Archive | June 2015

DOES U2’s BONO – A PROFESSING CHRISTIAN, BELIEVE THE BIBLE?

(354) EMERGING TRENDS IN THE CHURCH TODAY – U2’s BONO

Like many, I love U2’s music.  I am a relative newcomer to U2.  While I have been familiar with their main hits for decades, I never really considered myself a fan until listening to more of their music after I heard Bono interviewed by Larry King.  This interview came after an interview with Joel Osteen, in which Osteen couldn’t give a clear Gospel message on the Larry King show.  Osteen couldn’t even declare Jesus as the only way of salvation indicating that even Mormons, as well as other faithful followers of non-Christian religions may be saved – he just didn’t know?  That message was broadcast on King’s show on CNN to millions of people across the country…and across the world.  The following night, Bono was also interviewed and asked similar  questions.  Bono gave, what I thought, was a clear Gospel message.  I was struck by the contrast in the responses between Bono and Osteen.  From that point, I became a fan of U2.

That said, I also understand from seeing other interviews with Bono, that his life and witness as a Christian hasn’t always been consistent nor biblical.  These phases in his career also influenced his music resulting in a wide range of lyrics – not all of which I would consider biblical.  But, through all of this, I still find it encouraging to see and hear of a highly influential entertainer declaring his faith to millions of people across the world – not perfect by far, but encouraging none-the-less.  With that, it is good to understand his message even further and I thought this article by Marsha West to be very revealing and challenging.  I am not sure if it changes my views about Bono, but I think it is very important to know the message being given by Bono. In many ways, his situation mirrors the message presented by some in the church today (ie. Emerging Church).

June 15, 2015

Does U2’s Bono, a professing Christian, believe the Bible?

By Marsha West

Any [teaching] that is good is in the Word of God, and any that is not in the Word of God is not good. I am a Bible Christian and if an archangel with a wingspread as broad as a constellation shining like the sun were to come and offer me some new truth, I’d ask him for a reference. If he could not show me where it is found in the Bible, I would bow him out and say, “I’m awfully sorry, you don’t bring any references with you.” ~ A.W. Tozier

There’s an ongoing debate as to whether or not Bono, U2 front man and one of the world’s most recognized rock stars, is an authentic Christian, although he states that he is. Many Bible believing Christians have looked at the evidence and have come out and said that, although he professes Christ, he’s not a true Christian.

So let’s examine the evidence.

On his belief about Jesus Christ, Bono said this:

I believe that Jesus was, you know, the Son of God.

Does he mean the Jesus who’s the Second Person of the holy Trinity?

In 2005 after the release of his book “Grace Over Karma” he stated:

The point of the death of Christ is that Christ took on the sins of the world, so that what we put out did not come back to us, and that our sinful nature does not reap the obvious death. That’s the point. It should keep us humbled. It’s not our own good works that get us through the gates of heaven.

He’s right. It’s not our own good works that gets us to heaven “for by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” that saves us. (Eph. 2:8-9)

In 2014 Jim Daly, President of Focus on the Family, interviewed the rock star on his radio broadcast and said this:

[H]e’s known great success, both in his career as a musician, and in his work as a global advocate for the poorest of the poor. He’s also the co-founder of The ONE Campaign, and their motivation is to help people who are suffering.

All of this is true. But that means he’s a do-gooder. It does not make him regenerate.

Not surprisingly, when Daly invited him on the show conservative Christians who are aware of some of the controversial things he has said over the years thought it was a mistake. Many people wondered why a pro-family leader of Daly’s stature would pass him off as a Christian by saying, “he’s a believer in Jesus Christ, and professes Christ as his Savior. In fact, Bono’s spiritual journey has been greatly influenced by a mutual good friend – Eugene Peterson, who’s the author of The Message. And he’s also written a great book called Run With The Horses that has had a great influence on Bono and many of us.”

I don’t have the space to address my concerns with Eugene Peterson or The Message Bible he penned – it’s a parody of the Bible. So links are included below.

Looking at the things Bono has said (I’m coming to that) although he professes a belief in Christ clearly he doesn’t believe that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God. Moreover, his social views are decidedly “progressive.” In fact, his religious beliefs blend nicely with emergent gurus such as Brian McLaren, Jim Wallis and Tony Campolo. These men are leftists who are leading the Church away from Sola Scriptura into what Ken Silva referred to as the “emerging cult of the new liberal theology.” The controversial movement, called the Emerging/Emergent Church(EC), seeks to reach the unchurched with their unbiblical version of the Christian message. In so doing they have cooked up a cauldron of syncretism stew.

So – what’s important to know about EC leaders is that their aim is change and theirplan, and they do have one, is to dismantle historic orthodox Christianity and bring forth a “new paradigm,” a “new kind of Christianity.” Be wary of words such as story (story of God, story of Jesus)… becoming… conversation… missional… reimagine… tribe… deconstruction… vision, etc. Emergents are “Christ followers,” they are “Social Justice Christians.”

Social Justice Christianity

The moniker liberals who profess Christ prefer is Social Justice Christian. One conservative blogger commented that Bono is “social justice, ecumenical, globalist, Agenda 21 promoting.”

He’s all of that for sure. Bono’s an activist and philanthropist with a stated goal to eliminate world poverty. Because he’s hugely popular people want to know what he thinks about this and that. So naturally he takes every opportunity to promote causes he cares about including HIV/AIDS infection in Africa and third-world debt relief. Tom De Weese of the American Policy Center once quipped that he “dogged political leaders around the world, using his rock star status to pressure them into accepting his brand of global guilt.”

So – should it matter to Bible believing Christians that Bono is a “progressive”? Should we be concerned that he’s spreading Social Justice Christianity around the globe? I mean, he’s telling people about Jesus, isn’t he?

