Archive | New Age RSS for this section

(460.3) Spiritual Formation 2017.3 – Interpreting Key Passages in the Bible Used to Promote Contemplative Spirituality – EMERGING TRENDS IN THE CHURCH TODAY

Some of the key verses used to promote and defend CONTEMPLATIVE SPIRITUALITY are usually taken out of context.  There are several contemporary authors/speakers who promote a Christian walk that moves further away from the Bible and prayer to a walk that looks INWARD and seeks to be drawn CLOSER to become UNIFIED with God in the DEEPEST part of our soul.  The problem is that Scripture discusses our sanctification and growth involving our dedication to God’s word and Biblical prayer – NOT in chasing after ancient mystical approaches that we find in the early church.   There are other religions that promote the idea of being unified with God by being unified with all of humanity – but Christianity is not it. To summarize – passages from the Bible are used to justify this seeking to be close to God in the DEEPEST part of the soul so that they can ultimately become unified with God.  But, the passages referred are usually taken out of context to arrive at their conclusion.

9781600661341_p0_v1_s192x300

In the following book, Relentless Spirituality: Embracing The Spiritual Disciplines of A.B. Simpson, by Dr. Gary Keisling illustrates a simple example of this.  The foreword was written by DALLAS WILLARD – a huge influence on the church accepting contemplative/spiritual formation.  

The book uses phraseology that quickly tips off the reader of the perspective that promotes a more mystical approach (e.g. SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES).

First, let me say that my intention is not to be critical of Keisling but rather, my review is focused on how Scripture is used to come up with relentless alternative interpretations of the Bible that may not be justified when those passages are looked at in context.

Keisling discusses the disciplines such as SILENCE and SOLITUDE.  He states that “both have complimentary roles in SPIRITUAL FORMATION”.  Solitude unfolds in two dimensions.  First, there is solitude that is in response to Jesus’ invitation: “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest” (NIV Mark 6:31) .

Now, look at that verse again and ask yourself what is actually being said in the passage.  In context, look at the entire chapter to get an understanding of the context of verse 31.  Again, ask yourself, how should verse 31 be interpreted?

Keisling states that – “Christ’s disciples were invited to join Jesus in doing something they had seen Him do in the past and would certainly see Him to again in the future.  It was an invitation………..to be alone and draw close to God.”

Hold the phone.  Was that the reasons stated in this passage of Scripture?  Read the passage again.  Read it from another translation – NKJV: “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while”.  You can read in a number of both literal and dynamic translations and they say the same thing.

=> I would say that Jesus was inviting the disciples to literally “get some rest”.  Radical idea?  This passage doesn’t say or even imply that Jesus was calling them to engage in a Spiritual Discipline of drawing close to God.  Keisling states that we are to “draw close to the Presence of the Almighty.”  

He goes on to explain that “these steps of spiritual formation are an essential part of life in Christ”.  Really?  “These steps” are an essential part of our spiritual formation – yet Christiandom is just finding out about it now?

=> QUESTION: Where does the Bible instruct us to be in SILENCE and SOLITUDE with respect to our devotional life in our walk with Christ?

=> If you find a passage in the Bible, ask yourself first – are you interpreting the passage correctly?

=> Then ask yourself is the passage asking us to engage in SILENCE and SOLITUDE as a part of our normative walk in Christ?

In my opinion, the so-called disciplines of SILENCE and SOLITUDE find themselves to be silent in the Bible.  With the huge emphasis today on this topic, I think it very important to note that many look at early church traditions (that many consider being mystical) more so than look to see what Scripture actually says on these issues.  

There are other key passages that supporters of CONTEMPLATIVE PRAYER take out of context making their case for Spiritual Formation. We will look at a few in the near future.

 

 

(460) Spiritual Formation 2017.1 – EMERGING TRENDS IN THE CHURCH TODAY

We will begin a new series on the topic of SPIRITUAL FORMATION.  We have looked at this topic in the past but it was more along the lines of it being piecemeal.  I intend this series to be more comprehensive in scope.

I. INTRODUCTION – CONCEPTS & DEFINITIONS

One of the challenges in looking at this topic relates to the various definitions for the phrase SPIRITUAL FORMATION.  They range from the traditional, more common and more original meaning involving growth coming from a mystical & contemplative perspective.  Today, we find some combining this aspect with a more historical and biblical concept of discipleship or sanctification.

