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In October 2014, the controversial Evangelical pastor Mark Driscoll resigned from the network of Mars Hill churches which he founded 18 years ago.

The last service at the original church in Ballard, Washington, took place on Sunday, December 28, 2014 (H/T: Dr Gregory Jackson of Ichabod).

Sadly, the interim pastor and congregation seemed happy to listen to and watch a 45-minute sermon from Baptist pastor Rick ‘Purpose-driven Church’ Warren. Will people never learn?

Mars Hill comprised a number of churches in five states in the western US. On New Year’s Day 2015, these were either closed or assumed new independent identities. The Ballard church is now known as the Cross & Crown. It still meets in the converted hardware store.

Not surprisingly, between October and December, many congregants left the Mars Hill church network. Many of us pray that they find suitable congregations where the leadership is truly faithful to the Gospel, instead of exhibiting a macho-man aggression.

I echo Seattle Times reader Ugmo’s sentiment in the comments following the paper’s December 28 article on the Ballard church’s final service:

Those left looking for a new home for their faith might want to consider returning to a mainline Protestant church… Lutheran, Presbyterian, Methodist… No rants, no big video screen, no “Jesus rock and roll.” Instead, clergy with actual seminary educations, a focus on thoughtful, complex theology, good music, social outreach, tolerant politics, charity and community.

May God’s grace guide the Mars Hill people towards the true Good News — and a good church community.

Whilst assembling the following sources, I ran across an illustration called ‘God’s Hierarchy’ in the Daily Kos. ‘God’s Hierarchy’ appeared in a 1974 Bill Gothard manual (it’s a must-see but requires permission to use).

Gothard, for my readers outside the United States, is a cultlike Christian leader who has been around for some years, although I had not heard of him until last year. Americans who have come under his influence would say that was a blessing.

‘God’s Hierarchy’ shows God (represented by a triangle and arms) with a hammer in His hand. The hammer — the father of the family — is pounding a huge chisel — the mother.  The chisel as mother is cutting the jewel,  the teenager. That is Gothard’s and the ultraconservative Christian’s idea of the family. It’s not what I grew up with but might be familiar to some of my readers.

So, it was not totally surprising to read about the Islamic version of this linear top-down relationship in the Telegraph. An imam in Catalonia (Spain) is under police investigation for advocating battering ‘errant wives’ (emphases mine):

Abdeslam Laarusi, an imam at the Badr mosque in Terrassa near Barcelona allegedly issued instructions during Friday prayers on how to beat unruly women without leaving telltale marks.

The Muslim cleric advised using “fists and sticks on various parts of the body to avoid breaking bones or drawing blood”, investigators said.

“He provided concrete examples of the manner in which wives should be beaten, how to isolate them inside the family home and how to deny them sexual relations,” said the police in a statement, saying they had received testimony from numerous witnesses.

The imam, a Moroccan immigrant who is married with five children, was called in for questioning by the Mossos d’Esquadra, the Catalan police force, on Tuesday …

Muhammad Kamal Mustafa received a 15-month prison sentence and a 2,160 euros fine for inciting Muslim men to physically abuse their wives in his pamphlet “Women in Islam”.

In it he wrote: “The blows should be concentrated on the hands and feet using a rod that is thin and light so that it does not leave scars or bruises on the body.”

Afterward, whilst browsing my blogroll, I came upon the latest posts from the Sola Sisters about Rick Warren’s continuing overtures to Muslims! One post asks what the King’s Way document actually says, another demonstrates that Saddleback pastors know it is an interfaith document and the third discusses one of Warren’s pastors, Abraham Meulenberg, speaking near Nice (France) in 2011 at an ecumenical conference. Photos show him lecturing on the commonality between Christianity and Islam!

It won’t be long before Warren’s fellow Baptists join him in this effort. It would seem as if the complementarians among them would have lots to learn from their Muslim brothers. (Sarcasm alert.)

Why are we teaming up with these people? Don’t discount for a moment the possibility that there’s more money and more prestige in this for Warren.

Back to domestic violence, however. As Anna Wood writes (please take a few minutes to read her post in full):

A man is abusive because he desires ungodly control over his wife. The sin of abuse lies in the abuser’s court.

When you meet up with an abused woman, remember these things:

When a woman is abused by her husband, it isn’t because

she didn’t submit enough (if she is like most abused women, she is far more submissive than most women ever have to be),

she didn’t obey often enough (in the name of obedience, he has likely commanded things that would disgust and frighten the best of us),

she hasn’t tried hard enough,

she didn’t love him enough,

she didn’t spend enough time in prayer for her husband and for their marriage,

she didn’t study the Word,

didn’t believe the Word

or didn’t try to obey the Word with everything within her.

Without further ado, below are resources which women (especially in North America) might find helpful in case of domestic abuse. Clergy and other church-based workers might also find them useful.

N.B.: I have not read the books, only blog recommendations and the Amazon reviews.

Articles:

Cindy Burrell’s articles

Is substance abuse linked to spouse abuse?

Blogs:

A Cry for Justice

A Wife’s Submission

Submission Tyranny, in Church and Society

The Cross Is All

Woman Submit! Christians & Domestic Violence

Books:

Not Under Bondage: Biblical Divorce for Abuse, Adultery and Desertion

Woman Submit! Christians & Domestic Violence

Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men

The Batterer as Parent: Addressing the Impact of Domestic Violence on Family Dynamics and the sequel

Character Disturbance: the phenomenon of our age

In Sheep’s Clothing: Understanding and Dealing with Manipulative People

Websites:

Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria (Australia)

Hurt by Love

Not Under Bondage

These are just a few suggestions. There are bound to be many more resources in cyberspace.

End of series

Yesterday, I wrote that there appears to be an effort among Christian pastors of various denominations to transform our faith into an authoritarian, legalistic collective — not unlike Islam.

This convergence will differ from denomination to denomination. I predict that in conservative evangelical churches, which attract a number of members from pietist and holiness traditions, this will manifest itself in authoritarian legalism and a ‘covenant’ membership. Although some churches already have these characteristics, these congregations could become more plentiful, indirectly influenced by an Islamic lifestyle and perspective of a punitive God, where the salvific freedom in Christ Jesus is largely forgotten.

For more liberal evangelicals and mainline denominations, including the Catholic Church, it seems as if this will become a social gospel communitarianism involving much interfaith activity with Muslims.

Jim Hinch’s recent article for California’s Orange County Register, ‘Rick Warren builds bridge to Muslims’, met with criticism from Warren himself. Hinch says that he carefully fact-checked and worked closely with a senior pastor at Warren’s Saddleback Church before submitting the article for publication. No one had any problem with it. Warren was too busy to be interviewed.

The Sola Sisters and Apprising Ministries carry the story, including a screenshot of Warren’s and Hinch’s statements.

This is the offending paragraph:

The Rev. Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest and one of America’s most influential Christian leaders, has embarked on an effort to heal divisions between evangelical Christians and Muslims by partnering with Southern California mosques and proposing a set of theological principles that includes acknowledging that Christians and Muslims worship the same God.

It appears that Warren was uncomfortable with the interfaith set of theological principles.

The Revd Ken Silva, who runs Apprising Ministries, spoke with Hinch, who is a veteran reporter. Hinch told Silva (see the link for the full comment):

I do have a copy of the [King’s Way] document but it was given to me by a source who asked that it not be published. The five-page document lays out three areas of agreement, including shared aspects of Christian and Muslim belief and a commitment to work together on community service projects.

The part about shared areas of belief states “we believe in one God” and enumerates several characteristics of God common to both faiths, including that God created the world, is good, etc. The document does not address beliefs about Jesus, which is a major difference between Islam and Christianity.

I talked to sources both at Saddleback and in the Muslim community and all of them described the mutual outreach efforts and the attempt to find points of theological common ground. While reporting the story I asked to speak to Rick Warren but was told he was too busy for an interview …

The story makes clear that no one involved in this outreach effort, either at Saddleback or in the Muslim community, is proposing a merger of the two faiths or agreeing to disregard areas where the faiths diverge. Both sides acknowledge that differences remain between them.

But they have agreed not to focus on those differences for the purpose of reducing hostility between the two faiths and finding ways to work together on projects that benefit the community. No one at Saddleback used the words “same God” in an interview.

Silva asks that Warren come clean on the issue:

The bottom line now is that Rick Warren needs to publicly make clear what his stance is concerning this issue. Does he believe Christians and Muslims believe in the same God? That is a common position among many missionaries within the Church Growth Movement.

He refers us to Tony Miano’s post at Cross Encounters to see the flaws in Warren’s theology, deeply influenced by his time at Fuller Theological Seminary. Miano warns us:

I’ve watched interviews of and read works and comments by Rick Warren for two decades. And what I’ve discovered over that course of time is that Rick Warren is a chameleon. And I believe he is one of the most dangerous men in Christendom, today.

Plastic pastors transparent enough to see through, like Joel Osteen, are not as dangerous as Rick Warren. Modalistic moguls of the painfully-obvious-money-hungry prosperity movement, like T.D. Jakes, are not as dangerous as Rick Warren. Self-serving sorcerers of the false signs and wonders movement, like Todd Bentley, are not as dangerous as Rick Warren. No. None of the before-mentioned personalities or groups are all that dangerous because what you see is what you get. They all lack the ability to change their appearance to accommodate a change in environment. They lack the chameleon-like ability, the self-serving ability, to say what needs to be said in order to keep people in every camp liking them.

Rick Warren is a chameleon. Over the years he has shown, time and time again, his uncanny ability to say what will please his audience at the moment–secular news anchors and pundits, the masses at the request of a president who knows neither the Christ nor His Word, the leaders of false religions around the world, and sadly, even well-respected leaders of the real Christian community.

Undoubtedly, I will receive criticism for writing this blog post. There will be those who will call me judgmental. To them I say, “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment” (John 7:24).

There will be those who will say that I am being unfair to Warren because he is on a mission of peace. To them I say, “They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace” (Jeremiah 6:14 and Jeremiah 8:11).

There will be those who will say that I shouldn’t write this way about such a respected leader in the Christian world. To them I say, “Now these Jews [Bereans] were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so” (Acts 17:11). And, if they do not find this compelling enough to question Warren, then to them I say, “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test (2 Corinthians 13:5).

** UPDATE – March 07, 2012: I have removed the Afshan Javid videos posted here as per a helpful link left by a commenter. (See comments for more details.) **

The commandments of Christianity are positive, a sharp contrast to the oppressive framework of Islam.

And this is what worries me about authoritarian legalism which is on the ascent in Christianity.  Truth be told, it never went away, although it was restricted to smaller denominations. Now, it seems to be playing a major supporting role, particularly in the United States. Unfortunately, this Islamic-style oppression is also burning out a number of people in authoritarian churches.  Women conduct their lives in fear — ‘submission’, a word Muslims use all the time. Children are beaten for the slightest infraction. These authoritarians believe in a Jesus devoid of mercy.  It is the greatest twisting of Scripture imaginable.

Is that what the Gospel says? Or is this authoritarianism Satan’s work?

Going back to Rick Warren — a wolf in sheep’s clothing — how many former Muslims does he think are going to buy into his communitarian projects with mosques? I doubt that Muslim converts to Christianity would.  Warren and his one-world religion advocates live a pleasantly sanitised Western life surrounded by nice people and nice places. They do not seem to fully understand the danger of being a Christian in a Muslim country.

