Pt. III: Reckless Recommendations?
One wonders if it is not a little inconsistent to promote emerging organizations and authors whose works contain false doctrine and then to proclaim that you don’t want to be compromising? Is it not compromising to endorse and promote speakers and books that teach error? Sadly, this is exactly what we see in several severe cases and the mixture is not good.
One frightening example of what appears to be a completely EC friendly endorsement lies in CE National’s promotion of various speakers and the website of Youth Specialties (BNYC 2006 website pointed parents to Youth Specialties) http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/newsletter071706.htm#article2)
On the Momentum website: http://buildmomentum.org/resources-welcome.asp
For any who don’t know about EC-friendly Youth Specialties, here is evidence for concern:
Youth Specialties President Declares, “Christianity is an Eastern Religion."
Zondervan Publishing's partner embraces Eastern mysticism
November 8, 2005 - Mark Oestreicher, president of Youth Specialties (an organization that officially partnered with mega Christian publisher Zondervan in 2003), has declared Christianity to be an eastern religion. Youth Specialties has been promoting eastern religion/New Age practices (yoga, labyrinths, contemplative prayer) into their national youth and pastor's conferences for some time now.
As you might imagine YS got some flack for that so responses to any who were concerned were issued:
On October 27th, Mark Oestreicher (Marko) stated the following on his website in response to recent criticisms and complaints
On Eastern Religion and Christianity:
"Christianity IS an eastern religion. It has all its roots in the East! It's a bit baffling to me that people lose sight of this, and insist on creating a false separation [see note below] between eastern religions and (apparently) western Christianity."
"Yoga is really just about stretching and slowing down. Sure, yoga, I suppose, could focus on Hindi [Hindu] or Buddhist gods or something - but it can also focus on Christ. We received a couple stomping-mad complaints about the yoga at the National Pastors Convention, saying 'putting your body in those positions invites Hindi [Hindu] gods to enter your body.' I'm sorry - this just sounds like heresy to me. If we don't believe Hindi [Hindu] gods actually exist, then why are we concerned about them entering our bodies?"
On Contemplative Prayer:
"If a Buddhist is using a breathing exercise to bring some peace to her life, well, bless her. But that should have no bearing on whether or not I choose to focus on my God-created breath."
"On saying words over and over again: well that sure is taken out of context. It's not like we would suggest someone grab any word ('Tree!' 'Towel!' 'Beer!') and chant it over and over again-which is her implication. There is a wonderful spiritual practice, however, of repeating a phrase from the Bible and seeing what God reveals to you about it (or about Him, or about you). It's prayer: not a chant."
Does CE National have any idea what this organization promotes? Well, in case they don’t, here goes:
Youth Specialties Featured the Book, The Sacred Way by EC leader Tony Jones which includes promotion of and “how to” sections about the use of Labyrinths, centering prayer, icons, stations of the cross, the sign of the cross, the Jesus Prayer
Youth Specialties Recommends a book by Maggie & Duffy Robbins called Enjoy the Silence. But did you know that Maggie was trained at the pro-contemplative, pro Eastern mediation, Kairos School of Spiritual Formation?
A supplemental reading list for Kairos School includes the following authors: David Steindl-Rast, Thomas Keating and Morton Kelsey, all of whom are interspiritual contemplatives.
Youth Specialties magazine Youth Worker,
In one issue (November 2004) promote mantra-style meditation. In many ways and through many avenues, Youth Specialties promotes and teaches contemplative prayer and the silence.
In the May 2003 Youth Specialties Update, they suggest their readers go to this web site - ALTERNATIVE WORSHIP which promotes
Meditation, incantations, chants, guided fantasies, incense,
(all of the above info about YS is taken from: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/youthspecialties.htm).
YS also promotes or publishes the following top teachers in the emerging church: Steve Case, Dan Kimball, Brian McLaren, Spencer Burke, Eugene Peterson, Tony Jones, and Doug Pagitt.
YS’ Relevant Magazine and Youth Worker Magazine include articles and promotions on contemplative prayer and Contemplative Spirituality.
Emergent Village is actually an Offshoot of Youth Specialties.