Here are few definitions by well-known authors today relating to this topic – the authors who have had a foundational impact on Evangelicals primarily include RICHARD FOSTER and DALLAS WILLARD, which we discuss further as we go along in this study. 

Untitled copy

Spiritual Formation – D.Simeone

=> Richard Foster  – Author of the Spiritual Formation Bible

“By now enough water has gone under the Christian Spiritual Formation bridge that we can give some assessment of where we have come and what yet needs to be done. When I first began writing in the field in the late 70s and early 80s the term “Spiritual Formation” was hardly known, except for highly specialized references in relation to the Catholic orders. Today it is a rare person who has not heard the term. Seminary courses in Spiritual Formation proliferate like baby rabbits. Huge numbers are seeking to become certified as Spiritual Directors to answer the cry of multiplied thousands for spiritual direction. And more.” Spiritual Formation, A Pastoral Letter by Richard Foster

=> Larry Crabb

“The next reformation is due. It will focus on what it means to know God with a power that changes who we are and how we relate. I predict the Spiritual Formation Forum will play a vital role in the Spirit’s next great movement.” Larry Crabb, The Association of Christian Counselors, Willow Creek Association

“The Practice offers Saturday morning meetings which provide a rhythm of worship, teaching on a particular spiritual discipline and time to experience or “practice” that discipline. This practice time allows participants to get a fuller understanding of how to incorporate the discipline in their daily lives.” Spiritual Formation at Willow Creek.

RESEARCH: SPIRITUAL FORMATION

SPIRITUAL FORMATION is the process of apparent spiritual development through engaging in a set of behaviors, termed disciplines. Advocates believe these disciplines help shape the character of the practitioner into the likeness of Christ.

Though superficially similar to discipleship, spiritual formation is not merely concerned with biblical exhortation and instruction in orthodox doctrine, but also with the teaching of “many practices that opened [the believer] to the presence and direction of God, and nurtured the character traits of Christ into fruition”.1

The Renovaré website states:

Spiritual formation is a process, but it is also a journey through which we open our hearts to a deeper connection with God. We are not bystanders in our spiritual lives, we are active participants with God, who is ever inviting us into relationship with him.2

HISTORY

1974
William Menninger discovers the book, The Cloud of Unknowing:

In 1974, Father William Meninger, a Trappist monk and retreat master at St. Josephs Abbey in Spencer, Mass. found a dusty little book in the abbey library, The Cloud of Unknowing. As he read it he was delighted to discover that this anonymous 14th century book presented contemplative meditation as a teachable, spiritual process enabling the ordinary person to enter and receive a direct experience of union with God.3

Thomas Keating, Basil Pennington and others who were students of Menninger disseminate these teachings.4

 

1978
Richard Foster writes THE CELEBRATION OF DISCIPLINE.=> This book launched spiritual formation into mainstream evangelicalism, and continues to be used today.

In The Celebration of Discipline, Foster shares the practices of the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches that originated with the Desert Mothers and Fathers.

=> The Celebration of Discipline presents spiritual formation as attainable through the “spiritual disciplines.”

=> These disciplines are seen as a means of growing in spiritual maturity and depth. “In fact, the implication was that without the use of these ancient contemplative methods true ‘spiritual formation’ was not possible.”5

1988
Dallas Willard, a close associate of Richard Foster, writes The Spirit of the Disciplines. This book “reveals how the key to self-transformation resides in the practice of the spiritual disciplines, and how their practice affirms human life to the fullest.”6 

The Spirit of the Disciplines is based on Willard’s understanding of Matt. 11:29–30. Willard teaches that the “yoke” spoken of by Jesus in this passage is to attempt to emulate the life of Christ in every way possible. Willard teaches that this emulation occurs through the practice of the disciplines.7 (For a comprehensive teaching on this passage in Matthew, read or listen to Dr. John MacArthur’s sermon, Jesus’ Personal Invitation, Part 2.)