Well, yes, it should matter to Christians that a person as famous as Bono is promoting an unbiblical version of Christianity and a “different Jesus.” Many people idolize celebrities. Adoring fans hang on their every word. And, sadly, many Christians don’t read their bibles so they not only are ignorant of its teaching, they lack spiritual discernment. In other words, they’re easily influenced by celebrity but not so much by the Bible.

When it comes to a LIE-celeb such as Bono, the question we must ask ourselves is this: What gospel is he sharing, the true Gospel of Jesus Christ or is he sharing another Jesus…another spirit…another gospel (2 Cor. 11:4)? If it’s the later then it makes him a false teacher.

The Apostle Paul spoke out against counterfeit Christians:

And what I am doing I will continue to do, in order to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission they work on the same terms as we do. For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds. (2 Cor. 12-15)

Elliott Nesch of The Waundering Path writes:

How many of those who have been saved from extreme poverty through Bono’s ONE Campaign are now saved from their sins through the same effort? Can social justice, debt relief, and elimination of the AIDS epidemic bring glory to God when it is completely unconnected to the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ? (Source)

A very good question.

Can’t We All Just COEXIST?

Lighthouse Trails Research (LTR) has a piece entitled Focus on the Family Gives Bono a Platform – Another Example Where 2 +2 Don’t Add Up. LTR shares a quote by Christian researcher Berit Kjos from her book Protect Your Child From the New Age & Spiritual Deception:

U2’s 2005 tour was aimed at joining all religions into a unified global spirituality. To emphasize the coming solidarity, the word “COEXIST” was featured on a giant screen. The capital “C” pointed to the Islamic crescent, the “X” symbolized the Jewish Star of David, and the “T” was a reminder of the Christian cross. Bono led massive crowds in a vibrant chant: “Jesus, Jew, Mohammed – It’s True!

Not everyone approved. Singer/songwriter Tara Leigh Cobble said, “He repeated the words like a mantra, and some people even began to repeat it with him. I suddenly wanted to crawl out of my skin. . . . Was Bono, my supposed brother in Christ, preaching some kind of universalism?”

“I felt like I was witnessing an antichrist,” said her friend.

In one song, “God’s Country,” Bono belts out the words, “I stand with the sons of Cain,” The Bible tells us that Cain “was of that wicked one, and slew his brother” (1 John 3:12), not exactly someone who a Christian would want to be found standing in agreement with.

Kjos later says:

Are Christian leaders speaking up and warning others about Bono? No, on the contrary, reveals one Christian journalist:

“One of the leaders being promoted today by those purporting to be officiating the way for our young people – to include Bill Hybels, Brian McLaren, Rick Warren, and Rob Bell – is ‘Christian’ Rock star Bono of U2, whom many emergents view as their ‘prophet’ and the main icon of their movement. In Bono’s rendition of Psalm 23, he alters the entire thrust and message of this beautiful psalm to something that sounds nothing less than blasphemous. For example . . . he alters the wording to say ‘I have cursed thy rod and staff. They no longer comfort me.'” [This rendition of Psalm 23 is documented in The Submerging Church DVD.]

And in the summer of 2005, Rick Warren attended the Live 8 Concert with Bono where he was made the official pastor at the event. Rick Warren did not issue a warning at the event about Bono, leaving the impression on thousands of young people’s minds that Bono is OK. (from chapter 17, HPC)

Bono Helps Gays Win The Day

Bill Muehlenberg of Culture Watch is one Christian who isn’t standing up for Bono. And he isn’t concerned about issuing a warning either. Muehlenberg came out swinging after Bono threw his support to Bible torturing radical gay activists who were out to legalize same-sex “marriage” in Ireland. Homosexuals were ecstatic to have a rock star behind them in their effort to legalize same-sex “marriage.” Pink News reported:

Irish singer Bono, speaking ahead of the band’s latest world tour, said “Marriage is an idea that transcends religion.”

Bono, who is from a mixed Anglican and Catholic family, told the Irish Times:

“[Marriage] is owned by the people. They can decide. It is not a religious institution.

“As far as I know, Jesus wasn’t a married man and neither are most priests talking about it. It is not a religious idea.

“In my mind, commitment is one of the most impossibly great human traits. It is a hard thing to hold on to, and anything that brings that together is a totally wonderful thing.”

Gay-affirming Bono does not understand the implications of tossing aside God’splan for marriage – one man one woman for life – so that men can marry men.

Muehlenberg had these harsh words for U2’s front man:

Another clear-cut acid test of Christian commitment has to do with the issue of homosexuality. If you get someone trying to tell you that homosexual marriage is just peachy and Jesus would be fully supportive of it, then you know you’ve got a religious fraud on your hands, and you should give him a very wide berth.

One so-called believer who has worried me greatly for years has in my eyes nailed his coffin completely by his recent support of sodomite marriage. Bono and U2 are going utterly brain-dead in supporting the Irish vote on homosexual marriage.

So if you think Bono is some sort of great Christian, you better think again. This comes from the U2 website:
On Friday Ireland votes in an historic referendum on legalizing same-sex marriage. Here’s what the band say: #voteYes.

“Commitment, love and devotion are some of the most impossibly great human traits. Trying to co-opt the word marriage is like trying to make love or devotion gender- or religion-specific. And that has to stop. Marriage is human-specific: a human commitment, one that transcends religion, transcends politics. It should be encouraged wherever, whenever and between whomever that love, that devotion and that commitment exists. #voteYES”This has got to be one of the most idiotic things I have read in a long time. We expect atheists and militant homosexual activists to come up with sheer baloney like this, but someone who calls himself a Christian? This man is a fool, in the biblical sense of the word. (Source)

The bottom line is this: A person cannot profess a belief in Jesus Christ and live like the devil. Like so many so-called Christians, Bono takes Christianity cafeteria style – he picks and chooses what pleases him and avoids what doesn’t.

Christianity is serious business, brethren. Jesus requires much of His sheep. “If you love me you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15).

Do you love Him?

“Thy word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105).

Do you get your guidance from the Bible?

