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Posts Tagged ‘Interfaith Movement’

(image source: http://www.discerningthetimesonline.net/interfaith4.gif)

A number of readers have been commenting on my blog about Tres Dias and similar Cursillo-based weekends. One of my major concerns with these weekends is ecumenism.

A reader (Jeremy) pointed out that, on the plus side, some born again believers do attend these weekends; this affords them an opportunity to witness to unsaved attendees. I still have a problem with these weekends though, in spite of this. Read on.

I’ve “narrowed” my position on ecumenism over the years. Growing up, my family and my denomination (Ohio Yearly Meeting of the Evangelical Friends, now EFC-ER) actively supported Billy Graham crusades. I didn’t realize until recent years that the Billy Graham crusades became ecumenical years before, in 1957, encouraging mainline denominations to become involved. (I could give other examples of ventures we were involved in that I learned recently were actually ecumenical – the Billy Graham crusades is the best known example.)

Readers may ask, what exactly is wrong with ecumenical ventures? Let’s take a look at the fruit. Many ecumenical ventures now seem to be morphing into interfaith ventures. Such ventures are extending the right hand of fellowship to Catholics, Jewish people, Mormons, Muslims, etc.

The mainline/liberal end of the “Christian” spectrum is involved even in interfaith ventures with Hindus, Buddhists, etc. And… with Unitarian Universalists (which would include among others New Agers and Wiccans.) Note this quote: “The Unitarian-Universalist Association (http://www.uua.org/) has openly accepted Wiccans through the Covenant of Unitarian-Universalist Pagans (CUUPS)(http://www.cuups.org/).”
Source: http://www.angelfire.com/nv/scharff/wicca.html

Where is  ecumenism and the interfaith movement leading us? Toward the One World Religion, I’m afraid.

It still seems to me that separation (as much as possible) from all ecumenical ventures is always the best position for born again believers. So far, I have not heard of any ecumenical ventures where the born again attendees were able to bring significant numbers of mainline/liberal attendees to Christ. In many of the ecumenical ventures I’ve heard of, the opposite has happened – born again attendees and born again denominations have become more liberal. It seems to me many born again attendees are not well grounded in their own belief system. A similar scenario: born again kids going off to state universities and losing their Christian faith.

Bottom line: it appears to me “evangelism by ecumenism” does not work. Here is a link to many more articles documenting that “evangelism by ecumenism” has been a dismal failure: http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/ecumenism.htm

If readers have heard of a truly “successful” Tres Dias weekend or other ecumenical venture (“successful” as in converting many non-born again attendees), I would be interested in hearing about it. This would be something to praise the Lord for – although as I’ve tried to explain above, I think the facts show that such a success would be the exception rather than the rule.

FOR ADDITIONAL READING

Unitarian Univeralists (articles in favor of them)

What is a Unitarian Univeralist?

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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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George Fox University is the most liberal/Emergent school in the EFCI (Evangelical Friends Church International). So I was not surprised to learn they had held an interfaith dialogue. Thank you, Ken Cook, for your excellent critique of what I consider an anti-christian event, held at what basically has become a heretical Emerging/Emergent New Evangelical school.

Click here for the original blog, copied and pasted in its entirety below. I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets]:

Sacred Journey: A Protestant at an Interfaith Dialogue

Interfaith Dialogue

[Author: Ken Cook, January 25, 2012]

When a pastor friend of mine told me that there was an interfaith dialogue at George Fox University, the local college, I was excited to go. I have read, studied, and listened to and about this type of thing, but never had attended one in the flesh. I figured it would be an eye opening experience.

Interfaith Dialogue

The speakers were a Zen Buddhist teacher, a Rabbi, a Muslim and a Woman Pastor (From George Fox). The music and rayers [sic] were done by the local Baha’i Center. (see their bios)[Excuse me? This was held at a “Christian” university – so why did they not take the upper hand and lead the music and prayers? Why did they allow followers of Baha’i to do so?]