Richard Foster founds Renovaré. This organization seeks “to resource, fuel, model, and advocate more intentional living and spiritual formation among Christians and those wanting a deeper connection with God. A foundational presence in the spiritual formation movement for over 20 years, Renovaré is Christian in commitment, ecumenical in breadth, and international in scope.”8

PRESENT
The ideas presented by Foster and Willard continue to be propagated through the works and teachings of others.
Spiritual formation is a primary teaching found in what has come to be known as the emerging church. Brian McLaren, a key leader in that movement, has acknowledged that both Foster and Willard are considered “key mentors for the emerging church.”9

SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES

According to proponents of spiritual formation, various “spiritual disciplines” must be practiced in order to experience true spiritual growth:

Christian spiritual formation is a God-ordained process that shapes our entire person so that we take on the character and being of Christ himself.

Properly employed…these disciplines help us attain increasing levels of spiritual maturity so that we respond to our life circumstances with the mind of Christ.10

In his book, The Celebration of Discipline, as well as on his Renovaré website, Richard Foster lists these disciplines as:11

MEDITATION
Entering into a “listening silence” in order to “hear God’s voice.” Similar to the meditation of Eastern religions.
PRAYER
An “interactive conversation” with God. Practiced as contemplative prayer.
FASTING
“The voluntary denial of an otherwise normal function for the sake of intense spiritual activity.”
STUDY
“The mind taking on an order conforming to the order of whatever we concentrate upon.”
SIMPLICITY
“The joyful unconcern for possessions we experience as we truly ‘seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness’ (Matt 6:33).”
SOLITUDE
A “state of mind” for one to be “found by God and freed from competing loyalties.”
SUBMISSION
Letting “go of the burden of always needing to get our own way.”
SERVICE
“A pattern of service as a lifestyle…At the center is found a contentment in hiddenness, indiscriminancy.”
CONFESSION
Confession of sin to other professing believers.
WORSHIP
“Entering into the supra-natural experience of the Shekanyah, or glory, of God.”
GUIDANCE
Learning to “heed the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the teachings of Jesus.” “It is the perception that we have heard the Kol Yahweh, the voice of God.”
CELEBRATION
Celebrating God in all facets of life.

Since the disciplines are not defined in Scripture, no concrete, definitive list is available. Consequently, Willard notes that we should not “assume that our particular list will be right for others.”12 This confirms the subjective nature of these practices.

[Christian Research Network]

 

Part 2 (2017.2) will continue on this subject matter in the next posting.

(457) 61% CHRISTIANS AGREE WITH ‘NEW SPIRITUALITY’ – Emerging Trends in the Church Today.

Practicing Christians Agreeing with ‘New Spirituality’

From several perspectives, this blog exists to inform Christians of some of the nonbiblical influences that have developed within Christianity from other religious philosophies. Even more so, it is important to understand that point out how much of these trends are occurring from within the church itself.  New practices are being combined with Christian beliefs and practices along with new words and phrases used to describe these practices that are not found in Scripture.

From my perspective, similar trends in the church today reflect a departure from the practice of biblical discipleship.  More and more churches seek to spread the latest fad for growing the church while leaving behind one of our most important callings from God’s word – discipleship. Christians today are less equipped, less knowledgeable, less experienced in the basics of the faith.  This has impacted all Christians but especially younger Christians growing up in a church that succumbed to these trends.

The book of Jude reminded believers of their duty to fight for the truth.  This is such an important issue to Jude when he took up his pen to write about our common salvation, he was compelled by the Holy Spirit to encourage us “to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).

3 aBeloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our bcommon salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you ccontend earnestly for dthe faith which was once for all edelivered to fthe 1saints. 4 For certain persons have acrept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand 1 bmarked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn cthe grace of our God into dlicentiousness and edeny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. (NASB)

Survey: 61 Percent of Practicing Christians Agree With Some ‘New Spirituality’ Beliefs

BRANDON SHOWALTER , CP REPORTER

May 10, 2017 | 12:28 PM

A new survey reveals the scope of influence of non-Christian belief systems on the mindsets of practicing Christians, with large percentages of them agreeing with ideas from other faiths and secular philosophies.

The research from Barna in cooperation with Summit Ministries released this week measured how much the central beliefs of other worldviews like “new spirituality,” secularism, postmodernism, and Marxism have affected the beliefs of Christians about the world and how it should be.

Their “widespread influence upon Christian thinking is evident not only among competing worldviews, but even among competing religions,” the survey report reads.

In a web-based survey conducted in March of 1,456 practicing Christians, researchers asked the sample if they agreed with several statements that are rooted in so-called “new spirituality.Sixty-one percent of them affirmed at least one of the questions.

