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Archive for the ‘universalism’ Category

Recently, more compromise in the C&MA has become evident as seen in Letter to the Editor: Christian & Missionary Alliance (Canada) Promoting Interspiritual, Panentheist Monk, Basil Pennington at Lighthouse Trails.

To add to the already muddy mix, the Western Canadian District of the Christian and Missionary Alliance in Canada[1] are embracing the season of Lent this year and are doing 40 days of Lent posts[2]. Also, as Lighthouse Trails reports, on their ‘Deeper Life Resources’ page[3] is a disclaimer:

The following list of resources contain a variety of perspectives that cannot be fully endorsed by the WCD in every manner. We do believe, however, that the discerning reader can benefit greatly from these writings. The following are some of the books that the Western Canadian District of the Christian and Missionary Alliance in Canada believes to be beneficial.

While the promotion of the Basil Pennington book is is disappointing, it is not even the most shocking recommendation of all. Another resource they believe to be beneficial is a book called Can You Hear Me? Tuning in to the God Who Speaks by Brad Jersak. This is a book about the practice of listening prayer. Jersak, who believes we can visualize ourselves into the throne room of heaven, is a universalist who does not believe in hell. He has recently become an ordained reader in the Orthodox church, and says he was “’chrismated’ at the end of June (2013) and ordained as a ‘reader’ for the All Saints Monastery…in October.” This was listed in the records of the ARCHDIOCESE OF CANADA, ORTHODOX CHURCH IN AMERICA: “Altar server Irenaeus (Bradley) Jersak was tonsured[4] to be a Reader at the Monastery of All Saints of North America in Dewdney, BC.”

Very recently Jersak interviewed Derek Flood who wrote a book called Disarming Scripture[5]. Flood, who blogs at The Rebel God[6], is among others like Brian McLaren who have been wrestling with questions of faith and doubt, violence in the Bible, and the substitutionary atonement of Christ. McLaren has written the forewords in both of his books. In Disarming Scripture, endorsed by Steve Chalke (also a denier of ‘Substitutionary Atonement’) and Jim Wallis, Brian D. Mclaren says “You need Derek Flood.”

If Brad Jersak, Derek Flood and all these men are like minded, why is he listed as an author of a beneficial book by the Western District of the C&MA? Other books by various contemplatives and mystics which are considered beneficial are equally concerning.

Rivers from Eden by Eden Jersak (Brad Jersak’s wife) is a forty-day spiritual exercise in Listening Prayer a lifestyle. Essential Guide to Healing by Bill Johnson and Randy Clark is described by C&MA as “a rich theological and historical foundation for healing in the church today.” However, Bill Johnson can hardly be called theologically sound[7]. The New Mystics by John Crowder is described as an examination of “Christian mystics throughout the ages who focused on the presence and power of God.” This may be the most shocking promotion of all. John Crowder of “Slosh Fest” reputation is often “drunk in the spirit” making animal noises and saying outrageous blasphemous things about Jesus[8].

The other beneficial books listed are mostly the typical contemplative material, such as The Way of the Heart by Henri Nouwen and Dark Night of the Soul by John of the Cross. In Constant Prayer by Robert Benson is a book about the offices, or fixed hours of prayer (the Rule of St. Benedict). The foreword is by Phyllis Tickle, who is arm in arm with the usual emerging church leaders and teachers of the new ancient spirituality. Let Go by Fenelon is touted as a classic by one of the church fathers, but Fenelon was the most famous disciple of French mystic and contemplative Madam Jean Guyon. Spiritual Exercises by St. Ignatius Loyola is another telling recommendation. These contemplative writings and exercises were written by the founder of the Jesuits[9].

In all, it appears that discernment in the Western Canadian District of the Christian and Missionary Alliance has died.

O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?Galatians 3:1

[For those who are genuinely concerned about this denomination and would like to know what to contend and pray for, please read about the muddy mixture of spirituality due to lack of discernment by entering: ‘Christian & Missionary Alliance’ into the search box of this blog.]