Do these things concern you? Should CE National be pointing people to these resources? In my opinion, absolutely not. Someone might say “well that’s guilt by association” and CE National doesn’t really believe in all that and my response: irregardless, they are recommending people to go there and who among us should assert that it is a good idea to lead youth into a potentially spiritually damaging situation or give any props to organizations who are so involved with dangerous elements of mysticism and unbiblical teaching?
If concern for the truth is paramount then serious reassessment of this relationship needs to be undertaken. We never want to shop for designer millstones to hang around stiff necks, if you catch my drift. We ought to have nothing to do with organizations that could stumble our youth or lead them into unbiblical and dangerous practices.
The problem here is not one of relevance but reverence to a Holy God and His revealed truth about how to genuinely and spiritually worship Him. Eastern style meditative practices and mysticism isn’t from Scripture and isn’t true. I just find myself wishing that any connection to groups that have already been promoting these things would be promptly severed before these errors leaven a ministry in our fellowship.
So we just chronicled some concerns about CE National endorsed youth specialties but the danger is even closer to home and coming from their own shelves. CE National’s Recommended study materials ministry resources and books in their lending library are definitely concerning.
Of course we first must mention the presence of CGM materials, Hybels is still a point of enamorous desire and CE National features Willow Creek resources for the Church growth enthusiast:
Wild for Willow Creek:
Willow Creek counsel: On Vision casting http://www.cenational.org/cenational/ministryArticles/resources.asp?IDNum=19&ministryMenu=adult
Recommends Hybels book Just Walk Across the Room which is said to teach folks how to have a “mystical” walk with Christ: http://www.cenational.org/cenational/ministryArticles/resources.asp?IDNum=9&ministryMenu=adult
CE National also recommends Dan Southerland of the CGM movement:
5/22/07Offers Dan Southerland’s Transitioning Your Church Through Change: http://www.cenational.org/cenational/newsBlog/results.asp?searchText=transitioning&Search=Search
Can anyone guess what Southerland and Rick Warren teach about “Purpose Driven resistors”, people who don’t agree with the transitioning into a purpose driven paradigm? Well according to them, if you stand in the way you are a “leader from hell”. These aren’t my words; they are Southerland’s from his book. Chapter six of Transitioning is called "Dealing with Opposition"
“If you have read Nehemiah recently, you will remember that Sanballat is Nehemiah's greatest critic and number one enemy. Let me put it plainer than that. Sanballat is a leader from hell. We all have some Sanballats in our churches. This is the guy who opposes whatever you propose.... You cannot call this guy a leader from hell to his face - but you could call him Sanballat” (p. 115).
This goes along with Warren’s warning to a purpose driven resistor:
In a June 14th article written by Rick Warren on his website (“What Do You Do When Your Church Hits a Plateau?”), Warren told pastors and church leaders not to be discouraged about slow change in their churches. He told them it would take time ... and in many cases it would take these resisters either leaving the church or simply dying. Warren stated:
“If your church has been plateaued for six months, it might take six months to get it going again. If it's been plateaued a year, it might take a year. If it's been plateaued for 20 years, you've got to set in for the duration! I'm saying some people are going to have to die or leave.
Moses had to wander around the desert for 40 years while God killed off a million people before he let them go into the Promised Land. That may be brutally blunt, but it's true. There may be people in your church who love God sincerely, but who will never, ever change.”
Lighthouse Trails asks the relevant question: “The question we must ask is just how far will Rick Warren go to help rid churches of those they consider "leader[s] from hell," who in reality may be part of the very Bride of Christ.”
Are we really “leaders from hell” or modern day wilderness rebels if we refuse to bow down to the purpose driven compromise? I can only hope that is not the sentiment of CE National leaders although they are clear for their support for Saddleback, Southerland and much things Warren.
Incidentally, Donald (“Roddy”) Clyde, 48, a 13-year pastor at The Fellowship at Forest Creek in Round Rock, TX was arrested after it was discovered he stole a minimum of a half million dollars from the church. This is one of Southerland’s major leaders of Church Transitions, Inc and this just happened in August 2007! Horrendous, and one more example of the corrupt practices that often accompany those who teach these false doctrines.
