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Posts Tagged ‘Children’s Spiritual Formation’

In writing blogs, I often spend too much time researching the latest heresy, or false teacher, or whatever. At times I need to step back a bit and see the forest rather than the trees. Like Berit Kjos, I think a critical issue we need to dwell on in these End Times is the education of our children.

Under our noses, public schools (“government schools”) are indoctrinating our children into gay rights, New Age teachings, evolution, etc. I think it is way past time Christians pull their kids out of public schools en masse.

Regarding homeschooling I think it would be neat to write – or make Christian homeschoolers aware of – curricula that strengthen children in the Lord from the youngest ages. Curricula that prepare them for “the world out there” – that teach them at the youngest ages how to battle the various ungodly/antichristian teachings they will eventually face when they go off to college. Or sooner, if playing with kids who attend public schools, watching TV without program restrictions, using the Internet unfiltered, etc. Even seeing magazines on the grocery store newstand, or using a smartphone, or going to the library unattended. Bottom line – it’s pretty hard to keep our kids away from the world’s influences, so it’s crucial to prepare our kids spiritually to stand up against these things. One key I think is memorizing Bible verses (I recommend the KJV).

Most evangelicals are failing miserably in training up their children biblically. The fact is, the world is invading the church in many ways, particularly via Spiritual Formation and Emerging/Emergent teachings. Bottom line, we need to be on guard – even our churches can draw our kids away from the Lord.

Anyone know where to find curricula that prepare children to fight what’s out there? I know there are many creation science textbooks, and many textbooks presenting history from a Christian viewpoint. But I haven’t found any textbooks (yet) that explain how to fight false teachings (New Age teachings, Spiritual Formation, Emerging/Emergent teachings, etc.). Of course kids can be led to discernment articles and discernment books on these things – even at young ages – using the Internet filtered and while monitored.

Why prepare kids at a young age? Because they’re being attacked by the world at a young age. Example: in the public schools, kindergarteners are being read Harry Potter books, told about “my two dads”, indoctrinated in mindfulness, etc. God help us!

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 PAGAN PRAYER BEADS AND PAGAN ROSARY BEADS
In recent years, a prayer tool called the “Pearls of Life” has become more common, particularly in the Emerging/Emergent Church movements. The Pearls of Life are an ecumenical Lutheran prayer beads/rosary. Unfortunately, the Pearls of Life (like every kind of prayer beads/rosaries) has occultic pagan origins and is used in an occultic contemplative way.

Before looking at prayer beads/rosaries in general, let’s look at the Pearls of Life. My first thoughts upon hearing about this were:

1) The Pearls of Life seem to be a Protestant version of the Catholic rosary (which is occultic and idolatrous). Many of the heresies of the Rosary will also be heresies of the Pearls of Life.

2) Both the Pearls of Life and the Catholic rosary involve ritual (which is occultic).

3) I assume the Pearls of Life, like the Catholic rosary, are viewed as a “means of grace.” They both involve salvation by works (people falsely believe they can get to Heaven by doing works).

Let’s look at the invention of the Pearls of Life. I found the following excerpt here. Note – throughout this blog, I am emphasizing certain points by bolding, and inserting comments in [brackets].

“This site is about Pearls of Life – an ecumenical rosary from Sweden. For better description there is a basic book of Pearls of Life by Martin Lönnebo [if he is heretical, his invention the Pearls of Life will be heretical], which you can order from a Swedish Publishing company VERBUM.

Martin Lönnebo, Lutheran emeritus bishop in Sweden, was considering what could help us in praying, what a person needs when he/she is distressed, how the church could support young parents to pray with their children… And he made a conclusion that a rosary could be a practical device for these purposes, and also a help in spiritual training [perhaps he was thinking of Richard Foster’s occultic Spiritual Formation], which he finds even more important than physical or mental training.

He named the rosary “Frälsarkransen”, which means “The Wreath of Christ” (the name is in Norway and in Denmark “Kristuskransen”). He wanted to emphasise the meaning of silence in prayer. Praying is not only speaking in words, it is being in front of God, with empty hands, listening. Just being. Seeing and touching the beads ease to concentrate and remember the most important things in life…”

And following are excerpts providing more details, found here:

The “Pearls of Life” (in Swedish, they are known as frälsarkransen, which means “the lifebuoy”) were invented by Bishop Martin Lönnebo of the Church of Sweden [in 1996]… Bishop Martin had long been interested in the spirituality of the Eastern Church and fascinated by the mixture of formality and informality in Orthodox worship, with its candles and icons and prayer beads, and he set about designing what became a “prayer bracelet”. After trial and error, he finally decided on a set of eighteen beads in which he summarised the message of the Christian faith.

Bishop Martin wanted a tangible means of communicating that faith, and from his studies of eastern spirituality he knew something of the ways in which beads are used as aids to prayer in world religions. In Islam, a rope of 33 beads enables Muslims to focus their prayers on the 99 Beautiful Names of God. there are similar aids to Hindu and Buddhist devotion. In Western Christianity the Rosary holds pride of place. It has a whole literature devoted to it, mostly by Roman Catholic writers, but with significant contributions from Anglican writers such as Austin Farrer and from the Methodist Neville Ward. In the Eastern Church ropes of “prayer knots” are an aid for those who wish to fulfil St Paul’s injunction to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17), running through the rhythms of the Jesus Prayer.

Martin Lönnebo’s “Pearls of Life” are very different from the Rosary. There is no single prescribed way of using them as there is for the Rosary. They are, Bishop Martin insists, “a lifebelt not fetters”. Those who have sufficient leisure can work their way in prayer round the bracelet. In other circumstances it may be more appropriate to focus on a single bead or group of beads. They aren’t only a way of praying. They can also be used as a framework for teaching. The beads can be linked to stages in the life of Jesus, as well as opening up Christian experience. In the Church of Sweden, and in North Germany, they are widely used as an aid to catechesis. Our partner diocese of Växjö (which is, incidentally, immediately south of Bishop Martin’s former diocese of Linköping) has used it for some years now as a basis for preparing young people for their confirmation. Their great advantage is that they are discreet, and they are portable. They can be carried in a handbag or a pocket or they can be worn, like any bracelet, on the wrist.