Monday: Prayers for Christians in Muslim countries

A couple of weeks ago, news appeared in the blogosphere that the well-known Baptist pastor John Piper and the Roman Catholic Lectio Divina proponent Beth Moore appeared recently at the Passion 2012 Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. (H/T: Anna Wood)

The Revd Ken Silva from Apprising Ministries carries the story (emphases mine):

It’s an incontrovertible fact that right from its hatching in hell corrupt Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism (CSM), such as that taught by Living Spiritual Teacher and Quaker mystic Richard Foster along with his spiritual twin and Southern Baptist minister Dallas Willard, was a core doctrine

It’s also giving rise to a rebirth of Pietism; this isn’t surprising when you consider that CSM flowered in the antibiblical monastic traditions of apostate Roman Catholicism. As the evangelical fad of CSM expands there’s a decided charismania also developing, which is producing a syncretism where Word Faith heretics like Joel Osteen and T.D. Jakes are essentially considered mainstream now. With all of this has come more and more people claiming to have direct experience with God

Hosted by Louis Giglio, pastor of Passion City Church in Atlanta, Passion featured an interesting lineup of speakers such Francis Chan, Beth Moore and New Calvinist mentor John Piper. Not surpisingly the conference had a distinctive charismatic and even contemplative flair; e.g. prayer walking. After one session the crowd was urged to break into “love groups” and go out to pray and “take back the city of Atlanta.”

One can certainly point a finger at the Roman Catholic Church, but, as I wrote in the comments on Anna’s site, what has occurred at Passion 2012 is more symptomatic of 17th century Lutheran/Moravian pietism in general and of the Holiness movement which dates back to 19th century Methodism and advanced in the following century through the many Holiness denominations. Ultimately, this led to our current charismatic services and Pentecostal churches.

John Wesley borrowed heavily from Moravian pietists whose acquaintance he made on the journey from England to America. After his return to Europe, he even studied at their HQ in Herrnhut, Germany.

Although pietism has its most ancient beginnings in the earliest days of the Church, it was later revived when Germans and Scandinavians became disillusioned with ‘staid’ state churches and wanted something more.

Today, however, I am sorry to read that Dr Piper — a confessional, or Particular, Baptist — has fallen for more pietistic holiness (Rick Warren being the foremost example), hallmarks of which include contemplative prayer, Quaker quietism (‘let go and let God’ — wait until you get a ‘sign’ of some sort), small groups, personal accountability, public confession, overt sentimentality, strong emotional worship, receiving ‘divine messages’ and personal testimony over doctrine (or the Bible).

Yet, these activities are everywhere. Even Church of England vicars encourage them — contemplative prayer, especially. A number of Anglican churches offer days or mornings of ‘silent prayer’, which is the same thing.

Pietism is known for its ecumenism, so it’s no surprise that Passion 2012 featured speakers from a variety of Christian denominations.  Unfortunately, those denominations which practice pietism — holiness churches, in particular — will be affected by these cross-currents.  The Church of the Nazarene has experienced an onslaught of Fuller Seminary and Roman Catholic influence: The Reformed Nazarene blog chronicles them in detail. I empathise with Nazarenes who wish to keep their denomination pure, but, ultimately, this is the outcome of pietism and the holiness movement.  The Nazarenes emerged from the Wesleyan holiness movement in the 19th century.

Pietism is experiential, emotional and introspective. It seeks to transform denominations, if not the Church as a whole, in order to bring about personal and moral change.

Bob DeWaay, who has been in discernment ministry most of his life, admits to having fallen prey to pietism:

My journey into the “deeper life” oftentimes involved embracing contradictory teachings. For example, two of my favorite teachers in the early 1970’s were Watchman Nee and Kenneth Hagin. One taught a deeper Christian life through suffering[1]) and the other taught a higher order Christianity that could cause one to be free from bodily ailments and poverty.[2]The hook was that both claimed to have the secret to becoming an extraordinary Christian. I found out that they didn’t.

My dissatisfaction with the Christianity taught in Bible College[3] led me to join a Christian commune some months after graduation. That group’s founder taught that all ordinary churches and Bible Colleges were caught up in “religious Babylon.” He taught that the kingdom of God was to be found by quitting one’s job, selling one’s possessions, giving the money to the commune, and moving in together to be devoted to the “kingdom” twenty four hours a day. So in my search to become an extraordinary Christian I did what he said and joined …

By God’s grace I went back to the Bible and determined to merely teach verse by verse from that point on. It took another five or six years to rid myself of the various errors I had embraced and then I taught Romans in 1986. Through that study I came to appreciate the doctrines of grace. That understanding opened my thinking and was the turning point for my ministry. I also came to realize that the wrong-thinking that attracted me to pietism was that I held to a theology based on human ability rather than grace alone. Once I grasped that, I never looked back …

Pietism can be practiced many ways including enforced solitude, asceticism of various forms, man made religious practices, legalism, submission to human authorities who claim special status, and many other practices and teachings

These appear to most poorly taught Christians to be what the Lord wants. They reason, “Of course God is happier with a person who sells all and moves into a convent where he takes an oath of poverty than He is with someone who goes to work forty hours a week and uses some of the money to buy things.” Is He? When I was a pietist, if someone told me he prayed two hours a day, then I had to pray three hours to make sure I wasn’t missing out on something. I reasoned, “Of course God is happier with a Christian who prays three hours than one who prays two.” Is He? When I was a pietist I would work on cranking up my desire for holiness because I reasoned that holiness is found through something in the person rather than through God’s grace. Based on sermons I’d heard I reasoned, “Christians are not experiencing a higher degree of holiness because they do not desire it enough.” Is that true? No, none of these pietistic statements are true. Such teachings lead to elitism and comparing ourselves to others. The Bible tells us not to do that. Paul stated that these practices “are of no value against fleshly indulgence.”

I, along with confessional Lutherans, would disagree with DeWaay when he goes on to say that Spener was not a pietist but only reacting against a State Church. Spener’s theology was deeply pietist in that he promoted small groups (conventicles), agonised repentance and giving up worldly entertainments. He promoted justification by works through holiness and self-deprivation.

However, DeWaay rightly cites John Wesley as being a pietist:

Wesley’s Methodism and perfectionism were themselves pietistic. Wesley is an example of a much less extreme pietism. But the idea that some humanly discovered and implemented method can lead to the achievement of a better Christian life than through the ordinary means of grace is nevertheless pietism.

He is careful to draw a line between Wesley and Charles Finney, pre-eminent during the Second Great Awakening in the United States:

Wesley at least held to prevenient grace so as to avoid Pelagianism.[20] Finney was fully Pelagian in his approach to both salvation and sanctification.[21] And his innovations permanently changed much of American Evangelicalism. After Finney other perfectionist movements arose. The Holiness movement, for example, came not long after Finney. Both the Holiness movement and the subsequent Pentecostal movement held to second blessing doctrines that by nature are pietist because they create an elite category of Christians who have had a special experience that ordinary Christians lack.

DeWaay calls our attention to the Emergent Church and Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Church as the most recent examples of pietism:

Today the largest new pietist movement is the Emergent Church. As I pointed out earlier, pietism often arises in response to the perception (sometimes warranted) that the church has become too worldly and it seems true once again today. Some now assume that since ordinary Christianity is compromised, they must discover an extraordinary way to become better Christians. One Emergent leader has even entitled one of his works, “A New Kind of Christian.”[22] But this movement really isn’t all that new. It draws on teachings and practices found in other pietist movements in church history. In fact, a recent Emergent book includes essays by those experimenting with communal living, something I tried in my pietist days![23]

Furthermore, the Purpose Driven movement is also a pietistic movement. Rick Warren claims there are world class Christians that are in a better category than ordinary Christians. He had his followers take a long oath at a baseball field to pledge themselves to serving his new reformation. I already mentioned the apostles and prophets movement that is pietistic. So ironically, three huge movements in American evangelicalism (Purpose Driven, Emergent, and C. Peter Wagner’s latter day apostles) are all based on pietism. The three movements seem radically diverse, but each one claims to be a new reformation and each offers a higher status than that of ordinary Christians.

He cautions us against movements preaching against ‘dead orthodoxy’ and notes that the Charismatics are also pietist in this regard.

He also notes that the problem is not with orthodoxy but with church members, who are often spiritually dead:

Pietism misdiagnoses the problem and creates a false solution. It sees a compromised church that is apparently caught in dead orthodoxy. The real problem is not dead orthodoxy but spiritually dead sinners who give mental assent to orthodox truth but show no signs of regeneration. If indeed such a church existed (if truth really is there God has His remnant there as well), that church would be characterized by worldliness and sin. This is the case because dead sinners do not bear spiritual fruit. There was a church in Revelation that Jesus called “dead.” Pietism that holds to the true gospel but goes beyond it imagining that the dead sinners who are church members are Christians. When some of them become regenerate through the efforts of the pietists, they assume they have now entered a higher class of Christianity. They posit two types of Christian: “carnal” Christians and “spiritual” Christians. But in reality there are only Christians and dead sinners. 

DeWaay writes that pietists end up ignoring the Gospel message in favour of works righteousness:

When I was a pietist I thought salvation was an interesting first step a person took, but mostly lost interest in the topic unless I ran across someone who needed to pray the sinners prayer, which I imagined was the first step. The gospel of Christ was only of marginal interest to me as I sought the “deeper things.” The more I tried to be a very special type of Christian, the further my mind wandered from the cross. I was guilty of the very thing for which Paul rebuked the Corinthians.

It seems that people fall for pietism in its various guises because it gives them a sense of reassurance — misguided though it is. Charismatics and Pentecostalists enjoy the heady experiences of being ‘born again’ — speaking in tongues, for instance — something they can do and feel.  Others believe that dressing differently sets them ‘apart’ from the world as does abstaining from alcohol, tobacco and certain foodstuffs. Hence, some desire to join faith communes, which is radical pietism. Then, there are the ‘mystics’ who follow Lectio Divina and believe they are channelling a ‘higher consciousness’, who are most likely Christian refugees from the New Age movement.  This leads to a Gnosticism of sorts — a supposed special, secret knowledge or spiritual attainment that other people lack.

Sadly, this desire to ‘experience’ Christianity can lead people down the paths of error: Pelagianism and Gnosticism are heresies.  The rest of us would do well to pray for these people and hope that God’s grace leads them to a true confessional denomination.

For better or worse, everything starts in America before spreading to the rest of the world these days.

One of the most pivotal tools over the past 20 years has been Oprah Winfrey‘s television show, which has evolved into a cable channel attracting millions of women viewers every day.  It only lasted a couple of years here in the UK.  We prefer more kitchen sink chat show entertainment during the day with the likes of Jeremy (‘DNA test’) Kyle and Trisha Goddard, who is probably our Oprah equivalent, although she deals with people’s problems.  I’m not a fan of any of them, however, many women rely on them as a break to get through the day, and it is common for women in an office to discuss who was on these shows and what was said, especially about the paternity tests.

I know of women in the US who have relied heavily on Oprah.  They either watch the show in the afternoon or record it for viewing in the evenings.  Some have also regularly bought Oprah’s magazine.  Because she is a self-made woman with bags of cash and her own media companies, she is seen as a role model.  What’s more, she offers gifts of cars and trips to her delighted audience.  Is it any wonder, then, that she influences the way many American women think?

Oprah finds New Age literature inspiring.  It, in turn, affects her view of Christianity.  Here’s what she had to say about Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose (highlights in the original):

I am a Christian who believes that there are certainly many more paths to God other than Christianity.

In 2008, Berit Kjos tells us that she co-presented a 10-week long Internet-streamed course with Eckhart Tolle on A New Earth:

According to Tolle, Jesus’ teaching of “salvation” means “a radical transformation of human consciousness” (p. 13) and the process of “rebirth” is “reincarnation.” (p. 252)

Her January 30, 2008, press release stated in part (emphases mine):

“Being able to share this material with you is a gift and a part of the fulfillment of my life’s purpose … It was an awakening for me that I want for you, too” …

Published in 2005, A New Earth encourages a collective sense of commitment to changing the way we live for people who want to make a difference. With the knowledge that we live in a time desperate for global change, the book by renowned spiritual teacher Tolle answers the question: What can one person do to enact that change? With clarity and in practical terms, he gently leads readers to a new level of consciousness, awakening them to their lives’ purposes and inviting them to envision a new earth where peace and fellowship are the norm.

