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Archive for October, 2010

Along with many other New Age-ish titles, Christianbook.com offers the first guide to centering prayer, for children ages 3 to 10. This book is from a Catholic publisher. Note that it has been declared Nihil Obstat (Wikipedia’s definition: “attestation by a [Catholic] church censor that a book contains nothing damaging to faith or morals”). Also, it has been declared Imprimatur (Wikipedia: “let it be printed”). I have quoted verbatim from the product description. Following is the link to the entire description:

http://www.christianbook.com/journey-heart-centering-prayer-for-children/frank-jelenek/9781557254825/pd/54829?item_code=WW&netp_id=485827&event=ESRCN&view=details

Journey to the Heart: Centering Prayer for Children
By: Frank Jelenek, Ann Boyajian
Paraclete Press / 2007 / Paperback

Publisher’s Description

This new resource has been declared Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur by William B. Smith, S.T.D., Censor Librorum and Dennis J. Sullivan, Vicar General, Archdiocese of New York Millions of books have been sold, teaching adults the practice of centering prayer.  Finally, a guide for children!

Centering prayer is a way of opening our whole being to God, beyond thoughts, words and emotions. It is simple and practical—a way of preparing heart and mind to receive the gift of intimate relationship with God. Jesus said, “When you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Matthew 6:6)

Frank Jelenek shows young children just how to do that. The first guide to a contemplative prayer practice for children [emphasis mine], Journey to the Heart both instructs and inspires. Many parents and teachers will learn from this colorful treasure of a book, as well! Until now, parents and teachers had no resource available to introduce children to the joys of communicating with God in this special, intimate way.

This loving book makes it easy for children to share in the spiritual nourishment of centering prayer through age-appropriate illustrations and text that provides clear directions and encouragement in simple, fun language. Ideal for ages 3 – 10.

Editorial Reviews

Contemplative prayer would seem to be a discipline more suited to adults than children, but this easily understandable book offers a framework that even primary-schoolers can work within. The book begins by introducing the concept of the soul explaining that a journey to the deepest part of the heart is time to commune with God and Jesus. First, the book suggests choosing a secret word or phrase such as faith, Father, Jesus, or Holy Spirit.Then, it recommends sitting silently, eyes closed, feet on the floor; if others are participating, it suggests placing chairs in a prayer circle. The next step involves saying the secret word silently while resting within. When other thoughts intrude, participants can let them float away during the six moments of silence they are to spend with God. The session ends with the Our Father. The gentle text encourages children, and the attractive, simple pictures, often depicting people at prayer, are done in warm, gentle colors. An unusual, peaceful offering. Booklist October 2007

And following is the Amazon link to this book. You will be able to read actual pages from the book, locate similar titles for children (what an abomination!), and read comments from readers:

http://www.amazon.com/Journey-Heart-Centering-Prayer-Children/dp/1557254826/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1288285954&sr=8-1

Perhaps you think this book will not be used in an evangelical church’s Spiritual Formation program for children. Think again! If an evangelical church is into Spiritual Formation, the church already endorses ecumenical and interfaith authors – Catholic, mainline/liberal, Emergent, etc. The above Catholic book would be just one more on its list of “wonderful resources.” Scary!


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Many articles have been written exposing the brainwashing of youth groups by Spiritual Formation programs. But the indoctrination is starting much younger! Following are several articles exposing this:

A great article by Berit Kjos (who is at the forefront, exposing New Age indoctrination of children in public schools, churches, etc.):

http://www.crossroad.to/Quotes/spirituality/lighthousetrails/children-perspectives.htm

An excellent 2007 article by Lighthouse Trails Research Project, exposing AWANA (see also the links at the bottom of the article). It would be interesting to find what has happened since then with AWANA.