Bono does but only when it suits his purpose.

http://www.renewamerica.com/columns/mwest/150615

TONY CAMPOLO: Who Is He & What Does He Believe ?

(353) EMERGING TRENDS IN THE CHURCH TODAY – TONY CAMPOLO

Tony Campolo, The Bryn Mawr minister, author of more than 35 books, and onetime spiritual adviser to President Bill Clinton has packed his calendar for years with more than 300 speaking engagements annually to raise charitable funds and tap young people for Christian service.  But at 78, Campolo has, as his wife, Peggy, said, decided to step back before someone says, “You’re an old man” who should step aside.

Campolo is closing down his Evangelical Association for the Promotion of Education (EAPE), a ministry the professor at Eastern University founded 42 years ago at the St. Davids school.  The organization is the home base from which Campolo speaks around the world, recruits students to serve in youth charities, and raises funds to nurture an array of schools, universities, orphanages, AIDS hospices, urban youth ministries, and service programs – some founded by Campolo and EAPE.  Campolo will continue his speaking engagements – at a reduced schedule, about 200 a year.

In his new role, Campolo will become an assistant to Robert G. Duffett, the new president of Eastern, a Christian college that is Campolo’s alma mater and home base. Campolo will resume teaching at the school as a professor of sociology. “It is an important transition, because Tony was one of the early members of the Evangelical movement who was involved in trying to move the movement in a more moderate direction politically and in terms of its civic engagement,” said Corwin Smidt, a research fellow with the Paul B. Henry Institute for the Study of Christianity and Politics at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Tony Campolo is noted for his agenda to liberalize evangelical Christianity in order to make it acceptable for the twenty-first century. One of his recent books is titled Speaking My Mind: The Radical Evangelical Prophet Tackles the Tough Issues Christians are Afraid to Face. On the back cover, the  following statement is made:

With his trademark shoot-from-the-heart style, Tony Campolo shatters the stereotype of evangelical Christians as a monolithic mass of social conservatives. In Speaking My Mind, this prolific author and university professor takes issue with the public image of evangelicals as right-wing hardliners and claims a place at the table for socially liberal viewpoints. [1]

HOMOSEXUALITY

Last week, Tony Campolo came out of the closet in support of ‘Full Acceptance’ of homosexuality in the church.  This seemingly surprised many Christians but in reality he has stated his support both directly and indirectly for a very long time. His wife has always been a supporter to homosexual causes.

Campolo has taken on the religious right, arguing that divisive issues such as gay marriage and abortion have overshadowed and impeded progress on issues such as poverty and violence.  I don’t want to minimize the significance [of gay marriage and abortion], but there are 2,000 verses of Scripture that call on us to respond to the needs of the poor,” Campolo said.

In the mid-1970s, Campolo, who describes himself as socially progressive and theologically conservative, ran for Congress as a Democrat and lost. He opposes abortion but prefers to focus on eradicating what he calls the economic reasons (including poverty) that motivate the decision. Gay marriage, Campolo says, “doesn’t fit in with my understanding of the Bible, but I should not impose my convictions on others.” He supports civil unions.

He would sometimes debate his wife in a seemingly set environment where she represented the pro-homosexual position and he represented the opposite position.  In many cases, these debates ended with Tony giving accolades to his wife by saying that he didn’t have a good rebuttal against her argument.  Tony gives credit to his wife as one of the reasons he decided to endorse homosexuals in Christianity.  He states:

“Because of my open concern for social justice, in recent years I have been asked the same question over and over again: Are you ready to fully accept into the Church those gay Christian couples who have made a lifetime commitment to one another?” Campolo outlined. “One reason I am changing my position on this issue is that, through Peggy, I have come to know so many gay Christian couples whose relationships work in much the same way as our own.” (Christian News Network)

In his co-authored book with Brian McLaren, Adventures in Missing the Point, (2006), Campolo states that the Bible is not against committed homosexual unions but rather it is tradition that tells him that homosexual practice is wrong and he questions the focus placed on this issue by Evangelicals.

TONY’S SON: BART CAMPOLO

Tony’s son, Bart Campolo, decided he was no longer a Christian after being injured in a bike accident in 2011.  Having rejected the sovereignty of God because of personal adversity suffered by people he knew.  He also rejected the authority of the Bible.  He know some roommates who came out as being gay and Bart decided that he would ignore Bible verses that spoke negatively of homosexuality.  Rejection of the authority of the Bible is a common dis-functional attitude that many Christians take on as they become more accepting of homosexual relations within the church.  Then, in another visible move, Bart, became a universalist stating that he simply couldn’t fathom a God who would condemn his nonbelieving friends to hell for eternity.  “I was only interested in a God who would save everybody,” Bart said. “It didn’t matter that the Bible had some verses that said something different.”  “I started rejecting the supernatural stuff, the orthodoxy. I no longer believed God does miracles or that Jesus was raised from the dead or that other religions were false,” he said. “My Christianity had died the death of a thousand nicks and cuts.”

Today, Bart serves as the humanist chaplain at the University of Southern California. He is only one of a few individuals in such a role on a U.S. campus.  While his new community is neither orthodox nor theistic, he believes it will still be a place of hope. Bart said he wants to create a humanist community that Christian people can celebrate — what he calls “a church for people who don’t believe in God.” He wants to curate experiences with inspirational talks, uplifting music, service opportunities, and perhaps even potluck suppers.