____________

Endnotes:

[1] http://www.transformcma.ca/
[2] http://40days-faithandhope.com/category/lent-posts-2015/
[3] http://www.transformcma.ca/resources-2/
[4] Tonsure is the practice of cutting or shaving some or all of the hair on the scalp, as a sign of religious devotion or humility. The term originates from the Latin word tonsūra (to clip, or cut) and referred to a specific practice in medieval Catholicism, abandoned by papal order in 1972. Current usage more generally refers to cutting or shaving for monks, devotees, or mystics of any religion as a symbol of their renunciation of worldly fashion and esteem
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tonsure
[5] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aYbva9J8L2g
[6] http://www.therebelgod.com/
[7] BETHEL CHURCH’S “APOSTLE” BILL JOHNSON: A COMEDY OF ERRORS, PART 1
http://standupforthetruth.com/2014/10/bethel-churchs-apostle-bill-johnson-comedy-errors-part-1/
[8] MYSTIC JOHN CROWDER Exposed – Part 1 of 2:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mNGPA6Idopg
Part 2:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fKj-pFo11ys
This is Not That: An Analysis of John Crowder’s 
“The New Mystics”
http://www.apostasyalert.org/REFLECTIONS/crowder.htm
[9] http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=6844

UPDATE 2015:

Brian McLaren has just endorsed Brad Jersak’s latest book called A More Christlike God: A More Beautiful Gospel, published by Plain Truth Ministries (www.ptm.org), where Jersak is a senior editor of their CWR blog (Christianity Without Religion). The recommended reading on the Plain Truth Ministries website speaks volumes (www.ptm.org/quad/bookList.htm). Jersak’s book is reviewed and endorsed by Derek Flood, Richard Rohr, William Paul Young, Brian McLaren, Eugene Peterson.
NOTE: Read more about McLaren’s involvment with Derek Flood here:
Healing the Gospel or Changing it?https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2013/05/13/healing-the-gospel-or-changing-it/

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The former member of a very popular Christian music group wastes no time opening her talk at her church with quotes from Richard Rohr (Franciscan priest of contemplative mystic theology who has taught the equality of Buddha with Christ and the indwelling of God in all things[1]) and Madeleine L’Engle (believed in universal salvation[2]) and Aldous Huxley (humanist whose spiritual interests were parapsychology mysticism and universalism [3]).

In the voice of an angel, with appealing words and songs with perfect pitch and harmony, she tells her story. Initially saved by an invitation to escape hell, the lovely singer with a voice of honey has changed her narrow misconceptions for untruths. It happened after disappointments, trials and sorrows coupled with doubts, that she started reading books. She read Brian McLaren (false teacher[4] who will be visiting her church), Richard Rohr, Thomas Merton (contemplative mystic/panentheist[5]) and Phyllis Tickle (has false views about the Bible, the gospel, nature of God and the Trinity[6] who will also be visiting her church). After accepting their words as truth, this lovely musician concluded that fear based approach to spirituality doesn’t work, and that the most devastating fear is the fear of God. Now, she says, everything belongs (Rohr), and love always wins (Bell). Freed from fear, she is now an open and inclusive pastor and mom who leads worship. The songs of comfort they will be singing from now are centered on how we belong and how we are beloved. The theme of the old hymn Amazing Grace is to be pitied, because we are not wretches. The core of who we are is not unworthiness. Those are old fearful concepts.

But fear not, this changed worship leader has written a lovely new song based on a quote by Julian of Norwich, a universalist and mystic[7] who engaged in meditation to identify with Christ’s suffering, praying and striving to experience fear and bodily pain to achieve union with Christ in many visions. The following Julian of Norwich quote is not quite as pleasant as the one which the new worship song is based on.

“In this sickness I wanted to have every kind of pain, bodily an spiritual, which I should have if I were dying, every fear and assault from devils and every other kind of pain except the departure of the spirit, for I hoped that this would be profitable to me when I should die, because I desired soon to be with my God” -Julian of Norwich, pg 24, Julian of Norwich’s “Showings”: From Vision to Book by Denise Nowakowski Baker [8]

The choice of this fear craving mystic seems somewhat ironic, especially after this worship leader has just insisted that fear based approach to spirituality doesn’t work.[9]

Wrapping up her lulling talk, the pastoress of worship finishes with a prayerful assurance that Jesus told great stories, but it is our stories of our journeys that make God’s grand story.

Watch the half hour sermonette here:

IF: Gathering Leader/Pastor Melissa Greene—A Female Version of McLaren, Bell, Rohr, and Merton
http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=17015

Why should this presentation be a concern to North American Christians? Recently, this pastoress has also been given a far reaching platform at other events. Please consider the following questions:

Is this the voice of truth?
What muddy streams of spirituality lurk beneath the perfect pitch and crystal clear harmony of this message?
Who is being influenced by, and accepting, this nice sounding message?
Isn’t universalism and inclusiveness at odds with the Bible?
Can Satan use beautiful things (people, music, words) to draw people into deception?
Is this part of the greater plan of the emerging church network’s agenda for the new kind of inclusive gospel-free spirituality to invade Christianity?
If so, aren’t all those involved in this muddy message… deceivers?