Bios of Interfaith Speakers, George Fox 1/15/12

The Jewish Rabbi spoke first. I took notes. By no means is this a complete discussion or recounting, but rather it just hits the things that I felt were most noteworthy. He was discussing the Jewish “Master Story”. He said it was a story of the confronting of power and that the story was centered in Exodus and Numbers. He went on to explain that need to confront power (Pharaoh) and go to the promised land.

The thing that really got to me was the Rabbi’s discussion extolling doubt as a virtue. He started of like this: “You know those tv preachers… I am envious of them, of their confidence.” *Audience has sporadic laughter and agreement*. He continued to expound on the idea of doubt is a virtue of faith. This idea was linked to the idea of a rabbi discouraging a non-Jew from becoming Jewish.  It was a somewhat non-nonsensical argument in my mind.

From a Christian perspective this guy was coming out of shallow left field. Doubt isn’t a virtue. Faith is. Nowhere in his presentation, which included a lengthy discussion of Jews seeking justice for the oppressed, was there anything about looking for a messiah. Maybe it is just my Christian perspective, but I thought that the Jews were still looking forward to the Messiah. How is it that we can have a discussion of faith and not mention Jesus the whole time. I wish that he would have answered the question: Who is Jesus to you?

The Muslim speaker presented next. He opened up with a commentary on the moderators opening comments. He was focused upon this idea of justice, and how justice was missing from many of the presentations of this kind (speaking of interfaith discussions I believe). I found myself somewhat frustrated by this talk of justice by a Muslim. It was my belief that justice for this man meant something that is injustice from not just a Christian perspective, but from every other perspective represented there: namely, Sharia Law.  I had stopped listening and my mind was flooded with the few specifics of Sharia that I knew and perhaps the only verse in the Qur’an that I know by heart – O you who believe! do not take the Jews and the Christians for friends; they are friends of each other; and whoever amongst you takes them for a friend, then surely he is one of them; surely Allah does not guide the unjust people. — Qur’an 5:51.  So Here is a man standing before me who is preaching a justice that would mean my (and the rest of those present who were not Muslim) subjugation, oppressive taxation or death. My mind then went on to wonder how many people were actually understanding what he wasn’t saying here. How many people would understand that his concept of justice is in fact unjust.

I came back from my thoughts, in time to hear him begin discussing how cartoons of the prophet are offensive. He explained that from the Islamic perspective all the prophets are to be respected. He then went through in Arabic some of the highlights of the OT prophets, asking the crowd if they could recognize which prophet he meant. Then he got to Isa. I knew I was about to be galled. The crowd of course didn’t recognize the name. He pressured them and finally told us that it was the prophet we would call Jesus; and that we got his name wrong. The smug arrogance of the statement was thick in the air. I could tell that many of the Christians had a deep disagreement and frustration by this statement, which was oddly encouraging that they seemed to take a stand on something.  I would have loved to press this guy on this idea and on the concept that he actually respects Jesus as a prophet, given that he denies what Jesus taught.  I get the feeling that he doesn’t understand that Jesus claimed for himself divinity ( John 8:48ff).

He then went on to discuss Muslim prayers, something that I found interesting is that he said that you get more credit [with Allah] if you pray with at least one other person. The idea was that it was somehow a better work than simply praying alone.  He then discussed heaven and how it is about having more good works than bad works. I was sure that his 15 minutes had elapsed at this point. He must have discussed prayer for another 5 minutes.

He seemed to be winding down, with the concept of missionary work being offensive to Muslims. He said if you come to the poorest and dig a well that is good, but if you dig the well and “Bring your Christ” it is offensive. He made it seem like this type of thing is akin to taking advantage of the poor.  With this he finished. I sat back thinking to myself how he really just didn’t tell the whole story. From my understanding, the concept here is that Jesus is not God in Islam. That to come and preach that Jesus is God is what is offensive to the Muslim.  They need us to do these things for them, but don’t want Christ preached beyond what the Qur’an says about him.

