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Archive for the ‘Apprising Ministries’ Category

Click below for the various parts of this series on New Ager Roma Downey (and husband Mark Burnett):

Like Oprah, New Agers Roma Downey and hubby Mark Burnett now falsely claiming they’re Christians – why?

Roma Downey’s comments about “Touched by an Angel” show she is not a Christian as she claims, but a New Ager

Roma Downey’s comments about her ties with New Thought/New Ager Della Reese  show Downey is not a Christian as she claims, but a New Ager

Roma Downey’s comments about her “Little Angels” series show she is not a Christian as she claims, but a New Ager

Roma Downey’s comments about her New Age “Spiritual Psychology” degree show she is not a Christian as she claims, but a New Ager

NEW: Roma Downey’s comments and connections with psychic medium John Edward show she is not a Christian as she claims, but a New Ager

Roma Downey’s comments about her theology show she is not a Christian as she claims, but a New Ager

Roma Downey’s comments about her “biographical trivia” show she is not a Christian as she claims, but a New Ager

NEW: New blogs I’m working on, showing in Downey and Burnett’s own words that they are not Christians as they claim, but New Agers

Note – all above blogs © 2012-2014 Dave Mosher, all rights reserved. Excerpts may be quoted up to 300 words, as long as credit is given to my original blogs and links provided to my original blogs. Thank you.
————————————————————————————————————————

Now on to the current blog:

(revised 03/07/13)

Roma Downey’s comments about “Touched by an Angel” show she is not a Christian as she claims, but a New Ager

I have always felt very uncomfortable with the TV series “Touched by an Angel.” Why? Because I never, ever heard the characters mention the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. The closest they came (in the episodes I saw): I heard the tune (not the words) of  the Christmas carol “Silent Night.”

Also, I couldn’t help but notice that “Touched by an Angel” Roma Downey’s co-star, Della Reese, is a New Age-ish woman “preacher” in real life. (Click here for Della Reese’ Wikipedia bio. She teaches New Thought heresies.)

Christian discernment ministries have been writing exposés of  “Touched by an Angel” for years. With so much having been written already, there’s probably not much new info I can add here. I will, however, attempt to locate and repost Downey’s New Age comments regarding “Touched by an Angel” – comments which show she is not a Christian as she claims, but a New Ager.

For example, in this quote (found here) Downey describes what attracted her to try out for the part of Monica:

Chet Cooper: You are most recognized for playing Monica on Touched By An Angel. How did you come across the role and what did you first think of the character?

Roma Downey: It was pilot season of ‘94, and I was reading through endless junk scripts that were being sent my way. Typically the roles were to play his wife or his girlfriend—leading roles for women were few and far between. Suddenly a very unusual script turned up. “Now this is curious,” I remember thinking. Because I’m a person of faith [in other Internet articles, she uses phrases such as “on a spiritual journey” – a New Age phrase], the spiritual aspects got my attention. Also, the actress in me was delighted to read a show that had not one but two strong female roles—female angels. I was to audition for Monica, and I very much liked Della Reese, who of course ended up playing Tess. [Just a couple clues that Downey was New Age prior to “Touched by an Angel”. See also my “trivia” blog mentioning biographical info prior to “Touched by an Angel”. I’m not sure when Della Reese first got interested in New Age teachings.]

[Note – I’ve repeated much of the following info in this blog about Downey’s theology.]

Closely study reruns of “Touched by an Angel” and I’m sure you’ll find many heretical New Age views held by both Roma Downey and New Thought/New Age co-star Della Reese.

Check out the following quotes from Downey, found here. I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets].

“It’s fantastic that [the Touched by an Angel reruns are] on GMC,” says Downey. “It’s reaching a whole new generation of people with its beautiful message of faith. I loved being on that show. I loved it. I loved playing Monica. I loved being the messenger, the believer. I loved being part of a message that went out weekly reminding people there is a God and this is God’s purpose for you and God will be part of your life and most importantly that God loves you.

“I got to deliver that message every week for almost 10 years to millions of people a week.”

“Still to this day, wherever I am in airports or shopping malls people tell me, ‘Oh, that show has changed my life.’ or ‘That show helped my family heal’ or ‘You’ll never know what that show did for us’ and so I’m thrilled that it’s back at a regular spot in the television and has a chance to heal and touch people’s lives all over again. [I don’t see any wording here about bringing people to salvation through the Father’s only begotten Son Jesus Christ, do you? I guess that would be rather difficult for “Touched by an Angel” to do, considering the 212-episode series  has never – that I know of – mentioned the name of Jesus Christ.]

“I’ve been there, too, needing an angel — I can tell you. Over the years I’ve found myself wishing sometimes my angel would show up. [So Downey would want to communicate with angels? I’m not surprised. By the way, the Bible forbids communication with angels – this insightful pdf article mentions this.] I could use a little uplift, a little reminder.

“And then you know, and it’s available to everybody at all times. You’ve just got to turn your attention into your own loving heart where God exists inside of all of us.” [This reminds me of the heretical Inner Light teaching of George Fox and the Quakers, “that of Christ in all men” – supposedly.]

“There’s a timeless quality to the story,” she says. “It was always stories of people at certain crossroads in their lives when a decision was to be made. The spirit [notice Downey doesn’t say “the Holy Spirit” but rather uses the liberal/New Age term “the spirit”] would show up and help you make that good decision. You know, there’s no magic wand. Somebody didn’t come down and fix it for you. All we did as the angels was to come down and to remind you that you were a child of God [only a born again Christian is a child of God – nonchristians are offspring of Adam and “children of the devil” – see John 8:44 and I John 3:10] and God loves you and God wants the best for you, that God has a purpose for you and that you have to reach into your own heart to see it and believe it and then out of that place, make a good choice for yourself. [Again, “reach into your own heart” and “out of that place” are heretical New Age phrases.]

“It was very empowering in that way. It wasn’t some easy fix, because life isn’t filled with easy fixes. But when you pray and really trust and hand yourself over to God [notice she doesn’t mention repenting of your sins and accepting Christ as your Saviour], you know that God has you and holds you in his heart and in his hands.

“You know there’s no better feeling.

“If I were to look back at my career, I think my greatest achievement is very simple.

“I’ve been able to make choices where I could glorify God.”

So there we have it – a bit of Downey’s theology in her own words. As we will see in my various blogs about Downey, she is extremely New Age. Several questions: would she say in the previous paragraph her New Age beliefs “glorify God”? And how does she define “God”? For that matter, how does she define the label “Christian” which she applies to herself? Like I said, she is not a Christian like she claims, but a New Ager.

By the way, I perused this devotional book about “The Bible” as it was premiering. It is supposedly written by Downey and hubby Mark Burkett. But don’t be deceived by the biblically sound lingo found throughout the book. It sounds very different from Downey’s New Age statements in her quotes above. I’m going to take a wild guess here and speculate that portions of the book were written by ghost writers (perhaps some of the heretical “Christians” on “The Bible” Board of Advisors who have a better grasp on Christian lingo.)

FOR FURTHER READING

Discernment articles by Christians

Don Closson, Is Being Touched by an Angel Enough?

Berit Kjos, Touched By An Angel – But Which Kind?

Let Us Reason Ministries, Touched by an Angel or…

Program Reviews: Touched by an Angel – includes some viewer comments favoring TBAA, but also some excellent Christian critiques

Warning – a number of the following links are nonchristian; I can recommend them for research only.

Click here for CBN’s article about “Touched by an Angel” executive producer Martha Williamson and her Interfaith Movement connections. CBN, which has become heretical – actually recommends Martha Williamson and “Touched by an Angel.”

Click here for the official “Touched by an Angel” episode guide, including detailed plots of each episode.

And check out the Wikipedia articles on Roma Downey and on her husband Mark Burnett.

Searching Amazon.com re: “Roma Downey” brings up a number of angel-oriented publications by Roma Downey. Also, click here for books, videos, etc. related to the “Touched by an Angel” TV series.

I am currently in the process of adding more info to this blog – keep  checking back. And thank you for your patience. New info on Roma Downey and hubby Mark Burnett is coming out almost daily – it’s hard to keep up with!

© 2012-2014 Dave Mosher, all rights reserved. Excerpts may be quoted up to 300 words, as long as credit is given to my original blogs and links provided to my original blogs. Thank you.

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(revised 02/08/13)

It is puzzling why discernment ministries are vigorously protesting Emerging/Emergents but not heretical Messianic rabbi Jonathan Cahn, author of The Harbinger. I couldn’t believe it, for example, when a well respected  discernment ministry posted this comment here:

“It’s one thing to expose heresy, such as that of the Emergent Church. It’s quite another to blast away at a man [Cahn] who is simply calling for personal and national repentance…”

Fact is, Cahn is doing much more than calling for “repentance.” The Harbinger is just the most profitable of his books, CDs, DVDs, radio and TV broadcasts, etc. “revealing ancient mysteries of the Bible to Jew and Gentile.”

To me “ancient mysteries” sounds too much like the occult Kaballah/Zohar and other rabbinic books of “hidden secrets.” Speaking of which, Googling on the search strings [“rabbinic” “ancient secrets”], [“rabbinic” “hidden secrets”] and [“rabbinic” “ancient mysteries”] brought up articles by many rabbis. Apparently “revealing ancient mysteries of the Bible” (as Cahn describes his ministry) is is a popular teaching method among rabbis. This Wikipedia article on Esoteric Christianity mentions Judaism and the Kaballah along with many other sects.  Shame on Cahn.  Messianic people, who claim to born again, should have no part in this genre of teaching/preaching – it’s occultic.

Either many discernment ministries haven’t researched Cahn enough, and/or they won’t heed whatever documentation they have read about Cahn’s heresies. I pray these discernment ministries see the light – I would hate to see them lose their integrity because they wouldn’t recant their defense of Cahn.

Ironically, I am coming across various Messianic ministries which are exposing Cahn as a heretic. For example, he is listed as a heretic by a Messianic ministry here (scroll down to the section entitled “The Wolves List”).

Also, I came across an excellent expose of Cahn by Danny Moriel, of the Messianic Moriel Ministries. I have reposted this expose below; click here for the original site of this expose. I have emphasized certain points by bolding in orange, and inserted comments [bracketed and bolded in orange].

JULY 9TH, 2012
This entry posted by MORIELDANNY

Shhh…It’s a Secret God Told Me to Tell You!

“The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law. (Dt. 29:29)

As the Preacher has already told us, “There is nothing new under the sun”. (Ecc. 1:9) So why should we be surprised that yet another person has been the exclusive recipient of yet another “secret” from God and, for the first time in the history of the world, is making it known to us? For some reason, instead of writing it down in one of the original languages of the Bible and making it freely available to all like the original Prophets of old, this time around God chose to have it printed in English and sold for $16.99 ($9.00 on the Kindle). For a fee, the “prophet” will come and speak about it. False teaching disguised as “revelation” like Jonathan Cahn’s The Harbinger have been around since  handwriting was invented and such will, no doubt, persist until the Lord returns. Please do not buy it or even bother reading a friend’s copy; why should you take away time from your personal meditation in Scripture, the only true source of revelation? But such things keep coming up, so I keep going back to the above verse.

  • Fact 1: God has not revealed everything to us, nor will He.
  • Fact 2: He has already revealed everything we need to know in His Word. There is no room for new books in The Book.
  • Fact 3: If we cannot be obedient to what has already been revealed, there is no “new” or further revelation coming.

In addition to outright false teachers and false prophets who teach error, there are also those who, “…speak a vision of their own imagination, not from the mouth of the Lord”. (Jer. 23:16b) In either case, it is to be rejected just the same.