SALVATION

Roger Oakland summarizes Campolo’s view on his coming to Christ and the role of CENTERING PRAYER as well as other non-Biblical practices that he promotes as a part of his experience (‘Tony Campolo: On Being “Born Again” by Centering Prayer) – One of Campolo’s recent book, Speaking My Mind: The Radical Evangelical Prophet Tackles the Tough Issues Christians are Afraid to Face. On the back cover, the  following statement is made:

With his trademark shoot-from-the-heart style, Tony Campolo shatters the stereotype of evangelical Christians as a monolithic mass of social conservatives. In Speaking My Mind, this prolific author and university professor takes issue with the public image of evangelicals as right-wing hardliners and claims a place at the table for socially liberal viewpoints. [1]

Brian McLaren is also a well-known author and speaker. Many agree McLaren is the leading proponent for a rapidly developing trend within Christianity called the Emerging Church. Campolo’s publisher, W. Publishing Group (a branch of Thomas Nelson Publishing), chose McLaren to write the only endorsement on the back cover of the book. McLaren, who has authored books such as A New Kind of Christian, The Church on the Other Side, More Ready Than You Realized, and The Secret Message of Jesus, states the following:

If you paid the full price for this book and only got chapter 8, you’d be getting a good bargain. The same is true for chapters 4, 6, 9, 10 and 11. At a time when the term “evangelical” is up for grabs, Tony’s voice needs to be heard. [2]

Please notice Brian McLaren’s reference to “a time when the term ‘evangelical’ is up for grabs” and the proclamation that “his voice needs to be heard.” For those of us interested in Bible prophesy, such a statement causes us to pay attention. You see, there once was a time when an evangelical was a person who had a deep reverence and trust for the Scriptures. Further, that person had to believe the only way to heaven was by accepting the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made on the cross for our sins, and that hell was a literal place where the lost would spend eternity.

Not so today! As McLaren so clearly states, the definition of what it means to be an evangelical is now “up for grabs.

As we will see, the words of Isaiah will be very appropriate when we compare what Campolo says with what God has said in His Word:

For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. [3]

Coming to Christ Campolo Style

Most Christians can tell you the very moment when they first encountered Jesus Christ in a personal way. Being born again is an event that can be vividly remembered. Tony Campolo says his personal encounter began when he discovered Christ through a practice known as “CENTERING PRAYER.” Though not found in the Bible, the ritual of centering prayer is a pillar of Eastern mysticism.

In his book Letters to a Young Evangelical, Campolo shares his own personal testimony in a chapter called “The Gospel According to Us.” He begins the chapter the following way: 

As you may know, most Evangelicals at some point make a decision to trust in Jesus for salvation and commit to becoming the kind of people he wants us to be. [7]

A few pages later in this chapter, Campolo presents the details of his conversion experience. He begins by stating:

When I was a boy growing up in a lower-middle-class neighborhood in West Philadelphia, my mother, a convert to Evangelical Christianity from a Catholic immigrant family, hoped I would have one of those dramatic “born again” experiences. That was the way she had come into a personal relationship with Christ. She took me to hear one evangelist after another, praying that I would go to the altar and come away “converted.” But it never worked for me. I would go down the aisle as the people around me sang “the invitation hymn,” but I just didn’t feel that anything happened to me. For a while I despaired wondering if I would ever get “saved.” It took me quite some time to realize that entering into a personal relationship with Christ does not always happen that way. [8]

Now, it is certainly true that not all conversions are experienced by coming to Christ at an evangelistic crusade. However, it’s important to carefully consider how Campolo describes his personal conversion experience, especially in light of the Scriptures.

Later in the same chapter, he wrote:

In my case intimacy with Christ had developed gradually over the years, primarily through what Catholics call “centering prayer.” Each morning, as soon as I wake up, I take time—sometimes as much as a half hour—to center myself on Jesus. I say his name over and over again to drive back the 101 things that begin to clutter my mind the minute I open my eyes. Jesus is my mantra, as some would say.[9]

I have searched the Scriptures! You can do the same. Centering prayer and using the name of Jesus as a “mantra” is just NOT THERE. In fact the idea of using a mantra (that is mindlessly repeating a word over and over again) is used by the BUDDHISTS and the HINDUS in their attempts to focus on the spiritual realm and contact higher beings that the Bible calls demons (R. Oakland).

“Born Again” by Centering Prayer

Tony Campolo claims he became born again through this practice called centering prayer. He encourages his young readers to get closer to Christ by embracing this ritual. Centering prayer is becoming very popular within the Emerging Church Movement. Is it biblical?

Tony Campolo says he uses “Jesus” as a “mantra” to clear his mind and to get himself into an altered state of consciousness. This MYSTICAL experience, he calls the “thin place.” Quoting from his book:

The constant repetition of his name clears my head of everything but the awareness of his presence. By driving back all other concerns I am able to create what the ancient Celtic Christians called “the thin place.” The thin place is that spiritual condition wherein separation between self and God becomes so thin that God is able to break through and envelop the soul. [10]

In another letter written by Campolo titled “Becoming Actualized Christians,” further instructions are given regarding how to have a born again experience by practicing centering prayer. He states:

I learned about this way of having a born-again experience from reading CATHOLIC MYSTICS, especially The Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyola. Ignatius, a founder of the Jesuit order, was once a soldier and it was only when he spent a long time in a hospital bed recovering from a battle wound that his heart and mind focused on God. Like most Catholic mystics he developed an intense desire to experience a “oneness” with God. Gradually, he came to feel an intense yearning for the kind of spiritual purity that he believed would enable him to experience the fullness of God’s presence within. [11]

Roger Oakland goes on to comment that Campolo’s belief that you can be born again by experiencing a “oneness with God” while embracing the teachings of Ignatius Loyola the founder of the Jesuits, is preposterous. As can be documented, the very reason the Jesuits were founded by Loyola was for the purpose of bringing the Separated Brethren (those who departed from Catholicism) back to the Roman Catholic Church, by whatever devious means it would take. How could Campolo, who claims he is an evangelical Christian, make such a statement?

But there is more! Campolo continues by praising the Roman Catholic Church and its teachings:

After the Reformation, we Protestants left behind much that was troubling about Roman Catholicism of the fifteenth century. I am convinced we left too much behind. The methods of praying employed by the likes of Ignatius have become precious to me. With the help of some Catholic saints, my prayer life has deepened. [12]

Roger Oakland states – “Tony Campolo may claim he is an evangelical Christian, but the facts speak loud and clear. The mystical New Age practices he promotes are more closely tied to Buddhism, Hinduism, and Catholicism than to biblical Christianity. The Bible makes it clear the only way to be born again is to repent of your sins and acknowledge Jesus Christ. The doctrines of demons that Paul warned Timothy would be promoted in the name of Christianity in the last days are underway.”