It sounds dreamy, doesn’t it?  Note the highlighted phrases and the words ‘purpose’, ‘collective’, ‘commitment’, ‘make a difference’, ‘desperate for global change’, ‘change’, ‘consciousness’, ‘awakening’, ‘a new earth’ and ‘peace and fellowship’.

Perhaps you can see through those words straightaway. Yet, imagine the numbers of people who go without discernment ministry.  Not all of them will be adult women, either.  Some will be teenage girls at home after school.  Again, I thought about the woman university student I mentioned on Monday.  Perhaps she was attracted to Tolle’s books whilst taking the course on line.  We all want to make a difference, right?  And who wouldn’t want to live in a world where ‘peace and fellowship are the norm’?

In a USA Today article on March 3, “World is Oprah’s Classroom,” Oprah explains that this is a “classroom larger than anyone could imagine…. We’re going to be streaming live throughout the world…. And I think the interest will just keep growing.” The article indicates: “Although Winfrey has enthusiastically embraced self-improvement books by Tolle and others, notably Rhonda Byrne’s best seller The Secret, she has never before chosen one for her book club.” Oprah explained that she does interviews on XM Satellite Radio that “might not work as well on mainstream TV.” Her rationale for teaching Tolle’s book is:

Many people aren’t that familiar with spiritual growth. They might need some help at first with the languaging of new consciousness and things like that. So I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to have classes to help people through the process?'”

… In Tolle’s earlier book, The Power of Now, he teaches that we are “God”:

“Don’t get attached to any one word. You can substitute ‘Christ’ for presence, if that is more meaningful to you. Christ is your God-essence or Self, as it is sometimes called in the East. The only difference between Christ and presence is that Christ refers to your indwelling divinity regardless of whether you are conscious of it or not, whereas presence means your awakened divinity or God-essence.” (p. 104) [bold added]

She also invited New Age author Marianne Williamson to:

systematically teach the New Age principles of A Course in Miracles. While most of the Christian world was relaxing, Williamson was hard at work teaching A Course in Miracles on her radio show. Her program, which now airs each weekday for an hour, is completely devoted to teaching A Course in Miracles. Both Oprah Winfrey and Marianne Williamson have openly stated that they believe the principles of A Course in Miracles can change the world.(1)

… A Course in Miracles is reputedly “new revelation” from “Jesus,” channeled through a university professor in New York City by the name of Helen Schucman. A Course in Miracles is actually the Bible turned upside-down, as it teaches that “a slain Christ has no meaning” and that “the journey to the cross should be the last useless journey.” Its teachings state that “there is no sin” and that “the recognition of God is the recognition of yourself.”

Williamson cleverly avoided any direct reference to biblical Christianity when she stated that over the coming months on her program she would be methodically “dismantling a thought system based on fear.” She emphasized that the dismantled thought system would be replaced by “a thought system based on love” – a thought system that would be inspired by the New Age teachings of A Course in Miracles.

In terms of Holy Week and Easter, Williamson’s book states (emphases in the original):

The song of Easter is the glad refrain the Son of God was never crucified. Let us lift up our eyes together, not in fear but in faith. (ACIM Text, p. 428)

The crucifixion did not establish the atonement; the resurrection did. Many sincere Christians have misunderstood this. (ACIM Text, p. 36)

For the undoing of the crucifixion of God’s Son is the work of redemption, in which everyone has a part of equal value. (ACIM Text, p. 209)

Do not make the pathetic error of ‘clinging to the old rugged cross.’ (ACIM Text, p. 52)

Let Us Reason Ministries tells us:

Marriane Williamson who promotes the Course in Miracles (a book dictated by a spirit guide) is the pastor of one of the largest Unity School of Christianity churches in the United States (Warren, Michigan). The Unity School was founded by Myrtle and Charles Fillmore. Through them we discover another secret – that it is connected to the popular secret everyone is embracing– “In the course in Miracles” she writes “The recognition of God is the recognition of yourself” (p.147). Once we understand that this same message is found in all the authors,  books and practices, we will gain the perspective of what this is all about, where it is going and what it will do to the individual that pursues its ways.

If you want to know what has made Oprah successful- this is what she has been promoting from the beginning of her show. As we will see, the Secret that Oprah is promoting is the very same ideas and concepts that many have espoused before her. And they are right out of Religious Science and Metaphysics …

Oprah’s motivation is to inspire people to take control of their lives. This message can be beneficial if it is kept in the practical realm. But when it is enforced by metaphysics it becomes a very different message. “You can choose what happens” is the New Age philosophy. Oprah states, “You are responsible for your life-the power of God is within you, above you and through you. You control your life” …

So we are all masters (like the new age teaching that everyone is Christ). You are the master but you actually become the slave to a law you know nothing about. Considering that they find Bible verses to validate their teaching and practice; yet Jesus said “You cannot serve two masters,” either you are master and the universe obeys you or God is your master and you obey him.

So, you see how an Oprah viewer would hear the words ‘church’, ‘pastor’ and ‘God’ thinking, ‘Hey, this sounds really interesting.’  And, someone like Williamson will have selected certain Bible verses to misinterpret, Oprah will reinforce the good feelings and there you have it.  More women being deceived and led down the garden path.

Yet, as to Helen Schucman who received these messages from her ‘Jesus’, Berit Kjos tells us that Schucman:

never fully believed in the teachings she channeled. Schucman confessed, “I resented the material I was taking down, and was strongly impelled to attack it and prove it wrong” and “I do not understand the events that led up to the writing. I do not understand the process and I certainly don’t understand the authorship.(2)

Be very careful with this.  New Age courses seem to attract many more women than men, and that could be because the spirituality they espouse is quite feminine.  Furthermore, they are based on the heresies of gnosticism, pantheism and more.  If it sounds too good to be true, it generally is.  Any book or lecture which contradicts God and Christ as represented in the Scriptures is false.  Paul’s epistles warn us about false teachers.  Revelation tells us what will happen to Babylon.  Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security.

Those who do follow Oprah’s New Age courses to the letter, however, will be unwittingly co-operating with the New Age, UN-sponsored plan for behavioural change on a global scale.  Is Oprah aware of what her courses are doing and where this universal thought process is leading?  If so, it’s an extraordinarily clever way of accomplishing a global plan.

Now, on to the best known pastor in the United States — Rick Warren.  Today, we are just going to address the implications of his health programme, the Daniel Plan, launched earlier this year. As Berit Kjos says:

Rick Warren was well-schooled in Leadership Network’s marketing model which encourages pastors to snap up a biblical-sounding term, apply it on to any new plan or program, and voila! It becomes a marketing logo! Note the emphasis on community in this description:

“The Daniel Plan is designed to help people adapt a healthy lifestyle through a comprehensive 52-week journey–not just another short-lived diet. With the inspiration to know and live God’s Prescription for Health, The Daniel Plan supports you with world-class professional Doctors, small-group support, tools, resources and an online community!” [https://www.saddleback.com/thedanielplan/healthyhabits/ ]

God doesn’t give us a prescription for health other than spiritual health — by grace through faith, aided by Word and Sacrament.

In another of Ms Kjos’s Herescope posts, we discover (emphases in the original quote, followed by mine):

Rick Warren has now plunged into a role as Change Agent for health care reform in America. It is significant that he chose some genuine New Age gurus to be his partners.[7] This association provides an indication about how Rick Warren defines “health.” Researcher Jennifer Pekich wrote an account of her personal experience at the Saddleback Health and Fitness Seminar. Her report on Rick Warren‘s new Daniel Plan revealed that the real agenda is not about healthy parishioners. It is about radical community transformation …

I about fell off my chair when Dr. Hyman stated, “The key to the success of the “Daniel Plan” is “group living”…”individuals” will not succeed, our only hope lies in “community.” And with that, it was announced that the “Saddleback community” would be an example of “sustainable living” and would set the course to “change this world”…and the crowd went wild![8] …

Being part of the community means that you go into the databank. The Daniel Plan is a massive health assessment for all evangelicals gullible enough to turn in personally identifiable health data to a Rick Warren’s massive secretive databank.[9] The Daniel Plan asks users to create their own health profile online that divulges intimate medical information …

A broad range of health data will be collected on participants. (We guess the participants will yield their right to privacy! They will provide to Dr. Rick information that was previously confidential between them and their personal physicians.) …

Who are Rick Warren’s partners in this endeavor? With whom will he share this data? Will this Church data be passed along to the State? Turned over to Corporations? (In other words, the other two legs of the 3-legged stool)? Given Warren’s close association with Bill Gates, who is heavily involved in funding health care reform around the world, one can only guess how far-and-wide the Daniel Plan data could be divulged.[11]

Note how cleverly Warren has maneuvered the Church into a position of Agent Provocateur. This fits in with the Dominionist “cultural renewal” model where the Church assumes a key role in managing the transformation of Society, i.e. transforming “culture.” In this case, specifically health care. By assuming this pivotal role the Church is no longer the conscience of Society. It is not functioning as salt and light to a dark world. Rather it is acting as a Change Agent working in collaboration with the State and Corporate Business to facilitate transformation.

Through the Daniel Plan Warren will help his congregation — and anyone else daft enough to participate — to get accustomed to an intrusive database state and view it as beneficial.  The US government and the United Nations must be grateful to him for that.

The other thing is that he is using well-known New Age doctors:

The question might be asked: Why didn’t Dr. Rick pick medical doctors who were Christians? Not nominal Christians, but sincere evangelical Christians! Surely there are highly esteemed, reputable, well-credentialed Christian physicians at the top of their field in various hospitals, universities or medical research laboratories! But Rick Warren picked the Oprah Winfrey type of New Age guru to be his guides with the Daniel Plan – the Hollywood hype type of doctors.

An official “Daniel Plan Pastoral Response” to the question “Why did Saddleback Church choose to use these doctors, who have been linked to other beliefs?” can be viewed HERE. In this classic insipid Warrenesque response it is claimed that these doctors “are in no way advising our church on spiritual matters.” But given the fact that these doctors have specialized in integrating their spirituality with their views on medicine and health, this is not an honest answer. (View Daniel Plan FAQ sheet HERE) …

The input-driven model of healthcare reform is not a model that treats disease. It is outcome-based healthcare. It is a New Age model that denies the reality of disease and focuses on wellness, as we explained in our earlier post, 3-Legged “Health” Care. Therefore the Daniel Plan is all about what you are putting into your body’s system. Note: what you put into your body can be measured and assessed, monitored and databanked…. and controlled.

I find it incredible that a mainstream Baptist pastor (and the son of one!) can invite New Age practitioners to participate in a church-based ‘health’ programme.  Then again, perhaps Rick Warren is under influences other than the Bible these days.  Who knows — many of us have our theological differences with him — but there might be more here from a ‘transformational’ perspective than we realise.  All the more reason to be wary of a pastor with ‘purpose’!

Please beware of these programmes.  They have no biblical mandate and come from Fabian, Theosophical and New Age influences.  They are about conformity and control of large populations.

This week’s posts have been examining New Age and globalist thinking with regard to Christianity.

There appears to be a two-pronged approach.  One is for the elites, which includes ways to transform and micromanage other people’s behaviour.  The other is on popular thought, to prepare people to accept these new behaviours.  Today, we look at what the elites develop and learn from each other.