http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=220

And following are the search results from Kjos Ministries regarding the search string “children” AND “spiritual formation”. I am looking through these articles – some are more relevant than others:

http://www.crossroad.to/text/search_results.html?cx=015736079649539019301%3A-bdcqxfnx98&cof=FORID%3A11&q=%5B%22spiritual+formation%22+%22children%22%5D&sa=Search&siteurl=www.crossroad.to%2Ftext%2Fsearch.html

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I am currently researching the historical development of Spiritual Formation/Christian mysticism/contemplative spirituality in two wings of the Protestant religion: the evangelical wing and the mainline/liberal wing. Richard Foster “broke through” to the evangelical wing in 1978 with his book “Celebration of Discipline.” But Thomas Merton had “broken through” to the mainline/liberal wing earlier on, with his Eastern/New Age practices.

Following are some excerpts  of an Apprising Ministries article, in which Ken Silva discusses the influence of Merton upon Foster. Click here for Silva’s entire article.

Ken Silva writes:

In his fine series called Mysticism, which I highly recommend, Dr. Gary Gilley did great job whittling down this massive subject to its most important elements. Regarding Foster’s work Gilley brings out just how deeply he was influenced by mystic Thomas Merton:

“Foster cites and/or quotes Merton on at least nine separate occasions in Celebration of Discipline, yet Merton was not a Christian as far as we can tell. He was a twentieth-century Roman Catholic who had so immersed himself in Buddhism that he claimed he saw no contradiction between Buddhism and Christianity and intended to become as good a Buddhist as he could.

[Ken Silva continues to quote Gilley:]

But despite his doctrinal views and New Age leanings Foster considers Merton’s Contemplative Prayer, “A must book,” and says of Merton, “[He] has perhaps done more than any other twentieth-century figure to make the life of prayer widely known and understood.” Merton wrote, “If only [people] could see themselves as they really are. If only we could see each other that way all the time. There would be no more war, no more hatred, no more cruelty, no more greed…. I suppose the big problem would be that we would fall down and worship each other.” (Online source)”

Click here for Gary Gilley’s series of articles on mysticism can be found at:

And here is a document about Thomas Merton, posted by Manny Silva, originally written by David Cloud.

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Christian involvement in New Age practices goes far beyond Spiritual Formation programs. As we know, many Christians (including evangelicals) are heavily into mind/body practices (e.g. yoga, relaxation techniques, Reiki), entertainment (e.g. Twilight, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the Diablo videogame, Harry Potter), horoscopes, even Ouija boards.

And how do most of these Christians react when confronted about their occult involvement?  They resist, refusing to give up their practice(s). For the life of me, I will never understand the mindset of Christians who refuse to give up these practices when confronted.

Following is one of many Bible passages which refers to the eternal destiny of all those involved in the occult:

“But the fearful, and UNBELIEVING, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and SORCERERS, and IDOLATORS, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” (Rev. 21:8, KJV)(EMPHASIS MINE)

Only God knows our hearts, and He will be our Judge. No offense to my Christian brethren who hold to eternal security, but I believe there is a point where born again Christians can become so involved in the world and the occult, so backslidden, that they can lose their salvation. At this point, these former Christians (who still label themselves as “Christians”) become part of the “unbelieving” listed in the Bible verse above.

Just to clarify my use of the word “lose.” I don’t believe a person “loses” his salvation in the sense of losing something he loves dearly. On the contrary, a person “loses” his salvation because he does NOT love it dearly. A born again Christian can choose to turn his back on Christ. He can say he no longer trusts Christ as his Saviour. He can say he chooses to follow the Buddha instead, or a Hindu “god”, or whoever. When he turns his back on Christ, he loses his salvation. God does not turn His back on people – people turn their back on Him.

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Spiritual Formation (SF) has been around for a long time. But it was not until the publication of Richard J. Foster’s book in 1978, entitled “Celebration of Discipline,” that SF started to catch on among evangelicals. Personally, I did not hear of SF until 1993, but in my nievety I never bothered to research it. When I finally researched it in 2010, I was shocked! Why is it that so many evangelical Christians have never heard of SF if it has been infiltrating evangelicalism since 1978? Perhaps because it is being “snuck” in via evangelical colleges, universities and seminaries.