So, whatever you may think of Campolo, it is disturbing to hear his position on popular social issues of today regarding homosexuality and abortion.  Even more importantly, his intermingling of Eastern Religious practices in with Christianity represents a serious concern of confusing the Christian faith for believers.  Also, it introduces outside influences through altered states of consciousness (simply brought on by repeating a word/phrase over and over again – ie. mantra) – what effect could that have on a person’s walk?  At a minimum, it raises a red flag.  More likely it can add confusion to someone’s personal walk of faith by the syncretic mix of various philosophies and other religions.  Also, one wonders how he can consider himself an Evangelical Christian with these issues as well as his influence by Roman Catholicism and early church mysticism.  A responsible next question would be how does he view salvation by works and tradition versus salvation by grace.  While, some of his ministry outreach is to be commended and I am not ready to go as far as some of the above commentators who question his faith, there are still very serious concerns of Campolo’s aberrant theology adversely affecting believers – especially in his own backyard of the Emerging Church movement.

[1] Tony Campolo, Speaking My Mind: The Radical Evangelical Prophet Tackles the Tough Issues Christians are Afraid to Face, W. Publishing Group, (A Division of Thomas Nelson Publishing), Nashville, back cover.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Isaiah 55:8-9

[4] Tony Campolo, Letters to a Young Evangelical, Basic Books, New York, page 1.

[5] Ibid., page 2.

[6] 2 Timothy 4:2-4

[7] Tony Campolo, Letters to a Young Evangelical, page 20.

[8] Ibid., page 25.

[9] Ibid., page 26.

[10] Ibid.

[11]  Ibid. p. 30

[12]  Ibid. p. 31

“ONLY IN THE SILENCE”

(352) EMERGING TRENDS IN THE CHURCH TODAY – “ONLY IN THE SILENCE”

Big Noisy God
By Lynn Lusby Pratt

Have you heard the rumor going around—that God can be found “only in the silence”? Don’t buy it.

Please understand. I love quiet. I drive for hours with the radio off, sit in the porch swing and listen to the birds, and lie on Gram’s quilt in the dark to watch the stars. I insist on quiet for Bible and prayer time. (Well, OK, sometimes ya gotta have Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir as background!)

I agree that our lives are too frantic. It’s good to slow down. But statements like these trouble me:

The believer MUST first achieve a state of SILENCE . . . and THEN God works in the believer’s heart. 1 (Tony Jones)

In order to experience the power of God, we MUST experience the presence of God. In order to experience the presence of God, we need to make a habit of spending time in SILENCE. 2 (Steve May)

It is NECESSARY to go beyond words or images and to seek God deep within the SILENCE which resides within us.3 (John Callanan)

We need to find God, and he CANNOT be found in noise and restlessness. . . . We NEED SILENCE to be able to touch souls.4 (Mother Teresa)

Are those people serious? Does the Lord vacate the premises when it’s noisy and then return when things quiet down?

Isn’t God present, active, when the grandchildren squeal, “Thank you, God, for ICE CREAM!” Don’t tell me that the Lord can’t be found in the middle of our noisy routines like preparing a holiday dinner, repairing the car, working on the assembly line, or shouting for the fourth time, “Wesley! Come down out of that tree this instant!” And He’s present whether we’re inside a deafening tornado or enjoying fireworks or sobbing in the emergency room or cheering the home team.

Of course He is.

  • Psalm 139:7-10 says that no matter where we go, God is there.
  • The Lord says, “Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? . . . Do I not fill heaven and earth?”
(Jeremiah 23:24).
  • Jesus gave His followers assurance of His constant presence: “The Spirit of truth . . . [dwells] with you, and shall be in you” (John 14:17).

But we’re being told that when you make “a time for your mind and your heart to be still,” then“God can meet you and fill you with His presence.”5 (Dr. Henry Cloud)   No, He’s present and accessible always—and in the ways He’s set in place: we hear from Him through His Word, which His Spirit teaches us (1 Corinthians 2:13), and speak with Him in normal prayer.

Yes, normal prayer. That “silence” the contemplatives refer to isn’t normal porch-swing silence but is the altered state of consciousness reached through mantra meditation, which, supposedly, mystically achieves a communion with God not attainable through prayer and reading the Word. If you hadn’t picked up on that before, do an hour of research.6 Then come back and read the quotes in this article from that perspective; you’ll see that’s what is meant.

The mystics would have us believe that regular prayer is inferior. Perhaps we’re in a precarious position and in danger of losing our connection? Or at least it seems we must outsmart and unlock the cosmic portal—as if in some video game—to transcend/force our way into a spiritual realm. But aren’t believers in Christ in a “spiritual realm” all the time? I mean, if it helps you to look at it that way, Scripture says that believers “are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit” (Romans 8:9). The only prerequisite for being “in the Spirit” (the spiritual realm) is  “if . . .  the Spirit of God dwell in you” (vs. 9). And the Bible says that this happens when we are born again.

WHERE in Scripture do we find that God can’t be known, doesn’t act, and may not even be present except in this place called “the silence”?  Why, God has done some of His best work with the volume turned up.

Remember the 1 Kings 18, 19 account of Elijah and the prophets of Baal? Hundreds of chanting false prophets, Elijah’s taunting, louder shouting, Elijah praying out loud—with words, the fire from Heaven . . . I’m thinking everybody “experienced God” that day!

And then when Elijah was in a cave after that event, there was wind, earthquake . . . and yes, the still, small voice about which the contemplatives make so much fuss. But that was one tiny moment in a long, cacophonous drama. God was never out of reach. Elijah didn’t need to “be put into a kind of suspended animation before [a] deep work of God upon the soul [could] occur.”7

In Judges 7, Gideon’s soldiers all blew their trumpets on cue and smashed their clay jars, and did God say, “Pipe down! How do you expect to practice my presence in all this racket?” Uh . . . no. The Lord caused the enemy soldiers to turn on each other. He was right there, and everybody knew it.