Since the end of the Second World War a fusion of United Nations programmes and management theory have been rolled out to international leaders in politics, business and churches.  The end result is to change the way governments control their populations at home, school, work and church.

On the face of it, these look appealing and innovative, until one begins asking questions as to what impact they will have on individual members of society.

What follows is by no means a complete list of transformational change organisations and agents but a few examples to give you an idea of what is happening in our world today and how these plans may affect each of us.

UNESCO

Julian Huxley, a Fabian, was UNESCO’s first Director-General.  In 1947, he explained how this agency would work (emphases in the original):

Unesco [UN Educational, Social and Scientific Organization] also can and should promote the growth of international contacts, international organizations, and actual international achievements, which will offer increasing resistance to the forces making for division and conflict. In particular, it can both on its own and in close relation with other UN agencies such as the FAO [Food & Agriculture Organization] and WHO [World Health Organization], promote the international application of science to human welfare. As the benefits of such world-scale collaboration becomes plain (which will be speedily be the case in relation to the food and health of mankind) it will become increasingly more difficult for any nation to destroy them by resorting to isolationism or to war. Page 14

Unesco must pay special attention to international education – to education as a function of a world society, in addition to its function in relation to national societies, to regional or religious or intellectual groups or to local communities. p. 29-30

Conclusion: …The task before UNESCO… is to help the emergence of a single world culture with its own philosophy and background of ideas and with its own broad purpose. This is opportune, since this the first time in history that the scaffolding and the mechanisms for world unification have become available and also the first time that man has had the means… of laying a world-wide foundation for the minimum physical welfare of the entire human species. And it is necessary, for at the moment, two opposing philosophies of life confront each other from the West and from the East … p. 62

“…society as such embodies no values comparable to those embodied in individuals; but individuals are meaningless except in relation to the community.” p. 62

Here are a few brief points from UNESCO’s Declaration of Principles on Tolerance with notes from Berit Kjos:

“Tolerance is respect, acceptance and appreciation of the rich diversity of our world’s cultures… It is not only a moral duty, it is also a political and legal requirement.” [appreciating lifestyles that clash with our faith?]

“Tolerance… means that one’s views are not to be imposed on others.” [Would this end our freedom to share the gospel with others?]

“Intolerance… is a global threat.”

And here are extracts from UNESCO’s 1994 Declaration on the Role of Religion in the Promotion of a Culture of Peace:

8. Peace entails that we understand that we are all interdependent…. collectively responsible for the common good.

11. We must… cultivate a spirituality which manifests itself in action…

19. Our communities of faith have a responsibility to encourage conduct imbued with wisdom, compassion, sharing, charity, solidarity, and love; inspiring one and all to choose the path of freedom and responsibility. Religions must be a source of helpful energy.

22. We will promote dialogue and harmony between and within religionsrespecting the search for truth and wisdom that is outside our religion. We will establish dialogue with all, striving for a sincere fellowship…

WHO

Berit Kjos has researched the World Health Organisation (WHO).  This is what she has discovered:

WHO was officially established as a specialized UN agency in April 1948. By that time, its first Secretary-General, Dr. Brock Chisholm, a Canadian psychiatrist, had already demonstrated his intolerance for Christianity. Two years earlier, he had written a report titled “The Re-Establishment of Peacetime Society.” It was published both in the prestigious magazine Psychiatry and in an international socialist newspaper published by Alger Hiss. Its message was clear: Christianity must be eradicated! Here are some excerpts:

“The responsibility for charting the necessary changes in human behavior rests clearly on the sciences working in that field. Psychologists, psychiatrists, sociologists, economists, and politicians must face this responsibility.

“…it has long been generally accepted that parents have perfect right to impose any…fears, superstitions, prejudices, hates, or faith on their defenseless children. It is, however, only recently that it has become a matter of certain knowledge that these things cause neuroses.

“There is something to be said… for gently putting aside the mistaken old ways of our elders if that is possible. If it cannot be done gently, it may have to be done roughly or even violently’ …

Some years ago, school children were practicing compliance by signing the Healthy Practices Pledge. It sounded innocuous at first — just promise to

– “brush with a fluoride toothpaste,”

– choose “snacks such as fruits and vegetables,” and

– “make our home a smoke-free zone”

– then sign the pledge. But the contract was open-ended. It suggested that other “healthy” behaviors would be added later. What if the next part of the contract added “cooperation with” and “tolerance for” something that conflicted with a child’s faith? What if a refusal to sign the contract would bring ridicule and persecution? Would your child be ready to follow God, even when pressured to embrace contrary values?

General Systems Theory (GST)

A number of management theories have also played their part in bringing about a falsely unified global society.  Berit Kjos brings us this helpful summary from The Issues of Management:

GST was originally proposed by Hungarian biologist Ludwig von Bertalanffy in 1928. He proposed that ‘a system is characterized by the interactions of its components and the nonlinearity of those interactions.’ Kuhn (the originator of the “paradigm shift”) applied the GST to culture and society, and he saw cultures as interlinking subsystems of a broader planetary society. In 1980, cosmologist Stephen Hawking then expanded systems thinking to the global platform by introducing the ‘Chaos Theory’ that claims the ‘interconnectedness of all things’— (i.e. the beating of a butterfly’s wings in Asia creates a breeze in America). As a result, GST becomes very esoteric when taken to its logical conclusions:

“GST is symptomatic of a change in our worldview. No longer do we see the world in a blind play of atoms, but rather a great organization.” (13)

– “According to GST, nothing can be understood in isolation but must be seen as part of a system.” (14)

– If one accepts the theory that the world is an interconnected and interdependent holistic system (and within that system is an infrastructure that is analogous across systems), one must logically conclude that [James Lovelock’s 1979] Gaia Hypothesis is true …

– The Gaia Hypothesis is, in essence, nothing more than ancient worship of the Mother Earth Goddess…

Now note the mention below of Rick Warren’s mentor, the late Peter Drucker:

“…one can conclude that GST is an esoteric belief system based on a merger of Darwinism and eastern mysticism—much like what one would now term ‘New Age’. GST contends that man is moving to the next level of evolution, but in order to reach this plateau, mankind must be ascribe to a common, universal consciousness, or belief system (“old beliefs” must transition to “new beliefs”). Drucker confirmed his adherence to this concept by the development of the ‘3-legged stool’ model. The legs are representative of the corporate system, the state, and the ‘private sector’.  He top of the stool signifies the reaching of that which he terms as ‘community’ or consensus of these three separate sectors (or subsystems) of society. Drucker … spent the last half of his life concentrating on this ‘private sector’ (churches and non-profits) because this segment offers the platform for the dialectical consensus to unite all of humanity to bring about the ‘jump phenomenon’ (16) to the next level of “societal evolution”. According to the GST and the Gaia Hypothesis, the ‘old system’ must break down in order for the “new system” to break through.”

Note this paragraph in particular (emphases mine):

… the non-profit sector –and the Evangelical Church in particular, posed the greatest threat to achieving the synthesis of “community”–or at least it did– until Hybels, Buford, Warren, and Co. began to transition their constituents by the hundreds of thousands to a position that aligned with the whole systems model.”

Networking

This isn’t about social networking — online or offline — but about technology and futurism effecting harmony and health around the world.  Berit Kjos tells us more (emphases mine below):

One of the mantras of the New Age “Aquarian” movement is “think globally, act locally.” … the purpose of networking was to transform the world. It would happen by restructuring the world from the tiny cellular all the way up to global governance.

None of this could be achieved without a computer … The computer is able to collate large amounts of data and oversee the complexity of networking processes. The computer also provides a feedback mechanism for data collection, monitoring, and assessing for compliance

The cellular hierarchical structure is an emerging structure of global governance transcending the nation-state. The Gaia Peace Atlas (Pan Books, 1988) contains a vivid picture of future governance models on pp 238-9, stating that in the future, “hierarchical, centralized ‘authority’ will give way to a network of interlocking levels of governance.” The title of the book is a reference to James Lovelock’s “Gaia Hypothesis,” in which he refers to the Earth in terms of this Greek goddess, and humanity as both an organism and a deity.

Similar cellular networking diagrams for global governance can be found on pages 126-7 of influential futurist Ervin Laszlo’s A Strategy for the Future: The Systems Approach to World Order (Braziller, 1974). (Note: These diagrams look the same as the models for cell church systems popular within evangelicalism.) Page 150 shows a “Design for a World Homeostat,” i.e., a centralized global government structure. Laszlo insists that the “world model must be hierarchical, with levels ranging from any local system or action and decision, through intermediate levels. To the global level of the world system as a whole” …

Another leader in the move towards systems-based global governance is Robert Muller, former Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations, who wrote a paper entitled Framework for Preparation for the year 2000: The 21st Century and the Third Millennium (Quinnipiac College Press, 1994) in which he described his vision for the future. By the year 2010 he saw mankind evolving into a new species: …

The next phase of our evolution will therefore be a cosmic, spiritual age in which the Earth becomes a true showcase in the universe, with human beings in perfect physical, mental, moral, affective and spiritual union with the universe and time.“ (p. 22)

… on September 11, 1984, Donald Keys … a founder of the Luciferian one-world organization Planetary Citizens, delivered an address about “Transformation of Self and Society” at a “Light of the Mountains Forum” symposium called “Toward a Global Society.” Keys said:

We’re at a stage now of pulling it all together. It’s a new religion called ‘networking.’ . . . When it comes to running a world or taking people into a New Age, . . . don’t anyone think for a moment that you can run a planet without a head. . . . This planet has to be managed . . . . We have meditations at the United Nations a couple of times a week. The meditation leader is Sri Chinmoy, and this is what he said … ‘ . . . The United Nations is the chosen instrument of God … One day, the world will . . . treasure and cherish the soul of the United Nations as its very own with enormous pride, for this soul is all-loving, all-nourishing, and all-fulfilling.'” (p. 131)

Global Spirit

Global Spirit‘s formal name is The World Commission on Global Consciousness & Spirituality.

Two of its co-chairmen are the aforementioned Ervin Laszlo and Robert Muller.  Its objectives include, among other things:

– Create a new notation for global grammar/global perspective.

– Increase awareness of how one’s mentality affects one’s reality.

– Develop global wisdom, ethics & spirituality through deep dialogue.

Its recommended reading list includes:

– A New Earth: Awakening Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle.

– The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz.

– The Empathic Civilization: The Race to Global Consciousness in a World in Crisis by Jeremy Rifkin.

– Global Shift: How A New Worldview Is Transforming Humanity by Edmund J. Bourne.

The Dalai Lama and Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu are two of its World Commission Members.

Global Spirit has 17 Global Councils on everything from religion to science to corporate responsibility to youth leadership to women to the arts.  So, every aspect of a person’s life is covered here.

Global Council participants include Robert Redford, Susan Sarandon, Bono, Barbara Marx Hubbard, Mikhail Gorbachev, Al Gore, Dennis Kucinich and a host of veritable unknowns who must be very powerful people indeed.

Note the use of the word ‘networking’ and the notion of ‘think globally, act locally’:

Since its Inauguration in l998 the World Commission (WC) has taken as one of its highest priorities the importance of forming powerful networks, partnerships and collaborations in the interest of fostering growing circles and forces for creative transformation on a planetary scale …

The Commission has come to realize increasingly that it is vital now to engage in deep systematic networking to help convene, harness and augment further conscious collaboration. We realize that there is already an awesome and growing range of initiatives already proceeding in more localized and scattered ways which are directly aligned with the mission and vision of the Commission. Indeed, it is now clearer than ever that such concerted networking is a moral imperative if the Commission is to have a real impact for mass change in the 21st Century.