Nearly 30 percent agreed that “all people pray to the same god or spirit, no matter what name they use for that spiritual being.” About that same percentage of people said they believe that “meaning and purpose come from becoming one with all that is.”

The influence of this spirituality has also seeped into the thinking of Christians on matters of ethics, with approximately one third believing in a form of karma. Thirty-two percent of respondents said they agreed with the statement “if you do good, you will receive good, and if you do bad, you will receive bad,” which although not found in Scripture appeals to a sense of justice many have.

“This research really crystallizes what Barna has been tracking in our country as an ongoing shift away from Christianity as the basis for a shared worldview,” said Brooke Hempell, senior vice president of research for Barna, in the report.

What Do Americans Think of Jesus: Man, Myth or God?

“We have observed and reported on increasing pluralism, relativism and moral decline among Americans and even in the Church. Nevertheless, it is striking how pervasive some of these beliefs are among people who are actively engaged in the Christian faith.”

Because fragments and similarities to Christian teachings exist within other systems of thought, this poses a challenge.

“[S]ome may recognize and latch on to these ideas, not realizing they are distortions of biblical truths,” Hempell noted.

“The call for the Church, and its teachers and thinkers, is to help Christians dissect popular beliefs before allowing them to settle in their own ideology.”

The survey also presented statements rooted in postmodernism, secularism, and Marxism, asking Christians if they agreed with them. Those numbers were lower than those who agreed with “new spirituality.” Still, overall, 54 percent agreed with some postmodernist views, 36 percent accepted ideas associated with Marxism and 29 percent said they believe ideas based on secularism.

More specifically, ten percent of practicing Christians said they believed the “secular” view that “a belief has to be proven by science to know that it is true.” The postmodern statement “what is morally right or wrong depends on what an individual believes” resonated strongly with 23 percent of practicing Christians. Eleven percent of respondents agreed with the Marxist statement “Private property encourages greed and envy.”

Demographically, men, often at a two to one ratio, were more open to these non-Christian worldviews than women in all categories. In about half of the survey’s questions, Americans of color were more likely than white Americans to lend credence to non-Christian worldviews.

Millennials and Gen-Xers, who came of age in a culture under considerably less influence of the Christian faith, were eight times as likely to embrace non-Christian worldviews than were respondents from the Baby Boomer and Elder generations, the study found.

Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/survey-61-percent-of-practicing-christians-agree-with-some-new-spirituality-beliefs-183173/#5BXtXAbXgqsLD6ME.99

(455) THE BENEDICT OPTION – Emerging Trends in the Church Today

THE BENEDICT OPTION

41QY+zZAzfL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

A new book by Rod Dreher, The Benedict Option, is getting a great deal of exposure and write-ups across many branches of Christianity.  It is promoting a strategy for Christians to engage in our post-Christian nation that we find ourselves today.

I will most likely be writing more about the book in the near future, but for now, I will give a few comments based on reading some reviews and listening to a podcast with Rod Dreher describing his book and why he wrote it.

I heard a podcast interview at the Impact 360 Institute –

http://impact360institute.org/podcasts/should-christians-take-the-benedict-option-an-interview-with-rod-dreher

My brief review from listening to Dreher’s comments in the interview include the following comments:

Rod Dreher does make some very good points. He identifies some of the problems that Christians in our society face today. His point is well taken – college kids and young adults just don’t know about the basics of the faith and have grown up in the church but still lack discipleship in their walk.

However, where I would disagree with Dreher is in what he recommends as a solution. 

Since the popularity of groups such as the Emerging Church…etc., there has been a trend to look negatively at the church today and instead look back to the so-called “early church” to see supposed “true Christianity” as a guide to how we should live out our faith today.  The problem with this approach is, although it is not their intention, they move further from God’s word and look instead to tradition. Worse, much of their tradition is along the lines of ancient Roman Catholic & Eastern Orthodox mysticism. It is a mystical approach to faith that aligns itself very closely with Eastern Mysticism and includes practices that mirror practices from Buddhism, Hinduism….etc. There are many examples of Catholic and Orthodox priests and scholars having Buddhist monks teach in their seminaries on how to meditate and pray according to these traditions that align very closely with Buddhism….etc.