It had been a while since I’d read 2 Chronicles 5–7, the dedication of the temple. Talk about rowdy! The ark of the covenant was being brought in. In celebration, there were cymbals, harps, lyres, 120 trumpets, other instruments, singers . . . Then there’s King Solomon’s long, out-loud prayer of dedication—with lots of different words, not the Jesus Prayer or some other prescribed ritual repeated for twenty minutes8 to “enter into the great silence of God.”9 If Solomon was ignorant of the secret of true communication with God, how come fire came down and consumed the sacrifice and the glory of the Lord filled the place? The Lord said outright that He had heard the king’s prayer (2 Chronicles 7:12).

It never would have occurred to me that anything was missing from that kind of prayer if today’s promoters of “the silence” hadn’t given me the idea. They say that silence is “the only thing broad enough and deep enough to hold all of the contradictions and paradoxes of Full Reality and our own reality, too. 99.9% of the known universe is silent, and it is in this space that the force fields of life and compassion dwell and expand. We can live there too!”10

Whatever.

That hardly seems to describe a personal relationship between God and His children. Remember, when we are told in Scripture that our primary responsibility is to love God (Matthew 22:37), “we are being told to relate to God in a personal way. Since interpersonal relationships are implemented and carried on by communication, it is indicative of God’s personhood that He speaks, and that our communion with Him is in the form of words (e.g., Scripture, meditation,* praise, prayer) rather than the contemplation of an idol or mindless mysticism.”11 (* Pages 8-9 explain the Bible’s use of the word meditation.)

At Jericho, Joshua’s people didn’t get into the LOTUS position and measure their BREATHING to “find the silence within, thereby finding God.”12 They simply obeyed the commands God had already given them and marched around the city. There were trumpets and shouting, walls collapsing.

God worked in all kinds of noisy storms in the Bible. God spoke to Job out of the storm (38:1; 40:6). No hint that Job had trouble getting the message. In Mark 4, Jesus was present in the storm. There was conversation with His disciples during it, and he gave orders to it. Acts 27 is the account of Paul’s shipwreck. Did Paul just wring his hands during the turbulence till he could drop anchor in the calm to get back in touch with God? Was God not present and active amid the storm? Of course He was! An angel even found his way to Paul during the storm—and spoke.

What about Mark 9:14-28? Jesus came upon a disturbance in which people were arguing about a demon-possessed boy. The evil spirit manifested. Jesus wasn’t impeded in any way by this noise. In fact, He added to it. He commanded the evil spirit to come out, and the spirit “cried” out. Some versions say the spirit “screamed” or “shrieked.” My guess is, some of the bystanders shrieked too!

Then there is the story in John 11 of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. It says Jesus “groaned in the spirit, and was troubled” (vs. 33) when He saw Mary, Martha, and the others weeping for Lazarus. That wouldn’t exactly fit the “contemplative way” where one can’t get into the presence of God without removing all thoughts and distractions (which is done by repeating a “sacred” word or phrase over and over). Surely, if such a practice was sanctioned by God, this would have been the perfect opportunity for Jesus to go into the silence, with a good friend having died. Rather, He prayed (with words) to the Father, then “cried with a loud voice” (vs. 43), ordering Lazarus to come out of the tomb.

Jesus’ final moments are recorded in Matthew 27:50, 51. He “cried . . . with a loud voice.” There was an earthquake, and the temple veil was ripped. That’s noisy. And God was there. But what are we to make of a statement like this: “In the silence is a dynamic presence. And that’s God, and we become attuned to that.”13 Hmm. Does that mean that if only the crucifixion had been more serene, maybe God could have done something truly “dynamic”?

The book of Revelation is just dripping with decibels. In Revelation 8:5-7 alone, we hear thunder and lightning, earthquake, hail, and trumpet.

At this point, critics are no doubt saying, “Wait, we’re confusing apples and oranges. How God behaves in certain events is not the same thing as how we must access Him in prayer [they mean, reach ‘the silence’] or how God behaves during such prayer.” I would counter that they’re creating the problem: trying to separate prayer from our normal lives as if it were some elusive thing, as if we have to be initiated into the upper echelons of Christianity’s elite before we can do it right. Remember, the torn temple veil is evidence that all believers have perpetual access to God—through Jesus’ blood, not through a tedious (dare we say silly?) man-made formula (see Hebrews 10:19-22). True prayer, the opportunity to talk to God, is easy. That’s how He designed it.

I offer from the book of Acts a couple of noisy events that included prayer. In Acts 4:24, the believers together “lifted up their voice to God.” And after “they had prayed, the place was shaken” (vs. 31). In Acts 16, Paul and Silas caused a fracas at the marketplace and were beaten, then imprisoned. Next, we have praying and singing in prison, followed by an earthquake, shouting, shaking . . . God acted and released the prisoners. In these events, I’m not seeing any trial and error employed while the participants realigned their spiritual technologies (or possibly the planets) in order to make contact with God.

But we’re being led to believe that real knowledge of God comes through a Christianized mantra meditation that takes us into “the silence.” Incongruously, this is also described as an “unknowing” (or odder still, “darkness”). But we don’t need a knock-off brand of meditation that involves an ethereal floating off into “the void, the emptiness, the nothingness.”14 All we need is biblical meditation. If we look up every concordance entry for meditate/meditation, we see that it simply means pondering (considering) with our minds the Lord’s perfect Word and His mighty works.