… Furthermore, in our ongoing deliberations and retreats over the past three years the Commissioners have identified a number of fundamental areas of concern which have emerged as pressing priorities in fulfilling our collective mission.

These will affect us one way or another.  Have no doubt that what we do in our leisure time, what we think, the way we worship, the way we work are all influenced by means beyond our control.

Tomorrow: Oprah and Rick Warren — vital tools in globalisation efforts

This is really weird.  As I’ve said before, I don’t know about all the trends in American society, but, inevitably, they seem to come to our sceptred isle sooner or later.

Take, for instance, the Zeitgeist films, which a UK blog, Revolution Harry, aptly discussed a few weeks ago in ‘New Age Communism: The “Zeitgeist” Agenda’.  I had read it when it first appeared on March 6, 2011, but because it didn’t mean anything to me, I forgot about it.

Then, Linda Kimball of Patriots and Liberty commented on one of my posts at the end of March, which got me thinking about it again.  This is what Linda said in response to my ‘Dissecting American leftist rhetoric’ (emphases mine):

At bottom, the Left’s bloodlust is grounded on a view of evil. In the secular “Gnostic” materialist view, private property is the great evil because it causes envy. Atheist Communism was an attempt at erasing all conditions that cause envy.

In its’ occult Neo-Platonist, Gnostic counterpart, matter is the great evil. In this view, God the Father created the matter into which the divine spark fell, thus becoming trapped within matter (body).

Whether secular materialist or occult Neo-Platonist, both converge on the condemnation of God the Father simultaneous to the exaltation of Lucifer as the first free thinker and liberator of mankind. By extension, all people who worship God the Father are evil while all who exalt Lucifer are good.

Slowly but surely the West has been falling into unconscious satanism. As the rest of the world becomes infected by Western “thought,” it too will fall into unconscious satanism.

Revolution Harry’s aforementioned post says something similar about the Zeitgeist series and its parent, the Venus Project:

I’d seen the first two films and felt a little uneasy about them. The section in the first film ‘exposing’ Christianity was deeply flawed and the ‘solution’ proposed in Zeitgeist Addendum, namely the Venus Project, seemed more than a little suspect …

I did feel, however, that there was more to the Zeitgeist Movement … I’d come to understand that much of the so called ‘Truth Movement’ was a controlled ‘psy-op’ with one of its main aims, in simple terms, being to steer those who had woken up to the Orwellian New World Order being developed, in the direction of a ‘good’ world government. In addition this ‘good’ world government would have New Age (Theosophic) overtones.

The reason I’m writing about this is that it will help shed light on the next few posts about New Age influences on the Church.  Bear with me, as a common thread links the secular and the Christian movements in this direction.

Harry mentioned ‘New Age (Theosophic) overtones’ and Linda Kimball ‘the exaltation of Lucifer’. Helena (‘Madame’) Blavatsky (1831-1891) developed Theosophy and co-founded the Theosophical Society.  Blavatsky taught:

that all religions were both true in their inner teachings and problematic or imperfect in their external conventional manifestations.  Her writings connecting esoteric spiritual knowledge with new science may be considered to be the first instance of what is now called New Age thinking.[11]

… she wrote: “It is ‘Satan who is the god of our planet and the only god,‘ and this without any allusive metaphor to its wickedness and depravity.”[23] In this reference Blavatsky says that he whom the Christian dogma calls Lucifer originally was never the representative of the evil but, on the contrary, was the light-bringer (which is the literal meaning of the name Lucifer). According to Blavatsky the church turned him into Satan (which means the opponent) to fit him into the newly framed Christian dogmas. A similar view is also shared by the Christian Gnostics, ancient and modern.

It should be noted that Theosophy was a prominent belief not only amongst ‘esoteric thinkers’ in the United States but among Fabians in Britain.  One of Mme Blavatsky’s closest disciples was Annie Besant, who became a close companion of Fabian George Bernard Shaw.  Shaw sponsored her for membership in the Fabian Society.  At the time Besant joined the Fabians, they were more interested in spiritual advancement than politics, although, as my regular readers already know, they went on to found the Labour Party and the London School of Economics.

At the turn of the 20th century, one of Besant’s protegés, Englishman Charles Webster Leadbeater (pron. ‘led-better’), an ex-Church of England clergyman and author on the occult, teamed up with Anglo-Catholic priest James Ingall Wedgwood (yes, the china family) to form the Liberal Catholic Church.  (This church has no affiliation with the Roman Catholic Church, incidentally.)  It is a fusion of Catholicism with Theosophy and still exists today.

Another prominent English theosophist, Alice Bailey (1880-1949), founded Lucifer (now Lucis) Trust and is often referred to as the founder of the New Age Movement.  She wrote of ‘the Christ’, saying that:

the new Christ might be “of no particular faith at all”, that he may be from any nation, race, or religion, and wrote that his purpose of returning will be to “restore man’s faith in the Father’s love” in a close personal relationship with “all men everywhere”.

She stated that no one particular group can claim Him—that the New Age Christ belongs to whole world, and not to Christians alone, or to any nation or group. (Bailey, p 109) Bailey was highly critical of mainstream Christianity; she wrote that much of the Church’s teaching about Christ’s return is directly opposed to His own intentions and that “The history of the Christian nations and of the Christian church has been one of an aggressive militancy” (Bailey, p 110)

And for the Rick Warren watchers out there, here is how Bailey interpreted ‘discipleship’.  Bear in mind what Warren says about ‘deeds over creeds’.  Bailey’s perspective was

discipleship means work—serviceand the evolution of those sensitivities and powers that enhance that labor. Disciples will never gain such powers or awareness unless and until they will be used solely for unselfish service. (Bailey, p. 38)

So, when Rick Warren talks about getting closer to Christ through serving church and community, this is what he means.  Is he reading Alice Bailey’s works?  If he is typical of today’s Baptist pastors, we are on the road to perdition.

The New Age theosophical interest in Eastern religions developed from Mme Blavatsky’s years spent in India.  This is what she said in The Key to Theosophy (emphases in the original):

Q. What are the objects of the “Theosophical Society”?
1. To form the nucleus of a Universal Brotherhood of Humanity without distinction of race, color, or creed.
2. To promote the study of Aryan and other Scriptures, of the World’s religions and sciences, and to vindicate the importance of old Asiatic literature, namely, of the Brahmanical, Buddhist, and Zoroastrian philosophies.
3. To investigate the hidden mysteries of Nature under every aspect possible, and the psychic and spiritual powers latent in man especially.

Alice Bailey, originally an Anglican, also lived in India.  She also felt the influence of Eastern religions (emphases mine):

Bailey wrote that, in 1919, she was contacted by a Master known as The Tibetan (later associated with the initials D.K., and eventually the name Djwhal Khul) …

Bailey associated … spiritual hierarchy and its branches with the system of Sirius, the planet Venus, and the mythical land of Shambhala (which she spelled “Shamballa”), the residence of Sanat Kumara, “Lord of the World”. Bailey wrote, “The energy of Sirius by-passes (to use a modern word) Shamballa and is focused in the Hierarchy. […] The entire work of the Great White Lodge is controlled from Sirius….”[90] Monica Sjoo, in an essay about the New Age movement, explained her interpretation that “Bailey taught that the Hierarchy of Masters exists in Shambhala and that Venusians founded this fabled city some 18 million years ago on the sacred Gobi island, which is now in the Mongolian desert.”[91] It may be noted here that, in Bailey’s concept, “city” is figurative since she states that Shamballa is not physical in the common usage of that word but is rather located in “higher ethers.”

Hold that thought on Venus.  Before we go into that, here’s what she had to say on religion.  Doesn’t this sound a lot like what the Emergent guys and Rick Warren say?

Bailey taught a form of universal spirituality that transcended denominational identification, believing that, Every class of human beings is a group of brothers. Catholics, Jews, Gentiles, occidentals and orientals are all the sons of God.” She stated that all religions originate from the same spiritual source, and that humanity will eventually come to realize this, and as they do so, the result will be the emergence of a universal world religion and a “new world order.”[151][152] Bailey described a world where there would be no separate religions but rather “one great body of believers.” She predicted that these believers would accept unified truths based on brotherhood and “divine sonship”, and would “cooperate with the divine Plan, revealed to them by the spiritual leaders of the race.” She wrote that this was not a distant dream but a change that was actually occurring during the time of her writing. (Bailey, p 140)

Despite her focus on unity of religion, Bromley and Hammond point out that Bailey and other “occultists” “…hammered home the central idea, ‘The East is the true home of spiritual knowledge and occult wisdom.’[153]

Author Steven Sutcliffe wrote that Bailey’s “World Goodwill” organization was promoting groups of “world servers” to, as he quotes Bailey, “serve the Plan, Humanity, the Hierarchy and the Christ.”[154]

Okay, enough.  There is much more at the links.  However, here are the takeaways you can discuss with family members, particularly high school and university students who find this an attractive philosophy:

– The God of Theosophy-New Age is not the God of the Bible

– Christians refer to ‘Christ’, not ‘the Christ’

– We have no divinity in us

– Discipleship does not mean service but following Christ

– Not all are saved: ‘Enter by the narrow gate’

– The Bible says nothing about utopia or one-world harmony: ‘My Kingdom is not of this world’

Now, on to the Venus Project and the Zeitgeist films, which have won UN-sponsored endorsements. Revolution Harry reproduced a post from Henry Makow’s site, ‘New Age Communism: The “Zeitgeist” Agenda’.  Here are a few excerpts:

After the negative reception Zeitgeist received for it’s gratuitous anti-Christian content written by “Acharya S,” we hoped that was the end of Zeitgeist.

But a year later in 2008, filmmaker Peter Joseph was back with “Zeitgeist Addendum.” (Joseph’s real name seems to be P.J. Mercola.) This time P.J. seemed to kowtow to a wild eyed little old man named, Jacques Fresco.

Joseph said, ” Zeitgeist is the activist arm of the Venus Project”. The Venus Project is 94-year old control freak Jacque Fresco, born in the Bronx in 1917. It is associated with the UN

Fresco started out as an aircraft designer with a government contractor during the 1930’s.

After WWII he founded R[e]vell Plastics.  If you ever assembled model airplane kits you probably bought some of his products.  If you were into model airplane kits in the 1950’s-60’s, you remember the powerful airplane glue in the box, and you may recall getting headaches or even passing out.

In Zeitgeist Addendum, Fresco shows his plastic model Utopia.  He explains that all current social problems will be solved by technology.  For example, his solution for drunk driving is cars that won’t start if alcohol is detected.  That sounds good……..to a control freak.  In reality, when you create more technology you have to create more solutions to solve the problems it creates.  To see what I mean, visit the technological utopias in the movie “Brazil” (1985).

Fifty years ago, Fresco’s R[e]vell model airplane kits included a powerful toxic airplane glue in the box. That glue was eventually banned because the breathing the vapor killed brain cells.  If the engineer is infallible, was lowering intelligence of boys during the 1950’s-60’s part of his plan?

It was actually quite alarming at the time and probably the first media scare I can recall.  Anyway:

Plato’s Republic is the 2500-year-old blueprint of the New World Order.   Plato wrote it as a fictional dialogue proposing humanity be ruled by a special class of people he called “the Guardians”.   The premise [of] Plato’s utopia is that the majority of people aren’t entitled to their opinion, and for the good of society need to be told what to do from cradle to  grave.

That sounds not only like the elites but like Rick Warren, too.  Think of the Daniel Plan, where Saddleback Church maintains not only a database but checklist of activities participants are required to complete and fill in online.

Meanwhile, it transpires that Jacque Fresco was a Communist Party member but left because they did not share his enthusiasm for technology.