They don’t abandon the faith and to their credit, they include prayer and Bible study as a part of their focus. But they introduce practices that have no basis in the Bible and mix in with Christian practices. The most dangerous perspective of this approach is how it is introduced to Christians – it’s done in a very subtle manner. The results of which show that it can be difficult to identify what these practices actually are to Christians. They then use Christian sounding terms to describe these practices and Christians today have become desensitized to their actual meaning.

For example, terminology that includes words and phrases such as “formation”. “rhythms”, “silence”, “stillness”, “solitude”, “contemplative”...etc. are included with concepts such as meditation and prayer. The problem is that these phrases describe Eastern Mystical practices, not biblical practices outlined in Scripture. Biblical meditation is different than mediation being promoted by those promoting a contemplative faith. Eastern Orthodoxy is filled with these types of mystical practices. The take even reading the Bible and use a practice called Lectio Divina which doesn’t encourage the participant to understand what Scripture is saying but instead through repetition of words, phrases, periods of silence….etc., they are to experience a closeness to God. What? Is that what the Bible calls us to do?

In addition, patterning our walk today after a monastic lifestyle makes no sense.  Granted, Dreher states that his intention is not to recommend living like monks lived in the 6th century.  But, much of what is presented is copying the lifestyle and theology of these monks who have left civilization to live as hermits – I don’t think that is what Jesus had in mind when giving us our marching order with the Great Commission.  That is biblical discipleship.  

The Evangelical Church today has been inundated with these practices. We would be wise to cut out the middleman and go directly to God’s word for our edification and spiritual growth. True discipleship has to focus on God’s word, not these alternative practices that have more similarity to Eastern Mysticism than they do the Bible.

(452) EMERGING TRENDS IN THE CHURCH TODAY: THE SHACK AUTHOR -WILLIAM PAUL YOUNG’S JUST RELEASED NEW BOOK

What do you think of these comments by Warren Smith on Young’s new book? – 

“Shack” Author Paul Young States in Just-Released Book—Christ Is “In” Every Single Human Being

By Warren B. Smith

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; But after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, Having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth and shall be turned unto fables. (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

YOUNG PUBLICLY ENDORSES UNIVERSAL SALVATION
In his just-released book, Lies We Believe About God, best-selling author Paul Young openly describes himself as a UNIVERSALIST. In chapter 13, Young would have us believe it is a “lie” to tell someone, “You need to get saved.”1 Young asks himself the rhetorical questions, “Are you suggesting that everyone is saved? That you believe in universal salvation?”2 He answers, “That is EXACTLY what I am saying!”3 Young then goes on to teach that “every single human being is in Christ” and that “Christ is in them.”4 With this unbiblical teaching, one recalls how Young put these same heretical words in the mouth of his “Jesus” character in The Shack. He wrote:

God, who is the ground of all being, dwells in, around, and through all things.5

THE TRINITARIAN LIE
Young would have us believe his trinitarian lie that God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit inherently indwell everyone.6 This is exactly what the false “Christ” of the New Age teaches. In fact, it is the foundational teaching of the New Age/New Spirituality/New World Religion that has progressively moved into the world and into the church.

NEW AGE IN THE CHURCH
As I pointed out in my booklet, The Shack and Its New Age Leaven,7 the teaching that God is “in” everyone is a heretical New Age teaching that has been increasingly popularized over the last thirty years by New Age authors and teachers and heavily promoted by people like Oprah Winfrey. Sadly, it is also found in the books and teachings of well-known church figures like Robert Schuller, Rick Warren, Eugene Peterson, Leonard Sweet, and Sarah Young.8 And in a November 1, 2016 Catholic News Service article titled, “Pope Offers New Beatitudes for Saints of a New Age” Pope Francis, in a Catholic Mass in Malmo, Sweden, proposed a new “beatitude”—”Blessed are those who see God in every person and strive to make others also discover him.”9

WHAT WILL THE CHURCH DO?
Paul Young wanted to have a conversation about the nature of God, and that conversation is now front and
center before the church. Will pastors and leaders and day-to-day believers contend for the faith and fight the good fight, or will they let false teachers like Paul Young have their uncontested say and have their uncontested way?