HIS PERFECT WORD
“Every word of God is pure” (or flawless, perfect; Proverbs 30:5). Psalm 1:2 speaks of the person whose “delight is in the law of the LORD” and who meditates on that law “day and night.” David loved God’s Word, and it was his “meditation all the day.” David didn’t unlock cosmic wisdom based on his rank as an ascended master; God’s commands made him wiser than his enemies (Psalm 119:97-98). Since “all scripture is given by inspiration of God,” Paul could say that it is “the holy scriptures” that make us wise (2 Timothy 3:15-16). When we are truly meditating on God and His Word, our minds are engaged. We gain knowledge of God because He reveals Himself to us. He gives us understanding (1 John 5:20). As we hear and apply His Word, the evidence that we know Him is seen when we obey His commandments (1 John 2:3-6; 3:24).  Further evidence of our relationship is that when we call, He hears; the very short Psalm 34 says it four times (see also John 9:31 and many other passages)!

HIS MIGHTY WORKS
We are to “remember the days of old” and meditate on God’s works (Psalm 143:5). That’s what the troubled writer of Psalm 77 did. In his despair, a solution hits him: he will recall the great things the Lord has done. He names a few in this passage, but I picture him falling peacefully asleep as he remembers a list that never ends. Meditating on God’s mighty works reminds of us who He is, of His love and power. And that will make us praise Him to Him; any number of Scriptures picture God’s children addressing Him as great, marvelous, worthy of praise, etc.

A ripple-effect purpose of thinking deeply about God’s works is to have them in mind to pass along to our children—showing “the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and His strength, and His wonderful works” (Psalm 78:4; Psalm 145:4, 5 says we “declare” His works).

As we continually give attention to His perfect Word and praise His mighty works, we come to know Him (not unknow Him) better and better. And as we go about our living, just doing our best to follow Him, He provides and acts.

So enough of this notion that the Lord holds Himself at bay until we reach mystic enlightenment and realize that “God’s first language is silence.”15 The Lord is not absent or diminished until we release His energy in some “sacred space” by saying a “sacred word” and going into the “sacred silence.” The Lord is not limited in any way—nor is He programmable or capable of being manipulated or conjured either. Shame on us for such implications! Let’s be more careful about swallowing the latest spiritual fad without thinking it through and measuring it against Scripture.

Almighty God, the creator of the universe, speaks to us as we read His Word when we sit in porch-swing silence. He listens when we talk to Him in prayer. That’s amazing! He also is present and intervenes in our noisy lives, in spite of or along with the noise. No problem. And sometimes . . . sometimes He’s been known to cause the noise Himself as He thunders and shakes the earth (Psalm 18:7, 13), blasts a trumpet (Exodus 19:16), drops fire from Heaven (1 Kings 18:38), sends messengers who sound like mighty waters and a great army (Ezekiel 1:24) . . .

He’s a big noisy God.

Endnotes:
1. Tony Jones, The Sacred Way (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2004), pp. 71–72.
2. Steve May, “Silence and Solitude,” Crash Course on Psalms (Cincinnati: Standard Publishing, 2009), p. 74.
3. John Callanan, God in All Things: The Spiritual Exercises of Anthony de Mello (New York: Doubleday, 1993), p. 16.
4. Mother Teresa, http://www.brainyquote.com.
5. Henry Cloud, CNN, “Being Still: Helpful Hints with Dr. Henry Cloud.”
6. For a list of quotes promoting “the silence” by New Age mystics (such as Wayne Teasdale and Wayne Dyer), evangelical Christians (such as Beth Moore and Dallas Willard), and Catholic contemplatives (such as Henri Nouwen), go to: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/thesilence.htm.
7. Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1988 revised edition), p. 103.
8. https://gravitycenter.com/practice/breath-prayer/; http://www.orthodoxprayer.org/Jesus%20Prayer.html, and others.
9. Brennan Manning, The Signature of Jesus (Sisters, OR: Multnomah, 1996 revised edition), p. 215.
10. I originally saw this in the program description of Richard Rohr’s spot on the Dalai Lama event in Louisville, KY, May 2013: http://actorstheatre.org/shows/festival-of-faiths-2012-2013. It appears on various other sites too. Rohr is described on his own site as “a globally recognized ecumenical teacher bearing witness to the universal awakening within Christian mysticism”: http://www.cac.org/richard-rohr.
11. Jack Cottrell, What the Bible Says About God the Creator (Joplin, MO: College Press, 1983), p. 237.
12. John Callanan, God in All Things: The Spiritual Exercises of Anthony de Mello, op. cit., p. 4.
13. Interspiritualist Wayne Teasdale, Michael Tobias, “A Parliament of Souls in Search of a Global Spirituality” (KQED Inc., San Francisco, CA, 1995), p. 148.
14. The more complete quote is: “When one enters the deeper layers of contemplative prayer one sooner or later experiences the void, the emptiness, the nothingness . . . the profound mystical silence . . . an absence of thought.” Thomas Merton biographer William Johnston,Letters to Contemplatives (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1992), p. 13.
15. Thomas Keating, Intimacy with God (New York: Crossroad, 1994), p. 153.

Lynn Lusby Pratt has been researching mysticism and related subjects for a number of years. She is an editor, the director of Say Yes To Japan, and the author of Devotions by Dead Peopleand Debt Free College—We Did It! She is also the author of the Lighthouse Trails Booklet Tract:So You Want to Practice “Good” Contemplative Prayer . . . What’s Wrong With That?

MICHAEL GUNGOR’S LITURGISTS – DENYING THE TRUTHFULLNESS OF PORTIONS OF SCRIPTURE FOR $300

(352) EMERGING TRENDS IN THE CHURCH TODAY – MICHAEL GUNGOR’S “LITURGISTS”

Christian entertainers are many times looked upon for guidance, comfort, and as role models in the Christian faith. Unfortunately, like secular entertainers, they may not live up to that responsibility even though they attract many people – often younger Christians, to follow after their views.  With that, some of these folks have little background in the Bible, theology, history and in important areas in which they speak about such as science (ie. evolution/creationism…etc.) in which they actually don’t know much about.  Here is the latest casualty with some help from ROB BELL –

Michael Gungor’s “Liturgists” Group Charging 100 People $300 to Question Christian Beliefs

by A. Spreeman on June 11, 2015

The role model in the Christian music scene who doesn’t believe that the book of Genesis is true, the guy who claims Jesus was not quite being honest with his disciples (or perhaps was mistaken) about the accounts of Noah, Jonah, the flood, Adam and Eve and other Scripture verses our Lord quoted, is among those who seem to be deconstructing the orthodox faith of Christianity.