For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.
And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.
Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.
2 Cor. 11: 13-15

Endnotes:

[1] http://apprising.org/2008/05/10/who-is-richard-rohr/
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madeleine_L’Engle
[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aldous_Huxley
[4] http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/brianmclaren.htm
[5] http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/merton.htm
[6] http://rootedinchrist.org/2010/11/30/the-great-emergence-or-a-great-deception/
http://thebereanlibrary.com/archives/category/phyllis-tickle-2
[7] http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/julianofnorwich.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julian_of_Norwich
[8] https://books.google.ca/books?id=ZEcABAAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false
[9] For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. 1 Cor. 14:33

Related:

Was Satan in charge of music in Heaven?
http://www.gotquestions.org/Satan-music.html

Was Lucifer originally an angel of worship?
https://carm.org/questions/about-demons/was-lucifer-originally-angel-worship

***NEW: (MAY 8, 2015)

Melissa Greene
Melissa Greene is the pastor of worship and arts at GracePointe Church in Franklin, Tennessee. The church made national headlines in January of 2015 as senior pastor, Stan Mitchell, declared his church now accepts homosexual marriage.12
When I pull up Greene’s website, I immediately notice the picture of her sitting in a Yoga position. In a May 25th, 2014 message on her website titled “Worth,” Greene admits to reading emerging church pioneer Brian McLaren’s book, A Generous Orthodoxy (and McLaren spoke at GracePointe in the fall of 2014). Greene favorably quotes other prolific New Spirituality names: Phyllis Tickle, Richard Rohr, Frederick Buechner, Rob Bell, Nicholas Wolterstorff, Thomas Merton, Peter Gomes, Aldous Huxley—a list that reads like a veritable who’s who in emergent and contemplative heresy.
In “Worth,” Greene declares that, “Christianity is broad and diverse.”13 Considering that many of her influences accept all religions as being of God, there is no doubt to what she means when she states this. Greene also made the audacious statement: “The most devastating fear in people’s lives is the fear of God.”14 She attempts to validate her statement by taking verses out of context and misapplying them.

SOURCE: IF it is of God—Answering the questions of IF:Gathering
http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=17334

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As the spiritual mud thickens, the direction of once prominent emerging church leaders becomes more clear…

The following is an update to a previous blog posting here at Muddy Streams called Oprah’s New Agey Introduction of Rob Bell and his New Agey Message.

This past weekend, former evangelical pastor Rob Bell and former television icon Oprah wrapped up their national 8-city “Oprah’s The Life You Want Weekend” New Age tour. Joining Bell and Oprah on the tour were other two New Age sympathizers – Deepak Chopra and Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love). There was a time, not too many years ago, when Bell’s best-selling book Velvet Elvis was being read by millions of young evangelicals, and the book was touted by Christian leaders and college professors. It was a disaster in discernment in the church as even back then Bell was promoting the New Age. . .

Read more here:

Rob Bell and Oprah Wrap Up New Age Tour—EQUALLY YOKED
http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=16411

Update:

An Insider’s View of Oprah’s Life You Want Weekend Tour 2014 With Rob Bell – Bringing Americans to the New Age “Christ”
http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=16482

***NEW:

*May 12, 2015:
Letter to the Editor: Oprah Winfrey Becomes Stanford University’s “Office of Religious Life’s 2015 Rathburn Visiting Fellow”
http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=17360

*July 2015:
CONTEMPORARY CHRISTIAN MUSIC PIONEER DON FRANCISCO DEPARTS FROM BIBLICAL INERRANCY
(is okay with Rob Bell)
http://standupforthetruth.com/2015/07/contemporary-christian-music-pioneer-don-francisco-departs-from-biblical-inerrancy/

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A year after they connected (see Rob Bell and Oprah Connect), these well known names continue their New Age mystical convergence.

BELL, OPRAH AND CHOPRA AND THE SEDUCTION OF SPIRIT: THREE NEW AGE EVENTS

Why are so many Christians and churches taking part in Eastern meditative practices like transcendental meditation, Yoga and other mystical shenanigans?