Here is the problem: The Message of Christ is Offensive. ( cf. Gal 5:11, 1 Pet 2:8, Rom 9:33)  I know this may come as a shock to you — the Gospel of the crucified God-Man Jesus Christ is just as offensive to the Muslim as it was to the Jews and Greeks.

One might think that I am a bit off the reservation with the whole justice and Sharia law issue. After Mr. Ahmed’s presentation, I went up to him and asked him if he felt that Sharia law was perfectly Just. His answer was no surprise, he said that it was absolutely just. I would assert that any man who consistently holds to that position, and believes that such a law should govern any land, can never ultimately have religious agreement with a non-Muslim. The difference in concept of justice is so definitively separate. To be clear, that doesn’t mean that he will be violent, abusive or destructive to those of another faith.

Mr. Carlson Spoke after the break. I am not really going to say much about his presentation, for two reasons. 1. Buddhism as a non-Abrahamic faith would require a lot of explaining and 2. Given that he holds to a non-theistic view of Buddhism, the specifics don’t matter as much as the general theism issue in my mind. He is simply an Atheist with an Eastern philosophical-religious system at the end of the day. I believe he should be addressed as any atheist would.

The Final speaker of the night was Sarah Baldwin, the George Fox Campus Pastor. I did Call Mrs. Baldwin a couple days after the event to clarify a couple of things. Sarah presented what she called a “Theology of Suffering.” The focus of her presentation was that we experience the Christian life not as Jesus and me, but as Jesus and we. She stated off with a story about going to Calcutta. She said she was struck by the amount of suffering. She began to tell of a woman who was naked on the streets, and how she experienced “Jesus in the flesh, in the eyes of that woman.”  She then said that she could make sense of the gospel, “whatever you do for the least of these.”  I was ready to lose it.1  The Gospel is not whatever you do for the least of these, the Gospel is defined for us by Paul as –

…That Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.  1 Corinthians 15:3ff (ESV)

I would say that if we are offering up a gospel different from what Paul dictates for us in scripture, we are in serious trouble.

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
Galations 1:8-9

However, the most problematic statement by Mrs. Baldwin was, “by Jesus’ Death, he carries our suffering.” I don’t need a crucified savior to relate with my suffering, I need him to remove my sin. [Amen!]

Here’s my big problem with the whole event. There wasn’t a clear proclamation of law and gospel. There was no call to repentance of sinners. I understand an event to gain knowledge about other faiths, but I believe that Christians that are given an audience of non-believers, should be compelled to call them to repent. If we believe that hell is real, and people are really going there, how could we function otherwise? [Therein lies the problem. George Fox University has gone from a born again evangelical position to an Emerging/Emergent position. Those holding to an Emerging/Emergent position would never preach so “offensively” that “ungodly sinners need to come to Christ in repentance to escape a fiery eternity in the Lake of Fire.” After all, they say, “we need to practice missional and/or attractional evangelism, not confrontational evangelism.”  And they call themselves Christians?]

If interfaith events can create unity between contradictory faiths, it must be by the abandonment of the uniqueness of each or one. Moreover, Biblical Christianity is incompatible with any other religion, if we are to keep its unique truths. I believe Paul says it best:

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.” 2 Corinthians 6:14-18

1 —  in my later call with Sarah, she clarified that the gospel isn’t “whatever you do for the least of these,” and she described the gospel as what I would call the Eschatology of Hope, the good news of resurrection and the kingdom of God becoming present.

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Open Letter to the Pastor of Community Emergent Church

by John Henderson on Wednesday, February 15, 2012 at 12:40pm

[NOTE:  This is not an actual letter but represents reality as it exists in many modern church environments]

Dear Pastor:

     I am deeply perplexed about the direction you are taking our church in your promotion of the many principles of the emergent church movement.  Maybe I just don’t understand or am not all that willing to go through change.  Perhaps you can enlighten me.