The “Pearls of Life” are a means of developing prayer, deepening faith and broadening understanding. Some who use them do so at the beginning or end of the day. Some find them a helpful framework for a prayerful reflection on the events of the day that has just passed. Others like to focus on particular beads on particular days (for example, the Resurrection pearl on a Sunday)…

So what is the problem with prayer beads/rosaries? The problem is, they are a contemplative aid. Thus all Christian-based prayer bead/rosaries are occultic. It doesn’t matter whether they are Catholic, Orthodox, Lutheran, Anglican or whatever – they all work the same way.

I found additional excerpts here, which describe the specific dangers of all prayer beads/rosaries.  (Although this article mainly discusses Tony Campolo, it also includes some very insightful info about prayer beads/rosaries):

To enter this “spiritual realm” [of Richard Foster’s contemplative prayer/contemplative spirituality] it is essential for the participant to empty the mind of all thoughts, as well as lay aside Biblical notions on sin, Jesus Christ, grace and salvation. There are a host of web sites aimed at Christians [there are more than 78,000 such sites on the topic]. Advocates suggest that instead of a “sacred word” you could use the Stations of the Cross as a labyrinth tool for prayer, or Anglican Prayer Beads. These prayer methods are closely akin to the Tibetan Buddhist Prayer Wheel [which can be purchased on line for $25 ~ free shipping]. Just think of it: For only $25 you can contact God!

All of these “methods” to be employed in our prayer lives are intended to make us feel good about God ~ any God. And if we feel good about him, he obviously feels good about us. An ELCA web site tells us: “When most people think of prayer beads the Roman Catholic Rosary is most likely to come to mind – or perhaps Muslim, Buddhist, or Hindu Prayer beads. Eastern Orthodox prayer ropes or beads are also very popular. But, the use of prayer beads is increasing among people of many faith traditions,…”
 
Through contemplative prayer in its various forms and practices we readily find the connection between Catholics, Buddhists, Lutherans, Moslems, Episcopals, Hindus and Evangelicals.
 
The ELCA [Evangelical Lutheran Church of America] site goes on to say that the “use of prayer beads creates a rhythm that discourages distractions and focuses attention so that the one who prays can more readily move into God’s presence.”
 
The Bible-believer wants to know: Where is the God of the Bible in all this? Is He equally present in all religions, able to be contacted by Moslems and Buddhists in the same way that a Christian comes to know Him through Jesus Christ? And what about Jesus? Did He need to die? Why, if God can be contacted using a method, what did Jesus’ death do for us?…

See also this detailed Wikipedia article, describing the occultic, contemplative use of prayer beads/rosaries in a number of world religions.

The book Praying with Beads by Nan Lewis Doerr and Virginia Stem Owens (pp. vii-ix) also discuss the pagan history of prayer beads/rosaries. Click here to read online.

FOR FURTHER READING

Heresies of the Catholic rosary

Detailed Catholic article explaining and endorsing the Catholic rosary

Wikipedia article on the Catholic rosary

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I stumbled across this very helpful series of eight articles. Following are the links. Note – the author uses the term “Emerging” to cover the Emerging, Emergent and Emergence Church movements. I prefer to use the term Emerging/Emergent/Emergence. The lines between the three movements are becoming more and more blurred – they are virtually inseparable. Still a good rule of thumb would be:

I use the term “Emerging” to describe the Evangelical/New Evangelical wing of Emerging/Emergent/Emergence. Emerging churches still hold to some truly biblical doctrines. However, as more and more extreme Emergent heresies enter a church, the biblical Christians leave. Which leaves only the nonbiblical “Christians”; thus the church becomes truly Emergent.

I use the term “Emergent” to describe the liberal/mainline wing of Emerging/ Emergent/Emergence. Emergent churches no longer hold to biblical doctrines. They are, in essence, nonchristian.

Beyond “Emergent” is the “Emergence” movement, represented by New Ageish speaker Phyllis Tickle among many others.

This is the danger – Emerging, Emergent and Emergence are all three becoming virtually inseparable. Scary!

Now on to the eight-part series of articles. These articles make a good introduction to Emerging/Emergent/Emergence heresies – with one caveat. Most of the footnotes refer to sources around 2005-2007, making the articles out of date. There have been many heretical Emerging/Emergent/Emergence figures crop up and/or grow in popularity since then – Rob Bell for example. In these postmodern youth oriented movements, things have changed very quickly, unfortunately for the worse.

The Emerging Church, Part 1: An Overview, by Scott Diekmann
Introduces the concepts of modernism and postmodernism, and provides a brief description of the Emerging Church using their own words.

The Emerging Church, Part 2: The Bible, One Voice Among Many
Describes the Emerging Church’s rejection of Biblical inspiration and inerrancy in favor of a derivation of “truth” through a cooperative effort of community, story, and Biblical “interpretation.”

The Emerging Church, Part 3: The Experiential Road
Relates how abandonment of Scriptural authority necessarily leads to an emphasis on experience.

The Emerging Church, Part 4: The Mystical Road
Considers the Emerging Church’s embrace of mysticism through such means as contemplative prayer.

The Emerging Church, Part 5: Redefining the Gospel?
Delineates how the New Perspective on Paul has led to a rejection of justification by grace through faith.

The Emerging Church, Part 6: A Social Gospel?
Emphasizes the Emerging Church’s confusion of Law and Gospel, to “live in the way of Jesus.”

The Emerging Church, Part 7: Sheep Without a Shepherd
Points out the lack of certainty of many Emerging Church pastors, and their failure to preach the whole counsel of God.

The Emerging Church, Part 8: Final Thoughts
Summarizes the previous parts and reiterates the true way to “live in the way of Jesus,” through Word and Sacrament.