Endnotes:
1. Chapter 13 title in Lies We Believe About God is “You need to get saved.”
2. William Paul Young, Lies We Believe About God (New York, NY: Atria Books; An imprint of Simon & Schuster, 2017), p. 118.
3. Ibid.
4. Ibid., p. 119.
5. William P. Young, The Shack (Newbury Park, CA: Windblown Media, 2007), p. 112.
6. In C. Baxter Kruger’s book, The Shack Revisited: There Is More Going On Here Than You Ever Dared to Dream, in the foreword, Shack author William Paul Young writes: I want to say, “Thank you, and please read The Shack Revisited.” He adds, “If you want to understand better the perspectives and theology that frame The Shack, this book is for you. Baxter has taken on the incredible task of exploring the nature and character of the God who met me in my own shack” (p. ix). On page 49 of The Shack Revisited , Kruger writes: “For inside of us all, because of Jesus, is nothing short of the very trinitarian life of God.” C. Baxter Kruger, The Shack Revisited: There Is More Going On Here than You Ever Dared to Dream (New York, NY: FaithWords), p. 49.
7. To read this booklet, click here: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=12290.
8.  I have documented a short history of how this deceptive New Age teaching has entered the world and the church in my booklet Be Still and Know That You Are Not God. The booklet includes quotes by each of these figures. To read this booklet, click here: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=17572.
9. Cathy Wooden, “Pope Offers New Beatitudes for Saints of a New Age” (Catholic News Service, November 1, 2016,).

 

This article is from http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=22361

 

(451) EMERGING TRENDS IN THE CHURCH TODAY: DR. DAVID JEREMIAH – CELEBRATION OF DISCIPLINE PROMOTES NEW AGE

DR. DAVID JEREMIAH ADMITS CELEBRATION OF DISCIPLINE PROMOTES NEW AGE

For years now, Lighthouse Trails (Research Project) has done extensive research and has provided articles and books on these topics for Christians to learn about these issues.  One author in particular, RICHARD FOSTER, and his bestselling book from 1978, CELEBRATION OF DISCIPLINE (COD) has been instrumental in introducing Evangelical and Protestant Christianity to contemplative practices that follow similar practices found in Eastern Mysticism and also associated with what was commonly called New Age practices.

dj_bioFor years, they have also attempted to warn the body of Christ and to discuss these issues with leading Christians in ministries ranging from authors, pastors, television and radio programs.  One example is DAVID JEREMIAH.  Years ago, Jeremiah authored a book on the New Age – so it was ironic that he would continually refer to contemplative authors, books, resources commonly associated with the New Age.  Before you cringe, keep in mind, many or these resources fall under the description of “Christian” or “Roman Catholic” and they include people ranging from early church saints and monks to popular contemporary authors.

In Foster’s first edition of COD, he stated that “we should ALL without shame enroll in the school of CONTEMPLATIVE  prayer.” Lighthosue Trails Research Journal (Volume 5-No.1 January/February 2017) states:

Since then, and largely because of the influence of that book, contemplative spirituality has saturated the church in no small way, and many Christians have truly “enroll[ed] in the school of contemplative prayer.” Through our research, we have determined that over ninety percent of the Christian colleges, seminaries, and universities (the places our future pastors are trained at) have, to one degree or always used textbooks either by Foster or ones that point to him).

They go on to say that a copy of COD sits on the bookshelves of most Christian pastors and leaders today. 

Many Christian leaders acknowledge that there are issues to be concerned about, many have stopped short of agreeing that this is a problem. This is despite the fact that many reputable apologetic groups have written about these concerns and problems associated with combining biblical practices with practices from other religions.

=> Fortunately, today we can finally say that DAVID JEREMIAH has now stated (in print) that Richard Foster’s COD promotes New Age spirituality. 

From the same LHT Newsletter, Here are Jeremiah’s own words from his book, The New Spirituality in the chapter titled “New Age Influence in the Church” (subtitled: In this lesson we see how the New Age movement is changing the church):

Sometimes false doctrine—and in the case of this present study, New Age ideology—gets into the church from within, and sometimes from without the body. Once it infects the church it can spread like an infection. . . .

DR. NORMAN GEISLER, Christian apologist, was attending one of the most respected, and largest Baptist churches in the country. He was astounded to hear the huge choir singing a song whose lyrics included:

I [meaning God] am the grass you walk in, I am the air you breathe, I am the water you swim in.” That is pure PANTHEISM. God is not the grass, nor the air, nor the water.