My family and I have been members here for many years we raised our children in this church.  It has been the most important thing in our family’s life for a very long time.  We started coming here after being visited by Pastor Jim.  He was canvassing the neighborhood and came to our door.  It was a simple introduction.  He handed us a small tract with information about the church on one side and a short gospel message on the other.  Pastor Jim invited us to the services and then did something we were not expecting from a typical church visitor.  He asked if he could tell us more about Jesus Christ.  Of course, we agreed.  Before Pastor Jim left, he had given us the story of salvation we deeply had wanted to hear but didn’t realize ourselves how much we needed and wanted the Savior.  That, more than anything else, brought us to this church.

We have had several wonderful pastors since then and seen great revivals over the years.  Our church grew because of it.  Somehow, before you came, I sensed a drift among us.  We became more program-focused than evangelism-committed.  We went through “church growth” programs and had many motivational speakers come our way.  In fact, we stopped scheduling revivals with regular evangelists like we used to do and replaced all of that with conferences of some sort or the other.  It was all very exciting but something important always seemed be missing.  I think our life was draining from us—the life that comes through prayer and obedience to the simple gospel.

By the time you arrived and began to initiate the emergent practices among us, we were ripe for the picking.  There were some among us who were more alert and courageous than I who raised questions.  I watched as you and your staff dealt with them rather indifferently and insensitively until they felt forced to go elsewhere.  Those were people who had been a significant part in the grown of our church but suddenly they were out of place.  Those of us who remained gathered a little closer together to fill in the vacancies and kept going with what remained.

When someone on your staff suggested what we needed was to start fellowshipping with those of other “faiths”, I couldn’t help but wonder if it was all that wise, especially when I learned it had nothing to do with winning them to Christ but just hoping to get them to start coming to our church to help fill the empty places.  They were being told they could keep their false ideas about Jesus and be just fine in our non-judgmental fellowship.  I think someone brought up the word postmodern and I had to look it up to see what it meant.

It wasn’t long until you were telling us we needed to walk something called a labyrinth.  It seems it was some sort of adaptation from a Hindu practice whereby we were instructed to walk a prescribed maze of sorts, and pause at pre-determined points and utter some sort of prayer or contemplate on something spiritual.  I went along with it, but felt increasingly uncomfortable because there seemed to be every sort of presence except that of Jesus.

Then you told us we needed to engage in something you called centering prayer.  You told us we should look deeply within until we found ourselves and discovered God.  Well, I looked deeply within but all I found was a wicked, rebellious heart.  I found myself alright but God wasn’t there.

You took a group of us off to a nearby monastery where a group of monks and nuns hosted us and walked us through a method of contemplative prayer.  They were very cordial and nice people and seemed very committed and they were very appealingly aesthetic.  I returned home with a sense of an unusual experience but still felt I had not really met Jesus there.  Maybe I expected too much or had the wrong experience.

Your messages have been filled with a lot of talk about something you frequently call spiritual formation.  Your definitions and descriptions of spiritual formation sound very evangelical but the spiritual (Christ-like) substance is simply not there.  You speak often of the presence of the Holy Spirit—as if we would not notice ourselves that He was present—but, frankly, I just have not noticed.  I know I have not backslidden and have often been aware of the Spirit’s presence in past services at our church.  What you say is His presence resembles nothing like I once knew of His presence among us.

You told us that we needed to enter into some sort of deep silence; something you said was a method of praying whereby we became so silent that we could hear God speaking to us.  About all I ever heard was the ringing in my ears, but God never spoke to me that I could tell.  Maybe I was being too focused on being silent that I never heard Him.  I do remember, however, the other times I would go to Him in earnest prayer and sometimes could not even express myself but I knew He was listening and answering my prayers.  I was never in some sort of silent trance or anything like that and was always keenly aware of communion with Him. I always went away from that very strengthened in my soul.   It worked very well for me but that silence thing was a complete failure except it seemed to me at times there were spirits I could not recognize trying to say things to me that did not resemble what I knew about the God of the Bible.