The sad thing is that I cannot even report this to be the most egregious attempt to deceive the Elect in this age-old genre of claiming something never-before-revealed. There seems to be a whole “Bible codes” industry built on individuals and movements who purport to be the first ones in history whom God allowed to figure out these “secrets”. On the most shallow, surface level of this nonsense, why does it not bother anyone with a grade school education that the Lord has allowed all of the apostles, pastors and scholars throughout the whole of history up this point to have miscalculated, mistranslated, or just plain mishandled the Word except these chosen few whom God waited until now to reveal it to? Why is it that we so rarely see these “gifted” individuals living like a true apostle or prophet, much less a faithful rank-and-file believer? Why does God choose for them to personally profit so greatly from this particular revelation when this was anything but the case for those through whom the true, written Word of God was previously given? (Prophets from biblical times must be jealous of profits in modern times—pun intended.) Why should I even attempt a scriptural response when the argument is won and lost without ever leaving the arena of common sense?

For the uninitiated, the name of the last book of the Bible, in Greek, is “Apokalypsis”. It describes an unveiling, something that becomes clearer and clearer as you get nearer to it, and the veil which you can already partially see through is finally lifted out of the way. The truth is that if we would just trust the timing and direction of the Holy Spirit through Whom we obtain the only guidance that can explain God’s Word, there are no remaining “secrets”. At present we can already see the outline of them all, so it is really a case of God’s timing as to when we will be brought close enough and the veil fully removed so that what has been there all along comes into our clear, earthly view. Such are not “secret” things, but a test of faith to see if we will obey all that we have already been given while we wait for His timing when it comes to the rest. Beware of those who claim they are the only ones who can explain what is behind the curtain, especially if it costs $16.99.

But I have to say that it amazes me how poor the so-called “Christian” con-artists and counterfeiters are at their work! We could never find an unbelieving con-man or counterfeiter producing obvious imitations and cheap knock-offs that would not fool anyone. They have much more pride in their work than the Christian con-artists! The professional thief at least does their homework, pays attention to all the tiniest details and makes it the most difficult possible to see any difference between the fake and authentic. At least their fake diamond is so good, only the most well-equipped and knowledgeable expert can tell the difference so that they really do fool the mark. All Christian con-artists seem to need to do is produce something sparkly and pretty which only they would have the audacity to call a “diamond”, and there is no end of takers who are fooled! They do not have to make any effort whatsoever beyond simply calling it a “diamond” and, unlike a wiser person of the world, their marks simply take their word for it. Unlike the world’s counterfeits, it is so obviously something of little resemblance to the real thing that it should never have fooled anyone to begin with.

One would think that these charlatans would spend at least a little time studying how an authentic, biblical prophet lives, speaks and acts. Or that they would carefully craft their wares to be as indistinguishable as possible from the authentic. Or that they would try to imitate the original right down to the worn out sandals. Why is it that Christians will accept an obvious imitation which any non-believer with bad eyesight and a poor sense of smell would recognize in ten seconds? Why is it that every modern-day false prophet fills the exact mold Jesus identified as producing something obviously false?

“But what did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ palaces! (Mt. 11:8)

How did John’s appearance and stature reveal he was anything but someone who called a king’s palace a home? He first and foremost looked and lived the part.

Now John himself had a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. (Mt. 3:4)

And what was John’s accompanying message? What did he say to do about the impending arrival of the Messiah, the greatest literal “revelation” of all time?

“Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance; (Mt. 3:8)

Everyone then, just as today, knew that the Messiah was coming soon. The real prophet did not reveal a new “secret”, did not dazzle them with something only he had, but called them back to the most basic thing they knew all along because it had been drilled over and over again through all the previous prophets and God’s Word predicting His arrival: repent of sin and put the Word of God as already given into practice so you will be able to handle the coming revelation.

“The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law. (Dt. 29:29)

And what is even more incredible is that the Messiah DOES come, the Messiah fulfills more than three hundred twenty prophecies in the Old Testament, and the vast majority completely miss the “revelation” of the Messiah’s first coming! Why? Instead of doing what John said, they kept following and seeking after those who dangled something else in front of them. How much more authentic can it get than to have the Messiah, in person, right there in front of you and instead giddily run after the cheap, sparkly imitation that “looks pretty” over there? No, the problem then is the same as it is now: a lack of obedience to what God has already revealed, a population that can be deceived because they are not prepared for something “new” because they never truly believed the “old”.

Do I believe that there are “deeper” truths to be gleaned from the Word than are obvious at first glance? Of course, but there is a basic rule of interpretation which tells us when the line has been crossed from “exegesis”—drawing out of Scripture what is there, and “eisegesis”—reading something into Scripture that was never there to begin with: Scripture never contradicts Scripture.

I have seen people use Gematria, where the letters of the Greek or Hebrew alphabet are assigned a number, to show that the Messiah to come was going to literally be named “Jesus”. If that is true, it is not actually something “new” or in conflict with the rest of Scripture, is it? Scripture confirms that the Messiah is indeed named “Jesus”. Within Scripture is a rich texture of patterns, allegories, parables and typology, all of which never form the basis for doctrine, but in every instance is confirmed elsewhere in Scripture by what is plainly stated. The “deeper” things reflect and provide a better understanding of the basic things. If someone offers something that cannot be confirmed and supported by Scripture, run far, my friend…run fast.

How does a real prophet handle God’s prophetic Word? Look at the guy through whom more “secrets” were revealed in the Old Testament than any other. No one has left us more Old Testament prophetic puzzles than Daniel. How did he handle the recognition of God’s revelation in his time?

In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of Median descent, who was made king over the kingdom of the Chaldeans— in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, observed in the books the number of the years which was revealed as the word of the LORD to Jeremiah the prophet for the completion of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years. So I gave my attention to the LORD God to seek Him by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes. I prayed to the LORD my God and confessed and said, “Alas, O LORD, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments, we have sinned, committed iniquity, acted wickedly and rebelled, even turning aside from Your commandments and ordinances. (Dan. 9:1-5)

Daniel is searching the Word which God has already given! Daniel, someone renowned for personal faithfulness to God’s Word, discovers something no one else seems to be aware of which is inside the Word which God has already given! What does he do with this “secret”? Daniel begins by addressing the core issue of repentance of sin and obedience to the Word—that which has already been made known. He knows they are not going to get the greater fulfillment to come if they do not get what has already been revealed.

When faced with the imminent and inevitable fulfillment of God’s prophetic Word, a true prophet first and foremost addresses the shortfall in living according to what God’s people should already know. Daniel did not know how God would specifically fulfill the prophecies in Jeremiah, but he knew that it would be missed in whatever form it took by God’s people if they did not repent and start living according to the Word already given to them. In other words, because people were not living according to the Word of God as already given, they were incapable of seeing what was about to be revealed in the prophetic Word of God! God is not going to reveal a “secret” to someone who is unwilling to obey the plain truth already provided. In fact, when Daniel was given an actual secret, he was told to keep it secret until God Himself would reveal it at God’s appointed time. (Dan. 8:26-27)

Now here is an interesting supporting “revelation” from Scripture when it comes the unveiling of God’s secrets. What would happen if God DID make one of His secrets known? How would we know for sure that this was authentically taking place?

The secret of the LORD is for those who fear Him,
And He will make them know His covenant. (Psalm 25:14)

It will only come to those who are obediently putting His Word into practice for the purpose of their further putting His Word into practice! Biblically speaking, “those who fear Him” is defined as someone who is intimately acquainted and so reveres the Lord that it is visibly proven by their obedience to His Word. This verse does not contradict the one previously quoted from Deuteronomy, but establishes what we know not only about every biblical prophet’s ministry, but every sign and wonder recorded and still to come: it is always about obedience to the greater message of the Word. The Psalmist tells us that the end result is the deepest and most complete working of God’s Word, to “know His covenant”. This is the term which expresses having entered into a personal relationship with God based on the mutual terms of His Word. Authentic secrets from the Lord confirm His Word for those already in a right and obedient relationship in the most profound ways so that it has the greatest effect to reinforce obedience to His Word!

  • We know some “secrets” to be bogus because God does not reveal secrets to someone living a life apart from His Word.
  • We know some “secrets” to be bogus because they are not supported by nor conform to God’s already provided Word.
  • We know some “secrets” to be bogus because they try to introduce something “new” that cannot be found in God’s written Word.
  • We know some “secrets” to be bogus because they are so general, we do not know what to actually do with the information.

But we ultimately know to automatically reject anyone using the term “secret” without delving very deeply. Why?

“The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law. (Dt. 29:29)

“I have not spoken in secret,
In some dark land;
I did not say to the offspring of Jacob
‘Seek Me in a waste place’;
I, the LORD, speak righteousness,
Declaring things that are upright. (Is. 45:19)

What is here articulated through Isaiah in the Old Testament is expanded upon by Christ Himself:

Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world; I always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together; and I spoke nothing in secret. (John 18:20)

Paul tells us that even when God reveals a mystery, it is verified by God’s Word and those through whom His written Word was given, and that such is always freely and publicly revealed to the entire world and has as its ultimate purpose faithfulness to God’s Word:

Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past, but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith; to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever. Amen. (Rom. 16:25-27)

What is, has, and most certainly will come many more times in the form of those claiming to reveal something “secret” is probably best explained by Peter for what it really is:

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. (2 Pe. 2:1-3)

Too many are so easily deceived because they spend absolutely no time in the Word, usually because to do so would mean having to address the persistent issues of personal sin in their life. They do not know what God’s Word says, so they allow someone else to define it for them. It is like buying a diamond without ever actually knowing what a real diamond looks or feels like, so why not just take the salesman’s word for it? But for those of us who strive to attain to being a Wise Virgin (Mt. 25:1-13) who remain committed to His Word in spite of the lateness of the hour, we have already been provided everything we authentically and literally need from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21. Everything else is an obvious and pale imitation.

In Him,

Servant@WalkWithTheWord.org

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UPDATE 05/21/15
(some of this info is a duplication of my original blog, plus some responses made to readers)

For our readers, let me get one thing straight – I’m not trying to stir up a hornet’s nest by critiquing Rabbi Jonathan Cahn. I love the Jewish people, and I believe they are the apple of God’s eye. God says in His Word, “I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you.”

I have no problem with Rabbi Cahn warning the United Nations, the United States, and the U.S. Supreme Court (for example concerning the gay “marriage” agenda). I appreciate Rabbi Cahn confronting wicked, ungodly sinners with the need to repent. I believe we are approaching the End Times (and/or are in the End Times), and we need to stand up for the Truth and confront wickedness wherever possible. Like Rabbi Cahn I would love to confront and expose the wicked. In that regards, Rabbi Cahn and I are on the same page I think.

Some have asked why I am “attacking” Rabbi Cahn, whom they feel is a wonderful man of God. I believe there is a difference between attacking and correcting. Attacking to me means name calling, being anti-Semitic, etc. Correcting to me means speaking the truth in love (as lovingly as possible that is).

Others have wondered whether I have discussed my concerns with Rabbi Cahn privately first, confronting him face to face before posting this critical blog. As far as first confronting face to face (or by correspondence or by phone), it’s true I have not done that. But I know for a fact that others have  confronted, corrected, and warned Rabbi Cahn – apparently to no avail. I do admire the discernment ministries that try to confront straying individuals privately first. But note that when the individuals refuse correction, the discernment ministries “go public”. You could say I’m repeating what larger discernment ministries have already gone public with. For me the issue has gone beyond correcting Rabbi Cahn directly. My focus now is on warning others to stay away from his ministry and not follow his teachings.

My problem with Rabbi Cahn is how he apparently puts himself on the level of a modern day prophet, like the prophets of Bible times. On this I take issue with Rabbi Cahn, as well as the so-called “prophets, priests and kings” of the New Apostolic Reformation.

