sure, since I have not been there, but I suspect the following reflects the truth of what goes on in some of those churches, as some prefer to close their eyes and mouths, and pretend nothing is wrong.  Is turning a blind eye to evil, also an evil thing?

“He Who Came to Jesus By Night”

By Anton Bosch at

We all know the story about Nicodemus who visited Jesus under the cover of darkness in John 3 and to whom Jesus spoke about being born again and to whom Jesus uttered the famous John 3:16.

It is interesting to note that Nicodemus is mentioned three times in John’s Gospel. In addition to the well-known passage in John 3, he is also mentioned in chapters 7 and 19. He is the only man by that name in the Bible and there can be little confusion about who he was. His name is not common like that of Mary or James, yet every time John refers to him, he refers to Nicodemus as “he who came to Jesus by night.” Thus his visit to Jesus at night became the thing that will forever identify him.

Then there was “Joseph of Arimathea… a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews” (John 19:38). Just like Nicodemus, Joseph was also a spiritual leader of the Jews who believed in Jesus but would not openly identify with Jesus and boldly declare his allegiance to the Son of God.

The reason for all the secrecy is obvious. It would not have been good for their image, popularity, and position in society if they had openly identified with Jesus. Thus they were no different to Peter, another leader amongst his peers who denied Jesus and would not openly side with his Teacher at a crucial time.

Just as the Jews of Jesus’ day had departed from the true faith and were following their own traditions and inventions, rather than the Word of God, so many churches and denominations today have left, or are departing from, the true faith. They substitute this with a religion of their own traditions and imaginations. And just as in Jesus’ day there are still some spiritual leaders in churches who are exactly like Nicodemus, Joseph and Peter. They know the Truth but will not speak out for fear of what others will say, or because they fear the loss of their status, position or income.

These modern Nicodemuses will approach those who stand for the Truth under cover of darkness and, just like Nicodemus, recognize, acknowledge and support the Truth. But they will not take an open stand for Truth — and against error — for fear of the consequences. Almost every assembly and every denomination has its share of people like this, who will hide in the crowd while the Truth is denied, sold and crucified. While they know the Truth, they choose to remain secret agents, feeding information to those who are waging the battle, but they themselves prefer to operate at night, under cover of darkness.

We are familiar with the fact that Jesus spoke to Nicodemus about being born again, but have you ever looked at the entire message of Jesus to Nicodemus? Jesus concludes his comments to this leader with the following words:

“And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God” (John 3:19-21).

Don’t think these words are said in isolation. They are directly linked to the opening of the passage which tells of Nicodemus coming to Jesus at night. Jesus was telling Nicodemus that he loved the darkness rather than the light. We far too glibly apply these verses to burglars and robbers who work at night. But Jesus did not aim them at sinners; He directed them at a religious man who recognized who Jesus was but preferred to remain incognito!

Friend, if you recognize that your church or denomination is moving in the wrong direction and have created (or have begun to create) their own religion of their own design which is not according to God’s Word – then you need to take a stand. If you remain silent because of “fear of the Jews,” then Jesus says that you are in darkness. If you are of the Truth, then you must come to the light, and you must let your light shine and you must speak up for the Truth.

Of course there will be repercussions. Yes, they will hate you, destroy your reputation, strip you of your position and cast you out as a piece of rubbish. Yes, you may lose all your friends, maybe even your salary, health and self-respect. But did they not do the same to Jesus and to all the men of God in the entire Bible? And did Jesus Himself not say:

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.” (Matthew 5:10-15).

Note again that we are to be salt and light, not just in the world, but especially, in the church. Note also the connection between being light and persecution.

You can hide for a while, but the time will come when you will need to take a stand. Nicodemus and Joseph were “under cover” for a few years but the time came when they had to nail their colors to the mast. It was Joseph who had to brave Pilate’s wrath and ask for the broken body of Jesus. It was Joseph and Nicodemus who buried Jesus in Joseph’s tomb. But in a sense it was too late. Jesus was dead. Many modern Nicodemuses wake up when it is too late, when the Truth has been killed and all that remains is to bury the remains of the Truth.

Praise God, the Truth rose again and can never be destroyed. But don’t wait until it is too late before taking your stand boldly beside the Son of God. Moses also hid under his Egyptian clothes but the day came when

“choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible.” (Hebrews 11:25-27).

It was this Moses who, when all of Israel had turned to idols, cried “Who is on the LORD’S side?” (Exodus 32:26). Again, the consequences of the sons of Levi responding to that call were not pretty, but God honored their stand and He will honor your courage. But you must choose and you must do so today.