An article at an Irish site, Sovereign Independent, tells us that

Fresco spoke at the 10th anniversary of the UN’s Earth charter last year and subsequently attended Mikael Gorbachev’s congress, which you will find on thevenusproject.com hidden away in the Netherlands section. Hell even if for some reason you think rubbing shoulders with those mid level elites is okay, what about Fresco’s co-speaker Ervin Laszlo, (who he “spent time with”) who FOUNDED the Club of Budapest, with Aurelio Peccei, founder of the CLUB OF ROME, full of lovely illuminati globalists, who want a one world order, unified, worshipping the earth, under a new age religion. What about him being invited to dinner in the Dutch queen’s palace? As in Queen Beatrix…. of Bilderberg.

Fresco’s Venus Project:

is an organization that is founded on the ideas, designs, and direction presented here. It represents many years of research and dedication on the part of its originator and Project Director, Jacque Fresco. Its 25-acre research and design center is located in Venus, Florida where the future is taking shape today. The function of The Venus Project is to design, develop, and prepare plans for the construction of an experimental city …

This new experimental city would be devoted to working towards the aims and goals of The Venus Project, which are:

1. Conserving all the world’s resources as the common heritage of all of the Earth’s people

4. Reclaiming and restoring the natural environment to the best of our ability …

12. Assisting in stabilizing the world’s population through education and voluntary birth-control to conform to the carrying capacity of the earth.

13. Outgrowing nationalism, bigotry and prejudice through education

15. Arriving at methodologies by careful research rather than random opinions

17. Providing not only the necessities of life but also offering challenges that stimulate the mind, emphasizing individuality rather than uniformity.

18. Finally, preparing people intellectually and emotionally for the possible changes that lie ahead.

Apparently, the workers will be robots and society will be cashless as:

Money is only important in a society when certain resources for survival must be rationed and the people accept money as an exchange medium for the scarce resources. Money is a social convention, an agreement if you will. It is neither a natural resource nor does it represent one. It is not necessary for survival unless we have been conditioned to accept it as such.

Furthermore:

Only nutritious and healthy food would be available

Ugh.  Sounds terrible.

Back to Richard Evans at Henry Makow — he mentions another Fabian, Bertrand Russell:

Lord Bertrand Russell wrote in his 1951 book “Impact of Science on Society” that the electronic cashless society will be a form of social control.

Like Lord Russell, Fresco is a plutocrat whose retirement hobby is social engineering and raising an army of useful idiots..  During the Cold War hoax, Russell  founded  the “Pugwash movement” which used the fear of nuclear holocaust  to trick hippies into holding rallies in Washington DC begging for world government.   They must have been high, or didn’t have the vocabulary  to comprehend his wordy books …

Zeitgeist One told people to lose their faith in their religion,

Zeitgeist 1,2,& 3 told people that private property, savings, elected national democracy, and the right to your own opinion caused the economic crash, the ‘war on terror’, and ‘global warming’.

Now The Venus Project (Jacque Fresco) is telling you to withdraw all your money, savings and all and throw it away.

If there were any doubt that Zeitgeist has been predictive programming to coincide with the ‘flash mob’ ‘Global revolution’, the last 11 minutes of Zeitgeist Moving On leave no doubt.

He explains this last sentence in the comments:

I intended the article review of the last 11 minutes to show how the revolutions in the Middle East aren’t coming from the people at all. It’s a psychological operation.

I see I should have made that the only message of the conclusion.

He tells us what the next Zeitgeist project will include:

Fresco’s vision of a[n] atheist Utopia alienated Buddhists, Hindus, and those into the galaxy of “new age” peopleAware of that, Peter Joseph is currently working next installment for 2012, dropping the ‘Zeitgeist’ branding,  titled “Earth 2.0”.

It will push exactly the same cashless, collective society, but Zeitgeist’s open atheism will be candy coated with a section on human consciousness as God.  Quantum metaphysics Cabala camouflage will replace Jacque Fresco’s overt assault on faith and metaphysics.

Wow — we have really got ourselves into a muddle during the last century.

Oh, yes, I almost forgot:

JACQUE FRESCO: “If we try to visualize the future without families, there’s fear, so when we make movies we put families in there. There will be no families. Those people won’t want children. We do a survey of the carrying capacity of the earth, and that tells us how many people the earth can support” …

CLUB OF ROME:  “This is the way we are setting the scene for mankind’s encounter with the planet.”

Tomorrow: More New Age and UN influences on today’s Christianity

My sincere thanks to Christian Research Net, Watcher’s Lamp and Discerning the World for picking up my post from October 10, 2010, ‘Rick Warren’s Global Network‘.

Watcher’s Lamp and Discerning the World noted my mention of Warren’s fulsome address to the 2009 Islamic Society Convention in Plainfield, Illinois — a pleasant semi-rural town not far from Joliet. 

Watcher’s Lamp has more about the ISNA, the organisation behind the conference (italics in the original):

According to the Investigative Project On Terrorism, The Islamic Society of North America, ISNA “is one of America’s most prominent and active Muslim organizations.

As the information detailed in this report will show, ISNA’s ideology has been rooted in radicalism since its foundation.

Among the findings:

  • ISNA remains an unindicted co-conspirator in the Hamas-support prosecution of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF), despite its appeals to the court to remove that status.
  • ISNA was created by members of the Muslim Brotherhood – a radical Egyptian
    movement that seeks to spread Shariah law globally – in the U.S. Many of those founders remain in leadership positions with ISNA.
  • It invites controversial speakers to its nationwide conferences, including some of the world famous Islamists and advocates of Jihad.
  • Speakers at ISNA conferences make radical statements, often in contradiction of ISNA’s cultivated public image.

Discerning the World concluded their post with a 2006 article from Amil Imani, originally from Iran and now resident in the United States.  Mr Imani cautions us on our approach in ‘Islam’s Useful Idiots’, which originally appeared in American Thinker.  Excerpts follow (emphases mine):

The Useful Idiot may even engage in willful misinformation and deception when it suits him. Terms such as ‘Political Islam,’ or ‘Radical Islam,’ for instance, are contributions of the Useful Idiot. These terms do not even exist in the native parlance of Islam, simply because they are redundant. Islam, by its very nature and according to its charter—the Quran—is a radical political movement. It is the Useful Idiot who sanitizes Islam and misguides the populace by saying that the ‘real Islam’ constitutes the main body of the religion; and, that this main body is non—political and moderate.

Regrettably, a large segment of the population goes along with these nonsensical euphemisms depicting Islam because it prefers to believe them. It is less threatening to believe that only a hijacked small segment of Islam is radical or politically driven and that the main body of Islam is indeed moderate and non—political.

But Islam is political to the core. In Islam the mosque and state are one and the same—the mosque is the state. This arrangement goes back to the days of Muhammad himself. Islam is also radical in the extreme. Even the ‘moderate’ Islam is radical in its beliefs as well as its deeds. Muslims believe that all non—Muslims, bar none, are hellfire bound and well—deserve being maltreated compared to believers.

No radical barbaric act of depravity is unthinkable for Muslims in dealing with others. They have destroyed precious statues of Buddha, leveled sacred monuments of other religions, and bulldozed the cemeteries of non—Muslims—a few examples of their utter extreme contempt toward others …

Almost three decades after the tragic Islamic Revolution of 1979, the suffocating rule of Islam casts its death-bearing pal[l] over Iranians. A proud people with enviable heritage is being systematically purged of its sense of identity and forced to think and behave like the barbaric and intolerant Muslims. Iranians who had always treated women with equality, for instance, have seen them reduced by the stone-age clergy to sub-human status of Islamic teaching. Any attempt by the women of Iran to counter the misogynist rule of Muhammad’s mullahs is mercilessly suppressed. Women are beaten, imprisoned, raped and killed just as men are slaughtered without due process or mercy.

The lesson is clear. Beware of the Useful Idiots who live in liberal democracies. Knowingly or unknowingly, they serve as the greatest volunteer and effective soldiers of Islam. They pave the way for the advancement of Islam and they will assuredly be among the very first victims of Islam as soon as it assumes power.

Lane Chaplin published what John Gresham Machen had to say on interfaith activity and also added a YouTube video from Todd Friel, which I’ll get to in a minute.  First, here is an excerpt from Machen’s What is Faith? (1925).  Italics in the original:

It is a very real obstacle, though at times it seems to be not a bit practical. It is the old obstacle truth. That was a great scheme of Lessing’s Nathan der Weise, to let Judaism, Mohammedanism, and Christianity live peacefully side by side, each contributing its quota to the common good of humanity; and the plan has attained enormous popularity since Lessing’s day by the admission, to the proposed league of religions, of all the faiths of mankind. But the great trouble is, a creed can be efficient only so long as it is held to be true; if I make my creed effective in my life I can do so only because I regard it as true. But in so doing I am obliged by an inexorable necessity to regard the creed of my neighbor, if it is contradictory to mine, as false … Consequently, despite all that is said, the creeds, if they are to be held with any fervor, if they are really to have any power, must be opposed to one another; they simply cannot allow one another to work on in peace. If therefore, we want the work to proceed, we must face and settle this conflict of the means; we cannot call on men’s beliefs to help us unless we determine what it is that is to be believed. A faith that can consent to avoid proselytizing among other faiths is not really faith at all.

An objection, however, may remain … If, therefore, faith in such diverse and contradictory things brings results, if it relieves the distresses of suffering humanity, how can we have the heart to insist on logical consistency in the things that are believed? On the contrary, it is urged, let us be satisfied with any kind of faith just so it does the work; it makes no difference what is believed just so the health giving attitude of faith is there; the less dogmatic faith is, the purer it is, because it is the less weakened by the dangerous alloy of knowledge.

Plausible are the ways in which men are seeking to justify this circulation of counterfeit currency in the spiritual sphere; it is perfectly right, we are told, so long as it is not found out

Such counterfeits should be removed, not in the interests of destruction, but in order to leave room for the pure gold the existence of which is implied by the presence of the counterfeits … Now we Christians think that we have found faith in what is true when we have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as He is offered to us in the gospel. We are well aware of what has been said against that gospel; we are well aware of the unpopularity that besets a man the moment he holds any one thing to be true and rejects as false whatever is contradictory to it; we are fully conscious of the risk that we are taking when we abandon a merely eclectic attitude and put all our confidence in one thing and one thing only. But we are ready to take the risk. This world is a dark place without Christ … There are … voices within us that whisper to us doubts; but we must act in accordance with the best light that is given us, and doing so we have decided for our part to distrust our doubts and base our lives, despite all, upon Christ.

Sadly, not everyone sees the interfaith gestures as flawed as Machen did 85 years ago.  Here’s a clip from The Way of the Master Radio on a Christian 2007 Yale Center for Faith and Culture statement responding to a letter which over 100 Islamic clerics and scholars signed proposing that Muslims and Christians work together for greater mutual understanding.  It’s about the ‘love’, ‘common ground’ and so forth that the two faiths seemingly share, especially the ‘belief in one God’.  Hmm.

And who signed it?  Not only Rick Warren, but also Richard Mouw, President of Fuller Theological Seminary; other Fuller professors; Tony Jones; Brian McLaren; Robert Schuller; The Episcopal Church; United Methodist Church; National Association of Evangelicals; faculty from Wheaton College; faculty from Biola University and — John Stott.  Yes, that John Stott.

Our local Catholic diocese has been promoting interfaith dialogue and work for the past few years, apparently upon instruction from the Vatican.  This is no doubt a global directive.

Please avoid programmes promoted at your church in the name of ‘unity’.  It is a false and spiritually dangerous unity.

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.  (John 1:14)

I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.  (John 10:9)

Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: (John 11:25)

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.  (John 14:6)

And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, [even] in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.  (1 John 5:20)

So far in the series, we have examined an Episcopal seminary, Virginia Theological Seminary and Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary.