Rabbi Cahn gives many so-called “mysteries” and “new revelations”, teaching things that are extrabiblical, that I find nowhere in my Bible. Check out this list of over 1,960 messages available from Rabbi Cahn. Even as of today’s writing, there are odd sounding message titles (see for example messages dated 05/01/15 and 05/03/15). Judging from the message titles, many of these messages are chalk full of strange terminology and teachings. I cannot find any such teachings by  born again, biblically knowledgable, doctrinally sound Bible teachers. To me, these supposed revelations largely cancel out any meaningful warnings Rabbi Cahn might be giving to the United Nations, the United States, the U.S. Supreme Court, etc.

Our readers may wonder, why am I focusing so much on Rabbi Cahn? Because he is so influential in Christian circles. He is head of the largest Messianic congregation in America. He is a bestselling author. And, his writings are influencing the theology and eschatology of so many Christians. I am critiquing Rabbi Cahn for what I believe are heresies – just as I would critique pastors of the largest Protestant churches in America, pastors whom I also feel are heretical. Namely, Joel Osteen, Rick Warren, T.D. Jakes, etc.

I would say, Rabbi Cahn does seem to be born again. He does come across as a very nice fellow, sociable, personable, and passionate about what he believes. He is in my prayers. But again I have serious problems with his methodology.  Read on…
——————————————–

(blog originally published 02/05/13)

To me it’s obvious that Messianic Rabbi Jonathan Cahn’s novel The Harbinger is heretical. Yet I’m finding a number of discernment ministries with good reputations that are sympathizing with The Harbinger if not endorsing it. So… rather than analyzing why so many born again, biblically sound men and women of God are falling for this, I’m trying another approach to hopefully wake up deceived Christians and nonchristians.

Namely, researching Jonathan Cahn himself – his life, his beliefs, etc.:

… Does he have a doctrinal statement, and what does it say? And does he really believe his own doctrinal statement, or is he just mouthing what he thinks born again Christians want to hear?
… What other books and articles has he written, and are they biblically sound?
… What sermons has he preached, and what seminars has he taught? Exactly what does he teach in his radio and television broadcasts?
… Where did he get his training, and what was he taught?
… Who were his mentors?
… What authors and books does he recommend?
… What pastors, speakers and movements does he recommend?

You get the idea.

If Cahn is a heretic (which I believe he is), his heresies should be able to be easily documented by looking at his life.

Regarding The Harbinger: I believe it is impossible for heretics to write biblically sound books. Can Richard Foster write a biblically sound book – or Eugene Peterson, Bill Johnson, Todd Bentley, Patricia King, etc. etc.? Of course not – it’s impossible! If Cahn is indeed a heretic, then The Harbinger is heretical.

Note: in this blog I am emphasizing certain points by bolding in orange, and inserting comments [in bolded orange in brackets].

First off, let’s look at a favorable biography of Cahn, found here:

Jonathan Cahn, also fondly known as “The nice Jewish boy” became involved in full-time ministry soon after his college years. From an early age Jonathan questioned his Jewish upbringing rejecting most of its teachings. Consequently he decided not to partake in the usual Bar Mitzvah ceremonies, a traditional rite of passage for young Jewish teenage boys. In seventh grade he became friends with a boy who spoke to him about Jesus, which prompted him to investigate more, searching for answers to his many questions about life and God. He came across Hal Lindsey’s popular book, The Last Great Planet Earth wherein he found evidence of his Jewish Messiah through the prophecies in the Hebrew Scriptures. This seemed to be a turning point for him, but Jonathan still continued to live his life as he always did, including participating in a rock band. But one thing that did change at that time is his insistence on telling others about Jesus the Messiah─although he himself had not yet made a commitment to the Lord.

After two close calls that could easily have resulted in his death (2 accidents) Jonathan miraculously escaped without any injury and came to realize that if he was to take the Scriptures seriously he would need to make a full-commitment to the Lord, not just a mental acceptance without any lifestyle changes. At the age of 20, grateful that God had spared his life─he drove to a tranquil spot at the top of a mountain, knelt down in prayer and dedicated his life to the Lord. [Is “dedicated” the term Cahn himself uses? Is this his euphemism for repenting of sin and accepting the Messiah as his Saviour? Or did Cahn in fact not have a “crisis conversion experience”?] This marked a major turning point for him. It wasn’t long after that Jonathan was asked to teach a Bible study which led to his first ministry that mainly focused on assisting the needy, the homeless and disabled. [Helping people is okay, but it should always be secondary to evangelism/preaching the gospel/saving lost souls. Has Cahn ever had a truly soulwinning ministry?] Several years later in 1988, he was asked to lead Beth Israel, which with his leadership has grown to be the largest Messianic congregation in the U.S., consisting of both Jews and Gentiles worshiping the Messiah Jesus.

Jonathan Cahn is currently President of Hope of the World – “an end time ministry for an end time world,” and continues to act as senior pastor and Messianic rabbi for Beth Israel/ the Jerusalem Center in Wayne, New Jersey. He has an extensive radio ministry and his teachings are broadcast every day over hundreds of radio stations, some TV stations and by way of shortwave radio broadcasts that reach all around the world. [I’d like to find out when and on what channels/stations he teaches, to hear what exactly what doctrines he is teaching. This list of YouTube videos is a good start.] Jonathan and his ministry team are dedicated to sharing the gospel message. He has ministered to large groups not only here in the U.S., but also to massive audiences in India, Nigeria, Cuba, Mizoram, Honduras, Haiti and continues to reach out to other nations as well. Rabbi Cahn is married and has two children.

In January 2012 his book, The Harbinger: The Ancient Mystery That Holds the Secret of America’s Future was published and quickly became a bestseller, debuting at number 10 and number 28 respectively on the New York Times bestseller list in the print paperback category. The book is also available with an accompanying DVD set. The Harbinger  published by FrontLine, an imprint of Charisma House [formerly known as the charismatic/New Apostolic Reformation “Strang Communications” – read more here] outlines a series of detailed parallels between what has happened in the United States since the 2001 terrorist attacks—including the economic collapse—and similarities in Israel’s history after it turned away from God. The author depicts his personal impressions in a fictional narrative how nine signs he identifies within recent events may signal God’s progressive judgment.

Tessie DeVore, book group executive vice president at Charisma House has stated, “It is a timely message for our nation and a rallying cry for Christians to pray for America.” No doubt she is right and the messages in The Harbinger have ignited a passion for believers who are serious about their faith─to share the Word of God and pray fervently for God’s mercy─to bring repentance and healing to a nation where so many have self-righteously dishonored and abandoned Him. [I disagree with this paragraph – I believe The Harbinger is spreading heresies more than it is bringing  repentance. The book is doing far more harm than good.]

Now let’s look at another short bio, found here on Cahn’s own website. Note especially the wording of the last sentence:

Jonathan Cahn is President of Hope of the World ministries, Senior Pastor and Messianic Rabbi of the the Jerusalem Center/ Beth Israel in Wayne, New Jersey. He is also the author of the best selling book ‘The Harbinger‘. His teachings are broadcast daily over hundreds of radio stations throughout the United States and the world and on television.  He ministers, as did the first Jewish messengers of the Gospel, sharing the message of Messiah to Jew and Gentile, Israel, and the nations.  He has ministered before mass gatherings in India, Nigeria, Cuba, Mizoram, Honduras, Haiti, & throughout the world.  His teachings are widely known for revealing the deep mysteries of God’s word and for the restoring of the new covenant message to its original biblically Jewish richness and power. [I’ve commented on a similar statement in the next paragraph below.]

And another revealing bio, found here:

Jonathan Cahn is President of Hope of the World ministries, Senior Pastor, and Rabbi of the Beth Israel Worship Center in Garfield, New Jersey. His teachings are broadcast daily over hundreds of radio stations throughout the United States and the world. He can also be seen weekly on television (“Something Different”). Descended of the line of Aaron, he has been asked to sound the Jubilee trumpet [who “asked” him to do this, and what exactly does “sounding the Jubilee trumpet” mean?] and minister among the nations, a prophetic ministry [but true prophetic ministries do not exist today – only in the ungodly, heretical minds of New Apostolic Reformation “prophets” such as Bill Johnson, Mick Bickle, John and Carol Arnott, Todd Bentley, Patricia King, etc. etc.] of and to the Jew and the Gentile in the last days. His teachings include the revealing of ancient mysteries , the depth and wonders of God’s Word, and the restoration of the Gospel message in its original Biblically Jewish context, richness, and power. [What exactly are the “ancient mysteries” Cahn is revealing? And what exactly does he mean by the “restoration” of the Gospel message? The Bible is sufficient in and of itself to tell us all we need, without having to be interpreted for us in new and revealing ways by a so-called “prophet” like Cahn.]

Some info on Cahn’s Messianic congregation, found here:

The vision for Beth Israel began with Gary Selman, a Messianic Jewish businessman with a heart for sharing the Gospel to Jew and Gentile alike. Helping this vision become a reality was Reverend Charlie Rizzo of the Church of the Nazarene who gave early support to the new work. [The Nazarene denomination is deeply involved in heretical Spiritual Formation/ Contemplative Spirituality and Emerging/Emergent teachings. And the Nazarenes are increasing ties with various New Apostolic Reformation groups including IHOP. Have the Nazarenes influenced Beth Israel and Jonathan Cahn with any of these beliefs?]

Beth Israel became an independent work in 1988 under the leadership, pastorship, and rabbinate of Jonathan Cahn. In this first year it grew from a congregation of about 35 people to three times that size. It soon outgrew its first home in the Paramus Church of the Nazarene, but there was no money for a building….

Beth Israel continues to grow, becoming what is believed to be the largest Messianic Congregation in the United States.

Stand Up for the Truth posted comments by Cahn on the Zohar (Kaballah) here. I’m providing his comments on the Zohar below. Note: the Stand Up for the Truth post also includes Cahn’s brief responses concerning extra-biblical revelation, Gnosticism, etc. Personally, I do not find Cahn’s answers very satisfying – it seems to me he’s just making excuses for his heretical teachings.

I’ve encountered similar excuses when I’ve questioned supposedly born again Evangelical Friends about the heretical Quaker teachings they’re reverting to – such as:

… immediate revelation
… “the Inner Light”/”that of Christ in every man”
… people of various religions going to Heaven because, in faithfully adhering to their own religion, they’re following “the Inner Light” that’s in every person (even though they’ve never heard the name of Christ)

But I digress – back to Cahn’s response regarding his quoting the Zohar, again, posted by Stand Up for the Truth here.:

Question:  It is stated that Jonathan Cahn “says that Zohar, an extrabiblical, mystical source from which the occultic and mystical Kabbalah is derived, greatly influenced his writing.”

Answer:  Unfortunately this kind of statements represents some of the extreme and bizarre opposition to The Harbinger – It is an extreme false accusation.

No. I have never in my life said that the Zohar has greatly influenced my writing – nor has it ever.  What this accusation is taken from and twisted out of recognition from – Is that I have in some special teachings shared quotes found in the rabbinic writings which unwittingly bear witness of the truth of the Gospel – things that most Jewish people have no idea of – such as Isaiah 53 being about the Messiah, or God being Three in One, Messiah dying for our sins [Isaiah 53 in our Bible clearly describes the suffering of Jesus Christ.  Why does Cahn need to appeal to occult, mystic Jewish documents like the Zohar/Kaballah  to get Jewish people to listen? Isn’t reading the Bible itself sufficient for Cahn?], or a connection made between the mercy of God and the word “Golgotha.”  These things can be used to share the Gospel.  This has been a standard method of apologetics and evangelism for ages.  Rabbinical writings, mystical or otherwise, have been quoted for ages, in Bible commentaries, apologetics, works such as The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, etc. To take this and then present it as if I or any Christian pastor or scholar is a secret follower of such things because they used a quote to bear witness of the Gospel is, as, one minister friend of mine would say – shameful at best. It should not have even appeared in print.