The Truth:

“And Zedekiah the king said unto Jeremiah, I am afraid of the Jews that are fallen to the Chaldeans, lest they deliver me into their hand, and they mock me. But Jeremiah said, They shall not deliver thee. Obey, I beseech thee, the voice of the LORD, which I speak unto thee: so it shall be well unto thee, and thy soul shall live.” (Jeremiah 38:19-20)

Pastor Anton Bosch is author of Building Blocks of the Church: Re-examining the Basics, which is a useful book of instruction on how to “do church” in these dark days. See

posted by Discernment Research Group @ 5/24/2008 09:46:00 AM

Don’t Forget the Resurrection!

By John MacArthur

Don't Forget the Resurrection

In 1874, a Baptist minister named Robert Lowry penned one of the most stirring hymns to ever exalt the resurrection of Jesus Christ–“Low in the Grave He Lay.” Notice how these verses contrast the impotence of death and suffering with the resurrection power of Christ:

Low in the grave He lay, Jesus my Savior;
Waiting the coming day, Jesus my Lord!
Vainly they watch His bed, Jesus my Savior;
Vainly they seal the dead, Jesus my Lord!
Death cannot keep its Prey, Jesus my Savior;
He tore the bars away, Jesus my Lord!

Death, man’s most dread enemy, is powerless to reign over the Lord of life. And that truth has significance for you and me, here and now in the twenty-first century. You can see it in the most exciting and rousing part of Lowry’s hymn, the refrain that punctuates each stanza:

Up from the grave He arose,
With a mighty triumph o’er His foes,
He arose a Victor from the dark domain,
And He lives forever, with His saints to reign.
He arose! He arose!
Hallelujah! Christ arose!

Do you see in those lines what Jesus’ resurrection means to you? If you are a Christian, you can rejoice in the fact that Christ rose from the dead as a victor, a champion who lives forever to reign, “with His saints.” That refers to the promise based on our baptism into the death and resurrection of Christ–it is our hope and the reason and ground of all we believe.

But what if there were no resurrection? What if the resurrection of Jesus Christ is just a first-century myth to be ignored or marginalized as a secondary issue? The implications of that approach are devastating to Christianity.

I want to draw your attention to what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:16-19 so that you can see what happens when you forget the resurrection.

For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.

Without question, if Jesus is still in the grave, if He is perpetually the sufferer and never the Victor, then you and I are hopelessly lost. And though that is not the case, I want to focus on the hypothetical “what if” that Paul assumes temporarily in 1 Corinthians 15. “What if the resurrection were a myth? What if Jesus Christ were still dead and in the grave?”

First of all, you would still be in your sins, under the tyranny of death along with the most vile and unbelieving pagan. If Jesus did not rise from the dead, then sin won the victory over Him and continues to be victorious over you too. If Jesus remained in the grave, then, when you die you would also stay dead. Furthermore, since “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), were you to remain dead, death and eternal punishment would be your future.

The purpose of trusting in Christ is for forgiveness of sins, because it is from sin that we need to be saved. “Christ died for our sins” and “was buried, and … raised on the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). If Christ was not raised, His death was in vain, your faith in Him would be pointless, and your sins would still be counted against you with no hope of spiritual life.

Second, if there is no resurrection, then “those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.” That means every Old Testament saint, every New Testament saint, and every saint since Paul wrote would be suffering in torment at this very moment. That would include Paul himself, the rest of the apostles, Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Wesley, Moody, and the faithful and prayerful saints you’ve known–every other believer in every age also would be in hell. Their faith would have been in vain, their sins would not have been forgiven, and their destiny would be damnation.

In light of the other consequences, the last is rather obvious. “If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.” Without Christ’s resurrection, and the salvation and blessings it brings, Christianity would be pointless and pitiable. Without the resurrection we would have no Savior, no forgiveness, no gospel, no meaningful faith, no life, and we could never have hope for any of those things.

To have hoped in Christ alone in this life would be to teach, preach, suffer, sacrifice, and work entirely for nothing. If Christ is still dead, then He not only has no ability to save you in the future, but He can’t help you now either. If He were not alive, where would be your source of peace, joy, or satisfaction now? The Christian life would be a mockery, a charade, a tragic and cruel joke. Christians who suffer and even die for the faith would be just as blind and pathetic as those “believers” who followed Jim Jones and the People’s Temple, David Koresh and the Branch Davidians, and Marshall Applewhite and the Heaven’s Gate cult.

Since a Christian has no Savior but Christ, no Redeemer but Christ, and no Lord but Christ, if Christ is not raised, He is not alive, and our Christian life is lifeless. We would have nothing to justify our faith, our Bible study, our preaching or witnessing, our service for Him or our worship of Him, and nothing to justify our hope in this life or the next. We would deserve nothing but the compassion reserved for fools.