I have noticed lately that you have been teaching us things we once rejected in this church.  Pastor Jim led my spouse and me to the Lord in our living room that day he visited and he used the Bible an awful lot.  He answered all of our questions and objections by opening up his Bible and showing us the answers right there in its pages.  But you are now saying to us that not all of the Bible is inspired—only those parts that pertain to salvation.  Was Pastor Jim wrong to tell us it was every bit as inspired as any other part?  Also, what parts pertain to salvation and what parts do not?

You mentioned in one of your recent sermons that Adam and Eve were not actually real, that the creation story was actually a fable.  Why is it in the Bible if that is true?  Why does Luke trace the genealogy of Jesus all the way back to Adam if it is a mere fable of some sort?  You added that the idea of creation evolution is more scientifically accurate.  How do you know that?  Is not “science” itself replete with errors and more subjective interpretation than irrefutable “facts”?

Pastor, there are many more questions I would like to ask, and perhaps we could discuss them openly at some point.  I have one very important question, however, that I must ask.  Are you really a born-again Christian?  If you say you are, why would you discredit so many things the Bible teaches—things that your very salvation must hinge on in order to be validated?  Why would you embrace postmodern and new age concepts that offer no proof of anything they promote while the Word of God stands as its own proof?  Why would you embrace any of that over what the Bible teaches?  If you are really so convinced of all of that stuff, why are you here?  Isn’t there somewhere you could be where you would be better received and we could just be left here to go our simple ways by believing the Bible and holding to those old-fashioned “traditions” that have identified us all these years?

I am sure there are many others just as I who long for those old days, as it were, when you heard prayer in the house of God instead of partying; where there were revival meetings once more instead of special topic study groups; where sinners were convicted for their sins, repented, and were converted at our altars instead of being coddled in their sins because they felt misunderstood and mistreated.  I am sure there are many such as I who long to once more walk into any of our churches and know we will hear the gospel sung, preached, and prayed.

Oh, well, none of this may ever change for the better.  It might get even worse until Jesus comes again in judgment.  I just thought I would ask in case you or anyone else cared.

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(revised 12/12/13)

When addressing evangelicals, Emergents like Brian McLaren and Leonard Sweet discuss topics like ecumenism, Catholicism, and “big tent Christianity.” Yet elsewhere they reveal their true goals, openly endorsing the Interfaith Movement/Interspirituality and the One World Religion (which will eventually become the one world religion of the Antichrist). Demonically deceptive.

The following seems to be the strategy most commonly used by Emergents in destroying evangelicals (particularly the youth):

Step 1) Introduce evangelicals to the devotional writings of heretical so-called Christians throughout the ages. Use the endorsements by numerous born again Christians to persuade evangelicals that these heretics are acceptable. One such born again Christian who nievely quoted nonchristian heretics in more innocent times (before the advent of Spiritual Formation) was A.W. Tozer. Another was the otherwise wonderful Nazarene theologian H. Orton Wiley, who wrote:

The literature of devotion which makes the greatest and most direct contribution to the spiritual life has been built up from the rich spiritual experiences of the saints in all ages… Among the devotional writers, whose works have been generally accepted [emphasis mine] throughout the church, may be mentioned the following: Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ; Theologica Germanica, first discovered and published by Martin Luther; Francis de Sales, Defence of the Standard of the Cross, and An Introduction to the Devout Life. Among the Quietists we may mention, Molinos, Spiritual Guide; Madame Guyon, Method of Prayer; and Fenelon, Maxims of the Saints… Among the Friends are the writings of George Fox, Robert Barclay, William Penn and John Woolman. (Christian Theology, Vol. 3, pp. 63,64)

Step 2) Introduce evangelicals  to Spiritual Formation. Specifically, the discipline of contemplative prayer – which technically is not prayer but occultish contemplative spirituality.  Richard Foster, influenced by “Catholic Buddhist” Thomas Merton and others, built upon the writings of the devotional heretics mentioned in Step 1 above, popularizing  his unique occult perversion of biblically sound prayer practices.