The apostle Paul actually quoted from a pagan hymn to Zeus in order to share the truth of the Gospel at Mars Hill.  [This argument has used by many heretics to justify their quoting Catholics, Buddhists, etc.] If we were to then to accuse him of being into Zeus worship, or that pagan writings were behind the epistles, or accuse of him of being secretly pagan – I would think we would need to repent.  It’s called bearing false witness.

Sorry, for me the logic does not follow. If Cahn is the born again Christian that he claims, he should condemn the ungodly, occult Zohar/Kaballah. He should not quote it, except in condemnation of its passages.  Let’s look at it another way – would a born again, biblically sound Christian:

… quote from a Catholic document to evangelize Catholics because it seemed to contain some Christian thoughts?
… quote from a Mormon document to evangelize Mormons because it seemed to contain some Christian thoughts?
… quote from a Jehovah’s Witnesses document to evangelize Jehovah’s Witnesses because it seemed to contain some Christian thoughts?
… quote from a New Age document to evangelize New Agers because it seemed to contain some Christian thoughts?
… quote from a Wiccan document to evangelize Wiccans because it seemed to contain some Christian thoughts?
… quote from a Satanic document to evangelize Satanists because it seemed to contain some Christian thoughts?

I realize born again, biblically sound (in my opinion) Christians such as A.W. Tozer and even H. Orton Wiley have commended the writings of Catholic mystics. But they should not have. These and many other born again Christians set a dangerous precedent, helping pave the way for today’s contemplative Emerging/Emergents to quote Catholic mystics, etc.

And as I mentioned above, aside from his quoting the Zohar/Kaballah, why does Cahn need to “reveal ancient mysteries” to “Jews and Gentiles?” Why can’t he just preach the Bible as it is, without having to reveal various mysteries that have supposedly been hidden for centuries in its pages? I believe this is going way beyond what God’s Word says. Cahn is treading on dangerous, heretical ground here, twisting God’s Holy Word, reinterpreting passages to say things God never intended.

It would be very insightful to also locate detailed info about Cahn’s true positions on the following questions. To me it seems Cahn was quite flippant, evasive and unrepentant in responding to the questions below, in this interview:

Question: Why infer that God is giving extra-biblical revelation, when the Bible was given once and for all to the saints?

Concern: Israel is not America, and God did not make a covenant with us, nor are we the apple of His eye.

Question: Is the publisher pronouncing Rabbi Cahn a foretelling prophet?

Question: What else has the publisher put out there?

Question: Does Rabbi Cahn draw from extra-biblical, mystical writings as his sources?

Question: One critic said that since The Harbinger speaks of mysteries being revealed – does this have to do with Gnostic beliefs?

Question: It is stated that Jonathan Cahn “says that Zohar, an extrabiblical, mystical source from which the occultic and mystical Kabbalah is derived, greatly influenced his writing.” [I have attempted to expose Cahn’s true position on the Zohar/Kaballah in the paragraphs above. I’ve also reposted Berit Kjos’ much more detailed expose here – God bless you Berit!]

Question: Does The Harbinger say that Isaiah is prophesying of America?
——————————————————————-
(Note – my blog was previously entitled Heretical “Harbinger” author Jonathan Cahn: who is he and what does he really believe?)

FOR FURTHER READING

Audio sermons by Rabbi Jonathan Cahn (full of heresies)

Christine Pack, A Commentary on The Harbinger: A Warning About The Harbinger

Ken Silva, David James’ Book “The Harbinger: Fact or Fiction?” Available

Ken Silva, Jim Bakker’s Homage to Jonathan Cahn Who Says He’s Blessed by Bakker’s Mentoring

Ken Silva, Patriotic Idolatry: “America for Jesus,” the NAR and Jonathan Cain

Ken Silva, Prophet Rabbi Jonathan Cain?

Read Full Post »

I came cross this excellent blog by Ken Silva of Apprising Ministries. Click here for the original source of this blog, which I am reposting below:

RICHARD FOSTER SAYS BIBLE RELIABLE GUIDE DESPITE “INCONSISTENCIES”

By on Apr 18, 2012 in AM Missives, Current Issues, Features, Richard Foster

Apprising Ministries has long been warning you about the danger of listening to neo-Gnostics like Living Spiritual Teacher and Quaker mystic Richard Foster.

For years now Foster, along with his his spiritual twin Dallas Willard, has been teaching corrupt Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism (CSM) under the guise of so-called Spiritual Formation.

But what we’re actually dealing with is really a romanticized version of Roman Catholic Counter Reformation spirituality, which is itself essentially a neo-Gnosticism.

What it’s not, is evangelical Protestant Christianity; and worse, this highly subjective CSM is truly hostile to the proper Christian spirituality of sola Scriptura. I’ll explain what I mean; first, in her piece Jesus The illuminated Illuminator today Christian Research Network contributor Marsha West is right when she says:

Contemporary Christianity is following “every wind of doctrine” in spite of the fact that Scripture warns about taking this route. Self-professed Christ followers no longer “endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions” (2 Tim. 4:3). Regrettably, many believers have embraced neo-Gnosticism. (Online source)

No, that’s not pleasant to hear; unfortunately, the truth often isn’t easy to listen to. Is this the kind of thing a woman ought to say? It is at this critical time when men are apparently too busy going from conference to conference speaking to each other about nothing to notice the living room of the visible church is on fire.

Then via GotQuestions.org West correctly informs us:

Christian Gnosticism is the belief that one must have a “gnosis” (from Greek “Gnosko,” to know) or inner knowledge which is mystical knowledge obtained only after one has been properly initiated. Only a few can possess this mystical knowledge, limiting the number of those “in the know”. … As such it is as false and heretical as the Gnosticism of the first century and needs to be roundly condemned for the heresy that it is. (Online source)

We have a vivid example of this as more and more bow before the silly superstitions of Foster-Willardism. Prior to the promotion of this dubious duo through the sinfully ecumenical neo-liberal cult of the Emergent Church aka the Emerging Church this neo-Gnosticism was confined to the mainline denominations, which it helped to mortally wound.

Sadly, now we have a plethora of neo-Gnostic fools who, through their practice of CSM, have now convinced themselves they are the truly enlightened ones. So deluded, they truly do believe that they’re receiving special revelation from God while they use a form of meditation in an altered state of consciousness commonly known as Contemplative/Centering Prayer (CCP).

Here’s a couple of examples of the fetid fruit of this CSM and CCP from Richard Foster himself. The first is from a 2005 piece in Quaker Life called The With God Life: An Interview with Richard Foster.  While hawking The Renovare Spiritual Formation Bible, which had just come out, the Quaker mystic tells us how the experience-oriented Quakers subjectively approach God “in the gathered silence.”

That’s CSM-speak for the practice of CCP. And while explaining this to us Foster also reveals that apparently he personally does not hold to the verbal plenary inspiration of Scripture:

“The Immanuel Principle is ultimately cosmic,” according to Foster. “We are to reign with God and be with God forever and forever. In the past God worked first directly, then indirectly with his people. Since Jesus’ birth, life, death and resurrection, God works both directly and indirectly. Quakers in the gathered silence experience God both directly and indirectly.”

I noticed that the focus on the with-God life circumnavigates inconsistencies found in Scripture and differing opinions about theology. By looking at how God revealed himself to people throughout Biblical history negates all those arguments. “You bypass it all,” stated Foster.

You put your focus on how God has been with a person and what does that say to me, now? What are their strengths and weaknesses and how does that apply to me? It’s all about developing charact — character [sic] that goes on into the future where we will reign with God and be with God eternally. (Online source, emphasis mine)

Did you catch that; you focus on how you subjectively think particular passages/verses of the Bible apply to you. However, the Bible isn’t about you. Then, according to Richard Foster, the infallible and inerrant Bible seems to have “inconsistencies” that his “with-God life” helps him to “circumnavigate.” Foster’s practice of CSM supposedly allows him to negate and then ”bypass” all the “differing opinions about theology.”

Why can they say that? Well, because he and his fellow neo-Gnostics like Dallas Willard would appear to have convinced themselves that they have gleaned superior direct gnosis (means knowledge) from God Himself through their practice of the so-called “spiritual disciplines” of CSM—most specifically the TM-lite of CCP.

Foster also informs us that:

Dallas Willard understands Quaker thinking about as well as anybody,” Foster acknowledged. “I had him do a study once on George Fox and his insights just blew me away.” (Online source)

If you didn’t know, George Fox is the heretical mystic who founded the original Quaker sect. Right in lock-step with classic mysticism, which believes God indwells all of mankind, Fox taught his myth as “the Inner Light.” I covered this foundational fable in great depth previously in Contemplating The Inner Light Of The Quakers.

Now we can consider Richard Foster’s teaching in the video below, which is a segment from GET A LIFE!: The With-God Life. In this clip Foster is talking about the “zoe-life [aka the supposed with-God life] that we receive from God” which “will accomplish its work; sustaining us, and moving us inevitably forward into Christlikeness.”

However, the “we” Foster is talking about here is not restricted to Christians; as a practicing Quaker, Foster is speaking of “the Inner Light”—which they teach is Christ—within all of mankind as he says:

This is a life! Powerful; irrepressible, self-sustaining, life—a with-God life. You see, this zoe is built into the very DNA of who we are as beings created in the image of God. It is an inward principle, and it will do its work. (:41-1:13)

Quite obviously, this would have to include all of mankind because each of us is created in the image of God. So what you’ll hear Foster teaching below ends up as classic Quaker doctrine, which is itself, right in line with Gnostic mysticism with its fantasy of “the divine spark” of God they believe is already within all of mankind.[1]

Since this isn’t the subject of this piece, here I’ll simply tell you that in John 14:6 Jesus explains to us that He is zoe. And the Bible teaches one receives the gift of zoe [aka eternal life] only by God’s grace alone; through faith alone, in Christ’s finished work on the Cross alone. In other words, by believing the Gospel of repentance and forgiveness of sins in Christ’s name.

Concerning our topic of Foster’s low view of Scripture, he spends some time talking about how supposedly this with-God life “flows from God through scripture and into the thirsty wasteland of the human soul.” Then at 7:09 into the video the Quaker mystic tells us “very specifically about the role of the Bible in all of this.”

First Foster sets up, and then knocks down, a couple of straw men; i.e. things those of us who adhere to sola Scriptura do not actually teach. Afterward Foster says:

Let me share with you what the Bible is. The Bible is a most reliable guide into this zoe life. You see, the Bible is God’s book; no one owns it, but God. And God has so superintended the writing of Scripture that it serves as a most reliable guide for our own spiritual formation. So you see, the purpose of the Bible is, as a most reliable guide into the zoe life that God intends for you and for me. (8:20-9:10)

Right in line with classic Quakerism, and in what he said above in the aforementioned interview, Quaker mystic Richard Foster has essentially told us that his experience in CSM will trump what the Bible says because it’s merely ”a most reliable guide.” You see, for these supposedly “enlightened” [read: deluded] neo-Gnostics, the Bible is merely a, and not the, most reliable guide in Christian spirituality, which is counter to sola Scriptura.

Today I sound the warning again: Those following people like Richard Foster had better wake up soon…

________________________________________________________________________________
End notes:

1. I refute this idea biblically in Understanding The New Spirituality: God Indwells Mankind.

See also:

“CELEBRATION OF DISCIPLINE” BY RICHARD FOSTER AN ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THEOLOGICAL ERROR

IS DALLAS WILLARD A CHRISTIAN?

9 MARKS: INTERVARSITY PRESS SEEMS ADRIFT

Read Full Post »

(revised 11/24/12)

I came across this excellent blog exposing the heresies of Quaker founder George Fox and contemplative Evangelical Friend Richard Foster.