But, God did raise “Jesus our Lord from the dead, He who was delivered up because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification” (Romans 4:24-25). Because Christ lives, we too shall live (John 14:19). “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross. He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins” (Acts 5:30-31).

We are NOT to be pitied, for Paul immediately ends the dreadful “what if” section by saying, “But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep” (1 Corinthians 15:20). As Paul said at the end of his life, “I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him [i.e. his life] until that day” (2 Timothy 1:12).

Those who do not hope in Christ alone for salvation are the real fools; they are the ones who need to hear your compassionate testimony about the triumph of Christ’s resurrection. So don’t forget the resurrection; rejoice in it and glory in it, for He is risen indeed.

posted from Grace To You

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A Letter From Scattered Sheep

This post comes from the blog of my friend at exnazarene.  I also received the same letter, and I too have seen and received letters similar to this.  The burden for all of us is greater as we see brothers and sisters in Christ in great turmoil across our beloved Nazarene denomination.  We must hold them up in prayer, and we must watch that the same apostasy does not sneak in and infiltrate our own churches.  Souls are at stake.

The following is a letter sent to me that reads like many other letters that I’m seeing these days from those in the church who see something amiss and try to alert those in authority only to be dismissed as divisive.

If you haven’t read Jeremiah 23 and Ezekiel 34 in awhile, now would be a good time to read it again.  This is what is taking place today in the church.  The sheep are being scattered.  People are leaving their churches, who have embraced the latest fads that appeal to the world, to find spiritual nourishment at other churches who still hold to a high standard of Biblical teaching and a believer’s church philosophy.

I am sharing this story with my fellow Nazarenes not to be divisive or cause disunity (is that a word?). . . but to open peoples’ eyes to what they may be occurring in their own church. I am changing my name, my husband’s name and the church’s name because it is not my desire to cause any problems for anyone involved.

I and my husband were raised in the Nazarene church, went to a Nazarene college and my father-in-law was a Nazarene pastor. We have always been fairly open-minded. . . We like hymns, but sing choruses just as well. . . don’t mind drums and guitar. . . have attended churches that double as gymnasiums. . . no problem.

When we started attending “X Church of the Nazarene” (XCN) we were immediately drawn in. We became very involved, built very, very strong friendships and really felt like we were “growing spiritually”. This seemed to me like just about the most amazing, alive, growing church I had ever been a part of. The pastor was wonderful. We had him VERY high on a pedestal and felt very cheated when we missed his sermons.

We attended that church for maybe a year and a half all together, I guess. We told everyone we knew how wonderful this church was, how wonderful the people were and how full of love the pastor was . . . and meant every word completely. We secretly gave . . . gave to the pastor when he had financial need, gave to friends who were in need, gave whenever there was a need, tithed over and above. The pastor called us “one of the pillars of the church”. He said something to the effect that we were the unofficial leaders of the young adults.

Things changed, however, with three situations:

One was when we started being introduced to the teachings of a pastor named Rob Bell. His series “Nooma” (which is a phonetical spelling of “pneuma”, meaning breath. . . you’ll understand as you read further) started being used in morning worship. On the surface, these teachings sounded biblically sound and were deep and thought-provoking. One couple that we were very good friends with at XCN encouraged us to read his book, “Velvet Elvis”. She (the wife, who was also on the church board) said that the pastor asked the church board to read this book. They had apparently read it and been crazy about it. (More about this later.)

The second was when my husband was at the mens’ Bible study at XCN (he had just started going to this) and they were asked to close their eyes and start meditating. Now we do believe that the Bible says to meditate on God’s Word, but we never understood it to mean clearing your mind and closing your eyes in a group, etc. This concerned my husband, along with a particular “Nooma” that stated that Peter sank in the water because he didn’t have faith in himself not Jesus. I really scoffed at my husband’s concerns. . . after all this is a NAZARENE CHURCH we are talking about, not Jehovah’s Witness or a cult!! When you are born and raised in a denomination, you are much less likely to question its teachings.

The third was when another couple, our close friends, who were new Christians told us that our pastor told them during membership class that the Nazarene denomination did not have a problem with drinking alcohol.

Anyway, I decided to read the book “Velvet Elvis” for myself. What I read was very shocking (and I sincerely hope and pray that you don’t subject yourself to reading this . . . it is a dangerous lie that will eat away your faith. It took my several months to recover my ability to read my Bible without seeing it through the “eyes” of Velvet Elvis) It reminded me of Satan in the garden when he said to Eve “Did God really tell you not to eat from the tree of life?” and went on to reshape her mind.