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I came across this excellent “open letter” from Manny Silva to the Nazarene denomination, asking for an explanation of its accommodation of various heresies. Such heresies are being promulgated in virtually every evangelical denomination today – shocking!

I have copied the entire open letter verbatim. Click here for the original text of this open letter. Many of the statement have already been bolded by Manny. I have emphasized additional points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets]:

Open Letter #2 To The General Superintendents

Posted on April 11, 2011 by reformednazarene

This is my second open letter that I am writing to you, and my third letter overall.  I pray all is well with you.

I am writing this in a spirit of great concern and love for our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.  I believe, with all humility, that I speak on behalf of a good number of Nazarenes as well.

The Church of the Nazarene manual states that your duties include:

317.1.1  “To provide supervision of the international Church of the Nazarene. The Board of General Superintendents shall provide appropriate attention to leadership, guidance, motivation…”

318. “The Board of General Superintendents shall be the authority for the interpretation of the law and doctrine of the Church of the Nazarene…”

Many are still seeking guidance and clear answers in these very troubling times within the church.  The influence of the emerging church movement is growing, and is causing an ever widening theological rift, as many Nazarenes see it as an apostate movement.  It has torn apart fellowship and brought chaos to many church families, including mine. It has resulted in the departure from the Nazarene denomination by many who have been watching a holiness church turn to teachings and traditions that years ago would have been unthinkable; teachings and practices that were rejected by the very people who started the Reformation.  We are reverting back to pre-Reformation behavior, and incorporating teachings and practices that were rejected by Martin Luther, and those who gave their very lives in defense of the true gospel.  We have lost more than 10,000 Nazarenes in the last four years in the U.S. and Canada.  Although I cannot tell you how much of that is due to emergent ideology or the embrace of Romanism and mysticism, I do have personal stories from dozens of people who have related to me that these movements have been the cause of their departure, or the cause of their current state of distress in their own church.

There are many things going on that are dividing our denomination and creating chaos among the believers, who are either unsure or afraid of the direction we are headed.  Many have become anxious because our leaders have not provided them with clear and unambiguous explanations of various concerns.  We believe that the main problem that is unfolding is a great separation between Bible believing Christians, and those who do not believe in the full authority and inerrancy of God’s word. If this continues, there will be many more permanently separating from the church, who will not abide with a continuing further erosion in trusting all of the Bible’s teachings.

I would like to submit just a few questions to you and ask for some absolute clarity as to what you as a governing board believe about the following issues, because unless we get complete clarity on where our leaders stand, the bleeding will continue anyway, and you will see more and more Nazarenes leaving.  Sure, some will leave no matter how you answer, but at least you will fulfill the mandate that the church manual has given to you, to be the authority for the interpretation of the law and doctrine of the Church of the Nazarene. Here are my questions:

  1. Celtic Spirituality class taught at Nazarene Theological Seminary
    For the life of me, I cannot understand why this course is being taught at a Christian seminary!If you have no information on this subject, I wrote a post.  Is this teaching appropriate and within the bounds of Christian orthodoxy?  If yes, please explain it, because this is occultism being taught here, and we are very concerned with this kind of teaching to those who are going to be our future pastors.  I have attached a syllabus from the class, and it is not just a study of the topic- it is for future pastors to fully participatein this pagan discipline.
  2. The teaching of Open Theism and Process Theology at our Christian colleges.
    Is it scripturally sound to teach that God does not know the future?  Is it within the bounds of orthodox Christianity and Nazarene doctrine to teach that God makes mistakes and learns from them?  Is this the new Nazarene teaching about the nature of God?
  3. Is the use of pagan prayer labyrinths, the placing of ashes to the forehead and other Roman Catholic rituals in Nazarene churches now acceptable and within the bounds of orthodox Christianity and Nazarene doctrine, in your opinion?
  4. Finally, what do each of you believe regarding the inerrancy of scripture? With all the troubles within the Nazarene denomination, I believe it can be traced to the lessening of the authority and infallibility of God’s word.  My question is simple and straight for each of you: do you believe that the Bible- all of it- is fully inspired by God, and IS actually God’s word? Furthermore, do you agree or disagree with those who are promoting the teaching that the first 11 chapters of Genesis are not necessarily true, and that much of the Bible is not necessarily true?  Do you believe Christians can actually reject the literal account of creation, and accept the idea that man evolved, including Adam and Eve?
    If so, what is the biblical justification to arrive at these conclusions, and how can we trust the Bible if parts of it are not true?  Does that not make God a liar?  This is the most important area I wish to get clarification on, and I pray that you will take the time to write a clear response, not just for me, but for many Nazarenes who are wondering about this.

That last question, by the way, is important for many reasons.  One was the astounding fact that a licensed minister in the New England District was told last year that he would probably not be approved for ordination.  For what reason, you may ask?  Was it for incompetence?  Did they tell him he just did not seem to have a genuine calling from God?  Did he have some kind of serious moral failure that discredited him?

No, it was none of that.  They simply told him that his view on the Bible- that it is the inspired and inerrant word of God- was not acceptable.  To his credit and courage, he has told the licensing board that he would not seek renewal of a District license, because of the lack of confidence within the denomination in the very word of God.  How shameful is it that this kind of thing can happen?  How many more young pastors will be rejected unless they fit into the mold that is being formed, a mold that apparently rejects scripture as fully divinely inspired.  Instead, pastors are being ordained if they believe in open theism, process theology, or that we came from apes.  Does that sound like the Christian world turned upside down to you?  And let me remind you of the pastors who have been faithful to God’s word, but have been summarily dismissed for preaching against the emergent church movement.

It is my prayer that you will provide clear answers to these questions and finally help many Nazarenes understand where our leadership stands on these issues. The church looks to you for guidance, yet those of us who see the scriptures as the only true authority for our faith and practice, must be Bereans and even hold you up to the standard of scripture.  It is not personal, it is only obedience to the Lord’s teachings that compels us to ask these questions.