Starting Friday there are three globally significant New Age events in with one common denominator: Deepak Chopra…

More here:

http://standupforthetruth.com/2014/08/bell-oprah-chopra-seduction-spirit-three-new-age-events/

Related:

Rob Bell and Oprah Connect
https://muddystreams.wordpress.com/2013/10/01/rob-bell-and-oprah-connect/

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In a Letter to the Editor: Saddened by Christian & Missionary Alliance and Ambrose University Continuing Plunge into Contemplative at the Lighthouse Blog, we read that there are more winds of doctrine blowing through the Canadian Christian & Missionary Alliance doors. One of the concerns mentioned in the letter is in regards to a former teacher once let go for theological differences who appears to be apologetically welcomed back to working with the C&MA denomination. Have black and white issues that were once doctrinally weighed and defended by the Word of God become such a muddy blend that they are now okay?

The person who the C&MA is now looking forward to working with again is Charles W. Nienkirchen, Professor of Christian History and Spirituality at Ambrose University College in Calgary, Alberta. His bio (here) says that Neinkirchen has also been a Scholar in Residence at Tantur Ecumenical Institute(tantur.org) in Jerusalem, also known as the Catholic Church of The Holy Land (catholicchurch-holyland.com/?p=789). He’s also been a Visiting Professor in Residence at another ecumenical seminary called Tamil Nadu Theological Seminary in South India. Therefore it is no surprise that his teaching and ministry focuses on the subject of renewal and spirituality through ecumenical retreat courses and conferences.

In 2006 Nienkirchen designed a travel study program called ‘Down Ancient Paths’ Travel Study Program (www.downancientpaths.com) which explores the oldest Christian traditions in the world. According to Tyndale, here, Nienkirchen’s areas of specialization are “classical spiritual disciplines, dreams, spiritual direction, renewal movements, ancient Christian traditions, and Christian-Muslim relations.” During his exploration in ecumenicalism and spirituality, Nienkirchen has also attended a School for Spiritual Directors at a Benedictine Abbey to learn more about prayer and spiritual renewal, and now serves on the Faculty of the Pecos Benedictine School for Spiritual Directors near Santa Fe, New Mexico (www.pecosmonastery.org).

Nienkirchen was also a signator on a document by the late Robert Webber called The Call (www.ancientfutureworship.com/afw_wkshps.html), a movement that embraces Ancient-Future worship style and practices based on ecumenism and unity with other faiths. (You can read quite a bit about this here: exnazarene.wordpress.com/2009/03/)

This has all begun to bear fruit which we are now seeing in the C&MA, as revealed last spring when students at their university (Ambrose) were taught to listen to God, contemplative style:

April 24, 2013 | Last fall during the annual Fall Spiritual Emphasis Days, students at Ambrose University College of the Christian & Missionary Alliance in Calgary, Alberta (Canada), were taught contemplative spirituality with the theme of Listening to God. Ambrose alumnus Steve Kerr, pastor of Gateway Church in Caledonia, Ontario (a C&MA church) taught sessions about Listening to God. Other contemplative workshops were facilitated by Ambrose staff and faculty. Students were invited to participate in a diverse array of workshops, like “Centering Prayer: A Pathway to Experiencing God’s Presence,” taught by Dr. Miriam Charter. Students learned that “Centering Prayer is a gift to us from the Desert Fathers who sought a way to deepen their relationship with the living Christ. It is “listening” prayer that may become for the serious pilgrim a pathway for receiving and experiencing the gift of God’s Presence.”
Additional workshops included “Hear the Divine Voice…Make the Right Choice,” by Dr. Charles Nienkirchen, “Hearing God through Nature: A Walk Through the Ambrose Aspen Stand,” by Wally Rude, “Making (Some) Sense of the Pain: Hearing God in Times of Difficulty and Suffering,” by Dr. Gordon Smith, “Lectio Divina” (Divine Reading) with Kevin Cawthra, “Going Global? A Conversation about Discerning God’s call to Serve Internationally,” and “Hearing the Voice of Jesus through Imaging,” with Joy Ulrich.

Source – To Hear, To Contemplate, To Act ambrose.edu/news_and_events/hear-contemplate-act

Incidentally, Ambrose University College Seminary (in Canada) is a merger of the Christian & Missionary Alliance with The Church of the Nazarene. Ambrose’s new president Gordon T. Smith (previously Vice President and Dean of Regent College), has written several books. In The Voice of Jesus, Smith’s ideas are built on Roman Catholic spiritual traditions of John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, and Ignatius of Loyola. Alone With The Lord is a self guided prayer plan adapted from The Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits.

A few years ago, Charles Nienkirchen led a Lent retreat in Calgary, Alberta.