Step 3) Introduce evangelicals to the contemplative practices and sacraments of Roman Catholicism specifically. Persuade evangelicals to accept Catholics as being “born again Christians” (even though, in reality, Catholics hate the term “born again”).

In this 3-part series of articles, Richard Bennett discusses Emergent Brian McLaren’s emphasis on Catholicism: http://www.the-highway.com/emergentchurch1_Bennett.html (Click on “next” at the bottom to go to the second, then third article.)

In part 2 of the series Bennett says:

“McLaren is at no loss to demonstrate how his “emergent thinking” works. The object of his book [A Generous Orthodoxy] is to lump all Protestants and Catholics together, which would be the new ring around the Protestant Catholic split, and to move beyond that into Eastern mysticism, which would be the new ring around Catholicism.”

Bennett apparently is contending that McLaren’s goal in pushing Catholic contemplative practices and rituals on evangelicals is not Catholicism itself, but Eastern mysticism, aka occultish contemplative prayer/ contemplative spirituality).

Step 4) Introduce evangelicals to the contemplative practices of other religions as well as the New Age movement (labyrinth prayer, for example).

Step 5) Introduce evangelicals to the Interfaith Movement/ Interspirituality. Several examples: The Taize pilgrimage and the Wild Goose Festival. Note – the “theology” of the Interfaith Movement is very similar to the “theology” of Unitarian Universalism.

At first evangelicals were fellowshipping with Catholics. Then we made the interfaith jump to establish ties with Jewish groups as well. Now we are dialoguing  with Islam organizations. What’s next? Buddhism, Hinduism, etc. etc.? Unfortunately, according to End Times prophecy, this is coming.

Step 6 Introduce evangelicals to the teachings of Brian McLaren, Leonard Sweet, Phyllis Tickle and other Emergent/ Emergence leaders regarding the One World Religion (which will eventually become the one world religion of the Antichrist).

FOR FURTHER READING

The Emergent Church Teaches One World Religion!

The Goal of the Journey – to be one

New Age Sympathizer Leonard Sweet to Speak at Seventh Day Adventist Conference

One Lie to Rule Them All (includes links to many additional articles about the Interfaith Movement)

Shane Hipps,  Co-Pastor With Rob Bell, Says All Religions Valid

ADDENDUM – Involvement in the Interfaith Movement by Roman Catholics, Evangelicals, etc.

Personally, I do not believe postmoderns (Emerging/Emergent/Emergence leaders) are pulling us back to a pre-modern form of Roman Catholicism. That being said, it’s actually a win-win situation for postmoderns to push Catholic contemplative practices and sacraments on evangelical denominations. Why? Because Roman Catholicism itself “ain’t what it used to be.” As you probably are aware, there is a huge emphasis at the highest level of Roman Catholicism on the Interfaith Movement.

In light of End Times prophecy, the Interfaith movement in my mind is where the real danger lies. And yes, I would say Roman Catholicism is the most power proponent of the Interfaith Movement. Here’s an interesting article about the jump from Ecumenical to Interfaitlh. And guess who is a major playor?  Catholicism: http://www.letusreason.org/Emerge10.htm

There are also other major players:

Interfaith ventures by the National Association of Evangelicals:
http://www.cephasministry.com/world_church_evangelical_manifesto.html

Interfaith ventures endorsed by CotN professor Dean Blevins http://sadnazarene.wordpress.com/2010/01/20/dean-g-blevins-nazarene-theological-seminary-religious-education-association-north-american-interfaith-network-youthfront-nain-rea-john-1518-20-18-if-the-world-hates-you-you-know-that-it/

Interfaith venures endorsed by Nazarene Theological Seminary: http://reformednazarene.wordpress.com/2011/12/13/does-nazarene-theological-seminary-support-the-interfaith-movement/

Another link – the United Religions Initiative: http://www.cuttingedge.org/News/n1094.cfm