May God bless you and I look forward to your response.

Sincerely in Christ,

Manny Silva

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Update:  I have made an attempt to “tone down” most of my blogs about Evangelical Friends/Quakers, to not be so hurtful to my many friends in the EFCI (and EFC-ER). Yet when I see what is going on, I still feel compelled to speak out. Read on.
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I stumbled across this interview with Spiritual Formation founder Richard Foster. I was especially interested in Foster’s connections with the Evangelical Friends, now the EFCI (Evangelical Friends Church International) denomination.

I am providing some excerpts below, which provide further details concerning Foster’s early connections with Evangelical Friends.  I am emphasizing some points by bolding, and inserting comments in [brackets]. Click here for the original article.

A Life Formed in the Spirit
Interview by Mark Galli, with Richard Foster. posted 9/17/2008

Thirty-one years ago, not many evangelicals thought much of the “spiritual disciplines,” and when they did, they thought of them negatively—as one more form of works righteousness. That began to change substantially 30 years ago, with the publication of Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster [in 1978]. This book, arguably more than any other, introduced evangelicals not only to the disciplines, but also to the wealth of spiritual formation writing from the medieval and ancient church. Today you are almost as likely to hear an evangelical talk about Thomas à Kempis’ The Imitation of Christ as Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life.

The idea for Celebration grew in the heat of pastoral work, as Foster explains below. The church of his youth supported him financially and in prayer as he made his way through college (George Fox) and seminary (Fuller)…

(The full story of the publication is told in the introduction to the [second] edition of Celebration.)
[Christianity Today] Senior managing editor Mark Galli sat down with Foster in his home in Colorado to talk about the genesis of his lifelong work in spiritual formation, and how the disciplines have shaped him personally.

Let’s begin at the beginning of your spiritual formation: How did you become a Christian?

My conversion came as a young teenager, early high-school years. Youth for Christ was prominent in that, as well as a local congregation, Alameda Friends Church in Garden Grove in Orange County, Southern California. This is pre-Robert Schuller days…

What were the key influences in your early Christian faith?

One was a youth pastor at that church…

A second was Bonhoeffer and his writings, especially The Cost of Discipleship

How did you start to become interested in spiritual formation in a more focused way?

My first church out of [Fuller Seminary] was a Friends church in San Fernando Valley in Southern California, with between 55 and 80 people on Sunday mornings. Dallas Willard and his wife attended there—she was the organist, and he led singing. Dallas also taught classes at the church, material that eventually became The Divine Conspiracy.

In that little church, when I taught, people might come, but when Dallas taught, they brought their tape recorders. And I did too! I cancelled all adult Sunday school classes when he taught.

We not only had teaching, but we would also visit in homes…

I don’t know exactly why—I instinctively went to the old writers. I just felt like Augustine’s Confessions and Teresa’s Interior Castle—this was real meat…

You were conceiving of pastoral work primarily as spiritual formation, which would have been pretty unusual at the time.

God was gracious. We were there doing what we could do and fumbling around and learning and growing and teaching and trying it. All the stuff that later came out in Celebration of Discipline, we were doing it all. And we had really good experiences and we had failures, too. I tried to get the congregation to have experiences of fasting. I never was very good at that. People would always have headaches from caffeine withdrawal. I found it was much better for just a few of us to try things out and see what we learned and go from there.

We were a small congregation. Dallas once told me that I should really be glad that that was the case, because we could experiment with all these things. And also, we were far removed from the powers. We weren’t a significant anything…

Writing has been a large part of your spiritual formation work. When did you first start writing for publication?

Writing emerged early on in my ministry. At the time, I never told anybody about this, not even Carolyn. I was too embarrassed about it. But I began to think about it. Churches in those days would often have a midweek newsletter. In that newsletter I would write an essay. It was a teaching, a 500-word essay every week…

I began writing for magazines, initially anonymously as John Q. Catalyst. I did maybe 50 or 60 little articles that way for publications like Quaker Life, and one for Moody Monthly

Throughout the interview, Richard Foster treads lightly, conveniently failing to mention the occult, New Age-ish aspects of contemplative prayer/contemplative spirituality.  He mentions the disciplines of fasting and of solitude, but hardly a word about contemplative prayer.  I assume that, by the time this interview took place (2008), Foster had received a great deal of backlash regarding contemplative prayer practices. This could be why Foster skirted this issue in his interview.

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[blog under construction]

Awhile back, I received a blog comment [located below my blog] from a high official in the EFCI denomination (Evangelical Friends Church International). Defending the EFCI’s practicing Spiritual Formation, this official wrote:

Spiritual formation is simply the study of and the pursuit of how people grow spiritually. I think that is the heart of the holiness movement, of which we are still a part. We work with the Nazarenes and Free Methodists to publish common curriculum that is widely used for Sunday Schools, VBS’s, and the like.

[In the above quote, I emphasized certain points by bolding.]

My response is, first of all, Spiritual Formation is much more than this EFCI official claims – it includes the occultish spiritual discipline of Contemplative Prayer/Contemplative Spirituality. Second, it is shocking to hear this person imply that Spiritual Formation (which EFCI pastor Richard Foster popularized in 1978) is now considered “the heart” of the Holiness Movement.  Third, the EFCI may still be a part of what is now  considered the Holiness Movement, but the Holiness Movement today is far different from what the Holiness Movement was 100 years ago (1).

Several days ago, I discovered the publisher of the “common curriculum” that Dr. Evans referred to above.  The EFCI and other Holiness denominations get curriculum from WordAction.

Following is the title of the WordAction website:

WordAction: Innovative Biblical Solutions in Christian Education for the Changing Church

Note the website title above says “Innovative” Biblical Solutions … for the Changing Church.” By “innovative” they obviously mean “new ways of doing church.” And by “the Changing Church” they mean “the  Emerging/Emergent Church movement.”