So on to my point – what exactly is SF, and why is it so dangerous? There are many discernment articles on the Internet discussing this, but I will quote from just one at this time. The entire article can be found on the website of Hungry Hearts Ministries, at:

http://hungryheartsministries.com/id447.html

Here are some excerpts:

There is a movement advancing at lightning speed throughout the Body of Christ today. This movement promotes a spirituality that is corrupting believers from the simplicity found in Christ by weaving New Age—Occult precepts and practices into the very fabric of their life and faith….

Theological seminaries within literally every denomination are preparing graduates to facilitate this spirituality in the local churches through “Spiritual Formation” programs…  And graduates of these seminaries are trained to introduce certain spiritual disciplines into the lives and prayer habits of believers. When the term “spiritual discipline” is used, it is almost always referring to the incorporating of “contemplative spirituality” into the life of church members. Many churches are even introducing contemplative spirituality into children’s programs. Roman Catholics, Protestants, Pentecostals, Charismatics, along with non-Pentecostal evangelicals are being influenced, through almost identical Spiritual Formation programs that embrace an ungodly and unbiblical form of prayer called Contemplative Prayer. Contemplative prayer is, by far, the main practice promoted by Spiritual Formation programs…

Contemplative prayer is not prayer at all, but rather a “Christianized” form of unbiblical, eastern meditation which is nothing more than, TM—transcendental meditation. Spiritual Formation programs promoting the “Spiritual Discipline” of contemplative prayer along with various other occult practices are clearly forbidden in the scriptures.  Spiritual disciplines include, but are not limited to, yoga and labyrinth walking. These are also promoted, in addition to contemplative prayer, within the more liberal evangelical congregations. Do not assume your denomination has not already jumped on the contemplative bandwagon…

All who embrace contemplative spirituality, at some point, begin to hold the traditional beliefs of evangelical Bible-believing Christians in utter contempt—especially those concerning the importance of the written word of God and the importance of soul winning… All who embrace this spirituality begin losing their burden for soul-winning—although they seldom realize this is what is happening. Aggressive evangelism becomes discouraged and relationship evangelism is encouraged. That may sound good on the surface but denies the fact that it is the gospel of Jesus Christ—and nothing else—that is the power of God unto salvation. Again, do not think your fellowship is immune to this influence. Spiritual Formation programs are taking root within every denomination and within every belief platform of evangelical Christianity…

Believers should be alerted to the fact that the modern day contemplative spirituality, promoted within Protestant evangelical fellowships, descends from the Roman Catholic mystics (who in turn adopted it from eastern, non-Christian, belief systems).  Contemplative prayer cannot be fully embraced without referencing, at some point, the Roman Catholic mystics—Saint Teresa of Avila, Saint Ignatius, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, The Desert Fathers (fathers of contemplative prayer) are just a few of the mystics. However, these may not be mentioned at first while introducing “Spiritual Disciplines” to non-Catholic evangelicals…

In more conservative denominations, the spiritual disciplines may be limited, for the time being, to contemplative prayer.  Among more liberal evangelicals, yoga, labyrinth walking and other occult practices may be, unapologetically, included in the “disciplines”…

One of the first observable fruits of contemplative spirituality is an ecumenical mindset which fails to discern important doctrinal differences between the Protestant and Roman Catholic religions. All, both Pentecostals and non-Pentecostals alike, who are experiencing paradigm shifts by means of these “disciplines,” become enamored with eastern culture. Both their words and writings are peppered with frequent references to the un-spirituality of the “western” church. Peace, peace, love, love and “Don’t Judge!” are becoming words of the day. But the same ones whose conversation is so liberally sprinkled with these also have no problem with criticizing—often viciously—those with more “traditional” beliefs. All contemplatives eventually experience a failure to understand why there are religious differences at all—between anyone in any religion—who is truly seeking God using any means. The prevailing attitude becomes, “Seek God. It doesn’t matter how you do it—just do it—he’ll accept you regardless.”  Bible believing Christians know this is simply not true. Jesus Christ is the only way, the only truth and the only life…