And a good Christian response to the Interfaith movement: http://www.focusonthefamily.com/faith/christian_worldview/why_is_a_christian_worldview_important/when_no_one_is_wrong.aspx

And yet another discernment article that mentions Catholicism and other interfaith ventures: http://www.wordconnect.org/page_article14.php

The history of the Interfaith Movement: http://www.crossroad.to/articles2/forcing-change/11/interfaith.htm

An expose of Interfaith “rules of conduct” for promoting conversions: http://www.crossroad.to/articles2/forcing-change/11/10-commission-pluralism.htm

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(revised 02/05/14)

Click here for the source of the above collage. Also, for Windows users – if you would like to zoom in on the above collage, click CTRL-PLUS on your keyboard (and CTRL-MINUS to zoom out).

I’ve been struck lately by how many evangelical colleges, seminaries and denominations are falling into Spiritual Formation, as well as Emerging/Emergent/Emergence teachings. In fact, every accredited seminary is now required to include a Spiritual Formation program – click here for more info.  To me it is very obvious that this can be described as a “great falling away” into apostasy. Paul wrote:

1) Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,  2) That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. 3)  Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; 4)  Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. (II Thess. 2:1-4, KJV)

I believe many of the evangelicals currently falling into apostasy will ultimately follow the one world religion of the Antichrist. So what are the stages of this ultimate apostasy?

This is very simplistic, but here are the steps to the ultimate apostasy as I see them:

1) Separatist fundamentalists (they don’t like to use the term evangelical). These are born again, biblically sound Christians who have not compromised with the world or with heresy. I consider myself as belonging to this group.
another article by David Cloud discussing Separation

2) Non-separatist fundamentalists (also called non-separatist evangelicals,  conservative evangelicals)
another article about non-separatist evangelicals

3) New Evangelicals

4) Emerging Church movement

5) Emergent Church movement

6) Emergence Christianity (with a strong emphasis on New Age spirituality, and “Christian” Universalism ala Rob Bell’s 2011 book Love Wins)
Brian McLaren’s list of Emergence leaders (including himself)
Eric Barger’s article about Brian McLaren teaming up with New Agers (Eric Barger refers to the coming one world religion in this article). Actually, many Emergence leaders are even more openly New Age than Brian McLaren – Phyllis Tickle and Richard Rohr for example.

7) Interfaith movement (with a strong emphasis on New Age spirituality, and with a theology very similar to Unitarian Universalism)

8 ) One World Religion – with a strong emphasis on New Age spirituality, a theology very similar to Unitarian Universalism, and Satanic/Luciferian worship. I believe the Satanic/Luciferian worshippers will be growing in strength and number, but for the most part lurking in the background at this point. There will still be groups on Earth that are resisting the One World Religion – such as separatist fundamentalist Christians (group #1 above), the Amish, “fundamentalist” Muslims, etc. I assume there will also be additional religious groups that will refuse to join the one world religion.
One of many articles by Berit Kjos on these subjects. She has written many articles about the New Age movement, the United Nations, the New World Order, the coming One World Religion, etc. Of all the End Times articles I’ve read, I would say the articles by Berit Kjos are the most thoroughly researched.
A “heavy” Christian article about the Lucis Trust, the United Nations, the New World Order, etc. Check out the accuracy of the links yourself if they sound too “off the wall.” Like I said, it’s a “heavy” article.

9) One world religion worshipping the Antichrist – I believe this one world religion will be purely Satanic/Luciferian; all New Age and Unitarian Universalist teachings will be absorbed into this Antichrist religion. Satan wants to be worshipped as God. So when the Antichrist takes charge, he will become possessed by Satan. When the world is worshipping the Antichrist, they will also be worshipping Satan who has possessed him.

Many religions believe in a coming “Messiah” figure. Of course they refuse to believe in the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Yet they will have no problem accepting – and worshiping – the false Messiah, the Antichrist, when he comes on the scene.