Teaching at Saddleback, during a session titled "Dealing with Opposition," Mr. Clyde recommended that the pastor speak to critical members, then help them leave if they don’t stop objecting. Then when those congregants join a new church, Mr. Clyde instructed, pastors should call their new minister and suggest that the congregants be barred from any leadership role.
"There are moments when you’ve got to play hardball," said the Rev. Dan Southerland, Church Transitions’ president, in an interview. "You cannot transition a church…and placate every whiny Christian along the way." (Taken from: http://moriel.org/articles/discernment/church_issues/top_warrenist_leader_and_pastor_arrested.htm).
CE National’s Lending Library Offers
Purpose Driven Church and Purpose Driven Life http://www.cesites.org/library/search-title.php?Title=life+together&Submit=Search+Title
Nearly every Rick Warren Title: http://www.cesites.org/library/search-author.php?AuthorsLastName=Warren&Submit=Search+Author
‘Nuff said. We should expect to find these books there but what if you want resources by heretical Word-Faith authors? Here they are:
Featured False Faith Teachers:
Joyce Meyer’s Battlefield of the Mind: http://www.cesites.org/library/search-author.php?AuthorsLastName=Meyer&Submit=Search+Author
Applauding False Apostles?:
Is there a limit? Well it gets worse. C. Peter Wagner is the self proclaimed head of the New Apostolic Reformation and has recently confessed that this group’s agenda is based on the heretical view of Dominion theology:
"Our theological bedrock is what has been known as Dominion Theology. This means that our divine mandate is to do whatever is necessary, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to retake the dominion of God's creation which Adam forfeited to Satan in the Garden of Eden. It is nothing less than seeing God's kingdom coming and His will being done here on earth as it is in heaven."--C. Peter Wagner, letter, May 31, 2007, http://www.erwm.com/ApostolicLetter.htm
This is utterly false teaching and also is related to what has been called “Latter rain” teachings which were formerly rejected as heresy by the Assemblies of God but have received new prominence in the teachings of these apostles. Read more about that here: http://erwm.com/Latter%20Rain.htm
For more about the dangerous teachings of these new “apostles”:
You can get their books from CE National’s lending library as well:
C. Peter Wagner, and lots of apostolic: http://www.cesites.org/library/search-author.php?AuthorsLastName=Wagner&Submit=Search+Author
Recently disgraced pastor to these new apostles and prophets, Ted Haggard: http://www.cesites.org/library/search-author.php?AuthorsLastName=Haggard&Submit=Search+Author
Yes, CE National offers these books in their lending library. A concern for the truth? I’ve got to wonder whether or not those on staff for CE National who are responsible for their book offerings have even read these works. I believe anyone who points others to these books should look deeper into what these authors bring to the table. Seriously these authors are the most dangerous men in the church today and we ought not introduce them to Grace Brethren folk on any level except that of extreme warning.
Embracing the Emergent?:
Perhaps you have a postmodern penchant for the emerging writers and those affiliated in the neo-nebula. CE National offers the seeking mystic these tomes of mixed doctrine:
All of Rob Bell’s Nooma Videos and Velvet Elvis: http://www.cesites.org/library/search-author.php?AuthorsLastName=Bell
Rob Bell has written a very popular book called Velvet Elvis and introduces great seeds of doubt in some of his lines of questioning. Here’s a few examples of this postmodern skepticism:
“Everybody’s interpretation is essentially his or her own opinion” (Velvet Elvis, 053). He then discusses “an intense meeting” where leaders within his church “were discussing several passages in the Bible.” Finally one of them said that after studying them out thoroughly she had “decided to get back to the Bible and just take it for what it said” (ibid). Now please understand that this way of thinking is prevalent in a lot of Christian churches,… But this view of the Bible is warped and toxic, to say the least. The assumption is that there is a way to read the Bible that is agenda-and perspective-free. As if all these other people have their opinion and biases, but some are able to just read it for what it says.” (053,054)
This is not what the Church has taught at all. The true Body of Christ has always taught exactly what the Bible itself says – The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 2:14).