Rock musician Michael Gungor, along with his group called The Liturgists (founded by ROB BELL ), is going to charge 100 people a $300 voice in a conversation expected to take apart the “cultural ghettoes” of the church and secular society.

Just who are the Liturgists, and what do they believe? 

This new questioning doctrine event is called “Belong.

Leonardo Blair at the Christian Post reports:

The Dove award-winning musician called for unity in Christendom late last year after he was branded a heretic and other names like “twofold son of hell” for challenging the literal interpretation of the book of Genesis in the Bible.

“I have no more ability to believe, for example, that the first people on Earth were a couple named Adam and Eve that lived 6,000 years ago. I have no ability to believe that there was a flood that covered all the highest mountains of the world only 4,000 years ago, and that all of the animal species that exist today are here because they were carried on an ark and then somehow walked or flew all around the world from a mountain in the Middle East after the water dried up,” he confessed.

And so, Gungor and other members of The Liturgists are inviting 100 people willing to pay exactly $299 to be a part of the conversation, to join them in Atlanta, Georgia, on June 15-16 to talk about how they can move forward from the old ways of thinking.

“For many of us, the old categories don’t work anymore — sacred or secular, science or faith. Of course, there is a challenge when your boxes break apart: you lose your old answers to life’s biggest questions. Why am I here? Where did I come from? How do I know what is true?” explains the event’s description.

“This is a lonely process. Most communities find a comfortable center of gravity in one of three perspectives: science, faith, or art. So, blurring the boundaries and exploring the spaces between them can be dangerous. Belong is a safe place to come have honest discussion about doubts, hopes, fears, and faith. A place where no question is off limits, but you can find a burgeoning community of people who will welcome you with all your strangeness. A place where the unlikely gather around a table and find a place to belong,” it continued.

Among some of the possible questions to be discussed are:

How do we know God and accept science?
What’s the science behind who we are?
Where does consciousness come from, and why do so many people yearn for God?
How do we create art that transcends the cultural ghettos of the church, or the secular?
How do we lead people in an age where the old answers seem trite?
Can we find and form safe spiritual communities?

The Dove award-winning musician called for unity in Christendom late last year after he was branded a heretic and other names like “twofold son of hell” for challenging the literal interpretation of the book of Genesis in the Bible.

http://bereanresearch.org/michael-gungors-liturgists-group-charging-100-people-300-to-question-christian-beliefs/

THE EAST & THE WEST – RAVI ZACHARIAS

(351) EMERGING TRENDS IN THE CHURCH TODAY – RAVI ZACHARIAS: THE EAST & THE WEST (Parts 1 & 2)

Many in the church today are following after non-Christian philosophies and ancient practices developed by man as opposed to what is taught in the Bible.  Maybe it shouldn’t be surprising because many churches have moved away from DISCIPLESHIP as identified by Jesus himself through the Great Commission.  This verse quickly comes to mind in describing this and warning us to be aware of these dangers –

Colossians 2:8

Beware lest anyone 5cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to ithe tradition of men, according to the jbasic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.

Whether we realize it or not, most if not all churches have been affected by non-Christian philosophies like never before. Movements such as the Emerging Church have ushered in these philosophies – both current (Eastern Mysticism) and historic ancient beliefs (early church Roman Catholicism monastic mysticism) in their attempt to be more relevant to society today.  While that should raise red flags to most Evangelical Christians, much of the influence coming from these philosophies come in the back door of the church through very “Christian” sounding mediums such as popular books read by the Christian masses and seminaries affecting teachers, professors, and future pastors.  When paired up with post-modernism, these philosophies become more “appealing” (ie. “relevant”)  to society and “progressive Christianity”, attracting younger Christians (e.g. the Millenials), all while cloaked in Christian-sounding verbiage.  It is stylish today to point people to an Eastern view of thinking which is similar in many respects to some of the characteristics of post-modernism.  Yet, historically, there are many problems with that view.  And while not perfect, a more Western perspective has shown to be more productive in standing on truth and spreading the Gospel throughout the world.

Because of his background, Ravi Zacharias was brought up in an environment surrounded by some of these mystical practices.  As a Christian, he can provide a biblical perspective that identifies both the falsehoods in these beliefs as well as the subtle nature of their influence.  And while his purpose here may not be to confront specifics, I hope his influence will affect people such as seminary professors who are following after these “progressive”, “enlightened”, and popular trends.  It is hoped that his influence will be felt starting within seminaries of his own denomination (and mine) – the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church.  There are several professors who have already gone down these paths following after these philosophies that are laced with mysticism with a subtle move away from Scripture. How will this affect the C&MA, a model to many of us in the area of Discipleship/Missions when newly graduated pastors from seminary take up leadership roles in the church?

Here is Ravi Zacharias – he speaks in general terms, but if you listen closely, he mentions several issues that are being promoted in the church today opening up Christians to questionable spiritual influences  (e.g. breathing techniques).

ZACHARIAS:

Who would have thought that at this time in western history you’d be listening to terms such as karma, mantra, and chakra? [ yoga ]  These eastern esoteric-sounding words have become common fare, and individuals such as Deepak Chopra have become self-proclaimed authorities on spirituality leaving many unanswered questions.

But even more troubling, how many of OUR CHURCHES have sounded forth ideas that are NOT based in spiritual reality? Join Ravi Zacharias as he explains how the West must be on guard against the infiltration of eastern thought which threatens to redefine language and morality and undermine truth, meaning, and certainty.”

PART 1:

PART 2: