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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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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.
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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…
——————————————-
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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Below I’ve reposted Ken Silva’s blog re: a great testimony by an Episcopalian. I especially like the expose of Dallas Willard, who was once an Evangelical Friends (EFCI) co-pastor with Richard Foster – and Foster’s mentor in heretical, occultish Spiritual Formation. Willard downplays and criticizes the gospel of salvation, of “the Blood and the Cross.” Check out this excerpt, in which Brian McLaren refers to Willard’s book The Divine Conspiracy:

Atonement-centered understandings of the gospel, [Willard] says, create vampire Christians who want Jesus for his blood and little else. He calls us to move beyond a “gospel of sin management” – to the gospel of the kingdom of God. So, rather than focusing on an alternative theory of atonement, I’d suggest we ponder the meaning and mission of the kingdom of God. – Brian McLaren (Online source)[emphasis mine]

[For some anti-Cross views of Brian McLaren’s, an Evangelical Friends adjunct professor, see the Endnotes below.]

Dallas Willard, Brian McLaren, Leonard Sweet, Tony Campolo, and other Emergents have been making the rounds of the Evangelical Friends (EFCI) as well as many other evangelical denominations. (Richard Foster is retired I think.)

For years, pastors in the EFCI and many other evangelical denominations have been New Evangelical/Emerging – often DOWNPLAYING/OMITTING the gospel message of “the Blood and the Cross” (except perhaps during Easter time) so they don’t turn off unsaved “seekers” and send them scurrying off to “less offensive” churches.

Willard, McLaren, Sweet, Campolo, and other Emergents seem to be drawing New Evangelical/Emerging pastors (in the EFCI and elsewhere) further into apostacy, to become mainline/liberal/Emergent, to actually CRITICIZE the gospel message of “the Blood and the Cross.” Scary – and blasphemous.

Back to Ken Silva’s blog. The testimony giver proceeds to describe Episcopalian coworkers as follows:

I went to work for an Episcopal church shortly after college… I think I finally understand how they think, how they can put so much emphasis on the kingdom of God (which they define as service to others) and virtually ignore the sinful conduct rampant here (‘wedding’ reception for a gay couple here next week). These people, my co-workers and friends, believe in an inner light, a True Self (I remember that term from class) that is intimately connected to the Divine. Everyone has this light, so we are all a part of God. As such, there is no need for a substitutionary penal atonement (i.e. the cross) because there is no separation to atone for.

This teaching sounds almost identical to the teaching of the various non-evangelical Quaker denominations. Interesting.

I have reposted Ken Silva’s entire blog below. Click here for the original site of this blog.

AM TESTIMONY RE. CONTEMPLATIVE SPIRITUALITY/MYSTICISM

By on Sep 13, 2012 in AM Missives, Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism, Current Issues, Features

One who is taught the word must share all good things with the one who teaches.(Galatians 6:6)

In the interest of showing that things are not all bad, may the Lord be praised as a reader of Apprising Ministries shares the following encouraging testimony of God’s faithfulness:

Thank you for your website. I have been using it to further my personal study for some time now. It has truly been a blessing.

I was raised in a Bible-believing church and home, saved as a child and a missionary as a teenager, so I was first exposed to this sort of emerging spirituality when I went to work for an Episcopal church shortly after college. The lead priest there (along with several others) routinely teaches courses covering all kinds of mysticism and contemplative spirituality. He invited me to attend one of his classes, so I did.

Nothing he taught in that class made me feel comfortable, although I couldn’t put my finger on a reason. Several times in my notes, I wrote, “What about the cross?” Nearly two years have passed and I still couldn’t figure out why this place, my workplace, makes my spirit uneasy. The people here are loving and kind, they do great acts of service in the community. Yet there is something missing.

Today I read your article Brian McLaren and Evangelical Panentheism and this quote you referenced made it all begin to click:

Dallas Willard also addresses this issue in The Divine Conspiracy. Atonement-centered understandings of the gospel, he says, create vampire Christians who want Jesus for his blood and little else. He calls us to move beyond a “gospel of sin management” – to the gospel of the kingdom of God. So, rather than focusing on an alternative theory of atonement, I’d suggest we ponder the meaning and mission of the kingdom of God.

I think I finally understand how they think, how they can put so much emphasis on the kingdom of God (which they define as service to others) and virtually ignore the sinful conduct rampant here (‘wedding’ reception for a gay couple here next week). These people, my co-workers and friends, believe in an inner light, a True Self (I remember that term from class) that is intimately connected to the Divine. Everyone has this light, so we are all a part of God. As such, there is no need for a substitutionary penal atonement (i.e. the cross) because there is no separation to atone for.

It follows, then, that the only “sins” we commit are those that do harm to others (ergo, to God), which is why they can, without so much as a flinch, condone homosexuality but at the same time condemn those (like me) who fail to practice “tolerance” because we insist that there are such thing as moral absolutes. It is also why they can place acts of service (e.g. to the poor – extremely important here) above acts of evangelism (which display intolerance of others’ belief systems).

Contrast this with my understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is that we are born sinners, are separated from God, and are in need of a Savior to reconcile us to Him. I do believe in a “Punitive Father” but one who only punishes when rejected after repeated attempts to redeem us – and even then it is less punishment than letting us have our own way. To those that call out to Him, He is merciful and loving and wants to show us the boundlessness of His grace – but only to those who accept His gift of salvation.

As I said, I’d been searching for nearly two years for a way to wrap my mind around what seems to be a warped – but strangely appealing – theological view. Your article made it fall into place for me. Thank you so much for your faithful service to God through your website.

Further reading

ENDNOTES

Dallas Willard and Brian McLaren both have Evangelical Friends connections. And both have an anti-Cross theology. Check out this excerpt regarding McLaren, in this blog by Ken Silva. Silva writes:

… This would then be a credible explanation for McLaren’s own personal hedging whenever he’s asked about the Gospel:

Theory of Atonement

Could you elaborate on your personal theory of atonement? If God wanted to forgive us, why didn’t he just forgive us? Why did torturing Jesus make things better?

This is such an important and difficult question. I’d recommend, for starters, you read “Recovering the Scandal of the Cross” (by Baker and Green). There will be a sequel to this book in the next year or so, and I’ve contributed a chapter to it.

Short answer: I think the gospel is a many faceted diamond, and atonement is only one facet, and legal models of atonement (which predominate in western Christianity) are only one small portion of that one facet.

Dallas Willard also addresses this issue in “The Divine Conspiracy.” Atonement-centered understandings of the gospel, he says, create vampire Christians who want Jesus for his blood and little else. He calls us to move beyond a “gospel of sin management” – to the gospel of the kingdom of God. So, rather than focusing on an alternative theory of atonement, I’d suggest we ponder the meaning and mission of the kingdom of God. (Online source)

 

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(revised 01/10/14)


(image source: http://provoketive.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/hearing_from_god-500×250.jpg)

I mean no disrespect to the late Dallas Willard. But the truth is, he was a major heretical impetus to Richard Foster’s writing of the bestselling, heretical Celebration of Discipline.  Willard’s false teachings (as well as those of Foster, etc.) need to be exposed for what they were/are.

A number of articles have been written about the “Inner Light/Inward Light” heresy of George Fox and the Quakers. I too am researching this; I have written blogs about Quaker heresies here, as well as reposting the articles and blogs of others.

As Evangelical Friends co-pastors, Richard Foster and his Spiritual Formation mentor Dallas Willard taught the Quaker concepts of 1) the Inner Light (the light of Christ in every man), 2) direct revelation/immediate revelation/illumination, etc. Of course these teachings have been around for centuries (at least since the Gnostics I think). Many “non-evangelical” Quakers today believe in a “hybrid” of the Quaker Inner Light teachings and New Age beliefs (Christ consciousness, the inner voice, etc.).