Can we truly understand the scriptures as believers? Apparently so: Our Lord said – “But when He, the Spirit of Truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on His Own” (John 16:13). 1 Cor. 2:12 “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given us by God.” if we have the Holy Spirit in us: then we can understand what has been written:
Rob Bell’s quest is in “discovering the Bible as a human product," His wife says in the same article: "I grew up thinking that we've figured out the Bible," Kristen says, "that we knew what it means. Now I have no idea what most of it means. And yet I feel like life is big again—like life used to be black and white, and now it's in color." http://www.apprising.org/archives/2006/01/rob_bell_fails.html
We all go through dry times as well as times of rediscovered fervency but this is no excuse for a pastor who leads thousands to depart from solid understandable truths of Scripture such as that it is inspired, divine in origin which negates it being accurately referred to as a human product in contrast to it being divine. Bell would affirm that God’s Word is inspired but then introduces whopping great wodges of doubt as to whether we can ever really understand or grasp it and this is dangerous.
God’s Word is “Profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.” (2 Timothy 3:16) While there are certainly areas of Scripture that are somewhat obscure, the notion that most of the Bible is an utterly mysterious document that most of its truth cannot be discerned is not true. We have the Holy Spirit to aid us in understanding so we need not resort to mystical practices to unlock the meaning of Scripture.
Back to Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith, Bell conjectures:
“What if tomorrow someone digs up definitive proof that Jesus had a real, earthly, biological father named Larry, and archeologist find Larry’s tomb and do DNA samples and prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the virgin birth was really just a bit of mythologizing the Gospel writers threw in to appeal to the followers of the Mithra and Dionysian religious cults that were hugely popular at the time of Jesus, whose gods had virgin births? But what if, as you study the origin of the word “virgin” you discover that the word “virgin” in the gospel of Matthew actually comes from the book of Isaiah, and then you find out that in the Hebrew language at that time, the word “virgin” could mean several things. And what if you discover that in the first century being “born of a virgin” also referred to a child whose mother became pregnant the first time she had intercourse? What if that spring were seriously questioned? Could a person keep on jumping? Could a person still love God? Could you still be a Christian? Is the way of Jesus still the best possible way to live? Or does the whole thing fall apart?”
“If the whole faith falls apart when we reexamine and rethink one spring then it wasn’t that strong in the first place was it?”
[Velvet Elvis, pg.26]
It is not about what one chooses to believe, but what MUST be believed about Jesus. The virgin birth is a NECESSARY doctrine. This passage is tantamount to a new liberal questioning of the truths of Scripture. The “what if” scenario here cant even be considered if Gods Word is truly true and Bell should be cautious in his musings. But we see this all through his book, and yet here it is; a smokin’ hot helpin’ from CE National.
The EC endorsements continue with the offering of a Leonard Sweet book: http://www.cesites.org/library/search-author.php?AuthorsLastName=Sweet&Submit=Search+Author
Leonard Sweet, futurist & author
From his book, Quantum Spirituality:
"A quantum spirituality challenges the church to bear its past and to dare its future by sticking its big TOE into the time and place of the present. ... Then, and only then, will a New Light movement of 'world-making' faith have helped to create the world that is to, and may yet, be. Then, and only then, will earthlings have uncovered the meaning... of the last words poet/activist/contemplative/bridge between East and West Thomas Merton uttered: "We are already one. But we imagine that we are not. And what we have to recover is our original unity." (page 10) Mysticism, once cast to the sidelines of the Christian tradition, is now situated in postmodernist culture near the center. In pram, the physics of David Bohm and Fritjof Capra are ways of responding to culture's having pushed it there. In the words of one of the greatest theologians of the twentieth century, Jesuit philosopher of religion/dogmatist Karl Rahner, 'The Christian of tomorrow will be a mystic, one who has experienced something, or he will be nothing.'... Mysticism... is metaphysics arrived at through mind body experiences. Mysticism, begins in experience; it ends in theology." (page 76)
More EC authors abound:
Dan Kimball: Emerging Worship and Emerging Church: http://www.cesites.org/library/search-author.php?AuthorsLastName=Kimball&Submit=Search+Author
Doug Pagitt’s Postmoderns Have Left the Building: http://www.cesites.org/library/search-author.php?AuthorsLastName=Pagitt&Submit=Search+Author http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/dougpagitt.htm
Pagitt teaches, among other things,
"God also invites us to be re-created and to join the work of God as co-(re)creators." Doug Pagitt Church Re-Imagined, p. 185.