Those are all elements He created, and He is totally distinct from them. It is shocking that someone in the leadership either didn’t have the discernment to recognize what the lyrics were saying [or] was too busy with musical things to notice.  llBut that’s how New Age influence enters the church—when no one is watching.

Dr. Geisler has also made some notes on the contents of one of the best-selling Christian books of our day, Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster. Geisler noted some 15 different places in the book where NEW AGE and MIDDLE EASTERN New Age and Eastern practices were recommended for Christians—things such as Transcendental Meditation, turning from “manyness” to “oneness,” meditating on the void (nothing), and others.

David Jeremiah acknowledges that once New Age ideology “infects the church it can spread like an infection.” And surely, we have seen this take place.

LHT states that – perhaps not too many pastors and leaders read David Jeremiah’s book, The New Spirituality. Perhaps they have no idea what David Jeremiah (and Norm Geisler) think about Richard Foster’s book. If you have a pastor, and you think he might have a copy of Celebration of Discipline in his pastor’s library (and he might even be quoting from it from the pulpit), you might consider printing this article and giving him a copy. Tell him, this time it isn’t Lighthouse Trails saying it but rather is a leader whom they most likely respect saying it.

This is GOOD NEWS!  Even though it has been a long time coming, hopefully this is another step in influencing Christians based on biblical discernment and discipleship and not on what is popular or what someone’s friend is reading. False teaching coming into the church from within and through the back door can be the most subtle, least noticed but most dangerous.  Criticism of these teachings can make one look overly critical but the real issue has to do with understanding God’s view – and the best way to do this is to open up your Bible.

(450) EMERGING TRENDS IN THE CHURCH TODAY: WHAT THE SHACK GETS RIGHT (Review #5)

An interesting review of The Shack. Lita Cosner (of Creation Ministries International – i.e. CMI), asks what The Shack gets right?  Her point is that while the movie contains “bad theology” since many people will go to see the movie, it presents itself as an opportunity for Christians to share the truth of God’s word in addressing the problems in life discussed in The Shack.  It’s an agreement of the serious problems with The Shack but also it sees an opportunity to present the Gospel – which she states that The Shack doesn’t do. From someone who is a part of CMI, she makes some great points which fit in well with the response by both Christians and unbelievers that CMI receives on issues relating to creation.

What The Shack gets right

by

Published: 7 March 2017 (GMT+10)
Shack

It would be easy to write a standard, outraged review of The Shack. They portray God the Father and God the Spirit in human form, as females! They put words in God’s mouth that He never said! They substitute correct doctrine for mushy platitudes that sound like they came from Oprah!

All those things are true, and they’re all problems, and those problems have been very thoroughly laid out elsewhere in reviews of William Paul Young’s best-selling 2008 book of the same title, so go there and read about those issues.1 But we should ask, why did people find The Shack appealing in the first place? I think there are several reasons, and they should actually be encouraging for evangelical Christians. When we speak to people who have seen The Shack, when we understand why they were drawn to such erroneous material, we can show how the Bible gives a much more satisfying portrayal of God than The Shack ever could. In fact, if we’re prepared for these conversations, it could be a tremendous opening to discuss the biblical Gospel.

People suffer

When we speak to people who have seen The Shack, when we understand why they were drawn to such erroneous material, we can show how the Bible gives a much more satisfying portrayal of God than The Shack ever could.

Many people can identify with Mack, the main character, who is grieving the murder of his daughter. Raised with a veneer of Christianity, he struggles with the question of how could God be good, while allowing such evil things to happen? This is a frequent question we receive at CMI, and there are often emotional undertones, because unlike some other doctrinal questions, people aren’t asking a hypothetical, philosophical question. They are asking, “Why did my mom die of cancer?” “Why was my daughter born with a genetic condition?” “Why do I struggle with depression?” What is God doing when it doesn’t seem like He is hearing our prayers for help and relief?

This is a question a person has to confront if he lives long enough to experience loss or suffering of any kind, and Scripture gives a clear and comforting answer for grieving people. Unfortunately, you won’t hear it in The Shack. Instead, the movie gives vaguely NEW-AGE, UNIVERSALIST, FEEL-GOOD answers that may move someone to emotions with the convincing delivery of the actors, but which don’t actually resolve the fundamental problem.