Today, we look at an Evangelical institution, Fuller Theological Seminary, which has influenced not only non-denominational churches but aspects of mainline Protestantism as well.

Fuller’s main campus is located in Pasadena, California.  Undoubtedly, its location makes it a magnet for seminary students from all over the world who wish to study near iconic Los Angeles.  For Americans who wish to stay closer to home, Fuller has regional campuses in several other locations in the western US and Texas.

Charles E Fuller (1887-1968) was a native of Los Angeles and spent his life in southern California.  He was a graduate of Pomona College then worked in the fruit packing industry.  He then attended the Bible Institute of Los Angeles (now known by its acronym, Biola) and dedicated his life to the ministry.  He rejected Presbyterianism as did Charles Taze Russell, founder of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.  Fuller became a Baptist minister in 1925.  In 1937, he began his 30-year radio ministry, The Old Fashioned Revival Hour, on the Mutual Broadcasting System initially, followed by the ABC Radio Network.  It was broadcast nationwide.  Jack Chick, of the cartoon Gospel tracts, says he was saved while he was listening to the programme in 1948.

The previous year, Fuller had founded his eponymous seminary in partnership with Harold Ockenga, who was the pastor of Park Street Church in Boston, Massachusetts.  His dream was to make it a ‘Caltech of the evangelical world’.  The idea was to reform American fundamentalism, turning it into what became known as neo-fundamentalism in the 1950s.

Today, its famous alumni include Rick (The Purpose-Driven Life) Warren, Rob (Sex God) Bell, John (The Me I Want to Be) Ortberg, Robert A Schuller (son of the Crystal Cathedral founder) and Bill Bright (founder of Campus Crusade for Christ).  The seminary is now known for advancing the emergent church, missiology, spiritual formation and the church growth movement.  These affect Lutheran, Anglican and Calvinist churches alike.

Past faculty members whose names you might recognise include C Peter Wagner (church growth proponent), Richard J Foster (Quaker mystic) and John Wimber (founder of the charismatic Vineyard Movement and former director of the Charles E Fuller Institute of Evangelism and Church Growth).

Faculty come from all continents and denominations.  Richard J Mouw has served as Fuller’s President since 1993.  He is also Professor of Christian Philosophy.  Coming from a Reformed background, he has a particular interest in the Calvinist concept of common grace (a providential modicum of goodness in mankind which holds society together).  He is also committed to social justice and ecumenism.

Overall impression of Fuller Theological Seminary: Be careful out there.  Between church growth, the emergents, the missiological, the ecumenists and the mystics, these guys have a lot of influence.  Their charm attracts fans from outside the evangelical world and could well be coming to a church near you, if not already.  There is no doubt that Fuller prepares its  students well.  Too well, perhaps.  Too many people from mainstream denominations have been taken in by honeyed words, new concepts and practices that go beyond or against what Scripture says.  I would be surprised if today’s Fuller is quite what its founder had in mind.

Verdict: Be Berean and test against the Bible — your soul might be at risk.

Women candidates for ordination: Yes

Pietism / Healthism index: Nothing about tobacco but a bit of a lecture about alcohol

——————————————————————————————————————–

Purpose and objectives:  Fuller’s School of Theology page quotes Old Testament Professor, James Butler (emphases mine throughout):

We’re a traditional seminary with a strong curriculum, doing traditional things well, but we’re also sensitive to how the Spirit is leading the Church into new forms and new areas of engagement and service in the world.

It adds:

Within its comprehensive approach, the school offers a broad spectrum of courses–more than 175 each year. Students receive a solid grounding in biblical studies, increase their theological understanding and spiritual discernment, and acquire pastoral and other ministerial skills. At Fuller, professors and students alike find a place where they not only can seek answers to questions, but can wrestle–individually and communally, through both study and dialogue-with the big issues of faith, life, and calling.

In discussing cultural engagement on his blog, President Mouw puts forward two different notions;  some readers will walk away with the first, others with the second:

the “accommodating” method … has been typical of much liberal Protestantism.The danger there is to become so wedded to the cultural thought forms that we lose the content of revelation.

… Do we go to war against the culture or do we commit ourselves to marrying it? Neither approach is legitimate, [Paul Tillich] insisted. Correlation—genuine dialogue, listening carefully, and responding faithfully—is the requirement.  That seems right to me.

Some of the courses on offer appear to support what Mouw says in the first paragraph.  Others support his conclusion.  One sees this throughout the site, which is artfully designed to appear conservative and properly theological in appearance, yet has many eye-openers in store for those who dig deeper.  It will appeal to the Jack Chicks of this world on one level and to the Rob Bells on another.

Please remember that these seminary reviews highlight critical issues which might have an adverse effect on the man in the pew.

A selection of courses follows:

SP511 Henri Nouwen: A Spirituality of Imperfection

The description reads:

This course is about the spiritual journey of Henri Nouwen, with particular focus on his integrated ministry approach and his counterintuitive brand of spirituality. First of all, it is a synthesis of Nouwen’s holistic approach to Christian formation–one that integrates spirituality, psychology, ministry, and theology together in a seamless fashion. Secondly, it is an exploration of Nouwen’s spirituality of imperfection which he embodied throughout his lived experience–where the journey toward perfection is through the realities of imperfection.

What’s so wrong with studying a Catholic mystic, you might wonder.  One, mysticism is not mandated in the Bible.  Two, some theologians perceive an inherent deficiency in Protestantism — the lack of ‘spiritual formation’ — which one must remedy with mysticism and extra-biblical practices. Three, mysticism is experiential, not Gospel-driven.  Four, mysticism is a work: unless we engage in it, we are told, we cannot hope to become true Christians, which contradicts what St Paul said (Galatians 3:3, 2 Corinthians 12:7).

ST501 Systematic Theology 1: Theology and Anthropology

Includes texts on feminism and liberation theology as well as on the role of the individual in Christianity.   Students have a set reading list then another of several elective books, from which they must choose one.  Three of these stood out:

Johnson, E. She Who Is: The Mystery of God in Feminist Theological Discourse. Continuum, 1992.

McDermott, G. R. Can Evangelicals Learn from World Religions? InterVarsity Press, 2001.

Cone, J.H. God of the Oppressed. Orbis, 1997.

James Hal Cone is a proponent of separatist black liberation theology, which evolved during his tenure at Union Theological Seminary in New York.  His Wikipedia profile tells us:

His theology developed further in response to critiques by black women, leading Cone to consider gender issues more prominently and foster the development of womanist theology, and also in dialogue with Marxist analysis and the sociology of knowledge.

Yet, Christ came to save all men, ‘Jew and Greek’, all races, all classes, all nations.  We are all equal in His eyes.

There’s more Cone in the next course.

TC511: Theology and Hip Hop Culture

Talk about mixing with the world:

SIGNIFICANCE FOR LIFE AND MINISTRY: Hip hop culture is experiencing a sea change that has implications for everything Christians do, from evangelism to worship and spiritual practices. Still Christians have often not taken the trouble to develop an ability to interpret culture with sensitivity and to adjust their ministry priorities accordingly. This course seeks to provide tools for making this adjustment.

LEARNING OUTCOMES: Students will (1) gain a working definition of hip hop culture; (2) understand the range of theological options and the reasons for this diversity as it relates to hip hop culture and theology; (3) develop their own theology in conversation with hip hop culture; (4) understand the role hip hop culture plays in the construction of a theological frame outside and inside the Christian church; (5) appreciate the importance of interpreting culture and how that can and should inform priorities for ministry.

It appears doubtful that hip hop is going to affect most people today, right now.  Even so.  Imagine calling this course ‘Theology and Trance Music’ or ‘Theology and Club Culture’.  It would be just as absurd.  Why would a pastor or youth minister need to get so involved with such a worldly thing that he would need to take a course in it?  There’s the secular and there’s the religious.  Why would they need to interact?

If we’re making popular, misogynistic culture part of our worship and ‘spiritual practices’, then heaven help us!  We’re going to need God’s mercy.

Here’s part of the reading list:

Cone, James. The Spirituals and the Blues. Orbis Books, 1998. 152pages.

KRS-One. The Gospel of Hip Hop: First Instrument. PowerHouse, 2009. 832 pages.

Morgan, Joan. When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost: A Hip-Hop Feminist Breaks it Down. Simon & Schuster, 2000. 240pages.

PM514 Missional Churches and Leadership

But never mind those courses. This is what has churchgoers in arms, particularly in the United States — diaprax: Hegelian dialectic + transformational Marxist praxis (practice).  Whether they understand the term as such is immaterial; it usually goes under the words ‘transformation’ and ‘change’.  Fuller teaches its students how to achieve this:

DESCRIPTION: This is [a] course on biblical, theological, and practical matters in ecclesiology and leadership. The work of lay and clergy leadership is explored in relationship to congregation formation, spiritual formation, and mission formation. All participants in a church are to be formed into an “interpretive community” that is engaged with God personally and corporately in spiritual formation and in missional life. Working from a praxis-theory-praxis perspective, the course will attend to topics as they are integrated in a practical theology methodology.

SIGNIFICANCE FOR LIFE AND MINISTRY: Concepts: a practical theology approach to the theological praxis of missional ecclesiology and leadership. Skills: theological reflection and interpretive skills relevant to congregational life & leadership. Conation: commitment and habits fronting church development and redevelopment.

‘Conation‘ is the aspect of mental processes directed towardschange.  So, we have workshops, clergy directing a move from Scripture and doctrine towards works, seeker-sensitive focus and lots of lay involvement.  Those who wish to follow Christ in prayer, the Bible, confessions of faith and the creeds will have to go elsewhere.  They haven’t moved with the times in our changing world.

And here’s more:

OD723: Leading Turnaround Churches

It should be noted that the accompanying PDF at the link is a sample only.  However, it’s worth a look:

RELEVANCE FOR MINISTRY:
This course will provide pastors, church leaders and denominational leaders with an understanding of generative change mechanisms and how to harness and indigenize each to your unique situation. As a result, this course will seek to help the leader bring about turnaround change in an effective and unifying manner.

Note the use of words like ‘indigenise’, ‘turnaround change’ and ‘unifying manner’.  Anyone who has undergone this transformation and been on the wrong end of it will have heard they are ‘divisive’ — we must have ‘church unity’ at all costs.

Here are some of the books on the extensive reading list:

Fullan, Michael. 2001. Leading in a Culture of Change.

Greenwood, Royston, and C. R. Hinings. 1996. Understanding Radical Organizational Change: Bringing Together the Old and the New Institutionalism. Academy of Management Review.

Hatch, Mary Jo. 1997. Organizational Theory: Modern, Symbolic and Postmodern Perspectives.

Heifetz, Michael. 1994. Leading Change, Overcoming Chaos: A Seven Stage Process for Making Change Succeed in Your Organization.

Kraft, Charles H. 1991. Communication Theory for Christian Witness.

Ress, Frank. 2006. Enabling Congregations to Become Theological Communities. Evangelical Review of Theology.

Gee, don’t you think Paul and Timothy would have loved those?  The New Testament says  nothing about the size of a congregation, only its faithfulness to Christ Jesus.  Fuller professors would do well to reread Revelation 2 and 3.

EV715 Reinventing Evangelism: New Perspectives on Outreach, Conversion and Discipleship

The PDF indicates this is a sample, nonetheless:

Seminar Description: … the church is seen as the prime evangelizing agency; lay people are understood to be the prime carriers of the message; and pastors are called to be the prime trainers. Furthermore, it will be argued that wholistic evangelism must take into account the variety of ways in which people come to faith and the integral connection between evangelism and spiritual formation (discipleship).