In my opinion, the whole premise of Velvet Elvis is that truth is not something you can be certain of. . . including the truth of the Bible, the truth of the story of Jesus (he may have just been a regular guy that got elevated to a tall tale.) If you have seen the movie, The Da Vinci Code (which, by the way, was recommended by the pastor of XCN and, consequently, I watched.), you will understand what I am talking about.

ANYWAY, because our close friend who was on the board told us that

1) The pastor called Rob Bell “HIS pastor”. . . in other words, the person he looks to for spiritual guidance.

2) They said that he listens to the sermons of this pastor online every week and that he wanted to be on Rob Bell’s staff. And I myself had heard him singing the praises of Rob Bell.

3) I was told (can’t remember who by) that Velvet Elvis was recommended reading for the District. I never confirmed this either way.

I decided that it was necessary for me to research this Rob Bell, because this was the direction where I saw my church heading.

What I found were sermons that twisted the Word of God into CONTRADICTIONS of the Word of God by going back to the original Hebrew or Greek and then using an alternate meaning of that word. In this way, he (for example) stated that Romans 8:16 “The Spirit Himself (A)testifies with our spirit that we are (B)children of God” was interpreted to mean that the Holy Spirit is attained by our spirit, which he took back to the original Hebrew (or Greek?) to mean “breath”. He went on to say that if we need more of the Hol

Holy Spirit, we needed to do more deep breathing. He actually taught breathing techniques during this sermon and he and the congregation participated in this for several minutes! This sermon has been taken off of Rob Bell’s church site, but I do have a link that may still work. He has also invited Directors of “spiritual centers” to come in and teach techniques to the congregation.

Anyone who is grounded in the Word of God and prayerfully prepares themselves can go to the Mars Hill website (this is the name of his church) and listen to several of his sermons. It takes a discerning ear and the knowledge of the context of the scriptures he quotes to catch the subtle twists of scripture. He is extremely skilled at making his point sound biblical when, in fact, it is contrary to scripture if read with full knowledge of the scripture. (Most in his congregation are new/atypical “Christians” who have very little knowledge of the Bible.)

All of the above was what led us to leave the church. We first met with the pastor and discussed our concern about “Velvet Elvis”. We were first told that this was recommended to the board in the same way you might recommend a book about Muslims, etc. That it was to gain a defense against the ideas in the book.

I asked the pastor to read my critique of the book and give me his thoughts on the same ideas. He agreed and we set a date to meet again.

In the meantime, I did the above research on Rob Bell and became increasingly concerned. We emailed back and forth and talked on the phone. What concerned me the most was that I found an outline of a series of sermons of Rob Bell’s and it was nearly IDENTICAL to an outline our pastor emailed to me during this time regarding the direction XCN was heading. I took this as God’s confirmation to me that this was a serious problem and that it was not just my imagination. Also in my research, I began to see a pattern of sermon imitation. I noticed phrases, ideas and quotes of Rob Bell that were identical to what I had heard preached from the pulpit.

Our pastor was concerned about his credentials (though I never thought of taking this above him). He was also worried that we would take many of the young people with us if we left. What we were hoping for is that he would just see something he had missed about Velvet Elvis and renounce it. We did NOT want to leave our church. We just wanted to open our pastor’s eyes about the dangerous path we were on.

Unfortunately, when we met the second time (this time with a former D.S. at the pastor’s request so there would be a mediator (and in our case, a witness. . . someone of high respect in the church to help our pastor see the error). . . our pastor took a different stand. He defended Rob Bell completely and let us know in no uncertain terms that we were wrong. The former D.S. at first defended our pastor. . . but after we played the “Spirit” sermon I mentioned above, he became very concerned as well.

If our pastor had shown us that night that he saw that Rob Bell was not someone he should look to for leadership and direction, we might still be at that church.

We sorrowfully left that church. I compared it to a horrible divorce. We loved those people very deeply and miss them still.

I want to be clear about one thing. . . there is nothing wrong with change. There is nothing (in my opinion) wrong with music with a beat. I believe that people who go into a church LOOKING for evil will find it in some form or other. We are all human and we ALL have failures. I am not writing this so people will go out and try to sniff out evil in their church.

I am writing so that people won’t just take everything that is presented to them as truth. . . that you will be fully grounded, yourself, in the Bible. . . that you will have your eyes open to what direction your church is heading (and hopefully head it off at the pass if it goes this direction) and most of all, that you won’t be deceived by the lies that are so rampant in the Emergent Church movement and similar movements and books.

End of letter