So how exactly do “Inner Light” Quakers believe God speaks to us? Let me illustrate. Suppose a Spiritual Director were to say to a nonchristian (who has never heard the gospel of salvation), “Go sit on top of a mountain, cross your legs and hold your hands up praising God.  Engage in contemplative prayer, empty your mind, and then God can speak to you.” (Remember, this person has never heard the gospel, never read the Bible, has no concept of the Trinity, the Atonement, etc.) According to the Inner Light teaching, Christ is already in every man. (This is some mysterious presence of Christ – not the Holy Spirit.) So the person would supposedly receive direct revelations from God via the presence of Christ within him. Then – when he finally reads a  Bible – it will line up with the direct revelations he received from God. The main problem here: the Inner Light teaching does NOT view God’s Word the Bible as the primary way in which God “speaks” to us. 

I came across an excellent article by Gary Gilley. His article critiques the “hearing God’s voice” teaching of Dallas Willard  – Richard Foster’s former Evangelical Friends (EFCI)  co-pastor and heretical mentor in Spiritual Formation. Gilley’s article has been reposted on some other major discernment websites. I have reposted his article below; click here for Gilley’s original article. I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets]. And I have made a few grammatical corrections, such as underlining the titles of books.

Note – Willard was just one of many who taught/is teaching the heresy of “hearing God’s voice”. Justin Taylor writes here:

Books like Dallas Willard’s Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God and Bill Hybels’s The Power of a Whisper: Hearing God, Having the Guts to Respond and Henry and Richard Blackaby’s Hearing God’s Voice continue to popularize the idea that a true relationship of intimacy with God requires ongoing private and personal revelations as a normative part of the Christian life.[emphasis mine-DM]

Now on to Gilley’s article:

“Hearing God, Developing a Conversational Relationship With God”
Written by Gary Gilley


(image source: http://images.betterworldbooks.com/159/Hearing-God-9781596440555.jpg)

Hearing God was previous published by Regal (1984), then by Harper (1993), and finally InterVarsity (1999) under the tital [sic] of In Search of Guidance. This updated and expanded edition is published under the Formatio wing of InterVarsity Press which offers numerous books promoting spiritual formation and “Christian” mysticism. At the heart of both spiritual formation and mysticism is God speaking beyond the pages of Scripture. For this reason Hearing God is an important book, written by one of the premiere leaders within the movement. That Willard is merely updating the same message he delivered nearly 30 years ago shows that the spiritual formation movement has not changed its basic teachings. And what are they? In essence, that we can live “the kind of life where hearing God is not an uncommon occurrence” (p. 12), for “hearing God is but one dimension of a richly interactive relationship and obtaining guidance is but one facet of hearing God” (p. 13). In other words, the maturing Christian should expect to hear the voice of God, independent from Scripture, on a regular basis and that voice will reveal God’s individual, specific will for his life. Such individual communication from the Lord, we are told, is absolutely essential because without it there can be no personal walk with God (pp. 26, 31, 67). And it is those who are hearing from God today who will redefine “Christian spirituality for our time” (p. 15).

This premise leads to a very practical problem, however, one Willard will address throughout the book in many ways. The problem is, how does one know that he has really heard from God? Could he not be confusing his own thoughts, or even implanted thoughts from Satan (pp. 235-237), with the voice of God? This is even more problematic because Willard believes that while God can speak audibly or use dreams and visions, normally His voice will come as a “still small voice” heard only within our own hearts and minds. In fact, so vital is this “still small voice” that the author devotes his largest chapter to exploring what it means (chapter 5, pp. 114-153). Yet in all of his discussion on the topic, it never seems to dawn on Willard that the original “still small voice” to Elijah (1 Kings 19:12-18) was in fact an audible voice, not an inward impression or thought.