It makes church sound like management consulting — seriously.  (I worked in it for 11 years and recognise the terminology.) Something is very wrong here.

Papers
Prepare the following three, brief reflection papers:
Evaluating a Seeker-Sensitive Service. A number of churches are now experimenting with this new outreach methodology. Attend a seeker-sensitive service and write a 2-3 page paper in which you describe the service (how it is designed, what it does, how it works) and evaluate it on the basis of your reading …
The Footprints of God. In one to two pages describe an experience, other than your conversion experience, in which you were aware of the presence, reality, or working of God.
The State of My Church. An Evangelistic Assessment. In five pages, describe and analyze the place of evangelism in your church or ministry site: what is positive, what is negative, and what might be done. This is a preliminary assessment of your situation. You will write a more nuanced description for your final paper.

Ugh.  It sounds so clinical, like social engineering.  Oh, by the way, the reading material includes Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Church!

But wait, there’s more.

OD784: Liquid Leadership: The Art of Contextualisation and Adaptation

Here are some of the learning outcomes from this postmodern course, which involves an exchange with and support from Thailand:

• Students will analyze and develop a new concept of the Church for the 21st century that will enable the Church to become a “church without walls” during this century.
• Students will make a shift from a conventional understanding of the Church to a “movement of people in context” understanding of the Church.
• Students will articulate the nature of transformational development and its relevance to the mission of the Church in their own context – they will develop tools for enabling community transformation.
• Students will be involved in ongoing collaboration to further develop and deepen third culture leadership concepts and approaches to transformational ministry.

‘Third culture’ — a new term for me, too — refers to people who move around the world quite a bit as in the military or the missions.  Those people often feel more of an affinity towards others in the same situation than they do with people from their home or host countries.

Even so, this sounds more like the transformational workplace than Christian ministry.  Does everything have to be so cold and analytical?  We’re talking about souls here, not atoms.

Here is an excerpt from the reading list:

Newbigin, Lesslie. The Gospel in a Pluralist Society.
Note: see especially chapter 12 “Contextualization: true or false”; chapter 13 “No Other Name”; chapter 14, “The Gospel and the Religions”.
Nouwen, Henry. In the Name of Jesus.
Boyatzis, Richard, Daniel Goleman & Annie McKee. Primal Leadership.
The Autobiography of Malcolm X.
Merton, Thomas. The Way of Chuang Tzu.
Sun Tzu. The Art of War.
Volf. Miroslav. Exclusion and Embrace.

Hmm.  A mix of postmodernism, mysticism, radicalism and Machiavellian-type literature.  What does the Gospel have to do with this?

Anyway, I’ll call it a day for now and continue this once I’ve had a nice cuppa and a sit-down.

Tomorrow: Fuller’s effect on the wider Church

Yesterday, we examined diaprax — dialectic + praxis. Christian author and  researcher Dean Gotcher coined the word diaprax after intensive study of Marxist influences in the church.  Today, we look at other aspects of the church which lend themselves to diaprax.

Cell groups

Rick Warren is fond of the small — or cell — group.  It’s often used for Bible study or prayer.  It works like a workshop in that the leader is the non-judgmental facilitator who wishes to guide the group from thesis through to synthesis.  Smaller Alpha groups work along this model.

I was sorry to read that the traditional, Reformed Anglicans Ablaze appears to support small groups.  Recently, its author, Robin Jordan, featured a ‘message’ from Rick Warren on the importance of this type of ministry:

Here is a message Rick sent to the Saddleback family explaining why small groups are so important to a believer’s spiritual growth. You’re welcome to adapt it for your own congregation —

It’s the classroom for learning how to get along in God’s family.

It’s a lab for practicing unselfish, sympathetic love. You learn to care about others and share the experiences of others: “If one part of the body suffers, all the other parts suffer with it. Or if one part of our body is honored, all the other parts share its honor” (1 Cor. 12:26 NCV). Only in regular contact with ordinary, imperfect believers can we learn real fellowship and experience the connection God intends for us to have (Eph. 4:16, Rom. 12:4–5, Col. 2:19, 1 Cor. 12:25).

REAL fellowship is being as committed to each other as we are to Jesus Christ: “Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers” (1 John 3:16). This is the kind of sacrificial love God expects you to show other believers—loving them in the same way Jesus loves you.

Hmm.  Well, I did try to warn Mr Jordan (but to no avail) about another emergent programme he touted earlier this year, Fresh Expressions.  I tried to contact him privately but his blog only allowed for Google account holders to post comments.

Of small groups, Dr Robert E Klenck in his essay, ‘The 21st Century Church: Part 3’ says:

[Warren] is aware of research by Lyle Schaller, of the Leadership Network, that shows the relationship between the number of friendships that one has in the church, and the percentage chance then of that person leaving.  Close relationships are formed in the small groups, thus, people are required to participate in them.

And this is a concern.  This type of group then becomes psychologically close.  Warren asks members of these groups to ‘confess’ their sins publically to one another, as the Oxford Group (not Oxford Movement) did in the last century.  Warren’s is known as an ‘accountability group’.

Let’s look at what’s left unsaid in Warren’s push for small groups.  It’s about church unity, which will become increasingly important as we move towards a worldwide Christian Church.  It is in small groups where that ‘unity’ can take root and where submission to the accountability group through public confession of sins effects this relationship. It’s all rather … cultish. Instead of focussing on God for salvation through the Holy Spirit and the Word, the small group member (unless he is the leader) looks to the group for affirmation, correction and forgiveness. The horror.

Imagine mentioning in passing during one of these gatherings that you disagreed with an aspect of the service on a Sunday morning.  The small group is there to monitor your behaviour and responses.  Expect to be corrected and brought into line with the received ‘paradigm’ of the small group, and by extension, your church at large.  Church unity is all, even when that church is in error.

Unbelievers and ‘felt needs’

Like his mentor, Robert Schuller, Rick Warren also surveyed potential members of his congregation early in his ministry.  He focused only on the unbelievers and, like Schuller, constructed his church around their ‘felt needs’.  ‘Felt needs’ are highly important to diaprax, which eschews what we would call ‘fundamental’, ‘eternal’ or ‘absolute’ truths.  There is no truth.  What may be true today may not be true tomorrow.  We must change constantly.

Warren’s secular guru, Peter Drucker, may have had an even larger role to play in the church growth movement (CGM) than Schuller.  Dr Klenck notes (emphasis in the original):

He holds a doctorate of theology degree from Fuller Theological Seminary – one of the strongest proponents of the church growth movement.

Organizational management “guru” Peter Drucker, who is very involved in this movement, stated:

“…noncustomers are as important as customers, if not more important:  because they are potential customers. … Yet it is with the noncustomers that changes always start.”[6]

Thus, in this movement, it is imperative that unbelievers are brought into the church; otherwise, the process of continual change cannot begin There must be an antithesis (unbelievers) present to oppose the thesis (believers), in order to move towards consensus (compromise), and move the believers away from their moral absolutism (resistance to change).  If all members of the church stand firm on the Word of God, and its final authority in all doctrine and tradition, then the church cannot and will not change.  This is common faith.

The tension must be present, otherwise we cannot move away from orthodox Christianity towards … a man-oriented church unity through a worldwide religious organisation.

Leaving God out of it

Bob Buford, another of Peter Drucker’s followers, started the Leadership Network in 1984, designed to put church leaders in touch with each other.  Note what its mission and values statement reads in part (emphases mine):

The mission of the Leadership Network is to accelerate the emergence of the 21st-century church.  We believe the emerging paradigm of the 21st century church calls for the development of new tools and resources as well as the equipping of a new type of 21st century church leader, both clergy and laity.  This new paradigm is not centered in theology but rather it is focused on structure, organization, and the transition from an institutionally based church to a mission-driven church.  We value innovation that leads to results …

God the Father?  Christ crucified and risen?  The Holy Spirit?  Grace?  Scripture?  Hellooo?

Have a look in Dr Klenck’s essay and scroll halfway down to see that neither God the Father nor His Son appears in the increasingly-used circular ‘core’ diagram.

TQM fine for the secular world

Having spent several years not only working in quality assurance but holding international certification, I can say that there is nothing wrong with Peter Drucker’s TQM for goods and business processes.  If, like Dr Klenck, you think there is, consider the reliability of everyday objects that you use: lightbulbs, cars and — in his case — surgical instruments.

I do agree with him that TQM has no place in the religious world at all.  In that case, yes, ‘total’ would mean ‘totalitarian’, whereas in a manufacturing plant or services company, it ensures that you get repeatable, measurable, reliable results every time.

Peter Drucker’s error

This is where Peter Drucker has gone wrong.  To him, a church (or another religious house of worship) is like a restaurant or shop which relies on what’s known as ‘footfall’, or ‘lots of traffic’.  In reality, some churches are smaller.  Some are larger.  What’s important is that they are pure and follow God’s holy Scripture.  Yet, Drucker said in an interview:

Consider the pastoral megachurches that have been growing so very fast in the U.S. since 1980 and are surely the most important social phenomenon in American society in the last 30 years. There are now some 20,000 of them, and while traditional denominations have steadily declined, the megachurches have exploded. They have done so because they asked, “What is value?” to a nonchurchgoer and came up with answers the older churches had neglected. They have found that value to the consumer of church services is very different from what churches traditionally were supplying. The greatest value to the thousands who now throng the megachurches—both weekdays and Sundays—is a spiritual experience rather than a ritual.

Hmm.  How many orthodox Christians attend church and ask, ‘Did I receive value for money here today?’  Frankly, I don’t think a seeker would either, although he probably goes back because there’s free popcorn, coffee and a pastor who walks the stage and works the audience like a comedian.  A pretty good show.

It’s about the money

I mentioned before that CGM is very much focussed on money.  In time, probably when most of us will be too elderly to blog or the Internet is restricted to the elite, church members’ tithes and financial contributions will go towards providing welfare for the world.  This is what the Council for Foreign Relations (CFR) intends, anyway.

Already, Anglican parishes in England are sending in a proportion of their donations annually to the diocese for various programmes for the disadvantaged.  Whilst there is nothing wrong with that, some objections must be brewing among those in the pews.  A couple of years ago, our church was asked to complete a survey, giving our views on how much we would like for the diocese to have and towards what programmes.  I can imagine that this came as a surprise to many on the parish electoral roll.

Dr Klenck notes:

The Leadership Network recommends numerous materials and research studies to pastors that are geared towards maximizing the amount of tithing, pledging, and giving in the church.  One of the “masters” of “stewardship” is John Maxwell.  Mr. Maxwell is the former pastor of Skyline Community Church, in San Diego, CA, and founded Injoy Ministries, a church consulting firm.

What next for the Church?

Part of the reason money is so important, is that the Church is set to become just another service industry.  Christ’s holy Bride sounds very much like a business when Bob Buford’s Leadership Network describes Her (emphases mine):

Partnerships, alliances and collaboration will become the norm, rather than the exception, and the relationships will be built on new loyalties and a new common mission. … The next movement will grow people, not parking lots. … These same people are in the congregations of the 21st century and they are going to be the “point people” for the partnerships and alliances that will achieve the vision beyond the property line.”

and Buford says:

The Church of the 21st Century is reforming itself into a multi-faceted service operation.

Don’t forget that one of the reasons why many CGM churches have a register of members’ professions and ‘spiritual gifts’ is that the government or the UN might one day require access to that information in order to evaluate how well a church is working with it on secular schemes for food, health clinics or day care.  So, if you start such a registry at the beginning, especially if you wish to encourage people to join personal accountability groups, you’ve laid the groundwork for future record-keeping and inspection. As such, it doesn’t come as a surprise to either the member or the church administration.

Tomorrow: Biblical reasons why you should avoid diaprax and CGM

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