Note the  list of Holiness denominations, under their About Us link:

WordAction Publishing Company is a not-for-profit organization that provides relevant Sunday School curriculum and small group materials to enable people of all ages to discover God’s Word. Our resources are designed through the cooperative efforts of The Salvation Army, Church of the Nazarene, Wesleyans, Evangelical Friends, Free Methodists, and Evangelical United Methodists. WordAction is a part of the Nazarene Publishing House and has become the largest publisher of Wesleyan-Holiness Sunday School curriculum in the world.

I guess the term “Wesleyan-Holiness” doesn’t mean anything anymore. Unless it means a denomination that USED to be Wesleyan-Holiness at some time in its past. The denominations listed above have all strayed from their biblically sound roots, as Googling them can quickly determine.

Another point about WordAction: the youth materials they list come from the heretical Barefoot Ministries, with materials sold through the WordAction website (click on Youth and scroll to the bottom left). There have been a number of critiques written exposing the Emerging/Emergent agenda of Barefoot Ministries for the youth of Holiness denominations.

I hope to write a separate blog about Barefoot Ministries. For now, here are links to a few critiques:

Click to access v002:credo.pdf

http://exnazarene.wordpress.com/2010/10/28/immerse-another-tool-by-barefoot-ministries-to-promote-the-leftistliberalemergent-agenda/

ENDNOTES

(1) Holiness denominations of 1911 were Fundamentalist. That is, they adhered to The Fundamentals, a series of articles published between 1910-1915. Holiness denominations of 2011 are, for the most part, either New Evangelical or Emerging/Emergent. I would daresay, in terms of the Fundamentalist-Modernist controversy of the 20th century, the Holiness denominations of 2011 are closer to being Modernist than Fundamentalist. Why do I say this? Because there is little difference between New Evangelical and Emerging. And the line between Emerging and Emergent is becoming more and more blurred. And, “Emergent” is nearly synonymous with “Modernist.” Shocking! [I hope to explore this 1911/2011 dichotomy further in a future blog.]

The following article claims that Christianity today still adheres for the most part to The Fundamentals of 1910-1915. Hogwash!:

http://www.patheos.com/Resources/Additional-Resources/Evangelicalism-Standing-the-Test-of-Time-Thomas-Kidd.html

Note that the above website is far from being born again Christian – as the following list of  “featured experts” shows:

http://experts.patheos.com/

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Note – I have slightly revised this blog, “toning it down” so it will not be as hurtful to my many friends in the EFCI.
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I am researching the prevalence of Spiritual Formation and Emerging/ Emergent teachings in various Quaker/Friends colleges, universities and seminaries. I have been looking mostly for schools with EFCI connections. I stumbled across a list (at the bottom of this blog), which hopefully will help others sort out the various Quaker/Friends institutions.

The EFCI (Evangelical Friends Church International) has traditionally been the ONLY “orthodox”, born again, evangelical Quaker denomination. The other Quaker denominations – FGC, FUM, NEYM and PYM all label themselves as non-evangelical.

[Click here for a slightly different grouping of the different Quaker denominations. This info is provided by a non-evangelical Quaker website.]

Yet in these times, even EFCI schools are getting involved with Spiritual Formation and Emerging/Emergent teachings. In some cases  EFCI schools have actually been leaders in promulgating these teachings. For example, EFCI’s George Fox University and Seminary has pushed various teachings, including Richard Foster’s Spiritual Formation ala Celebration of Discipline.

Also, individuals and groups from many Friends denominations are increasingly fellowshipping under the banner of “Convergent Friends” – a term closely tied with Spiritual Formation and Emerging/Emergent teachings.

Note also that denominational distinctions are becoming less and less of an issue. Most Friends denominations are associating closely in ecumenical organizations such as the FWCC (Friends World Committee for Consultation).

To me personally, all of the above developments are very discouraging. I grew up in the EFC-ER/Ohio Yearly Meeting, which eventually became a part of the EFCI (Evangelical Friends Church International). The EFC-ER/Ohio Yearly Meeting was the most “doctrinally pure,” born again Yearly Meeting in the United States. Members of this yearly meeting were commonly known as “Holiness Friends” or “Gurneyite Friends.” I feel VERY strongly that the EFC-ER/Ohio Yearly Meeting should have remained “doctrinally pure.” It should have remained a separate entity, rather than joining the EFA (Evangelical Friends Alliance) in 1965. (The EFA was later renamed the EFCI.)

Now on to the list of Friends institutions, with their affiliations [I have bolded the affiliations]:

“Quaker Colleges and Schools in the United States”
Mar 03, 2010
(Excerpt from http://www.quakerinfo.org)

Colleges and Universities

Abbreviations:
• EFCI — Evangelical Friends Church International
• FGC — Friends General Conference
• FUM — Friends United Meeting
• NEYM — New England Yearly Meeting
• PYM — Philadelphia Yearly Meeting

a. Azusa Pacific University (APU) – Azusa, California. Officially non- denominational. The Friends Center is “the seminary experience of Evangelical Friends Church Southwest (which belongs to the EFCI) at C.P. Haggard Graduate School of Theology.”

b. Barclay College – Havilland, Kansas. “Associated with Friends Church [which denomination?] although does not officially specify an affiliation.” Barclay is very much into Spiritual Formation; it even has a Center for Spiritual Renewal [Spiritual Formation].

c. Bryn Mawr College – Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. Founded as a Quaker institution, now non-denominational.

d. Earlham College – Richmond, Indiana. Affiliated with Western Yearly Meeting of Friends United Meeting (FUM).

e. Friends University – Wichita, Kansas. Founded as a Quaker institution, now non-denominational with “an amicable but independent relationship with the Society of Friends” (EFCI). Spiritual Formation’s Richard Foster was a “professor of theology and writer-in-residence” here, from 1979 to ____ (1)

f. George Fox University (GFU) – Newburg, Oregon. Affiliated with Northwest Yearly Meeting of Friends (EFCI).

George Fox Evangelical Seminary – Newburg, Oregon. Affiliated with Northwest Yearly Meeting of Friends (EFCI).