It is a frightening fact that the list of evangelical, contemplative authors is growing daily.  The dangers of contemplative, experiential, spirituality are severe enough that Bible believing Christians should give anyone promoting these beliefs a very wide berth. When allowed to run its course, the end result of embracing this spirituality is a complete paradigm shift—not only away from the simplicity found in Christ, but altogether away from the fact that Jesus Christ is the only way, the only truth, and the only life…

As I mentioned, this is just one of many articles exposing Spiritual Formation. I will plan to revise this post by adding more links to introductory articles – DM

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(revised 10/06/12)

I used to trust Christianbook.com to distribute biblically sound books – not anymore. I researched some of its online catalog and made some shocking discoveries. Specifically, I did the following searches on 10/08/2010 (I realize there may be some overlap of titles). When searching on a phrase, I put it in quotation marks.

(Note – as of 10/06/2012 I am searching Christianbook.com again to see if they are carrying more heretical titles. Sets of figures such as 403/677 titles denote a search result 10/08/10 vs. a search result 10/06/12).

Affirmations – 403/677 titles
“Rob Bell” – – not searched/117 titles
Buddhist – 53/76 titles (perhaps half of these are not “born again” titles)
“Tony Campolo” – not searched/55 titles
Centering – 50/68 titles
“Centering prayer” – 17/25 titles
“Chicken Soup” – 243/507 titles (now wait minute – everyone knows this series is written by New Agers – or do they?)
Contemplative – 195/248 titles
“Contemplative prayer” – 38/45 titles
“Contemplative spirituality” – 12/15 titles
“Emergent church” – 16/17 titles
“Emerging church” – 258/305 titles
Enneagram – 8/7 titles
“Richard Foster” – not searched/43 titles
Hindu – 55/97 titles (perhaps half of these are not “born again” titles)
“Inner healing” – 28/36 titles
“Inner self” – 12/12 titles
Interfaith – 48/76 titles
“Dan Kimball” – not searched/21 titles
Labyrinth – 38/46 titles
“Lectio divina” – 80/109 titles
Mary – not searched/4,035 titles
“Brian McLaren” – not searched/54 titles
Meditation – 1,709/2,281 titles
Meditative – 90/120 titles
Mystics – 214/286 titles
“New Spirituality” – 16/24 titles (perhaps a third of these are not “born again” titles)
“Henri Nouwen” – not searched/126 titles
“Eugene Peterson” – not searched/106 titles
Rosary – not searched/110 titles
“Seeker sensitive” – 12/13 titles
“Spiritual formation” – 159/219 titles
“Leonard Sweet” – not searched/63  titles
“Phyllis Tickle” – not searched/33  titles
Visualization – 27/42 titles (perhaps a fourth of these are not “born again” titles)
“Dallas Willard” – not searched/86  titles
Yoga – 25/36 titles (perhaps half of these are not “born again” titles)

There are additional terms I plan to search on, but you get the idea…

I can understand liberal/mainline pubishers putting out this garbage. But a lot of these titles are from publishers I always considered as evangelical born again Christian – such as Eerdmans, Group Publishing, IVP, NavPress, Thomas Nelson, Zondervan, etc. (I plan to research these and other “Christian” publishers, to examine the twists and turns they underwent in going from Christian control to secular ownership.)

Here are a few of the most shocking titles from evangelical publishers:

1) Finding God in the Shack: Seeking Truth in a Story of Evil and Redemption (IVP)
2) The Message, by Eugene Peterson (NavPress)
3) The Prayer Path: A Christ Centered Labyrinth Experience- Kit (a kit for youth groups, from Group Publishing)
4) The Truth, the Way, the Life: A Christian Commentary on the Three Holy Mantras of the Sri Vaishnava Hindus (Eerdmans)

I know Christianbook.com is just selling what so-called Christians want to buy, but it still sickens me. A New Ager would feel comfortable with most of these thousands of titles in his or her personal library. Perhaps we should demand that Christianbook.com (Christian Book Distributors/CBD) remove the word “Christian” from its company name immediately!