Since Willard believes that God normally speaks to us through an inner, inaudible, subjective voice (p. 130) and that it is possible that God is speaking and we do not even know it (pp. 118-120), how can we be certain when God is speaking to us? In answer Willard boldly informs us that we can only learn the voice of God through experience (pp. 9, 19, 21, 63, 143). He clearly states, “The only answer to the question, how do we know whether this is from God? is By experience” (p. 218) (emphasis his). The author will use the word “experience” over 130 times, and equivalents hundreds of times more. The mechanics of learning the voice of God is detailed on pages 217-251 but ultimately it all boils down to experience. And until we have the experience it will apparently be necessary for those who have themselves supposedly heard from God to guide us. Without such help we may not be able to detect the voice of God (p. 221). Never mind that the Scriptures never tells us how, nor supplies techniques, to know when God is speaking, nor does the Bible ever tell us that we need to learn the voice of God. This is all pure fabrication on Willard’s part. As a matter of fact every time God speaks in Scripture it is through an audible voice, never through an inner voice, impressions or feelings, and that includes Elijah’s still small voice. Willard is advocating a form of communication from God never found in the pages of Scripture; he then elevates this inner voice to the very essence of our relationship with God. He attempts to prove this not only through his own experience but also by the examples of others such as Ken Taylor, George Fox, Teresa of Avila, St. Francis, Henri Nouwen and many others (see pp. 23-27). Willard attempts to intimidate his readers as well by telling them that God’s communication in this way to early Christians was a normal experience (pp. 70, 119) (which it wasn’t), that if we are not hearing from God it may be that we are out of tune with Him (p. 90), and that the Bible and the church are inadequate for developing a personal relationship with God (pp. 140, 186).

Willard teaches many theological errors as well. For example, as might be expected the author has a low view of Scripture. He believes the Bible is God’s inspired written word given to “provide us with a general understanding of God to inspire and cultivate a corresponding faith” (p. 87). But if we want to find out what God is saying to us personally we must go beyond the Bible (p. 218). Further Willard warns us of what he calls “Bible deism,” which is the view that God communicates to us today through Scripture alone (p. 142). As a matter of fact the Bible may prove a deadly snare: “We can even destroy ourselves by Bible study; specifically, by the study of Paul’s epistles” (p. 187). And even if the Bible is inerrant in the original texts it “does not guarantee sane and sound, much less error-free, interpretations” (p. 185). Willard clearly has a postmodern understanding of Scripture (i.e. it can never be rightly understood apart from God’s present-day communications) (p. 185). In conjunction with this view of Scripture is the idea (wrongly drawn from Luke 17:7-10) that an obsession to obey God “may be the very thing that rules out being the kind of person that He calls us to be” (p. 14).

Willard teaches a number of other deviate ideas including:

• God plans His life around us (p. 47).

• We become the royal priesthood of God when we have learned to hear from God (pp. 69-71).

• Similarly we become the temple of God through the same means (p. 76).

• As well, we do not start the Christian life as the slave of God, we become His slave in time through a maturing process (p. 77).

• Based on Colossians 1:19-29 he believes the resolution of the world’s problems, although finalized at Christ’s return, begins now (p. 75).

• The gospel is not reconciliation to God by faith but, “The good news that the kingdom rule of God is available to humankind here and now” (p. 202, cf. pp. 203-204).

In order to learn to hear the subjective voice of God, Willard recommends the use of lectio divina, which is custom made for this imaginative endeavor. As a result a co-writer provides six lectio exercises to pave the way (pp. 48-51, 104-105, 132-133, 165-166, 208-209, 247-250). The ultimate goal in all of this is to have the mind of Christ (pp. 71-72) which means to Willard that “we understand what God is doing so well that we often know exactly what God is thinking and intending to do” (p. 71).

The danger of Willard’s imaginative teachings on hearing from God through an inner voice can hardly be exaggerated. Rather than turning people to the inspired authoritative Scriptures for God’s word today, Willard turns us toward the subjective, unreliable self. The result is a people who believe they have heard from God even as they turn from the Word of God itself.

FOR FURTHER READING

Amy Spreeman, God told me to tell you…

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