GFU and GFES are very much into Spiritual Formation and Emerging/Emergent teachings. I am appalled to see such teachings in the EFCI, which in 1965 (as the EFA) was in my opinion a “fundamentalist evangelical” denomination. Today the EFCI is becoming more and more a “progressive evangelical” denomination.

By the way, all of the following heretics have all either attended or taught at GFU and/or GFES: Tony Campolo, Richard Foster (1), Dan Kimball, and Leonard Sweet.

g. Global College – Founded as Friends World College by New York Yearly Meeting (Friends General Conference), now part of Long Island University and not officially affiliated with Friends.

h. Guilford College – Greensboro, North Carolina. Founded as a Quaker college and continues to be governed by members of the Society of Friends [which denomination?].

i. Haverford College – Pennsylvania. Founded by members of the PYM [Philadephia Yearly Meeting]. Remains rooted in Friends tradition and grounded in Quaker practice [non-evangelical], but without formal affiliation.

j. Houston Graduate School of Theology (HGST) – Houston, Texas. “Identifies with the Quaker movement,” grounded in Evangelical Friends theology and practice. [I think this school associates with the SWYM of the EFCI. But I doubt it is still fundamentalist evangelical. One of its teachers publically states she is a “Spiritual Director”, teaching Spiritual Formation. I’ll be researching this school.]

k. John Woolman College of Active Peace – Brattleboro, Vermont. Founded as a Quaker college and continues to be governed by members of the Society of Friends [which denomination?]. I would hardly call this a college – it seems to be more of an online forum.  Perhaps this was an actual institution in years past.

l. Johns Hopkins University – Baltimore, Maryland was founded by a Quaker and most early trustees were Quaker although officially non-denominational.

m. Malone University – Canton, Ohio. Sponsored by Evangelical Friends Church – Eastern Region (EFC-ER) of the EFCI.

Malone University Graduate School – Theological Studies – Canton, Ohio. Sponsored by Evangelical Friends Church – Eastern Region (EFC-ER) of the EFCI.

Note – some professors from Ashland Theological Seminary (ATS) also teach at Malone University Graduate School. ATS is very much into Spiritual Formation.  And, many graduates of Malone University go on to pursue their graduate degrees at the ATS campus.

n. Pacific Oaks College – Pasadena, California. Graduate school of education based around a children’s school founded by Quakers. Strong Friends influence although no formal affiliation.

o. Swarthmore College – Pennsylvania. Founded by Hicksite PYM, now independent.

p. Whittier College – California. Founded by Quakers, now independent with “an appreciation for Quaker values.”

q. William Penn University – Oskaloosa, Iowa. Founded by Quakers, no formal affiliation. “The university is firmly rooted in its Christian heritage with certain characteristics distinctive to Quakers, but welcomes faculty, staff and students from all faiths.” [I’m curious what they mean by “from all faiths” – do they mean “other world religions, and do they consider themselves an “interfaith” school?]

r. Wilmington College – Wilmington, Ohio. Founded by Quakers, associated with Wilmington Yearly Meeting (FUM).

Source: http://www.neighborhoodlink.com/Louisville_Friends_Meeting_Quaker/pages/387296

[I have added a number of notes to the original list.]

See also this lengthy list of schools:
http://www.enotes.com/topic/List_of_Friends_schools

ENDNOTES

(1) Click here for blog entitled “Spiritual Formation founder Richard Foster’s ties with EFCI (Evangelical Friends).”

Note – much of this info overlaps with a Wikipedia list. I am in the process of combining all this info regarding colleges and seminaries.

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(revised 01/25/14)

The Confessing Movement is very encouraging, a bright spot in the sea of End Times apostasy. It consists primarily of individuals attending mainline churches.

Following is an excerpt from the Wikipedia article on “the Confessing Movement”, found here (Wikipedia is probably not the most accurate source). I have emphasized points by bolding and added comments in [brackets].

Here is the Wikipedia excerpt:

“The Confessing Movement is an Evangelical movement [primarily] within … mainline Protestant denominations to return those churches to what the members of the movement see as theological orthodoxy.

It relates and cross pollinates with other conservative Christian movements such as Evangelicals, Pentecostals, Holiness groups, Anabaptists, and Fundamentalists. Its members have a stated commitment to remain in their home denominations, unless forced out, to stay and work for reform from within, in contrast to what they see as other modern reform movements that splintered Protestantism into thousands of denominations. They acknowledge that full reform of their churches may not be achieved. Of particular concern to those in the Confessing movement has been a perceived lack of concern for, or non-evangelical approaches to, evangelism, to the deity of Christ, to questions of sexuality and homosexuality in particular.”

I found several denominational lists of Confessing Movements:

1) In the Wikipedia article mentioned above, there are sections dealing with Confessing Movements in the following denominations:

4.1 Presbyterian
4.2 Methodist
4.3 Episcopalian/Anglican
4.4 Church of the Brethren
4.5 Lutheran
4.6 United Church of Christ

Read through each of the above sections, and you will find a number of links to related websites for each denomination.

2) The Association for Church Renewal website provides links to the following denominational Confession Movements:

American Baptist Church
Anglican Communion Episcopal Church
Church of the Brethren
Disciples of Christ Christian Church
Evangelical Lutheran Church In America (ELCA)
Presbyterian Church USA
United Church of Canada
United Church of Christ
United Methodist Church

Source: http://www.associationforchurchrenewal.com/

3) Mennonites
Source: http://www.fcminformer.org/

4) Finally, the longest list, at Wikinoah.org. Note the following comment in this article: “each mainline denomination has within it a Confessing Movement or renewal movement which is more conservative in tone.”