The following article gives a detailed history of CBD, but gives no clue as to why they distribute so many nonchristian titles:

http://www.christianbook.com/html/cms/general/CompanyProfile.html

Addendum (10/06/12)

I figured it’s about time I examine Christianbook.com again, to see how much worse they’ve gotten.

Yup, they’re definitely plugging heretical books more. Check out the following info, found here – and this is just the tip of the Emerging/Emergent iceberg:

(Page Title: The Emerging Church)

The Emerging Church

The Emerging Missional conversation has opened new discussions on ways the church can more effectively reach others in today’s postmodern cultural mindset. Jump into the ongoing conversation within the Emerging Church!
Science & Wisdom

$3.99

Noteworthy Series:

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(revised 10/14/13)

A number of postmodern (i.e. Emerging/Emergent) leaders have written statements criticizing “fundamentalism”. (I hope to list links with such quotes from these various leaders.)

I am defining fundamentalism here as “old fashioned”, born again, biblically sound Christianity. In the early 1900s, the term fundamentalist  was applied to those who followed The Fundamentals in the Fundamentalist-Modernist controversy. This is how I am using the term “fundamentalist” here – not as in “Independent Fundamentalist Baptists” – although IFBs would agree with many of the articles in The Fundamentals. (In this article IFB Bro. David Cloud provides a good IFB discussion of the term “fundamentalist”.)

Below, Lighthouse Trails discusses one of the most shocking anti-fundamentalist statements I have read thus far from the Emergent/Emerging Church movement. This is an excerpt from the Lighthouse Trails Research book review of Brian McLaren’s book, entitled Finding Our Way Again. (McLaren, Tony Campolo, Leonard Sweet, RIchard Foster and others have at times taught and/or “preached”  in the Evangelical Friends denomination. And people wonder why I am upset with the Evangelical Friends…) Click here for the entire review of McLaren’s book.

… something in McLaren’s book has given this writer a motivation to continue with the work we do at Lighthouse Trails as long as we have breath. 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, et.al) 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.

What’s alarming is that McLaren’s vision of infiltration is working. And he knows it. Listen: “At the center, safe space happens. A learning community forms. New possibilities emerge. A new day dawns. If the guardians of our fragmented religious institutions forbid their members to meet in the center, the members will not be able to comply. They will simply go undercover and arrange secret liaisons … Eventually, the shared resources, vitality, and new possibilities that unfold … will penetrate and reinvigorate … Trying to stop [this] … is a losing game … against the plotline of God’s universe.”

In the last chapter of McLaren’s book, “Theosis (via Unitiva),” he sums up his calling by stating that “The purpose of the via purgativa [the practices] is to prepare us for the via illuminativa [the awakening], and the purpose of the via illuminativa is to prepare us for the via unitiva [all is one], the union of our nature with the nature of God” (pp. 171-172).  He calls God “fire” and says, “We join God in being fire … Before the beginning … God was All, and All was God” (p. 175). This is the exact same message that Eckhart Tolle and Oprah are propagating. But while many Christians are now condemning Tolle’s message, they don’t realize that the very same message is permeating their very own churches. For those readers who care about the spiritual future of their children and grandchildren, it is vital they understand the meaning of McLaren’s spirituality in particular and the merging/contemplative movement in general. We believe this is an extremely compelling motivation and should prompt us as believers to defend the faith and the gospel message of Jesus Christ.

God bless you, all of you at Lighthouse Trails Research. And God bless all of you in various discernment ministries, who are working the expose the Emergent/ Emerging Church and Spiritual Formation/ Contemplative Spirituality.

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