(To understand more on this New Age concept of man being "co-creators," read Reinventing Jesus Christ.)
Christian yoga has been gaining a devout following, and Solomon’s porch pastor Doug Pagitt has endorsed the practice in his book, Body Prayer: The Posture of Intimacy with God.
Twin Cities.com Pioneer Press (12/03/2005 edition)
"When people discover we are a church with a yoga class ... they sometimes assume that we're simply out to appeal to the cultural creatives and the neo-hippies." (p. 53, Reimagining Spiritual Formation)
In Doug Pagitt's 2003 book Church Re-imagined, he describes his initial attraction to rituals associated with the Eucharist:
“The first day of Lent this year brought the first Ash Wednesday gathering in our church's history and in mine.... Until this point, Ash Wednesday had not been part of my Christian faith experience. Not only had I never applied ashes to anyone's forehead, but I had also never had them applied to mine. After this experience I wondered how I could have celebrated 19 Easters as a Christian without this tremendous experience”. Doug Pagitt, Church Re-Imagined, op. cit., p. 103.
"Synagogue 3000 (S3K) and Emergent have announced a ground-breaking meeting to connect Jewish and Christian leaders who are experimenting with innovative congregations and trying to push beyond the traditional categories of 'left' and 'right.'"—Doug Pagitt on the emerging church joining with Synagogue 3000
CE National library also offers books by Tony Jones http://www.cesites.org/library/search-author.php?AuthorsLastName=Jones&Submit=Search+Author and runs this promo on one of their description pages:
Title: Soul Shaper: Exploring Spirituality and Contemplative Practices in Youth Ministry
Author Jones, Tony
Material Type 253 pages
Summary Hands-down the most comprehensive primer on the study and use of spiritual and contemplative practices for the benefit of your teenagers - and especially your own soul. Tony Jones gives wings to his critically acclaimed debut, Postmodern Youth Ministry, by lucidly explaining how you can put postmodern ideas to work by learning powerful disciplines such as Sacred Reading; The Jesus Prayer; The Ignatian Examen; The Daily Office; Stations of the Cross; Sabbath; Silence and Solitude; Centering Prayer; Spiritual Direction; The Labyrinth; Pilgrimage; Service. and eventually implement them into the life of your youth ministry.” http://www.cesites.org/library/library-detail.php?IDNum=5499
This is dangerous and directly aimed at the shaping of youth. This book and the others we mentioned needs to be removed.
Quick question for CE National: Are you for any reason trying to introduce the youth of the FGBC into these forms of Catholic mysticism? This question begs to be answered with clarity because of its seriousness.
Want more EC for ye from CE?
Youth Specialties material
All Mike and Mark Yaconelli resources even Contemplative Youth Ministry and other emerging church titles.
Time does not permit me to mention all of the perils found therein but know this! One has a very hard time believing that good Bible preaching is paramount and discernment levels are high when these books are offered for the general public to read and borrow from CE National without the slightest mention of a warning pertaining to some of the dangers found in them. If a CE National leader wants to convince a concerned pastor that they are not emergent or down with the EC, they will have a hard time refuting the evidence found on their own sites, in their library, and consequently, coming from their conferences.
As happy as I am that Dr. Soto warned of some of the dangerous elements in the EC, I am disheartened to see that there is still a huge amount of dangerous material available from CE National! This is the problem when we view everything as mere “conversation” and don’t take clear stands concerning what is true, biblical, and safe. It does little good to have an occasional forum and to try to bridge the gap between these two belief systems without clearly opposing what is unbiblical. I’m not saying Dr. Soto did not do that. I believe he did but perhaps evidence of his warnings being heeded should include removal of these authors from the CE lending library and a radical departure from this stuff in their conferences but as we will now see, this isn’t happening.