Here is the list of mainline denominations (I am searching for the Confessing Movement websites for each of these denominations):

  • American Baptist Churches USA 1,442,824 members (2001)[4]
  • Armenian Apostolic Church / Catholicossate of Cilicia
  • Armenian Apostolic Church / Catholicossate of Etchmiadzin
  • Assyrian Church of the East 120,000 members (1989)[5]
  • Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) 804,842 members (2001)[6]
  • Congregational Christian Churches, (not part of any national CCC body)
  • Dutch Reformed Church 9,395 members (2001)[7]
  • Eastern Orthodox Church: American Diocese
  • Episcopal Church in the United States of America
  • Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church
  • Evangelical Lutheran Church in America 5,099,877 members (2001)[8]
  • International Council of Community Churches 200,263 members (2000)[9]
  • Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
  • Metropolitan Community Church 44,000 members (1998)[10]
  • Moravians (religion) in America, Alaska Province
  • Moravians (religion) in America, Northern Province 24,650 members (2003)[11]
  • Moravians (religion) in America, Southern Province 21,513 members (1991)[12]
  • National Association of Congregational Christian Churches 65,569 members (2000)[13]
  • North American Baptist Conference
  • Presbyterian Church (USA) 3,455,952 members (2001)[14]
  • Reformed Church in America 285,453 members (2001)[15]
  • Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)
  • United Church of Christ 1,359,105 members (2001)[16]
  • United Methodist Church 8,298,145 members (2001)[17]

Source: http://www.wikinoah.org/index.php?title=Mainline#_note-ardamain

Perhaps the Confessing Movement can provide us with a working model for how to deal with Spiritual Formation and the Emerging/ Emergent Church movements. We should examine the Confessing Movement groups more closely, to see how they have organized themselves and spoken out in protest against their denominations. (I am still trying to locate specific Confessing Movement criticisms of Spiritual Formation and the Emerging/Emergent Church movements; the criticisms located so far have used more general terms, such as “the deity of Christ”, “biblical inerrancy”, etc.)

Up to this point, I have recommended leaving any denomination that is getting swallowed up in Spiritual Formation and the Emerging/Emergent Church movements. One problem with this approach, however, is as follows. Suppose one leaves an Emerging Church (Emerging Churches still retain at least some biblical doctrines). As concerned Christians continue leaving an Emerging Church, it eventually becomes Emergent (aka Liberalism 2.0) – no biblical attenders are left.

On the other hand, if one remains in a Spiritual Formation/Emerging/Emergent church with a FAMILY, he risks exposing his family members to false teachings which will very likely lead them away from biblical Christian faith. My best advice for those with families, under these circumstances, would be to pray, pray, pray about whether you should stay or leave. Consider factors such as your spiritual strength, the spiritual strength of your spouse, and the spiritual strength of your children (as well as their ages).

There are individuals whose Christian faith grows when confronted; they are tried and tested and end up maturing when their pastors try to present false teachings. This was the case for me. During my “single years,” I attended several churches that were biblically sound at one point. As they changed and started falling into apostasy, I felt led to  study their doctrinal errors; I eventually moved on to more biblically sound churches. I can honestly say I am a more mature, knowledgeable, discerning Christian for having attended all of these churches. And, hopefully I can help others encountering similar false teachings in their churches.

FOR FURTHER RESEARCH
(I’m looking for more recent publications)

The Rebirth of Orthdoxy: Signs of New Life in Christianity, by Thomas C. Oden (2002), pp. 140-153 (click on the TITLE to read online)

The Remnant Spirit: Conservative Reform in Mainline Protestantism,
by Douglas E. Cowan (2003)(click on the TITLE to read online)

In Googling for more info, I also found two less common terms for the Confessing Movement: “Renewal Movement” and “Remnant Movement.”

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For those unfamiliar with Spiritual Formation, here’s the scoop. Spiritual Formation was introduced by Quaker “mystic” Richard Foster with his bestselling 1978 book Celebration of Discipline. Here are the basics: Spiritual Formation consists of various spiritual disciplines. The most dangerous aspect of Spiritual Formation is the spiritual discipline of contemplative prayer (also called contemplative spirituality). (We’ll refer to this as CP/CS.)

CP/CS  practices form the very core of Spiritual Formation. It is impossible to “practice”  Spiritual Formation without including CP/CS. And CP/CS is rotten – it comes straight from the pits of Hell. Why do I say this? Because it incorporates many mystic/occult practices. These practices are drawn, as Richard Foster puts it, “from other faith traditions.” What are the these “other faith traditions?” Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism, the New Age movement, and other nonbibical, anti-Christian world views!

I am particularly appalled by the “heaviest” contemplative practices among many evangelicals in Spiritual Formation currently: breath prayer, centering prayer, lectio divina – and yes – labyrinth “prayer”!  If so-called Christians do not repent of ALL contemplative practices, I believe the following saying will apply: “we ain’t seen nothin’ yet.”

To see where evangelical students of Spiritual Formation (SF) are headed in contemplative practices, watch carefully the Mainline/liberal SF programs and Catholic SF programs. Their contemplative practices have gone way beyond the contemplative practices of most evangelical SF programs. If evangelicals do not leave this downward path, I believe they will end up “doing” all the contemplative practices of mainline/ liberals, Catholics, and worse. As mentioned above, many gullible evangelicals are already using the New Age practice of walking the labyrinth.

Now for a list. These are a few of the many CP/CS practices to watch out for in your church or denomination – there are probably hundreds of more practices.