Westside King’s Church, Calgary, AB
Lent Prayer Retreat
wkc.org/lent-prayer-retreat/
Lent 2010 begins February 17 and concludes April 3. This year we invite you to deepen your experience of this holy season by joining us in spiritual retreat. Dr. Charles Nienkirchen will lead us in an exploration of the prayer journey of Jesus as it is rooted in the events and emotions of his earthly life. Specific attention will be given to the often neglected ‘minor prayers’ of Jesus which reveal the intimate depths of his humanity. Talks, guided prayers, and conversations will form the essence of these very special days.

One of his media appearances in regards to Lent was an interview, which you can learn about or watch at the following links:

100 Huntley Street Airs Interview with Charles Nienkirchen ambrose.edu/content/100-huntley-street-airs-interview-charles-nienkirchen

The Way Of The Cross
April 20, 2011
http://www.100huntley.com/video.php?id=rAOGVc9D73o

The Way Of The Cross
100 Huntley (6:30)
youtube (click HERE to watch)

In conclusion, the reader who wrote Lighthouse Trails Research has every right to be concerned. The C&MA certainly is crossing the bridge over the spiritually and theologically muddy waters of ecumenism and interfaith unity. There are many reasons, many ways, many winds, some new and some old. This is only one. The troubling question is, how many undiscerning followers will they take with them? Those who are sending students to Ambrose might do well to take heed.

Related:

Ambrose University College hires Jesuit-educated contemplative spirituality proponent as its new president http://suspiciousberean.blogspot.ca/2012/05/ambrose-university-college-hires-jesuit.html

Related posts on this blog:

Christian & Missionary Alliance Students Taught to Listen to God – Contemplative Style https://muddystreams.wordpress.com/2013/04/24/christian-missionary-alliance-students-taught-to-listen-to-god-contemplative-style/

Yoga Class at Christian & Missionary Alliance Church https://muddystreams.wordpress.com/2012/08/10/yoga-class-at-christian-missionary-alliance-church/

Christian & Missionary Alliance Workers will soon be learning Ancient Spiritual Disciplines https://muddystreams.wordpress.com/2009/12/02/christian-missionary-alliance-workers-will-soon-be-learning-ancient-spiritual-disciplines/

Peter Scazzero’s Contemplative Bridge Crossing to Canada https://muddystreams.wordpress.com/2013/02/12/peter-scazzeros-contemplative-bridge-coming-to-canada/

Are Ambrose Lecturers Leading Students into Muddy Waters? https://muddystreams.wordpress.com/2013/02/06/are-ambrose-lecturers-leading-students-into-muddy-waters/

Christian Missionary Alliance and Focus on the Family Canada leading Christians across the Contemplative Bridge https://muddystreams.wordpress.com/2010/01/04/christian-missionary-alliance-and-focus-on-the-family-canada-leading-christians-across-the-contemplative-bridge/

____________

***NEW! Also read a well written review on a book by a Christian & Missionary Alliance pastor who has chosen the contemplative pathway:

Reimer Loses His Way in “Pathways to the King:” A Review

Dr. Rob Reimer, pastor of the Christian & Missionary Alliance South Shore Community Church, adjunct professor at the Alliance Theological Seminary, and speaker at various conferences has authored a book: Pathways to the King: Living a Life of Spiritual Renewal and Power. To look inside is to learn how Reimer loses his way straying onto contemplative and kingdom now roads as he strives to experience, and expand God’s kingdom on earth…

*Click here to read more:

http://whputnam00.blogspot.ca/2014/04/reimer-loses-his-way-in-pathways-to.html

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To focus on inter-faith relationships…

Brian McLaren tour focuses on inter-faith relations

Emerging church leader Brian McLaren will be visiting six English cities this winter.

He’ll be picking up on the themes of his new book, Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road?

The tour has been organised by Greenbelt in partnership with book publisher Hodder & Stoughton.

McLaren will be joined in each city by a faith leader from a non-Christian faith tradition.

Together, they will explore Christian identity in a multi-faith world and respectful engagement between the faiths.

More here:

http://www.christiantoday.com/article/brian.mclaren.tour.focuses.on.interfaith.relations/30884.htm

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Watch and learn about the Rise of Global Religion and Religious Universalism from Christian researcher on global issues, Carl Teichrib (www.forcingchange.org), former director of Gary Kah’s ministry.

Global Religion by Carl Teichrib Pt 1/2

Imposing the Cult of Peace is the title for this session:

Global Religion by Carl Teichrib Pt 2/2

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