All those still on earth who refuse to worship the Antichrist will be “eliminated.” Those of us who went through World War II should have no problem envisioning the rule of the Antichrist. Simply imagine a Hitler (incredibly more Satanic than the World War II Hitler) ruling the entire world. All nations will ultimately answer to him and bow to him. This “world-Hitler” will at first seem to provide the answer to all the world’s problems.  Then he will turn against the Church (whatever Christians are on the earth at the time) and the people of Israel. When this “world-Hitler” declares himself as “God” (II Thess. 2:4), his worshipers will eagerly carry out the ultimate holocaust, far, far greater than that of World War II. This will be a persecution that has never been seen before, nor will ever be seen again (Matt. 24:21).

Does all this (or even part of this) sound far fetched to you? Let me just say this. Even Christians experience something called “cognitive dissonance” when they read about biblical prophecy and future events. They believe, in a general sense, that we are approaching the End Times. Yet when presented with documentation that we are closer to the End Times than they ever imagined, many laugh in disbelief.  They view various articles about the End Times as being paranoid, full of conspiracy theories, off the wall. I admit, there are many articles that are not well researched and are off the wall, but many others are spot on.

We are getting closer and closer to the End Times. Looking at the steps to apostasy above, we already see step #7 (the Interfaith movement) in the world today. And yes, evangelicals are getting involved in the Interfaith movement.

Our Lord Jesus Christ gives a word of encouragement and comfort to born again Christians who are ready to meet their Maker (no matter when or how). He says:

And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh (Luke 21:28, KJV).

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[blog under construction]

I am copying and pasting a blog verbatim, showing the Emerging/Emergent Church’s heretical view of evangelism. I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and added comments in [bracketing].  Click here for the original blog.

Note – I would say Emerging/Emergent individuals lie on a spectrum regarding their view of salvation through Christ. The following blog describes individuals that are toward the Emergent, non-believer end of the spectrum. Not only do they abhor the idea of preaching sin, hell and damnation. They do not even hold to the belief that Jesus is the only Way to Heaven (as is taught in John Chapter 3).

Here is the blog:

Does the Emerging church have a problem with evangelism?

3 April, 2006

Sitting around with a group of leaders in the early days of the Emerging church. Talking about reinventing the church for the postmodern context etc.

This floors me: “You know we’re just not reaching postmoderns. Maybe it’s like reaching Muslims. We could spend a whole lifetime and hardly see any new believers.”

Shocked because I’m talking to the people who are leading and training others in how to do church.

This statement attributed to Stuart Murray-Williams: “So far, emerging churches have had limited success, particularly in evangelism and helping those unchurched people to enter into the church.”

This from Todd Hunter: “the movement as a whole (and most of its parts) is not doing a bang up job at evangelism.”

Does the Emerging church have a problem with evangelism? Depends what you mean by “evangelism.”

For the Emerging church described by Gibbs and Bolger, evangelism has more to do with presence than proclamation; more to do with lifestyle than words; more to do with engagement than conversion.

Attempts to convert others or to proclaim the truth with certainty are rejected. Evangelism is redefined as remaining open to God at work in other religions. Remaining open to being evangelised by other faiths.

The authors describe one Emerging evangelism project as “the reverse of most forms of evangelism. They visit people of other faiths and spiritualities and allow themselves to be evangelized in order to learn more about other walks of life.”

A leader explains, We deemphasize the idea that Christians have God and all others don’t by attempting to engage in open two-way conversations. . . . We are also genuinely open to being wrong about parts and perhaps all of our beliefs—while at the same time being fully committed to them.”

Another says, evangelism “is no longer about persuading people to believe what I believe. . . . It is more about shared experiences and encounters. It is about walking the journey of life and faith together, each distinct to his or her own tradition and culture but with the possibility of encountering God and truth from one another.”

Does the Emerging church have a problem with evangelism? Not if you redefine what evangelism is.

Now here’s the rub. With an understanding of evangelism like this, there is just no way you are going to reach people. But maybe that’s not the point anymore.

Additional articles about this issue:

The Inclusive Gospel: Commentary by Roger Oakland

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