To give the biblical answer, we have to take the focus off man, and put it on God, where the Bible focuses. The god of The Shack has his/her/their hands tied by Evil, a force outside god’s control, which exists as an inevitable consequence of human free will, and is thus part of the original creation. He/she/they can be ‘within’ evil events, working good, but he/she/they are ultimately powerless in the face of human actions. This is presented as noble, as God refusing to meddle with human choice, because God is interested in having friends, not slaves (according to the actor playing Jesus in the film). But this dichotomy has NO basis in Scripture—while Christ called His disciples His “friends”, there is an element of servanthood as well. Jesus said, “You are my friends if you do what I command you” (John 15:14). God opens the way for us to have a relationship with Him, but there is no question about who is ultimately in charge.

Scripture presents a God who is sovereign over evil, and thus can promise to one day end all evil, and to work all things (even the worst things) for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). This is a great comfort to people who are suffering. But just as importantly, Scripture presents evil as a corruption of God’s ‘very good’ creation. So humans, not God, are blameworthy for evil in the world, because evil was not part of the original creation, but came as a result of Adam’s disobedience.

People want a God who understands their suffering

One of the more powerful portions of the film was a conversation between Mack and ‘Papa’, where he asks where God was when Jesus was on the cross. ‘Papa’ reveals scars on his wrists identical to Jesus’, and says that what Jesus chose to do cost both of them dearly. While this falls under the heresy of patripassianism (the idea that the Father suffered with Jesus on the Cross), the fact that this is so powerful shows us that people want to know that God identifies with their suffering.

What is God doing when it doesn’t seem like He is hearing our prayers for help and relief?

Scripture clearly shows that in Jesus’ humanity, He experienced temptation and suffering, and can identify with us. The book of Hebrews has some of the most powerful statements about this. I encourage you to read the entirety of Hebrews 1-5 to grasp how the following verses fit in the author’s larger argument, but note his statements about the temptation and suffering of Christ:

“For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering” (Hebrews 2:10)

“Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted (Hebrews 2:17–18).

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weakness, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15).

“In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered” (Hebrews 5:7–8).

So we know that God can sympathize with our suffering, because Christ experienced it during His earthly life and ministry.

People want a relational God

Many are drawn to the portrayal of the fellowship between the Persons of the Trinity and their love for and enjoyment of each other. It is misleading to portray the Trinity as three people in relationship because it can never capture the fullness of the relationship between the Persons of the Trinity, because the three Persons are one God. As humans we can never fully comprehend what that’s like.

However, Scripture clearly portrays a deep unity and singularity of purpose between the Persons of the Godhead. During His ministry on earth, Jesus often went away to pray, and the high priestly prayer (John 17) is a glimpse into the relationships within the Trinity.

People want a relationship with God

One theme in The Shack is that the trinity portrayed there invited Mack into relationship with them. And again, there is a kernel of biblical truth there, because through Christ, Christians have a relationship with the Triune God where we are very closely identified with Christ. When we trust in Christ for the forgiveness of our sins through His death and resurrection, we are adopted into God’s family and enjoy the privileges of sonship and close fellowship with God. This will be fully realized at the return of Christ when believers are raised to eternal life, and the entire creation is restored from the effects of sin.

What wasn’t in The Shack

The most troubling error in The Shack’s portrayal of God was the omission of the Gospel. The god of The Shack forgives simply because he/she/they love. But the atonement which makes forgiveness possible is never clearly presented. ‘Papa’ says he/she does not have any wrath, but the God of the Bible must judge sin because He is just. It is only through Christ substitutionary sacrifice in which He paid for the sins of all who would believe that God is able to be both just and merciful in His forgiveness of sinners.

Talking about The Shack

Most of us will probably have friends and family who go to see The Shack, and while we never want to encourage bad theology, this could open up some opportunities to talk about subjects that rarely come up in conversation. If people mention liking the story, ask questions! What did they like about the movie? What did they think about the portrayal of God? Was there anything that struck them as unsatisfying or simplistic? While people often shy away from being ‘preached to’, they are usually very eager to share their views! Then that opens an opportunity for you to respond.

What people are attracted to in The Shack can also help us to emphasize the biblical truth about God. And so, while this was almost surely not the intention of the directors, this could open up tremendous opportunities for Gospel conversations.

 

This article was taken from http://creation.com/shack-movie-review