Note – I have attempted to comply with the author’s copyright guidelines (listed at the bottom of this repost). I have gone through the repost and trimmed it down to excerpts, rather than reposting the entire blog. I found it  difficult to trim down – so much of the blog verifies what I have been writing about the Quakers, George Fox and Richard Foster in my other blogs. (In this repost I am hoping to add links to my pertinent blogs.) Thank you so much for your blog, Churchmouse Campanologist!

Following is my repost. Click here for the original site of this blog, in its entirety. I am emphasizing certain points in this repost by bolding in orange, and inserting comments [in orange with brackets].

Fuller Theological Seminary alums: Richard Foster

November 30, 2010

  Richard Foster is one of today’s leaders of spiritual formation.  Much has been written about the various forms of ‘Christian’ meditation, which have been sweeping America over the past several years.

From small acorns do mighty oaks grow.  Who would have imagined that a small non-profit started in 1988 and called Renovaré would have shaken so many Protestant denominations to their foundations?

Richard Foster is a Quaker — a member of the Religious Society of Friends [actually Foster was a member of the Evangelical Friends Church International denomination. Yet, he feels very comfortable associating with all nonchristian Quaker groups] — who put Renovaré and spiritual formation into play.  He earned his Bachelor’s degree at George Fox University in Newberg, Oregon, and his Doctorate of Pastoral Theology at Fuller Theological Seminary.

George Fox’s spirituality

First, a word about George Fox and the Quakers.  If Fox were a young man today, he no doubt would have been a follower of Foster’s and an adherent of spiritual formation.  Fox lived between 1624 and 1691 — a tumultuous time in England.  When Fox came of age, Oliver Cromwell had beheaded Charles I,  then the Interregnum took place, the English Civil War followed and Charles II ushered in the Restoration in 1660.  To say that tensions were running high during Fox’s life would be an understatement.

Fox grew up with Puritan preachers.  As such, he was well versed in the King James Bible. But, like many Calvinist renegades throughout the past few centuries (e.g. Charles Taze Russell, founder of the Jehovah’s Witnesses) the absolute doctrines of Calvinism upset him, particularly predestination.

Pastor Ken Silva of Apprising Ministries took a closer look at Fox’s mindset.  He read A History of Christianity and discovered (quote below is from the book, emphases are Silva’s):

For four years he suffered severe spiritual depression induced by the spectacle of human suffering,…and by the doctrine of predestination which he heard expounded from Puritan pulpits. By temperament a mystic, he was eager for direct and unhindered access to God

Eventually (1647) the light broke. He came to feel Christ could speak to “his condition,”… He believed that God is love and truth and that it is possible for all men so to open their lives to Him… [Fox] would follow and have others follow the Inner Light” (Vol. II, p. 822, emphasis mine).

What this meant was that Fox ended up rejecting sola Scriptura.  Sound familiar?  And so it goes today in the emergent church and in an increasing number of evangelical churches.

Quaker belief

Quakers believe that this Inner Light is present in everyone.  You can even see that reflected in the comments on the forum on QuakerInfo.com.  They don’t quote a lot of Scripture verses but rely on more secular or generically spiritual sayings or poems.  Some meetinghouses are more politically than religiously oriented.  There also appear to be three strands of Quaker practice — including an evangelical one. [Actually there are more “strands” – following are three of the larger ones.] Forum participant John writes:

Some examples:

Liberal Quaker – non-Christ centered … generally politically liberal, theologically liberal. [They “believe” in Christ as Lord and Teacher.]

Evangelical Quaker – Christ centered … generally politically mixed, running from liberal to conservative, theologically conservative. [This has changed since Richard Foster came on the scene in the 1970s. Today I would describe the Evangelical Friends aka EFCI as theologically “progressive evangelical”/Emerging/Emergent, since the leadership refuses to stop promoting Foster and other contemplatives/Emergings/Emergents. Granted, Evangelical Quakers/Evangelical Friends still refer to Christ as Lord and Saviour – although I wonder how many Evangelical Friends today are truly born again.]

Conservative Quaker – Christ centered … politically liberal on some issues (i.e. peace and non-violence), and politically conservative on others (limited government), theologically very conservative. [Theologically conservative perhaps in their manner of dress, but they don’t profess to be born again. They – like the Liberal Quakers above –  “believe” in Christ as Lord and Teacher.]

‘Are Quakers Protestant?’

QuakerInfo.com tells us (emphases mine below):

It is quite clear from reading the works of early Friends that they did not identify with the Protestant movement. They considered the Protestant churches of their day, as well as the Roman Catholics, to be apostate. They felt that Protestants had lopped off some of the false branches of Catholicism, but did not challenge the root of apostasy. Insofar as Catholicism and Protestantism were different, early Friends would often in discourse on a topic point out what they felt were the incorrect views of Catholics and the separate incorrect views of the Protestants on the issue.

The early Friends considered themselves “primitive Christianity revived” – restoring true Christianity from the apostasy which started very early. They were not interested in reforming an existing church, but rather freshly expressing the truth of a Christianity before any institutional church took strong hold.

There were a number of differences early Friends had with Protestants of their day. Some of the key differences were:

    • The Protestants replaced the authority of the church with the authority of the Bible. Friends, while accepting the validity of the scriptures and believing in the importance of the faith community, gave first place to the Spirit of Christ. Pointing to the prologue of the Gospel of John, they viewed Christ, not the Bible, as the Word of God. The scripture was secondary, a declaration of the fountain rather than the fountain itself. (See also Friends (Quakers) and the Bible.)
    • The Protestants replaced liturgy with a sermon as the center of worship. Friends center worship in the divine presence. Even though Friends disdain outward liturgy, in some sense Quaker worship may be closer to Catholic than Protestant in nature. Both Catholics and Quakers believe in the actual presence of Christ in worship, for Catholics centered in the host and for Quakers spiritually. (See also Friends (Quaker) Worship.)
    • The Protestants were continually disturbed by an inner sense of guilt and original sin, and often felt they were choosing between sins. Quakers balanced the concept of original sin with the idea that redemption and regeneration could actually free humans from sin.

Today:

much of Society of Friends has become more mainstream and tends to identify with some of the movements among Protestants. At the same time, some of the key Quaker understandings have become increasingly accepted among many Protestants in the last century. The pentecostal and charismatic movements, which have become a very large part of the Protestantism and have also impacted Catholicism, have some similarities with the early Quaker movement.

Shades of universalism

Ken Silva read more about George Fox’s experience in ‘the well-respected Handbook Of Denominations In The United States (HoD) from Mead and Hill’ (emphases below are Silva’s):

After failing to find satisfactory truth and peace in the churches of his time, Fox discovered what he sought in a direct personal relationship with Christ:

“When all my hopes in [churches] were gone… I heard a voice which said, ‘That is the Inner Voice, or Inner Light, based upon the description of John 1:9: ‘the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. (KJV)’ ”

“This voice,” Fox maintained, “is available to all and has nothing to do with the ceremonies, rituals, or creeds over which Christians have fought. Every heart is God’s altar and shrine.” (140,141, emphasis mine).

Let’s be honest.  If you were to ask any number of people about a) having a direct personal relationship with Christ or b) if everyone is part divine or can come equally to God, you’d receive a surprisingly positive response to both.  The question then is — are these in accordance with the Bible?  No, they are not.

Silva warns us (emphases mine):

this false idea of an inner light, or a “divine spark,” is a very key issue to grasp before one can come to understand the root of the flawed semi-pelagian “gospel” preached by much of mainstream evangelicalism within which Foster has now become a major player. I cover this spiritually fatal idea of “a spark of the divine” allegedly inside all of mankind further in The Emergent “One” and Understanding the New Spirituality: God Indwells Mankind.

So in closing this for now I tell you in the Lord that this musing is actually classic Gnostic mysticism, which itself has already been condemned within the pages of the New Testament. Particularly in the Book of Colossians as well as in 1 John we find the Apostles dealing with Gnosticism. And again concerning all of this messed mysticism the Lord warns us through His chosen vessel Peter — In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up (2 Peter 2:3).

Foster’s Celebration of Discipline

Foster’s most notable work is his 1978 book, Celebration of Discipline, wherein he explores mystical and Quaker practices. Christianity Today named it as one of the top 10 of the 20th century.  Pastor Gary Gilley of Southern View Chapel observes (emphases mine):

Celebration of Discipline alone, not even referencing Foster’s other writings and teachings and ministries, is a virtual encyclopedia of theological error. We would be hard pressed to find in one so-called evangelical volume such a composite of false teaching. These include faulty views on the subjective leading of God (pp. 10, 16-17, 18, 50, 95, 98, 108-109, 128, 139-140, 149-150, 162, 167, 182); approval of New Age teachers (see Thomas Merton below); occultic use of imagination (pp. 25-26, 40-43, 163, 198); open theism (p. 35); misunderstanding of the will of God in prayer (p. 37); promotion of visions, revelations and charismatic gifts (pp. 108, 165, 168-169, 171, 193); endorsement of rosary and prayer wheel use (p. 64); misunderstanding of the Old Testament Law for today (pp. 82, 87); mystical journaling (p. 108); embracing pop-psychology (pp. 113-120); promoting Roman Catholic practices such as use of “spiritual directors,” confession and penance (pp. 146-150, 156, 185); and affirming of aberrant charismatic practices (pp. 158-174, 198).

Gilley adds:

… the dust jacket of this edition assures us “that it is only by and through these practices that the true path to spiritual growth can be found” … If spiritual growth is dependent upon the spiritual disciplines described in Foster’s book, should not we have expected to find this truth in the Scriptures? Why did God reveal them, not to the apostles but to apostate Roman Catholic mystics, and then to Richard Foster as he studied the mystics and used occultic techniques of meditation? We need to tread very carefully through this spiritual minefield. If this is in fact one of the ten best books of the twentieth century, I am not too anxious to read the other nine.

He concludes:

No one is calling for a purely intellectualized faith devoid of practice and experience. What those who draw their cue from Scripture and not mystics are calling for is a Christian faith, experience and practice that is rational, intellectual, makes sense, and most importantly is solidly grounded on the Word of God. Foster and company have taken many far afield in pursuit of mystical experiences that lead to a pseudo-Christianity that has the appearance of spirituality but not the substance.

Renovaré

The verb is Latin for ‘to renew’.  Since Foster founded this organisation in 1988, it has expanded around the world.

After the success of Celebration of Discipline, Foster received many public speaking invitations.  Audiences, particularly in the evangelical world, were highly receptive to the book’s subject matter and wished to know more.  In 1986, Foster withdrew from active ministry to pursue a means for teaching people how to live the disciplines the book explores.  He launched Renovaré two years later.

The non-profit organisation has taken on an ecumenical membership from a variety of Protestant denominations as well as from the Roman Catholic Church.  In fact, it is now headed by an Anglican Franciscan, Christopher Webb.  Foster remains a member of Renovaré’s board and its ministry team.

Phil Johnson of Pyromaniacs and John MacArthur’s Grace to You Ministries shared his own impressions of Foster with Ken Silva (emphases mine):

I met Foster almost 25 years ago when we were both slated to teach seminars at a couple of writers’ conferences. At the time, he was teaching at Friends University in Wichita, which is a small college founded by Quakers and happens to be where my Mom got her degree in the early 1960s. So we had some things in common and spent quite a bit of time talking. He is a capable writer and a very likable person.

But in my opinion, he is not an evangelical. He does not seem to have any clear understanding of the gospel or the atonement. That’s why his emphasis is all about “spirituality” and “spiritual disciplines” and various things the worshiper must do, with virtually no emphasis on what Christ has done for sinners. I’ve read several of Foster’s books and have never even seen him mention the cross as a propitiation for sins.

Moreover, he blends all kinds of works-based approaches to spirituality, which he borrows from diverse “Christian” traditions and even from other religions’ mystical and superstitious practices. In my estimation, all of that puts him far outside the pale of orthodoxy. Although he occasionally makes quotable remarks and valid observations, he is by no means a trustworthy teacher.

Nonetheless, Foster’s disciplines are pervasive.

From Calvinists to the Nazarenes

Silva researched Foster’s effect on various churches and found that a new generation of Calvinists were on board.

In 2009, John Piper interviewed Matt Chandler of The Village Church, who gave Piper his impressions of being ‘a pastor, a Calvinist and a Complementarian’.  Silva found it ‘odd’ that

in a search for Richard Foster in the Recommended Books of The Village Church, “that have challenged and helped us as a staff in our faith and in our ministry work”, we find his books Celebration of Discipline, Streams of Living Water, and The Challenge of the Disciplined Life

And so I have to wonder: Why would a Calvinist pastor and his staff be recommending to anyone these books by a highly ecumenical Quaker mystic whose whole sorry shtick is reintroducing the unsuspecting to the apostate Sola Scriptura-denying and spurious spirituality of the Counter Reformation within the medieval Roman Catholic Church?

Mark Driscoll, controversial pastor of the Mars Hill Fellowship in Seattle, also advocates spiritual disciplines and contemplative practices.  Lighthouse Trails Research discovered (emphases mine):

In an article written by Driscoll himself, ironically titled Obedience, Driscoll tells readers to turn to Richard Foster and contemplative Gary Thomas. Driscoll states:

If you would like to study the spiritual disciplines in greater detail … helpful are Celebration of Discipline, by Richard Foster, and Sacred Pathways, by Gary Thomas.

And:

Presently, on Driscoll’s website, The Resurgence … is an article titled “How to Practice Meditative Prayer.” The article is written by an Acts 29 (Driscoll’s network of churches) pastor, Winfield Bevins. A nearly identical article on Driscoll’s site, also by Bevins, is titled Meditative Prayer: Filling the Mind. Both articles show a drawing of a human brain. In this latter article, Bevins recognizes contemplative mystic pioneer Richard Foster:

What do we mean by meditative prayer? Is there such a thing as Christian meditation? Isn’t meditation non-Christian? According to Richard Foster, “Eastern meditation is an attempt to empty the mind. Christian meditation is an attempt to fill the mind” (Celebration of Discipline). Rather than emptying the mind we fill it with God’s word. [Foster is misleading here – his form of meditation is indeed emptying the mind since it’s derived from Eastern meditation, albeit using “Christian” methods. I’m sure neurological studies would show that Foster’s meditation produces altered states of consciousness with Alpha brain waves – as does occult Eastern meditation.] We must not neglect a vital part of our Judeo-Christian heritage simply because other traditions use a form of meditation.

Meanwhile, Manny Silva at Reformed Nazarene does an excellent job in exposing false teachers to members of the Church of the Nazarene.

On November 14, 2010, he blogged about the possibility of Nazarene youth groups being influenced by Renovaré.  He writes about two Christian youth ministries already working with young adult Nazarene members — Barefoot and YouthFront — which wish to partner with Renovaré (emphases mine)…

… the third part of this alliance is Renovare, an organization founded by Richard Foster, perhaps the most influential person today in leading many evangelicals directly to and over the cliffs, right into the abyss of spiritual formation (certainly a more palatable and innocent-sounding phrase than contemplative spirituality, or “Christianized transcendental meditation”, or maybe “occultic prayer practices.”  I have also documented much of Richard Foster’s unbiblical practices and ideology, and it is maddening that he has such an influence in a denomination that preaches holiness and faithfulness to God’s written word, and long ago ironically moved away from experiential-based spirituality in rejecting the hyper-charismatic movement.

[The last sentence above from my personal friend Manny best describes the denomination (particularly Ohio Yearly Meeting aka EFC-ER) prior to the 1970s. Foster started gaining an Evangelical Friends foothold in the early 1970s in Northwest Yearly Meeting, then got a deathgrip on the entire denomination in 1978 with his bestselling Celebration of Discipline. From 1978 on, the Evangelical Friends have gone downhill into contemplative and Emerging/Emergent teachings. Amazing, and tragic, how times have changed for the Evangelical Friends and other Evangelical denominations.

 Just a comment on Manny’s statement that the EFCI “long ago ironically moved away from experiential-based spirituality in rejecting the hyper-charismatic movement.” I don’t know about the other Regions/Yearly Meetings of the EFCI, but EFC-ER put out a statement in 1970 forbidding the open speaking of tongues during services. Ironically, today EFC-ER’s Malone University is becoming increasingly open to IHOP teachings. Again, a huge change from yesteryear. Interestingly, IHOP and other Third Wave Pentecostal groups incorporate Foster’s contemplative practices – as well as overlap with the Emerging/Emergent movements.]

Why Christians are unhappy

Manny Silva reminds Nazarenes what experimentation in religious practices can do not only to individuals but to a denomination as a whole (same link as above):

… we seem to be continuing down this road, making more and more alliances with organizations that have a veneer of truth. And so I ask again, since there is some truth there, does that make it okay to join with them?  Is there any more doubt as to where our denomination is heading, my friends?  Are we fooling ourselves and thinking that these are just minor aberrations in the whole scheme of things?

What does it say to you, then, that NTS, our main seminary for training pastors for the future, is clearly holding hands with these groups, and promoting them? Remember NTS’s promotion of the Spiritual Formation Retreat just before General Assembly?  Remember the Prayer Room at General Assembly with the Richard Foster book?  Or the Richard Foster/Renovare event at Point Loma Nazarene University? Or Trevecca Nazarene University’s prayer labyrinth? Remember the promotion of contemplative practices on the NTS website, for pre-teens?  …  Either our leadership is totally in the dark about these (and many more that I have not mentioned), or they know of it, and are saying nothing specific to the questions many have put to them.

Michael Horton is the J. Gresham Machen professor of apologetics and systematic theology at Westminster Seminary California (Escondido, California), host of the White Horse Inn, national radio broadcast, and editor-in-chief of Modern Reformation magazine.  In ‘What’s Wrong and Right about the Imitation of Christ’, he offers these observations of contemplative Christianity (emphases mine):

It would be a travesty simply to lump together medieval mysticism, the Anabaptist tradition, Quakers, Pietism, and Protestant liberalism. Nevertheless, there is a common thread running through these diverse movements-a theology of works-righteousness that emphasizes:

    • Christ’s example over his unique and sufficient achievement;
    • The inner experience and piety of believers [and nonbelievers] over the external work and Word of Christ;
    • Our moral transformation over the Spirit’s application of redemption;
    • Private soul formation over the public ministry of the means of grace.

… Let’s leave the final word to Martin Luther, as recorded in Tabletalk (emphases mine):

Yet all these seeming holy actions of devotion, which the wit and wisdom of man holds to be angelical sanctity, are nothing else but works of the flesh… 

Is the same true of our contemplative friends among the laity?  Please exercise caution in your Christian practices.  Is what you are doing in the Bible, particularly the New Testament? If not, avoid it. Rely not on Christian bookstores, errant pastors or sensation-seeking friends.  Instead, be Berean.

End of series

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(revised 01/17/14)

Many attend a postmodern (Emerging/Emergent) church because they like the praise and worship music, or they like the preaching style, or whatever. Many may not even be aware their pastors are teaching heresies straight from the books of Brian McLaren, Leonard Sweet, etc.

My point is, I’m wondering if we should be using a two-pronged approach in Counter-Emergent discernment ministries: 1) exposing and informing about Emerging/Emergent false teachers and 2) witnessing to “saved” and unsaved church attenders who are merely followers of “every wind and wave” of doctrine.

Of course there is a spectrum of Emerging/Emergent church attenders, from the elderly who have never heard of Foster, McLaren, Sweet, Campolo, etc. to young people admiring Emergents (they will fight us tooth and nail).

I have reposted a great article by Ron Rhodes, entitled “Witnessing to Liberals.” Although not specifically mentioning Emergents, it covers many of the same issues. Click here for the original site of this article. I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets].

Witnessing to Liberals
by Ron Rhodes

Liberal Christians [so-called “Christians”] typically seek to adapt religious ideas to modern science. Their goal is to make Christianity “relevant” to modern man. By elevating science to supreme authority, they assume the Bible is a fallible human document, approach Scripture with an antisupernatural bias, and dismiss miracles as the fantasies of ignorant people in biblical times who did not understand the laws of nature. They also view humanity as fundamentally good, with no real sin problem.

Jesus is not viewed as God incarnate as God incarnate or as a divine Savior. Rather, He was a man supremely full of God and was characterized by ethical and moral excellence. He is an example to – and moral teacher of – the human race. He didn’t die on the cross for our sins, but His death nevertheless has an uplifting “moral influence” on people (setting an example of sacrifice).

God’s primary attribute is said to be love. His holiness, judgment, and wrath are practically ignored. Thus, it is not surprising that liberal Christians hold out the hope of immortality for all people. The idea that any will spend eternity in hell is rejected.

Confronted with such a plethora of unbiblical ideas, conservative Christians might wonder how to begin in evangelizing their liberal counterparts. Following are some guidelines I have found helpful when dialoguing with liberal Christians.

Be loving. Liberal Christians sometimes view evangelicals as narrow-minded and unloving. For this reason it is all the more important that all of your personal encounters with liberals be marked by love. Be courteous, tactful, kind, and humble.

Debunk the caricatures liberal Christians often have regarding evangelicals. As a case in point, some liberal Christians think typical evangelicals believe in the dictation theory of inspiration (the view that God literally dictated the Bible word for word to the biblical writers). Emphasize that typical evangelicals reject this view.

At the same time, however, be ready to explain and defend the correct view of inspiration. Biblical inspiration may be defined as God’s superintending of the human authors so that, using (rather than bypassing) their own historical situations, personalities, and writing styles, they composed and recorded without error His revelation to humankind (2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:21). (Space forbids a detailed apologetic defense of inspiration, but good resources are available for this.)

A necessary consequence of this view of inspiration is that the authority of Scripture cannot be separated from the authority of God. Whatever the Bible affirms, God affirms. Since the written revelation from God has been recorded under the Spirit’s direct superintendence, that revelation is authoritative – just as authoritative as the One who gave it.

Now, besides dealing with inspiration, you should also address the liberal view that because the four gospel writers had theological motives (the intent to convince readers of Jesus’ deity, for example), their historical testimony is untrustworthy. This is clearly faulty reasoning. As scholar Craig Blomberg put it, “The fallacy…is to imagine that telling a story for a purpose, even in the service of a cause one believes in passionately, necessarily forces one to distort history. In our modern era, some of the most reliable reporters of the Nazi Holocaust were Jews passionately committed to seeing such genocide never repeated.”

Another caricature you may need to deal with is the liberal’s misperception that evangelicals interpret Scripture too literally. Point out that evangelicals do not hold to a “wooden literalism” – the kind that interprets biblical figures of speech literally. Explain that what is understood to be symbolic and what is taken literally should be based on the biblical context itself – such as when Jesus used obviously figurative parables to communicate spiritual truth.

Emphasize that a literal approach to Scripture recognizes that the Bible contains a variety of literary genres, each of which have certain peculiar characteristics that must be recognized in order to interpret the text properly. Biblical genres include the historical (e.g., Acts), the dramatic epic (e.g., Job), poetry (e.g., Psalms), wise sayings (e.g., Proverbs), and apocalyptic writings (e.g., Revelation). Point out that an incorrect genre judgment will lead one far astray in interpreting Scripture.

Even though the Bible contains a variety of literary genres and many figures of speech, the biblical authors most often employed literal statements to convey their ideas. And where they use a literal means to express their ideas, the Bible expositor must employ a corresponding means to explain these ideas – namely, a literal approach. Such an approach gives to each word in the text the same basic meaning it would have in normal, ordinary, customary usage – whether employed in writing, speaking, or thinking. Without such a method, communication between God and humankind is impossible.

A third caricature you may have to deal with is the notion that evangelicals are unaware of – or are not willing to deal with – so-called contradictions in the Bible. Challenge this charge. Put the burden on the liberal, and ask him or her to cite specific contradictions. Use resources like Gleason Archer’s Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties and Norman Geisler’s When Critics Ask to demonstrate that there are alternative explanations that make good sense.

Debunk the liberal’s charge that miracles are the fantasies of ignorant people in biblical times who did not understand the laws of nature. People in biblical times did know enough of the laws of nature to recognize bona fide miracles. As C. S. Lewis put it, “When St. Joseph discovered that his bride was pregnant, he was ‘minded to put her away.’ He knew enough biology for that. Otherwise, of course, he would not have regarded pregnancy as a proof of infidelity. When he accepted the Christian explanation, he regarded it as a miracle precisely because he knew enough of the laws of nature to know that this was a suspension of them.”

Moreover, Lewis observed, “when the disciples saw Christ walking on the water they were frightened: they would not have been frightened unless they had known the laws of nature and known that this was an exception. If a man had no conception of a regular order in nature, then of course he could not notice departures from that order.” Nothing can be viewed as “abnormal” until one has first grasped the “norm.”

Don’t let the liberal get away with saying that science “disproves” the biblical miracles. Science depends upon observation and replication. Miracles – such as the Incarnation and the Resurrection – are by their very nature unprecedented events. No one can replicate these events in a laboratory. Hence, science simply cannot be the judge and jury as to whether or not these events occurred. The scientific method is useful for studying nature but not super-nature.

Scientists are speaking outside of their proper field when they address theological issues like miracles. R. C. Sproul observes, “Today when somebody steps outside of his area of expertise, people tend to follow and believe him. That is the basis of much advertising. For example, a baseball star may appear on television and promote a particular brand of razors. If that star were to tell me how to hit a baseball, he would be speaking with authority. But when he tells me the best razor blade to buy is a certain brand, then he is speaking outside of his area of expertise.” Scientists do the same type of thing in regard to miracles.

The skepticism of liberal Christians notwithstanding, there is good reason to believe in the biblical miracles. One highly pertinent factor is the brief time that elapsed between Jesus’ miraculous public ministry and the publication of the gospels. It was insufficient for the development of miracle legends. Many eyewitnesses to Jesus’ miracles would have still been alive to refute any untrue miracle accounts (see 1 Cor. 15:6). One must also recognize the noble character of the men who witnessed these miracles (e.g., Peter, James, and John). Such men were not prone to misrepresentation, and were willing to give up their lives rather than deny their beliefs.

There were also hostile witnesses to the miracles of Christ. When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, for example, none of the chief priests or Pharisees disputed the miracle (John 11:45-48). (If they could have disputed it, they would have.) Rather, their goal was simply to stop Jesus (vv. 47-48). Remind the liberal that because there were so many hostile witnesses who observed and scrutinized Christ, successful “fabrication” of miracle stories in His ministry would have been impossible.

Demonstrate that nature and Scripture, properly interpreted, do not conflict. God has communicated to humankind both by general revelation (nature, or the observable universe) and special revelation (the Bible). Since both of these revelations come from God – and since God does not contradict Himself – we must conclude these two revelations are in agreement with each other. While there may be conflicts between one’s interpretation of the observable universe and one’s interpretation of the Bible, there is no ultimate contradiction.

We might say that science is a fallible human interpretation of the observable universe while theology is a fallible human interpretation of the Scriptures. If the liberal challenges the idea that science can be fallible, remind him or her of what science historian Thomas Kuhn proved in his book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions – that is, science is in a constant state of change. New discoveries have consistently caused old scientific paradigms to be discarded in favor of newer paradigms.

Here is the point: it is not nature and Scripture that contradict; rather, it is science (man’s fallible interpretation of nature) and theology (man’s fallible interpretation of Scripture) that sometimes fall into conflict. Hence the liberal cannot simply dismiss certain parts of the Bible because “science and the Bible contradict.”

Also keep in mind that the allegation that the Bible is not scientifically accurate is sometimes related to the Bible’s frequent use of phenomenological language. Ecclesiastes 1:5, for example, refers to the sun “rising and setting.” From a scientific perspective, the sun does not actually rise or set. But let’s be fair. This is the same kind of language weather forecasters use. “Rising” and “setting” are accepted ways of describing what the sun appears to be doing from an earthly perspective.

Demonstrate that Jesus was not a mere example or moral teacher. No mere “example” or “moral teacher” would ever claim that the destiny of the world lay in His hands, or that people would spend eternity in heaven or hell depending on whether they believed in Him (John 6:26-40). The only “example” this would provide would be one of lunacy. And for Jesus to convince people that He was God (John 8:58) and the Savior of the world (Luke 19:10) – when He really wasn’t – would be the ultimate immorality.

Certainly, if Jesus had intended to teach doctrines compatible with liberal Christianity, He was a dire failure as a teacher. Indeed, His words led all those who followed Him during His earthly ministry in the precise opposite direction than He supposedly intended. All His followers ended up believing in miracles, that man is a sinner, that Jesus died on the cross to save them, and so forth.

In proving that Christ is the divine Messiah He claimed to be, one good approach is to demonstrate Jesus’ fulfillment of messianic prophecies in the Old Testament – including ones He couldn’t have conspired to fulfill, such as His birthplace (Mic. 5:2), being born of a virgin (Isa. 7:14), and the identity of His forerunner (Mal. 3:1). (This is what first got my attention back in the 1970s when I was attending a liberal church.) Since liberals respect science, mention that the science of statistics shows there is something like a 1 in 1017 chance of one man fulfilling just eight of the hundreds of messianic prophecies in the Old Testament. Peter Stoner, author of Science Speaks, provides an illustration to help us understand the magnitude of such odds:

Suppose that we take 1017 silver dollars and lay them on the face of Texas. They will cover all of the state two feet deep. Now mark one of these silver dollars and stir the whole mass thoroughly, all over the state. Blindfold a man and tell him that he can travel as far as he wishes, but he must pick up one silver dollar and say that this is the right one. What chance would he have of getting the right one? Just the same chance that the prophets would have had of writing these eight prophecies and having them all come true in any one man, from their day to the present time, providing they wrote using their own wisdom.

Jesus fulfilled not just eight but hundreds of messianic prophecies in the Old Testament. Besides this, Jesus is referred to by the names of deity (e.g., “God,” Heb. 1:8; “Lord,” Matt. 22:43-45); has all the attributes of deity (e.g., omnipotence, Matt. 28:18; omniscience, John 1:48; omnipresence, Matt. 18:20); did the works of deity (e.g., creation, John 1:3; raised the dead, John 11:43-44); and was worshiped as deity (Matt. 14:33). You should thoroughly familiarize yourself with these and the many other biblical evidences for Jesus’ deity.

Don’t be surprised if the liberal suggests that Jesus is just “one of many ways to God.” If they propose this theory, you should contrast the doctrine of God (the most fundamental of all doctrines) in the various religions. Jesus, for example, taught that there is only one personal God who is triune in nature (Matt. 28:19). Muhammad taught that there is only one God, but that God cannot have a son. Confucius was polytheistic (he believed in many gods). Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita (a Hindu scripture) believed in a combination of polytheism and pantheism (all is God). Zoroaster taught religious dualism (there is both a good and a bad god). Buddha taught that the concept of God was essentially irrelevant. Obviously, these religions are not pointing to the same God. If one is right, all the others are wrong.

Emphasize that Jesus claimed that what He said took precedence over all others. Jesus said He is humanity’s only means of coming into a relationship with God: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). One either accepts or rejects this claim, but no one can deny that it is exclusive.

Emphasize that Christianity is a religion of history. The apostle Paul warned the religious men of Athens of an impending objective event: the divine judgment of all humanity. And he based this warning on the objective, historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus (Acts 17:31). It was this historical resurrection that instilled such boldness in the disciples. Initially, when Jesus was arrested, “all the disciples forsook Him and fled” (Matt. 26:56). But following Jesus’ resurrection, these fearful cowards became steel bulwarks of the faith. They remained unflinching in their commitment to Christ, even in the face of great personal danger and death.

There have been various attempts (especially by liberals) to explain away the resurrection of Christ. One of the most popular of these is that Jesus’ followers made up the resurrection story.

In response, point out how hard it is to believe that these followers – predominantly Jewish and therefore aware of God’s stern commandments against lying and bearing false witness – would make up such a lie, and then suffer and give up their own lives in defense of it. Moreover, if Jesus’ followers concocted events like the Resurrection, wouldn’t Jesus’ critics have then immediately come forward to debunk these lies and put an end to Christianity once and for all?

It is worth noting that the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 speaks of Christ’s resurrection as part of a confession that had been handed down for years. First Corinthians was written around A.D. 55, a mere 20 years after Christ’s resurrection. But many biblical scholars believe the confession in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 was formulated within a few years of Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Paul noted that the resurrected Christ appeared to more than 500 people at a single time, “most of whom are still alive” (1 Cor. 15:6). If Paul had misrepresented the facts, wouldn’t one of these 500 have come forward to dispute his claims? From a historical perspective, it seems clear that the evidence for the Resurrection is as strong as (or stronger than) the evidence we have for any other accepted event of ancient times.

Emphasize that Christianity ultimately is a relationship, not a religion. Christianity is not just a set of doctrines or creeds – a “dead orthodoxy.” Rather it involves a personal relationship with the living Lord of the universe. This is the most important truth you will want to leave the liberal to ponder because this is the ingredient of true Christianity that the liberal “Christian” is most painfully lacking.
Jesus said His words lead to eternal life (John 6:63). But for us to receive eternal life through His words, they must be taken as He intended them to be taken. A liberal reinterpretation of Scripture that fails to recognize man’s sin (Luke 19:10) and yields another Jesus and another gospel (2 Cor. 11:3-4; Gal. 1:6-9) will yield only eternal death.

The paradox underlying the liberal attempt to make Christianity “relevant” is that for everyone to whom Christianity is “made relevant” (those who believe miracles are unscientific), there are likely thousands for whom it is made irrelevant. For, indeed, the liberal version of Christianity lacks an authentic spirituality to help people and give them hope in the midst of life’s problems. Former liberal Christian Alister McGrath said that, among other things, liberalism’s “pastoral weakness became especially evident to me.” He said “liberalism had little to offer in the midst of the harsh pastoral realities of unemployment, illness, and death.”

In addressing the spiritual bankruptcy of liberalism, you can use the liberal’s recognition of God’s love as a launch-pad to emphasize that God loved humankind so much that He sent Jesus into the world to die on the cross to rescue humankind from hell. Be sure to note that Jesus – love incarnate – spoke of God’s wrath and the reality of hell in a more forceful way than any of His disciples ever did (see, e.g., Matt. 25:46). Hence, God’s love is not incompatible with the reality of hell. Jesus affirmed that His mission of love was to provide atonement for human sin (for which there is plenty of empirical evidence in our world) by His sacrificial death on the cross (Mark 10:45; John 12:23-27).

Inform the liberal that if he or she really wants to experience the love of God, the place to begin is a living relationship with Jesus Christ. Then tell him or her about your relationship with Jesus. There’s no better way to close a discussion with a liberal Christian than by giving your testimony, focusing on how your personal relationship with Jesus has changed your life forever.