Art as Prayer
Blessing (The Blessing)
Breath Prayer
Candles
Care of the Earth
Catholic Mass
Centering Prayer
Chanting
Dance (Body Prayer)
Detachment
Enneagram
Examen
Fixed-hour Prayer
Gratitude
Gregorian Chant
Guided Imagery
Holy Conversations
Imaginative Prayer
Incense
Inner-healing Prayer
The Jesus Prayer
Journaling
Labyrinth Prayer
Lectio Divina (Scripture Meditation)
Listening to Wisdom
Making Crosses
Meditation
Meditation on the Heart’s Longing
Music as Prayer
Peace Poles
Practicing the Presence
Prayer of Recollection
Prayer Ropes
Prayer Walking
Praying in Color
Praying the Psalms (repetitively)
Praying the Scriptures (repetitively)
Praying with Beads
Praying with Icons
Praying with the Body
Praying with the Mystics
Retreat
Ritual
Rule for Life
Sabbath
Saints (Praying with the Saints)
Scriptio Divina (Sacred Writing)
Secrecy
Self-care
The Sign of the Cross
Silence
Simplicity
Slowing
Soaking Prayer
Solitude
Spiritual Direction
Spiritual Friendship
Stages of the Journey
Stations of the Cross
Tai Chi
Taize Worship
Truth Telling
Unity
Unplugging
Unstructured Retreats
Visualization
Walking Meditation
Walking Meditation in Nature
Writing as Prayer
Yoga (Sacred Yoga)

Note – some of the practices in the above list came from these sources:
http://www.thescl.net/670015
http://www.thescl.net/700394

[For more info on any of the above terms, try Googling them.]

And the list goes on… and on… and on…  Often, perfectly sounding practices (such as  “Devotional Reading” and “Praying the Psalms” ) can be twisted into mystic CP/CS practices.

For longer lists of CP/CS practices, see the following resources. IN NO WAY do I recommend these – these are simply resources to help you determine whether CP/CS is going on in your church:

1) Spiritual Disciplines Handbook

This is very insightful book listing contemplative practices – and explaining in detail how to “do” them. What’s really shocking about this handbook, is, this book is put out by an historically evangelical publisher (IVP):

To see the Table of Contents (which lists the contemplative practices) via Amazon.com, click on the “Read Inside” caption above the book’s cover photo.

2) 50 Ways to Pray: Practices from Many Traditions and Times, by Teresa A. Blythe (from Abingdon, a mainline Protestant publisher)

Examine this book closely. This is just one of many non-evangelical “Christian” books listing various contemplative practices.

To see the Table of Contents which lists the 50 ways to “pray,”  click on the “Read Inside” caption above the book’s cover photo.

3) The Contemplative Mind Tree (on a New Age website)

This New Age diagram also provides an online list of CP/CS practices.

And click here for a long list of Spiritual Formation individuals to watch out for. There are hundreds more not listed here.

Note – make sure you know what your children are being taught. Believe it or not, there are church groups teaching teens various CP/CS practices without informing the parents. In some churches, pre-teens and children even younger are being taught these practices.

If you see any of these practices in your church, confront your pastor about them. If your pastor does not realize these practices are mystic/occult, try to share resources with him about the dangers of these practices. If he still refuses to believe and/or acknowledge that these practices are mystic/occult, take your family and leave the church!

Here are a few more Christian articles exposing Contemplative Prayer/ Contemplative Spirituality:

“Contemplative/Centering Prayer“, by Ken Silva
Contemplative Prayer and the Evangelical Church, by Ray Yungen

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Coalition for Christian Outreach (CCO) merges into the Emergent Stream

[The following blog, with the above title, has been copied and pasted directly from the following website:

http://firstjohnfourfive.wordpress.com/2009/12/29/coalition-for-christian-outreach-cco-merges-into-the-emergent-stream/

I am reposting this article because one of my alma maters is on the list of CCO colleges, and I am ANGRY – angry that Spiritual Formation, the Emergent/ Emerging Church, and occult contemplative spirituality has infiltrated my alma mater via CCO and other avenues.]

Does your college student attend any of these colleges? If so, they promote the CCO/Jubilee Conference held in Pittsburgh this February. Learn about the speakers who will be influencing college students, youth groups, and church staffs.

Karen Sloan: Presbymergent Speaker at CCO/Jubilee describes herself as Monastic, Emergent and Presbyterian.

From Karen’s Presbyterian side:

At the core of my work identity I am a Presbyterian pastor. No matter where life takes me, being a part of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and a minister of the Word and Sacrament will be with me. What I do not yet know is where in the expansive PC(USA) structure I will wind up working over the long-term. God’s providence clearly guided the beginnings of my Presbyterian journey, and will to continue to do so in these ways of presbymergent/new monastic leading.

. . . my Presbyterian journey took an even more surprising turn as it collided with my Emergent journey.

From Karen’s Emergent side:

It was an honor to write for An Emergent Manifesto of Hope, particularly on such a sensitive, unspoken, but nonetheless critical topic as sexual integrity. As we dream and hope about what the church may become, one piece of that is an honest conversation about what makes for healthy sexuality. The chapter I wrote, “Emergent Kissing: Authenticity and Integrity in Sexuality,” hopes to contribute to that conversation.

From Karen’s Monastic side:

In the year between finishing seminary and my first job as an ordained minister, I wound up praying regularly with a group of Dominicans, and exploring various aspects of life in a Catholic order. I never expected this to end up in a book.  A significant part of my personal curiosity about Catholic life was bound up in my attraction to a man in the process of joining the Dominican order.

Karen Sloan’s book, “Flirting with Monasticism: Finding God on Ancient Paths” praised by Phyllis Tickle and Brian McLaren

Karen is a  graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary, Ordained PCUSA Pastor, member of The Presbymergent Coordinating Group for 2009-2010, and contributor to the Emergent Manifesto.

AND speaker at the Coalition for Christian Outreach (CCO) / Jubilee Conference.

———————————————–

From End Times Apostasy Watchman:

I did a bit of follow-up research after reading the above blogger. Following is a link to ALL the speakers scheduled for Jubilee 2011. I hope to research each speaker, to find out their ties to Spiritual Formation, the Emergent/Emerging Church movement, and occult contemplative spirituality:

http://www.jubileeconference.com/category/speakers/

And, after even more examining of the CCO website, I’ve found more info on CCO’s Emergent connections. Check out especially the following link:

http://www.ccojubilee.org/about-us/where-we-serve/all-schools/

And, I am going through blogs at the following links, searching for blogs that expose “the dark side” of CCO:

http://en.wordpress.com/tag/coalition-for-christian-outreach/

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