(This article was originally published as an “Effective Evangelism” article in the Christian Research Journal.)

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Update 11/07/12: Malone University still publicizes itself as a born again Christian school. Yet today I noticed Malone’s library has a display of 13 books by Emergent heretic Tony Campolo. Why? Read on.
————————————————————————————————
On 10/28/12 The Repository ran an article by Denise Sautters entitled “King era begins at Malone.” Towards the end of the article, I was struck by a comment from Dr. David King, being inaugurated 10/28/12 as Malone’s 13th president (1). (The latter part of this press release explains the presidential search process by Malone’s Board of Trustees; the press release does not mention how many of the Trustees were on the search committee.) Dr. King states:

“… [having time at a university before one’s inauguration] gives the president time to … develop a vision for the university.”

With all due respect, how biblically sound is Dr. King’s vision for Malone University? (2) Does it match the original vision of J. Walter Malone, the university’s founder? Based on his first year at Malone (prior to his inauguration), my impression is that Dr. King (along with a number of other presidents, faculty and staff) is taking Malone down a theological path far different from that envisioned by J. Walter Malone. I truly believe that J. Walter Malone’s dream for a born again, separatist Fundamentalist, Wesleyan Holiness, Evangelical Friends theological legacy is very close to being lost. (In addition, various heresies are entering the EFC-ER through routes other than Malone University.) How tragic!

Question: Emergent heretic Tony Campolo spoke at Malone University 09/28/12. Does this provide clues to new president Dr. King’s “vision for the university”? Read on…
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Tony Campolo Like many discerning Christians (especially “fundies”/fundamentalists), I was shocked and angered by Charita Goshay’s prominent article favoring Emergent heretic Tony Campolo in The Repository Saturday 09/29/12. Her article summarized Campolo’s speech to Malone University students 09/28/12. (Malone University is an Evangelical Friends/EFCI school; Tony Campolo taught at new Malone president David King’s former school – Eastern University.)

“Church articles” are usually hidden away on the inside pages of The Repository‘s Section B each Saturday, on the so called “Faith and Values” pages. Yet Ms. Goshay’s article was prominently displayed on the front page of Section B (along with a blurb on the newspaper’s front page pointing readers to the article about Campolo). Apparently Ms. Goshay (and/or The Repository) knows that Campolo is a popular speaker. I am very disappointed – and angry – that Goshay did not write a more objective article, pointing out Campolo’s heresies and including statements from opponents.

Another problem – for me Goshay’s article raises more questions than it answers. For starters:

1) Was this event publicized beforehand, or was it an “inside event” only publicized to Malone students and parents? If  Campolo’s speech was not publicized on a wider scale, why wasn’t it?

I did find this description of the event here, in the Schedule for Parents’ Weekend:

2-3 p.m. [Fri. 09/28/12] –  Tony Campolo Speaking, Johnson Center Sanctuary. Dr. Campolo is a speaker, author, sociologist, and pastor. Over his many years of Christian service, Tony has boldly challenged millions of people all over the world to respond to God’s boundless love by combining personal discipleship, evangelism, and social justice. He will speak and then take time for questions from our students.

Note Malone’s positive description of Campolo. They could have said something like “this controversial Emergent leader is coming to Malone to debate his liberal views with Malone’s Professor so-and-so” (ala Brian McLaren’s debate at Malone). Yet Malone did not say this with Campolo.

2) Goshay’s article consists almost entirely of “born again Christianese” quotes from Campolo. Yet Campolo is an extremely heretical Emergent, on par with Brian McLaren, Leonard Sweet, etc. Did Goshay leave out Campolo’s mainline/liberal/Emergent statements, or was Campolo’s entire speech “born again Christianese”?

4) Is Campolo’s entire speech (or a transcript of it) available online?

5) Did any Malone students protest Campolo’s coming to speak? (If so I’d like to meet them – we have a kindred spirit.)

6) In Campolo’s Q&A session, were opponents allowed to voice their  concerns about his heresies?

7) What individual(s) invited Campolo to come speak at Malone? Did the individual(s) not know that Campolo had a theological stance (heretical Emergent teachings) incompatible with what Malone has claimed to believe at least in the past? (For example, Campolo’s favoring the LGBT movement – an issue Malone has claimed it opposes.) Malone does seem to be changing in various ways – I’m not sure what specific individuals are pushing this change. (Check out their current Mission and Foundational Principles, for example.)

8) David King was recently hired as Malone University President. King was previously an employee of Eastern University, where the heretical Campolo taught for ten years. (In fact, the graduate department at Eastern University is named after Campolo.) Did King’s coming to Malone have anything to do with Campolo coming to speak?  Or was that just a coincidence? (And how about Betsy Morgan, professor emerita of English at EU, coming to speak at Dr. King’s Inaugural Symposium – was that also just a coincidence?)

Campolo Emergent and heretical

Just how Emergent/heretical is Tony Campolo? Here’s a clue: Campolo is an ordained minister in the mainline/liberal American Baptist Churches USA denomination. Note this description of the denomination, found here:

Generally considered more liberal than the Southern Baptist Convention, the American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A. is a member of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. and of the World Council of Churches. It has taken an active part in ecumenical affairs and has worked for closer union among the various Baptist groups.

In 1998 the denomination adopted an “American Baptist Identity Statement” that sought to summarize the Christian faith representative of American Baptists. This was amended in 2005 to include a statement about homosexuality…

“Fundies” have a right to be critical of Campolo. In his book Letters to a Young Evangelical (2006), Campolo devotes Chapter 9 to describing and criticizing Fundamentalists. The chapter is entitled “Being Rescued from Fundamentalism”; the entire chapter is viewable online. Malone University was strongly separatist fundamentalist Wesleyan Holiness between approx. 1892-1942. Any Malone alumnus who loves Evangelical Friends of this time period should be offended by Campolo’s criticisms of fundamentalism.

For those who are still not convinced that Campolo is extremely heretical, consider these quotes from Campolo (click here for another blog of mine dealing with Campolo and other Emergents):

“Going to heaven is like going to Philadelphia… There are many ways…It doesn’t make any difference how we go there. We all end up in the same place.” 1a

“On the other hand, we are hard-pressed to find any biblical basis for condemning deep love commitments between homosexual Christians as long as those commitments are not expressed in sexual intercourse.” 1b

“But the overwhelming population of the gay community that love Jesus, that go to church, that are deeply committed in spiritual things, try to change and can’t change…” 1c

“…we want to see God at work converting society, converting the systems, so that there aren’t the racist overtones, the economic injustices, the polluting of the atmosphere.” 1d

“I learn about Jesus from other religions. They speak to me about Christ, as well.”1e

“I’m not convinced that Jesus only lives in Christians.” 1f

1a CarpeDiem: Seize the Day, 1994 page 85;
1b “20 Hot Potatoes Christians Are Afraid To Touch” page 117;
1c Beliefnet.com/faith/Christianity 08/2004;
1d MSNBC 2008 interview;
1e MSNBC 2008 interview;
1f Charlie Rose show 1/24/97

(Tony Campolo is an author, professor of Sociology at Eastern College, former spiritual counselor to President Bill Clinton, and a leader of the movement called “Red Letter Christians”.)

Campolo’s lack of adherence to Eastern University’s Doctrinal Statement

(Click here for the Doctrinal Statement and ending Sections; to me the Doctrinal Statement sounds biblically sound for the most part – even if many Eastern University employees do not truly follow it)

Note the following two sections below. David King and Tony Campolo had to sign Eastern University’s Doctrinal Statement annually. I don’t know much about King, but it is obvious from Campolo’s writings that Campolo (like many employees of the liberal Eastern University I’m sure) does not hold the born again Christian beliefs stated in the Doctrinal Statement. Yet Campolo taught at Eastern University for ten years; they even honored him by naming their graduate college after him.

Apparently signing the Doctrinal Statement is like taking an oath in court (“I promise to tell the truth… so help me God”), or like making a wedding vow (“I promise to love you… till death do us part”). Signing Eastern University’s Doctrinal Statement annually seems to mean nothing to many employees there. I believe signing a Doctrinal Statement such as this, when you do not truly believe it, is a very serious offense against the Lord.

[In the excerpts below, I have emphasized certain points by bolding.]

SECTION II

Every member of the Board of Trustees, every administrative officer of the Institution, professor, teacher, and instructor shall annually subscribe over his or her signature to the Doctrinal Statement, excepting only that a non-Baptist individual occupying any of the foregoing positions shall not be required to subscribe to that part of the Doctrinal Statement regarding the mode of water baptism.

SECTION III

Whenever a member of the Board of Trustees, administrative officer, professor, teacher or instructor is not in complete accord with the foregoing Doctrinal Statement, he or she shall forthwith withdraw from all connections with the University, and his or her failure to do so shall constitute grounds for immediate removal from such positions by the Trustees.

ENDNOTES

(1) Malone’s 13 presidents are:
1) J. Walter Malone (1892-1918)
2) Edgar Wollam (1918-1921)
3) C.W. Butler (1921-1936)
4) Worthy A. Spring (1936-1948)
5) G. Arnold Hodgin (1948-1951)
6) Byron L. Osborne (1951-1960)
7) Everett L. Cattell (1960-1972)
8) Lon Randall (1972-1981)
9) Gordon R. Werkema (1981-1988)
10) Arthur Self (1988-____)
11) Ron Johnson (____-____)
12)  Gary W. Streit (_____-2010)
12a) Provost Will Friesen, Ph.D., Interim (2010-2012)
13) Dr. David King, (2012-     )

Sources: #1-7: Ohio Yearly Meeting Quaker Sesqui-centennial Commemorative publication, 1962, p.  43
#8,9: EFC-ER 175th Anniversary Commemorative publication, 1987, p. 32
#9:  Founded by Friends: The Quaker Heritage of Fifteen American Colleges and Universities, by John William Oliver, Charles L. Cherry, Caroline L. Cherry, 1970. p. 215 (viewable online)
#10,11: personal conversations with Malone associates
#12,12a: Malone University Welcomes 13th President: David King

(2) Another clue concerning Dr. King’s vision for Malone – and Malone’s vision for itself – is given here:

According to Board Chair Steven Steer, “Dr. King’s depth and breadth of experience seem to have converged with Malone’s vision for the future in a divine appointment.” King says it was Malone’s foundational principals that speak to the integration of faith, learning, and experiential activism that ultimately drew him to the University. Those words resonated within him, and it has not taken him long to embrace the University’s mission as his own.

Frankly, this sounds rather ambiguous to me. To get more specific, it seems to me Malone and Dr. King are pushing the envelope of contemplative spirituality (ala Richard Foster) and the Emerging/Emergent movement.

FOR FURTHER READING

I will be compiling a list of discernment articles about Tony Campolo’s heresies and providing the links here. For starters:

Apprising Ministries – various discernment blogs about Campolo

Let Us Reason Ministries – various articles about Campolo

Lighthouse Trails – article about Campolo

Manny Silva – various  discernment blogs about Campolo

A list of Google hits – articles about Campolo’s endorsement of occultish, contemplative centering prayer (click here for a discernment article exposing centering prayer)

Eastern University’s ringing endorsement of their Emergent darling Tony Campolo

2007: Mennonite Emergent Conversation (with representatives mostly from the liberal Mennonite Church USA denomination) held at Eastern University

2008: Campolo’s stint as featured speaker at 2008 Yearly Meeting of NWYM (the most liberal/Emergent Region of the Evangelical Friends denomination)

2012: Eastern University receives a grant to study occultish contemplative labyrinth prayer

The Repository‘s article mentions that Campolo has written 39 books. I am looking for a complete list of his writings (hopefully with content viewable online). (Admittedly, Campolo is a very readable writer; his books explain heretical Emergent teachings in laymen’s terms.)

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